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The Mutilation of Mark's Gospel

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  • K L Noll
    Hi everyone, I am interested to learn from anyone on this list who has read Clayton Croy s book, The Mutilation of Mark s Gospel. Do you find this book s
    Message 1 of 9 , Jul 16, 2007
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      Hi everyone,

      I am interested to learn from anyone on this list who has read Clayton Croy's book, The Mutilation of Mark's Gospel. Do you find this book's thesis plausible, probable, or unconvincing? And why? I will be grateful to learn from your views on the matter.
      *

      For those of you who haven't read the book, here are a few excerpts that summarize the thesis:

      "[T]he thesis really has three parts: the loss of Mark's ending, the loss of Mark's beginning, and the codex form as the mechanical means of the damage. ..." (page 164)

      "[D]amage to the autograph (or perhaps to an early copy from which all extant manuscripts derive) resulted in the simultaneous loss of the first and last leaves." (page 166)

      "[When did this damage occur to Mark's Gospel? ... At precisely the point of Mark 16:8, Matthew and Luke diverge significantly. ... It is also evident that Matthew and Luke had nothing preceding Mark 1:1 in their copies of the Second Gospel, and may not even have had that verse." (pages 156-57)
      *

      Thus, Croy concludes that the first and last pages of the original Mark were lost or destroyed during the first 10 to 20 years of the document's existence, and prior to any copy of the Gospel made by any scribe anywhere at any time.

      Elsewhere, Croy discusses the objection that Mark or someone who knew the guy would have corrected the damage. Or, if Mark had died, surely someone who knew him would have known the codex was damaged and would have remembered basically what Mark had originally written, so that a reasonable correction could have been made. Croy leaves the question open as basically unknowable (passim, but see especially pages 141-143).


      I am interested to learn what list-members think of this thesis (which, as Croy stresses, is not new, but is certainly packaged in a new and innovative thesis with some new supporting arguments).


      Shalom,
      Kurt L. Noll
      Brandon University
      Brandon, Manitoba
      nollk@...
      klnoll@...



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • McGrath, James
      I ve shared a review I wrote of Croy s book on my blog at http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2007/07/mutilation-of-marks-gospe l.html If I recall
      Message 2 of 9 , Jul 17, 2007
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        I've shared a review I wrote of Croy's book on my blog at
        http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2007/07/mutilation-of-marks-gospe
        l.html

        If I recall correctly, Larry Hurtado, in his recent book on early
        Christian manuscripts, states that if Mark's original ending were lost,
        we would expect the beginning to also be affected. He does not, however,
        go into any further detail, nor does he mention Croy's book.

        James McGrath


        ************************************************************************
        ***************************************

        Dr. James F. McGrath Tel. (317)
        940-9364

        Assistant Professor of Religion e-mail:
        jfmcgrat@...

        Butler University, 4600 Sunset Avenue
        http://blue.butler.edu/~jfmcgrat/ <http://blue.butler.edu/~jfmcgrat/>

        Indianapolis, IN 46208
        http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com
        <http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/>

        ************************************************************************
        ***************************************




        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Matson, Mark (Academic)
        It has been some time since I looked at it, and I will have to review the book, but I was not that impressed. It was also discussed at the SBL this last fall,
        Message 3 of 9 , Jul 17, 2007
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          It has been some time since I looked at it, and I will have to review
          the book, but I was not that impressed. It was also discussed at the SBL
          this last fall, and I think others had problems as well. But thenI tend
          to read Mark through a narrative lens, and it looks pretty unified to me
          from this perspective.



          A major issue that keeps coming up is that Mark is (seems?) unfinished
          at 16:8. I doubt that. For one thing, it is often suggested that the
          ending with gar is ungrammatical. That is not so -- there are a number
          of examples of this. Moreover, the sudden ending without resolution is
          also not unknown as a literary device (I think J. Lee Magness' book
          "Sense and Absence" is still a masterful treatment -- and often people
          slide over its central argument without really engaging the data).



          To me, even more importantly, the narrative structure in which all the
          disciples in some way fail to portray "stony ground" (even the women,
          who run away afraid) works very effectively with the narrative design
          of the gospel -- as if the evangelist then turns to the audience and
          "without a word" inquires -- and you? Would you also run away or deny
          him?



          To say that the gospel demands a vision of Jesus seems not to see the
          power of the narrative as it is -- open ended, inquiring, and as much or
          more about disciples' (including the reader) responses as about Jesus.
          Notice, for instance, that Matthew who does report a risen Jesus also
          resolves almost all the difficult questions about the disciples. It
          tells the story very differently.



