Bruce Metzger on the shorter ending of Mark

Bruce Metzger on the shorter ending of Mark

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Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart, 1971), pages 122-126.

16:9-20   The Ending(s) of Mark. Four endings of the Gospel according to Mark are current in the manuscripts. (1) The last twelve verses of the commonly received text of Mark are absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts (א and B), from the Old Latin codex Bobiensis (it k), the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript, about one hundred Armenian manuscripts, and the two oldest Georgian manuscripts (written A.D. 897 and A.D. 913). Clement of Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of the existence of these verses; furthermore Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them. The original form of the Eusebian sections (drawn up by Ammonius) makes no provision for numbering sections of the text after 16:8. Not a few manuscripts which contain the passage have scribal notes stating that older Greek copies lack it, and in other witnesses the passage is marked with asterisks or obeli, the conventional signs used by copyists to indicate a spurious addition to a document.

(2) Several witnesses, including four uncial Greek manuscripts of the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries (L Ψ 099 0112), as well as Old Latin k, the margin of the Harelean Syriac, several Sahidic and Bohairic manuscripts, and not a few Ethiopic manuscripts, continue after verse 8 as follows (with trifling variations): “But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.” All of these witnesses except it k also continue with verses 9-20.

(3) The traditional ending of Mark, so familiar through the AV and other translations of the Textus Receptus, is present in the vast number of witnesses, including A C D K W X Δ Θ Π Ψ 099 0112 f 13 28 33 al. The earliest patristic witnesses to part or all of the long ending are Irenaeus and the Diatessaron. It is not certain whether Justin Martyr was acquainted with the passage; in his Apology (i.45) he includes five words that occur, in a different sequence, in ver. 20. (του λογου του ισχυρου ον απο ιερουσαλημ οι αποστολοι αυτου εξελθοντες πανταχου εκηρυξαν).

(4) In the fourth century the traditional ending also circulated, according to testimony preserved by Jerome, in an expanded form, preserved today in one Greek manuscript. Codex Washingtonianus includes the following after ver. 14: “And they excused themselves, saying, ‘This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the truth and power of God to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits [or, does not allow what lies under the unclean spirits to understand the truth and power of God]. Therefore reveal thy righteousness now — thus they spoke to Christ. And Christ replied to them, ‘The term of years of Satan’s power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was delivered over to death, that they may return to the truth and sin no more, in order that they may inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness which is in heaven.’ “

How should the evidence of each of these endings be evaluated? It is obvious that the expanded form of the long ending (4) has no claim to be original. Not only is the external evidence extremely limited, but the expansion contains several non-Markan words and expressions (including ο αιων ουτος, αμαρτανω, απολογεω, αληθινος, υποστρεφω) as well as several that occur nowhere else in the New Testament (δεινος, ορος, προσλεγω). The whole expansion has about it an unmistakable apocryphal flavor. It probably is the work of a second or third century scribe who wished to soften the severe condemnation of the Eleven in 16.14.

The longer ending (3), though current in a variety of witnesses, some of them ancient, must also be judged by internal evidence to be secondary. (a) The vocabulary and style of verses 9-20 are non-Markan. (e.g. απιστεω, βλαπτω, βεβαιοω, επακολουθεω, θεαομαι, μετα ταυτα, πορευομαι, συνεργεω, υστερον are found nowhere else in Mark; and θανασιμον and τοις μετ αυτου γενομενοις, as designations of the disciples, occur only here in the New Testament). (b) The connection between ver. 8 and verses 9-20 is so awkward that it is difficult to believe that the evangelist intended the section to be a continuation of the Gospel. Thus, the subject of ver. 8 is the women, whereas Jesus is the presumed subject in ver. 9; in ver. 9 Mary Magdalene is identified even though she has been mentioned only a few lines before (15.47 and 16.1); the other women of verses 1-8 are now forgotten; the use of αναστας δε and the position of πρωτον are appropriate at the beginning of a comprehensive narrative, but they are ill-suited in a continuation of verses 1-8. In short, all these features indicate that the section was added by someone who knew a form of Mark that ended abruptly with ver. 8 and who wished to supply a more appropriate conclusion. In view of the inconcinnities between verses 1-8 and 9-20, it is unlikely that the long ending was composed ad hoc to fill up an obvious gap; it is more likely that the section was excerpted from another document, dating perhaps from the first half of the second century.

