Announcing Mark, Canonizer of Paul

I am pleased to announce that my new book, Mark, Canonizer of Paul, is now available from

The back cover blurbs do a good job of briefly describing the book:

“For over 150 years the idea that Mark used the Pauline epistles has been recurring in New Testament research. Now in the work of Tom Dykstra, wide-ranging work and thoughtful, the truth of that idea emerges with a clarity it never had before.  The result is to give a fresh sense of the origin and nature of Mark, of all the New Testament books, and of the quest for history.” — Thomas Brodie, Director, Dominican Biblical Institute, author of The Birthing of the New Testament

“Tom Dykstra draws connections between Paul and the Gospel of Mark that are stunning, surprising, and original, and leave readers with a sense that the evidence deserves a better interpretation than traditional Synoptic models can offer. Well argued, easy to read, immersed in the relevant current exegetical discussion, the book fascinates, provokes, and encourages to think outside the box.” — David Trobisch, author of The First Edition of the New Testament

“In addition to its main focus on Mark, this book is a lucid introduction to early church history, oral tradition, the gospels’ genre, and how to understand scripture in general.” — Paul Nadim Tarazi, Professor of Biblical Studies, St. Vladimir’s Seminary, author of The New Testament: An Introduction: Paul and Mark


14 Responses to Announcing Mark, Canonizer of Paul

  1. Congratulations Tom!!! This is exciting news.

  2. David Oliver Smith says:


    I have just finished reading “Mark, Canonizer of Paul.” I enjoyed it very much. You have some great insights on the intertextuality between Mark and Paul.

    In my book, “Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul” (Wipf & Stock 2011) I show direct sourcing of synoptic passages from Paul (not word for word of course). I found 73 passages in Mark that can plausibly be sourced from Paul plus Hebrews.

    Have you noticed that Mark 12 has a chiastic organization of
    Ps 118 (cited in Rom 8:31)
    Rom 13:1-7 (pay your taxes)
    1 Cor 15:12-14 (nature of resurrection
    1 Cor 15:35-51 (resurrection is spiritual)
    Rom 13:8-10 (Love is summation of the Law)
    Ps 110 (cited in 1 Cor 15:25

    And the very center of the structure at Mark 12:24 Jesus tells the Sadducees that they do not know the scriptures, i.e., they don’t know Paul’s epistles.

    I believe this supports your theory that the writer of Mark considered Paul’s epistles to be scripture.

    Enjoyed your book,

    David Oliver Smith
    La Quinta, CA

    • Tom Dykstra says:

      That’s very interesting; no I hadn’t noticed it. And interpreting it as a chiasm makes the connection to Romans especially strong, because the topics of B (taxes) and B’ (love) don’t seem to fit together aside from the location of their source in Romans 13:1-7 and 13:8-10.

    • Tom Dykstra says:

      P.S. Alas, looks like there is no Kindle edition of your synoptics/Paul book, though Wipf does provide Kindle editions for other books it publishes.

  3. David Oliver Smith says:

    BTW I can’t take credit for the Mark 12/Rom -1 Cor connection. That was pointed out by Michael A. Turton in his online book, “Historical Commentary on the Gospel of Mark.” I did use it in my book, giving him credit, of course.

  4. David Oliver Smith says:


    I haven’t been back here for a while. Wipf does have a kindle edition of my book out now for $9.99. Wipf has just agreed to publish my latest book, “Unlocking the Puzzle” about how I used chiastic structures to detect interpolations into Mark. I have a chapter “Promoting Paul” about how one of Mark’s objectives was to promote Pauline Christianity. I cite you and Helmut Koester for the general proposition. I found that in original Mark there was only 1 feeding miracle (the original was the first half of the first one and the second half of the second one) and most of the pericopae between the 2 feedings were interpolated. 7:1-24 was moved from 10:46. Also 9:2-29 originally followed 6:31 “Return of the 12” but was moved to follow 9:1 to make the transfiguration after Peter’s confession. I’ll let you know when it’s published. They told me a Kindle version would be out soon after publication.


