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

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  • 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 1 of 9 , Jul 18, 2007
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      James McGrath wrote:
      > For me, one of Croy's strongest arguments that Mark originally
      > further is a comparison with Moby Dick. Apparently, a first printing
      > omitted the final chapter, with the result that "no one survived". As
      > reviewer appropriately asked, if no one lived to tell the tale, then
      > am I hearing about it?!

      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
      > scribes) felt that Mark's ending was abrupt, are sufficient
      > for me anyway, that something is indeed missing. The Gospel of Peter
      > also important evidence - it provides an ending that flows logically
      > continuing where Mark leaves off, and does not follow either Matthew
      > 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
      > have known the continuation of Mark's story. Whatever Mark originally
      > whether this abrupt ending or a continuation that is now lost, Matthew
      > Luke did not know what happens next, except that the disciples saw
      > 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
      > outline. Would it not be a plausible explanation that the early
      > about the resurrection appearances was a list, perhaps resembling the
      > first part of that given in 1 Corinthians 15? What Matthew and Luke
      > would then be an attempt to elaborate that list, in the absence of
      > 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

      Mark A. Matson
      Academic Dean
      Milligan College
    • 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 2 of 9 , Jul 18, 2007
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        At 06:03 AM 7/18/2007, Matson, Mark (Academic) wrote:

        >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

        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 3 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

          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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