Aug 17, 2009

Rebuttal on Mark 16:16

The view that Mark 16: 9-20 is a later edition is the scholarly view of most texual critics. There are several reasons for doubting the authenticity for what is called either the "long ending" or "Marcan Appendix," of the Gospel of Mark.

First, the oldest manuscripts of Mark end with verse 8. At least two endings were added very early. The shorter reads: "But they reported briefly to those with Peter all that had been commanded them. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them from the East even to the West the sacred and incorruptible message of eternal salvation."

Bruce Metzger, well known textual scholar, said:

"Four endings of the Gospel according to Mark are current in the manuscripts. (1) The last twelve verses of the commonly received text of Mark are absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts, from the Old Latin codex Bobiensis, the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript, about one hundred Armenian manuscripts, and the two oldest Georgian manuscripts (written A.D. 897 and A.D. 913). Clement of Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of the existence of these verses; furthermore Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them. The original form of the Eusebian sections (drawn up by Ammonius) makes no provision for numbering sections of the text after 16:8. Not a few manuscripts which contain the passage have scribal notes stating that older Greek copies lack it, and in other witnesses the passage is marked with asterisks or obeli, the conventional signs used by copyists to indicate a spurious addition to a document.

The earliest patristic witnesses to part or all of the long ending are Irenaeus and the Diatessaron. It is not certain whether Justin Martyr was acquainted with the passage; in his Apology (i.45) he includes five words that occur, in a different sequence, in ver. 20.

How should the evidence of each of these endings be evaluated? It is obvious that the expanded form of the long ending has no claim to be original. Not only is the external evidence extremely limited, but the expansion contains several non-Markan words and expressions as well as several that occur nowhere else in the New Testament.

Thus, on the basis of good external evidence and strong internal considerations it appears that the earliest ascertainable form of the Gospel of Mark ended with 16.8."

He also says that the "external and internal evidence is conclusive against the authenticity of the last twelve verses as coming from the same pen as the rest of the Gospel..."

Bruce Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: its Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), pp. 269-270.

Secondly, internal evidence, according to Metzger, points also to the conclusion that the last twelve verses were not written by Mark.


(1) the true conclusion certainly contained a Galilean appearance (Mark 16:7, cp. 14:28), and this does not.

(2) The style is that of a bare catalogue of facts, and quite unlike St. Mark's usual style.

(3) The section contains numerous words and expressions never used by Mark.

(4) Mark 16:9 makes an abrupt fresh start, and is not continuous with the preceding narrative.

(5) Mary Magdalene is spoken of (16:9) as if she had not been mentioned before, although she has just been alluded to twice (15:47, 16:1).

(6) The section seems to represent not a primary tradition, such as Peter's, but quite a secondary one, and in particular to be dependent upon the conclusion of St. Matthew, and upon Luke 24:23f.

You may find this in Bruce Metzger's - "A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament," pages 122-126.

Bruce Terry, another well known texual scholar, wrote:

"It appears that someone wrote the ending of Mark and added it to the gospel because the style is different and the vocabulary is different.

The ending chosen for most modern bibles is known as the Longer Ending (or Apocryphal Addition). It consists of twelve additional verses (Mark 16:9-20) which are attached after verse 16:8. Because these twelve verses aren't in the oldest manuscripts, and are written in a different style, they almost certainly weren't part of the original gospel. But many people don't know this and therefore accept them as authentic."
(The Style Of The Long Ending Of Mark by Bruce Terry)

Assuming it to be the inspired words of Mark, the verse does not prove the absolute essentiality of baptism.

Jesus may be alluding to spiritual baptism, and uses language wherein the symbol is put for the reality it points to, which is not uncommon among men or in scripture. Examples:

"He who believes and eats my flesh and drinks my blood shall be saved."

Such is not unscriptural, for Jesus said that one must eat him who is the Bread of Life, eat his sacrifice, eat his flesh and drink his blood.

He who believes and experiences the reality that water baptism symbolizes, shall be saved.

He who believes and experiences the reality that the Lord's Supper symbolizes, shall be saved.

Christ puts the symbol in place of the thing signified. We do this commonly in every day language. We say the symbol does something even though our intended and obvious meaning is that the thing the symbol represents is what does the action, and not the symbol itself.

When we Americans say - "I pledge allegiance to the FLAG," do we mean the piece of cloth or the thing it signifies, the country?

"He who believes and eats my flesh and drinks my blood shall be saved."

"He who believes and experiences the power of my resurrection, shall be saved."

"He who is sworn in and puts on a badge will be a policeman."

But, does my opponent really believe Mark 16: 16? Does he believe that all baptized believers "SHALL be saved"? No. He believes that many baptized believers will not be saved because they lost their salvation!

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." (Matthew 10: 42 NIV)

Is it necessary to give a cup of cold water to people in order to be saved?

Salvation is promised to the martyrs. Does this imply that one must be a martyr to be saved?

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it." (Mark 8:35 NIV)

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5: 11, 12 NIV)

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