The endings of the gospel of Mark.

The longer, shorter, and abrupt endings.


The gospel of Mark is blessed with a variety of different conclusions from which to choose. Either the original ended, intriguingly, with εφοβουντο γαρ, or at a very early date the true ending was mutilated. In either case, replacements were eventually composed to remedy the lack or loss.

For none of the current endings commends itself as the original.

Take a synoptic look at the ending of Mark on my itemized inventory.

Nota bene: For the sake of consistency, I have translated the Greek πιστις and its cognates with the English belief and its cognates. My usual preferred translation is faith, which has, however, no cognate English verb. The Greek πιστις ranges in meaning from mere belief to trust to loyalty to religious devotion to absolute commitment.

I highly recommend contacting Jim Snapp II and getting hold of his essay, some 115 pages long in the version that I have, on the endings of Mark. I disagree with many of his arguments and conclusions, but the essay is very detailed and well worth reading, agree or disagree. Also, The Ending of Mark at Bible Researcher is worth a look.

The longer ending, Mark 16.9-20.

Is it original to Mark?
Parallels with other early Christian texts.

Few passages of the New Testament have garnered more attention than the last twelve verses of the gospel of Mark. It is found in the vast majority of the manuscripts, yet some of the best and earliest manuscripts lack it, and some of the more textually aware church fathers express doubts about it.

The longer ending is also available in a glossed version.

  1. Αναστας δε πρωι πρωτη σαββατου εφανη πρωτον Μαρια τη Μαγδαληνη, παρ ης εκβεβληκει επτα δαιμονια.
  2. εκεινη πορευθεισα απηγγειλεν τοις μετ αυτου γενομενοις πενθουσι και κλαιουσιν·
  3. κακεινοι ακουσαντες οτι ζη και εθεαθη υπ αυτης ηπιστησαν.
  4. Μετα δε ταυτα δυσιν εξ αυτων περιπατουσιν εφανερωθη εν ετερα μορφη πορευομενοις εις αγρον·
  5. κακεινοι απελθοντες απηγγειλαν τοις λοιποις· ουδε εκεινοις επιστευσαν.
  6. Υστερον {δε} ανακειμενοις αυτοις τοις ενδεκα εφανερωθη, και ωνειδισεν την απιστιαν αυτων και σκληροκαρδιαν οτι τοις θεασαμενοις αυτον εγηγερμενον ουκ επιστευσαν.
  7. και ειπεν αυτοις· Πορευθεντες εις τον κοσμον απαντα κηρυξατε το ευαγγελιον παση τη κτισει.
  8. ο πιστευσας και βαπτισθεις σωθησεται, ο δε απιστησας κατακριθησεται.
  9. σημεια δε τοις πιστευσασιν ταυτα παρακολουθησει εν τω ονοματι μου δαιμονια εκβαλουσιν, γλωσσαις λαλησουσιν καιναις,
  10. {και εν ταις χερσιν} οφεις αρουσιν, καν θανασιμον τι πιωσιν ου μη αυτους βλαψη, επι αρρωστους χειρας επιθησουσιν και καλως εξουσιν.
  11. Ο μεν ουν κυριος Ιησους μετα το λαλησαι αυτοις ανελημφθη εις τον ουρανον και εκαθισεν εκ δεξιων του θεου.
  12. εκεινοι δε εξελθοντες εκηρυξαν πανταχου, του κυριου συνεργουντος και τον λογον βεβαιουντος δια των επακολουθουντων σημειων.
  1. And having arisen early on the sabbath he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.
  2. She went and announced it to those who had been with him while they were mourning and weeping.
  3. And they, having heard that he lived, and that he had been seen by her, did not believe.
  4. And after these things he appeared in another form to two of them while they were walking along, going to the country.
  5. And they went away and announced it to the others, but they did not believe them.
  6. {And} afterward he appeared to the eleven as they reclined, and he reproached their lack of belief and their hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him risen.
  7. And he said to them: Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
  8. He who has believed and been baptized will be saved, but he who has not believed will be condemned.
  9. These signs will accompany those who have believed: In my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues,
  10. {and in their hands} they will pick up serpents, and if they should drink any deadly thing it will not harm them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.
  11. So the Lord Jesus, after speaking with them, was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.
  12. And they went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through the accompanying signs.

Is it original to Mark?

My own answer to this question is no. I split the issue along the traditional lines of the external and the internal evidence.

External evidence.

I will address the witnesses in rough chronological order. I extracted the Greek or Latin quotations of many of the later fathers or manuscripts from James Kelhoffer, The Witness of Eusebius' Ad Marinum, downloadable in .pdf from his web page. I also gleaned much information from Wieland Willker and his discussion of the Marcan endings, also in .pdf.

Matthew and Luke.
The gospel of Peter.
The preaching of Peter.
Papias.
Justin Martyr.
Tatian.
Celsus.
Irenaeus.
Clement of Alexandria.
Origen.
Tertullian.
Hippolytus.
Vincentius of Thibaris.
Eusebius.
Uncial manuscripts.
Aphraates.
Jerome.
Hesychius.
Victor of Antioch.
Severus.
Theophylactus of Ochrida.
Miniscule manuscripts.

The external evidence is summarized on a table categorizing the relevant texts into eastern and western witnesses.

Matthew and Luke.

On source theories that posit Marcan priority, it is interesting that Matthew and Luke diverge from each other drastically both in their infancy narratives, of which Mark has none, and in their accounts of the resurrection appearances, which in Mark appear only in the longer ending.

Luke 24.13-53 has a fair bit of material to parallel parts of Mark 16.9-20, but Matthew 28.11-20 precious little. Few would posit Lucan dependence on the Marcan ending, though many would draw the line of dependence in the opposite direction. I am not certain what specific arguments might be adduced against Luke having seen the longer ending in his copy of Mark besides arguments for the secondary nature of Mark 16.9-20 overall.

In my judgment, on any source hypothesis that posits Marcan priority the gospel of Matthew is evidence against the longer ending; that of Luke, on its own, is not, but it seems more likely to me at present that the longer ending was modelled either on Luke or on similar source material than that Luke found it in his copy of Mark.

The gospel of Peter.

Jim Snapp II has the following to say about the fourth source on his table of evidences:

...this unorthodox, patchwork composition refers to the disciples weeping and mourning, as in Mark 16.10.

He is undoubtedly referring to Peter 7.27b:

...και εκαθεζομεθα πενθουντες και κλαιοντες νυκτος και ημερας εως του σαββατου.

...and we sat mourning and weeping night and day until the sabbath.

Compare Mark 16.10:

Εκεινη πορευθεισα απηγγειλεν τοις μετ αυτου γενομενοις πενθουσι και κλαιουσιν.

She went and announced it to those who had been with him while they were mourning and weeping.

This connection, while possibly valid, tells us little. Does the gospel of Peter depend upon the longer ending? Or vice versa? Or do both depend upon a common text or tradition? Or is mourning and weeping just a natural expression for such a circumstance?

I see little more than a vapor trail here, probatively speaking.

The preaching of Peter.

From Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 6.6:

Εξελεξαμην υμας δωδεκα μαθητας, κρινας αξιους εμου, ους ο κυριος ηθελησεν και αποστολους πιστους ηγησαμενος ειναι, πεμπων επι τον κοσμον ευαγγελισασθαι τους κατα την οικουμενην ανθρωπους, γινωσκειν οτι εις θεος εστιν, δια της του Χριστου πιστεως εμης δηλουντας τα μελλοντα, οπως οι ακουσαντες και πιστευσαντες σωθωσιν, οι δε μη πιστευσαντες ακουσαντες μαρτυρησωσιν, ουκ εχοντες απολογιαν ειπειν· Ουκ ηκουσαμεν.

I elected you twelve disciples, having judged you worthy of me, whom the Lord also wished to be apostles, having considered you to be faithful, sending you unto the world to evangelize the men on the inhabited earth, that they may know that there is one God, showing the things that were about to be through the faith of Christ, that those who have heard and believed should be saved, but those who have not believed, after having heard, should testify, not having a defense to say: We did not hear.

The juxtaposition of belief and unbelief with evangelizing the world and salvation is quite reminiscent of Mark 16.15-16. I do not, however, judge that this overlap of motif requires a literary connection between the longer ending and what Clement calls the preaching of Peter, and, even if it did, there is no certain way of knowing when the preaching of Peter was written up, only that it was known to Clement of Alexandria late in the second century.

Papias.

Papias (early century II), bishop of Hierapolis in Asia Minor, wrote five books that are now lost to us except in occasional quotations from later church fathers. Eusebius, History of the Church 3.39.9, records the following story from one of his lost books:

Το μεν ουν κατα την Ιεραπολιν Φιλιππον τον αποστολον αμα ταις θυγατρασι διατριψαι, δια των προσθεν δεδηλωται, ως δε κατα τους αυτους ο Παπιας γενομενος διηγησιν παρειληφεναι θαυμασιαν υπο των του Φιλιππου θυγατερων μνημονευει, τα νυν σημειωτεον. νεκρου γαρ αναστασιν κατ αυτον γεγονυιαν ιστορει, και αυ παλιν ετερον παραδοξον περι Ιουστον τον επικληθεντα Βαρσαββαν γεγονος, ως δηλητηριον φαρμακον εμπιοντος και μηδεν αηδες δια την του κυριου χαριν υπομειναντος.

That Philip the apostle lived in Hierapolis together with his daughters has been made clear before. But as regards them let it be noted that Papias, their contemporary, mentions a wondrous account that he received from the daughters of Philip. For he recounts a resurrection from the dead in his time, and yet another paradox about Justus who was surnamed Barsabbas, as having drunk a deadly poison and yet, through the grace of the Lord, suffered no harm.

This account of Justus drinking poison reminds one, of course, of Mark 16.18a:

...οφεις αρουσιν, καν θανασιμον τι πιωσιν ου μη αυτους βλαψη....

...they will pick up serpents, and if they should drink any deadly thing it will not harm them....

Interestingly, Philip of Side (century V) records this same incident from Papias, but in a manner more reminiscent of the longer ending of Mark. From his History of the Church:

Παπιας ο ειρημενος ιστορησεν ως παραλαβων απο των θυγατερων Φιλιππου οτι Βαρσαβας ο και Ιουστος δοκιμαζομενος υπο των απιστων ιον εχιδνης πιων εν ονοματι του Χριστου απαθης διεφυλαχθη.

The aforesaid Papias reported as having received it from the daughters of Philip that Barsabas who is Justus, tested by the unbelievers, drank the venom of a viper in the name of the Christ and was protected unharmed.

