THE LAST TWELVE VERSES
OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO
Vindicated Against Recent Critical Objectors
John W. Burgon B.D.
Vicar of S. Mary-The-Virgin's, Fellow of Oriel College,
and Gresham Lecturer in Divinity.
With Facsimiles of Codex א And Codex L
"'Advice to you,' sir, 'in studying Divinity?' Did you say that you 'wished I would give you a few words of advice,' sir?... Then let me recommend to you the practice of always verifying your references, sir!"
Conversation of the late PRESIDENT ROUTH
Oxford and London:
James Parker and Co.
The Codex Dedication: To Sir Roundell Palmer, Q.C., M.P. Preface. The Last Twelve Verses. Chapter I. THE CASE OF THE LAST TWELVE VERSES OF S. MARK'S GOSPEL, STATED. Chapter II. THE HOSTILE VERDICT OF BIBLICAL CRITICS SHEWN TO BE QUITE OF RECENT DATE. Chapter III. THE EARLY FATHERS APPEALED TO, AND OBSERVED TO BEAR FAVOURABLE WITNESS. Chapter IV. THE EARLY VERSIONS EXAMINED, AND FOUND TO YIELD UNFALTERING TESTIMONY TO THE GENUINENESS OF THESE VERSES. Chapter V. THE ALLEGED HOSTILE WITNESS OF CERTAIN OF THE EARLY FATHERS PROVED TO BE AN IMAGINATION OF THE CRITICS. Chapter VI. MANUSCRIPT TESTIMONY SHEWN TO BE OVERWHELMINGLY IN FAVOUR OF THESE VERSES.—PART I. Chapter VII. MANUSCRIPT TESTIMONY SHEWN TO BE OVERWHELMINGLY IN FAVOUR OF THESE VERSES.—PART II. Chapter VIII. THE PURPORT OF ANCIENT SCHOLIA, AND NOTES IN MSS. ON THE SUBJECT OF THESE VERSES, SHEWN TO BE THE REVERSE OF WHAT IS COMMONLY SUPPOSED. Chapter IX. INTERNAL EVIDENCE DEMONSTRATED TO BE THE VERY REVERSE OF UNFAVOURABLE TO THESE VERSES. Chapter X. THE TESTIMONY OF THE LECTIONARIES SHEWN TO BE ABSOLUTELY DECISIVE AS TO THE GENUINENESS OF THESE VERSES. Chapter XI. THE OMISSION OF THESE TWELVE VERSES IN CERTAIN ANCIENT COPIES OF THE GOSPELS, EXPLAINED AND ACCOUNTED FOR. Chapter XII. GENERAL REVIEW OF THE QUESTION: SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE; AND CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE SUBJECT. APPENDIX (A). APPENDIX (B). APPENDIX (C). APPENDIX (D). APPENDIX (E). APPENDIX (F). APPENDIX (G). APPENDIX (H). POSTSCRIPT. L'ENVOY GENERAL INDEX. Footnotes
[Transcriber's Note: This e-book contains much Greek text which is central to the point of the book. In the ASCII versions of the e-book, the Greek is transliterated into Roman letters, which do not perfectly represent the Greek original; especially, accent and breathing marks do not transliterate. The HTML and PDF versions contain the true Greek text of the original book.]
On the next page is exhibited an exact Fac-simile, obtained by Photography, of fol. 28 b of the CODEX SINAITICUS at S. Petersburg, (Tischendorf's א): shewing the abrupt termination of S. Mark's Gospel at the words ΕΦΟΒΟΥΝΤΟ ΓΑΡ (chap. xvi. 8), as explained at p. 70, and pp. 86-8. The original Photograph, which is here reproduced on a diminished scale, measures in height full fourteen inches and one-eighth; in breadth, full thirteen inches. It was procured for me through the friendly and zealous offices of the English Chaplain at S. Petersburg, the Rev. A. S. Thompson, B.D.; by favour of the Keeper of the Imperial Library, who has my hearty thanks for his liberality and consideration.
It will be perceived that the text begins at S. Mark xvi. 2, and ends with the first words of S. Luke i. 18.
Up to this hour, every endeavour to obtain a Photograph of the corresponding page of the CODEX VATICANUS, B, (No. 1209, in the Vatican,) has proved unavailing. If the present Vindication of the genuineness of Twelve Verses of the everlasting Gospel should have the good fortune to approve itself to his Holiness, POPE PIUS IX., let me be permitted in this unadorned and unusual manner,—(to which I would fain add some circumstance of respectful ceremony if I knew how,)—very humbly to entreat his Holiness to allow me to possess a Photograph, corresponding in size with the original, of the page of CODEX B (it is numbered fol. 1303,) which exhibits the abrupt termination of the Gospel according to S. Mark.
J. W. B.
ORIEL COLLEGE, OXFORD, June 14, 1871.
