Next Article in Journal
Change: Thinking through Sāṅkhya
Next Article in Special Issue
Absent in Body, Present in Spirit: Apostolic Iconography in Greek Byzantine New Testament Manuscripts
Previous Article in Journal
Description or Truth? A Typology of New Testament Theology
Previous Article in Special Issue
Self-Portrait of a Bible: The Ezra Image of Codex Amiatinus
Order Article Reprints
Font Type:
Arial Georgia Verdana
Font Size:
Aa Aa Aa
Line Spacing:
Column Width:

Mark’s Endings in Context: Paratexts and Codicological Remarks

Department of Digitial Humanities, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
Religions 2022, 13(6), 548;
Received: 12 May 2022 / Revised: 7 June 2022 / Accepted: 7 June 2022 / Published: 14 June 2022


This article addresses the problem of the perception of Mark’s endings as expressed in its manuscript tradition. I will argue that, unlike the modern standardized image, manuscript evidence offers a complex phenomenon in which the endings were perceived in diverse ways that move across the threshold that separates a text from paratexts. Further, the manuscripts show an influence between the endings and their associated paratexts. I will show this phenomenon by examining (i) the hypotheses before the Gospel, (ii) marginalia that engaged Mark 16, and (iii) postscripts after the Gospel. In conclusion, the article recommends revisiting the standard perception of the “endings” within their larger paratextual ecosystem.

1. Perceiving the Endings

One of the most persistent challenges in New Testament scholarship is the question of Mark’s ending. In modern scholarship, this problem has been addressed from different angles such as philology, exegesis, and narrative criticism. Yet the angle of textual criticism remains at the centre of its heated debates (Black 2008; Clivaz 2021; Kelhoffer 2001, 2014). If we look at the successive critical editions of the New Testament, we are likely to find the same list of witnesses for each of the endings. In two majuscules, (Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus), as well as the twelfth century minuscule GA 304, the Gospel of Mark ends at verse 16:8, as the women flee the tomb, saying “nothing to anyone for they were afraid.” This text is known as the Short Ending. Another ending extends the narrative by adding twelve more verses, taking the reader through three post-resurrection apparitions of Jesus that conclude with his ascension. This is known as the Long Ending. Between the Short and Long endings, there is another form known as the Shorter Ending, which is a short passage that follows Verse 8, informing us of Jesus’s final apparition and commissioning of the disciples to preach the Gospel. However, this neat breakdown of endings does not convey the complex reality found in manuscripts across text-categories and languages. The situation is far more complex. In fact, the manuscripts show that these endings overlap in different ways and are signaled in various ways by paratextual traditions, raising questions about the status and perception of the endings. A problematic case is the title that we give to the Shorter Ending, or conclusio brevior (see Aland 1974). A look at the list of witnesses shows that the rationale of that naming is questionable. For it is neither an ending, except in one Latin manuscript (Codex Bobiensis), nor is it shorter since it is not shorter than the Short Ending. Then, what is it? Is it, in fact, a text or a paratext?1
In two earlier publications (Monier 2019, 2021), Mina Monier argued that the commentaries that appear around the text of these endings in catena manuscripts reveal to us the considerable exegetical and textual challenges that the scribes had to deal with in order to transmit these endings in the way they appeared in their copies. Paratexts also help us further to understand the views and decisions associated with these endings as reported in the manuscripts we appeal to in our studies today. Paratexts before, alongside, and after the Gospel text shed more light on the perception and transmission of these endings by generations of scribes across different cultures and languages, adding new layers of complexity to the discussion around Mark’s endings and raising the question as to whether these endings are in fact endings, and whether we should have a single standard classification of them (as we do now).
In this article, I analyse the question of what the scribes saw in these endings and how they expressed their perception through paratexts located (i) before the Gospels (the hypotheses or argumenta to the Gospels), (ii) alongside the Gospel in associated marginalia (primarily the Ammonian/Eusebian numbers given to the endings), and (iii) the postscripts that appear after the endings (and consequently after the Gospel itself). I argue that the scribes exhibited a degree of freedom in understanding and reporting the endings and that paratexts refer to chapters in the history of the struggle over the Markan endings.

2. Before the Gospel: Gospel Argumenta

2.1. The “Eusebian” Argumentum

The first place to look for overlooked paratextual information on the ending of Mark is at the beginning, in the prologues that often precede the work. In many New Testament manuscripts, each work is preceded by a section that supplies the reader with basic information about that text. This section, often found on a separate folio, is introduced as a hypothesis (ὑπόθεσις) to the following work. A ὑπόθεσις is a genre known in ancient Greek drama as a type of a summary to the plot of the work (Blomkvist 2012). Its purpose is to capture the interest of the audience and transport them swiftly to the plot that unfolds through the work (Blomkvist 2012, pp. 142–43).2 However, it is more than a summary. It usually contains basic details, such as authorship and circumstances of composition (if known), before summarising the plot. This is what makes translating the term into a modern language precarious. In Latin manuscripts, we find that the term is translated as argumentum, which captures the meaning in a way better than the modern English term hypothesis, as it includes the elements of summarising the plot as well as arguing and offering a statement that proves the work’s worth (Sievers 2007, pp. 273–74; Lewis 1891, p. 72).3 In New Testament manuscripts, these argumenta vary in length and content. It is important to observe that these argumenta can be found in any category, including commentaries, lectionaries, or continuous texts. Some of the argumenta were extracted from known works, such as the Cosmas Indicopleustes argumenta that I will discuss later, or the ones of Niketas Paphlagon,4 and other argumenta come from unknown sources and are not attributed to any specific author.
The most common case is a set of four argumenta to the four Gospels (one argumentum for each Gospel), which appear together and seem to come from a common source, as they share a similar structure and common wording (Von Soden 1911, pp. 314–16). A few witnesses attribute argumenta to the Gospels to Eusebius of Caesarea, as mentioned in the argumenta’s title (Εὐσεβίου ὑπόθεσις),5 but the accuracy of this attribution cannot be verified, and therefore we cannot establish the Eusebian authorship of these argumenta. Otherwise, the author remains unknown. They have a symmetry in structure and content. Each argumentum starts with a single line that defines the name and identity of the evangelist, followed by an orderly account of Jesus’s life according to that Gospel. These four argumenta use the same wording for the main stages of Jesus’s life, including the resurrection: Ἠγέρθη [or αναστάς in some witnesses to the Matthean argumentum] ἐν τριημέρω, followed by the post-resurrection details. In the case of Mark’s argumentum, we have an ambiguous ending: “(He) was raised in three days, and an angel descended preaching the women, in order for them to bring tidings to the disciples.”6 In narrating the events, this argumentum tells us that an angel, not the youth (νέανισκον) of Mark, descended (καταβάς) to the women, an act that is not in Mark’s narrative but is similar to the scene in Matt 28:2. Because of the oddity of the report, the copyist of GA 191 (52v) smooths the inconsistencies by replacing καταβάς with φανεῖς. The ending as narrated in the argumentum does not tell us anything about the women’s reaction, or whether they successfully carried out the angel’s instruction. According to the Gospel’s Short Ending, the women actually failed to carry out the angel’s instruction: they frantically ran away telling no one anything “for they were afraid (16:8).” Yet, despite the fact that the author of these four argumenta was attentive to the details of the endings in the argumenta of the other three Gospels (being ready to report details like the tearing of Jesus’ garment), he did not report any of Mark’s endings. It is difficult to imagine that he simply dismissed the women’s anticlimactic reaction as a detail that is unworthy of highlighting. Did the women scuttle in silence and fear in the author’s version of Mark? It is not clear which ending of Mark the argumentum author had access to.
His Markan argumentum also tells us nothing about the events found in the Long Ending. In the argumenta to the other three Gospels, the author highlights Jesus’s post-resurrection apparitions, the basic remarks of his commandments to the disciples, and his ascension (in Luke). It is implausible that ignoring Jesus’s apparitions and ascension in Mark’s argumentum is due to considering them as insignificant details.
The lack of any reference to the events in the Long Ending was perceived to be so problematic that later copyists amended the ending of the argumentum by adding:
Καὶ ἐφάνη [πρῶτον]7 Μαρίᾳ τῇ Μαγδαληνῇ, καὶ ἀνελήφθη εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ θεοῦ. Τέλος τοῦ κατὰ Μάρκον εὐαγγελίου. Στίχοις ͵αχ΄8
He appeared [first] to Mary Magdalene, and was ascended to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. The end of the Gospel according to Mark. Stichoi 1600.
Unlike the style of the author of the original argumentum, the cautious redactor who added this text did not try to write his own summary, but strictly copied Mark 16:9b and 16:19b. Then, the redactor stated that this was the end of the Gospel of Mark, giving the stichoi number as well, in a statement that is usually found as a subscription to the entire Gospel, not an argumentum. The plausible explanation for this is the redactor’s intention to emphatically assert that this is the correct ending of the Gospel.
This is not the only expansion of the short argumentum. In GA 2145 and 776, we have a lengthy expansion, entitled δύναμις τοῦ κατὰ Μάρκον εὐαγγελίου. In this δύναμις text, the author carefully follows the account of Jesus’s life as it appears in Mark’s Gospel, yet the part that summarises Mark 16 is again problematic, especially in the transition between the short and Long Endings of Mark:
εἶδον ἄγγελον ἐν τῶ μνημείω, καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν. ὁ λίθος τοῦ μνήματος ἀπεκυλίσθη, καὶ τὸ σῶμα ἠγέρθη ἐν τρι’ημέρω. Ἀναστάς ὁ Χριστός ὤφθη Μαρία ἀφ’ ῆς τὰ ἐπτὰ δαιμόνια ἐξέβαλεν …
They saw an angel in the tomb, and they were afraid. The stone of the tomb was rolled away, and the body was risen in three days. As Christ rose, he appeared to Mary, from whom he cast out seven demons…
According to this order, the stone was rolled after the arrival of the fearful women, and somehow the resurrection took place afterwards. By moving swiftly between ἠγέρθη and ὤφθη, the author left no time gap between the resurrection and the apparition to Mary (16:9), to interweave the Long Ending with the original text. The Long Ending becomes securely integrated in this extended version of the original argumentum. From the redaction of the “Eusebian” argumentum, we learn that the diversity of the Markan endings led to a diversity of the argumentum’s endings.