          Finally, I found the argument that Mt. and Luke vary from Mark the most
          precisely after 16:8. Yes! To me this is a strong argument for the
          shorter original version of Mark. They didn't have it. Period. Much
          more satisfying than somehow a codex version lost the front and the back
          very early in its transmission.... and no-one copied it in its original
          form?



          FYI, see this review (not agreeing with me) on the SBL book review page:

          http://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/3235_3638.pdf



          Mark A. Matson

          Academic Dean

          Milligan College

          http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm



          > -----Original Message-----

          > From: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com]
          On

          > Behalf Of K L Noll

          > Sent: Monday, July 16, 2007 6:35 PM

          > To: Crosstalk2

          > Subject: [XTalk] The Mutilation of Mark's Gospel

          >

          > Hi everyone,

          >

          > I am interested to learn from anyone on this list who has read Clayton

          > Croy's book, The Mutilation of Mark's Gospel. Do you find this book's

          > thesis plausible, probable, or unconvincing? And why? I will be
          grateful

          > to learn from your views on the matter.

          > *

          >

          > For those of you who haven't read the book, here are a few excerpts
          that

          > summarize the thesis:

          >

          > "[T]he thesis really has three parts: the loss of Mark's ending, the
          loss

          > of Mark's beginning, and the codex form as the mechanical means of the

          > damage. ..." (page 164)

          >

          > "[D]amage to the autograph (or perhaps to an early copy from which all

          > extant manuscripts derive) resulted in the simultaneous loss of the
          first

          > and last leaves." (page 166)

          >

          > "[When did this damage occur to Mark's Gospel? ... At precisely the
          point

          > of Mark 16:8, Matthew and Luke diverge significantly. ... It is also

          > evident that Matthew and Luke had nothing preceding Mark 1:1 in their

          > copies of the Second Gospel, and may not even have had that verse."

          > (pages 156-57)

          > *

          >

          > Thus, Croy concludes that the first and last pages of the original
          Mark

          > were lost or destroyed during the first 10 to 20 years of the
          document's

          > existence, and prior to any copy of the Gospel made by any scribe
          anywhere

          > at any time.

          >

          > Elsewhere, Croy discusses the objection that Mark or someone who knew
          the

          > guy would have corrected the damage. Or, if Mark had died, surely
          someone

          > who knew him would have known the codex was damaged and would have

          > remembered basically what Mark had originally written, so that a

          > reasonable correction could have been made. Croy leaves the question
          open

          > as basically unknowable (passim, but see especially pages 141-143).

          >

          >

          > I am interested to learn what list-members think of this thesis
          (which, as

          > Croy stresses, is not new, but is certainly packaged in a new and

          > innovative thesis with some new supporting arguments).

          >

          >

          > Shalom,

          > Kurt L. Noll

          > Brandon University

          > Brandon, Manitoba

          > nollk@...

          > klnoll@...

          >

          >

          >

          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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        • K L Noll
          Mark wrote: I found the argument that Mt. and Luke vary from Mark the most precisely after 16:8. Yes! To me this is a strong argument for the shorter
          Message 4 of 9 , Jul 17, 2007
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            Mark wrote:
            I found the argument that Mt. and Luke vary from Mark the most precisely after 16:8. Yes! To me this is a strong argument for the shorter original version of Mark. They didn't have it. Period. Much more satisfying than somehow a codex version lost the front and the back very early in its transmission.... and no-one copied it in its original form?


            My comments:
            Thanks for your note, and thanks for the mention of the RBL review (which I had read some time ago). And thanks to James for reference to his blog (which I will examine very soon). Thanks as well for several off-list emails, and I look forward to learning any new insights anyone might have on this issue, if the thread continues.


            Mark, I agree and disagree with your comment that I snipped above.

            Your point about Matthew and Luke going their own ways after Mark 16:8 is important but, does it not cut both ways? They clearly did not have a Mark that continued past that verse, but was it the Mark that Mark wrote or was it a mutilated text? I don't think that could be the most compelling argument for either side in the debate because, in my view, it fits both sides.

            I agree with you against Croy in one sense: What bothers me about Croy's thesis is something that might seem trivial. Matthew (and to a lesser degree, also Luke) always struck me as awkward: Some women meet an Announcer who announces that Jesus is risen. Then, awkwardly, these women meet Jesus. Well, in that case, why did we need an Announcer? Matt 28:9-10 are unnecessary. So I presume that Mark originally had an Announcer but no resurrection-appearance stories. Because he had no appearance story, he needed an Announcer. Matthew (and Luke) felt a need to add the appearance stories to a source that, in terms of narrative logic, did not require them.

