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Mark 16:9-20 - Two Additional Resources

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  • james_snapp_jr
    Here are two additional resources that each have something to do with Mark 16:9-20. First, A. T. Robertson s article The Disputed Close of Mark s Gospel.
    Message 1 of 3 , May 19, 2010
      Here are two additional resources that each have something to do with Mark 16:9-20.

      First, A. T. Robertson's article "The Disputed Close of Mark's Gospel." You can find it on p. 450-455 of the June 1918 issue of The Homiletic Review (75), which = pp. 473-478 of this issue in the format that can be downloaded from Google Books. Robertson reviews opinions about Mk. 16:9-20 more than he reviews the actual evidence. He affirms that the blank space in B "shows that the scribe knew of the longer ending but concluded not to give it." He does not mention that Aleph has a cancel-sheet for Mk. 14:54-Lk. 1:56. He incorrectly states that "some of the older Ethiopic manuscripts likewise end with verse 8." (This is a fine example of yeast in the writings of top-level scholars; "two MSS" becomes "some," and "some" becomes "some of the older manuscripts." Be sure your embellishment will find you out.)

      Robertson also accepts, and repeats without clarification, Hort's claim that Victor of Antioch's commentary stops with verse 8; he offers no acknowledgement of the existence of the extensive statements about 16:9-20 in numerous copies of Victor's catena-commentary, which Burgon reviewed in detail.

      Robertson states, "The cursive Greek manuscript 22 marks "End" after verse 8, "according to "some of the copies," but adds that "in many" the regular ending is found." This is a rather illuminating and disappointing comment, because Robertson explicitly mentions Burgon's "Last 12 Verses of Mark," and gives the reader the impression that he has considered Burgon's work before reaching his conclusions. But if Robertson read Burgon at all, it must have been in a careless way, because Burgon explained very clearly that manuscript 22's "End" is simply a telos-mark, after which comes the note. It is also disappointing because a novice reader could easily get the impression that 22 does not have the text of 16:9-20. (And it is likely that many readers *did* get that impression.)

      Robertson also gives, as the number of copies containing comments resembling those in 22, 1, and 20, "nearly thirty other cursives."

      Robertson's description of L is interesting. On p. 452, shortly after mentioning the regular ending, he states, "L gives two other endings and so really favors neither." Here, I think, is a source of the misleading claims that the MSS contain "various endings" after 16:8, although Robertson clears up what he means perfectly well, affirming in the next paragraph that L is one of the Greek copies with the Intermediate Ending, and, on p. 458, that L has "both endings," i.e., the Intermediate Ending and 16:9-20. Robertson cites Gould: "L virtually closes the gospel with verse 8, and gives this shorter ending as current in some places, and then the longer ending as also current." He never says where L puts the subscription.

      Robertson also mentions that the Shorter Ending is found in Old Latin k, but he does not mention k's interpolation in Mk. 16:3-4, or its omission of the last phrase of 16:8.

      As Robertson begins to offer an analysis of the evidence, he straightforwardly appeals to Hort's approach, and even adopts Hort's nomenclature: "When the external evidence is classified by Westcott and Hort, dropping out the Syrian class of late documents and admitting mixture between the Alexandrian and Western classes, we have at bottom a conflict between the Neutral and Western classes, with the presumption in favor of the Neutral class (Aleph, B, L.)."

      Robertson covers internal evidence very briefly, and concludes, "There is every evidence, therefore, that we have here an independent composition, a sort of early epitome of the appearances of Jesus, after the order of the documents used by Luke to which he refers in his gospel, 1:1-4." (I would just add that this is indeed an early composition -- early enough to be known and used in Rome in the mid-60's, and early enough to be available to be attached to 16:8 by Mark's colleagues, before the main text of the Gospel of Mark was placed into their hands to be finished and disseminated.)

      Then Robertson summarizes the view that Ariston the Elder wrote 16:9-20 (a view which was rather trendy in 1918).

      In the seventh and last part of the article, Robertson notes Harris' emphatically stated view (shared by Hort et al) that the ending at the end of v. 8 "is not a literary ending nor a Christian ending and can hardly be a Greek ending," and replies, "I do not myself feel quite so sure as Dr. Harris that the gospel did not end with 16:8," but he admits, "The fear of the women does make a rather depressing close, but we do not know what Mark's motives were, if he closed here." With that qualification he closes by endorsing the view that the original ending of the Gospel of Mark was accidentally lost.


      The second resource is E. A. Wallis Budge's English translation of the Ethiopic "Kebra Nagast," ("Glory of Kings"), titled, "The Queen of Sheba and Her Only Son Menyelek" (1922). On page 200 (= p. 349 by a digital count in the format available to download at Google Books), Mark 16:16 is used.

      Among the pictures in this book is a picture (next to p. 168) of Jesus praying in Gethsemane, with an angel in the picture. This is an example of artwork that communicates a textual variant (in this case, the inclusion of Lk. 22:43-44).

      This book also contains "Testimony" lists, in which Old Testament authors are pictured as if they are all contributing to a series of Messianic prophecies. On p. 217, between two prophecies given by David, Zechariah is pictured: "Thus prophesied Zechariah the Prophet and said, `His foot standeth on the Mount of Olives to the east of Jerusalem. And He rideth upon the Cherubim, and He flieth upon the wing of the winds.'" That's interesting because while the first part is from Zech. 14:4, the second part is from Psalm 18:10; the connection to Zechariah being thematic, cf. Zech. 14:5b.

      Kebra Nagast is not, in its present form, particular ancient; in his introductory notes Budge mentions that its best MS is assigned to the 1200's. (An Arabic translation was made sometime between 1314 and 1344.) But the text may be older, and some parts may be older than others. It contains numerous Biblical quotations, and it should be considered an important source of Ethiopic evidence, considering the generally late dates of the Ethiopic MSS of NT books. It would be interesting to collect the NT quotations in Kebra Nagast and see how they compare to the readings in the extant Ethiopic NT MSS.

