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More on Mark 16:9-20

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  • Bob Schacht
    Continuing my questions on the long ending of Mark: OK, I am aware that some authorities date the long ending to the second century, and later writers
    Message 1 of 5 , Nov 5, 2000
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      Continuing my questions on the long ending of Mark:

      OK, I am aware that some authorities date the long ending to the second century, and later writers attributed to Arist(i)on, who is credited with compiling it from the other gospels. But how do we know that he compiled it, rather than being known as someone who had in his possession an (older) resurrection narrative? One of the older commentaries, while mentioning the idea that it is a compilation of other Gospel accounts, also notes that "it may have been an originally independent list of resurrection appearances." (Frederick Grant, Interpreter's Bible)

      Let's state the prevailing hypothesis this way:
      The Longer Ending of Mark (16:9-20) was compiled (perhaps by Arist(i)on) in the second century from the other canonical Gospels.

      So let's look at the longer ending, piece by piece. I'm sure someone has published about this, and that I'm trying to reinvent the wheel, so if someone will tell me where to look to find these arguments already laid out and discussed, I'd appreciate it. I will speak of Ariston in the same way we speak about "Mark" as the author of the Gospel. If Ariston did the compilation, then (in brief) he chose to follow one Gospel here, another Gospel there, and a third Gospel somewhere else. At the same time, he is choosing to reject the witness of various passages in other Gospels. Why? What is guiding his selection process?

      1. Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9-10). Here Ariston appears to side with John 20:1,2,14-17 against Matthew 28:1-7, where Mary Magdalene (and only MM) is first on the scene, but it is an angel rather than Jesus who tells her to go tell the disciples, and against Luke, by whose account MM sees two men in dazzling clothes rather than Jesus, and the two men do not tell her to go tell the disciples. Ariston's account, however, is very compressed. If he bases the beginning of his account on John, why does he leave out so much of John's account of MM's visit to the tomb? John's account here is rather confusing, because while MM is the first to discover the empty tomb, she then instantly runs to tell the disciples; Peter and another disciple come running back, find the empty tomb and leave, and it is only then that MM encounters Jesus. But Ariston supposedly ignores most of this in favor of a cryptic summary.

      2. The disciples don't believe her (Mark 16:11). Ariston now seems to take from Luke 24:10-11 the detail that the disciples don't believe her; Matthew and John don't make that point here.

      3. Jesus appears to two disciples. (Mark 16:12-13). Ariston here appears to compress Luke 24:13-35 about the disciples on the road to Emmaus into one short verse, ending again with the theme that the other disciples don't believe the two disciples who had seen Jesus on the road to Emmaus, a detail not mentioned by Luke until later (see next item).

      4. At table with the 11 (Mark 16:14). Here Ariston again appears to follow Luke (24:33,36-43), but again greatly compressing.

      5. Jesus commissions the disciples (Mark 16:15). Here Ariston appears to paraphrase Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:46-48 and Acts 1:7-8, but he specifies proclaiming "good news", whereas the others specify other messages. Why does Ariston not follow his presumed sources here?

      6. Blessings of Belief (Mark 16:16). This appears to be loosely related to John 20:27-29 but whereas Ariston speaks of salvation as the fruit of belief, John only speaks of blessings.

      7. Signs of belief (Mark 16:17-18). This does *not* appear to have been compiled from the Gospels, and have no parallel anywhere else in the NT. Some commentaries claim that a possible connection of the snakes mentioned here with Acts 28:3-6. These are very important verses for any literary analysis of the longer ending. They show that if the initial hypothesis is valid, then Ariston was not a mere copyist.

      8. The Ascension (Mark 16:19-20). This may be connected with Luke 24:50-51 but there is *more* here than can be found in Luke (e.g., that in heaven Jesus sits at the right hand of God.)

      This survey indicates that if the Longer Ending was, indeed, compiled from the other canonical gospels, only Luke and John would have been necessary; I see no direct connection with Matthew or Acts. The Acts of Jesus identifies Matthew 28:9-10 as a source of Mark 16:9-11, but does not provide any evidence of this. There are no other indications that I am aware of that Matthew might be a source of the Long ending.

