[textualcriticism] Bart Ehrman and the Ending of Mark and the Pericope Adulterae
Jerome Rowley summarizes the fifth part of The Teaching Company's course on the New Testament. (The new name is "The Great Courses.") "The lectures in this course," he states, "are by Prof. Bart D. Ehrman." In the eleventh part of the summary, Rowley writes about the ending of Mark. Referring to the events in 16:8, he states:
"The original version of the Gospel of Mark ended there, with the women not telling anybody anything. At a later time, in the Early Middle Ages, some Christian scribes who copied the Gospel of Mark added an ending to this account, twelve verses in which Jesus actually does appear to his disciples, convincing them that he is alive. Scholars, though, are convinced that this additional ending to Mark's Gospel was not original: the disciples never did understand, even though the reader does."
Surely there must be some mistake. Did Dr. Ehrman actually tell his students that scribes in the Early Middle Ages are responsible for Mark 16:9-20? How could a listener get such an impression?? Has anyone here heard the lecture itself?
The same type of mistakes, including what I call conjectural fabrication, are distressingly common. As knowledge becomes more available, the attempt to dupe the general public increases, and even becomes more heavy-handed.
These tricks also occurred in the same Learning Company course on the Pericope Adultera (and other variants). The tricks with the Pericope were much like what we saw with the traditional ending of Mark (the ending that is in 99.9% of the Greek, Latin and Syriac manuscripts and referenced by ECW even in the 2nd century, although the listener of Bart Ehrman will not have the faintest idea of the real evidences.).
Here is how a listener to the Learning Company understood Bart Ehrman, note that this word-parsing trickery has been going on for many years:
IIDB poster with the Learning Company tapes:
He (Bart Ehrman) mentioned in the excerpt that the famous story in John of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, where Jesus says "let the one without sin cast the first stone", was not in the original, and in fact did not show up in copies of the NT until the Middle of the 12th century, and it was this copy that was used in the translation of the KJV, which is why it is now in the English versions we are familiar with.
Question: can you imagine talking about the Pericope Adultera for a good solid session and not mentioning Augustine's incredible comment and the many early church writers who reference the section? How about completely omitting the Old Latin line dating to antiquity or the Vulgate, updating the Old Latin with early Greek manuscripts. Remember, the Latin church is the single largest church grouping for over a millennium. How could you omit the mass of Greek manuscripts? Including many uncials, including Codex Bezae ? Also omitted - the versions with the text.
You would think such a presentation could only occur in a fantasy world, where the goal is not to inform, but to trick listeners into thinking that the Pericope was added in to the Bible text in the 12th century. And is not actually in the large bulk of Greek and Latin manuscripts. Is this type of presentation scholarship ? agitprop ? charlatanism ?
Read or listen to the NPR radio show, to see how the game is played.
Bart Ehrman, Radio Interview, 'Fresh Air'
July 17, 2011 & Dec 14, 2005
...in the middle ages, apparently a scribe knew the story, and heard of the story some place through somebody knowing the story and wrote it down in the margin of a manuscript, and some other scribe came along and saw the story in the margin of a manuscript and then transferred it into the manuscript itself in the gospel of John and from then on that manuscript got copied and one of the subsequent copies of that manuscript was the copy that was used then by the King James translators when they translated the Bible. So this story would become totally familiar to people who read English, but it wouldn't have been known at all to Greek reading Christians reading the Gospel of John in the ancient world. (5.40)
"Can you explain a little bit more what might have led a scribe in the 12th century to add this story?"
Well it's a terrific story. In the Gospel of John right at this point Jesus is condemning his opponents for not judging one another fairly, for not having a right judgment and this is a story that in a way encapsulates that idea that judgement is to be righteous judgment and that mercy is more important than judgement (6:10) and so this illustrates the point being made in John 7 & 8 and I suppose a scribe was reading John 7 & 8 and thinking about it and thought, you know this story I heard in fact fits right in here and put it in the margin forth and later to be copied into the text ..
"Did the scribes have that much freedom in their work that they could just add a story ? (6:30)
Well its shocking but you know , its shocking to my students just how often the scribes would change their text.... mistakes multiply through the copying process (7:25).. some scribes felt completely free to change their texts and would add stories or take out stories, would add lines, take out lines ... (7:35)
So what are you suggesting here ? That we should just like ignore that story of adultery ? that that story has less currency than other stories in the NT ? Or that we should just see that (8:00) as a story that was added later and take it as that ? How does that affect your reading of that passage of the Bible? What do you make of it?
Well its a very good question and I think Christians who see the Bible as authoritative have to make a decision. (8:15) What is it that they think is authoritative ? Is the original text, as it was originally written, is that authoritative ? If that is authoritative we have a problem because we don't have the original text in many instances. But on the other hand does somebody want to ascribe authority to a text that was clearly and certainly added later to the Bible, such as the story of the woman taken in adultery. If you ascribe authority to these stories that were added later to the Bible, where do you draw the line? Does it mean that anybody can add something to the Bible and then it can count as scripture?(8:53) This strikes me as a very difficult theological problem that theologians probably need to work on a little bit. To tell people, what exactly is the Bible that is being trusted as the authoritative scripture. (9:05)
My question is why these deceptions are not forcefully countered? Is it because Bart Ehrman is only continuing and honing and enhancing with extra spin a word-parsing system that Ehrman inherited from others in the textual establishment? Is there any concern for integrity in the Bible textual community ?
In other, related integrity news:
Remember, the British Library has now deceived the public for about five years with a phoney English translation of Codex Sinaiticus. Have any of our rarefied textual experts even taken the time to send an email or make a phone call pointing out this problem? Or are the papers in the symposiums so pressing that it is impossible to take 10 minutes to try to help put a stop to the deception of the public?
- On Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 6:26 PM, Vox Verax <james.snapp@...> wrote:
Did Dr. Ehrman actually tell his students that scribes in the Early Middle Ages are responsible for Mark 16:9-20? How could a listener get such an impression?? Has anyone here heard the lecture itself?From the lecture:"The original version of the Gospel of Mark ended there, with the women not telling anybody anything. At a later time, in the early Middle Ages, some Christian scribes who copied the Gospel of Mark added an ending to this account (12 verses) in which Jesus actually does appear to His disciples, convincing them that He's alive. Scholars, though, are convinced that this additional ending to Mark's Gospel was not original, the disciples never did understand even though the reader does."29'16"-29'48" in Lecture 5 'Mark—Jesus the Suffering Son of God' of the 'New Testament' course.--
Marcello Jun de Oliveira, MD
Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
Thanks. That sure looks like proof to me.
Are these lectures still in circulation, and if they are, what are you doing to prevent this mistake from continuing to circulate?
And, could/would you join me in a debate specifically about the ending of the Gospel of Mark, in which I would defend the statement, "Mark 16:9-20 was present in the original text"?
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.
- On 05/01/2013 10:10 AM, Vox Verax wrote:
> Marcello,They are available here:
> Thanks. That sure looks like proof to me.
> Are these lectures still in circulation, and if they are, what are you doing to prevent this mistake from continuing to circulate?
The courses aren't targeted as college classes, per se, but for the
general non-specialist audience.
> And, could/would you join me in a debate specifically about the ending of the Gospel of Mark, in which I would defend the statement, "Mark 16:9-20 was present in the original text"?
> Yours in Christ,
> James Snapp, Jr.
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