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Thread: Gospel of Mark Changed?

  1. #1
    Junior Member Sarah H.'s Avatar
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    Gospel of Mark Changed?

    I'm reading a book called Trauma and Grace by Serene Jones in which she states that Mark's version of the Gospel ends with the women leaving the empty tomb and their encounter with the angel terrified and say nothing to anyone. She goes on to say that the rest of the ending (i.e. Jesus appearing, giving them direction, ascending to heaven, etc.) was added by a different author later, which is what we see in the canon we now read. I think I've read something similar but with different accounts as to who and why this occurs. I'm curious as to thoughts on this.

  2. #2
    Under Christ Roger's Avatar
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    That sounds like a higher criticism view. The Scriptures are God breathed and by faith we have to believe they have in them what He wanted. Just like today when people write some are more detailed than others. Mark was less detailed than Matthew.

  3. #3
    Great question Sarah, because this is a big detail when laying the Synoptics side-by-side. I have to agree with Roger regarding Serene Jones comments. It is certainly a view spearheaded by the likes of Professor Bart D. Ehrman, a leading proponent of disassemilating the scriptures to the point of questioning its central tenants. Bart later became an Agnostic as a result of systematic study under liberal guidance verses a submission by faith. In one sense, Serene’s observations are correct, in that some of the codices have certain details others do not. For example, there are 3,036 textual variations between Sinaiticus and Vaticanus codices in the text of the Gospels alone, both foundational to modern translations. However, in panoramic view from Serene’s proposition, it is evident each of the synoptic gospels where written to a different readership, which substantiates variance of details. Matthew was written to the Jews where lineage is paramount, therefore we read a long genealogy tracing the roots of Jesse. Mark was written in Greek for the Gentiles, where Jewish lineage had no value, therefore no mention is made. I am skimping largely on details here. Hope this helps!

  4. #4
    Junior Member Sarah H.'s Avatar
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    Thank you for the input and feedback. What about theories about who the author is and why the ending was added? I believe one theory I read is that it could have been a disciple of Mark's who wrote what Mark said, but didn't complete. I can't remember details and may be wrong on that. Just curious as to what you've come across or what your thoughts may be.

  5. #5

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    Sarah, you have some advanced questions which are exciting. It means you are digging into the deeper aspects of the faith as a diligent Berean! I don't claim to be the Bible Answer Man, but will share what I know from my 30+ years in the faith, some as a pastor.

    I long ago departed from the Fundamentalist position to more a quasi-Conservative Christian for a long list of reasons. I state that before I comment on the historical and empirical evidence of the facts that sometimes opposes the traditions of the church. I am typing this from memory since I am pressed for time tonight. I might be off on some details.

    I think a good number of students of the Scriptures realize that the Synoptic (Matthew 50AD, Mark 40AD, and Luke 70AD) are all synonymous with each other, yet somewhat different in perspective and content. The Gospel of John (100AD) is not considered a Gospel since it does not align chronologically, in theme or content. Perspectives would vary, where Matthew and John were disciples of Jesus. Mark was a follower of Peter. Luke was a follower of Paul who claimed to have researched the life of Jesus.

    There is said to be a famed "Q" collection of documents which the three gospels were said to referenced to write each book, a composite of collected material on the details about the ministry of Christ. The name “Q” is from German: Quelle, meaning "source". Some scholars suggest Mark itself is in fact the elusive "Q" document, since it is undeniably the oldest of the three. All these views are assumptions, since the oldest manuscript to date was Mark P45 dates around 450AD, and it is a copy, of a copy, of a copy. This changed recently, as several new manuscripts were discovered in 2012 that leading paleographers said are early first century, closing in on the actual time of writing.

    The Gospels were finally compiled 60-100 years after Christ, with nothing but oral tradition handed down. It amazes me how such a powerful collection of details exists in texts that were written by spoken words shared from one person to another. Another thing we must remember is Jesus and the disciples spoke Aramaic where the NT manuscripts are in Greek. Oh, and Peter couldn't write, he was an uneducated fisherman, therefor he clearly didn't pen 1st and 2nd Peter. The author had to have a formal education in rhetoric/philosophy and an advanced knowledge of the Greek language.

