Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lunn on the End of Mark. Part 2

For the introduction to this book and review series, see my previous post.
N.P. Lunn, The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2014).

Ch. 1: Introduction
The introductory chapter opens up the issue of the authenticity of Mark 16.9-20. The general consensus against the authenticity of these verses has two forms, one in which 16.8 is the proper original ending of Mark (particularly depending on strands of reader-response, but with no consensus interpretation of why Mark ends so abruptly), and one in which it is thought that the original ending is lost. Lunn suggests that doubts about the ending at 16.8 are reasonable, since one might expect a clear affirmation of the resurrection of Jesus in view of the early kerygma, creedal formulations, the other gospels, the resurrection predictions in Mark (8.31; 9.9f; 9.31; 10.34), the implausibility of ending a work with GAR, and various other considerations, siding with a quite large number of English-language commentators to the effect that there was probably more of Mark (Witherington, Evans, France, Edwards, Wright, and Stein).

So the introduction sets the scene for the presentation, but also something of the style and academic level of the book. Positively, it is very clear and well organised. Relevant material is collected from a wide variety of sources and presented in ways that support the case the author is making. Occasionally the style grated, with too many introductions like "famed professor of biblical exegesis F. F. Bruce ...". And there were a couple of minor related points of concern (referring to "Morner Hooker" rather than "Morna Hooker", introducing Philip Comfort alongside Bruce Metzger as "leading textual critics" - both of which may be slips, or may indicate a lack of broader scholarly perspective). Although reasonably full in making his nine points against Mark ending at 16.8, he dismisses the view that the author of Mark intended to end at 16.8 very briefly in view of a secondary summary of such arguments. Finally the discussion only concerns English language scholarship - Westcott and Hort are in view, not Tischendorf or Weiss or Nestle or anyone else (Griesbach and Lachmann get a mention via a secondary source - Croy on the Mutilation of Mark). A quick look at the author index confirms this (Mark commentaries by Cranfield, Edwards, France, Lane, Marcus are frequently cited, but not a single German or French commentator); Amphoux is absent even from the bibliography. Judging by the index the other main dialogue partners are Burgon, J.K. Elliott, W.R. Farmer, J.A. Kelhoffer, Metzger, J.E. Snapp, Jr., and Westcott & Hort.

The aim of the book is to argue that Mark 16.9-20 is precisely the ending that makes sense of Mark. So the following chapters address arguments against this and mount arguments in its favour.

Ch. 2 External Evidence (1): Biblical Manuscripts
Lunn will argue that the absence of 16.9-20 is 'a fairly localized textual variant which had no earlier explicit witness before the fourth century'.

Ch. 3 External Evidence (2): Patristic Citations
Lunn will argue that evidence of the knowledge of 16.9-20 reaches back into the second century, including 'some significant previously overlooked allusions to the Markan Ending in the Apostolic Fathers'.

Ch. 4 Linguistic Evidence (1): Vocabulary and Style
Lunn will argue against the wide-spread view that the style of 16.9-20 is distinctive and non-Markan, that the language of 16.9-20 'falls within the observable parameters of Markan usage'.

Ch. 5 Linguistic Evidence (2): Other Features
Lunn will argue that a range of 'deeper-level linguistic features' can be 'shown to actually provide evidence that supports Markan authorship'.

Ch. 6 Literary Evidence
Lunn will argue from various literary devices that 'the longer ending forms an integral element in the overall design of the Gospel'.

Ch. 7 Thematic Evidence
Lunn will argue that various Markan themes, including the new exodus motif, are 'strongly present in both the body of the Gospel and its ending'.

Ch. 8 The Longer Ending and the Gospels: The Question of Dependence
Lunn will argue that Luke 24 and the speeches in Acts demonstrate 'through unmistakable verbal resonances, acquaintance with a Gospel of Mark that included 16:9-20'.

Ch. 9 Miscellaneous Issues
Lunn will discuss remaining problems with the content of 16.9-20: its connection with 16.1-8, and the issues of baptism, snake handling, and poison drinking.

Ch. 10 The Cause of the Problem
Lunn will discuss whether 16.9-20 was accidentally or deliberately omitted.

Ch. 11 Summary and Conclusion


  1. no German dialoging partners? Bultmann might have been helpful in some way ... 😆

  2. It is what it is. I wasn't particularly thinking of Bultmann.

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  4. Sure. Cf. Rudolf Bultmann, The History of the Synoptic Tradition [trans. John Marsh; Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1972]: “... the lost end of Mark ...” (289). Allison, Resurrecting, argues, on the basis of the fulfilment of prophesies in Mark (cf. Mark 14:25) for a longer ending (170, 247, n194). Any engagement with Allison in Lunn's book?