The internal evidence for the shorter ending (2) is decidedly against its being genuine. Besides containing a high percentage of non-Markan words, its rhetorical tone differs totally from the simple style of Mark’s Gospel.

Finally it should be observed that the external evidence for the shorter ending (2) resolves itself into additional testimony supporting the omission of verses 9-20. No one who had available as the conclusion of the Second Gospel the twelve verses 9-20, so rich in interesting material, would have deliberately replaced them with four lines of a colorless and generalized summary. Therefore, the documentary evidence supporting (2) should be added to that supporting (1). Thus, on the basis of good external evidence and strong internal considerations it appears that the earliest ascertainable form of the Gospel of Mark ended with 16.8. At the same time, however out of deference to the evident antiquity of the longer ending and its importance in the textual tradition of the Gospel, the Committee decided to include verses 9-20 as part of the text, but to enclose them within double square brackets to indicate that they are the work of an author other than the evangelist.

Bruce Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: its Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), pp. 269-270.

… we may find it instructive to consider the attitude of Church Fathers toward variant readings in the text of the New Testament. On the one hand, as far as certain readings involve sensitive points of doctrine, the Fathers customarily alleged that heretics had tampered with the accuracy of the text. On the other hand, however, the question of the canonicity of a document apparently did not arise in connection with discussion of such variant readings, even though they might involve quite considerable sections of text. Today we know that the last twelve verses of the Gospel according to Mark (xvi. 9-20) are absent from the oldest Greek, Latin, Syriac, Coptic, and Armenian manuscripts, and that in other manuscripts asterisks or obeli mark the verses as doubtful or spurious. Eusebius and Jerome, well aware of such variation in the witnesses, discussed which form of text was to be preferred. It is noteworthy, however, that neither Father suggested that one form was canonical and the other was not. Furthermore, the perception that the canon was basically closed did not lead to a slavish fixing of the text of the canonical books. Thus, the category of ‘canonical’ appears to have been broad enough to include all variant readings (as well as variant renderings in early versions) that emerged during the course of the transmission of the New Testament documents while apostolic tradition was still a living entity, with an intermingling of written and oral forms of that tradition. Already in the second century, for example, the so-called long ending of Mark was known to Justin Martyr and to Tatian, who incorporated it into his Diatesseron. There seems to be good reason, therefore, to conclude that, though external and internal evidence is conclusive against the authenticity of the last twelve verses as coming from the same pen as the rest of the Gospel, the passage ought to be accepted as part of the canonical text of Mark.

F.H.A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, fourth ed. (London: George Bell and Sons, 1894), volume 2, pp. 337-344.