2.2. The Argumentum of Cosmas Indicopleustes

In slightly over fifty minuscule manuscripts, a series of argumenta attributed to Cosmas Indicopleustes preface their respective New Testament texts.9 These argumenta were not circulated under a single title. The texts sometimes appear before the New Testament work it prefaces, bearing the title ὑπόθεσις or προοίμιον (preface), and in other cases an argumentum appears immediately after the conclusion of the New Testament text, such as in GA 473 and 2760. They also appear in later editions of Erasmus’s Novum Testamentum that were published in Basel, in the second half of the sixteenth century (Erasmus 1570).
Cosmas’ New Testament argumenta are rather similar in their language, and symmetrical in their structure. The argumentum of each of the four Gospels are made of a passage that summarized the Gospel, followed by a paragraph (παραγραφή) declaring that these texts share the same message.
However, Cosmas’ argumentum for Mark ends with an abrupt statement, claiming that Mark concluded his writing with the death and resurrection of Jesus (τὸν θάνατον καὶ τὴν ἀνάστασιν, ἐτέλεσε τὴν ἑαυτοῦ συγγραφήν). This is also followed by a supplementary line that appears in almost all witnesses as a separate sentence set off by ekthesis, which tells us that Mark taught, similar to Matthew, about John the Baptist’s preaching of the coming of the “Kingdom of Heaven.” Finally, as in the rest of his argumenta, Cosmas added the παραγραφή which states that Mark agrees with the rest of the scriptures on reporting Jesus’s life, including his ascension. This structure raises several questions: for one, whether the supplementary line is misplaced, given the narrative’s chronological order. Further, why did he not report the Markan narrative of Jesus’s ascension, even though he referred to its presence in the concluding παραγραφή? To answer these questions, we need to study this argumentum within the context of Cosmas’s work.
Cosmas’ argumenta were in fact extracted from his work known as Christian Topography (Χριστιανική Τοπογραφία), a 6th century work which survives today in three manuscripts: one in the Vatican library (Vat. Gr. 699), another at St. Catherine’s Monastery (gr. 1186), and the third Florence’s Laurenziana library (Plut.9.28).10 The Greek text has appeared in several editions, notably PG 88, and in multiple translations into European languages. However, Wanda Wolska-Conus’s critical apparatus with French translation, which was published in three successive volumes of Sources Chrétiennes, has become the standard source (Wolska-Conus 1968–1973).11
The inscriptions of the Christian Topography manuscripts inform us that the author was a certain monk called Cosmas (Κοσμάς). External patristic testimonies inform us that he was a sixth-century Christian from Alexandria, who became known to later writers as Cosmas the India-Voyager (Κοσμάς Ινδικοπλεύστης).12 This surname was probably inspired by the travels he recorded in this writing. Cosmas was a merchant who travelled along the Nile from Alexandria to Axum (today’s Ethiopia) and from Egypt as far as India and Sri Lanka, through the Levant, the Arabian deserts, and Persia. He carefully recorded what he saw in writing and drawings, providing an invaluable source of information for later geographers and researchers.
In this 12-volume work, he defended a Christian worldview, supported by the observations he recorded in his travels. He tells us that he supplied his observations with explanatory paratexts (παραγραφαί) and illustrations (καταγραφαὶ) that he sketched to help the reader understand the concepts he was putting forward (Top. Πρόλ.). Cosmas argued that his observations can be best explained by a Christian perspective on a flat earth, allegorised by the tabernacle. The tabernacle’s veil that separated the sanctuary from the outer court also divides the world into two: the earthly and heavenly realms. Jesus’s central role in this worldview is enabling us to know and to access the heavenly realm through his ascension. The fifth book of Christian Topography was dedicated to show how all prophets and books of the Old and New Testaments consistently refer to that role. His interpretations of the biblical texts attempted to show how the prophetic writings referred to Jesus’s ascension and how this reality was finally fulfilled in the New Testament. The ascension was so central in his thesis that he concluded the fifth book with an illustration of its effect on revealing the earthly and heavenly realms through it.13
As he surveyed every biblical text, the sections on the New Testament became the argumenta that later copyists extracted and added to some New Testament manuscripts. In the section on the Gospels, he showed the actualisation of this ascension in a four-stage process: baptism that unites humanity with Jesus’s flesh in his work, his redemptive death, his victorious resurrection and, finally, ascension. To this effect, Cosmas highlighted the four stages in the Gospels narratives (Top. 5.190–205), which required him to face the problem that two of the Gospels, Matthew and John, lack ascension reports. Cosmas acknowledges the problem, resorting to indirect references and allusions in these Gospels. In the case of Matthew, he says:
Μέμνηται δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς Ματθαῖος τῆς ἀνόδου τῆς εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, εἰ καὶ μὴ ἐν τῶ τέλει, ἀλλ᾽ οὖν γε ἐν αὐτῆι τῆ συγγραφῆι, ἡνίκα λέγει περὶ Ἰωάννου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ οὕτως· “Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις παραγίνεται Ἰωάννης ὁ Βαπτιστὴς κηρύσσων ἐν τῆ ἐρήμω τῆς Ἰουδαίας, λέγων, Μετανοεῖτε, ἤγγικε γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν”
(Top. 5.194)
Matthew also mentions the ascent to heaven, albeit not in the end (of the book), but within the book itself, as he speaks of this concerning John the Baptist: “and in those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, saying: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”14
After citing more references to the Kingdom of Heaven, he states that these references should be understood as allusions to Jesus’s role in revealing the heavenly realm, which takes place through his ascension. Being satisfied with this exegesis, he contends himself with a concluding statement that Matthew is in harmony with the rest of the scripture on this matter.15 He concludes his section on Matthew with the same παραγραφή which states that the ascension is among the points Matthew agrees with the rest of scripture on reporting (Top. 5.195). Likewise, as John poses the same problem, Cosmas offers a similar solution by referring to what Jesus said to Mary Magdalene on his ascension to his father (John 20:17), paraphrasing it to make his point:
Διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτῆι ἀπελθεῖν καὶ εἰπεῖν τοῖς μαθηταῖς ὅτι· Ἀναβαίνω εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, ἔνθα καὶ ὑμεῖς μέλλετε ἀνιέναι.
(Top. 5.204)
Through this he told her to go forth and say to the disciples that I ascend into heaven, where you are about to ascend to.
Satisfied with his exegesis, Cosmas concludes in John’s παραγραφή that the Evangelist spoke of Jesus’s ascension as well. The case of Luke is predictably easy. Cosmas reports the fact that the ascension was mentioned twice by this author, at the end of the Gospel and the beginning of Acts (Top. 5.199). Therefore, he dedicates a line for this fact in Luke’s παραγραφή to emphasise this explicit reference to the ascension: “Finally, he proclaimed the ascension to heaven, where the dwelling of our second condition is” (Top. 5.200).16
Looking at this context, we might expect that Mark’s report of the ascension in 16:19–20 would be mentioned explicitly and highlighted, as Cosmas did with Luke. However, he treats Mark in the same way that he did with Matthew and John, looking into any potential allusion to the ascension in the Gospel’s earlier chapters. Therefore, he concludes the Markan argumentum by saying:
…καὶ τὸν θάνατον καὶ τὴν ἀνάστασιν, ἐτέλεσε τὴν ἑαυτοῦ συγγραφήν. Μέμνηται δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς Ἰωάννου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ κηρύττοντος ἠγγικέναι τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, ἅπερ πάντα καὶ αὐτὸς σύμφωνα τῶ μακαρίω Ματθαίω ἐφθέγξατο.
(Top. 5.196)
…and death and resurrection, where he (Mark) concluded his composition. He too mentions the teaching of John the Baptist regarding the approaching Kingdom of Heaven, which he announced, in harmony with the blessed Matthew.
Instead of pointing to the explicit reference to the ascension in the Long Ending of Mark, Cosmas contents himself with showing that the four elements of Jesus’s work were attested elsewhere in Mark. So, he concludes Mark’s παραγραφή with the reference to Jesus’s ascension, using the exact wording in the Matthean παραγραφή to enforce the concept of harmony between the two Gospels. However, a closer look into this passage leads to key observations. Cosmas informs us that Mark stopped at the resurrection of Jesus. This “resurrection” cannot be understood to cover the Long Ending events, including the ascension, since we saw that these are two distinctive elements that Cosmas highlighted in each Gospel. Instead of mentioning the ascension report in 16:19–20, he unexpectedly resorts to the solution of indirect allusions that he appealed to in the case of Matthew and John, by inferring that the Baptist’s preaching on the Kingdom of Heaven implies Jesus’s ascension.17
Why would Cosmas resort to such an inferential and tenuous solution to a problem that does not even exist, since Mark already has an explicit attestation to the ascension in 16:19–20? The answer to this is that either Cosmas did not have the Long Ending in his exemplar, or he did not wish to cite it. It is difficult to explain Cosmas’s choices otherwise. It is noteworthy that Cosmas used Luke’s references to the ascension whenever he needed to refer to the Gospel’s fulfilment of its prophecies in other parts of the Christian Topography books, but he never mentioned Mark’s.18 Was the problematic shape of Cosmas’s argumentum of Mark the reason that led some scribes to move the argumentum after Mark’s Gospel in some codices? Was this also behind the decision of the scribe of GA 2373 to copy Cosmas’s argumenta of the other three Gospels, and to omit Mark’s?19 It is difficult to answer these questions with certainty, but what we can say is that Cosmas’s handling of Mark cannot simply be reconciled with a Gospel edition that had an approved Long Ending.

