Monday, May 23, 2022

Pen, Print & Pixels 2022 - Report on Day One

The Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center
           This past week, on May 19-20, specialists in New Testament from around the world – Britain, Germany, Australia, Amsterdam, Arizona – gathered at the Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center for the Pen, Print, & Pixels Text and Manuscript conference, hosted by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.

          Daniel Buck was there, and was able to attend about half of the sessions.  He had these takeaways from the first day of the conference:

          The speakers were generally in agreement that there is still much new ground to be turned in the field of New Testament textual criticism.

          l Hugh Houghton foresees much more to discover in palimpsests through Multi-Spectral Imaging, and much to be gained from the study of family relationships in catena manuscripts.

          l Timothy Mitchell envisions learning more about how published work made it into circulation, and especially how they were guarded against tampering once they passed out of the authors’ direct control, by studying numerous references to that process in Greco-Roman classical works.

          l Peter Montoro has only just started us off in tracking down more examples of back-eddies in the transmission stream where continuous text manuscripts textually feed off of patristic homilies, such as a singular reading in GA 104 at Romans 2:26 from Chrysostom's homilies (Jan Krans, a bit later in the day, cited John 1:28 in Origen as such a case).

          l Dirk Jongkind thinks that it’s time to turn a corner in our approach to singular readings (proposing that they should be weighed both before and after counting them), and may even be ready to remove the old but not-quite-yet-ancient landmark of the Gregory-Aland numbering scheme.

          l Ryan Griffin wants us to further change the modern critical text to align more closely with the “Western” readings of p46 at three places in Philippians.

          l Edgar Ebojo sees a lot of work to be done in using distinctive line endings, especially in reconstructing inextant text and in distinguishing the scribes by their idiosyncratic ways of writing them.

          l Jan Krans is not at all ready to declare the “folly and duty” of proposing new textual emendations to be complete.

          And that was all just from some of the first day’s sessions.

Zooming in on some specific details:

          Hugh Houghton explained how looking beyond the continuous text in the dozens of catena manuscripts allows us to classify them into families, and even to identify family readings which are a direct result of chopping the text into lemmas.  Frequently the beginning or ending content of a lemma is completely excised in the process, and for no other reason than ease in production; only that content worthy of commentary was thought essential for inclusion.

          Now we can directly identify the source of omission for which, in such cases, could be accounted for by no previously identified scribal habit. Houghton urges the special identification of catena manuscripts, suggesting that prefixes or superscripts to GA numbers could be used for this process. He foresees that a lot more about family relationships between manuscripts will emerge as we do this.

Dirk Jongkind
          Dirk Jongkind asked the question, “Is the use of singular readings on the way out?” He certainly hopes so, at least when it comes to studying scribal habits—because more recent research (such as the research conducted by himself and Elijah Hixson) shows that focusing on just singular readings overlooks a lot of the data – especially in MSS like 01 and 0319.  However, he’s not about to throw out the whole idea.  He finds singular readings to still be useful for studying individual MSS and scribes:  all scribes make similar errors, but they don’t make them all in the same way.  But when it comes to focusing on singular readings to cast light on the canons of criticism, he points out that the same data, once in the hands of different scholars, has led to opposite conclusions.  

          Jongkind pointed out that there are two categories of evidence:  singular readings, and changes made by a particular scribe as he copied his exemplar.  In an ideal world the first would be a subcategory of the second, maybe even completely overlapping, but this is far from the case in the five manuscripts for which it can reasonably assumed that we have both the exemplar and the copy.  Instead we have three possible categories:  

          (1) singular readings that are not scribal errors because they were actually copied from a lost exemplar,

          (2) singular readings that are scribal errors because they were committed first-hand, and

          (3) “undetected” scribal errors that are not singular readings, because they were easy mistakes to make and thus several unrelated manuscripts share them (thus causing the most common scribal errors to be excluded from being counted under such a scheme).

          He mentioned five manuscripts for which the figures for both of the latter categories have been tabulated (three of these actually being the purple codices for which Elijah Hixson argued that he had been able to reasonably reconstruct their common exemplar, wherever two of the three agreed).  These five vary considerably as to which proportion of their scribal errors are also singular readings, showing that the approach that only looks at singular readings is flawed, in that it excludes much of the available data from consideration.

          Jan Krans gave a thorough history of conjectural emendations going back to 1453  showing that emendation of the New Testament text did not become a major practice until Erasmus and Beza, before tapering off quite a bit since the end of the 19th century (perhaps due in part to the lack of a classical education by today’s scholars).  He even did some textual criticism of the emendations, showing how confusing ellipsis marks for ditto signs in one listing of known emendations had a similar effect on subsequent lists.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Souter's GNT Preface

            In 1910, Scottish scholar Alexander Souter (1873-1949) released his Novum Testamentum Graece.  This was just 21 years after Westcott and Hort replaced the Textus Receptus with their own very heavily pro-Alexandrian compilation, and only nine years after Eberhard Nestle released the first edition of his Novum Testamentum Graece in 1898.  Souter’s Greek New Testament presented what he understood to have been the base-text of the 1881 Revised Version.  Souter’s GNT is not the text of Westcott and Hort, but of Westcott and Hort after it had been filtered through the minds of their fellow creators of the 1881 Revised Version.