  5. No Allison. The idea that the contents of 1.1-16.8 require something more is well canvassed in this introductory chapter (pp. 6-18); but that this points to a now lost ending is given short shrift in the following chapter (p 59 - 'the hypothesis ... may be considered extremely implausible').

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  7. Why have half the comments here been "removed by author"? I feel like i'm missing out!

    Thanks for the review. Language studies, e.g. German or French, have been increasingly de-emphasised - particularly in north America - for a while now. As a result, the latest generation of scholars now starting to publish and contribute are, as a whole, noticably less engaged with non-English scholarship. Consequently, lately i've read more and more reviews that mention as a point of critique "does not engage German scholarship" or "does not dialogue with French" etc. To me, that point *alone* is not a valid or substantial critique. Rather, to be valid, I think such critique would have to be accompanied by examples of specific important points or ideas which, having only been published in a non-English language, are therefore not engaged in the book. To me, that would be the only real type of deficiency.
    If someone is handling an issue or subject, I think they have an obligation to engage with all the relevant points. If such comprehensive engagement can be accomplished solely in English, then what's the problem? Should they switch to German to deal with one point even though it has been expressed somewhere else in English simply to prove that they have their language cred and can deal with the German?

    I for one had to work long and hard to meet my German language requirements. But I certainly did not work in the German unless I had to - i.e. German scholarship was the only published expression of that point. But if that same point had also been expressed in English, then I would certainly deal with it in English - which makes sense for me, since that's where i'm more comfortable and can better engage the issue.

    Bottom line, i'm not sure it's helpful to chastise someone solely for excluding non-english sources. It actually starts to look like some linguistic elitism. If the author's failure to work in another language resulted in them failing to deal with an important point only expressed in that language, then fine, let's fault them for failing to deal with that point. Just my thoughts.

  8. I don't think it is an interesting conspiracy (although obviously I would say that). The author of a comment can choose to delete a comment. Also blog administrators can delete comments. (which I generally only do for obvious spam/phishing).

  9. On the substance of your comment, Ryan, I am in fundamental agreement. My point was more or less descriptive - there are indications about the scholarly level which the book implicitly claims about itself. And that includes linguistic reach. And that limits dialogue partners and discussion. In itself it is not that important (for example, as we'll see in relation to the next chapter, it is far more significant that the author doesn't seem to have checked any manuscripts himself, except for 01 and 03). There is another interesting example in the next chapter when the author criticises Metzger's statement on a certain topic, when Metzger just referred to two Aland articles for the primary evidence. Now Metzger can be criticised if his summary of the primary evidence is wrong or misleading; but a thorough study would probe whether the problem was in Aland, or in Metzger's reading of Aland, or in our author's reading of Metzger (or somewhere else). The author may be perfectly fluent or functional in German, but he has chosen not to interact with that whole stream of scholarship. "It is what it is."

  10. Lunn writes in his conclusion:

    "This situation radically changed in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Primarily it seems to have been the impetus given to NT textual criticism by the publication and study of Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus that led to a scholarly revision of the traditional position".

    Thus he has created a strawman position for Against LE, that it is largely based on S & V. His own emphasis on the quantity advantage of LE is more over developed than Arnold Swarzenegger's muscles and smile. Regarding Eusebius and Jerome, somehow their text critical observations are limited to when they wrote and the age of the many Manuscripts likely in front of them has been exorcised.

    Lunn postures that there is little early quantity evidence for Against LE yet the related Patristic textual criticism comments remind one of Duncan Idaho in the classic Dune when asked about the existence of Fremen, said "I believe they exist in vast, vast, numbers.":

    In the original language - Eusebius indicates most manuscripts are against LE (you also have the later scribal notes indicating early against in quantity).

    In the most important Version - Jerome indicates most manuscripts are against LE

    In the second most important Version - By an Act of Providence, the Syriac article here indicates manuscripts against LE in quantity.

    There is no earlier Textual Criticism comment going the other way. Thus we have quantity evidence Against LE in vast, vast, numbers.

    Lunn fails to note the coordination of the evidence here. We have few extant Manuscripts when the Patristics tell us Against LE dominated. We also have a clear Direction of Change from Against LE to For LE in every major category of evidence.

    Regrettably, Lunn's treatment of the External evidence (since it is more objective than Internal) is the best part of his book.

  11. > JW
    " By an Act of Providence, the Syriac article here indicates manuscripts against LE in quantity. "
    Please unpack this, since virtually every Syriac ms and commentator supports the traditional ending.


    As for Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, anyone who knows a bit about the Westcott and Hort methodology knows that if Vaticanus had the traditional ending, it would have been in the revision. It is doubtful that there even would have been much discussion.

    In that context, internal evidences are simply a post facto apologetic, and usually with large special pleading components.