Friday, April 15, 2016

Kephalaia: The Ancient Chapters of the Gospels

          The University of Chicago, the British Library, and the Vatican Library are just a few of the institutions with important collections of New Testament manuscripts that can be viewed online.  Many more digital photographs of manuscripts are available at the website of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.  Often when one views a manuscript-page, there is more to see than just the text; many manuscripts have other features, the significance of which might not be obvious right away.  Today we will explore a feature which is frequently found in New Testament manuscripts:  their kephalaia – the headings of the ancient chapters.   Specifically, we will review the kephalaia of the Gospels.
          In the original manuscripts of the Gospels, there were no chapter-divisions.  Today in English Bibles, Matthew has 28 chapters, Mark has 16 chapters, Luke has 24 chapters, and John has 21 chapters.  In many Greek Gospels-manuscripts, the division is very different:  Matthew has 68 chapters; Mark has 48, Luke has 83, and John has 18 or 19.  Often, before each Gospel, copyists wrote a list of the chapters’ numbers and titles (titloi), which served as a table of contents.  Within the text of the Gospel itself, on the page where a chapter began, a copyist wrote the chapter’s number and name at the top of the page; these are the kephalaia (headings), usually written in red.  When more than one chapter began on the same page, copyists would write the second kephalon in the lower margin.
Most of the Kephalaia-list for the
Gospel of Mark in the medieval
Exoteicho Gospels (2396).
          In some manuscripts, the headings have not survived:  either in the final stages of the manuscript’s production, or later when the manuscript was rebound in a new cover, the pages were trimmed.  It is not unusual to see cases in which the page-trimmer has cut off some, or all, of the uppermost parts of the pages where the kephalaia had been.
          There are some aspects of the kephalaia which one might not expect.  For example, each Gospel does not begin with chapter 1.  The opening portion of each Gospel was treated as a preface, and did not receive a chapter-number.  Thus the first chapter in Matthew begins at 2:1, and the first chapter in Mark begins at 1:23.  Also, the ancient chapters vary wildly in size.  Chapter 40 of Luke consists of only two verses, while some of the chapters in John include more than one of our modern chapters.  Almost all of the chapters begin with the word περι, which means about, and typically this word is abbreviated in the list of titloi and in the kephalaia as πε, sometimes with one letter above the other.
          Also, most of the chapters in John are relatively huge compared to most of the chapters in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  It may be that the chapter-divisions in the Synoptic Gospels were prepared first, and that at least part of their purpose was to give readers the means to easily locate each Gospel’s account of some of the same events.  This would explain why many of the chapter-titles in Matthew are repeated in Mark and/or Luke.  (For example, kephalaia 31, 32, 33, 34, and 35 of Matthew are the same as kephalaia 21, 22, 34, 25, and 26 of Mark.)  The contents of John were, for the most part, not divided into smaller portions because for long stretches, there are no close parallels overlapping the text, until the reader comes to a point in the narrative where the contents of the other Gospels overlapped. 
The last page of the Kephalaia-list
for the Gospel of Mark in Codex L.
        Another intriguing aspect of the ancient chapter-divisions is that the individual events involving Christ’s Passion do not receive special attention.  One would suppose that if the little episode in Luke 4:40-44 merited treatment as a distinct chapter, so would episodes surrounding Jesus’ arrest, trials, and crucifixion.  But except for three chapters in Luke, we do not encounter this.  It is as if the ancient-chapter divisions were designed with the assumption that they would be supplemented by other materials (possibly the Easter-time liturgy, and the Heothina readings about Christ’s resurrection, which sub-divide the parts of the text that are not divided into separate units in the kephalaia-series).
          The chapters do not always begin at exactly the same place, and the chapter-titles sometimes vary in detail.  (Sometimes, when manuscripts share variations in the chapter-titles, they also share variations in the Gospels-text.  The kephalaia in members of the family-13 group of manuscripts are particularly distinct.)  The longer the heading, the more likely it was to be shortened by copyists.  Perhaps the most drastic difference in titloi-lists occurs in lists of the ancient chapters of the Gospel of John; in some manuscripts the story of the adulteress constitutes a chapter-unit.
          The following list (compiled with information from Greg Goswell, Reuben Swanson, and other sources) gives the number (in normal numerals and in Greek characters), location, and name of each ancient chapter in the Gospels.  (In the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, the beginnings of the ancient chapters are represented by italicized numbers in the inner margin.)

