SermonIndex Audio Sermons
SermonIndex - Promoting Revival to this Generation

The Last Twelve Verses Of The Gospel According To S Mark by John William Burgon


The mistake concerning Gregory of Nyssa (p.89). -- The misconception concerning Eusebius (p.41). -- The oversight concerning Jerome (p.51); -- also concerning Hesychius of Jerusalem, (or else Severus of Antioch) (p.57); -- and concerning Victor of Antioch (p.59).

IT would naturally follow to shew that manuscript evidence confirms the evidence of the ancient Fathers and .of the early Versions of Scripture. But it will be more satisfactory that I should proceed to examine without more delay the testimony, which, (as it is alleged,) is borne by a cloud of ancient Fathers against the last twelve verses of S. Mark. |The absence of this portion from some, from many, or from most copies of his Gospel, or that it was not written by S. Mark himself,| (says Dr. Tregelles,) |is attested by Eusebius, Gregory of Nyasa, Victor of Antioch, Severus of Antioch, Jerome, and by later writers, especially Greeks .| The same Fathers are appealed to by Dr. Davidson, who adds to the list Euthymius; and by Tischendorf and Alford, who add the name of Hesychius of Jerusalem. They also refer to |many ancient Scholia.| |These verses| (says Tischendorf) |are not recognised by the sections of Ammonius nor by the Canons of Eusebius: Epiphanius and Cæsarius bear witness to the fact .| |In the Catenæ on Mark| (proceeds Davidson) |the section is not explained. Nor is there any trace of acquaintance with it on the part of Clement of Rome or Clement of Alexandria;| -- a remark which others have made also; as if it were a surprising circumstance that Clement of Alexandria, who appears to have no reference to the last chapter of S. Matthew's Gospel, should be also without any reference to the last chapter of S. Mark's: as if, too, it were an extraordinary, thing that Clement of Rome should have omitted to quote from the last chapter of S. Mark, -- seeing that the same Clement does not quote from S. Mark's Gospel at all. . . . The alacrity displayed by learned writers in accumulating hostile evidence, is certainly worthy of a better cause. Strange, that their united industry should have been attended with such very unequal success when their object was to exhibit the evidence in favour of the present portion of Scripture.

(1) Eusebius then, and (2) Jerome; (3) Gregory of Nyssa and (4) Hesychius of Jerusalem; (5) Severus of Antioch, (6) Victor of Antioch, and (7) Euthymius: -- Do the accomplished critics just quoted, -- Doctors Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Davidson, really mean to tell us that |it is attested| by these seven Fathers that the concluding section of S. Mark's Gospel |was not written by S. Mark himself?| Why, there is not one of them who says so: while some of them say the direct reverse. But let us go on. It is, I suppose, because there are Twelve Verses to be demolished that the list is further eked out with the names of (8) Ammonius, (9) Epiphanius, and (10) Cæsarius, -- to say nothing of (11) the anonymous authors of Catenæ, and (12) |later writers, especially Greeks.|

I. I shall examine these witnesses one by one: but it will be convenient in the first instance to call attention to the evidence borne by,

Gregory of Nyssa.

This illustrious Father is represented as expressing himself as follows in his second |Homily on the Resurrection :| -- |In the more accurate copies, the Gospel according to Mark has its end at for they were afraid.' In some copies, however, this also is added, -- Now when He was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils.'|

That this testimony should have been so often appealed to as proceeding from Gregory of Nyssa , is little to the credit of modern scholarship. One would have supposed that the gravity of the subject, -- the importance of the issue, -- the sacredness of Scripture, down to its minutest jot and tittle, -- would have ensured extraordinary caution, and induced every fresh assailant of so considerable a portion of the Gospel to be very sure of his ground before reiterating what his predecessors had delivered. And yet it is evident that not one of the recent writers on the subject can have investigated this matter for himself. It is only due to their known ability to presume that had they taken ever so little pains with the foregoing quotation, they would have found out their mistake.

(1.) For, in the first place, the second |Homily on the Resurrection| printed in the iii^rd volume of the works of Gregory of Nyssa, (and which supplies the critics with their quotation,) is, as every one may see who will take the trouble to compare them, word for word the same Homily which Combefis in his |Novum Auctarium,| and Gallandius in his |Bibliotheca Patrum| printed as the work of Hesychius, and vindicated to that Father, respectively in 1648 and 1776 . Now, if a critic chooses to risk his own reputation by maintaining that the Homily in question is indeed by Gregory of Nyssa, and is not by Hesychius, -- well and good. But since the Homily can have had but one author, it is surely high time that one of these two claimants should be altogether dropped from this. discussion.

(2.) Again. Inasmuch as page after page of the same Homily is observed to reappear, word for word, under the name of |Severus of Antioch,| and to be unsuspiciously printed as his by Montfaucon in his |Bibliotheca Coisliniana| (1715), and by Cramer in his |Catena | (1844), -- although it may very reasonably become a question among critics whether Hesychius of Jerusalem or Severna of Antioch was the actual author of the Homily in question , yet it is plain that critics must make their election between the two names; and not bring them both forward. No one, I say, has any right to go on quoting |Severus| and |Hesychius,| -- as Tischendorf and Dr. Davidson are observed to do: -- |Gregory of Nyssa| and |Severus of Antioch,| -- as Dr. Tregelles is found to prefer.

(3.) In short, here are three claimants for the authorship of one and the same Homily. To whichever of the three we assign it, -- (and competent judges have declared that there are sufficient reasons for giving it to Hesychius rather than to Severus, -- while no one is found to suppose that Gregory of Nyssa was its author,) -- who will not admit that no further mention must be made of the other two?

