Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views edited by David Alan Black is a tour de force into one of the most significant textual variants in the New Testament. Each of the chapters included in this volume originated from a conference entitled “The Last Twelve Verses of Mark: Original or Not,” held April 13-14, 2007, at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. For those familiar with the textual issues surrounding Mark 16:9-20, the enlisted contributors (Daniel Wallace, Maurice Robinson, J. Keith Elliott, and David Alan Black) inevitably stand within two major persuasions (as the title of the conference suggests) with varying degrees of distance between them.
Maurice Robinson and David Alan Black both argue that Mark 16:9-20 is the original ending of the Second Gospel. Still, of the two contributors, it is likely that the reader will find Robinson to have provided a much more persuasive presentation than Black. Robinson provides interaction with ancient sources concerning the Long Ending (LE), analyzes the vocabulary of the LE, displays an interesting set of parallels between various sections of the Second Gospel (1:32-39; 3:14-15; 6:7-13; 7:24-8:38) and the LE, and closes with fifteen points of conclusion concerning the originality of the LE. However, in my opinion, for many readers, while they may find the chapter by Robinson helpful, they will likely remain unconvinced by the external evidence witnessed in the earliest manuscripts.
Daniel Wallace and J. Keith Elliot both argue that Mark 16:9-20 is not the original ending of the Second Gospel. Similar to that witnessed above, I believe that the reader will find Wallace to have provided a much more persuasive presentation than Elliot. I would submit that the contribution by Wallace is worth admission alone. Wallace begins by delineating the inevitable existence of presuppositions when approaching this issue and provides a personal story of how his personal presuppositions had to be challenged before he was able to best analyze the data. The chapter by Wallace is also the most helpful chapter of the book by way of explanation of the textual issue. For Wallace, both the external and internal evidence suggest that the last twelve verses of Mark are indeed not original to the Second Gospel—a conclusion that Wallace skillfully guides the reader to recognize as the most likely scenario.
Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views concludes with a helpful summary by Darrell Bock. Indeed, Bock unashamedly sides with Wallace on the matter of the ending of Mark but does an excellent job evenhandedly outlining the implications of each of the preceding chapters. It must be stated here that the chapters by Black and Elliott are certainly worth reading, but are likely to find little outside adherence. In fact, in my opinion, this volume could have been more helpful had it actually eliminated Black and Elliott altogether and provided more interaction between Robinson and Wallace. The lack of direct interaction between the positions was a major downfall in my opinion, and had it been included, in my opinion, this volume would have been much better for the end user.
The lack of interaction that many readers have come to appreciate from the Perspective series is unfortunate—especially given the nature of the discussion and the inclusion of two peripheral views that could have been easily eliminated. Still, the contribution of Maurice Robinson and Daniel Wallace are well worth the cover price of this volume. If you are interested in textual criticism and/or looking to teach or preach from the Gospel of Mark, the issues detailed in this volume will need to be addressed, and I am confident that Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views edited by David Alan Black will provide you with much food for thought. It comes highly recommended!
I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.