Musings on Mark: The Johannine Calling Narratives of John 1:35-51

In the Gospel of Mark, the first four disciples that Jesus calls to follow him (akoloutheō) are Simon, Andrew, James, and John (Mark 1:16-20). All four of those men were fishing on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus walked by and all four of them dropped their nets to follow him. Both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke include this calling narrative. Matthew (4:18-22) follows Mark’s version almost verbatim while Luke (5:1-11) makes some rather interesting changes.1 Despite their differences, all three of the Synoptics are univocal in their portrayal of Jesus’ disciples as fishermen and that this is what they were doing when Jesus found them.

But not the Gospel of John. While we may infer their status as fishermen from the end of the Gospel (21:1-4),2 we do not get this impression from the beginning. And this is because the calling narrative of John’s Gospel looks nothing like that of Mark’s.

Disciples of John the Baptist

One of the main differences between the Markan calling narrative and the Johannine narrative is its location. Whereas in Mark the setting is the Sea of Galilee (Mark 1:16), in John the setting is “in Bethany across the Jordan” (John 1:28). While the exact location of this Bethany is disputed3 it is clear that it is not in Galilee (cf. 1:43). Rather, John’s work is generally associated with the region of Perea, an area under the control of Herod Antipas who also ruled the region of Galilee.4 In the Johannine Gospel, John baptizes in Bethany and in “Aenon near Salim” (3:23), another town whose location is unknown but from the given context is somewhere near the Judean countryside and close to sufficient water for Jesus to perform baptisms (3:22).

With the Sea of Galilee not in the picture, there are no fishers for Jesus to call to become fishers of people (Mark 1:17). So from where do Jesus’ first disciples originate? According to the Johannine author, some of Jesus’ first disciples were actually disciples of John the Baptist!

The next day [cf. John 1:29-34] John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed [ēkolouthēsan; cf. Mark 1:18] Jesus (John 1:35-37).

In what follows (1:38-42) we discover that one of the disciples’ name is Andrew and that he has a brother named Simon (1:40). So Andrew is in the Gospel of John a disciple of John the Baptist before he begins following Jesus. This detail – one that seems rather important – is nowhere to be found in the Markan text.

The calling of Simon in the Gospel of John consequently differs from what we find in the Gospel of Mark. Rather than being found fishing in the Sea of Galilee with Andrew, he is instead in a location other than where both Jesus and Andrew were (cf. 1:39). The narrative thus has Simon coming to find Jesus at the prompting of Andrew rather than Jesus finding Simon and calling him himself (1:41-42).5 

Substituting James and John

Another striking difference between the Markan and Johannine calling narratives is that John’s Gospel makes no mention of the calling of James and John. In fact, James and John are only alluded to with the moniker “the sons of Zebedee” (John 21:12; cf. Mark 1:19-20). In each of the Synoptic Gospels their calling plays an important part of the narrative and they as characters engage in conversations with Jesus that result in teaching moments about the fate of Jesus’ followers (i.e. Mark 10:35-45). Yet in John’s Gospel they are mentioned but once and then not even by their own names but by their father’s.

Instead of a calling narrative concerning James and John we find a calling narrative about Philip and Nathanael. Philip is known from the Synoptic Gospels where we find him mentioned in the list of disciples (Mark 3:18; Matthew 10:3; Luke 6:14). Nathanael on the other hand is not attested in the Synoptics at all and is wholly a Johannine character. But he is surely a member of the Twelve since he is among those listed in 21:2 which include disciples about whom we know from the Synoptics like Simon, Thomas, and James and John.

The narrative structure of 1:43-51 is similar to that of 1:37-42.

  • Philip, like Andrew, begins to follow Jesus (1:43).
  • Philip, like Andrew, seeks out another (i.e. Nathanael) to follow Jesus (1:44).
  • Philip, like Andrew, says that, “We have found [heurēkamen; cf. 1:41]” a messianic leader.6
  • Nathanael, like Peter, comes to Jesus (1:47).
  • Jesus, simply seeing Nathanael, announces his true character – “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” (1:47) which is similar to Jesus’ renaming of Cephas upon simply seeing him. (See note 5.)

