Wednesday, November 30 2022

Bible Reading for: November 15

Mark 16, Matthew 28

There has been a great deal of controversy for centuries over the last eleven verses of the book of Mark. The big question is, where did that come from?

In today’s reading we come across a passage that does not appear in the earliest copies of Mark. As you may, or may not, know, the books of the New Testament were letters written by individuals to specific recipients. They were sometimes intended for groups, but whether they were addressed to an individual or a group, they were invariably studiously copied and sent on to other individuals or churches. In the copying of letters mistakes, additions and deletions can happen.

The passage in question is Mark 16:9-20. Some commentaries I looked at either didn’t mention the controversy or barely mentioned it in passing. Others mention that this passage is most likely written by someone other than Mark and added some time after the letter first appeared. One commentary I looked at was rather hostile to the passage, so much so that I want to share his comment with you.

“I am committed to inspired Apostolic writings as the true word of God, the only source for faith and practice. However, these verses are not inspired, possibly even heretical (drinking poison, handling snakes). I refuse to comment on them!”

Utley, R. J. D. (2000). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series. Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

I wonder how he really feels about this passage. As the citation above demonstrates, Peter is alleged to be the source of Mark’s information about Jesus. Early Christian tradition has Mark writing this gospel based on the preaching of Peter while in Rome. If that is the case, then the book of Mark is an eyewitness account recounted by Peter and recorded by Mark, but I digress.

There are very strong arguments against the last 11 verses of Mark being original. Their lack of seminal origin may not necessarily mean they are not the inspired Word of God, but it does call them into question. Casting out demons, speaking in tongues – even picking up serpents and drinking poison – is not contrary to what is possible when one is truly a disciple of Christ. Jesus Himself said that with faith the size of a mustard seed, a believer could tell a mountain to cast itself into the sea and it would be done. Still, this passage is very much out of character of the rest of New Testament Scripture. Some Christian denominations, unfortunately, have based much of their expression of faith on these few questionable verses. My personal position is to base my theology on Scripture of less questionable provenance.

Let me leave you with one commentary’s statement concerning these verses.

“Greek manuscripts known to early church fathers didn’t contain these verses. Even so, most of the Gk. manuscript’s traditions do have the longer ending. In tracing these texts back, scholars believe the longer ending appeared in the first half of the 2nd century. A marked difference in vocabulary between the longer ending and the rest of Mark also suggests it was not part of the original work.

Some 73 of the 167 words in this ending are not used elsewhere in Mark. The style of writing also has been compared with Mark’s style and found distinctly different. Finally, both the rebuke of the disciples by Jesus (16:14) and the emphasis on miraculous signs (16:17–18) has no parallel in Mark or in other accounts of Christ’s post–resurrection dealings with His followers. Evidence from every line of research seems to suggest that these 11 verses were not part of Mark’s original text.”

Richards, L. O. (1991). The Bible readers companion (electronic ed.). Wheaton: Victor Books.

What is your opinion on the matter?

Vivere Victorem! (Live Victorious!)

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Reading Plans
Bible Order: Acts 7-8
Old Testament Only: Jeremiah 49–50
New Testament Only: Hebrews 6:13–7:10


Would You Murder God?


The Miracle Of Belief

1 comment

  1. Let me add a question to the controversy. Can we lose our discipleship? The man dressed in white in the tomb says,”go tell his disciples and Peter”. Does this mean that Peter had lost his discipleship?

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