Chapters in Matthew
1          α          2:1       The magi
2          β          2:16     The slaughter of children
3          γ          3:1       John first proclaims the kingdom of heaven
4          δ          4:17     The teaching of the Savior
5          ε          5:1       The Beatitudes
6          ϛ          8:1       The leper
7          ζ          8:5       The centurion
8          η          8:14     Peter’s mother-in-law
9          θ          8:16     Those healed of various diseases
10        ι           8:19     The man who was not allowed to follow
11        ια         8:23     The rebuke of the waters
12        ιβ         8:28     The two demoniacs
13        ιγ         9:2       The paralytic
14        ιδ         9:9       Matthew
15        ιε         9:18     The daughter of the synagogue-ruler
16        ιϛ         9:20     The woman with the flow of blood
17        ιζ         9:27     The two blind men
18        ιη         9:32     The mute demoniac
19        ιθ         10:1     The instruction of the apostles
20        κ          11:2     Those sent by John
21        κα        12:9     The man with the withered hand
22        κβ        12:22   The blind and mute demoniac
23        κγ        12:38   Those who request a sign
24        κδ        13:3     The parables
25        κε        14:1     John and Herod
26        κϛ        14:15   The five loaves and two fish
27        κζ        14:22   Walking on the sea
28        κη        15:1     The transgression of God’s commandment
29        κθ        15:22   The Canaanite woman
30        λ          15:29   The healed crowds
31        λα        15:32   The seven loaves
32        λβ        16:5     The leaven of the Pharisees
33        λγ        16:13   The questioning in Caesarea
34        λδ        17:1     The transfiguration of Jesus
35        λε        17:14   The one who was moonstruck
36        λϛ        17:24   The inquiry about the didrachma
37        λζ        18:1     Those who say, ‘Who is greatest?’
38        λη        18:12   The parable of one hundred sheep
39        λθ        18:23   The debtor who owed 10,000 talents
40        μ          19:3     Those who asked about divorcing one’s wife
41        μα        19:16   The rich man who questioned Jesus
42        μβ        20:1     The hired workers
43        μγ        20:20   The sons of Zebedee
44        μδ        20:29   The two blind men
45        με        21:1     The donkey and the colt
46        μϛ        21:14   The blind and the lame
47        μζ        21:18   The withered fig tree
48        μη        21:23   The chief priests and elders who questioned the Lord
49        μθ        21:28   The parable of the two sons
50        ν          21:33   The vineyard
51        να        22:1     Those invited to the marriage-feast
52        νβ        22:15   Those who asked about the poll-tax
53        νγ         22:22b The Sadducees
54        νδ        22:34   The questioning lawyer [or, The lawyer]
55        νε         22:41   The questioning of the Lord [by the Pharisees]
56        νϛ         23:1     The woes against the scribes and Pharisees
57        νζ         24:3     The end-times
58        νη        24:36   The day and the hour   
59        νθ        25:1     The ten virgins
60        ξ          25:14   Those who received the talents
61        ξα        25:31   The coming of Christ
62        ξβ        26:6     She who anointed the Lord with ointment
63        ξγ         26:17   The Passover
64        ξδ        26:26   The sacramental supper
65        ξε         26:48   The betrayal of Jesus
66        ξϛ         26:69   The denial of Peter
67        ξζ         26:75   The remorse of Judas
68        ξη        27:57   The request for the body of the Lord

