Monday, December 06, 2021

Last Two Videos on NT Textual Criticism and Askeland on GJW


I’ve now uploaded the last two guest lectures from my Fall TC course. The first is from James Snapp on Mark 16 and the second is Richard Brash on whether Cornelius Van Til’s theology leads to KJV-onlyism or its kin.

By way of commentary, I should note that James and I had a good Q&A after his talk but Zoom was unfortunately a bit out of sync. Personally, I was surprised to hear James say that he does not think Mark 16.9–20 is Mark’s originally intended ending. In other words, both he and I agree that we do not have Mark’s intended ending. Where we differ is that he thinks that vv. 9–20 are still from Mark and were in the first published copy. By his definition, then, they are original. I’m guessing that if that was news to me, it may be news to some of James’s followers too. But James can chime in if he wants to clarify/correct me here.

Finally, apologies to Christian Askeland whose video on Coptic translations I forgot to download in time from Zoom and is now gone forever. As a consolation, you can go read Christian’s new article on lessons from the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife at the TCI website.

Thanks to all my guests this semester!


  1. James' position on Mark 16:9-20 was a surprise to me as well when I first heard it.

  2. I have known this was Snapp's position for a long time.

    I agree that 16:9-20 doesn't look like it was the originally intended ending. I also agree that it's the best ending we have of those available. I don't believe the originally intended ending was an abrupt stop after 16:8. I doubt that the originally intended ending that was to come after that was ever actually written, and if it ever was, then we have no witnesses for it (unless Matthew 28:9-20 is an indirect witness).

    I am not at all confident that the author of Mark 16:9-20 is the same as the author of 1:1-16:8. And once it's conceded that it wasn't the originally intended ending, I don't know how one could make a strong positive case that it was written by Mark (IIRC, Snapp doesn't adduce much evidence to support this particular point). But I don't see it as essential that it be written by the same author as the rest of the book. It could have been written by others and used with Mark's approval, or by a decision of those Mark trusted with the publication of this work, possibly at a time when he was unable to write what remained. There are various possibilities. It may be that two or more editions of Mark as a stand alone book were published (a theory which has some standing apart from the question of the book's ending), and this ending was included on one of those but not on another. It could be that this ending only came to be included on the book when it was published in a 4-Gospel codex. We may not be able to know exactly what the process was. But it is the most ancient and best ending for the Gospel of Mark that we have in any extant witnesses.

  3. Nobody who has read the first 12% of my Kindle e-book "Authentic: The Case for Mark 16:9-20" should be surprised by what I said in this particular lecture; I stated their the hypothesis that due to a sudden emergency, "Mark was compelled to place his unfinished Gospel-account into the hands of a co-worker, to whom he entrusted the tasks of finishing its text and beginning its distribution to the churches. This co-worker possessed a short freestanding text which Mark had written about Jesus' post-resurrection appearances. Rather than compose a new ending, Mark's co-worker attached that previously freestanding composition in order to conclude Mark's otherwise unfinished account. The non-transition between the end of 16:8 and the beginning of 16:9 was not considered objectionable."

    Responding to Eric's "I don't know how one could make a strong positive case that it was written by Mark (IIRC, Snapp doesn't adduce much evidence to support this particular point" - It's a superfluous point, inasmuch as the crux of the matter is simply whether verses 9-20 were present or absent when the transmission-history of the Gospel of Mark began. (As you said: "I don't see it as essential that it be written by the same author as the rest of the book.") But just read the introductory essay in my book and you will see that I address the internal evidence (and I go into more detail further along on the book (See chapters 9, 10, and 11).

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  5. Excellent lecture by professor Snapp. I especially appreciated how many typical arguments against inclusion of the long ending were addressed. For example, I suspected this was the case, but it was fascinating to see that by slightly reducing the script size the long ending can fit in the blank space at the end of Mark in Vaticanus. I also found the inclusion of the evidence from the Diatessaron compelling. I also appreciated the back and fourth concerning the proper weight to give a witness like Jerome when it seem clear he is representing arguments from Eusebuis.

    I thought that perhaps the more evidence from the church Fathers could help narrow the speculation about the origin of the long ending. Clement of Alexandria says that when Mark gave his gospel to those who asked for it and Peter understood that Mark was passing on his remembrances, Peter did not encourage or hinder him. If Mark was the first Gospel, it seems to me that Peter would be more concerned about what is distributed in written form. However, if Matthew and possible Luke already existed, then there was already an excellent written record and the Gospel of Mark is Peter's reflections on Jesus life. If this, or something similar, is the historical context of the Gospel of Mark, then perhaps 16:9-20 finds its source in Peter and/or Mark and simply wasn't fully integrated into the Gospel of Mark. In other words, if we were to anachronize, maybe the Gospel of Mark is a 99% complete draft. This is just speculation, but our speculation should rest of what we know. We do know that the long ending is as old, widespread and accepted as any NT variant we have. That fact alone, to me, tips the scales to the "included until proven excluded" camp. Thanks again. I look forward to reading the e-book. I just downloaded it.