Mark xvi. 9-20. In Vol. I. Chap. 1, we engaged to defend the authenticity of this long and important passage, and that without the slightest misgivings (p. 7). Dean Burgon’s brilliant monograph, ‘The Last Twelve Verse of the Gospel according to St. Mark vindicated against recent objectors and established’ (Oxford and London, 1871), has thrown a stream of light upon the controversy, nor does the joyous tone of his book miscome one who is conscious of having triumphantly maintained a cause which is very precious to him. We may fairly say that his conclusions have in no essential point been shaken by the elaborate and very able counter-plea of Dr. Hort (Notes, pp. 28-51). This whole paragraph is set apart by itself in the critical editions of Tischendorf and Tregelles. Besides this, it is placed within double brackets by Westcott and Hort, and followed by the wretched supplement derived from Cod. L (vide infra), annexed as an alternative reading (αλλως). Out of all the great manuscripts, the two oldest (א B) stand alone in omitting vers. 9-20 altogether. 1 Cod. B, however, betrays consciousness on the scribe’s part that something is left out, inasmuch as after εφοβουντο γαρ ver. 8, a whole column is left perfectly blank (the only blank one in the whole volume 2), as well as the rest of the column containing ver. 8, which is usual in Cod. B at the end of every other book of Scripture. No such peculiarity attaches to Cod. א. The testimony of L, that close companion of B, is very suggestive. Immediately after ver. 8 the copyist breaks off; then in the same hand (for all corrections in this manuscript seemprima manu: see p. 138), at the top of the next column we read … φερετε που και ταυτα … παντα δε τα παρηγγελμενα τοις περι του πετρον συντομωσ εξηγγιλαν μετα δε ταυτα και αυτος ο ισ απο ανατολησ και αχρι δυσεωσ εξαπεστιλεν δι αυτων το ιερον και αφθαρτον κηρυγμα τησ αιωνιου σωτηριασ … εστην δε και ταυτα φερομενα μετα το εφοβουντο γαρ … Αναστασ δε, πρωι πρωτη σαββατ κ.τ.λ.,, ver. 9, ad fin. capit. (Burgon’s facsimile, facing his page 113: our facsimile No. 21): as if verses 9-20 were just as little to be regarded as the trifling apocryphal supplement 3 which precedes them. Besides these, the twelve verses are omitted in none but some old Armenian codices 4 and two of the Ethiopic, k of the Old Latin, and an Arabic Lectionary [ix] No. 13, examined by Scholz in the Vatican. The Old Latin Codex k puts in their room a corrupt and careless version of the subscription in L ending with σωτηριας (k adding αμην): the same subscription being appended to the end of the Gospel in the two Ethiopic manuscripts, and (with αμην) in the margin of 274 and the Harkleian. Not unlike is the marginal note in Hunt. 17 or Cod. 1 of the Bohairic, translated by Bishop Lightfoot above. Of cursive Greek manuscripts 137, 138, which Birch had hastily reported as marking the passage with an asterisk, each contains the marginal annotation given below, which claims the passage as genuine, 138 with no asterisk at all, 137 (like 36 and others) with an ordinary mark of reference from the text to the note, where (of course) it is repeated. 5 Other manuscripts contain marginal scholia respecting it, of which the following is the substance. Cod. 199 has τελος 6 after εφοβουντο γαρ and before Αναστας δε, and in the same hand as τελος we read, εν τισι των αντιγραφων ου κειται ταυτα, αλλ ενταυθα καταπαυει. The kindred Codd. 20, 215, 300 (but after ver. 15, not ver. 8) mark the omission in some (τισι) copies, adding εν δε τοις αρχαιοις παντα απαραλειπτα κειται, and these had been corrected from Jerusalem copies (see pp. 161 and note, 193). Cod. 573 has for a subscription εγραφη και αντεβληθη ομοιως εκ των εσπουδασμενων κεφαλαιοις σλζ: where Burgon, going back to St. Matthew’s Gospel (see p. 161, note) infers that the old Jerusalem copies must have contained our twelve verses. Codd. 15, 22 conclude at εφοβουντο γαρ, then add in red ink that in some copies the Evangelist ends here, εν πολλοις δε και ταυτα φερεται, affixing verses 9-20. In Codd. 1, 250 (in its duplicate 206 also), 209, is the same notice, αλλοις standing for πολλοις in 206, with the additional assertion that Eusebius “canonized” no further than ver. 8, a statement which is confirmed by the absence of the Ammonian and Eusebian numerals beyond that verse in אALSU and at least eleven cursives, with am. fuld. ing. of the Vulgate. It would be no marvel if Eusebius, the author of this harmonizing system, had consistently acted upon his own rash opinion respecting the paragraph, an opinion which we shall have to notice presently, and such action on his part would have added nothing to the strength of the adverse case. But it does not seem that he really did so. These numerals appear in most manuscripts, and in all parts of them, with a good deal of variation which we can easily account for. In the present instance they are annexed to ver. 9 and the rest of the passage in Codd. CEKVΠ, and (with some changes) in GHMΓΔΛ and many others: in Cod. 566 the concluding sections are there (σλδ ver. 11, σλε ver. 12, σλς ver. 14) without the canons. In their respective margins the annotated codices 12 (of Scholz), 24, 36, 37, 40, 41, 108, 129, 137, 138, 143, 181, 186, 195, 210, 221, 222, 237, 238, 255, 259, 299, 329, 374 (twenty-four in all), present in substance 7 the same weighty testimony in favour of the passage: παρα πλειστοις αντιγραφοις ου κειται (thus far also Cod. 119, adding only ταυτα, αλλ ενταυθα καταπαυει) εν τω παροντι ευαγγελιω, ως νοθα νομισαντες αυτα ειναι αλλα ημεις εξ ακριβων αντιγραφων εν πλειστοις ευροντες αυτα και κατα το Παλαιστιναιον ευαγγελιον Μαρκου, ως εχει η αληθεια, συντεθεικαμεν και την εν αυτω επιφερομενην δεσποτικην αναστασιν.Now this is none other than an extract from Victor of Antioch’s [v] commentary on St. Mark, which they all annex in full to the sacred text, and which is expressly assigned to that Father in Codd. 12, 37, 41. Yet these very twenty-four manuscripts have been cited by critical editors as adverse to the authenticity of a paragraph which their scribes never dreamt of calling into question, but had simply copied Victor’s decided judgement in its favour His appeal to the famous Palestine codices which had belonged to Origen and Pamphilus (see p. 55 and note), is found in twenty-one of them, possibly these documents are akin to the Jerusalem copies mentioned in Codd. Evan. Λ, 20, 164, 262, 300, &c.