Nathanael’s amazement at Jesus’ insights is to acknowledge that he is “the Son of God” and “the King of Israel” (1:49). Yet Jesus is quick to say that compared to what Nathanael will see, Jesus’ statement in 1:47 (cf. 1:48) is small peanuts (1:50): “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (1:51). This plays into the Johannine motif of the role that signs play in having faith in Jesus (John 20:30-31; cf. 21:24-25).

An Attempt to Reconcile

The Johannine calling narratives reveal that their author wrote with theological and rhetorical interests at heart. Because of this, the Markan and Johannine narratives are in direct conflict with one another. But this has not prevented attempts to reconcile the tensions. For example, Eric Lyons in a post entitled “When Did Jesus Call the First Apostles?”7 claims that “John is describing a totally separate incident from the one the synoptists describe.” The Synoptic narratives are about the call of the disciples to become apostles whereas the Johannine narrative is about their relationship to Jesus as Messiah.

John records Peter and Andrew’s first meeting with the Christ. The synoptists, however, testify of a later meeting, when Jesus called them at the Sea of Galilee to become “fishers of men.”

But this apologetic only results in a more confusing narrative and doesn’t take the language of John’s Gospel seriously.

The Johannine narrative takes place over a series of days (1:29, 1:35, 1:43, 2:1), culminating in Jesus’ appearance with “his disciples” (2:2) at a wedding in the Galilean city of Cana (2:1-11). Undoubtedly, among his disciples were Andrew, Simon, Philip, and Nathanael who had just interacted with Jesus both temporally in the days before and narratively in the preceding context. In the narratives that follow, there is no sense that these disciples have abandoned Jesus for the Sea of Galilee: they follow him to Capernaum (2:12), to Jerusalem (2:13-25), and so on. At what point does Jesus have to go back to Galilee to call the disciples to be “fishers of people”? As Raymond Brown noted,

The standard harmonization is that Jesus first called the disciples as John narrates but that they subsequently returned to their normal life in Galilee until Jesus came there to recall them to service, as the Synoptics narrate. There may be some basic truth in this reconstruction but it goes considerably beyond the evidence of the Gospels themselves. In John, once the disciples are called, they remain Jesus’ disciples without the slightest suggestion of their returning to normal livelihood. Nor in the Synoptic account of the call in Galilee is there any indication that these men have seen Jesus before.8

In other words, the Gospel narratives do not allow any such reconciliation. In both, the disciples continue with Jesus without interruption. Lyons contrived explanation simply doesn’t work.

No Harmonization Needed

In truth, no harmonization is needed. If the Johannine author was working from traditional material then it is clear that there was a version of Jesus’ first interactions with Andrew and Peter that differ from that found in the Markan narrative. And if the author was working with some version of Mark or Luke9 then he has clearly reshaped preexisting narratives to suit his own particular purposes, especially with regards to his rather high Christology. In either case, a harmonization simply isn’t possible. The authors of the Gospels of Mark and John were clearly writing with different criteria in mind.10  These are portraits, not snapshots, of Jesus. And they are portraits painted with the brushes of later authors in historical situations different from Jesus’ own.

NOTES

1 Not only does Luke’s version of the calling narrative come after Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law, in the narrative it is stated that Jesus gets into Simon’s boat (Andrew is nowhere to be found) and that James and John were Simon’s fishing partners!

2 The Johannine addendum shares particular similarities with the Lukan calling narrative of Luke 5:1-11. For example, in both the Lukan and Johannine accounts we see Simon mentioned without Andrew and we also find James and John, although they are referred to as “the sons of Zebedee” (John 21:2). Both accounts also include a miraculous haul of fish (John 21:6; cf. Luke 5:5-6) as well as a specific response from Simon (John 21:7; cf. Luke 5:8).

3 See Rainer Riesner, “Bethany Beyond Jordan,” in David N. Freedman, editor, Anchor Bible Dictionary (Doubleday, 1992), 1:703-705.

4 See Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Baker Academic, 2003), 1:449-451.

5 There may be more going on with Simon’s name change in John 1:42 from “Simon son of John” to “‘Cephas’ (which is translated Peter).” Not only is it Andrew rather than Simon who affirms that Jesus is the Messiah (1:41; cf. Matthew 16:16), Simon’s change of name to Cephas/Peter occurs far earlier in the Johannine narrative than in the Matthean. Bradford Blaine, Jr. has suggested some Christological motivations for “transplanting the naming episode to the front” of the Gospel of John.

