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The Last Twelve Verses of Mark ConferenceSession 2 – Maurice Robinson

Posted by on Apr 13, 2007 in scripture | 4 comments

Maurice Robinson is the second presenter for the conference “The Last Twelve Verses of Mark: Original or Not?” Dr. Robinson is a professor of New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The title of his presentation is “Amid Perfect Contempt a Place for the Genuine”
(Dr. Robinson will present the position that the longer ending of Mark is original and written by Mark himself.)

Dr. Robinson begins by covering (briefly) some of the same information covered by Dr. Wallace. He states that he does not hold to the Griesbach hypothesis.

The only reason that the longer ending of Mark is questioned is because neither Sinaiticus nor Vaticanus include the longer ending.

Patristic testimony –Second century testimony (Justin Martyr and Irenaeus) should be given more weight than later patristic evidence. Justin Martyr (early second century) quoted from the longer ending of Mark. Irenaeus (in the 2nd century) intentionally quoted from the beginning and the ending of Mark (the longer ending of Mark).

Robinson recounts the (true) story of a poet who releases several versions of her poems, with the longer version being complete, while the other versions having sections deliberately omitted for intended reasons. Different readers preferred different versions of the poem, though the author said that they complete version is necessary to understand the poem. (Unless I missed it, Robinson does not suggest that this was Mark’s intention.)

Reasons for a scribe removing the longer ending:- Apparent contradictions (i.e., unbelief)- Sign gifts – especially with the rise of neo-orthodoxy (i.e., Montanism)

Robinson speculated as to why (for liturgical reasons) scribes may have added intermediate endings once they decided not to include the longer endings in liturgical readings. This would explain why the intermediate endings are found with the longer endings.

Non-Markan Style and Vocabulary –There are studies that conclude that the longer ending is Markan and other studies that conclude that the longer ending is not Markan.

Dr. Robinson passed around a hand-out of the Greek text of the longer ending of Mark (16:9-20) marked into the following four categories:
1. Exact orthographic form appears elsewhere in Mark.
2. A known Markan vocabulary word that appears in Mark in a varying form (included cases without crasis).
3. The base word in a derivative form of the same root appears elsewhere in Mark; e.g., a noun or adjective versus a verb, or a verb in either compounded or uncompounded form (whichever may apply).
4. Vocabulary not occurring anywhere else in Mark.

Categories 1, 2, and 3 include 92.7% of the words in that passage. Many of the words that only occur in this passage in Mark are also included only a few times in the other Gospels. Non-Markan words are mostly rare even in the other Gospels. We should not be surprised that they are rare in Mark.

Some criticize the long ending of Mark because of its abrupt narrative style. However, Mark uses this kind of abrupt narrative style in other sections of his Gospel (i.e., in the account of the temptation of Jesus).

Robinson listed several scholars who had examined various sections of Mark’s Gospel and compared them favorably with the long ending in reference to style, syntax, linguistics, vocabulary, and grammar.

Without the longer ending, the pattern of promise, prediction, and fulfillment (which permeates the gospel) would be lost in the most important point: the resurrection. Elijah motif and chiastic patterns point to the longer ending of Mark. Mark 16:19 parallels LXX ascendance into heaven. (Robinson lists other connections between Mark and the Elijah narratives in the LXX.)

Next, Robinson lists several linguistic and thematic parallels between the longer ending of Mark and other sections of Mark.

Many claim that the long ending of Mark is a compilation of the remaining canonical gospels. However, much of the information in the long ending is not found in either canonical or non-canonical gospels. There are manuscripts that have summary endings. These are very different from the long ending of Mark, because they are actual summaries.

Fifteen summary points:
1. The long ending can be supported and defended as canonical.
2. The long ending is as likely to be written by Mark as by anyone else.
3. Speculative reconstruction lack external source.
4. Markan intention to end at 16:8 requires a sophisticated and post-modern viewpoint.
5. Son of God theme.
6. Elijah theme.
7. Verbal and thematic parallels.
8. Fulfillment of resurrection prophecies.
9. Greatest bulk of testimony supports long ending.
10. 2nd Century patristic testimony outweighs later testimony.
11. Other Alexandrian omissions are rejected.
12. Secondary authorship of ending of John have better evidence but are rejected.
13. Possible reasons presented for omitting long ending by scribes.
14. Greek mss, versions, and fathers support long ending.
15. External and internal point to validity of long ending from 2nd century to the Enlightenment.

The longer ending may be considered a Markan summary of various resurrection accounts.

(Alan: I took a class in textual criticism from Dr. Robinson. He is a very talented textual critic. He did not require that we hold to his position (Byzantine priority), neither did he focus on his position. He presented all of the different positions very fairly. While his presentation at this conference was not as engaging or entertaining as Wallace’s, he certainly presented a thoughtful and thorough approach. It is perhaps his thoroughness (very important in a written work) that caused his oral presentation to be less engaging. I do not hold to Byzantine priority; however, I do consider the Byzantine manuscripts as important as other text types. The most important statement that Robinson made – to me, at least – is that the long ending of Mark would not be questioned if it was included in either Sinaiticus or Vaticanus.)


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  1. 4-14-2007

    What is or who is Sina… and Vatican…??? (for the ignorant reader Riley..)

    BTW, as compared to the first, I liked this one better, which isn’t worth a hill of beans, but it seemed to lean less on human reasoning and was more simple.

  2. 4-14-2007

    In brief: they are two Greek manuscripts of Alexandrian origin also known as אּ (aleph) and B. Because of their status of preservation and the fact that they are whole “bibles” they are given much importance, when it comes to determining the correct variant reading, by some textual critics.

  3. 4-14-2007

    Thanks, Mael. BTW, when I said “isn’t worth a hill of beans,” I was referring to my liking one lecturer’s opinions better, not to the post or the actual opinions of the lecturer.

  4. 4-15-2007

    Greetings Riley.

    Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are two important Greek manuscripts from the fourth century. You can find out more about them by consulting the online site based on the Encyclopedia of New Testament Textual Criticism, overseen by Robert Waltz. You can also get some background about them in my multi-part presentation about Mark 16:9-20.