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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : CHAPTER XI. THE OMISSION OF THESE TWELVE VERSES IN CERTAIN ANCIENT COPIES OF THE GOSPELS, EXPLAINED AND ACCOUNTED FOR.

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

CHAPTER XI. THE OMISSION OF THESE TWELVE VERSES IN CERTAIN ANCIENT COPIES OF THE GOSPELS, EXPLAINED AND ACCOUNTED FOR.

The Text of our five oldest Uncials proved, by an induction of instances, to have steered depravation throughout by the operation of the ancient Lectionary system of the Church (p.217). -- The omission of S. Mark's |last Twelve Verses,| (constituting an integral Ecclesiastical Lection,) shewn to be probably only one more example of the same depraving influence (p.224).

This solution of the problem corroborated by the language of Eusebius and of Hesychius (p.232); as well as favoured by the |Western| order of the Gospels (p.239).

I AM much mistaken if the suggestion which I am about to offer has not already presented itself to every reader of ordinary intelligence who has taken the trouble to follow the course of my argument thus far with attention. It requires no acuteness whatever, -- it is, as it seems to me, the merest instinct of mother-wit, -- on reaching the present stage of the discussion, to debate with oneself somewhat as follows: --

1. So then, the last Twelve Verses of S. Mark's Gospel were anciently often observed to be missing from the copies. Eusebius expressly says so. I observe that he nowhere says that their genuineness was anciently suspected. As for himself, his elaborate discussion of their contents convinces me that individually, he regarded them with favour. The mere fact, -- (it is best to keep to his actual statement,) -- that |the entire passage | was |not met with in all the copies,| is the sum of his evidence: and two Greek manuscripts, yet extant, supposed to be of the iv^th century (Codd. B and '), mutilated in this precise way, testify to the truth of his statement.

2. But then it is found that these self-same Twelve Verses, -- neither more nor less, -- anciently constituted an integral Ecclesiastical Lection; which lection, -- inasmuch as it is found to have established itself in every part of Christendom at the earliest period to which liturgical evidence reaches back, and to have been assigned from the very first to two of the chiefest Church Festivals, must needs be a lection of almost Apostolic antiquity. Eusebius, I observe, (see p.45), designates the portion of Scripture in dispute by its technical name, -- kephalaion or perikope; (for so an Ecclesiastical lection was anciently called). Here then is a rare coincidence indeed. It is in fact simply unique. Surely, I may acid that it is in the highest degree suggestive also. It inevitably provokes the inquiry, -- Must not these two facts be not only connected, but even interdependent? Will not the omission of the Twelve concluding Verses of S. Mark from certain ancient copies of his Gospel, have been in some way occasioned by the fact that those same twelve verses constituted an integral Church Lection? How is it possible to avoid suspecting that the phenomenon to which Eusebius invites attention, (viz. that certain copies of S. Mark's Gospel in very ancient times had been mutilated from the end of the 8th verse onwards,) ought to be capable of illustration, -- will have in fact to be explained, and in a word accounted for, -- by the circumstance that at the 8th verse of S. Mark's xvi^th chapter, one ancient Lection came to an end, and another ancient Lection began?

Somewhat thus, (I venture to think,) must every unprejudiced Reader of intelligence hold parley with himself on reaching the close of the preceding chapter. I need hardly add that I am thoroughly convinced he would be reasoning rightly. I am going to skew that the Lectionary practice of the ancient Church does indeed furnish a sufficient clue for the unravelment of this now famous problem: in other words, enables us satisfactorily to account for the omission of these Twelve Verses from ancient copies of the collected Gospels. But I mean to do more. I propose to make my appeal to documents which shall be observed to bear no faltering witness in my favour. More yet. I propose that Eusebius himself, the chief author of all this trouble, shall be brought back into Court and invited to resyllable his Evidence; and I am much mistaken if even he will not be observed to let fall a hint that we have at last got on the right scent; -- have accurately divined how this mistake took its first beginning; -- and, (what is not least to the purpose,) have correctly apprehended what was his own real meaning in what he himself has said.

The proposed solution of the difficulty, -- if not the evidence on which it immediately rests, -- might no doubt be exhibited within exceedingly narrow limits. Set down abruptly, however, its weight and value would inevitably fail to be recognised, even by those who already enjoy some familiarity with these studies. Very few of the considerations which I shall have to rehearse are in fact unknown to Critics: yet is it evident that their bearing on the problem before us has hitherto altogether escaped their notice. On the other hand, by one entirely a novice to this department of sacred Science, I could scarcely hope to be so much as understood. Let me be allowed, therefore, to preface what I have to say with a few explanatory details which I promise shall not be tedious, and which I trust will not be found altogether without interest either. If they are anywhere else to be met with, it is my misfortune, not my fault, that I have been hitherto unsuccessful in discovering the place.

I. From the earliest ages of the Church, (as I shewed at page 192-5,) it has been customary to read certain definite portions of Holy Scripture, determined by Ecclesiastical authority, publicly before the Congregation. In process of time, as was natural, the sections so required for public use were collected into separate volumes: Lections from the Gospels being written out in a Book which was called |Evangelistarium,| (euangelistarion,) -- from the Acts and Epistles, in a book called |Praxapostolus,| (praxapostolos). These Lectionary-books, both Greek and Syriac, are yet extant in great numbers , and (I may remark in passing) deserve a far greater amount of attention than has hitherto been bestowed upon them .

When the Lectionary first took the form of a separate book, has not been ascertained. That no copy is known to exist (whether in Greek or in Syriac) older than the viii^th century, proves nothing. Codices in daily use, (like the Bibles used in our Churches,) must of necessity have been of exceptionally brief duration; and Lectionaries, more even than Biblical MSS. were liable to injury and decay.