      But the resurrection stories of Luke and John are filled with details. If Ariston had Luke and John at his disposal, why did he ignore so much of Luke 24 and John 20? Why did he compress narratives like the Road to Emmaus, while also adding marginal information (e.g. vss. 17-18)? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

      "The Acts of Jesus" calls the Long Ending "Psuedo-Mark" (p.479) and classifies it as a "Fragmentary Gospel" (p.569). In the chapter on "Empty Tomb, Appearances, and Ascension," Psuedo-Mark" (Mark 16:9-11) is listed as one of the *sources* of Matthew 28:9-10 and John 20:11-18. Nevertheless, The Acts of Jesus comments that the story in Mark 16:9-11 "like the others in the longer ending, gives strong indications of being secondhand tradition-- material derived from known sources, especially the New Testament Gospels and the Gospel of Peter" (p.479)! Here it sounds as though the Jesus Seminar is trying to have it both ways. Subsequent parallels to the long ending are all attributed to other sources. In The Five Gospels, one of the "Rules of Evidence" is that "The evangelists frequently expanded sayings or parables, or provide them with an interpretive overlay or comment." (p.21). In addition, there are several other rules of evidence that say, in essence, shorter is earlier (p.28). Now, I am not convinced that these "rules" are much more than opinions; nevertheless, if true, they would seem to indicate that the Long Ending is earlier than Luke & John, rather than later.

      Whether Ariston copied Luke & John, or whether Luke & John copied from Ariston's source, precise literary dependence seems much less likely than is the case for the synoptics.

      I would like to suggest a different hypothesis, on the basis of Grant's suggestion: namely, that the Longer Ending circulated as a separate document known to Luke and John, who borrowed from it and expanded on it. Eventually, this separate document was attached to GMark.
       
      What is there against this hypothesis?

      Bob


    • Wieland Willker
      I think, the most probable scenario is that for whatever reason the REAL ending is lost (either Mk never wrote one, or it was lost very early in the
      Message 2 of 5 , Nov 7, 2000
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        I think, the most probable scenario is that for whatever reason the REAL ending is lost
        (either Mk never wrote one, or it was lost very early in the transmission history). From
        early on people felt uncomfortable with this strange ending. Now, knowing the Gospels of
        Mt, Lk and John, it is not too difficult to prepare some ending. It is not really needed
        that EVERYTHING is exactly copied from Mt, Lk or Jo, some freedom is allowed here. And we
        have at least three different endings. This shows IMHO that these endings have been
        prepared later to make Mk conform to the other Gospels. As Kurt Aland has convincingly
        shown, the so called shorter ending seems to be the oldest.

        I think the even more interesting question is, why we have Mk at all. Why was it included
        into the canon and not Q, too?
        It seems that Mk was seldom used and seldom copied and that they obviously digged out one
        of the last existing damaged copies of Mk and added it to the canon. Why? Why was it
        earlier neglegted, but then got canon status? Contrast Q.

        Best wishes
        Wieland
        <><
        ---------------
        Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
        mailto:willker@...-bremen.de
        http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie
      • Sukie Curtis
        ... What do you think of Crossan s proposal in _The Birth of Christianity_, pp. 31-41, that the shape of the canon in regard to the gospels represents one side
        Message 3 of 5 , Nov 7, 2000
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          Wieland Willker wrote:

          > I think the even more interesting question is, why we have Mk at
          > all. Why was it included
          > into the canon and not Q, too?
          > It seems that Mk was seldom used and seldom copied and that they
          > obviously digged out one
          > of the last existing damaged copies of Mk and added it to the
          > canon. Why? Why was it
          > earlier neglegted, but then got canon status? Contrast Q.

          What do you think of Crossan's proposal in _The Birth of Christianity_, pp.
          31-41, that the shape of the canon in regard to the gospels represents one
          side of "A War of Gospel Types," in that it was the FORM or TYPE of
          narrative "biography gospels" (portraying a life of the earthly Jesus, up to
          and including his death and resurrection) that was preferred over against
          the "discourse gospel" type (sayings and revelations of the risen Jesus to
          his disciples set AFTER his resurrection), or even the hybrid
          biography-discourse. Mark, although already incorporated into Mt and Lk,
          would be valued as another example of the same TYPE, and John also, even
          though it teeters on the edge of a different mind-set in terms of its
          content. You stack up four of the same type of gospel in a row and maybe
          people begin to get the point! Q on its own terms (as Kloppenborg describes
          it) may have been moving in the direction of a biography gospel but wasn't
          far enough along to fit; and as primarily a collection of sayings, perhaps
          it looked a bit too much like other sayings collections which were by that
          time mostly developing gnostic tendencies.

          Sukie Curtis
          Cumberland Foreside, Maine
        • Brian McCarthy
          Wieland, You write that the more interesting question is, Why was have Mark at all? The hypothesis I have worked with is that originally each of the gospels
          Message 4 of 5 , Nov 7, 2000
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            Wieland,

            You write that the more interesting question is, Why was have Mark at all?

            The hypothesis I have worked with is that originally each of the gospels was
            the sole one in use in some significant local component of the emerging
            'Great Church' network: Antioch having one, Alexandria another etc.

            And then as the Great Church network continued to strengthen itself through
            communication between its local component churches, that there was a
            sharing: each local cluster of churches accepting the gospels of the others,
            and having its own gospel accepted by them.

