Original or Not? (David Black)

Mark’s Conclusion to Peter’s Discourses
[much of what is written here has been directly copied from this paper]

His Position (upfront):
Absolutely convinced that the long ending is original based on the external evidence alone, and that it deserves the canonical status it has enjoyed through church history.

The internal evidence, while controversial indeed, holds no satisfactory solution to the problem. (This greatly depends on your position on how the text was transmitted.)

How can one best account for this bifurcation? That, to him, is the rub, and it is perhaps here that he can make a helpful contribution to the discussion. He believes the best answer to this question is provided by taking the Synoptic Problem into account. Specifically, he believes that Mark’s Gospel is comprised of the actual words of Peter, that it originally ended at 16:8, and that Mark himself supplied the last twelve verses as a suitable conclusion. Of course, this view is based on a certain solution to the Synoptic Problem, a topic that will occupy the majority of this paper.

What about the earliest and best manuscripts? These manuscripts must be considered, but they must not be considered pure – at least not any more pure than the other texts.

The Fourfold Gospel Hypothesis:
The fourfold Gospel Hypothesis is Black’s solution to the synoptic problem.

The Holy Spirit guided Matthew, then Paul and his companion Luke, then peter and his companion mark, and afterwards John the apostle, to hand on to the church during their own lifetime the Gospel given them by Jesus.

Iraenaeus saw the fourfold canon of the Gospels representing a profoundly significant fact, foreseen and willed by God. He therefore spoke to the tetramorphoni Gospel (Adv. Haer. 3.2.8)–the “Tetramorphic” or “Fourfold” Gospel. By this he meant that each of the four Gospel accounts, and all of them together, have a common message as documents of faith in the service of faith. The differences between them, significant though they are, do not obscure their basic message of salvation through Christ.

The main evidence for the Fourfold Gospel Hypothesis consists of the chief recorded witnesses of the first four centuries, which may be presented in chronological sequence according to the date of the documents in which they first appear.

[Black gives quotes from each of these people…]
1. Justin
2. Irenaeus
3. Clement of Alexandria
4. Tertullian
5. Origen
6. The Muratorian Fragment
7. The Anti-Marcionite Progologue
8. The Old Latin Prologue to Mark
9. Eusebius
10. Eusebius quoting Papias
11. Eusebius quoting Clement of Alexandria
12. Eusebius quoting Origen
13. Jerome
14. Augustine

Evaluation of the Patristic Witnesses:
Striking things about these testimonies:
1. Whenever the four Gospels are mentioned, Matthew always heads the list.
2. As for “the sayings” of Papias, Eusebius assumes that Papias is referring to the Gospel of Matthew that we all know, and not to a “proto-Matthew” or a collection of sayings such as “Q” is reputed to be.
3. All authorities attribute the Gospel of Luke to the disciple of Paul by that name.
4. Our sources clearly reveal some problem with regard to the origin of Mark When all four Gospels are mentioned Mark as a rule is given teh second place, but the important tradition recorded b Clement of Alexandria relates that both Matthew and Luke came into existence before Mark.
5. Peter is in all cases describes as the person responsible for creating the text of Mark, which is nothing other than Peter’s “memoirs.”
6. Peter did not write down his Gospel stories; he spoke them aloud to an audience.
7. mark his disciple retrieved what Peter had spoken and did so at the request of Peter’s enthusiastic audience.
8. The “Elder” of EH 3.39, if not the apostle John himself then a figure at least contemporary with and of the same stature as John, authoritatively stated that Mark as Peter’s hermeneutes was able to reproduce exactly what Peter had said….
9. The content of what Peter had spoken consisted of testimonies regarding what the Lord had “said and done” in the form of short stories, the very kind of literary form that makes up the bulk of Mark.
10. Clement of Alexandria gives us some idea of the occasion of these talks of Peter when he says that they took place in Rome itself before an audience of “Caesar’s knights” — members of the Roman Praetorium — and therefore an audience containing a number of high government officials.
11. Clement also connects this Gospel of Mark with the other two Synoptic Gospels when he states that it was subsequent to those “containing the genealogies.”
12. There is, however, a parallel tradition in Irenaeus, seemingly supported by the Muratorian Canon and most other authorities, to the effect that mark was second after Matthew, and Luke third. There need be no contradiction between these two traditions, for it is quite possible that while one strand of tradition made Mark second to Matthew, and before Luke, for any other reason.
13. Jerome, as we have seen, understood the above evidence as proving the Gospel of mark to be “Peter’s narration and Mark’s writing.”
14. The order Matthew-Luke-Mark, as the chronological order of composition, is in fact the order one would naturally expect seeing that Christianity spread from Jerusalem up into Asia Minor and Greece, and thence westwards to Rome and the West.