            On the other hand, I can't let go of the mutilation hypothesis because it fits with some anomalies that have always bothered me: If Mark was composed so early, why does no trace of him seem to appear in early Fathers? Ignatius knows Matthew (and a few scholars say he knows John). What about Mark? Then I note that Papias seems to make excuses for the nature of Mark's text. Why? For this reason, I am not uncomfortable with the issue you express discomfort over. Hypothetically, I can envision a text that was circulated not at all until Matthew got hold of it. After his revision, the original (mutilated) text begins to circulate and later Luke uses it.

            Of course, I am certain I am wrong about that.


            Shalom,
            Kurt L. Noll
            Brandon University
            Brandon, Manitoba
            nollk@...
            klnoll@...






            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • McGrath, James
            For me, one of Croy s strongest arguments that Mark originally continued further is a comparison with Moby Dick. Apparently, a first printing omitted the final
            Message 5 of 9 , Jul 18, 2007
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              For me, one of Croy's strongest arguments that Mark originally continued further is a comparison with Moby Dick. Apparently, a first printing omitted the final chapter, with the result that "no one survived". As one reviewer appropriately asked, if no one lived to tell the tale, then how am I hearing about it?!

              This logical problem, combined with the fact that so many different ancient readers of Mark's Gospel (Matthew, Luke, and at least two early scribes) felt that Mark's ending was abrupt, are sufficient indication, for me anyway, that something is indeed missing. The Gospel of Peter is also important evidence - it provides an ending that flows logically continuing where Mark leaves off, and does not follow either Matthew or Luke at this point, suggesting the author knew Mark's complete story (which does not necessarily mean he had a complete text of Mark before him).

              What is more perplexing to me is that neither Matthew nor Luke seems to have known the continuation of Mark's story. Whatever Mark originally had, whether this abrupt ending or a continuation that is now lost, Matthew and Luke did not know what happens next, except that the disciples saw Jesus. They disagree on where and on most major details.

              Research on oral tradition suggests that group testimony tends to be an outline. Would it not be a plausible explanation that the early testimony about the resurrection appearances was a list, perhaps resembling the first part of that given in 1 Corinthians 15? What Matthew and Luke offer would then be an attempt to elaborate that list, in the absence of much other information, into a flowing narrative.

              James McGrath
            • Matson, Mark (Academic)
              ... is ... wrote ... it ... Kurt: I suppose one might allow that Matthew and Luke could have used a mutilated text. But for me, how likely is that? We know
              Message 6 of 9 , Jul 18, 2007
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                Kurt Noll wrote:

                > Mark, I agree and disagree with your comment that I snipped above.
                >
                > Your point about Matthew and Luke going their own ways after Mark 16:8
                is
                > important but, does it not cut both ways? They clearly did not have a
                > Mark that continued past that verse, but was it the Mark that Mark
                wrote
                > or was it a mutilated text? I don't think that could be the most
                > compelling argument for either side in the debate because, in my view,
                it
                > fits both sides.

                Kurt:
                I suppose one might allow that Matthew and Luke could have used a
                mutilated text. But for me, how likely is that? We know they used
                Mark, and undoubtedly a Mark that ends with 16:8....but there is no
                evidence that they know of any other text. This is an argument from
                silence, and while it may be true, I wish there were evidence. Clearly
                they were impressed enough with Mark "as is" to use it as the basis of
                their revised gospels. Moreover one has to imagine how they accessed
                this. They probably were not using an "original" codex that had some
                pages lost. No, rather copying of the text must have already taken
                place and been distributed to various places. Thus Luke and Matthew
                used copies of a text that was already a shortened one. So this short
                Mark was considered important enough to copy and distribute, perhaps
                broadly. (and here I find Bauckham's argument that the gospels were
                meant to be distributed broadly, not just products for a closed
                community convincing). So for the mutilation hypothesis to work, the
                mutilation must have happened in the original form, and yet in this
                form it was copied and distributed and used elsewhere.

                > <snip>
                > On the other hand, I can't let go of the mutilation hypothesis because
                it
                > fits with some anomalies that have always bothered me: If Mark was
                > composed so early, why does no trace of him seem to appear in early
                > Fathers? Ignatius knows Matthew (and a few scholars say he knows
                John).
                > What about Mark? Then I note that Papias seems to make excuses for
                the
                > nature of Mark's text. Why? For this reason, I am not uncomfortable
                with
                > the issue you express discomfort over. Hypothetically, I can envision
                a
                > text that was circulated not at all until Matthew got hold of it.
                After
                > his revision, the original (mutilated) text begins to circulate and
                later
                > Luke uses it.