II. But it is to be observed, -- (and to explain this, is much more to my present purpose,) -- that besides transcribing the Ecclesiastical lections into separate books, it became the practice at a very early period to adapt copies of the Gospels to lectionary purposes. I suspect that this practice began in the Churches of Syria; for Syriac copies of the Gospels (at least of the vii^th century) abound, which have the Lections more or less systematically rubricated in the Text . There is in the British Museum a copy of S. Mark's Gospel according to the Peshito version, certainly written previous to A.D.583, which has at least five or six rubrics so inserted by the original scribe . As a rule, in all later cursive Greek MSS., (I mean those of the xii^th to the xv^th century,) the Ecclesiastical lections are indicated throughout: while either at the summit, or else at the foot of the page, the formula with which the Lection was to be introduced is elaborately inserted; prefaced probably by a rubricated statement (not always very easy to decipher) of the occasion when the ensuing portion of Scripture was to be read. The ancients, to a far greater extent than ourselves , were accustomed, -- (in fact, they made it a rule,) -- to prefix unauthorized formulae to their public Lections; and these are sometimes found to have established themselves so firmly, that at last they became as it were ineradicable; and later copyists of the fourfold Gospel are observed to introduce them unsuspiciously into the inspired text . All that belongs to this subject deserves particular attention; because it is this which explains not a few of the perturbations (so to express oneself) which the text of the New Testament has experienced.1Nre are made to understand how, what was originally intended only as a liturgical note, became mistaken, through the inadvertence or the stupidity of copyists, for a critical suggestion; and thus, besides transpositions without number, there has arisen, at one time, the insertion of something unauthorized into the text of Scripture, -- at another, the omission of certain inspired words, to the manifest detriment of the sacred deposit. For although the systematic rubrication of the Gospels for liturgical purposes is a comparatively recent invention, -- (I question if it be older in Greek MSS. than the x^th century,) -- yet will persons engaged in the public Services of God's House have been prone, from the very earliest age, to insert memoranda of the kind referred to, into the margin of their copies. In this way, in fact, it may be regarded as certain that in countless minute particulars the text of Scripture has been depraved. Let me not fail to add, that by a judicious, and above all by an unprejudiced use of the materials at our disposal, it may, even at this distance of time, in every such particular, be successfully restored .

III. I now proceed to shew, by an induction of instances, that even in the oldest copies in existence, I mean in Codd. B, ', A, C, and D, the Lectionary system of the early Church has left abiding traces of its operation. When a few such undeniable cases have been adduced, all objections grounded on primâ facie improbability will have been satisfactorily disposed of. The activity, as well as the existence of such a disturbing force and depraving influence, at least as far back as the beginning of the iv^th century, (but it is in fact more ancient by full two hundred years,), will have been established: of which I shall only have to shew, in conclusion, that the omission of |the last Twelve Verses| of S. Mark's Gospel is probably but one more instance, -- though confessedly by far the most extraordinary of any.

(1.) From Codex B then, as well as from Cod. A, the two grand verses which describe our Lord's |Agony and Bloody Sweat,| (S. Luke xxii.43, 44,) are missing. The same two verses are absent also from a few other important MSS., as well as from both the Egyptian versions; but I desire to fasten attention on the confessedly erring testimony in this place of Codex B. |Confessedly erring,| I say; for the genuineness of those two verses is no longer disputed. Now, in every known Evangelistarium, the two verses here omitted by Cod. B follow, (the Church so willed it,) S. Matth. xxvi.39, and are read as a regular part of the lesson for the Thursday in Holy Week . Of course they are also omitted in the same Evangelistaria from the lesson for the Tuesday after Sexagesima, (te g' tes turophagou, as the Easterns call that day,) when S. Luke xxii.39-xxiii.1 used to be read. Moreover, in all ancient copies of the Gospels which have been accommodated to ecclesiastical use, the reader of S. Luke xxii. is invariably directed by a marginal note to leave out those two verses, and to proceed per saltum from ver.42 to ver.45 . What more obvious therefore than that the removal of the paragraph from its proper place in S. Luke's Gospel is to be attributed to nothing else but the Lectionary practice of the primitive Church? Quite unreasonable is it to impute heretical motives, or to invent any other unsupported theory, while this plain solution of the difficulty is at hand.

(2.) The same Cod. B., (with which Codd. ', C, L, U and G are observed here to conspire,) introduces the piercing of the Saviour's side (S. John xix.34) at the end of S. Matth. xxvii.49. Now, I only do not insist that this must needs be the result of the singular Lectionary practice already described at p.202, because a scholion in Cod.72 records the singular fact that in the Diatessaron of Tatian, after S. Matth. xxvii.48, was read allos de labon lonchen enuxen autou ten pleuran; kai exelthen hudor kai haima. (Chrysostom's codex was evidently vitiated in precisely the same way.) This interpolation therefore may have resulted from the corrupting influence of Tatian's (so-called) |Harmony.| See Appendix (H).

(3.) To keep on safe ground. Codd. B and D concur in what Alford justly calls the |grave error| of simply omitting from S. Luke xxiii.34, our Lord's supplication on behalf of His murderers, (o de` Iesous e'lege, Pa'ter, a'phes autois· ou ga`r oi'dasi ti' poiousi. They are not quite singular in so doing; being, as usual, kept in countenance by certain copies of the old Latin, as well as by both the Egyptian versions. How is this |grave error| in so many ancient MSS. to be accounted for? (for a |grave error,| or rather |a fatal omission| it certainly is). Simply by the fact that in the Eastern Church the Lection for the Thursday after Sexagesima breaks off abruptly, immediately before these very words, -- to recommence at ver.44 .

(4.) Note, that at ver.32, the eighth |Gospel of the Passion| begins, -- which is the reason why Codd. B and ' (with the Egyptian versions) exhibit a singular irregularity in that place; and why the Jerusalem Syriac introduces the established formula of the Lectionaries (sun to Iesou) at the same juncture.

