Mark 16:9-20

Dubious Denoument (2009) (32″ x 16 3/4″ x 1 1/4″)
collage in type case

If most of you try to look up these verses in your Bible, they will be missing or given in small type. This is because they are not present in the earliest existing manuscripts of Mark that we possess. There are several theories to account for their appearance in later manuscripts. The most popular one is that Mark either intended to end his Gospel at verse 8 or that the original ending was lost early in the process of transmission. In either case, someone later on appended verses 9-20 to provide a “more appropriate” ending.
My own feeling, based on structural analysis, is that the last verses of Mark’s original Gospel were lost, but that we can go to the ending of Luke’s Gospel to get a good idea of how it originally read.

2 Replies to “Mark 16:9-20”

  1. Dave, A lot of commentators use highly misleading language when discussing the evidence pertaining to Mark 16:9-20, mainly because few of them have directly engaged the evidence themselves. In two early manuscripts (from the 300's), Mark 16 ends at the end of verse 8, and this was a form of the text that circulated in Egypt at that time. But the patristic writers Justin, Tatian, and Irenaeus utilized the contents of Mark 16:9-20 considerably earlier, in the 100's, and Irenaeus (bishop of Lyons, in Gaul/France), around 180, specifically quoted Mark 16:19. The two Greek manuscripts that end Mark at 16:8 have other unusual features at the end of Mark. Other early manuscripts – Codices Alexandrinus, Ephraemi rescriptus, Washingtoniensis, and Bezae — include Mark 16:9-20. And a considerable number of widespread patristic writings show that the verses were in copies that were in use throughout the Roman Empire. Verses 9-20 are indeed missing in *two* Greek manuscripts. They are present in over 1,600 Greek manuscripts (plus thousands of non-Greek manuscripts in versions such as the Vulgate and the Peshitta).

  2. For those interested in learning more about this subject, B&H Academic published a book in 2008 in their "Perspectives" series entitled Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: 4 Views. My personal view is slightly different from all of them.

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