First, Jesus has not met Peter and yet knows enough about him to give him the name “Cephas” which means “rock.” In this way, “John highlights both Jesus general foreknowledge (cf. 4:25; 6:6; 14:26; 16:30, etc.) and his specific foreknowledge concerning the fates of the disciples (14:16; 15:20 and 16:32).

Second, Peter’s statement of Jesus’ identity and that he is the one who has “the words of eternal life” (6:68-69) in the midst of many of Jesus’ disciples leaving him (6:66-67; cf. 6:60-65) serves as a “profession of loyalty in a time of crisis” and not simply as a confession like what we find in the Matthean text. Jesus’ role as Messiah has already been acknowledged (1:41) and the name change is not connected to a Petrine confession. In other words, the Johannine Jesus has already established Peter’s faithfulness.

Third, “by bringing the name change to the front of the Gospel but leaving the confession [i.e. 6:68-69] in its ‘original’ context…John introduces the familiar character of Peter without letting him overshadow Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael.” Consequently, the Johannine author creates “a powerful chain of witness” in the earliest stages of Jesus’ ministry.

See Bradford B. Blaine, Jr., Peter in the Gospel of John: The Making of an Authentic Disciple (Society of Biblical Literature, 2007), 38-39.

6 If we compare Andrew’s statement to Peter – “We have found the Messiah” (1:41) – with Philip’s statement to Nathanael – “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth” (1:45) – we see an example of narrative exposition. Philip in essence explains what the word “Messiah” means to the Johannine community: the one about who the Hebrew scriptures wrote, seen in its fullness in Jesus of Nazareth. So then for this community there is no doubt who the Messiah is: it is Jesus!

7 Eric Lyons, “When Did Jesus Call the First Apostles?” (2007), apologeticpress.org. Accessed 16 January 2018.

8 Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (I-XII) (Doubleday, 1966), 77.

9 There is some evidence that John may have known of the Synoptic Gospels of Mark and Luke, including both direct verbal parallels and knowledge of Synoptic episodes. See L. Michael White, Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite (HarperOne, 2010), 354-355. See also Thomas L. Brodie, The Quest for the Origin of John’s Gospel: A Source-Oriented Approach (OUP, 1993), 67-120.

10 The clearest sign of this is that there is not even a whiff of the secrecy motif that is so prevalent in Mark’s Gospel found in John’s. From the outset, Jesus is declared to be the Messiah and the one about whom the Hebrew scriptures had foretold (John 1:41, 45). This is absent from Mark’s Gospel as virtually no human characters – especially not the disciples – understand who Jesus is.

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons.

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Some Thoughts on Carey Bryant’s “The Gospel of John as an Eyewitness Account”

Over at his blog Theology in Motion, Carey Bryant posted a piece entitled “The Gospel of John as an Eyewitness Account,” summarizing why he thinks the Johannine Gospel is an eyewitness account to the life of Jesus. He makes four main arguments:

  1. The author was familiar with Jewish culture.
  2. The author seems to identify himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved.”
  3. The author has insider’s knowledge of events that happen in the Gospel of John.
  4. The author claims to be an eyewitness.

All this Bryant claims constitutes “strong internal evidence” for Johannine authorship. But is it?

John and Jewish Culture

Bryant points out that in the Gospel of John we see various quotations from the Hebrew Bible as well as a familiarity with Jewish customs. He also points out that the Pool of Bethesda mentioned in John 5:2 has been found in archaeological digs of Jerusalem. Bryant writes,

These details are easily explained if [the author] was a Jew living during the time of Jesus This by itself is by no means decisive, but it is a starting point.

I appreciate Bryant’s candidness here because he is right – this is in no way whatsoever decisive. All this demonstrates is that it was written by a Jew who was familiar with Judaism and Jerusalem. 

