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Quaestiones ad Marinum and Burgon

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  • David Robert Palmer
    I have recently been referred by someone to John William Burgon, and his book, The last twelve verses of the Gospel according to S. Mark vindicated against
    Message 1 of 3 , May 11, 2010
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      I have recently been referred by someone to John William Burgon, and his book, "The last twelve verses of the Gospel according to S. Mark vindicated against recent critical objectors established.," pp. 41-51. In it Burgon attempts to lessen the impact of the testimony of Eusebius and Jerome about the the longer ending of Mark not being found in the accurate copies, and being absent in almost all the copies of Mark.

      Burgon spends some time questioning the authenticity of the document provided by Cardinal Mai entitled "Quaestiones ad Marinum," and its quotations of Eusebius. Why? Because it appears to be a CONDENSED version of Eusebius, Burgon says. But then, on p. 44, Burgon says, "Let it, however, be candidly admitted that there seems to be no reason for supposing that whenever the lost work of Eusebius comes to light, (and it has been seen within about 300 years,) it will exhibit anything essentially different from what is contained in the famous passage which has given rise to so much debate,..."

      Ok, so reading all that questioning of the authenticity of the Eusebius quotations was a waste of my precious time.

      In the succeeding pages, Burgon's main point seems to be that Eusebius is playing Devil's advocate, that "some may say that..." Well, Eusebius does not contradict or refute or dismiss those statements from such advocate.

      Burgon's purpose was to show that Eusebius did not question the authenticity of the longer ending of Mark. In fact, Burgon himself quotes Eusebius, on p. 45, where Eusebius says about the last 12 verses of Mark, Καὶ δὴ τοῦδε τοῦ μέρους συγχωρουμένου εἶναι ἀληθοῦς, προσήκει τὸν νοῦν διερμηνεύειν τοῦ ἀναγνώσματος- (KAI DH TOUDE TOU MEROUS SUGCWROUMENOU EINAI ALHQOUS, PROSHKEI TON NOUN DIERMHNEUEIN TOU ANAGNWSMATOS) "Well then, allowing this portion to be really authentic, our business is to interpret the sense of the passage."

      Thus, Burgon himself shows us that Eusebius did in fact refuse to affirm the authenticity of the longer ending of Mark. Eusebius only allows for the sake of argument that it is "really authentic." That does not sound to me like Eusebius believed it to be authentic.
       
      David Robert Palmer
    • james_snapp_jr
      David, You should be glad at the news that Roger Pearse is preparing a virtually comprehensive edition of Ad Marinum. In the meantime Burgon s book contains
      Message 2 of 3 , May 12, 2010
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        David,

        You should be glad at the news that Roger Pearse is preparing a virtually comprehensive edition of "Ad Marinum." In the meantime Burgon's book contains a convenient presentation of part of Eusebius' statements.

        Burgon doesn't exactly question the authenticity of "Ad Marinum"; it would be better to say that he questions whether or not its contents are original to Eusebius, and he wonders about the state of its text – that is, he wonders if it might really be an extract from, or an epitome of, a longer work, perhaps by Origen (Hort similarly expressed a strong suspicion that Eusebius has borrowed from Origen here in some way). About the only verbal evidence of such a thing, though, is a non-remarkable recurrence of a phrase in Origen's comment about John 1:28 (he mentions that "Bethany" is "found in almost all the copies" – SCEDON EN PASI TOIS ANTIGRAFOIS KEITAI) in Ad Marinum, where Eusebius states that Mark ends at 16:8 "in almost all the copies" of the Gospel of Mark – EN TOUTW GAR SCEDON EN APASI TOIS ANTIGRAFOIS TOU KATA MARKON EUAGGELIOU, etc. (On pages 235-237 Burgon goes into a little more detail about his reasons for suspecting Origen as the source of Eusebius' argumentation. The footnote about Chrysostom on p. 236 merits thoughtful consideration.)

        When Burgon says that he doesn't expect "the lost work of Eusebius" to contain anything essentially different from what is said in the extant text, he is referring (as he states) to the passage about the ending of Mark. (As if to say, "We might not have all the chapters; our extant material is an abridgement of a larger work, but within that abridgement, we have a pretty good representation of the original contents of chapter.")

        Burgon's view that Eusebius actually accepted Mark 16:9-20 is incorrect. The non-inclusion of Mk. 16:9-20 in the Eusebian Canons shows pretty clearly, I think, what Eusebius' real opinion was regarding the legitimacy of the passage. When he describes to Marinus the option of rejecting the passage on the grounds that it is not in every single copy, or that it is not in the accurate copies, or that it is absent from nearly all copies, or that it is in some copies but not in all (notice the different ratios involved in those statements!), Eusebius is really expressing the sort of approach that he prefers.

        To draw an analogy: suppose a park ranger receives a phone-call from a visitor who is calling him on a cell phone. "I'm running away from a bear!" the visitor says; "What should I do?" The park ranger might answer, "Well, more people facing bears have escaped injury by playing dead than by running away. But since you're already running, run downhill." We can discern that the park ranger would normally recommend the "play dead" option, and he advises the caller to run downhill only because playing dead is no longer an option. (Part of the credit for this analogy should go to a writer called "Etcetera.")

        Similarly, Eusebius perceived that Marinus used a text containing Mark 16:9-20, and did not question its legitimacy. This is clear from Marinus' question, which is, more or less, how can Mt. 28:1 be harmonized with Mk. 16:9? So Eusebius framed his reply delicately, first by explaining an option that someone could take, and then by explaining the option that Marinus was much more likely to take. Eusebius, like the park ranger, prefers Plan A – jettison Mk. 16:9-20 – but he realizes that Marinus already uses a text containing Mark 16:9-20, and so he offers Plan B: harmonize via a comma in 16:9.

        This is not exactly the strongest possible rejection of Mk. 16:9-20 by Eusebius. He expects Marinus to retain and harmonize the passage, and rather than standing like a lion in the way, Eusebius explains how to easily harmonize 16:9. Eusebius rejected 16:9-20 but he was not insistent about it. (This is practically the same attitude that seems to be behind the format of Codex Vaticanus: the passage is not included, but an opportunity for its inclusion is deliberately provided, via the prolonged blank space after 16:8. Things are different in Codex Sinaiticus. The pages with Mk. 14:54-Lk. 1:56 made by the primary copyist have been removed, and the lettering of 16:2-8 has been stretched in order to extend the text of Mark into column 10 of the replacement-sheet, and 16:8 is followed by uniquely emphatic decorative lines across the column.)

        Yours in Christ,

        James Snapp, Jr.
      • David Robert Palmer
        Snapp: You should be glad at the news that Roger Pearse is preparing a virtually comprehensive edition of Ad Marinum. Palmer: Yes, I am glad. Good. Snapp:
        Message 3 of 3 , May 12, 2010
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          Snapp:

          You should be glad at the news that Roger Pearse is preparing a virtually comprehensive edition of "Ad Marinum."

          Palmer:

          Yes, I am glad.  Good.


          Snapp:

          This is not exactly the strongest possible rejection of Mk. 16:9-20 by Eusebius.

          Palmer:

          Yes, certainly, but my main point was that Burgon was wrong about Eusebius' about the authenticity of the longer ending of Mark.  As you said, "Burgon's view that Eusebius actually accepted Mark 16:9-20 is incorrect."  I am glad you and I agree on this.

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