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Re: [Synoptic-L] Mark's ending

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic In Response To: Dave Gentile On: Mark s Ending From: Bruce Dave has raised some interesting points. I diverge somewhat in how I see the logic of
    Message 1 of 9 , Oct 4, 2005
      To: Synoptic
      In Response To: Dave Gentile
      On: Mark's Ending
      From: Bruce

      Dave has raised some interesting points. I diverge somewhat in how I see the
      logic of the question, and it may be helpful to offer that view as part of
      the conversation.

      DAVE: I don't think that the current ending of Mark is original, but it may
      not be that Mark originally ended at 16:8 either.

      BRUCE: By "current ending" I take it Dave means Mk 16:9f, which is omitted
      or italicized in most recently critical editions. Let's start by agreeing
      that Mk 16:9f is not part of the discussion.

      DAVE: An earlier version of Mark may have contained an ending which is now
      totally lost. For some theological reason, it was removed very early, and
      then much later the current ending was added.

      BRUCE: That is, there was originally something in the place now occupied by
      Mk 16:9f, and that this was removed. The current MK 16:9f (if I understand
      Dave rightly) would be a later suppletion, posterior to the time Mk was (I
      conclude on other evidence) seen by Mt and Lk. I go back to this in a
      moment. First, the remainder of Dave's position:

      DAVE: But just because we don't believe Mark's current ending is original,
      does not mean we must automatically conclude that it originally ended with
      the empty tomb. The only argument I can see that one might make in the way
      of evidence for such a lost ending is that the later authors certainly
      seemed to agree that a key narrative event was missing.

      BRUCE: I think, and have previously urged, that the later attempts to supply
      an ending for Mk (the traditional Mk 16:9f, the Freer Ending) are excellent
      evidence for a sense that Mk ought not to end so up in the air as it does;
      the sense among people not that far removed from the Gospel formative period
      that Mk 16:8 is a funny way to end a Gospel.

      Accepting that early agreement as a welcome support for some modern
      impressions, including my own, we next need to ask: Assuming the original
      end of Mk, the thing originally in the place now occupied by Mk 16:9f, was
      intentionally and not accidentally removed from an earlier state of Mk, is
      16:8 a credible artifact of that process? I would think that it is
      excessively abrupt, and that an intentional deletion would have left a more
      complete sentence.

      If so, then the possibility of accidental damage re-emerges. This is where I
      think the scenario which I earlier proposed makes sense. If the damage was
      accidental, why was not the missing material at once supplied? My suggestion
      was: because Mk, at the point it came to be used by Mt and/or Lk,, was no
      longer part of a live tradition, but instead a relic of a formerly live
      tradition. Neither the [most recent] author of the book, nor the community
      whose beliefs the book either reflected or inculcated, was available to
      provide the missing information. The physical GMk was all there was. My
      suggestion for filling out that scenario (there may well be other
      possibilities) was that Mk was the Gospel of an early Galilean Christian
      group, perhaps suppleted with Mk 13 as late as 71 by someone anxious to
      update the work's prophetic power, but that what was left of the group and
      of the text-proprietor set within that group was eliminated by the
      repressions in conjunction with the years 70-73. Pella. What might credibly
      have been imagined to have survived that disaster would be just a slightly
      damaged text of GMk, with its ending torn off by circumstance (rather than
      theological odium), and supplied as an unprovenanced object to the later
      Synoptists, its original community being no longer able to be queried about
      what might have lain beyond Mk 16:8, or about any other matter.

      If intentional, why was not the nature of the intention known to the
      Synoptists operating only a few years later? If accidental, well, that seems
      to me to offer possibilities if we are thinking of the years of the early

      Just a suggestion. But it does seem to me to meet what I take to be the
      data, the situational givens, in the problem.

      On the other hand, if it can be shown that Mk 13 can after all be entirely
      construed as responsive to the Caligula situation, rather than to the Titus
      situation, then even Mk 13 can be old within Mk, and there is no necessity
      to posit an addition much later, in the 70's. Then all the more, GMk might
      be an old, and uncontexted, object as of the Synoptic composition fervor
      following the events of 70-73.

      Myself, I like it better, and would be glad to see a strong Caligula
      argument for Mk 13. To that end: Would someone care to summarize and refute
      Kloppenborg's latest argument (his chief contribution is the Evocatio Deorum
      motif)? Or for that matter, to summarize and support Hendrika Roskam's? (see
      JBL v124 #3, 553f). I agree with the JBL reviewer that she has the better of
      it as against Incigneri's Roman scenario for Mk, but I also agree that her
      position needs a little more work.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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