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Re: Joel Marcus and the Ending of Mark

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  • James Snapp, Jr.
    Peter: To me, Marcus claim that 5 out of 6 Sahidic end at 16:8, when in fact only one out of 6 Sahidic manuscripts end at 16:8, is a serious misrepresentation
    Message 1 of 65 , May 30, 2009
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      To me, Marcus' claim that 5 out of 6 Sahidic end at 16:8, when in fact only one out of 6 Sahidic manuscripts end at 16:8, is a serious misrepresentation of the evidence. But this is just one of numerous errors which scholars have made on the subject.

      What I said: "The more commentaries on Mark I read, the more convinced I am that it is very possible for scholars to make confident assertions about the contents of MSS -- egregiously erroneous statements -- that are based on very little, if any, firsthand evidence."

      Here are some reasons why I said it; perhaps this list will help account for my perspective:

      (1) "The verses which follow (Mark 16:9-20) are not in any of the great early manuscripts; only later and inferior manuscripts contain them." – William Barclay.

      (2) "A few manuscripts insert additional material after verse 14." – ESV, footnote.

      (3) "None of the early church fathers indicate awareness of these verses for the first few centuries of Christianity." – H. Walker Evans.

      (4) "Not only do "some of the most ancient authorities" lack these verses (as NRSV says)—they all do." – Tim Geddert.

      (5) "(1) These verses are lacking in many of the oldest and most reliable manuscripts, as well as in important Old Latin, Syriac, Armenian, and Ethiopic manuscripts. (2) Many of the ancient church fathers reveal no knowledge of these verses, including Clement, Origen, and Eusebius. (3) Many manuscripts that do have this section place a mark by it indicating it is a spurious addition to the text." – Norman Geisler.

      (6) "Sinaiticus and Vaticanus (Aleph and B) both omit Mark 16:9-20, as does the second-century Church Father Cyril of Alexandria." – J. Harold Greenlee.

      (7) "In very many Greek manuscripts of the Gospel, and in important manuscripts of early versions, the passage Mk. 16:9-20 is omitted." – Wilfrid J. Harrington.

      (8) "Many MSS omit vv. 9-20." – The Jerusalem Bible, footnote.

      (9) "The Gospel of Mark, according to the almost unanimous testimony of the oldest Greek manuscripts, ends with 16:8." - Donald Juel.

      (10) "Eusebius and Jerome say that the passage was unknown in all copies of Mark to which they had access." – Ralph P. Martin.

      (11) "Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Eusebius show no knowledge of the existence of these verses." – Bruce Metzger.

      (12) "The earliest copies of Mark end here, at verse 8. Early commentaries confirming this cutoff included those written by Clement of Alexandria (died about AD 101), Origen (AD 100s), and Eusebius (AD 200's)." - Stephen Miller.

      (13) "In some manuscripts, the short summary paragraph printed here immediately after verse 8a is all that follows." – C.F.D. Moule, alluding to the Shorter Ending.

      (14) "Some of our best MSS end at 16/8; other MSS agree with them in omitting v. 9-20, but have the alternative ending given below." -D. E. Nineham; the ending given below = the SE.

      (15) "Text critics have found numerous endings for Mark's Gospel that were written at various times and places." – Mark Allen Powell.

      (16) "Mark 16:9-20 is absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts in our possession - Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Sinaiticus." - Ron Rhodes (graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary).

      (17) "In many ancient Greek manuscripts, Mark's Gospel ends here. But other manuscripts add 11 more verses." - Lawrence Richards (graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary) and professor at Wheaton College Graduate School).

      (18) "Pious scribes who copied Mark made up an ending for him and added it to his text sometime in the 4th century A.D. - over 300 years after the original text was composed!" – James Tabor.

      (19) Mark 16:9-20 "is present in the King James version but lacking in our oldest manuscripts as well as from all Greek manuscripts known to Eusebius and Jerome." – W. R. Telford.