All other codices, e.g. ACD (which is defective from ver. 15, prima manu) EFWGH (begins ver. 14) KMSUVXΓΔΠ, 33, 69, the Peshitto, Jerusalem and Curetonian Syriac (which last, by a singular happiness, contains verses 17-20, though no other part of St. Mark), the Harkleian text, the Sahidic (only ver. 20 is preserved), the Bohairic and Ethiopic (with the exceptions already named), the Gothic (to ver. 12), the Vulgate, all extant Old Latins except k (though a prima manu and b are defective), the Georgian, the printed Armenian, its later manuscripts, and all the lesser versions (Arabic, &c.), agree in maintaining the paragraph. It is cited, possibly by Papias, unquestionably by Irenaeus (both in Greek and Latin), by Tertullian, and by Justin Martyr 8 as early as the second century; by Hippolytus (see Tregelles, An Account of the Printed Text, p. 252), by Vincentius at the seventh Council of Carthage, by the Acta Pilati, the Apostolic Constitutions, and apparently by Celsus in the third; by Aphraates (in a Syriac Homily dated A.D. 337), the Syriac Table of Canons, Eusebius, Macarius Magnes, Didymus, the Syraic Acts of the Apostles, Leontius, Ps.-Ephraem. Jerome, Cyril of Jerusalem, 9 Epiphanius, Ambrose, Augustine, Chrysostom, in the fourth; by Leo, Nestorius, Cyril of Alexandria, Victor of Antioch, Patricius, Marius Mercator, in the fifth; by Hesychius, Gregentius, Prosper, John, abp. of Thessalonica, and Modestus, in the fifth and sixth. 10 Add to this, what has been so forcibly stated by Burgon (ubi supra, p. 205), that in the Calendar of Greek Church lessons, which existed certainly in the fourth century, very probably much earlier, the disputed verses were honoured by being read as a special matins service for Ascension Day (see p. 81), and as the Gospel for St. Mary Magdalene’s Day, July 22 (p. 89); as well as by forming the third of the eleven ευαγγελια αναστασιμα εωθινα, the preceding part of the chapter forming the second (p. 85): so little were they suspected as of even doubtful authenticity. 11

The earliest objector to vers. 9-20 we know of was Eusebius (Quaest. ad Marin.), who tells us that they were not εν απασι τοις αντιγραφοις, but after εφοβουντο γαρ that τα εξης are found σπανιως εν τισιν, yet not τα ακριβη: language which Jerome twice echoes and almost exaggerates by saying, ‘in raris fertur Evangeliis, omnibus Graeciae libris paene hoc capitulum fine non habentibus.’ A second cause with Eusebius for rejecting them is μαλιστα ειπερ εχοιεν αντιλογιαν τη των λοιπων ευαγγελιστων μαρτυρια. 12 The language of Eusebius has been minutely examined by Dean Burgon, who proves to demonstration that all the subsequent evidence which has been alleged against the passage, whether of Severus, or Hesychius, or any other writer down to Euthymius Zigabenus in the twelfth century, is a mere echo of the doubts and difficulties of Eusebius, if indeed he is not retailing to us at second-hand one of the fanciful Biblical speculations of Origen. Jerome’s recklessness in statement as been already noticed (Vol. II. p. 269); besides that, he is a witness on the other side, both in his own quotations of the passage and in the Vulgate, for could he have inserted the verses there, if he had judged them to be spurious?

