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


The Lectionary of the East shewn to be a work of extraordinary antiquity (p.195). -- Proved to be older than any extant MS. of the Gospels, by an appeal to the Fathers (p.198). -- In this Lectionary, (and also in the Lectionary of the West,) the last Twelve Verses of S. Mark's Gospel have, from the first, occupied a most conspicuous, as well as most honourable place, (p.204.) -- Now, this becomes the testimony of ante-Nicene Christendom in their favour (p.209.)

I HAVE reserved for the last the testimony of The Lectionaries, which has been hitherto all but entirely overlooked ; -- passed by without so much as a word of comment, by those who have preceded me in this inquiry. Yet is it, when rightly understood, altogether decisive of the question at issue. And why? Because it is not the testimony rendered by a solitary Father or by a solitary MS.; no, nor even the testimony yielded by a single Church, or by a single family of MSS. But it is the united testimony of all the Churches. It is therefore the evidence borne by a goodly fellowship of Prophets,' a noble army of Martyrs' indeed; as well as by MSS. innumerable which have long since perished, but which must of necessity once have been. And so, it comes to us like the voice of many waters: dates, (as I shall show by-and-by,) from a period of altogether immemorial antiquity: is endorsed by the sanction of all the succeeding ages: admits of neither doubt nor evasion. This subject, in order that it may be intelligibly handled, will be most conveniently approached by some remarks which shall rehearse the matter from the beginning.

The Christian Church succeeded to the Jewish. The younger society inherited the traditions of the elder, not less as a measure of necessity than as a matter of right; and by a kind of sacred instinct conformed itself from the very beginning in countless particulars to its divinely-appointed model. The same general Order of Service went on unbroken, -- conducted by a Priesthood whose spiritual succession was at least as jealously guarded as had been the natural descent from Aaron in the Church of the Circumcision . It was found that |the Sacraments of the Jews are [but] types of ours .| Still were David's Psalms antiphonally recited, and the voices of |Moses and the Prophets| were heard in the sacred assemblies of God's people |every Sabbath day.| Canticle succeeded to Canticle; while many a Versicle simply held its ground. The congenial utterances of the chosen race passed readily into the service of the family of the redeemed. Unconsciously perhaps, the very method of the one became adopted by the other: as, for example, the method of beginning a festival from the |Eve| of the preceding Day. The Synagogue-worship became transfigured; but it did not part with one of its characteristic features. Above all, the same three great Festivals were still retained which declare |the rock whence we are hewn and the hole of the pit whence we are digged:| only was it made a question, a controversy rather, whether Easter should or should not be celebrated with the Jews .

But it is the faithful handing on to the Christian community of the Lectionary practice of the Synagogue to which the reader's attention is now exclusively invited. That the Christian Church inherited from the Jewish the practice of reading a first and a second Lesson in its public assemblies, is demonstrable. What the Synagogue practice was in the time of the Apostles is known from Acts xiii.15, 27. Justin Martyr, (A.D.150) describes the Christian practice in his time as precisely similar : only that for |the Law,| there is found to have been at once substituted |the Gospel.| He speaks of the writings of |the Apostles| and of |the Prophets.| Chrysostom has the same expression (for the two Lessons) in one of his Homilies . Cassian (A.D.400) says that in Egypt, after the Twelve Prayers at Vespers and at Matins, two Lessons were read, one out of the Old Testament and the other out of the New. But on Saturdays and Sundays, and the fifty days of Pentecost, both Lessons were from the New Testament, -- one from the Epistles or the Acts of the Apostles; the other, from the Gospels . Our own actual practice seems to bear a striking resemblance to that of the Christian Church at the earliest period: for we hear of (1) |Moses and the Prophets,| (which will have been the carrying on of the old synagogue-method, represented by our first and second Lesson,) -- (2) a lesson out of the |Epistles or Acts,| together with a lesson out of the |Gospels .| It is, in fact, universally received that the Eastern Church has, from a period of even Apostolic antiquity, enjoyed a Lectionary, -- or established system of Scripture lessons, -- of her own. In its conception, this Lectionary is discovered to have been fashioned (as was natural) upon the model of the Lectionary of God's ancient people, the Jews: for it commences, as theirs did, in the autumn, (in September ); and prescribes two immovable |Lections| for every Saturday (as well as for every Sunday) in the year: differing chiefly in this, -- that the prominent place which had been hitherto assigned to |the Law and the Prophets ,| was henceforth enjoyed by the Gospels and the Apostolic writings. |Saturday-Sunday| lections -- (sabbatokuriakai, for so these Lections were called,) -- retain their place in the |Synaxarium| of the East to the present hour. It seems also a singular note of antiquity that the Sabbath and the Sunday succeeding it do as it were cohere, and bear one appellation; so that the week takes its name -- not from the Sunday with which it commences , but -- from the Sabbath-and-Sunday with which it concludes. To mention only one out of a hundred minute traits of identity which the public Service of the sanctuary retained: -- Easter Eve, which from the earliest period to this day has been called |mega sabbaton ,| is discovered to have borne the self-same appellation in the Church of the Circumcision . -- If I do not enter more minutely into the structure of the Oriental Lectionary, -- (some will perhaps think I have said too much, but the interest of the subject ought to be a sufficient apology,) -- it is because further details would be irrelevant to my present purpose; which is only to call attention to the three following facts:

(I.) That the practice in the Christian Church of reading publicly before the congregation certain fixed portions of Holy Writ, according to an established and generally received rule, must have existed from a period long anterior to the date of any known Greek copy of the New Testament Scriptures.

(II.) That although there happens to be extant neither |Synaxarium,| (i.e. Table of Proper Lessons of the Greek Church), nor |Evangelistarium,| (i.e. Book containing the Ecclesiastical Lections in extenso), of higher antiquity than the viii^th century, -- yet that the scheme itself, as exhibited by those monuments, -- certainly in every essential particular, -- is older than any known Greek MS. which contains it, by at least four, in fact by full five hundred years.

(III.) Lastly, -- That in the said Lectionaries of the Greek and of the Syrian Churches, the twelve concluding verses of S. Mark which are the subject of discussion throughout the present pages are observed invariably to occupy the same singularly conspicuous, as well as most honourable place.

I. The first of the foregoing propositions is an established fact. It is at least quite certain that in the iv^th century (if not long before) there existed a known Lectionary system, alike in the Church of the East and of the West. Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D.348,) having to speak about our Lord's Ascension, remarks that by a providential coincidence, on the previous day, which was Sunday, the event had formed the subject of the appointed lessons ; and that he had availed himself of the occasion to discourse largely on the subject. -- Chrysostom, preaching at Antioch, makes it plain that, in the latter part of the iv^th century, the order of the lessons which were publicly read in the Church on Saturdays and Sundays was familiarly known to the congregation: for he invites them to sit down, and study attentively beforehand, at home, the Sections (perikopas) of the Gospel which they were about to hear in Church . -- Augustine is express in recording that in his time proper lessons were appointed for Festival days ; and that an innovation which he had attempted on Good Friday had given general offence . -- Now by these few notices, to look no further, it is rendered certain that a Lectionary system of some sort must have been in existence at a period long anterior to the date of any copy of the New Testament Scriptures extant. I shall shew by-and-by that the fact is established by the Codices (B, ', A, C, D) themselves.

But we may go back further yet; for not only Eusebius, but Origen and Clemens Alexandrinus, by their habitual use of the technical term for an Ecclesiastical Lection (perikope, anagnosis, anagnosma,) remind us that the Lectionary practice of the East was already established in their days .

II. The Oriental Lectionary consists of |Synaxarion| and |Eclogadion,| (or Tables of Proper Lessons from the Gospels and Apostolic writings daily throughout the year;) together with |Menologion,| (or Calendar of immovable Festivals and Saints' Days.) That we are thoroughly acquainted with all of these, as exhibited in Codices of the viii^th, ix^th and x^th centuries, -- is a familiar fact; in illustration of which it is enough to refer the reader to the works cited at the foot of the page . But it is no less certain that the scheme of Proper Lessons itself is of much higher antiquity.