3. Through the Gospel: Mark’s Ending among Paratexts

3.1. The Long Ending

As we saw in the previous two sections, the perception of Mark’s diverse endings influenced supplementary materials that appear before and after the Gospel in many codices. Paratextual elements in each of these codices are indicative of the scribes’ understanding of Mark’s various endings. Alongside marginal notes, scribes used the Ammonian sections and Eusebian canon tables numbers to delineate textual segments.20 The reason for extrapolating beyond the Eusebian tables is because Eusebius excluded the Long Ending from his canon tables. In his Ad Marinum, Eusebius expressed his reluctance to acknowledge the originality of the Long Ending because “nearly in all copies (σχεδὸν ἐν ἅπασι τοῖς ἀντιγράφοις)” Mark ended at 16:8 (Marinum 1.1). In his most recent edition of the Eusebian canon tables, Martin Wallraff correctly reminds us that Eusebius’ perspective of textual evidence regarding Mark’s ending, as expressed in his letter to Marinus, explains what we find in the tables: Eusebius “kanonisiert”21 up to the point of Mark 16:8, which is Section 233 (Wallraff 2021, p. 73).
The fact that the Ammonian sections end at the Short Ending raised the question of how to deal with the Long Ending and whether it has possible parallels across other Gospels.22 This concern was explicitly expressed in several manuscripts such as the case of GA 90 (f. 227r), as a Latin marginal note next to verse 16:8 informs us that “Eusebius Pamphile fixed this as the end of the Gospel.”23 However, the case of Family 1 manuscripts is particularly illuminating due to recent advancements in the study of the family’s Markan text and its paratexts, as well as accessibility to their images today.24 Amy Anderson’s recent collation and analysis of Mark in GA 2193 has further consolidated earlier findings in favour of considering that a core group of GA 1 1582 and 2193 “descend independently from the Markan archetype of Family 1 or an intermediate copy” (Anderson 2015, p. 110).25 As we move further away from the archetype, we find another group in this family, known as the Venice Group: GA 118 205 209 and 2886 (also known as 205abs).26 Next to this group, a third subgroup (22 Group) in this family has been identified, including GA 22 1192 1210 1278 and 2372 (Welsby 2013, pp. 128–56).27 The images of the folios that have Mark’s last chapter in these subgroups show that the chapter’s presentation in these manuscripts varies in a way similar to the handling of the pericope adulterae that followed.
If we look at the core group, we will see that Mark 16 ends at Verse 8, followed by a statement, distinguished from the main text either by using a different ink (GA 1 f.220v), in semi-majuscule writing, or a clear ornamented line used to conclude the other Gospels as well (GA 1582, 2193). This statement informs us of the following:
Ἐν τισι μὲν τῶν ἀντιγράφων ἑως ὧδε πληροῦται ὁ εὐαγγελιστής ἕως οὖ καὶ Εὐσέβιος ὁ Παμφίλου ἐκανόνισεν. Ἐν πολλοῖς δὲ καὶ ταῦτα φέρεται
In some (copies), the evangelist concludes (his Gospel) up until that point, until Eusebius Pamphile was canonized, yet in many (copies) this is found.
Readers are not only warned about the questionable originality of the Long Ending, but the separation between the main body of Mark’s Gospel and the Long Ending’s material is also visualized in the text. At the same time, we note that the end of the Gospel of John is followed by the pericope adulterae. However, the end of John and that pericope are either separated by a statement in purple ink (GA 1 f.303v), or separated from the Gospel end by an ornamented line (GA 1582, 2193).28
Moving on to the 22-Group, we can see how this paratext reflects gradual transition in the copyists’ perception. For manuscripts 22 1192, and 1210, the transition from the Short to the Long Ending is subtler and smoother. There are no dividing lines. The aforementioned statement on the ending of Mark appears in an abbreviated form in which the reference to Eusebius and his canons disappears. At the same time, the pericope adulterae disappears from the ending of John.
Within this group, GA 1278 and 2378 transmit the more standard form of the texts: the statement that separates the Long Ending from Mark disappears, whereas the pericope adulterae appears in its standard location (between John 7:52 and 8:12), as seen in the Venice Group. For Mark 16, GA 20529 209, and 2886 have the aforementioned statement on Mark’s ending pushed aside to the margin, in a smaller handwriting and faded ink, whereas GA 118 does not have it at all. At the same time, the pericope adulterae is restored to its expected narrative position.
These observations lead us to see a process of standardisation of the text by:
  • Moving from the most “unorthodox” image of the texts in the core group where the Long Ending is effectively an appendix with a preceding caveat concerning its canonicity and the pericope adulterae is also added as an appendix with an equally cautious statement.
  • Then, we see the transition in the 22-Group where the notes are dwarfed and omitted.
  • Finally, we find the standard layout in Venice group, where the Long Ending is no longer preceded by any warnings and the pericope adulterae is conveniently located in its common position in John.
The Eusebian tables’ lack of any reference to the Long Ending gave scribes, across languages, the freedom to implement their own ways of handling this issue. For instance, GA 1 and 1582 of Family 1′s core group have Ammonian sections in the margins up to Section 236 but they do not add any Eusebian canon numbers. Wallraff noticed that the extrapolation of sectioning beyond Eusebius’ note in GA 1 and 1582 contradicts that note, and inferred that the extra sections were later traditions (Wallraff 2021, p. 73, n.17). As said earlier, the note also appears in the third member of that group (GA 2193 f.124r). Unlike its fellow group members, this manuscript adds only one section to cover the Long Ending (234), and also assigned it to the canon Table 10. Therefore, the Long Ending sectioning was probably added later and the copyists took the liberty to divide the sections in different ways and with different canon numbers, if any.
Of the manuscripts Wallraff accessed, he only noted one case that goes beyond §233 with new sections assigned to canon tables, which is GA 028.30 However, this study’s results, which Wallraff draws his reader’s attention to wait for (Wallraff 2021, p. 73, n.18), show that the freedom in segmenting the Long Ending from others present in the same manuscript appears on a wider scale and more complex forms than in many other manuscripts.
One example is the extra section number §234 (σλδ) covering Verse 9, then §235 (σλε) to a section made of Verses 10–11 and so forth. This is not uncommon as manuscript evidence shows. However, the number of sections varies. Some manuscripts go as far as breaking it down to seven sections, reaching the number §241 (σμα) as in GA 116, whereas others (such as GA 1 and 1582) are satisfied with §236 sections, which is more common.31
GA 2193 does not follow the path of GA 1 and 1582. Instead it adds a single section number 234 with the Eusebian canon 10 ( σ λ δ ϊ ). This is also found in two other family members (GA 1192 and 1210). It is not clear whether the copyist simply referred to the first section in the Long Ending (verse 9) and then stopped adding section numbers, or whether the scribe meant by §234 the whole 12 verses of the Long Ending. Assigning Verse 9 to the tenth Eusebian canon means that the scribe perceived Jesus’s appearance to Mary to be unparalleled anywhere else in the Gospels. This runs against the approach found in patristic catenae, where catenists try to show that these events are not in disagreement (διαφωνία) but they are read in harmony (συμφωνία) across the four canonical Gospels (Monier 2021). If the section number covers the entire block of the Long Ending, then this is also of equal importance because it reflects the perception of that section as unique and unparalleled. An example of a single section number in the Long Ending can be found in GA 800 (105r).32 However, this scribe had a different perspective of the text than the scribe of GA 2193, as he assigned the canon number 8 to the section ( σ λ δ η ), which means that the Long Ending should be read in line with Luke only.
A more detailed treatment that reflects an extraordinary approach to the text is found in GA 1230. On folio 147r, this catena minuscule gave §234 canon number 8 as with GA 800, but it continued in breaking down the Long Ending into other sections up to §237, dividing the Long Ending as follows:
Material that has parallels in Luke only (Canon 8)Material Unique to Mark (Canon 10)
Section numberVerse(s)Section numberVerse(s)
The perception of the Long Ending behind this numbering is interesting. First, the scribe understands Jesus’s appearance to Mary Magdalene and the women’s report to the apostles as a text with a parallel in Luke only. At the same time, this division considers Jesus’s apparition to the two walking disciples unique, as something not paralleled to the Lukan walk to the Emmaus event (24:13–35). Further, Jesus’s commission to the disciples to preach the Gospel is not the same Matthean account of the great commission (28:16–20).
This innovative reading posed a problem for the copyist: how to justify the Long Ending’s subdivisions that do not actually exist in the Eusebian canon tables which he himself supplied in his copy (folios 1r-4v)? In this instance, the copyist redacted the Eusebian tables to accommodate the textual understanding he expressed in his choice of canon numbers. The scribe indeed added the Long Ending sections under Tables 8 and 10 (see Figure 1). In Table 8 (row 5) we see that the Lukan parallels to §234 and §235 are §339 and §340, respectively. The scribe did not move the Lukan sections from their original tables (10 and 9, respectively), but only provided a duplicate in Table 8.
Another related difficulty is that the increase in Ammonian sections leads to the increase in possibilities to draw parallels, which might also require a change in the number of sections in other Gospels, to avoid the discrepancy and overlap we saw in the case of GA 1230. A good representative case is in GA 116. This is a twelfth century minuscule codex, preserved in the British Library (Harley MS 5567).33 In this manuscript, the Long Ending is divided into eight sections, with the final Ammonian section reaching number §241 (this is the highest number I have found across Greek manuscripts), which is also found in Codex Ebnerianus (GA 105, ff. 115r–v). The large number of sections reflects the scribe’s awareness of multiple parallels with other Gospels, even if these Ammonian numbers were supplied without any accompanying Eusebian canon table numbers. It appears that the copyist’s intention was to show more connections between the Long Ending and Matthew, and therefore they (or he) broke Matthew’s final chapter down into more sections. So, instead of Matthew’s 355 Ammonian sections, it is now 359. The result is that the Eusebian tables at the beginning of the codex do not have enough space for this additional material. Still, the scribe attempted to fit in as much as possible, adding the overflow below the table.34
The freedom in the scribal expression of their understanding of the Long Ending can be found across other languages too. A good example from Egypt is MS Or. 1315, which is a four-Gospel manuscript in Bohairic Coptic and Arabic.35 There is a set of Ammonian/Eusebian numbers for each language. Coptic alphabetical numerals were used for the Bohairic text, while the numerals known as epact (or zimām in Arabic) were used for the Arabic text.36
The colophons of both the Arabic and Bohairic state that the number of sections is 236, three sections more than the standard 233 Ammonian sections. The 236 sections show how the inclusion of the Long Ending into the Eusebian tables has been established as a tradition. The sections and canon numbers of the Long Ending in the two tables (Bohairic and Arabic) in the same manuscript differ. As shown in folio 213r, §235 (=16:10–11) is given the Eusebian canon number 1 ( c λ [ ] ), whereas in the epact side it is given number 2 ( Religions 13 00548 i009ε/ω). Shifting this section from Tables 1 to 2 automatically excludes the Johannine account of Mary’s reporting of the apparition (§212). This clearly portrays the epact copyist’s imagination of the scene: it was not just Mary Magdalene who was in the scene when she was present for the first apparition, but she also had the women with her, even if they were not reported explicitly in 16:9–11. This case shows us that in multilingual manuscripts, a text can be treated differently in each language.
Another example is the Bohairic manuscript Huntington 17 (bo 2).37 On folio 194v (Figure 2), the Coptic side reports the Shorter Ending in the margins, whereas the Arabic side omits the Shorter Ending and introduces the Long Ending with a note saying (brackets are mine): “This is the chapter that appears (literally: arises) in the Greek (tradition).”38
Using miniatures is yet another way of expressing the scribe’s perspective of the endings’ events. The scribe’s perception of Jesus’s apparition to Mary Magdalene in Mark 16:9 in another Egyptian Arabic manuscript preserved in the Walters Museum (W.592) is the opposite to what we found in Or. 1315′s Arabic side.39 The scribe of W.592 did not include the Eusebian apparatus, but he drew a miniature depicting the apparition in 16:9 in a way that identifies it with the one in John. In this icon, which was painted between Mark 16:8 and 9, the risen Jesus appears to the distressed Mary as a gardener, holding a shovel. This is likely a reference to the scene of John 20:15, in which Mary mistook Jesus for a gardener (Figure 3).
Using miniatures as a method to draw connections can also be found in the Armenian manuscript arm 724 (Figure 4).40 The scribe uses Ammonian sections in the Long Ending but without Eusebian tables. In the case of Mark 16, the scribe paints the scene of the women’s arrival to the tomb in Matthew, since we have only two women and the angel meets them outside the empty tomb. The way the miniature is drawn on either side of the columns containing Mark 16 gives the impression of harmonising the two accounts of Matthew and Mark. This is confirmed by the Eusebian mini-table under the column, which shows that the beginning of the scene (§230 in Mark) has only one parallel, which is Matthew’s §250.