Chapters in Mark
1          α          1:23     The demoniac
2          β          1:29     Peter’s mother-in-law
3          γ          1:32     Those healed of various diseases
4          δ          1:40     The leper         
5          ε          2:3       The paralytic
6          ϛ          2:14     Levi the tax-collector   
7          ζ          3:1       The man with the withered hand
8          η          3:13     The choosing of the apostles    
9          θ          4:3b     The parable of the sowing        
10        ι           4:35     The rebuke of the wind and the sea [or, the rebuke of the waters]
11        ια         5:2       Legion  [f13:  he who had Legion]
12        ιβ         5:22     The daughter of the synagogue-ruler
13        ιγ         5:25     The woman with the flow of blood
14        ιδ         6:6b     The instruction of the apostles  
15        ιε         6:14     John and Herod
16        ιϛ         6:34     The five loaves [or, the five loaves and two fishes]
17        ιζ         6:47     Walking on the sea      
18        ιη         7:5       The transgression of God’s commandment       
19        ιθ         7:24     The Phoenician woman
20        κ          7:31     The mute man
21        κα        8:1       The seven loaves
22        κβ        8:15     The leaven of the Pharisees
23        κγ        8:22     The blind man
24        κδ        8:27     The questioning in Caesarea
25        κε        9:2       The transfiguration of Jesus
26        κϛ        9:17     The one who was moonstruck
27        κζ        9:33     The discussion of who is greatest
28        κη        10:2     The questioning Pharisees [about divorce]         
29        κθ        10:17   The inquiring [of Jesus by a] rich man
30        λ          10:35   The sons of Zebedee
31        λα        10:46   Bartimaeus
32        λβ        11:1     The colt           
33        λγ        11:12   The withered fig tree
34        λδ        11:22   Forgiving evil
35        λε        11:27   The questioning of the Lord by chief priests and scribes
36        λϛ        12:1     The [parable of the] vineyard
37        λζ        12:13   The answer [or, test] about the poll-tax
38        λη        12:18   The Sadducees
39        λθ        12:28   The scribes
40        μ          12:35   The question of the Lord
41        μα        12:41   The two mites
42        μβ        13:3     The end-times
43        μγ        13:32   The day and the hour
44        μδ        14:3     She who anointed the Lord with ointment
45        με        14:12   The Passover
46        μϛ        14:17   The prophecy of the betrayal
47        μζ        14:66   The denial of Peter
48        μη        15:42   The request for the body of the Lord
Chapters in Luke
1          α          2:1       The registration
2          β          2:8       The shepherds abiding in the fields
3          γ          2:25     Simeon
4          δ          2:36     Anna the prophetess
5          ε          3:1       The word comes to John
6          ϛ          3:15     Those who questioned John
7          ζ          4:1       The temptation of the Savior
8          η          4:33     The man with the demonic spirit
9          θ          4:38     Peter’s mother-in-law
10        ι           4:40     Those healed of various diseases
11        ια         5:1       The catch of fishes
12        ιβ         5:12     The leper
13        ιγ         5:17     The paralytic
14        ιδ         5:27     Levi the tax-collector
15        ιε         6:6       The man with the withered hand
16        ιϛ         6:13     The selection of the apostles
17        ιζ         6:20b   The Beatitudes
18        ιη         7:2       The centurion   
19        ιθ         7:11     The son of the widow
20        κ          7:18     Those sent by John