            For this to explain the survival of Mark, after Lk and MT became available
            to everyone, would require that Mark had been the official gospel in use in
            at least one important local component.

            This idea is reinforced by the fact that Mark did not just survive but
            became one of the four canonical gospels. For it simply to have survived it
            would have sufficed for it to have been replaced everywhere by the 'new and
            enlarged' 2nd editions of the gospel (Mt and Lk.); and, having failed to be
            accepted universally, to have simply been preserved as a beloved 'relic' by
            the local church cluster where it originated. (If sometime later only a
            single copy survived in some dusty corner, then it could easily have lost
            that famous last page.)

            (As I wrote this, the following modification occured to me: Given that it
            apparently predated the other gospels by a couple of decades, Mark's use
            could have spread widely throughout the Great Church network. But as soon as
            the others were brought into existence the various local components might
            quickly have replaced it without any sense of loss--in every area except
            where it originated. There it could have retained the status of Number One
            gospel or at least the status of cherished gospel. This would have sufficed
            to ensure its later canonization.)

            Brian McCarthy
            Madison WI

            P.S. While each of the gospels may have had an 'author', I do not
            necessarily see these authors as autonomous. One or the other a) may have
            written under commission by his church and b) only have had their gospel
            accepted when it measured up to the requirements of the elders.
            (Further imagining! Mark's writing abilities were originally limited to what
            was needed to work for some large import/export business. He learned how to
            write a gospel through having his first 6--or 12!--drafts refused by his
            elders. None of them could have written a gospel by himself, but they knew
            what they wanted a gospel to be!
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Wieland Willker" <willker@...-bremen.de>
            To: "Crosstalk" <crosstalk2@egroups.com>
            Sent: Tuesday, November 07, 2000 4:58 AM
            Subject: [XTalk] Re: More on Mark 16:9-20


            > I think, the most probable scenario is that for whatever reason the REAL
            ending is lost
            > (either Mk never wrote one, or it was lost very early in the transmission
            history). From
            > early on people felt uncomfortable with this strange ending. Now, knowing
            the Gospels of
            > Mt, Lk and John, it is not too difficult to prepare some ending. It is not
            really needed
            > that EVERYTHING is exactly copied from Mt, Lk or Jo, some freedom is
            allowed here. And we
            > have at least three different endings. This shows IMHO that these endings
            have been
            > prepared later to make Mk conform to the other Gospels. As Kurt Aland has
            convincingly
            > shown, the so called shorter ending seems to be the oldest.
            >
            > I think the even more interesting question is, why we have Mk at all. Why
            was it included
            > into the canon and not Q, too?
            > It seems that Mk was seldom used and seldom copied and that they obviously
            digged out one
            > of the last existing damaged copies of Mk and added it to the canon. Why?
            Why was it
            > earlier neglegted, but then got canon status? Contrast Q.
            >
            > Best wishes
            > Wieland
            > <><
            > ---------------
            > Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
            > mailto:willker@...-bremen.de
            > http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie
            >
            >
            >
            > The XTalk Home Page is http://www.xtalk.org
            >
            > To subscribe to Xtalk, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-subscribe@egroups.com
            >
            > To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-unsubscribe@egroups.com
            >
            > List managers may be contacted directly at: crosstalk2-owners@egroups.com
            >
            >
            >
            >
          • Brian McCarthy
            Apologies, I should have written, Why we have Mark at all, not Why was have Mark at all.Which makes no sense. ... From: Wieland Willker
            Message 5 of 5 , Nov 7, 2000
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              Apologies,

              I should have written, Why we have Mark at all, not Why was have Mark at
              all.Which makes no sense.

              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "Wieland Willker" <willker@...-bremen.de>
              To: "Crosstalk" <crosstalk2@egroups.com>
              Sent: Tuesday, November 07, 2000 4:58 AM
              Subject: [XTalk] Re: More on Mark 16:9-20



              > I think the even more interesting question is, why we have Mk at all. Why
              was it included
              > into the canon and not Q, too?
              > It seems that Mk was seldom used and seldom copied and that they obviously
              digged out one
              > of the last existing damaged copies of Mk and added it to the canon. Why?
              Why was it
              > earlier neglegted, but then got canon status? Contrast Q.
              >
              > Best wishes
              > Wieland
              > <><
              > ---------------
              > Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
              > mailto:willker@...-bremen.de
              > http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie
              >
              >
              >
              > The XTalk Home Page is http://www.xtalk.org
              >
              > To subscribe to Xtalk, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-subscribe@egroups.com
              >
              > To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-unsubscribe@egroups.com
              >
              > List managers may be contacted directly at: crosstalk2-owners@egroups.com
              >
              >
              >
              >
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