Mark 16:9-20

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MarquezsDg

Puritan Board Freshman
Im sure this has been talked about before. I just finished watching Erhman v. Wallace on "can we trust the NT" It was great debate. I still struglle with the last passages of Mark. My question is simple because both men and many do acknowledge that 9-20 were probaly not written by mark. Why is it then in the bible? If Mark was inspired and he only wrote to verse 8 then that should be it end of story no? If it was added on and those people were not under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit no matter how good their intentions were its wrong right?

Maybe im too simple here, but to me if Mark worte it then it should be there and if he didnt then it shouldnt be. How do you answer someone then that says look heres a passage that you dont know if it was inspired by the Holy Spirit or not.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
It's an issue the Church has been dealing with for literally more than 2000 years. The answer is that the doctrine of God preserving His word doesn't rely on an exact word for word transmission in one book always available. The Church has always accepted that errors have crept in to the copies of the original writings, but that none of these errors have ever made any difference to any doctrine of faith.

So, a few extra words at the end of Mark, or calling a tree or an animal by a wrong name or spelling a place name wrong has never shaken the Church. We admit it has happened, and much effort has gone into correcting these small errors, and it will continue to be a work of those of God's people who have been gifted with the relevant skills.
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
Some scholars, but not all, are of the opinion that Dean Burgon's classic defense "THE LAST TWELVE VERSES OF MARK" has never been refuted.
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
There are some very solid arguments for leaving it in. I often explain the doctrine of preservation to people who will give the silly claim that 'there are so many copies, how do you know what should be in there'. Obviously, the Markan passage shows a weakness in the doctrine. Furthermore, if you get rid of the Markan long ending then you might be compelled to get rid of the Coma Adultera in John (Woman caught in adultery) for the same reason (and I love that story).

My explanation is that it may have been added later to make up for a lost original ending to Mark BUT even if it wasn't, it's not as kooky as it sounds. I contend that Jesus was specifically speaking to the apostles, those whose words would need signs and wonders to justify them. Paul did in fact pick up and was bitten by a poisonous snake. No record of drinking poison but the thought is that the apostles would be protected until the Gospel was proclaimed in the "whole" world and produce miraculous signs to validate their message. There is nothing in these words that directs us to build a doctrine or practice of snake handling or poison drinking. We should never build a doctrine around a obscure verse and this verse certainly fits that criteria.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Part of the problem is that the latter part of Mark is a peculiar text. For instance, it contains some non-Markan vocabulary. It shows up in some manuscripts, not in others). Some theorize that it is contrary to the thematic purpose of Mark (a "calling for a decision" to the message of the gospel); so if the gospel ends abruptly, that is problematic to some, but fitting with that "purpose" in the view of others.

As with most things, one's presuppositions will largely affect how one regards this passage.
 

MarquezsDg

Puritan Board Freshman
The Church has always accepted that errors have crept in to the copies of the original writings, but that none of these errors have ever made any difference to any doctrine of faith.

If the church has acknowledge that this is an error and not so much that they arent sure if Mark wrote it then why not take it out?

---------- Post added at 11:14 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:12 AM ----------

what if someone refuses to read that passage and lets say the woman caught in adultrey story. would you say that person is not reading scripture inspired by Holy Spirit?
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
If the church has acknowledge that this is an error and not so much that they arent sure if Mark wrote it then why not take it out?

The Church hasn't acknowledged that it is an error. The Church hasn't made up her mind yet :)
 

MarquezsDg

Puritan Board Freshman
I guess i just struggle with the fact that Mark might not have written this and its in there. Either he did and it should be in there or he didnt and it shouldnt be. we dont have the original is there any theory that he might have of written this last part even though it doesnt have a Mark flavor to it. I know the earliest seem not to have it but we dont have the original so isnt there a chance that it could have been there. I still havemnt read the Burgon link ,still at work.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
It's in some of my Bibles. And yes, it either should be there or shouldn't. And since every single word of God is important beyond all human understanding of the word important, we should find out whether or not Abraham made a treaty under a terebinth tree or an oak. But in the mean time, the Church, even during the time of Christ incarnate, has had various readings of many sections of Scripture, yet still have been the stewards of the oracles of God.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
It shows up in some manuscripts, not in others

Actually the ending of Mark appears in all but two manuscripts. The problem is that the two manuscripts that do not contain the last 12 verses of Mark are Vaticanus and Sinaticus, which constitute the Holy Grail of manuscripts according to most textual critics. If the last 12 verses of Mark are indeed original, that would cast serious doubt on these two manuscripts, and in turn most modern translations of the Bible because they are based about 90% or more on these two manuscripts. Of course, as many have already pointed out, problems of this nature in no way affect any doctine nor do they diminish the authority or infallability of the Bible.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
It shows up in some manuscripts, not in others

Actually the ending of Mark appears in all but two manuscripts.