21        κα        7:37     She who anointed the Lord with ointment
22        κβ        8:4       The parable of the sower
23        κγ        8:22     The rebuke of the waters
24        κδ        8:27     Legion [or, the man who had Legion]
25        κε        8:41     The daughter of the synagogue-ruler     
26        κϛ        8:43     The woman with a flow of blood
27        κζ        9:1       The sending of the twelve
28        κη        9:12     The five loaves and two fishes
29        κθ        9:18     The questioning of the disciples
30        λ          9:28     The transfiguration of Jesus [or, of the Lord]
31        λα        9:38     The man who was moonstruck
32        λβ        9:46     Those who discussed who was greatest
33        λγ        9:57     The man who was not allowed to follow
34        λδ        10:1     The seventy who were appointed
35        λε        10:25   The inquiring lawyer
36        λϛ        10:30   The man who fell among thieves
37        λζ        10:38   Martha and Mary
38        λη        11:1     Prayer
39        λθ        11:14   The man with a demon of muteness
40        μ          11:27   The woman who shouted from the crowd
41        μα        11:29   Those who asked for a sign      
42        μβ        11:37   The Pharisee who invited Jesus
43        μγ        11:46   The woes against the lawyers
44        μδ        12:1     The leaven of the Pharisees      
45        με        12:13   The one who wished to divide the inheritance
46        μϛ        12:16   The productive land of the rich man
47        μζ        13:1     The Galileans and those in Siloam
48        μη        13:10   The woman who had a spirit of infirmity
49        μθ        13:18   The parables
50        ν          13:23   The inquiry about whether few will be saved
51        να        13:31   Those who spoke to Jesus because of Herod
52        νβ        14:1     The man afflicted with dropsy
53        νγ         14:7     Not loving the places of honor
54        νδ        14:16   Those invited to the banquet
55        νε         14:28   The parable of the building of a tower
56        νϛ         15:3     The parable about 100 sheep
57        νζ         15:11   He who departed into a distant country
58        νη        16:1b   The unrighteous steward
59        νθ        16:19   The rich man and Lazarus
60        ξ          17:11   The ten lepers
61        ξα        18:2b   The unrighteous judge
62        ξβ        18:10   The Pharisee and the tax-collector        
63        ξγ         18:18   The rich man who questioned Jesus
64        ξδ        18:35   The blind man
65        ξε         19:1     Zacchaeus
66        ξϛ         19:12   The man who went to receive a kingdom for himself
67        ξζ         19:13   Those who received the minas
68        ξη        19:29   The colt
69        ξθ        20:1     The chief priests and elders who questioned the Lord [or, Jesus]
70        ο          20:9     The vineyard [or, the parable of the vineyard]
71        οα        20:20   The question about the poll-tax
72        οβ        20:27   The Sadducees
73        ογ        20:41   The question about how Jesus is the Son of David
                                    [or, The Lord’s question to the Pharisees]
74        οδ        21:1     The woman [or, widow] with two mites
75        οε        21:5     The end-times
76        οϛ        22:1     The Passover
77        οζ        22:24   Those who discussed who is greatest
78        οη        22:31   The demand of Satan
79        οθ        23:11   The contempt of Herod
80        π          23:27   The lamenting women
81        πα        23:39   The repentant thief
82        πβ        23:50   The request for the body of the Lord
83        πγ        24:18   Cleopas