3.2. The Shorter Ending

As with the Long Ending, scribes devised paratexts to shed light on their perception of the Shorter Ending, albeit in different ways. It has been presumed in contemporary scholarship that the Shorter Ending is categorised as an ending similar to the Short and Long endings, but its associated paratexts and the way the Shorter Ending itself appears in manuscripts does not support this perception. The Shorter Ending is not introduced by any notes in GA 044 (Ψ) or 579, whereas it was added by a later copyist in the margin of GA 274 (104r) without comment.41 In the rest of Greek manuscripts it was introduced with vague annotations:
  • 019 (113r)42: φέρετε43 πού καὶ ταῦτα.
  • l 1602 (3r)44: ἐν άλλοῖς αντιγραφοῖς οὐκ εγραφῆ ταῦτα.
  • 099 (162r)45: ἐν τίσι τῶν αντιγραφῶν ταῦτα φέρεται.
These annotations offer no definition or understanding of what the Shorter Ending is. They simply inform us the presence of merely ταῦτα, being placed somewhere (πού). The Shorter Ending’s attestation in Syriac and Coptic manuscripts shows that it was treated as supplementary material. It most often appears as a framed note in the margins.46 The only known clear definition of what the Shorter Ending is can be found in the recently discovered GA 2937 (Houghton and Monier 2020), and GA 1422 (Monier 2021, pp. 82–86).47 In these manuscripts, we are informed by the copyists that the Shorter Ending is in fact an argumentum that appears at the rear of, or behind, the Short Ending: Aὑτῇ ἧ ὑπόθεσις ὄπιθεν εστί(ν) εἷς τὸ ‘ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ’ (see Figure 5). The scribe’s explicit categorisation pushes the Shorter Ending from the category of “text” to the category of paratexts. Thus, it becomes a prologue to another text, which could be the Long Ending. This understanding of Mark’s ending diverges from the views most scholars hold today.
However, its perception as an argumentum was not necessarily shared globally. Ethiopic manuscripts offer a different perspective of the Shorter Ending. In his edition of the Ethiopic New Testament, Zuurmond observed that the text of the Eusebian canon tables is well-established in Ethiopian New Testament tradition, as the vast majority of copies have it (Zuurmond 1989, pp. 20–21). He was also right to note that these tables are not based on a Syriac tradition, since they do not share the same structure (Zuurmond 1989, p. 21).48 At least in the case of Mark, the tables share the number of sections that appear in Coptic tables, which is strictly 236 sections, i.e., three added sections for the Long Ending. As in the Coptic tables, sections §234 and §236 appear in Canon 10. However, similar to the Greek GA 1230, section §235 was assigned to canon 8, reading Mark 16:10–11 (the women reporting the apparition) only in parallel with Luke.49
The most striking feature comes from the section that precedes the Long Ending, which is supposedly the last Ammonian section of Mark according to Eusebius’s official count (§233). In Eusebius’s tables, this section covers Verse 16:8 only and is read along with sections §354 in Matthew (=28:8) and §338 in Luke (=24:9). This relatively narrow section strictly concerns itself with the women’s frightened fleeing of the tomb. However, in many Ethiopic manuscripts, it also includes the Shorter Ending. As Metzger noted, 131 manuscripts of the Ethiopic manuscripts he examined have the Shorter Ending between Verses 8 and 9. These manuscripts also do not belong to a single dialect, provenance, or period of history (Metzger 1980, pp. 141–46), which makes any attempt to explain this as a local phenomenon difficult. This is not the only unparalleled characteristic the Ethiopic tradition enjoys. The Shorter Ending also appears within the body of the text normally as any other verse, as the text smoothly flows between the three endings. In many manuscripts, there are no notes, glyphs, or any caveats, direct or indirect that would draw the reader’s attention to the possibility that this is an ending amongst others.50
This leads us to ask how the scribe expressed this fluid inclusion of multiple endings in their use of the Eusebian canon tables. In at least one case that I identified, the scribe simply chose to adopt the normal Eusebian system mentioned above (British Library Or. 515), ignoring the problem of fitting the Shorter Ending in it.51 However, in other cases, the scribe included the Shorter Ending by considering it as part of §233. The scribe expressed that in his choices of parallel sections. First, the scribe broke Luke 24 down into smaller sections to enable further parallels. This was accomplished by dividing the last section §342 (=24:44–53) to become §343 (44), §344 (45–47), §345 (48–49), and §346 (50–53). These new divisions facilitate the creation of more precise connections with the Lukan smaller sections. The Markan section §233 in then added Table 2 twice:52
Canon 2
354 ( Religions 13 00548 i001) = 28:8233 ( Religions 13 00548 i003) = 16:8+Shorter Ending33753 ( Religions 13 00548 i005) = 24:9
354 ( Religions 13 00548 i002) = 28:8233 ( Religions 13 00548 i004) = 16:8+Shorter Ending345 ( Religions 13 00548 i006) = 24:48–49
What we have, then, is the classic Eusebian parallel between Mark 16:8, Luke 24:9, and Matthew 28:8. However, the Markan section §233 cannot be aligned with Luke’s §345, which speaks of Jesus’s commissioning of the disciples to be his witnesses, unless the scribe understands the Shorter Ending as part of that section. Therefore, this reading of the table agrees perfectly with the way the Shorter Ending appears in the manuscripts. According to this line of tradition in Ethiopic manuscripts, the Shorter Ending is simply part of the text just like the rest of the Gospel, and it has a section number, which is §233.
The evidence from Ethiopic manuscripts leads us to enquire further on the origins of reading Verse 8 and the Shorter Ending together as a single entity (in this case section §233). Was this an Ethiopian innovation? Outside Ethiopic manuscripts, the ancient Latin codex Bobiensis stands as the only surviving witness to the continuation of the text from Verse 8 to the Shorter Ending without any signals in the manuscript. Therefore, perhaps the two traditions (which are associated with Africa) were witness to a very early stage in which Verse 8 and the Shorter Ending were understood as a single block. Yet, unlike codex Bobiensis, this Ethiopian tradition continues the text through the Long Ending.