"MY WORD WILL NOT PASS AWAY"
ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ, ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται.
εὐκοπώτερον δέ ἐστι τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν παρελθεῖν, ἢ τοῦ νόμου μίαν κεραίαν πεσεῖν.
ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσονται, οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ μὴ παρέλθωσι.
καὶ ἐάν τις ἀφαιρῇ ἀπὸ τῶν λόγων βίβλου τῆς προφητείας ταύτης ἀφαιρήσει ὁ θεὸς τὸ μέρος αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ βίβλου τῆς ζωῆς, καὶ ἐκ τῆς πόλεως τῆς ἁγίας, καὶ τῶν γεγραμμένων ἐν βιβλίῳ τούτῳ.
DEDICATION: TO SIR ROUNDELL PALMER, Q.C., M.P.
DEAR SIR ROUNDELL,
I do myself the honour of inscribing this volume to you. Permit me to explain the reason why.
It is not merely that I may give expression to a sentiment of private friendship which dates back from the pleasant time when I was Curate to your Father,—whose memory I never recall without love and veneration;—nor even in order to afford myself the opportunity of testifying how much I honour you for the noble example of conscientious uprightness and integrity which you set us on a recent public occasion. It is for no such reason that I dedicate to you this vindication of the last Twelve Verses of the Gospel according to S. Mark.
It is because I desire supremely to submit the argument contained in the ensuing pages to a practised judicial intellect of the loftiest stamp. Recent Editors of the New Testament insist that these "last Twelve Verses" are not genuine. The Critics, almost to a man, avow themselves of the same opinion. Popular Prejudice has been for a long time past warmly enlisted on the same side. I am as convinced as I am of my life, that the reverse is the truth. It is not even with me as it is with certain learned friends of mine, who, admitting the adversary's premisses, content themselves with denying the validity of his inference. However true it may be,—and it is true,—that from those premisses the proposed conclusion does not follow, I yet venture to deny the correctness of those premisses altogether. I insist, on the contrary, that the Evidence relied on is untrustworthy,—untrustworthy in every particular.
How, in the meantime, can such an one as I am hope to persuade the world that it is as I say, while the most illustrious Biblical Critics at home and abroad are agreed, and against me? Clearly, the first thing to be done is to secure for myself a full and patient hearing. With this view, I have written a book. But next, instead of waiting for the slow verdict of Public Opinion, (which yet, I know, must come after many days,) I desiderate for the Evidence I have collected, a competent and an impartial Judge. And that is why I dedicate my book to you. If I can but get this case fairly tried, I have no doubt whatever about the result.
Whether you are able to find time to read these pages, or not, it shall content me to have shewn in this manner the confidence with which I advocate my cause; the kind of test to which I propose to bring my reasonings. If I may be allowed to say so,—S. Mark's last Twelve Verses shall no longer remain a subject of dispute among men. I am able to prove that this portion of the Gospel has been declared to be spurious on wholly mistaken grounds: and this ought in fairness to close the discussion. But I claim to have done more. I claim to have shewn, from considerations which have been hitherto overlooked, that its genuineness must needs be reckoned among the things that are absolutely certain.
I am, with sincere regard and respect, Dear Sir Roundell, Very faithfully yours, JOHN W. BURGON.
ORIEL, July, 1871.
This volume is my contribution towards the better understanding of a subject which is destined, when it shall have grown into a Science, to vindicate for itself a mighty province, and to enjoy paramount attention. I allude to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament Scriptures.
That this Study is still in its infancy, all may see. The very principles on which it is based are as yet only imperfectly understood. The reason is obvious. It is because the very foundations have not yet been laid, (except to a wholly inadequate extent,) on which the future superstructure is to rise. A careful collation of every extant Codex, (executed after the manner of the Rev. F. H. Scrivener's labours in this department,) is the first indispensable preliminary to any real progress. Another, is a revised Text, not to say a more exact knowledge, of the oldest Versions. Scarcely of inferior importance would be critically correct editions of the Fathers of the Church; and these must by all means be furnished with far completer Indices of Texts than have ever yet been attempted.—There is not a single Father to be named whose Works have been hitherto furnished with even a tolerably complete Index of the places in which he either quotes, or else clearly refers to, the Text of the New Testament: while scarcely a tithe of the known MSS. of the Gospels have as yet been satisfactorily collated. Strange to relate, we are to this hour without so much as a satisfactory Catalogue of the Copies which are known to be extant.
But when all this has been done,—(and the Science deserves, and requires, a little more public encouragement than has hitherto been bestowed on the arduous and—let me not be ashamed to add the word—unremunerative labour of Textual Criticism,)—it will be discovered that the popular and the prevailing Theory is a mistaken one. The plausible hypothesis on which recent recensions of the Text have been for the most part conducted, will be seen to be no longer tenable. The latest decisions will in consequence be generally reversed.
