Mark 16:9-20 and the Silence of Clement of Alexandria and Origen
- It is almost routine to find in commentaries on Mark, on the subject
of 16:9-20, echoes of Bruce Metzger's statement, "Clement of
Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of the existence of these
verses." This past week I finally got around to casually examining
the contents of some of the major works of Clement of Alexandria
(whom I will just call "Clement" in this post) and Origen, hoping to
find some indication of how much of the Gospel of Mark Clement and
Origen show that they know.
In the Index of Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 2 in the part that
covers Clement's "Exhortation to the Heathen," "The Instructor," "The
Stromata, or Miscellanies," Fragments, and "Who Is the Rich Man That
Shall Be Saved?" 41 verses are referenced. I sorted them out,
using the same standard that is usually used (by Hort, for instance)
when something in the writings of Clement or Origen looks like it
could be based on Mark 16:9-20: where the Gospel of Mark is not
specified as the writer's source, if parallel passages or non-unique
phrases are involved, or if the reference is clearly wrong, I
assigned the reference to other NT passages.
1:6 does not name Mark; assigned to Matt. 3:4.
1:7 does not name Mark; assigned to Luke 3:16.
1:40 does not name Mark: "Will, it is said, and thou shalt be
able." Assigned to Matt. 8:2, or an allusion to a common proverb. A
footnote admits that this is only a possible allusion.
2:11 does not name Mark: "Rise up, he said to the paralytic, Take
the bed on which thou liest, and go away home. And straightway the
infirm man received strength."
4:11 does not name Mark: "These things the Savior himself seals
when he says, To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom
of heaven." Assigned to Matt. 13:11 or Luke 8:10, especially in
light of the phrase "to know."
4:21 does not name Mark: "No one lighteth a candle, and putteth it
under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may give light to
those who are regarded worthy of the feast." Assigned to a loose
recollection of Matthew 5:15 and/or Luke 8:16.
5:34 (x2) the first reference does not name Mark: "And `Rebecca,'
interpreted, means `glory of God,' and the glory of God is
immortality. This is in reality righteousness, not to desire other
things, but to be entirely the consecrated temple of the Lord.
Righteousness is peace of life and a well-conditioned state, to which
the Lord dismissed her when he said, Depart into peace." Assigned to
The second reference does not name Mark: "When we hear, `Thy faith
hath saved thee,' we do not understand him to say absolutely that
those who have believed in any way whatsoever shall be saved, unless
also works follow." Assigned to Matthew 13:22 or Luke 8:48.
7:6 does not name Mark: "This people honoreth me with their lips,
it is said, but their heart is far from me." Assigned to Isaiah
29:13 or Matthew 15:8.
8:36 does not name Mark: "For what is the profit, it is said, if
you gain the world and lose the soul?" An exact quotation, assigned
to Matthew 16:26 or Luke 9:25.
10:2 does not name Mark: "Vox autem non legistis, quod protoplasto
Deus dixit: `Eritis duo in carne una? Quare qui dimittit uxorem,
praeterquam fornicationis causa, facit eam moechari. Sed post
resurrectionem, inquit, nec uxorem ducunt, nec nubunt." Assigned to
10:9 (x2) The first reference does not name Mark. "Jam adulterium
judicat Dominus ex cogitatione. Quid enim? Anon licet etiam
continenter uti matrimonio, et non conari dissolvere, quod `conjunxit
The second reference is illegible in my copy of ANF Volume 2, page
10:17 "et rursus cum dixit: Si vis perfectus esse, vende quae
habes, et da pauperibus," refellit eum qui gloriabatur quod `omnia a
juventute praecepta servaverat." Assigned to Matthew 19:16 or Luke
10:17-31 (15 verses) "These things are written in the Gospel
according to Mark: and in all the rest correspondingly; although
perchance the expressions vary slightly in each, yet all show
identical agreement in meaning."
10:23 does not name Mark: "Wherefore also the Word says that the
tax-collectors shall be saved with difficulty." Assigned to Matthew
19:23 or an allusion to Luke 18:24-27.