(4.) Let it be clearly understood, therefore, that henceforth the. name of |Gregory of Nyssa| must be banished from this discussion. So must the name of |Severus of Antioch.| The memorable passage which begins, -- |In the more accurate copies, the Gospel according to Mark has its end at for they were afraid,'| -- is found in a Homily which was probably written by Hesychius, presbyter of Jerusalem, -- a writer of the vi^th century. I shall have to recur to his work by-and-by. The next name is


II. With respect to whom the case is altogether different. What that learned Father has delivered concerning the conclusion of S. Mark's Gospel requires to be examined with attention, and must be set forth much more in detail. And yet, I will so far anticipate what is about to be offered, as to say at once that if any one supposes that Eusebius has anywhere plainly |stated that it is wanted in many MSS. ,| -- he is mistaken. Eusebius nowhere says so. The reader's attention is invited to a plain tale.

It was not until 1825 that the world was presented by Cardinal Angelo Mai with a few fragmentary specimens of a lost work of Eusebius on the (so-called) Inconsistencies in the Gospels, from a MS. in the Vatican . These, the learned Cardinal republished more accurately in 1847, in his |Nova Patrum Bibliotheca ;| and hither we are invariably referred by those who cite Eusebius as a witness against the genuineness of the concluding verses of the second Gospel.

It is much to be regretted that we are still as little as ever in possession of the lost work of Eusebius. It appears to have consisted of three Books or Parts; the former two (addressed |to Stephanus|) being discussions of difficulties at the beginning of the Gospel, -- the last (|to Marinus|) relating to difficulties in its concluding chapters . The Author's plan, (as usual in such works), was, first, to set forth a difficulty in the form of a Question; and straightway, to propose a Solution of it, -- which commonly assumes the form of a considerable dissertation. But whether we are at present in possession of so much as a single entire specimen of these |Inquiries and Resolutions| exactly as it came from the pen of Eusebius, may reasonably be doubted. That the work which Mai has brought to light is but a highly condensed exhibition of the original, (and scarcely that,) its very title shows; for it is headed, -- |An abridged selection from the a Inquiries and Resolutions [of difficulties] in the Gospels' by Eusebius .| Only some of the original Questions, therefore, are here noticed at all: and even these have been subjected to so severe a process of condensation and abridgment, that in some instances amputation would probably be a more fitting description of what has taken place. Accordingly, what were originally two Books or Parts, are at present represented by XVI. |Inquiries,| &c., addressed |to Stephanus;| while the concluding Book or Part is represented by IV. more, |to Marinus,| -- of which, the first relates to our Lord's appearing to Mary Magdalene after His Resurrection. Now, since the work which Eusebius addressed to Marinus is found to have contained |Inquiries, with their Resolutions, concerning our Saviour's Death and Resurrection ,| -- while a quotation professing to be derived from |the thirteenth chapter| relates to Simon the Cyrenian bearing our Saviour's Cross ; -- it is obvious that the original work must have been very considerable, and that what Mai has recovered gives an utterly inadequate idea of its extent and importance . It is absolutely necessary that all this should be clearly apprehended by any one who desires to know exactly what the alleged evidence of Eusebius concerning the last chapter of S. Mark's Gospel is worth, -- as I will explain more fully by-and-by. Let it, however, be candidly admitted that there seems to be no reason for supposing that whenever the lost work of Eusebius comes to light, (and it has been seen within about 300 years ) it will exhibit anything essentially different from what is contained in the famous passage which has given rise to so much debate, and which may be exhibited in English as follows. It is put in the form of a reply to one |Marinus,| who is represented as asking, first, the following question: --

|How is it, that, according to Matthew [xxviii.1], the Saviour appears to have risen in the end of the Sabbath;' but, according to Mark [xvi.9], early the first day of the week'?| -- Eusebius answers,

|This difficulty admits of a twofold solution. He who is for getting rid of the entire passage , will say that it is not met with in all the copies of Mark's Gospel: the accurate copies, at all events, making the end of Mark's narrative come after the words of the young man who appeared to the women and said, Fear not ye! Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth,' &c.: to which the Evangelist adds, -- And when they heard it, they fled, and said nothing to any man, for they were afraid.' For at those words, in almost all copies of the Gospel according to Mark, comes the end. What follows, (which is met with seldom, [and only] in some copies, certainly not in all,) might be dispensed with; especially if it should prove to contradict the record of the other Evangelists. This, then, is what a person will say who is for evading and entirely getting rid of a gratuitous problem.

|But another, on no account daring to reject anything whatever which is, under whatever circumstances, met with in the text of the Gospels, will say that here are two readings, (as is so often the case elsewhere;) and that both are to be received, -- inasmuch as by the faithful and pious, this reading is not held to be genuine rather than that; nor that than this.|

It will be best to exhibit the whole of what Eusebius has written on this subject, -- as far as we are permitted to know it, -- continuously. He proceeds: --

|Well then, allowing this piece to be really genuine, our business is to interpret the sense of the passage . And certainly, if I divide the meaning into two, we shall find that it is not opposed to what Matthew says of our Saviour's having risen in the end of the Sabbath.' For Mark's expression, (Now when He was risen early the first day of the week,' ) we shall read with a pause, putting a comma after Now when He was risen,' -- the sense of the words which follow being kept separate. Thereby, we shall refer [Mark's] when He was risen' to Matthew's in the end of the Sabbath,' (for it was then that He rose); and all that comes after, expressive as it is of a distinct notion, we shall connect with what follows; (for it was early, the first day of the week,' that He appeared to Mary Magdalene.') This is in fact what John also declares; for he too has recorded that early,' the first day of the week,' [Jesus] appeared to the Magdalene. Thus then Mark also says that He appeared to her early: not that He rose early, but long before, (according to that of Matthew, in the end of the Sabbath:' for though He rose then, He did not appear to Mary then, but early.') In a word, two distinct seasons are set before us by these words: first, the season of the Resurrection, -- which was in the end of the Sabbath? secondly, the season of our Saviour's Appearing, -- which was early.' The former , Mark writes of when he says, (it requires to be read with a pause,) -- Now, when He was risen.' Then, after a comma, what follows is to be spoken, -- Early, the first day of the week, He appeared to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils '| -- Such is the entire passage. Little did the learned writer anticipate what bitter fruit his words were destined to bear!

