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Chapter Divisions in Mark in A, B, and OL ff2

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  • james_snapp_jr
    In most MSS, the Gospel of Mark has 48 chapters. In Codex Vaticanus, Mark has 62 chapters, but that is unusual. The ordinary arrangement goes like this: –
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 23, 2009
      In most MSS, the Gospel of Mark has 48 chapters. In Codex Vaticanus, Mark has 62 chapters, but that is unusual. The ordinary arrangement goes like this:

      – preface
      (1) 1:23 – the demoniac
      (2) 1:29 – Peter's mother-in-law
      (3) 1:32 – the healing of various diseases
      (4) 1:40 – the leper
      (5) 2:3 – the paralytic
      (6) 2:13 – Levi the tax-collector
      (7) 3:1 – the one with a withered hand
      (8) 3:13 – the appointment of the apostles
      (9) 4:2 – the parable of the sower
      (10) 4:35 – the rebuke of the wind and the sea
      (11) 5:1 – the legion
      (12) 5:22 – the daughter of the synagogue-ruler
      (13) 5:25 – the woman with a hemorrhage
      (14) 6:7 – the instructions to the apostles
      (15) 6:14 – John and Herod
      (16) 6:34 – the five loaves
      (17) 6:47 – the walk on the sea
      (18) 7:1 – the parables of the commandments of God
      (19) 7:24 – the Phoenician woman
      (20) 7:31 – the one with the speech impediment
      (21) 8:1 – the seven loaves
      (22) 8:15 – the leaven of the Pharisees
      (23) 8:22 – the blind man
      (24) 8:27 – the questioning in Caesarea
      (25) 9:2 – the transfiguration of Jesus
      (26) 9:17 – the lunatic
      (27) 9:33 – the discussion of greatness
      (28) 10:2 – the Pharisees' question
      (29) 10:17 – the rich man's question
      (30) 10:35 – the sons of Zebedee
      (31) 10:46 - Bartimaeus
      (32) 11:1 – the colt
      (33) 11:12 – the withering of the fig-tree
      (34) 11:25 – forgetting wrongs
      (35) 11:27 – the chief priests and scribes question the Lord:
      By what authority do you do these things?
      (36) 12:1 – the vineyard
      (37) 12:13 – the trap about taxes
      (38) 12:18 – the Sadducees
      (39) 12:28 – the scribes
      (40) 12:35 – the Lord's question
      (41) 12:41 – the two lepta
      (42) 13:3 – the finale
      (43) 13:32 – the day and hour
      (44) 14:3 – the anointing of the Lord with myrrh
      (45) 14:12 – the Passover
      (46) 14:18 – the prophecy of betrayal
      (47) 14:66 – Peter's denials
      (48) 15:42 – the request for the Lord's body

      I'm going to call this arrangement the "A-chapters," because they appear in Codex Alexandrinus, and because it's easier than typing "the usual chapter arrangement" when I refer to them.

      And now, some hypothesizing.

      At first glance, a 48-part arrangement sounds suspiciously like just the sort of thing that might be formed by someone who wanted to divide the text into lections to be read week by week in Sunday church-services. Forty-eight = 12 x 4, so we would be looking at one reading each week throughout a 12-month year composed of months of four weeks each. (The final units would be longer than usual so as to be divisible into extra units for intercalated weeks.) There was no mechanism in the early church to tell all the congregations in all locales how to divide the text. But there was a mechanism that told the congregations how many lections the text should be divided into: the calendar. To have one reading from Mark each week, in a standard year of 48 weeks, you would need 48 chapters.

      If something had a copy of Mark in which the text was already divided into 48 chapters, what would that person do if he wanted to make extra divisions for non-Sunday readings in Easter-week? Suppose that somewhere, in the church-services of Easter-week, 14 additional sub-chapters were created to be read during Easter-week, beginning at Mk. 11:1. After those Easter-week sub-chapters were marked in a copy, when it was used as an exemplar, copyists combined the main chapters and the Easter-week chapters into one continuous sequence. As a result, newly produced copies would have not 48 but 62 chapter-divisions. (Some of the old divisions would overlap the Easter-week lections, with the result that when the original 48 chapters and the 14 Easter-chapters were combined in one continuous sequence, you'd end up with more than 14 lections from 11:1 onward.)

      So maybe the 48 chapters in Codex Alexandrinus and the 62 chapters in Codex Vaticanus descend from an earlier 48-unit pattern. Maybe the chapter-arrangement of Mark in the Old Latin manuscript Codex Corbeiensis (ff2) shares the same ancestor.

      Nobody seems to have paid much attention to the chapter-divisions in Mark in Codex Corbeiensis (ff2). In Codex Corbeiensis (ff2), the text of Mark is divided into 47 chapters. Casual observers might think, "Hmm; I guess the copyist accidentally missed a chapter, and that's that." But let's take a closer look. Out of the 47 chapters in Codex Corbeiensis (ff2), only 16 of them begin at the same place where the A-chapters begin!

      Time out for an interesting tale to tell about the chapter-divisions in some of the decorated Irish copies of the Vulgate Gospels. It looks like their copyists were willing to adopt the Vulgate text, but clung to the chapter-divisions, chapter-titles, and chapter-descriptions that were already in their Old Latin exemplars. This would explain why, in the Book of Durrow (late 600's?), the Gospel of Mark is decorated with the Eagle (it looks sort of like a vulture wearing a striped t-shirt), and John gets the Lion: the copyist was not recollecting Irenaeus; he was duplicating the order of the Evangelist-Symbols as they appeared in his Old Latin exemplar (Mt-Jn-Lk-Mk), and then duplicating the order of the Gospels-text from his Vulgate exemplar (Mt-Mk-Lk-Jn).

