Canada’s intelligence service stated that some 60 ‘returnees’ — fighters who had returned to Canada — ‘have the potential to pose a significant threat to our national security.’ In other words, there are dozens of jihadis roaming free in Canada,
It is a very interesting question and one that fascinates those of us who work at the Center. You asked how do we know that Mark is dated from A.D. 50-60. There is be at least one preliminary disclaimer before we delve into your question. Like the original text of the New Testament, we cannot know with absolute certainty that Mark was written from A.D. 50-60. It is because of this that debate continues. This does not mean that such a dating is false or unwarranted, but it does mean that while we may have good tools by which we arrive at our conclusions, we do in fact lack the original document. Without such a document, we are giving our best estimates as to when the Gospel of Mark was written. That disclaimer aside, there is good reason to believe that Mark was written within the dates which you mentioned.
One, there is early attestation by church fathers to such dating. The earliest tradition, put forward by Irenaeus, claims that the Gospel was written after Peter’s death during the rule of Nero, and thus the dating must have taken place close to A.D. 65-66—the year assumed to be Peter’s death. This attestation by Irenaeus dates between 160-180.1 Irenaeus is not the only church father to espouse an early date. Clement of Alexandria (c.150-215) says that the Gospel was written during Peter’s time in Rome, sometime between A.D. 45 and 65.2
Along with this, we must mention the concept of Markan priority. Markan priority is the view that the Gospel of Mark was the first of the four Gospel written. The view also holds that Mark was used by the other gospels, especially Matthew and Luke, as source for their own respective narratives. Why is this important? Many scholars hold to Markan priority. If we assume that Mark was the first gospel written, and if we taken into account that Luke was most likely written no later than A.D. 62,3 then Markan priority becomes essential to the dating of said gospel. If Luke used Mark as a source for his gospel, then it must be true that Mark was not written before Luke, which was proposed above as being written no later than A.D. 62.
Köstenberger give a succinct articulation of why they believe Mark was written from A.D. 50s-60s. They write, “If Mark was the first to write his Gospel and if Luke used Mark in writing his Gospel, and since the book of Acts was likely written in the early 60s and Luke before that, then all these factors would place the most probably date for the writing of Mark’s Gospel in the second half of the 50s.”4
There are several reasons why one can argue for the dating of Mark to be around A.D. 50-60. One, it is attested by some early church fathers. Two, Markan priority, held widely by scholars, contends that Mark was written first of the four gospels. Three, if Mark was written first and Acts was written in the early 60s—the Gospel of Luke even before that, then Mark was likely written in the second half of the 50s. Thus, there are good reasons to believe in the dating about which you originally asked. Scholars debate the exact dating, arguing for a range from A.D. 40 to the late 70s. While the exact dating may not be known, one can be confident that A.D. 50s-60s is not an outlier.
Intern at CSNTM
1 Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles, The Cradle the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2009), 234; Anti-Marcionite Prologue; Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.1.1 (c.160-80)
2 Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, 234; Eusebeius, Eccl. Hist. 6.14.5-7.
3 Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, 234; D.A. Carson and Douglas Moo, Introduction to the New Testament, 182.
4 Köstenberger, Kellum, and Qualers, 235.