1. Let it be freely admitted that what precedes is calculated at first sight to occasion nothing but surprise and perplexity. For, in the first place, there really is no problem to solve. The discrepancy suggested by |Marinus| at the outset, is plainly imaginary, the result (chiefly) of a strange misconception of the meaning of the Evangelist's Greek, -- as in fact no one was ever better aware than Eusebius himself. |These places of the Gospels would never have occasioned any difficulty,| he writes in the very next page, (but it is the commencement of his reply to the second question of Marinus,) -- |if people would but abstain from assuming that Matthew's phrase (opse sabbaton) refers to the evening of the Sabbath-day: whereas, (in conformity with the established idiom of the language,) it obviously refers to an advanced period of the ensuing night .| He proceeds: -- |The self-same moment therefore, or very nearly the self-same, is intended by the Evangelists, only under different names: and there is no discrepancy whatever between Matthew's, -- in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week,' and John's -- The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalen early, when it was yet dark.' The Evangelists indicate by different expressions one and the same moment of time, but in a broad and general way.| And yet, if Eusebius knew all this so well, why did he not say so at once, and close the discussion? I really cannot tell; except on one hypothesis, -- which, although at first it may sound somewhat extraordinary, the more I think of the matter, recommends itself to my acceptance the more. I suspect, then, that the discussion we have just been listening to, is, essentially, not an original production: but that Eusebius, having met with the suggestion in some older writer, (in Origen probably,) reproduced it in language of his own, -- doubtless because he thought it ingenious and interesting, but not by any means because he regarded it as true. Except on some such theory, I am utterly unable to understand how Eusebius can have written so inconsistently. His admirable remarks just quoted, are obviously a full and sufficient answer, -- the proper answer in fact, -- to the proposed difficulty: and it is a memorable circumstance that the ancients generally were so sensible of this, that they are found to have invariably substituted what Eusebius wrote in reply to the second question of Marinus for what he wrote in reply to the first; in other words, for the dissertation which is occasioning us all this difficulty.

2. But next, even had the discrepancy been real, the remedy for it which is here proposed, and which is advocated with such tedious emphasis, would probably prove satisfactory to no one. In fact, the entire method advocated in the foregoing passage is hopelessly vicious. The writer begins by advancing statements which, if he believed them to be true, he must have known are absolutely fatal to the verses in question. This done, he sets about discussing the possibility of reconciling an isolated expression in S. Mark's Gospel with another in S. Matthew's: just as if on that depended the genuineness or spuriousness of the entire context: as if, in short, the major premiss in the discussion were some such postulate as the following: -- |Whatever in one Gospel cannot be proved to be entirely consistent with something in another Gospel, is not to be regarded as genuine.| Did then the learned Archbishop of Cæsarea really suppose that a comma judiciously thrown into the empty scale might at any time suffice to restore the equilibrium, and even counterbalance the adverse testimony of almost every MS. of the Gospels extant F Why does he not at least deny the truth of the alleged facts to which lie began by giving currency, if not approval; and which, so long as they are allowed to stand uncontradicted, render all further argumentation on the subject simply nugatory P As before, I really cannot tell, -- except on the hypothesis which has been already hazarded.

3. Note also, (for this is not the least extraordinary feature of the case,) what vague and random statements those are which we have been listening to. The entire section (S. Mark xvi.9-20,) |is not met with in all the copies:| at all events not |in the accurate| ones. Nay, it is |met with seldom.| In fact, it is absent from |almost all| copies. But, -- Which of these four statements is to stand P The first is comparatively unimportant. Not so the second. The last two, on the contrary, would be absolutely fatal, -- if trustworthy? But are they trustworthy?

To this question only one answer can be returned. The exaggeration is so gross that it refutes itself. Had it been merely asserted that the verses in question were wanting in many of the copies, -- even had it been insisted that the best copies were without them, -- well and good: but to assert that, in the beginning of the fourth century, from |almost all| copies of the Gospels they were away, -- is palpably untrue. What had become then of the MSS. from which the Syriac, the Latin, all the ancient Versions were made? How is the contradictory evidence of every copy of the Gospels in existence but two to be accounted for? With Irenæus and Hippolytus, with the old Latin and the Vulgate, with the Syriac, and the Gothic, and the Egyptian versions to refer to, we are able to assert that the author of such a statement was guilty of monstrous exaggeration. We are reminded of the loose and random way in which the Fathers, -- (giants in Interpretation, but very children in the Science of Textual Criticism,) -- are sometimes observed to speak about the state of the Text in their days. We are reminded, for instance, of the confident assertion of an ancient Critic that the true reading in S. Luke xxiv.13 is not |three-score| but |an hundred and three-score;| for that so |the accurate copies| used to read the place, besides Origen and Eusebius. And yet (as I have elsewhere explained) the reading hekaton kai hexekonta is altogether impossible. |Apud nos mixta sunt omnia,| is Jerome's way of adverting to an evil which, serious as it was, was yet not nearly so great as he represents; viz. the unauthorized introduction into one Gospel of what belongs of right to another. And so in a multitude of other instances. The Fathers are, in fact, constantly observed to make critical remarks about the ancient copies which simply cannot be correct.

