Evangelical Textual Criticism

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bob Stein on the ending of Mark

In the latest issue of BBR (18.1 [2008]: 79-98) Robert H. Stein argues that Mark's Gospel did not originally end at Mk. 16.8. He argues this based on: (1) Mark has two prophetic statements about Jesus meeting his disciples in Galilee in 14.28 and 16.7. (2) The focus on the nature of faith or discipleship in some analyses of 16.1-8 loses focus on the christological purpose of Mark in his Gospel which is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (3) This view is enjoying a resurgence of support of late from Gundry, Evans, Witherington, Edwards, France, and Wright.

27 comments:

  1. Finally! I heard Dr. Stein present this paper at an IBR meeting a couple years ago in DC and thought it was great. I'm glad to see it's now in print.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This "lost ending" hypothesis is also what was held by Westcott and Hort, even though many today seem to assume that -- because their main text ends at 16:8 -- WH also considered that ending the proper conclusion for the gospel as a whole. Simply not so:

    "It is incredible that the evangelist deliberately concluded either a paragraph with EFOBOUNTO GAR, or the Gospel with a petty detail of a secondary event, leaving his narrative hanging in the air."

    (WH, Appendix, "Notes on Select Readings", 46).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Don't forget N. Clayton Croy under (3). I was surprised at the conference on Mark 16 at SEBTS last year to find that only 1 of the 5 speakers (J. K. Elliot) thought the ending of Mark was lost.

    By the way, Dr. Robinson, do you know when those papers are slated for publishing?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Many things are possible.
    The evidence we have is not conclusive. Yet another article is no help.
    We need new evidence.

    Of making many books there is no end ...

    ReplyDelete
  6. How can the final few verses be lost ON A SCROLL?

    Mitch

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wieland,

    You've been reading from right to left again I see - and this on Divine authority!

    Malcolm ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mitch asked: "How can the final few verses be lost ON A SCROLL?"

    It is a fair question. I haven't read Stein yet on this. It is quite common to find theories about the loss of Mark's ending in combination with the theory that Mark was written in a codex format. (That is how it works for Croy who has already been mentioned, in his book The Mutilation of Mark).

    ReplyDelete
  9. If I remember Stein's presentation correctly, he believes that the original ending of Mark was in tact in the form of Mark used by Matthew, in which case the common source for all extant forms of Mark in which the original ending was lost would have to be some ms other than the autograph. And this ms could be a codex as easily as a scroll. Of course this invites the problem of having to explain how Mark circulated for a period of time in published form with that original ending and left no evidence of that ending in the wide array of extant textual evidence for Mark apart from the sole (and very iffy) clue of Matthew.

    ReplyDelete
  10. PG: By the way, Dr. Robinson, do you know when those papers are slated for publishing?

    As of yesterday I have page proofs in hand. All finalization should be made by 1 July, with publication by Broadman & Holman in September.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I haven't read Stein's article, but from the description given here, I agree with him in part and disagree with him in part. I agree that 16:8 was not Mark's intended ending. But I think that Mark was forced by unexpected circumstances to stop writing at that point, and there was no "Lost Ending." Then his colleagies found and attached a freestanding Marcan summary of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances (now known as 16:9-20), before they began to disseminate the Gospel of Mark for church-use.

    Along with remembering Hort's view that the abrupt ending was not intentional, we should recall as well that Hort did not think that 16:9-20 was composed in order to complete the Gospel of Mark. This collides with the view recently advocated by James Kelhoffer and Adela Yarbro Collins.

    Mitch/Anonymous: You asked how text at the end of a scroll could be lost. Easy: someone reads the scroll, and neglects to rewind it, and thus the final portion is most vulnerable to damage. A theory like this was mentioned by Aland in his 1969 essay "Comments on the End of the Gospel of St. Mark," a rough English rendering of which can be accessed online in the Files at the TC-Alternate Yahoo-list. (Or you can check it out in the essays included in "Neotestamentica et Semitica - Studies in Honour of Matthew Black," if you read German.)

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.
    Minister, Curtisville Christian Church
    Tipton, Indiana (USA)
    www.curtisvillechristian.org/BasicTC.html

    ReplyDelete
  12. Apart from the hypothetical reconstructions of how vss 9-20 came to be appended to this Gospel of St Mark, one is still left with the fact that a) it not original to the composition and therefore uninspired - "no part of the word of God, and b) non canonical by reason of the a.

    In addition the lame attempts to reconcile the content of vss 9-20 with the apostolic faith and analogia fidei is quite distressing coming from presumeably educated and Christian scholars.