    I transverse those details roughly, to arrive at the answer about the authorship of Mark. Most likely, the book of Mark is named pseudonymously. It was a common practice in the ancient world, to name a work after a famous person to give it authority, creating rapport for the readership. There is absolutely no evidence that the early church ever knowingly accepted a pseudonymous document as authoritative, but they were limited in ability to define what was genuine. What about the potential role that a difference in amanuensis (secretary) would make in vocabulary and style? Could the codices have been scribed by a third party in representation? It is possible.

    Some have real problems with this information, depending on their indoctrination. However, it is not a question of “if” there were Christian pseudonymous writers we “know” there were. One of the most famous cases we know of is documented by Tertullian in his writings, he tells us the story of Serapion the Bishop of Antioch, who caught an early church leader red-handed in the act of “writing” a Pauline Epistle he was dismissed from his post, but claimed he did it out of “love” for Paul.

    Most scholars, following the approach of the textual critic Bruce Metzger, believe that 16:9–20 were not part of the original text for a number of good reasons. Textual critics have identified two different endings among known manuscripts—the "Longer Ending" (vv. 9-20) and the "Shorter Ending," which appear together in six Greek manuscripts, and in dozens of Ethiopic copies. The "Shorter Ending," with slight variations, runs as follows, which I had to look up: "But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this, Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation." Some interpreters have concluded that Mark's readers already knew the traditions of Jesus' appearances, and that Mark brings the story to a close here to highlight the resurrection and leave anticipation of His Second Coming. One Latin manuscript, the "Shorter Ending" appears without the "Longer Ending." Furthermore, the last twelve verses, are not present in two 4th-century manuscripts Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, the earliest complete manuscripts of Mark.

    The hypotheses on how to explain the textual variations concludes with Mark intentionally ended his Gospel at 16:8, and someone else (later in the transmission-process) composed the "Longer Ending" as a conclusion to what was interpreted to be a too-abrupt account. There is the internal evidence by linguistics that identified some of the words in the passage as distinctive and not occurring elsewhere in the Gospel. The turn from verse 8 to 9 has also been seen as abrupt and interrupted: the narrative flows from "they were afraid" to "now after he rose", and seems to reintroduce Mary Magdalene. There is a lot more that can be brought to forward for examination, but nothing is absolutely conclusive without earlier and complete copies.

    I find it interesting that there are those books held high in the early church that didn’t make it into the NT canons, for instance, 3 Corinthians (commonly known as Acts of Paul) the excellent Acts of Thecla, Paul’s letters to Seneca written fully 200 years after Paul had died and universally accepted as forgeries, there is also an Apocalypse of Paul. These forgeries are written by followers of Paul who tried to address issues arising in the church of the day.

    Eusebius, a historian, exegete and Christian polemicist, was ardent in discovering the fallacious works from a passed on list by Origen. Eusebius played a prominent role at the Council of Nicaea in 325, where the Canon was shaped and approved. What we have today is largely based on his work alone.
    It is an amazing journey. I need to go back and brush up on my canonical history, were I detected gaps in my explanations

  6. #6
    I had understood that early church 'fathers' had listed reliable and known 'new testament' writings as early as 2nd century.

    And that the earlier manuscripts which lacked the longer ending came from Alexandria Egypt, and may even have stemmed from a single corrupt manuscript.

    The majority of manuscripts (most copies, not the oldest) do have this ending.

    There was a mathematician whose name I forget, who identified a particular analysis of the disputed ending which illustrated the amazing and beautiful cohesion of that particular work which is statistically unlikely or even impossible to have achieved through trial and error (Google something like 'heptatic signatures in Mark' )

    I found this. Sorry it's Check Missler (love him or hate him) http://youtu.be/QPxbOLJtGes

  7. #7
    Big fan of Koinonia House, David. I have been a regular of his material for 20 years I think. Dr. Chuck Missler has a profound mind and wonderful heart. However, he sometimes arrives at a conclusion, filtered by the traditions of the Church verses a critical analysis as a non-biased historian would do.