(If I do not here insist that the absence of the famous pericopa de adulterâ (S. John vii.53-viii.11,) from so many MSS., is to be explained in precisely the same way, it is only because the genuineness of that portion of the Gospel is generally denied; and I propose, in this enumeration of instances, not to set foot on disputed ground. I am convinced, nevertheless, that the first occasion of the omission of those memorable verses was the lectionary practice of the primitive Church, which, on Whitsunday, read from S. John vii.37 to viii.12, leaving out the twelve verses in question. Those verses, from the nature of their contents, (as Augustine declares,) easily came to be viewed with dislike or suspicion. The passage, however, is as old as the second century, for it is found in certain copies of the old Latin. Moreover Jerome deliberately gave it a place in the Vulgate. I pass on.)

(5.) The two oldest Codices in existence, -- B and ', -- stand all but alone in omitting from S. Luke vi.1 the unique and indubitably genuine word deuteroproto; which is also omitted by the Peshito, Italic and Coptic versions. And yet, when it is observed that an Ecclesiastical lection begins here, and that the Evangelistaria (which invariably leave out such notes of time) simply drop the word, -- only substituting for en sabbato the more familiar tois sabbasi, -- every one will be ready to admit that if the omission of this word be not due to the inattention of the copyist, (which, however, seems to me not at all unlikely ,) it is sufficiently explained by the Lectionary practice of the Church, -- which may well date back even to the immediately post-Apostolic age.

(6/) In S. Luke xvi.19, Cod. D introduces the Parable of Lazarus with the formula, -- eipen de kai heteran parabolen; which is nothing else but a marginal note which has found its way into the text from the margin; being the liturgical introduction of a Church-lesson which afterwards began eipen ho Kurios ten parabolen tauten .

(7.) In like manner, the same Codex makes S. John xiv. begin with the liturgical formula, -- (it survives in our Book of Common Prayer to this very hour!) -- kai eipen tois mathetais autou: in which it is countenanced by certain MSS. of the Vulgate and of the old Latin Version. Indeed, it may be stated generally concerning the text of Cod. D, that it bears marks throughout of the depraving influence of the ancient Lectionary practice. Instances of this, (in addition to those elsewhere cited in these pages,) will be discovered in S. Luke iii.23: iv.16 (and xix.45): v.1 and 17: vi.37 (and xviii.15): vii.1: x.1 and 25: xx.1: in all but three of which, Cod. D is kept in countenance by the old Latin, often by the Syriac, and by other versions of the greatest antiquity. But to proceed.

(8.) Cod. A, (supported by Athanasius, the Vulgate, Gothic, and Philoxeuian versions,) for kai, in S. Luke ix.57, reads egeneto de -- which is the reading of the Textus Receptus. Cod. D, (with some copies of the old Latin,) exhibits kai egeneto. All the diversity which is observable in this place, (and it is considerable,) is owing to the fact that an Ecclesiastical lection begins here . In different Churches, the formula with which the lection was introduced slightly differed.

(9.) Cod. C is supported by Chrysostom and Jerome, as well as by the Peshito, Cureton's and the Philoxenian Syriac, and some MSS. of the old Latin, in reading ho Iesous at the beginning of S. Matth. xi.20. That the words have no business there, is universally admitted. So also is the cause of their interpolation generally recognized. The Ecclesiastical lection for Wednesday in the iv^th week after Pentecost begins at that place; and begins with the formula, -- en to kairo ekeino, erxato ho Iesous oneidizein.

Similarly, in S. Matth. xii.9, xiii.36, and xiv.14, Cod. C inserts ho Iesous; a reading which on all three occasions is countenanced by the Syriac and some copies of the old Latin, and on the last of the three, by Origen also. And yet there can be no doubt that it is only because Ecclesiastical lections begin at those places , that the Holy Name is introduced there.

Let me add that the Sacred Name is confessedly an interpolation in the six places indicated at foot, -- its presence being accounted for by the fact that, in each, an Ecclesiastical lection begins . Cod. D in one of these places, Cod. A in four, is kept in countenance by the old Latin, the Syriac, the Coptic and other early versions; -- convincing indications of the extent to which the Lectionary practice of the Church had established itself so early as the second century of our æra.

Cod. D, and copies of the old Latin and Egyptian versions also read tou Iesou, (instead of autou,) in S. Mark xiv.3; which is only because a Church lesson begins there.

(12.) The same Cod. D is all but unique in leaving out that memorable verse in S. Luke's Gospel (xxiv.12), in which S. Peter's visit to the Sepulchre of our risen Lord finds particular mention. It is only because that verse was claimed both as the conclusion of the iv^th and also as the beginning of the v^th Gospel of the Resurrection: so that the liturgical note arche stands at the beginning, -- telos at the end of it. Accordingly, D is kept in countenance here only by the Jerusalem Lectionary and some copies of the old Latin. But what is to be thought of the editorial judgment which (with Tregelles) encloses this verse within brackets and (with Tischendorf) rejects it from the text altogether?

(13.) Codices B, ', and D are alone among MSS. in omitting the clause dieltho`n dia` me'ssou auton; kai` paregen ou'tos, at the end of the 59th verse of S. John viii. The omission is to be accounted for by the fact that just there the Church-lesson for Tuesday in the v^th week after Easter came to an end.

(14.) Again. It is not at all an unusual thing to find in cursive MSS., at the end of S. Matth. viii.13, (with several varieties), the spurious and tasteless appendix, -- kai hupostrepsas ho hekatontarchos eis ton oikon autou en aute te hora heuren ton paida hugiainonta: a clause which owes its existence solely to the practice of ending the lection for the iv^th Sunday after Pentecost in that unauthorized manner . But it is not only in cursive MSS. that these words are found. They are met with also in the Codex Sinaiticus ('): a witness at once to the inveteracy of Liturgical usage in the ivth century of our æra, and to the corruptions which the |Codex omnium antiquissimus| will no doubt have inherited from a yet older copy than itself.

