Mark 14:72, How many times did the rooster crow?

And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.

//That’s Mark’s version. Jesus says it’ll crow twice, and it does crow twice.

Mark was the first Gospel written. Matthew and Luke both directly copied many of Mark’s stories, and the evidence seems to be piling up that John, also, had read Mark’s Gospel. Curiously, however, all three of these later Gospels contradict Mark. The cock crows just once in their versions.

So, how many times did the rooster crow? Probably, none. Roosters were not allowed in the city, according to Jewish ritual law. More likely, the Gospels refer to the trumpet call marking the changing of the guard at 3 a.m. This trumpet blast, heard city-wide, was called the cock-crow. All three later Gospel writers correct Mark’s embarrassing misunderstanding, knowing the trumpet blast couldn’t have been heard twice.


  1. Really like this. Thanks so much for passing on your findings!

  2. Obadiah

    Can you document (1) that the trumpet was called the cock crow and (2) that Jewish law prohibited roosters in Jerusalem?


  3. Lee Harmon

    Hi Obadiah!

    For the cockcrow, see Craig Keener’s The Gospel of John, 929 and 1097, where Keener seems to assume we understand it to be a trumpet call. You could look up the “gallicinium”, the 3 am call. See Horace, Sat. 1.1.9-10.

    Raymond Brown, a very notable Johannine scholar, also refers to it. And a fourth-century pilgrim, Egeria, makes reference to it in her diary.

    re: Jewish law, according to the Mishnah, there was a rabbinic ordinance against keeping chickens within the walls of the Holy City because it was feared that their scratching would produce “unclean things,” thereby violating the purity laws (J. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus, page 47, note 44).

    Good luck with whatever research project you’re working on, hope I was able to help!

Leave a Reply to Obadiah Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>