Mark 16:9-20: Who's Timid?
- In a recent review of the 2011 NIV, Dr. Daniel Wallace made the following statement about Mark 16:9-20:
"The reasons translations keep these verses in the text even when the translators themselves do not consider them authentic is due to a tradition of timidity."
Really? Timidity? Well then, I say that the reason why certain commentators, including Dr. Wallace, play fast and loose with the facts about Mark 16:9-20 is that the weakness of those commentators' case will be exposed if the evidence is set in the spotlight of public scrutiny. There is a tradition of inaccuracy and deception (whether it is deliberate, or caused by negilgence, who knows?) in their commentaries, as well as a tradition of failure to correct their mistakes even when they are presented with plain proof that their claims are erroneous. There is also a tradition of cutting off discussion, if they can, when things in a public forum aren't going their way and there's a risk that their students might learn how careless they have been.
I welcome Dr. Wallace to debate the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 with me. Anytime, anywhere.
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.
- On 07/29/2011 10:25 AM, james_snapp_jr wrote:
> In a recent review of the 2011 NIV, Dr. Daniel Wallace made the following statement about Mark 16:9-20:I know that the ending of Mark is a hot button for you, and I really
> "The reasons translations keep these verses in the text even when the translators themselves do not consider them authentic is due to a tradition of timidity."
> Really? Timidity? Well then, I say that the reason why certain commentators, including Dr. Wallace, play fast and loose with the facts about Mark 16:9-20 is that the weakness of those commentators' case will be exposed if the evidence is set in the spotlight of public scrutiny.
appreciate your work in refining the evidence and removing
misconceptions and errors. I do tire, however, of the constant
insinuation that the erroneous evidence was purposeful deception on the
part of scholars like Dr. Wallace.
In the above case of Dr. Wallace's statement. He's not talking about
translators that accept the ending of Mark as authentic Mark, such as
the translators of the New King James, but translators that agree with
the current majority accessment that it is not. The timidity is those
who hold a conviction that Mark 16:9-20 is not original, but props it up
for fear of loss of market appeal of their product.
In some sense, attacking Mark 16:9-20 in the public/commercial arena
(particularly if you are a Christian yourself), takes the same amount of
guts and defending it in the scholarly arena.
> There is a tradition of inaccuracy and deception (whether it is deliberate, or caused by negilgence, who knows?) in their commentaries, as well as a tradition of failure to correct their mistakes even when they are presented with plain proof that their claims are erroneous. There is also a tradition of cutting off discussion, if they can, when things in a public forum aren't going their way and there's a risk that their students might learn how careless they have been.Which is why he participated in a publication in which several views on
how Mark ended his gospel were presented, including two views that
support the long ending?
> I welcome Dr. Wallace to debate the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 with me. Anytime, anywhere.I would like to such a debate, as long as there is real engagement,
rather than just 2 people talking past each other (which is usually when
I see Wieland cut off the thread.
> Yours in Christ,
> James Snapp, Jr.
BR: "I do tire, however, of the constant insinuation that the erroneous evidence was purposeful deception on the part of scholars like Dr. Wallace."
Then I am in a no-win situation: if I were to say that commentary-writers who spread errors and misleading statements are lying, I would be considered guilty of making a presumptive moral judgment. But if I were to say that they are, instead, incompetent and sloppy, and strangely slow to correct obvious mistakes, would that be better received? But it must be one or the other. And now, when I refrain from saying which is the case, /that/ is problematic somehow too.
It would be easier for me to have confidence in certain scholars' commitment to scientific accuracy if they would repair their mistakes, instead of waiting years to fix claims that are demonstrably misleading and/or false.
(Why does the online NET Bible, in its note about Mk. 16:9-20, still list 083 and 0112 as if they are two different MSS? Why does it still cite 2427? Why does it call the Freer Logion a "different shorter ending"? People might read the NET's footnote and be misinformed. It's 2011. Does it take three years to fix these things??)
BR: "The timidity is those who hold a conviction that Mark 16:9-20 is not original, but props it up for fear of loss of market appeal of their product."
Without knowing the identities of those timid individuals, there's no way to know that this is the case. One can always shout "There's a mouse!" in a dark room. Assuming the existence of such individuals, there is no way of knowing if they arrived at such a conviction after a careful and responsible survey of the evidence, or because they are laboring under the burden of misconceptions that were induced by inaccurate and misinformed commentators (in the same way that so many commentary-readers arrived at the unqualified conclusion that some Ethiopic MSS bring the text of Mark to a close at the end of v. 8). But I suspect the latter.
BR: "Which is why he participated in a publication in which several views on how Mark ended his gospel were presented, including two views that support the long ending?"
A book is not a debate. And the conference that begat the book wasn't a debate. It was a conference. And its moderator was none other than Dr. Wallace's fellow Dallas Theological Seminary professor Dr. Darrell Bock, who, it seems to me as I said back when the conference was held used a lot of his time being Dr. Wallace's wingman. Read Dr. Bock's chapter: he does not pretend to be moderating; he forthrightly says, "We have argued," and then repeats the same view Dr. Wallace promoted.
