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As a follow up to the post on Mark’s Gospel, it might be useful to say something about its composition. More than 90% of Mark can also be found in St Matthew, and at least 50% is also in St Luke. That, of course, does not mean that Mark was, as many scholars now think, written first, but it does provide suggestive evidence which, along with the nature of it – the semitic phrases and the abrupt nature of the beginning and the end – point in this direction. Of the 661 verses in the version of Mark’s Gospel most commonly used, Matthew uses about 607 and Luke about 360; only about 30 verses are not used by the other two Synoptics. Here is a list:

The beginning of the good news (1:1)
Jesus being with the wild beasts during temptations (1:13)

Sabbath made for man, not man for the Sabbath, so Son of Man is lord of Sabbath (2:27)

Calling disciples to mountain to preach, and cast out demons (3:13-15)

Jesus’ family trying to restrain him (3:20-21)

Parable of seed growing secretly (4:26-29)

Jesus being asleep on a cushion during storm (4:38)

Jesus saying, “Peace, Be still” to the storm (4:39)

Parable of seed growing secretly (4:26-29)
Details about strength of Gerasene demoniac (5:4-5)
Jesus being aware that power had gone from him when healing woman with bleeding (5:30)
Departure to Tyre, and entering a house, not wanting anyone to know he was there (7:24)

Healing of deaf and mute man in Decapolis (7:31-37)
Healing of blind man in Bethsaida in two stages (8:22-26)

Conversation with father of demonised boy throwing himself in to fire (9:21-24)
Boy being like a corpse and people thinking he was dead (9:26-27)
This kind of demon can only come out through prayer (9:29)

Jesus being indignant when disciples sent children away (10:14)

Analogy of man going on journey and leaving doorkeeper to be on watch (13:34)

Everyone salted with fire. Salt losing its saltiness – be at peace (9:48-49)
Blessings include persecutions for those who give up everything (10:30)
Scribe’s reply to Jesus about importance of loving God and neighbour (12:32-34)

The naked young man running away (14:51-52)
Pilate asking whether Jesus was already dead (15:44)
Question about who will roll away the stone (16:3)
Disciples afraid and not telling anyone (16:8b)

What also makes Mark different is the ending. The earliest manuscripts we have all end at what we call Chapter 16 verse 8 (remember that the numbering thus is a relatively recent phenomenon). In some Greek, Latin, Syriac and Coptic MSS. there is the following short ending:

All that had been commanded they proclaimed briefly to those about Peter. Afterwards Jesus himself appeared to them, and from the East as far as the west he sent forth through them the sacred and incorruptible proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.

This certainly ties up, as it was meant to, the looses ends about the women and the Apostles, but was clearly found unsatisfactory by the early Church, which preferred what scholars call the ‘longer ending’ – that is verses 9-20 in most editions. It is not present in either the Codex Siniaticus or the Codex Vaticanus, and both St Jerome and Eusebius confirm it was not in any of the MSS. they knew (and they certainly has access to manuscripts now long vanished). It takes passages from Luke (16:12-13; 14-18; Luke 24:10-11; 13-35; 36-39; 50-51) and John (20:14-18; 20:26-29), and Matthew (28:16-20) to create a composite ending which has generally been found to be more satisfactory. Despite their dislike of ‘tradition’ and insistence on the text and nothing but the text, it is odd that Protestants have no trouble with this much later ending.

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