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Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Part 3

Perspectives on the Ending of MarkPerspectives on the Ending of Mark: 4 Views

Editor: David Alan Black
Paperback: 145 pages
Publisher: Broadman & Holman
ISBN-10: 0-805-44762-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-805-44762-0

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The last of the four papers presented came from David Alan Black. In his paper he argues for the last twelve verses as being a supplement by Mark to discourses given by Peter in Rome (which were recorded by scribes and collected by Mark).

Dr. Black’s view of the synoptic problem is different than the others of this book, so it requires a good amount of time in his paper to explain his theory (Bernard Orchard’s Fourfold Gospel Hypothesis). Basically, it is this. Matthew wrote first. He was assigned the duty by the Twelve not too long after Christ’s resurrection. Black calls this the Jerusalem Phase which occurs between AD 30-42. Next came the Gentile Mission Phase (AD 42-62). In this phase Black suggests that:

During his third missionary journey Paul came to recognize the paramount need to integrate into one harmonious body the Jewish Christians with their Mosaic-Pharisaic traditions and the Greek and Roman converts . . . His missionary experience had proved that the Gospel of Matthew, which he was faithfully using as a follow-up to his oral teaching, did not answer all the questions of his Asian and Greek converts. [114]

Thus, Paul assigned Luke the job of researching and writing “a new document closely modeled on Matthew’s.” However, Paul did not want to publish this new gospel without the support of an eyewitness to Jesus – Peter.

This brings us into Black’s Roman Phase of AD 62-67. Here, Paul was sent to Rome to appeal to Caesar. This gave him the opportunity to seek out Peter who was in Rome at the time. Peter had been planning to give a series of speeches and was glad to see this new gospel. Peter then went with Mark to the rostrum “armed with the scroll of Matthew and the new scroll prepared by Luke.” He went through them, back and forth, relating to his audience only the events he had seen personally, with the result of Mark having Peter’s testimony to publish as another gospel. After the martyrdom of Peter, Mark started a church at Alexandria and set to work on a second edition of his gospel to include a supplement – the last twelve verses.

Black now turns to John. He suggests nothing spectacular here – only that John was a supplement to the Synoptics.

I will not spend too long on Dr. Bock’s conclusions (since most of them I share myself). I will say that he looks at the essays through four lenses – their method, external evidence, internal evidence, other issues, and a conclusion. We have already looked at all these issues throughout this review (and I think you have already seen the good points and the problems of each) save Bock’s conclusion, so let’s briefly see what decision he has made.

Bock says what we all know. The problem of the original ending of Mark is a complex one.

These essays, all of them, have been a fine way into this discussion . . . Whatever view one has on this issue, there is no central teaching of the Christian faith at stake in which view is chosen . . . The long and the short of it is this: whatever choice we make, it should not significantly alter our faith. [141]

I think that the most obvious choice is that the short ending is original. This is not where I started. I originally thought that it was most likely that a final page was lost given the sudden ending of v. 8, but the evidence is not there (as Daniel Wallace pointed out).

I think that Wallace’s essay was the most cleverly constructed and thought out of the lot. Robinson’s essay does show that we cannot look at Markan style and vocabulary as our sole reason against the long ending however, but his argument of parallels between the last twelve verses and other parts of Mark fails in my opinion. The parallels within Mark could simply be to each other, and since they are so frequent a later writer could simply pick up on these quite easily. Elliott’s translation of the end of v. 8 does offer some speculation to where it might’ve gone, but, even if it did end in “because they were fearful of,” it would still lead to the same reaction in the reader as if it was read as “because they were afraid.” Last of all, I am sad to say that I think Dr. Black’s process here does not hold up at all. It is simply conjecture upon conjecture. “Maybe it happened this way, and then this might’ve happened this way.” It just doesn’t work.

This is a remarkable piece. It is short, yet very full of insight and questions that made me want to know more. I even emailed one of the authors to ask about a particular point (understandably he is too busy with his position to answer fully right now – the middle of the semester will do that to everyone, professor and student alike). I think that this is a great introduction, and for some perhaps a conclusion, to the problem of how Mark really ends. I would say that anyone wanting to pursue anything involving Mark’s gospel or textual criticism should jump at the chance to read Perspectives on the Ending of Mark.

Grade: A+

MSE

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2 Responses

  1. It’s like Proverbs says: one man’s testimony sounds good, until his neighbor comes and cross-examines him. I encourage you to take a closer look at Dr. Wallace’s approach and at the extremely early evidence for Mk. 16:9-20.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

    • I will, and I plan on reading the review you sent me later tonight. I’ll let you know what I think. As I said in my email the other day, my mind is not entirely made up. I’m leaning in one direction, but I’m so new to textual criticism that I could be shifted another way given the right argument.

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