I am not of course losing sight of what has been already achieved in this department of Sacred Learning. While our knowledge of the uncial MSS. has been rendered tolerably exact and complete, an excellent beginning has been made, (chiefly by the Rev. F. H. Scrivener, the most judicious living Master of Textual Criticism,) in acquainting us with the contents of about seventy of the cursive MSS. of the New Testament. And though it is impossible to deny that the published Texts of Doctors Tischendorf and Tregelles as Texts are wholly inadmissible, yet is it equally certain that by the conscientious diligence with which those distinguished Scholars have respectively laboured, they have erected monuments of their learning and ability which will endure for ever. Their Editions of the New Testament will not be superseded by any new discoveries, by any future advances in the Science of Textual Criticism. The MSS. which they have edited will remain among the most precious materials for future study. All honour to them! If in the warmth of controversy I shall appear to have spoken of them sometimes without becoming deference, let me here once for all confess that I am to blame, and express my regret. When they have publicly begged S. Mark's pardon for the grievous wrong they have done him, I will very humbly beg their pardon also.
In conclusion, I desire to offer my thanks to the Rev. John Wordsworth, late Fellow of Brasenose College, for his patient perusal of these sheets as they have passed through the press, and for favouring me with several judicious suggestions. To him may be applied the saying of President Routh on receiving a visit from Bishop Wordsworth at his lodgings,—"I see the learned son of a learned Father, sir!"—Let me be permitted to add that my friend inherits the Bishop's fine taste and accurate judgment also.
And now I dismiss this Work, at which I have conscientiously laboured for many days and many nights; beginning it in joy and ending it in sorrow. The College in which I have for the most part written it is designated in the preamble of its Charter and in its Foundation Statutes, (which are already much more than half a thousand years old,) as Collegium Scholarium in Sacra Theologia studentium,—perpetuis temporibus duraturum. Indebted, under GOD, to the pious munificence of the Founder of Oriel for my opportunities of study, I venture, in what I must needs call evil days, to hope that I have to some extent "employed my advantages,"—(the expression occurs in a prayer used by this Society on its three solemn anniversaries,)—as our Founder and Benefactors "would approve if they were now upon earth to witness what we do."
J. W. B.
ORIEL, July, 1871.
THE LAST TWELVE VERSES.
Subjoined, for convenience, are "the Last Twelve Verses."
Ἀναστὰς δὲ πρωὶ πρώτῃ (9) Now when Jesus was σαββάτου ἐφάνη πρῶτον risen early the first day Μαρίᾳ τῇ Μαγδαληνῇ, ἀφ᾽ of the week, He appeared ῆς ἐκβεβλήκει ἑπτα first to Mary Magdalene, δαιμόμια. ἐκείνη out of whom He had cast πορευθεῖσα ἀπήγγειλε τοῖς seven devils. (10) And μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ γενομένοις, she went and told them πενθοῦσι καὶ κλαίουσι. that had been with Him, κἀκεῖνοι ἀκούσαντες ὅτι as they mourned and wept. ζῇ καὶ ἐθεάθη ὑπ᾽ αὐτῆς (11) And they, when they ἠπίστησαν. had heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. Μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα ὀυσὶν ἐξ (12) After that He αὐτῶν περιπατοῦσιν appeared in another form ἐφανερώθη ἐν ἑτέρᾳ μορφῇ, unto two of them, as they πορευομένοις εἰς ἀγρόν. walked, and went into the κἀκεῖνοι ἀπελθόντες country. (13) And they ἀπήγγειλαν τοῖς λοιποῖς; went and told it unto the οὐδὲ ἐκείνοις ἐπίστευσαν. residue: neither believed they them. Ὕστερον ἀνακειμένοις (14) Afterward He αὐτοῖς τοῖς ἕνδεκα appeared unto the eleven ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ὠνείδισε as they sat at meat, and τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν καὶ upbraided them with their σκληροκαρδίαν, ὅτι τοῖς unbelief and hardness of θεασαμένοις αὐτὸν heart, because they ἐγηγερμένον οὐκ believed not them which ἐπίστευσαν. Καὶ εἶπεν had seen Him after He was αὐτοῖς, "Πορευθέντες εἰς risen. (15) And He said τὸν κόσμον ἄπαντα, unto them, "Go ye into κηρύξατε τὸ εὐαγγέλιον all the world, and preach πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει. ὁ the Gospel to every πιστεύσας καὶ βαπτισθεὶς creature. (16) He that σωθήσεται; ὁ δὲ ἀπιστήσας believeth and is baptized κατακριθήσεται. σημεῖα δὲ shall be saved; but he τοῖς πιστεύσασι ταῦτα that believeth not shall παρακολουθήσει; ἐν τῷ be damned. (17) And these ὀνόματι μου δαιμόνια signs shall follow them ἐκβαλοῦσι; γλώσσαις that believe; In My Name λαλήσουσι καιναῖς; ὄφεις shall they cast out ἀροῦσι; κὰν θανὰσιμόν τι devils; they shall speak πίωσιν, οὐ μὴ αὐτοὺς with new tongues; (18) βλάψει; ἐπὶ ἀρρώστους they shall take up χεῖρας ἐπιθήσουσι, καὶ serpents; and if they καλῶς ἕξουσιν." drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Ὀ μὲν οὄν Κύριος, μετὰ τὸ (19) So then after the λαλῆσαι αὐτοῖς, ἀνελήφθη LORD had spoken unto εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν, καὶ them, He was received up ἐκάθισεν ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ into Heaven, and sat on Θεοῦ; ἐκεῖνοι δὲ the Right hand of GOD. ἐξελθόντες ἐκήρυξαν (20) And they went forth, πανταχοῦ, τοῦ Κυρίου and preached every where, συνεργοῦντος, καὶ τὸν the LORD working with λόγον βεβαιοῦντος διὰ τῶν them, and confirming the ἐπακολουθούντων σημείων. word with signs Ἀμήν. following. Amen.