With regard to the argument against these twelve verses arising from their alleged difference in style from the rest of the Gospel, I must say that the same process might be applied — and has been applied — to prove that St. Paul was not the writer of the Pastoral Epistles (to say nothing of that to the Hebrews), St. John of the Apocalypse, Isaiah and Zechariah of portions of those prophecies that bear their names. Every one used to literary composition may detect, if he will, such minute variations as have been made so much of in this case, 13 either in his own writings, or in those of the authors he is most familiar with.

Persons who, like Eusebius, devoted themselves to the pious task of constructing harmonies of the Gospels, would soon perceive the difficulty of adjusting the events recorded in vers. 9-20 to the narratives of the other Evangelists. Alford regards this inconsistency (more apparent than real, we believe) as ‘a valuable testimony to the antiquity of the fragment’ (N.T. ad loc.): we would go further, and claim for the harder reading the benefit of any critical doubt as to its genuineness (Canon I. Vol. II. p. 247). The difficulty was both felt and avowed by Eusebius, and was recited after him by Severus of Antioch or whoever wrote the scholion attributed to him. Whatever Jerome and the rest may have done, these assigned the αντιλογια, the εναντιωσις they thought they perceived, as a reason (not the first, nor perhaps the chief, but still as a reason) for supposing that the Gospel ended with εφοβουντο γαρ. Yet in the balance of probabilities, can anything be more unlikely than that St. Mark broke off so abruptly as this hypothesis would imply, while no ancient writer has noticed or seemed conscious of any such abruptness? 14 This fact has driven those who reject the concluding verses to the strangest fancies: — namely, that, like Thucydides, the Evangelist was cut off before his work was completed, or even that the last leaf of the original Gospel was torn away.

We emphatically deny that such wild surmises 15 are called for by the state of the evidence in this case. All opposition to the authenticity of the paragraph resolves itself into the allegations of Eusebius and the testimony of אB. Let us accord to these the weight which is their due: but against their verdict we can appeal to a vast body of ecclesiastical evidence reaching back to the earlier part of the second century; 16 to nearly all the versions; and to all extant manuscripts excepting two, of which one is doubtful. So powerfully is it vouched for, that many of those who are reluctant to recognize St. Mark as its author, are content to regard it notwithstanding as an integral portion of the inspired record originally delivered to the Church. 17

Scrivener’s Footnotes (renumbered)

1. I have ventured but slowly to vouch for Tischendorf’s notion, that six leaves of Cod. א, that containing Mark xvi.2-Luke i.56 being one of them, were written by the scribe of Cod. B. On mere identity of handwriting and the peculiar shape of certain letters who shall insist? Yet there are parts of the case which I know not how to answer, and which have persuaded even Dr. Hort. Having now arrived at this conclusion our inference is simple and direct, that at least in these leaves, Codd. א B make but one witness, not two.

2. The cases of Nehemiah, Tobit, and Daniel, in the Old Testament portion of Cod. B, are obviously in no wise parallel in regard to their blank columns.

3. Of which supplement Dr. Hort says unexpectedly enough, ‘In style it is unlike the ordinary narratives of the Evangelists, but comparable to the four introductory verses of St. Luke’s Gospel’ (Introduction, p. 298).

4. We ought to add that some Armenian codices which contain the paragraph have the subscription ‘Gospel after Mark’ at the end of verse 8 as well as of verse 20, as though their scribes, like Cod. L’s, knew of a double ending to the Gospel.

5. Burgon (Guardian, July 12, 1882) speaks of seven manuscripts (Codd. 538, 539 being among them) wherein these last twelve verses begin on the right hand of the page. This would be more significant if a space were left, as is not stated, at the foot of the preceding page. In Cod. 550 the first letter α is small, but covers an abnormally large space.

6. Of course no notice is to be taken of τελος after εφοβουντο γαρ, as the end of the ecclesiastical lesson is all that is intimated. The grievous misstatements of preceding critics from Wetstein and Scholz down to Tischendorf, have been corrected throughout by means of Burgon’s laborious researches (Burgon, pp. 114-123).

7. The minute variations between these several codices are given by Burgon (Appendix E, pp. 288-90). Cod. 255 contains a scholion imputed to Eusebius, from which Griesbach had drawn inferences which Burgon (Last Twelve Verses, &c., Postscript, pp. 319-23) has shown to be unwarranted by the circumstances of the case.