10:25 does not name Mark: "But if not [i.e., if a rich man does
not exercise moderation and piety], sooner shall a camel enter
through a needle's eye, than such a rich man reach the kingdom of
God." Assigned to Matthew 19:24 or Luke 18:25.
10:29-30 (2 verses) Despite inexactness, this must be a loose
quotation of Mark, considering that shortly before this Origen states
explicitly that he is using the Gospel of Mark, "And Jesus answering
said, Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall leave what is his own,
parents, and children, and wealth, for my sake and the gospel's,
shall receive an hundredfold." But this case is already counted as
part of 10:17-31.
10:31 "The first shall be last, and the last first." Here Clement
concludes his use of Mark 10:17-31.
10:45 (missing from my copy of ANF Vol. II.)
11:23 Does not name Mark: "This Gnostic . . . makes up for the
absence of the apostles, by the rectitude of his life, the accuracy
of his knowledge, by benefiting his relations, by removing the
mountains of his neighbors, and putting away the irregularities of
their soul." A slight allusion, assigned to Matthew 21:21 or Matthew
17:20 or First Corinthians 13:2.
12:17 Does not name Mark: "And of civil government: Render to
Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things which
are God's." Assigned to Matthew 22:21 or Luke 20:25.
12:23 This is the same statement as the one given for 10:2. "Jam
adulterium judicat Dominus ex cogitatione. Quid enim? Anon licet
etiam continenter uti matrimonio, et non conari dissolvere,
quod `conjunxit Deus?'" A footnote mentions Matthew 19:6.
12:39 Does not name Mark, and simply uses the word "protokathedra,"
also used in Luke 20:46. Clement describes the destiny of a diligent
deacon: "And although here upon earth he be not honored with the
chief seat, he will sit down on the 24 thrones, judging the people,
as John says in the Apocalypse."
13:17 (Illegible in my copy of ANF Vol. 2.)
14:61-62 Names Mark: "Now in the Gospel according to Mark, the
Lord being interrogated by the chief of the priests if he was the
Christ, the Son of the blessed God, answering, said, I am; and ye
shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power."
But `powers' mean the holy angels. Further, when he says, `at the
right hand of God,' he means the self-same beings, by reason of the
equality and likeness of the angelic and holy powers, which are
called by the name of God. He says, therefore, that he sits at the
right hand, that is, that he rests in pre-eminent honor."
16:25 non-existent (indexing error).
The number of verses in Mark that Clement of Alexandria clearly uses
10:17-31 = 15 verses.
14:61-62 = 2 verses.
I didn't feel like taking the time to investigate the Latin passages
in ANF or the passages that are illegible or are on missing pages in
my copy of ANF-II. There are six indexed verses that fall into one
of those categories: 10:2, 10:9, 10:17, 10:45, 12:23, and 13:17. To
save time, I unjustifiably placed all Latin, illegible, and missing
citations in the category of "Clear use of Mark," with the result
that the number of verses of Mark that Clement of Alexandria clearly
uses = 23. Of those 23 verses, 19 are from chapter 10, and 15 of the
23 = Mark 10:17-31.
So how significant is it that Clement of Alexandria does not use Mark
16:9-20? About as significant as it is that Clement of Alexandria --
in "Exhortation to the Heathen," "The Instructor," "The Stromata,"
Fragments, and "Who Is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved?" -- does not
use any text from Mark chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4,
chapter 5, chapter 6, chapter 7, chapter 8, chapter 9, chapter 11,
chapter 12, and chapter 16.
Now let's consider Origen's use of Mark. ANF-IV presents "De
Principiis," "To Africanus," "To Gregory," and "Against Celsus." In
the ANF-IV Index, 41 references to Mark are listed. But when
filtered to account for parallel passages, tangential references to
Marcan passages in footnotes, overly vague allusions, and
miscitations, these 41 references listed in the ANF Index, when
filtered, yield only five verses of Mark which are clearly quoted by
Origen in ANF Volume 4 (in "De Principiis," "To Africanus," "To
Gregory," and "Against Celsus").