(15.) In conclusion, I may remark generally that there occur instances, again and again, of perturbations of the Text in our oldest MSS., (corresponding sometimes with readings vouched for by the most ancient of the Fathers,) which admit of no more intelligible or inoffensive solution than by referring them to the Lectionary practice of the primitive Church .

Thus when instead of kai` anabai'non o Iesous eis Hieroso'luma (S. Matth. xx.17), Cod. B reads, (and, is almost unique in reading,) Mellon de anabai'non o Iesou?s; and when Origen sometimes quotes the place in the same way, but sometimes is observed to transpose the position of the Holy Name in the sentence; when again six of Matthaei's MSS., (and Origen once,) are observed to put the same Name after Hieroso'luma: when, lastly, two of Field's MSS. , and one of Matthaei's, (and I dare say a great many more, if the truth were known,) omit the words o Iesous entirely: -- who sees not that the true disturbing force in this place, from the ii^nd century of our æra downwards, has been the Lectionary practice of the primitive Church? -- the fact that there the lection for the Thursday after the viii^th Sunday after Pentecost began? -- And this may suffice.

IV. It has been proved then, in what goes before, morn effectually even than in a preceding page , not only that Ecclesiastical Lections corresponding with those indicated in the |Synaxaria| were fully established in the immediately post-Apostolic age, but also that at that early period the Lectionary system of primitive Christendom had already exercised a depraving influence of a peculiar kind on the text of Scripture. Further yet, (and this is the only point I am now concerned to establish), that our five oldest Copies of the Gospels, -- B and ' as well as A, C and D, -- exhibit not a few traces of the mischievous agency alluded to; errors, and especially omissions, which sometimes seriously affect the character of those Codices as witnesses to the Truth of Scripture. -- I proceed now to consider the case of S. Mark xvi.9-20; only prefacing my remarks with a few necessary words of explanation.

V. He who takes into his hands an ordinary cursive MS. of the Gospels, is prepared to find the Church-lessons regularly indicated throughout, in the text or in the margin. A familiar contraction, executed probably in vermillion , ar,indicates the |beginning| (arche) of each lection: a corresponding contraction indicates its |end| (telos.) Generally, these rubrical directions, (for they are nothing else,) are inserted for convenience into the body of the text, -- from which the red pigment with which they are almost invariably executed, effectually distinguishes them. But all these particulars gradually disappear as recourse is had to older and yet older MSS. The studious in such matters have noticed that even the memorandums as to the |beginning| and the |end| of a lection are rare, almost in proportion to the antiquity of a Codex. When they do occur in the later uncials, they do not by any means always seem to have been the work of the original scribe; neither has care been always taken to indicate them in ink of a different colour. It will further be observed in such MSS. that whereas the sign where the reader is to begin is generally -- (in order the better to attract his attention,) -- inserted in the margin of the Codex, the note where he is to leave off, (in order the more effectually to arrest his progress,) is as a rule introduced into the body of the text . In uncial MSS., however, all such symbols are not only rare, but (what is much to be noted) they are exceedingly irregular in their occurrence. Thus in Codex G, in the Bodleian Library, (a recently acquired uncial MS. of the Gospels, written A.D.844), there occurs no indication of the |end| of a single lection in S. Luke's Gospel, until chap. xvi.31 is reached; after which, the sign abounds. In Codex L, the original notes of Ecclesiastical Lections occur at the following rare and irregular intervals: S. Mark ix.2: x.46: xii.40 (where the sign has lost its way; it should have stood against ver.44): xv.42 and xvi.1 . In the oldest uncials, nothing of the kind is discoverable. Even in the Codex Bezae, (vi^th century,) not a single liturgical direction coeval with the MS. is anywhere to be found.

VI. And yet, although the practice of thus indicating the beginning and the end of a liturgical section, does not seem to have come into general use until about the xii^th century; and although, previous to the ix^th century, systematic liturgical directions are probably unknown ; the need of them must have been experienced by one standing up to read before the congregation, long before. The want of some reminder where he was to begin, -- above all, of some hint where he was to leave off, -- will have infallibly made itself felt from the first. Accordingly, there are not wanting indications that, occasionally, teloc (or to teloc) was written in the margin of Copies of the Gospels at an exceedingly remote epoch. One memorable example of this practice is supplied by the Codex Bezae (D): where in S. Mark xiv.41, instead of apechei. elthen e o'ra, -- we meet with the unintelligible apechei to teloc kai E ora Now, nothing else has here happened but that a marginal note, designed originally to indicate the end (to teloc) of the lesson for the third day of the ii^nd week of the Carnival, has lost its way from the end of ver.42, and got thrust into the text of ver.41, -- to the manifest destruction of the sense . I find D's error here is shared (a) by the Peshito Syriac, (b) by the old Latin, and (c) by the Philoxenian: venerable partners in error, truly! for the first two probably carry back this false reading to the second century of our æra; and so, furnish one more remarkable proof, to be added to the fifteen (or rather the forty) already enumerated (pp.217-23), that the lessons of the Eastern Church were settled at a period long anterior to the date of the oldest MS. of the Gospels extant.