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.
      Minister, Curtisville Christian Church
      Indiana (USA)
    • Peter M. Head
      Thanks for this. ... There is a lot to be said for this view. Perhaps it may become trendy again. Peter Peter M. Head, PhD Sir Kirby Laing Senior Lecturer in
      Message 2 of 3 , May 19, 2010
        Thanks for this.

        By the way, re:

        >Then Robertson summarizes the view that Ariston the Elder wrote
        >16:9-20 (a view which was rather trendy in 1918).

        There is a lot to be said for this view. Perhaps it may become trendy again.


        Peter M. Head, PhD
        Sir Kirby Laing Senior Lecturer in New Testament
        Tyndale House
        36 Selwyn Gardens
        Cambridge CB3 9BA
        01223 566601
      • james_snapp_jr
        Peter, I think the trend was a bad case of Discovery Fever. Aristion is named by Papias (as cited in Eccl. Hist. III:39), and a character named Ariston is
        Message 3 of 3 , May 19, 2010

          I think the trend was a bad case of Discovery Fever.

          Aristion is named by Papias (as cited in Eccl. Hist. III:39), and a character named Ariston is featured in the "Acts of Peter," and in Apostolic Constitutions 7:4, the list of the early bishops of Smyrna beging, "Aristo the first, after whom Strataeas the son of Lois, and the third Aristo." So he's in the right time, and might have been in the right place (in Puteoli and Rome, before venturing to Smyrna), to attach 16:9-20 to the end of 16:8.

          But I think the "Of Ariston the Elder" interlinear note in Armenian MS Matenadaran 2374 descends from an exemplar that contained the note in the margin alongside 16:18. Why would anyone place such a note there? To answer a question raised by an ambiguity in the translation of Eccl. Hist. III:39. Eus wrote, "Papias, their contemporary, recalls that he heard an amazing story from Philip's daughters, for he reports that in his day a man rose from the dead, and another amazing story involving Justus, who was surnamed Barsabbas: he drank a deadly poison and yet by the grace of the Lord suffered nothing unpleasant."

          Did Papias get the story about Justus' poison-drinking from the daughters of Philip, or from someone else? Initially Eus says that Papias recalls that he heard ONE story from Philip's daughters, but he proceeds to summarize TWO stories.

          Philip of Side assumed that Papias got the story about Justus from the daughters of Philip; he states, "Papias recorded, on the authority of the daughters of Philip, that Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, drank the poison of a snake in the name of Christ when put to the test by the unbelievers and was protected from all harm. He also records other amazing things, in particular one about Manaim's mother, who was raised from the dead."

          But readers of Rufinus' Latin translation of Eccl. Hist. might have gotten a different impression. Theodore Zahn mentioned "a marginal gloss to Rufinus' translation of Eusebius, H.E. iii. 39.9, though inserted by a later hand, which connects Aristion's name with the story taken by Eusebius from Papias, that Justus, called Barsabbas (Acts i. 23), once drank a deadly poison, but was preserved by the grace of the Lord from all harmful effects." Zahn's statement, made in 1909, intrigued C. R. Williams, who checked Zahn's reference, or, rather, he had it checked by J. Vernon Bartlet, who personally examined this manuscript (a Bodleian MS of Rufinus, "MSS 2. and Miscell. 294"). (This reference is not altogether clear to me, but it's all I've got.)

          Bartlet deduced that Zahn was dependent upon a statement by Conybeare, and that Conybeare had seen the words "Quod Justus qui et Barsabas venenum biberit nihilque ex hoc triste pertulerit" in the margin "over against the name of Aristion," and that Conybeare had, on this basis, inferred a link between this statement and Aristion.

          "But," continued Bartlet, "the position 'over against' Aristion is a mere accident, due to the fact that there is no room on the inner margin of the Ms. (which is written in 2 columns), where it should come, for the marginal note to be inserted. Hence it comes opposite the name of Aristion, which though a good deal earlier in the text, is in fact parallel (to the matter in question) in the other column. There are similar cases which I have observed elsewhere. Thus the inference was a mistake of Conybeare's, and the observation is of no historical value." (Cf. Williams' 1915 "Appendices" essay.)

          I'm not sure I follow Bartlet's reasoning, but I think he means that the note in the margin is just a relocated heading to draw attention to the material in the farther-away column, and that its placement near Ariston's name is merely coincidental. (It's hard to picture Conybeare misinterpreting this, though. Perhaps there is some other clarifying feature in the Rufinus MS??)

          Whether the person who placed that note in the Rufinus MS meant to connect Ariston to the Justus-story or not, an Armenian scribe could understand Eccl. Hist. to mean that Papias got the story about a resurrection from Philip's daughters, and the Justus-story from somewhere else. From where? Considering the rest of what Eccl. Hist. preserves from Papias, Aristion would be a natural guess.

          If the exemplar of Matenadaran 2374 had "Ariston the Elder" written next to 16:18, the note could be transferred to between the lines after 16:8 by a scribe who (a) was aware that 16:9-20 was questioned, and (b) made the leap that the note in his exemplar was intended to refer to the entire questioned passage, rather than as a cross-reference intended to show the fulfillment of 16:18.

          (Something similar could have happened if the interlinear rubric was added later, by an Armenian scribe who had nothing to do with the production of Matenadaran 2374, if "Ariston the elder" was similarly present in some other master-copy, as a cross-reference to 16:18, and this note in this other copy was the basis for his assumption that Ariston was the author of the ending.)

          Yours in Christ,

          James Snapp, Jr.
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