1:1, 1:2 refers to Mark: "Even one of the evangelists, Mark,
says, `The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written
in the prophet Isaiah, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face,
who shall prepare thy way before thee,' which shows that the
beginning of the gospel is connected with the Jewish writings.
3:18 refers to Mark: "It is manifest to us all who possess the
Gospel narratives, which Celsus does not appear even to have read,
that Jesus selected 12 apostles, and that of these Matthew alone was
a tax-gatherer; that when he calls them indiscriminately sailors, he
probably means James and John, because they left their ship and their
father Zebedee, and followed Jesus; for Peter and his brother Andrew,
who employed a net to gain their necessary subsistence, must be
classed not as sailors, but as the Scripture describes them, as
fishermen. The Lebes also, who was a follower of Jesus, may have
been a tax-gatherer; but he was not of the number of the apostles,
except according to a statement in one of the copies of Mark's
4:12 (x2) The first reference makes use of material unique to
Mark: "And let us look also at the passage in the Gospel the
answer which the Savior returns to those who inquired who he spoke to
the multitude in parables. His words are: `That seeing they might
not see; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest they
should be converted, and their sins be forgiven them."
The second reference also makes use of material unique to
Mark: "There was after this the passage from the Gospel, where the
Savior said, that for this reason did he speak to those without in
parables, that `seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not
understand; lest they should be converted, and their sins be forgiven
6:2-3 does not name Mark: "Now who is there . . . that would not
laugh at Celsus, on hearing that Jesus, who was born and brought up
among the Jews, and was supposed to be the son of Joseph the
carpenter, and who had not studied literature not merely that of
the Greeks, but not even that of the Hebrews as the truth-loving
Scriptures testify regarding him, had read Plato." Assigned to
Matthew 13:54-55 and especially John 7:15.
6:3 the reference to Mark 6:3 occurs in a footnote. Origen's own
statement is: "He [Celsus] says, `For this reason the tree is
introduced, either because our teacher was nailed to a cross, or
because he was a carpenter by trade,' not observing that the tree of
life is mentioned in the Mosaic writings, and being blind also to
this, that in none of the Gospels current in the churches is Jesus
himself ever described as being a carpenter."
10:8 Does not name Mark: "More truly indeed of this than of any
other can the statement be affirmed, `They shall both be in one
flesh, and are no longer two, but one flesh." Assigned to Genesis
2:24 or Matthew 19:5-6.
10:18 Does not name Mark: "Our Lord and Savior, hearing himself on
one occasion addressed as `Good Master,' referring him who used it to
his own good Father, said, `Why callest thou me good? There is none
good but one, that is, God the Father." Assigned to Luke 18:18-19 or
a variant-form of Matthew 19:16-17. None of the Gospels
includes "the Father" in the text. Origen may have been making a
recollection on the spot.
10:44 Uses material found only in Mark: "Perhaps it is the
following passages which have led Celsus to suppose that Jesus
forbids ambition to His disciples: `Whoever of you will be the
chiefest, shall be servant of all.'"
13:31 Does not name Mark: "For we desire to listen to him who
said, `Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass
away." Assigned to Matthew 24:35 or Luke 21:33.
That's it. The 41 references listed in the ANF Index, when filtered,
yield only five verses of Mark which are clearly quoted by Origen in
ANF Volume 4 (in "De Principiis," "To Africanus," "To Gregory,"
and "Against Celsus"). They are: 1:1, 1:2, 3:18, 4:12, and 10:44.
In Philocalia, four additional citations of Mark by Origen are
indicated in the footnotes:
Footnote 2: Mark 13:9 (Matthew 10:18)
Footnote 290: Mark 3:1
Footnote 358: Mark 4:11 and Mark 4:34.