      This same sort of phenomenon also accounts for the format of the book-summaries in the Book of Durrow: the summaries for Matthew and Mark precede the text of the Gospels, and the summaries for Luke and John, in another person's handwriting, come after the text of the Gospels. What happened here? The copyist, when he began, intended to write the book-summaries of all four Gospels. But he was accustomed to thinking of Mark as the last Gospel, that when he reached the end of Mark, he reached the end of the exemplar he was using, and absent-mindedly thought that the summaries were finished. Someone else, later, wished to add the summaries of Luke and John and the only place left to do so was after the Gospels. (It's all explained by Lawlor in "Chapters on the Book of Mulling," p. 40, available online.)

      Time in; back to the chapter-divisions. Take a fresh look at the chapter-divisions of Mark in Codex Corbeiensis (ff2). The text is excellently represented online in E.S. Buchanan's transcript, chapter-numbers and all! You will see that, until you get to Mark 11:12, the chapter-divisions in Codex Corbeiensis (ff2) roughly correspond to the chapter-divisions in Codex Vaticanus. At Mark 11:1 the Easter-week begins, with the pericope of the colt; i.e., the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday. It's at this point that a more or less consistent correspondence stops.

      What do I mean by a more or less consistent correspondence between the chapter-divisions in Codex Corbeiensis (ff2) and the chapter-divisions in Codex B? I mean that from Mark 1:1 to 11:1, there are 44 chapters in B, and 34 chapters in ff2, and 25 of them match. (The first match, at 1:1, is a freebie, so the meaningful correspondence is 24 out of 33, rather than 25 out of 34. But that's still a rather close rate of correspondence.)

      Out of those 25 identical chapter-beginnings in ff2 and B, 14 of them are also the beginning of an A-chapter. And, in two places (1:40 and 5:1), a chapter in ff2 begins at the same point where one of the A-chapters, but not a chapter in B, begins. So, a total of 16 of the chapter-divisions in ff2 correspond to the A-chapters (but, I mention again, in 14 cases, the A-chapters and the chapter-divisions in ff2 and the chapter-divisions in B all agree). So the chapter-divisions in ff2, until after Mk. 11:1, are much more like the chapter-divisions in B.

      The two cases before Mark 11:1 where ff2 and the usual-chapters begin at the same point /and/ there is not a chapter-beginning in B do not suggest a relationship. There are more places where the chapters in B correspond to the A-chapters but not to the chapters in ff2 (for example, B10 = A6, B35 = A23, B40 = A27, B45 = A33, B47 = A37). In these cases (as in the 14 where all three of the division-methods agree), it looks like the same chapter-division seemed sensible and natural to different people working independently.

      So the chapter-divisions in ff2 match up rather well with the chapter-divisions in B until after the point where the 44th chapter in B and the 34th chapter in ff2 meet, i.e., at Mk. 11:1. After Mark 11:1, there are 13 more chapter-divisions in ff2, and 18 more chapter-divisions in B. Five of their starting-points correspond:

      At 12:41, the 41st ch. in ff2 = ch. 48 in B = A-chapter 41.
      At 13;1, the 42nd ch. in ff2 = ch. 49 in B.
      At 14:17, the 44th ch. in ff2 = ch. 53 in B.
      At 14:27, the 45th ch. in ff2 = ch. 54 in B.
      At 14:43, the 46th ch. in ff2 = ch. 55 in B.

      In ff2, ch. 46 goes all the way from 14:43 to 16:8. (Chapter 47 = 16:9-20.) That's a pretty big chapter! We don't see such a big chapter in B; instead the text of 14:43-16:8 in B is divided into eight chapters. Meanwhile, in ff2, chapters 34-48 go like this:

      (34) 11:1-11:10
      (35) 11:11-11:26
      (36) 11:27-11:33
      (37) 12:1-12:13
      (38) 12:14-12:17
      (39) 12:18-12:34
      (40) 12:35-12:40
      (41) 12:41-12:44
      (42) 13:1-13:37
      (43) 14:1-14:16
      (44) 14:17-14:26
      (45) 14:27-14:42
      (46) 14:43-16:8
      (47) 16:9-20

      Now let's take a second look. Look at the differences in the size of these chapters! #38 is four verses. #40 is six verses. #42 is an entire chapter. #46 is more than a chapter! Regardless of how liturgically based a 48-part division might seem from a distance, this specific arrangement does not look liturgically based. I don't think Carrington's approach works here at all. These are not lections.

      So what are they? Well, when I see chapter 13, all together, and such a big piece of the Passion-Narrative, I'm reminded of theories about Mark's source-materials. As a whole, these sections don't look like lections. They look like components. Maybe the Gospel of Mark just happened to originally have 48 units, of widely differing sizes, echoing Mark's source-materials. And those original divisions were lost, as copyists freely re-paragraphed the text according to their tastes, or according to their liturgical needs -- but this idea that the Gospel of Mark has 48 divisions survived; it inspired someone who produced Codex A, and someone else who produced the Old Latin marginalia-exemplar of ff2 (and some other Old Latin and early Vulgate copies), and someone who produced an ancestor of Codex B (an ancestor which produced an offspring, so to speak, in which the chapters were re-divided to total 62, mainly by dividing the Passion-Narrative into smaller, more liturgically palatable pieces).

      No conclusions so far, just some guesses. Maybe the data will be helpful later.

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.
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