Ecclesiastical tradition never claimed that the Evangelists were creative “authors” in the strict sense; it simply claimed that their writings belonged to the category of personal recollection…

Some ciritics argue that if both matthew and Luke were in existence it would be absurd for an eyewitness like Peter to submit himself to theese document. Adherents of Markan priority often pose the question, “Why should anyone have wanted to write a new Gospel that omitted so much from his sources?” The fundamental flaw in this argument is precisely the assumption that Mark (or Peter) intended to write a Gospel like the other two. This assumption is completely baseless. Mark is quite a different kind of document. The Fourfold Gospel Hypothesis in fact asserts that Mark’s account of the life of Jesus was never intended to be a rival Gospel. Mark is not a book in the sense in which the ancient Greeks and Romans understood the term, for it is just the spoken word directly captured and set down on paper exactly as it was originally uttered. It consists of a long chain of chreiai (short stores) about a heroic personage, recorded in a non-literary style and without any formal beginning or ending. The above question concerning Markan omissions is therefore totally irrelevant, because Mark is not to be reckoned a Gospel in the sense that Matthew and Luke truly are.

The Four Phases in the Development of the Gospels:
In the Spirit-directed process of inscripturating the Good News about Jesus Christ there were four main phases — four turning points at each of which a suitable Gospel statement was found to be necessary for its proper growth.

These phases are discussed in chronological order.

The Jerusalem Phase, AD 30-42 (Acts 1-12)
The need to demonstrate to the Jewish authorities that Jesus had literally fulfilled all the prophecies about the Messiah was the original motivation for the composition of the Gospel of Matthew, which met all the apologetic needs of the Jerusalem church.

Matthew arranged the selected material in three main sections:
1. The origin of Jesus down to the opening of his public ministry in Galilee (1:1-4:17).
2. Jesus’ Galilean ministry (4:18-18:35)–containing the build of his teaching–to which is attached a brief interlude in Transjordan (chs. 19-20).
3. All the Jerusalem events of Jesus’ public mission, including the passion, death, and resurrection narratives (chs. 21-28).

The Gospel of Matthew was the manifesto of the Mother church of Jerusalem, and thus became the fundamental document of the Christian faith.

The Gentile Mission Phase, AD 42-62 (Acts 13-28)
If we compare the Gospels of Luke and Matthew and note Luke’s deviations, we see that Luke carefully followed the main structure of Matthew throughout and generally adhered to the order of its various sections and anecdotes, though he also made highly interesting changes. For example, his story of the birth of Jesus is totally different from Matthew’s, which (as we have noted) was almost entirely apologetic in tone and content. Luke, however, provided a straightforward narrative that stems either directly or indirectly form Mary herself. When he came to the Galilean ministry he added certain details to each of those stories from Matthew’s Gospel that he decided to adopt. indeed, in one way or another he absorbed nearly everything that Matthew had written, and yet managed to add a good deal of extra material. This Luke did by omitting a number of stories that he regarded as duplicates (e.g., the famous Lukan omission of Matthew 14:22-16:12) and by inserting into the hear of the Matthean text at the end of the Galilean ministry (cf. Matthew 19:1-2) a section of no less than nine long chapters, his Central Section (9:51-18:14), comprising (1) the excerpts that he had extracted from Matthew’s five great discourses (ch. 10, 13, 18, and 24-25) in order to lighten the context of his own version of htem, and (2) additional sayings and parables that he had collected.

The Roman Phase, AD 62-67
Peter, aided by Mark, decided to divide for his own immediate purpose the Gospels of Matthew and Luke lying before him into five parts, that is, into five discourses of 25-40 minutes each, in the following manner:

1. Beginning of Ministry: Mark 1:2-3:19 = Matt 3:1ff; Luke 3:1ff
2. Early Galilean Ministry: Mark 3:20-6:13 = Matt 5.2ff; Luke 6:20ff
3. Later Galilean Ministry: Mark 6:14-10:1 = Matt 14:1ff; Luke 9:7ff
4. Post Galilean Ministry: Mark 10:2-13:37 = Matt 19:1ff; Luke 9:51ff
5. Passion Narrative: Mark 14:1-16:8 = matt 26:1ff; Luke 22:1ff

Peter tended to follow th Gospel of Matthew closely, adding Luke’s extra details wherever he could. He also adopted Luke’s rearrangement of the early part of Matthew’s Galilean ministry. His treatment is also noteworthy for the introduction of so many vivid little details that reveal him to be an eyewitness, such as Jesus’ being asleep on the cushion in the stern of the boat (Mark 4:38) and the figure of two thousand swine who drowned themselves in the lake (Mark 5:13).

Those who had listened to peter were delighted with everything they had heard and requested from Mark copies of what he had said. The tradition relates that when Peter was shown the transcript of his discourses he “exerted no pressure either to forbid it or to promote it” (Eusebius, EH 6.14.5-7). This indicates that Peter saw no particular advantage in promoting his own lectures, since in Matthew there was already a complete Gospel available to his listeners. In the light of his public approbation, Paul was able to publish the text of Luke’s Gospel in the churches of Achaia and Asia Minor without further delay or question.

The most plausible explanation [of why Mark 16:9-20 was added to the Gospel] is that after Mark had satisfied the immediate demand of those who wanted copies of the five discourses, which ended at Mark 1:8, the matter rested there until after the martyrdom of Peter and Mark’s decision to go ff to establish the church of Alexandria (AD 9. As an act of piety to the memory of Peter, Mark then decided to publish an edition of the text that would include the necessary sequel to the passion and death of the master. But as the private edition of Mark, which lacked these verses, had already been in circulation for some years, the textual tradition has remained divided to this day.

Black’s Post-Script – The long ending of Mark, if original, reminds us that his message is highly evangelistic. *Go into all the world and preach the gospel*

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