    Yes, the majority of the manuscripts do have the longer ending. The earliest patristic witnesses to part or all of the long ending are Irenaeus and the Diatessaron. The longer ending, though current in a variety of witnesses, some of them ancient, must also be judged by internal evidence to be secondary. Richard A. Horsley's book on “Mark” from Oxford University Press states that this ending was said to be possibly written in the early 2nd century and added later in the same century. The main reason for doubting the authenticity of the ending is that it does not appear in some of the oldest existing codices, and it is reported to be absent from many others in ancient times by early writers of the Church. Moreover, the ending has some stylistic features which also suggest that it came from another hand.

    Bruce Metzger's "A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament" (1971) provides a deep and concise outline regarding this matter. He concludes: The last twelve verses of the commonly received text of Mark are absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts (Sinaiticus and Vaticanus), from the Old Latin codex Bobiensis , the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript, over one hundred Armenian manuscripts, and the two oldest Georgian manuscripts (written A.D. 897 and A.D. 913). Clement of Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of the existence of these verses; furthermore Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them.

    How should the evidence of each of these endings be evaluated? It weighs heavy that the expanded form of the “long ending” has no proof to be original. Not only is the external evidence extremely limited, but the expansion contains several non-Markan words and expressions as previously pointed out. The whole expansion has about it an unmistakable apocryphal tone. In view of the inconcinnities between verses 1-8 and 9-20, it is unlikely that the long ending was composed ad hoc to fill in a glaring gap; it is more likely that the section was excerpted from another document, dating perhaps from the first half of the second century.

    Looking again at the shorter ending, the internal evidence for it is decidedly against it being genuine. Besides containing a high percentage of non-Markan words, its rhetorical tone differs totally from the simple style of Mark's Gospel. No early scribe or copyist who had available as the conclusion of the Second Gospel the twelve verses 9-20, so rich in unique material, would have deliberately replaced them with four lines of a generalized summary.

    Thus, on the basis of good external evidence and strong internal considerations, many scholars conclude that the earliest ascertainable form of the Gospel of Mark ended with 16.8. At the same time, however out of deference to the evident antiquity of the longer ending and its importance in the textual tradition of the Gospel, the Committee decided to include verses 9-20 as part of the text, but to enclose them within double square brackets to indicate that they are the work of an author other than the evangelist. As I think most Christians know, modern bibles have these brackets and footnotes today, as does the passage about the woman caught in adultery in the Gospel of John.

    My scant outline made reference to Origen whose influence was the 2nd Century, who proceded Eusebius of Caesarea. His expert application of textual criticism assembled much of the unofficial canon proceeding Nicean. Eusebius became friendly with Pamphilus of Caesarea, with whom he seems to have studied the text of the Bible, with the aid of Origen's Hexapla ("Sixfold"), and commentaries and lexicons collected by Pamphilus, in an attempt to prepare a correct version of the Bible. With all of the massive manuscript evidence you would think there would be massive discrepancies - just the opposite is true. New Testament manuscripts agree in 99.5%, which I find amazing... or God preserved I have studied church history repeatedly and currently work with a couple adjunct professors of New Testament history, who help keep me on my toes. But seriously, I need to go back and do another refresher.

  8. #8
    David, I did watch the video link provided and immediately recognized the material found in the book "Bible Code" (Drosnin 1997). Chuck Missler focuses on his term "Heptadic" for seven, while the coined description is "Equidistant Letter Sequence." I have several books on the subject in my library, but haven't read them completely. They are very intense and mentally exhausting materials, like reading a dictionary.

    The study of the bible code is part of the Jewish culture and was studied as a curiosity by Isaac Newton of all people. A 13th-century Spanish Rabbi was the first to identify the mathematical order, and to document it in detail, five centuries before Russian Dr. Ivan Panin Chuck references. I am guessing Dr. Panin studied these findings, to be convinced to dig deeper. I find that Bible Numerics is one the most remarkable occurrences that completely undermine all Biblical criticism and brings atheism toppling to the ground wherever honest, thinking men will face the facts. The hidden code is undoubtedly Godís answer to modern atheism and higher criticism and His vindication of the verbal and plenary inspiration of Scripture.

    Thanks for the share!

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