Bringing Method To The Madness: Examining The Style Of The Longer Ending Of Mark -- By: Travis B. Williams

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 20:3 (NA 2010)
Article: Bringing Method To The Madness: Examining The Style Of The Longer Ending Of Mark
Author: Travis B. Williams


Bringing Method To The Madness: Examining The Style Of The Longer Ending Of Mark

Travis B. Williams

University Of Exeter

For decades biblical scholars have been convinced of the inauthenticity of the longer ending of Mark’s Gospel. Given the overwhelming consensus on the matter, it might seem like folly even to raise the issue afresh. Yet it is my contention that the foundation on which this position has been built is somewhat faulty. One of the major reasons that interpreters have rejected the longer ending is stylistic variance. But in many cases, stylistic assessments have been based on surface-level examinations of the text without any methodological constraint. The purpose of this essay is to propose a basic methodological procedure by which to evaluate the syntactical style of Mark 16:9-20 in relation to the rest of Mark’s Gospel, and then to test the longer ending on this basis.

Key Words: Mark 16:9-20, longer ending of Mark, stylistics, Greek grammar, syntax

Author’s note: I would like to thank Daniel B. Wallace and David G. Horrell for reading a preliminary draft of this essay and offering many valuable suggestions.

Introduction

Are the last 12 verses of Mark 16 authentic? Could vv. 9-20 have originally been composed by the hand of the evangelist? When questions like these are posed within the world of biblical scholarship, ordinarily they are met with a resounding “No!” For the most part, the inauthenticity of the longer ending of Mark’s Gospel has become almost an accepted axiom. In fact, this position is so widely held that one would assume that the evidence against its legitimacy is overwhelming. To some, even raising the possibility of the passage’s authenticity might seem gratuitous, especially in light of the modern consensus to the contrary. For, as James A. Kelhoffer points out, “Like their nineteenth century counterparts, most recent scholars, having reached this conclusion concerning the non-Markan authorship of Mark 16:9-20, have been content to abandon its investigation. Since Mark did not

write the [longer ending], it is either a ‘false’ (and embarrassing) interpolation or not worthy of serious attention by NT scholars.”1 Even in the midst of such strong reticence, however, there is one area that seems to beg for a fresh examination—...

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