VII. Returning then to the problem before us, I venture to suggest as follows: -- What if, at a very remote period, this same isolated liturgical note (to teloc) occurring at S. Mark xvi.8, (which is |the end| of the Church-lection for the ii^nd Sunday after Easter,) should have unhappily suggested to some copyist, -- kallugraphias quam vel Criticae Sacrae vel rerum Liturgicarum peritior -- the notion that the entire |Gospel according to S. Mark,| came to an end at verse 8? . . . . I see no more probable account of the matter, I say, than this: -- That the mutilation of the last chapter of S. Mark has resulted from the fact, that some very ancient scribe misapprehended the import of the solitary liturgical note teloc (or to teloc) which he found at the close of verse 8. True, that he will have probably beheld, further on, several additional stichoi. But if he did, how could he acknowledge the fact more loyally than by leaving (as the author of Cod. B is observed to have done) one entire column blank, before proceeding with S. Luke? He hesitated, all the same, to transcribe any further, having before him, (as he thought,) an assurance that |THE END| had been reached at ver.8.

VIII. That some were found in very early times eagerly to acquiesce in this omission: to sanction it: even to multiply copies of the Gospel so mutilated; (critics or commentators intent on nothing so much as reconciling the apparent discrepancies in the Evangelical narratives:) -- appears to me not at all unlikely . Eusebius almost says as much, when he puts into the mouth of one who is for getting rid of these verses altogether, the remark that |they would be in a manner superfluous if it should appear that their testimony is at variance with that of the other Evangelists .| (The ancients were giants in Divinity but children in Criticism.) On the other hand, I altogether agree with Dean Alford in thinking it highly improbable that the difficulty of harmonizing one Gospel with another in this place, (such as it is,) was the cause why these Twelve Verses were originally suppressed . (1) First, because there really was no need to withhold more than three, -- at the utmost, five of them, -- if this had been the reason of the omission. (2) Next, because it would have been easier far to introduce some critical correction of any supposed discrepancy, than to sweep away the whole of the unoffending context. (3) Lastly, because nothing clearly was gained by causing the Gospel to end so abruptly that every one must see at a glance that it had been mutilated. No. The omission having originated in a mistake, was perpetuated for a brief period (let us suppose) only through infirmity of judgment: or, (as I prefer to believe), only in consequence of the religious fidelity of copyists, who were evidently always instructed to transcribe exactly what they found in the copy set before them. The Church meanwhile in her corporate capacity, has never known anything at all of the matter, -- as was fully shewn above in Chap. X.

IX. When this solution of the problem first occurred to me, (and it occurred to me long before I was aware of the memorable reading to teloc in the Codex Bezae, already adverted to,) I reasoned with myself as follows: -- But if the mutilation of the second Gospel came about in this particular way, the MSS. are bound to remember something of the circumstance; and in ancient MSS., if I am right, I ought certainly to meet with some confirmation of my opinion. According to my view, at the root of this whole matter lies the fact that at S. Mark xvi.8 a well-known Ecclesiastical lesson comes to an end. Is there not perhaps something exceptional in the way that the close of that liturgical section was anciently signified?

X. In order to ascertain this, I proceeded to inspect every copy of the Gospels in the Imperial Library at Paris ; and devoted seventy hours exactly, with unflagging delight, to the task. The success of the experiment astonished me.

1. I began with our Cod.24 (= Reg.178) of the Gospels: turned to the last page of S. Mark: and beheld, in a Codex of the xi^th Century wholly devoid of the Lectionary apparatus which is sometimes found in MSS. of a similar date , at fol.104, the word + teloc + conspicuously written by the original scribe immediately after S. Mark xvi.8, as well as at the close of the Gospel. It occurred besides only at ch. ix.9, (the end of the lesson for the Transfiguration.) And yet there are at least seventy occasions in the course of S. Mark's Gospel where, in MSS. which have been accommodated to Church use, it is usual to indicate the close of a Lection. This discovery, which surprised me not a little, convinced me that I was on the right scent; and every hour I met with some fresh confirmation of the fact.

2. For the intelligent reader will readily understand that three such deliberate liturgical memoranda, occurring solitary in a MS. of this date, are to be accounted for only in one way. They infallibly represent a corresponding peculiarity in some far more ancient document. The fact that the word teloc is here (a) set down unabbreviated, (b) in black ink, and (c) as part of the text, -- points unmistakably in the same direction. But that Cod.24 is derived from a Codex of much older date is rendered certain by a circumstance which shall be specified at foot .

3. The very same phenomena reappear in Cod.36 . The sign + teloc +, (which occurs punctually at S. Mark xvi.8 and again at v.20,) is found besides in S. Mark's Gospel only at chap. i.8 ; at chap. xiv.31; and (+ teloc oou kephal[/]) at chap. xv.24; -- being on every occasion incorporated with the Text. Now, when it is perceived that in the second and third of these places, teloc has clearly lost its way, -- appearing where no Ecclesiastical lection came to an end, -- it will be felt that the MS. before us (of the xi^th century) if it was not actually transcribed from, -- must at least exhibit at second hand, -- a far more ancient Codex .

4. Only once more. -- Codex 22 (= Reg.72) was never prepared for Church purposes. A rough hand has indeed scrawled indications of the beginnings and endings of a few of the Lessons, here and there; but these liturgical notes are no part of the original MS. At S. Mark xvi.8, however, we are presented (as before) with the solitary note + teloc + -- -, incorporated with the text. Immediately after which, (in writing of the same size,) comes a memorable statement in red letters. The whole stands thus: --

phobounto gar + teloc + --
? hen tici ton antigraphon.
eoc hode pleroutai o eu
angelictec: ee polloic
de. kai tauta pheretai + --
Anastas de. proi prote sabbaton.