    Malcolm

    ReplyDelete
  13. Malcolm,

    Certainly many Church Fathers and "educated" scholars of the past have assumed the inspiration of these verses and worked out their theological intention. To say that Mark did not write it so it cannot inspired assumes (1) that Mark did not write it, a proposition we should not assume but work to prove without shadow of doubt (cf. Bruce Terry's essay here: http://matthew.ovc.edu/terry/articles/mkendsty.htm), and (2) that another inspired prophet of the early church could not have written it. Most evangelicals assume the inspiration of Hebrews without knowing the author, although in the beginning Hebrews made it through based on its content and inclusion (by whomever was in charge of such things) in the middle of the Pauline corpus.

    What we find in the verses is an amazingly concise synthesis of the post resurrection accounts and a foretaste of the Holy Spirit's power of the New Testament church revealed in Acts. The drinking of poison without being harmed is merely indicative of God's power in the Old Testament's prince of the prophets (2 Ki 4), and not to be thought strange when found in the New. The ineffectual snake bite of course foreshadows Ac 28:4.

    Jonathan C. Borland
    Lakeland, FL

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'll respond tomorrow Jonathan.

    Malcolm

    ReplyDelete
  15. Malcolm,

    Assigning responsibility for Mk. 16:9-20's presence in the Gospel of Mark to a redactor rather than to the primary author does not render the passage unoriginal, uninspired, or uncanonical. The redactor-factor is accepted quite casually in the case of various OT books, and a strong case can be made that a redactor shaped the archetype of NT books as well, such as II Corinthians.

    Back to Stein: it may be helpful to include here some excerpts from his 1968 Princeton dissertation:

    "It is unfortunate that we do not possess the original ending of Mark which told of the reuniting of the Shepherd with his flock."

    "Although the best manuscript evidence concludes Mark at Mark 16:8, it is difficult to believe that Mark ended at this point."

    "Mark 14:28 and 16:7 can not refer to the parousia but in the light of their context must refer to the appearance of the risen Lord to his disciples."

    "We have concluded that Mark 14:28 and 16:7 witness not to the appropriateness of Mark ending at 16:8 but to the inappropriateness of the present ending." [And by "the present ending" Stein means the abrupt ending at 16:8.]

    So it would seem that nothing that Stonehouse, Wallace, et al have said in favor of the intentionality of the Abrupt Ending has changed Dr. Stein's mind about it.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Jonathan,

    (May I spiritualize and mix stories?)

    Another young David? I do like your three smooth stones from the brook though, i.e., 2 K 4, Acts 28 and the Holy Spirit.

    Unfortunately, I have Saul's armor and have proved its worth. I suggest you go grow stronger timbers - even unto a baytree. Even then it will not prevail.

    Jonathan, do you really think that every Christian that has these verses in their Bible believes them?

    At every level these verses fail to evidence themselves as the word of God.

    Malcolm

    ReplyDelete
  17. James,

    1. You and yours think that one can determine canonicity via an external dictum. Sorry, it is an inherence quality.

    2. You assume that my results are based upon others and so you argue so and so said this and so and so said that. Wrong. Its not my methodology.

    3. Do you really think that an appeal to Metzger, Aland, Burgon will impose canonicity? Who is Bob Stein? Did knowledge begin with him?

    4. Phillip Schaff was one who thought that Mark may have been moved away from adding/completing something beyond vs 8 (perhaps persecution in Rome). But whether or not this is the case, anything beyond vs 8 is secondary. One is left with the reality that this gospel must be understood as it stands and on its own merits. Just because you and others don't is of little effect.

    5. Its funny (to me) that you continue to think that others (especially me) are incapable of making judicious determinations.
    But whatever you think of me, at every level and at every turn vss 9-20 evidence themselves as spurious. And as I have said more than once before they evidence to me a heretical and docetic content.

    Malcolm

    ReplyDelete
  18. Malcolm: re docetic content. Not much indication of that is there? v12: EN ETERA MORFH I guess, but it doesn't demand a docetic interpretation (esp since if based on Luke 24). What is your take on this?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Malcolm,

    Your sense of humor does not go unnoticed. But until you mentioned it, I was unaware that Mk 16:9-20 was incompatible with the apostolic faith. If anything, it seems more compatible with the signs and wonders that accompanied the early church throughout Acts and also as a compendium so to speak of the post resurrection accounts.

    While we're on the subject, I remember attending a paper presentation by former Bultmann student Eta Linnemann at an ETS conference years ago, and how she demonstrated how one could "disprove" that Paul wrote several sizable chunks of one of the most Pauline epistles, yes, Romans! This was to show us unlearned Evangelicals the workings of the critical school of thought. We always disbelieved certain outcomes of the critical school, but didn't always understand why, at least from an argumentative standpoint.

