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6725Re: [textualcriticism] Metzger's Comments on Mark 16:9-20

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  • George F Somsel
    Nov 7 12:44 PM
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      The fact that Jerome acknowledges that the Greek manuscripts lack the text of the LE and yet chose to include it in his translation speaks volumes.  I hardly think that in light of this fact we need letters from him advocating its acceptance — he simply accomplishes that by including it in the translation ("There it is, it's part of the text"). 
      As regards the age of the Georgian texts, are you contending that if we had earlier texts they would include the LE?  I would presume (rightly, I think) that if we had earlier texts they would read substantially the same as this "late" text.  So, yes, it's late, but it is a witness to earlier texts.  A late date for the absence of the LE is not significant; what is needed is an EARLY date for the inclusion of the LE. 
      Armenian texts?  Note what Tischendorff states:
      Primum omittunt אB k armcdd antiq et quidemven aethm eta arvat (vide post quibus k et aethedd m eta evglium Marci claudant Notant asterisco 137. 138. G
      Note  B's space? — not worth the vellum it ISN'T written on for evidence. 

      … search for truth, hear truth,
      learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth,
      defend the truth till death.

      - Jan Hus
      From: james_snapp_jr <voxverax@...>
      To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Monday, November 7, 2011 8:23 AM
      Subject: [textualcriticism] Metzger's Comments on Mark 16:9-20

      Dear George:

      Metzger doesn't really say much about Jerome, except for the statement that Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them. What historical basis do you claim as support for the idea that Jerome was "lobbying for the acceptance of Mk. 16:9-20"? Bear in mind that Hedibia, to whom Jerome was writing when he repeated Eusebius' framed statement about the absence of Mk. 16:9-20 in almost all copies, was not a particularly influential person as far as shaping the NT text was concerned.

      Do you have any evidence that Jerome lobbied for the inclusion of Mk. 16:9-20 in any special way (say, beyond the way he lobbied for the recognition of Mt, Mk, Lk, and Jn as the four canonical Gospels)?

      Also, since you presented that snippet from Metzger, this may be an opportune time to review its accuracy.

      Metzger: "The last twelve verses of the commonly received text of Mark are absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts (Aleph and B)," –

      No mention of B's blank space, or of Aleph's cancel-sheet and emphatic arabesque. Also, while Metzger rightly mentions in a footnote that 2386 is only a phantom witness for the Abrupt Ending [and is actually a witness for the usual 12 verses], he does not provide a focused view of 304, in which the subscription of the Gospel of Mark does *not* appear after 16:8; 304 is almost certainly just another damaged MS (as Hort had figured back in 1881).

      Metzger: "from the Old Latin codex Bobiensis (it-k)," –

      No mention is made of the weirdness of Bobbiensis' text of Mark 16 (although he did, at least, mention the interpolation between 16:3 and 16:4 separately in his Textual Commentary). Plus, Bobbiensis is in the equation later, as a witness for the Shorter Ending, so effectively it takes the stand twice: in the list of witnesses for the Abrupt Ending, and later in Metzger's comments where he covers the Shorter Ending.

      Metzger: "about one hundred Armenian manuscripts," –

      In his presentation of evidence for 16:9-20, Metzger did not mention the hundreds of Armenian copies that include verses 9-20. That is unbalanced. Also, there is no mention of Eznik of Golb, whose use of Mk. 16:17-18 predates the earliest Armenian copy of Mark by hundreds of years. Also, something should be noticed here: Metzger is (as he selectively samples text-types) counting manuscripts! Somehow, it seems, counting manuscripts becomes fine and dandy if the quantities begin to tilt toward a favored variant.

      Metzger: "and the two oldest Georgian manuscripts (written a.d. 897 and a.d. 913)." –

      That's pretty late, isn't it. Even John of Damascus is earlier than that! And yet the battalion of widespread witnesses that pre-date the Adysh MS somehow doesn't rate this kind of prominent mention. Also unmentioned by Metzger is the evidence from the sixth-century Georgian composition "The Martyrdom of Saint Eustathius of Mzketha." (Birdsall acknowledged that this Old Georgian text was linked not only to the text of Matthew, and to some bits and pieces from the Gospel of John, but also to Mk. 16:9-20.)

      Also, Metzger's brief review does not allow readers to see that the earliest Georgian evidence of a text-form supportive of the inclusion of Mk. 16:9-20 is as old as the Adysh Codex and the Opiza Codex is contemporary with them – because, if the research of Akaki Shanidze is correct, that evidence is embedded in the Adysh Codex itself: in the Adysh Codex, the text of Luke 3:9 to 15:7 and Luke 17:25 to 23:2 seems to have been based on a different exemplar from the surrounding text. There, in that portion of Luke, the text of the Adysh Codex resembles the text found in the Dzruci Codex (produced in 936) and the Parhal Codex (made in 973). So although the Adysh Codex and the Opiza Codex are older, their Gospels-texts are not necessarily older than the text of (slightly) later Georgian copies. Metzger's readers are only allowed to see the Georgian evidence against Mk. 16:9-20: he does not mention any supportive Georgian evidence, and he gives the impression that the two oldest Georgian manuscripts have the oldest Georgian Gospels-text.