Chapters in John
1          α          2:1       The wedding in Cana
2          β          2:13     The cleansing of the temple
3          γ          3:1       Nicodemus
4          δ          3:25     The discussion about purification
5          ε          4:5       The Samaritan woman
6          ϛ          4:46b   The official       
7          ζ          5:5       The man who had been afflicted for 38 years
8          η          6:5       The five loaves and two fishes
9          θ          6:16     The walk upon the sea
[10       θ          7:53     The adulteress – with the remaining chapter-numbers renumbered accordingly]
10        ι           9:1       The blind man
11        ια         11:1     Lazarus
12        ιβ         12:2     She who anointed the Lord with ointment
13        ιγ         12:4     What was said by Judas           
14        ιδ         12:14   The donkey     
15        ιε         12:20   The Greeks who came
16        ιϛ         13:2     The foot-washing         
17        ιζ         15:26   The Helper
18        ιη         19:38   The request for the body of the Lord

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Whatever Happened to the Zelada Gospels?

          “This manuscript seems now missing.”  So wrote F. H. A. Scrivener, in the 1861 edition of A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament.  Scrivener was referring to minuscule 181, a Gospels-manuscript from the 1000’s that had been in the library of Roman Catholic cardinal Francesco Saverio Zelada (1717-1801), also known as Francis Xavier Zelada.   Some of the most prominent textual critics of the 1800’s, beginning with Andreas Birch, cited this manuscript.
          Although 1,476 Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of John include 7:53-8:11 (the story about the adulteress), the Zelada Gospels is one of the 267 Greek copies that does not contain the passage.  Another interesting feature of this manuscript is a commentary in its outer margins which frequently echoes early patristic sources, such as Origen’s statement (regarding Matthew 27:16-17) that in some copies, Barabbas was also named Jesus.  This manuscript deserved much more attention – but then it seemed to have mysteriously disappeared.  By 1894, when the fourth edition of Scrivener’s Plain Introduction was published posthumously, the brief profile of Gospels-minuscule 181 no longer said that the manuscript seemed to be missing, but that it “is now missing.”
            Later, when the identification-numbers for New Testament manuscripts were standardized, the number 181 was reassigned to an important copy in the Vatican Library (Vat. Gr. 179) that contains the rest of the New Testament (even Revelation) besides the Gospels.  It seemed that the Zelada Gospels had mysteriously vanished.
Francis Xavier de Zelada's
ownership-seal, on a page
near the end of MS 2812.
            Happily, this was not the case!  The manuscript was transferred, in accordance with Zelada’s will, to the Cathedral of Toledo, Spain, after his death.  This escaped the notice of some British and American researchers, but the manuscript was described in 1892 by Albert Martin and Charles Henri Graux in the French book, Notices sommaires des manuscripts grecs d’Espagne et Portugal (Brief Records of Greek Manuscripts in Spain and Portugal).  On pages 230-231 they described the manuscript and supplied a brief index.  Its identity is confirmed not only by an inscription near the front, but also by an ownership-seal on a page near the end of the manuscript.
            The Zelada Gospels is currently housed (along with a Greek Psalter, a lectionary, and other volumes from Zelada’s library) at the Biblioteca Nacional de España, and digital page-views (and downloads) are available at the Biblioteca Digital Hispánica.  It is now known as Greek minuscule 2812. 
            Although the material in the margins is called the Commentary of Peter of Laodicea, it is essentially a catena – a collection of patristic material, extracted mainly from the writings of John Chrysostom, Titus of Bostra, and Cyril of Alexandria.  The Catena Marcum, also known as the Commentary of Victor of Antioch on Mark, accompanies the text in Mark.  Small red letters frequently link the individual margin-notes to the relevant portions of the text. 
            Both the Gospels-text and the commentary-text are specially formatted to ensure that the marginalia keeps up with the text; where the commentary is abundant, there are fewer lines of Gospels-text; where the commentary is sparse, the number of lines of Gospels-text increases.  Sometimes the commentary-text is only in the outer margin, or is arranged in a very narrow column, or in space-filling shapes such as a vortex or a cross. 
            Before the text of the Gospels, MS 2812 features the text of Eusebius’ letter to Carpian (explaining the Eusebian Canons) written in red uncial letters on a page that has been cut into a quatrefoil shape, placed into another page in which the corresponding shape has been reserved; the page with text is tied by strings to the other page.   The numerals in the canon-tables (colored with red, gold, green, and blue), and to the left of the text throughout the manuscript, are uncials. 
            Each Gospel is preceded by a list of chapter-numbers and titles, all written in neat red uncials.  The same chapter-numbers and titles recur in the manuscript as large red uncial rubrics at the top of pages on which chapters begin.  (In some cases the chapter does not begin at the place designated in the inner margin of the Nestle-Aland NTG; for example chapter 28 in Matthew begins at 15:6 rather than 15:1; chapter 34 begins at 16:28 rather than 17:1.)  Where two chapters begin on the same page, the second chapter-number and title appears at the bottom of the page.     
            Large red uncial chapter-numbers appear alongside the text at the appropriate points; the first complete line of a section begins with a red capital letter extended into the left margin.  A simple “+” frequently appears in the text as a separation-mark.  “Telos” appears in the text occasionally.  Extended quotations from the Old Testament are accompanied by “>” alongside each line.  A short hypothesis, or summary, precedes the chapter-lists for Mark, Luke, and John, all written in semi-uncial script.
            The genealogies in Luke 3 are formatted in two columns, intended to be read vertically.
            There is not a lectionary apparatus, but occasionally liturgy-related notes appear in the lower margin appear to locate some lections.
            There are no Evangelist-portraits.  Each gospel begins with a decorative headpiece; each of which has a distinct design.  The first letter of each book is a large elaborate gold initial.
            Textually, 2812 is essentially Byzantine:
            ● Matthew 16:2-3, 17:21, and 18:11 are included.  In Matthew 27:35, 2812 agrees with Byz, disagreeing with the Textus Receptus; 2812 does not have the part that mentions a prophecy-fulfillment. 
            ● Mark 1:2 reads “in the prophets,” 5:1 reads “Gadarenes,” 7:16 is included; 9:29 includes “and fasting,” 9:44 and 9:46 are both included, and Mark 16:9-20 is included. 
            ● Luke 22:43-44 is present, and so is the reference to honeycomb in 24:42. 
            ● John 1:18 reads “only-begotten Son,” John 3:13 has “who is in heaven,” and the full text of John 5:3b-4 is included.
            There are, however, some exceptions, chief of which is the non-inclusion of John 7:53-8:11.  Its text of John 3:16 is unusual.