1. The proof of this, if it could only be established by an induction of particular instances, would not only be very tedious, but also very difficult indeed. It will be perceived, on reflection, that even when the occasion of a Homily (suppose) is actually recorded, the Scripture references which it contains, apart from the Author's statement that what he quotes had formed part of that day's Service, creates scarcely so much as a presumption of the fact: while the correspondence, however striking, between such references to Scripture and the Lectionary as we have it, is of course no proof whatever that we are so far in possession of the Lectionary of the Patristic age. Nay, on famous Festivals, the employment of certain passages of Scripture is, in a manner, inevitable , and may on no account be pressed.

2. Thus, when Chrysostom and when Epiphanius , preaching on Ascension Day, refer to Acts i.10, 11, -- we do not feel ourselves warranted to press the coincidence of such a quotation with the Liturgical section of the day. -- So, again, when Chrysostom preaches on Christmas Day, and quotes from S. Matthew ii.1, 2 ; or on Whitsunday, and quotes from S. John vii.38 and Acts ii.3 and 13; -- though both places form part of the Liturgical sections for the day, no proof results therefrom that either chapter was actually used.

3. But we are not reduced to this method. It is discovered that nearly three-fourths of Chrysostom's Homilies on S. Matthew either begin at the first verse of a known Ecclesiastical Lection; or else at the first ensuing verse after the close of one. Thirteen of those Homilies in succession (the 63rd to the 75th inclusive) begin with the first words of as many known Lections. |Let us attend to this delightful section (perikope) which we never cease turning to,| -- are the opening words of Chrysostom's 79th Homily, of which |the text| is S. Matth. xxv.31, i.e. the beginning of the Gospel for Sexagesima Sunday. -- Cyril Of Alexandria's (so called) |Commentary on S. Luke| is nothing else but a series of short Sermons, for the most part delivered on known Ecclesiastical Lections; which does not seem to have been as yet observed. -- Augustine (A.D.416) says expressly that he had handled S. John's Gospel in precisely the same way . -- All this is significant in a high degree.

4. I proceed, however, to adduce a few distinct proofs that the existing Lectionary of the great Eastern Church, -- as it is exhibited by Matthaei, by Scholz, and by Scrivener from MSS. of the viii^th century, -- and which is contained in Syriac MSS. of the vi^th and vii^th -- must needs be in the main a work of extraordinary antiquity. And if I do not begin by insisting that at least one century more may be claimed for it by a mere appeal to the Hierosolymitan Version, it is only because I will never knowingly admit what may prove to be untrustworthy materials into my foundations.

(a) |Every one is aware,| (says Chrysostom in a sermon on our Saviour's Baptism, preached at Antioch, A.D.387,) |that this is called the Festival of the Epiphany. Two manifestations are thereby intended: concerning both of which you have heard this day S. Paul discourse in his Epistle to Titus .| Then follows a quotation from ch. ii.11 to 13, -- which proves to be the beginning of the lection for the day in the Greek Menology. In the time of Chrysostom, therefore, Titus ii.11, 12, 13 formed part of one of the Epiphany lessons, -- as it does to this hour in the Eastern Church. What is scarcely less interesting, it is also found to have been part of the Epistle for the Epiphany in the old Gallican Liturgy , the affinities of which with the East are well known.

(b) Epiphanius (speaking of the Feasts of the Church) says, that at the Nativity, a Star shewed that the Word had become incarnate: at the |Theophania| (our |Epiphany|) John cried, |Behold the Lamb of God,| &c., and a Voice from Heaven proclaimed Him at His Baptism. Accordingly, S. Matth. ii.1-12 is found to be the ancient lection for Christmas Day: S. Mark i.9-11 and S. Matth. iii.13-17 the lections for Epiphany. On the morrow, was read S. John i.29-34.

(c) In another of his Homilies, Chrysostom explains with considerable emphasis the reason why the Book of the Acts was read publicly in Church during the interval between Easter and Pentecost; remarking, that it had been the liturgical arrangement of a yet earlier age . -- After such an announcement, it becomes a very striking circumstance that Augustine also (A.D.412) should be found to bear witness to the prevalence of the same liturgical arrangement in the African Church . In the old Galilean Lectionary, as might have been expected, the same rule is recognisable. It ought to be needless to add that the same arrangement is observed universally to prevail in the Lectionaries both of the East and of the West to the present hour; although the fact must have been lost sight of by the individuals who recently, under pretence of |making some advantageous alterations| in our Lectionary, have constructed an entirely new one, -- vicious in principle and liable to the gravest objections throughout, -- whereby this link also which bound the Church of England to the practice of Primitive Christendom, has been unhappily broken; this note of Catholicity also has been effaced .

