Critique of Wallace in Perspectives on the Ending of Mark
- Books on NTTC don't come along every day, and much less common are books about a specific variant. So the 2009 "Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views" merits special attention. I gave it some attention recently. I was hoping that it would be free of the sort of miscitations and errors that have marred so many commentaries when the subject of the ending of Mark is addressed. I was disappointed, especially as I read the first chapter, and although I had originally planned to review the entire book, I decided it might be more helpful to interact specifically with the first chapter. So here is my critique of Dr. Daniel Wallace's "Mark 16:8 as the Conclusion to the Second Gospel," the first essay in "Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views."
In "Perspectives on the Ending of Mark Four Views," Daniel Wallace, Maurice A. Robinson, J. K. Elliott, David Alan Black, and Darrell Bock each offer an essay explaining why Mark 16:9-20 should, or should not, be regarded as Holy Scripture. To a large degree, the titles of the first four essays let you know what to expect: Wallace describes "Mark 16:8 as the Conclusion to the Second Gospel." Robinson supports "The Long Ending of Mark as Canonical Verity." Elliott offers cautious deductions from the internal evidence, and some musings about canonicity, in "The Last Twelve Verses of Mark: Original or Not?" and Black, delving into the Synoptic Problem, presents "Mark 16:9-20 as Markan Supplement." Bock's essay fits its title ("A Response to the Essays") in a way, but somewhere in the course of assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the other essays, Bock becomes an advocate for (fellow Dallas Theol. Seminary professor) Wallace's view. All of the essays thus reflect the writers' participation in the conference, "The Last 12 Verses of Mark: Original or Not?" which took place at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina on April 13-14, 2007, and which led to the publication of this book.
Wallace's 39-page essay begins by saying, in nine pages, that it is important not to let one's presuppositions overrule the evidence. Then he mainly focuses on the external evidence, although he repeatedly diverges into internal considerations. Wallace acknowledges that "at least 95% of all Greek manuscripts and versions have the LE," and that the LE is attested by Irenaeus. In a footnote he says "It is possible that Justin knew of the LE."
Before getting to Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, Wallace spends three pages kicking around William Farmer's theory that Mark 16:9-20 was removed by scribes who considered it difficult to harmonize and doctrinally problematic. Then he states (p. 15), "Although no papyri witness to Mark 16, one might cautiously enlist the support of P75 here." Cautious or not, this looks like an attempt to use a hopeful expectation as if it is evidence.
A much more severe flaw in Wallace's argumentation arises as he describes the blank spaces in Codex Vaticanus. First, he states, "Mark's Gospel ends at the bottom of the second column," but actually 16:8 ends on the 31st line of a 42-line column. Then, "The gap is clearly too small to allow for the LE," but actually the LE can be contained in the space from the end of 16:8 to the end of the blank column; all that is required is a slight reduction of space between the letters. Then, he mentions William Lane's idea that the blank column indicates the scribe's awareness of the Shorter (i.e., Intermediate) Ending, without mentioning that the SE would fit neatly into the space below 16:8, thus removing the need for the blank column.
Next, Wallace attempts to downplay the significance of B's blank column, by mentioning other blank spaces in B after Tobit, after 2 Esdras (Nehemiah), and after Daniel. Strangely, he refutes part of his own case in a footnote, admitting that there is a change from a two-column format in 2 Esdras to a three-column format in Psalms, which follows 2 Esdras, and that Daniel is the last book in the OT-portion of Vaticanus. The production-factors that caused those two blank spaces clearly are not at work at the end of Mark. But, "This argument does not work for Tobit." However, there is a change of scribes at the end of Tobit; the blank space there is leftover from where the scribe completed his assigned text-portion. The causes of all three of these blank spaces in the OT-portion of Vaticanus are clear, and the factors which caused them are manifestly not at work at the end of Mark.
Yet Wallace, in a footnote on p. 17, /almost immediately after making crystal-clear explanations of the blank space after 2 Esdras and the blank space after Daniel/, states, "All in all, the reasons for the gaps are anything but clear." This false claim is the premise from which he draws the conclusion that this makes arguments "based on the supposition that the scribes of Aleph and B knew of the LE or even the Intermediate Ending tentative at best." One can only stare and wonder at the evidence-warping, evidence-ignoring, and evidence-defiance leading to that statement.
