Friday, January 29, 2021

Minuscule 1241 and the Ending of Mark

 Minuscule 1241, housed at Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai, is sometimes cited as apparent support (“1241vid”) for the abrupt ending at Mark 16:8.  More specifically, in the 1966 Greek New Testament published by the United Bible Societies, in the textual apparatus, in a list of witnesses that “add vv. 9-20 with asterisks, obeli, or critical note in ms,” we see the entry “1241vid.”

The basis for this frugally presented entry is found in Six Collations of New Testament Manuscripts, by Kirsopp Lake and Silva New (which was the 1932 Harvard Theological Studies #17).  The author(s) wrote on page 111, “The end of f. [folio] 55 is εφοβουντο γαρ written in the centre of the line.  The scribe has not done this elsewhere.”

By the time the fourth edition of the  UBS Greek New Testament was released, the apparatus’ report about the testimony of 1241 was changed.   The textual apparatus, instead of having an entry for witnesses that “add vv. 9-20 with asterisks, obeli, or critical note in ms,” the fourth edition had an entry for “add vv 9-20 with critical note or sign,” and the witnesses thus described are “f1 205 and others.”  1241 is included (without “vid”) in the list of witnesses which “add vv 9-20.”

There is a good reason for this change:  in the real world, the scribe did do this elsewhere.    If one visits the website of the Library of Congress and finds the microfilm page-views of 1241, a tour of the pages containing the four Gospels will show that there are several pages on which the final line contains only a word or two; for instance, if one looks at Image 15, it can be plainly seen that the final line on the page contains only the single word αρτους from the middle of Matthew 14:19.  This phenomenon occurs repeatedly.    But final lines consisting of a single non-centered word are not really the thing to see. 

The thing that Lake and New claimed only occurred at the end of Mark 16:9 also occurs at Image 23 (Matthew 18:19), and at Image 105 (John 5:44), and at Image 116 (John 14:5) and at Image 123 (John 20:18).        

In addition, Mark 16:9 is identified in the side- margin of 1241 as the third Heothinon-reading.  John 20:19, which follows a centered final line concluding John 20:1 on the previous page, is identified as the ninth Heothinon.  And, within the text of Mark 16:9, Jesus’ name is part of the text of the opening phrase – that is, the text of Mark 16:9 is slightly expanded for liturgical reading. 

It should be perfectly clear that Lake and New’s claim that centered final lines only occur at the end of Mark 16:8 is untrue.  It should also be perfectly clear that 1241 provides no support whatsoever for the abrupt ending.  Rather, 1241 attests that when and where it was made, Mark 16:9-20 was treated as authoritative Scripture.

We have here another example of pseudo-evidence to which a paraphrase of Balak’s words in Numbers 24:10 may be applied:  “This witness was cited to draw these twelve verses into question, and, behold, it has altogether blessed them!”


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