(d) The purely arbitrary arrangement, (as Mr. Scrivener phrases it), by which the Book of Genesis, instead of the Gospel, is appointed to be read on the week days of Lent, is discovered to have been fully recognised in the time of Chrysostom. Accordingly, the two series of Homilies on the Book of Genesis which that Father preached, he preached in Lent .

(e) It will be seen in the next chapter that it was from a very remote period the practice of the Eastern Church to introduce into the lesson for Thursday in Holy-week, S. Luke's account (ch. xxii.43, 44) of our Lord's |Agony and bloody Sweat,| immediately after S. Matth. xxvi.39. That is, no doubt, the reason why Chrysostom, -- who has been suspected, (I think unreasonably,) of employing an Evangelistarium instead of a copy of the Gospels in the preparation of his Homilies, is observed to quote those same two verses in that very place in his Homily on S. Matthew ; which shews that the Lectionary system of the Eastern Church in this respect is at least as old as the iv^th century.

(f) The same two verses used to be left out on the Tuesday after Sexagesima (te g' tes turophagou) for which day S. Luke xxii.39 -- xxiii.1, is the appointed lection. And this explains why Cyril (A.D.425) in his Homilies on S. Luke, passes them by in silence .

But we can carry back the witness to the Lectionary practice of omitting these verses, at least a hundred years; for Cod. B, (evidently for that same reason,) also omits them, as was stated above, in p.79. They are wanting also in the Thebaic version, which is of the iii^rd century.

(g) It will be found suggested in the next chapter (page 218) that the piercing of our Lord's side, (S. John xix.34), -- thrust into Codd. B and ' immediately after S. Matth. xxvii.49, -- is probably indebted for its place in those two MSS. to the Eastern Lectionary practice. If this suggestion be well founded, a fresh proof is obtained that the Lectionary of the East was fully established in the beginning of the iv^th century. But see Appendix (H).

(h) It is a remarkable note of the antiquity of that Oriental Lectionary system with which we are acquainted, that S. Matthew's account of the Passion (ch. xxvii.1-61,) should be there appointed to be read alone on the evening of Good Friday. Chrysostom clearly alludes to this practice ; which Augustine expressly states was also the practice in his own day . Traces of the same method are discoverable in the old Galilean Lectionary .

(i) Epiphanius, (or the namesake of his who was the author of a well-known Homily on Palm Sunday,) remarks that |yesterday| had been read the history of the rising of Lazarus . Now S. John xi.1-45 is the lection for the antecedent Sabbath, in all the Lectionaries.

(k) In conclusion, I may be allowed so far to anticipate what will be found fully established in the next chapter, as to point out here that since in countless places the text of our oldest Evangelia as well as the readings of the primitive Fathers exhibit unmistakable traces of the corrupting influence of the Lectionary practice, that very fact becomes irrefragable evidence of the antiquity of the Lectionary which is the occasion of it, Not only must it be more ancient than Cod. B or Cod. ', (which are referred to the beginning of the iv^th century), but it must be older than Origen in the iii^rd century, or the Vetus Itala and the Syriac in the iind. And thus it is demonstrated, (1st) That fixed Lessons were read in the Churches of the East in the immediately post-Apostolic age; and (2ndly) That, wherever we are able to test it, the Lectionary of that remote period corresponded with the Lectionary which has come down to us in documents of the vi^th and vii^th century, and was in fact constructed in precisely the same way.

I am content in fact to dismiss the preceding instances with this general remark: -- that a System which is found to have been fully recognised throughout the East and throughout the West in the beginning of the fourth century, must of necessity have been established very long before. It is as when we read of three British Bishops attending the Council at Arles, A.D.314. The Church (we say) which could send out those three Bishops must have been fully organized at a greatly antecedent period.

