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The Last Twelve Verses of Mark ConferenceSession 4 – David Alan Black

Posted by on Apr 14, 2007 in scripture | 1 comment

David Alan Black is the fourth presenter for the conference “The Last Twelve Verses of Mark: Original or Not?” Dr. Black is a professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His web site is “Dave Black Online” and his blog can be accessed at ““.

Dr. Black handed out a summary of his presentation. The title is “Mark 16:9-20: Mark’s Conclusion to Peter’s Discourses”. He admits that he does not consider himself a text critic.

Dr. Black says that he is convinced that the longer ending of Mark is original and that from the external evidence alone. He will not deal with the textual problem as much as the Synoptic problem.

The internal evidence is not probative, and is at best corroborative.

Mark’s Gospel contains Peter’s words, which ended at Mark 16:8. Mark originally wrote 16:9-20 as a conclusion to Peter’s words.

The “earliest and best manuscripts” (Vaticanus and Sinaiticus) should be considered but not with “hypnotic” acceptance. In many places the editors of the UBS Greek text did not accept readings from or omissions in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.

The Fourfold Gospel Hypothesis
Matthew wrote first, then Paul/Luke, then Peter/Mark, then John. This is the “Fourfold Gospel Hypothesis” from a term by Irenaeus (tetramorphon). There is one gospel with fourfold accounts of that one gospel.

Next, Dr. Black discusses the patristic fathers from Justin through Augustine, in chronological order. Dr. Black discusses the modern misrepresentation of Origen’s statement concerning the authorship of Hebrews in order to encourage us to study the patristic fathers in their original languages.

Evaluation of the Patristic Witnesses
Matthew always heads the list of the four Gospels. All attribute the Gospel of Luke to the disciple of Paul by that name. The sources reveal some problem with regard to the origin of Mark. Is it possible for Mark to be regarded from two different aspects as both the second and the third? That is, Mark is third perhaps in order of actual composition, but second in order of authority as the work of Peter. “The Elder” – either John or a contemporary – assured people that Mark had not altered anything at all but had faithfully recorded exactly what Peter had said. Jerome understood the above evidence as proving that the Gospel of Mark to be Peter’s narration and Mark’s writing.

If Matthew and Luke already existed, why would anyone want to write another Gospel?

The Four Phases in the Development of the Gospels
There are four phases in the inscripturating of the Good News about Jesus – four turning points at each of which a suitable Gospel statement was found to be necessary for its proper growth:
1. The Jerusalem Phase (Acts 1-12) under the leadership of Peter.
2. The Gentile Mission Phase (Acts 13-28) under the leadership of Paul.
3. The Roman Phase requiring joint action by Peter and Paul.
4. The Johannine Supplement.

The Jerusalem Phase (AD 30-42)
There was a need to demonstrate to the Jewish authorities that Jesus had literally fulfilled all the prophecies about the Messiah. This was the original motivation for the composition of the Gospel of Matthew, which met all the apologetic needs of the Jerusalem church in the years following the resurrection when its central doctrines were under attack. The Gospel of Matthew was, then, the manifesto of the Mother Church of Jerusalem, and thus became the fundamental document of the Christian faith.

The Gentile Mission Phase (AD 42-62)
Luke carefully followed the main structure of Matthew throughout and generally adhered to the order of its various sections and anecdotes, though he also made highly interesting changes. Paul recognized a need to synthesize the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers. Matthew’s Gospel did not answer all of the questions of the believers from a Gentile background. He wanted a gospel that would meet this need, but would also be accepted by the apostles in Jerusalem. He found a person to write this document in his companion, the physician Luke. After Luke collected evidence and wrote his gospel, there were two reasons to withhold publication. 1) The document had not been verified by the apostles, and 2) the document might cause another uprising by the “circumcision group”.

The Roman Phase (AD 62-67)
In order to get Luke’s work accepted, Paul needed for it to be endorsed by an eyewitness. Paul approached Peter for that endorsement while they were both in Rome. Peter had planned to give a series of speeches on the life of Jesus in Rome. Mark arranged for scribes to take down Peter’s words. Peter spoke with scrolls of both Matthew’s gospel and Luke’s gospel. Peter only spoke of those accounts in the two gospel narratives to which he had personally witnessed (thus, no birth narratives). Peter followed first one gospel, then the other, producing the famous zig-zag pattern when comparing Mark to Matthew and Luke. Peter added details from his own recollection and delivers much of his evidence in the present tense as if he was reliving the accounts. At the end of his fifth discourse, Peter did not add a resurrection account because Paul had a personal encounter with the risen Jesus and did not need collaboration on this. Though other pressed Mark to publish Peter’s lectures, Peter did not exert pressure either to publish or to forbid publishing because he knew that two gospels (Matthew and Luke) already existed.

The most plausible explanation of why Mark 16:9-20 was added to the Gospel is that after Mark had satisfied the immediate demand of those who wanted copies of the five discourses, which ended at Mark 16:8, the matter rested there until after the martyrdom of Peter. As an act of piety to the memory of Peter, Mark then decided to publish an edition of the text that would include the necessary sequel to the passion and death of the Master. But as the private edition of Mark, which lacked these verses, had already been in circulation for some years, the textual tradition has remained divided to this day.

Dr. Black ended with the focus of Mark’s Gospel… that is, the good news of Jesus Christ.

(Alan: First, Dr. Black is my Doktorvater – my Ph.D. mentor. I had to opportunity to take a class in the Greek exegesis of Mark from Dr. Black, and I have read his book that discusses his view: “Why Four Gospels?” Dr. Black is always a gracious, humble, entertaining, and engaging speaker. This presentation was not an exception. His proposal was interesting and thought-provoking.)

One Comment

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  1. 4-14-2007

    From where do the suggested historical facts come (all the stuff about how Peter and Paul and Mary (kidding) Luke and all decided to write)? Is that all supposition?