And yet the author of the exaggeration under review, be it observed, is clearly not Eusebius. It is evident that he has nothing to say against the genuineness of the conclusion of S. Mark's Gospel. Those random statements about the copies with which he began, do not even purport to express his own sentiments. Nay, Eusebius in a manner repudiates them; for he introduces them with a phrase which separates them from himself: and, |This then is what a person will say,| -- is the remark with which he finally dismisses them. It would, in fact, be to make this learned Father stultify himself to suppose that he proceeds gravely to discuss a portion of Scripture which he had already deliberately rejected as spurious. But, indeed, the evidence before us effectually precludes any such supposition. |Here are two readings,| he says, |(as is so often the case elsewhere:) both of which are to be received, -- inasmuch as by the faithful and pious, this reading is not held to be genuine rather than that; nor that than this.| And thus we seem to be presented with the actual opinion of Eusebius, as far as it can be ascertained from the present passage, -- if indeed he is to be thought here to offer any personal opinion on the subject at all; which, for my own part, I entirely doubt. But whether we are at liberty to infer the actual sentiments of this Father from anything here delivered or not, quite certain at least is it that to print only the first half of the passage, (as Tischendorf and Tregelles have done,) and then to give the reader to understand that he is reading the adverse testimony of Eusebius as to the genuineness of the end of S. Mark's Gospel, is nothing else but to misrepresent the facts of the case; and, however unintentionally, to deceive those who are unable to verify the quotation for themselves.

It has been urged indeed that Eusebius cannot have recognised the verses in question as genuine, because a scholium purporting to be his has been cited by Matthaei from a Catena at Moscow, in which he appears to assert that |according to Mark,| our Saviour |is not recorded to have appeared to His Disciples after His Resurrection:| whereas in S. Mark xvi.14 it is plainly recorded that |Afterwards He appeared unto the Eleven as they sat at meat.| May I be permitted to declare that I am distrustful of the proposed inference, and shall continue to feel so, until I know something more about the scholium in question? Up to the time when this page is printed I have not succeeded in obtaining from Moscow the details I wish for: but they must be already on the way, and I propose to embody the result in a |Postscript| which shall form the last page of the Appendix to the present volume.

Are we then to suppose that there was no substratum of truth in the allegations to which Eusebius gives such prominence in the passage under discussion? By no means. The mutilated state of S. Mark's Gospel in the Vatican Codex (B) and especially in the Sinaitic Codex (') sufficiently establishes the contrary. Let it be freely conceded, (but in fact it has been freely conceded already,) that there must have existed in the time of Eusebius many copies of S. Mark's Gospel which were without the twelve concluding verses. I do but insist that there is nothing whatever in that circumstance to lead us to entertain one serious doubt as to the genuineness of these verses. I am but concerned to maintain that there is nothing whatever in the evidence which has hitherto come before us, -- certainly not in the evidence of Eusebius, -- to induce us to believe that they are a spurious addition to S. Mark's Gospel.

III. We have next to consider what


has delivered on this subject. So great a name must needs command attention in any question of Textual Criticism: and it is commonly pretended that Jerome pronounces emphatically against the genuineness of the last twelve verses of the Gospel according to S. Mark. A little attention to the actual testimony borne by this Father will, it is thought, suffice to exhibit it in a wholly unexpected light; and induce us to form an entirely different estimate of its practical bearing upon the present discussion.

It will be convenient that I should premise that it is in one of his many exegetical Epistles that Jerome discusses this matter. A lady named Hedibia, inhabiting the furthest extremity of Gaul, and known to Jerome only by the ardour of her piety, had sent to prove him with hard questions. He resolves her difficulties from Bethlehem : and I may be allowed to remind the reader of what is found to have been Jerome's practice on similar occasions, -- which, to judge from his writings, were of constant occurrence. In fact, Apodemius, who brought Jerome the Twelve problems from Hedibia, brought him Eleven more from a noble neighbour of hers, Algasia . Once, when a single messenger had conveyed to him out of the African province a quantity of similar interrogatories, Jerome sent two Egyptian monks the following account of how he had proceeded in respect of the inquiry, -- (it concerned 1 Cor. xv.51,) -- which they had addressed to him: -- |Being pressed for time, I have presented you with the opinions of all the Commentators; for the most part, translating their very words; in order both to get rid of your question, and to put you in possession of ancient authorities on the subject.| This learned Father does not even profess to have been in the habit of delivering his own opinions, or speaking his own sentiments on such occasions. |This has been hastily dictated,| he says in conclusion, -- (alluding to his constant practice, which was to dictate, rather than to write,) -- |in order that I might lay before you what have been the opinions of learned men on this subject, as well as the arguments by which they have recommended their opinions. My own authority, (who am but nothing,) is vastly inferior to that of our predecessors in the Lord.| Then, after special commendation of the learning of Origen and Eusebius, and the valuable Scriptural expositions of many more, |My plan,| (he says,) |is to read the ancients; to prove all things, to hold fast that which is good; and to abide stedfast in the faith of the Catholic Church. -- I must now dictate replies, either original or at second-hand, to other Questions which lie before me .| We are not surprised, after this straightforward avowal of what was the method on such occasions with this learned Father, to discover that, instead of hearing Jerome addressing Hedibia, -- (who had interrogated him concerning the very problem which is at present engaging our attention,) -- we find ourselves only listening to Eusebius over again, addressing Marinus.

|This difficulty admits of a two-fold solution,| Jerome begins as if determined that no doubt shall be entertained as to the source of his inspiration. Then, (making short work of the tedious disquisition of Eusebius,) -- |Either we shall reject the testimony of Mark, which is met with in scarcely any copies of the Gospel, -- almost all the Greek codices being without this passage: -- (especially since it seems to narrate what contradicts the other Gospels:) -- or else, we shall reply that both Evangelists state what is true: Matthew, when he says that our LORD rose late in the week:' Mark, -- when he says that Mary Magdalene saw Him early, the first day of the week.' For the passage must be thus pointed, -- When He was risen:' and presently, after a pause, must be added, -- Early, the first day of the week, He appeared to Mary Magdalene.' He therefore who had risen late in the week, according to Matthew, -- Himself, early the first day of the week, according to Mark, appeared to Mary Magdalene. And this is what John also means, shewing that it was early on the next day that He appeared.| -- To understand how faithfully in what precedes Jerome treads in the footsteps of Eusebius, it is absolutely necessary to set the Latin of the one over against the Greek of the other, and to compare them. In order to facilitate this operation, I have subjoined both originals at foot of the page: from which it will be apparent that Jerome is here not so much adopting the sentiments of Eusebius as simply translating his words .