4. After the Gospel: The Harmoniae Evangelicae

In at least thirty Four-Gospel minuscules, the codices conclude with a long scholion on how “the Evangelists do not differ on the resurrection of Christ.”54 The scholion is unattributed and its origin remains an open question. To the best of my knowledge, the earliest reference to this text in print was made by German theologian Magnum Crusius, in the eighteenth-century Miscellanea Groningana periodical. During his research stay in Oxford, he accessed a collection of Byzantine manuscripts, in which he found this scholion in the Bodleian Library’s MS. Barocci 142, which is a collection of excerpts from famous works copied under the instruction of the Greek historian Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos (thirteenth/fourteenth century) to use as a source for his Historia Ecclesiastica (Wilson 1974). In his article, Crusius provided a Latin translation of the Greek text (Crusius 1743, pp. 179–89). Crusius found that this scholion was attributed to Epiphanius the Presbyter in the scholion’s title. However, since the Bodleian Library has recently digitised this manuscript, we can see that the reference to Epiphanius is associated with the scholion that precedes it on the same folio (f.282r).55
This compilation of excerpts is an epitome dated back to the seventh century and survives in five codices, including MS. Barocci 142. These codices were recently analysed by Panagiotis Manafis. He identified this work as the Epitome of the Seventh Century. Whereas almost all other excerpts in this Epitome were attributed to famous sources, the scholion that concerns us was left unassigned. Neither Wilson nor Manafis identified its source, labelling it as varia (Manafis 2020, p. 152; Wilson 1974, p. 442).
This mysterious scholion (henceforth, Harmoniae56, abbreviated Har.) offers guidance on how to read the diverse resurrection accounts. The first section of the Harmoniae provides a summary of the women’s visitations to the tomb in each Gospel, starting with John and followed by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, respectively. This order was meant to show the sequence of events. By unfolding the events in this order, the author argues that they do not overlap and that, unlike common exegetical attempts, we should not try to reconcile them because the Gospels report different events that took place in “different times (διαφόρους χρόνους)” (Har. I.4). This first section of the Harmoniae concludes by stating that the only common factor between the four Gospels is Mary Magdalene who, under the impact of shock, visited the tomb five times (Har. I.5), each time bringing with her a different set of witnesses. Therefore, the order of what happened is the following: First, Mary Magdalene only stood by the tomb “when it was still dark,” according to John. Second, at the same hour, she came with Peter and John. Third, Mary Magdalene brought the other Mary as well “after the Sabbath, towards the dawn of the first day of the week”, according to Matthew. Fourth, Salome joined the two Marys at the tomb, which accounts for the three women in Mark. Fifth, Mark’s three women received Joana and the other women, and they all saw the two angels, according to Luke.
This line of thought continues by referring to Mary Magdalene’s next role as the common factor of Jesus’s apparitions in the Gospels. The author informs us that Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (and the women) twice only. By following the same sequence of events proposed in the first section, the author states that the first apparition was the one attested to in John 20:14–17, and then the second was the one in Matthew 28:9–10. After showing that they are too irreconcilable to be a single event, the author advises us again to read them as two consequent events, just as the rest of visits. In conclusion, according to the scholion, the Gospels should be read
ῶς μηδέ μίαν διαφωνίας χωράν εχεῖν. Tὸ δὲ εῖς διαφόρους ὥρας καὶ διαφορά πρόσωπα καὶ διαφόρους οπτάσιας, κάθ’ ἕκαστον τῶν εὐαγγελιστῶν παρίστασθαι.
(Har. III.2)
as if there is no single (common) place for disagreement. Therefore, the different hours, the different persons, and the different visions (are) according to what each one of the Gospels presents.
Within this narrative framework, then, where does Mark’s ending fit? As it stands, the author shows no knowledge of, or at least no decision to include, the Long Ending. The visits of Mary Magdalene are interwoven, and the Lukan visit picks up from where the Markan Short Ending is cited and all references to Mark’s Gospel cease:
Aἱ δὲ ακούσασαι ἕφυγον, καὶ ουδενί ουδέν είπον εφοβούντο γάρ. Θεασάμενοι αἰ παρά τῶ Ματθαίω δύο Μαρίαι ἀπῆλθον. Καὶ πάλιν επάν έρχονται συμπαραλάβουσαι Σαλώμην. Καὶ οὕτως αἰ τρείς τὸν παρὰ τῶ Μάρκω θεωροῦσιν άγγελον μάνον ἐνδόν […] Aἰ παρά τῶ μαρκῶ τρείς ἀπελθοῦσαι, συμπαραλαβὸν Ιωάνναν καὶ ἀλλᾶς πλείους γυναῖκας μεθ’ῶν πάλιν επάν έρχονται, καὶ ὁρῶσι δύο ἄνδρας τοῦς παρά τῶ Λουκά.
(Har. I.3, 4)
Therefore, upon hearing this, they fled and “said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” The witnesses who came, according to Matthew, were the two Marys. Again, they took Salome with them when they came, and these are the ones who saw the angel inside, according to Mark. The three who fled, according to Mark, took along with them Ioana and the several other women who were with them when they came again, and saw the two men, according to Luke.
According to the scholion, when the women left, saying nothing to anyone (Mark 16:8), they met the other women of the Lukan account, and from here the resurrection narrative continues with Luke (the last Gospel in his order) only, up until they informed the disciples who did not believe (Har. I.4; Luke 24:11). The author betrayed no knowledge of or interest in Jesus’s apparition to Mary Magdalene in Mark 16:9. The Harmoniae counts only two apparitions of Jesus, the ones in Matthew and John. This means that Jesus’ three apparitions in Mark’s Long Ending (to Mary, the two apostles and then the eleven) were either unknown to the author of the Harmoniae or he intentionally omitted them. It is not possible that he merged the Markan apparition with one of the Matthean or Johannine apparitions since his narrative sequence disentangles the Gospel accounts and emphasizes the lack of any overlap.
In Har. I.5, the Matthean and Johannine apparitions took place before Mark’s women visited the tomb (which was the fourth visit for Mary Magdalene). If the Markan apparition was counted, it should have come before Luke’s account, but this did not happen. Neither can it be argued that the scope of time the author focused on excludes the Markan apparition as it did with other apparitions (e.g., to the Emmaus disciples). The author had already covered the first apparition of Jesus to Mary Magdalene in John and Matthew, and both were within the same window of time when the Markan apparition took place “very early on the first day of the week” and before the Lukan fifth visit. Furthermore, the Lukan story goes as far as having the women report the visions to the disciples who did not believe (αἱ καὶ απηγγεῖλεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς οἱ δὲ οὐκ ἐπέστευσαν) (Har. I.4, see Luke 24:11). This appearance should have been included in this window of time, as well as Mary’s similar account of reporting it to the disciples who also did not believe it (16:11), just as in the Lukan account, the author cited. The best explanation, then, was that the author did not know the Long Ending or refused to include it in his historical construction.
There is also an extra paragraph that appears in some manuscripts as part of this scholion, but it is usually an added appendix with a title: “on how Christ appeared after the resurrection, according to both of them (δι’ ἀμφοτέρων).”57 The passage is short and merely descriptive without any clear rationale, and it is not clear what “both” here refers to. It was possibly added to complete the aftermath of the resurrection accounts, but it is also possible that it was extracted from another complete, but now lost, work. The least likely, yet not impossible, case is that it was part of the original Harmoniae.
The passage lists the apparitions in each Gospel, starting with Mark and followed by Matthew, John, and Luke, respectively. This unusual order could possibly reflect the author’s order of apparitions as it was in the main part of the Harmoniae. In the case of John, it goes further by detailing Jesus’s appearance to Thomas, whereas in Luke, he informs us of the names of the Emmaus disciples as well as the places of apparition and ascension, Jerusalem and Bethany, respectively (Har. IV.4). On the other hand, in the case of Mark there is a single and ambiguous statement:
Κατά Μάρκον, μετὰ τῆν ἀνάστασιν λέγεται ὦφθαι τοῖς μαθηταῖς.
(Har. IV.4)
According to Mark, after the resurrection, he is said to have appeared to the disciples.
It is difficult to imagine that the simple ὦφθαι τοῖς μαθηταῖς counts for the Long Ending’s three apparitions as well as the ascension. If we compare that line with the line on Matthew, we see that they are very close, with Matthew adding the reference to Galilee, where the single apparition of Jesus to the disciples took place. Mark’s line differs from the rest in using an indirect reference to the apparition by using λέγεται with the perfect infinitive ὦφθαι to say that Mark speaks of an appearance. The text does not use λέγεται again, but uses the common indicative passive aorist verb ὤφθη thrice. This is a deliberate distinction made between the nature of the report on Jesus’s apparition in Mark and the other three accounts.58
This leads us to enquire about the Markan text available to the author of the Harmoniae. It is obvious that the Short Ending should be ruled out, whereas the Long Ending offers a text that does not meet the image of the text that could be constructed from this scholion. This leaves us with the interesting option of a Short Ending supplied with the Shorter Ending passage. The Shorter Ending relays that Jesus directed his disciples to preach the gospel from east to west. This counts as an apparition to the disciples just as in Har. IV.1. Furthermore, the Shorter Ending does not in fact talk about the apparition incident itself. It simply tells us what Jesus commissioned the disciples to do. The reader would naturally infer that this commission took place during an apparition. The lack of reference to the act of apparition may be behind the addition of ἐφανῆ and ἐφανῆ αὐτοῖς in the text of the Shorter Ending in 044 099 l1602 and several other witnesses in Latin and oriental languages.59 Therefore, a Gospel of Mark that concludes with the Shorter Ending would offer the closest image of a text that we can construct from the Harmoniae.