Both Eusebius and Philip are paraphrasing Papias, and reporting his words in the third person. Philip, however, offers three details over and above what Eusebius has, all of which serve to draw the account closer to the longer Marcan ending:

  1. Philip says that Justus was challenged by unbelievers. Belief and unbelief are a central theme of the longer ending (see especially Mark 16.16-17a).
  2. Philip says that Justus drank the poison in the name of Christ. The longer ending, at Mark 16.17b, has Jesus saying (in the first person) that believers will perform signs in his name.
  3. Philip says that the poison that Justus drank was the venom of a viper. The longer ending tells us that unbelievers will pick up serpents and drink poison unharmed. However, it does not conflate these two as Philip has done; it does not tell us that the poison itself will be snake venom.

The problem is simple. If Papias wrote only what Eusebius said that he wrote, then we have no real reason to suspect that he knew the longer ending of Mark. The only overlap would be the motif of harmlessly drinking poison. But, if Papias wrote what Philip Sidetes says that he wrote, then Papias may well have known it. Which is more likely in the paraphrasing of Papias, that Eusebius subtracted these three points of contact with Mark 16.9-20, or that Philip added them?

It ought to be noted that drinking snake venom is not necessarily dangerous, much less fatal. Snake venom is intended to infiltrate the blood, not the gastric system. Such knowledge was not necessarily commonplace in the ancient world (nor necessarily in our modern world, for that matter), but it is at least possible that Eusebius has eliminated the reference to viper venom because he happens to know that it would not necessarily be fatal if ingested, and he wishes to leave the miracle miraculous. He still calls the event a paradox (παραδοξον) and the substance deadly (δηλητηριον).

(A funny scenario occurs to me in which the historical Justus, aware that snake venom is harmless to the gastric system, takes advantage of the ignorance of a group of unbelievers who are not aware of this little datum, and walks away with an impressive, but faked, miracle. But proof for or against the historicity of this episode might well elude us forever.)

But it is also possible that Philip added parallels with the longer ending to what he read in Papias. Philip, writing in the fifth century, might have (unconsciously?) brought the passage closer to the longer ending of Mark. One naturally thinks of Mark 16.17a when reading the incident with Justus. Perhaps Philip has surmised that the only reason to drink poison would have something to do with the malice of unbelievers, and that a believer drinking poison will be drinking it in the name of Christ, as the longer ending says. And he has conflated picking up snakes with drinking poison; it comes out as drinking snake poison.

Since either of these scenarios is possible, neither is certain. I cannot tell whether or not Papias knew the longer ending, or even whether or not the author of the longer ending knew Papias.

Justin Martyr.

Justin Martyr (middle of century II), an apologist writing from Rome, has in Apology 1.45:

...λογου του ισχυρου ον απο Ιερουσαλημ οι αποστολοι αυτου εξελθοντες πανταχου εκηρυξαν.

...of the strong word which his apostles, having gone out away from Jerusalem, preached everywhere.

It is rightly debated whether Justin knew the longer ending based on this phrase. On the one hand, he does not tell us that he is quoting from Mark. On the other hand, those last three words εξελθοντες πανταχου εκηρυξαν, having gone out everywhere they preached, could easily have come from Mark 16.20, in which the same three words appear (εξελθοντες εκηρυξαν πανταχου, having gone out they preached everywhere), but in a different order.

Even if, however, Justin evinces a knowledge of the longer ending, does he know it as the ending of Mark, or as an independent text or tradition? I am willing to at least countenance that Justin knew the longer ending.

Tatian.

Late century II.

Tatian apparently included the longer ending in his Diatessaron. I have not yet researched this angle for myself, but William Farmer counts Tatian as a witness for inclusion of Mark 16.9-20 on page 34 of The Last Twelve Verses of Mark, and Jim Snapp II states in conjuction with his table of witnesses that both the Arabic version of the Diatessaron and the commentary of Ephraem on it in Syriac integrate the longer ending.

Celsus.

Late century II.

Origen, the great Alexandrian church father, wrote Against Celsus as a solution to the problems posed by Celsus, the great pagan opponent of Christianity. William Farmer points out on pages 31-32 of The Last Twelve Verses of Mark that at 2.55 Origen cites Celsus as claiming that, according to the Christians, Jesus was seen risen from the dead by a half-frantic woman (γυνη παροιστρος). From this reference Farmer gathers that Celsus knew Mark 16.9, and was attacking the credibility of Mary Magdalene by referring to her demon-possessed past.

This line of reasoning seems very weak to me. The account of Mary Magdalene in John 20.11-18 seems quite sufficient as a basis for Celsus saying that she was out of her mind. Not only is Mary weeping with grief in 20.11, but she also fails to recognize Jesus at first in 20.14-15. Celsus need only be exaggerating this womanly lack of composure.*

* Joe Wallack, on a thread from the FRDB (formerly the IIDB), also points out that Mary is running to tell the disciples of the empty tomb in John 20.2, which action implies in context some measure of franticness on her part.

Furthermore, if the mention of her former demons in Mark 16.9 is the cause for this harsh remark, then Celsus would be blatantly disregarding the perfect tense of εκβεβληκει, have been cast out. Mary is not presently inhabited by demonic forces in Mark 16.9; she used to be so inhabited. Yet Celsus clearly wishes the reader to believe that she was half out of her mind at the time of the resurrection appearance. I find this scenario no more likely than that Celsus simply exaggerated her weeping and failure to recognize her Lord into a slur. Celsus, therefore, in my view offers no evidence either for or against the longer ending.

Irenaeus.

Irenaeus (late century II), bishop of Lyon (in what is now France), wrote in Greek, but much of his work is now extant only in Latin translation, including our relevant passage in Against Heresies 3.10.5:

In fine autem evangelii ait Marcus: Et quidem dominus Iesus, posteaquam locutus est eis, receptus est in caelos, et sedit ad dexteram dei.

At the end, moreover, of the gospel Mark says: And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was received into the heavens, and sits at the right hand of God.

This evidence from Irenaeus is very clear. He quotes Mark 16.19 as coming from the end of the gospel of Mark. His version of the gospel, late in the second century in a western region of the Roman empire, has the longer ending.

Clement of Alexandria.

William Farmer writes on page 30 of The Last Twelve Verses of Mark:

It is true that, as with Origen, we know of no place where Clement cites or shows acquiantance with these verses [of the longer ending]. But Clement is equally silent about the last chapter of Matthew, and, therefore, it is difficult to evaluate his silence with regard to Mk. 19:9-20.
Origen.

Early century III.

The illustrious Alexandrian father Origen never cites or shows acquaintance with Mark 16.9-20, even in Against Celsus, in which he discusses the resurrection appearances in Matthew, Luke, and John, and Mark is conspicuously absent.

It would be an argument from silence to call Origen as a witness against the longer ending, but I beg leave to consider both him and his Alexandrian predecessor, Clement, in conjunction with one another, and to consider it telling that neither evinces any knowledge of Mark 16.9-20.

(Jim Snapp II mentions on his table of evidences that in Against Celsus 7.17 Origen states that the signs of the destruction of the kingdom of Satan include the casting out of demons. But such a statement is a poorer allusion to Mark 16.17 than to Matthew 12.28 = Luke 11.20, or to the concept of exorcism in general.)

Tertullian.

Jim Snapp II writes of Tertullian, the ninth witness on his table of evidences:

De Baptismo 10:7 might allude to Mark 16:16.

What follows, then, is Tertullian, Concerning Baptism 10.7, writing of John the baptist (English slightly modified from Ernest Evans):

Ipse profitetur sua non esse caelestia sed Christi dicendo: Qui de terra est terrena loquitur, qui de supernis venit super omnes est: item soli se paenitentiae tinguere, venturum mox qui tingueret in spiritu et igni. scilicet quia vera et stabilis fides spiritu tinguitur in salutem, simulata autem et infirma igni tinguitur in iudicium.

He himself admits that the heavenly things are not his but are of Christ, when he says: He that is of the earth speaks earthly things; he that has come from above is above all men. Also he said that he was baptizing solely for repentance, and that one would soon come who would baptize in the spirit and in fire, because a true and steadfast faith is baptized with the spirit unto salvation, but a feigned and feeble faith is baptized with fire unto judgement.

I do not find any allusion here to Mark 16.16.

Hippolytus.

Early century III.

William Farmer writes on page 32 of The Last Twelve Verses of Mark:

A third-century passage, sometimes attributed to Hippolytus, includes an interpretation of Mk. 16:18.

Jim Snapp II writes about Hippolytus, the tenth source on his table of witnesses:

...he seems to have used part of Mark 16:18 when describing the positive effects of partaking of the Lord's Supper.

The passage in question is Apostolic Tradition 32.1. I have not yet examined this passage, but I provisionally accept it as a witness for the longer ending.

Vincentius of Thibaris.

Middle of century III.

At the seventh council of Carthage in 256 the bishop of nearby Thibaris, one Vincentius, cited the following word of the Lord according to William Farmer, The Last Twelve Verses of Mark, pages 32-33:

Ite, in nomine meo manum imponite, daemonia expellite.

Go, in my name lay on hands, expel demons.

Farmer urges that the sources for this line are both Matthew 28.19a...:

Πορευθεντες ουν μαθητευσατε παντα τα εθνη.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the gentiles.

...and Mark 16.15-18. Some prefer to drop the Marcan connection and link it instead with Matthew 10.8:

Ασθενουντας θεραπευετε, νεκρους εγειρετε, λεπρους καθαριζετε, δαιμονια εκβαλλετε. δωρεαν ελαβετε, δωρεαν δοτε.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received; freely give.

What is lacking, of course, in Matthew 10.8 are the phrases in my name (in nomine meo) and lay on hands (manum imponite), both of which are present in Mark 16.15-18. For my money, Vincentius is a witness to the longer ending of Mark, not (merely) to the mission discourse of Matthew.

Eusebius.

Eusebius of Caesarea (early century IV) answers in a letter some probing questions from a fellow named Marinus, one of which concerns the harmonization of the resurrection accounts of Matthew and Mark. The question in the letter, To Marinus, runs as follows:

Πως παρα μεν τω Ματθαιω οψε σαββατων φαινεται εγηγερμενος ο σωτηρ, παρα δε τω Μαρκω πρωι τη μια των σαββατων;

How is it that in Matthew the savior appears late on the sabbath after he has been raised, but in Mark it is early on the first day of the week?

To this (very good) question Eusebius gives two different answers. The first answer is text-critical:

Τουτου διττη αν ειη η λυσις· ο μεν γαρ το κεφαλαιον αυτο την τουτο φασκουσαν περικοπην αθετων, ειποι αν μη εν απασιν αυτην φερεσθαι τοις αντιγραφοις του κατα Μαρκου ευαγγελιου· τα γουν ακριβη των αντιγραφων το τελος περιγραφει της κατα τον Μαρκον ιστοριας εν τοις λογοις του οφθεντος νεανισκου ταις γυναιξι και ειρηκοτος αυταις· Μη φοβεισθε· Ιησουν ζητειτε τον Ναζαρηνον, και τοις εξης, οις επιλεγει· Και ακουσασαι εφυγον, και ουδενι ουδεν ειπον, εφοβουντο γαρ.

