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2891Re: Note re. Mark's LE and Gospels-Harmony

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  • Eric Rowe
    Jan 27, 2007
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      Jim:
      > There's a reasonable explanation why the Long Ending does not appear
      > in some witnesses: in the second century, it was accidentally lost,
      > or a copyist discerned that it was not attached by the main author of
      > the book. The excisor's motive would have sprung from his interest
      > in preserving the main author's work, separate from additions.

      I suppose both of these are possible. But they involve their own
      problems. In the scenario of the Long Ending being accidentally lost,
      doesn't it strain reason to suppose that the very part that would be
      accidentally lost would be a self-contained unit that happens not to
      fit the rest of the book? In the case of the second scenario, does a
      scribe excising what looks incongrous with the book fit what we know
      about scribal habits? It seems like scribes tended to follow the rule
      of when in doubt keep it in, and at the most marking it as questionable.

      I think that we agree on two givens:
      1) The LE was not the originally intended ending.
      2) In at least some places, early in its transmission, the Gospel of
      Mark circulated without the LE.

      Even if the LE was composed in a way something like what you propose
      (and I do think your proposal for its origin is well within the realm
      of possibility), wouldn't these two givens still support the
      likelihood that there was an early published edition of Mark without
      the LE? Couldn't it be that Mark was unable to complete the Gospel as
      he intended and that his cohorts determined first to publish it as it
      stood (a beta version) and then to compose an ending they thought
      proper for the final publication?

      > PROBLEM ONE: The connection between v. 8 and vv. 9-20 is abrupt and
      > awkward.
      >
      > On balance, this works in favor of the theory that the LE was added
      > during the book's production, and not in the second century. Why
      > wouldn't a second-century author, bold enough to write a new ending
      > to the memoirs of Peter, not be bold enough to make the transition
      > smoother?

      It seems to me that the motive of making a smooth connection between
      16:8 and 16:9-20 should mitigate equally against a theory of its being
      added by a later scribe and a theory of it being added
      pre-publication. The LE really looks like it was composed by someone
      who wasn't looking at Mark's Gospel when they did it.

      > I have already addressed the unbalanced treatment that Metzger gave,
      > and which you repeated.

      Metzger addresses this both in his Textual Commentary and in his book
      on the Text of the NT; so I can't quite recall exactly what he says in
      each. But I have found his treatment of this problem (as well as most
      others) quite balanced on the whole. He perhaps does overplay the
      significance of the claim made by Eusebius and repeated by others.
      But, even though I tend to think Eusebius' reference to "almost all
      the manuscripts" is an exageration or limited to manuscripts within a
      small segment of the Church or both, it is still a piece of external
      data that has to be taken seriously. And Metzger, on the other hand,
      really does not neglect to account for the early support for the LE
      honestly. As I recall he regards it as originating in the late first
      or early second century. He also accepts it as canonical, and holds it
      in high enough regard to say that, on account of it, we have not four
      but five evangelic accounts of the resurrection. This is pretty close
      to the assessment of Hort, who said that the LE was of the apostolic
      period. Incidentally, both of those scholars also agree with you, Jim,
      that the LE cannot be dependent on material from the other canonical
      Gospels, and thus must predate their being grouped together.

      In Christ,
      Eric
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