Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lunn on the End of Mark. Part 3

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For the introduction to this book and review series, see my previous posts: Part 1, Part 2.
 
N.P. Lunn, The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2014).

Ch. 2 External Evidence (1): Biblical Manuscripts

Broadly speaking, in this chapter, Lunn argues that the absence of 16.9-20 is ‘a fairly localized textual variant which had no earlier explicit witness before the fourth century’. Of course, the latter is true, but the question of localisation is rather more complicated and not adequately addressed. The impression throughout the whole chapter is that Lunn’s knowledge of the actual manuscripts is mediated almost totally through other secondary literature. On a couple of points this becomes very problematic. I am not going to be able to address every point in this chapter, but I will try to touch on the main points.

An initial problem is that although Lunn notes and lists five alternative ending forms for Mark (p. 22), he declines to address three of these (the Freer interpolation, the shorter ending on its own, the shorter ending with the longer ending) on the grounds that they are obviously not the original ending of Mark (p. 23). This is true, but they all are of value in illustrating the history of the textual tradition. Just to take one example, L 019 (image here from VMR), it is clear that no one could read this manuscript without thinking there were some problems here with the ending of Mark. And the manuscripts which preserve both the short ending and the long ending may plausibly be regarded as a witness to the shorter form of the text in the prior transmission history of these texts. But none of this is even mentioned - attempts to simplify a complex situation are not always reasonable. It is interesting that in the conclusion to the chapter Lunn writes ‘the textual issue relating to the end of Mark does not have the complexity which it is often claimed to have’ (p. 60), but this is because he has imposed a simplicity by not really listening to all the relevant data.



In relation to the external witnesses supporting the inclusion of 16.9-20 Lunn rightly notes, what everyone knows, that the numerical advantage is overwhelmingly with Greek manuscripts, versions, and Fathers attesting these verses (p. 24f).

In relation to Codex Vaticanus, Lunn barely notices the actual ending of Mark, urging that ‘the phenomenon most relevant regarding the ending of Mark in Vaticanus is the presence of a blank column following the close of this Gospel’ (p. 28). This is clearly wrong. The phenomenon most relevant regarding the ending of Mark in Vaticanus is the absolutely clear ending of the text at 16.8. Of course the blank column is interesting and unusual and intriguing, but the confidence with which a blank space is interpreted in the direction of the overall thesis, is unwarranted.We shall see throughout the book that ambiguities and absences are always interpreted, without sufficient rigour, in support of the overall thesis.



In relation to Codex Sinaiticus, Lunn suggests (following Williams) that the particular form of the wavy coronis at the end of Mark suggests that the since the scribe so definitely wanted to indicate that the gospel of Mark was finished that he must have known about the long ending. Here is a hermeneutic of suspicion indeed. It makes no sense to over-interpret blank spaces and scribal doodles.



So both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus should be taken as witnesses for ‘the prior existence of the longer ending’ (p. 33) - although why it should be 16.9-20 is not made clear. 

In relation to the numerous minuscule manuscripts which include either a marginal note, or a heading, or in some other way indicates that 16.9-20 are disputed or doubtful, Lunn takes the view that while these notes acknowledge the existence of earlier witnesses lacking 16.9-20, by and large they affirm the text, and so copy it. There is a place for a detailed study of these, but this isn’t it, and Lunn hasn’t done any first hand work on the manuscripts (Snapp is far better on this). I limit myself to two comments. Firstly, that Lunn does not, in my opinion, give a balanced presentation of the whole of the evidence, e.g. re ms 1: it is hardly fair to call its introduction to 16.9-20 ‘a marginal note’; nor can it be true that ‘nothing suggests spuriousness’, since it explicitly appeals to the support of Eusebius and to other manuscripts for the gospel as having ended at v8. For an image try here. Secondly, Lunn lacks nuance in interpreting the notes and signs that do exist (it is interesting to see him dispute the clarity of interpreting an obelus on the grounds of lack of explicit indication of what the sign meant - something that hadn’t hindered his interpretation of the end of Mark in Sinaiticus!). The larger point is that these manuscripts (and as well L PSI 099 0112 etc. which have the short and long ending) resist the conclusion that Lunn is aiming for - that the absence of 16.9-20 is an isolated and idiosyncratic textual tradition. They also show that simply to say that 16.9-20 is attested in a manuscript, is not the same thing as saying that 16.9-20 is presented as unambiguously the ending of Mark in continuity with 16.8.

