2883Re: Note re. Mark's LE and Gospels-Harmony
- Jan 22, 2007David R Palmer,
DRP: "I can only speculate about what a scribe did and why."
So speculate. When proposing a hypothesis which would require a
copyist to act in an apparently unreasonable way -- by creating an
ending for the Gospel of Mark about events in Jerusalem instead of
Galilee, and by deciding not to use available material which would
have perfectly fit his purposes, and by devising an ending which made
the accounts harder, rather than easier, to harmonize (or, you claim,
impossible to harmonize!) -- a bit more is needed to keep the
hypothesis alive besides saying that we can only guess why the
copyist did these things. Without explanations, you're positing a
miracle of irrationality.
It looks like one reason why you reject Mk. 16:9-20 is because you
think it's "impossible to harmonize" with the other Gospels. It
almost seems as if you are rejecting the LE on theological or
apologetical grounds. That is, it looks like you are saying that one
reason the LE can't be original is that it poses a problem for
harmonization. That is, you are saying that from an apologetic
perspective -- from the perspective of a believer who has intensely
pursued the harmonization of the Gospels (a description which fits
not only you but also some patristic writers, not the least of whom
was Eusebius) -- the LE is the harder, more difficult reading.
Let's examine those two difficulties you mentioned.
The first difficulty is that Mk. 16:13 says that the two disciples
walking into the country told about their encounter to the others and
the others did not believe them, but Lk. 24:33-35 says that after
their encounter, they rose up that same hour and returned to
Jerusalem, and found the Eleven gathered together with those that
were with them. The group that those two found was saying, "The Lord
is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon." Then the two road-
walkers told what had happened in the road, and how He was known to
them in the breaking of bread.
After this, while they were continuing to speak, Jesus Himself
appeared in their midst; they were frightened; Jesus greeted them;
they were terrified and thought He was a spirit; He spoke again,
showing them His wounds and inviting them to touch Him -- all a la
Lk. 24:36-39 -- and tried to settle them down. Their reaction at
this point is described in Lk. 24:40 ~ "But yet while they were
disbelieving (APISTOUNTWN) for joy and were wondering."
You seemed to say that Mk. 16:13 says that the main group of
disciples did not believe the two road-walkers, but Lk. 24 says that
the main group *did* believe the two road-walkers. But Lk. 24 does
not say that the main group believed the two road-walkers. Luke says
that when the two road-walkers found the main group in Jerusalem, the
main group was already saying, "The Lord is risen indeed, and
appeared to Simon." *Then* the two road-walkers tell what happened
Luke does not say that the main group believed the two road-walkers.
Whatever else Luke says, it is not a statement that the main group
believed the two road-walkers. (The "APISTOUNTWN" in Lk. 24:40, if
applied to the testimony of the two road-walkers, would be in harmony
with Mk. 16:13, but it shouldn't be thus applied because it is
plainly meant merely to describe the disciples' incredulity upon
seeing and hearing the risen Jesus. It was not the testimony of the
two road-walkers that they were unsure of at that point, but the
testimony of their eyes and ears.)
Again: contra your description, Luke does *not* say that the rest
"responded" to the testimony of the road-walkers. In Lk. 24:33-35,
the main group spoke first, and then the road-walkers spoke. Your
claim that the main group "responded" to the road-walkers' testimony
in Lk. 24:33-34 is unwarranted, and should be abandoned. Mark 16:12-
13 does not contradict what Lk. 24:33-35 says, because Luke does not
describe the main group's reaction to the testimony of the road-
walkers one way or the other. Thus your first objection is answered.
(I leave it to readers' imagination to picture the resultant thoughts
and words of the disciples that commenced: "Jesus appeared to Simon
-- so how could He have been with these two fellows on the road to
Emmaus and stay with them most of the afternoon and evening??" It
could've been a long discussion.)
Just to be thorough: your objection -- what there is of it --
involves the usual reading of Lk. 24:34, LEGONTAS. But in D, the
word there is LEGONTES. In which case, it woud be the two road-
walkers, not the disciples, who announce, "Truly the Lord is risen,
and has appeared to Simon!" Which would be weird, even if one of the
road-walkers was named Simon, because one would expect them to say,
"Truly the Lord is risen, and has appeared to US." (This might be
salvaged, though, by supposing that the road-walker not-named-Simon
assumed that the main group would be more likely to believe Simon.)
