Evangelical Textual Criticism

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New ending to the Gospel of Mark?

Some Brigham Young scholars are apparently claiming to have found a new ending to the Gospel of Mark (here). Discussion here and here. A bit low on substantiation at the moment for such a dramatic claim. If I were a betting man, I wouldn't back this horse.

13 comments:

  1. Interesting comment from a student working on the project:
    "In a funny way it has strengthened my testimony of the gospel and the Book of Mormon especially," Kohrman said. "There are over 5,600 manuscripts of the New Testament, not to mention all the apocryphal writings we are working on now, and none of them contain the New Testament as we have it today. This shows me personally of the immense importance of the Book of Mormon. Without it, we would be lost and confused."
    Bart Ehrman meets Joseph Smith!

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  2. Interesting yes. Happy no.

    But it has interesting parallels with J. Owen, A Vindication of the Purity and Integrity of the Hebrew and Greek Texts of the Old and New Testaments, in some considerations on the Prolegomena and Appendix to the late Biblia Polyglotta (Oxford, 1659; from Collected Works vol. 16 345–421).
    Owen confesses that he was ‘somewhat startled’ by the bulky collection of variant readings in Walton's Polyglot and believed that Walton had played into the hands of the ‘Papists’ who were emphasizing the variations in the Greek manuscript tradition in order to secure the Vulgate.

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  3. On the question of substance, of course, any early manuscript of Mark would be of immense importance (since we are otherwise rather lacking them).

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  4. maurice a robinson6:03 pm, February 20, 2007

    Apart from some documented evidence of substance, I tend to class this claimed "discovery" right up there with the assertion that Codex Washingtonianus is the true autograph of the four gospels, secretly signed and dated by the evangelists themselves.

    Where is Morton Smith when we need him?

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  5. The claim, "Some Brigham Young scholars are apparently claiming to have found a new ending to the Gospel of Mark," isn't quite right. Only the reporter claims this. He doesn't provide a quotation from one of the scholars themselves that makes this claim. I bet they actually said something considerably less sensational and he misinterpreted them.

    As for that student's comment, he should try to hunt down a first edition of the book of Mormon and check out how it compares to the Book of Mormon "as we have it today." He might change his mind about who is lost and confused.

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  6. My suspicion? Someone has "discovered" the text known as the end of the "Gospel of Peter," and that's that. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

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  7. Eric Rowe,

    Give it a rest. You can buy a first edition Book of Mormon at the BYU Bookstore. More than a few BYU religion professors use it in their Book of Mormon classes. Grab a copy for yourself. You'll find the damning changes you think are there aren't.

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  8. Anon,
    If I understand correctly, even the first edition is not stable in itself. Corrections were made within the printing process, and the resultant texts were not all the same to the letter. There were then several later editions with corrections in them. The numbers of variants in the text range into the thousands. BYU produces a critical edition of the Book of Mormon with an apparatus documenting the variants.
    The errors which ER mentions are only "damning" by the standards of the Mormons speaking in this controversy. The NT variants parallel the Book of Mormon variants in that almost all of them are trivial. If the variants which evangelicals can document in the original language texts are problematic by LDS standards, how much more problematic that such variants appear in the age of the printing press in the LDS translation. Eric was not arguing that there are devious and pernicious variants in the Book of Mormon text history (at least not by evangelical standards). He was merely suggesting that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

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  9. Eric Rowe wrote:

    The claim, "Some Brigham Young scholars are apparently claiming to have found a new ending to the Gospel of Mark," isn't quite right. Only the reporter claims this. He doesn't provide a quotation from one of the scholars themselves that makes this claim. I bet they actually said something considerably less sensational and he misinterpreted them.

    Thanks, Eric. I have a feeling you will be shown to be correct. The adjective 'new' may even have been used by the scholar to describe the discovery, not the ending. However, this is just source-critical speculation.

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  10. If someone's just now looking at this, the BYU article is gone. Here's a Google cache of the article.

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  11. The scholars involved in the project have published this correction of the report in the BYU student paper. The sensational parts we have been talking about are all misreported.
    http://www.csntm.org/Downloads/Retraction.pdf
    (via Steven Carlson, via Dan Wallace).

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  12. Thanks. Dan Wallace also sent the retraction to me. We're most grateful for his work on this.

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