I think that would fit the definition of "some."

Actually, Metzger writes the following in A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament:

The last twelve verses of the commonly received text of Mark are absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts (א and B), from the Old Latin codex Bobiensis (it k), 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.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I guess i just struggle with the fact that Mark might not have written this and its in there.

LBC 1:5 ...our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

If your full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth of the last twelve verses of Mark is from the testimony of scholars then your struggle will continue.
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
I think that would fit the definition of "some."

Actually, Metzger writes the following in A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament:

The last twelve verses of the commonly received text of Mark are absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts (א and B), from the Old Latin codex Bobiensis (it k), 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.


Hmmmm.... seems a bit more than two......

Actually the verses are indeed omitted in ONLY TWO GREEK MAJUSCULES. Some subsequent Greek miniscules, latin versions, etc. also omit them.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Modern eclectic textual criticism generally accepts a second century settlement of the New Testament text. It is unlikely anyone who adopts the traditional understanding of the canon of the New Testament properly understands the dynamics involved in questions of this nature.

Critics generally acknowledge a second century writing of the end of Mark's gospel. On the basis of their second century canon, there is in fact no valid reason for doubting the longer ending of Mark as canonical. The doubt arises for the conservative only when he accepts the critics' explanations.

These issues of "lower" textual criticism cannot be divorced from the "higher" criticism pertaining to the history of the canon. The two are interwoven.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Actually the verses are indeed omitted in ONLY TWO GREEK MAJUSCULES. Some subsequent Greek miniscules, latin versions, etc. also omit them.

While that may be true, that's not what was stated in either post # 5 or post # 17.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Actually the verses are indeed omitted in ONLY TWO GREEK MAJUSCULES. Some subsequent Greek miniscules, latin versions, etc. also omit them.

While that may be true, that's not what was stated in either post # 5 or post # 17.

Those other manuscripts that Metzger refers to are not Greek manuscripts, but rather very old translations into Armenian, Latin, and other languages. While these may certainly be useful in textual criticism, they can hardly be considered as Greek texts therefore my original statement stands.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Actually the verses are indeed omitted in ONLY TWO GREEK MAJUSCULES. Some subsequent Greek miniscules, latin versions, etc. also omit them.

While that may be true, that's not what was stated in either post # 5 or post # 17.

Those other manuscripts that Metzger refers to are not Greek manuscripts, but rather very old translations into Armenian, Latin, and other languages. While these may certainly be useful in textual criticism, they can hardly be considered as Greek texts therefore my original statement stands.

Who said anything about Greek manuscripts, Bill? Neither you nor I used the phrase "Greek manuscripts" anywhere in those two posts.

In the quote I posted, Metzger does say, "Furthermore Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them."
 
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elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
Im sure this has been talked about before. I just finished watching Erhman v. Wallace on "can we trust the NT" It was great debate. I still struglle with the last passages of Mark. My question is simple because both men and many do acknowledge that 9-20 were probaly not written by mark. Why is it then in the bible? If Mark was inspired and he only wrote to verse 8 then that should be it end of story no? If it was added on and those people were not under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit no matter how good their intentions were its wrong right?

Maybe im too simple here, but to me if Mark worte it then it should be there and if he didnt then it shouldnt be. How do you answer someone then that says look heres a passage that you dont know if it was inspired by the Holy Spirit or not.

The best Bibles will have notes, or bracket the text, to make it clear that the longer Markan text is in doubt. This is an ancient practice: as Metzger notes, there are even Greek manuscripts that include the text would make notes to the affect that they are doubtful additions to the text.

"It's in my Bible" is not a good reason for counting it canonical. The King James Version included the apocrypha, and we don't count the apocrypha as canonical.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Considering that in its original form, the Westminster Standards utilize verses from Mk.16:9-20 as prooftexts, those who maintain those Standards in that form have something close to a Confessional duty to support their canonical status. If they do not, they will need other Scripture-support for the doctrines which were once declared on that basis.