No asterisk accompanies Mark 16:9-20.
             It has been erroneously claimed that in 2812, Mark 16:9-20 is accompanied by an asterisk to indicate scribal doubt about the passage.  No asterisk is there.  We do, however, see four other features.
            ● First, scrawled in what may be dark pencil-lead on the right, there is an abbreviated note identifying Mark 16:9-20 as Heothinon #3, that is, the third in a special cycle of eleven morning-time lections about Christ’s resurrection. 
            ● Second, at the foot of the page, there is a liturgical note, explaining to the lector how Mark 16:9 is to begin when it is read aloud in the church-service.  
            ● Third, after the end of 16:8, there is a telos-mark written in full. If this feature was seen in isolation, one might be tempted to imagine that this signified that in some exemplars, the text ended at this point.  But let this teach us the dangers of spot-checking.  When the rest of the text of 2812 is consulted, we see that a telos appears in Mark not only after 16:8, but also after 6:29, 10:31, and 15:39 (and, abbreviated, after 5:20).  A telos appears in Matthew after 2:12, 4:22, 6:6, 10:39, 11:24, 12:24, 13:12, etc.; in Luke after 1:80, 2:52, 5:32, etc.; in John after 21:25 (the end of the book) but also halfway through 7:32, and, abbreviated, after 19:24 and 19:37.  These occurrences of telos plainly represent the ends of chapters, sections, lections, or commentary-segments.  It would be arbitrary to assign special significance to its occurrence after 16:8.     
Close-up:  a symbol in the margin beside
Mark 16:9 is intended to alert the reader to the presence
of a note about this passage on the following page
● Fourth, alongside the beginning of Mark 16:9, there is a symbol which represents the sun, or a shooting star.  This symbol (which is also used in 2812 at Mark 6:25 and elsewhere) serves the same purpose as a footnote-number, referring the reader to material in the margin.  In this case, the matching marginalia does not appear on the same page; it is on the next page, accompanied by a recurrence of the same symbol.   The comment that accompanies the symbol consists of part of the final comment frequently found in Victor of Antioch’s commentary, beginning with the words, Παρα πλειστοις αντιγραφοις.  It may be helpful to transcribe the entire note (which also appears in the margin of minuscule 137, another manuscript that was once erroneously thought to have an asterisk accompanying Mk. 16:9-20):

The note about Mark 16:9-20,
justifying the inclusion of the passage
This note is part of the Catena Marcum
and is found in multiple copies.
Παρα πλειστοις αντιγραφοις ου
κεινται ταυτα επιφερομενα εν τω
κατα Μαρκον ευαγγελιω ως νοθα νομι-
σαντες αυτα τινες ειναι.  Ημεις δε εξ α-
κριβων αντιγραφων ως εν πλειστοις
ευροντες αυτα, κατα το Παλαιστι-
ναιον ευαγγελιον Μαρκον ως εχει η α-
ληθεια, συντεθεικαμεν και την εν
αυτω επιφερομενην δεσποτικην
αναστασιν μετα το εφοβουντο γαρ. 

This runs as follows in English: 
“In many copies this does not appear in the Gospel of Mark, and for that reason certain individuals have considered it spurious.  But we read it in accurate copies, and have found it in many such copies.  So, based on the Palestinian Gospel of Mark, which displays the truth, we also have connected it, with its account of the Lord’s resurrection, after ‘for they were afraid.’”     
Thus, instead of finding an asterisk in 2812, we have found an annotation by someone (Victor of Antioch, or another early contributor to the catena-commentary) reacting to the statement made by Eusebius of Caesarea in Ad Marinum that one could say that the passage was not in the accurate copies, or that it was not in many copies.  (Part of Ad Marinum is the marginalia in 2812 on the page on which Mark 16:9 appears, and on the following page.) The author of the note had found the passage in many copies, and in accurate copies, and, relying on a cherished Palestinian exemplar, had proceeded to produce copies that included verses 9-20 after verse 8.
Minuscule 2812 has a lot to offer as an example of a Gospels-manuscript with a catena/commentary in the margins.  Researchers may be able to establish relationships between the Gospels-text of such manuscripts by identifying manuscripts which share the same pattern of agreements in minority-readings in both the text and in the marginalia.    