In relation to the Versions Lunn obviously has to cope with the problem that the oldest Old Latin manuscript, the oldest Syriac manuscript, the oldest Sahidic manuscript, alongside the oldest Armenian and Georgian manuscripts all lack 16.9-20. His general view is simply to contrast in each case the one earliest witness with the many others, admit that there is a problem, and move on.

In general, throughout the chapter, the argument is basically a discussion of the way other secondary sources discuss the primary evidence. The conclusion, that Vaticanus and Sinaiticus stand isolated, is not sustained by the argument.

39 comments :

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Thanks Pete,
    Enjoying the Aussie tale fighting back, I might just as well type out a couple of relevant paragraphs from Wright, Resurrection, 2003, 618-20:

    The earliest manuscripts of the gospel, the great fourth-century codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, conclude with 16:8. They are followed by several later manuscripts, and some of the early Fathers of the church either show no knowledge of the longer ending or show, even while reproducing it, that they know it to be dubious. (Unfortunately, none of the many earlier papyrus fragments of New Testament material contains Mark 16; we can always hope for a providential accident of archaeology.) But the great fifth-century manuscripts, led by Alexandrinus, include the 'longer ending' (verses 9-20), and most subsequent manuscripts follow this lead. In addition, four manuscripts from the seventh, eight and ninth centuries, and some later ones, insert the so-called 'shorter ending', in effect verse 8b; and all except one of the manuscripts that do contain the longer ending, however, have marks in the margin (asterisks or obeli) to indicate that the passage is regarded as of doubtful authenticity.
    The apparently independent omission in the two fourth-century manuscripts, coupled with all the other scattered evidence, makes it highly likely that the longer ending is not original. In addition, though the content of verses 9:20 contains some apparently Markan features ... in other ways it looks suspiciously as though it is derived from elements of the resurrection accounts in the other gospels ... All of these have led the great majority of contemporary commentators, of all shades of opinion, to agree that, though the longer and shorter endings are extremely interesting, they are almost certainly not by Mark ... There is broad agreement that the author of the gospel did not himself write either verse 8b or verses 9-20.
    This is the point at which contemporary criticism has hastened to assure us that we should be content with 16:8 as the proper conclusion. To look for a different ending, perhaps even a 'happy' one, we are told, betokens literary or theological naivety. The book, like its parables, is deliberately open-ended, enticing readers to complete the story themselves ... How much this insistence on ending the book at 16:8 has been motivated by a desire to keep what is normally accepted as the earliest gospel as free as possible from actual resurrection appearances it is difficult to say. Watching the way in which these themes interplay inevitably raises that question.
    There are, however, powerful reasons for questioning this theory, and for proposing that Mark did indeed write a fuller ending which is now lost, and for which verses 8b and 9-20 are replacements by later scribes not altogether out of tune with Mark's intentions.
    See also Martin Hengel, “Maria Magdalena und die Frauen als Zeugen,” in Abraham unser Vater: Juden und Christen in Gespräch über die Bibel: Festschrift für Otto Michael zum 60. Geburtstag (ed. Otto Betz, Martin Hengel, and Peter Schmidt; AGSU 5; Leiden: Brill, 1963), 252; G.W. Trompf, “The First Resurrection Appearance and the Ending of Mark’s Gospel,” NTS 18 (1972): 308-30; ; Dalce C. Allison, Resurrecting Jesus. The Earliest Christian Tradition and Its Interpreters (JSPS; T&T Clark: London, N.Y., 2005), 170; 247 n194.

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  3. I have faith that Lunn will be reading the reviews here so looking forward to the Internal evidence the Codex Elephantinus in the room is that Lunn's Introduction is dominated by the problem that 16:8 creates for Christianity. Yet by the time he reaches his Summary and Conclusion he has forgotten about The Difficult Reading Principle.

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  4. No comment on the book cover yet?

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  5. I think the book cover is well organized and original.

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  6. Frederik Mulder,
    About those things that N. T. Wright wrote:

    NTW: The earliest manuscripts of the gospel, the great fourth-century codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, conclude with 16:8.”