4. Let us attend, however, to the great Festivals of the Church. These are declared by Chrysostom (in a Homily delivered at Antioch 20 Dec. A.D.386) to be the five following: -- (1) Nativity: (2) the Theophania: (3) Pascha: (4) Ascension: (6) Pentecost . Epiphanius, his contemporary, (Bishop of Constantia in the island of Cyprus,) makes the same enumeration , in a Homily on the Ascension . In the Apostolical Constitutions, the same five Festivals are enumerated . Let me state a few Liturgical facts in connexion with each of these.

It is plain that the preceding enumeration could not have been made at any earlier period: for the Epiphany of our Saviour and His Nativity were originally but one Festival . Moreover, the circumstances are well known under which Chrysostom (A. D.386) announced to his Eastern auditory that in conformity with what had been correctly ascertained at Rome, the ancient Festival was henceforth to be disintegrated . But this is not material to the present inquiry. We know that, as a matter of fact, |the Epiphanies| (for ta epiphania is the name of the Festival) became in consequence distributed over Dec.25 and Jan.5: our Lord's Baptism being the event chiefly commemorated on the latter anniversary , -- which used to be chiefly observed in honour of His Birth . -- Concerning the Lessons for Passion-tide and Easter, as well as concerning those for the Nativity and Epiphany, something has been offered already; to which may be added that Hesychius, in the opening sentences of that |Homily| which has already engaged so much of our attention , testifies that the conclusion of S. Mark's Gospel was in his days, as it has been ever since, one of the lections for Easter. He begins by saying that the Evangelical narratives of the Resurrection were read on the Sunday night; and proceeds to reconcile S. Mark's with the rest. -- Chrysostom once and again adverts to the practice of discontinuing the reading of the Acts after Pentecost , -- which is observed to be also the method of the Lectionaries.

III. I speak separately of the Festival of the Ascension, for an obvious reason. It ranked, as we have seen, in the estimation of Primitive Christendom, with the greatest Festivals of the Church. Augustine, in a well-known passage, hints that it may have been of Apostolical origin ; so exceedingly remote was its institution accounted in the days of the great African Father, as well as so entirely forgotten by that time was its first beginning. I have to chew that in the Great Oriental Lectionary (whether of the Greek or of the Syrian Church) the last Twelve Verses of S. Mark's Gospel occupy a conspicuous as well as a most honourable place. And this is easily done: for,

(a) The Lesson for Matins on Ascension-Day in the East, in the oldest documents to which we have access, consisted (as now it does) of the last Twelve Verses, -- neither more nor less, -- of S. Mark's Gospel. At the Liturgy on Ascension was read S. Luke xxiv.36-53: but at Matins, S. Mark xvi.9-20. The witness of the |Synaxaria| is constant to this effect.

(b) The same lection precisely was adopted among the Syrians by the Melchite Churches , -- (the party, viz. which maintained the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon): and it is found appointed also in the |Evangeliarium Hierosolymitanum .| In the Evangelistarium used in the Jacobite, (i.e. the Monophysite) Churches of Syria, a striking difference of arrangement is discoverable. While S. Luke xxiv.36-53 was read at Vespers and at Matins on Ascension Day, the last seven verses of S. Mark's Gospel (ch. xvi.14-20) were read at the Liturgy . Strange, that the self-same Gospel should have been adopted at a remote age by some of the Churches of the West , and should survive in our own Book of Common Prayer to this hour!

(c) But S. Mark xvi.9-20 was not only appointed by the Greek Church to be read upon Ascension Day. Those same twelve verses constitute the third of the xi |Matin Gospels of the Resurrection,| which were universally held in high esteem by the Eastern Churches (Greek and Syrian ), and were read successively on Sundays at Matins throughout the year; as well as daily throughout Easter week.

