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6727Extant MSS vs. Non-extant MSS, and Eusebius

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  • james_snapp_jr
    Nov 7, 2011
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      Stephen,

      Now that I've got your attention . . .

      SC: "You're assuming he's talking about surviving manuscripts" --

      Of course I am assuming that! Are you suggesting that when an author tells his readers about manuscripts, it is uncharitable for readers to assume that the author is talking about *real* manuscripts -- manuscripts that /actually exist/?? Are you saying that it's mere nit-picking to differentiate between MSS that exist and MSS that do not exist??

      SC: "We know that there were many early manuscripts of Mark that lack the longer ending because Eusebius tells us so."

      That is not exactly what Eusebius says. He says that someone could say that almost all the copies lack the passage. But he also says that someone could say that the passage appears to contradict the other accounts, and then he proceeds to explain why this is not actually the case! There is a very real possibility that as Eusebius offered the first option, including its MSS-descriptions, he was repeating a claim made by an earlier writer (in about the same way in which modern-day apologists sometimes offer other writers' proposals, without much critique, before presenting the solution that they prefer and advocate.

      I don't doubt that Eusebius possessed some Gospels-copies in which Mark ended at 16:8 -- his statement that "some copies" of Mark mention that Jesus cast out seven demons from Mary Magdalene is enough to tell us that. But it is not scientific to detach Eusebius' series of descriptions of the manuscript-evidence from its context; the statement must be considered "in situ." The entire first solution is explicity framed, and it might all be a borrowed statement, not a direct statement originating with Eusebius. (If you haven't already read the whole thing, take the time to do so, and see if you don't agree.)

      SC: "Now, you may wish to minimize the value of that testimony, but your efforts to show that Eusebius somehow actually preferred the longer ending merely strengthen the value of his statement as an admission against interest."

      Let me repeat something just to make sure it's clear what I am saying about Eusebius' statement in "Ad Marinum." In my earlier analysis of the part of "Ad Marinum" where Eusebius answers Marinus' question about how to harmonize Mt. 28:1 and Mk. 16:9, I was content to conclude that Eusebius was presenting his own observations and his own approach, as he framed the first option -- that is, that Eusebius possessed, at Caesarea, numerous copies of Mark in which the text ended at 16:8, and that Eusebius, if he had his druthers, would have taken the option of rejecting verses 9-20. In that case, he wouldn't have been making an admission against interest; he would have been building his case.

      It's only after seeing the whole text in Roger Pearse's book, and after seeing how verbosely Eusebius led Marinus to embrace the second option, and after seeing how this seems to fit a pattern in which Eusebius, when offering options about how to resolve perceived discrepancies, tends to endorse the last-mentioned option, that I find myself concluding that Eusebius, when he wrote "Ad Marinum," offered the first option because it was the approach of someone he admired (Maybe Origen? Maybe Pamphilus?) and recommended the second option because it was -- at that particular instance -- Eusebius' own approach. (So while this would be, I suppose, an admission against interest, it may also resemble hearsay evidence, the only direct evidence from Eusebius in "Ad Marinum" being his regard for his source as credible, and his statement that "some copies of Mark" say that Jesus cast out seven demons from Mary Magdalene.)

      If you have a different explanation as to why Eusebius goes to such lengths to convince Marinus to punctuate Mk. 16:9 and thus retain the passage, when -- if copies that included 16:9-20 were indeed rarities -- it would have been easy for Bishop Eusebius to explicitly tell Marinus that even though Marinus had assumed that the passage was legitimate, it should be rejected, then I would enjoy reading it. Until then, though, it looks to me like Eusebius was inconsistent, endorsing one view when he made his Canon-tables, and adopting a different view when he wrote "Ad Marinum."

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.
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