    Technically true, but anomalous features in both of those MSS indicate their copyists’ awareness of the absent verses.

    NTW: “They are followed by several later manuscripts,” --

    Not if he means Greek manuscripts. The only Greek manuscript that contains Mark 16:8 but no text from verse 9 is 304, and, inasmuch as 304 lacks a subscription after verse 8, this is almost certainly a result of incidental damage (i.e., out of over 1,600 Greek manuscripts of Mark, the only way to salvage Wright’s claim is to point at the dubious, elusive 304.)

    NTW: “and some of the early Fathers of the church either show no knowledge of the longer ending” --

    Y’know, that sounds very much like Metzger’s words about Clement and Origen. What Metzger did not say, and what Wright and many other commentators have failed to perceive, is that Clement failed to quote from 12 full *chapters* of Mark and so his non-use of 16:9-20 tells us nothing more about the shape of Clement’s text of Mark than does his non-use of all the other 12-verse sections that Clement did not utilize. Origen, similarly, treated 16:9-20 the same way he treated most 12-verse segments of Mark (and some segments of much greater length).

    NTW: -- “or show, even while reproducing it, that they know it to be dubious.”

    Who? Where? Without specifics, one can claim anything. If Wright meant to refer to Eusebius and Jerome then their testimony is grossly misrepresented.

    NTW: “The great fifth-century manuscripts, led by Alexandrinus, include the ‘longer ending’ (verses 9-20), and most subsequent manuscripts follow this lead.”

    If by “most” he means “every single undamaged Greek manuscript of Mark 16 known to exist,” then his statement is accurate.

    NTW: “all except one of the manuscripts that do contain the longer ending, however, have marks in the margin (asterisks or obeli) to indicate that the passage is regarded as of doubtful authenticity.”

    When I read this fabrication in Wright’s book some time ago, I wrote to him about it, advising him to correct it because it is a fabrication. Alas, no response yet. Wright is one of many commentators who continue to repeat Metzger’s claim about “asterisks and obeli” without checking the actual evidence.

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  7. I hope we can all agree that it is difficult to interpret the significance of things that aren't there.

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    1. Peter Head,
      The erratic shifts in the rate of letters-per-column in the cancel-sheet in Codex Sinaiticus *are* there. And they can be accounted for (as I do in "A Textual Repair in Codex Sinaiticus"). My explanation is that when the diorthotes made the cancel-sheet, he started at the top of column 11, with Luke 1:1, and proceeded to the end of 1:56 and made sure the textual interlock fit. Then he went back and wrote the text of Mark, but got distracted and briefly reverted to using compressed lettering. Then, realizing his mistake, and also realizing (though without realizing that he had skipped 16:1) that he would leave a blank column between Mk. 16:8 and the beginning of Luke if he wrote at his normal rate of letters-per-column, the diothotes proceeded to drastically stretch his lettering (and wrote "Ihsous" uncontracted in 16:6), in order to have letters to place at the top of column 10.

      The diorthotes was willing to take extraordinary measures to avoid leaving a blank space between the end of Mark 16:8, and the beginning of Luke 1. Why do you suppose this is the case?

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    2. He perhaps foresaw that if he left a blank space people would over-interpret it like they are doing with Vaticanus.

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    3. I personally would distinguish quite carefully between the observation stage and the interpretation stage. Of course I'm all for letter counts and scribal errors and all that. That is considering things that are there. But when it comes to thinking about things that aren't there, I think we can easily project our thinking onto the supposed scribal thinking.

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    4. "He perhaps foresaw that if he left a blank space people would over-interpret it like they are doing with Vaticanus."

      I had to read this comment twice to confirm that I was not the one who wrote it.

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    5. Peter Head,

      PH: "He perhaps foresaw that if he left a blank space people would over-interpret it like they are doing with Vaticanus."

      Yes, something like that. Unlike the copyist of Vaticanus, the diorthotes of Sinaiticus had reached a decision to reject vv. 9-20 and he did not want to leave a blank column between Mk. 16:8 and the beginning of Luke, because he was concerned that it might be construed (even though it could not contain the 12 verses) as "memorial space."

      In Sinaiticus, the variations in the diorthotes' rate of letters-per-column in the cancel-sheet tell a story -- a story consistent with the emphatic nature of the decorative design that follows 16:8. This should not be /under/interpreted (i.e., ignored).