This, however, is not by any means the strangest feature of the case. That Jerome should have availed himself ever so freely of the materials which he found ready to his hand in the pages of Eusebius cannot be regarded as at all extraordinary, after what we have just heard from himself of his customary method of proceeding. It would of course have suggested the gravest doubts as to whether we were here listening to the personal sentiment of this Father, or not; but that would have been all. What are we to think, however, of the fact that Hedibia's question to Jerome proves on inspection to be nothing more than a translation of the very question which Marinus had long before addressed to Eusebius? We read on, perplexed at the coincidence; and speedily make the notable discovery that her next question, and her next, are also translations word for word of the next two of Marinus. For the proof of this statement the reader is again referred to the foot of the page . It is at least decisive: and the fact, which admits of only one explanation, can be attended by only one practical result. It of course shelves the whole question as far as the evidence of Jerome is concerned. Whether Hedibia was an actual personage or not, let those decide who have considered more attentively than it has ever fallen in my way to do that curious problem, -- What was the ancient notion of the allowable in Fiction? That different ideas have prevailed in different ages of the world as to where fiction ends and fabrication begins; -- that widely discrepant views are entertained on the subject even in our own age; -- all must be aware. I decline to investigate the problem on the present occasion. I do but claim to have established beyond the possibility of doubt or cavil that what we are here presented with is not the testimony of Jerome at all. It is evident that this learned Father amused himself with translating for the benefit of his Latin readers a part of the (lost) work of Eusebius; (which, by the way, he is found to have possessed in the same abridged form in which it has come down to ourselves:) -- and he seems to have regarded it as allowable to attribute to |Hedibia| the problems which he there met with. (He may perhaps have known that Eusebius before him had attributed them, with just as little reason, to |Marinus.|) In that age, for aught that appears to the contrary, it may have been regarded as a graceful compliment to address solutions of Scripture difficulties to persons of distinction, who possibly had never heard of those difficulties before; and even to represent the Interrogatories which suggested them as originating with themselves. I offer this only in the way of suggestion, and am not concerned to defend it. The only point I am concerned to establish is that Jerome is here a translator, not an original author: in other words, that it is Eusebius who here speaks, and not Jerome. For a critic to pretend that it is in any sense the testimony of Jerome which we are here presented with; that Jerome is one of those Fathers |who, even though they copied from their predecessors, were yet competent to transmit the record of a fact ,| -- is entirely to misunderstand the case. The man who translates, -- not adopts, but translates, -- the problem as well as its solution: who deliberately asserts that it emanated from a Lady inhabiting the furthest extremity of Gaul, who nevertheless was demonstrably not its author: who goes on to propose as hers question after question verbatim as he found them written in the pages of Eusebius; and then resolves them one by one in the very language of the same Father: -- such a writer has clearly conducted us into a region where his individual responsibility quite disappears from sight. We must hear no more about Jerome, therefore, as a witness against the genuineness of the concluding verses of S. Mark's Gospel.

On the contrary. Proof is at hand that Jerome held these verses to be genuine. The proper evidence of this is supplied by the fact that he gave them a place in his revision of the old Latin version of the Scriptures. If he had been indeed persuaded of their absence from |almost all the Greek codices,| does any one imagine that he would have suffered them to stand in the Vulgate? If he had met with them in |scarcely any copies of the Gospel,| -- do men really suppose that he would yet have retained them? To believe this would, again, be to forget what was the known practice of this Father; who, because he found the expression |without a cause| (eike, -- S. Matth. v.22,) only |in certain of his codices,| but not |in the true ones,| omitted it from the Vulgate. Because, however, he read |righteousness| (where we read |alms|) in S. Matth. vi.1, he exhibits |justitiam| in his revision of the old Latin version. On the other hand, though he knew of MSS. (as he expressly relates) which read |works| for |children| (ergon for teknon) in S. Matth. xi.19, he does not admit that (manifestly corrupt) reading, -- which, however, is found both in the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus. Let this suffice. I forbear to press the matter further. It is an additional proof that Jerome accepted the conclusion of S. Mark's Gospel that he actually quotes it, and on more than one occasion: but to prove this, is to prove more than is here required . I am concerned only to demolish the assertion of Tischendorf, and Tregelles, and Alford, and Davidson, and so many more, concerning the testimony of Jerome; and I have demolished it. I pass on, claiming to have shewn that the name of Jerome as an adverse witness must never again appear in this discussion.

IV. and V. But now, while the remarks of Eusebius are yet fresh in the memory, the reader is invited to recal for a moment what the author of the |Homily on the Resurrection,| contained in the works of Gregory of Nyssa (above, p.39), has delivered on the same subject. It will be remembered that we saw reason for suspecting that not

Severus of Antioch, but
Hesychius of Jerusalem

(both of them writers of the vi^th century,) has the better claim to the authorship of the Homily in question , -- which, however, cannot at all events be assigned to the illustrious Bishop of Nyssa, the brother of Basil the Great. |In the more accurate copies,| (says this writer,) |the Gospel according to Mark has its end at for they were afraid.' In some copies, however, this also is added, -- Now when He was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils.' This, however, seems to contradict to some extent what we before delivered; for since it happens that the hour of the night when our Saviour rose is not known, how does it come to be here written that He rose early?' But the saying will prove to be no ways contradictory, if we read with skill. We must be careful intelligently to introduce a comma after, Now when He was risen:' and then to proceed, -- Early in the Sabbath He appeared first to Mary Magdalene:' in order that when He was risen' may refer (in conformity with what Matthew says) to the foregoing season; while early' is connected with the appearance to Mary.| -- I presume it would be to abuse a reader's patience to offer any remarks on all this. If a careful perusal of the foregoing passage does not convince him that Hesychius is here only reproducing what he had, read in Eusebius, nothing that I can say will .persuade him of the fact. The words indeed are by no means the same; but the sense is altogether identical. He seems to have also known the work of Victor of Antioch. However, to remove all doubt from the reader's mind that the work of Eusebius was in the hands of Hesychius while he wrote, I have printed in two parallel columns and transferred to the Appendix what must needs be conclusive ; for it will be seen that the terms are only not identical in which Eusebius and Hesychius discuss that favourite problem with the ancients, -- the consistency of S. Matthew's opse ton sabbaton with the proi of S. Mark.