            In 1912 Souter wrote The Text and Canon of the New Testament (revised in 1935).  He also produced a Pocket Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, which (unlike the UBS Greek-English Dictionary) includes some terms that are used in the text of Codex Bezae but which are not found in most other manuscripts.  Souter also edited The Earliest Latin Commentaries on the Epistles of St. Paul (1927).  His last major work was Glossary of Later Latin to 600 A.D.

            Souter’s GNT (copies of which can still be found at online markets such as eBay, etc.) has been superseded in the marketplace by the UBS and Nestle-Aland editions.  Those who seek it out will, however, find a tidy edition of the Greek New Testament very similar to what is in print today.  

            How did Souter introduce his work?  With two very short prefaces, written in Latin.  Since Latin is treated as a relic in many schools in America today, I thought it might be helpful to present here an English rendering of the Prefaces with which Souter introduced his GNT.   But beware:  my own skill at translating Latin is minimal; I hope that other will improve upon the translation given here.  Stay tuned for corrections/revisions:


The purpose of this edition of the Greek New Testament is to present the text which was the basis for the Revised Version in English published in 1881, which was produced by scholars at Oxford whose research into the text is necessary to gain an overview of its history. 

Regarding the selection of readings that I have noted in the apparatus:  although I devoted much time to this, I am unable to placate everyone, and it can scarcely be doubted that readers will reproach me for having omitted a particular variant somewhere.  But if I am going to please no one in this regard, at least it may be said that many of the apparatus-notes here are more complete and more accurate than can be found in any other edition.

I have consulted versions as they are represented in the most recent editions, which were not covered in Tischendorf’s Greek compilations:  Latin (Old Latin and Vulgate), Syrian (the Old Syriac, the Peshitta, the Philoxenian, the Palestinian), Coptic (Bohairic, Sahidic [from Horner]), and, in the Apocalypse, Armenian (as represented in both the ancient text and in ordinary editions).  I have also consulted the patristic evidence; I cannot say how many thousands of passages in the fathers’ works I have re-examined.  And finally, I have consulted the writings of the primarily Latin interpreters, such as Ambrosiaster, Tyconius, Pelagius, Pseudo-Jerome, Cassiodorus, and Bede, using in some cases editions which I have prepared and which, I am confident, will not be significantly altered in the future either by our scholars or by foreigners.  It should be noted that the elegant work of William Sanday was always on hand to guide me.  May that tireless patron of New Testament studies be given his due honor and commemoration, and may the same be done for the printers, who have exercised extraordinary diligence.

 Sent from Oxford, in the year of our salvation 1910. 


 After 33 years, within which a large number of copies of the previous edition were sold, I was fortunate to be approached by a very respectable publishing-house which insisted upon another edition.  As far as the text itself is concerned, the discoveries of the past few years are not of the sort, in my view, that would make it wise to make a fresh compilation of the text. 

For now it is clear that there are many more textual variations than previous generations imagined, and it is also clear that it is better to rely on the many minuscule copies than has been done previously.  See, for example, the research by Kirsopp and Silva Lake, and by Hermann C. Hoskier – the former chiefly in the Gospels, the latter in the Apocalypse.  Adolph Jülicher’s laborious collection of versions of the Gospels has been a valuable contribution to the study of the Latin Gospels, and has had an effect upon almost the entire New Testament. 

            In the following pages, I have taken precisely this approach, and shared some readings from recently-discovered papyri, like those in the Chester Beatty collection, and from Codex Washingtoniensis (W) and Codex Koridethi (Θ) and also from some small fragmentary sources.  I reviewed the versional data in accordance with the current editions, citing readings from the best editions of the fathers which I have on hand, such as the Venerable Bede in Acts of the Apostles by M.L.W. Laistner, and in the General Epistles by British Library curator C.H. Milne, which is not yet published. 

            Readers, both known and unknown, have corrected a few mistakes of the first edition, for which I am grateful.  This edition was prepared with proof-reading by Frederick Fyvie Bruce, A.M. (a former student of mine), who is now a lecturer at Leeds University.  His learning and diligence made important contributions, to the great advantage of my readers. 

 Sent from Oxford, in September, in the year of our salvation 1944.

