ending of Mark authenticity history starting in 1500s

Steven Avery

Expanding on

The Last Twelve Verses of Mark (1871)

Miracle and Mission: The Authentication of Missionaries and Their Message in the Longer Ending of Mark (2000)
James A. Kelhoffer

“Hoe ‘Want ze waren bang’ het slot van Markus werd” - Dec, 2013
(“How ‘For they were afraid’ became Mark’s ending”),
Bart Kamphuis
p. 173-177

Facebook - NT Textual Criticism - Steven Avery - June, 2015


Last edited:

Steven Avery

The Turning Point for Mark 16:9-20 (2013)
Jan Krans

Schrift, which has just been released, is entirely devoted to the Gospel of Mark. The one article they offer as a free download, entitled “Hoe ‘Want ze waren bang’ het slot van Markus werd” (“How ‘For they were afraid’ became Mark’s ending”),

In Kelhoffer’s Miracle and Mission (2000) I found an extensive overview of the history of scholarship on Mark’s ‘Longer Ending’. According to Kelhoffer, critical reflection on the Longer Ending in the age of the printed book started with Birch’s publication of Vaticanus readings at the end of the 18th century. Out of curiosity, however, I moved back into history, from Birch to Wettstein (1751) … Bengel (1734) … Mill (1707) … Simon (1689) … Erasmus (1516)… All these scholars appear to already discuss the problem of Mark’s ending!

Andreas Birch, the Danish theologian-philologian, who, from 1781 to 1783, collated dozens of Greek New Testament manuscripts in continental European libraries, mainly those in Italy. Tregelles says about Birch that he “probably did more than any other scholar in the collation of MSS. of the Greek Testament” (Account of the Printed Text, 1854, p. 88). One of the manuscripts Birch examined in the Vatican library was already famous for its presumed age (some held it to belong to the 4th century; this dating is commonly accepted today). Some of its peculiar readings had already been circulating among scholars from Erasmus onwards; Wettstein can refer frequently to the manuscript he labelled ‘B’ because of its age. The most remarkable variant of ‘Codex Vaticanus’, however, had remained hidden from the scholarly community. Birch must have had his finest hour when discovering that in this manuscript, today generally considered to be our best one, Mark ends with ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ—“for they were afraid” (16:8).

Well then, the article is about this story, the accumulation of evidence from Erasmus to Birch, additional evidence after Birch, and the paradigm shift in textcritical theory around 1800 that makes the evidence of a manuscript like Vaticanus so weighty.

A final note. When I handed in the final draft of my article last summer, there was one thing I unfortunately had not been able to check: Birch’s presentation of the Vaticanus evidence in his 1788 Quatuor Evangelia Graece. No Dutch library had this book, and, more importantly, it was not yet available digitally on the internet. Archive.org did offer the 1801 revision under the title Variae Lectiones ad Textum IV Evangeliorum. Here I did find Birch discussing the absence of Mark 16:9-20 in Vaticanus as the most telling example of the quality of this manuscript. But I wanted to hear him say such a thing in the 1788 edition, looking at the actual pages that can be seen as the turning point in the history of scholarship on Mark’s ending. I spoke about this with my fellow PhD candidate Christian Holmgaerd, who is Danish. A few weeks ago, he came with a big surprise: at his request the Royal Library in Kopenhagen digitized Birch’s 1788 Quatuor Evangelia Graece, in beautiful sharp images, and put it online. ...

View attachment 902

“Now although I believe the things I have put forward above make clear how much value should be assigned to Codex Vaticanus; still, let me provide, out of many observations, one example through which this becomes very clear. The final pericope of the Gospel of Mark, from 16:9 down to the end of the chapter, is entirely absent in our manuscript, so that below the words ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ the subscription κατὰ μάρκον is placed. …”

Steven Avery



Stephen C. Carlson said...
Nice post. One tiny criticism: my colleague's name is spelled Kelhoffer, not Kellhofer.

Steven Avery said...
Thomas Cajetan (1469-1534), discussed by Richard Simon, could be included in your survey of traditional Mark ending doubt. And it would be a close race with Erasmus, you would have to check the exact years as to who comes first. And afaik Cajetan did not have a Greek and Latin NT and a Paraphrase where he consistently included the resurrection appearances of the Lord Jesus in Mark, as did Erasmus.

Bart Kamphuis said...
Thank you, Mr Avery, for drawing my attention to Cajetan as discussed by Simon. In preperation of my article, I have only taken into account Simon's discussion of the Eusebian sections in connection to Mark's ending (chapter 33), and I overlooked the passage you are referring to, the second half of chapter 11. Here I have found more I should have referred to in the article, such as Grotius' defense of the Longer Ending. Besides, I think on p. 121 Simon subtly reveals that he does not consider 16:9-20 Marcan: "on ne doit nullement douter de la verité de ce Chapitre, qui est aussi ancien que l'Evangile de Saint Marc". In short, I hope to be able once to publish a revised and enlarged version of my article ;) By the way, wouldn't you think Cajetan's reflections on Mark's ending are in his 1530 "In Evangelia Matt., Marci, Lucae, Joannis"? I haven't been able to check that, though.

