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The Mutilation of Marks Gospel [Paperback]

By N. Clayton Croy (Author)
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Item description for The Mutilation of Marks Gospel by N. Clayton Croy...

In modern scholarship, Mark is usually viewed as the first of the Gospels; therefore, literary critics have carefully investigated its overall structure and interpretation. But Croy argues that the book has suffered physical damage at both its beginning and end, so this must temper all one's conclusions.

Publishers Description
This book theorizes that there was probably more to both the beginning and the ending of Mark's Gospel than we currently have in our Bible. It was once the consensus of scholars that Mark lacked its ending. Croy asks why scholarly opinions changed on this question during the late 20th century and whether earlier scholars may in fact have been correct. In short, this book has the potential to re-open a major debate in Markan studies. Beyond scholarly interest in the original extent of the Gospel text, there are implications for our understanding of Markan theology. If a conclusion has been lost, Mark may not be as negative in his portrayal of the disciples as we now assume. The credibility of the disciples - and Jesus own credibility - also may have been rehabilitated by the original ending. Croy urges that we should not assume that post-resurrection appearance stories were unimportant to Mark or that Mark s theology of suffering would be incompatible with a triumphant outcome. The challenge to the scholarly consensus will be of interest to academics; the theological implications will make the book useful in seminary classes on the Gospels. The author s demonstration of the connection between the social context of biblical research and our ways of reading the Gospel is important for theological education in general. Readers will also benefit from an awareness of the process by which we have received the texts printed in our Bibles."

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Abingdon Press
Pages   232
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.95" Width: 6.03" Height: 0.72"
Weight:   0.82 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2003
Publisher   Abingdon Church Supplies
ISBN  0687052939  
ISBN13  9780687052936  

Availability  120 units.
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More About N. Clayton Croy

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! N. Clayton Croy (PhD, Emory University) is tutor in New Testament at Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford. He previously taught at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Ohio. His books include a commentary on 3 Maccabees, The Mutilation of Mark's Gospel, and A Primer of Biblical Greek. He also contributed to the Dictionary of New Testament Backgrounds.

N. Clayton Croy has an academic affiliation as follows - Emory University, Atlanta.

N. Clayton Croy has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Society for New Testament Studies in Monograph
  2. Society for New Testament Studies Monograph

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Hermeneutics

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Mutilation of Marks Gospel?

Illuminating study of the textual integrity of Mark's Gospel  May 20, 2004
It is no real secret that Mark's Gospel is just a little bit strange; all you have to do is turn to the end of the book to see that things get a little weird after verse 16:8. Depending on the version of the Bible you are referring to, you may well find "The Shorter Ending of Mark" and/or "The Longer Ending of Mark" along with a note explaining that verses 9-20 have been pretty authoritatively established as later additions to the end of Mark's Gospel. These "extra" verses have always drawn my attention, but I've never taken a serious look at 16:8 to see just what kind of original ending it makes for the Gospel of Mark. Plenty of others have examined this ending in great detail over the centuries, going back all the way to the days of the early Christian church. Up until the 1970 or so, a majority of New Testament scholars believed that the real ending of the book had been lost, but since that time a new consensus has emerged to stand that majority opinion on its head. N. Clayton Croy does not share today's consensus view on this subject, and he sets out, in The Mutilation of Mark's Gospel, to renew the debate on this topic and give voice to the significant yet minority viewpoint he upholds.

This is a fascinating, well-argued, well-researched book. I had no idea just how vociferous a debate the issue of Mark's completeness has been. Croy goes out of his way to categorize the arguments of the majority completist viewpoint, establish the manner in which this idea gained ground in the last few decades, and then present his own counter-argument to the conclusions at hand. He makes a very strong case for his hypothesis that both the beginning and end of Mark's Gospel were lost long ago, within a couple of decades of the book's completion. His first step is to examine verse 16:8 in great detail and to show just how problematic it really is. This concluding verse of Mark's Gospel basically undoes everything the book had done up to that point. The narrative clearly points to a resurrection appearance to justify Jesus as the Christ, yet the book ends with the women at the tomb, after being told by a divine messenger to tell Peter and the disciples that Jesus had risen, running away from the empty tomb in fear. In other words, this Gospel of the Good News ends on the most unlikeliest of notes; the author characterizes it as "fright, flight, mouth shut tight." Promises made earlier in the book are not fulfilled, the complete reliability of Jesus' promise to rise again is not fulfilled in the eyes of the reader, and the disciples, who fled or - in the case of Peter - denied knowing their Lord, are not rehabilitated at all. How do you explain such an ending that flies in the face of Christian tradition? Many, many different ways, it turns out, depending on which scholar you ask and when you ask him/her.