Footnote 452: Mark 4:20. (Luke 8:10)
A close consideration reveals the following:
13:9 does not name Mark: "For Jesus taught with all authority and
persuasiveness that the word would prevail, so that one may
reasonably regard his utterances as prophetic. For instance, `Before
governors and kings shall ye be brought for my sake, for a testimony
to them and to the Gentiles.'" Clearly Origen is using Matthew
3:17 (not 3:1) does not name Mark but seems to allude to Mark. The
ANF's Index's reference to 3:1 probably embodies a typographical
error; if Mark 3:17 is considered to be the intended reference-point,
then in Origen's statement, "Other see it thus also, men who have
been born of words with a great voice, such as have the full tones of
spiritual thunder," there is a highly probable allusion to Mark
3:17's description of James and John as the "sons of thunder."
4:11 uses material unique to Mark. "If you come to the books
written after the time of Jesus, you will find the crowds of
believers who heard the parables regarded as `without,' and worthy
only of the popular arguments." This suits the word "without" as
found in Mark 4:11, but not Mark 4:34.
Mark 4:12 (not 4:20 which appears in the Index) this footnote turns
out to be connected to a quotation of Mark 4:12, not 4:20. Thus it
does not add to the number of verses of Mark used by Origen.
So, in the works of Origen in ANF Vol. 4 and in Philocalia, the
number of verses of Mark which are used by Origen = seven. They are
1:1, 1:2, 3:17, 3:18, 4:11, 4:12, and 10:44.
I now turn to the remains of Origen's Commentary on John and
Commentary on Matthew, which are presented in ANF Volume 9. The
Index for these compositions lists 55 references to the contents of
Mark. Here they are, reviewed:
1:1-3 A use of Mark: "There is also this to be considered about
the Gospel, that in the first instance it is that of Christ Jesus,
the head of the whole body of the saved; as Mark says, `The beginning
of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.'" A few sentences later: "For the
same Mark says, `The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it
is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold I send my messenger before
thy face, who shall prepare thy way. The voice of one crying in the
wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."
1:2 does not name Mark. Assigned to Malachi 3:1 (or Matthew
11:10): "Those who hold this view will say that since persons are
styled angels who are manifestly men . . . as it is written of John
the Baptist, `Behold I send my messenger before thy face.'"
1:6-7 A use of Mark: "Mark, again, says, "John preached, saying,
There cometh after me he that is mightier than I, the latchet of
whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I baptized
you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
1:9 A use of Mark: [We learn from Matthew that Jesus came from
Galilee,] "And Mark adds the place in Galilee; he says, `And it came
to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and
was baptized by John in Jordan." (Note: Origen may have been
recollecting the passages that he cites here. Origen proceeds to
state that "Luke tells us what we do not learn from the others, that
immediately after the baptism, as he was coming up, heaven was opened
to him, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a
dove." Would he have stated this with Matthew 3:16 in front of him?)
1:11 does not name Mark: "When the words are addressed to
him, "Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee,' this is spoken
to him by God, with whom all time is today." Assigned to Psalm 2:7,
or a "Western" form of Luke 3:22.
1:14 A use of Mark: "Matthew and Mark also state a certain reason
why he departed thither, namely, that he had heard that John was cast
1:13-15 A use of Mark: "Mark has the following: `And he was in
the desert 40 days and 40 nights tempted by Satan, and he was with
the wild beasts, and the angels ministered unto him. But after John
was delivered up Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of
God, that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand;
repent ye, and believe in the gospel."
1:21 A use of Mark: "Then after the narrative about Andrew and
Peter and James and John, Mark writes, `And he entered into
Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he was teaching in the
1:14-27 A use of Mark: "And Mark, starting in his narrative from
the temptation by the devil, relates that after John was cast into
prison, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and
after the call of the four fishermen to the apostleship, "They enter
into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath day he taught in the
synagogue, and they were astonished at his doctrine." And Mark
records an action of Jesus also which took place at Capernaum, for he
goes on to say, "In their synagogue there was a man with an unclean
spirit, and he cried out, saying, `Ah! What have we to do with thee,
thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? We know thee
who thou art, the Son of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, `Hold
thy peace and come out of him,' and the unclean spirit, tearing him
and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all
amazed." And at Capernaum Simon's mother-in-law is cured of her
fever. And Mark adds that when evening was come all those were cured
who were sick and who were possessed with demons."
