Mark's LE, Gospels-Harmony, and Metzger
(This is a response to post #2891.)
ER: ... "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."
Not if the archetype itself was the document which was damaged. It
would have been a two-piece document all along: Mark's scroll plus a
one-page Resurrection Pericope, a.k.a. the Long Ending.
ER: "In the case of the second scenario, does a scribe excising what
looks incongruous 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."
In the case of excision, I don't think the excisor thought, "Hmm;
this just doesn't seem appropriate." In the case of excision, what I
picture is more like a scenario in which the excisor thought, "Wait;
I've read this before; this is a separate composition." Scribes
weren't in the habit of encountering such situations, so it would be
hazardous to guess what a particular copyist would do in such a
situation based on what some scribes tended to do in other
situations. (Btw, I don't grant that your last sentence there is
true about early scribes. Royse presented some interesting data
about early scribes' tendency to /omit/. Cf. David Miller's related
"Long and Short" file here at TC-list, and the online Biblica article
about scribal habits by Peter Head.)
ER: "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."
Yes (defining the second century as "early," and defining "some
places" as "Egypt"). But in its original form, the Gospel of Mark
contained the LE.
ER: "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?"
ER: "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?"
No; it's unlikely that Mark's survivors would release the truncated
text and then re-release it with the Long Ending. They would require
two different motives. Knowing that Mark's intent was to tell
Peter's story about Jesus, they would not release it in a form which
they knew was incomplete if another option was open. And I don't
think anyone would /compose/ Mark 16:9-20 as an ending for the Gospel
ER: [Addressing the question, "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."
That's because Mark wasn't looking at the Gospel of Mark when he
wrote it. But why do you think that mitigates against the theory
that it was added at a pre-publication stage? The awkwardness, in
that case, is a vestige of the hesitation of Mark's survivors to add
or detract from what they considered authoritative texts. Meanwhile,
those who say that the LE was composed in the second century have to
explain why the same scribe who was bold enough to concoct a new
ending (which *does* contain stuff that is not in the other Gospels
or Acts!) was also timid enough to refrain from making a better
transition from v. 8 to v. 9.
ER: [about Metzger's comments on Mk. 16:9-20] ... "I have found his
treatment of this problem (as well as most others) quite balanced on
Metzger treats it a lot better than some other writers, such as James
Tabor. But he left out a lot of significant details:
(1) He mentions that the passage is absent from Vaticanus BUT he
does not mention the long blank space in Vaticanus after Mk. 16:8.
(2) He mentions that in it-k, the SE is attached to 16:8 BUT he does
not mention that in it-k, the last part of 16:8 is absent.
(3) He mentions that Clement of Alexandria and Origen "show no
knowledge of the existence of these verses," BUT he does not mention
(as Hort did) that their silence in this regard does not necessarily
mean that they were unfamiliar with the passage. (Hort expressed a
strong suspicion that Eusebius' comments about Mk. 16:9-20 in "Ad
Marinum" were borrowed from Origen -- see "Notes," p. 32.)
(4) He mentions that "Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage
was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them" BUT he
does not mention that no reading other than the LE seems to be known
to Marinus; nor does he mention that Jerome's comment is essentially
an echo of Eusebius; Jerome's composition echoes four questions and
four answers found in Eusebius' composition. That matters,
especially when one notices that Jerome included the LE in the
Vulgate, and casually used the contents of 16:14 to locate the Freer
Logion for his readers, and once mentioned to someone in a letter
that when pressed for time, he adapted the works of others.
(5) He mentions that "The original form of the Eusebian sections
(drawn up by Ammonius) makes no provision for numbering sections of
the text after 16.8," BUT he does not convey that Eusebius is
responsible for the "Ammonian Sections." (I invite whoever doubts
this to consider the data in Appendix G of Burgon's "Last 12 Verses
(6) He mentions that "Not a few manuscripts which contain the
passage have scribal notes stating that older Greek copies lack it,"
BUT he does not mention that not a few MSS have scribal notes
(echoing the commentary-catena of Victor of Antioch) stating that
older copies contain it. Nor does he mention that not a few of the
MSS with the margin-note are relatives within a narrow transmission-
(7) He describes the vocabulary of 16:9-20 as "non-Markan" BUT he
does not mention that a higher number of "non-Markan" words can be
found in another 12 verses (namely, Mk. 15:40-16:4).
(8) He states that "The external evidence for the shorter ending"
"resolves itself into additional testimony supporting the omission of
verses 9-20" BUT he does not mention that this evidence is as capable
of echoing an earlier loss as it is of echoing the original text.
(9) He does not mention the use of the LE in Macarius Magnes'
"Apocritus," which preserves a citation of 16:18 in from material
older than B.
ER: ... "Even though I tend to think Eusebius' reference to "almost
all the manuscripts" is an exaggeration 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."
ER: "Metzger ... 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."
Something like that. (And this is one reason why it is preposterous
for James Tabor of UNC-Charlotte to claim that he is relying on
Metzger when he, Tabor, claims that Mark 16:9-20 was not written
until the fourth century!) Metzger wrote, in "Textual Commentary,"
p. 125, "In view of the inconcinnities between verses 1-8 and 9-20,
it is unlikely that the long ending was composed /ad hoc/ to fill up
an obvious gap; it is more likely that the section was excerpted from
another document, dating perhaps from the first half of the second
However, in the appendix of the 3rd edition of "Text of the NT," (p.
397) he described Joseph Hug's 1978 doctoral thesis and, referring to
the Long Ending, he wrote, "Those who were responsible for adding the
verses were intent, not only to provide a suitable ending for the
Second Gospel, but also to provide missionary instruction to a
Christian Hellenistic community," etc. That's different from the
view he advocates in the "Textual Commentary." I'm not sure if this
means that Metzger truly changed his mind, or if it just means that
the problems with Hug's theory did not occur to him the day he wrote
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.
Curtisville Christian Church