The question can be rephrased as a gathering of evidence.
1. It is agreed that a version of the LE was known in the early to mid-second century as evidenced by Irenaeus, Tatian, Justin.
2. There are no Ante-Nicene papyri fragments that contain any part of Mark 16.
3. There is no mention prior to the fourth century of the LE's omission.
What can we conclude from this?
On one hand, I like Wieland's admission that we can know nothing.
However, I believe that we can know a few things.
WHAT WE CAN KNOW
1. You can't use an argument from silence to prove that something did NOT exist anymore than you can use this fallacy to prove a text existed.
However, LE advocates are not forced use an argument from silence to prove that the LE existed in the early to mid-second century. We know it did exist in some form based on several quotations and allusions to the passage. In fact, based on just Irenaeus' usage of it without qualification, we know the very ending of the LE was in the copies of Mark he had seen.
2. What we are left with is a critical theory based on style and vocabulary that assumes that it must have been added by an author other than Mark.
(I wonder if some enterprising form critic could show that based on the hypothetical situation of 11 verses from the BEGINNING of Mark being missing from some manuscripts that the same doubts could be raised and similar solutions used to explain the gloss?)
So if I accept Weiland's argument that the internal evidence is screaming at us, then we have to wrestle with when it was added.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies (c. 185), Book III, 10:5-6: "Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: 'So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God."
3. Without a doubt there were copies of Mark with the longer ending in the year 185.
When was the LE added? 180, 170, 160, 150, 140, 130, 120, 110, 100, 90, 80, 70, 65 ... ?
The arguments I've seen center on 110 to 140. So for the sake of argument let's say it was 125. That's only 60 years removed from the earliest likely date for Mark's composition. We then need to run all the way up to about 325 to find the first extant copies of Mark 16.
There's a difference in time spans of 60 years for the hypothetical addition versus 200 years for a hypothetical omission. So I am more inclined toward a later omission than an early addition just given the difference in the time spans -- by 3 to 1 ratio.
MY CONJECTURAL SOLUTION
Not being an expert in form criticism (if this is even the correct use of the term here) I am thinking only about the relationship of the missing LE to the archetype of Mark that was the ancestor of the text used by Irenaeus.
Is it more likely that the LE was an addition that occurred early enough to have been accepted as genuine by Irenaeus or that the LE was an omission that occurred due to a wide variety of reasons (perhaps a Gnostic or Arian corruption) after the time of Irenaeus?
I propose the following solution and then I'll let the more learned rip it apart. I haven't read much literature on this, so I don't know if this has ever been suggested before.
The version of the LE we have today is somewhat corrupted, but the version quoted by Irenaeus had the correct ending. We don't have the entire LE from the second century -- just bits and pieces quoted by the Church Fathers. It seems to me that we could accept verses 17-20 on the basis of patristic testimony. From the criticism I have read it seems that it is the bridge between 8 and 9 and the manner of mentioning of Mary Magdalene that causes the most doubt. So it is valid to conclude that the greatest corruption of the LE occurs from the beginning to the middle (vv. 9-16), but not the end (vv. 17-20).
Let's also suppose that sometime in the second century the LE was removed by the Adoptionists. Irenaeus himself says that various Gnostic sects each adopted one of the four Gospels that they believed best supported their views often editing out parts with which they disagreed.
The Ebionites used only the Gospel according to Matthew, because they thought it represented a more "earthly" Jesus. The Adoptionists made use only of Mark, because they felt it separated "Jesus" from "Christ." The Marcionites used only the Gospel of Luke because they felt it represented a more "spiritual" Jesus. Finally, the Cerinthians and Valentinians used only their warped interpretation of John to show that Jesus was a separate spiritual being from the evil demiurgic God who created the material universe.
So what might be objectionable in the LE to the Adoptionists of the second century?
"The Lord, then, indeed, after speaking to them, was received up to the heaven, and sat on the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19 - Young's Literal Translation).
This is the very verse quoted by Irenaeus.
Some might have seen Adoptionist concepts in Mark 1:9-12, so this Gospel was more readily accepted by these Dynamic Monarchians. But to have Christ as fully God sitting at the right hand of God the Father flies in the face of Monarchianism. So the Adoptionists redacted Mark 16 to the most natural break they could find (verse 8) and then other Adoptionists further corrupted the ending from there.
At the end of the second century, Theodotus of Byzantium was excommunicated for teaching Adoptionism in Asia Minor. As a result, the proto-Byzantine texts retained the LE, but the Adoptionist heresy and the resulting corruption of Mark had already gained a foothold in the Middle East and Africa. This explains the omission of the LE in the two oldest Alexandrian texts.
At some point after that, there was a recension of the available texts, but the Adoptionist corruptions and the Byzantine texts that retained the original ending of Mark were compromised to create what eventually became the Textus Receptus with the clumsy "bridge material."
So to contradict Bart Ehrman, it is not the "Orthodox Corruption of Scripture" that is responsible for the addition of the LE, but the heretical corruption of the original ending of Mark to exclude the orthodox Trinitarian image of Jesus sitting down at the right hand of the Father.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "james_snapp_jr" <voxverax@...> wrote:
> WW: "Many things are not discussed prior to the fourth century. This is a weak argument from silence."
> Do you mean that it does not strike you at all as somewhat strange that nobody in the 100's or 200's mentions that Mark does not say anything about the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus?
> WW: "Internal evidence just cries for it being a secondary addition."
> Internal evidence cries for John 21 being a secondary addition, too. The question is, were these additions made while the text was still in its production-stage, or at some later point, after the text had already been released for church-use?
> WW: (answering the question, "If second and third century papyri fragments existed that gave a witness to the LE, then would the state of criticism of the TC be any different?") "No. At least not much."
> I'm not so sure. Hort's theory of Non-Western Interpolations seemed to persuade many scholars, until P75 was discovered; the impact of P75 seems to have been sufficient to effect the reintroduction of those verses and passages into the text -- even though all that had changed, from the perspective of an advocate of Hort's theory, was that instead of a /hypothetical/ early-third-century MS with the accretions, we now have an /actual/ one.
> At some point -- perhaps, in the case at hand, at the point when it is realized that Justin used a Synoptics-harmony that incorporated Mk. 16:20, and that Tatian likewise blended Mk. 16:9-20 into the Diatessaron, and that the author of the Epistula Apostolorum structured his narrative on the the model of the LE, and that both Vaticanus and Sinaiticus contain indications of their scribes' awareness of additional text after 16:8 -- we have to say that a theory that is evidence-proof is evidence-defiant.
> Yours in Christ,
> James Snapp, Jr.