It is, however, only needful to read through the Homily in question to see that it is an attempt to weave into one piece a quantity of foreign and incongruous materials. It is in fact not a Homily at all, (though it has been thrown into that form;) but a Dissertation, -- into which, Hesychius, (who is known to have been very curious in questions of that kind ,) is observed to introduce solutions of most of those famous difficulties which cluster round the sepulchre of the world's Redeemer on the morning of the first Easter Day ; and which the ancients seem to have delighted in discussing, -- as, the number of the Marys who visited the sepulchre; the angelic appearances on the morning of the Resurrection; and above all the seeming discrepancy, already adverted to, in the Evangelical notices of the time at which our Lord rose from the dead. .I need not enter more particularly into an examination of this (so-called) Homily': but I must not dismiss it without pointing out that its author at all events cannot be thought to have repudiated the concluding verses of S. Mark: for at the end of his discourse, he quotes the 19th verse entire, without hesitation, in confirmation of one of his statements, and declares that the words are written by S. Mark .

I shall not be thought unreasonable, therefore, if I contend that Hesychius is no longer to be cited as a witness in this behalf: if I point out that it is entirely to misunderstand and misrepresent the case to quote a passing allusion of his to what Eusebius had long before delivered on the same subject, as if it exhibited his own individual teaching. It is demonstrable that he is not bearing testimony to the condition of the MSS. of S. Mark's Gospel in his own ago: neither, indeed, is he bearing testimony at all. He is simply amusing himself, (in what is found to have been his favourite way,) with reconciling an apparent discrepancy in the Gospels; and he does it by adopting certain remarks of Eusebius. Living so late as the vi^th century; conspicuous neither for his judgment nor his learning; a copyist only, so far as his remarks on the last verses of S. Mark's Gospel are concerned; -- this writer does not really deserve the space and attention we have been compelled to bestow upon him.

VI. We may conclude, by inquiring for the evidence borne by

Victor of Antioch.

And from the familiar style in which this Father's name is always introduced into the present discussion, no less than from the invariable practice of assigning to him the date |A.D.401,| it might be supposed that |Victor of Antioch| is a well-known personage. Yet is there scarcely a Commentator of antiquity about whom less is certainly known. Clinton (who enumerates cccxxii |Ecclesiastical Authors| from A.D.70 to A.D.685 ) does not even record his name. The recent |Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography| is just as silent concerning him. Cramer (his latest editor) calls his very existence in question; proposing to attribute his Commentary on S. Mark to Cyril of Alexandria . Not to delay the reader needlessly, -- Victor of Antioch is an interesting and unjustly neglected Father of the Church; whose date, -- (inasmuch as he apparently quotes sometimes from Cyril of Alexandria who died A.D.444, and yet seems to have written soon after the death of Chrysostom, which took place A.D.407), may be assigned to the first half of the fifth century, -- suppose A.D.425-450. And in citing him I shall always refer to the best (and most easily accessible) edition of his work, -- that of Cramer (1840) in the first volume of his |Catenae.|

But a far graver charge is behind. From the confident air in which Victor's authority is appealed to by those who deem the last twelve verses of S. Mark's Gospel spurious, it would of course be inferred that his evidence is hostile to the verses in question; whereas his evidence to their genuineness is the most emphatic and extraordinary on record. Dr. Tregelles asserts that |his testimony to the absence of these twelve verses from some or many copies, stands in contrast to his own opinion on the subject| But Victor delivers no |opinion:| and his |testimony| is the direct reverse of what Dr. Tregelles asserts it to be. This learned and respected critic has strangely misapprehended the evidence .

I must needs be brief in this place. I shall therefore confine myself to those facts concerning |Victor of Antioch,| or rather concerning his work, which are necessary for the purpose in hand .

Now, his Commentary on S. Mark's Gospel, -- as all must see who will be at the pains to examine it, is to a great extent a compilation. The same thing may be said, no doubt, to some extent, of almost every ancient Commentary in existence. But I mean, concerning this particular work, that it proves to have been the author's plan not so much to give the general results of his acquaintance with the writings of Origen, Apollinarius, Theodorus of Mopsuestia, Eusebius, and Chrysostom; as, with or without acknowledgment, to transcribe largely (but with great license) from one or other of these writers. Thus, the whole of his note on S. Mark xv.38, 39, is taken, without any hint that it is not original, (much of it, word for word,) from Chrysostom's 88th Homily on S. Matthew's Gospel . The same is to be said of the first twelve lines of his note on S. Mark xvi.9. On the other hand, the latter half of the note last mentioned professes to give the substance of what Eusebius had written on the same subject. It is in fact an extract from those very |Quaestiones ad Marinum| concerning which so much has been offered already. All this, though it does not sensibly detract from the interest or the value of Victor's work, must be admitted entirely to change the character of his supposed evidence. He comes before us rather in the light of a Compiler than of an Author: his work is rather a |Catena| than a Commentary; and as such in fact it is generally described. Quite plain is it, at all events, that the sentiments contained in the sections last referred to, are not Victor's at all. For one half of them, no one but Chrysostom is responsible; for the other half, no one but Eusebius.

