Suspended Endings in Ancient Literature-A Context for the Evaluation of the Ending of Mark's Gospel
Date of Award
Master of Sacred Theology (STM)
Scripture References in this Resource (separated by semi-colons)
Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:9-20; Mark 16:1-8; Mark 1:1; Acts 2:29-36; Acts 10:37-38; Mark 9:30-31; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 24:52-53; John 20:30-31; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 26:64; Matthew 16: 13-15; Matthew 16:27; Mark 6:7-11; Matthew 11:1; Mark 6:12-13; Matthew 10:1-7; Acts 12:31; Acts 28:30-31; Acts 1:8; Mark 8:31; Mark 10:32-34; Mark 14:50; Mark 14:66-72; Mark 15:40-41; Mark 15:47;
In response to this second, literary level argumentation, this paper will attempt to provide evidence which will support the view that Mark 16:1-8 can be properly interpreted on the literary level as the ending intended by the author. In addition, in response to the objection that the use of a sudden, unexpected, inconclusive ending (such as 16:8 would be) demonstrates a modern literary device which would be foreign to ancient authors, this paper will consider the endings of other ancient literary works and examine how these endings function in relationship to the narrative as a whole and to the expectations of its readers. From biblical literature, the NT narratives of Matthew and Acts will be considered. From classical secular literature, Homer's Iliad and Virgil's Aeneid will be considered." An attempt will be made to show that these narrative works, like the Gospel of Mark, also have suspended endings, that is, an ending that brings the story to a close when the reader has been led to anticipate a longer, "fuller" story. As we will demonstrate, a suspended ending can merely bring partial closure to a story, all the while leaving it open-ended or, as is the case with the Gospel of Mark, it can be more radically abrupt confusing, or inconclusive, leaving the reader to ponder the more problematic closure." If other ancient works of narrative make use of this literary device, then the contention of Knox that it is only a mark of "modern sophistication" can be shown to be erroneous.
Lewis, David, "Suspended Endings in Ancient Literature-A Context for the Evaluation of the Ending of Mark's Gospel" (1998). Master of Sacred Theology Seminar Papers. 5.
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