(d) A rubricated copy of S. Mark's Gospel in Syriac , certainly older than A.D.683, attests that S. Mark xvi.9-20 was the |Lection for the great First Day of the week,| (megale kuriake, i.e. Easter Day). Other copies almost as ancient add that it was used |at the end of the Service at the dawn.|

(e) Further, these same |Twelve Verses| constituted the Lesson at Matins for the 2nd Sunday after Easter, -- a Sunday which by the Greeks is called kuriake ton murophoron, but with the Syrians bore the names of |Joseph and Nicodemus .| So also in the |Evangeliarium Hierosolymitanum.|

(f) Next, in the Monophysite Churches of Syria, S. Mark xvi.9-18 (or 9-20 ) was also read at Matins on Easter-Tuesday . In the Gallican Church, the third lection for Easter-Monday extended from S. Mark xv.47 to xvi.11: for Easter-Tuesday, from xvi.12 to the end of the Gospel . Augustine says that in Africa also these concluding verses of S. Mark's Gospel used to be publicly read at Easter tide . The same verses (beginning with ver.9) are indicated in the oldest extant Lectionary of the Roman Church .

(g) Lastly, it may be stated that S. Mark xvi.9-20 was with the Greeks the Gospel for the Festival of S. Mary Magdalene (he murophoros), July 22 .

He knows wondrous little about this department of Sacred Science who can require to be informed that such a weight of public testimony as this to the last Twelve Verses of a Gospel is simply overwhelming. The single discovery that in the age of Augustine [385-430] this portion of S. Mark's Gospel was unquestionably read at Easter in the Churches of Africa, added to the express testimony of the Author of the 2nd Homily on the Resurrection, and of the oldest Syriac MSS., that they were also read by the Orientals at Easter in the public services of the Church, must be held to be in a manner decisive of the question.

Let the evidence, then, which is borne by Ecclesiastical usage to the genuineness of S. Mark xvi.9-20, be summed up, and the entire case caused again to pass under review.

(1.) That Lessons from the New Testament were publicly read in the assemblies of the faithful according to a definite scheme, and on an established system, at least as early as the fourth century, -- has been shown to be a plain historical fact. Cyril, at Jerusalem, -- (and by implication, his namesake at Alexandria,) -- Chrysostom, at Antioch and at Constantinople, -- Augustine, in Africa, -- all four expressly witness to the circumstance. In other words, there is found to have been at least at that time fully established throughout the Churches of Christendom a Lectionary, which seems to have been essentially one and the same in the West and in the East. That it must have been of even Apostolic antiquity may be inferred from several considerations. But that it dates its beginning from a period anterior to the age of Eusebius, -- which is the age of Codices B and ', -- at least admits of no controversy.

(2.) Next, -- Documents of the vi^th century put us in possession of the great Oriental Lectionary as it is found at that time to have universally prevailed throughout the vast unchanging East. In other words, several of the actual Service Books, in Greek and in Syriac , have survived the accidents of full a thousand years: and rubricated copies of the Gospels carry us back three centuries further. The entire agreement which is observed to prevail among these several documents, -- added to the fact that when tested by the allusions incidentally made by Greek Fathers of the iv^th century to what was the Ecclesiastical practice of their own time, there are found to emerge countless as well as highly significant notes of
correspondence, -- warrants us in believing, (in the absence of testimony of any sort to the contrary,) that the Lectionary we speak of differs in no essential respect from that system of Lections with which the Church of the iv^th century was universally acquainted.

Nothing scarcely is more forcibly impressed upon us in the course of the present inquiry than the fact, that documents alone are wanting to make that altogether demonstrable which, in default of such evidence, must remain a matter of inevitable inference only. The forms we are pursuing at last disappear from our sight: but it is only the mist of the early morning which shrouds them. We still hear their voices: still track their footsteps: know that others still see them, although we ourselves see them no longer. We are sure that there they still are. Moreover they may yet reappear at any moment. Thus, there exist Syriac MSS. of the Gospels of the vii^th and even of the vi^th century, in which the Lessons are rubricated in the text or on the margin. A Syriac MS. (of part of the Old T.) is actually dated A.D.464 . Should an Evangelium of similar date ever come to light of which the rubrication was evidently by the original Scribe, the evidence of the Lectionaries would at once be carried back full three hundred years.