                Well, Mark doesn't disappear. Matthew and Luke at least used it. And
                it was always considered part of the early gospel canon. Granted,
                Matthew becomes used far more commonly. But that probably comes about
                because of the nature of Matthew's gospel -- as didactic instruction.
                Mark, on the other hand, functions far more as an evangelistic text --
                one which seeks to draw the reader into a self-examination: would I
                react like this? Do I believe? Will I be more faithful than they?
                Matthew as didactic instruction (more focused on the church), and Luke
                as salvation history, both become more functional in the developing
                church. But Mark is not lost -- it is just used less.
                I guess I don't find the argument that Mark was unused until Matthew got
                a hold of it convincing. And then Luke used it. Why? If Matthew's use
                spurred on later use of Mark, well that would be great in one way, since
                it would suggest that Luke knew and used Matthew (which I would agree
                with). But even here, why then would Luke use Mark in addition to (or
                instead of, in the two document hypothesis) if Matthew was available.
                But if Mark used Matthew, there is ample evidence in this scenario that
                Luke valued Mark over Matthew and thus utilized both. So why is Mark,
                if it has been unknown and essentially sequestered, still valued and
                used by Luke? Perhaps it was not that difficult or viewed that
                negatively, despite Papias' later concern about it. Granted, Mark
                stylistically is rough, and thus would cause some difficulty, and yet
                was never totally shelved.

                Again, for me the strongest argument for Mark's integrity as it stands
                (at 16:8) is that it works so well internally as a narrative.


                Mark A. Matson
                Academic Dean
                Milligan College
                http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm
              • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                ... continued ... one ... how ... James: I actually don t find that terribly convincing. Mark s story leaves enough pointers in the story forward to a
                Message 7 of 9 , Jul 18, 2007
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                  James McGrath wrote:
                  >
                  > For me, one of Croy's strongest arguments that Mark originally
                  continued
                  > further is a comparison with Moby Dick. Apparently, a first printing
                  > omitted the final chapter, with the result that "no one survived". As
                  one
                  > reviewer appropriately asked, if no one lived to tell the tale, then
                  how
                  > am I hearing about it?!

                  James:
                  I actually don't find that terribly convincing. Mark's story leaves
                  enough pointers in the story forward to a post-resurrection time, so the
                  fact that some were restored is implied in the story line. Hence, the
                  abrupt ending rather than being impossible only emphasizes the dilemma
                  to the reader -- "would you too run away?" It matches so well the
                  underlying story line that the disciples (including women) are all
                  potentially "outside" even when Jesus draws them in. It is a narrative
                  pattern throughout the story (cf. Mk 8:14-21, where midway despite being
                  included as hearers, they too fail to understand. This pattern is set
                  early in the gospel, and continues right through Peter's denial, all
                  leaving, and then the women too.) Thus the abrupt ending performs
                  magnificently, rather than being defective.

                  > This logical problem, combined with the fact that so many different
                  > ancient readers of Mark's Gospel (Matthew, Luke, and at least two
                  early
                  > scribes) felt that Mark's ending was abrupt, are sufficient
                  indication,
                  > for me anyway, that something is indeed missing. The Gospel of Peter
                  is
                  > also important evidence - it provides an ending that flows logically
                  > continuing where Mark leaves off, and does not follow either Matthew
                  or
                  > Luke at this point, suggesting the author knew Mark's complete story
                  > (which does not necessarily mean he had a complete text of Mark before
                  > him).

                  Well, granted the ending is problematic for an evangelist who is trying
                  to instruct the church (Matt), or give a pattern of the role of the
                  church in the grand sweep of Israel to the new kingdom (Luke). But that
                  has more to do with the very different purposes these gospels have,
                  rather than simply seeing Mark as defective. Indeed, if they were so
                  troubled, why use Mark as their primary outline?

                  > What is more perplexing to me is that neither Matthew nor Luke seems
                  to
                  > have known the continuation of Mark's story. Whatever Mark originally
                  had,
                  > whether this abrupt ending or a continuation that is now lost, Matthew
                  and
                  > Luke did not know what happens next, except that the disciples saw
                  Jesus.
                  > They disagree on where and on most major details.

                  Agreed. They didn't have an ending. Because one was never written. And
                  they didn't have a birth narrative, because one wasn't written.