Speaking of that publication (Perspectives on the Ending of Mark), here are some of the problematic statements in Dr. Wallace's chapter, with some comments:
(1) "It is not just something but several "somethings" that were added after v. 8." *** Several??? This gives the impression that besides verses 9-20 and the Shorter Ending, there are several independently composed endings of Mark in the MSS. No wonder John MacArthur was so wrong in his recent sermon on the passage, stating that there were "other endings" floating around besides 16:9-20 and the Shorter Ending. And if John MacArthur can be so deceived by such misleading statements (blissfully misinforming his congregation and radio-listeners as a result), just imagine how misled will be the average preacher who gleans from MacArthur, and how misled the people in the pews will be when they are told, at the other end of this river of falsification-via-ambiguity that goes back to Dr. Wallace's statement and others like it, that people in the early church wrote several other endings to the Gospel of Mark besides 16:9-20 and the Shorter Ending.
(2) "Although no papyri witness to Mark 16, one might cautiously enlist the support of P75 here." *** Appealing to a manuscript of Luke and John as support for a specific variant in Mark??? That's an expectation, not evidence.
(3) "The gap is clearly too small to allow for the LE." (The "gap" is the blank space in B after Mk. 16:8.) Clearly??? It's four lines too small, if the copyist's usual handwriting is used. But any copyist capable of compacting his lettering could, after erasing the subscription, fit verses 9-20 into this blank space. (See Part Two of my YouTube lecture in which I reply to Dr. MacArthur's sermon.)
(4) "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." *** The other three gaps occur (A) Before the beginning of Psalms, where the format shifts from three columns per page to two columns per page. It's just leftover space. (B) After Tobit, where the end of one copyist's assigned portion of text meets the beginning of another copyist's assigned portion of text. It's just leftover space. (C) After Daniel, which in B is the last OT book. Again: it's leftover space. Whereas at the end of Mark, none of the mechanisms that elicited those seams are in play. In those three locations in the OT, the blank space is incidental; at the end of Mark, the blank space is deliberately placed; there is no format-shift; there is no genre-change; there is no change of copyists. Did Dr. Wallace not see this? Or did he see it and refrain from telling his readers about it in the text of his chapter? (If you consult the footnotes, it should become clear that he fully perceived that the gaps before Psalms and after Daniel were perfectly ordinary production-seams; he does not seem to have noticed the reason for the gap after Tobit (a change of copyists). After lucidly explaining two of the three gaps in the OT-portion, he says in footnote 38, "All in all, the reasons for the gaps are anything but clear." (!)
Take note: the attempt to present the reason for the gap at the end of Mark as some unsolved mystery by treating the other gaps as if they have no clear explanation is in the book, even after the conversation that took place in the comments at
http://sharinginthelife.blogspot.com/2007/04/last-twelve-verses-of-mark-conference.html , in which the mechanisms of all three of the gaps in B's OT-section were explained.
(5) "Codex 304, an otherwise unremarkable twelfth-century Byzantine MS, also ends with EFOBOUNTO GAR in v. 8." *** Why didn't Dr. Wallace inform his readers about the details of 304? Was he unaware of the description of 304 and the cautionary note by Maurice Robertson that is found, in part, in Wieland's textual commentary on the Gospels? Or did he know that there are good reasons to refrain from treating 304 as any sort of evidence of a deliberate and final conclusion of the text of Mark at 16:8, and treat it that way anyway? Why didn't he even mention Hort's opinion of 304??? Just not enough space, I suppose.
(6) "It has been conclusively demonstrated that the original Armenian text did not have these verses." *** Really? We have conclusive evidence that Mesrops' text did not contain verses 9-20? The evidence is incapable of any other interpretation?? Where is this conclusive evidence??? (And please don't refer me to Colwell's 1937 article.) Eznik of Golb, one of the people who participated in the revision of the Armenian version, used Mark 16:17-18 in his composition De Deo, c. 440. Maybe he was recollecting something he'd read in Syriac. Maybe not. But that's our earliest Armenian evidence about the last 12 verses of Mark, and it is a few centuries earlier than the earliest extant Armenian MS of Mark. So I wouldn't say the evidence is conclusive that the Armenian text originally did not have these verses. (And Dr. Wallace did not mention the evidence from Eznik because . . .?) Conybeare thought the Armenian Gospels initially contained verses 9-20, and were omitted in a revision-stage after 430.
(7) "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." *** If, then. But the stratum of the Armenian Gospels-text in which 16:9-20 is absent is not Byzantine. It's Caesarean.
(8) "The two oldest Georgian MSS end at v. 8." *** True, but not the whole truth: one might as well say that the echo of the stratum of the Armenian version that omits vv. 9-20 also omits vv. 9-20. In Dr. Wallace's defense, he did mention that the Old Georgian is translated from Armenian in a footnote. (And this is not stated in the text because . . .?) Is there a tradition of telling half the story when the Armenian and Georgian evidence are listed together regarding this variant?