The solution of this might be twofold. For the one who sets aside the passage itself, the pericope that says this, might say that it is not extant in all the copies of the gospel according to Mark. The accurate ones of the copies, at least, circumscribe the end of the history according to Mark in the words of the young man seen by the women, who said to them: Do not fear. You seek Jesus the Nazarene, and those that follow, to which it further says: And having heard they fled, and said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Εν τουτω γαρ σχεδον εν απασι τοις αντιγραφοις του κατα Μαρκον ευαγγελιου περιγεγραπται το τελος· τα δε εξης σπανιως εν τισιν αλλ ουκ εν πασι φερομενα περιττα αν ειη, και μαλιστα ειπερ εχοιεν αντιλογιαν τη των λοεπων ευαγγελιστων μαρτυρια· ταυτα μεν ουν ειποι αν τις παραιτουμενος και παντη αναιρων περιττον ερωτημα.

For in this [manner] the ending of the gospel according to Mark is circumscribed almost in all the copies. The things that seldom follow, which are extant in some but not in all, may be superfluous, and especially if indeed it holds a contradiction to the testimony of the rest of the evangelists. These things therefore someone might say in avoiding and in all ways doing away with a superfluous question.

This assessment of the manuscript evidence is part, of course, of a potential apologetical answer, but we have no reason to think that Eusebius is pawning off a lie. Furthermore, while both the opening and closing lines of this first answer are in the optative mood, as expressing what an apologist might say (ειποι), the actual manuscript statements are in the indicative mood, as expressing the raw data upon which this hypothetical apologetic answer would be based. As far as Eusebius is aware, then, the following statements are both true:

  1. The majority (σχεδον εν απασι) of the copies of Mark end at 16.8.
  2. The accurate (ακριβη) copies of Mark end at 16.8.

The accurate copies, in other words, are a subset of the majority, and lack any ending beyond 16.8.

The second answer is harmonistic:

Αλλος δε τις ουδ οτιουν τολμων αθετειν των οπωσουν εν τη των ευαγγελιων γραφη φερομενων, διπλην ειναι φησι την αναγνωσιν, ως και εν ετεροις πολλοις, εκατεραν τε παραδεκτεαν υπαρχειν, τω μη μαλλον ταυτην εκεινης, η εκεινην ταυτης, παρα τοις πιστοις και ευλαβεσιν εγκρινεσθαι.

But someone else, [someone] who dares to set aside nothing at all in any way of the things that are extant in the writing of the gospels, says that the reading is double, as also in many other [passages], and each is to be accepted, not this rather than that, or that than this, as the classification of the faithful and the reverent.

Και δη τουδε του μερους συγχωρουμενου ειναι αληθους, προσηκει τον νουν διερμηνευειν του αναγνωσματος· ει γουν διελοιμην την του λογου διανοιαν, ουκ αν ευροιμεν αυτην εναντιαν τοις παρα του Ματθαιου· Οψε σαββατων εγηγερθαι τον σωτηρα, λελεγμενοις· το γαρ· Αναστας δε πρωι τη μια του σαββατου, κατα τον Μαρκον, μετα διαστολης αναγνωσομεθα· και μετα το· Αναστας δε, υποστιξομεν· και την διανοιαν αφορισομεν των εξης επιλεγομενων· ειτα το μεν· Αναστας, αν, επι την παρα τω Ματθαιω· Οψε σαββατων· τοτε γαρ εγηγερτο. το δε εξης ετερας ον διανοιας υποστατικον συναψωμεν τοις επιλεγομενοις· πρωι γαρ τη μια του σαββατου εφανη Μαρια τη Μαγδαληνη.

And indeed, this part granted to be true, it is fitting to interpret the mind of the reading. If I at least grasp the meaning of the word, we should not find that it is opposite to the things said by Matthew: Late on the sabbath the savior was raised. For the [statement]: And having risen up early on the first day of the week, according to Mark, we will read with a pause. And after the [statement]: And having risen up, we will place a comma. And we will divide the meaning of those things that are said following. Then, on the one hand, the [statement]: Having risen up, might be upon that of Matthew: Late on the sabbath, for then he was raised. On the other hand, that which follows we might join together with the things said after that, which gives rise to other meanings: For early on the first day of the sabbath he appeared to Mary Magdalene.

Thus Eusebius harmonizes Matthew and the longer ending of Mark for those who do not dare in any way (ουδ οτιουν τολμων) set Mark 16.9-20 aside. It is important to recognize here that Eusebius is aware of a pious attitude in the church that would prefer to retain pericopes in the sacred texts than to eliminate them.

My own sense of Eusebius at this point is that he himself, as a textual critic, knowing what he knew about how many and which manuscripts ended at 16.8, regarded the things in the longer ending as probably spurious (περιττα). He himself, in fact, is the apologist who would set aside the passage altogether, but he does not want to come right out and say so, since he knows that a good many churchmen, represented by Marinus, are of the other persuasion, not daring to set any received portion of the text aside.

When Eusebius roughly tallies the manuscripts without the longer ending, his approach is telling. He gives the following informational tidbits, in order:

  1. Mark 16.9-20 is not extant in all copies.
  2. The accurate copies end at Mark 16.8.
  3. Nearly all copies, in fact, end at Mark 16.8.
  4. Mark 16.9-20 is extant in some, but not in all, copies, and may be spurious.

If he is going to say that the longer ending was missing in the majority of copies anyway, why does he start by weakly stating that it is not extant in all? I think that he is setting the table for Marinus, whom he knows (for whatever reason) will not want to reject Mark 16.9-20. Eusebius definitely wishes to get his own explanation for the apparant discrepancy registered, but softens the blow by gently letting Marinus know that the manuscripts with which he is familiar do not represent the bulk of the textual tradition.

Do we have evidence that Eusebius himself rejected the longer ending? We do. He did not classify Mark 16.9-20 in his canons. If he regarded it as genuine, he would have included it in his canons.

William Farmer, on page 63 of The Last Twelve Verses of Mark, gives a lengthy footnote highlighting how difficult it might have been for Eusebius to apportion the longer ending amongst his canons. He notes that canonizing the agreement between Mark and John on the appearance to Mary would perhaps entail the creation of an eleventh canon, with perhaps just the one entry, and suggests that such considerations be taken into account when deciding on the meaning of Eusebius leaving out Mark 16.9-20.

If the difficulty of integrating Mark with John had anything to do with the omission of Mark 16.9-20 from the Eusebian canons, one might well wonder why Eusebius did not eliminate the relevant portions of John 20 instead of the longer ending of Mark. If it seems perverse to eliminate the resurrection appearances of John, then the point has hit home. It seems perverse to eliminate any portion of scripture merely for the sake of convenience, and seems highly doubtful that Eusebius would have done so unless he already regarded Mark 16.9-20 as spurious.

Furthermore, Eusebius had no qualms about assigning rough parallels to his tenth table, that set aside for material unique to any of the four gospels. For example, he could have paired Luke 24.47 with Matthew 28.19 (the great commission) and John 20.6-7 with Luke 24.12 (Peter at the tomb). Instead, each of these passages is assigned to the tenth table, embedded within longer blocks of unique matter. By the same token, Eusebius could easily have relegated Mark 16.9-11 and John 20.11-18 to his tenth table, treating them respectively as unique Marcan and Johannine material. There was certainly no need to cut out the resurrection appearances in Mark if indeed Eusebius regarded them as a genuine part of the text.

In my judgment, then, Eusebius thought that the longer ending of Mark was spurious.

Eusebius, however, he did not reject the longer ending outright, especially as an apologist trying to answer difficult questions for the benefit of significant segments of the church at large that he seems to have thought would want to retain Mark 16.9-20. Eusebies was nothing if not ecumenical. So he went ahead and harmonized it with Matthew anyway.

Uncial manuscripts.

Uncial manuscripts are those written in all uppercase letters (or, perhaps more accurately, in the letters invented before the distinction between uppercase and lowercase letters came about). Neither of the great uncials of the fourth century, Vaticanus (B) and Sinaiticus (א), have Mark 16.9-20, nor do they replace it with any other ending. (They are witnesses, in other words, to the abrupt ending.) All four of the great uncial codices from the fifth century, however, have Mark 16.9-20. These uncials are Alexandrinus (A), Ephraimi rescriptus (C), Bezae Cantabrigiensis (D), and Washingtoniensis (W, which adds another logion between verses 14 and 15).

Century IV. Century V.
 
B, abrupt ending.
א, abrupt ending.
A, longer ending.
C, longer ending.
D, longer ending.
W, longer ending.*
 
  * With the Freer logion.

Also of note, Δ and Θ (both IX) include the longer ending as it stands, while L (VIII) and Ψ (VIII-IX) include both the longer and the shorter endings. The following notes are from codex L at the end of Mark:

Φερετε που και ταυτα....

These things too are extant somewhere....

At this point the shorter ending is given.

Εστην δε και ταυτα φερομενα μετα το εφοβουντο γαρ....

But these things have also been extant after the [words] for they were afraid....

At this point the longer ending is given.

The last page of Mark in B.
 
The last page of Mark in Vaticanus.
 

Interestingly, the Old Latin Bobbiensis (V), itk, has the shorter ending alone, without the longer ending. But let us now examine the fourth-century Greek uncials that lack the longer ending.

The evidence from Vaticanus, or B, is not quite as clear-cut as a textual apparatus might lead one to suppose. After Mark 16.8, an entire column is left blank before going on to the gospel of Luke. Everywhere else, it seems, Vaticanus starts the next book at the top of the very next column, leaving no blank columns. The longer ending would fit into what is left of the white space on the page with only a bit of scribal letter compression, as Jim Snapp II demonstrates on his page about the longer ending of Mark.

Refer to my page on the work of Jim Snapp II for information on his online series about textual criticism and the endings of Mark.

The scribe of Vaticanus, then, probably knew of the longer ending, but was uncertain whether or not to include it, so he left a blank large enough to contain it if necessary (if, for example, the buyer of the manuscript desired). Vaticanus, then, is evidence, not that Mark 16.9-20 was unknown, but rather that it was questioned.

The evidence from Sinaiticus is more straightforward, though even here not without its own little twist. In this manuscript the four pages that contain Mark 14.54-16.8 and then Luke 1.1-56 are a cancel-sheet; they are, in other words, replacement pages for what the original scribe wrote. The extant cancel-sheet lacks Mark 16.9-20. And, according to Jim Snapp II on his page detailing this cancel-sheet in א, the four replaced pages would not have had enough room for the longer ending without serious script compression.