      Regarding Vaticanus: do you really think that it is a mere coincidence that the only blank column in the entire NT portion of Vaticanus -- the only *deliberately placed* blank column in the manuscript, once the production-seams in the OT portion are accounted for without Wallacian spin -- occurs at this particular point?

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    6. I am saying that we actually cannot get to any position of confidence about the particular significance of a blank space. We can tell stories about the blank space, we can create hypotheses about the blank space, there may be more or less plausible accounts of the reason for the blank space. I can apply a van Tillian pre-suppositional perspective to that blank space. But if I am placing my hope and viewpoint on a particularly necessary interpretation of the blank space then I am putting a burden on that blank space that I don't think it can bear. The confidence to interpret a blank space can only come from somewhere else - not the blank space itself.

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    7. Peter, your description of non-use of the blank space would fit any story in Terry Pratchett's books :D

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    8. Peter Head,

      I am saying that we *can* get to a justifiably confident interpretation of these two particular blank spaces.

      PMH: "We can tell stories about the blank space, we can create hypotheses about the blank space, there may be more or less plausible accounts of the reason for the blank space."

      That sort of thing can be said about many text-critical problems. It sort of sounds as if you are reluctant to admit that the evidence in this case has a voice, and that it indicates that the copyist of B and the diorthotes of Aleph were aware of verse 9-20.

      PWH: "But if I am placing my hope and viewpoint on a particularly necessary interpretation of the blank space then I am putting a burden on that blank space that I don’t think it can bear."

      That thought is interesting, I suppose, but it's not evidence. I have not seen any explanation of the blank spaces -- from you, or anyone else -- as cogent as the theory that involves the scribes' awareness of Mk. 16:9-20: hesitant rejection of the passage, on the part of the scribe of B, and firm rejection of it on the part of the diorthotes of Sinaiticus.

      PWH: "The confidence to interpret a blank space can only come from somewhere else - not the blank space itself."

      What in the world is that supposed to mean? One might as well say that the ability to confidently solve 2+2 can only come from somewhere other than the numerals themselves. We have evidence. We should analyze it, instead of putting on the eyeglasses of subjective angst.

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  8. Pete,
    I'v not studied these issues in detail. In your opinion, which textual critics (English AND German) offer the most convincing arguments for Mark 16:8a being the original and intended ending of Mark?

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    1. These are two separate arguments. Most of the standard text-critical editions have accepted that 16.8 is the earliest accessible ending. Most of the commentators have agreed with that. Commentators and Markan scholars seem divided as to whether this was the original and intended ending of Mark.
      I always like to read arguments against established positions. On the ending of Mark I would read Burgon and Farmer (of contemporary defenders I would read Snapp on the external evidence and Lunn on the internal evidence)

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    2. Stonehouse is definitely still worth reading. He has a full discussion (I especially like his discussion of Vaticanus' blank space!) and a very full discussion of 16.8 as the real intended end of Mark.

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  9. Pete, if you don't mind, also comment on this:
    Dale C.Allison: "I have long been uneasy with the growing trend to hold that Mark ended at 16:8, and my doubts are now confirmed by the persuasive study of N. Clayton Croy, The Mutilation of Mark's Gospel (Nashville: Abingdon, 2003). But what the original ending contained is another question" (Resurrecting Jesus, 241 n166). As additional support, Allison refers to Oscar Cullmann, Peter: Disciple, Apostle, Martyr. A Historical and Theological Study (2nd rev. ed.; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1962), 61; Percival Gardner-Smith, The Narratives of the Resurrection, a Critical Study (London: Methuen, 1926), 16; B.H. Streeter, The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins (London: Macmillan, 1924), 355-56.

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    1. Croy is also worth reading. (Although I don't agree with his take on the beginning of Mark.) (Actually I don't think I agree with his take on the end of Mark either). So I wouldn't say for me it was generally "convincing", but it is enlightening and thought provoking. (Sorry Clayton)

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  10. Thank you Pete!
    Indeed, you said "I hope we can all agree that it is difficult to interpret the significance of things that aren't there." If indeed Allison, Wright etc are wrong about a now lost resurrection appearance after Mark 16:8, how do you - as an evangelical textual critic - address the claims of sceptics that the appearance narratives in Matt/Luke/John are much later apologetic developments and void of history? Keep Paul (1 Cor 15:3-7) and Mark 16:1-8 out of your answer if you can.