THE CASE OF THE LAST TWELVE VERSES OF S. MARK'S GOSPEL, STATED.
These Verses generally suspected at the present time. The popularity of this opinion accounted for.
It has lately become the fashion to speak of the last Twelve Verses of the Gospel according to S. Mark, as if it were an ascertained fact that those verses constitute no integral part of the Gospel. It seems to be generally supposed, (1) That the evidence of MSS. is altogether fatal to their claims; (2) That "the early Fathers" witness plainly against their genuineness; (3) That, from considerations of "internal evidence" they must certainly be given up. It shall be my endeavour in the ensuing pages to shew, on the contrary, That manuscript evidence is so overwhelmingly in their favour that no room is left for doubt or suspicion:—That there is not so much as one of the Fathers, early or late, who gives it as his opinion that these verses are spurious:—and, That the argument derived from internal considerations proves on inquiry to be baseless and unsubstantial as a dream.
But I hope that I shall succeed in doing more. It shall be my endeavour to shew not only that there really is no reason whatever for calling in question the genuineness of this portion of Holy Writ, but also that there exist sufficient reasons for feeling confident that it must needs be genuine. This is clearly as much as it is possible for me to achieve. But when this has been done, I venture to hope that the verses in dispute will for the future be allowed to retain their place in the second Gospel unmolested.
It will of course be asked,—And yet, if all this be so, how does it happen that both in very ancient, and also in very modern times, this proposal to suppress twelve verses of the Gospel has enjoyed a certain amount of popularity? At the two different periods, (I answer,) for widely different reasons.
(1.) In the ancient days, when it was the universal belief of Christendom that the Word of GOD must needs be consistent with itself in every part, and prove in every part (like its Divine Author) perfectly "faithful and true," the difficulty (which was deemed all but insuperable) of bringing certain statements in S. Mark's last Twelve Verses into harmony with certain statements of the other Evangelists, is discovered to have troubled Divines exceedingly. "In fact," (says Mr. Scrivener,) "it brought suspicion upon these verses, and caused their omission in some copies seen by Eusebius." That the maiming process is indeed attributable to this cause and came about in this particular way, I am unable to persuade myself; but, if the desire to provide an escape from a serious critical difficulty did not actually occasion that copies of S. Mark's Gospel were mutilated, it certainly was the reason why, in very early times, such mutilated copies were viewed without displeasure by some, and appealed to with complacency by others.
(2.) But times are changed. We have recently been assured on high authority that the Church has reversed her ancient convictions in this respect: that now, "most sound theologians have no dread whatever of acknowledging minute points of disagreement" (i.e. minute errors) "in the fourfold narrative even of the life of the Redeemer."(1) There has arisen in these last days a singular impatience of Dogmatic Truth, (especially Dogma of an unpalatable kind,) which has even rendered popular the pretext afforded by these same mutilated copies for the grave resuscitation of doubts, never as it would seem seriously entertained by any of the ancients; and which, at all events for 1300 years and upwards, have deservedly sunk into oblivion.
Whilst I write, that "most divine explication of the chiefest articles of our Christian belief," the Athanasian Creed,(2) is made the object of incessant assaults.(3) But then it is remembered that statements quite as "uncharitable" as any which this Creed contains are found in the 16th verse of S. Mark's concluding chapter; are in fact the words of Him whose very Name is Love. The precious warning clause, I say, (miscalled "damnatory,"(4)) which an impertinent officiousness is for glossing with a rubric and weakening with an apology, proceeded from Divine lips,—at least if these concluding verses be genuine. How shall this inconvenient circumstance be more effectually dealt with than by accepting the suggestion of the most recent editors, that S. Mark's concluding verses are an unauthorised addition to his Gospel? "If it be acknowledged that the passage has a harsh sound," (remarks Dean Stanley,) "unlike the usual utterances of Him who came not to condemn but to save, the discoveries of later times have shewn, almost beyond doubt, that it is not a part of S. Mark's Gospel, but an addition by another hand; of which the weakness in the external evidence coincides with the internal evidence in proving its later origin."(5)
Modern prejudice, then,—added to a singularly exaggerated estimate of the critical importance of the testimony of our two oldest Codices, (another of the "discoveries of later times," concerning which I shall have more to say by-and-by,)—must explain why the opinion is even popular that the last twelve verses of S. Mark are a spurious appendix to his Gospel.