I can't say enough about the excellent organization of this book. Croy takes you step by step through the history of the debate. His discussion of the shift to the new consensus in the waning decades of the twentieth century is especially cogent. Basically, the recent shift in scholarly opinion is a product of the "New Criticism." Croy examines all the new tools and ideas brought to bear on the subject at hand: literary criticism techniques now being applied to Biblical writings, grammatical and stylistic approaches to the text, polemical interpretations of Mark, reader-oriented interpretations of the text, etc. He then explains why he believes Mark's Gospel is incomplete, explaining each of his points clearly and effectively. Not only does Croy believe the ending of Mark was lost, he also believes its beginning was lost as well. Finally, he explains just how such a mutilation might have occurred. It is his belief that Mark's Gospel existed in codex rather than scroll form (presenting compelling evidence that the use of codices does in fact go back to Mark's time). The most vulnerable parts of a codex were the beginning and ending pages because they were on the outside; the loss of the outermost leaf would account for the loss of both the beginning and ending of Mark's Gospel.

Croy is not necessarily trying to convince others that his theory is correct; he is more interested in seeing the mutilation theory regain a prominent spot in the debate, hoping to overcome the notion that this issue is settled - clearly, it is not. The mutilation theory has an eloquent defender in N. Clayton Croy. He frames both sides of the debate in a clear and concise manner, addressing every nuance of the arguments for and against the structural integrity of Mark's Gospel before laying out his own theory. Anyone curious about this subject, be you laymen or Biblical scholar, can gain deep insight into the matter by reading this meticulously researched yet very accessible monograph.

Warming Up a Cold Case  Aug 26, 2003
Don't let the opening anecdote about comic books fool you: this is a well-researched, academically polished book. The title is the thesis: pushing against current momentum among New Testament scholars, Dr. Croy defends the theory (having been inspired by C.F.D. Moule) that originally there was more to the Gospel of Mark than 1:1-16:8. The Gospel of Mark, he says, was written as a codex (= hand-made book), the first and last pages of which were lost and never found.

Croy reviews a spectrum of views, answers objections, and offers some evidence which augments his theory, but admits that the case is not conclusive. That's okay; he's not out to prove the idea as much as he is out to demonstrate its plausibility. Along the way he offers some reasons why the idea that Mark intentionally ended at 16:8 is not really a very good idea: Is Mark a lousy writer? No. Has he adopted a modernistic, Kafka-esque style by leaving the Gospel open-ended? Not likely. So has Mark's composition been damaged? More likely.

Some readers may wish that Dr. Croy had spent a little more time investigating the question, "Did Mark 1:1 and 16:9-20 come from the same person?" (He regards 16:9-20 as a second-century scribal accretion.) Also, he states that the mutilation-theory is simpler than the theory that Mark died before finishing his account, but he does not say *why* it is simpler.

The book is well-arranged, with footnotes following each chapter. Without the footnotes, appendices (App. B is a bit oversimplified), and bibliography the book would only be about 135, rather than 230, pages long. It is remarkably typo-free. It might have been improved if an index had been added and less space had been devoted to profiles of recent rival theories (in ch. 5). In other news: Croy's grasp of the external evidence is not perfect but it is better than that of many others who have written about the ending of Mark.

Though "The Mutilation of Mark's Gospel" did not convince me of its Big Idea, I am glad I read it. Dr. Croy has effectively challenged those who claim that Mark ended his account intentionally at 16:8. Many commentators and seminary professors have been saying that the abrupt ending is intentional. (Because the book is really a tragedy?? Because "Galilee" was a non-literal motif?? O come. [Croy mentions on p. 104 R. Stein's brilliant disintegration of the latter theory.]) Now they should be saying, "Hmm. This story's not over."

P.S. I liked the cover, too.


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