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

In multiple places in the Gospel of John we read about “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (see 13:23; 19:26-27; 20:1-10′ 21:7, 20-24). But nowhere does the Gospel of John come out and say, “Hey, the disciple whom Jesus loved was John the brother of James!” Interestingly, though we know Jesus had twelve disciples in the book of John (see John 6:67, 70-71; 20:24) we are not given a list of them as we are in the Synoptics (i.e. Mark 3:13-19).

A Comparison of Disciples in the Markan and Johannine Gospels

Disciples in Mark’s Gospel
(Mark 3:13-19)

Disciples in John’s Gospel

Simon Peter Simon Peter (1:42)
James the son of Zebedee Not mentioned but alluded to in 21:2
John the brother of James Not mentioned but alluded to in 21:2
Andrew Andrew (1:40)
Philip Philip (1:43)
Bartholomew Not mentioned
Matthew Not mentioned
Thomas Thomas (11:6)
James the son of Alphaeus Not mentioned
Thaddaeus Not mentioned
Simon the Cananaean Not mentioned
Judas Iscariot Judas “son of Simon Iscariot” (6:71)
Not mentioned Nathanael (1:45)

As the above table shows, James and John aren’t even mentioned by name in the Gospel of John and they are only mentioned in passing in 21:2 as “the sons of Zebedee.” Isn’t it bizarre that the Gospel of John never once mentions John by name?

Insider Knowledge

Bryant suggests that certain details in the Gospel of John suggest that the author had first-hand knowledge of the events. He offers three examples: 1:39, 2:11, and 6:19. But none of these suggests first-hand knowledge. Instead, it reflects a narrator writing omnisciently as narrators tend to do. For example, the narrator knows of the secret meeting between Nicodemus and Jesus in John 3:1-10 and of the conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan woman while the disciples were off buying goods in town in John 4:7-30. This is the narrator at work, detailing for the reader what has transpired. It isn’t insider knowledge.

Is the Author an Eyewitness? 

Bryant thinks that passages like John 19:35 or 21:24 demonstrate that the author was an eyewitness. But let’s consider the implications of this.

In John 19:35, we are told that the writer saw a soldier pierce the side of Jesus with a spear indicating that he was dead (19:34). If this is John the son of Zebedee we have a fairly significant problem. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells the disciples, “You will all become deserters” (Mark 14:27) and this is precisely what happens (14:50). There are no disciples present at Jesus’ death in Mark (15:21-41) and the same is true of both Matthew (27:32-56) and Luke (23:26-49). In the Synoptics, the only ones who knew Jesus who witnessed his death were a group of women who had followed him and, per Luke, “his acquaintances” which is not a term that Luke ever uses to describe the twelve disciples.

So either John is an eyewitness and thus contradicts the Synoptics or John is not an eyewitness and is in error about his claim in 19:35. It is a lose-lose situation, particularly for inerrantists.

John Was Not the Author

It seems unlikely that John, the disciple of Jesus, was the author of the Gospel that bears his name. Perhaps some of the material contained in it go back to John but the idea that John wrote it is dubious at best. The “strong internal evidence” for Johannine authorship turns out not to be very strong at all.

Musings on Mark: A Closer Look at Mark 6:45-52, part 2

In the last “Musings on Mark” we began taking a closer look at Mark 6:45-52. Today we finish up looking at that passage.

“He Intended to Pass Them By”

We left off in the last post with Jesus seeing the struggle of the disciples as they tried to row “against an adverse wind” (Mark 6:48). This prompts Jesus to make his way to them, “walking on the sea.” But then we read one of the most bizarre statements in the Markan Gospel: “He intended to pass them by.” What in the world does that mean? Let’s begin by briefly considering the Greek text.

Greek (transliterated)

Translation

kai  and
ēthelen he intended
parelthein to pass by
autous them

The main issues here are what the imperfect ēthelen and the aorist infinitive parelthein mean in this context.

The imperfect ēthelen comes from theló, a word we’ve seen before in Mark’s Gospel. For example, in the pericope of the healing of the leper (1:40-45) the infirmed man says to Jesus, “If you choose [thelēs], you can make me clean” (1:40). Jesus responds, “I do choose [thelō]. Be made clean!” (1:41) We also read in the story of John the Baptist’s death that Herodias “wanted [ēthelen] to kill” John (6:19; cf. 6:22). So it seems that theló expresses the idea of desiring, wishing, or choosing to do something. It involves volition. The aorist infinitive parelthein comes from parerchomai, a verb that simply means “to pass by” or “to pass.” It is a word used only here in 6:48 and in 13:30-31 and 14:35. In this instance it clearly refers to Jesus moving past the boat in which the disciples had been rowing.

