Perspectives on the ending of Mark - Robinson, Wallace, Bock, Black, Elliot

Steven Avery

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Jeffrey Riddle - Dec, 2020 - voice and print
I have posted my book review of David Alan Black, Ed., Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views (Broadman & Holman, 2008).
The written review appeared in American Theological Inquiry, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2012): 133-138. Read the pdf here on my page.

Book Review: David Alan Black, Ed., Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views, in American Theological Inquiry, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2012): 133-138.
Jeffrey T . Riddle
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Steven Avery

Facebook - NT Textual Criticism - Oct 14, 2014 2014

Steven Avery
Right. This is an important point that may have been missed to date in Vatlicanus space calculations. Note though that it does not work the same for the Sinaiticus cancel sheet issue, since there the text replaced had been made previously.

As to why, only conjectures. Maybe no respected exemplar with the ending. Maybe, it was decided to leave it along, as a textual-scriptorium decision. Or simply, no positive decision was made to insert before they were done (the lack of a conscious action.) The decision, or lack thereof, may have involved apologetics, "chronology, location and events:" (Perspectives, p. 55)

It is always possible that the space was left for other reasons. This includes the minor possibility that Luke was begun while Mark was still in process. Also you can leave open the minor possibility that the intermediate ending was in the calculations. The scribe could have gotten quirky, inconsistently, about the beginning of the new book being on a new page. Anything else?

Maurice Robinson suggested that the scribe miscalculated the word count, due to a mental haplographic leap, as described in a paper given in the foonote here:


What we are as saying is that the scribe more likely did not do any micro-calculations at all. (A more Ockham-friendly alternative.) The reason for this is that, given the large amount of space left open, leaving open an additional page was hardly even remotely an option. To see if this idea is an alternative considered sensible by Maurice Robinson, we would have to see "The Ending of Mark in Codex Vaticanus: a Feasible solution", 1993, mentioned in Perspectives, p. 52.


Note that p. 53 of Perspectives, in the Maurice Robinson section, references the key point on which James Snapp disagrees with Maurice Robinson (and myself), which is the "freestanding" theory. This by some can be seen as undercutting the authenticity position, James Snapp vigorous protestations notwithstanding, or notwithfreestanding, or withfreestanding. Freestanding has its own series of iterations and apologetic permutations. My speaking including Maurice Robinson is not simply based on his position as given in the paper, it was a specific topic of conversation over (or before) lunch one day a while back.

Note, however, that the detailed textual and historical analyses of James Snapp regarding the ending is still appreciated fully by Maurice Robinson (and myself.) Also, let me make it clear that my opposition to Mr. Freestanding is not simply that it is apologetically dubious, it also seems to be unnecessary, Ockham unfriendly, supportable by convolutions, and basically in left field, having arisen only as part of the historical counterpoint to hortian confusions, not as an organic understanding with any real base. Just to be clear, and not to mince words.

On p. 18 Daniel Wallace responds to a combination of blank space and freestanding, however his analysis and objections on the blank space are swiss cheese, full of holes, and have been dealt with by James Snapp.
Steven Avery

Facebook - NT Textual Criticism
Oct 20, 2014

Maurice Robinson in Perspectives
"Perspectives on the Ending of Mark - 4 Views" (2008)
Amazon has "look inside"

Worthwhile book to buy, as well kindle or used or new, if you are doing research on the ending.


The section by Maurice Robinson is, overall, excellent.
First two omissions:

1) No discussion of dating of the autograph (e.g. James Keith Elliott uses late dating in saying that Mark came after 1 Corinthians 15, p. 90).
2) no discussion of Latin or Graeco-Latin (or two editions) as the original language of Mark (this flies under the modern scholarship radar.)
These two points we will leave aside for now.

ADDED - very little ECW


Three Simple Reasons why scribes may prefer mss with omission:

An interesting summary can be made using p. 53-54. While the original loss could easily be accidental (e.g. lost leaf) there are three, at least, distinct elements of why the longer ending might be preferred in textual transmission:

1) synoptic apologetic issues. Most significantly, this includes Eusebius' Ad Marinum issues, which we know were discussed at the time. David Robert Palmer is an example of a writer who today emphasizes perceived synoptic problems today as a reason to favor excision (the textual proclivities given an apologetic tinge.) This is a wide field of study, "synoptic apologetic issues" gives the sense.

2) Markan harmony issues - Mark 14:28 and Mark 16:7 (especially) glaring out at the reader or scribe.

Mark 14:28 (AV)
But after that I am risen,
I will go before you into Galilee.

Mark 16:7 (AV)
But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter
that he goeth before you into Galilee:
there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

In the manner of: "Hey, what happened? No Galilee appearance here, maybe this is not what Mark wrote, I'll put it aside, like that other ms."

Delbert Burkett is given note for pointing this out:

Rethinking the Gospel Sources: From Proto-Mark to Mark


"... the scribe may have noticed that Mark looks forward to a Galilean resurrection narrative (Mark 14:28; 16:7), which the longer ending does not provide. From that fact the scribe may have concluded that the longer ending was not the original ending of Mark and so omitted it."
3) Sign-gift concerns - this is especially credited to William Reuben Farmer (1921-2000) ,

Only p. 66-68 are online.

