Gospel of Mark


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Found this as I was mining my files of material from about the net. Got this from a messageboard - so I thought I'd paste it here in case of any interest to anyone:

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Gospel of Mark ?

In scholarly circles, Mark 16:9-20 is known as the "Marcan Appendix," because there are sound reasons for believing that the author of Mark did not write this passage. Textual evidence indicates that as far as original materials are concerned Mark should end at verse 8 with the statement about the women being too afraid to tell others what they had seen. Verses 9-20 were redacted by a later scribe.

My own edition of the American Standard Version affixed this footnote at the beginning of verse 9: "The two oldest Greek manuscripts, and some other authorities, omit from ver. 9 to the end. Some other authorities have a different ending to the Gospel." My NIV edition has a bracketed statement between verses 8 and 9: "The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16: 9-20." Of the 17 versions of the New Testament in my personal library, 15 of them have reference notes to tell readers that this ending to Mark was not in the oldest and most reliable manuscripts.

One of the early manuscripts that did not include the Marcan Appendix was Codex Sinaiticus (4th-century A.D.), which ended Mark's gospel at 16:8. In Secrets of Mt. Sinai, James Bentley made this observation about the omission of the Marcan Appendix in Codex Sinaiticus:

The scribe who brought Mark's Gospel to an end in Codex Sinaiticus had no doubt that it finished at chapter 16, verse 8. He underlined the text with a fine artistic squiggle, and wrote, "The Gospel according to Mark." Immediately following begins the Gospel of Luke (p. 139).

Codex Sinaiticus is the only ancient Greek manuscript that contains the entire New Testament. The fact that it did not include the Marcan Appendix clearly suggests that the 4th-century scribes who copied it had before them a version of Mark that ended with 16:8. In the foreword to Bentley's book (p. 6), the renown pseudepigraphic scholar James H. Charlesworth pointed out that Codex Syriacus (a 5th-century translation), Codex Vaticanus (mid-4th century), and Codex Bobiensis (4th- or 5th-century Latin) are all early manuscripts that exclude the Marcan Appendix. In addition to these, approximately 100 early Armenian translations, as well as the two oldest Georgian translations, also omitted the appendix (Bentley, p. 179). Manuscripts written after Sinaiticus and Vaticanus have been found that contained the Marcan Appendix but with scribal notes in the margins that said the verses were not in older copies; others have been found that had dots or asterisks by the verses in the Marcan Appendix as if to signal that they were in some way different from the rest of the text (Bentley, p. 179). These facts give us compelling reasons for suspecting that the Marcan Appendix was indeed the redaction of a scribe who considered Mark's omission of postresurrection appearances to be an inadequate way to end the gospel.

In addition to the Marcan Appendix, some manuscripts ended Mark's gospel with other variations. Codex Washingtonensis (late 4th or early 5th century A.D.), for example, included the addition to 16:14 that is known as the Freer Logion. It is the underlined statement added to the following quotation of verse 14:

Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sit- ting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And they excused themselves, saying, "This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the truth and power of God to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits. Therefore reveal your righteousness now"--thus they spoke to Christ. And Christ replied to them, "The term of years of Satan's power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was handed over to death, that they may return to the truth and sin no more, that they may inherit the spiritual and imperishable glory of righteousness that is in heaven" (NRSV).

Other manuscripts added to verse 8 still another but much shorter ending than the Marcan Appendix: "And all that had been commanded them they (the women who had gone to the tomb--FT) told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation" (NRSV), to which even other manuscripts added Amen.

If anything is clear from all this it should be that the ending to Mark's gospel has undergone considerable editing. What the original ending actually was may now be permanently lost in the wake of all this scribal tampering, but the scholastic consensus is that none of the variant endings-- the Marcan Appendix, the Freer Logion, and the "short ending"--were the work of the original writer. The reasons for that consensus are summarized in the following quotation from The New Jerome Biblical Commentary:

The longer ending, traditionally designated Mark 16:9-20, differs in vocabulary and style from the rest of the Gospel, is absent from the best and earliest mss. now available, and was absent from mss. in patristic times. It is most likely a 2nd-cent. compendium of appearance stories based primarily on Luke 24, with some influence from John 20.... The so-called shorter ending consists of the women's reports to Peter and Jesus' commis- sioning of the disciples to preach the gospel. Here too the non- Marcan language and the weak ms. evidence indicate that this passage did not close the Gospel.

The so-called Freer Logion in Codex W at 16:14 of the longer ending is a late gloss aimed at softening the condemnation of the disciples in 16:14. All the endings attached to Mark in the ms. tradition were added because scribes considered 16:1-8 inadequate as an ending (p. 629, emphasis added).