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    1. Well, we don't know for sure that there wasn't a lost ending. But there is clearly no evidential value in apologetic terms in an appeal to a lost ending which had resurrection appearances. I would interpret Mark as presenting a fully bodily empty tomb resurrection: "he is risen, he is not here".

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    2. Sure, even some more critical scholars can affirm that. The problem in reserrection scholarship, for some time, has been the physicallity of the appearances (cf. Matt 28;9; Luke 24:39-43 etc), and the fact that Mark - who has no resurrection appearance - was written at least a decade earlier. See e.g. James D.G. Dunn, Alexander J.M. Wedderburn, Robert Morgan, Dale Alliaon, Christopher Bryan, Gerald O'Collins etc.
      Over a long period of time, the physicallity of the appearances in Matt 28/Luke 24 and John 20-21 have been contrasted with Mark 16:1-8.
      How will you deal with these issues?

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    3. Frederik Mulder,
      FM: -- "and the fact that Mark - who has no resurrection appearance --"

      Yet another example of the theory that when someone uses the phrase, "The fact is," or similar verbiage, he is probably restating an unproven assumption that he is advocating.

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    4. If we take for the moment Mark ending at 16.8, then as well as the physical resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth ('he has risen, he is not here'), it also presumes there would be appearances ('there you will see him' 16.7; cf. 14.28), and that there would be mission (9.9; 13.9-11). As a narrative it looks beyond itself.
      On the other side early Christians clearly affirmed the importance of witnessing the risen Lord, linking this to his burial from the earliest time we can detect (1 Cor 15.3ff; Acts 2.23-32; 10.37-43; 13.32-37).
      Since in general I don't accept that the time at which something is written down is the first moment of the existence of that tradition, I think in terms of Matt, Luke and John as presenting older traditions (of course allowing for them to emphasise certain elements in their re-tellings).

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    5. Thank you Pete! I get it. It remains interesting though, that biblical scholars from radically opposing theological positions (such as Bultmann, Allison and Wright) maintain that there was an appearance after Mark 16:8.

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  11. Stephen McCormick8/04/2015 4:43 pm

    Peter Head and James Snapp, may I, merely as a spectator, offer another possibility on the "white space" question. What if there was as large a controversy brewing at the time the scribe penned Mark as now. What if the scribe, desiring to get on with his writings left space for the longer ending if indeed the controversy resolved to the acceptance of it. The scribe would not be the one to decide the outcome, but merely made it possible to amend the text when and if the question could be settled by his contemporary textual combatants.

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    1. Given what we know from Eusebius (who suggests that most copies ended at 16.8 and also discusses the long ending), it is quite likely that a fourth century scribe could easily have known of the problem. Irenaeus would have been remembered as knowing the long ending as part of the gospel (as is noted in some gospel manuscripts). But manuscripts (including the exemplar) finished at 16.8. And so did the Eusebian sections and canons.

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    2. Stephen McCormick,
      That's not exactly /another/ possibility; it resembles what I proposed in my book, "Authentic: The Case for Mark 16:9-20" -- that the copyist of Vaticanus decided to make a non-decision, stopping his own writing at the end of 16:8 but leaving the blank space in case the future owner of the MS wanted to include the verses.

      The thing to see is that both Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are witnesses not only to the abrupt ending at 16:8 but also to their copyists' awareness of vv. 9-20.

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    3. Best value on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Authentic-Case-Mark-9-20-Annotated-ebook/dp/B00551JF7S

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    4. Pete, you write "there is clearly no evidential value in apologetic terms in an appeal to a lost ending which had resurrection appearances". Mmmmm. I'm thinking of Wright again:
      "If Luke had broken off at 24.14 we should never have imagined the marvellous Emmaus Road story. If John had stopped with chapter 20 we should never have thought of the scene by the lakeshore. Perhaps Mark had treasures to reveal which are now lost forever - unless, once more, for a happy archaeological accident. But the main point has been made, not that we know what the real ending of Mark contained, nor that we can not be certain, by any manner of means, that there was not such a thing. Nor can we know, if the book really did end with 16:8, whether that was because Mark knew nothing more, or because he knew of stories and wanted to divert attention away from them, or because he knew that someone in the church would at this point tell the story they themselves knew. We must therefore resist the regular argument, all the more powerful for remaining mostly unspoken, to the effect that, since Mark has no 'appearance' stories, they have been made up at a later date ... Mark, as it stands, cannot and must not be used to prove a negative. Mark's gospel and its ending remains an enigma. Part of the enigma is precisely whether he inteded it to be as enigmatic as it now appears" (Wright, Resurrection, 624).