    Bruce Terry's article only suggests that proving the non-Marcan nature of the 12 verses is not such a slam dunk case as one might think, just as "proving" the non-Pauline nature of certain books is not necessarily based on academically sound principles.

    Anyway, I think we may be talking past one another, as usually happens whenever either of the two passages both consisting of twelve verses each comes up. Sorry about that.

    Jonathan C. Borland
    Lakeland, FL

    ReplyDelete
  20. Peter,

    Good question. The fact that in Luke 24 the disciples did not recognize Jesus I interpret as a subjective psychological distemper caused by the historical events that had transpired which produced in them grief, depression, anxiety, fear, disappointment, etc.

    In vss 9-20 the objective *deception* as narrated there is portrayed by EN hETERAi MORFHi. (Of course there are other SPILOI in this section as well)

    The transition from the *natural/normal* psycholgical grief, delusion and disappointment back to clear hope-filled reality among Jesus' followers can be seen in various passages in the historic Gospel narratives - no less than in vs 8 itself:

    KAI EXELQOUSAI EFUGON APO TOU MNHMEIOU , EICEN GAR AUTAS TROMOS KAI EKSTASIS, KAI OUDENI OUDEN EIPAN, EFOBOUNTO GAR.

    One need but recall the words KAI TWi PETRWi that the intent of St Mark in recounting these events was to affirm the historical basis of the faith filled reality of truly good news in Him - a hope dawning - "new, eternal, bright and fair."

    Peter, The most significant event in the history of mankind still ends thus and addresses everyman thus KATA MARKON.

    Cheers!

    Malcolm

    ReplyDelete
  21. Jonathan,

    Thanks for your further comments. I have heard of this Eta Lindemann before and am glad that she is a former "Bultmannian."

    But, I would most assuredly beg to differ with her that one can:

    "disprove" that Paul wrote several sizable chunks of one of the most Pauline epistles, yes, Romans!"

    In reality its not demonstrable. Even if a Christian has to say "I don't know" the unbeliever thinks he knows but doesn't.

    Bultmann is a good example, or Luedemann, or whoever else. Their own presuppositions (of unbelief) are but a compartment in the reality that we all share, i.e., God's creation.

    Malcolm

    ReplyDelete
  22. Malcolm,

    This Comments-section isn't the place to debate the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20; the title here is "Bob Stein on the ending of Mark."

    But if you ever feel inclined to join me in a one-on-one online discussion about Mark 16:9-20 in an organized, focused format, I will be glad to step outside of this site to cordially settle this issue with you. Whenever you have time. This offer extends to anyone who can commit the time to such a prolonged discussion, in a format resembling that of the PFRS-discussion about the Byzantine Text in which I participated some time ago.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

    ReplyDelete
  23. ". . . the PFRS-discussion about the Byzantine Text in which I participated some time ago."

    Where can one access that discussion?

    ReplyDelete
  24. James Snapp, Jr.7:58 am, May 25, 2008

    Daniel Buck,

    The debate is at
    http://thechristiancafe.yuku.com/directory . Just scroll down a bit and click on "Translations Debate with Tim Warner and James Snapp, Jr." The title is unfortunate, since the debate is really about text-critical approaches. Also bear in mind that the posts are listed in reverse-order -- closing remarks appear last and opening remarks appear first.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.
    Minister, Curtisville Christian Church
    Tipton, Indiana (USA)
    www.curtisvillechristian.org/KataMarkon.html

    ReplyDelete
  25. Who won the debate?

    Jonathan C. Borland
    Lakeland, FL

    ReplyDelete
  26. How do inerrantists sleep at night?

    Do they really believe that God would inspire a Gospel inerrantly yet be unable to preserve that Gospel's original ending and then some Christians had to go back and create three different endings for that Gospel? Which of those three or perhaps none of those three are inspired inerrantly?

    And of all things to loose, the post-resurrection part of the EARLIEST Gospel? Wow, talk about misplacing something important.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Edward Babinski said, << Do [inerrantists] really believe that God would inspire a Gospel inerrantly yet be unable to preserve that Gospel's original ending and then some Christians had to go back and create three different endings for that Gospel?>>

    Not me. Not a problem for me at all, because I believe no ending was lost. That Mark's gospel ended at v. 8, where Eusebius indicates all the good copies in his day ended. >>
    << 'Which of those three or perhaps none of those three are inspired inerrantly? >>

    None of them are inspired inerrantly.

    << And of all things to loose, the post-resurrection part of the EARLIEST Gospel? Wow, talk about misplacing something important. >>

    Yes, how true, and thanks be to God, nothing was lost or misplaced.

    ReplyDelete