The Last Twelve Verses of Mark (1974)
William Reuben Farmer

For the well-written Maurice Robinson summary:


Beyond apparent internal contradiction, a more pressing issue involves the specific sign gifts stated to accompany those who believe. After the legitimization of Christianity under Constantine, a possible area of concern involved perceived difficulties if certain "sign gifts" might be claimed in support of some revived form of prophetic leadership, particularly neo-Montanism. It would be no wonder were certain of the orthodox to have an interest in eliminating an appeal to continuing prophetic signs and wonders, lest a claim of advanced prophetic revelation become destructive of orthodoxy. In view of these considerations, removal or replacement may have been viewed as the optimal solution.


Other ideas seem less significant. e.g. On p. 95 James Keith Elliott mentions an idea that the appearance to Peter could be a cause of deliberate suppression.


Mark's pointing to Galilee

One important omission/weakness in the presentation by Maurice Robinson. Robinson mentions Mark 14:28 and 16:7 on p. 53, as noted above, as a cause of possible inclination to suppress. Robinson does not give his idea as to why Mark put in those two verses and did not have any appearances in Galilee, which is a central question that combines authorship considerations with gospel harmony with textual.

ADDED; With Luke being first, these problems vanish.


Gundry shows interconnections in an amusing backwards fashion, using higher criticism and Markan priority nonsense as a base for his conclusions:

Matthew: A Commentary on His Handbook for a Mixed Church Under Persecution (1994)
Robert Horton Gundry

"Since Mark 14:28; 16:7 cannot refer to a still awaited parousia, the failure of Mark's short text to describe a fulfillment of the prediction that Jesus
would precede the disciples to Galilee becomes so serious that we need to suppose a truncation of Mark's original ending. Here higher criticism comes to the aid (sic) of textual criticism. But Matthew knew Mark's original ending ..."


Mark 14:28 (AV)
But after that I am risen,
I will go before you into Galilee.

Mark 16:7 (AV)
But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter
that he goeth before you into Galilee:
there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

For context, the position of James Snapp on the two verses is that they point to an earlier Mark ending no longer extant. The TC-Alternate discussion was placed on this skeptic's blog.

James Snapp
"(5) In 16:7, the women, including Mary Magdalene, are instructed by the angel to go tell Jesus' disciples "that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him," but 16:9-11 only says that Mary Magdalene reported that Jesus had appeared to her, and that Jesus is alive and that she had seen Him. It does not say that she said anything about Galilee, or about the angel at the tomb, or about the angel's message. This is accounted for more naturally by the idea that 16:9-20 was attached, than by the idea that Mark wrote it at the same time that he wrote 16:1-8."

Dispraxis blog
[TC-Alternate-list] Mark 16:9-20 as the Original Ending of the Gospel of Mark

A position I find convoluted and unacceptable, all part of his freestanding and redactor-factor constructions.

For many years this has come up in discussion and I have taken the position that this simply indicates that the Galilee appearances was able to be read in Matthew or John and that the different books offer a type of harmony tapestry.

In perspectives, David Alan Black seems to imply a similar position by supporting Matthean priority.

With Maurice Robinson, it would be good to know if he has a position, since the question is rather fundamental. So far, I have found nothing.


The first and last are related topics. Granted, this is not meant to go into all about James Snapp theory, the main goal today is our two Mark Galilee verses.

[TC-Alternate-list] resurrection harmony & the ending of Mark
Steven Avery - Jan 22, 2007

[TC-Alternate-list] Mark 14:28 and Mark 16:7 - into Galilee
Steven Avery - Aug, 2009 - followed by (2707 Snapp), (2769 SA), and (2770 SA)

[TC-Alternate-list] resurrection account in Mark - 7 questions - Galilee 16:7 and Peter
Steven Avery - Sept 2009
"we have solid evidence that Matthew's Gospel preceded that of Mark."

Evangelical Textual Criticism
Bob Stein on the ending of Mark - May 20, 2008

[TC-Alternate-list] Mark 16:9-20 - "freestanding" - discussion history


For historical-apologetic reasons it is not easy to find this question addressed in the traditional writers of the 1700s and 1800s. If there are any solid references that are Bible believer based, share away.

When the question does get addressed later, there is often a lot of textual, redactional, higher criticism, abrupt ending, Markan prioerity and interpretative baggage (parousia) that makes the discussions of little value.
Steven Avery

Steven Avery
Maurice Robinson sent me a nice note going over some points. We agree on the early dating (he is about 50 AD, I go a bit earlier, that was really a key question) and the full authorship of Mark (which is in the book).

On the other issues, we agree on substance (except that he is negative on the Graeco-Latin or Latin edition question, and I am mildly pro. However, that is under most of the Mark ending discussion radar.)

Overall, I consider a couple of points a bit more significant in traditional ending apologetics. As an example "freestanding" tends to want a later date for Mark.

Steven Avery
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