Not that Biblical Critics would have us believe that the Evangelist left off at verse 8, intending that the words,—"neither said they anything to any man, for they were afraid," should be the conclusion of his Gospel. "No one can imagine," (writes Griesbach,) "that Mark cut short the thread of his narrative at that place."(6) It is on all hands eagerly admitted, that so abrupt a termination must be held to mark an incomplete or else an uncompleted work. How, then, in the original autograph of the Evangelist, is it supposed that the narrative proceeded? This is what no one has even ventured so much as to conjecture. It is assumed, however, that the original termination of the Gospel, whatever it may have been, has perished. We appeal, of course, to its actual termination: and,—Of what nature then, (we ask,) is the supposed necessity for regarding the last twelve verses of S. Mark's Gospel as a spurious substitute for what the Evangelist originally wrote? What, in other words, has been the history of these modern doubts; and by what steps have they established themselves in books, and won the public ear?
To explain this, shall be the object of the next ensuing chapters.
THE HOSTILE VERDICT OF BIBLICAL CRITICS SHEWN TO BE QUITE OF RECENT DATE.
Griesbach the first to deny the genuineness of these Verses (p. 6).—Lachmann's fatal principle (p. 8) the clue to the unfavourable verdict of Tischendorf (p. 9), of Tregelles (p. 10), of Alford (p. 12); which has been generally adopted by subsequent Scholars and Divines (p. 13).—The nature of the present inquiry explained (p. 15.)
It is only since the appearance of Griesbach's second edition [1796-1806] that Critics of the New Testament have permitted themselves to handle the last twelve verses of S. Mark's Gospel with disrespect. Previous critical editions of the New Testament are free from this reproach. "There is no reason for doubting the genuineness of this portion of Scripture," wrote Mill in 1707, after a review of the evidence (as far as he was acquainted with it) for and against. Twenty-seven years later, appeared Bengel's edition of the New Testament (1734); and Wetstein, at the end of another seventeen years (1751-2), followed in the same field. Both editors, after rehearsing the adverse testimony in extenso, left the passage in undisputed possession of its place. Alter in 1786-7, and Birch in 1788,(7) (suspicious as the latter evidently was of its genuineness,) followed their predecessors' example. But Matthaei, (who also brought his labours to a close in the year 1788,) was not content to give a silent suffrage. He had been for upwards of fourteen years a laborious collator of Greek MSS. of the New Testament, and was so convinced of the insufficiency of the arguments which had been brought against these twelve verses of S. Mark, that with no ordinary warmth, no common acuteness, he insisted on their genuineness.
"With Griesbach," (remarks Dr. Tregelles,)(8) "Texts which may be called really critical begin;" and Griesbach is the first to insist that the concluding verses of S. Mark are spurious. That he did not suppose the second Gospel to have always ended at verse 8, we have seen already.(9) He was of opinion, however, that "at some very remote period, the original ending of the Gospel perished,—disappeared perhaps from the Evangelist's own copy,—and that the present ending was by some one substituted in its place." Griesbach further invented the following elaborate and extraordinary hypothesis to account for the existence of S. Mark xvi. 9-20.
He invites his readers to believe that when, (before the end of the second century,) the four Evangelical narratives were collected into a volume and dignified with the title of "The Gospel,"—S. Mark's narrative was furnished by some unknown individual with its actual termination in order to remedy its manifest incompleteness; and that this volume became the standard of the Alexandrine recension of the text: in other words, became the fontal source of a mighty family of MSS. by Griesbach designated as "Alexandrine." But there will have been here and there in existence isolated copies of one or more of the Gospels; and in all of these, S. Mark's Gospel, (by the hypothesis,) will have ended abruptly at the eighth verse. These copies of single Gospels, when collected together, are presumed by Griesbach to have constituted "the Western recension." If, in codices of this family also, the self-same termination is now all but universally found, the fact is to be accounted for, (Griesbach says,) by the natural desire which possessors of the Gospels will have experienced to supplement their imperfect copies as best they might. "Let this conjecture be accepted," proceeds the learned veteran,—(unconscious apparently that he has been demanding acceptance for at least half-a-dozen wholly unsupported as well as entirely gratuitous conjectures,)—"and every difficulty disappears; and it becomes perfectly intelligible how there has crept into almost every codex which has been written, from the second century downwards, a section quite different from the original and genuine ending of S. Mark, which disappeared before the four Gospels were collected into a single volume."—In other words, if men will but be so accommodating as to assume that the conclusion of S. Mark's Gospel disappeared before any one had the opportunity of transcribing the Evangelist's inspired autograph, they will have no difficulty in understanding that the present conclusion of S. Mark's Gospel was not really written by S. Mark.
