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2957Re: New Ending to the Gospel of Mark?

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  • James Snapp, Jr.
    Feb 24, 2007
      Mark Thunderson,

      MT: "It is amazing just how many attempts have been made to reach
      beyond Mark 16:8."

      The number of distinct texts that follow Mk 16:8 is not "many." It's
      TWO. There's the Long Ending, which has very ancient and very broad
      support. And there's the Short Ending, which is supported by Old
      Latin k (the only extant witness in which the Short Ending appears by
      itself after Mk 16:8, and even there, it should be clarified that it
      appears after *most of* Mk 16:8, since in k the last bit of 16:8 is
      absent). There are six Greek MSS that have the Short Ending followed
      by the Long Ending, and dozens of Ethiopic copies, after 16:8, have
      the Short Ending followed by the Long Ending. (For details, see my
      essay on the subject.)

      Here are some of what have been referred to as the "various endings"
      besides the Long Ending and the Short Ending:
      (a) the Long Ending with the Freer Logion between v. 14 and v. 15.
      (b) the Long Ending with the Short Ending in the margin.
      (c) a note, followed by the Short Ending, followed by a note,
      followed by the Long Ending.
      (d) the Short Ending followed by the Long Ending, without any notes.
      (e) a note, followed by the Long Ending.

      Notice a common element among them? Calling all these presentations
      which include the Long Ending "various endings" is misleading.

      MT: But to the credit of those who have argued for an extension
      beyond 16:8 (and these extensions have been less than satisfactory),
      it does seem plausible that Mark 1:1-16:8 expects indeed hopes
      for closure."

      Yes; an author intending to built a platform for the next pericope
      would build it like Mark builds 1:1-16:8. That's why those who argue
      that Mark deliberately stopped at the end of 16:8 have to propose
      that Mark got tricky all of a sudden, and was setting up his readers
      so as to mystify them into contemplating some point he was trying to
      make. Alas; among the commentators who have reasoned thus, there is
      wide disagreement about what that point was! (Was he saying that
      people in Rome should look to the Christians in Galilee for
      leadership? Was he saying to re-read the sections of the book that
      pertain to Galilee? (That seems to be the interpretation advocated
      by L.T. Johnson and Daniel Wallace.) Was he saying, "Jesus is about
      to return; quick; run to Galilee!"? Was he saying that readers need
      to get themselves into a Galilee state of mind?)

      MT: "In order for the textual critic to perceive this, he must first
      understand what Mark is saying."

      No mystery there. He's saying that the angel told the women to tell
      the disciples and Peter that Jesus will go before them to Galilee and
      they will see Him there. Then he says that the women fled from the
      tomb, afraid, and did not follow the angel's directions. (Tangent:
      at least not for a while; anyone hearing this part of the story might
      well wonder, "If they never told anyone, how did Mark find out?" On
      the other hand, the assumption that Mark knew what happened would
      not, in and of itself, mean that Peter and the disciples ever knew
      what happened. Only via knowledge of Mark's association with Peter,
      and via knowledge of post-resurrection events involving Peter, would
      a reader of Mark's account naturally assume that Peter ever knew
      about the empty tomb.)

      MT: "Those in the past who have written "an ENDING" have done so
      with little success."

      If you're referring to how the Long Ending was received as an ending
      to the Gospel of Mark, well, I would call the Long Ending's
      distribution in every branch of the transmission-stream, and in
      something like 99.88% of the Greek MSS something other than "little
      success." If you're referring to how well the Long Ending concludes
      the book, I'd say you're absolutely right, if your premise is right:
      *if* the Long Ending was written by someone trying to write an ending
      for the Gospel of Mark, then the author should have focused on events
      in Galilee, rather than the Jerusalem-centered encounters in the Long

      MT: "But who is worthy to write an end to Mark?"

      I think such a question occurred to Mark's survivors, after Mark was
      interrupted as he was writing 16:8. And they decided that they were
      not worthy. So instead of writing an ending, they took a previously
      existing composition that Mark had written -- a short composition
      about Jesus' post-resurrection appearances -- and used that as the
      ending of the book, before it was released for church-use.

      Then at some later stage, either the attached ending was lost from
      the autograph, and after that, and copies began to be made with the
      Abrupt Ending -- or some copyist perceived that the material after
      16:8 had existed in its own right as a separate composition, and on
      that basis he separated it from the rest of the text -- and after
      that, copies with the Abrupt Ending began to be made. Then someone
      with a copy with the Abrupt Ending wrote the Short Ending.

      What piece of internal or external evidence is left unaccounted for
      by the hypothesis I just summarized?

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.
      Curtisville Christian Church
      Indiana (USA)
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