Gospel of Mark

WHKeith

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A note here about "sons of God."

That term was QUITE prevalent throughout the near- and middle East in the last half of the 1st millenium BCE, and was deeply imbedded in Jewish mysticism. Remember those enigmatic verses in Genesis 6: 1 - 4, about how "the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair, and took them wives of all they chose?" Verse 4 is the one about "There were giants in the earth in those days, and also after that. . . ."

There is some evidence that the "sons of God" were drawn from much earlier Babylonian and Sumerian traditions of a host of lesser gods beneath the major deities--the "Annunaki," or "Those who came from heaven down to Earth." It was a great way for a king to establish his right to rule--that he was literally a son of a god, possessing thereby divine authority.

In a slightly different vein, and as an outgrowth of this, 1st and 2nd century Judea was overrun by itinerant magicians and mages. The expression "I am the son of God" was a popular formula embraced by initiates into the Hermetic system of magic. Various Demotic and Greek papari giving Hermetic formulae include such lines as "I am the Son of the living God," "I am the one come forth from heaven," and "I am the truth," and wewre declarations of the initiate's newly assumed power over the forces of nature. Connections with some of Jesus's sayings as recorded in the Gospel of John are obvious. One of these magicians even won himself a part in the Bible--Simon Magus, the "sorcerer" in the Book of Acts who tried to buy magical powers from Peter, and who eventually lent his name to an unsavory church practice--simony.

While there has been much speculation that Jesus himself may have been a Hermetic initiate, that's not the idea I'm trying to present here. The point is that the term "Son of God" was historically common in the area, both by longstanding religious tradition and in current magical practice. It's not necessary to make the considerable stretch to Roman emperors and their adoption practices, IMHO.

One observation about the Roman centurion at the cross. Much of this material, as mentioned earlier, may have been added to the account later. In the period between about 40 and the destruction of the Second Temple in 70, there was a fierce debate over whether Jesus had come just for the Jews, or whether His message was intended for the gentiles as well. The Jerusalem Christian church expected all converts to Christianity to become Jews, including--ouch!--being circumcised. Some apsects of this struggle are recorded in the Book of Acts--including one dramatic passage where Paul has a real falling out with Peter, and goes off to become the "Apostle to the gentiles."

A fair amount of propaganda was written during this period to "gentilize" the gospel message. This was actually the beginning of some of the viler aspects of modern anti-Semitism, the whole poisonous notion that the Jews rejected and murdered Jesus, causing God to turn away and bestow His favor on the gentiles. The Roman centureion became a poster child of the "good gentile," a non-Jew who nevertheless recognized the Christ for who He was. And if a gruff old Roman sergeant could make that transition . . . how much more so is it possible for YOU, Cornelius, to accept the light, the living Son of God. . . .
 

Skeptic44

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WHKeith said:
>> The Roman centureion became a poster child of the "good gentile," a non-Jew who nevertheless recognized the Christ for who He was. And if a gruff old Roman sergeant could make that transition . . . how much more so is it possible for YOU, Cornelius, to accept the light, the living Son of God. . . .

___________


Hi, Keith and Brian, nice to meet you....

My question here was...

If this "good gentile" gruff old Roman sergeant was on guard duty, watching the convicted criminals die hanging from crosses...

and he sees one of the prisoners "give up the ghost"...

and he looks at the corpse hanging there and...

then he suddenly announces to the world around him, "Surely this was a Son of God."

And no one is there to write it down.

And the account shows up as the last line in the Gospel of Mark, an account of Jesus' death prepared at the request of a church group in Rome....

is it really credible to think the centurion actually said that?

Or is it the "Best Evidence Rule" that SOME of the gospel account of the life of Jesus is pure propoganda, and therefore we can't tell how much of the rest is?

Just curious about whether other people see this the same way I do.
____________

Sorry, I forgot the topic of this thread.... here's the connection.

Dominic Crossan and a few other scholars think this was the original ending of Mark, not 16:8.

That the opening of Mark is tied together with this one as the closing, so that Peter's sermon ended on a high point, with the centurion standing center stage and announcing that Jesus was "son of God" and gave him the same title as Augustus and others.

Which, if you remember the gospels were written to be read aloud at church services, so christians could have their own "Scripture" in the same way that Jews would read from OT in synagogues, would make it very much like a stage play.
 

WHKeith

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I tend to agree that the centurion probably didn't say those words. Seems just a little too pat and perfect to my ear, if you know what I mean. My point was simply that it seemed more likely that the centurion's words were invented by writers interested in reaching and impressing gentile readers than it was that there was a (to my mind) dubious connection with the Son-of-Godhood of Caesar.