But it is Victor's familiar use of the writings of
Eusebius, -- especially of those Resolutions of hard Questions |concerning the seeming Inconsistencies in the Evangelical accounts of the Resurrection,| which Eusebius addressed to Marinus, -- on which the reader's attention is now to be concentrated. Victor cites that work of Eusebius by name in the very first page of his Commentary. That his last page also contains a quotation from it, (also by name), has been already pointed out . Attention is now invited to what is found concerning S. Mark xvi.9-20 in the last page but one (p.444) of Victor's work. It shall be given in English; because I will convince unlearned as well as learned readers. Victor, (after quoting four lines from the 89^th Homily of Chrysostom ), reconciles (exactly as Eusebius is observed to do ) the notes of time contained severally in S. Matth. xxviii.1, S. Mark xvi.2, S. Luke xxiv.1, and S. John xx.1. After which, he proceeds as follows: --

|In certain copies of Mark's Gospel, next comes, -- Now when [Jesus] was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared to Mary Magdalene;' -- a statement which seems inconsistent with Matthew's narrative. This might be met by asserting, that the conclusion of Mark's Gospel, though found in certain copies, is spurious, However, that we may not seem to betake ourselves to an off-hand answer, we propose to read the place thus: -- Now when [Jesus] was risen:' then, after a comma, to go on -- early the first day of the week He appeared to Mary Magdalene.' In this way we refer [Mark's] Now when [Jesus] was risen' to Matthew's in the end of the sabbath,' (for then we believe Him to have risen;) and all that comes after, expressive as it is of a different notion, we connect with what follows. Mark relates that He who arose (according to Matthew) in the end of the Sabbath,' was seen by Mary Magdalene early.' This is in fact what John also declares; for he too has recorded that early,' the first day of the week,' [Jesus] appeared to the Magdalene. In a word, two distinct seasons are set before us by these words: first, the season of the Resurrection, -- which was in the end of the Sabbath;' secondly, the season of our Saviour's Appearing, -- which was early .'|

No one, I presume, can read this passage and yet hesitate to admit that he is here listening to Eusebius |ad Marinum| over again. But if any one really retains a particle of doubt on the subject, he is requested to cast his eye to the foot of the present page; and even an unlearned reader, surveying the originals with attention, may easily convince himself that Victor is here nothing else but a copyist . That the work in which Eusebius reconciles |seeming discrepancies in the Evangelical narratives,| was actually lying open before Victor while be wrote, is ascertained beyond dispute. He is observed in his next ensuing Comment to quote from it, and to mention Eusebius as its author. At the end of the present note he has a significant allusion to Eusebius: -- |I know very well,| he says, |what has been suggested by those who are at the pains to remove the apparent inconsistencies in this place .| But when writing on S. Mark xvi.9-20, he does more. After abridging, (as his manner is,) what Eusebius explains with such tedious emphasis, (giving the substance of five columns in about three times as many lines,) he adopts the exact expressions of Eusebius, -- follows him in his very mistakes, -- and finally transcribes his words. The reader is therefore requested to bear in mind that what he has been listening to is not the testimony of Victor at all: but the testimony of Eusebius. This is but one more echo therefore of a passage of which we are all beginning by this time to be weary; so exceedingly rash are the statements with which it is introduced, so utterly preposterous the proposed method of remedying a difficulty which proves after all to be purely imaginary.

What then is the testimony of Victor? Does he offer any independent statement on the question in dispute, from which his own private opinion (though nowhere stated) may be lawfully inferred? Yes indeed. Victor, though frequently a Transcriber only, is observed every now and then to come forward in his own person, and deliver his individual sentiment . But nowhere throughout his work does he deliver such remarkable testimony as in this place. Hear him!

|Notwithstanding that in very many copies of the present Gospel, the passage beginning, Now when [Jesus] was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene,' be not found, -- (certain individuals having supposed it to be spurious,) -- yet WE, at all events, inasmuch as in very many we have discovered it to exist, have, out of accurate copies, subjoined also the account of our Lord's Ascension, (following the words for they were afraid,' ) in conformity with the Palestinian exemplar of Mark which exhibits the Gospel verity: that is to say, from the words, Now when [Jesus] was risen early the first day of the week,' &c., down to with signs following. Amen .| -- And with these words Victor of Antioch brings his Commentary on S. Mark to an end.

Here then we find it roundly stated by a highly intelligent Father, writing in the first half of the v^th century, --

(1.) That the reason why the last Twelve Verses of S. Mark are absent from some ancient copies of his Gospel is because they have been deliberately omitted by Copyists:

(2.) That the ground for such omission was the subjective judgment of individuals, -- not the result of any appeal to documentary evidence. Victor, therefore, clearly held that the Verses in question had been expunged in consequence of their (seeming) inconsistency with what is met with in the other Gospels:

(3.) That he, on the other hand, had convinced himself by reference to |very many| and |accurate| copies, that the verses in question are genuine:

(4.) That in particular the Palestinian Copy, which enjoyed the reputation of |exhibiting the genuine text of S. Mark,| contained the Verses in dispute. -- To Opinion, therefore, Victor opposes Authority. He makes his appeal to the most trustworthy documentary evidence with which he is acquainted; and the deliberate testimony which he delivers is a complete counterpoise and antidote to the loose phrases of Eusebius on the same subject:

(5.) That in consequence of all this, following the Palestinian Exemplar, he had from accurate copies furnished his own work with the Twelve Verses in dispute; -- which is a categorical refutation of the statement frequently met with that the work of Victor of Antioch is without them.

We are now at liberty to sum up; and to review the progress which has been hitherto made in this Inquiry.