5. Conclusions

This study offered a closer look into the codicological and paratextual context of Mark’s endings. The supplementary material that precedes the Gospel as well as paratexts and epilogues enables the following conclusions. Paratexts draw our attention to the impact of Mark’s diverse endings outside the text itself. We saw this in the redaction of widely circulated argumenta as well as the scholia such as the Harmoniae. Additionally, the fact that these endings lie beyond the limit of the already extensive Eusebian apparatus meant that the scribes and their respective schools across cultural and linguistic barriers had the ability to express their perceptions of these texts on two levels. First, their work sometimes informs us about what the endings actually are, according to the different exemplars known to the scribes. As we saw, in some cases, the Long Ending could be seen as an appendix, whereas the Shorter Ending is labelled as a paratext (argumentum). Therefore, such paratextual notes can offer us a view that does more justice to the often ignored question of whether the Shorter Ending appears jointly with the Long Ending, and not as an alternative to it. Second, by using tools such as marginal notes, miniatures, and extended Ammonian sections with Eusebian apparatus, the scribes expressed their rich and diverse understanding of each event in the Long Ending (and the Shorter in Ethiopic manuscripts) vis-à-vis potentially parallel sections in other Gospels, providing a valuable commentary embedded in these paratexts.
In conclusion, scholarship on Mark’s endings cannot move forward without engaging with the text within its original paratextual eco-system. This provides more possibilities for exploring promising avenues of investigation in the cases of unstable texts, by going beyond the rigid categories and constructions of modern scholarship. In the case of Mark’s ending, these rigid categories viewed the endings as alternate possibilities: one ending is set against the other in order to create checklists that feed critical apparatuses. However, this is an approach that cannot be justified by the way these endings co-existed in many manuscripts. This persistent approach made analysing the question of Mark’s ending futile. However, as we embrace these so-called endings withing their paratextual eco-system, we will learn that they were products of wider debates in which an ending is part of its fabric. In this fabric, we can see that the textual and theological concerns of those who provided us with these manuscripts could go from the text towards the paratext and vice versa. Further, we could see that these endings that belong to the “text” sometimes cross the threshold between texts and paratexts, which problematizes our conception of what belongs to one side or the other. Therefore, the survey of paratextual evidence in this article leads me to suggest remodelling our conception of Mark’s ending. In this case, I propose that the endings should be perceived as part of a richer textual fabric in which the notions of text and paratext are integrated, and that the so-called endings, along with the notes and headings supplement each other to serve the clarity and understanding of one another. A very good case to learn from is the so-called Shorter Ending in GA 2937 and 1422, where it appeared as an argumentum for the Longer Ending, and therefore it explains why the Shorter Ending appears in almost60 all of its attestations across languages neither as a Shorter nor an Ending.61


SNSF-MARK16 grant no. 179755.

Conflicts of Interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.