I would say to anyone studying the Bible in private, or teaching the Bible in public: if you are not convinced that something before you is the Word of God, then by all means do not rest your life on it; and please do not preach anything other than the pure Word of God in your good conscience.

And then, with that verse or those verses in pause, I would like to ask: why do you feel this way? Is it because of the text itself, irrespective of any other reasons? Is it because you have been asked the question, "Hath God indeed said...?" Is it because some expert has called it into question? Or many experts? Or many modern experts? How does your judgment with regard to this text compare to the judgment of the majority of Christians through the centuries? Would you feel the same way about this text if someone else (for whatever reason) had not called it into question? What reason do you have to doubt this particular text?

Luther wasn't sure he was hearing the divine Voice in the book of James. He famously called it an "epistle of straw." But in the end, he yielded to the vast majority consensus of the church, who testified to a faithful hearing of the Master's Voice in that letter. He kept James in his Bible.

I appreciate living in the age I do, with all its access to scholarly means and apparatus and judgments. But I do believe that the church is in a kind of danger of succumbing to a "tyranny of the experts" when it comes to certain fundamental tests they should at least be beginning with (but are often dispensed with entirely). Many Protestants are no different from Romanists, in simply accepting the Bible they have inherited on the basis of the someone's authority. In one sense, that's fine--provided that the authority the church claims isn't the assertion that they are the experts (and you are not), or they have the authority to define what is and isn't canonical. But in fact, this is Rome's claim; AND it is virtually indistinguishable from the claims of the "scholars." The scholars today will tell you what is "authoritative" or not; that is, they will tell you where you shall hear the Word of the Lord.

But this is not a duty which you may legitimately delegate.

YOU are responsible for listening for your Shepherd's Voice. Consider these statements from the Westminster Confession of Faith:
1:4 The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.

1.5 "...yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts

1:10 The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined; and in whose sentence we are to rest; can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.​


The first question to ask, not that other questions aren't relevant or ultimately helpful, but YOUR FIRST QUESTION ought to be: Do my ears heard the Voice of my Shepherd in these lines? "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" Jn.10:27. Really? Do you believe this?

In one sense, we have a benefit not enjoyed by the first-century church: having a whole and complete Bible, bequeathed to us by the previous generation. But they also had it bequeathed to them. This is a treasure not to be slighted. There is true authority in their testimony, "this is the Word of God." But we do them a disservice, if we only attribute to them a kind of naive reception, that has shown no other interest than in a "traditional" acceptance. Did the the second or third generation of Christians not also listen carefully to what was said in those pages, as well as to those who passed those pages to them?

In another sense, therefore, if we will be true to the first, second, third, and subsequent generations of the church--we must do the work of "canonization" in each generation. We must receive the Word of God from the Mouth of God himself. We must listen to that prophet, or that apostle, and discern the Word of God. And shall we turn to the "expert," who often is guided by completely alien spirit, and ask him (first) if I am hearing correctly? (what service should he be performing?) How far shall we go to "correct" the saints of the past, who distinctly heard the Lord's Word in the pericope adulterae, or in the "longer" (as opposed to the shorter, and the longest) ending of Mark?

I have preached, or will preach both of those texts. And mainly because I believe the Spirit of Christ is speaking there, and not because the weight of scholarly opinion is either here or there (and I am familiar with many of the experts' opinions; I'm not ignorant). When it comes to disputes over letters, words, or phrases, these are not great obstacles to my faith in the doctrine of preservation. And, as I've indicated, I'm happily settled on the question of the two longest disputed passages in the NT.

I confess, I have reservations on that famous portion of 1Jn.5:7-8. I have preached through 1John, and I treated this passage; I did not rest any point of my exposition on the terms in dispute. I did not think it necessary for explaining the meaning and force of the text. I did not leave the listeners in the dark concerning the fact of the dispute. But, since I do not believe (for example) that the doctrine of the Trinity is in the least dependent on this text for its standing, I in good conscience left all disputes about it to the conscience of the reader.



