December 15, 2017

Savior of the Suffering (Mark)

First Things First
Restoring the Gospel to Primacy in the Church
Part Four:  Savior of the Suffering — Mark

Jesus-shaped Christianity will grow out of the soil of a Story-shaped Gospel. The more we immerse ourselves in the Story and get to know the Gospels, the greater the impact the Gospel of King Jesus will have in and through us.

That is the burden of this series, which encourages Christians and churches to make the Gospels (and Acts) the primary documents for forming our Christian identity, theology, and calling. At this point in the series we are giving brief introductions to each Gospel to prime the pump for your individual and congregational study and contemplation.

• • •

“…Mark’s task was the projection of Christian faith in a context of suffering and martyrdom. If Christians were to be strengthened and the gospel effectively proclaimed it would  be necessary to exhibit the similarity of situation faced by Jesus and the Christians of Rome. The Gospel of Mark is a pastoral response to this critical demand.”

• William L. Lane, NICNT: The Gospel of Mark

There is a consistent tradition in the early church that the second Gospel was written by John Mark, a companion and coworker of both the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul. Evidence from the work itself suggests that it was written in the second half of the decade 60-70 AD, that its setting was Rome in the days of Nero’s persecution, and that its intended audience was made up of followers of Jesus who were undergoing severe trials in those days.

As a pastoral response to these believers who were suffering persecution and battling fear, it portrays Jesus as the Conquering Servant-King, who displayed his awesome power of the forces of sin, evil, and death by his divine words and works during his life and ministry. It also places great emphasis on the last week of his life (6/16 chapters), showing him to be the Suffering Servant-King, who revealed his true identity and the way of salvation through his death, burial, and resurrection. Mark highlights these twin themes to promote courage and hope among those suffering for their faith in Rome. It encourages them to take the way of the Cross, knowing that the One who bore it for them is the ultimate Victor.

Mark, who became Peter’s intepreter, accurately wrote, though not in order, as many of the things said and done by the Lord as he had noted.

• Papias, 120-130 AD

MARK’S STRUCTURE
William Lane observes that the narrative flow of Mark follows Peter’s “kerygma” (proclamation) of the Gospel in Acts 10:36-41:

GOSPEL OF MARK ACTS 10:36-41
1:1 – The beginning of the Gospel 10:36 – The message he sent to Israel
1:2 – As it is written…Prepare the way of the Lord 10:36 – By Jesus Christ – he is Lord of all
1:14 – Jesus came into Galilee, preaching 10:37 – beginning in Galilee
1:4ff – John the baptizer appeared 10:37 – after the baptism which John announced
1:10 – The Spirit descending like a dove on him 10:38 – God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power
1:16-10:52 – Jesus’ ministry of healing and exorcism through God’s power 10:38 – He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him
11-14 – Jesus’ Jerusalem ministry 10:39 – We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem
15:1-39 – Jesus’ crucifixion 10:39 – They put him to death by hanging him on a tree
16:1-8 (ending?) – He is risen, as he said 10:40-41 – God raised him on the third day

 

MARK’S EMPHASES

1. A Gospel of Action and Detail
Two connecting words are used throughout Mark in the original language (not always clear in English versions). The first is the simple word “and.” Two thirds of the verses in Mark begin with this, giving the impression of non-stop activity. The second is the word “immediately,” which occurs forty times (ten in ch. 1 alone), moving the reader rapidly from one scene to the next.

Also, several details are highlighted in Mark’s narratives that do not appear in the other Gospels. One particularly vivid example tells of the presence of “wild beasts” when Jesus was “driven” into the wilderness and tested. If our suggested setting for the Gospel is correct, this detail would have had special significance to believers in Rome who faced the real possibility of being forced into the arena and facing the wild beasts of imperial judgment.

2. A Gospel of “Amazement”
This key word describes how people responded to Jesus’ remarkable words and works. He created a sense of awe and wonder wherever he went. On one occasion, however, the word describes a reaction Jesus’ himself when he came to his home town and people took offense at him: “And he was amazed at their unbelief” (Mark 6:6).

3. The “Messianic Secret”
Mark emphasizes several commands or actions of Jesus designed to prevent others from proclaiming his identity:

  • Commanding demons to be silent (1:25, 1:34, 3:11-12)
  • Commanding those who had been healed to be silent (1:43, 5:43, 7:36, 8:26)
  • Commanding the disciples to be silent (8:30, 9:9)
  • Withdrawing from the crowds (7:24, 9:30)

Mark 9:9 places a time limit on making Jesus known as the glorious Messiah, perhaps because he wanted to make sure that his identity and mission be understood only in the light of the Cross and Resurrection.

