Saturday, December 10, 2011

Does the Fact that Mar Saba 65's Secret Mark Fragment Might Be a Pastiche Help or Hurt Its Authenticity?

I had to bring my son to a classmate's birthday party tonight (since when do children have celebrations at night?) and I was ruminating about a new strategy in the Secret Mark debate.  What if we go along with the contention that the addition to chapter 10 does indeed resemble a pastiche of other gospel material?  Doesn't the existence of the long ending suddenly become an argument for authenticity of the Secret Mark passage in the Letter to Theodore?

the Long Ending is best read as a cento or pastiche of material gathered from the other Gospels and from other sources, slanted towards a particular interpretation ... the verses are a summary of a number of events recorded at greater length in the other Gospels. [David Parker the Living Text of the Gospel p. 140]

Grant also points to the fact that Irenaeus is (a) very aware of contemporary centonized gospels and (b) demonstrates his abilities as a composer of centos meaning that quite clearly both LGM 1 (= the first citation of the longer gospel of Mark in to Theodore) and the long ending of Mark are representative of contemporary Christian literary habits.

My question is whether we can take the argument one step further and ask - was Morton Smith even aware that the long ending of Mark was a pastiche.  James Snapp, who is very familiar with everything ever written about the long ending notes that:

Kelhoffer was the first person to systematically work through all 12 verses and see what sort of scenario was necessary to maintain the premise that these verses are a pastiche. The scenario that he came up with -- and proposed! -- is that these 12 verses were written by someone who was deliberately making an ending for the Gospel of Mark, and that this ending consisted of verbiage drawn from all four Gospels (and may have concluded a four-Gospel collection in which Mark was situated fourth), (not just from the parallel resurrection-accounts, but from throughout the books) as well as Acts and possibly Revelation, and that the ending-creator consulted his source-texts some 63 times (about once every three words, on average) to gather material to imitate -- only to create a text which (according to so many commentators claim) has "non-Marcan" style and vocabulary, and which contains details that are not paralleled in the other accounts.

Kelhoffer published this thesis about forty years after Morton Smith discovered Mar Saba 65.  While there were others who noticed the similarities between the long ending of Mark and material in the canonical gospels no one ever systematically laid out how it might have been done.

What I am starting to wonder is whether the pastiche argument helps or hurts the authenticity of the Letter to Theodore.  Was Morton Smith even aware of the loose observations of Griesbach, Swete, Alford and Warfield that similarities exist between the long ending of Mark and the synoptic gospels?  Where else would he have got the idea that expansion efforts related to Mark took the form of a pastiche?

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