Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Video Lecture: Mark 16:9-20, the Shorter Ending, and Internal Evidence


Lecture 17
Lecture 17 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism is online at YouTube!  In this lecture, slightly more than 25 minutes long, I focus on the internal evidence pertaining to Mark 16:9-20 - with a lengthy detour about the Shorter Ending.
  Here's an excerpt (from the part about the Shorter Ending):
     The textual variant known as the “Shorter Ending” goes like this:

            “Everything that had been told to them, they related to Peter and those with him.  And after this, Jesus Himself appeared to them and sent forth, through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.  Amen.”

             This is found between verse 8 and verse 9 in six Greek manuscripts:  Codex L, Codex Ψ, 083 – this is the same manuscript as 0112 – 099, and 579.  All six Greek manuscripts that attest to the Shorter Ending also support the inclusion of verses 9-20, although a few of them are damaged.  


Some of the Greek manuscripts that feature the Shorter Ending between verse 8 and verse 9 also feature notes that introduce each ending.  Codex L has a note that says “In some, there is also this” before the Shorter Ending, and before verses 9-20, Codex L has a note that says, “There is also this, appearing after ephobounto gar.”

This note echoes a situation in which the scribes were aware of some copies in which the Shorter Ending was present after verse 8, and also aware of some copies in which verses 9-20 were present after verse 8.

In Codex Psi, there is no such note between verse 8 and the Shorter Ending, but after the Shorter Ending, Codex Psi has the same note that is seen in Codex L:  There is also this, appearing after ephobounto gar.”  

083 is a damaged fragment.  After Mark 16:8, 083 has the closing-title of Mark at the end of a column.  In the next column, the Shorter Ending appears, and then before the beginning of verse 9, 083 has the note:  “There is also this, appearing after ephobounto gar.”  It is possible that 083 also had the same note that is found in Codex L before the Shorter Ending, but that part of the page is not extant, so it can only be said that there appears to have been enough room on the page for that note.

083 thus testifies to a situation in which copyists were aware of copies of Mark in which the text of Mark ended at verse 8, copies in which the text ended with the Shorter Ending, and copies in which the text ended with verses 9-20.

099 is another heavily damaged fragment, from the White Monastery in Egypt, assigned to the 600s or 700s.  After Mark 16:8, 099 had a note that is no longer legible.  This is followed by the Shorter Ending.  Then the text of most of 16:8 is rewritten, beginning at the words eichen gar and continuing to the end of the verse.  Verse 8 is followed immediately by verse 9, and verse 9 is followed by the beginning of verse 10, at which point we reach the end of the fragment. 

Greek-Sahidic Lect 1602
(Image from the digital holdings of the 
Albert Ludwig University of Frieburg)

Now we come to the Greek-Sahidic lectionary 1602.  In this witness, assigned to the 700s, the text of Mark 16:8 comes to a close at the end of a page.  At the beginning of the next page, a note introduces the Shorter Ending.  It says, “In other copies this is not written.” 

Then the Shorter Ending appears.  After the Shorter Ending, there is another note – the note also found in Codex L, Codex Psi, and 083:  estin de kai tauta meta feromena.  Then, like 099, it repeats the second half of verse 8, beginning with the words eichen gar, and verse 8 is followed by verses 9-20.

So:  Codex L, Codex Psi, 083, and the Greek-Sahidic Lectionary 1602 share the same note after the Shorter Ending:  they all introduce verses 9-20 with the note that says, “Estin de kai tauta meta feromena.”

099 and Greek-Sahidic Lectionary 1602 both repeat the same part of verse 8 before verse 9.

Thus, four of the six Greek witnesses to the Shorter Ending are all connected to the same locale, namely, a location in Egypt

Greek-Sahidic Lect 1602
(Image from the digital holdings of the 
Albert Ludwig University of Frieburg)

This leaves two minuscules, 579 and 274, as the only remaining Greek witnesses to the Shorter Ending.  The text of Mark in 579 has Alexandrian characteristics, and it is known for featuring a rare method of dividing the Gospels-text into segments that is shared by Codex Vaticanus.  Even though 579 is from the 1200s, its testimony, in which the Shorter Ending follows verse 8, and the Shorter Ending is followed immediately on the next page by verses 9-20, does not take us away from the influence of a very narrow transmission-line. 