But why would Jesus “intend to pass them by”? He had seen their struggle, a struggle which prompted him to begin walking toward them on the sea. So it seems pretty cruel to not intervene to help them. So what do we do with those four important words?

Solution #1

One solution to the problem is found in the Matthean and Johannine versions of the story. If you read those two accounts you will quickly notice that neither include this detail. In Matthew’s version one would expect to see it after Matthew 14:25 while in John one would expect to see it in perhaps around John 6:19. But neither Matthew or John chose to include this information. But we are not redacting Mark; we are seeking to explain it. So we move on.

Solution #2 

In his commentary on Mark, R.T. France suggests that “in the narrative context the clause is best seen not as a statement of what was in Jesus’ mind but of how his approach appeared from the disciples’ point of view.”This is certainly an interesting take but is ultimately not convincing. Had Mark intended for the reader to think that it seemed to the disciples Jesus was going to pass them by he could have done so using the verb dokeó. Instead, Mark is intentional with his words. The implied subject of ēthelen is Jesus. And the narrator is offering his omniscient view of the situation in which he knows the intentions of all the characters, including Jesus.

Solution #3 

One of the more compelling solutions is that when Mark says that Jesus intended to “pass them by” he is actually making a reference to the theophanies found in texts like Exodus 33:17-23. There we read how Moses requests to see Yahweh’s glory. Yahweh consents and tells Moses, “I will pass [pareleusomai] before you my glory and will declare my name ‘(the) Lord’ before you” (33:19, LXX; my translation).Similarly, in 1 Kings 19:11 Yahweh tells Elijah, “Go out soon and stand before (the) Lord upon the mountain: behold (the) Lord will pass by [pareleusetai]!” (LXX; my translation) So the language used is similar leading to the conclusion that Mark is being intentional with it. But does Mark intend for his audience to think that Yahweh himself was about to pass by the disciples? Is this a theophany or a christophany?

The Misunderstood Markan Jesus

To answer that question we need to understand who Jesus is in Mark’s Gospel. Whereas both Matthew and Luke included extensive genealogies and birth stories, Mark does not. It is almost as if Mark 1:1-11 serves as Jesus’ origin story for the Markan community. He isn’t born of a virgin in the city of Bethlehem. Rather, he is “from Nazareth of Galilee” (1:9). In other words, Jesus is just a regular guy. He came from a tiny town where everyone knew everyone else (see 6:2-3). He wasn’t a scribe or a teacher; he was a tektón, a man who worked with his hands for a living (6:3; NRSV, “carpenter”). But that changed when he was baptized by John. It is then that he becomes the messiah, the heir to David’s throne, God’s “Son, the Beloved” (1:11).

So what we find in Mark 6:48 isn’t a theophany so much as it is a christophany couched in the language of a theophany. Jesus in Mark 6:48 was seeking to reveal who he was and to answer the question the disciples had asked during the previous miracle on the Sea of Galilee – “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (4:41) He’s the Messiah, the Son of God! But the disciples don’t understand this. When they see Jesus walking on the water they think he is a ghost and cry out in fear (6:49-50). Jesus immediately tells them, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid” (6:50). The opportunity for the revelation of who he is as messiah is thwarted by their fear and by their lack of faith. For when Jesus gets in the boat and the storm then ceases the disciples become “utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened” (6:51-52). The disciples’ inability to fully grasp what is before them is a recurring theme in Mark’s Gospel. Even when the disciple Peter gets it right (8:29) he gets it wrong (8:31-33). And in the end, they all abandon him (14:27-31, 50) despite seeing all he had done.

Jesus had intended to reveal himself more fully to them (i.e. “pass them by”) but the fear of faithlessness of the disciples wouldn’t allow him.

NOTES

R.T. France, The Gospel of Mark, NIGTC (Eerdmans, 2002), 272.

The future tense form of parerchomai is pareleusomai.