                  > Research on oral tradition suggests that group testimony tends to be
                  an
                  > outline. Would it not be a plausible explanation that the early
                  testimony
                  > about the resurrection appearances was a list, perhaps resembling the
                  > first part of that given in 1 Corinthians 15? What Matthew and Luke
                  offer
                  > would then be an attempt to elaborate that list, in the absence of
                  much
                  > other information, into a flowing narrative.

                  I am quite willing to assume the existence of oral traditions that Matt
                  and Luke may have drawn on / in addition to some creative work on their
                  own to tell the story that they felt needed to be told (for their own
                  purposes)

                  Mark A. Matson
                  Academic Dean
                  Milligan College
                  http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm
                • Bob Schacht
                  ... But isn t it also possible that the shortened version was copied because *no complete version was available*? ... No, it need only to have happened to the
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jul 18, 2007
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                    At 06:03 AM 7/18/2007, Matson, Mark (Academic) wrote:


                    >[snip]
                    >
                    >Kurt:
                    >I suppose one might allow that Matthew and Luke could have used a
                    >mutilated text. But for me, how likely is that? We know they used
                    >Mark, and undoubtedly a Mark that ends with 16:8....but there is no
                    >evidence that they know of any other text. This is an argument from
                    >silence, and while it may be true, I wish there were evidence. Clearly
                    >they were impressed enough with Mark "as is" to use it as the basis of
                    >their revised gospels. Moreover one has to imagine how they accessed
                    >this. They probably were not using an "original" codex that had some
                    >pages lost. No, rather copying of the text must have already taken
                    >place and been distributed to various places. Thus Luke and Matthew
                    >used copies of a text that was already a shortened one. So this short
                    >Mark was considered important enough to copy and distribute, perhaps
                    >broadly.

                    But isn't it also possible that the shortened version was copied
                    because *no complete version was available*?

                    >(and here I find Bauckham's argument that the gospels were
                    >meant to be distributed broadly, not just products for a closed
                    >community convincing). So for the mutilation hypothesis to work, the
                    >mutilation must have happened in the original form, and yet in this
                    >form it was copied and distributed and used elsewhere. . . . .

                    No, it need only to have happened to the *only extant copy,* whether
                    original or not. For example, other copies might have gotten lost
                    during the Jewish Wars of 70 C.E.

                    Bob Schacht
                    University of Hawaii
                  • Bob Schacht
                    ... I actually like the mutilated Mark hypothesis. It comports well with what we know about other ancient codexes, and with physical realities. BTW, did any
                    Message 9 of 9 , Jul 18, 2007
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                      At 03:26 PM 7/17/2007, K L Noll wrote:
                      >Mark wrote:
                      >I found the argument that Mt. and Luke vary from Mark the most
                      >precisely after 16:8. Yes! To me this is a strong argument for
                      >the shorter original version of Mark. They didn't have it. Period.
                      >Much more satisfying than somehow a codex version lost the front and
                      >the back very early in its transmission.... and no-one copied it in
                      >its original form?
                      >
                      >
                      >My comments:
                      >
                      >. . . Mark, I agree and disagree with your comment that I snipped above.
                      >
                      >Your point about Matthew and Luke going their own ways after Mark
                      >16:8 is important but, does it not cut both ways? They clearly did
                      >not have a Mark that continued past that verse, but was it the Mark
                      >that Mark wrote or was it a mutilated text? I don't think that
                      >could be the most compelling argument for either side in the debate
                      >because, in my view, it fits both sides. . . .

                      I actually like the 'mutilated Mark' hypothesis. It comports well
                      with what we know about other ancient codexes, and with physical
                      realities. BTW, did any of the early codexes have true covers to
                      protect the first and last pages? That might be an important clue. If
                      Matthew and Luke knew only the 'mutilated Mark', and had physically
                      seen it and the evidence of missing beginning and end, would that not
                      have served as extra motivation to supply the "missing" information?
                      It also does not surprise me much that no complete (unmutilated)
                      copies survived, because if Mark wrote shortly before 70 BCE, the
                      Wars would have made it difficult to keep intact the small number of
                      autographs.

                      I also like it because it combines two domains of knowledge: literary
                      analysis, and manuscript curation (I mean that part of textual
                      criticism that deals with actually handling and transcribing the
                      physical manuscripts themselves.) The trouble with much biblical
                      criticism is that these methods are too often conducted in isolation
                      from each other.

                      Bob Schacht
                      University of Hawaii
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