4. Jesus, Victor over Evil Powers
Whereas Matthew’s Gospel stresses Jesus’ healing ministry, Mark emphasizes exorcisms.  Note, for example, the way they treat the story of Jesus healing a demon-possessed, epileptic boy (Matt. 17:14-18, cf. Mark 9:17-27). Mark pictures Jesus vividly as the One who invaded the realm of the evil powers to conquer and plunder them.

5. A Gospel of Discipleship and Its Struggles
Robert Guelich observes that Mark portrays the disciples as both “privileged and perplexed,” with an intensified focus on their confusion and failure to grasp Jesus’ words and what it means to follow him. This theme is especially prominent in the narratives that take place after he starts talking to them about the Cross (8:31-10:52). The Gospel even includes a unique vignette about an event that took place when Jesus was arrested: “A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked” (14:51-52). Many of the early Church Fathers thought this verse was about Mark himself, and his own failure to remain with Jesus at a time of crisis.

6. Jesus, the Silent Sufferer
It is Jesus’ silence when accused that amazes Pilate (15:5). In fact, Mark records very few words spoken by Jesus and notes his silence on several occasions during his trial. If, as tradition holds, Mark represents Peter’s perspective on the Gospel, then his passion narrative is of a piece with Peter’s own counsel to suffering believers in Rome: “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1Peter 2:21-24). The sign above Jesus’ head on the cross, which Mark says read “King of the Jews,” was a statement by the imperial power of Rome that no challenge to its power would be permitted. The first readers of this Gospel would have recognized the empire’s powerful claim. Would they, like Jesus, silently entrust themselves to God’s care in the face of its cruel threats?

• • •

All of these characteristics make Mark “good news” to fearful Christians under duress, encouraging them to remember that their Savior and King endured the Cross and was vindicated when God raised him up.

One more observation about Mark. We must briefly mention its ending.

  • The Gospel as we have it now ends at Mark 16:1-8, which most scholars think cannot be the original ending, since it leaves the book with no resurrection appearances, and with an account of how the women who went to Jesus’ tomb remained silent and fearful after having heard the good news that Jesus was alive.
  • Others have a “longer ending” of Mark 16:9-20, which is extremely doubtful and appears to be a summary of events recorded in the other Gospels and Acts.

If there is a genuine “ending” to Mark beyond 16:8, we don’t have access to it. Some modern readers have argued that stopping at verse 8 can be read as making sense. If we understand it as an “open ending” — what did the women do next? — it might make sense as a challenge to its first readers. In this case, Mark would be saying, “Even on the morning of the resurrection, fear kept Jesus’ followers from giving a faithful witness.” The implied question is, “What will you do?”

This is possible, but widely considered unlikely. How much more encouraging to the suffering Roman Christians would it have been to give them assurance of vindication and life through their risen Lord! Why God in his providence would have allowed a portion of Scripture to disappear is hard to understand. Perhaps this is a small piece of evidence to remind us that we put our faith in a perfect Person, not a perfect book.

• • •

Some recommended commentaries on Mark:

One of the best commentaries ever written is William Lane’s The Gospel of Mark in the NICNT series.

Comments

  1. One theory I like is that Mark was written for the unbaptized, and Matthew and Luke were written for baptized catechumens of Jewish or Gentile backgrounds, respectively. Mark’s missing ending makes a lot of sense then.

    http://jackkilcrease.blogspot.com/2010/10/scaers-catechesis-theory-makes.html

  2. “As a pastoral response to these believers who were suffering persecution and battling fear, it portrays Jesus as the Conquering Servant-King”

    And Priest.

  3. I would like to know how long the “longer ending” of Mark has been in dispute. It seems very convenient to say those verses shouldn’t be there for people who are cessationist, anti-charismatic, anti-“signs and wonders” in their understanding. Throwing everything after Mark 16:8 away would fit their agenda perfectly. It would also (I’m just saying) violate the clear teaching of John at the end of the New Testament (which you will now tell me applies only to the book of Revelation).

    If it was good enough for the people who put the New Testament canon together in the first place, who are we to say it shouldn’t be there?

    • The manuscript evidence is very weak.

