A PERSPECTIVE ON PERSPECTIVES ON THE ENDING OF MARK – A BOOK REVIEW
Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: 4 views. Edited by David Alan Black. Nashville, TN: B&H Academics, 2008. 145 pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-080544762-0.
Biblical apologetics could be described as the act of giving a defense of the Christian scriptures. In order to give a reasoned critique of the Christian scriptures one needs to understand the methods, issues, and arguments surrounding the study of the biblical manuscripts, both interior and exterior critiques. One of the most important issues for the defense of the canonical Gospels is the question of the ending of the Gospel of Mark. Most textual issues have to do with word variation, or the occasional phrase, but with the Gospel of Mark we are dealing with textual variants which bring into question the entire ending of Marks Gospel (16:9-20). Of course the amount of reading that would be necessary to understand the issues is enormous, that it is important for anyone who wishes to begin researching these subjects to have access to a good introductory text which not only articulates the main difficulties, but also provides the necessary references that the interested researcher can use to further pursue his studies. This is why multiple view books, in general, are so important. This book review will be considering Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: 4 Views. Due to the nature of multiple views books I will not be able to interact with the arguments that are proposed by the individual authors. This review will begin be explaining the purpose of this book, and continue by providing an overview of the authors who collaborated in this book, their respective positions and the relative use of this book.
This book is the product of a conference that was held at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2007. The purpose of this book is to provide an introduction to the issues surrounding the final 11 verses of the Gospel of Mark (16:9-20). It seems that a number of early and reliable manuscripts do not include these verses, and the early church fathers, in general, seem to know nothing of them. However, the great majority of the extant manuscripts of Mark do include these verses, and many of the medieval theologians both accepted and argued for the authenticity of these verses. The questions that the authors of this book are attempting to answer are, “are these verses authentic (meaning, are they the original ending of Mark)? If so, among other things, why are there so many early manuscripts that don’t include it, and why would all the variations? If not, then why, among other things, do almost all later manuscripts include them? The editor, David Alan Black, has done a wonderful job of providing four different perspectives on this issue.
The authors who participate in this book are, in the order that they appear in the book, Daniel Wallace, Maurice A. Robinson, J. Keith Elliott, David Alan Black, and Darrell L. Bock. Daniel Wallace, who is professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, presents arguments in favor of the claim that Mark intentionally ended his gospel at Mark 16:8. As such he argues that the long ending (vv. 9-20) and the other shorter variations are later non-canonical additions to the gospel. Maurice A. Robinson, who is professor of New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, presents, in what is probably the longest chapter of the book, a multitude of arguments in favor of the claim that Mark intended for his gospel to include vv. 9-20. J. Keith Elliott, professor of New Testament Textual Criticism at the University of Leeds, argues not only that vv. 9-20 are inauthentic (and therefore later non-canonical additions), but also, that the original ending of the gospel of Mark has been lost. The fourth position is presented by David Alan Black, professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Black’s position is much more nuanced than the others in that he argues, based upon some elaborate theories concerning the history of the redaction of the gospels, that the original version of the gospel of Mark (which is, in fact, the testimony of Peter, as recorded by Mark) did not include vv. 9-20, but that Mark later wrote vv. 9-20 in order to present a completed gospel record in honor of the Apostle Peter. The final essay in the book is written by Darrell L. Bock, research professor of New Testament studies and professor of Spiritual Development and Culture at Dallas Theological Seminary, with the purpose of giving a critical overview and critique of the 4 views that are presented in this book.
The editor of this book, David Alan Black, has succeeded in providing the interested reader with a valuable introduction to the issues surrounding the questioned ending of the Gospel of Mark. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in biblical apologetics, textual criticism, or manuscript issues as a valuable introduction to a major textual difficulty. This book not only presents 4 very different views on the issue at hand, but also provides the reader with important reference material that will enable the reader to continue researching this issue. This book will be of use to anybody who is studying the gospel of Mark, or who is studying theology and desires to use the gospel of Mark in the development of their views.