Also--DUH! [WHK slaps self in forehead with palm of hand.] I wasn't thinking. At the time of the crucifixion, it was NOT Caesar Ausgustus, but HIS successor, Tiberius who ruled in Rome. Tiberius ruled from about 14 (depending on whether or not you count the years he semi-co-ruled with old Augustus) to 37. The last ten years were spent in semi-retirement at his version of the Playboy Mansion on Capri, but he was still officially emperor.

Tiberius was a cynical, dour old SOB. He'd been officially adopted by Augustus, but cared little for gods. At that point, unless I'm mistaken, it was less the emperor himself who was worshipped as a god than it was his *genius,* his spirit, or his ideal, if you will.

I guess I just can't really believe that THAT was the explanation for the Son of God remark by the soldier. Other possibilities seem far more likely.
 

Skeptic44

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WHKeith said:
I... guess I just can't really believe that THAT was the explanation for the Son of God remark by the soldier. Other possibilities seem far more likely.

_______________

Such as...?

Augustus was the Emperor when Jesus was born.

If I said your mannerisms "remind me of a peanut farmer from Georgia," would eveyone here understand I was referring to Jimmy Carter?

Mark was written in Greek, some time between 30 AD and 65 AD. Probably you could make a checkerboard pattern if you could assign dates to each individual part. Easiest thing was to continue the story after it ended, IF the parchment or scroll you were using had some extra space. Probably there was some incentive to use ALL the available space, since the materials were so expensive.

No, Augustus wasn't Emperor at time this was written, but...

Augustus signed official documents "son of God" and that was the ONLY title the Senate let him use... so it would seem that the use of "Truly he was (a) son of God" would have THAT meaning in the minds of the intended audience, Christians living in Rome ~50 AD. If you can think of a more likely meaning, something THEY would think of when they heard that reference, PLEASE share.

But I think this explains why there are multiple endings to Mark.

Question is, did the original end with the phrase "Truly this was (a) son of God."

The story about the three women at the tomb... compare it to the women in the account of raising of Lazarus in John and you'll see something interesting. Also, "Secret mark" is on point.
 

Skeptic44

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WHKeith said:
A note here about "sons of God."

1st and 2nd century Judea was overrun by itinerant magicians and mages. The expression "I am the son of God" was a popular formula embraced by initiates into the Hermetic system of magic. Various Demotic and Greek papari giving Hermetic formulae include such lines as "I am the Son of the living God," "I am the one come forth from heaven," and "I am the truth," and wewre declarations of the initiate's newly assumed power over the forces of nature.

Connections with some of Jesus's sayings as recorded in the Gospel of John are obvious. .... The point is that the term "Son of God" was historically common in the area, both by longstanding religious tradition and in current magical practice. It's not necessary to make the considerable stretch to Roman emperors and their adoption practices, IMHO.
. .
________________

Excellent points. And if the gospel hadn't been written for a church group of Christians in Rome, from a speech Peter gave to this same group, I might not have made the connection.

But the motive was to sanitize jesus for converts living in Rome... and ending the gospel with a generic Roman who found Jesus comparable to a Roman emperor... makes more sense than comparing him to a Jewish magician. IMO>

This is from the message board at Harvard Theological Review.

When Julius Caesar died, he was deified and given the new name

divus Iulius.

In origin divus was nothing but another form of deus and thus meant simply "god." But

>> following the deification of Julius Caesar,

>> DIVUS came to mean a god who had previously been a man.

After the official deification of Caesar in 42 BCE, Octavian began to call himself officially divi filius, that is, "God's son" or "Son of a god."

From 27 BCE until 3 CE, Augustus's official name in Greek documents was ("Emperor Caesar Augustus son of god").

Thereafter, his official title was longer, but it continued to begin with the names just cited.

While Tiberius was emperor, his adopted son Germanicus, at the time consul and commander over all the eastern provinces, referred to himself in an edict as ("son of the god Augustus [Tiberius] and grandson of Augustus").The earliest documented title of the high priest of the imperial cult in the Roman province of Asia is [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("high priest of the goddess Roma and of Emperor Caesar Augustus son of god.)"

... for those failiar with the terminology of the imperial cult, the acclamation of the centurion in mark.... the lack of the articles makes the acclamation similar to the imperial epithet. Members of the audience of Mark familiar with the imperial cult would understand the centurion recognized Jesus as the true ruler of the known world, rather than the emperor.
______________

so, another possibility: the acclamation means Jesus is the true ruler, not the Emperor. Hmm.
 

iBrian

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Skeptic44 said:
so, another possibility: the acclamation means Jesus is the true ruler, not the Emperor. Hmm.
Although I'm under the impression that the early Christians saw the distinction between the poltiical and spiritual spheres (ie, "My kingdom is not of this world" - John 18:36, and "Render all things that are Caesar's to Caesar" - Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25) - in the Roman world it was actually difficult to separate the spiritual from the political.