Six Fathers of the Church have been examined who are commonly represented as bearing hostile testimony to the last Twelve Verses of S. Mark's Gospel; and they have been easily reduced to one. Three of them, (Hesychius, Jerome, Victor,) prove to be echoes, not voices. The remaining two, (Gregory of Nyssa and Severus,) are neither voices nor echoes, but merely names: Gregory of Nyssa having really no more to do with this discussion than Philip of Macedon; and |Severus| and |Hesychius| representing one and the same individual. Only by a Critic seeking to mislead his reader will any one of these five Fathers be in future cited as witnessing against the genuineness of S. Mark xvi.9-20. Eusebius is the solitary witness who survives the ordeal of exact inquiry . But,

I. Eusebius, (as we have seen), instead of proclaiming his distrust of this portion of the Gospel, enters upon an elaborate proof that its contents are not inconsistent with what is found in the Gospels of S. Matthew and S. John. His testimony is reducible to two innocuous and wholly unconnected propositions: the first, -- That there existed in his day a vast number of copies in which the last chapter of S. Mark's Gospel ended abruptly at ver.8; (the correlative of which of course would be that there also existed a vast number which were furnished with the present ending.) The second, -- That by putting a comma after the word Anastas, S. Mark xvi.9, is capable of being reconciled with S. Matth. xxviii.1 . . . . . I profess myself unable to understand how it can be pretended that Eusebius would have subscribed to the opinion of Tischendorf, Tregelles, and the rest, that the Gospel of S. Mark was never finished by its inspired Author, or was mutilated before it came abroad; at all events, that the last Twelve Verses are spurious.

II. The observations of Eusebius are found to have been adopted, and in part transcribed, by an unknown writer of the vi^th century, -- whether Hesychius or Severus is not certainly known: but if it were Hesychius, then it was not Severus; if Severus, then not Hesychius. This writer, however, (whoever he may have been,) is careful to convince us that individually he entertained no doubt whatever about the genuineness of this part of Scripture, for he says that he writes in order to remove the (hypothetical) objections of others, and to silence their (imaginary) doubts. Nay, be freely quotes the verses as genuine, and declares that they were read in his day on a certain Sunday night in the public Service of the Church. . . . To represent such an one, -- (it matters nothing, I repeat, whether we call him |Hesychius of Jerusalem| or |Severus of Antioch,|) -- as a hostile witness, is simply to misrepresent the facts of the case. He is, on the contrary, the strenuous champion of the verses which he is commonly represented as impugning.

III. As for Jerome, since that illustrious Father comes before us in this place as a translator of Eusebius only, he is no more responsible for what Eusebius says concerning S. Mark xvi.9-20, than Hobbes of Malmesbury is responsible for anything that Thucydides has related concerning the Peloponnesian war. Individually, however, it is certain that Jerome was convinced of the genuineness of S. Mark xvi.9-20: for in two different places of his writings he not only quotes the 9th and 14th verses, but he exhibits all the twelve in the Vulgate.

IV. Lastly, Victor of Antioch, who wrote in an age when Eusebius was held to be an infallible oracle on points of Biblical Criticism, -- having dutifully rehearsed, (like the rest,) the feeble expedient of that illustrious Father for harmonizing S. Mark xvi.9 with the narrative of S. Matthew, -- is observed to cite the statements of Eusebius concerning the last Twelve Verses of S. Mark, only in order to refute them. Not that he opposes opinion to opinion, -- (for the opinions of Eusebius and of Victor of Antioch on this behalf were probably identical;) but statement he meets with
counter-statement, -- fact he confronts with fact. Scarcely can anything be imagined more emphatic than his testimony, or more conclusive.

For the reader is requested to observe that here is an Ecclesiastic, writing in the first half of the v^th century, who expressly witnesses to the genuineness of the Verses in dispute. He had made reference, he says, and ascertained their existence in very many MSS. (hos en pleistois). He had derived his text from |accurate| ones: (ex akribon antigraphon.) More than that: he leads his reader to infer that he had personally resorted to the famous Palestinian Copy, the text of which was held to exhibit the inspired verity, and had satisfied himself that the concluding section of S. Mark's Gospel was there. He had, therefore, been either to Jerusalem, or else to Caesarea; had inquired for those venerable records which had once belonged to Origen and Pamphilus ; and had inspected them. Testimony more express, more weighty, -- I was going to say, more decisive, -- can scarcely be imagined. It may with truth be said to close the present discussion.

With this, in fact, Victor lays down his pen. So also may I. I submit that nothing whatever which has hitherto come before us lends the slightest countenance to the modern dream that S. Mark's Gospel, as it left the hands of its inspired Author, ended abruptly at ver.8. Neither Eusebius nor Jerome; neither Severus of Antioch nor Hesychius of Jerusalem; certainly not Victor of Antioch; least of all Gregory of Nyssa, -- yield a particle of support to that monstrous fancy. The notion is an invention, a pure imagination of the Critics ever since the days of Griesbach.

It remains to be seen whether the MSS. will prove somewhat less unaccommodating.

VII. For it can be of no possible avail, at this stage of the discussion, to appeal to

Euthymius Zigabenus,

the Author of an interesting Commentary, or rather Compilation on the Gospels, assigned to A.D.1116. Euthymius lived, in fact, full five hundred years too late for his testimony to be of the slightest importance. Such as it is, however, it is not unfavourable. He says, -- |Some of the Commentators state that here,| (viz. at ver.8,) |the Gospel according to Mark finishes; and that what follows is a spurious addition.| (Which clearly is his version of the statements of one or more of the four Fathers whose testimony has already occupied so large a share of our attention.) |This portion we must also interpret, however,| (Euthymius proceeds,) |since there is nothing in it prejudicial to the truth .| -- But it is idle to linger over such a writer. One might almost as well quote |Poli Synopsis,| and then proceed to discuss it. The cause must indeed be desperate which seeks support from a quarter like this. What possible sanction can an Ecclesiastic of the xii^th century be supposed to yield to the hypothesis that S. Mark's Gospel, as it left the hands of its inspired Author, was an unfinished work?

It remains to ascertain what is the evidence of the MSS. on this subject. And the MSS. require to be the more attentively studied, because it is to them that our opponents are accustomed most confidently to appeal. On them in fact they rely. The nature and the value of the most ancient Manuscript testimony available, shall be scrupulously investigated in the next two Chapters.

<<  Contents  >>

Promoting Revival to this Generation.
Privacy Policy