Wallace also mentions the absence of an umlaut in B alongside Mark 16:8, but he only explores the umlauts' significance as far as it can be used as a possible ally of his position. He then wraps up his dismissal of the blank column: "Of the three other gaps in Vaticanus, not one is used to indicate knowledge of textual variation. So, to argue that this must be the case for the gap at the end of Mark is hardly compelling." But the force of the evidence really works the other way: not one of the three gap-causing factors in the OT-portion of Vaticanus is operating at the end of Mark. The suggestion that they somehow diminish the case that the deliberately placed blank column between Mark and Luke indicates the scribe's awareness of additional material after Mark 16:8 is not persuasive at all.
As Wallace briefly describes the versional evidence, things do not improve. Wallace states that the Armenian scholar Joseph Alexanian has said that the earliest Armenian version "is either Caesarean or proto-Byzantine," and Wallace rapidly concludes, "Almost all Byzantine MSS extant today have the LE, but the Armenian version demonstrates (i.e., if it is truly Byzantine instead of Caesarean) that this was not always the case." Having merely claimed this qualified claim on p. 20, he employs it on p. 28 so as to inflate the attestation for the abrupt ending: its witnesses "represent the Alexandrian (especially the primary Alexandrian), Western, and Caesarean text-types, possibly even the proto-Byzantine."
Wallace briefly mentions the silence of Clement of Alexandria and Origen before moving on to discuss evidence from Eusebius, Jerome, and Victor of Antioch. Patristic witnesses supportive of the LE are ignored. Also unmentioned is Eusebius' explanation of how to harmonize Mark 16:9 and Matthew 28:1 an explanation which implies that Eusebius, though personally rejecting the passage, expected Marinus to retain and use it. When describing Jerome's testimony, Wallace proposes that readers should approach Jerome's comment about "almost all the Greek codices" in Epistle 120 (To Hedibia) as if it is an independent observation by Jerome, instead of the casual repetition, augmented by a casual assumption (i.e., the assumption that Eusebius used Greek codices as the basis for his statement), that it is.
Wallace then turns to an obvious question: if Jerome personally saw that hardly any Greek codices included Mark 16:9-20, why did he include it in the Vulgate? "Perhaps for the same reasons that it is included in Bibles today call it antiquity, tradition of timidity" for, "If a riot had broken out over the description of a plant, how much more chaos could result if Jerome had omitted Jesus' appearance to his disciples in Mark 16?" Those who have noticed Jerome's disposition to criticism, as expressed in his Preface to the Gospels and other writings, may find that theory artificial. In addition, Wallace's assumption that the omission of Mark 16:9-20 would spark uproars among the masses implies that, by the 380's, Mark 16:9-20 was widely popular. But that cannot have been the case, if we believe that the statement in Jerome's Epistle 120 that it was found in "scarcely any copies of the Gospel," applies to his own times.
After skimming over Eusebius, Jerome, and Victor of Antioch, Wallace turns these three witnesses into a "trend," a pattern of progression from a situation in which most MSS of Mark end at 16:8, to a situation in which 16:9-20 was accepted. Nowhere at all does Wallace examine the testimony (favorable to the LE) of Tatian's Diatessaron, the Epistula Apostolorum, De Rebaptismate, Aphraates, the Gothic Version, Ambrose, Acts of Pilate, De Trinitate (attributed to Didymus the Blind), Apostolic Constitutions, Epiphanius of Salamis, Augustine, Augustine's reference to Greek and Latin MSS, or Macarius Magnes. No words are wasted on patristic writers who, before Eusebius, and before Jerome, or contemporary with them, did not discuss the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 but simply saw it in their copies, took its authenticity for granted, and routinely used it as Scripture.
The Shorter (Intermediate) Ending is considered next. Here Wallace's treatment is a careless echo of Metzger's analysis. Describing Codex Bobbiensis, Wallace does not mention its bizarre variants, or the interpolation in 16:3-4, or the omission of the last part of 16:8, stating instead that the SE is "simply added to the abrupt ending of v. 8." In a footnote he agrees with William Lane that 274 "has the shorter ending after Ch. 16:20," although this is not the case; 274 has the SE in the lower margin of the page; the text of that page ends in the middle of Mark 16:15. Wallace then claims, "The MSS that added both the Intermediate and Long Endings imply that their ancestors only had the Intermediate Ending," which of course may be true of some of their ancestor-MSS, but cannot be true of all of them. Next, Wallace refers to "The fact that the Intermediate Ending is found in eight Greek MSS," but L Y 099 0112 579 274 only add up to six. He refers to "The fact" that "all the Sahidic MSS (except for one that ends at v. 8)" have the SE," but British Museum MS. Or. 7029 has Mark 16:9-20 after 16:8, without the SE.