The four pages of the cancel-sheet have four columns each, for a total of sixteen columns. From line 1 of column 4 to line 10 of column 5 the script is compressed. But then from line 11 of column 5 through the last line of column 10, the end of Mark, the script is expanded. In columns 11-16 the script is compressed again. What is going on? Snapp suggests the possibility of indecision as to Mark 16.9-20 on the part of the scribe writing the cancel-sheet, or on the part of his supervisor. Perhaps he began compressing his script in order to fit the longer ending of Mark, but then decided against it, so had to begin expanding his script to make up the difference. Perhaps he started with an exemplar that had the longer ending, but then used one that lacked it. Such a scenario, however, can be no more than a guess.

But why were the original pages replaced in the first place? It is not unlikely that they contained some sort of scribal error the best solution of which was to simply rewrite the pages. But, again, we may never know for certain beyond the rather secure conclusion that both the original pages of Mark 14.54 through Luke 1.56 and the cancel-sheet lacked the longer ending.

Aphraates of Syria.

Early century IV.

On page 33 of The Last Twelve Verses of Mark William Farmer writes:

Aphraates, earliest known Father of the Syrian church, cites Mk. 16:16, 17 and 18 in a homily dated A.D. 337. Aphraates writes in Syriac and cites from a text of Mark to be distinguished from the Curetonian Syriac version as well as from the Peshitta.
Jerome.

From Jerome, epistle 120 (available online as a scanned document), to Hedibia (century V):

Cuius quaestionis duplex solutio est. aut enim non recipimus Marci testimonium, quod in raris fertur evangeliis, omnibus Graeciae libris paene hoc capitulum in fine non habentibus, praesertim cum diversa atque contraria evangelistis certis narrare videatur....

Of which question the solution is twofold. For either we do not receive the testimony of Mark, which is extant in rare gospels, almost all of the Greek books not having this chapter at the end, especially since it looks like it narrates things diverse from and contrary to certain evangelists....

It is rather apparent that Jerome is dependent here on Eusebius in To Marinus, cited above. Nevertheless, Jerome himself, the translator of the Bible into the Latin version called the Vulgate, must have personally known of many manuscripts, and the notion that almost all (omnibus... paene) of the Greek books lacked Mark 16.9-20 must not have seemed an incredible statement to him.

Jerome, then, as touches the Greek textual tradition at any rate, backs up the Eusebian claim that most of the (Greek) copies ended at 16.8. He does not mention which copies he thinks are more accurate.

Jerome himself is quite familiar with Mark 16.9-20. He both translated it into the Vulgate, and noted the existence of an extra logion between verses 14 and 15 of the longer ending. He apparently held no doctrinal grudge against this passage.

Roger Pearse helpfully provides the broader context of this passage in a post on the Internet Infidels Discussion Board (text and translation his, though I have applied some formatting changes):

Quae causa sit, ut de resurrectione domini et apparitione evangelistae diversa narraverint?

What is the reason that the evangelists spoke about the resurrection and appearance of the Lord differently?

In quibus primum quaeris, cur Matthaeus dixerit: Vespere autem sabbati illucescente in una sabbati dominum surrexisse, et Marcus mane resurrectionem eius factam esse commemoret, ita scribens: Cum autem resurrexisset, una sabbati, mane apparuit Mariae Magdalenae, de qua eiecerat septem daemonia: et illa abiens nuntiavit his, qui cum eo fuerant lugentibus, et flentibus. illique audientes quod viveret, et quod vidisset eum, non crediderunt ei.

In these, you ask first why Matthew said: But when the evening of the sabbath had begun to dawn, on the first day of the following week the Lord rose again, and Mark relates that his resurrection happened in the morning, thus writing: However, when he rose again, on the first day of the week, in the morning Mary Magdalene arrived, from whom he had expelled seven demons; and she departing announced to those who were mourning and weeping with her. And these, hearing that he was alive and that she had seen him, did not believe in him.

Huius quaestionis duplex solutio est; aut enim non recipimus Marci testimonium, quod in raris fertur evangeliis, omnibus Graeciae libris pene hoc capitulum in fine non habentibus, praesertim cum diversa atque contraria evangelistis caeteris narrare videatur; aut hoc respondendum, quod uterque verum dixerit: Matthaeus, quando dominus surrexerit vespere sabbati, Marcus autem, quando eum viderit Maria Magdalene, id est, mane prima sabbati.

The solution of this question is two-fold; for either we do not accept the testimony of Mark, that is carried in few gospels, almost all the books of Greece not having this passage at the end, especially and since it seems to speak various and contrary things to the other evangelists; or this must be replied, that both speak truly: Matthew, when the Lord rose again on the evening of the Sabbath, Mark however, when Mary Magdalen saw him, that is, on the morning of the first day of the week.

Ita enim distinguendum est: Cum autem resurrexisset, et parumper spiritu coarctato, inferendum, prima sabbati, mane apparuit Mariae Magdalenae, ut qui vespere sabbati, iuxta Matthaeum, surrexerat, ipse mane primo sabbati, iuxta Marcum, apparuerit Mariae Magdalenae.

For so it must be distinguished; for when he had risen again, and being for a short while restricted by the spirit, it must be supposed, on the first day of the week in the morning he appeared to Mary Magdalene, so he had risen again on the evening of the sabbath, according to Matthew, [but] he appeared to Mary Magdalene on the morning of the first day of the week, according to Mark.

Quod quidem et Ioannes evangelista significat, mane eum alterius diei visum esse demonstrans.

Which indeed John the evangelist also signifies, stating that he was seen on the morning of the second day.

Hesychius.

From Hesychius, Collection of Difficulties and Solutions, question 52 (century V):

Διαφορως γαρ προς το μνημα δραμουσαις, ου ταις αυταις γυναιξιν, αλλα ποτε μεν δυσιν εξ αυτων, ποτε δε μια ετερα παρ αυτας τυγχανουση, ποτε δε αλλαις, διαφορως και ο κυριος εφανη, ων τη μεν ως ασθενεστερα, τη δε ως τελειοτερα τυγχανουση· καταλληλως εμετρει τον εαυτου εμφανισμον ο κυριος. οθεν Μαρκος μεν εν επιτομω τα μεχρι του ενος αγγελου διελθων, τον λογον κατεπαυσεν.

For [he appeared] to different women who had run to the tomb, not to the same women, but now to two from among them, and then to the other one who happened to be with them, and then to others, and differently did the Lord appear, to one of which who was weaker, and to another who happened to be more perfect. The Lord measured out his own appearance appropriately. Whence Mark, having gone through in brief the things until the one angel, ceased the word.

Hesychius takes a somewhat different approach to the ending of Mark than does Eusebius. He neither tallies manuscripts nor opines as to which are the more accurate; rather, he simply takes it for granted that the text of Mark ends at the single angel, by which I presume he means the young man of 16.5-7. For Hesychius this ending is something that calls for explanation, but it is his best judgment nonetheless.

Victor of Antioch.

From a catena of Victor of Antioch (centuries V-VI):

Ει δε και το· Αναστας δε πρωι πρωτη σαββατου εφανη πρωτον Μαρια τη Μαγδαληνη, και τα εξης επιφερομενα εν τω κατα Μαρκον ευαγγελιω, παρα πλειστοις αντιγραφοις ου κεινται, ως νοθα νομισαντες αυτα τινες ειναι· ημεις δε, εξ ακριβων αντιγραφων ως εν πλειστοις ευροντες αυτα κατα το Παλαιστιναιον ευαγγελιου Μαρκου, ως εχει η αληθεια, συντεθεικαμεν.

But even if the [words]: And having arisen early on the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, as well as the things that are extant in the following in the gospel according to Mark, do not stand alongside most copies, so that certain ones reckon them to be illegitimate, but we, finding them as in most of those from the accurate copies in accordance with the Palestinian gospel of Mark, have placed them together [with the rest of the gospel] as the truth holds.

Victor clearly knows what Eusebius wrote, and just as clearly disagrees with him. His wording is odd, and even ungrammatical, with no then statement to follow up the initial if statement, but the sense is not opaque. Even if the longer ending does not stand in most copies, Victor knows that most of the accurate copies, those from Palestine or which follow the Palestinian model, have it.

Victor has cleverly relaid the emphasis. Eusebius stated that most copies lacked Mark 16.9-20; Victor states that most of the accurate copies contain it.

His phrase παρα πλειστοις αντιγραφοις (in most copies) corresponds to the Eusebian phrase σχεδον εν απασι τοις αντιγραφοις (almost in all the copies), and he thus admits that most of the copies lack the longer ending. But he then goes on to affirm that, from the accurate copies (εξ ακριβων αντιγραφων), Mark 16.9-20 is extant as in most (ως εν πλειστοις). The ως is odd, but it is unlikely that Victor means that the accurate copies have the disputed text like the majority, since that εξ must be partitive before εν πλειστοις: Out of the class of manuscripts regarded as the most accurate the longer ending is found in most.

Or I tentatively put forward another suggestion for the significance of that ως, which can mean as if. Perhaps Victor is saying that he has found Mark 16.9-20 from the accurate copies as if those copies were in the majority. Accuracy, in other words, trumps bulk; quality trumps quantity. Which would be a fairly sophisticated text-critical statement at that.

Victor, then, at least acquiesces to the first of the following two points and asserts the second:

  1. The majority (παρα πλειστοις) of the copies of Mark end at 16.8.
  2. The accurate (ακριβων) copies of Mark contain 16.9-20.

Number one agrees with Eusebius. Number two does not.

But it is very important to pay attention to the last line of our quotation from Victor of Antioch. He explicitly tells us that he has appended (συντεθεικαμεν) the longer ending to copies that lacked it. If he and others of the same mind were actively engaged in adding the longer ending to copies of Mark that lacked it, then the present state of the manuscripts stands explained; by far the majority contains the longer ending, but certain key manuscripts lack it.

Severus of Antioch.

From Severus of Antioch, homily 77 (century VI):

Εν μεν ουν τοις ακριβεστεροις αντιγραφοις το κατα Μαρκον ευαγγελιον μεχρι του· Εφοβουντο γαρ, εχει το τελος. εν δε τισι προσκειται και ταυτα· Αναστας δε πρωι πρωτη σαββατου εφανη πρωτον Μαρια τη Μαγδαληνη αφ ης εκβεβληκει επτα δαιμονια.

In the more accurate copies, therefore, the gospel according to Mark has the end until the [statement]: For they were afraid. But in some these things too stand in addition: And having arisen early on the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.

Severus, who also seems to have read Eusebius, agrees with Eusebius, and against Victor, on which copies are the more accurate. Severus does not explicitly tally the manuscripts, but that he mentions some (τισι) that contain Mark 16.9-20 may imply that most still lack it.