8. Dr. C. Taylor, Master of St. John’s College, Cambridge, in The Expositor for July 1893, quotes more evidence from Justin Martyr — hinting that some also remains behind — proving that that Father was familiar with these verses. Also he cites several passages from the Epistle of Barnabas in which traces of them occur, and from the Quartodeciman controversy, and from Clement of Rome. The value of the evidence which Dr. Taylor’s acute vision has discovered consists chiefly in its cumulative force. From familiarity with the passage numerous traces of it arose; or as Dr. Taylor takes the case reversely, from the fact of the occurrence of numerous traces evident to a close observer, it is manifest that there pre-existed in the minds of the writers a familiarity with the language of the verses in question.

9. It is surprising that Dr. Hort, who lays very undue stress upon the silence of certain early Christian writers that had no occasion for quoting the twelve verses in their extant works, should say of Cyril of Jerusalem, who lived about A.D. 349, that his ‘negative evidence is peculiarly cogent’ (Notes, p. 37). To our mind it is not at all negative. Preaching on a Sunday, he reminds his hearers of a sermon he had delivered the day before, and which he would have them keep in their thoughts. One of the topics he briefly recalls is the article of the Creedτον καθισαντα εκ δεξιων του πατρος. He must inevitably have used Mark xvi. 19 in his Saturday’s discourse.

10. Several of these references are derived from ‘The Revision Revised,’ p. 423.

11. Nor were these verses used in the Greek Church only. Vers. 9-20 comprised the Gospel for Easter Monday in the old Spanish or Mozarabic Liturgy, for Easter Tuesday among the Syrian Jacobites, for Ascension Day among the Armenians. Vers. 12-20 was the Gospel for Ascension Day in the Coptic Liturgy (Malan, Original Documents, iv. p. 63): vers. 16-20 in the old LatinComes

12. To get rid of one apparent αντιφωνια, that arising from the expression πρωι τη μια του σαββατου (sic), ver. 9, compared with οψε σαββατων Matt. xxvii. 1, Eusebius proposes the plan of setting a stop between Αναστας δε and πρωι, so little was he satisfied with rudely expunging the whole clause. Hence Cod. E puts a red cross after δε: Codd. 20, 22, 34, 72, 193, 196, 199, 271, 345, 405, 411, 456, have a colon: Codd. 332, 339, 340, 439, a comma (Burgon, Guardian, Aug. 20, 1873).

13. The following peculiarities have been noticed in these verses: εκεινος used absolutely, vers. 10, 11, 13; πορευομαι vers. 10, 12, 15; τοις μετ αυτου γενομενοις ver. 10; θεαομαι vers. 11, 14; απιστεω vers. 11, 16; μετα ταυτα ver. 12; ετερος ver. 12; παρακολουθεω ver. 17; εν τω ονοματι ver. 17; κυριος for the Saviour, vers. 19, 20; πανταχου, συνεργουντος, βεβαιοω, επακολουθεω ver. 20, all of them as not found elsewhere in St. Mark. A very able and really conclusive plea for the genuineness of the paragraph, as coming from that Evangelist’s pen, appeared in the Baptist Quarterly, Philadelphia, July, 1869, bearing the signature of Professor J. A. Broadus, of South Carolina. Unfortunately, from the nature of the case, it does not admit of abridgement. Burgon’s ninth chapter (pp. 136-190) enters into full details, and amply justifies his conclusion that the supposed adverse argument from phraseology ‘breaks down hopelessly under severe analysis.’

14. ‘Can any one, who knows the character of the Lord and of his ministry, conceive for an instant that we should be left with nothing but a message baulked through the alarm of women’ (Kelley, Lectures Introductory to the Gospels, p. 258). Even Dr. Hort can say, ‘It is incredible that the Evangelist deliberately concluded either a paragraph with εφοβουντο γαρ, or the Gospel with a petty detail of a secondary event, leaving his narrative hanging in the air’ (Notes, p. 46).