Here is Souter’s Latin text, for those who would like to correct my no-doubt flawed renderings:


Huius editionis Novi Testamenti Graecu lex haec constituta eat, ut is textus, qui Anglae recensioni anno 1881 editae subesse uidetur quique Oxoniensium manibus teritur, denuo actum agere uideamur, breuem ad paratum criticum addidimus, quo adiutus multa inuenias quae sine ad uerum textum enucieandum siue ad historiam eius inlustrandam neglegi non possint.   In elegendis uero lectionibus quas adnotarem etsi multam operam impendi, omnibus scilicet satis facere nequeo et uix dubium est quin praetermissum hoc additum illud exprobraturi sint mihi lectores.

Quod si in illa re nemini sum placiturus, fortasse non siaplicebunt adnotatiunculae ipsae, quas diligentius interdumque plenius quam in ulla alia editione conscriptas reperias,   nammpraeter quam in ulla alia editiones codicum Graecorum Tischendorfio ignotorum quoas fieri poterat adhibui, uersiones laudaui secundum editiones criticas recentissimas : Latinas (et antiquioris et uulgatam), Suras (ueterem, uulgatam, Philoxenianam. Palaestinensem), Aegyptiacas (Bohairicam, Sahidicam), in Apocalypsi Aemeniacas (ueterem et uulgatam),  idem quoque de testimonio sanctorum patrum feci, nec possum dicere quot milia locorum denuo inspexerim.   Quod denique in libellostudiosis nostris maxima ex parte destinato ἐξηγητὰς Latinos, in quibus iam diu lucubro, Ambrosiastrum, Tyconium, Pelagium, Pseudo-Hieronymum, Cassiodorum, Bedam, secundum codicun conlationes a me ipso factas citaui, id doctis et nostris et alienigenis haudingratum fore confido.

Concinnanti opus numquam deerat mihi consilium sagacissimum Guilelmi Sanday S.T.P.  studiorum talium patroni indefessi, neque taceda est typographorum eximia diligentia.

Dabam Oxonii mense Septembri

Anno Salutis MCMX.


Feliciter mihi contigit ut post XXXIII annos, intra quos permulta exemplaria editionis prioris sunt diuendita, bibliopola honestissimus alteram poposcerit.  Quantum quidem ad textum ipsum pertinet, recentuirum annorum reperta eius generis sunt ut praesenti tempore imprudentis me iudice esset textus editionem nouam refingere.  Nunc enim luce clarius est antiquissimis temporibus multo plures fuisse uarias letiones quam maiores nostri putarant et codices uetustos non necessario semper omnium optimos quia sint uetusti, neque recentiores minoris momenti esse quod antiquitate scriptionis non gaudeant.   Codices quoque multos qui ‘minusculi’ dicuntur, melius e diligentius quam adhuc factum est innitescere oportet, exemplo Kirsopp et Siluae Lake, Hermanni C. Hoskier, illorum praecipue in Euangelio, huius in Apocalypsi.   Uersionum quidem quas uocant Sahidicae editio a G. W. Horner curata totum fere Nouum Testamentum inlustrauit, Adolphi Jülicher collectio laboriosa adiumentum pretiosissimum ad studium Latinarum euangeliorum uersionum antiquarum contulit, nec praetermittendae sunt editiones aliarum uersionum qualis Roberti P. Blake Georgicae.   In paginis sequentibus id solum egi ut communicem papyraceorum recns repertorum aliquot lectiones, uelut Chester Beatty, pergamenorum uelut Washingtoniensis (W), Koridethi (Θ), minusculorum denique quorundam ; uersoinum indicia ad normam hodiernam recenseam ; patrum lectiones ad optimas quas ad manum habeo editiones citem, ut Bedae Venerabilis in Actus Apostolorum a M. L. W. Laistner, in Epistulas Canonicas a C. H. Milne curatam, quae nondum sub prelo est.

Editionis prioris pauca errata correxerunt lectores noti ignotique, quibus maximam habeo gratiam.  Fridericus Fyuiee Bruce, A.M., olim discipulus meus, Universitatis Leodiensis nunc praelector, plagulas huius editionis, qua est summa doctrina diligentiaque, perlegit, magno emolumento meo et lectorum.

Dabam Oxonii mense Septembri


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Lessons in Ligatures from GA 260

Minuscule 260 is a Greek manuscript of the Gospels produced in the 1200s.  Though not particularly old, it displays the oldest form of the Byzantine text (Kx), very accurately written. The copyist of 260 had very clear handwriting which allows aspiring Greek manuscript-readers to get a good idea of how some medieval copyists blended together letters (and contracted and stacked them).  Let’s tour some features in GA 260 which collective give some lessons in ligatures.

Mt 4:22-24 – Notice here the initial in the left margin in verse 23.  The initials in 260 before Mt. 7:11 are written rather sloppily in black; after this the initials are neatly written in red.  The Eusebian section-numbers are also missing until #54 (ΝΔ) at Mt. 7:12.  Also notice the nu at the end of therapeuon in v. 23 and the stacked upsilon at the end of autou in verse 24.