And then follows the rest of the Gospel; at the end of which, the sign + teloc + is again repeated, -- which sign, however, occurs nowhere else in the MS. nor at the end of any of the other three Gospels. A more opportune piece of evidence could hardly have been invented. A statement so apt and so significant was surely a thing rather to be wished than to be hoped for. For here is the liturgical sign teloc not only occurring in the wholly exceptional way of which we have already seen examples, but actually followed by the admission that |In certain copies, the Evangelist proceeds no further.| The two circumstances so brought together seem exactly to bridge over the chasm between Codd. B and ' on the one hand, -- and Codd.24 and 36. on the other; and to supply us with precisely the link of evidence which we require. For observe: -- During the first six centuries of our æra, no single instance is known of a codex in which teloc is written at the end of a Gospel. The subscription of S. Mark for instance is invariably either KATA MARKON, -- (as in B and '): or else EUAGGELION KATA MARKON, -- (as in A and C, and the other older uncials): never teloc. But here is a Scribe who first copies the liturgical note teloc, -- and then volunteers the critical observation that |in some copies of S. Mark's Gospel the Evangelist proceeds no further!| A more extraordinary corroboration of the view which I am endeavouring to recommend to the reader's acceptance, I really cannot imagine. Why, the ancient Copyist actually comes back, in order to assure me that the suggestion which I have been already offering in explanation of the difficulty, is the true one!

5. I am not about to abuse the reader's patience with a prolonged enumeration of the many additional conspiring
circumstances, -- insignificant in themselves and confessedly unimportant when considered singly, but of which the cumulative force is unquestionably great, -- which an examination of 99 MSS. of the Gospels brought to light . Enough has been said already to shew,

(1st.) That it must have been a customary thing, at a very remote age, to write the word teloc against S. Mark xvi.8, even when the same note was withheld from the close of almost every other ecclesiastical lection in the Gospel.

(2ndly.) That this word, or rather note, which no doubt was originally written as a liturgical memorandum in the margin, became at a very early period incorporated with the text; where, retaining neither its use nor its significancy, it was liable to misconception, and may have easily come to be fatally misunderstood.

And although these two facts certainly prove nothing in and by themselves, yet, when brought close alongside of the problem which has to be solved, their significancy becomes immediately apparent: for,

(3rdly.) As a matter of fact, there are found to have existed before the time of Eusebius, copies of S. Mark's Gospel which did come to an end at this very place. Now, that the Evangelist left off there, no one can believe . Why, then, did the Scribe leave off? But the Reader is already in possession of the reason why. A sufficient explanation of the difficulty has been elicited from the very MSS. themselves. And surely when, suspended to an old chest which has been locked up for ages, a key is still hanging which fits the lock exactly and enables men to open the chest with ease, they are at liberty to assume that the key belongs to the lock; is, in fact, the only instrument by which the chest may lawfully be opened.

XI. And now, in conclusion, I propose that we summon back our original Witness, and invite him to syllable his evidence afresh, in order that we may ascertain if perchance it affords any countenance whatever to the view which I have been advocating. Possible at least it is that in the Patristic) record that copies of S. Mark's Gospel were anciently defective from the 8th verse onwards some vestige may be discoverable of the forgotten truth. Now, it has been already fully shewn that it is a mistake to introduce into this discussion any other name but that of Eusebius . Do, then, the terms in which Eusebius alludes to this matter lend us any assistance? Let us have the original indictment read over to us once more: and this time we are bound to listen to every word of it with the utmost possible attention.

A problem is proposed for solution. |There are two ways of solving it,| (Eusebius begins): -- ho men gar [to kephalaion auto] ten touto phaskousan perikopen atheton, eipoi an me en hapasin auten pheresthai tois antigraphois tou kata Markon euangeliou; ta goun akribe ton antigraphon TO TELOS perigraphei tes kata ton Markon historias en tois logois k.t.l. hois epilegei, |kai oudeni ouden eipon, ephobounto gar.| En touto schedon en hapasi tois antigraphois tou kata Markon euangeliou perigegraptai TO TELOS . . . Let us halt hero for one moment.

2. Surely, a new and unexpected light already begins to dawn upon this subject! How is it that we paid so little attention before to the terms in which this ancient Father delivers his evidence, that we overlooked the import of an expression of his which from the first must have struck us as peculiar, but which now we perceive to be of paramount significancy? Eusebius is pointing out that one way for a man (so minded) to get rid of the apparent inconsistency between S. Mark xvi.9 and S. Matth. xxviii.1, would be for him to reject the entire |Ecclesiastical Lection | in which S. Mark xvi.9 occurs. Any one adopting this course, (he proceeds; and it is much to be noted that Eusebius is throughout delivering the imaginary sentiments of another, -- not his own:) Such an one (he says) |will say that it is not met with in all the copies of S. Mark's Gospel. The accurate copies, at all events,| -- and then follows an expression in which this ancient Critic is observed ingeniously to accommodate his language to the phenomenon which he has to describe, so as covertly to insinuate something else. Eusebius employs an idiom (it is found elsewhere in his writings) sufficiently colourless to have hitherto failed to arouse attention; but of which it is impossible to overlook the actual design and import, after all that has gone before. He clearly recognises the very phenomenon to which I have been calling attention within the last two pages, and which I need not further insist upon or explain: viz. that the words TO TELOC were in some very ancient (|the accurate|) copies found written after ephobounto gar: although to an unsuspicious reader the expression which he uses may well seem to denote nothing more than that the second Gospel generally came to an end there.

3. And now it is time to direct attention to the important bearing of the foregoing remark on the main point at issue. The true import of what Eusebius has delivered, and which has at last been ascertained, will be observed really to set his evidence in a novel and unsuspected light. From the days of Jerome, it has been customary to assume that Eusebius roundly states that, in his time almost all the Greek copies were without our |last Twelve Verses| of S. Mark's Gospel : whereas Eusebius really does nowhere say so. He expresses himself enigmatically, resorting to a somewhat unusual phrase which perhaps admits of no exact English counterpart: but what he says clearly amounts to no more than this, -- that |the accurate copies, at the words ephobounto gar, circumscribe THE END (TO TELOC ) of Mark's narrative:| that there, |in almost all the Copies of the Gospel according to Mark, is circumscribed THE END.| He says no more. He does not say that there |is circumscribed the Gospel.| As for the twelve verses which follow, he merely declares that they were |not met with in all the copies;| i.e. that some copies did not contain them. But this, so far from being a startling statement, is no more than what Codd. B and ' in themselves are sufficient to establish. In other words, Eusebius, (whose testimony on this subject as it is commonly understood is so extravagant [see above, p.48-9,] as to carry with it its own sufficient refutation,) is found to bear consistent testimony to the two following modest propositions; which, however, are not adduced by him as reasons for rejecting S. Mark xvi.9-20, but only as samples of what might be urged by one desirous of shelving a difficulty suggested by their contents; --

(1st.) That from some ancient copies of S. Mark's Gospel these last Twelve Verses were away.