Wallace begins to conclude his review of external evidence with further inaccuracies and misleading descriptions. He states that in Codex 22, after Mark 16:8, we read, "The end. In some copies the evangelist ends here, but in many this also." No indication is given that the words "The end" there in Codex 22 are an end-of-lection mark. Also, Wallace proceeds to overlook the supportive nature of annotations like these two: some copies end at 16:8 but many contain 16:9-20; some copies end at 16:8 but 16:9-20 is intact in the old copies. The tone of these notes, most of which appear related to one another, has been misconstrued. In a footnote Wallace states, "These MSS claim that Eusebius considered the Short Ending canonical, but apparently not the long." The reader will hopefully be aware that by "Short Ending" he means the abrupt ending, and that the annotations refer to the Eusebian Canons, not to any formal statement of text-canonization by Eusebius.
Wallace also states, "The scribe might simply place an asterisk or obelisk in the margin, indicating doubt about these verses. Such a symbol is found in at least five MSS." In a footnote he lists them: 138, 264, 1221, 2346, and 2812. However, John Burgon, in The Last 12 Verses of Mark, pp. 116-118, recorded that a friend of his visited the Vatican Library, found MSS 137 and 138 (referred to in Burgon's time as Codd. Vatt. 756 and 757), and saw that MS 137 has a cross-symbol ("+") which was intended to refer the reader to an annotation which had the same cross-symbol, and that the annotation affirms the genuineness of Mark 16:9-20; Burgon also records that his friend observed that MS 138 "exhibits neither asterisk nor cross, but contains the same note." Burgon also stated that in MS 264, the symbol which occurs at Mark 16:9 also appears at Mark 11:12, 12:38, and 14:12; is it supposed to indicate doubt in all these places? In MS 2346, the symbol in question is a superscripted lozenge (similar to v) between 16:8 and 16:9, an all-purpose symbol open to interpretation. In light of these disagreements and ambiguities, the claim that these symbols indicate doubt should not be granted without perspicuous proof. Also, I think the term is "obelus," not "obelisk."
As he finishes describing the external evidence, Wallace offers the following reconstruction of events: "The LE was at first considered inauthentic, then timidly accepted, then finally considered to be part of the original text." This defies the patristic evidence in which the LE is considered part of the original text of Mark in the 100's, 200's, 300's, and so forth. That error is followed by another: "Yet even then, many scribes registered their doubts about this ending." Wallace this gives readers three false impressions: that the annotations all express doubt rather than justification for the inclusion of the LE, and that the annotations (identical in several MSS) are the scribes' own thoughtful observations, and that the 20 or so MSS with these annotations are relatively "many."
Turning to the internal evidence, Wallace states that the "vocabulary, syntax, style, and context" weigh in against the authenticity of the LE. Then he says it again. And he says it again, inviting readers to consult Elliott's essay for the details. Restatement is the depth of Wallace's argument, until he proposes that "source criticism plays a role" as well: "By far the best explanation for the Matthean and Lukan Resurrection accounts looking so different from each other is that they had lost their template because Mark ended his Gospel at v. 8." Taking Wallace's advice to consult Elliott, however, we find that Elliott, in a footnote on p. 93, disagrees with Wallace about this: "We cannot use Matthew or Luke to make claims about what they may or may not have read in their copies of Mark in chap. 16.")
In a footnote on p. 30, Wallace makes a strange comment about Bruce Terry's essay about the internal evidence: "Although Terry makes a decent case, unfortunately he interacts with virtually no one." Those who have read Terry's online essay know that he interacts with numerous claims. Terry's silence about whose claims he is refuting does not weaken the refutation. In the same footnote, Wallace refers to "the lack of Markanisms" in the Freer Logion and the SE, but then he finishes the section called "The End of Mark's Gospel Internal Evidence," by stating that Morton Smith's "Secret Mark" is a forgery with Markan features, and that the Freer Logion and the SE both have "several Markan features," and that therefore the Markan features in the LE can be attributed to mimicry. (The LE thus cannot win: non-Markan features are attributed to a non-Markan origin, and Markan features are attributed to a non-Markan origin too.) What we never see in this section is an actual review of the internal evidence.