The doctrines of inspiration, preservation, clarity, and sufficiency of Scripture are not seriously challenged by the modern text-critical skeptic. They are not challenged by him, unless one has come to depend on the expert to tell him where to find the reliable Word of God, what He is saying, and what He means by it. The church needs a new generation of text-scholars who will have an integrated theory of all the above Scripture attributes, which is sanctified by faith; and who put their talents in service to that Word that rules over them.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I had an exchange with Scott Clark on this passage a while back, and I’ll quote from it as it covers some material brought up in this thread:

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Alleged by Dr. Clark:

“It is absent from Syriac MSS, Old Latin MSS, and Armenian MSS and Georgian MSS from the 9th and 10th centuries.”

When you assert as you have above it is misleading. The impression given is that the 12 verses are entirely missing from: the “Syriac MSS”, whereas even Geisler and Nix in their Introduction to the Bible are less misleading when they say it is found in “some Syriac manuscripts” (p. 372), while in reality it is found in all except the Sinaitic Syriac (EF Hills, Believing Bible Study, p. 133). As regards your “It is absent from…Old Latin MSS” again the impression given is it is not in them at all, whereas it is found “in all the Latin manuscripts except k” (ibid.) It is absent from a large number of the Armenian MSS, but is found in the Georgian MSS except the “Adysh and Opiza manuscripts of the Old Georgian version” (ibid. p. 134)

Dr. Clark:

“The United Bible Society textual commentary has a long discussion (4 page -- most notes are about a paragraph long) of the questions surrounding the longer ending of Mk.”

Rev. John William Burgon has a book of 333 pages documenting the authenticity of these verses – The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to S. Mark – and no one has refuted it, they just ignore it! And few read it, even though they wax “knowledgeable” about the subject.

Dr. Clark:

“…Eusebius and Jerome testify that it is not in the oldest Greek texts.”

Which may have been the two “old texts” or others of their type which plague us today with their notorious omissions! That Jerome considered it authentic is seen in his including it in his Latin Vulgate. Tischendorf opined that Aleph and B (Sinaiticus and Vaticanus) were of those 50 Bibles Eusebius had printed at the order of Emperor Constanine. Nolan in his Integrity of the Greek Vulgate makes a good case that Eusebius used manuscripts from Origen’s library in Caesarea.

Dr. Clark:

“The textual/external evidence favors omitting the longer ending but the main argument is from "internal" evidence, i.e., the vocabulary of the ending and the style are not Markan.”

Run that by me again. What “textual/external evidence”? That Aleph & B omit it, while all the other 15 uncials contain it? This Aleph & B which disagree with each other’s readings 3,036 times in the Gospels alone, these are the standard of judgment used for discerning the true text? While the, as you said, Byzantine or Majority manuscripts almost unanimously contain it (in Burgon’s day, a full 600 of the 600 miniscules that had Mark contained it).

You said,

“If numbers count, then the longer ending is ‘in’ but there are good reasons for doubting that this is the best way to make text-critical decisions.”

I would agree with that, but to overthrow the testimony of such overwhelming numerical testimony one would have to account for it, and that on a basis besides Hort’s now-discredited “Antiochian rescension,” where a supposed official edition was imposed on the church, there being no historical support for such a sheer fabrication, and which is no longer believed by textual critics, even of the eclectic varieties.

In modern times the best defense of Burgon’s views and repudiation of Hort’s would be Maurice A. Robinson and William G. Pierpont’s Introduction to The New Testament in the Original Greek According to the Byzantine / Majority Textform: Introduction to Robinson & Pierpont.

Please note, this is for serious enquirers as to the status of the views of Burgon and the Traditional or Byzantine Text. In particular, Robinson and Pierpont deal with the invalidity of the Westcott and Hort tenets of text criticism in light of current scholarship, and they provide a point-by-point refutation of Hort’s foundational premises. I will append also two other outstanding Byzantine-priority defenses available in their entirety online:

Dr. Jakob van Bruggen’s, The Ancient Text of the New Testament

Dr. Wilbur N. Pickering’s, The Identity of the New Testament Text II

In a stinging letter to Bishop Ellicot, chairman of the Revision Committee which supplanted the Traditional Greek text with the Westcott/Hort critical text, Burgon summarized his research as follows:

Similarly, concerning THE LAST TWELVE VERSES OF S. MARK which you brand with suspicion and separate off from the rest of the Gospel, in token that, in your opinion, there is “a breach of continuity” (p.53), (whatever that may mean,) between verses 8 and 9. Your ground for thus disallowing the last 12 verses of the second Gospel, is, that B and a omit them: – that a few late MSS. exhibit a wretched alternative for them: – and that Eusebius says they were often away. Now, my method on the contrary is to refer all such questions to “the consentient testimony of the most ancient authorities.” And I invite you to note the result of such an appeal in the present instance. The verses in question I find are recognized,

In the 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] century, – By the Old Latin, and – Syriac Verss. – by Papias; – Justin M.; – Irenaeus; – Tertullian.