Theophylactus of Ochrida.

From Theophylactus of Ochrida, Interpretation of the Gospel of Mark, note 90 (centuries XI-XII):

Cod. 26 pergit: Φασι τινες των εξηλητων ενταυθα συμπληρουσθαι το κατα Μαρκον ευαγγελιον, τα δε εφεξης προσθηκην ειναι μεταγενεστεραν. χρη δε και ταυτην ερμηνευσαι, μεδεν τη αληθεια λυμαινομενους.

Codex 26 continues: Some of the exegetes say that the gospel according to Mark is all fulfilled here, and that the things that follow are an addition made after the original. But it is necessary to interpret this [passage] also, in no way doing harm to the truth.

This codex 26 speaks, not to a tally of copies of Mark, but rather to a tally of the expositors of the gospel. Theophylactus himself, while neither affirming nor denying the originality of Mark 16.9-20, insists on counting the passage as a part of scripture, interpreting it right along with the other scriptural passages.

Miniscule manuscripts.

Miniscule manuscripts are those written in lowercase, as well as uppercase, letters. Of these (usually later) manuscripts, only 304 and 2386, so far as I can tell, even potentially witness to the abrupt ending; the vast majority of the miniscules, including 13, the Byzantine text, and a host of others, as well as translations, include Mark 16.9-20.

Some members of family 1 (1) have a scribal note marking off the longer ending that also mentions the Eusebian canons. From miniscules 1, 205, 209, 1582 (centuries X-XV):

Εν τισι μεν των αντιγραφων εως ωδε πληρουται ο ευαγγελιστης, εως ου και Ευσεβιος ο Παμφιλου εκανονισεν· εν πολλοις δε και ταυτα φερεται.

In some of the copies the evangelist is fulfilled until here, until which point also Eusebius Pamphili made his canons. But in many these [following] things also are extant.

Some members of group 22 have virtually the same note, but without the mention of Eusebius. From miniscules 1192 and 1210 (centuries X-XV):

Εν τισι των αντιγραφων εως ωδε πληρουται ο ευαγγελιστης· εν πολλοις δε και ταυτα φερεται.

In some of the copies the evangelist is fulfilled until here. But in many these [following] things also are extant.

Miniscules 15 and 1110 also have this note, but I do not know in what family or group they are classified.

From miniscule 22 (century XII) itself (the namesake of group 22):

Τελος.
...εφοβουντο γαρ.

Εν τισι των αντιγραφων
εως ωδε πληρουται ο ευ-
αγγελεστης· εν πολλοις
δε και ταυτα φερεται·

Αναστας δε πρωι πρωτη σαββατων....

End.
...for they were afraid.

In some of the copies
until here is fulfilled the ev-
angelist. But in many
these things also are extant:

And having arisen early on the first day of the sabbath....

The word τελος and the note itself are in red ink in the manuscript.

Note that the manuscript tally has shifted since the days of Eusebius, Jerome, and Victor of Antioch. Now it is some (τισι) of the copies that end at 16.8, while many (πολλοις) contain it.

From miniscules 20 and 215 (century XI):

Εντευθεν εως του τελους εν τισι των αντιγραφων ου κειται, εν δε τοις αρχαιοις παντα απαραλειπτα κειται.

From here until the end does not stand in some of the copies, but in the ancient ones all things stand without remainder.

Again it is only some (τισι) of the copies that lack the longer Marcan ending. And the mention of the ancient (αρχαιοις) copies appears to be a stand-in for the accurate Palestinian copies to which someone like Victor of Antioch might refer.

From miniscule 199 (century XII):

Εν τισι των αντιγραφων ου κειται τουτ{ο}, αλλ ενταυθα καταπαυει.

In some of the copies thi{s} does not stand, but ceases here.

Despite these scribal notes that call the longer ending into question, these manuscripts one and all include the longer ending.

Table of witnesses for and against Mark 16.9-20.

The following table divides the external evidence in the broadest terms, east and west. For my purposes, the east includes Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia, and Greece. The west includes Italy, Gaul, Spain, and northern Africa.

A plus sign + marks each witness for the longer ending. A minus sign – marks each witness against the longer ending. I do not list those witnesses that in my opinion are of dubious merit in arguments either for or against the longer ending. A question mark follows each witness for whom certainty as to relevance is impossible.

West. Century. East.
         
    I Luke?
Matthew?
±
+
+
+
Justin Martyr?
Tatian.1
Irenaeus.
II  
 
Clement?
 
 
+
+
Hippolytus.
Vincentius.
III Origen?
    IV Eusebius.
Vaticanus.2
Sinaiticus.2
Aphraates.



+
 
 
+
+
 
 
Bezae.2
Washingtoniensis.2
V Jerome.
Victor.
Alexandrinus.2
Ephraemi.2
±
+
+
+

1 Tatian eventually moved east to Syria, but not before studying under Justin Martyr in Rome.
2 The original provenance of most of these uncials is unknown; I have classed them by nominal text type.

The split between eastern and western witnesses is deep. There is no evidence that Mark 16.9-20 was ever missing in the west, and there is no evidence that Mark 16.9-20 was ever extant in the east until the fourth century, after which the longer ending took hold in all geographical and textual branches.

Furthermore, four of the earliest western witnesses (Justin, Tatian, Irenaeus, Hippolytus) share a very specific geographical trait: They are all known to have walked the streets of Rome at some point or other. The only two eastern witnesses spanning the gap between the canonical gospels and the fourth century (Clement and Origen) also share a very specific geographical trait: They lived in Alexandria.

It seems to me that two very different scenarios could with almost equal ease explain such a distribution:

  • Mark 16.9-20 is original to the text of Mark, but was subtracted very early in the east, whether accidentally or not, perhaps in Alexandria.
  • Mark 16.9-20 is not original to the text of Mark, but was added very early in the west, perhaps in Rome.

I regard the external evidence, on its own merits, as split. It is true that the longer ending eventually came to dominate both east and west. However, I see a certain drive to remedy the abrupt ending of Mark at 16.8 in the history of the text. If we somehow knew that Mark originally ended at 16.8, but did not know anything about subsequent church and manuscript history, I think that we could probably have predicted that an ad hoc ending of some kind would eventually take over. The shorter ending, if nothing else, testifies to a desire to fill in the obvious gap at the end of Mark.

Internal evidence.

With the evidence from the church fathers and from the manuscripts themselves firmly in mind, I direct our attention to the text itself. I see three literary indications that the author of Mark 16.9-20 is not the same as the author of the rest of Mark up through 16.8.

The chronological backtracking.
The reintroduction of Mary Magdalene.
The failure to fulfill the Galilean prediction.

The chronological backtracking.

Mark 16.9 backtracks in time to tell us that Jesus rose from the dead (which fits chronologically between 15.47 and 16.1) and to tell us what day and what hour, or time, of the day it happened, as a comparison of 16.2 and 16.9 will demonstrate:

Και λιαν πρωι τη μια των σαββατων ερχονται επι το μνημειον ανατειλαντος του ηλιου.

And very early on the first day of the week they come to the tomb when the sun has risen.

Αναστας δε πρωι πρωτη σαββατου εφανη πρωτον Μαρια τη Μαγδαληνη....

And having risen early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary the Magdalene.

These chronological notices may at first glance seem so close that one might expect them to have come from the same pen. But all three of the other gospels use that phrase the first day of the week. Matthew 28.1a, Luke 24.1a, and John 20.1a, respectively:

Οψε δε σαββατων, τη επιφωσκουση εις μιαν σαββατων....

And after the sabbath, as it was dawning to the first day of the week....

...τη μια των σαββατων ορθρου βαθεως....

...on the first day of the week, at early dawn....

Τη δε μια των σαββατων... πρωι, σκοτιας ετι ουσης....

And on the first day of the week... early, while it was still dark....

Note that the fourth gospel, with which the appearance to Mary Magdalene finds its closest parallel at any rate, also includes the note that it was early (πρωι), just like Mark 16.9. So John 20.1 is as likely a source for the notice of time, in other words, as Mark 16.2, if we feel that we must have a literary connection on our hands.

Now, there is nothing particularly shocking about Mark the evangelist repeating himself. Repetition is not an uncommon thing in his gospel, and he has, in fact, in this very section thrice repeated the names of the women who are looking on, in 15.40, 47; 16.1, when he could easily have chosen other ways of keeping them on the scene. Coupled with the backtracking in time to mention the resurrection, however, this instance of repetition stands out.

The longer ending looks, in other words, like a fresh narrative start.

The reintroduction of Mary Magdalene.

The notice in Mark 16.9 that Jesus had cast seven demons out of Mary has a parallel in Luke 8.1b-3:

Και οι δωδεκα συν αυτω, και γυναικες τινες αι ησαν τεθεραπευμεναι απο πνευματων πονηρων και ασθενειων, Μαρια η καλουμενη Μαγδαληνη, αφ ης δαιμονια επτα εξεληλυθει, και Ιωαννα γυνη Χουζα επιτροπου Ηρωδου, και Σουσαννα, και ετεραι πολλαι αιτινες διηκονουν αυτοις εκ των υπαρχοντων αυταις.

And the twelve were with him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had come out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza the guardian of Herod, and Susanna, and many others who were ministering to them from their own possessions.

This description is the first mention of Mary Magdalene in the gospel of Luke, and it occurs in a list of the Galilean women who followed Jesus. Such lists find their own analogy in the list of male followers in Mark 3.16-19:

Και εποιησεν τους δωδεκα, και επεθηκεν ονομα τω Σιμωνι Πετρον, και Ιακωβον τον του Ζεβεδαιου και Ιωαννην τον αδελφον του Ιακωβου, και επεθηκεν αυτοις ονομα Βοανηργες, ο εστιν υιοι βροντης, και Ανδρεαν, και Φιλιππον, και Βαρθολομαιον, και Μαθθαιον, και Θωμαν, και Ιακωβον τον του Αλφαιου, και Θαδδαιον, και Σιμωνα τον Καναναιον, και Ιουδαν Ισκαριωθ, ος και παρεδωκεν αυτον.

And he made them the twelve, and gave to Simon the name Peter, and James of Zebedee and John the brother of James, and he gave them the name Boanerges, which means sons of thunder, and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus, and Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot, who also delivered him up.

This list includes three identifying details. Those details are (1) that Jesus gave Simon the name Peter, (2) that he named James and John the sons of thunder, and (3) that Judas Iscariot was the one who betrayed Jesus. It is exactly in this kind of list that one would expect to find such tidbits.

