GS: . . . "this is all speculation (and with tongue firmly planted in cheek) and should not be taken too seriously."
Indeed. But I take seriously the theory that Mark 16:9-20 was added in the production-stage (before copies of the Gospel of Mark began to be circulated for use in the churches), and I would be glad to interact with tests of that theory; if you have real questions that I have not addressed, it is either because I have overlooked them (in which case, please ask again), or because I believe that future study on your part will remove the impetus of the question. (In the case at hand, I hope that as you become more familiar with the Diatessaron and Diatessaronic witnesses, the intrinsic improbability of the idea that Tatian composed Mark 16:9-20 will become more obvious, and that as you compare what Mark 16:18a says (that believers will take up serpents) to Paul's encounter with a viper in Acts 28 (in which a viper bit Paul as he was gathering sticks for a fire), it will become less and less likely that anyone would select this little incident, out of all the impressive deeds described in the book of Acts, as an example of a word-confirming sign, and proceed to invent a narrative in which Jesus predicted it by telling His apostles that believers would take up serpents.)
Now, I asked before, and ask again, even though you seemed to say that you were speaking in jest (sometimes, I confess, it is hard for me to tell): why would the idea enter Tatian's mind, as he undertook to create a combination of the contents of all four Gospels in one continuous narrative, to stop using the four Gospels in order to insert phrases harvested from Justin's First Apology (bearing in mind that you are not suggesting the insertion of an interesting phrase, but of several consecutive sentences)?
Meanwhile, let's not let this tangent distract from the initial post: the claims that James Tabor at UNC-Charlotte has been spreading about Mark 16:9-20 misleading and false claims which have a direct connection to his doctrine of the nature of Christ's resurrection and ascension. I have tried to express my objections to his claims more concisely in this post. Do you have any comments pertaining to this?
"It is not found in any of our older more reliable copies of Mark."
But it is attested in all extant Greek copies of Mk 16 except Vaticanus and Sinaiticus (both of which, as I've already explained, have quirky features at the end of Mark). This statement puts the evidence out of focus; a reading found only in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus could not validly be said to be found in all of our older more reliable copies of Mark.
"It is in fact a clumsy composite of the sightings of Jesus reported by Matthew, Luke, and John."
But this is simply not true; there are no sustained verbal parallels between Mk. 16:9-20 and any of the parallel-passages; statements in Mk. 16:9-11 and 16:14 indicate that the author was not aware of Mt. 28 or Lk. 24, and several features in Mk 16:9-20 have no parallel in the other accounts.
"Clement of Alexandria and Origen, two of our early Christian scholars, who lived in the 3rd century A.D., do not even know the existence of this "longer" ending."
But Clement (who might, after all, refer to Mk. 16:19 in a statement about Jude v. 24 preserved by Cassiodorus) hardly ever quoted from Mark except for chapter 10, and Origen did not quote from most 12-verse sections of Mark; there are several much larger sections of consecutive verses of Mark that Origen does not use. To draw from this the conclusion that one particular 12-verse section was unknown to Clement and Origen is a misrepresentation of their casual non-use of most of the Gospel of Mark.
"In their day it had not yet appeared."
But this is simply not true; Irenaeus specifically cited Mk 16:19 in Against Heresies, c. 184.
"Eusebius and Jerome, Christian writers from the early and late 4th century A.D., know it exists but note that it is absent from almost all Greek manuscripts of which they are aware."
This is, it appears, Metzger-regurgitus. A fuller reading of Eusebius and Jerome shows that Eusebius was aware that some manuscripts did not include Mark 16:9-20, and that some manuscripts did include the passage. But the statements that the accurate manuscripts end at verse 8, and that almost all the copies lack verses 9-20, are framed by Eusebius as things that someone might say to dismiss an objection; the solution that he offers to Marinus, and expects to be adopted, is to retain Mark 16:9-20 and resolve the objection by adding punctuation in verse 9. As for Jerome, it will be clear to anyone who compares his "Ad Hedibiam" to the full text of "Ad Marinum" that Jerome's statement is a loosely translated condensation of Eusebius' material; Jerome is recycling Eusebius' material at this point in his composition. Jerome's own independent testimony is pretty clear when we consider that he included Mark 16:9-20 in the Vulgate (383) and used Mk. 16:14 to locate the Freer Logion (c. 417).
"Two other "made-up" endings were later put into circulation, as shorter alternatives to this longer traditional ending."
That is not true; besides verses 9-20, only one ending (the "Shorter Ending") was put into circulation, and it was composed as an alternative to the abrupt ending at v. 8, not as an alternative to verses 9-20.
"Various endings were added by editors and copyists in some manuscripts to try to remedy things."
A review of the evidence exposes the misleading nature of such a claim: in Vaticanus, Mark's text ends at 16:8 with a prolonged blank space; in Sinaiticus' replacement-pages, Mark's text ends at 16:8 with emphatic ornamental lines; six Greek manuscripts have the Shorter Ending (and all six also have at least part of vv. 9-20); Old Latin Codex Bobbiensis has the Shorter Ending (with an interpolation between v. 3 and v. 4 of Mark 16, with other anomalous readings in the chapter); in the rest of the extant Greek copies of Mark 16 (over 1,700 copies), verses 9-20 come after v. 8; fourteen of those copies have special annotations about the passage. Codex W has vv. 9-20 with the Freer Logion. So what are these "Various endings" to which Dr. Tabor refers? The term "various endings" paints a very inaccurate picture.
"The longest concocted ending, which became Mark 16:9-19."
But the passage = Mark 16:9-20. We all make typo's and we all experience brainfreeze now and then (at least I know I do), but perhaps it is not totally unfair to suggest that a person who refers to the longer ending of Mark as "Mark 16:9-19" might not have investigated it very thoroughly.
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.