The last seven pages of Wallace's essay are spent in an attempt to convince the reader that Mark intended to end his Gospel-account in 16:8 with the phrase efobounto gar. N. Clayton Croy has already dealt very effective with this sort of argument (in The Mutilation of Mark's Gospel), including Wallace's main source (J. Lee Magness' /Sense and Absence/), but Wallace is not convinced, stating that Croy "does not make an airtight case." He attempts to escape Croy's case by climbing through Mark 9:32: there, Wallace claims, "the pericope just quits: Mark leaves us hanging." Wallace proposes that Mark leaves his Gospel-account unresolved in the same manner in which he left the pericope in 9:32 unresolved. This part of Wallace's case only survives via his avoidance of Mark 10:32-34. For Mark does not leave the reader hanging /indefinitely/ in 9:32; he returns to exactly the same subject in 10:32-34, mentioning the disciples' fear (using efobounto) and recording Jesus' more explicit, more detailed restatement of His prediction.
As Wallace finishes his essay, Mark 16:8 as the Conclusion to the Second Gospel, he invites readers to consider the internal-evidence analysis provided by Elliott who proceeds to state about efobounto gar on p. 89, "I am not inclined to think Mark intended his writing to end in this way."
It is regrettable that the one-sided presentation of witnesses, the inaccuracies, the unsubstantiated claims, and the implausible spin in Dr. Wallace's essay practically guarantee that it will mislead everyone who trusts it, while enhancing their ability to spread misinformation about Mark 16:9-20.
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.
- Thanks for the critique Jim, I look forward to hearing about the
I struggle with blank spaces. It seems to me that they prove that the
scribes did not write on that bit of the manuscript.
At 17:50 04/08/2009, you wrote:
>...Peter M. Head, PhD
>A much more severe flaw in Wallace's argumentation arises as he
>describes the blank spaces in Codex Vaticanus. First, he states,
>"Mark's Gospel ends at the bottom of the second column," but
>actually 16:8 ends on the 31st line of a 42-line column. Then, "The
>gap is clearly too small to allow for the LE," but actually the LE
>can be contained in the space from the end of 16:8 to the end of the
>blank column; all that is required is a slight reduction of space
>between the letters. Then, he mentions William Lane's idea that the
>blank column indicates the scribe's awareness of the Shorter (i.e.,
>Intermediate) Ending, without mentioning that the SE would fit
>neatly into the space below 16:8, thus removing the need for the
>Next, Wallace attempts to downplay the significance of B's blank
>column, by mentioning other blank spaces in B after Tobit, after 2
>Esdras (Nehemiah), and after Daniel. Strangely, he refutes part of
>his own case in a footnote, admitting that there is a change from a
>two-column format in 2 Esdras to a three-column format in Psalms,
>which follows 2 Esdras, and that Daniel is the last book in the
>OT-portion of Vaticanus. The production-factors that caused those
>two blank spaces clearly are not at work at the end of Mark. But,
>"This argument does not work for Tobit." However, there is a change
>of scribes at the end of Tobit; the blank space there is leftover
>from where the scribe completed his assigned text-portion. The
>causes of all three of these blank spaces in the OT-portion of
>Vaticanus are clear, and the factors which caused them are
>manifestly not at work at the end of Mark.
>Yet Wallace, in a footnote on p. 17, /almost immediately after
>making crystal-clear explanations of the blank space after 2 Esdras
>and the blank space after Daniel/, states, "All in all, the reasons
>for the gaps are anything but clear." This false claim is the
>premise from which he draws the conclusion that this makes arguments
>"based on the supposition that the scribes of Aleph and B knew of
>the LE or even the Intermediate Ending tentative at best." One can
>only stare and wonder at the evidence-warping, evidence-ignoring,
>and evidence-defiance leading to that statement.
Sir Kirby Laing Senior Lecturer in New Testament
36 Selwyn Gardens
Cambridge CB3 9BA
- Some things I've never understood about the theory that the blank space at the end of Mark is long enough for the long ending:
(1) Why would the scribe leave space for the ending but not go back to fill it in or at least leave a scribal note or symbol to indicate why the space was left?