In the 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] century, – By the Coptic – and Sahidic versions: – by Hippolytus; – by Vincentius at the seventh Council of Carthage; – by the “Acta Pilati;” – and the “Apostolical Constitutions” in two places.

In the 4[SUP]th[/SUP] century, – By Cureton’s Syr. and the Gothic Verss.: – besides the Syriac Table of Canons; – Eusebius; – Macarius Magnes; – Aphraates; – Didymus; – the Syriac “Acts of the Ap.;” – Epiphanius; – Leontius; – ps. – Ephraem; – Ambrose; – Chrysostom; – Jerome; – Augustine.

In the 5[SUP]th[/SUP] century, Besides the Armenian Vers., – by codices A and C; – by Leo; – Nestorius; – Cyril of Alexandria; – Victor of Antioch; – Patricius; – Marius Mercator.

In the 6[SUP]th[/SUP] and 7[SUP]th[/SUP] centuries, – Besides cod. D, – Georgian and Ethiopic Verss.: – by Hesychius; – Gregentius; – Prosper; – John, abp of Thessalonica; – and Modestus, bishop of Jerusalem.*

* John William Burgon, B.D., The Revision Revised (Paradise, Pa.: Conservative Classics, 1883), 422-23.​


You said,

“Why is Mary Magadalene so identified in 16:9 since she was identified in 15:40.”

Could it be to distinguish her from the other Mary mentioned in 15:40?

The “main argument” from “internal evidences” re vocabulary is so subjective – and easily refutable at that – it is not worth pursuing at this point. It is a “dream” in the mind of prejudiced critics. I think the objection to “sign” as used in the passage not being in accord with earlier usage is without weight, a mere vagary.

The viewing of Mark’s Gospel 16:9-20 was first deemed spurious by the rationalistic German critic Johann Jakob Griesbach (1745-1812) and manifested so in his second edition of the NT (1796-1806). He had heard it was absent in Rome’s Vaticanus and, without seeing the MS, deleted it. He is not counted among believing Christians. In all the centuries of the Christian church prior to this its authenticity was not questioned.

The encroachment of Enlightenment skepticism into the church of Jesus Christ has penetrated even into the modern Scriptoriums from whence we get our Bibles, and the classrooms where our spiritual leaders are taught and trained concerning the Bible. Such bodes ill for the people of God in future generations. The scholars, some of them at any rate, seem sure of themselves amidst the uncertainty engendered by this skepticism regarding our Bibles, but the lay people increasingly are losing their confidence in the reliability of Scripture. Truth be told, many scholars themselves realize the text of their holy Book is uncertain, and unlikely to be recovered on the path text criticism has taken.

Ted Letis spoke of a “post-critical” view of Scripture – what some call the canonical or ecclesiastical view – and perhaps this is where we are heading. The link above to van Bruggen’s book, The Ancient Text of the New Testament, leads to a discussion of the disillusionment with text critical method to date.

I have faith that the original language texts of Scripture the Reformation fathers used – concerning which the WCF spoke of in its 1:8 – has been, by God’s “singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, [and] are therefore authentical”. The mss they had and used can be defended, notwithstanding the assaults both then – by Rome – and now, by those within the camp who have used Rome’s very weapons against the Scriptures the Reformation divines built the doctrines of Sola Scripture and Providential Preservation upon.

[end quote from earlier thread]

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Pastor James Snapp Jr. has written a research paper, The Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20, and these web pages are just a part of it; he will email the full paper on request.

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1/18/12 Afterthought: I didn't want to resurrect this thread from being locked, so I'll just put some thoughts here. If I were grading our respective comments - Dr. Clark (in the earlier thread) and myself - I would give him an "A" for graciousness and me a "D-". My tone was disrespectful to say the least. I think I have learned to do better over the passage of time. SMR
 
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