Twitter Discussion on the THGNT Ending of Mark

This post on Twitter, the content of which I wrote up and expanded in a blog post on the Ending of Mark in THGNT, led to an interesting discussion.

In a conversation with Charles Sullivan, Dirk Jongkind provides links to manuscript images in the New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room.

Inepti Graeculi asks a question regarding Eusebius’ position on the ending.

Charles Sullivan asks about the origin of minuscule 1, which leads to …

Some info I found by following the link trail embedded in the hyperlinks of the THGNT apparatus module in Accordance and …

Rick Brannan provides the Virutal Manuscript Room ID for the relevant minuscule.

Jeremiah Coogan offers some very helpful comments here and here.

Fr. Thomas Sandberg questions why the textual note is included in light of the fact that the mansuscripts that include it are from the tenth to fourteenth centuries, and Jeremiah responds.

And by the way, we love this, Dirk.

Morning versus Night

Fernando Ortega’s The Crucifixion of Jesus is a beautiful mix of melodies and scripture reading, all reflecting on the passion narratives. As I listened this morning, the part where Peter confesses his loyalty stood out to me.

Mark 14:29–31

ὁ δὲ Πέτρος ἔφη αὐτῷ· εἰ καὶ πάντες σκανδαλισθήσονται ἀλλ᾿ οὐκ ἐγώ.Καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἀμὴν λέγω σοι ὅτι σὺ σήμερον ταύτῃ τῇ νυκτὶ πρὶν ἢ δὶς ἀλέκτορα φωνῆσαι τρίς με ἀπαρνήσῃ. 31 ὁ δὲ ἐκπερισσῶς ἐλάλει· ἐὰν δέῃ με συναποθανεῖν σοι, οὐ μή σε ἀπαρνήσομαι. ὡσαύτως δὲ καὶ πάντες ἔλεγον.Peter said to him, “Even if everyone falls away, I won’t!” Jesus said to him, “I’m telling you that today, on this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times. But he was emphatically saying, “Even if I have to suffer with you, I will never deny you!” Now, all of them were saying the same thing.

We might ask, “How could Peter be so adamant and then by that very night do the opposite?” But doesn’t our experience make sense of this? How many times in the morning or midday have you thought “Not today,” only to lose the battle at night. Granted, the shift here isn’t really from morning to night but from evening to late night. Nevertheless, I think the point still stands.

It is striking to me how our mentality shifts as the hours pass, and it is striking to see something similar in the passion narratives, too.

Ending of Mark in THGNT

One more comment on Mark: The Tyndale House Greek New Testament has a really interesting textual note at the end. These words appear between the end of 16:8 and the alternate longer ending, verses 9–20:

ΕΝ ΤΙΣΙ ΜΕΝ ΤΩΝ ΑΝΤΙΓΡΑΦΩΝ, ΕΩΣ ΩΔΕ ΠΛΗΡΟΥΤΑΙ Ο ΕΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΣΤΗΣ· ΕΩΣ ΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΕΥΣΕΒΙΟΣ Ο ΠΑΜΦΙΛΟΥ ΕΚΑΝΟΝΙΣΕΝ· ΕΝ ΠΟΛΛΟΙΣ ΔΕ ΚΑΙ ΤΑΥΤΑ ΦΕΡΕΤΑΙ

At the bottom of the page, the apparatus reads as follows:

note as found in minuscule 1: ‘In some of the copies, the evangelist finishes here, up to which (point) also Eusebius of Pamphilus made canon sections. But in many the following is also contained.'”

This is so cool, and it is yet another plus for my favorite GNT — in addition to the beautifully readable typography, the uncluttered page layout, the concise, easy to understand apparatus, the affordable price tag, and the more ancient paragraph breaks.

Check it out for yourself:

Breaking the Fourth Wall

When you read scripture, do any of the characters ever look directly into the camera? I was discussing this phenomenon with a friend once, and he told me the theater term for this is “breaking the fourth wall.”

New Oxford American Dictionary
New Oxford American Dictionary

Mark 14:41 is a perfect example. Here, Jesus and the disciples are in the garden. He has come for the third time and found them sleeping. Jesus is standing over three of his friends as they sleep, and no one else is in the scene.

This time, instead of encouraging them to watch and pray, Jesus says, “Sleep on, and rest. It’s fine.” I imagine him looking down at the disciples because though they are sleeping he is clearly speaking to them. In the next sentence, however, he starts to look up, directly into the camera.

The transition happens as he says, “The hour has come,” and by the next word he is staring directly into your eyes. “Look,” he says, “the son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” Who else would he be talking to but the reader?

Sure, he could still be looking at the sleeping disciples, but do you really say “look” to sleeping people? It is your attention, no one else’s in the scene, that ἰδού is intended to grab. (That is the word I’m translating “look,” traditionally rendered behold.) If that word is intended by the author to grab your attention, then why wouldn’t you imagine the character who is saying it to be looking at you, the reader?

In the next sentence, Jesus turns back to the disciples and says, “Get up. Let’s go. The one betraying me is here.” For one brief moment in the garden, however, Jesus breaks the fourth wall. With heavy eyes and a heavy heart, no doubt, he invites you the reader to look and watch.