It should perhaps be stated in passing, that Griesbach was driven into this curious maze of unsupported conjecture by the exigencies of his "Recension Theory;" which, inasmuch as it has been long since exploded, need not now occupy us. But it is worth observing that the argument already exhibited, (such as it is,) breaks down under the weight of the very first fact which its learned author is obliged to lay upon it. Codex B.,—the solitary manuscript witness for omitting the clause in question, (for Codex א had not yet been discovered,)—had been already claimed by Griesbach as a chief exponent of his so-called "Alexandrine Recension." But then, on the Critic's own hypothesis, (as we have seen already,) Codex B. ought, on the contrary, to have contained it. How was that inconvenient fact to be got over? Griesbach quietly remarks in a foot-note that Codex B. "has affinity with the Eastern family of MSS."—The misfortune of being saddled with a worthless theory was surely never more apparent. By the time we have reached this point in the investigation, we are reminded of nothing so much as of the weary traveller who, having patiently pursued an ignis fatuus through half the night, beholds it at last vanish; but not until it has conducted him up to his chin in the mire.
Neither Hug, nor Scholz his pupil,—who in 1808 and 1830 respectively followed Griesbach with modifications of his recension-theory,—concurred in the unfavourable sentence which their illustrious predecessor had passed on the concluding portion of S. Mark's Gospel. The latter even eagerly vindicated its genuineness.(10) But with Lachmann,—whose unsatisfactory text of the Gospels appeared in 1842,—originated a new principle of Textual Revision; the principle, namely, of paying exclusive and absolute deference to the testimony of a few arbitrarily selected ancient documents; no regard being paid to others of the same or of yet higher antiquity. This is not the right place for discussing this plausible and certainly most convenient scheme of textual revision. That it leads to conclusions little short of irrational, is certain. I notice it only because it supplies the clue to the result which, as far as S. Mark xvi. 9-20 is concerned, has been since arrived at by Dr. Tischendorf, Dr. Tregelles, and Dean Alford,(11)—the three latest critics who have formally undertaken to reconstruct the sacred Text.
They agree in assuring their readers that the genuine Gospel of S. Mark extends no further than ch. xvi. ver. 8: in other words, that all that follows the words ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ is an unauthorized addition by some later hand; "a fragment,"—distinguishable from the rest of the Gospel not less by internal evidence than by external testimony. This verdict becomes the more important because it proceeds from men of undoubted earnestness and high ability; who cannot be suspected of being either unacquainted with the evidence on which the point in dispute rests, nor inexperienced in the art of weighing such evidence. Moreover, their verdict has been independently reached; is unanimous; is unhesitating; has been eagerly proclaimed by all three on many different occasions as well as in many different places;(12) and may be said to be at present in all but undisputed possession of the field.(13) The first-named Editor enjoys a vast reputation, and has been generously styled by Mr. Scrivener, "the first Biblical Critic in Europe." The other two have produced text-books which are deservedly held in high esteem, and are in the hands of every student. The views of such men will undoubtedly colour the convictions of the next generation of English Churchmen. It becomes absolutely necessary, therefore, to examine with the utmost care the grounds of their verdict, the direct result of which is to present us with a mutilated Gospel. If they are right, there is no help for it but that the convictions of eighteen centuries in this respect must be surrendered. But if Tischendorf and Tregelles are wrong in this particular, it follows of necessity that doubt is thrown over the whole of their critical method. The case is a crucial one. Every page of theirs incurs suspicion, if their deliberate verdict in this instance shall prove to be mistaken.