It is important to observe the challenge of defining the category of “paratext.” Patrick Andrist, a member of the ParaTexBib project dedicated to the study of paratexts in biblical manuscripts, justifiably states that “there is a striking lack of shared terminology and methodology for dealing with paratexts, marginal notes and other types of secondary content in ancient codices in general and for the way they relate to one another and to the main contents in the same book” (Andrist 2018, p. 130).
On the wider circulation hypotheses, see an (Van Rossum-Steenbeek 1998).
Therefore, I will use the Latin term which is also used in English for the same purpose.
See, for example, GA 1422 f. 117v.
The witnesses I found to have this attribution are GA 195 1006, 1422.
Ἠγέρθη ἐν τριημέρω, καὶ τοῦτο ταῖς γυναιξίν ὀ καταβάς ἅγγελος ἀπήγγειλεν, ινά καὶ αὐταί ἀπαγγείλωσι τοῖς μαθηταῖς.
Πρῶτον is attested in GA 1685 and 774 only. Von Soden (1911, p. 315) reports that he found πρῶτον written as τρίτον in some witnesses. Following the list of witnesses he consulted, I could not locate these examples. However, if Von Soden is correct, it would be curious to know why the copyist diverted from Mark 16:9′s text this way and how he counted that apparition as a third apparition. Perhaps one clue is found in a scholion Burgon reports (Burgon 1871, p. 231), which states that Jesus appeared three times to the disciples (τρίτον ἐφανερώθη τοῖς μαθηταῖς), but this remains as an open question that I could not pursue further since I could not locate von Soden’s τρίτον readings.
See, for example, GA 191 1685 774. Available online: (accessed on 22 October 2020).
The ParaTexBib team indexed 51 cases in Pinakes database, accessible here: Available online: (accessed on 2 June 2020).
The Vatican’s manuscript has been recently digitised and is accessible here: Available online: (accessed on 27 September 2020). The Laurenziana’s has also been digitised and is available online: Available online: (accessed on 2 July 2020). Unfortunately, I was unable to access the one in St Catherine’s monastery.
An earlier English edition was produced by the Hakluyt Society in London in 1897 with a second print by Cambridge University Πress (McCrindle 2010). For other editions, see Wolska-Conus (1968–1973), pp. 117–23.
On patristic testimonies, see (Wolska-Conus 1968–1973, pp. 115–16).
This is found in folio 89r: Available online: This illustration shows the earthly and human layers, followed by the angelic and heavenly layers. Finally, we see the ascended Jesus seated on his throne, and surrounded by the words of Matt 25:34 “Δεῦτε, οἱ εὐλογημένοι τοῦ πατρός μου.” See also Wolska-Conus’ sketch of the illustration in St. Catherine’s manuscript in Wolska-Conus (1968–1973, p. 225).
Matt 3:1–2.
Oὗτος ὁ σκοπὸς τῆς συγγραφῆς τοῦ εὐαγγελιστοῦ τοῦ μακαρίου Ματθαίου (Top. 5.194).
ἐς ὕστερον καὶ αὐτὸς τὴν ἄνοδον τὴν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν κατήγγειλεν, ἔνθα ἐστὶ τὸ τῆς δευτέρας ἡμῶν καταστάσεως κατοικητήριον.
His emphasis on using the term “Kingdom of Heaven” is probably to highlight the spatial dimension of the kingdom, which is to support his topographical interest, despite the fact that the term does not even appear in Mark.
See for example Top. 3.84, 85.
The whole manuscript is available here: Available online: (accessed on 5 September 2020).
On the Eusebian apparatus, see the most recent literature of (Wallraff 2021; Coogan 2020; Crawford 2019).
On Eusebius’ reception of the Long Ending in his literature, see Kelhoffer (2001) and Coombs (2016).
We should also pay attention to the use of the term “canonising” in the context of Mark’s endings studies. Martin Wallraff reminds us that Eusebius’ use of the term is different to the way generally used today: “Es ist bemerkenswert, dass an dieser Stelle die Kategorie des “Kanonischen” gewissermaßen durch die Hintertür doch wieder ins Spiel kommt. Euseb meint mit dem Wort Kanon nicht das, was wir heute darunter verstehen, aber in der Sache leisten die Kanontafeln durchaus einen Beitrag zur Kanonwerdung (Wallraff 2021, p. 33).” Therefore, scholars speak of the canonicity of the special sections such as Mark’s ending, the Pericope Adulterae, and Luke 22:44 in this manner. Hence, for example, Kelhoffer’s discussion of “the canonicity of Mark 16, 9–20” in the context of Eusebius’ work (Kelhoffer 2001, p. 107) and Knust and Wasserman on the “Pericope’s authenticity and canonicity” and “the passage’s canonicity” (Knust and Wasserman 2018, pp. 16, 103).
“Et eusebius pamphili terminum evangelii ibi fixit ubi scribitur.” I am grateful to Dr. Martina Vercesi of the University of Glasgow for drawing my attention to this note. I am also grateful to Dr. Elisa Nury of the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics for her transcription of the Latin paratext. On the impact of Eusebius’ position on catenae, see Monier (2021, pp. 79–80).
The images of several manuscripts of this family have been made available along with their transcription in the MARK16 manuscript room here: Available online: (accessed on 8 July 2020).
Earlier, she showed the same results with Matthew in her proposed stemma of Family 1 (Anderson 2004, p. 101).
On the Markan statistics of this group, see (Anderson 2015, pp. 129–31).
On a summary and stemma of this group within the family, see pp. 177–78 in her study.
In GA 2193, the pericope adulterae appears to have been added by a later hand. However, the rare readings that agree with the profile of GA 2193, the note in the top margin, which directs the reader’s attention to its place, and the string of the introductory statement provide solid ground for arguing that the later copyist added it from an original folio in the codex that was probably damaged. Therefore, I agree with Welsby and, later, Knust and Wasserman on this conclusion (Welsby 2013, p. 39; Knust and Wasserman 2020, p. 36, n.40).
Unfortunately, I could not verify the exact wording of the note in GA 205 (f.377r) due to the poor quality of the microfilmed images.
“In den untersuchten Handschriften findet sich nur einziger Versuch in diesem Sinne, nämlich in GA S/028. Dort wird eine neue Sektion mit Mc234 eingeführt (f. 114v) und dann unter Kanon X als Sondergut in die Tafeln aufgenommen” (Wallraff 2021, p. 74).
See this variety of sectioning in GA 2604 274 132 783, etc. In fact, Codex Harley 5567 (GA 116) breaks it down to sections up to 141 (see folio 141r).
Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022).
More information and a digitised edition can be found here: Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022).
Harley MS 5567 folio 11r Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022).
Images, transcription, and translation are available here: Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022). On a full description, see (Horner 1898, p. lxxii).
This special numerical system was used by Copts who started speaking Arabic (from the tenth century) as a practical alternative to the Coptic alphabetical numerals (Megally 1991, pp. 1820–22).
Images, transcription, and translation are available here: Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022).
The text says: هذا الفصل المخرج في الرومي. Unfortunately, Georger W. Horner’s translation which says “this is the chapter expelled in Greek” is wrong (Horner 1898, p. 480).
This is a 17th century manuscript produced in Egypt and it is now preserved in Walters Art Museum. Details can be found here: Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022).
Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022).
Images, transcription, and translation available here: Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022). Although 083 does not show the introduction to the ending due to the damage, there is a space of two lines for it that are unfortunately illegible. Yet, the Shorter Ending is followed by the standard introduction that usually comes before the Longer Ending, which means that the introduction to the Shorter Ending was also there.
Images, transcription, and translation available here: Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022).
Not φερεται as NA28 puts it.
Images, transcription, and translation available here: Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022).
Transcription of Horner (1911, pp. 640–41). Images, transcription, and translation available here: Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022).
The manuscripts that have the Shorter Ending in Coptic and Syriac are all available in the manuscript room:
Images, transcription, and translation of the two manuscripts are available: Available online: > and < (accessed on 6 June 2022).
The Syriac tradition developed a revised edition of Eusebius’ original tables, with a larger number of sections that offer more connections betwee the Gospels. On the Syriac tradition of the tables, see (Crawford 2019, pp. 171–94). See the Peshitta’s edition in Pusy and (Gwilliam 1890; Pusey and Gwilliam 1901).
The author is grateful to Dr. Damien Labadie of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique for his advice on the Ethiopic text.
Images of four manuscripts have been made available along with their transcription here: Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022).
Manuscripts that do not have the Shorter Ending also share this system. See for example manuscript W.850 fol. 208v at the Walters Museum. Digital images accessible here: Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022).
See, for example, in the British Library’s Or. 514 (f. 14v): Section 233 ( Religions 13 00548 i007) appearing twice in the third column under the abbreviation of Mark ( Religions 13 00548 i008). Accessible here: Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022).
In this particular manuscript, it is 337, but that section is equal to the traditional Section 338.
This scholion appears in two recensions, as I will explain. The short one was found in 14 witnesses, whereas the longer is attested in 16 witnesses. See Available online: (accessed on 6 June 2022) and (accessed on 6 June 2022), respectively.
This naming, which facilites the frequent references to this scholion, is derived from the title given by Curcius to its Latin translation: Analecta de antiquissimis Harmoniae Evangelicae circa Resurrectionem Christi oppugnatoribus & defensoribus.
For instance, it does not appear in some of the witnesses as with GA 965. See note 47 above.
The complex phrase of the middle passive λέγεται, coupled with a dependent infinitive, was particularly used in historical writings. This has been subject to several studies, especially in the literature of Plutarch and Thucydides who used this phrase extensively. This phrase was generally used to refer to various degrees of uncertainty regarding the source or its quality. Westlake focuses in particular on instances where an event could have been independently verifiable for Thucydides, yet he would use λέγεται with a dependent infinitive “to convey not uncertainty about the facts but rather a sense of uneasiness” (Westlake 1977, p. 354). In the same line, Connor speaks of other similar cases that “the iterated legetai in 2.18.5 and 20.1 does indeed seem to be ‘suggesting an informant’—but only for a second. The possible informant swiftly evaporates into a ‘climate of opinion’” (Connor 2009, p. 34). This is also the case, particularly with dependent infinitives, in the passages of Herodotus that Cooper studied (Cooper 1974).
In codex Bobiensis, which has the earliest attestation to the Shorter Ending, it talks of two distinguished acts: Jesus appeared and sent (adparuit et misit) the disciples.
Except in Codex Bobiensis.
The author is grateful to Garrick Allen and Kelsie Rodenbiker for their constructive comments that improved this study significantly.