(2) Letter size seems relatively consistent, so why would the scribe all of a sudden write the ending in a smaller font to fit it into the space which is only big enough for the long ending if the writing is "slightly" smaller?
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Peter M. Head" <pmh15@...> wrote:
> Thanks for the critique Jim, I look forward to hearing about the
> other chapters.
> I struggle with blank spaces. It seems to me that they prove that the
> scribes did not write on that bit of the manuscript.
- Peter and Bryan,
Even though this sort of things involves a high amount of speculation, I think we may be able to clear away the hesitance to affirm that the blank space here at the end of Mark in B reflects the scribe's text-critical thoughtfulness, and is not accidental. I am replying to invitations to hypotheses here, so this post is peppered with "possibly," "probably," "apparently," and so forth. Nevertheless I think you will see that while exact answers are elusive, the evidence strongly favors the theory that the blank space in B after Mark 16:8 is the result of text-critical thoughtfulness, and that the claim, "It is a myth to suppose that Vaticanus' scribe knew of Mark 16.9-20 and left room for it," stands on smoke.
(It might help if we reduce our ambition, so that our primary question is, "Is this blank space the result of text-critical thoughtfulness, or not?" Then, if our answer is, "Yes; the evidence strongly favors the idea that it is the result of text-critical thoughtfulness," we can begin sorting out the secondary question of what text-critical thoughts might have been involved, and be somewhat satisfied even if at the end of the day the word "might" is still in our answer to the secondary question.)
I'll address Peter's comment first. Let's slowly approach the blank space at the end of Mark in B from a distance, and I think you may form a very strong impression of what are, and are not, the most probable reasons why the scribes did not write on that bit of the manuscript.
First, consider the black space in L, and the blank space in Delta, where the PA is absent. Check and see if those blank spaces are of adequate size to contain Jn. 7:53-8:11. (As I recall, one is, and one isn't.) We could conclude only that the scribes did not write on that bit of the manuscript, but I think most observers will affirm that the blank space in L and Delta is extremely obviously a conscious attempt by the scribes to signify something, namely, his awareness of the existence of the PA. We may justifiably conclude that the PA, though absent from the scribes' exemplar (or exemplars), was known to the scribes. Nothing but that can account for what we see in Delta, where the scribe, after Jn. 7:52, began to write 8:12, but then crossed out PALIN OUN AUTOIS ELALHSEN O _IS_ LEGWN, left the rest of the page blank, left the first part of the next page blank, and only then began writing 8:12 (PALIN OUN. . .).
Second, moving a little closer to the blank space at the end of Mark, consider B's scribes' treatment of the format of the beginnings and endings of books. The scribes of B begin a book in the column which immediately follows the column in which the preceding book concludes, with four exceptions: there are blank spaces after Tobit, after Second Esdras, after Daniel, and after Mark. At the risk of repeating what I wrote earlier, let's consider the first three.
(1) The reason for the blank space after Tobit is easy to discern (although Wallace and Elliott both failed to notice it in the "Perspectives" book; Wieland made a note of it on his website about Vaticanus): there is a change of hands at this point, and the blank space is leftover space. It looks as if two scribes were working simultaneously on two consecutive portions of text, and one scribe finished his assigned text-portion without making an effort to finish it at the end of the last column of the last page.
(2) The reason for the blank space after Second Esdras is easy to discern: the format shifts to two-column format at the beginning of Psalms, which follows Second Esdras. For that reason, the beginning of Psalms could not be placed alongside the end of Second Esdras on the same page; Psalm had to begin on a page with two-column ruling.
(3) The reason for the blank space after Daniel is easy to discern: this is where the OT-portion ends. The scribes very naturally wanted Matthew to start on a fresh page; this was so much the common practice (Gospels-MSS being much more common than OT+NT Bibles) that the idea of beginning the NT on the same page on which the OT concluded probably never entered their minds.
Now we reach the blank space at the end of Mark in B. There is no change of scribal hand, so gap-causing mechanism #1 is not in play. There is no shift in column-format, so gap-causing mechanism #2 is not in play. And there is no genre-shift, large or small, so gap-causing mechanism #3 is not in play.