   Minuscule 274 has Mark 16:9-20 in its main text.  Mark 16:9 begins on the same line where verse 8 ends.  The Shorter Ending is featured at the bottom of the page, like a footnote, with a column of five asterisks beside it.  An asterisk beside the end of verse 8 conveys that the Shorter Ending was seen in the text at that point. 

Thus, the Greek evidence points to Egypt as the locale where the Shorter Ending originated, and nothing points anywhere else. 

Versional evidence interlocks with this very well.  The Old Latin Codex Bobbiensis, the only manuscript in which only the Shorter Ending is included after verse 8, almost certainly was produced in Egypt, written by a scribe who did not know Latin very well.    

The Bohairic-Arabic MS Huntington 17, made in 1174, has verses 9-20 in the text, and the Shorter Ending is in the margin.

The Ethiopic version was closely considered by Bruce Metzger in 1980, in the course of a detailed essay in which he retracted the claim that some Ethiopic manuscripts of Mark do not have Mark 16:9-20.  Metzger observed that out of 194 Ethiopic manuscripts consulted by himself and another researcher, 131 included both the Shorter Ending and verses 9-20. 

Some copies of the Harklean Syriac version, made in the early 600s on the basis of manuscripts in Egypt, also feature the Shorter Ending as a supplemental reading; verses 9-20 are in the Syriac text.

            According to E. C. Colwell, even a medieval Armenian manuscript, Etchmiadzin 303, which has verses 9-20 at the end of Mark, managed to include the Shorter Ending as the final verse of the Gospel of Luke. 

            The Shorter Ending clearly had wide distribution in versional transmission-lines.  But those lines all echo, in one way or another, a form of the text that began in Egypt, when verses 9-20 were circulating everywhere else.           

Before moving on to the internal evidence, it should be observed that it is misleading to convey that there were “multiple endings” of the Gospel of Mark, as if four or five different endings were written to continue the narrative after verse 8.

Aside from the abrupt non-ending at verse 8, there are two independent endings of the Gospel of Mark:  one is the Shorter Ending, attested in six Greek manuscripts, all of which also support verses 9-20.  The other one is verses 9-20.     

The Freer Logion, which was mentioned in the previous lecture, is not a different ending.  It is a textual variant.  Its existence depends upon the previous existence of verses 9-20.  It does not turn into a different ending any more than a whale turns into an eagle when a barnacle attaches itself.

   Likewise, the notes in some members of the family-1 cluster of manuscripts do not turn verses 9-20 into something that is not verses 9-20.  

   And, the inclusion of both the Shorter Ending and verses 9-20 is also not a different ending; it is the combination of the two endings that circulated side-by-side in Egypt

   And, as far as I can tell, non-annotated Greek manuscripts in which Mark 16:9-20 is accompanied by asterisks or obeli do not really exist.

   So when someone refers to “multiple endings” as a reason to doubt the genuineness of verses 9-20, the first thing to do is to clarify that in terms of independent endings of the Gospel Mark after verse 8, there are exactly two.

P.S. Thanks to Georgi Parpulov and Daniel Buck for help finding those page-views of Gr.-Sah. Lect 1602!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Video Lecture: Mark 16:9-20: External Evidence

 In Lecture 16 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism, I describe some external evidence pertaining to the ending of Mark (16:9-20.  Subtitles provide a full outline of the lecture.  Here is a sample of part of this 41-minute lecture in which I begin to examine patristic evidence:
            Another part of the evidence has also experienced a high level of misrepresentation:  the patristic evidence.  Two statements from Bruce Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament have been repeated by many other commentators:  first, “Clement of Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of the existence of these verses.”

             Those who encounter this statement might conclude that these two writers’ non-use of Mark 16:9-20 implies that the passage was not in their copies of the Gospel of Mark.  But Clement barely made any clear quotations from the Gospel of Mark outside of chapter 10.  Similarly, Origen does not use a 54-verse segment of text in Mark 1:36-3:16, or a 28-verse segment in Mark 3:19 to 4:11, or a 41-verse segment of text in Mark 5:2 to 5:43. 

             If Origen did not quote from Mark 16:9-20, then those 12 verses are just one of many 12-verse segments of Mark from which Origen does not quote.  But, there is a passage in Origen’s composition Philocalia, chapter 5, that may be based on Mark 16:15-20.     


             Second, Metzger stated that “Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them.” 

   This statement needs major clarification, especially because it has been misrepresented by some commentators.  Ben Witherington III  erroneously stated, “Eusebius and Jerome both tell us these verses were absent from all Greek copies known to them.” 