(2nd.) That in almost all the copies, -- (whether mutilated or not, he does not state,) -- the words TO TELOC were found immediately after ver.8; which, (he seems to hint,) let those who please accept as evidence that there also is the end of the Gospel.

4. But I cannot dismiss the testimony of Eusebius until I have recorded my own entire conviction that this Father is no more an original authority here than Jerome, or Hesychius, or Victor . He is evidently adopting the language of some more ancient writer than himself. I observe that he introduces the problem with the remark that what follows is one of the questions |for ever mooted by every body .| I suspect (with Matthaei, [suprà, p.66,]) that Origen is the true author of all this confusion. He certainly relates of himself that among his voluminous exegetical writings was a treatise on S. Mark's Gospel . To Origen's works, Eusebius, (his apologist and admirer,) is known to have habitually resorted; and, like many others, to have derived not a few of his notions from that fervid and acute, but most erratic intellect. Origen's writings in short, seem to have been the source of much, if not most of the mistaken Criticism of Antiquity. (The reader is reminded of what has been offered above at p.96-7). And this would not be the first occasion on which it would appear that when an ancient Writer speaks of |the accurate copies,| what he actually means is the text of Scripture which was employed or approved by Origen . The more attentively the language of Eusebius in this place is considered, the more firmly (it is thought) will the suspicion be entertained that he is here only reproducing the sentiments of another person. But, however this may be, it is at least certain that the precise meaning of what he says, has been hitherto generally overlooked. He certainly does not say, as Jerome, from his loose translation of the passage , evidently imagined, -- |omnibus Graeciae libris pene hoc capitulum in fine non habentibus:| but only, -- |non in omnibus Evangelii exemplaribus hoc capitulum inveniri;| which is an entirely different thing. Eusebius adds, -- |Accuratiora saltem exemplaria FINEM narrationis secundum Marcum circumscribunt in verbis ephobounto gar;| -- and, |In hoc, fere in omnibus exemplaribus Evangelii secundum Marcum, FINEM circumscribi.| -- The point, however, of greatest interest is, that Eusebius here calls attention to the prevalence in MSS. of his time of the very liturgical peculiarity which plainly supplies the one true solution of the problem under discussion. His testimony is a marvellous corroboration of what we learn from Cod.22, (see above, p.230,) and, rightly understood, does not go a whit beyond it.

5. What wonder that Hesychius, because he adopted blindly what he found in Eusebius, should at once betray his author and exactly miss the point of what his author says? To kata Markon euangelion (so he writes) mechri tou |ephobounto gar,| echei TO TELOC .

6. This may suffice concerning the testimony of Eusebius. -- It will be understood that I suppose Origen to have fallen in with one or more copies of S. Mark's Gospel which exhibited the Liturgical hint, (TO TELOC,) conspicuously written against S. Mark xvi.9. Such a copy may, or may not, have there terminated abruptly. I suspect however that it did. Origen at all events, (more suo,) will have remarked on the phenomenon before him; and Eusebius will have adopted his remarks, -- as the heralds say, |with a difference,| -- simply because they suited his purpose, and seemed to him ingenious and interesting.

7. For the copy in question, -- (like that other copy of S. Mark from which the Peshito translation was made, and in which TO TELOC most inopportunely occurs at chap. xiv.41 ,) -- will have become the progenitor of several other copies (as Codd. B and '); and some of these, it is pretty evident, were familiarly known to Eusebius.

8. Let it however be clearly borne in mind that nothing of all this is in the least degree essential to my argument. Eusebius, (for aught that I know or care,) may be solely responsible for every word that he has delivered concerning S. Mark xvi.9-20. Every link in my argument will remain undisturbed, and the conclusion will be still precisely the same, whether the mistaken Criticism before us originated with another or with himself.

XII. But why, (it may reasonably be asked,) -- Why should there have been anything exceptional in the way of indicating the end of this particular Lection? Why should telos be so constantly found written after S. Mark xvi.8?

I answer, -- I suppose it was because the Lections which respectively ended and began at that place were so many, and were Lections of such unusual importance. Thus, -- (1) On the 2nd Sunday after Easter, (kuriaee g' ton murophoron as it was called,) at the Liturgy, was read S. Mark xv.43 to xvi.8; and (2) on the same day at Matins, (by the Melchite Syrian Christians as well as by the Greeks ,) S. Mark xvi.9-20. The severance, therefore, was at ver.8. (3) In certain of the Syrian Churches the liturgical section for Easter Day was S. Mark xvi.2-8 : in the Churches of the Jacobite, or Monophysite Christians, the Eucharistic lesson for Easter-Day was ver.1-8 . (4) The second matin lesson of the Resurrection (xvi.1-8) also ends, -- and (5) the third (xvi.9-20) begins, at the same place: and these two Gospels (both in the Greek and in the Syrian Churches) were in constant use not only at Easter, but throughout the year . (6) That same third matin lesson of the Resurrection was also the Lesson at Matins on Ascension-Day; as well in the Syrian as in the Greek Churches. (7) With the Monophysite Christians, the lection |feriae tertiae in albis, ad primam vesperam,| (i.e. for the Tuesday in Easter-Week) was S. Mark xv.37-xvi.8: and (8) on the same day, at Matins, ch. xvi.9-18 . -- During eighteen weeks after Easter therefore, the only parts of S. Mark's Gospel publicly read were (a) the last thirteen [ch. xv.43-xvi.8], and (b) |the last twelve| [ch. xvi.9-20] verses. Can it be deemed a strange thing that it should have been found indispensable to mark, with altogether exceptional emphasis, -- to make it unmistakably plain, -- where the former Lection came to an end, and where the latter Lection began ?