The Marcan list of female followers, corresponding to Luke 8.1b-3, does not come until Mark 15.40-41:

Ησαν δε και γυναικες απο μακροθεν θεωρουσαι, εν αις και Μαρια η Μαγδαληνη, και Μαρια η Ιακωβου του μικρου και Ιωσητος μητηρ, και Σαλωμη, αι οτε ην εν τη Γαλιλαια ηκολουθουν αυτω και διηκονουν αυτω, και αλλαι πολλαι αι συναναβασαι αυτω εις Ιεροσολυμα.

There were also women watching from afar, among whom were Mary the Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome, who, when he was in Galilee, followed him and ministered to him, along with many other women who went up with him to Jerusalem.

This mention of Mary Magdalene also happens to be the first in the Marcan gospel, just as Luke 8.1b-3 is the first in that gospel. And Mark 15.40-41 is a list of female followers from Galilee, just like Luke 8.1b-3 is a list of female followers from Galilee.

Mary Magdalene appears by name again in Mark 15.47 and 16.1. Not only, then, does the naming of Mary Magdalene in Mark 16.9 look like a first-time introduction to the character, but also, by analogy with Luke 8.1b-3 and Mark 3.16-19, we would expect the note of the seven demons to have come at Mark 15.40, which is both a list of female followers of Jesus and the first mention of Mary Magdalene in the gospel.

(Lest it be thought that the repeated identification of the other Mary by her sons James and Joses, in Mark 15.40, 47; 16.1, might break the analogy, one ought to notice that both sons appear at the first mention, and only one in each of the subsequent two, retained in order to distinguish between the two women named Mary.)

Instead, the longer ending again looks like a fresh narrative start.

The failure to fulfill the Galilean prediction.

In the gospel of Mark, Jesus thrice predicts his passion. Mark 8.31; 9.31; 10.33-34, respectively:

Και ηρξατο διδασκειν αυτους οτι δει τον υιον του ανθρωπου πολλα παθειν και αποδοκιμασθηναι υπο των πρεσβυτερων και των αρχιερεων και των γραμματεων, και αποκτανθηναι, και μετα τρεις ημερας αναστηναι.

And he began to teach them that it was necessary for the son of man to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be killed, and after three days rise up.

Εδιδασκεν γαρ τους μαθητας αυτου και ελεγεν αυτοις οτι ο υιος του ανθρωπου παραδιδοται εις χειρας ανθρωπων, και αποκτενουσιν αυτον, και αποκτανθεις μετα τρεις ημερας αναστησεται.

For he was teaching his disciples and saying to them that the son of man would be delivered into the hands of men, and they would kill him, and after being killed, after three days, he would rise up.

Ιδου, αναβαινομεν εις Ιεροσολυμα, και ο υιος του ανθρωπου παραδοθησεται τοις αρχιερευσιν και τοις γραμματευσιν, και κατακρινουσιν αυτον θανατω και παραδωσουσιν αυτον τοις εθνεσιν, και εμπαιξουσιν αυτω και εμπτυσουσιν αυτω και μαστιγωσουσιν αυτον και αποκτενουσιν, και μετα τρεις ημερας αναστησεται.

Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the son of man will be delivered up to the high priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him to the gentiles, and they will mock him and spit on him and scourge him and kill him, and after three days he will rise up.

That triple prediction is fulfilled in full throughout the entire passion narrative (Mark 14.1-15.47).

Jesus predicts his betrayal in 14.18-21, and that prediction is exactly fulfilled, with clear backward verbal connections, in 14.42-45:

Και ανακειμενων αυτων και εσθιοντων ο Ιησους ειπεν· Αμην λεγω υμιν οτι εις εξ υμων παραδωσει με, ο εσθιων μετ εμου. ηρξαντο λυπεισθαι και λεγειν αυτω εις κατα εις· Μητι εγω; ο δε ειπεν αυτοις· Εις των δωδεκα, ο εμβαπτομενος μετ εμου εις το τρυβλιον, οτι ο μεν υιος του ανθρωπου υπαγει καθως γεγραπται περι αυτου. ουαι δε τω ανθρωπω εκεινω δι ου ο υιος του ανθρωπου παραδιδοται· καλον αυτω ει ουκ εγεννηθη ο ανθρωπος εκεινος.

And as they were reclining and eating Jesus said: Amen, I say to you that one of you will deliver me up, one eating with me. They began to be grieved and to say to him, one by one: It is not I, is it? And he said to them: It is one of the twelve, the one dipping with me into the bowl, because the son of man is going his way, just as it is written about him. But woe to that man through whom the son of man is delivered up. It were good for him if that man had not been born.

Ηλθεν η ωρα· ιδου παραδιδοται ο υιος του ανθρωπου εις τας χειρας των αμαρτωλων. εγειρεσθε, αγωμεν. ιδου ο παραδιδους με ηγγικεν. Και ευθυς ετι αυτου λαλουντος παραγινεται Ιουδας εις των δωδεκα και μετ αυτου οχλος μετα μαχαιρων και ξυλων παρα των αρχιερεων και των γραμματεων και των πρεσβυτερων. δεδωκει δε ο παραδιδους αυτον συσσημον αυτοις λεγων· Ον αν φιλησω αυτος εστιν· κρατησατε αυτον και απαγετε ασφαλως. και ελθων ευθυς προσελθων αυτω λεγει, Ραββι, και κατεφιλησεν αυτον.

[Jesus said:] The hour has come. Behold, the son of man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. Behold, the one who delivers me up is at hand. And immediately, while he was still talking, Judas, one of the twelve, came up, and with him a crowd from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders with swords and staves. And the one who was delivering him up had given them a signal saying: The one that I kiss is he himself. Seize him and lead him away safely. And he comes and immediately goes to him and says: Rabbi, and he kissed him.

Notice also the beginning of the exact fulfillment of the three passion predictions. The same three groups that appear in Mark 8.31, the elders and chief priests and scribes, reappear as the collective power behind the mob in 14.43. And, just as 9.31 says that the son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, so 14.41 says that the son of man is being delivered into the hands of sinners. Mark is leaving no piece or part of the prediction to chance. Each detail is fulfilled.

Jesus predicts that Peter will thrice deny him in 14.30, and that prediction is fulfilled, again with clear backward verbal connections, in 14.72:

Και λεγει αυτω ο Ιησους· Αμην λεγω σοι οτι συ σημερον ταυτη τη νυκτι πριν η δις αλεκτορα φωνησαι τρις με απαρνηση.

And Jesus says to him: Amen, I say to you that today, on this night, before a cock crows twice you yourself will deny me thrice.

Και ευθυς εκ δευτερου αλεκτωρ εφωνησεν. και ανεμνησθη ο Πετρος το ρημα ως ειπεν αυτω ο Ιησους οτι Πριν αλεκτορα φωνησαι δις τρις με απαρνηση· και επιβαλων εκλαιεν.

And immediately a cock crowed a second time. And Peter remembered the word, how Jesus had said to him: Before a cock crows twice you will deny me thrice. And he rushed out and wept.

These fulfillments are full, detailed, and answer to their respective predictions on a tight verbal level. Mark himself connects the dots. He does not leave much to the imagination of the reader.

So, after Jesus assures his disciples in 14.28 that upon rising from the dead he will meet them in Galilee, and after an angel repeats his prediction to the women at the tomb in 16.7...:

Αλλα μετα το εγερθηναι με προαξω υμας εις την Γαλιλαιαν.

But after I am raised up I will go before you into Galilee.

Αλλα υπαγετε, ειπατε τοις μαθηταις αυτου και τω Πετρω οτι Προαγει υμας εις την Γαλιλαιαν εκει αυτον οψεσθε, καθως ειπεν υμιν.

But go, tell my disciples and Peter that I will go before you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.

...does the longer ending describe for us the promised and predicted appearance in Galilee? No, Mark 16.9-20 gives not even a hint of any appearances in Galilee.

This point, for me, is crucial. Mark raises our expectations of a resurrection appearance in Galilee, and by analogy with the other predictions in Mark we look for an exact verbal fulfillment of this one, but in vain.

But, if the longer ending is not the proper conclusion of the gospel of Mark, what exactly is it? Was it written up precisely as a remedy for the abrupt ending at Mark 16.8? Based on what we have seen with regard to the internal evidence, my answer is no.

  • In the cases of the chronological backtracking and the reintroduction of Mary Magdalene, the longer ending looks like a fresh narrative start. It does not look like it was originally meant to continue the narrative from 16.8.
     
  • In the case of the failure to fulfill the Galilean prediction, it does not look like the author of the longer ending was trying very hard to complete the gospel of Mark in particular. We might have expected some sort of attempt to place an appearance in Galilee.
     
  • If we suppose that the author of the longer ending was trying, not only to conclude Mark, but also to harmonize the other gospel conclusions, we might wonder why he or she failed so far as to require Eusebius to have to harmonize the longer ending itself with the gospel of Matthew. And for a harmonization of the Galilean expectation of Mark with the Judean appearances of Luke we might have expected something along the lines of John, which has both Judean and Galilean appearances.

I propose that Mark 16.9-20, the longer ending, was an originally separate list of the appearances of Jesus. It was not, in my view, originally composed as a conclusion for Mark, whether by Mark himself or by a later scribe trying to remedy the abrupt ending at 16.8. Just plug in the name Ιησους as the subject of 16.9 and this list of appearances can stand on its own. The scribe who appended this list to the close of Mark probably dropped the name because its antecedent was so close at hand in Mark 16.6-7. (Alternately, this list could have been a part of a longer document, and was clipped in order to complete Mark.)

Parallels with other early Christian texts.

Mark 16.9-20 shows a marked affinity with the traditions of the third and fourth gospels. There is also one point of contact with the first gospel, as well as some overlap with traditions from Papias.

Mark 16.9-11.
Mark 16.12-13.
Mark 16.14.
Mark 16.15.
Mark 16.16.
Mark 16.17-18.
Mark 16.19.
Mark 16.20.

We begin with Mark 16.9-11...:

Αναστας δε πρωι πρωτη σαββατου εφανη πρωτον Μαρια τη Μαγδαληνη, παρ ης εκβεβληκει επτα δαιμονια. εκεινη πορευθεισα απηγγειλεν τοις μετ αυτου γενομενοις πενθουσι και κλαιουσιν· κακεινοι ακουσαντες οτι ζη και εθεαθη υπ αυτης ηπιστησαν.

And having arisen early on the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went and announced it to those who had been with him while they were mourning and weeping. And they, having heard that he lived, and that he had been seen by her, did not believe.

...which finds decided parallels with John 20.1a, 18:

Τη δε μια των σαββατων Μαρια η Μαγδαληνη ερχεται πρωι σκοτιας ετι ουσης εις το μνημειον....

And on the first day of the week Mary the Magdalene comes early, while it is still dark, to the tomb....

Ερχεται Μαριαμ η Μαγδαληνη αγγελλουσα τοις μαθηταις οτι Εωρακα τον κυριον, και ταυτα ειπεν αυτη.