1:16 does not name Mark: "There is a difference in thought,
perhaps, between Simon who is found by his own brother Andrew, and
who is addressed, "Thou shalt be called Cephas," and him who is seen
by Jesus when walking by the sea of Galilee, along with his brother,
and is addressed conjointly with that brother, `Come after me, and I
will make you fishers of men.'" Assigned to Matthew 4:18.
3:17 does not name Mark, but alludes to the unique contents of Mark
3:17: "Some of those who stand by Jesus are deemed worthy of this
honor, if they be either a Peter against whom the gates of Hades do
not prevail, or the sons of thunder, and are begotten of the mighty
voice of God who thunders and cries aloud from heaven."
4:30 a use of Mark: "Now a similitude differs from a parable, for
it is written in Mark, `To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,
or in what parable shall we set it forth?'"
4:34 does not name Mark but uses material unique to Mark: "We
ought to think in a general way about every parable, the
interpretation of which has not been recorded by the evangelists,
even though Jesus explained all things to his own disciples
5:1 does not name Mark, but in a discussion of the location of the
Legion-exorcism, mentions the Evangelists as a group: "In the matter
of proper names the Greek copies are often incorrect, and in the
Gospels one might be misled by their authority. The transaction
about the swine, which were driven down a steep place by the demons
and drowned in the sea, is said to have taken place in the country of
the Gerasenes. Now, Gerasa is a town of Arabia, and has near it
neither sea nor lake. And the Evangelists would not have made a
statement so obviously false, for they were men who informed
themselves carefully of all matters connected with Judaea. But in a
few copies we have found, "into the country of the Gadarenes," and
regarding this reading, it is to be stated that Gadara is a town of
Judaea, in the neighborhood of which are the well-known hot springs,
and that there is no lake there with overhanging banks, nor any sea.
But Gergesa, from which the name Gergesenes is taken, is an old town
in the neighborhood of the lake now called Tiberias, and on the edge
of it there is a steep place abutting on the lake, from which it is
pointed out that the swine were cast down by the demons."
5:13 Does not mention Mark; the allusion is too generalized to pin
to one Gospel-account.
6:1 A use of Mark: "And Mark says, `And he came into his own
country and his disciples follow him."
6:5-6 A use of Mark: "Matthew and Mark, wishing to set forth the
excellency of the divine power, that it has power even in unbelief,
but not so great power as it has in the faith of those who are being
benefited, seeom to me to have said with accuracy, not that he did
not `any' mighty works because of their unbelief, but that he did
not `many' there. And Mark also does not say, that he could not do
any mighty work there, and stop at that point, but added, `Except
that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk and healed them.'"
6:14 An allusion to Mark: ""At that season Herod the tetrarch
heard the report concerning Jesus and said unto his own
servants, `This is John the Baptist.'" In Mark it is the same, and
also in Luke." The text quoted by Origen is from Matthew 14:1.
6:15 A use of Mark: "The opinion of those who said that Jesus
was `a prophet even as one of the prophets' has no bearing on the
6:39-41 and 8:6 A use of Mark: "Mark says, `He commanded them all
to sit down.'" And, "There, the three evangelists say in the very
same words that `He took the five loaves and the two fishes and
looking up to heaven he blessed,' but here, as Matthew and Mark have
written, `Jesus gave thanks and brake.' There, they recline upon the
grass, but here they sit upon the ground."
6:39-40 A use of Mark: "Let us not pass by without exposition the
words, `He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass, and he
took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he
blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the
disciples to the multitudes. And they did all eat.'" And, "Mark has
written, `And he commanded them that they should all sit down by
companies upon the green grass; and they sat down in ranks by
hundreds and by fifties."