James Snapp Jr said...
Why does the quotation of Birch in the blog-entry end so abruptly?
Did Birch say anything about the blank space after 16:8?
Yours in Christ,

Bart Kamphuis said...
Dear James, Birch does not say anything about the empty third column, neither in the manuscript description from which I quoted, nor in the collation of Mark 16. You can see for yourself, of course, since the "Quatuor Evangelia" is online now.

Steven Avery said...
You can find a lot about the Cajetan and Catherinus Mark ending positions at:

Biblical Scholarship and the Church: A Sixteenth-century Crisis of Authority
Allan K. Jenkins, Patrick Preston

And I agree that the dispute may have started in the 1530 commentary, it looks like Catherinus was responding around 1532 and then more later.

Keep in mind though that Cajetan was an Aquinas expert, and at least in the Catena Aurea Aquinas does a lot of ECW referencing of the Mark ending (without bothering with the omission quibble).

Above I didn't mention Grotius because it looked like your survey was emphasizing contra argumentation. Granted, due to his early time and superb analytical reputation, Grotius might get a special nod. However I did not see Osiander and Burgon in your paper, which seemed to indicate a study of one side of the history.
Yours in Jesus,
Steven Avery

Bart Kamphuis said...
Dear Steven, thanks for the reference. About my article: in the first part the focus is not so much contra argumentation (Mill and Bengel are pro), but accumulation of relevant data until Birch. In this respect, Grotius seems to be important, from what I read in Simon, being already acquainted with all kind of evidence, both pro and contra, that is described in the article as introduced by Mill.

James Snapp Jr said...
Hmm. So Birch mentioned that the text of B stopped at the end of 16:8, but Birch said nothing about the blank space after that.
Any idea how long researchers depend on Birch's somewhat incomplete depiction of B's testimony, before someone else made a more detailed investigation?
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.

Steven Avery said...
Bart .. Welcome. Thanks. Understood. :)
Keep in mind that Osiander, Burgon, Morison and others are "acquainted with all kind of evidence, both pro and contra".

And if you are going backwards in time from Birch, Johann Adam Osiander (1701-1756) should count.

When James Morison (1816-1893) wrote on the ending in 1873, Mark's Memoirs of Jesus Christ, p. 467-491, he was likely more familiar with the German critical scholarship than just about anybody, including Burgon. Morison referenced Burgon a couple of times, yet he finished with a quote from:

Osiander's Vindication of the Genuineness of the Last Twelve Verses of Mark:

"the Paragraph must necessarily be retained in the evangelical text"


Similarly, Herman Gustav Hoelemann's 1885 survey in Letzte Bibelstudien referenced Osiander. Apparantly incorrectly as J. E. Osiander, which would be Johann Ernst (1792-1870) however he got the 1753 year right. Osiander was writing with the young Wilhelm Friedrich Immanuel Gesner (1733-1791).

Exercitatio Academica Nova, Qua Ostenditur, Duodecim Postrema Commata, Marci Capite Decimo Sexto Exstantia, Esse Genvina

And I've wondered if one of our language scholars would give a skilled translation of the section, which is historically significant and not long. Notice the connection to the heavenly witnesses in defense of the pure Bible text, and the reference to Lutheran scholar Johann Gerhard. Likely the elder, (1582–1637) whose Loci Theologici could be an addition to your survey of the historical Mark ending debate. Gerhard was a major contributor on the heavenly witnesses as well with the two-part 1619 dissertation being combined here:

1721 Commentatio uberior in dictum Johanneum, 1 Jo. V, 7., de tribus in coelo testibus

an elite writing that would serve us well to be translated into English. :)

Yours in Jesus,
Steven Avery

Bart Kamphuis said...
I don't know, James. In any case, I believe that in 1868 the NT part of the first fascimile edition appeared.

Steven Avery said...
Angelo Mai's 1857 edition is reviewed in the Christian Remembrancer in 1859 and they reference the Vaticanus blank space.

Christian Remembrance (1859)
The Vatican Codex and Syriac Gospels

Again, the last twelve verses in the Textus Receptus of S. Mark arc wanting in the Vatican MS., and a blank page is left in the codex. There is a note declaring that it is exploratissimum, that the passage ought to be retained ....(continues)

So 1857/1858 may be the first accurate reference, a bit before any editions from Tischendorf or from Vercellone and Cozza. Followed by the Burgon analysis.

Yours in Jesus,

Bart Kamphuis said...
Gentlemen, I guess we are drifting off the subject of the original post somewhat. Feel free, though, to contact me (b.l.f.kamphuis at vu.nl).
2:09 pm

Steven Avery


The Spanish scholastic theologian Melchior Cano (c. 1509–1560) pointed out that the Latin Vulgate contains several passages – the story of the boys in the fiery furnace (Dan 3:24–90), Susanna (Dan 13 Vg), the pericope de adultera (Jn 7:53–8:11), the long ending of Mark (16:9–20) and the Johannine comma – which he believed had been omitted from the Greek and Hebrew texts through the negligence of scribes.52

Bellarmino (Bellarmine) believed that some Greek codices lacked ‘many parts of true Scripture’, such as the story of the woman caught in adultery, the longer ending of Mark, and the ‘most beautiful testimony of the Trinity’, the Johannine comma.57