Jesus and Sadness

When you think of Jesus, just how human is he? I’ve been posting on this theme lately because I’ve been thinking about it for years, and for whatever reason, during this spring break, these little snippets are just overflowing. This morning it’s Mark 14:17–25 that I think poses a nice challenge.

As Jesus sits with his closest friends, having already told them multiple times he is about to suffer and be killed, he breaks the news that one of them is going to hand him over. What’s the tone of the conversation? Yes, of course, you see all the disciples scrambling in bewilderment, each of them asking, “Me? Is it me?”

But look up at Jesus’ face. What do you see? We’ve been in this literary world how many times in our life? Have you looked at his face?

I think we often see him looking down, eating, sitting up straight, sort of stone faced, chin up. If we were to caption this perception of him, it might say, “I know what one of you is about to do. I know.” Stern voice, resignation, laying down the truth.

That can’t be all of it. Surely he is sad. Surely he struggles to say these words. Do you think Gethsemane is the only time he felt grief and sadness and loneliness? Stoic, truth-telling philosopher all his adult life then goes straight to grieving like a madman in the garden — that can’t be it, can it?

He was despised and rejected by people — a man of suffering, familiar with sickness. (Is 53:3)

He repeats himself in various ways as he breaks the news. As his friends are in disbelief and probably again thinking what he is saying can’t be right — they always think he is off base — he says, “One of the twelve.” That had to sting. One of the twelve that he called out and lived with for so long. Then speaking more directly to the moment, “One who is eating with me.”

How could he say those words with dry eyes or without a stutter or mumble or sigh? He sees the faces of those he knows will miss him more than any others. He knows the pain they are about to experience. Don’t you fear the pain that others will experience when you are gone? Didn’t he feel that?

Then there is verse 22. Imagine: He knows what’s coming. He picks up the bread, with his friend who will betray him in the room, and he breaks it. He breaks the bread. Doesn’t he know that symbolizes his body? Isn’t he the one that told us that? He broke it. Don’t you think his emotions were stirred?

He had to be made like them, fully human in every way. (Heb 3:17, NIV)

Do the gospel authors have to tell us every time he feels sadness for us to go there? Isn’t it enough that they told us he was born to Mary? Isn’t it enough that Hebrews says he was like us, fully human in every way? Isn’t that warrant for imagining his eyes and voice showed the same emotions you experience?

After he broke it he gave thanks. Have you worshipped genuinely in the midst of grief and sadness? I imagine that little table blessing was marked by pain. He picked up the cup that he knew was a symbol of his blood. Don’t you think he feared the lashes and the nails and the suffering? He will struggle to breathe.

How can “one of you will betray me” not be marked by grief and sadness and loneliness? How you imagine his face and his voice matters a whole lot. We are in a season where we need to know that he is familiar with sickness and sadness, loneliness and pain.

Fire in His Eyes

If you were to look into Jesus’ eyes in Mark 12, I imagine you would describe them like John did in Revelation 1 — as a flame of fire. Has a more subversive, weighty little story ever been told than what you hear at the beginning of Mark 12? It’s certainly on the level of Nathan’s “you are the man.” This is the story of the vineyard entrusted to farmers, who in the end killed all the owner’s servants and even killed his son in hopes of gaining the inheritance for themselves.

Here in chapter twelve, it’s like the undercurrent of furor that was boiling in Mark 3 spills over. There, early in the book, Jesus was brimming with anger because his opponents were more interested in playing legal games than showing compassion to those suffering. Here, however, he doesn’t hold his tongue. As chapter eleven comes to a close and prefaces Jesus’ story, I imagine him stepping up to the mic like Apollo:

Down from the peaks of Olympos he hastened, enraged at heart, carrying on his shoulders his bow and lidded quiver, arrows rattling loud on his shoulders as in his rage he strode on his way: he came as nightfall comes. (Iliad translated by Peter Green, 2015, p. 26)

Jesus is calm and composed as he tells the story. That composure mixed with the ferocity of the words is why I think in this moment Jesus’ eyes looked just as deep and fiery and filled with life and power as what John saw.

As he draws the story to a close and explicitly says that the lord (ὁ κύριος) will destroy the abusive farmers, he makes his own literary reference.

Haven’t you read this scripture? The stone the builders rejected, this one became the cornerstone. This was from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

There’s the twinkle. The last clause. Can’t you see it? As he utters the syllables ἔστιν θαυμαστὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, don’t you know his face lit up with a smile? One of those I got you smiles that is resigned to whatever hostile reaction it might ignite. Despite all the misunderstanding up to this point, they got it this time: “They knew he told the parable about them.” The arrows sliced through their targets.

He said it was marvelous. Maybe the mention of wonder and marvel, as Jesus leans into his coming suffering, is related to the wonder and fear his followers felt on the road as they headed to Jerusalem (Mark 10:32). Things are changing, it’s from the Lord, but it’s scary and confusing and amazing. Hardly anyone knows what to think except the one who walked ahead.