the weblog of Alan Knox

The Last Twelve Verses of Mark ConferenceSession 6 – Panel Discussion

Posted by on Apr 14, 2007 in scripture | 7 comments

The last session of The Last Twelve Verses of Mark conference is a panel discussion.

Question: (to Dr. Robinson) If Peter is the source of Mark’s gospel, why would Mark record that Peter did not believe if Luke recorded that Peter did believe?

Answer: (Dr. Robinson) I can’t answer why Mark or Luke would or would not write something.

Question: (to Drs. Elliott and Bock) Can you respond to Troebisch’s work on canonicity? Specifically, can the longer ending be canonical but not original?

Answer: (Dr. Elliott) I would be happy to go along with the argument that the longer ending is canonical though not original. It is the book rather than the position in the corpus or the exact content that determines the canonicity.

Answer: (Dr. Bock) My answer would be very similar. The question is, “What do you do with the differences between the long ending and other accounts?” The longer ending has enough problems to indicate that it is non-canonical. In principle, it seems to me, though, that it is quite possible for a text to be unoriginal, yet canonical. (i.e., Deuteronomy)

Answer: (Dr. Elliott) One postscript… the problems with the longer ending are sufficiently important that certain scribes were hesitant to include the longer ending.

Question: (to Dr. Bock) You said, “What is taught here is taught elsewhere.” Does Jesus command us to take up snakes elsewhere?

Answer: (Dr. Bock) I said, “Much of what is taught here is taught elsewhere.” The essential things of the Christian faith are not impacted by the loss of the longer ending. I tell my students that they should rank their decisions much like the UBS editors do, using an A, B, C scale. We need to recognize the kind of judgments that we make. Sometimes we appeal to the Spirit, which is just a way to end the discussion. But, if I have the right to appeal to the Spirit, then someone else has the right to appeal to the Spirit. We have to be careful how we import our connecting the dots with the dots themselves. (Alan: I really think Dr. Bock read my blog entries from last week. I’m sure he couldn’t come up with this on his own. 😉 )

Answer: (Dr. Black) Can I say something about the rating system in the UBS text? Dr. Metzger opposed the rating system. But Nida thought the rating system would help translators. I find it interesting that between the 3rd and 4th edition that not one change was made in the text, but all the ratings went up. They got rid of the D ratings, the D’s became C’s, the C’s became B’s, the B’s became A’s. You need to ignore the rating system and explore the evidence for yourself on a case by case basis.

Answer: (Dr. Elliott) I support that. I am on the record as saying, “This rating system is ludicrous.” I wonder if they raised the ratings because they were afraid they were causing the readers to be skeptical.

Answer: (Dr. Bock) The point you are making about the rating system is right. But, that doesn’t affect the fact that judgments need to be made. The facts do not change, but the way we react to those facts change as our presuppositions change. We all know where we are making our judgments and why. There is some value in appreciating that part of the process as you reflect on why you make your judgments.

Answer: (Dr. Black) Concerning dots and lines, why do we continue to neglect the synoptic problem and the patristic evidence? Why are these not dots? Have you automatically ruled it out?

Answer: (Dr. Robinson) I did deliberately neglect that dot, because I see this as a text critical question instead of as a synoptic issue. I put this in a footnote in my paper. On another issue, each “non-ending” that Dr. Bock mentioned was from Luke, not Mark. I would have liked it nothing better than if all Byzantine manuscripts had omitted the longer ending of Mark. It would have refuted some of the theology of Ky and Tn. I am compelled by the force of the evidence to say, “Okay, it’s original, now I must deal with it.”

Answer: (Dr. Wallace) I want to go back to the original question, if I can remember the original question. Between the 3rd and 4th editions of the UBS text, the evidence did not change, but the editors did change.

Question: (to Dr. Wallace) Could you believe the Matthew is first, but the non-ending of Mark is original, or are they linked?

Answer: (Dr. Wallace) Many who hold to Matthean priority can still hold to Mark ending at 16:8. Others accept the longer ending. Until Dr. Robinson said that he believed in Markan priority, I had not heard any Markan prioritists who hold to the longer ending of Mark. This does not mean that source criticism is driving text criticism, but that the two are linked.

Question: (to Dr. Wallace) What is your take on the use of the optative in the Eusebian quote?

Answer: (Dr. Wallace) I did not translate it, I took it from David Parker. This is talking of Eusebius’ opinion.

Question: (to Dr. Elliott) If 16:8 was an unintended but original ending (perhaps due to Mark’s death), and if there had been another hand that completed the text in order to publish the book with a more satisfying ending as Mark intended, wouldn’t this explain the existence of the longer ending?

Answer: (Dr. Elliott) Perhaps.

Question: (to Dr. Bock) Could you address Parker’s views before they make a Discovery Channel show about it?

Answer: (Dr. Bock) There are empty tomb stories and appearance stories. Only the appearance stories prove the resurrection. But these stories are not operating in a theological and proclamatory vacuum. These would be proclaiming the bodily resurrection along with the textual evidence.

Question: Wouldn’t the themes in the longer ending be more appropriate to the ending of a Gospel?

Answer: (Dr. Elliott) What you get in the longer ending is a more developed and later addition.

