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Hesychius of Jerusalem - Sixty Difficulties & Solutions - Online!

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  • james_snapp_jr
    Hesychius of Jerusalem (from the early 500 s) is supposed to be an important witness to the abrupt ending of the Gospel of Mark. This important witness
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 7, 2012
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      Hesychius of Jerusalem (from the early 500's) is supposed to be an "important witness" to the abrupt ending of the Gospel of Mark. This "important witness" was not listed in the apparatus of UBS-2, but in UBS-4, in which the names of Clement and Origen no longer appear in the list of evidence for the abrupt ending, the name of Hesychius appears.

      However, Hort dismissed the testimony of Hesychius, regarding his testimony as inconclusive, or, to use Hort's own word, as "irrelevant." Here is what Hort stated about Hesychius, after mentioning that Severus of Antioch's 77th Homily was also (mis)attributed to Hesychius:

      "Another word attributed to Hesychius (Quest. liii in Cotel. M.E.G. iii 45) has been supposed to imply the absence of vv. 9-20, by saying that Mc "ended his narrative when he had told in a summary manner the particulars down to the mention of the one angel". But the context shews that the writer is speaking exclusively of the appearances to the women, and has specially in view the absence of the additional incident supplied by Lc xxiv 24 : moreover in Quaest. l. p. 40, he uses a phrase founded on xvi. 9."

      James Kelhoffer, in his detailed essay about Ad Marinum, presented just enough of Hesychius' statement to give readers the idea that this is all that Hesychius has to say about Mark's account. That is, if all that one reads about Hesychius' statement is the part that Kelhoffer presents, the typical reader is bound to get the impression that Hesychius says that Mark ends his Gospel at this point, rather than that Hesychius concludes his report *about the encounter between the women and the angel at the tomb* at this point.

      If you are wondering, "Which conclusion is correct: the one that Kelhoffer's readers are bound to have, or the one at which Hort arrived?" then I have some good news: the composition to which Hort referred – Cotelierius' Monumenta Ecclesia Graece, Volume Three – is online! It consists of a series of 60 Difficulties & Solutions. (Plus one similar floating statement.)

      you can find Volume 3 of Cotelier's Ecclesiae Graecae Monumenta. The pertinent composition by Hesychius, "A Collection of Difficulties and Solutions," is presented on pages 1-52, and Difficulty-and-Solution #52, the part that Hort (and Kelhoffer) present is right where Hort said it is, on page 45.

      Here's Difficulty-and-Solution #52 in English. (I welcome corrections and improvements of this provisional and quickly-made English rendering which should never ever be treated as a reliable representation of what Hesychius wrote.)


      Difficulty #52:

      For what reason are the appearances of the angels, sent by the Lord to the women, described in various ways?


      There are no contradictions regarding the angels' appearances. For, as we have said before, it is evident that Matthew and Mark record one thing, the angel's report to them, while Luke and John, entirely passing over the appearance of the first [angel], describe the two angels who were seen within; John, however, points out that Mary, as she was standing outside at the door of the cave and looking down and peering inside, saw two angels in white, but Luke, that when she entered in, and they were in the tomb, they found not the body, and therefore they were astonished in their mind, and saw the two men in shining apparel; this denotes the angels.

      But when he says, "They stood beside," this does not signify their [constant] manifestation, for such angelic beings, though present, are not conspicuous unless they want to be. When Peter entered the tomb, they did not appear, though they were present. The women, in consternation, were divided, as a result of what they had seen manifested to them.

      If you shall say, "Why, in John, does the angel not re-enter and appear to Mary sitting upon the stone?," the answer is obvious. The truth is, first of all, that Mary, seeing the stone rolled away, did not direct Peter's and John's attention to it. Secondly, since they were to meet the angels sitting inside, there was no need for the angel who was sitting on the stone to appear.

      Regarding the Lord's appearance to the women, there is no need to ask questions; let us believe the truth. Diverse groups of women ran to the tomb, not always the same ones, but in one case there were two of them, and in a different case only one, and then another. And the Lord appeared in diverse forms to them: inasmuch as one was weaker, and another was more mature, the Lord accordingly measured His appearance.

