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.     

 EUSEBIUS AND JEROME

             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.

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4 comments:

JGabriel22 said...

A few notes on your post: There is a 10 year gap between the letter and Against the Pelagians. Believing that he is simply regurgitating Eusebius when he speaks of many Greek copies not having 9-20, I think is a false assumption. Born on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia in 347, Jerome traveled extensively throughout the Roman empire in his lifetime. By 407, the date of his letter ad Hebidiam, he was a 60 year old man. Saying that he had no original information and was just rehashing Eusebius is really accusing this great scholar and historian of laziness. It’s calling him a sham, and a man really lacking the ability of original research. Jerome surely had seen more Markan manuscripts in the intervening 10 years. You then ask, “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.” Ten years, in the early 400’s is an eternity in the growth of the Church. In 417, Jerome may have simply had access to many more Markan manuscripts containing 16:9-20 than he did in 407. Also, we should assume that as 9-20 became more accepted, those manuscripts which ended at 16:8 had 9-20 appended to them. Bishop Victor of Antioch who was active at the same time and in the same area as Jerome was doing this very same thing, adding the longer ending to copies that previously had not contained it, “Even if the [reading], ‘and having risen on the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalen’ and what follows afterward in the Gospel according to Mark, does not occur in most copies, with the result that some people think it to be spurious, we, since we have found it in most of the accurate copies in accordance with the Palestinian Gospel of Mark, have included [it] in accordance with the Truth.” So I don’t think one needs to make the assumption that, that the first statement was NOT drawn from his own experience. Lets not forget that he did spent the rest of his life in the cave where Jesus was born was reputed to be born, he was smack dab in the middle of the Greek Speaking part of the Roman world.

JGabriel22 said...

As far as Ad Marinum, I am much less confident of my argument. But I enjoy learning and being corrected when I'm wrong so here goes. What has survived appears to be an epitome of a larger work. A superscription in the manuscript describes it as "a brief epitome" of a longer work which, [according to Kelhoffer] along with the two "ad Stephanus" writings is possibly a part of Eusebius' lost "Inconsistencies of the Gospel". Burgon said of Ad Marium, "in some instances amputation would probably be more fitting description," of the condenser's work; while Farmer doubted that the first question-and-answer section was even written by Eusebius. In the author’s preface to Ad Marinum, he writes that he’s “skipping over the middle parts” of the Gospels to get at questions concerning the resurrection narratives. We don’t even know if skipping was done by Eusebius or the condenser of his work. As you well know Epitomes are abridgments. One always wonders what the EDITOR of the original "abridged.” I would be leery of using an epitome of any Christian author to defend a position. To add confusion, because Jerome’s letter discusses 12 questions, how much “amputation” Ad Marinum has suffered by it’s condenser is a very open question. Even so, with these doubts about the accuracy of the transmission of Eusebius’ original work into the form we now have, let’s talk about let’s talk about Ad Marinum. Part of 1 of Ad Marinum gives two answers to the question of 9-20's originality. Both were in such tension with each other, that some scholars have wondered if the first answer belonged to Origen and the second answer was Eusebius'. The author clearly states that “the solution might be twofold,” on how to deal with 9-20. The first, answer, you quote partially, 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. The rest of the quote: “At any rate, the accurate ones of the copies define the end of the history according to Mark with the words of the young man who appeared to the women and said to them, “Do not fear. You are seeking Jesus the Nazarine and the words that follow. In addition to these, it says, “And having heard this they fled, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. For in this way the ending of the Gospel according to mark is defined in nearly all of the copies. The things that appear next, seldom and in some but not in all, may be spurious, especially since it implies a contradiction to the testimony of the rest of the evangelists. He then states that “someone else, who dares set aside nothing whatsoever of the things which appear, however seldom, in the text of the Gospels, says that the reading is double, [meaning that there are two readings] as also in many other cases, and that each of the two readings must be accepted in that they are both approved in the opinion of the faithful, pious, not this reading rather than that, or that reading rather than this.” Talk about whiplash. At this point, if the condenser copied the original accurately, the writer of ad Marinum is literally saying, don’t choose between variants, accept them all! No wonder Burgon and Farmer had so many questions about the original version of this work. Burgon thought the first answer may have come from Origen while the second from Eusebius himself. Farmer goes further stating that part II of Ad Marinum only belongs to Eusebius and part I, that with the relevant passages you discuss, is older and belongs to someone else entirely. In closing, the preface to the work states that the work attempts to offer “answers” to perplexing questions. The author may not have been chosing one solution over another but simply giving all possible solutions to defend Christian Scripture’s apparent contradictions.

James Snapp Jr said...

J Gabariel,
(Re: The comment that begins with "A few notes . . . ")
It is neither a false assumption, nor an accusation of laziness, nor calling Jerome a "sham" to say that Jerome recycled Eusebius' material; it is observing him recycle Eusebius' material. Jerome himself acknowledges that he did this sort of thing; just take in hand his Epistle 75 and read what he says. I consider that to be not so much a symptom of laziness, but efficiency and time-allocation.

You seem to think that somehow between 407 and 417, Jerome encountered so many MSS that what he wrote in 407 he would not write in 417 -- but Mark 16:9-20 was widely used in the early 400s, as I have shown by citing various contemporaries of Jerome using Mark 16:9-20. To imagine that there was a drastic "eternity" in ten years' time is to avoid the obvious: Jerome was recycling Ad Marinum.
D.C. Parker realized this. And I think you will too, if you simply take in hand Ad Marinum (in Roger Pearse's book, available as a free download) and compare Jerome's comments to Eusebius' comments, and see Jerome rephrase some of the same questions, in the same order.

James Snapp Jr said...

J Gabriel,
(Re: The comment that begins with "As far as Ad Marinum"

Roger Pearse gave himself no small challenge when he resolved to produce a definitive edition of "Ad Marinum." Kelhoffer made some steps in that direction, and long before Kelhoffer, Burgon improved his view of it, too -- enough to see clearly that Jerome was recycling the material in it. But it was not until Pearse's book was issued that there was widespread access to the texts (Greek et al).

As you noted, some researchers (such as Burgon and Hort - a rare agreement!) have suspected that Eusebius himself is borrowing from Origen; the tone does resemble some of Origen's conciliatory rhetoric (so as to convey a "both readings maintain truth" conclusion). But this is not a provable point, and the thing to see is not that Eusebius is a borrower, but that Jerome is one (as he openly stated) -- and that in Ad Hedibiam he borrows material from Ad Marinum.

<< At this point, if the condenser copied the original accurately, the writer of ad Marinum is literally saying, don’t choose between variants, accept them all! >>

That is more or less implied by the second option presented by Eusebius, yes, and that is consistent with some of Origen's approach too; he does not often discuss text-critical questions but in some of the ones that he does discuss, the resolution is along the lines of "Both readings are edifying." (See Metzger's essay on Origen's discussions of variants in NTTS.)

You can download a PDF of "Eusebius of Caesarea: Gospel Problems and Solutions" at
https://books.google.com/books/about/Eusebius_of_Caesarea_Gospel_Problems_and.html?id=X6K37XkDai8C and thus be well-equipped to look into its text in more detail.