After all, the Roman State revolved around Roman law - which in itself was inseparable to Roman religion. If I may quote from a short article on this site:

http://www.comparative-religion.com/ancient/roman.php
However, for all their later cosmopolitan acceptance of other faiths, the Roman Empire's original state gods were so ingrained in law and the calendar itself that all other religions had to be subservient to them - and it was Christian refusal to abide so that lead to their repeated persecution.
Often, during the proscribed feast days food would be offered in the names of any of the relevent Roman gods for that day. The ceremony was both civil and religious - but essentially was a communal blessing of the emperor and Roman Empire. That formed a quandary for the earlier Christians, as a food offering was effectively an act of worpship. And so it was precisely the refusal to take part by some Christians that lead to repeated persecutions.

So now that I've had an excuse to refer to Rome ( :) ) I agree that there's every possibility of interpreting the long Centurion as being a dramatic propagandist close to Mark.

However, as I intimated in another thread, the point at which even the Gospel accounts move from being a propagandist work, to being one of a remarkable history, is entirely a personal choice.
 

Skeptic44

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I said:
So now that I've had an excuse to refer to Rome ( :) ) I agree that there's every possibility of interpreting the long Centurion as being a dramatic propagandist close to Mark.

.
________________

It does read like it was the original ending.

But what about the women at the tomb?

One account missing from Mark is the raising of Lazarus.

"Secret Mark" - a letter - suggests that the raising of Lazarus appeared in some versions of Mark, though in a different form.

Jesus and Martha, the sister of Lazarus, hear a cry from inside a tomb.

Jesus rolls away a stone and finds Lazarus under a white cloth, naked.

John 11:1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. it was Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.

11:18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles (fifteen stadia) away, and many Jews joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

So Martha was Mary's sister. And Lazarus was Mary's brother.

Mark 16:1 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Sallome... very early in the morning, came to the tomb when the sun had risen.
 

Onyxkylix

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The Ending of the Gospel of Mark

Greetings to Brian, Polycarp, and others,

This thread seems to have strayed from the initial topic; my comments here are about some things that were stated about Mark 16:9-20.

Some of the data about this that you have been assumed to be correct, isn't. Allow me to dissect just one source: The article by E.J. Mally in the "Jerome Biblical Commentary."

Mally: "... the long canonical ending (16:9-20), which is missing in mss. S and B ..."

A couple of questions:
(1) Why didn't Mally mention the unusual prolonged blank space in B which appears between Mark 16:8 and Luke 1:1?
(2) And why didn't Mally mention that the pages of Sinaiticus which contain the end of Mark and the beginning of Luke constitute a "cancel-sheet," that is, a replacement of the original material? This seems like a significant piece of information.

Mally: "...and was declared inauthentic by Eusebius (Quaest. ad Marinum I)."

Eusebius did not do that in Ad Marinum. Eusebius imagined two apologists who approached the passage in two different ways: one dismissed it as inauthentic and one accepted it. In Ad Marinum, Eusebius adopts the latter approach, and quotes from 16:9 as having been written by Mark.

Mally: "(2) the so-called shorter ending, a single verse found in mss. L, Psi, 099, 0112, 579."

In every single one of these 5 Greek manuscripts listed, the Shorter Ending is followed by the contents of 16:9-20. It is egregiously sloppy to not mention that. Mally is underinforming his readers to a degree which amounts to misinforming them.

Mally wrote: "... (3) the Freer Logion, actually a gloss..."

Exactly; it's a gloss. As in, NOT an alternate ending at all; it's just the usual Long Ending (vv. 9-20) with an interpolation between v. 14 and v. 15.

Onyxkylix
 

iBrian

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Hi Onyxkylix, and welcome to comparative-religon.com!

And thanks for the comments - I especially like the fact that the main thrust of this topic (ie, the ending of Mark) is generally based on intelligent argument. I look forward to seeing how this thread develops now it's properly on track.
 

Juliana

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I just came accross an interesting website of an expert of the Gospel of Mark. And his thesis is very interesting, too...
Look at this: www.carotta.de

:confused:

Juliana
 

PersonaNonGrata

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yeah lets say there is one human that reincarnates repeatedly within the world history... That chosen one comes warns rules and leave ...
wow thats quite a conspricy huh..
 