      • Dear Mike,

        The manuscript evidence for inclusion of Mark 16.9-20 is actually strong. The manuscript evidence for omission is relatively weak. According to the apparatus of UBS4, these MSS omit 9-20: Aleph, B, 304, it-k, syr-s (i.e. Sinaitic Syriac), cop-sa-ms (i.e. one Coptic MS of the Sahidic variety), arm-mss (i.e. a number of Armenian MSS), geo-1, geo-A (i.e. two Georgian texts). That’s it. Ranged against these few are all the rest.

        It may be that the weight given to the few which omit 9-20 should be further reduced. T. C. Skeat thought that Aleph and B were part of the same production effort by Eusebius to supply Constantine’s order of 50 Bibles for his new capital. There is a question whether 304 actually supports the omission. The “African” it-k may reflect the same minority text as the one Coptic MS. The Georgian may reflect the Armenian which may go back to the Syriac. So the evidence for the omission may boil down to a few Greek MSS from the same production effort (directed by Eusebius), a minority text of Egypt and North Africa, and a single transmission channel that reflects one branch of the Syriac tradition.

        The manuscript evidence indicates to me that omission of Mark 16.9-20 was a minority position among the early copies of the Gospel of Mark which stand behind those we now have. It may be that the combined weight of the Sinaitic Syriac and Eusebius indicate a preference to omit 9-20 in Syria and Palestine. However, the other Syriac witnesses (Curetonian, Peshitta, Harclean, Palestinian) include 9-20.

        Best,

        Tim Finney

    • “I would like to know how long the “longer ending” of Mark has been in dispute.”

      Since older manuscripts were found that did not contain the longer ending.

      Michael Spencer’s personal view (and he spent his entire life studying Mark) is that the original ending of Mark can still be found in Matthew.

      He wrote:

      I believe the ending was lost and can be found in Matthew 28: 1-10, 16-20. (See Edwards, Pillar Commentary on Mark.) Mark 14:28 indicates there was a meeting in Galilee predicted, and I do not believe Mark would omit it but Matthew include it….

      Look closely at Matthew’s ending.

      Match up the Galilean reunion predicted in Mark 14.

      Remember that Mark would have had one appearance at least.

      See where Mark breaks off at “afraid,” and how Matthew follows that exactly and goes on.

      Note that Jesus said in Mark 13 that the Gospel would be preached to every nation, and the command to do that is the ending of Matthew.

    • “If it was good enough for the people who put the New Testament canon together in the first place, who are we to say it shouldn’t be there?”

      You assume that the canon had the longer ending of Mark. We now that Mark was in the canon. We do not know which version of Mark was in the original canon. The oldest manuscripts do not have the longer ending.

      Michael Spencer’s opinion (having spent a life time studying Mark) is that the original ending was lost and that there are several clues in Mark that would lead us to believe that the original ending of Mark is best represented by the ending of Matthew’s gospel.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      Given that there is some dispute about the latter half of Mark 16, does anyone have any reservations about referring to that section in church sermons, Bible studies, etc.? Just curious…

      • Did a little more research. From Bruce Metzger’s: The canon of the New Testament – Its origin, development, and significance.

        Eusebius and Jerome, well aware of such variation in the witnesses, discussed which form of text was to be preferred. It is noteworthy, however, that neither Father suggested that one form was canonical and the other was not. Furthermore, the perception that the canon was basically closed did not lead to a slavish fixing of the text of the canonical books. Thus, the category of ‘canonical’ appears to have been broad enough to include all variant readings (as well as variant renderings in early versions) that emerged during the course of the transmission of the New Testament documents while apostolic tradition was still a living entity, with an intermingling of written and oral forms of that tradition. Already in the second century, for example, the so-called long ending of Mark was known to Justin Martyr and to Tatian, who incorporated it into his Diatesseron. There seems to be good reason, therefore, to conclude that, though 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, the passage ought to be accepted as part of the canonical text of Mark.

        Michael Spencer had a slightly different viewpoint:

        Was the New Testament canonical debate an expression of an infallible church decision expressing God’s will regarding closure of the canon? Or do canonical issues remain open? Consider the canonical status of Mark 16:9-20 as it applies to the continuation of spiritual gifts or the necessity of baptism for salvation. I do not consider these verses to be apostolic or to go back to Jesus, and this affects how I respond to the use of these passages. For me, there are still canonical questions in play.

        So, two different view points. For me, I would not be basing doctrine on the longer ending of Mark unless it is supported by other texts.

      • Most everything in those verses is found somewhere else in Scripture. That’s why many think it was a summary taken from other traditions and put together to make an ending. I probably wouldn’t make much of it except to help people understand the process by which the church put together the canon and why we do biblical criticism work.