15. When Burgon ventures upon a surmise, one which is probability itself by the side of those we have been speaking of, Professor Abbot (ubi supra, p. 197) remarks upon it that ‘With Mr. Burgon a conjecture seems to be a demonstration.’ We will not be deterred by dread of any such reproach from mentioning his method of accounting for the absence of these verses from some very early copies, commending it to the reader for what it may seem worth. After a learned and exhaustive proof that the Church lessons, as we now have them, existed from very early times (Twelve Verses, pp. 191-211), and noting that an important lesson ended with Mark xvi. 8 (see Calendar of Lessons); he supposes that τελος, which would stand at the end of such a lesson, misled some scribe who had before him an exemplar of the Gospels whose last leaf (containing Mark xvi. 9-20, or according to Codd. 20, 215, 300 only vers. 16-20) was lost, as it might easily be in those older manuscripts wherein St. Mark stood last.

16. The codex lately discovered by Mrs. Lewis is said to omit the verses. But what is that against a host of other codices? And when the other MS. of the Curetonian includes the verses? Positive testimony is worth more than negative.

17. Dr. Hort, however, while he admits the possibility of the leaf containing vers. 9-20 having been lost in some very early copy, which thus would become the parent of transcripts having a mutilated text (Notes, p. 49), rather inconsistently arrives at the conclusion that the passage in question ‘manifestly cannot claim any apostolic authority; but it is doubtless founded on some tradition of the apostolic age’ (ibid. p. 51).


  • Reply April 24, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    Philip Williams you are probably familiar with the text I am posting for John Duncan here In the first part of the 20th century, the
    predominant view was that the original ending had been lost, but in the latter part of the century this was replaced by the view that 16:8 was Mark’s intended ending, and numerous attempts were made to explain how 16:8 serves as a fitting ending for the Gospel.

  • John Duncan
    Reply April 24, 2019

    John Duncan

    Yes I thank you for the article. If there was an early effort to eliminate this disputed passage it could answer this problem. If it was a late addition it would also answer modern scholars deductions. It seems whatever theory someone has they get the evidence to fit their theory. It is not critical to any essential doctrine that I know of but I just have a very had time with wanting to eliminate it as Scripture. The incremental domino effect could come back to bite anyone wanting to preserve historic orthodox Christianity.

  • Reply April 24, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    So John Duncan as much as what Link Hudson wrote may be likeable it cannot be proved in any way possible To a certain we know that the two main arguments given are that Mark 14:28 and 16:7 are Markan insertions that point to a postresurrection meeting of Jesus and the disciples in Galilee and that it is very unlikely that the Evangelist would have left this prophecy unfulfilled by ending abruptly with 16:8. This would be the only unfulfilled prophecy of Jesus in Mark except for the prophecy concerning his parousia. The second argument is that in contrast to modern reader-response interpretations of 16:1–8, the emphasis of these verses is not about the disciples and their failures but on Jesus Christ, the Son of God (1:1), and the key verses are 16:6–7 and not 16:8.

    However what Link proposes as drafts simply cannot be so A very simple examination of all endings we have today shows that they are NOT in the Markian style. The longest one is in Latin which obviously Mark did not use

    The whole proposal of “drafts” is funny If anything is draft related it would relate to a later editing or redacting meaning much shorter not much longer original reading. Also, Mark used oral stories who by default were prolonged (alike TR is quite naturally but not truthful to the autographs) This gets in the text criticism and the Q source or sources which requires much deeper scholastic preparation to even begin to discuss here but Philip Williams already knows that when mentioning Origen NOW who is gonna explain the Dual Reception in the Eusebian tables and the omission of the longer ending of Mark?

  • John Duncan
    Reply April 24, 2019

    John Duncan

    I am totally unwilling to throw out whole chunks of Scripture. A Scholar friend of mine has been in communications with Dan Wallace. He say Dan was a preservationist (as I am) until he could no longer deny certain evidences he examined.

    • Reply April 25, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      are you mentioning Dan just because of the article There is virtually no serious Greek NT scholar in America that would back TR – the idea is not to remove parts of Scripture BUT to make sure what we read is THE actual Scripture and not something someone decided to append or change several centuries later?

      However, interest in the Markan conclusion is not a modern phenomenon alone. Comments about the different attested endings date back to Eusebius’ Ad Marinum in the fourth century. Responding to the apparent discrepancy between the timing of the resurrection in Matthew and Mark, Eusebius notes one may solve the difficulty in one of two ways: either ignore the passage on the basis of the manuscript evidence or harmonize the two passages.