1. Tischendorf disposes of the whole question in a single sentence. "That these verses were not written by Mark," (he says,) "admits of satisfactory proof." He then recites in detail the adverse external testimony which his predecessors had accumulated; remarking, that it is abundantly confirmed by internal evidence. Of this he supplies a solitary sample; but declares that the whole passage is "abhorrent" to S. Mark's manner. "The facts of the case being such," (and with this he dismisses the subject,) "a healthy piety reclaims against the endeavours of those who are for palming off as Mark's what the Evangelist is so plainly shewn to have known nothing at all about."(14) A mass of laborious annotation which comes surging in at the close of verse 8, and fills two of Tischendorf's pages, has the effect of entirely divorcing the twelve verses in question from the inspired text of the Evangelist. On the other hand, the evidence in favour of the place is despatched in less than twelve lines. What can be the reason that an Editor of the New Testament parades elaborately every particular of the evidence, (such as it is,) against the genuineness of a considerable portion of the Gospel; and yet makes summary work with the evidence in its favour? That Tischendorf has at least entirely made up his mind on the matter in hand is plain. Elsewhere, he speaks of the Author of these verses as "Pseudo Marcus."(15)
2. Dr. Tregelles has expressed himself most fully on this subject in his "Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament" (1854). The respected author undertakes to shew "that the early testimony that S. Mark did not write these verses is confirmed by existing monuments." Accordingly, he announces as the result of the propositions which he thinks he has established, "that the book of Mark himself extends no further than ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ." He is the only critic I have met with to whom it does not seem incredible that S. Mark did actually conclude his Gospel in this abrupt way: observing that "perhaps we do not know enough of the circumstances of S. Mark when he wrote his Gospel to say whether he did or did not leave it with a complete termination." In this modest suggestion at least Dr. Tregelles is unassailable, since we know absolutely nothing whatever about "the circumstances of S. Mark," (or of any other Evangelist,) "when he wrote his Gospel:" neither indeed are we quite sure who S. Mark was. But when he goes on to declare, notwithstanding, "that the remaining twelve verses, by whomsoever written, have a full claim to be received as an authentic part of the second Gospel;" and complains that "there is in some minds a kind of timidity with regard to Holy Scripture, as if all our notions of its authority depended on our knowing who was the writer of each particular portion; instead of simply seeing and owning that it was given forth from GOD, and that it is as much His as were the Commandments of the Law written by His own finger on the tables of stone;"(16)—the learned writer betrays a misapprehension of the question at issue, which we are least of all prepared to encounter in such a quarter. We admire his piety but it is at the expense of his critical sagacity. For the question is not at all one of authorship, but only one of genuineness. Have the codices been mutilated which do not contain these verses? If they have, then must these verses be held to be genuine. But on the contrary, Have the codices been supplemented which contain them? Then are these verses certainly spurious. There is no help for it but they must either be held to be an integral part of the Gospel, and therefore, in default of any proof to the contrary, as certainly by S. Mark as any other twelve verses which can be named; or else an unauthorized addition to it. If they belong to the post-apostolic age it is idle to insist on their Inspiration, and to claim that this "authentic anonymous addition to what Mark himself wrote down" is as much the work of GOD "as were the Ten Commandments written by His own finger on the tables of stone." On the other hand, if they "ought as much to be received as part of our second Gospel as the last chapter of Deuteronomy (unknown as the writer is) is received as the right and proper conclusion of the book of Moses,"—it is difficult to understand why the learned editor should think himself at liberty to sever them from their context, and introduce the subscription ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΡΚΟΝ after ver. 8. In short, "How persons who believe that these verses did not form a part of the original Gospel of Mark, but were added afterwards, can say that they have a good claim to be received as an authentic or genuine part of the second Gospel, that is, a portion of canonical Scripture, passes comprehension." It passes even Dr. Davidson's comprehension; (for the foregoing words are his;) and Dr. Davidson, as some of us are aware, is not a man to stick at trifles.(17)
3. Dean Alford went a little further than any of his predecessors. He says that this passage "was placed as a completion of the Gospel soon after the Apostolic period,—the Gospel itself having been, for some reason unknown to us, left incomplete. The most probable supposition" (he adds) "is, that the last leaf of the original Gospel was torn away." The italics in this conjecture (which was originally Griesbach's) are not mine. The internal evidence (declares the same learned writer) "preponderates vastly against the authorship of Mark;" or (as he elsewhere expresses it) against "its genuineness as a work of the Evangelist." Accordingly, in his Prolegomena, (p. 38) he describes it as "the remarkable fragment at the end of the Gospel." After this, we are the less astonished to find that he closes the second Gospel at ver. 8; introduces the Subscription there; and encloses the twelve verses which follow within heavy brackets. Thus, whereas from the days of our illustrious countryman Mill (1707), the editors of the N. T. have either been silent on the subject, or else have whispered only that this section of the Gospel is to be received with less of confidence than the rest,—it has been reserved for the present century to convert the ancient suspicions into actual charges. The latest to enter the field have been the first to execute Griesbach's adverse sentence pronounced fifty years ago, and to load the blessed Evangelist with bonds.