(Dr. Wallace seems to propose, in a footnote in "Perspectives" on p. 17, that the scribe of B may have left the blank column after Mark 16:8 because his exemplar placed Mark last among the Gospels and there was a blank space after Mark in that exemplar but this would require an exemplar of the Alexandrian Text in "Western" order, this collides with the order of Luke-then-John in P75 (that is, if P75 had a brother-volume, containing Matthew-then-Mark, that brother-volume would be Gospels Volume #1, not Gospel Volume #2). This would also mean that when the scribe came to the end of Mark in his exemplar and saw ordinary blank space (i.e., something seen in every MS in which the text does not end at the end of the last column of a page), he regarded it as something so special that it was worth replicating in Codex B between Mark and Luke, even though he did not even put an entire blank column between John and Acts, or between Acts and James, or between Jude and Romans.)
So it looks like the scribe's reason for abandoning his usual practice of beginning a book in the column immediately following the end of the preceding book had nothing to do with the mechanisms that caused the gaps in the OT-portion of B. The existence of those gaps is so much tea in China (or, in England, I think, the price of fish), because they are all "seams" resulting from normal mechanisms in the MS' production. The blank column at the end of Mark, however, is not.
If you haven't already visited http://www.curtisvillechristian.org/Vaticanus.html , please notice the materials there, which demonstrate the following:
(a) Mk. 16:9-20 cannot be contained in the blank space using the scribe's normal lettering. If the text of Mark 16:9-20 is written in the scribe's normal lettering, the end of the third column is reached at the end of the word PANTACOU in 16:20, with 67 letters left unwritten.
(b) Mk. 16:9-20 can be contained in the blank space using a moderate level of letter-compression.
(c) The Shorter Ending, if attached to the end of Mk. 16:8, will conclude in the second column.
(d) The Shorter Ending, if begun in the line immediately after 16:8, will conclude in the third column, if moderate letter-expansion is used.
Now we can make some further observations and construct some hypotheses about possible reasons why the scribe did not write on that bit of the manuscript.
Although the blank space from the end of 16:8 to the end of col. 3 is four lines too short to contain 16:9-20 in the scribe's normal handwriting, it is very plausible that a scribe who recollected 16:9-20, but who did not have access to a MS of Mark in which 16:9-20 appeared, would think that the passage could fit in this blank space.
So one possible reason for the blank space is that the scribe recollected the existence of 16:9-20, did not have access to a MS of Mark in which 16:9-20 appeared, and left the blank space because he sensed that his exemplar was incomplete, and wished to give to the scriptorium-supervisor, or to the eventual owner of the MS, the option of consulting another exemplar (with the LE) and adding the absent text. This would be essentially the same sort of impetus for the blank spaces at the location of the PA in L and Delta.
A second possibility, drawn from the same data, is that the scribe had access to a MS of Mark containing 16:9-20, but had a high regard for Eusebius' statements in Ad Marinum. (Or, if we suspect what Hort suspected, a high regard for Origen's statements in some composition which Eusebius recast in Ad Marinum.) In light of Eusebius' statement that most of the accurate copies do not have the passage, the scribe did not copy the disputed verses; in light of Eusebius' statement that it could be accepted if one were so inclined, the scribe left room where it could be (barely) inserted.
The SE can be formatted (by lettering-expansion) to end in the third column, and the LE can be formatted (by lettering-compression) to end in the third column, too.
So a third possible reason for the blank space is that the scribe knew of at least one copy with the SE, and at least one copy with the LE, and, in order to allow the scriptorium-supervisor, or to the eventual owner of the MS, to decide which ending should be included and he managed to format the text in such a way that either ending could be chosen without causing an unusual blank space between books.
When deciding between these three possibilities, we need to ask when the SE was made. Kurt Aland strongly suspected that it was made in the second century, because of the reference to "Peter and those with him." But Eusebius, in the early 300's, with the resources of the library at Caesarea at his disposal, seems altogether clueless about the existence of the Shorter Ending. Jerome never mentions it either. Neither does Augustine. All three of these writers mentioned copies of Mark; all three cited Greek MSS that contained the LE; none of them mention any MSS containing the SE.
So if any theories involving the scribe's awareness of the SE are to be adopted, it looks like they have to also involve the idea that the SE existed in an isolated locale isolated enough not to be known to Eusebius, Jerome, and Augustine. But all the evidence that connects B and Aleph (the remarkable similarities in some of the scribes' decorative lines, the shared lection-marginalia in Acts, the lettering and diple-use and orthography of one of the scribes in particular) tends to point to Caesarea as the place where both MSS were made; this connection to Caesarea weakens the idea that Vaticanus was produced in an isolated locale, and in turn the theory that the blank space was made with the SE in mind is weakened. Not destroyed, but weakened.