Question: (to Dr. Elliott) You say that the ho kurios title is later theology, but isn’t that early and in the epistles of Paul?

Answer: (Dr. Elliott) Yes, but why are they so modest in the way they describe Jesus. Paul calls him Jesus Christ or Lord Jesus Christ, but why do the Gospel writers simply calling him Jesus? Are they being faithful to their sources? Or are they being deliberately anachronistic?

Answer: (Dr. Bock) Luke uses the title “Lord” in narrative, but not in discourse until later. They are telling the story to a degree to which they were experiencing them at the time. That’s why you get the emabarassing parts.

Answer: (Dr. Black) I think perhaps linguistics can help us here. Greek words do not have a meaning, but meanings. Also, redaction criticism helps us here. We have to avoid being overly simplistic in these cases. We can argue from the subjective internal evidence. But, I think we should start with the external evidence, and allow the internal evidence to corroborate the external evidence.

Answer: (Dr. Elliott) Concerning the word kurios and the multi-dimensions of the gospels… what does this person mean when they call Jesus “kurios”? They could be curteous and call Jesus, “Mister”, or do the gospel writers recognize that the person is calling Jesus “Lord”.

Answer: (Dr. Black) This is similar to German. Herr can mean “mister” or “lord”.

Answer: (Dr. Robinson) Keeping in Markan themes, the messianic secret is certainly a Markan theme. Even after the transfiguration, Peter, James, and John are told not to tell anyone until after the resurrection, which would explain the use of kurios in the longer ending.

Question: (to Dr. Bock) Do you believe Peter was the inspiration behind Mark’s gospel, and do you find parallels in Peter’s epistles or Peter’s speeches in Acts?

Answer: (Dr. Bock) The answer to your first question is “Yes”. As to the second question, “No, I don’t think so.” You have to take audience and purpose into account. We have to examine all of the models and ask which one is more likely.

Answer: (Dr. Wallace) It seems to me that you can construct the long ending because it fits Mark’s gospel and theme because the person who put it there had read Mark’s gospel. You would expect it to fit. But, it is still the most anomalous passage in Mark.

Question: (to Dr. Robinson) Could it not be argued that Mark does feature open-endedness, for example the young man who fled naked?

Answer: (Dr. Robinson) I agree, but that is not open ended in the same sense as the ending. There is no prediction or prophecy of someone running away naked. We all agree that it is the cumulative evidence that make our conclusions correct.

Answer: (Dr. Wallace) I agree because cumulatively there are two of us and one of you!


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  1. 4-14-2007

    I’m laughing out loud at that discussion. Is it how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Is it folly to have so much “wisdom” about something we simply don’t know and won’t know until the end? Sigh.

  2. 4-14-2007


    Thank you for your blogging of what occurred during the conference. That took a lot of work on your part. I wish I could have been there.

    I’m glad to hear that Christian scholars can engage in healthy debate over issues like this, and not end up pronouncing “anathema” upon one anther.

    I personally prefer the longer ending of Mark because I want to pick up serpents and drink deadly poison. Just kidding.

  3. 4-14-2007

    Bryan and Eric,

    Thank you for the comments. This was an excellent conference. I’m hoping to post a review and reflection article in the next few days. That will probably be the best “place” to discuss some of these concepts, since they currently span several posts. Thank you both for taking the time to read these posts.


  4. 4-15-2007


    My question to Dr. Elliott which was presented as:

    “If 16:8 was an unintended but original ending (perhaps due to Mark’s death), and if there had been another hand that completed the text in order to publish the book with a more satisfying ending as Mark intended, wouldn’t this explain the existence of the longer ending?”

    went more like this:

    “If Mark unintentionally stopped writing at the end of 16:8 (perhaps due to his death), and his survivors in the community at Rome wanted to distribute the book, but in a completed form, and if they had on hand a short text about Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances – a text written by, or known and used by, Peter and/or Mark – and if another hand attached that text, and made some finishing touches as well — adding the opening verses, perhaps, and making some other adjustments — couldn’t this eloquently explain the stylistic variations in the Long Ending, the peculiarities in the opening verses, and many of the Minor Agreements, by one simple mechanism?

    (I don’t call the unintended ending at 16:8 “original,” because the point at which the stoppage occurred was within the production-process of the book. The Long Ending is original inasmuch as it was part of the Gospel of Mark when the Gospel of Mark was first disseminated for church-use.)

  5. 4-15-2007


    Thank you for clarifying. I tried to take notes as fast as I could, but I know that I missed several things.


  6. 4-16-2007


    I understand. I think I misquoted myself: the word “eloquently” should be “elegantly.”

    I wish I could have had ten minutes at the conference to stand up and present my own theory of how the Long Ending originated, and why it went missing. (I hope I managed to at least sum it up in the question I asked Dr. Elliott.) I hope that the footnote in Dr. Robinson’s paper leads people to the online summary of my essay.

    I’ll try to post something about the conference at a discussion-board sometime.

  7. 4-17-2007

    Thanks for a more detailed transcript of the Q&A and I could get down! I’ve posted my 14 pg (pdf) transcript of the papers (mostly Wallace, Elliott, & Bock since Black handed out a nearly full paper, and Robinson didn’t even have an outline–I had trouble following him) on my web site:

    Rod Decker