Mt. 6:18 – Here is another stacked upsilon.  One can also see a stacked omega at the end of kruptō in v. 19.  This is not a textual variant; it was simply the copyist's way of conserving space at the end of a line (the same word, without letter-stacking, appears one line later.


Mt 7:1-2 – Here (underlined in yellow) we see the true text, not the Textus Receptusαντιμετρηθησεται.  Also notice how the copyist used a minimum of strokes to write -ete and -et-


Mt 7:4-5 – Here we see the word kai ("and") contracted as a kai-compendium.  We also see the word sou written in stacked letters.


Mt. 10:8b-10 – Besides the lack of any mention about raising the dead, notice how mh is written with the eta forming a downward swoosh.  Also notice how eta is only implied (by a diacritical mark) in the  word τροφῆς

Mt 12:11-12 – Notice how the copyist has written the final syllables of sabbasin and kalos.


Mt 12:24-25 – Notice the outos followed by ouk (with stacked ou) in v. 24.


Mt 13:3 – Notice how idou is written.


Mt 13:37-38 – The copyist of 260 did not contract huios ("son") into a sacred name very often.  Also notice the stacked letters at the end of ponerou.


Mt 19:19 – Besides noticing that there is no sou after the contracted patera, notice the variant involving haplography in the last word on the page (os eauton rather than os seauton) and how its final syllable has been written.


Mt 28:19-20  Even in the triune baptismal formula, huiou is not contracted.  Also notice how the letters in v. 20 are written in a centered vortex.  And notice how the nu is written in Amen at the very end of verse 20.


Mark 2:18  Here we see one of the copyist's rare parableptic mistakes.  A secondary hand has supplied the missing words in the margin.  Also notable:  how the copyist has written dunantai in v. 19.


Lk 6:48 – Notice the stacked letters of tē and the lettering of the final syllable of petran


Lk 8:6 Kai is written in a different compendium-form here.  Also notice that the copyist has written around a small hole, which must have been in the parchment before the copyist wrote.


Lk 9:49  Notice the stacked letter at the end of epistata, and the appearance of ἡμῶν at the end of the last line.


Lk 12:42-43  Although the copyist often wrote kurios as a contracted sacred name (as seen here twice, he also wrote kurios uncontracted in a context in which the referred-to lord is not necessarily the Lord.  Also notice the stacked omega in kairo.


Luke 17:35-37 – GA 260, like the  Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform and like manuscripts mentioned in a footnote in the 1611 KJV, does not have verse 36. 


Jn 6:24 – Notice how estin is written.  Also, the word autoi, which one would expect to find between the last word of the first page  and the first word of the second page, is absent.  GA 260 is not the only manuscript in which this autoi is missing; it's also missing in Codex Sinaiticus (though a later corrector has added autoi above the line) and Codex S (028).  


Jn 19:37 – Notice how the copyist has written meta at the beginning of v. 38.  Also notice the lectionary-rubric in the lower margin, added by another hand, informing the lector that he has reached the end of the reading for the ninth hour at Eastertime.

          All in all, GA 260 is a very good Byzantine Gospels-manuscript, and its copyist's script is a good example of medieval handwriting.   There are many examples of handwriting in GA 260 worth looking at that are not covered here.  Full-color digital page-views of the entire manuscript can be downloaded from Gallica (as BNF Cat. MS Grec 51), and the entire manuscript is indexed (allowing viewers to search by chapter-and-verse) at CSNTM, which has black-and-white as well as full-color page views of GA 260.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Luke 2:22 - His, Her, or Their?

          In Luke 2:22, there is a mildly famous – or infamous – textual variant which involves the Textus Receptus, the base-text of the KJV:  did Luke write that “the days of her [that is, Mary’s] purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished”?  That is how the passage is read in the KJV.  The NKJVMEV, the Rheims New Testament, the New Life Version, the NIrV, and the Living Bible read similarly.  The phrase is different, however – referring to the days of their purification – in the ASV, CSB,  EHV, EOB-NT, ESV, NASB, NET, NLT, NRSV, and WEB.  (The NIV inaccurately avoids saying either “her” or “their,” and simply says vaguely that “the time came for the purification rites.”  The Message hyper-paraphrase makes the same compromise, saying that “the days stipulated by Moses for purification were complete.”  Other versions that have rendered the passage imprecisely include the CEV, ERV, and GNT.)  

        The difference in English reflects a difference in Greek:  the KJV’s base-text (and the base-text of the Geneva Bible in the 1500s) says ατς, which means “her,” while the base-text of the EHV, EOB-NT, WEB, etc., reads ατν, which means “their.”  The text compiled by Erasmus in 1516, and the text printed by Stephanus in 1550, and the Nestle-Aland/UBS compilations have ατν. 

