The Gospel of Mark is the earliest (and shortest) of our four gospels and likely served as a source for Matthew and Luke, and possibly even John. The author of the gospel is anonymous, but it was traditionally attributed to John Mark, the son of a certain Mary who provided for some of the early Christians in Jerusalem. He was also the cousin of Barnabas who temporarily accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey. Tradition also holds that he was an interpreter for Peter and thus locates him in Rome when Peter was martyred under Nero. Later traditions note the prominence of Mark in Alexandria, Egypt, where is remembered as its first bishop and was also said to be martyred.
Though we cannot be certain of many of those details, the author of this gospel does seem to be someone like that John Mark: a person who was Jewish but familiar with the Hellenistic culture; knew both Aramaic, which Jesus spoke, and Greek, in which the book is written; and had access to some of the earliest remembrances of Jesus. The gospel appears to reflect a situation in which Christians are experiencing some kind of persecution, and so a setting in Rome during the persecutions of Nero is one likely context. Most scholars agree that this gospel was written shortly before or after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE. In the midst of such turbulence, Mark's gospel is a reminder to Christians that following Jesus is a way that leads to suffering and service, not power and glory.