No quicker evaluation of the textual criticism being practiced today can be found than the study of their treatment of The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel of Mark.
It is the fashion these days to accept a half-dozen ancient Egyptian manuscripts as determiners of what is, and what is not, genuine scripture. Since no ancestor of these Egyptian manuscripts can be found, and no manuscript copied from them, the elevation of them is beyond reason. Mere opinion, subjective assertions, and circular reasoning are substituted for undeniable objective external evidence.
In his extensive examination of such reasoning, Dean John W. Burgon remarks: ''It is a known rule in the Law of Evidence that the burden of proof lies on the party who asserts the affirmative of the issue . . . But the case is altogether different, as all must see, when it is proposed to get rid of twelve verses which for 1,700 years and upwards have formed the conclusion of St. Mark’s Gospel, . . . . This assumption that a work which has held to be a complete work for seventeen centuries and upwards was originally incomplete, of course requires proof. . . . I can only imagine one other thing which could induce us to entertain such an opinion [to brand Mark 16:9-20 as spurious] and that would be the general consent of MSS., Fathers, and Versions'' Then Burgon proceeds .to prove that these verses have the full support of the early Fathers and Versions, and that only three MSS (a, B, 304) do not have these verses. Codex B strangely leaves a space large enough to contain the verses (the only blank space left in that MS.). Codex a, on the other hand, is marred by a sudden increase in size of the letters used to cover the space which would be occupied by these verses. Tischendorf admits these lines appear to be spurious.
In this book Burgon considers every scintilla of supposed evidence produced against these verses. He proves some false, misconstrued, and none of any force in proving the verses anything but genuine. No one has ever dared to answer Burgon point by point. The critics are content to sneer and jeer, and pronounce unsupported judgments.
Burgon poses stubborn fact. Critics offer subjective opinions, circular reasonings, but no facts.
John William Burgon was born August 21, 1813. He matriculated at Oxford in 1841, taking several high honors there, and his B.A. 1845. He took his M.A. there in 1848…the thing about Burgon, however, which lifts him out of the nineteenth century English setting and endears him to the hearts of earnest Christians of other lands and other ages is his steadfast defense of the scriptures as the infallible Word of God. He strove with all his power to arrest the modernistic currents which during his lifetime had begun to flow within the Church of England, continuing his efforts with unabated zeal up to the very day of his death. With this purpose in mind he labored mightily in the field of New Testament textual criticism.
In 1860, while temporary chaplain of the English congregation at Rome, he made a personal examination of Codex B (Vaticanus), and in 1862 he inspected the treasures of St. Catherine's Convent on Mt. Sinai. Later he made several tours of European libraries, examining and collating New Testament manuscripts wherever he went…Of all the critics of the nineteenth century Burgon alone was consistently Christian in his vindication of the Divine inspiration and providential preservation of the text of Holy Scripture. 420 pages
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