          This little difference is a big deal to some champions of the KJV, who regard the KJV’s base-text as something which was “refined seven times” (cf. Psalm 12:6) in the course of the first century of the printed Greek New Testament.  D. A. Waite wrote as if the reading ατν implies that Jesus was a sinner:  The word her is changed to their, thus making the Lord Jesus Christ One Who needed "purification," and therefore was a sinner!” (p. 200, Defending the King James Bible, 3rd ed., Ó 2006 The Bible for Today Press)  Will Kinney, a KJV-Onlyist, has written, “The reading of HER is admittedly a minority reading, but it is the correct one.”    


          In 1921, William H. F. Hatch, after investigated this variant, reported in the 1921 (Vol. 14) issue of Harvard Theological Review (pp. 377-381) that “The feminine pronoun ατς is found in no Greek manuscript of the New Testament.”  Quite a few manuscripts have been discovered since 1921, but I have not found any Greek manuscripts that support ατς (though it is possible that ατς might be found in very late manuscripts made by copyists who used printed Greek New Testaments as their exemplars).        
            Hatch explained that
À A B L W G D P and nearly all minuscules support ατν, and ατν is also supported by the Peshitta and by the Harklean Syriac, the Ethiopic, Armenian, and Gothic versions.  He observed that Codex Bezae (D, 05) has neither ατς nor ατν, but ατο (“his”), and at least eight minuscules (listed in a footnote as 21, 47, 56, 61, 113, 209, 220, and 254) have this reading as well.  Also, ατο is supported by the Sahidic version.  Latin texts are rather ambiguous on this point, whether Old Latin or Vulgate; the Latin eius can be understood as masculine or feminine (but not plural).  Hatch also noted that “A few authorities have no pronoun at all after καθαρισμο,” but he did not specify which ones.

          Hatch advocated a relatively not-simple hypothesis:  that most of the first two chapters of Luke were “based on a Semitic source” and in this source, the wording in the passage meant “her” purification but “Luke, or whoever translated the source into Greek, having read in the preceding verse about the circumcision and naming of Jesus, took it as masculine, ‘his purification,’ and translated it by καθαρισμο ατο.”  Hatch proposed, further, that before the time of Origen, someone realized that ατο could not be correct (inasmuch as the law of Moses says nothing about the purification of male offspring) and changed it to ατν.

          “Ατς,” Hatch wrote, “appeared as a learned correction, but its range was extremely limited until the appearance of the Complutensian edition in 1522.”    

          Those not willing to embrace Hatch’s hypothesis may be content to adopt what is in the text of most manuscripts, whether Alexandrian or Byzantine:  καθαρισμο ατν – “their purification.”  Facing D. A. Waite’s contention that texts with “their purification” are “theologically deficient,” interpreters have at least three options:  to understand (1) that Luke’s “their purification” is a reference to the custom observed by followers of Judaism in general, or, (2) that Joseph as well as Mary participated in the purification-rites, having been in contact with Mary at Jesus’ birth, or (3) that Joseph accompanied Mary in the purification-rites even though it was not required by the Mosaic law.  In no scenario does the text imply that Jesus “therefore was a sinner,” inasmuch as the purification-rites commanded in Leviticus 12 followed ceremonial uncleanness, not sinfulness.              

          Another detail in Hatch’s 1921 essay is worth pointing out:  he insisted, in his fourth footnote, that minuscule 76 is not a witness for ατς, and referred to C. R. Gregory’s examination of 76 in 1887 as support for this.  To this day, minuscule 76 is erroneously claimed to read ατς by James R. White (The KJV-Only Controversy, p. 112 in the 2009 edition; p. 68 in the 1995 edition, both published by Bethany House Publishers) – adding to the book’s many inaccuracies – and by online apologist Matt Slick, and by James D. Price, and by the notes in the NET (Dan Wallace, Senior NT editor).  This falsehood was corrected 101 years ago.  Maybe within another hundred years, some editors will repair the works of James White and the notes in the NET, et al, so that their false claim does not continue to be spread in perpetuity.                       


Monday, April 18, 2022

Vaticanus and the Shorter Ending of Mark

          Codex Vaticanus is our oldest substantial manuscript which includes most of the Gospel of Mark, having been produced around the year 325.  (P45 is older, but is missing most of its pages from Mark.)  This date is based on paleographical grounds.  We usually have no way of knowing if a scribe was young – say, 20 years old – and had just started his career as a scribe, or if he was nearing the end of his career – at, say, 70 years of age.  So there is a default degree of variation of about 50 years in either direction to most paleography-based production-dates. 