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  12. The open space at the end of GMark in Sinaiticus raises an interesting question of giving a discount or premium to the value of evidence from an individual manuscript. Regarding this blank being evidence for the awareness of LE, as professor Head pointed out, Eusebius had already identified the Textual Criticism issue (50 to 75 years earlier and in the same text type) so it's a fair implication that the space was intentional for the benefit of the recipient to fill in as they wanted with an ending/commentary. What's remarkable here though is that even though Sinaiticus became a poster son of God for editing, that blank space said nothing to no one.

    Sinaiticus' primary value as witness is that it coordinates better than the other manuscripts with early fragments and Patristics. Secondary is its age. As a lone manuscript for the issue of GMark's ending it has significantly less weight than Eusebius' related textual criticism observation but it does coordinate well with the overall evidence, at least for this geographical/text-type area:

    300 = Eusebius testifies that 16:8 dominates in quantity and quality. He indicates though that the LE is old and implies that he is not sure what the original ending of GMark was so it's acceptable to use the LE.

    350ish = Sinaiticus. Presumably exemplars from Eusebius' time and area still dominate. So 16:8 is the ending but per Eusebius you can add something if you want. Blank space left. This is the better explanation for the cancel sheet. It did not serve to exorcise an ending/commentary but to add.

    350 = Vaticanus. Same, without the cancel sheet.

    400 = Jerome confirms Eusebius' textual criticism comments in Jerome's time but adds the LE to the Latin

    450ish = Alexandrinus has LE

    500 = Victor of Antioch - The LE should be added to GMark

    Getting back to the blank at the end of Sinaiticus, it has multiple editing in the 6th and 7th centuries but the blank space remains in virgin condition. That is what is reMarkable about it.

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    1. Joe Wallack,
      JW: "350ish = Sinaiticus. Presumably exemplars from Eusebius’ time and area still dominate. So 16:8 is the ending but per Eusebius you can add something if you want. Blank space left. This is the better explanation for the cancel sheet. It did not serve to exorcise an ending/commentary but to add."

      We're talking about Sinaiticus here. How does what you're saying even remotely fit the evidence? The diorthotes took drastic measures to *avoid* leaving a blank column.

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  13. Nick Lunn (Author of The Original Ending of Mark)8/14/2015 9:47 am

    Hi Guys,

    I've just been reading through the comments on my book. All I would say at this stage is -- you really need to read the whole book first before making comments. This chapter by chapter approach means you are not seeing the wood for the trees. The chapter about manuscripts is, of course, the most familiar territory in previous discussions, yet my treatment in this area is not that which carries most weight in my overall thesis (and this chapter only amounts to around a tenth of the whole book). To me, even the literary evidence stands alone as a total knock-down argument, and you are nowhere near that yet. I would be much more interested to hear responses on matters of linguistics, literary structure, themes, and dependence, which are issues not so frequency discussed, if at all, in this connection.

    One more specific comment, to do with lectio difficilior. This is just one component of the text-critical method that attempts to evaluate the probability of a reading, alongside numerous other factors. It is not, and was never proposed as, a determining canon of authenticity. It should be noted that Westcott and Hort themselves, who did so much to promote a scientific approach to textual criticism, in their lengthy and detailed discussion of the ending ('Notes on Select Readings, pp. 28-51) nowhere invoke the lectio difficilior principle. What they do speak of is 'intrinsic probability'. And for them the incomplete nature of the passage ending at 16:8 and the final GAR make it highly improbable that this was the original ending. In fact the word they use is 'incredible'. Contrary to what one of the above comments supposes, the lectio difficilior principle does surface as part of my argument. At the top of p. 115 I note how it would be difficult for a text to be later added to the Gospel and gain such widespread acceptance when that text speaks of matters such as picking up snakes and drinking poision. So to me the lectio difficilior principle is an argument in favour of vv. 9-20. But I do speak of this almost in passing. It doesn't form a major part of the argument, which is founded upon much more objective considerations in other areas.