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        I don’t disagree that practically all of that section is found and supported in the other Gospels; however, what do you make of verses 17-18? I’m not sure if there is an exact match in the other three books. Those verses, in particular, interest me, since certain Christian sects tend to rely on that passage to support radical demonstrations of faith (i.e., snake handling, etc.).

    • “I would like to know how long the “longer ending” of Mark has been in dispute.”

      Eusebius – 4th century – stated that most manuscripts had the shorter ending, and that this was the better ending. So, the longer ending has been in question for at least 1600 years. It was wasn’t until the 19th century that we were able to put our hands on one of these manuscripts.

      • Michael Bell,

        Eusebius, responding to a question from Marinus about how to harmonize Matthew 28 and Mark 16 on the subject of the timing of Christ’s resurrection, said that the question could be approached in two ways. One person might say that the passage in Mark (i.e., 16:9-20) is not in all copies, or that it is not in some copies, or that the accurate copies, at least, do not contain it, or that it is scarcely to be seen in any of the copies of the Gospel of Mark, and that it is to be rejected because it is in some copies but not in all of them, and because it seems to contradict the other Gospel-accounts. That is how one person might settle this question. But another person, not daring to reject anything in his copies, regardless of how it got there, will insist that one account should not be kept and the other rejected. Taking this second option, Mark’s statement that “Having risen early on the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene” should be read with a comma, so as to say, “Having risen, early on the first day of the week He appeared first to Mary Magdalene” — that is to say, he did not arise at that time, but much earlier, as Matthew says, and he appeared to Mary Magdalene early, which is also affirmed by John. The words that follow “Having arisen” should be said after a pause, “Early in the morning he appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.”

        Later in the same composition (Ad Marinum) Eusebius considers the idea that there were two women named Mary Magdalene, and that one of them was the Magdalene who “came there early in the morning, in John, and that she is the one of whom it is stated in Mark, according to some copies, that he had cast seven demons out of her.”

        And, further along, still in the same composition, Eusebius pictures two Marys and says, “Then the Mary in John would be a different person, who gets there later than the others, early in the morning; this would be the same one from whom, according to Mark, he had cast out seven devils.”

        So it is certainly not clear, from “Ad Marinum,” that Eusebius really thought that only a few copies contained Mark 16:9-20, or that Eusebius really thought that the accurate copies did not contain it. It is fair to say that Eusebius believed that some copies contained Mark 16:9-20 and that some copies did not contain it. (Something else to consider is that Eusebius did not include Mark 16:9-20 in the Eusebian Canons.)

        Eusebius’ statements in “Ad Marinum” about Mark 16:9-20 being absent from accurate copies, and being absent from almost all copies, are specifically framed by Eusebius as something that someone might say; when he is describing copies without using a hypothetical framework, he only says that “some copies” include the statement in 16:9, and then when he refers to 16:9 again he specifically attributes it to Mark. The statements which Eusebius introduced by saying, “Someone might say” should not be taken at face value, because that would imply that Eusebius was perfectly content to recommend that Marinus harmonize (and thus retain) Mark 16:9-20, and that Eusebius was content to refer to it as part of what Mark wrote, a few pages after expressing a belief that it was absent from the accurate manuscripts and from a very large majority of manuscripts.

        Unfortunately commentators such as Metzger and Lane have shared hardly any of these details in “Ad Marinum,” except for the snippets where Eusebius says that someone might say that the accurate manuscripts don’t have verses 9-20 and that hardly any manuscripts have verses 9-20 – and when this has been presented, the framework which Eusebius built around it has been removed, thus presenting an inaccurate picture of what Eusebius said. Would you say that such incomplete and out-of-focus descriptions of Eusebius’ testimony elicited your claim that Eusebius “stated that most manuscripts had the shorter ending [by which you mean the abrupt ending at v. 8, not the Shorter Ending], and that this was the better ending”?

        Yours in Christ,

        James Snapp, Jr.

  4. Clay Knick says:

    Once again, this is really good stuff, Mike. I’ve used Lane for years and love it. I also like James Edwards on Mark, too. Tom Oden has a recent book with IVP on Mark’s connection with Africa. Interesting reading.

  5. Marcus Johnson says:

    Chaplain Mike, just as a side note, can you include the link to the blog post of Matthew? It would make it a lot easier for me to jump back to related articles.

    • Will do. Should be up soon.

      UPDATE: I inserted the link with the words “Matthew’s Gospel” under the part about Jesus, Victor over Evil Powers.

