Friday, April 19, 2013

The NET and the Ending of Mark (Updated!)

The NET, New English Translation,
is Copyright 
© 1996-2005
by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C.
Cited for review purposes.

The NET’s note at Mark 16:9 is untrustworthy.  The NET’s note contains some statements which are obvious mistakes, some statements which are probably erroneous, and some imprecise statements which give false impressions.  The note also puts blinders over its readers' eyes by failing to mention some important evidence.
Obvious Mistakes in the NET's Note on Mark 16:9-20:
(1) In the NET’s list of manuscripts in which the Shorter Ending appears with verses 9-20, 083 and 0112 are listed as if they are two manuscripts.  However, 083 and 0112 are the same manuscript; one is a portion of the other.
(2) The NET says that Codex W “has a different shorter ending between vv. 14 and 15.”  However, the Freer Logion is not an ending of any kind.  It should be described as an interpolation.
(3) The NET lists 2427 among the witnesses for 16:9-20 after 16:8.  However, 2427 is a forgery and should be removed from the NET’s evidence-list (and all other such lists).
(5) The NET lists “Hiermss” as a witness for the abrupt ending at 16:8, and states, “Jerome and Eusebius knew of almost no Greek mss that had this ending.”  Thanks to Metzger’s massive influence, this claim is frequently found in commentaries; however, the portion of Jerome’s composition Ad Hedibiam (Epistle 120) in which this statement is found contains Jerome’s loose, condensed Latin translation (made via on-the-spot dictation, like most of his letters in the latter part of his career) of part of Eusebius’ earlier composition Ad Marinum.  Jerome’s composition even includes three of Marinus’ questions, in the same order in which Marinus asked them to Eusebius.  Consider what David C. Parker wrote about this (in his 1997 book The Living Text of the Gospels, on p. 135) as he referred to Ad Hedibiam: “Jerome’s work is simply a translation with some slight changes of what Eusebius had written.  It is thus worthless for our purposes.”  Jerome’s familiarity with, and acceptance of, Mark 16:9-20 is shown by his inclusion of the passage in the Vulgate, and by his casual use of Mark 16:14 to identify where he had seen the Freer Logion “in certain copies, especially in Greek codices.”
Probable Mistakes in the NET's Note on Mark 16:9-20:
(1) The NET’s footnote lists 304 as a witness for the ending at 16:8.  However, although pictures of 304 are elusive, there is plenty of evidence to justify serious doubt about 304's alleged testimony for the ending at 16:8.  For example, 16:8 is not followed by the subscription, and the commentary-material that follows 16:8 does not conclude in an orderly way.  Every indication is that 304 is a damaged manuscript, and should be removed from the list of witnesses against Mark 16:9-20.

(2) After the NET’s footnote says that “Several mss have marginal comments noting that earlier Greek mss lacked the verses,” it says that “others mark the text with asterisks or obeli (symbols that scribes used to indicate that the portion of text being copied was spurious).” However, this assertion about manuscripts that do not have notes, but do have asterisks and obeli accompanying Mark 16:9-20, is not true.  Dallas Theological Seminary professor Dr. Daniel Wallace has spread a claim that manuscripts 137, 138, 264, 1221, 2346, and 2812 have asterisks or obeli accompanying Mark 16:9-20.  This claim falls apart when these manuscripts are consulted.

Manuscripts 137, 138, and 264 were mentioned and described (in 1871) by John Burgon, who reported that 137 only has a cross-shaped symbol that is intended to draw the reader’s attention to a note in the margin, where the same symbol also occurs; 138, Burgon wrote, “exhibits neither asterisk nor cross; but contains the same note.”  Actually, 138 has an asterisk-line mark in the margin alongside Mark 16:9 - but it also has a note, in addition to commentary-material.  Manuscript 264 has a symbol after Mark 16:8 that resembles a hollowed-out “X” but the same symbol appears at Mark 11:12, and at 12:38, and at 14:12; these marks merely serve to point out the beginnings of lections.

In manuscript 1221, lozenge-dots (four dots, arranged north-south-east-west) appear between Mark 16:8 and 16:9. There is no asterisk.  A telos-symbol appears above the word gar in 16:8 and an arch-symbol appears above the beginning of the word Anastas in verse 9.  It would be easy for a novice manuscript-examiner, focused on verse 8, to imagine that this was text-critically significant.  However, the same features which appear after 16:8 also appear in 1221 after Mark 2:12, halfway through 5:24, and at 6:7. These are the beginnings of lections.  These symbols also occur at Luke 1:24, 1:26, at the end of 1:56, and after 2:40. They are lectionary-related and there their significance ends.
In 2346, there is neither an asterisk nor an obelus at Mark 16:9. Lozenge-dots appear in 2346, above the line, between the end of 16:8 and the beginning of 16:9.  In the margin, to the left of the text, is a telos-symbol, and below the telos-symbol in the margin is an arch-symbol.  The meaning of this is pretty clear: the lozenge-dots are located where one lection ends and another lection begins; the person who added this piece of lectionary-equipment did not want to reduce the legibility of the text by placing the telos-symbol and arch-symbol in the text itself, so he placed them in the margin, and put the smaller lozenge-dots in the text instead to signify the point to which they referred.  Anyone who compares the lectionary-equipment at Mark 16:9 to the lectionary-equipment at John 1:28 can see that it is the same thing: at John 1:28, superscripted lozenge-dots appear, and a telos-symbol is in the left margin, and an arch-symbol is in the right margin.  Again: these symbols signify lection-breaks and have no text-critical significance.
Minuscule 2812, which is kept at Madrid in the National Library of Spain.  It is known as the Zelada Gospels.  (For a while in the 1800s, it was thought to be lost.)  In 2812, a symbol appears at the base of the page on which 16:9 appears; the same symbol appears on the next page, and that is where one finds the relevant comment, which is the same comment attributed to Victor of Antioch in the Catena Marcum.  This symbol is doing the same job that footnote-numbers do:  it refers the reader to a note in the margin.