Monday, April 4, 2016

Codex Vaticanus and the Ending of Mark

            “Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20.”   So says a bracketed heading-note in the English Standard Version.  The number of Greek manuscripts in which the text stops at the end of 16:8 is three.
            Minuscule 304 is one of those three.  It is a medieval commentary-manuscript in which the text of Matthew and Mark is interspersed with commentary-material.  Its text in Mark is essentially Byzantine and the manuscript appears to have undergone some damage near the end.  There’s nothing about 304 that would suggest that it has more weight than any other medieval manuscript. 
            The other two manuscripts in which Mark’s text stops at 16:8 are another story:  Codex Vaticanus (produced c. 325) and Codex Sinaiticus (produced c. 350) are the oldest and second-oldest Greek manuscripts of Mark 16.  (These two manuscripts are not the earliest evidence pertaining to the ending of Mark, just the earliest manuscriptsPatristic writers in the 100’s, 200’s, and early 300’s utilized the contents of Mark 16:9-20, but the manuscripts used by those writers are not extant.)  I have previously described the unusual features in Codex Sinaiticus involving the ending of Mark.  Today, let’s examine the last page of Mark in Codex Vaticanus. 
The last page of Mark in Codex Vaticanus.
          The text on this page begins in 15:43, and ends at the end of 16:8, on the 31st line of the second column.  The closing book-title appears a little further down the second column.  The third column is completely blank.  It was normal for copyists to begin books at the tops of columns, and thus some space was typically left below the end of each book before the next book began at the top of the next column (except in those cases where the book happened to conclude right at the end of a column).  It was not normal, however, for the copyist of Vaticanus to leave an entire column blank.  This is the only blank column in the New Testament portion of Codex Vaticanus.
           Of course this raises a question:  why did the copyist leave this column blank?  The obvious answer is that the copyist was aware of copies that contained verses 9-20, and although his exemplar lacked these verses, he left space to give the eventual owner of the manuscript the option of including them in the event that another exemplar was available.
            The blank space is not quite adequate to include verses 9-20.  If one were to erase the closing-title and write the contents of verses 9-20, beginning at the end of v. 8, using the copyist’s normal handwriting, there would still be four lines of text yet to be written when one reached the end of the last line of the third column.  It is perhaps for this reason that Daniel Wallace, referring to this blank space in his chapter of the 2008 book, Perspectives on the Ending of Mark, has said, “The gap is clearly too small to allow for the LE.”  In the same book, Maurice Robinson affirmed, “The space is insufficient to contain the entire LE.”  Their co-author J. K. Elliott stated less definitively, “Vaticanus actually contains a blank column after 16:8 that could possibly contain verses 9-20, suggesting that its scribe was aware of the existence of the longer reading.”