      Eusebius’ double solution can be read as recognizing the authority of both the Longer and the Abrupt conclusions to Mark’s Gospel. The solution represents his ecumenical synthesis of those authors who preceded him, the “faithful and pious” from whom the Scriptures have been received.

  • Reply April 25, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    The evaluation of the longer ending by scholars today is almost unanimous in rejecting it as Markan. There are a number of reasons for this:
    1. Manuscript Evidence. Although the number of manuscripts containing this ending is impressive, the quality of manuscripts lacking it (Codexes a and B, it k [Codex Bobiensis], Clement of Alexandria and Origen, and the comments by Eusebius and Jerome that the majority of Greek manuscripts they were familiar with lacked it) is weighty.

    2. Transcription. It is unlikely that a copyist would omit 16:9–20 if it
    was originally part of the Gospel of Mark. It is far more likely that a scribe would add 16:9–20 to 16:8 than delete it from 16:8.

    3. Lack of Attestation by Early Church Fathers. The lack of reference to 16:9–20 by Origen, Tertullian, Cyrian, Cyril of Jerusalem, and others, indicates that they were apparently unacquainted with the longer ending of Mark.

    4. Vocabulary. The vocabulary is non-Markan and contains 18 terms
    not found anywhere else in Mark.

    5. Style. The Greek style of the longer ending is quite unlike the style we find in Mark 1:1–16:8.

    As a result, the great majority of scholars who have studied the longer ending of Mark have concluded that the Evangelist did not write it and that it was attached much much later to his Gospel.

    • Philip Williams
      Reply April 25, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day can you identify the logical fallacies employed in each of these reasons for supporting the shorter ending of Mark 16?

    • Reply April 25, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      which one would you mean exactly?
      which one would be non-scholarly or non-logical
      and which one is liberal in your opinion ?

  • Reply April 26, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    A fourth ending found in the manuscript tradition is the shorter ending
    followed by the longer ending. This is found in four uncial manuscripts
    dating from the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries (L Y 099 0112), the Harclean
    Syriac manuscript, and several Sahidic, Bohairic, and Ethiopic manuscripts.
    The individual judgments concerning the non-Markan nature of
    the shorter ending and the longer ending make one even more certain that
    the combination of these two endings does not come from Mark.

    • Philip Williams
      Reply April 26, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day how does the ‘shorter ending’ followed by the ‘longer ending’ differ from what we have in our Bibles as Mark 16? Are verses 1-8 repeated in these uncials?

    • Reply April 26, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      this is only 1 of the 4 examples given However since Jerome has denied it I am willing to as well Especially the latin version where you have the short ending followed by 2-3 pages longer ending Have you read that one yet?

  • Reply August 9, 2019


    Two NLT Bible texts:

    [Longer Ending of Mark]

    “9After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10She went to the disciples, who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened. 11But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her.

    12Afterward he appeared in a different form to two of his followers who were walking from Jerusalem into the country. 13They rushed back to tell the others, but no one believed them.

    14Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.

    15And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 17These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. 18They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

    19When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 20And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.”

    Mark 16:9-20 (NLT) (longer ending)

    . . . 

    “Paul on the Island of Malta

    1Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. 2The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us.

    3As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. 4The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” 5But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. 6The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.

    7Near the shore where we landed was an estate belonging to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us and treated us kindly for three days. 8As it happened, Publius’s father was ill with fever and dysentery. Paul went in and prayed for him, and laying his hands on him, he healed him. 9Then all the other sick people on the island came and were healed. 10As a result we were showered with honors, and when the time came to sail, people supplied us with everything we would need for the trip.”

    Acts 28:1-10 (NLT)

    Comparing these two NT passages, it appears there is a thematic proximity here:

    In Mark 16 longer ending we read: (“handling snakes safely,” “[…] anything poisonous won’t hurt them,” “being able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”) In Acts 28, Paul is essentially, doing all of this.

    The question arises:

    1) Does this proximity, reinforce and validate, the authenticity of the “longer ending” of Mark?

    1a) If yes, how?

    1b) If no, why not?

    What other (biblical primary or external secondary) sources, would confirm 1a) or 1b) ?

    Thank you for your help. God bless you.



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