Mary the Magdalene comes announcing to the disciples: I have seen the Lord, and that he said these things to her.

Only the gospel of John and the longer ending of Mark describe a first appearance to Mary Magdalene. Matthew 28.9-10 describes an appearance to all the women....

Και ιδου Ιησους υπηντησεν αυταις λεγων· Χαιρετε. αι δε προσελθουσαι εκρατησαν αυτου τους ποδας και προσεκυνησαν αυτω. τοτε λεγει αυταις ο Ιησους· Μη φοβεισθε· υπαγετε απαγγειλατε τοις αδελφοις μου ινα απελθωσιν εις την Γαλιλαιαν, κακει με οψονται.

And behold, Jesus met them saying: Greetings! And they came to him and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them: Be not afraid. Go, announce to my brethren that they should go away into Galilee, and there they will see me.

...and the only purpose of this visitation seems to be to transmit the same information that the angel has already given in 28.7. Nothing in the Matthean account actually overlaps either the Johannine account or that of the longer ending of Mark except the presumption that Mary Magdalene is among the women in Matthew. John and the longer ending of Mark on the one hand, and Matthew on the other, seem to preserve independent traditions of a resurrected meeting with women that preceded any with men.

We continue with Mark 16.12-13...:

Μετα δε ταυτα δυσιν εξ αυτων περιπατουσιν εφανερωθη εν ετερα μορφη πορευομενοις εις αγρον· κακεινοι απελθοντες απηγγειλαν τοις λοιποις· ουδε εκεινοις επιστευσαν.

And after these things he appeared in another form to two of them while they were walking along, going to the country. And they went away and announced it to the others, but they did not believe them.

...which is clearly of a kind with the Emmaus road encounter in Luke 24.13, 15-16, 33-34:

Και ιδου δυο εξ αυτων εν αυτη τη ημερα ησαν πορευομενοι εις κωμην απεχουσαν σταδιους εξηκοντα απο Ιερουσαλημ, η ονομα Εμμαους.

And behold, two of them on that same day were going to a village that was about sixty stadia from Jerusalem, the name of which was Emmaus.

Και εγενετο εν τω ομιλειν αυτους και συζητειν και αυτος Ιησους εγγισας συνεπορευετο αυτοις, οι δε οφθαλμοι αυτων εκρατουντο του μη επιγνωναι αυτον.

And it happened while they were conversing and discussing that Jesus himself came to hand and went with them, but their eyes were held back so that they did not recognize him.

Και ανασταντες αυτη τη ωρα υπεστρεψαν εις Ιερουσαλημ, και ευρον ηθροισμενους τους ενδεκα και τους συν αυτοις, λεγοντας οτι οντως ηγερθη ο κυριος και ωφθη Σιμωνι.

And they arose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered and those with them, saying that the Lord had risen indeed, and had appeared to Simon.

Both the longer ending and the gospel of Luke now immediately turn to an appearance to the eleven. Mark 16.14:

Υστερον {δε} ανακειμενοις αυτοις τοις ενδεκα εφανερωθη, και ωνειδισεν την απιστιαν αυτων και σκληροκαρδιαν οτι τοις θεασαμενοις αυτον εγηγερμενον ουκ επιστευσαν.

{And} afterward he appeared to the eleven as they reclined, and he reproached their lack of belief and their hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him risen.

Luke 24.33b, 36, 38, 42-43:

...και ευρον ηθροισμενους τους ενδεκα και τους συν αυτοις.

...and they found the eleven gathered and those with them.

Ταυτα δε αυτων λαλουντων αυτος εστη εν μεσω αυτων και λεγει αυτοις· Ειρηνη υμιν.

And while they were saying these things he himself stood in their midst and says to them: Peace to you.

Και ειπεν αυτοις· Τι τεταραγμενοι εστε, και δια τι διαλογισμοι αναβαινουσιν εν τη καρδια υμων;

And he said to them: Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise up in your hearts?

Ειπεν αυτοις, Εχετε τι βρωσιμον ενθαδε; οι δε επεδωκαν αυτω ιχθυος οπτου μερος, και λαβων ενωπιον αυτων εφαγεν.

He said to them: Have you anything to eat here? And they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it before them.

There are differences, of course. In Mark it would seem that Jesus appears to the eleven while they are eating, while in Luke he has to ask if there is food available, perhaps implying that they are not eating at that very moment. The motif of food, however, still figures into both accounts. Also, Mark mentions only the eleven, while Luke includes an uncounted group with them.

Nevertheless, granted the other parallels and the fact that this incident comes immediately after the appearance to two on the road, the same event is clearly meant in both traditions.

Next comes Mark 16.15...:

Και ειπεν αυτοις· Πορευθεντες εις τον κοσμον απαντα κηρυξατε το ευαγγελιον παση τη κτισει.

And he said to them: Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

...which is our lone parallel with the Matthean resurrection tradition, Matthew 28.19a:

Πορευθεντες ουν μαθητευσατε παντα τα εθνη.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the gentiles.

On to Mark 16.16:

Ο πιστευσας και βαπτισθεις σωθησεται, ο δε απιστησας κατακριθησεται.

He who has believed and been baptized will be saved, but he who has not believed will be condemned.

Jesus, in his conversation with Nicodemus in the fourth gospel, links belief and judgment in much the same way as this verse from the longer ending links belief and condemnation. Note that the Greek word for condemnation is simply the word for judgment strengthened with a prefixed κατα. John 3.18a:

Ο πιστευων εις αυτον ου κρινεται, ο δε μη πιστευων ηδη κεκριται.

He who believes in him is not judged, but he who does not believe has been judged already.

Also of note is that the apostle Peter, in his first public sermon according to the Acts of the Apostles, tells the gathered crowd to repent and be baptized (Acts 2.38), then shouts out (in 2.40): Be saved from this perverse generation!

It is in Mark 16.17-18 that we find our more unusual material:

Σημεια δε τοις πιστευσασιν ταυτα παρακολουθησει εν τω ονοματι μου δαιμονια εκβαλουσιν, γλωσσαις λαλησουσιν καιναις, και εν ταις χερσιν οφεις αρουσιν, καν θανασιμον τι πιωσιν ου μη αυτους βλαψη, επι αρρωστους χειρας επιθησουσιν και καλως εξουσιν.

These signs will accompany those who have believed: In my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues, and in their hands they will pick up serpents, and if they should drink any deadly thing it will not harm them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.

The connections between this promise and other early Christian works are many. The very idea of signs following the faithful is reflected in the Pauline epistles in Romans 15.19 and 2 Corinthians 12.12:

...εν δυναμει σημειων και τερατων, εν δυναμει πνευματος· ωστε με απο Ιερουσαλημ και κυκλω μεχρι του Ιλλυρικου πεπληρωκεναι το ευαγγελιον του Χριστου.

...in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the spirit, so that from Jerusalem and in a cycle until Illyricum I have fulfilled the gospel of Christ.

Τα μεν σημεια του αποστολου κατειργασθη εν υμιν εν παση υπομονη, σημειοις τε και τερασιν και δυναμεσιν.

The signs of an apostle were worked among you in all endurance, with signs and wonders and powers.

See also Galatians 3.5; compare 1 Thessalonians 1.5.

The theme of signs and wonders amongst the followers of Jesus is especially prevalent in the Acts of the Apostles. We may take Acts 2.43 as representative:

Εγινετο δε παση ψυχη φοβος· πολλα τε τερατα και σημεια δια των αποστολων εγινετο.

And there was fear upon every soul. Many wonders and signs were happening through the apostles.

See also in this connection Acts 4.30; 5.12; 6.8; 8.6; 14.3; 15.12; Hebrews 2.4.

While the emphasis in both Paul and the Acts is on signs performed by the apostles, signs performed apparantly amongst the ordinary faithful in the churches are attested in 1 Corinthians 12 (see especially 12.29) and Galatians 3.5.

As for the individual kinds of sign listed in Mark 16.17-18, a sequential enumeration of the signs to follow the faithful may be in order:

  1. Casting out demons.
  2. Speaking with new tongues.
  3. Picking up serpents.
  4. Drinking deadly things.
  5. Laying hands on the sick.

I shall touch upon only the most evident and significant parallels.

1. Casting out demons.

The apostle Paul does not mention casting out demons in his epistles. The power shows up in the Acts a few times. Acts 8.7:

Πολλοι γαρ των εχοντων πνευματα ακαθαρτα βοωντα φωνη μεγαλη εξηρχοντο, πολλοι δε παραλελυμενοι και χωλοι εθεραπευθησαν.

For many of those having unclean spirits, [the spirits] were coming out shouting with a great voice, and many paralytics and lame men were healed.

See also Acts 5.16; 16.18; 19.12, 15.

2. Speaking with new tongues.

Paul discusses speaking in tongues in depth in his first epistle to the Corinthian church, which was abusing the gift. 1 Corinthians 13.1:

Εαν ταις γλωσσαις των ανθρωπων λαλω και των αγγελων, αγαπην δε μη εχω, γεγονα χαλκος ηχων η κυμβαλον αλαλαζον.

If I should speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become a noisy gong or clanging cymbal.

This profound line heads up what is sometimes called the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, which is situated strategically in the midst of a discussion of spiritual giftings, including especially prophecy and tongues, extending from 12.1 to 14.40.

The phenomenon of tongues also appears a number of times in the Acts, beginning with Acts 2.4:

Και επλησθησαν παντες πνευματος αγιου, και ηρξαντο λαλειν ετεραις γλωσσαις καθως το πνευμα εδιδου αποφθεγγεσθαι αυτοις.

And they were all filled with the holy spirit, and began to speak in other tongues just as the spirit gave them to speak out.

See also Acts 10.46; 19.6.

3. Picking up serpents.

It must surely be understood that the faithful will pick up serpents without suffering harm. In Luke 10.19 Jesus promises that the disciples will tread on serpents:

Ιδου δεδωκα υμιν την εξουσιαν του πατειν επανω οφεων και σκορπιων, και επι πασαν την δυναμιν του εχθρου, και ουδεν υμας ου μη αδικηση.

Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.

Luke himself supplies a narrative of this kind of promise in Acts 28.1-6:

Και διασωθεντες τοτε επεγνωμεν οτι Μελιτη η νησος καλειται. οι τε βαρβαροι παρειχον ου την τυχουσαν φιλανθρωπιαν ημιν, αψαντες γαρ πυραν προσελαβοντο παντας ημας δια τον υετον τον εφεστωτα και δια το ψυχος. συστρεψαντος δε του Παυλου φρυγανων τι πληθος και επιθεντος επι την πυραν, εχιδνα απο της θερμης εξελθουσα καθηψεν της χειρος αυτου. ως δε ειδον οι βαρβαροι κρεμαμενον το θηριον εκ της χειρος αυτου, προς αλληλους ελεγον· Παντως φονευς εστιν ο ανθρωπος ουτος ον διασωθεντα εκ της θαλασσης η δικη ζην ουκ ειασεν. ο μεν ουν αποτιναξας το θηριον εις το πυρ επαθεν ουδεν κακον. οι δε προσεδοκων αυτον μελλειν πιμπρασθαι η καταπιπτειν αφνω νεκρον. επι πολυ δε αυτων προσδοκωντων και θεωρουντων μηδεν ατοπον εις αυτον γινομενον, μεταβαλομενοι ελεγον αυτον ειναι θεον.