What would cause a copyist to change LEGONTAS into LEGONTES in Lk.
24:34? Itacistic confusion, maybe -- or maybe a desire to bring the
Lukan text into closer accord with Mk. 16:12-13. Which would imply
that Mk. 16:12-13 was known to whoever created the LEGONTES
Your second objection was that Mk. 16:9 says that Jesus appeared
first to Mary Magdalene, but "This statement is impossible to
reconcile with the other accounts." Your grounds: "It appears that
Jesus first appeared to the other women as they were returning to
report to the apostles, and then to Mary of Magdala later, since she
stayed behind weeping at the tomb longer than the other women."
Matthew 28:1 relates that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to
the tomb, saw that it was open, and received the angel's message to
go tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and so forth
(Mt. 28:6-7). Then "they" departed from the tomb, in Mt. 28:8. In
28:9, Jesus meets them. Now, if we were to only have Matthew in the
equation, this would align just fine with Mk. 16:9, since Mk. 16:9
says that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene, and a Matthew-Only
reader would assume that Mary Magdalene was right there, in Mt. 28:9,
It's when we bring Luke and John into the equation that it becomes
clear that Matthew left out some details about the number of women
and other details. Luke doesn't help us out a lot -- he mentions
more women in 24:10, but Luke only mentions their encounter with
angels at the tomb; Luke says nothing about any women encountering
Jesus. Which leaves us with John.
In John, Mary Magdalene's first visit to the tomb is told in one
verse (20:1) -- it's still dark; she comes and sees that the stone
has been moved. That's it. John tells about no angelic messengers.
Mary Magdalene leaves the scene, finds Peter and the beloved
disciple, and by the time Peter and the beloved disciple finish
investigating the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene has returned herself to
a location just outside the tomb. Then Jesus appears to her, in Jn.
So if we compare Mark 16:9 with Matthew 28, it's non-problematic.
And if we compare Mark 16:9 with Luke 24, it's non-problematic (at
least, no more problematic than Mt. 28). And if we compare Mark 16:9
with John 20, it's non-problematic. The only problem that exists,
exists when you harmonize Matthew and John in a certain way, so that
Jesus appears to the other women, as they return from the tomb,
before He appears to Mary Magdalene, who lingers at the tomb after
returning to it (a la Jn. 20). But why insist that the appearance to
the other women (in Mt. 28:9-10) occurs before, rather than after,
Jesus' appearance to Mary Magdalene? Istm that it's just as possible
for Jesus to appear to Mary Magdalene, at the tomb, and then appear
to the rest of the women en route to the disciples, as it is for
Jesus to appear to the rest of the women, and then to Mary
Magdalene. So, the second difficulty that you describe emanates not
from Mark 16:9, but from your arbitrarily arranged order of
Now let me anticipate yet another supposed difficulty: Mark 16:14
says that Jesus appeared to the main group of disciples "Later,"
while Luke 24 presents Jesus appearing to the main group of disciples
"As they were telling these things." But this objection is also
superficial, inasmuch as 16:14's "later" does not require a long
period of time, any more than Mk. 16:12's "And after these things"
requires a long period of time. 16:14's "later" refers to a point
later in the course of the discussion that the disciples were having
as they considered the report of the two road-walkers.
(I add that it's hard to explain why a second-century compiler would
read Luke 24 -- where a Luke-Only reader could easily and naturally
picture the road-walkers' report and the next appearance of Jesus as
a single scene, and where a Luke-Only reader would have no reason to
think that the main group of disciples rejected the road-walkers'
report, as I explained above -- and proceed to describe the road-
walkers' report and the next appearance of Jesus as two scenes.
Meanwhile the staccato style of Mk. 16:9-14 is completely explained
if it is an independent summary of Christ's appearances on Easter
Sunday, composed by someone who had never read the Gospel of Luke.)
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.
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