The stylistic and vocabulary differences referred to in this quotation are apparent even in English translations of the variant endings, but even without this consideration, suspicion is cast onto their authenticity by (1) the obvious attempt to reconcile Mark's ending with Luke's and John's accounts of postresurrection appearances and (2) the inconsistencies between the appendix and what Mark had said earlier in the chapter

What we have in the Marcan Appendix is an obviously bungled attempt to harmonize the ending of Mark's gospel with other accounts of postresurrection appearances.
I find the information above to be quite correct as far as my own studies are concerned. The question remaining is, does 16:8 qualify as a normal ending to the gospel, or has it been abridged much as, Hebrews? In my own opinion, the gospel is cut short, possible by later clerics who defined what may have been there as not in the best interest of a growing tradition and doctrine. As is, there is no resurrection or ascension within the oldest Gospel story. And both of these are not apparent in the oldest manuscripts. There are four endings to Mark; none of which were known to Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusibeus, or Jerome. A good reference for this is, A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament; Bruce M. Metzger; United Bible Socities.
Nice to see you around, Victor - going to open up the place properly for Friday, I should reckon, so hopefully some more interested people will arrive.

Also, I've found myself creating what appears to be the largest slection of New Testament Apocrypha on the entire internet. It's been a complete bitch to do, chasing down all of those texts, but I think I've got the last ones collected which are available online. There's a basic list already up, but I've got a handful more to add. Most impressed I found 3 Corinthians, actually, but there you go... ;)

Hopefully, that'll be quite a magnet for some interesting people. I mean, really, who are the sort of folks who would go looking for Apocrypha? I think we may find out soon enough... :)

On subject again - what's especially damaging about the Markian ending is that if it were the first Gospel of the four canonical ones, it raises a important shadow over the others. Were they are all really harmonised?

Shame actually, because I found the more original ending actually worked much better.
Iam already finding some interesting minds here. Dave the web is new to me but an especially vibrant spirit. Tilei is here now also and I expect many will follow. Can you lead me to 3 Corinthians? It has almost always been assumed that a third letter did exist, but I have never found a trail leading to it in reality. (Perhaps it was only a half-hearted search.) Hopefully when my newest endeavor wears me thin I can come here to rebuild a bit of my energy.
3 Corinthians, 3 Stelas of Seth, and Epistle of Barnabas are all listed on the New Testament Apocrypha page. :)

There's a number of texts from the Nag Hammadi library not hosted here yet - but I should have them on this site very soon - just overhauling my writing site with a magnificent new design first - got around 750 pages to redo. Hopefully be finished there within the week, and then get more content here in May. :)
The evidenced tampering of early writings and commentaries shows just how flawed doctrine is. Doctrine has becomes It's own God.
Interesting thought, especially since an echumenical council some several years ago decided that man's tradition was to be considered as holy as God's word! This matter was accepted, not only by the Catholic establishment, but by many of the 'high' churches! Most of what we have today in scripture was developed over the centuries to fit the growing theological speculation of Christianity, not for a revelation of proper translation or an accurate reading. That is why I have come to consider Christianity a 'facticious' religion.
I've seen mention before of evidence of doctored texts - or scribal notes being incorporated into (NT) scripture, and of later editing being seen as an acceptable measure of the Holy Ghost at work. I'll see if I can find any.

Then there's the old chestnut of setting up a religious council, and after stating that the "Spirit of God" would rest on all those present to ensure that the chosen list was decided by God himself. Which smacks ever so slightly of political propaganda.
The Interpreter's Bible, is full of criticism concerning changes in text by later clerics. Thank goodness they, at least, attempt to be honest in part. Their comments concerning the opening of Mark is an excellent example of an ancient prophetic text (Malachi 3) being taken out of context, changed, and then inserted as an introduction to the oldest of Gospels. The I.B. truly takes this to task!
P.S. And may I make mention of the introduction to the Gospel of John, which was originally an Ode to Wisdom, pressumed to have been written by a Greek Philosopher named, Plato. The Word, Logos, meaning, Logic! This bit of artistic endeavor did not make its way into a known written form much before 170-180 A.D.