The last page of Mark in Codex Vaticanus with verses 9-20
in the blank space after v. 8, using cut-and-pasted characters
from Mark 15:43-16:8 on the same page.  
           If a copyist were to resort to compacted lettering – the script that the copyist of Sinaiticus used in the first six columns of the text of Luke – then the blank space is practically an exact fit.  In a reconstruction of Mark 16:9-20 (shown here) in the blank space after 16:8, using characters that were written elsewhere on the page in Mark 15:43-16:8, verse 20 concludes on the next-to-last line of the third column.     
            Although the implication that the copyist of Codex Vaticanus clearly recollected 9-20 when he wrote the text of Mark 16:1-8 from an exemplar that did not have verses 9-20, Daniel Wallace has proposed a different explanation, namely, that the copyist was using an exemplar in which the Gospels, though containing the Alexandrian text, were arranged in the Western order (Mt-Jn-Mk-Lk), and although the copyist rearranged the Gospels into the order Mt-Mk-Lk-Jn, he added a blank space to represent the blank space at the end of his exemplar.  This theory seems like the result of a determined effort to dismiss the obvious implication of the blank column.  Where is the evidence that the Alexandrian form of the Gospels-text was ever anything but in the order Mt-Mk-Lk-Jn?  (In Papyrus 75, John follows Luke.)  And why would any copyist regard the blank space at the end of an exemplar as a feature worth replicating?  Any manuscript, unless its text happened to end at the end of its last column, would contain some blank space at the end.   And why would a copyist replicate such a blank space, but not the order of the books?  And why would a copyist consider such a blank column worth replicating, but not add a blank column between John and Acts, or between Acts and James, or between Jude and Romans? 
            In addition to the contrived idea of an Alexandrian Gospels-exemplar with the Gospels arranged in the Western order with blank space at the end which the copyist wished to replicate, Wallace has questioned the significance of the blank space by pointing out that there are three large blank spaces in the Old Testament portion of Codex Vaticanus.  However, all three of those blank spaces are accounted for by special factors:

One of these blank spaces is the space between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament; the last page of the Old Testament portion concludes with the apocryphal text of Bel and the Dragon, incorporated into the Septuagint’s text of Daniel.  To expect the Gospel of Matthew to begin in the next column would be a preposterous expectation. 
One of these blank spaces occurs at the end of Second Esdras, before the beginning of the book of Psalms.  Only two lines of text are placed in the first column of the last page of Second Esdras, and after the closing-title (and what appears to be the signature of someone named Klement, possibly a former owner of the codex), the rest of the page is blank.  But the reason for this is obvious:  the book of Psalms begins on the very next page, and the text of Psalms is formatted in two columns, rather than three.  It was absolutely necessary to begin Psalms on a new page, due to the difference in the number of columns on the page.
● One of these blank spaces occurs between the end of the book of Tobit and the beginning of the book of Hosea.  The text of Tobit concludes in approximately the middle of the second column of a page, and the third column is blank.  Wallace claimed that “The gap at the end of Tobit lacks sufficient explanation.”  However, the explanation becomes obvious upon close examination.
            One copyist’s work ended at the end of Tobit, and another copyist’s work begins with the Prophetic Books, which begin with the Minor Prophets, which begin with Hosea.  At this point where one copyist’s work was connected to another copyist’s work, what we have after the end of Tobit is simply leftover space.  This should become very obvious when we notice that the leftover space after the end of Tobit did not initially consist of just the remainder of the page.   As Dirk Jongkind mentioned on page 31 of Scribal Habits of Codex Sinaiticus, besides the one and a half columns on the remainder of the page on which Tobit concludes, there was an entire unused page (front and back) after that – the last leaf of quire 49 – that was cut out when the manuscript was sewn together. 
            To restate:  what we have in Codex Vaticanus between Tobit and Hosea is nothing but a “seam,” so to speak, that resulted from the production-process, where one copyist’s work was attached to the pages produced by another copyist.  The situation is entirely different in Mark, where Mark 16:8, and the blank space, are on one side of a page, and the beginning of Luke is on the opposite side, and the text on both sides is, of course, written by the same copyist. 
            Wallace’s claim that “All in all, the reasons for the gaps are anything but clear” is not true.  Every blank space between books in Codex Vaticanus is fully capable of obvious explanation: 
(1)  The blank space before Psalms was required by the shift from a three-column format to a two-column format. 
(2)  The blank space before Hosea is a production-seam, where one copyist’s work was attached to another copyist’s work. 
(3)  The blank space between the Septuagint’s text of Daniel (concluding with the story of Bel and the Dragon) is the end of the Old Testament portion.   
(4)  The blank space after Mark 16:8 was elicited by the copyist’s recollection of verses 9-20.

            So:  there is more to the picture than the simple statement that “Some early manuscripts do not include verses 9-20.”  As far as early Greek manuscripts are concerned, “Some” = two.  “Early” = over 100 years later than clear patristic use of the contents of verses 9-20And “Do not include” = do not include, but show their copyists’ awareness of, verses 9-20.