6:41 A use of Mark: "Mark says, `He commanded them all to sit
down,' but here he does not command but proclaims to the multitudes
to sit down."
6:45 a use of Mark, citing Mark by name.
7:3-4 a use of Mark, citing Mark by name and using material unique
7:19 a use of Mark, citing Mark by name.
7:24 a use of Mark, citing Mark by name and quoting the passage
8:6 (see above, on 6:41)
8:30 a use of Mark, citing Mark by name.
9:1 does not name Mark but used material unique to Mark: "They saw
the kingdom of God coming with power." And, "It is written in the
three Evangelists, `They shall not taste death.'"
9:2 Mark is named: "Now after six days, according to Matthew and
Mark, he taketh with him " (quotation of Matthew 17:1 proceeds.)
9:3 Mark is named: "It will be necessary to expound the passage as
given in Mark, `And as he was praying he was transfigured before
9:5 Assigned to Matthew 17:4.
9:6 Mark is named: "Mark, in his own person, has added, `For he
knew not what to answer.'"
9:33-37 Mark is named: "Mark, then, says that the Twelve reasoned
in the way as to which of them was the greatest." . . . "Wherefore he
sat down, and called them" . . . "and taking him in his arms" . . . .
10:2 Mark is named: [After a quotation of Matthew 19:3] "Mark also
has written to the like effect."
10:18 (x2) Mark is not named in either case: "The Savior praises
him, saying, `None is good but one, God the Father." And, "For as
none is good but one, God the Father, so among rivers none is good
but the Jordan." Assigned to a variant-form (Diatessaronic?) of
11:1-12 and 11:15-17 Mark is named and is cited.
11:24-25 Mark is not named but unique material from Mark is
used: "If ye stand praying, believe that ye receive, and ye shall
12:17 Mark is not named: "Let him, then, who has the things of
Caesar render them to Caesar, that afterwards he may be able to
render to God the things of God." Assigned to Matthew 22:21 or Luke
12:20 (incorrect citation; the passage used by Origen = Mk. 12:26)
12:26 Mark is not named but material unique to Mark is
used: "'Have you not read,' he says, `what is said by God at the
Bush, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of
Jacob; he is not the God of the dead but of the living.'"
12:28 Mark is not named, but the allusion is sufficiently strong,
running parallel to Mt. 22:34.
14:5 Mark is not named, and the context shows clearly that the
passage that Origen is using is John 12:4-6.
14:49 Mark is not named; the passage cited by Origen is Matthew
26:56 "That the things spoken through the prophets might be
14:58, 14:60-61 Mark is named and quoted.
15:21 Mark is named: "Jesus according to Matthew and Mark and Luke
does not bear it [i.e., the cross] for himself, for Simon of Cyrene
If we condense all that into a list, we may present the verses of
Mark which Origen uses in the remains of his Commentaries on John and
Matthew chapter-by-chapter as follows, with verses of Mark used by
Origen in ANF Vol. 4 and Philocalia in parentheses:
Chapter 1: 1-3, 6-7, 9, 13-27 (1, 2)
Chapter 2: none
Chapter 3: 17 (17, 18)
Chapter 4: 30, 34 (11, 12)
Chapter 5: 1
Chapter 6: 1, 5-6, 14-15, 39-41, 45
Chapter 7: 3-4, 19, 24
Chapter 8: 6, 30
Chapter 9: 1-3, 6, 33-37
Chapter 10: 2 (44)
Chapter 11: 1-12, 15-17, 24-25
Chapter 12: 26, 28
Chapter 13: none
Chapter 14: 58, 60-61
Chapter 15: 21
Chapter 16: none
In addition to these references, in chapter 8 of "On Prayer," Origen
uses Mark 1:35.
(1) Origen does not use Mark 1:36-3:16, which consists of 54 (10 +
28 + 16) consecutive verses.
(2) Origen does not use Mark 3:19-4:11, which consists of 28 (17 +
11) consecutive verses.