When you say an Ode to Wisdom do you mean an actual prior text? Or general name for the chapter?
Sorry, but I have been away so very, very long... The opening to John's Gospel was an original text as an ode to Wisdom, purportedly from the hand of Plato. I would suggest a study of Volume 8 of The Interpreter's Bible, for a deep understanding, but several elements lead us to believe that it is indeed, a prior work. It is decidedly Gnostic of the Docetism school, unthinkable to anyone of the later church; it is poetry, pure in form, and "The word Logos, the theme of the prologue, drops out of the gospel after 1:14, as a technical term. It was borrowed from the language of the Stoics, in which it represents the divine reason, immanent in nature and in man. Philo, the Hellenizing Jew of Alexandria, uses this term more than thirteen hundred time in his...." collected writings. (The Intepreter's Bible; Volume 8; Page 442. We must keep in mind that both Plato, the Stoics, and Philo all wrote prior to this Gospel.
Victor, any number of what appear to be errors in the posts you make above. First, what is held as equivalent to Scripture by the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican traditions is not "man's tradition" but rather what is termed Holy Tradition, meaning the doctrinal structure and praxis (how one acts out one's faith, including but not limited to in liturgy) considered to have been handed down by the Apostles, as expanded when necessary to define what had previously been left undefined, determined by the combined consensus of the leaders of the church. Contemplate the vast difference between the doctrines of the Trinity and the Dual Nature of Christ, which comprise a part of Holy Tradition, and something like the Rosary or the requirement of priestly celibacy, which are additions put into place by one denomination as their considered views of proper piety.

I'd like to see a cite attributing the Gospel of John or the greater portion of it to Plato; I consider this very improbable. On the other hand, the writer of John (whether the Beloved Disciple himself, the mysterious "John the Elder" who hung out in Ephesus towards the end of the B.D.'s lifespan, or one of the anonymous folk who populate the universe of the text critics) clearly was familiar with the logos theology of the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo, and adapted it to a Christian context by expressing his understanding that the being who became Jesus of Nazareth was none other than the effectuating word of God in human form. And this idea is the farthest thing from Docetism -- because John is quite explicit, the most so of any of the Gospels, that Jesus is both a bona fide human being and the Son of God incarnate.
Addressing the OP, I find in the notes to my New Jerusalem Bible the following variant endings (everybody accepts 16:1-8 as canonical):

Many manuscripts omit the canonical ending (16:9-20).

One manuscript:
"They reported briefly to Peter's companions what they had been told. Then Jesus himself through their agency broadcast from east to west the sacred and uncorruptible message of eternal salvation."

Four manuscripts have the above followed by 16:9-20.

One manuscript has 16:9-20 with the following insertion, starting from verse 14:
Lastly, He showed himself to the Eleven themselves while they were at table. He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy, because they had refused to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. And they defended themselves with, "This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under the sway of Satan, who does not allow those under the yoke of unclean spirits to understand God's truth and power. Now, therefore, reveal your righteousness." This is what they said to Christ, and Christ answered, "The number of years allowed for Satan's authority has been reached, but other terrible things draw near. I was handed over to be killed for those who have sinned, so that they might turn to the truth and sin no more, and so inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness which is in heaven. Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News...."

How, exactly, Mark was supposed to end in the original manuscript is a very difficult question to answer. Some think it merely cut off at verse 8.
The variant endings are very interesting, if nothing else because they reflect the various movements of thought within early Christianity. Do you have any references for the above two endings for further research?
From the Jerome Biblical Commentary, Gospel According to Mark, Sec. 96:

The Endings of the Marcan Gospel. Mark may have ended his gospel with [ch. 16]v. 8 but the strange ending of that verse with the conj. gar and its abruptness indicate that the real ending of the Gospel may be lost to us today. The mss. tradition has preserved three different endings: (1) the long canonical ending (16:9-20), which is missing in mss. S and B and was declared inauthentic by Eusebius (Quaest. ad Marinum I). Even though it is generally regarded today as non-Marcan (on the basis of different style, vocabulary, and subject matter; see Wik, NTI 171-2; R-F, INT 219-20), it is nonetheless regarded as canonical by Catholics, as a result of the Tridentine decree on the Canon (see DB 784; DS 1504); it was one of the passages explicitly discussed at the Council as an example of a "pars" (see E. Mangenot, DTC 2, 1602; DAFC 4, 1972-73). (2) the so-called shorter ending, a single verse found in mss. L, Psi, 099, 0112, 579. It too is non-Marcan in its style and language (see V. Taylor, Mark, 614). (3) the Freer Logion, actually a gloss added to 16:14 in the 5th cent. [The Freer Logion is the underscored italicized passage in my above cite of alternate endings. --PC] Freer ms. of the Gospels (codex W [Washingtonensis] is in the Freer Museum of the Smithsonian Institution). This gloss, added by some early scribe to soften the condemnation of the Eleven in v. 14, was known to Jerome (Contra Pelagianos 2.15). It too is quite non-Marcan in its style and language, and may have come from a Gnostic circle of the late 2nd or early 3rd cent.

--Edward J. Mally, S.J.