  5. Barry Jones says:

    The trouble in crediting Paul with material now in the synoptic gospels is that Paul was antinomian (Romans 4:5), while the Jesus of say, Matthew, was highly legalistic (Matthew 5:19 ff). In fact some commentators say the gospel author’s statement about those who relax the least of the law will be least in the kingdom of heaven, was a shot at Paul.

    Can you formulate a theory that will explain how the gospel authors who supported a legalistic Jesus, could incorporate into their written gospels, certain material they must have known had originated with a heretic?

    • Tom Dykstra says:

      “Legalistic” is a broad stroke to paint an author by that would require a preponderance of consistent evidence which I don’t think can actually be found. Matthew also has the sheep and the goats parable in chapter 25 where judgment depends not on “law” observance but on a very Pauline conception of doing good for the neighbor. Ultimately I think the authors of Matthew and of Paul’s epistles had the same essential goals but were writing in different situations for different audiences and used different literary means (epistolary vs. narrative form). If Matthew found things he liked and some he disliked in Paul’s epistles, there would be no reason to reject what he liked just because of the presence of less appealing material.

      • Barry Jones says:

        I agree with you that the portrait of Jesus in the gospels is not consistent.

        However, it remains that when Matthew has Jesus say “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; (Matt. 5:19 NAU)”, this language requires that the author must have felt that Paul was “least in the kingdom of heaven”, as Paul made no secret of his belief that the Law was done away in Christ (Colossians 2:14), the covenant in Christ is “better” than the old one (Hebrews 8:13), that the former commandment has been “set aside” (i.e., annulled, Hebrews 7:18), and Christ’s death would be in vain if righteousness before God could be achieved by obedience to the law (Galatians 2:21, see also Romans 3:20-28).

        In my present understanding, the only way I could accept that the gospel authors incorporated Pauline theology into their texts is under the assumption that they were far less concerned about consistency and making sense, than even us atheists typically give them credit for. Or perhaps the Paul which the gospels use was the early Paul, before he became the radicalized “law-free” preacher now evinced in his NT writings?

        Paul’s early theology is indeed suspicious and obscure. I used to say Paul was in conflict with James, but I have to wonder whether the mid-first century famine might have pressured James to acquiesce, and prioritize Paul’s “gift of money for the Jerusalem church” (i.e., bribe) above Paul’s theological accuracy, so that Paul’s report that the original disciples accepted him (Galatians 2:9) might in fact be historically true despite their clear differences. Money talks!

  6. David Oliver Smith says:


    My new book “Unlocking the Puzzle” is now out from Wipf and Stock. In it I have a chapter entitled “Promoting Paul” showing how the purpose of Mark in writing his Gospel was to promote the Christology of Paul and reject that of the Jerusalem apostles. I also discovered a way to detect redactions to Mark and i restore the Gospel to the way it was originally written. I cite your book several times.


    • Tom Dykstra says:

      Congratulations on the publication of your new book! I look forward to reading about your methodology for identifying redactions to Mark.

      • Barry Jones says:


        I will be publishing my first book probably at the end of the year, and was wondering if you could give me a ballpark on monthly royalties it would likely generate. If the book is 300 pages and similar to yours in addressing popular biblical issues, am I looking at $100 per month in royalties. More? Less?

        What advance can a first-time author expect if a publisher accepts a work like this? $500? More, less? Ballpark figure works.

        The idea that Mark wrote to promote Paul and trivialize the Jewish apostles is certainly unexpected. It would entail putting no stock in Papias and Clement of Alexandria who say Mark wrote down the preaching of Peter.


  7. David Oliver Smith says:


    Sorry to be so late with a response. I haven’t visited this site in a while. I got no advance, had to pay some of the costs to publish myself and yearly royalties will pay for a nice lunch.

    You’re right I put no stock in Papias or Clement. I note 30 passages where Mark bashes the disciples. He is especially hard on Peter, James and John.

    Good luck with your book.


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