Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mark 16:9-20 - Top Ten Trainwrecks

In some previous posts, I’ve addressed the shortcomings regarding Mark 16:9-20 found in Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, and in the NET Bible’s notes, and in the ESV Study Bible.  Here are ten more examples of false claims about Mark 16:9-20 that are being spread online and/or in print.    

(A)  Commentaries written by Clement of Alexandria before 101, by Origen before 200, and by Eusebius in the 200’s, confirm that Mark’s text stopped at 16:8. – Stephen M. Miller.  (No commentaries on the Gospel of Mark by these writers are known to exist.  Clement of Alexandria was not even born in 101.  Origen worked in the 200's, not in the 100's.) 

(B)  Mark 16:9-20 was produced by scribes in the Middle Ages. – Bart Ehrman.  (This is simply impossible, because the passage was utilized by dozens of individuals before the fall of the Roman Empire.  Irenaeus, for example, quoted Mark 16:19 around the year 184 - over a century before the production-date of the earliest existing Greek manuscript of Mark 16.) 

(C)  Verses 9-20 are not in any of the great early manuscripts. – William Barclay.  (Barclay, whose commentary-series was very popular, must've thought that there are only two great early Greek manuscripts!)

(D)  No early church fathers indicate awareness of these verses for the first few centuries of Christianity.  They don’t quote from them or comment on them. – H. Walker Evans.  (That's true, if you ignore Justin, Tatian, Epistula Apostolorum, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, De Rebaptismate, Hierocles, Marinus, Eusebius, Ambrose, Epiphanius, Apostolic Constitutions, Pelagius, De Trinitate, Augustine, Macarius Magnes, Marcus Eremita, etc., etc.)

(E)  Mark 16:9-20 is lacking in many of the oldest and most reliable manuscripts. - Norman Geisler.  (This is just a display of ignorance, plain and simple.  Only two old Greek manuscripts end Mark's text at the end of 16:8.)

(F)  Mark 16:9-20 is omitted “in very many Greek manuscripts of the Gospel.” – Wilfrid Harrington.  (Harrington was speaking out of ignorance -- by which I mean that I assume that he was not deliberately lying.  He simply was not aware of the fact that all undamaged Greek manuscripts of Mark 16 except two contain at least part of Mark 16:9-20.  The effect on his readers, unfortunately, is the same either way.)

(G)  Mark 16:9-20 was lacking in “all Greek manuscripts known to Eusebius and Jerome.” – W. R. Telford.  (Obviously Telford either never consulted the writings of Eusebius and Jerome, or else he forgot what he had found.)

(H)  Mark 16:9-20 is absent from Codex Alexandrinus. – Ron Rhodes.  (Probably he meant to refer, instead, to Codex Sinaiticus.  But regardless of how this falsehood originated, it continues to be spread.)

(I)  Mark 16:9-20 is omitted by important Ethiopic codices. – Eugene Nida, Matt Slick and many others.  Nida did not know any better, since he wrote before 1980, when Bruce Metzger published a detailed refutation of this claim -- which, alas, is still being spread in Metzger's own handbook, The Text of the New Testament!  Matt Slick, though, has been informed that every continuous-script Ethiopic manuscript of Mark known to exist contains at least part of Mark 16:9-20.

(J)  “Until you get to about eight- or nine-hundred A.D., you can’t find a manuscript that contains these verses.” – Bob McCartney.  (This ridiculous statement was made in a sermon at the First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls, Texas, in 2011.  Bob McCartney has two graduate degrees; it is hard to say if he spread this falsehood in spite of his training or because of it.)  

All ten of those statements are false, and all ten of those statements can easily be proven to be false.  Furthermore,  some of the authors responsible for those statements know that the statements are false, but allow them to continue to be spread anyway.  Stephen Miller, Bart Ehrman, and Matt Slick, I mean you.  (I suspect that I could include Norman Geisler and Ron Rhodes on the list of those who deliberately spread false information about Mark 16:9-20, too, if they answered the mail I sent to them.)  Matt Slick (supervisor of the pro-Calvinism apologetics-site CARM) has been fully informed that this claim is incorrect, but for years he has continued to spread this false claim at his website.  Let the CARM-visitor beware.

Commentaries must be weighed, not counted.  (Just read Ben Witherington's commentary's one-sided notes on Mark 16:9-20, and compare it to Bruce Metzger's one-sided statements in Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, and tell me how many commentaries you are really reading.)  Following the decades in which distortions and falsehoods about Mark 16:9-20 have been promoted in commentaries, in seminary classrooms, and in pulpits (such as the pulpits of John MacArthur and Alistair Begg), some recent commentators have decided not to comment about Mark 16:9-20 at all.  Perhaps that is better than spreading falsehoods about the passage, as the persons listed above have done -- but let no one doubt that the silence of some members of the current generation of commentators is the child of the lies that were spread by many commentators in previous generations.