But in fact we stand in need of no such testimony. Acceptable as it would be, it is plain that it would add no strength to the argument whatever. We are already able to plant our footsteps securely in the iv^th and even in the iii^rd. century. It is not enough to insist that inasmuch as the Liturgical method of Christendom was at least fully established in the East and in the West at the close of the iv^th century, it therefore must have had its beginning at a far remoter period. Our two oldest Codices (B and ') bear witness throughout to the corrupting influence of a system which was evidently in full operation before the time of Eusebius. And even this is not all. The readings in Origen, and of the earliest versions of the Gospel, (the old Latin, the Syriac, the Egyptian versions,) carry back our evidence on this subject unmistakably to the age immediately succeeding that of the .Apostles. This will be found established in the course of the ensuing Chapter.

Beginning our survey of the problem at the opposite end, we arrive at the same result; with even a deepened conviction that in its essential structure, the Lectionary of the Eastern Church must be of truly primitive antiquity: indeed that many of its leading provisions must date back almost, -- nay quite, -- to the Apostolic age. From whichever side we approach this question, -- whatever test we are able to apply to our premisses, -- our conclusion remains still the very same.

(3.) Into this Lectionary then, -- so universal in its extent, so consistent in its witness, so Apostolic in its antiquity, -- |the Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel according to S. Mark| from the very first are found to have won for themselves not only an entrance, a lodgment, an established place; but, the place of highest honour, -- an audience on two of the Church's chiefest Festivals.

The circumstance is far too important, far too significant to be passed by without a few words of comment.

For it is not here, (be it carefully observed,) as when we appeal to some Patristic citation, that the recognition of a phrase, or a verse, or a couple of verses, must be accepted as a proof that the same ancient Father recognised the context also in which those words are found. Not so. All the Twelve Verses in dispute are found in every known copy of the venerable Lectionary of the East. Those same Twelve Verses, -- neither more nor less, -- are observed to constitute one integral Lection.

But even this is not all. The most important fact seems to be that to these Verses has been assigned a place of the highest possible distinction. It is found that, from the very first, S. Mark xvi.9-20 has been everywhere, and by all branches of the Church Catholic, claimed for two of the Church's greatest Festivals, -- Easter and Ascension. A more weighty or a more significant circumstance can scarcely be imagined. To suppose that a portion of Scripture singled out for such extraordinary honour by the Church universal is a spurious addition to the Gospel, is purely irrational; is simply monstrous. No unauthorized |fragment,| however |remarkable,| could by possibility have so established itself in the regards of the East and of the West, from the very first. No suspected |addition, placed here in very early times,| would have been tolerated in the Church's solemn public Service six or seven times a-year. No. It is impossible. Had it been one short clause which we were invited to surrender: a verse: two verses: even three or four: -- the plea being that (as in the case of the celebrated pericopa de adulterâ) the Lectionaries knew nothing of them: -- the case would have been entirely different. But for any one to seek to persuade us that these Twelve Verses, which exactly constitute one of the Church's most famous Lections, are every one of them spurious: -- that the fatal taint begins with the first verse, and only ends with the last: -- this is a demand on our simplicity which, in a less solemn subject, would only provoke a smile. We are constrained to testify astonishment and even some measure of concern. Have the Critics then, (supposing them to be familiar with the evidence which has now been set forth so much in detail;) -- Have the Critics then, (we ask) utterly taken leave of their senses? or do they really suppose that we have taken leave of ours?

It is time to close this discussion. It was declared at the outset that the witness of the Lectionaries to the genuineness of these Verses, though it has been generally overlooked, is the most important of any: admitting, as it does, of no evasion: being simply, as it is, decisive. I have now fully explained the grounds of that assertion. I have set the Verses, which I undertook to vindicate and establish, on a basis from which it will be found impossible any more to dislodge them. Whatever Griesbach, and Tischendorf, and Tregelles, and the rest, may think about the matter, -- the Holy Eastern Church in her corporate capacity, has never been of their opinion. They may doubt. The ante-Nicene Fathers at least never doubted. If |the last Twelve Verses| of S. Mark were deservedly omitted from certain Copies of his Gospel in the iv^th century, utterly incredible is it that these same Twelve Verses should have been disseminated, by their authority, throughout Christendom; -- read, by their command, in all the Churches; -- selected, by their collective judgment, from the whole body of Scripture for the special honour of being listened to once and again at Easter time, as well as on Ascension-Day.

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