2779Re: Jesus Dynasty and the Ending of Mark
- Jan 1, 2007Greetings DRP, and Happy New Year,
Okay; I will demonstrate how Dr. Tabor has been deceptive. But
first, I should explain what I mean by "deceptive." By the terms
"deceptive" and "deceiver," I don't mean that Dr. Tabor is
necessarily lying. I chose these terms (instead of "lying" and
"liar" and "incorrect" and "erroneous") because (a) they don't
involve judgments about the sincerity, motive, and competence of the
writer, and (b) they describe material that was written to instruct
others in a teacher-to-student way. By these terms, I mean that
people who believe what the writer says will be deceived; they will
end up believing something that is not true.
Here is how Dr. Tabor's statements are deceptive.
(1) Dr. Tabor said that pious scribes invented the contents of the
Long Ending sometime in the fourth century. That is not true.
Irenaeus quoted from Mk. 16:19 and described it as part of Mark's
gospel-account. Tatian incorporated the Long Ending into the
Diatessaron. There is ample evidence for the existence of the Long
Ending of Mark before the fourth century. So, Dr. Tabor's statement
that pious scribes in the fourth century invented the contents of the
Long Ending is deceptive.
(2) Dr. Tabor said that the Long Ending "is not found in any of our
older more reliable copies of Mark." That is not true. It is absent
from Vaticanus, and it is absent from Sinaiticus, but all other Greek
MSS of Mark which contain material from Mark 16 also contain at least
part of the Long Ending. To validate Dr. Tabor's statement, one
would need to define ALL of our older, more reliable copies of Mark
as ONLY those copies which lack the Long Ending -- which would be
ludicrous. So, Dr. Tabor's statement that none of the older, more
reliable copies of Mark contain the Long Ending is deceptive.
Dr. Tabor's statement also deceives by what it does not say: he
failed to mention that Vaticanus has a long blank space after 16:8,
and that Sinaiticus has a blank page after the Gospels. He also
leaves readers completely uninformed about the scope of pertinent
patristic evidence which supports the Long Ending.
(3) In his footnote, Dr. Tabor stated that the Long Ending does not
appear in the Old Latin version. It does not appear in Codex
Bobbiensis -- but Bobbiensis has a downright freakish text of Mark
16; it's not representative of the Old Latin version at this point.
Burkitt's view was inasmuch as these verses are present in D and in
n, "There is therefore no doubt that they are part of the European
Latin text." (Texts and StudiesVol. IV, #3, 1896, "The Old Latin and
the Itala," p. 50) Against Burkitt's evidence (to which the
testimony of aur, c, ff2, l, and q may be added), Tabor offers
(4) In his footnote, where Dr. Tabor stated that "copies of Mark
that contain the ending often include notes from the scribe pointing
out that it is not in the oldest manuscripts," he uses the term
"often" deceptively, inasmuch as the percentage of MSS which have
such notes is pretty low. Readers will be get a false impression
from his statement. An occurrence rate in the neighborhood of 3-in-
150 is not "often." Also, he failed to communicate that most of
the MSS which have notes like what he described are fairly closely
related (in the Ferrar group), or that some of them are derived from
material in the Commentary/Catena of Victor of Antioch. Thus, his
statement about notes which occur "often" is deceptive.
(5) Dr. Tabor wrote, "Two other "made-up" endings were later put
into circulation, as shorter alternatives to this longer traditional
ending." In this case, Dr. Tabor's statement is deceptive in two
ways. First of all, there was only one other ending which was
composed to be attached to 16:8 -- the "Short Ending." There is no
evidence of any other ending being put into circulation at the end of
Mark, following 16:8, besides the Short Ending and the Long Ending.
Dr. Tabor's other made-up ending has never existed. Secondly, the
Short Ending was not composed as an alternative to 16:9-20; it was
composed in a transmission-stream where the Long Ending was not known
or was unavailable.
(If I may go Sherlock for a moment: Dr. Tabor's fantasy about two
other endings besides 16:9-20 might have something to do with where
he went to school. He graduated from the University of Chicago. As
I recall, one of the more influential teachers at the Univ. of
Chicago was Dr. Robert Grant, who in "A Historical Introduction to
the NT" alluded to the Freer Logion as another ending of Mark. Dr.
Tabor's phantom Third Ending may be a contorted memory of Grant's
inaccurate description of the Freer Logion, combined, perhaps, with a
vague awareness of the double-ending in L and similar MSS.)
So, in light of all this, it is obvious that anyone who believes Dr.
Tabor's statements about the ending of Mark will be deceived. The
deception is worsened as Dr. Tabor, at the "Jesus Dynasty" discussion-
forum, has appealed to his experience as a scholar (saying "I am well
aware of the arguments for accepting Mark 16:9-20 as authentic," and
mentioning that he has taught Mark "for over 25 years") to augment
the persuasiveness of his statements, in a book intended for a
readership of non-specialists.
Dr. Tabor may sincerely think that all his false statements are
true. He may sincerely think that he has thoroughly researched the
subject of the ending of Mark. But he is incorrect. In terms of
results, it doesn't really matter if he is deceiving people because
he wants to deceive people, or if he is deceiving people because he
did not perform competent, responsible research before writing about
the endings of Mark. His readers will be deceived all the same.
I hope the folks at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte
realize that there's a difference between a policy of free expression
and a policy of free deception.
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.
Curtisville Christian Church
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