          But Christians were not likely to be capable of producing manuscripts like Codex Vaticanus – a large parchment book that probably contained, when produced, almost the entire Greek Old Testament and almost all of the New Testament (it is still debated whether or not Vaticanus initially contained the Pastoral Epistles and Revelation) – until the time when copyists could do so without the threat of Roman persecution, i.e., until 313, when Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, declaring that Christianity was a legal religion.  Another factor influencing the dating of Codex Vaticanus is something it doesn’t have:  the Eusebian Section-numbers, which are in the margin of most other Greek manuscripts of the Gospels.  The other famous very large codex from the 300s, Codex Sinaiticus, has the Eusebian Section-numbers, albeit incompletely and somewhat imprecisely. 

          With the exception of GA 304, a medieval commentary-manuscript which may have been copied from a damaged exemplar, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are the only Greek manuscripts in which the text of the Gospel of Mark stops at 16:8.  (1420 and 2386, once cited by William Lane as if they also stopped the text of the Gospel of Mark at 16:8, have turned out to merely be damaged MSS at this point.)  The copyist of Vaticanus, though, left a blank space after Mark 16:8, including a blank column – the only blank column in the New Testament.  This blank space is sufficient to include verses 16:9-20, as I have shown here. 

          But in Egypt, there was another ending of Mark, known as the “Shorter Ending.”  It is extant (along with at least part of the usual 12 verses) in eight Greek manuscripts:  Codices L (019), Y (044), 083, 099, 274 (in the lower margin), 579, and in 1422 and 2937 (these last two MSS were recently verified by Mina Monier as witnesses to the Shorter Ending and to 16:9-20).  The Shorter Ending, followed by 16:9-20, is also found in Greek-Sahidic lectionary 1602, and in numerous Ethiopic copies.  The double-ending (SE + vv. 9-20, with marginalia) appears to have been distinctly Egyptian at first, before being adopted later adopted in several versions.

          Codex Vaticanus itself, though, is the focus of a specific question which can be answered here:  when the scribe of Vaticanus left blank space after 16:8, was he thinking about the Shorter Ending?

         The answer is, “No,” and this is shown by two things:  first, the Shorter Ending fits in the second column in the blank space following 16:8.  Thus there would be no need to leave column 3 blank.  Second, in Ad Marinum (which is available as a free download from Roger Pearse, so there is no need for commentators to keep repeating (and distorting) Metzger’s misleading context-free snippets (looking at you, Ben Witherington III)), Eusebius never mentions the Shorter Ending when, as he addresses a question about how to harmonize Matthew 28:2 and Mark 16:9, he describes what a person might say about the ending of Mark. (Eusebius wrote in the decades which immediately followed the Diocletian persecution, so it should not be imagined that he had the ability to survey MSS beyond his reach.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The Vocabulary of Mark 16:9-20

           “The vocabulary and style of verses 9-20 are non-Markan (e.g., πιστέω, βλάπτω, βεβαιόω, πακολουθέω, θεάομαι, μετ τατα, πορεύομαι, συνεργέω, στερον are found nowhere else in Mark; and θανάσιμον and τος μετ’ αυτο γενομένοις, as designations of the disciples, occur only here in the New Testament.”  Thus wrote Bruce Metzger in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (p. 125, Ó 1971 by the United Bible Societies, Stuttgart, Germany). 

          Throughout Metzger’s Textual Commentary, signs of his reliance upon Hort’s Notes on Select Readings (1881) can be detected; for example, Hort wrote that “the petty historical difficulty mentioned by Marinus as to the first line of v. 9 could never have suggested the substitution of 4 colourless lines for 12 verses rich in interesting material” (p. 44) and Metzger has merely paraphrased this (in TCGNT p. 126) as “No one who had available as the conclusion of the Second Gospel the twelve verses 9-20, so rich in interesting material, would have deliberately replaced them with four lines of a colorless and generalized summary.”

          Metzger parroted Hort a little.  More recent commentators have parroted Metzger a lot, as if the first point he makes about vocabulary is  very cogent, sufficient to settle the question about whether or not Mark wrote 16:9-20.  For example, after making a lengthy quotation from Metzger, Matt Slick wrote in 2008, “In the last 11 verses under discussion there are 17 “new” words that don’t occur in the entire gospel of Mark.  It appears that someone wrote the ending of Mark and added it to the gospel because the style is different, and the vocabulary is different.”

          But Metzger never told his readers how many once-used words readers ought to expect in a twelve-verse segment of the Gospel of Mark.  This situation was remedied in 2019 by Karim al-Hanifi in the brief essay, The end of an argument on the ending of Mark, (available at  Al-Hanifi identified 696 words that Mark uses only once in Mark 1:1-16:8.  Bruce Terry, defining a “once-used word” more strictly, put the total at 555 once-used words.  Using the lower total, if we divide 555 once-used words into 659 verses (rejecting, with the Nestle-Aland compilation, Mark 7:16, 9:44, 9:46, 11:26, and 15:28, just to keep things simple) that’s an average of .84 once-used words in each verse.  So in a typical twelve-verse segment of Mark, it should not be unusual at all to find 8 once-used words.   Using Al-Hanifi’s tally, we should expect an average of .95 once-used words in each verse, averaging 11-12 once-used words in each 12-verse segment.

