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Codex Sinaiticus (01, א) alone has a complete text of the New Testament and portions of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures known as the Septuagint. It is a vellum manuscript written in Greek dating to c. 330–360 C.E. The Codex Sinaiticus Project has described the Sinaiticus as “one of the most important books in the world.” F. J. A. Hort felt that Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus (as well as a few other early manuscripts) represented a text that reflected the original writing. Textual scholars have repeatedly told the story of how Constantin von Tischendorf rediscovered codex Sinaiticus in St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai.
Today, at the time of this writing, a major part of Codex Sinaiticus (347 leaves), including the page above is preserved at the British Library in London, England, with 12 leaves and 14 fragments in the Saint Catherine’s Monastery, 43 leaves in the Leipzig University Library, and fragments of 3 leaves in the Russian National Library in Saint Petersburg.
Note: The following are critical texts: the TR stands for Textus Receptus text (1550), WH stands for Westcott and Hort text (1881), and NU stands for the Nestle-Aland text (28th ed. 2012) and the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament (5th ed. 2014). WHNUis applicable to all three texts.
The image above shows us (1) the ending of the Gospel of Mark and (2) the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. Mark’s account clearly concludes with the words that appear in WHNU and modern Bibles at Mark 16:8. In looking at the image above, we find a long stretch of empty space after Mark 16:8 in the second column, which some have argued could accommodate Mark 16:9–20. On this, Jame E. Snapp Jr., who argues for the inclusion of Mark 16:9-20, writes, “Mark 16:9-20 contains 971 letters (depending on textual variants). Even if the main copyist had accidentally skipped the same 106 letters that the diorthotes skipped in 15:47-16:1, the remaining 886 letters would not fit into the remaining space after 16:8 (which would have a normal capacity of 662 letters) in columns nine and ten. Thus, whatever motivated the diorthotes to replace the four pages that the main copyist produced, it was not because those pages contained Mark 16:9-20.” (Author’s Bold) The copyist or corrector of Codex Sinaiticus knew that Mark’s account clearly concluded with Mark 16:8, for if we look at the image above again, immediately after 16:8 he brings the Gospel to a close with the words, (ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΡΚΟΝ) The Gospel according to Mark. Even F. F. Bruce, who argues that 16:9–20 should be considered “canonical,” argues strongly against its being from the hand of Mark. – F. F. Bruce, “The End of the Second Gospel,” EvQ 17 (1945): 169–81
Notice in the image above, we can see Matthew 28:20 has a stretch of space like Mark. This means the Gospel of Mark started at the beginning of the next column, which was the next page as Matthew ended on the fourth column. This shows that the copyist and the corrector had a pattern of stopping in the column where the book ended and moving onto the next column or page to begin the new book. This suggests that the corrector in Mark did not leave a stretch of blank space because he was in doubt as to the validity of the long ending of Mark, or “had questions as to exactly how Mark ended.”
Notice, again, in the image above, we can see Luke 24:53 has a stretch of space like Mark as well as closing with the words, (ΚΑΤΑ ΛΟΥΚΑΝ) The Gospel according to Luke, which means the Gospel of John started at the beginning of the next column, which was the next page as Luke ended on the fourth column. Again, this shows that the copyist and the corrector had a pattern of stopping in the column where the book ended and moving onto the next column or page to begin the new book. This suggests that the corrector in Mark did not leave a stretch of blank space because he was in doubt as to the validity of the long ending of Mark, or “had questions as to exactly how Mark ended.”
ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΡΚΟΝ 16:8 Westcott-Hort New Testament (WHNU)
8 καὶ ἐξελθοῦσαι ἔφυγον ἀπὸ τοῦ μνημείου, εἶχεν γὰρ αὐτὰς τρόμος καὶ ἔκστασις· καὶ οὐδενὶοὐδὲν εἶπαν, ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ·
Mark 16:8 Update American Standard Version (UASV)
8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
א B 304 syr cop (l MS) arm geo (2 MSS) Hesychius Eusebian canons
MSSaccording to Eusebius MSSaccording to Jerome MSSaccording to Severus
Mark 16:9-20 New King James Version (NKJV)
A C D Δ Θ f 33 Maj MSSaccording to Eusebius MSSaccording to Jerome MSSaccording to Severus
Irenaeus Apostolic Constitutions (Epiphanius) Severian Nestorius Ambrose Augustine
Credit: © The British Library Board, Add. 43725, f.228
Bulletin for Biblical Research 18.1 (2008) 79–98
B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek: Appendix (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1882), 28.
Bruce Manning Metzger, United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 102.
Matt Click, Is the ending of Mark really scripture? | CARM.org (Retrieved Wednesday, January 02, 2019) https://carm.org/bible-difficulties/matthew-mark/ending-mark-really-scripture
Larry Hurtado, The “Original” Ending of Mark? | Larry Hurtado’s Blog (Retrieved Wednesday, January 02, 2019) https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2016/07/02/the-original-ending-of-mark/
Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2008), 158.