It is commonly asserted that in the fourth and early-fifth centuries, Eusebius and Jerome indicated that Mark 16:9-20 was absent from "nearly all" Greek copies of Mark available to them. Bruce Metzger’s observation that "Clement of Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of the existence of these verses" (Textual Commentary [2nd ed.] 103) proves nothing either way, and it is quite misleading to twist this argument from silence into an affirmative statement like: "The ending at 16:8 is attested by Clement, Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome" (S. E. Dowd, Reading Mark 169), or "Mark’s Gospel (as written by Mark) ends with 16:8. This is attested to by . . . Clement, Origen, Eusebius, Jerome . . ." (P. W. Comfort, Quest for the Original Text 137-38).Eusebius is believed to have been among the first to question the veracity of these verses. In his Quaestiones ad Stephanum et Marinum, he offers (in the third person) a twofold solution to an apparent discrepancy between Matthew 28:1 and Mark 16:9. His first response can be summarized as follows: someone might disregard Mark 16:9 because it is not in all the copies of Mark; the accurate ones end at v. 8, "almost in all the copies," and the words that follow "are extant in some but not in all." Eusebius’ second solution retains Mark 16:9 as genuine, briefly stated as follows: someone else, who dares not set aside these verses, can easily harmonize the two passages by simple punctuation.
Eusebius was obviously aware of the long ending of Mark, knew of Greek manuscripts that contained the passage, and was not entirely dismissive of it as a number of critical commentators have led their readers to believe. It is important to note that nearly all of the manuscripts available to Eusebius were of the Alexandrian text-type (akin to Vaticanus and Sinaiticus), and he apparently lacked access to earlier manuscripts used by the likes of Irenaeus and Tertullian that proliferated elsewhere (see below).
Jerome’s alleged "objection" to these verses (Epistle [Ad Hedibiam] 120.3) is merely a Latin translation of what Eusebius had written in Greek decades earlier, yet Jerome included Mark 16:9-20 in his Latin Vulgate! The Greek New Testament was translated into Latin as early as the late second century and was later revised by Jerome, using the best Latin texts and compared with old Greek manuscripts that were available. Jerome even employed Mark 16:14 in his Dialogus contra Pelagianos 2.15. Therefore, citing Jerome as evidence against the long ending of Mark would appear disingenuous.
Irenaeus of Lyons (late second century) regarded Mark 16:9-20 as part of the original (Adv. Haereses 3.10.6), about two centuries before Eusebius, Jerome, and the production of the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus texts. Tertullian of Carthage (early third century) quotes from the long ending of Mark (16:19) in his Adv. Praxeam 2.1, over a century before Eusebius, Jerome, Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus. Further, a number of ancient versions (e.g. the Peshitta Syriac, the Old Italic, the Sahidic, the Coptic) include vv. 9-20, and these predate Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, as well as Eusebius and Jerome. Apparently the Greek texts from which these early versions were translated contained the passage in question.
–Kevin L. Moore
Related Posts: Ending of Mark Part 1, Ending of Mark Part 2, Ending of Mark Part 4, Text of NT Part 1, Text of NT Part 2