WolfgangvonUSA

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I had posted this earlier on another thread, and it seems to me that this longer ending might have been added by a Pauline operative in order to add some credibility to the Pauline/Lukan doctrine of speaking in tongues, handling vipers and drinking poison.

Rightfully removing this ending has the effect of removing any endorsement by the original 12 apostles of the contentious Pauline doctrine, which along with Marcion, was not accepted by the early church.


http://www.religioustolerance.org/mark_16.htm



FORGERY IN THE

GOSPEL OF MARK?

var bnum=new Number(Math.floor(99999999 * Math.random())+1);document.write('');Forgery is perhaps a rather harsh word. Within Christian religious circles, the term "apocryphal addition" is commonly used to describe a passage that an unknown copyist added to the original manuscript.

Conservative Christians, and some others, believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. This means that God inspired its authors to write error-free text. However, the concept only applies to the original, autograph copies, not to later additions, deletions, "corrections" etc. Thus, the various endings after Mark16:8 are not necessarily inerrant.


The original ending of Mark:

Some of the oldest copies of the Gospel of Mark, the Sinaitic (circa 370 CE) and Vatican (circa 325 CE), end at Mark 16:8. Papyrus-45 (a.k.a. P-45) is an even older version of Mark, but it is incomplete; none of its text from Mark 16 has survived. Various additions after Mark 16:8 appear to have been added later by unknown Christian forgers. One addition was quoted in the writings of Irenaeus and Hippolytus in the second or third century CE.

Chapter 15 of Mark describes Jesus' death and burial. Chapter 16 describes how Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James), and Salome went to the tomb on Sunday morning. They found that the stone blocking the tomb had rolled back. A young man in the tomb told them that Jesus had risen, and that they should tell the disciples that he had gone to Galilee where they should meet him. The Gospel ends by describing how the women trembled and said nothing to anyone about their experience.

The Gospel is viewed by many as incomplete. It appears to ends abruptly. The reader has been primed to expect an account of the women telling the disciples of the empty tomb, and a subsequent description of a meeting of Jesus and his the disciples in Galilee. However, none is forthcoming.

Theologians have offered 4 explanations for this strange ending:

1. The writer of the Gospel did actually intend it to end it abruptly. This is a possibility because over a dozen ancient Greek compositions have survived which end sentences with the Greek word "gar" as Mark 16:8 does.

2. The author was interrupted (perhaps by death) and never finished the Gospel.

3. The Gospel of Mark did originally continue beyond Verse 8, but the ending was accidentally destroyed: perhaps the scroll was damaged or the last page of the codex was lost.

4. Mark 16 originally extended beyond verse 8, where it described the meeting of Jesus and his disciples. However, it was intentionally destroyed because it conflicted with the Gospel of Luke or Matthew. The perpetrator may have felt that Christians might doubt the accuracy of the Christian Scriptures if the Gospels did not agree precisely. Scholars have pointed out that the lost ending of Mark presumably would have described the meeting between Jesus and the disciples as happening in Galilee, whereas Luke says that it occurred near Jerusalem. This explanation also sounds unreasonable, because Mark 16:1 already disagrees with Matthew 28:1 over the number of women who visited the tomb: (Matthew describes that only two women went to the tomb: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. Mark 16:1 says there were three women and adds Salome.) Surely, if someone were to go to the effort of destroying the ending of Mark in order to make the Gospels harmonize, then they would have altered Mark 16:1 and also modified:



16:8 to delete a reference to Salome, and



16:7 to change the location of the meeting from Galilee to Jerusalem.



Also, a person who intentionally destroyed the ending would probably have cleaned up the end of verse 8 to make it appear as if that was the true ending, and leave no trace of the forgery.


Popular endings for Mark

The most ancient full manuscripts of Mark end mid-sentence with Mark 16:8. A variety of endings appear in later manuscripts:



The Longer Ending: This consist of verses 9 to 20, and is the ending found most often in Biblical translations. They describe that Jesus visited Mary Magdelene, who told the disciples about the empty tomb. But the disciples did not believe her. Jesus then appeared to two of the disciples who told the others; still they did not believe that he was risen. Afterwards, Jesus was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God. The disciples then followed the Great Commission. Theologians often refer to this passage as the "Marcan Appendix," because it appears to have been written by a later copyist, and not by the author of the rest of the Gospel of Mark. It "has traditionally been accepted as a canonical part of the gospel and was defined as such by the Council of Trent." 1 The Appendix is incorporated without comment in the King James Version of the Bible. However, more recent authorities suggest that it is a forgery:



A note in recent copies of the New International Version of the Bible states: "The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20."