  1. Aland, Kurt. 1974. Der Schluß des Markusevangeliums. In L’Evangile Selon Marc. Tradition et Rédaction (BEThL 34). Edited by M. Sabbé. Leuven: Presses Universitaires, pp. 435–70. [Google Scholar]
  2. Anderson, Amy S. 2004. The Textual Tradition of the Gospels: Family 1 in Matthew. Leiden: Brill. [Google Scholar]
  3. Anderson, Amy S. 2015. 5 Codex 2193 and Family 1 in Mark. In Studies on the Text of the New Testament and Early Christianity. Edited by Gurtner Daniel, Juan Hernández Jr. and Paul Foster. Leiden: Brill, pp. 100–33. [Google Scholar]
  4. Andrist, Patrick. 2018. Toward a definition of paratexts and paratextuality: The case of ancient Greek manuscripts. In Bible as Notepad. Edited by Liv Ingeborg Lied and Marilena Maniaci. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 130–49. [Google Scholar]
  5. Black, David Alan, ed. 2008. Perspectives on the Ending of Mark, 4 Views. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers. [Google Scholar]
  6. Blomkvist, Vemund. 2012. Euthalian Traditions: Text, Translation and Commentary. Berlin: De Gruyter. [Google Scholar]
  7. Burgon, John W. 1871. The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel according to S. Mark. Oxford: James Parker. [Google Scholar]
  8. Clivaz, Claire. 2021. Mk 16 im Codex Bobbiensis. Neue Materialien zur conclusio brevior des Markusevangeliums. Zeitschrift für Neues Testament 47: 59–85. [Google Scholar]
  9. Connor, W. Robert. 2009. A Post-Modernist Thucydides? In Oxford Readings in Classical Studies: Thucydides. Edited by Jeffrey S. Rusten. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
  10. Coogan, Jeremiah. 2020. Transmission and Transformation of the Eusebian Gospel Apparatus in Greek Medieval Manuscripts. In Canones: The Art of Harmony: The Canon Tables of the Four Gospels. Edited by Alessandro Bausi, Bruno Reudenbach and Hanna Wimmer. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, pp. 29–46. [Google Scholar]
  11. Coombs, Clayton L. L. 2016. A Dual Reception: Eusebius and the Gospel of Mark. Minneapols: Fortress Press. [Google Scholar]
  12. Cooper, Guy. 1974. Intrusive oblique infinitives in Herodotus. Transactions of the American Philological Association 104: 23–76. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  13. Crawford, Matthew R. 2019. The Eusebian Canon Tables: Ordering Textual Knowledge in Late Antiquity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
  14. Crusius, Christian August. 1743. Analecta de antiquissimis Harmoniae Evangelicae circa Resurrectionem Christi oppugnatoribus & defensoribus. Miscellanea Groningana 4: 140–89. [Google Scholar]
  15. Erasmus, Desiderius. 1570. Novum Testamentum ex Versione Erasmi Glossa Compendiaria Mathiae Flaccii. Basel: In Officina Frobenianna. [Google Scholar]
  16. Gwilliam, George Henry. 1890. The Ammonian Sections, the Eusebian Canons, and harmonizing tables in the Syriac Tetraevangelium. Studia Biblica et Ecclesiastica 2: 241–72. [Google Scholar]
  17. Horner, George William. 1898. The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Northern Dialect. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, vol. 1. [Google Scholar]
  18. Horner, George William. 1911. The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Southern Dialect. Oxford: Clarendon Press. [Google Scholar]
  19. Houghton, Hugh A. G., and Mina Monier. 2020. Greek Manuscripts in Alexandria. The Journal of Theological Studies 71: 119–33. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  20. Kelhoffer, James Anthony. 2001. The Witness of Eusebius’ ad Marinum and Other Christian Writings to Text-Critical Debates concerning the Original Conclusion to Mark’s Gospel. Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 92: 78–112. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
  21. Kelhoffer, James Anthony. 2014. Conceptions of Gospel and Legitimacy in Early Christianity. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. [Google Scholar]
  22. Knust, Jennifer, and Tommy Wasserman. 2018. To Cast the First Stone: The Transmission of a Gospel Story. Princeton: Princeton University Press. [Google Scholar]
  23. Knust, Jennifer, and Tommy Wasserman. 2020. The Pericope of the Adulteress (John 7: 53–8: 11): A new chapter in its textual transmission. Svensk Exegetisk årsbok 85: 22–55. [Google Scholar]
  24. Lewis, Charlton Thomas. 1891. An Elementary Latin Dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers. [Google Scholar]
  25. Manafis, Panagiotis. 2020. (Re)writing History in Byzantium. London: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
  26. McCrindle, John Watson. 2010. The Christian Topography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Google Scholar]
  27. Megally, Fuad. 1991. Numerical, System, Coptic. In The Coptic Encyclopedia. Edited by Aziz S. Atiya. London: Macmillan Publishing Company. [Google Scholar]
  28. Metzger, Bruce M. 1980. The Ending of the Gospel According to St. Mark in Ethiopic Manuscripts. In New Testament Studies (Philological, Versional, and Patristic). Edited by Bruce M. Metzger. Leiden: Brill, pp. 127–47. [Google Scholar]
  29. Monier, Mina. 2019. GA 304, Theophylact’s Commentary and the Ending of Mark. Filología Neotestamentaria 52: 95–106. [Google Scholar]
  30. Monier, Mina. 2021. Mark’s Ending in the Digital Age: Paratextual Evidence, New Findings and Transcription Challenges. Postscripts. The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts 12: 75–98. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  31. Pusey, Philip E., and George Henry Gwilliam. 1901. Tetraevangelium Sanctum Juxta Simplicem Syrorum Versionem. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
  32. Sievers, Joseph. 2007. The Ancient Lists of Contents of Josephus’ Antiquities. In Studies in Josephus and the Varieties of Ancient Judaism. Edited by Shaye J. D. Cohen and Joshua J. Schwartz. Leiden: Brill. [Google Scholar]
  33. Van Rossum-Steenbeek, Monique. 1998. Greek Readers’ Digests? Studies on a Selection of Subliterary Papyri. Mnemosyne. Leiden: Brill. [Google Scholar]
  34. Von Soden, Hermann Freiherr. 1911. Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments in Ihrer ältesten Erreichbaren Textgestalt Hergestellt auf Grund Ihrer Textgeschichte. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, vol. 1, p. 1. [Google Scholar]
  35. Wallraff, Martin. 2021. Die Kanontafeln des Euseb von Kaisareia. Berlin: De Gruyter. [Google Scholar]
  36. Welsby, Alison. 2013. A Textual Study of Family 1 in the Gospel of John. Berlin: De Gruyter. [Google Scholar]
  37. Westlake, Henry Dickinson. 1977. ΛΕΓΕΤAΙ in Thucydides. Mnemosyne 30: 345–62. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  38. Wilson, Nigel. 1974. The Autograph of Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos. JTS 25: 437–42. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  39. Wolska-Conus, Wanda. 1968–1973. Cosmas Indicopleustès: Topographie Chrétienne, SC 141-3. Paris: Éditions du Cerf. [Google Scholar]
  40. Zuurmond, Rochus. 1989. Novum Testamentum Aethiopice: The Synoptic Gospels, Parts 1 and 2. ÄF 27. Stuttgart: Steiner. [Google Scholar]
Figure 1. GA 1230 folio 4r. It shows sections 234–235 of the Long Ending in canon 8 (fifth row, top left), whereas sections 236–237 are in canon 10 (second column, third and fourth rows, bottom right). Copyrights: Library of Congress Collection of Manuscripts in St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mt. Sinai.
Figure 1. GA 1230 folio 4r. It shows sections 234–235 of the Long Ending in canon 8 (fifth row, top left), whereas sections 236–237 are in canon 10 (second column, third and fourth rows, bottom right). Copyrights: Library of Congress Collection of Manuscripts in St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mt. Sinai.
Religions 13 00548 g001
Figure 2. Huntington 17 (bo 2) f. 194v. Copyright © Digital Bodleian Creative Commons license CC-BY-NC 4.0.
Figure 2. Huntington 17 (bo 2) f. 194v. Copyright © Digital Bodleian Creative Commons license CC-BY-NC 4.0.
Religions 13 00548 g002
Figure 3. Walters Ms. W.592. f.131r. Jesus appearing to Mary as a gardener. Copyrights: The Walters Museum CC0 1.0 Universal.
Figure 3. Walters Ms. W.592. f.131r. Jesus appearing to Mary as a gardener. Copyrights: The Walters Museum CC0 1.0 Universal.
Religions 13 00548 g003
Figure 4. arm 724 f. 110r Copyrights: Cod. 2374 Matenadaran the Research Institute of Ancient Manuscript. The author is grateful to Dr. Ani Ghazaryan Drissi for providing this image.
Figure 4. arm 724 f. 110r Copyrights: Cod. 2374 Matenadaran the Research Institute of Ancient Manuscript. The author is grateful to Dr. Ani Ghazaryan Drissi for providing this image.
Religions 13 00548 g004
Figure 5. GA 1422 f. 178v Lines 6–11 have the Shorter Ending introduced as an argumentum in the catena section. The Long Ending appears in the biblical lemma, given a new section number 234 assigned to Table 10. Copyrights: The National Library of the Czech Republic XXV B 7.
Figure 5. GA 1422 f. 178v Lines 6–11 have the Shorter Ending introduced as an argumentum in the catena section. The Long Ending appears in the biblical lemma, given a new section number 234 assigned to Table 10. Copyrights: The National Library of the Czech Republic XXV B 7.
Religions 13 00548 g005
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Share and Cite

MDPI and ACS Style

Monier, M. Mark’s Endings in Context: Paratexts and Codicological Remarks. Religions 2022, 13, 548.

AMA Style

Monier M. Mark’s Endings in Context: Paratexts and Codicological Remarks. Religions. 2022; 13(6):548.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Monier, Mina. 2022. "Mark’s Endings in Context: Paratexts and Codicological Remarks" Religions 13, no. 6: 548.

Note that from the first issue of 2016, this journal uses article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Back to TopTop