Also, if B was produced at a date when the scribes knew about Ad Marinum, the scribes probably would have known about the Eusebian Canons, too, and if the scribes respected Eusebius' works so much that they would follow his opinions about the LE, they probably would like his cross-reference system enough to include it. But we don't see the Eusebian Canons in B. So the theory that the scribe was acting on knowledge of Eusebius' comments in Ad Marinum is weakened. (If Eusebius was borrowing from Origen, and the scribe knew Origen's (lost) composition, then the theory is not touched, but there is not much evidence that Eusebius was borrowing from Origen, besides Hort's and Burgon's suspicions.)
So the first theory seems to be the most sustainable.
Now for Bryan's questions.
BC: "Why would the scribe leave space for the ending but not go back to fill it in?"
I can't read the scribe's mind, of course, but one possibility is that B was made in an isolated locale, and the scribe never obtained a copy containing 16:9-20 before being separated from the MS. Another possibility is that the scribe, as he was copying from his exemplar, purposefully left the space with 16:9-20 in mind, intending to settle the question later, and he later settled the question by discovering what Eusebius says in Ad Marinum, and on that basis he added only the subscription KATA MARKON.
BC: "Why would the scribe not at least leave a scribal note or symbol to indicate why the space was left?"
One possibility is that the scribe figured that he could personally explain to the eventual owner of the MS the cause of his hesitation. And, possibly, after weighing his options, he may have concluded that the advantage of such an explanatory note was outweighed by the disadvantage of permanently marring the MS with a distraction from the text. Yet another possibility is that the scribe was instructed by his supervisor not to add such notes, but to simply copy the text that was in the exemplar in front of him. And another possibility, commended by its simplicity, is that the scribe who made the NT portion of Codex Vaticanus was making this codex (with the help of an underling) for his own personal use, and thus there was no need for a note because he knew he wasn't going to forget his own reasons for the blank space.
BC: "Letter size seems relatively consistent, so why would the scribe all of a sudden write the ending in a smaller font to fit it into the space which is only big enough for the long ending if the writing is "slightly" smaller?"
There are two possible answers, one of which is simpler than the other. The simpler answer is that the scribe did not think that it would be necessary to write in a smaller letter-size. All that happened is that without a copy of Mark with 16:9-20 immediately available, he had to estimate from memory the amount of space that would be needed to contain Mark 16:9-20, and he slightly underestimated.
Another possibility involves a scenario in which the scribe of B, whose regular practice is to avoid leaving blank columns between books, had one exemplar with the SE, and one exemplar with the LE. He wanted someone else to be able to decide between them. So he carefully formatted the text in such a way that either the SE or the LE (but not both) could be attached to the end of 16:8 in such a way as to end in the third column, leaving no blank column between the end of Mark and the beginning of Luke. (If he had left another column blank, this would allow the LE to be written in his normal lettering, but this would mean that if the eventual owner (or diorthotes) decided in favor of the SE, there would be a blank column between Mark and Luke.) If he noticed that Mk. 16:9-20 would not quite fit into the blank space, he probably assumed that it was close enough that the task of making it fit would not be difficult for a competent scribe.
Does that clear things up, as far as the primary question is concerned?
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.
- Thanks Jim,
That is interesting, although I agree mostly with your opening
comment, that "this sort of thing involves a high amount of
speculation". I understand that IF the witness of Vaticanus and
Sinaiticus can be somehow minimised then that could open up a broader
reconsideration of the LE; I'm willing to grant that the extra blank
column is marginally unusual, and I'm quite happy to wonder whether
the scribe thought he had left enough space for the LE (which I'm
quite prepared to think that he could have known about since the
problem of the ending of Mark was openly discussed in the fourth
century). But it is all speculation, not evidence. And in any case I
don't see any of that as of any real importance in judging the
contribution of Vaticanus to the problem of the ending of Mark -
given what the scribe does fill the empty space of col. 2 with - this
is the ending of Mark in Vaticanus.
Peter M. Head, PhD
Sir Kirby Laing Senior Lecturer in New Testament
36 Selwyn Gardens
Cambridge CB3 9BA