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Kyle Keefer: Utter Dullards

Kyle Keefer, The New Testament as Literature: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2008), 25-26.

The characterization of the disciples in Mark’s gospel is shocking in its condescension; the disciples are complete and utter dullards. One scene in particular makes this point. Mark narrates two stories of Jesus’ miraculously feeding a crowd of thousands. The first, in Mark 6:30-44, includes 5,000 men (plus presumably, commensurate numbers of women and children), and they all get their fill from five loaves and two fish. After the meal, the disciples gather up twelve baskets of leftovers. In 8:1-10, presumably a short time later, Jesus does it again. This time he feeds 4,000 people with seven loaves and “a few” small fish (whatever “few” means, there must be more than two). This seemingly repetitive story serves primarily to point to the disciples’ woeful comprehension. Three times in the first story, the place where the crowd gathers is described as deserted. In the second story, Jesus subtly urges the disciples to remember the previous feeding: “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way” (8:2-3). This statement cries out for the disciples to say, “Why don’t you feed them the way that you did that other crowd.” But instead they say “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” (8:4). The syntax of their question amply demonstrates their cloddishness. A reader of the text wants to say in response, “The same way that one fed those people back in chapter six with the other bread in the other deserted place!”

Michael Kok: John Mark as a Composite Creation of the Author of Acts

Michael J. Kok, The Gospel on the Margins: The Reception of Mark in the Second Century (Fortpress Press, 2015), 158-159.

The John Mark of the book of Acts is a composite creation, the result of harmonizing the earlier accounts of Mark as a Pauline coworker and the later association of Mark with Peter. Like 1 Peter 5:13, John Mark bridges the divide between Peter (Acts 12:12) and Paul (12:25). I have advanced the theory that the author of Acts was aware of the tradition about the evangelist Mark: John Mark’s service was to handle the catechetical traditions, traditions that may have formed the raw material for a Gospel. The ambivalent depiction of John Mark in Acts matches the intention of the author of Luke to supersede the prior faulty Gospel text with a more orderly version. If the reader is not persuaded on this last point, it is enough for me to stress that the connection between Mark and Peter in Acts 12:5 is a late development that post-dates the first written evidence of such a connection in 1 Peter by a few decades.

Musings on Mark: Another Reason to Doubt Peter Was Behind Mark’s Gospel

In addition to my regular Bible reading schedule and my verse-by-verse translating of the Gospel of Mark, I’ve also been reading a Markan pericope a day each weekday. Today I was in Mark 14:43-52 and something struck me as really odd.

Jesus is in Gethsemane (14:32-42) with a few of his sleepy disciples when Judas and the gang approach. After the traitor calls Jesus “Rabbi” and kisses him, the guards move on him to arrest him. Then we read this:

But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear (14:47, NRSV).

Imagine for a moment that the Gospel of Mark was all you ever had. You could probably conclude from this passage that the phrase “one of those who stood near” is probably one of the disciples. And you might even deduce from 14:33 that it is likely that it is Peter, James, or John who was swinging their sword. But beyond that you probably couldn’t say for certain that it was this or that disciple.

Of course, the Gospel of Mark is not the only Gospel we have. The other two Synoptic Gospels – Matthew and Luke – both agree with Mark in making the identity of the one who lobbed off the ear of the slave indefinite (see Matthew 26:51 and Luke 22:50). But then we come to the Gospel of John.

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given men?” (John 18:10-11)

So whereas in the Synoptics the identity of the sword-slinger is indefinite, in John’s Gospel it is explicitly Simon Peter. Herein lies the problem:

If you want to believe that Peter stands behind the Markan Gospel, your options aren’t very good. Either 1) Peter forgot that he was the one who cut off the guy’s ear in which case Peter’s memory may be less than reliable (I mean, I’d remember if I cut off a guy’s ear) and thus making Mark’s Gospel less than reliable, or 2) Peter deliberately omitted that information in which case Peter is trying to save face and thus calls into question his reliability and thus the reliability of the Markan Gospel, or 3) Peter did tell Mark but Mark chose to omit it in which case we can call into question the Markan Gospel’s reliability, or 4) John got it wrong in which case we can call into question the reliability of John’s Gospel.

So yeah, I have my doubts Peter was behind the Gospel of Mark.