Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The End of Mark's Gospel

In my consideration of whether to transfer from the NKJV to the ESV, I have been doing a lot of study of NT textual criticism again, after quite a number of years. One major difference between the Alexandrian Priority Eclectic Text (i.e. UBS and Nestle-Aland) and the Traditional Text stream is the ending of Mark. Is Mark 16:9-20 part of Scripture? I have always been convinced that it is and my recent research continues to confirm this belief.

A very good summary of the arguments for the Longer Ending are set forth by Jim Snapp here. Pastor Snapp is not pro-Byzantine, but is purely Eclectic, which is evident from his summary of textual criticism here.

Metzger's basic argument for rejecting the Longer Ending ("UBS orthodoxy") is here, along with Schriver's arguments. Burgon's longer defence of the Longer Ending can be found here. (See also Scaff's discussion here.)

Interestingly, even Metzger is suspicious of the abruptness of ending at verse 8 as he states in The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration (3rd Edition, p. 228):

"It appears, therefore, that έφοβουντο γάρ of Mark xvi. 8 does not represent what Mark intended to stand at the end of his Gospel. Whether he was interrupted while writing and subsequently prevented (perhaps by death) from finishing his literary work, or whether the last leaf of the original copy was accidentally lost before other copies had been made, we do not know."

Such a statement is typical of Metzger's unorthodox (higher-critical) beliefs about Scripture (e.g. that the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistles of Clement were inspired, but not canonical), while professing to be Evangelical. (I am not trying to make an ad hominem argument against Metzger, but trying to neutralise the ad hominem arguments which try to say, "How can you disagree with an expert like Metzger?")

To those who argue that the Longer Ending is a different narrative style to the rest of the Gospel, I would note two things (n.b. there is much more that has been said on this):

1. There is an abrupt change in narrative style at the end of John's Gospel, but it is not rejected due to the "afterglow" of W&H's glorification of Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus as the end of Mark is.

2. As my wife pointed out, what could be more Markan than beginning nearly every sentence with the word και (i.e. "and")? The non-Markan theory of the Longer Ending is plausible from a neutralist perspective, but the arguments, e.g. words not used elsewhere in the Gospel, are very weak.

Read the rest...

Labels: ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a section in Philip Schaff's 'History of the Christian Church' where he gives two pages of arguments against the long ending, and two pages of arguments for. It was virtually impossible to judge which was the better argument.

Saturday, March 17, 2007 10:48:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...


Thanks for this contribution. I have added a link to Schaff in the post.

What can I say? Read Snapp.

Interestingly Schaff shares a lot with Metzger in his view of Scripture and his ecumenical leanings.

By the way, did you know some of the editors of the UBS text is Cardinal Carlos Martini, Archbishop of Milan and the so-called Greek Orthodox Johannes Karavidopoulos of the University of Thessalonica. This is indicative of UBS' ecumenical activities, of which the Bible Society of N.I and the Bible Society of Scotland are a part.

Sadly also, the professed agnostic Bart Ehrmann became the co-author of Metzger's 'Text of the New Testament' in the 4th edition. Again, none of this invalidates any of Metzger's arguments.

Sunday, March 18, 2007 1:32:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as I am aware most Critical Text versions use NA 21. The fact that a couple of papists may have worked on the UBS does not affect its accuracy, after all Erasmus formulated the TR and many of the Byzantine manuscripts were copied out by people who were not orthodox. However, I respect your contribution and do think that more respect should be given to the Byzantine tradition.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 11:06:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...


I agree with you that the involvement of Martini and Karavidopoulos do not necessarily affect its accuracy as I already stated. I just regret that UBS is so ecumenical and that the text of the NT is in the hands of those with a low view of Scripture, inc. the professed-evangelical Metzger.

To give another example, the UBS committee believes that Matthew 1:7,8,10 should read Asaph and Amos, instead of Asa and Amon, because of their (in my view) questionable confidence in the Alexandrian and ecclesiatically-linked (e.g. Coptic, Ethiopic, Georgian, Armenian) versions, so that they believe that Matthew (and the Holy Spirit!) made a mistake (see Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek NT).

A few minor points: NA21 is itself a critical edition - critical texts are not based on it; and the ESV uses UBS4/NA27.

The main point of the post is to open people's perspective on this issue. Sadly many minds are closed due to the unloving behaviour of many AV-only advocates, the natural tendency of man to want to conform to the perceived majority consensus, and a lazy attitude towards this matter. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!

As with all issues, we should try to read the various sides. I continue to read all sides of this debate, as I do in all areas where the orthodox differ.

"The first one to plead his cause seems right, Until his neighbour comes and examines him." (Prov. 18:17)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 1:55:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry I meant NA27. It is a shame that AV-onlyism has hijacked the Byzantine text, while I am not convinced that it is always superior (especially in John 8), I do think the tradition needs to be treated with more respect. However, even if I came to the view that it was better, I do not believe that I could tell people it was wrong to use othodox versions like the ESV and NASB. Also, I use the NKJV a lot; please don't abandon it!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 10:41:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...


Sorry for the late response.

Have a look here for an article favouring the inclusion of the Pericope de Adultera.

I wouldn't attack users of the ESV and NASB either, you'll be glad to hear ;)

The more I read about this topic, the more I get convinced, like John Wenham, that NT Textual Criticism has been going in the wrong direction for too long, so I won't be abandoning the NKJV! More coming soon...

I use and will continue to use the ESV as my second version. It appears frequently at my devotions, and always appears at Bible study and worship service along with my NKJV.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 8:33:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


In addition to the multi-part online presentation about Mark 16:9-20, a detailed, copiously footnoted essay on the topic is also available. I will gladly provide a free copy by e-mail (there are links at the Curtisville Christian Church site), and a recent revision of the essay can be accessed online among the Files at the TC-Alternate Yahoo discussion-group.

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.

Monday, April 09, 2007 3:35:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Thanks, Jim. You have provided a number of useful resources on your website. May God bless you and your ministry.

Your brother in Christ,


Monday, April 09, 2007 8:16:00 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home