   In real life, in the composition Ad Marinum, Eusebius responds to a question from Marinus about how Matthew 28:2 can be harmonized with Mark 16:9:  Matthew says that Christ arose “late on the Sabbath,” but Mark says “early in the morning on the first day of the week.”  Already, we see that Marinus’ text of Mark, just as old as Eusebius’ testimony, included Mark 16:9-20.

            Eusebius mentions two ways to resolve the apparent discrepancy:  First, a person could say that the relevant passage is not found in all copies of the Gospel according to Mark, and that the text in the accurate copies ends at the end of verse 8.  Almost all copies of the Gospel of Mark end there. 

            That is what one person might say, rejecting the passage and rendering the question superfluous.  But, Eusebius continued, another view is that both passages should be accepted; it is not the job of faithful readers to pick and choose between them. 

            Granting that this second perspective is correct, the proper thing to do is to interpret the meaning of the passage.  If we draw a distinction in the wording, we would not find it in conflict with the words in Matthew’s account.  We should read the words in Mark, “Rising early in the morning on the first day of the week,” with a pause after “Rising,” for that refers to Christ’s resurrection.   The rest, “early in the morning on the first day of the week,” pertains to the time of His appearance to Mary Magdalene. 

             Three things must be noticed whenever Eusebius’ testimony is mentioned:  First, he does not frame the statement about manuscripts as his own observation; he frames it as something that someone might say.  Second, instead of advising Marinus to reject the passage, Eusebius recommends that he should retain the passage, and he even tells him how to pronounce the passage so as to make it clear that it is harmony with the passage in Matthew 28.

            Third, Eusebius himself quotes Mark 16:9 further along in the same composition.  Once he states that “some copies” of Mark say that Jesus had cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene, and once, he says that Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene “according to Mark.”

            It should also be pointed out that nobody, in the decades after the Diocletian persecution, had the means to survey how many manuscripts existed throughout the Roman Empire to support particular readings.

            What about Jerome?  It should first be acknowledged that Jerome included Mark 16:9-20 in the Vulgate Gospels, which he specifically stated that he prepared on the basis of ancient Greek manuscripts.  Jerome himself was born in the mid-300s, so we may reckon that these Greek manuscripts were older than that.

            Again:  Metzger’s statement is, “Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them.”  Let’s test that. 

            The relevant statement from Jerome is found in his composition Ad Hedibiam, from about the year 407, in which, among other things, he responds to a broad question about harmonization-difficulties in the resurrection-accounts in the Gospels.  In the course of his response, he breaks down the question into a series of Questions and Answers, clearly patterned on Eusebius’ earlier work to Marinus.

             Jerome, like Eusebius, says that there are two ways to solve the question.  Jerome, like Eusebius, says that one way is to reject the passage in Mark, on the grounds that it is absent in nearly all of the Greek copies, and because it seems to narrate things that contradict the other accounts.  And Jerome goes on to say that Matthew and Mark have both told the truth, and that when the text is read with a pause after “Jesus arising,” before “on the first day of the week in the morning appeared to Mary Magdalene,” the difficulty goes away.

            Jerome is plainly instructing Hedibia to retain the verses.

            This is how D. C. Parker explained the situation in 1997:  Jerome’s letter to Hedibia “is simply a translation with some slight changes of what Eusebius had written.  It is thus worthless for our purposes.”  And Parker concluded:  “Jerome is no evidence for the Short Ending.”

            John Burgon had said basically the same thing, over a hundred years earlier:  Jerome was saving time and effort by condensing part of Eusebius’ earlier composition in his letter to Hedibia – just as he had acknowledged, in his Epistle 75, that he sometimes dictated to his secretary what he had borrowed from other writers.

             But this is not all:  in 417, in Against the Pelagians, Jerome pictured a champion of orthodoxy explaining where he had seen the interpolation that is now known as the Freer Logion:  he located this interpolation “In certain exemplars, and especially in Greek codices, near the end of the Gospel of Mark” – and then he quotes almost all of Mark 16:14, and then presents the interpolation. 

            How is it that Jerome says that he saw the Freer Logion after Mark 16:14 “especially in Greek codices,” and also say that almost all Greek codices lack Mark 16:9-20?  Because the first statement is drawn from his own experience, while the second one was extracted from Eusebius’ composition, in which it was framed as something that someone might say.