    Nick (Lunn)

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    1. Hi again,

      Further to the previous comment, I would point out, as my book explicitly states (p. 22), that this chapter on manuscripts is the least original in the whole book, since this is the arena within which the debate most commonly takes place. This does not mean that I surrender the external evidence to the argument against the authenticity of the ending—far from it! While the manuscript evidence does not demand the exclusion of this ending, the patristic evidence, contrariwise strongly favours it.

      A couple of other things about the comments made so far. Some are actually not quite accurate. I do not dismiss the other less common endings. There is some treatment of these scattered throughout the book. In one of the chapters on linguistics I actually subject the Freer Logion and the shorter ending to a form of analysis which, as far as I know, has never been done before, in order to demonstrate their lack of genuineness (which is not the result when the same analysis is applied to 16:9-20).

      But more than this, most of the discussion in the blog so far has revolved around the well-worn ground of manuscripts which may or may not bear on the issue in question. In this discussion, not just here but in general, one vitally important thing is often overlooked. This is the fact that THE LONGER ENDING OF MARK IS WELL ATTESTED 200 YEARS BEFORE ANY OF THIS EVIDENCE! What advocates of the current scholarly consensus invariably fail to do is to validate a resort to fourth-century evidence and count this as more significant than second-century evidence. In all the literature I have never come across a rationale for this. The plain fact of the case is, whenever history allows us a glimpse of the ending of Mark before the early fourth century it is of a Gospel that included the debated ending. ANTIQUITY IS FIRMLY ON THE SIDE OF THE LONGER ENDING by a significant margin. And even then the fourth-century evidence itself is not that weighty. As well as being relatively late, in comparison with what we know from the second century, it is scant (2 Greek MSS, and possibly 1 Old Latin and 1 Syriac), it is ambiguous (Eusebius, at one and the same time, both accepts and questions it), and it is not accepted by the immediately following church (Cyril of Alexandria, a few decades later in the same locale in which the two prime witnesses originated, used a copy of Mark with the long ending, and the later Alexandrian textual tradition did not follow the MSS lacking it). So, it is all very well to give close attention to what one manuscript and another might read, but don’t overlook the fact that when the manuscript in question was copied, the longer ending was already out there, in numbers, with wide attestation, and had been for hundreds of years! So, in effect, to try and resolve the issue by a resort to documentary evidence of the fourth century or later, is rather like attempting to close the barn door after the horse has bolted. ☺

      Nick (Lunn)

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  14. Interesting stuff Nick. Hope Pete will go on with this blog series in September after the summer holidays....

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  15. "Contrary to what one of the above comments supposes, the lectio difficilior principle does surface as part of my argument. At the top of p. 115 I note how it would be difficult for a text to be later added to the Gospel and gain such widespread acceptance when that text speaks of matters such as picking up snakes and drinking poision. So to me the lectio difficilior principle is an argument in favour of vv. 9-20. But I do speak of this almost in passing. It doesn’t form a major part of the argument, which is founded upon much more objective considerations in other areas."

    I suppose that would be my comment. I'm more interested in considering The Difficult Reading Principle in total for 16:9-20. Maybe it's just me but I would consider the part about multiple independent known witnesses having a live conversation with the resurrected Jesus more important than the part about snakes and poison. GMark has painted a pretty grim picture for the disciples up to that point so sending in the Cavalry after 16:8 makes a big difference in my book especially since, as far as we know, there was no resurrection reunion narrative before GMark.

    Your book shows us which ending a 21st century Christian author would prefer. But the question is which ending would a 6th century scribe prefer?

    As a member of the disloyal opposition I currently rate Professor Head as the top current Christian Bible scholar so I'm especially interested here in his take on The Difficult Reading Principle. I'm starting to fear that Mark's 1:1 [son of God] may return before the good professor continues his review on your book and than we will never know what he thought about your handling of the deadly Internal evidence.

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  16. Peter Head,
    Have you given any more thought to Lunn's responses to these reviews that you are willing to share?
    I finally have started Lunn's book and appreciate your input in these 3 posts!

    Tim

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