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6713Irenaeus and Mark 16:19

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  • james_snapp_jr
    Nov 1, 2011
      Dear George:

      I have attempted to make distinctions among references to Mark 16:9-20: some are secure; some are very probable; some are possible; some are merely conceivable. See my video lecture "Mark 16:9-20 - Some Patristic Evidence" for more about that. (Compared to how the incidental silence of Clement and Origen has been abused, as if their non-use of Mk. 16:9-20 shows that their copies of Mark ended at 16:8, I consider my handling of the evidence downright miserly.)

      Irenaeus' statement in Against Heresies, Book Three, chapter 10, is definitely a secure reference.

      You wrote: "The reference in Irenaeus is only similar to the LE in its mention of snakes. The LE doesn't mention "treading on" snakes but picking them up. Scorpions are not mentioned at all."

      Perhaps you have recollected some other statement. The statement of Irenaeus that I have in mind, from "Against Heresies" Book Three, runs as follows: "Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: `So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God.'"

      That is a use of Mark 16:19, not of the phrase in 16:18 about serpents. Figuring that Irenaeus wrote Book Three of "Against Heresies" around 184, the copy of Mark in which Irenaeus read Mark 16:19 was about 140 years older than Codex Vaticanus.

      Further comments about Irenaeus' statement, and about the margin-note in MS 1582 and MS 72 that mentions it, can be found in my book, "Authentic: The Case for Mark 16:9-20." If you do not have a recent copy you are welcome to e-mail me for a free digital copy.

      On a related note: the marginalia that appears in 1582 and in 72 mentioning that Irenaeus quotes Mark 16:19 in his third book of "Against Heresies" also appears in a manuscript in Craiova, Romania, as Jeff Hargis reported last year at the CSNTM blog –
      http://www.csntm.org/News/Archive/2010/7/7/UncataloguedGospelsMinusculeattheMuseumofOlteniainCraiovaRomania . Hopefully there will be an opportunity to photograph and collate that manuscript, since the probability seems high (or, at least, higher than normal) that its text will be akin to the text of 72 or 1582.

      And, regarding the idea that "It would seem that the LE of Mk was built upon the story of Paul being bitten when shipwrecked in the late book of Acts" -- this seems unlikely to me (whether the composition-date for Acts is placed in the 60's or later) for several reasons:
      first, the prediction in Mark 16:18 describes a volitional act, whereas Paul's encounter with a viper is incidental – the viper took hold of Paul; Paul did not take hold of the viper.
      Second, the terms are different – /ofeis/ in Mk. 16:18; /echidna/ in Acts.
      And, third, Acts includes reports of the disciples doing some pretty impressive things – such as *raising the dead.* The theory that Mark 16:18 includes an after-the-fact prediction of events known from the book of Acts requires a rather rare sort of author, specifically, the kind of author who would settle for making Jesus predict a minor act, using wording that does not really match the act itself, although much more impressive acts, and more specific wording, could have been used.

      Also, I repeat my earlier question: what exactly are those "certain elements" to which you refer, stating that they were lobbying for the acceptance of Mk. 16:9-20? What is the historic basis for your reference?

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.
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