Dr. Stein wrote that the abrupt ending at 16:8 is found “in two major Greek Codices – Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph) and Vaticanus (B), as well as in 304, certain Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, and Georgian manuscripts, and is witnessed to by Clement of Alexandrian, Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome.”
does not witness to the abrupt ending.
Clement might even refer to Mark 16:19 in Adumbrationes in a
comment on Jude verse 24 as preserved by Cassiodorus -- a reference which seems to have
escaped Metzger’s attention. But,
setting aside that possibility, if Clement never used Mark 16:9-20, that
is very far from Stein’s claim that Clement weighs in for the abrupt
ending. Clement of Alexandria
does not use 12 entire chapters of Mark.
It is unrealistic to treat his silence regarding 12 verses as if it has
any evidentiary force. Alexandria
Origen does not witness to the abrupt ending. Origen used Mark more than Clement did, but he never said anything about how the Gospel of Mark ends. Origen did not use many other 12-verse portions of Mark, and he did not use portions of Mark that are much larger than 12 verses. So we simply do not know whether his copies of Mark contained 16:9-20 or not. This finally seems to have sunk into the heads of the editors of the
UBS Greek New Testament; after
decades of spreading the idea that Clement and Origen support the abrupt
ending, the editors finally removed the names of Clement and Origen from the apparatus-entry for Mark
16:9-20 in the fourth edition. (Yay. Now if we could just make fresh editions of about 200 commentaries and 20,000 seminary classroom-lessons prepared by people who depended on the apparatus in earlier editions of the UBS Greek New Testament.)
Dr. Stein is correct that the text of Mark stops at the end of 16:8 in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, but that observation is strongly nuanced by additional factors that Stein did not mention: Vaticanus has a distinct blank space after 16:8 (not just leftover space below 16:8, but also an entire blank column alongside it) in which a trained copyist could fit 16:9-20. In Sinaiticus a cancel-sheet contains Mk. 14:54-Lk. 1:56 and the cancel-sheet’s copyist shifted his rate of letters-per-column in a highly unusual way on these pages. (I won't go into detail about this here, but if I were to take the time to walk through this feature, I believe I could show that these shifts in the lettering betray the copyist's desire not to leave a blank column between Mark 16:8 and Luke 1:1 -- which implies that the copyist was aware that the abrupt ending at 16:8 was not the only known way to conclude the Gospel of Mark.) In addition the elaborateness of the arabesque after 16:8 should be noticed.
Stein wrote that "certain Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, and Georgian manuscripts" lack Mark 16:9-20. There's considerable ambiguity in that sentence. Only one Syriac manuscript (the Sinaitic Syriac) ends Mark at the end of 16:8. And only one Sahidic MS lacks 16:9-20. (That Sahidic MS, by the way, was initially assigned a production-date c. 425, but Coptic specialist Christian Askeland has recently expressed his opinion that it could be centuries later.) (A recently-publicized Sahidic amulet which treats 16:8 as the last verse in Mark should also be on the scales, although there's some question about its production-date.)
Dr. Stein claimed, “A number of the manuscripts have asterisks or other markings by the text indicating that the copyists thought the longer ending was spurious.” This appears to be an inaccurate appraisal based on Metzger’s statement about “other witnesses." (Dr. Stein, like most commentators who mention the “asterisks and obeli” claim, did not specify which
Stein wrote on page 82 about the “Lack of Attestation by Early Church Fathers,” stating that the failure of Origen, Tertullian, Cyrian [he meant Cyprian], Cyril of Jerusalem, and others” “indicates that they were apparently unacquainted with the longer ending of Mark.” His reference to Tertullian is somewhat puzzling because in a footnote on the same page, he listed Tertullian as a witness to the longer ending. Regarding the other three individuals that Stein listed (Origen, Cyprian, and Cyril of Jerusalem): Origen’s non-use of Mark 16:9-20, as I already mentioned, is a side-effect of his general neglect of Mark. The same goes for Cyprian (whose silence was badly misrepresented by Hort). And Cyril of Jerusalem (in Adversus Nestorium, Book 2, chapter 6) quoted Nestorius’ quotation of Mark
16:20, and did not respond by saying,
“Whatever was Nestorius talking about?”.