  6. Marcus Johnson says:

    Just curious, how do folks reconcile the account of Jesus’ encounter with Pilate in Mark 15 (in which Jesus hardly says anything) to the narrative in the book of John (in which Jesus has a very poignant message)? I know the purpose of the Gospel writers varied (and I might have to wait for Chaplain Mike to post the next two “First Things First” in the series), but it is a conversation that I hope we could start here.

    • Marcus, I think you hinted at my answer when you said the Gospel writers had different purposes. I myself have not tried to harmonize that particular account, but I don’t think there is anything essentially contradictory about them. Jesus’ “silence” need not have been absolute to make the point that Mark is making.

  7. Adrienne says:

    Chaplain Mike, I wonder if the newly discovered Mark fragment will shed any light? Are you privy to any info on that? I’m sure it can’t be too earth-shattering, but I sure am curious!

  8. Dear Mike,

    Let’s talk about Mark 16:9-20. You said that the manuscript evidence for Mark 16:9-20 is very weak. I say that Mark 16:9-20 is attested in over 1,700 Greek copies of Mark, and in over 40 patristic witnesses from the era of the Roman Empire. Eusebius of Caesarea, around 325, mentioned that someone attempting to harmonize Matthew 28 and Mark 16 could say that the accurate copies of Mark stop at the end of verse 8, or that the remaining verses seldom appear, but Eusebius proceeded to explain how the verses should be harmonized and retained; later on in the same composition (Ad Marinum), Eusebius stated that Mark stated that Jesus cast out seven devils from Mary Magdalene. Plus, in the 100’s, Justin makes a strong allusion to 16:20 (c. 160) and probably to 16:14, too; Tatian incorporated the passage into the Diatessaron (c. 172), and in Book 3 of “Against Heresies,” (c. 184), Irenaeus specifically quoted Mark 16:19 from Mark around 184.

    Your descriptions of the pertinent evidence are not very precise. Someone, it seems, has told you that “Some manuscripts have a ‘shorter ending’ of one verse placed after 16:8,” but a precise writer would have said, instead, that one Old Latin manuscript with an anomalous text in Mark 16 (Codex Bobbiensis, c. 430) has a badly written form of the Shorter Ending after an edited form of 16:8; five Greek manuscripts have the Shorter Ending between 16:8 and 16:9, and one Greek manuscript has 16:9 after 16:8, with the Shorter Ending in the lower margin of the page. There is not a single Greek manuscript that has the Shorter Ending without at least part of verses 9-20. (Nor, contrary to what some commentators have said, is there a single Ethiopic manuscript of Mark in which the text ends at 16:8.)

    When your source said that “Others have a longer ending,” a more precise writer would have written that all undamaged Greek manuscripts of Mark have verses 9-20 except for two important manuscripts from the 300’s, and one medieval manuscript (MS 304, a commentary-manuscript which is probably just missing its final pages).

    Also, while I don’t grant that Mark 16:9-20 “appears to be a summary of events recorded in the other Gospels and Acts,” I would point out that most of the Gospel of Mark is paralleled in Matthew and/or Luke; if similarity is all it takes to yield the conclusion that a passage is a scribal accretion, our text of Mark would be very very small.

    I encourage you not to indulge in groupthink on this subject. William Lane, James Edwards (whose commentary was trusted by Michael Spencer, as you noted), and Bruce Metzger perpetuated several falsehoods about the evidence pertaining to Mark 16:9-20 in their commentaries. This is demonstrable. I would be glad to share more about this.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.
    Minister, Curtisville Christian Church
    (Indiana)

    • At this point, I am satisfied with the arguments that 16:9-20 is not original. However, since the material in that passage is indeed paralleled in other texts of Scripture, we really lose nothing of substance no matter which position we take.

  9. Mike,
    Also, I invite you to consult Acts 10:40-41 and see it it matches up better with Mark 16:1-8 (which is the impression given by Lane’s comparison), or with Mark 16:9-20. Sometimes things that look one way from a distance look a different way up close. This case calls for close examination.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

    • You’re right, James. Lane is making a general comparison that both Mark and Peter conclude with a witness to the resurrection. Peter’s sermon goes beyond the current ending of Mark to speak of appearances, etc. But these are in the other Gospel traditions, and the “longer ending” of Mark, rather than being original, appears to be a summary of references to various appearance accounts in the other gospels.