XIII. One more circumstance, and but one, remains to be adverted to in the way of evidence; and one more suggestion to be offered. The circumstance is familiar indeed to all, but its bearing on the present discussion has never been pointed out. I allude to the fact that anciently, in copies of the fourfold Gospel, the Gospel according to S. Hark frequently stood last.

This is memorably the case in respect of the Codex Bezae [vi]: more memorably yet, in respect of the Gothic version of Ulphilas (A.D.360): in both of which MSS., the order of the Gospels is (1) S. Matthew, (2) S. John, (3) S. Luke, (4) S. Mark. This is in fact the usual Western order. Accordingly it is thus that the Gospels stand in the Codd. Vercellensis (a), Veronensis (b), Palatinus (e), Brixianus (f) of the old Latin version. But this order is not exclusively Western. It is found in Cod.309. It is also observed in Matthaei's Codd.13, 14, (which last is our Evan.256), at Moscow. And in the same order Eusebius and others of the ancients are occasionally observed to refer to the four Gospels, -- which induces a suspicion that they were not unfamiliar with it. Nor is this all. In Codd.19 and 90 the Gospel according to S. Mark stands last; though in the former of these the order of the three antecedent Gospels is (1) S. John, (2) S. Matthew, (3) S. Luke ; in the latter, (1) S. John, (2) S. Luke, (3) S. Matthew. What need of many words to explain the bearing of these facts on the present discussion? Of course it will have sometimes happened that S. Mark xvi.8 came to be written at the bottom of the left hand page of a MS. And we have but to suppose that in the case of one such Codex the next leaf, which would have been the last, was missing, -- (the very thing which has happened in respect of one of the Codices at Moscow ) what else could result when a copyist reached the words,

EPhOBOUNTO GAR. TO TELOC

but the very phenomenon which has exercised critics so sorely and which gives rise to the whole of the present discussion? The copyist will have brought S. Mark's Gospel to an end there, of course. What else could he possibly do? . . . . Somewhat less excusably was our learned countryman Mill betrayed into the statement, (inadvertently adopted by Wetstein, Griesbach, and Tischendorf,) that |the last verse of S. John's Gospel is omitted in Cod.63:| the truth of the matter being (as Mr. Scrivener has lately proved) that the last leaf of Cod.63, -- on which the last verse of S. John's Gospel was demonstrably once written, -- has been lost .

XIV. To sum up.

1. It will be perceived that I suppose the omission of |the last Twelve Verses| of S. Mark's Gospel to have originated in a sheer error and misconception on the part of some very ancient Copyist. He saw TO TELOC written after ver.8: he assumed that it was the Subscription, or at least that it denoted |the End,| of the Gospel.

2. Whether certain ancient Critics, because it was acceptable to them, were not found to promote this mistake, -- it is useless to inquire. That there may have arisen some old harmonizer of the Gospels, who, (in the words of Eusebius,) was disposed to |regard what followed as superfluous from its seeming inconsistency with the testimony of the other Evangelists ;| -- and that in this way the error became propagated; -- is likely enough. But an error it most certainly was: and to that error, the accident described in the last preceding paragraph would have very materially conduced, and it may have very easily done so.

3. I request however that it may be observed that the |accident| is not needed in order to account for the |error.| The mere presence of TO TELOC at ver.8, so near the end of the Gospel, would be quite enough to occasion it. And we have seen that in very ancient times the word TELOC frequently did occur in an altogether exceptional manner in that very place. Moreover, we have ascertained that its meaning was not understood by the transcribers of ancient MSS.

4. And will any one venture to maintain that it is to him a thing incredible that an intelligent copyist of the iii^rd century, because he read the words TO TELOC at S. Mark xvi.8, can have been beguiled thereby into the supposition that those words indicated |the End| of S. Mark's Gospel? -- Shall I be told that, even if one can have so entirely overlooked the meaning of the liturgical sign as to suffer it to insinuate itself into his text , it is nevertheless so improbable as to pass all credence that another can have supposed that it designated the termination of the Gospel of the second Evangelist? -- For all reply, I take leave to point out that Scholz, and Tischendorf, and Tregelles, and Mai and the rest of the Critics have, one and all, without exception, misunderstood the same word occurring in the same place, and in precisely the same way.

Yes. The forgotten inadvertence of a solitary Scribe in the second or third century has been, in the nineteenth, deliberately reproduced, adopted, and stereotyped by every Critic and every Editor of the New Testament in turn.

What wonder, -- (I propose the question deliberately,) -- What wonder that an ancient Copyist should have been misled by a phenomenon which in our own days is observed to have imposed upon two generations of professed Biblical Critics discussing this very textual problem, and therefore fully on their guard against delusion ? To this hour, the illustrious Editors of the text of the Gospels are clearly, one and all, labouring under the grave error of supposing that |ephobounto gar + telos,| -- (for which they are so careful to refer us to |Cod.22,|) -- is an indication that there, by rights, comes the |End| of the Gospel according to S. Mark. They have failed to perceive that TELOC in that place is only a liturgical sign, -- the same with which (in its contracted form) they are sufficiently familiar; and that it serves no other purpose whatever, but to mark that there a famous Ecclesiastical Lection comes to an end.

With a few pages of summary, we may now bring this long disquisition to an end.

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