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RE: [XTalk] RE: The Mutilation of Mark's Gospel

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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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