This year the Mark Group had two sessions which focussed on issues of textual criticism. In this group all the papers are distributed beforehand and the members of the group sit in an inner square of tables while attenders can sit on chairs around the outside. I'm not too sure I like the exclusion of the attenders, but it is nice to have a table to spread the papers out on in front of you. (The huge ballroom was rated as safe for up to 506 people; I guess there may have been fifty people present).
On the Monday morning, under the general title of Individual Variants and the Broad Picture in Mark, we had four papers:
Me (Peter Head) on The Gospel of Mark in Codex Sinaiticus, which included a power-point presentation of features of the way in which Mark is presented in Codex Sinaiticus.
Nick Perrin (now of Wheaton College), “Angered” or “Moved”? Mark 1:41 in Light of Mark’s Exodus Motif and Vicki Cass Philips (of West Virginia Wesleyan College), Jesus, Anger, and Impurity: Investigating Mark 1:40-45 gave constrasting perspectives of how different readings of Mark 1.41 might fit within Mark's broader thematic concerns. Perrin argued that 'moved with compassion' was the best reading for Mark 1.41; on the basis of Mark's concern to portray Jesus as the compassionate one in line with Isaiah 49.9-11. Vicki Cass Philips offered a reading of Mark incorporating 'anger' at 1.41 (somehow I didn't receive a copy of her paper beforehand, so don't have much detail in my notes).
Then Leroy Andrew Huizenga (also of Wheaton College) gave a paper entitled “I Am”: Mark 14:62 in Light of Markan Narrative Dynamics. In this paper he argued that narrative criticism can have a role in textual criticism. He argued that 'the contrast between Jesus’ bold and direct confession before the high priest and Peter’s denial in this Markan intercalation functions best with the shorter reading'.
All of these three papers attempted to connect arguments about individual variants to bigger-picture discussions about Markan purposes and narrative dynamics. They were interesting from that perspective, but not particularly decisive.