Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: 4 Views
Editor: David Alan Black
Paperback: 145 pages
Publisher: Broadman & Holman
I’d like to thank Broadman & Holman for giving me the chance to review another book for them. I always appreciate it and look forward to more opportunities like this soon.
In the Spring of 2007, a conference was held at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The scholars leading the event were Daniel Wallace, Maurice Robinson, Keith Elliott, David Alan Black, and Darrell Bock. Perspectives on the Ending of Mark is a set of four papers followed by a response given at that conference by these scholars. The papers and response presented at SEBTS as well as this book are:
- Mark 16:8 as the Conclusion to the Second Gospel – Daniel Wallace
- The Long Ending of Mark as Canonical Verity – Maurice Robinson
- The Last Twelve Verses of Mark: Original or Not? – Keith Elliott
- Mark 16:9-20 as Markan Supplement – David Alan Black
- The Ending of Mark: A Response to the Essays – Darrell Bock
I will highlight the main view and arguments of each paper, then show some strengths and weaknesses of each in the last part of this three part review. I’m sure my feelings on the originality of these last twelve verses will come out, but I will attempt to keep it at a minimum.
In Dr. Wallace’s paper, he argues for Mark 16:8 as the original end to the gospel. He points out that if the short ending were original, then it would be easy to see why scribes would want more. He says,
If Mark’s Gospel ends at 16:8, there are no Resurrection appearances by Jesus to his disciples . . . I only wish to point out that the Resurrection of Christ is prophesied by the Lord to his disciples three times in Mark . . . Is this not reason enough for some early scribes to want to add something to this Gospel – anything! – that would have him appear before the disciples? [13-4]
Wallace also points to the major Alexandrian witnesses, Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. Neither of these has the long ending, nor space for the long ending after v. 8. He then shows that early patristic testimony is in favor of the short ending.
He asks if it is likely that Mark would write those last twelve verses. He shows that Mark’s vocabulary, style, and flow are off if these verses are original. Wallace says that those phrases that seem to be Markan only seem such because whoever wrote them was at least slightly acquainted with Mark’s gospel style and vocabulary.
He ends his paper with a discussion on why Mark would end his gospel with ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ. Here he argues that open-ended books are not too complicated for the ancient mind. He says that this style is even found elsewhere in the New Testament. In Acts, the reader, coming across Paul’s visit to Rome, want to know what happens next. Wallace also argues that there would not be a final page of Mark lost. He says that the end would be the most protected of the entire scroll that the gospel was written upon (since it would be rolled up inside the rest).
Finally, he turns his gaze directly toward ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ. Scholars have said that books do not end with a γάρ, yet Wallace tells his reader that in 1972 P. W. van der Horst did discover a book that ended such. He concludes that if Mark wanted to bring his audience into the story, he would intentionally end his gospel this way.
Tomorrow I will turn to Dr. Robinson’s and Dr. Elliott’s papers.