  10. Mike,

    I want to address the idea that Mark 16:9-20 is based on the other accounts, but first let’s take care of some misconceptions that you seem to have acquired from Lane’s commentary:

    Since Peter, in Acts 10:40-41, says that “God raised up this man on the third day and permitted Him to be seen, not by all the people, but by us, witnesses appointed beforehand by God, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.” The truncated text of Mark 16 only matches the first nine words. Mark 16:1-20, though, interlocks with the whole statement. The text of Mark that has verses 9-20 parallels Peter’s “kerygma” better than the text of Mark that stops at 16:8.

    Lane has misled you about MS 2386. Manuscript 2386 is just a damaged copy (the missing page of 2386 was abducted by a thief who was after the illustration of Luke that was on the opposite side of the page). Lane also told you things that are not true regarding the Ethiopic evidence and the legendary non-annotated copies with asterisks and obeli, and he said some very misleading things about some other pieces of evidence. He made it seem as if the non-use of Mark 16:9-20 by Clement, Origen, and Cyprian has evidential value, neglecting to mention (to give one example) that Clement’s non-use of 12 verses should be considered alongside the consideration that Clement did not quote from 12 /chapters/ of Mark.

    The main reason why Lane did all this is that he himself was misled by the evidence-descriptions supplied by Metzger. Metzger did not mention that Vaticanus has a special blank space after Mark 16:8; he did not mention that all four pages in Sinaiticus containing Mk. 14:54-Luke 1:56 was not written by the copyist who made the surrounding pages. Metzger did not say how many Greek manuscripts have annotations about Mark 16:9-20; he did not mention that one form of the annotation specifically says that the old copies include verses 9-20. And, Metzger’s statement about manuscripts with asterisks and obeli is an error. Nevertheless it is on that foundation that most of the argumentation about Mark 16:9-20 has been built.

    Now about the notion that Mark 16:9-20 “appears to be a summary of references to various appearance accounts in the other gospels.” Let’s ask four questions about what is really involved in that theory.

    First, why would a person who possessed copies of the Gospel of Matthew, and the Gospel of Mark, and the Gospel of Luke, and who was attempting to supply an ending for the Gospel of Mark, start by restating the day and time, and by reintroducing Mary Magdalene – setting a new scene in which her companions are no longer onstage – instead of continuing the narrative by a scene in which the fleeing women encounter Jesus as in Matthew 28:8-10?
    Second, why would this person, seeing in Matthew 28 that after Mary Magdalene saw Jesus and reported to the disciples, the disciples proceed to go to Galilee, conclude that the disciples did not believe her after she had seen Jesus?
    Third, why would this person, after reading in Luke 24 that Jesus appeared to the main group of disciples as the two travelers were reporting their encounter with Him, proceed to describe as two scenes (rather than one) the occasion on which the main group of disciples did not believe the two travelers, and the occasion when Jesus appeared to the eleven?
    Fourth, where did this person get the information that Jesus rebuked all eleven disciples because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen from the dead, and the specific statement about poison in 16:18?
    (Plus, it takes a lot of squinting to propose that the author of Mark 16:9-20, after reading about all the miraculous things that Jesus’ followers do in Acts (including /raising the dead/), read about the viper that took hold of Paul, and decided to put into Jesus’ mouth a statement that believers will take hold of snakes in His name.)

    While Mark 16:9-20 is indeed describing some events which are also described in other Gospels (which is true of over 90% of the Gospel of Mark!), the idea that the author of Mark 16:9-20 was dependent on the other Gospel-accounts for his material, and assembled Mark 16:9-20 as a pastiche, is not very plausible. The internal evidence strongly indicates that the author of Mark 16:9-20 was not using the other Gospels and was not trying to write in concord with them.

    Briefly getting back to the external evidence: suppose that instead of merely being attested in 99.98% of the extant Greek manuscripts, and in all the undamaged Old Latin copies (except for the anomalous Codex Bobbiensis), and in the Vulgate, and in all Syriac copies except the Sinaitic Syriac, and in all undamaged Sahidic copies except one at Barcelona (the production-date of which is assigned to c. 425 but may be centuries later), we also possessed the papyrus copies of Mark that were used by Justin, Tatian, and Irenaeus in the second century, and which included Mark 16:9-20. Would you still tell people that “The manuscript evidence is very weak”?

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  11. Mike,

    It looks like you don’t want to look into this any more. But at least, considering that Lane’s commentary promotes some false statements, as well as some misleading claims, regarding the evidence about Mk. 16:9-20, wouldn’t it be a good idea to point this out in a future posting, inasmuch as you have put your name to a recommendation of Lane’s commentary?

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.