The above, of course, is written from a Catholic perspective for Catholic students of the Bible. However, it's the best short summary of the Marcan-ending problem I've encountered.
I thank you for your comments and note that I may have been remiss concerning the 'entire' Gospel. My comments referred to the Introduction, John 1:1-16 only, not the entire Gospel. (Which by the way is in the public view approximately 200 years after the fact.)

If you will refer to the I.B. as I have noted you will find several imminent Christian theologians who agree with my findings.

Number 2, I do NOT consider tradition to be 'holy' for several reasons, one being the impudence of man to even begin to consider himself an equal with God regardless of his past experience. Beyond that I happen to have arrived at an position (through both study and an intimate relationship with God's Holy Spirit) that accepts Christianity as a facticious religion.

Lastely, most that which is practiced within the prison of the 'church's walls, is NOT biblical, nor did it have its beginnings within the primative Church (that faith of the original disciples.)

For my personal views, you may study all three of my thesis which, by Brian's kind consideration, are published on this site. You may download them as you wish! And please, do not take this as an affront or a criticism of your beliefs or statement, but merely the ramblings of an opinionated, tired, old man.

Always yours in the Living Christ, I am:
When you read Chapter 15 of Mark, you come to this:

15:34 And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried out, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" Meaning, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

15:37 And Jesus cried out and (died)

15:39 Now when the centurion who stood (facing him) saw that he cried out like this, he said, "Truly this was (a) Son of God."

Several liberal scholars believe this was the original ending of the gospel of Mark, and everything after 15:39 was added by later copists.

Here's the theory:

Peter went to Rome and talked to a group of Christians there. After Peter left, the group asked John Mark to write down what Peter said.

So, Peter's original sermon was aimed at a group of Christians in Rome. The written text was prepared at their request, for the purpose of teaching new converts. (Which explains why the Aramaic is translated.)

The centurion is a generic authority figure. He isn't given a name, and no one connected with Peter or Mark heard him speak.

But... the Roman emperor Augustus was adopted by Julius Caesar. The adoption wasn't revealed until Caesar's will was read, and Marc Antony refused to allow Augustus (known as Octavius then) to take control of Caesar's estate. When the Roman Senate proclaimed Caesar a god, they also granted Octavius the right to sign official documents "son of God." And Octavius used that title until he became Emperor.

So, in Peter's sermon to the Roman church, he said, "The centurion heard Jesus die and then proclaimed, "Surely this man was as noble as our beloved emperor Augustus Caesar."

And, of course, any Roman centurion watching convicted criminals die while hanging from crosses would look at the dead bodies and think, "Surely this corpse was as noble as our beloved emperor Augustus Caesar when he was living."

Yeah, right.

It's a sales pitch for Christianity, trying to hide the fact that the Roman authorities put Jesus on trial, found him guilty of some crime and executed him. They didn't think he was credible, noble, or a Son of god.

If they had, why would they have killed him in such a painful manner?

Hi Skeptic44 - and welcome to comparative-religion.com!

You're possibly quite right about the generic Centurion notion - and there certainly is a lot of pro-Roman sympathy in the New Testament.

However, a point to note about "son of God" is that Divinity and authority were inexorably combined in the ancient world – every person in authority across Europe and the Near East, of any standing, could trace their family origins to a Divinity. The Greek and Roman families all choose their own Divine ancestry (the Julian clan I believed claimed descent from Venus). The issue becomes marked by proximity to this Divine origin – the rulers of Persia and Egypt, for example, usually claimed direct descent – as did even Alexander the Great.

An important issue here, though, is that Divine ancestry was primarily a demonstration of distinction of character – anybody who was anybody in the ancient world had to have Divine ancestry. Authority and Divinity were combined tenets.

Therefore it's no surprise that Gospels make an issue of Jesus having a Divine birth – because unless he has one then, in the eyes of ancient peoples, he would have been of no standing. Add to this the fact that a direct lineage from David is added, and you can immediately see a form of desperation, as Jesus is being endowed with every possible honour to make him seem like a respectable figure – he is given an earthly Kingship for direct political authority, and also awarded divine honours, as a more general distinction.

However, it's important to note that the Roman Empire not infrequently encountered "sons of God" - especially in terms of Asian rulers. Whereas a person may be seen to be a "son of God" among their own people, the Romans - and any other local rulers - were still free to treat them with contempt.

In which case I think I'm agreeing with your comment that the generic centurion could certianly have a propagandist role. However, you miss the point about the trial itself - I read that as a pro-Roman event, in that it was not Rome who condemned Jesus, but the Sanhedrin, who insisted that Jesus be tried by local custom. Because the Romans were such "nice people" they obviously conceded and were trapped into the issue of sentencing.