When they had been saved, then we found out that the island was called Malta. The foreigners showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out away from the heat and fastened itself on his hand. When the foreigners saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another: Surely this man is a murderer, and, though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live. But he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.

Perhaps notably, the narrative in the Acts more closely resembles the prediction of Mark 16.18 than that of Luke 10.19, for the latter speaks of treading on serpents (and scorpions), perhaps an echo of Genesis 3.15...:

ואיבה אשית בינכ ובין האשה ובין זרעכ ובין זרעה הוא
ישופכ ראש ואתה תשופנו עקב׃

Και εχθραν θησω ανα μεσον σου και ανα μεσον της γυναικος,
και ανα μεσον του σπερματος σου και ανα μεσον του σπερματος αυτης·
αυτος σου τηρησει κεφαλην,
και συ τηρησεις αυτου πτερναν.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed.
He will bruise you on the head,
and you will bruise him on the heel.

...while the former speaks of taking up serpents (by hand), which is what the apostle Paul actually does, accidentally, in Acts 28.3.

4. Drinking deadly things.

We have already seen that Eusebius, in History of the Church 3.39.9, records the following story from one of the five lost books of Papias:

Το μεν ουν κατα την Ιεραπολιν Φιλιππον τον αποστολον αμα ταις θυγατρασι διατριψαι, δια των προσθεν δεδηλωται, ως δε κατα τους αυτους ο Παπιας γενομενος διηγησιν παρειληφεναι θαυμασιαν υπο των του Φιλιππου θυγατερων μνημονευει, τα νυν σημειωτεον. νεκρου γαρ αναστασιν κατ αυτον γεγονυιαν ιστορει, και αυ παλιν ετερον παραδοξον περι Ιουστον τον επικληθεντα Βαρσαββαν γεγονος, ως δηλητηριον φαρμακον εμπιοντος και μηδεν αηδες δια την του κυριου χαριν υπομειναντος.

That Philip the apostle lived in Hierapolis together with his daughters has been made clear before. But as regards them let it be noted that Papias, their contemporary, mentions a wondrous account that he received from the daughters of Philip. For he recounts a resurrection from the dead in his time, and yet another paradox about Justus who was surnamed Barsabbas, as having drunk a deadly poison and yet, through the grace of the Lord, suffered no harm.

The passage from Papias narrates what Mark 16.18 promises (which is not at all to say that Papias necessarily knew the longer ending). Eusebius states in 3.39.7 (Αριστιωνος δε και του πρεσβυτερου Ιωαννου αυτηκοον εαυτον φησι γενεσθαι) that Papias was an earwitness of a certain Aristion, as Papias himself claims, apud Eusebius in 3.39.4 (α τε Αριστιων και ο πρεσβυτερος Ιωαννης, του κυριου μαθηται, λεγουσιν). Which makes all the more interesting the note in a tenth-century Armenian manuscript: Ariston the elder.

5. Laying hands on the sick.

The first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians is again our source for healings amongst the Pauline churches. The power is discussed in 1 Corinthians 12.9, 28, 30.

Healings are also commonplace in the Acts of the Apostles. Acts 5.16:

Συνηρχετο δε και το πληθος των περιξ πολεων Ιερουσαλημ, φεροντες ασθενεις και οχλουμενους υπο πνευματων ακαθαρτων, οιτινες εθεραπευοντο απαντες.

And the multitude from the cities around Jerusalem were also coming together, bearing the sick and those crowded by unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.

Healings of all kinds are recounted in Acts 3.1-10, 9.17-19a, 32-35, 36-43; 20.9-12; 28.8-9. Note the reverse healing in Acts 13.11.

Next is Mark 16.19:

Ο μεν ουν κυριος Ιησους μετα το λαλησαι αυτοις ανελημφθη εις τον ουρανον και εκαθισεν εκ δεξιων του θεου.

So the Lord Jesus, after speaking with them, was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.

The ascension parallels Luke 24.51 and Acts 1.9:

Και εγενετο εν τω ευλογειν αυτον αυτους διεστη απ αυτων και ανεφερετο εις τον ουρανον.

And it happened that while he was blessing them he departed from them and was borne up into heaven.

Και ταυτα ειπων βλεποντων αυτων επηρθη, και νεφελη υπελαβεν αυτον απο των οφθαλμων αυτων.

And, after he said these things, while they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud received him from before their eyes.

Note that all three texts emphasize that Jesus was speaking with the disciples when or just before he was taken up from them.

The motif of sitting at the right hand of God comes from Psalm 110.1 (LXX 109.1), which is, I think, the verse from the Hebrew scriptures most alluded to in the apostolic writings:

נאם יהוה לאדני שב לימיני עד־אשית איביך הדם לרגליך׃

Ειπεν ο κυριος τω κυριω μου· Καθου εκ δεξιων μου εως αν θω τους εχθρους σου υποποδιον των ποδων σου.

The Lord said to my lord: Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.

It is interesting that the martyr Stephen, in Acts 7.55-56, sees a sudden vision of Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of God.

Finally, Mark 16.20:

Εκεινοι δε εξελθοντες εκηρυξαν πανταχου, του κυριου συνεργουντος και τον λογον βεβαιουντος δια των επακολουθουντων σημειων.

And they went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through the accompanying signs.

The entire Acts of the Apostles could be seen as the dramatic enactment of this sweeping statement, so I cite here only its charter statement, Acts 1.8:

Αλλα λημψεσθε δυναμιν επελθοντος του αγιου πνευματος εφ υμας, και εσεσθε μου μαρτυρες εν τε Ιερουσαλημ και παση τη Ιουδαια και Σαμαρεια και εως εσχατου της γης.

But you shall receive power when the holy spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in both Jerusalem and all Judea, and Samaria, and until the utter extreme of the earth.

The longer ending has much, therefore, in common with both the Lucan writings and the fourth gospel.

Another logion, after Mark 16.14.

Also known as the Freer logion.

This logion is a gloss inserted into the text of W after Mark 16.14.

  • Κακεινοι απελογουντε λεγοντες οτι, Ο αιων ουτος της ανομιας και της απιστιας υπο τον Σαταναν εστιν, ο μη εων τα υπο των πνευματων ακαθαρτα την αληθειαν του θεου καταλαβεσθαι δυναμιν· δια τουτο αποκαλυψον σου την δικαιοσυνην ηδη· εκεινοι ελεγον τω Χριστω και ο Χριστος εκεινοις προσελεγεν οτι, Πεπληρωται ο ορος των ετων την εξουσιας του Σατανα, αλλα εγγεζει αλλα δινα, και υπερ ων εγω αμαρτησαντων παρεδοθην εις θανατον, ινα υποστρεψωσιν εις την αληθειαν και μηκετι αμαρτησωσιν, ινα την εν τω ουρανω πνευματικην και αφθαρτον την δικαιοσυνης δοξαν κληρονομησωσιν.
  • And they replied [reading απελογουντο for απελογουντε] saying: This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who through unclean spirits does not allow the true power of God to be comprehended. For this reason, reveal your righteousness now. They were speaking to Christ, and Christ said to them: The limit of the years of the authority of Satan has been fulfilled, but other terrible things are approaching, even for those sinners on whose account I was handed over to death, in order that they might turn to the truth and sin no more, in order that they might inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness in heaven.

Jerome appears to have been aware of this logion. In Against the Pelagians 2.15 he writes:

In quibusdam exemplaribus et maxime in Graecis codicibus, iuxta Marcum in fine eius evangelii scribitur: Postea cum accubuissent undecim, apparuit eis Iesus, et exprobravit incredulitatem et duritiam cordis eorum, quia his qui viderant eum resurgentem non crediderunt. et illi satisfaciebant dicentes: Saeculum istud iniquitatis et incredulitatis {sub Satana} est, quae non sinit per immundos spiritus veram dei apprehendi virtutem: idcirco iam nunc revela iustitiam tuam.

In certain manuscripts, and especially in the Greek codices, next to Mark, at the end of his gospel, it is written: Afterward, when the eleven were reclining, he appeared to them, and he reproached their incredulity and their hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him risen. And they made excuses, saying: This age of iniquity and incredulity is {under Satan}, who through unclean spirits does not allow the true power of God to be apprehended. For this reason, reveal your righteousness now.

I read, with Vaticanus 1, sub Satana est instead of substantia est.

The shorter ending, Mark 16.[21].

I ought to point out that I treat the shorter ending as verse 21 of the chapter, though the standard texts do not normally versify it at all, and the ancient texts that present both the longer and the shorter endings tend to place the shorter ending first, before the longer.

I do not think that anyone would be tempted to regard the shorter ending as the original conclusion to Mark. It suffers from slender attestation, and it does no better than the longer ending at fulfilling our expectations of a resurrection appearance in Galilee.

Only the Old Latin version itk, so far as I can tell from the apparatus of my Greek New Testament, contains the shorter ending alone. Most manuscripts that include the shorter ending at all combine it with the longer ending, though the two clearly do not belong together, each covering the ground of the other.

The shorter ending is also available in a glossed version.

Mark 16[.21]:

  1. Παντα δε τα παρηγγελμενα τοις περι τον Πετρον συντομως εξηγγειλαν. μετα δε ταυτα και αυτος ο Ι{ησου}ς εφανη αυτοις, και απο ανατολης και αχρι δυσεως εξαπεστειλεν δι αυτων το ιερον και αφθαρτον κηρυγμα της αιωνιου σωτηριας. αμην.
  1. And all that had been commanded them they promptly announced to those around Peter. And after these things J{esu}s himself appeared to them, and from the east as far as the west he sent out through them the sacred and incorruptible proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.

This brief conclusion, unlike the longer ending, was almost certainly composed specifically in order to complete the gospel of Mark. It never, in other words, stood alone. For it begins with the women doing all that had been commanded of them, implying the prior instructions of Mark 16.6-7. Their obedience, of course, would appear to contradict their silence at 16.8. Perhaps that silence was interpreted as merely temporary; the women later regained their composure and followed through.

The abrupt ending at Mark 16.8.

The abrupt ending, aptly named, is that which concludes the gospel with the stark phrase εφοβουντο γαρ, for they were afraid.