The entire claim about asterisks and obeli accompanying Mark 16:9-20 in non-annotated manuscripts should be withdrawn.  Every attempt to show that it has a factual basis has shown the contrary.

Imprecise Statements in the NET's Note on Mark 16:9-20:
(1) Instead of saying, “This shorter ending is usually included with the longer ending,” it would be more precise to say, “In the witnesses in which the Shorter Ending appears after 16:8, it is always followed by 16:9 except in k, in which an interpolation describing Jesus’ ascension at the time of His resurrection is inserted between verse 3 and verse 4.” 
(2) Instead of saying, “Most mss include the longer ending (vv. 9-20) immediately after v. 8,” it would be more precise to say, “Except for Vaticanus and Sinaiticus and the five Greek manuscripts in which the Shorter Ending appears between 16:8 and 16:9, all undamaged Greek manuscripts of Mark 16 include verse 9ff. after 16:8.”
(3) Instead of saying, “Eusebius knew of almost no Greek mss that had this ending,” it would be more precise to say that Eusebius knew of some Greek manuscripts in which Mark’s text stopped at 16:8.  In his composition Ad Marinum, as Eusebius responded to a question about how to harmonize Mark 16:9 with Matthew 28:1, he wrote that one way to resolve the question might be to reject Mark 16:9-20 on the grounds that the passage is not in every copy, or is absent from the accurate copies, or that verse 9 is in some copies but not in all of them, or that almost all Greek manuscripts end the text at the end of verse 8; yet in the same composition, Eusebius also explained how to harmonize and punctuate, and thus retain, Mark 16:9, and at one point he mentioned, without qualification, that Mark says that Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene (which is stated in Mark only in 16:9).  Eusebius did not include verses 9-20 in the Eusebian Canons, a cross-reference system that he developed for the Gospels. (Additional details about Eusebius’ statements about the ending of Mark can be found in Roger Pearse’s book Eusebius of Caesarea: Gospel Problems and Solutions.)
(4) Instead of saying, “Several mss have marginal comments noting that earlier Greek mss lacked the verses,” it would be much more precise to say, “Fourteen manuscripts have notes stating that some manuscripts lack verses 9-20; in three manuscripts the note also says that the ancient manuscripts contain the entire passage; in 10 of them the statement that some manuscripts lack the passage is balanced by the statement that in many, the passage is present.”  
Errors of Omission
(1) The NET’s footnote neglects to mention the early and abundant patristic support for the inclusion of Mark 16:9-20.   It would be better balanced if it contained a statement such as, “Mark 16:9-20 was utilized in the 180’s by Irenaeus, in the 170’s by Tatian, around 160 by Justin, and probably by the unknown author of Epistula Apostolorum, around 150.  Many other patristic writers, such as Hippolytus, Ambrose, and Augustine, also used the passage.”  The NET's failure to mention four pieces of evidence from the 100s, and other Roman-Empire-era patristic evidence, while mentioning evidence that is considerably younger, shows very clearly that the NET's note was designed to persuade readers to regard Mark 16:9-20 as spurious, not to describe the relevant evidence in a balanced and unbiased way.  
Problematic Descriptions of the Internal Evidence
(1)  The NET’s claim that the vocabulary of verses 9-20 is “decidedly non-Markan” should be qualified by a comparison to the data collected by Bruce Terry, who showed that a nearby 12-verse passage (Mark 15:40-16:4) contains even more once-used words (that is, “non-Markan” words, using the NET’s loaded language).

(2) The NET’s phrase “the strange variety of dissimilar endings” misrepresents the facts of the case, considering that only the abrupt ending and the Shorter Ending do not involve verses 9-20.  It would fit the evidence better to say instead, “The existence of the Shorter Ending attests to the earlier existence of copies without vv. 9-20.”
(3) The second of the NET’s “three possible explanations” is, “(2) the Gospel was never finished.”  This should be reworded, because in its present form it looks like the NET’s note-writer has plagiarized: Metzger also listed three possibilities (see the footnote in TCGNT, p. 126), and the second one is, “(b) the Gospel was never finished.”
(4) The NET’s proposal that copyists “filled out the text with what seemed to them an appropriate conclusion” clashes with internal evidence that very strongly indicates that verses 9-20 were not written as a continuation from verse 8.  Second-century copyists, if they had been engaged in writing an ending for Mark, would have resumed the narrative-threads that are left hanging in 16:8, instead of resetting the narrative stage, so to speak, in verse 9, and they would have focused on post-resurrection appearances in Galilee, not in/around Jerusalem.  The NET’s note should be rewritten to allow room for the possibility that Mark 16:9-20 was attached to 16:8 when the Gospel of Mark was still in its production-stage, rather than decades later.
The scholars who contributed to, or oversaw, the production of the NET’s notes in the Gospels are:
Darrell L. Bock (Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary),
Michael H. Burer (the NET’s Editor and Assistant Project Director, and Associate Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary),
Buist M. Fanning, III (the NET’s New Testament editor and Senior Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary).
W. Hall Harris III (the NET’s Project Director and Managing Editor, and Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary),
Gregory J. Herrick (a researcher and writer with the Biblical Studies Foundation, which sponsors the NET; he received his Ph.D. in 1999 from Dallas Theological Seminary),
David K. Lowery (Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary), and
Daniel B. Wallace (the NET’s Senior New Testament editor, and Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary).  

Let the readers and the students beware.