          There are quite a few 12-verse segments of Mark in which the rate of once-used words is significantly higher than eight, and higher than 12.  This list is based on Al-Hanifi’s essay:

          Mark 1:1-12:  17 once-used words

          2:16-27:  18 once-used words

          4:13-24:  16 once-used words

          4:25-36:  16 once-used words

          4:37-5:7:  17 once-used words

          6:49-7:4:  17 once-used words

          7:5-16:  15 once-used words

          7:17-28:  21 once-used words

          11:31-12:9:  16 once-used words (9 of which are in 12:1!)

          12:34-13:1:  19 once-used words

          13:14-25:  21 once-used words

          13:26-37:  16 once-used words

          13:38-14:12:  20 once-used words

          14:37-48:  19 once-used words

          15:13-24:  23 once-used words

          15:25-36:  15 once-used words

          15:37-16:1:  24 once-used words


Here are the top nine 12-verse segments of Mark, ranked in a most-non-Markan-words contest:

j 15:37-16:1:  24 once-used words

k 15:13-24:  23 once-used words

l 7:17-28:  21 once-used words

m 13:14-25:  21 once-used words

n 13:38-14:12:  20 once-used words

o 12:34-13:1:  19 once-used words

p 14:37-48:  19 once-used words

q 2:16-27:  18 once-used words

r 16:9-20:  18 once-used words


          The number of once-used – or, in Metzgerian spin-language, “non-Markan” words – in Mark 16:9-20 is high, but not remarkably or exceptionally high.  Mark 16:9-20 finishes the Most “Non-Markan”-Words contest in eighth or ninth place. 

          Mark 16:9-20 does have a few vocabulary-related features that don’t look fully consistent with the syntax used in Mark 1:1-16:8.  Perhaps the most notable example is the use of κείνη (16:10), κκενοι (16:11, 13), κείνοις (16:13), and κενοι (16:20) all appearing as pronouns in 16:10, 11, and 13.  But κκενον also appears in Mark 12:4-5 as a pronoun, twice.   This seems within the expressive range of any writer.  Plus, before we define “Markan style” and declare that Mark was capable of this expression but not that one, we should remember that it is not as if we are examining the style of War and Peace;  we only have 16 chapters from Mark.   

          Let’s look at some other objections:

          · Is it a glaring absence, as Travis Williams has alleged, for Mark 16:9-20 not to contain the words εθύς (“immediately”) and the πάλιν (“again”)?  Not the least little bit!  As Bruce Terry has pointed out, it is not just Mark 16:9-20 that does not employ εθύς and πάλιν; the last 53 verses of Mark do not employ them.  Terry divided the text of Mark 1:1-16:8 into 650 sets of 12 consecutive verses, and found that over 57% of such sets contain neither εθύς nor εθέως, and 61% do not have πάλιν.  More than 35% do not contain εθύς nor εθέως nor πάλιν.  It is hardly an objection,” Terry writes, “to say that the last twelve verses are in the same category with more than one-third of the sets of twelve consecutive verses in the rest of the book.”

          · Is it inconsistent for an author to write πρώτη σαββάτων in 16:9, having used μις σαββάτον in 16:2?  I suspect that if Mark 16:9 had employed μις σαββάτον, the objection would automatically be raised that a mimic has imitated Mark’s language.  Casual variations of this sort are natural and we observe them in other places in Mark.  For instance, Mark states in 5:2 that the demoniac came κ τν μνημείων, and then Mark uses different wording almost immediately in  5:3 and 5:5 (τος μνήμασιν).  Similarly, Luke wrote ν τ σάββατ and ν τος σάββασιν and τ μέρ το σαββάτου (cf. Lk. 13:10-16).

          · Is it inconsistent to write πορεύεσθαι three times (in verses 10,12, and 13), rather than to employ a compounded word (such as κπορεύσθαι)?   John Burgon addressed this objection over a century ago.  The appearance of the uncompounded words in verses 10, 12, and 13 is unique, but the word involved is also very common (like the English word “go”).  “Unless the Critics are able to shew me which of the ordinary compounds of πορεύομαι S. Mark could possible have employed for the uncompounded verb [Burgon then lists each passage where  a form of πορεύομαι is used] their objection is simply frivolous.”