      Metzger: "Clement of Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of the existence of these verses" –

      The apparent silence of Clement and Origen is a side-effect of their tendency not to use the Gospel of Mark very much. For details see my analysis of their testimony in "Authentic: the Case for Mark 16:9-20," and in the video-lecture about patristic evidence pertaining to Mark 16:9-20. Clement, in his major works, does not explicitly quote from Mark 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 15, and 16, so it would not be surprising to find that he did not quote from 16:9-20. But it is possible that Clement does, after all, use Mark 16:19, in a statement on Jude verse 24 preserved by Cassiodorus, as was discussed here a while ago. Origen, too, might conceivably have had Mark 16:20 in mind when he wrote Philocalia 5:5 (after alluding to Lk. 10:19), but if Origen really does not use Mk. 16:9-20, then all that this admits is that Origen used Mk. 16:9-20 as much as he used most 12-verse portions of the Gospel of Mark; Origen does not use 34 of the approximately 56 or 57 twelve-verse portions of Mark.

      Metzger: "furthermore Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them." –

      Now that Roger Pearse's "Eusebius of Caesarea: Gospel Problems and Solutions" is published, the full extent of the actual statements made by Eusebius will be able to be realized, and as a result, Metzger's oft-repeated claim will be almost buried underneath qualifications, which include:
      (1) Eusebius' statements about "the accurate copies" and about "almost all the copies" were both framed by Eusebius as something that someone who wanted to dismiss the harmonization-difficulty could say.
      (2) Eusebius recommended to Marinus that 16:9-20 be harmonized (and thus retained) via the introduction of a comma in 16:9.
      (3) Eusebius, further along in "Ad Marinum," mentions that "some copies" of Mark state that Jesus cast out seven demons from Mary Magdalene; this is as specific as Eusebius' own description of the evidence gets; his framed claims – what he says as he presents what someone might say to resolve a perceived difficulty – include different ratios of manuscripts (from "not all manuscripts include" to "almost all omit"); Eusebius' own claim is that "some copies" include 16:9.

      In addition, Metzger gave his readers no clue that the pertinent statement from Jerome appears in an abridgement of "Ad Marinum" that he provided for Hedibia. The impression from Metzger is that Jerome's testimony is entirely independent of Eusebius! Whereas in real life, a comparison of "Ad Hedibiam" to "Ad Marinus" will show that Jerome's statement is embedded in his Latin abridgement of "Ad Marinum."

      Metzger: "The original form of the Eusebian sections (drawn up by Ammonius) makes no provision for numbering sections of the text after 16:8." -

      Since the Ammonian Sections are actually the work of Eusebius, not Ammonius, Metzger has simply double-counted the testimony of Eusebius. It is interesting to see how Eusebius, when writing to Marinus, recommended that 16:9-20 be harmonized and retained, but, when constructing his cross-reference system (inspired by a Matthew-centered scheme that Ammonius developed, but which Eusebius describes in Ad Carpianus as something different from the Canons and Sections that he himself presents), did not include 16:9-20. But this is still the testimony of one witness, Eusebius of Caesarea.

      Metzger: "Not a few manuscripts that contain the passage have scribal notes stating that older Greek copies lack it," –

      If counting manuscripts is bad, then ambiguously estimating a count is also bad. The wording that Metzger used here is so vague that it has misled numerous commentators, who proceeded to turn "Not a few" into "many." The actual number of Greek MSS with scribal notes about Mark 16:9-20 (not part of the Commentary of Victor of Antioch, but a distinct n annotation) is, I believe, fourteen. And, as I explain in "Authentic: The Case for Mark 16:9-20," these are not 14 distinct lines of evidence; most of them are related to f-1 and/or to the Jerusalem Colophon in one way or another. In addition, flatly contradicting Metzger's claim that the scribal notes say that "older Greek copies lack" the passage," one form of the annotation explicitly states that the older copies contain the passage." (Again, see "Authentic: The Case for Mark 16:9-20" for details.) Metzger's descriptions of the copies with annotations falls leaves much to be desired, and gives a rather misleading impression to most readers (including some Metzger-dependent commentators who have distorted Metzger's misrepresentations to absurd proportions).

      Metzger: "and in other witnesses the passage is marked with asterisks or obeli, the conventional signs used by copyists to indicate a spurious addition to a document." -

      Although I have not traveled to the National Library of Spain to examine a manuscript (a manuscript with commentary) there that is said to be among the MSS that have these asterisks or obeli, I invite anyone and everyone to disprove the following categorical statements: Metzger's statement about unannotated MSS of Mark with asterisks and obeli is false. The marks in question signify lectionary-divisions and they recur in the manuscripts in which they appear, serving that purpose.

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.

      P.S. – In related news: a month ago I found a webpage about the Gospel of Mark that featured the claim, "Many early manuscripts of the gospel end with the story of the empty tomb (Mark 16:1-8)." The webpage was written by someone who, it seems, was a seminary graduate who was assisting a seminary professor, who supervises the website. The lessons in textual criticism at those places must be pretty lousy to allow the promotion of such a bad misrepresentation of the evidence (in an introductory essay!) about this major textual variant. Maybe some folks here could suggest to the professor that this sort of error should be immediately corrected? I tried, but a month later the false statement is still there at

      The professor's name is Dr. Mark Goodacre, at a school called Duke University. Somewhere out east, I think.

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