Saturday, June 25, 2011

Word Magazine (6.25.11): MacArthur and Mark's Ending

I posted another edition of Word Magazine today titled "MacArthur and Mark's Ending."  The focus is on a sermon preached by John MacArthur back on June 5, 2011 on Mark 16:9-20 completing a multi-year process of preaching expositionally through the NT.  As I note on the broadcast, for some reason MacArthur had been on my mind of late.  I have been reading his exposition of Jude (in the booklet "Beware the Pretenders"), and I just finished reading Iain Murray's new Banner biography of him.

MacArthur's message on Mark 16:9-20 is titled, "The Fitting End to Mark's Gospel"  (for an archive of all of MacArthur's sermons over 42 years look here).  In it he argues that the traditional (or Longer Ending) of Mark is not part of the original text of Scripture and that Mark's proper ending is at Mark 16:8.  He also gives equal validity to the so-called "Shorter" or "Intermediate" ending of Mark (as included in the ESV notes).  Though, as I note in the broadcast, I appreciate the fact that MacArthur does not dodge this issue and that he teaches his congregation on textual issues, I disagree strongly with his conclusions.  I have some hesitation on directly critiquing MacArthur's sermon.  Hopefully, the treatment is charitable.



James Snapp Jr said...

Greetings Jeff.

I am not so hesitant to critique Dr. MacArthur, and have already sent letters to Grace To You and GCC documenting the errors in Dr. MacArthur's sermon, and expressing my concerns about the false claims he made. The June 4 sermon should not be promoted by Grace To You, or any other ministry. Because truth matters.

I would add here the text of an open letter I wrote to GCC and GTY, but it would exceed the word-limits. Here are a few concerns:

(1) Dr. MacArthur misrepresented the footnote in the New King James Version.

(2) He gave the false impression that the Vulgate and the Peshitta (its 350-plus Syriac copies) agree with Vaticanus and Sinaiticus about the ending of Mark.

(3) He treated the uniformity and consistency of manuscripts as evidence of the operation of the Holy Spirit, and as a reason why we can be assured of the accuracy of the text -- but he is advocating a reading found in less than 1% of the Greek manuscripts!

(4) He was confused about the contents of Vaticanus. It has the OT text (LXX) too.

(5) Dr. MacArthur mentioned 16:9-20, and the Shorter Ending, and then referred to other "endings, short ones" (notice the plural). But other short endings do not exist.

(6) He said that "the other anciient manuscripts" besides Vaticanus and Sinaiticus end Mark at 16:8. In real life, those are the ONLY Greek manuscripts in which 16:8 is followed by the closing-title of the Gospel of Mark and no more text. And when we expand the evidence-base to include ancient non-Greek evidence, only two other copies – the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript, and a Sahidic manuscript that is currently housed in Barcelona, Spain – conclude the Gospel of Mark at the end of 16:8. The appeal to consistency and uniformity would have seemed quite hollow if this had been openly shared in that sermon.

The fact is that other ancient Greek manuscripts such as Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Bezae, Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, and Codex Washingtoniensis support the inclusion of Mark 16:9-20.

(7) He misrepresented the testimony of Eusebius, and the testimony of Jerome.

(8) He said, "In the second century, Justin Martyr and Tatian knew about other endings. Irenaeus, also, Irenaeus is in 150 to 200, he knows about this long ending because he quotes verse 19 from it. They knew these endings existed." Justin, Tatian, and Irenaeus did not just know about the contents of Mark 16:9-20. They used Mark 16:9-20 as Scripture. It was in their copies of Mark. In addition, there is no evidence that Justin or Tatian or Irenaeus was acquainted with the Short Ending.

(9) He said, "There are some other endings floating around too, by the way, some others that you don’t need to know about." This misleads the listeners by making it seem as if there were other endings that did not involve the presentation of Mark 16:9-20. I say again: this claim about "other endings," as if any endings besides the Shorter Ending exist which are independent of 16:9-20, is bogus. It cannot be ethically promoted by any well-informed person.

I detected 11 other flaws in the June 5 sermon, before reaching the part about internal evidence.

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.

Anglican Orthox Church Int'l said...

I agree in all points with the comments of (Rev) James E. Snapp. Profound error cannot be tolerated regardless of its messenger.