Most biblical translations contain a footnote indicating that the verses were not written by the author of Mark.



Mohamed Ghounem & Abdur Rahman comment: "...approximately 100 early Armenian translations, as well as the two oldest Georgian translations, also omitted the appendix." 2



"The longer ending...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." 3

There is a break in the flow of the story between verses 14 and 15. This might be evidence that the forger used two different sources when creating the longer ending.

The additional passage is quite important for a number of reasons, because it contains important material relating to the duties of Christians to proselytize, the criteria needed for personal salvation, and some of the powers granted to Jesus' disciples:



Mark 16:15 includes a direct quotation from Jesus that is usually called the "Great Commission." It instructs the 11 surviving disciples to go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Conservative Christians regard the Great Commission to be their prime directive.



Verse 16 contains Jesus criteria for salvation. In order to be saved, a person must:



"believe" - presumably this refers to belief in the "good news."



"be baptized" - one must first be baptized before one is saved.

This appears to disagree with other passages in the Bible which discuss different criteria for salvation.



Jesus told his disciples that they would be able to cast out devils, speak with new tongues, heal the sick, and be immune from death by snake bite or poison. The Church of God with Signs Following have interpreted these verses as the basis of their occasional practices of drinking poison or allowing themselves to be bitten by poisonous snakes. Many have died as a result of this testing of their faith.





The Shorter Ending: One Old Latin manuscript, the Codex Bobiensis, has survived from circa 400 CE. It contains a "shorter ending" in place of the "long ending."

One translation reads:

"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."

The Revised Standard Version of the Bible includes this verse as a footnote.

The validity of this ending is suspect for a number of reasons:



"Earlier in Mark 16, it contains an interpolation which seems to have an affinity with the 'Gospel of Peter'..." 4 That gospel is one of almost 50 gospels that were circulated among the early Christian movement, but which were never accepted into the official canon of the Christian Scriptures (New Testament).



Part of Mark 16:8 has been deleted. This text said that the women kept silent about the empty tomb; they told none of the disciples about it. If the copyist had left this verse intact, it would blatantly conflict with the "shorter ending."



"The so-called shorter ending consists of the women's reports to Peter and Jesus' commissioning 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." 3



Some theologians believe that the Shorter Ending was probably written by an unknown forger, who based it on the Gospel of Matthew. His motivation was to quickly wrap up the Gospel less abruptly.





For the full article go to
http://www.religioustolerance.org/mark_16.htm

 

Juliana

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Yes, very interesting. But what do you think of this guy's theory?

[self promo link removed]

:confused:

Juliana
 

iBrian

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Interesting, but perhaps over-simplifying a more complex story. :)

And welcome to CR, Juliana. :)
 

Juliana

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Interesting, but perhaps over-simplifying a more complex story. :)

And welcome to CR, Juliana. :)
Thanks for the welcome, Brian.

Did you read what's on that website. There is a summary and interesting excerpts from the book. It sounds very plausible, the mass and sequence of correspondences cannot be explained just by coincidence.

Juliana
 

Abogado del Diablo

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Speaking of this "Jesus is Ceasar" idea, there is a book coming out early next year by Joe Atwill ("Caesar's Messiah") in which he attempts to prove the thesis that the Jesus myth was written by or at the direction of the Flavian Caesars to create a religion based around the exploits of Titus Flavianus. Most of the evidence he uses are parallels between Josephus's "Jewish War" and the life of the Flavian Caesar Titus. Probably not a lot of hard evidence I expect. It will probably be in the "historical speculation" category right next to Leigh & Baigent books and Harry Turtledove. :D
 

Juliana

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Abogado del Diablo said:
Speaking of this "Jesus is Ceasar" idea, there is a book coming out early next year by Joe Atwill ("Caesar's Messiah") in which he attempts to prove the thesis that the Jesus myth was written by or at the direction of the Flavian Caesars to create a religion based around the exploits of Titus Flavianus. Most of the evidence he uses are parallels between Josephus's "Jewish War" and the life of the Flavian Caesar Titus. Probably not a lot of hard evidence I expect. It will probably be in the "historical speculation" category right next to Leigh & Baigent books and Harry Turtledove. :D
Well, I must this Joe Atwill looks very much like a bad plagiator, the same as this guy:

[link]

Juliana
 

Flavius

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Flavius said:
??? I do not understand. Courtney's book is from 1992, Carotta's book is from 1999. Isn't it the other way around?
And now that I've compared both sites: Courtney is also a much better writer!!
 
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