          · Is it inconsistent to use θεάθη in 16:11 and θεασαμέοις in 16:14, rather than other terms (forms of ράω and βλέπω) that could have been used instead?  Again, this objection existed in Burgon’s day, and Burgon covered it thoroughly (on pp. 156-158 of The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According To S. Mark Vindicated, etc., 1871).  Comparable usages of unique verbiage that could be replaced with an author’s more ordinary vocabulary appear in the other Gospels too.  That Mark should use a special term to convey what were special encounters is not at all surprising.

          · Is it inconsistent to refer to Jesus’ followers in 16:10 as “those who had been with Him” (τοις μετ’ αυτου γενομένοις)?   A few moments’ thought should be sufficient for anyone to realize that the new phrase is called for by new circumstances.  On earlier occasions, Jesus’ followers had been with Him; no reason yet existed to refer to them as “those who had been with Him.”  Also, Mark uses similar language in 5:40 (τους μετ’ αυτο).  The words τοις μετ’ αυτου γενομένοις would not and could not describe Jesus’ followers in the Gospel of Mark until 14:50.  Similarly, Mark simply had no previous occasion to use terms such as ἔνδεκα (“eleven”) and θανάσιμον (“deadly thing”).

           The following points supportive of Markan authorship of 16:9-20 should not be ignored:

          (1) Mark’s fondness for presenting things in groups of three is exhibited by the arrangement of three appearances of Christ after His resurrection (to Mary Magdalene, to the two travelers, and to the eleven, with φάνη or φανερθη used each time).

          (2) Mark employs the terms ναστναι (8:31, 9:10), ναστ (9:9), and ναστήσεται (9:31, 10:34) to refer to Christ’s resurrection, although other terms could have been used.  The use of ναστς in 16:9 is thus a Markan feature.

          (3) Mark uses the word πρωϊ (in 1:35, 11:20, 13:35, 15:1, 16:2) more frequently than the other Gospel-writers.  Its presence in 16:9 supports Markan authorship.

          (4) The words in 16:15 – πορευθέντες ες τν κόσμος παντα κηρύξατε τ εαγγέλιον (“Go into all the world, preach the gospel”) resemble the words in Mark 14:9 – κηρυχθ τ εαγγέλιον ες λον τν κόσμος (“the gospel shall be preached into all the world”).

          (5) The term σκληροκαρδίαν (“hard-heartedness”) in 16:14 is somewhat uncommon, but it also appears in Mark 10:5.

          (6) Κτίσει is more Markan than it is anything else in the four Gospels (besides 16:15, forms of this word appear in Mark 10:6 and 13:19).

          (7) Κατακριθήσεται (“shall be condemned”) is Markan; cf. κατακρινοσιν in 10:33 and κατέκριναν in 14:64.

          (8) The appearance of ρρώστους in 16:18 is Markan; cf. ρρστοις in  Mark 6:5 and ρρώστους in 6:13.

          (9) Πανταχο (“everywhere”) in 16:20 is Markan, at least in the Alexandrian Text, appearing in Mark 1:28.  (A related term, either πάντοθεν or πανταχόθεν, is used in Mark 1:45.) 

           Sometimes this sneaky objection is made:  If Matthew and Luke possessed copies of Mark with 16:9-20, why didn’t they use its contents?  Let’s imagine that Mark 16:9-20 contained strong parallels with Matthew 28 and Luke 24.  The deduction by champions of the Alexandrian Text would have been automatic:  whoever created such an ending for the Gospel of Mark must have derived the parallels from Matthew and Luke!         

          This objection puts Mark 16:9-20 in a no-win scenario:  when Mark 16:9-20 doesn’t have strong parallels in Matthew 28 and Luke 24, it means that Mark 16:9-20 is spurious; yet had Mark 16:9-20 been brimming with strong parallels in Matthew 28 and Luke 24, this, too, would mean that Mark 16:9-20 is spurious!   The objection amounts to mere rhetoric.   

          The point should be raised though, that we should expect to see strong sustained parallels with Matthew or Luke or both in any ending composed to conclude the Gospel of Mark.  Since we see no such thing in Mark 16:9-20, the reasoning of Metzger on this particular point is cogent:  “It is unlikely that the long ending was composed ad hoc to fill up an obvious gap” (Textual Commentary, p. 125).    No one, trying to compose an ending for the Gospel of Mark, would write what is seen in Mark 16:9-20; the natural option would be, instead, to follow the narrative structure of Matthew 28:9-11 and 28:16-20.    

          The internal vocabulary-based evidence is is consistent with the hypothesis I have advocated in Authentic:  The Case for Mark 16:9-20:  Mark himself was permanently interrupted midway through 16:8, and his colleagues in Rome, before making any copies of Mark’s Gospel-narrative, completed his otherwise unfinished work by appending verses 9-20, having drawn them from Mark’s own writings.  As part of the text as it existed at the point when and where the production of the text in the ancestor of all copies ceased, and before the transmission of the text began, Mark 16:9-20 should be regarded as canonical and authoritative by all Christians.