Mark 16:9-20

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Puritan Board Freshman
Modern eclectic textual criticism generally accepts a second century settlement of the New Testament text. It is unlikely anyone who adopts the traditional understanding of the canon of the New Testament properly understands the dynamics involved in questions of this nature.
How does the traditional understanding of canon treat errors in transmission?

Critics generally acknowledge a second century writing of the end of Mark's gospel. On the basis of their second century canon, there is in fact no valid reason for doubting the longer ending of Mark as canonical. The doubt arises for the conservative only when he accepts the critics' explanations.
This is if the critics' explanations are, in spirit, a priori antithetical to Scripture. That's not justified.


Puritan Board Freshman
Luther wasn't sure he was hearing the divine Voice in the book of James. He famously called it an "epistle of straw." But in the end, he yielded to the vast majority consensus of the church, who testified to a faithful hearing of the Master's Voice in that letter. He kept James in his Bible.

Thanks Contra I have a question regarding Luther and James Epistle. Did Luther question whetehr or not a certain passage was written by James or was it more what he thought it was teaching? I guess the difference i see between what Im asking and the issue with Luther if Im right is that Im not questioning the material ( theres nothing being taught that isnt biblical) my question is simply whether Mark wrote it? Even if he didnt and someone else put it in and the intenetion was good wouldnt that mean that it doesnt belong regardless of the intention?

Appreciate all the feedback from everyone. I guess I simply want to know if Mark wrote if he didnt then it shouldnt be there right? I believe he wrote it on faith.


Puritanboard Amanuensis
How does the traditional understanding of canon treat errors in transmission?

Errors in transmission are discerned and explained using the same canons of criticism as are generally accepted by all critics. The difference is in the underlying convictions concerning the nature of the text. Believing criticism places limitations on the way criticism is used. E.g., is the text the inspired word of God? If so, it must lead to the conclusion that the text has a special divine purpose which is not true of other texts. That purpose for the text must have some bearing on its transmission history. Where the text is not believed to be of divine inspiration, the critic is far more open-ended in the way he views the transmission history of the text, and is disposed to treat it like any other text.

This is if the critics' explanations are, in spirit, a priori antithetical to Scripture. That's not justified.

If you believe the Scriptures of the New Testament were penned in the first century by the apostles or apostolic men, and the critics proceed on the basis that the NT text was not established until the second century when its last editions were finalised by "apostolic communities," then you have an a priori antithesis in your approach to Scripture.


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Luther seems to raise the question of whether the Epistle of James is a H.S. inspired text. If not, then it clearly doesn't belong alongside the other writings that are "breathed out" by God through his servants, the prophets and apostles. But in the end, Luther prefers to question his own perceptions, rather than the perceptions of the overwhelming majority of the church.

The issue also cannot be one of "authorship," primarily. Because we don't have everything written by Paul, for example. And if some new letter of his came to light, it would not for that reason join the others in the Bible.

So, we don't accept James because James was an important early writer. We don't accept Paul's letter's, simply because he wrote all we have that contain his name. We don't accept Mark, just because of what is attributed to him. It IS important that we discern between Mark, and not-Mark. But neither are we the first generation to have this task. And we need to ask better questions than just, "what manuscripts contain these words, and how old are they?"

Why do moderns accept a rather facile explanation, that the text "surely" ends at v8, and that several conclusions exist because several people tried to "end it" for Mark? Is this a good explanation, really? Have Christians ordinarily (ever?) appreciated, and demanded, that the divine Word be meddled with, to provide a "more satisfying," or "more terminable" ending, of human composition?

Here's an explanation (how true it is, who knows; its as good an explanation as any scholar's):
Mark is traditionally known as "Peter's interpreter." In other words, Peter's personal witness to Christ is preserved for us, as Matthew's and John's, but by someone who accompanied him. Peter may have used a regular set of episodic events, to tell the story of Christ as he remembered it (along with the rest of the apostles). Long before they all left Jerusalem, they had years of telling this message together, hence the unity of the story.

Perhaps the reason why the last verses of Mark "sound" different to some, is because Peter himself wraps it up, as he might 'extemporize' at the end of most of his evangelism, rather than so much reliance on the "common" or "standard" version. Maybe, Mark himself wrote the ending, after Peter died, adding his own voice to the manuscript; the rest of the gospel stamped with the imprint of Peter's own voice much more clearly. Others, remembering a "longer" ending from the Peter they recalled hearing, gussied up the ending more. Others, remembering that Peter's "notes" ending more abruptly, questioned whether Mark should have "tidied" the ending up, and so removed his words.

In the end, the issue is whether or not the Divine Voice is audible in those verses, and not *which* human author penned them. The testimony to the church's hearing Christ in those verses--despite whatever can be mounted against them--is still terribly, terribly old. Older isn't synonymous with "reliable," which is why we have the same duty today. If believing God's Word was something so easily reducible to a pure "scientific" enterprise, then the older faith in what was delivered would be more like a "shot-in-the-dark," and only the modern's, with their methods, could be sure they had "the-real-thing." No one else could "really be sure," except by a "blind-faith" confidence.

Isn't that what Rome claims? Doesn't she claim to be that "provider" and "interpreter," along with all that extra-biblical tradition? She says, "Just trust us, you MUST trust us, WE gave you the Bible, that should be enough for you." Rome and the modern-skeptic-scholars are touting the same line of "authority" to believe. But, this has to be challenged. The issue isn't one that will be decided purely on "scientific" grounds. Text-criticism will give us "more" information to work with, but it will not decide all the issues for us. It will not reduce at all our responsibility to listen for the Good Shepherd; and it will not eliminate all the questions involved down to an up/down vote on "what's left."
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