      So, Mark, having briefly summarized the things pertaining to the one lone angel, finishes the statement [Greek: ton logon katepausen]. Luke is silent regarding the appearance to the women, only suggesting, as Cleopas says, in the conclusion of the story in the Gospel-work, "Some of us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see."


      A little alertness should guide us away from the conclusion that Hesychius meant that Mark ended his entire account with the mention of the one angel: such an interpretation, strictly understood, would imply that Hesychius knew a text of Mark that ended at the end of 16:7 rather than at the end of 16:8. In addition, Hort's observation that the statement occurs as part of a tightly-framed answer to one specific question is vindicated when we see, further along in the composition, Hesychius refer to the contents of verse 8. Consider Difficulty #54, which begins at the top of page 46:


      Difficulty #54:

      For what reason, while Luke and John record the women's report to the apostles about Christ's resurrection, does Mark say nothing about them, attesting that due to fear, they said nothing, and why does Matthew pass over it in silence?


      The solution, regarding Matthew, is an easy one. The announcement of the women who set out to report to the disciples is not stated because the soldiers, entering the city and coming to the chief priests, indicate the miracle which had happened at the tomb.

      Luke and John are agreeably in sync with the preceding statement, as they write about the announcement to the apostles. Finally, Mark correctly proceeds to state that after the sunrise [the wording is based on Mk. 16:2], they said nothing because of fear. And thus they had no cause to announce it, or understand it, until the Lord's appearance made them do so.


      Let's also look at Difficulty-and-Solution #56, from pages 47-48:


      Difficulty #56:

      For what reason, as the women hurried to the disciples to tell the disciples that He would appear in Galilee, did he appear in Zion? And how is it that Luke says that eleven were present, when Thomas was absent?


      At first the apostles were so terrified that they did not dare to leave Jerusalem on account of fear of the Jews, but the Lord rightly appeared in Zion, to take away their fear and to give them peace, and to establish faith in the resurrection. Nevertheless, the account is handed down of how he ordained baptism and gave full instructions in Galilee, when they were liberated from their fear of the Jews – in Galilee, where those who had often sat in the darkness saw a great light, namely, the baptism of salvation, regarding which he had declared, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

      Luke recollects the eleven disciples because Judas the sinner had fallen, and Thomas was absent, but Matthias was on the scene, whom they chose by lot in Judas' place, for, as Luke states in his account [in Acts 1:22], he who was a witness of the ascension of Christ should also testify about His resurrection.


      Now, after Hesychius utilizes Mark 16:8 in Solution #54, he makes no utilization of verses 9-20 in the remaining six Difficulties, or in the remaining six Solutions. Notably, in Difficulty #56, the difficulty-raiser states that Luke says that eleven were present, instead of saying that "Mark and Luke" refer to the eleven. On the other hand, that may be because Luke's statement is inescapably describing an appearance in Jerusalem, whereas a location in Jerusalem is not a built-in element of the scene in Mark 16:14.

      Also, consider what is *not* stated by the Difficulty-raiser: he does not ask, "Why does Mark's account suddenly stop at 16:8 without describing any post-resurrection appearances?"!

      And: Hort stated, as I mentioned, that in Question #50, on page 40, Hesychius uses a phrase based on 16:9. If this is the case, then Hesychius – who is, it has been said, an "important witness," despite writing in the early 500's – would weigh in as a witness in favor of the inclusion of Mark 16:9-20. (In which case, I have no doubt that the assessment of his importance would instantly change.) I offer no opinion about the correctness of Hort's statement; rather, I invite others here to download Cotelier's book, and turn to page 40, and analyze the relevant portion that Hort described as "founded on" 16:9. I wonder if it is founded on Mark 16:9, or on Luke 8:2-3.

      Additional study of Hesychius' "Sixty Difficulties and Solutions" would surely bring some additional rewards. And, before drawing conclusions from this composition alone about his use or non-use of Mark 16:9-20, it would probably be a good idea to sift through Michael Aubineau's "Homelies Pascales" (Sources Chretiennes 187) which, it is claimed, includes two never-before-published homilies by Hesychius. I haven't made a serious effort to find Aubineau's 1972 work but perhaps someone else here could.

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.
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