By claiming that patristic writers' non-use of Mark 16:9-20 "indicates that they were apparently unacquainted" with the passage, Dr. Stein has built a hurdle which, if consistently applied, would indicate the same thing about many other 12-verse passages of the Gospel of Mark.
On page 82, Stein stated that Mark 16:9-20 “contains 18 terms not found anywhere else in Mark.” That’s true, but why is there no mention that another 12-verse passage –
On page 83, Stein referred to “the Harclean Syriac manuscript.” I’m not sure what he meant by that, because there is more than one manuscript of the Harclean Syriac. And, if I am not misinformed, in the Harclean (also spelled Harklean) Syriac, the Shorter Ending is not in the text between verse 8 and verse 9; it’s in the margin.
In a footnote on page 84, Stein mentioned that the evidence from Jerome is unclear. I think I can help clear that up. First, regarding the commentary on Mark that Stein attributed to Jerome: that’s not by Jerome. Second, Jerome’s statement in Ad Hedibiam is a condensed translation of part of Eusebius’ Ad Marinum. If Eusebius had never written Ad Marinum, this part of Ad Hedibiam would not exist.
It cannot be denied that Jerome took material from Eusebius’ earlier composition and included it in his letter to Hedibia without explaining that he was using Eusebius’ material. Jerome had no problem answering questions by repeating what had been stated by other writers, whether their answers exactly reflected his own views and observations or not. (He freely acknowledged doing this sort of thing in Epistle 75, To Augustine.) In addition, it is plain to see in Ad Hedibiam that he followed up on the statement about “almost all the Greek copies” by recommending (just as Eusebius did) that Mark 16:9-20 be retained and that a comma be introduced into 16:9.
And now some thoughts about the implications of the inaccuracies in Dr. Stein's article. If a distinguished and experienced scholar such as Dr. Robert Stein is capable of those mistakes and misrepresentations, just imagine what lesser scholars are teaching in their classrooms. It is this sort of thing that continues to give momentum to the rejection of Mark 16:9-20. The testimony of Clement and Origen should never have been in the equation as witnesses against Mark 16:9-20. Jerome's statement in Ad Hedibiam should never have been misrepresented as if Jerome was not spontaneously paraphrasing Eusebius in the course of dictating a letter. Eusebius' vagueness and ambivalence in Ad Marinum, and his recommendation to retain Mark 16:9-20, should not have been overlooked. The dependence of the Old Georgian on the Armenian version should have been pointed out. The asterisks-and-obelisks claim should have been checked, and specifics about how many non-annotated manuscripts have text-critically significant symbols alongside Mark 16:9-20 -- which is none, as far as I can tell -- should have been given. But just the opposite has happened, and the result of all this is that even when the mistakes are realized, the train of conventional wisdom continues to roll down the wrong track, even though it is out of coal.
Meanwhile, weighing in for the inclusion of 16:9-20, we have four second-century witnesses, including Epistula Apostolorum, the existence and testimony of which Stein acknowledged, unlike most commentators. Julian Hills, who has specialized in the study of the Epistula Apostolorum , has said, "I would vote for a high degree of probability that the author knew the Longer Ending."
I wonder how rapidly the current consensus against the genuineness of Mark 16:9-20 would change if commentators stopped making the mistakes that Dr. Stein has made, and took the steps he has taken that were correct. If commentators stop misrepresenting Clement and Origen, stop parroting Metzger’s vague "asterisks and obeli" claim (unless some demonstrable basis for it is found), stop pretending that the abrupt ending was intentional, and start to draw their readers' attention to the testimony of Epistula Apostolorum, Justin, Tatian, and Irenaeus, what would happen? Would very many commentators encourage their readers to believe that a textual variant that is supported by four second-century witnesses, and 99.9% of the Greek manuscripts, and 99.99% of the Latin manuscripts, and 99.5% of the Syriac manuscripts, and 40 Roman-era patristic writers, does not have adequate support, and should be expunged from Scripture? And if so, would very many commentary-readers take them seriously?
I hope these things will be taken into consideration by readers of Dr. Stein's article.