It might have been foreseen that when Critics so conspicuous permit themselves thus to handle the precious deposit, others would take courage to hurl their thunderbolts in the same direction with the less concern. "It is probable," (says Abp. Thomson in the Bible Dictionary,) "that this section is from a different hand, and was annexed to the Gospels soon after the times of the Apostles."(18)—The Rev. T. S. Green,(19) (an able scholar, never to be mentioned without respect,) considers that "the hypothesis of very early interpolation satisfies the body of facts in evidence,"—which "point unmistakably in the direction of a spurious origin."—"In respect of Mark's Gospel," (writes Professor Norton in a recent work on the Genuineness of the Gospels,) "there is ground for believing that the last twelve verses were not written by the Evangelist, but were added by some other writer to supply a short conclusion to the work, which some cause had prevented the author from completing."(20)—Professor Westcott—who, jointly with the Rev. F. J. A. Hort, announces a revised Text—assures us that "the original text, from whatever cause it may have happened, terminated abruptly after the account of the Angelic vision." The rest "was added at another time, and probably by another hand." "It is in vain to speculate on the causes of this abrupt close." "The remaining verses cannot be regarded as part of the original narrative of S. Mark"(21)—Meyer insists that this is an "apocryphal fragment," and reproduces all the arguments, external and internal, which have ever been arrayed against it, without a particle of misgiving. The "note" with which he takes leave of the subject is even insolent.(22) A comparison (he says) of these "fragments" (ver. 9-18 and 19) with the parallel places in the other Gospels and in the Acts, shews how vacillating and various were the Apostolical traditions concerning the appearances of our LORD after His Resurrection, and concerning His Ascension. ("Hast thou killed, and also taken possession?")
Such, then, is the hostile verdict concerning these last twelve verses which I venture to dispute, and which I trust I shall live to see reversed. The writers above cited will be found to rely (1.) on the external evidence of certain ancient MSS.; and (2.) on Scholia which state "that the more ancient and accurate copies terminated the Gospel at ver. 8." (3.) They assure us that this is confirmed by a formidable array of Patristic authorities. (4.) Internal proof is declared not to be wanting. Certain incoherences and inaccuracies are pointed out. In fine, "the phraseology and style of the section" are declared to be "unfavourable to its authenticity;" not a few of the words and expressions being "foreign to the diction of Mark."—I propose to shew that all these confident and imposing statements are to a great extent either mistakes or exaggerations, and that the slender residuum of fact is about as powerless to achieve the purpose of the critics as were the seven green withs of the Philistines to bind Samson.
In order to exhibit successfully what I have to offer on this subject, I find it necessary to begin (in the next chapter) at the very beginning. I think it right, however, in this place to premise a few plain considerations which will be of use to us throughout all our subsequent inquiry; and which indeed we shall never be able to afford to lose sight of for long.
The question at issue being simply this,—Whether it is reasonable to suspect that the last twelve verses of S. Mark are a spurious accretion and unauthorized supplement to his Gospel, or not?—the whole of our business clearly resolves itself into an examination of what has been urged in proof that the former alternative is the correct one. Our opponents maintain that these verses did not form part of the original autograph of the Evangelist. But it is a known rule in the Law of Evidence that the burthen of proof lies on the party who asserts the affirmative of the issue.(23) We have therefore to ascertain in the present instance what the supposed proof is exactly worth; remembering always that in this subject-matter a high degree of probability is the only kind of proof which is attainable. When, for example, it is contended that the famous words in S. John's first Epistle (1 S. John v. 7, 8,) are not to be regarded as genuine, the fact that they are away from almost every known Codex is accepted as a proof that they were also away from the autograph of the Evangelist. On far less weighty evidence, in fact, we are at all times prepared to yield the hearty assent of our understanding in this department of sacred science.
And yet, it will be found that evidence of overwhelming weight, if not of an entirely different kind, is required in the present instance: as I proceed to explain.
1. When it is contended that our LORD's reply to the young ruler (S. Matt. xix. 17) was not Τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν; οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς, εἰ μὴ εῖς, ὁ Θεός,—it is at the same time insisted that it was Τί με ἐρωτᾷς περὶ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ; εῖς ἐστὶν ὁ ἀγαθός. It is proposed to omit the former words only because an alternative clause is at hand, which it is proposed to substitute in its room.
2. Again. When it is claimed that some given passage of the Textus Receptus,—S. Mark ch xv. 28, for example, (καὶ ἐπληρώθη ἡ γραφὴ ἡ λέγουσα, Καὶ μετὰ ἀνόμων ἐλογίσθη,) or the Doxology in S. Matth. vi. 13,—is spurious, all that is pretended is that certain words are an unauthorized addition to the inspired text; and that by simply omitting them we are so far restoring the Gospel to its original integrity.—The same is to be said concerning every other charge of interpolation which can be named. If the celebrated "pericopa de adultera," for instance, be indeed not genuine, we have but to leave out those twelve verses of S. John's Gospel, and to read chap. vii. 52 in close sequence with chap. viii. 12; and we are assured that we are put in possession of the text as it came from the hands of its inspired Author. Nor, (it must be admitted), is any difficulty whatever occasioned thereby; for there is no reason assignable why the two last-named verses should not cohere; (there is no internal improbability, I mean, in the supposition;) neither does there exist any a priori reason why a considerable portion of narrative should be looked for in that particular part of the Gospel.