(3) Origen does not use Mark 4:13-4:30, which consists of 17
(4) Origen does not use Mark 5:2-5:43, which consists of 41
(5) Origen does not use Mark 6:46-7:2, which consists of 13 (11+ 2)
(6) Origen does not use Mark 7:4-7:19, which consists of 15
(7) Origen does not use Mark 7:25-8:5, which consists of 18 (13 + 5)
(8) Origen does not use Mark 8:7-8:29, which consists of 22
(9) Origen does not use Mark 9:7-9:32, which consists of 25
(10) Origen does not use Mark 10:3-10:42, which consists of 39
(11) Origen does not use Mark 11:26-12:25, which consists of 32 (7 +
25) consecutive verses.
(12) Origen does not use Mark 12:29-14:57, which consists of 110 (16
+ 37 + 57) consecutive verses.
(13) Origen does not use Mark 14:62-15:20, which consists of 31 (11
+ 20) consecutive verses.
(14) Origen does not use Mark 15:22-16:8, which consists of 33 (25 +
8) consecutive verses.
Origen fails to use 14 chunks of text from Mark which each contain
more than 12 verses (including a 39-verse chunk, a 41-verse chunk, a
54-verse chunk, and a 110-verse chunk). If we chop those 14 chunks
of unused text into sections of 12 verses each, ignoring whatever
number of verses is left over, then some additional observations can
Mark 1:36-3:16 includes 4 12-verse sections.
Mark 3:19-4:11 includes 2 12-verse sections.
Mark 4:13-4:30 includes 1 12-verse section.
Mark 5:2-5:43 includes 3 12-verse sections.
Mark 6:46-7:2 includes 1 12-verse section.
Mark 7:4-7:19 includes 1 12-verse section.
Mark 7:25-8:5 includes 1 12-verse section.
Mark 8:7-8:29 includes 1 12-verse section.
Mark 9:7-9:32 includes 2 12-verse sections.
Mark 10:3-10:42 includes 3 12-verse sections.
Mark 11:26-12:25 includes 2 12-verse sections.
Mark 12:29-14:57 includes 9 12-verse sections.
Mark 14:62-15:20 includes 2 12-verse sections.
Mark 15:22-16:8 includes 2 12-verse sections.
Thus, Origen did not use 34 12-verse sections in Mark 1:1-16:8. If
Origen's failure to use a 12-verse chunk of text is taken to mean
that Origen had no knowledge of those verses, then one must conclude
not only that Origen had no knowledge of Mark 16:9-20, but he also
had no knowledge of these other 34 sections.
To put it in statistical terms: Mark 1:1-16:20 (in the Byzantine
Text) has 678 verses. The 34 12-verse sections unused by Origen in
Mark 1:1-16:8 consist of 412 verses, that is, 62% of Mark 1:1-16:8.
(This does not include leftover verses which do not fit into tidy 12-
verse sections.) The suggestion that Origen failed to use Mark 16:9-
20 because these 12 verses were not known to him is shown to be
specious by the observation that Origen likewise fails to use 34
other 12-verse sections which constitute over 60% of the Gospel of
In 1881, Hort wrote (referring to the non-use of Mark 16:9-20 by
Clement and Origen), "The evidence from the silence of both these
writers is of the casual rather than the special kind." In 2001, Dr.
Michael Holmes chimed in about the use of the silence of Clement and
Origen as evidence for the Abrupt Ending: "This is an argument from
silence, so not too much weight can be placed on it." Possibly these
evaluations may be altered by an analysis of texts by Clement or
Origen other than the ones covered here, such as Origen's Homilies.
Barring such a thing, though, these statements seem correct.
Readers of Metzger's Textual Commentary (and its many echoes in
various commentaries) should view the statement that "Clement of
Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of the existence of these
verses" with the awareness that Clement shows knowledge of no more
than 23 of Mark's 678 verses, and that Origen shows no knowledge of
34 other 12-verse sections of Mark, until evidence is presented to
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.