(9) Wallace cites only part of Eusebius' statement in Ad Marinum; as a result, his readers do not get to see Eusebius' statement that the cited part was presented by Eusebius as something that someone might say, rather than as an explicit assertion by Eusebius; for some reason, the reader's view of Eusebius' recommendation to Marinus to harmonize the passage is obscured. What is that reason? Lack of space?
(10) He attempts to maintain that the statement in Jerome's Ad Hedibiam that Mk. 16:9-20 is absent from almost all the Greek copies should be accepted as Jerome's own opinion (perhaps he meant "observation") on the grounds that Jerome "adds information not found in Eusebius - viz., that almost all of the /Greek/ manuscripts that he was acquainted with lacked the LE," and "He qualifies Eusebius' statement to refer /only/ to the Greek MSS." *** A simpler deduction is that Jerome, in the course of abridging and editing Eusebius' statement in the course of his Latin letter to Hedibia, added the word "Greek" because he perceived that the MSS to which Eusebius had been referring had been Greek MSS, and wished to make his source's meaning clear to Hedibia, who had written to him in Latin.
(11) "Jerome's statement has also been discounted because he included the LE in the Vulgate. Why would he do that? Perhaps for the same reasons that it is included in Bibles today - call it antiquity, tradition of timidity, or not wanting to rock the boat too much." *** Of course the possibility is not mentioned that Jerome no Majority Text advocate he included verses 9-20 because he found them in ancient MSS that he considered more accurate than most copies. The theory is offered that Jerome included it because of a "tradition of timidity," like people today! Jerome, that timid flower, so fragile and defenseless against criticisms!
But wait a minute: if the statement in Ad Hedibiam that Mk. 16:9-20 was found in hardly any copies, almost all the Greek copies lacking the passage is descriptive of a situation in Jerome's own time (rather than merely being a faithful repetition of what Eusebius had said about the manuscripts at Caesarea in the early 300's), then how is it that he is supposed to have been apprehensive of the possibility that mobs of angry objectors might arise when they realized that verses 9-20 were absent? How would they know what they were missing? If hardly any copies contained verses 9-20, wouldn't the mob be angry about the addition of a passage that hardly any of them had ever heard before? -- And yet, though we have a record of a objection to Jerome's rendering of a term in Jonah, there's no record of any similar objection to his inclusion of verses 9-20 in the Gospel of Mark.
(12) "The Intermediate Ending is found in eight Greek MSS." *** I count six. What are the other two?
(13) "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." He lists them in a footnote: 138 264 1221 2346 and 2812. *** Regarding this, see my earlier comments in this discussion-list. (Also, shouldn't that be "obelus"?)
(14) "David Parker points out six different endings for Mark." *** Six different endings??? And we wonder why readers get confused? Dr. Wallace makes a slight clarification in a footnote (why not in the text?), lowering the count by one. The "different endings" that he lists are: (1) the abrupt ending at v. 8. (2) the Intermediate Ending, (3) the Intermediate Ending + the Long Ending, (4) the Long Ending with the Freer Logion, and (5) the Long Ending after v. 8.
Using the same approach, Bob, I want to tell you about five or six different people in a book I have read: (1) Aragorn, (2) Gandalf, (3) Gandalf and Frodo, (4) Frodo with a fish, and (5) Frodo. And I want you to know that I have called this a list of "five different people" in order to make the situation perfectly clear. What's that you say? You aren't convinced that I am writing this way in order to make the situation perfectly clear?? Why not? Because you know that I know that there are clearer ways to describe the evidence, ways that I am not using. (At least Dr. Wallace didn't refer to nine endings, as Michael Holmes did in 2001. But I'm pretty sure Dr. Holmes was just trying to get people's attention; I didn't expect that others would put his shock-headline into their scholarly articles!)
In addition, Bob, did you read Dr. Bock's chapter? He says, "The earliest Byzantine lectionaries lack the longer ending." Not true. You know, it is possible that people will read the book, and if they read the book, they will probably think that Dr. Bock was trying to tell them the truth. But there doesn't seem to be a concern about preventing his readers from confidently sharing this claim -- as an assured result of reliable research -- with their congregations, Bible studies, students, etc.?
And he says, "The gap in B at the end of Mark cannot be said to leave space for the longer ending." His argument is that because the blank spaces in the OT-portion were not made to indicate a textual variant, it is unwarranted to say that this one was. By the same reasoning, if three guns have been found that were used for hunting, then a fourth gun, found at a bank that has just been robbed, cannot be said to have been used in the robbery.
Anyway, I too would like a debate with real engagement -- 15 minute opening statements, three rounds of 15-minute turn-taking, and 15 minute closing statements, with the order of the opening statements and closing statements chosen by lot on the spot, and with a moderator who moderates mainly as timekeeper and whose opening remarks and concluding remarks are written in advance and agreed upon by both participants.
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.