      (20) "Our two oldest Greek manuscripts, A and B, lack vv. 9-20, as does Greek manuscript 304 from the twelfth century." And, "Eusebius and Jerome both tell us these verses were absent from all Greek copies known to them." – Ben Witherington III


      PH: "He said that vv9-20 was present in only one manuscript, whereas the actual evidence suggests it was present in others"

      The evidence is not merely suggestive. The passage is present, at least in part, in 5 Sahidic MSS. Is that correct or is that incorrect?

      PH: "Although it is present in such a way as to suggest non-originality, not present as part of the original continuous ending of Mark."

      That was Kahle's interpretation of the evidence. But there are other possibilities.

      PH: "In other words his statement is actually a summary reflecting the true nature of the sahidic evidence."

      No. His statement about the Sahidic Coptic manuscripts is actually a statement about Sahidic Coptic manuscripts. It is not about their possible implications. I present it again:

      "Verses 9-20, moreover, do not exist in our earliest and best Greek manuscripts, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, both of which terminate at 16:8, as do the Sinaitic Syriac, about a hundred Armenian manuscripts, the two oldest Georgian manuscripts (from 897 and 913 C.E.), and all but one manuscript of the Sahidic Coptic (Metzger, 122-23; cf. Birdsall, "Review," 154)."

      PH: "This error of detail in no way impacts the weight of evidence in relation to the issue at hand."

      Yes it does. I'd need to dig up Kahle's essay to explain precisely how. But it should be obvious that the 4 (real) Sahidic MSS that contain the SE and LE do not attest to the same transmission-history that 4 (imaginary) Sahidic MSS that end at 16:8 would have.

      PH: "I am not sure how justified you are in assuming that 1,480 mss of Mark lack such signs - who has checked these?."

      I'm not the one making the unjustified claim; the burden is on the claimants. It would be bizarre for a textual critic to claim that MSS "often" have certain features and then, when challenged, say, "Well, who's to say they aren't there?!".

      PH: [Marcus] "seems to agree with you on the fundamental issues: "they were almost certainly not penned by Mark, nor were they the original ending of the Gospel."

      No; my view is that
      (a) there is a very good chance that Mark wrote the text now known as Mark 16:9-20 (albeit as a freestanding catechetical or liturgical composition, not as an ending for Mk. 1:1-16:8), and
      (b) Mark 16:9-20 was attached to Mark 1:1-16:8 in Rome by Mark's colleagues (when Mark suddenly departed to Alexandria) before the Gospel of Mark was initially disseminated for church-use. So using the ordinary standard of canonicity and authenticity (the state of a book's text at the moment it began its literary history through transcription for distribution), Mark 16:9-20 is original and canonical, and the question of its authorship should be considered a subject for higher criticism, after the authenticity of the passage is affirmed.

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.
    • schmuel
      Hi Folks, Jay Rogers ... James Snapp ... Steven All of them ? As their first language or second ? James Snapp ... Steven Since a translation from Latin or a
      Message 65 of 65 , Aug 12, 2009
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        Hi Folks,

        Jay Rogers
        >Why Greek if it was written to Italians? I realize that the vast
        >consensus is Greek, but this question seems logical. If one were
        >writing to Latin speakers, and if Mark was indeed the "interpreter"
        >of Peter, who was likely speaking in Aramaic or Greek, why not write
        >in the Italians' own language?

        James Snapp
        >The reason why Mark would write for Italians in Greek is that the
        >Italians, then and there, were speaking and reading and writing in

        All of them ? As their first language or second ?

        James Snapp
        >If you would like to see demonstrations of the extensive verbal
        >affinities (in Greek) between Mark, Matthew, and Luke, consult John
        >Hawkins' "Horae Synopticae," which can be downloaded for free from
        >Google Books or Archive.org.

        Since a translation from Latin or a Graeco-Latin dialect to Greek
        would likely have been done by someone aware of Mark and Matthew,
        such verbal affinities are expected in all scenarios.

        >Jaay Rogers:
        >"Just how would (theoretically) a Latin copy be involved in the loss
        >of the longer ending?"

        James Snapp
        > Theoretically ..- if Mark had written the Gospel of Mark in Latin,
        someone could have translated an early draft of it into Greek,

        And this was the theory of Herman Hoskier, accompanied with extensive
        analysis, that Mark was written in either Latin or a Graeco-Latin dialect.

        Steven Avery
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