On Easter Sunday, we officially finished 29 weeks in the Gospel of Mark, retelling the greatest story ever told in Mark 16:1-8: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some of you might be thinking, “Aren’t we going to finish the rest of the book in vv. 9-20?” My answer, “No, because it’s not part of Mark’s original Gospel.” If you have a Bible with notes or cross-references, you’ll find a note near v. 9 that states something like this, “Later manuscripts (mss) add vv. 9-20.” That means, our earliest and most reliable manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel don’t contain vv. 9-20. Here are some of the reasons why I believe Mark ends his Gospel at v. 8:
1. The abrupt ending forces us to ask and answer the life-changing question: “How will you respond to the resurrection of Jesus Christ?” David Garland, in his commentary on Mark, writes:
The Gospel ends like one of Jesus’ parables and forces us to work things out for ourselves. This incomplete ending, therefore, has Christ still waiting symbolically in Galilee for His followers to come and forces us to ask whether we will go to meet Him there as well. It also prompts us to reflect on our own fear and silence.
2. Our two oldest Greek manuscripts do not have the longer ending (vv. 9-20). The church fathers Clement of Alexandria (c.150 – c. 215) and Origen (c. 185–254) show no knowledge of the longer ending’s existence. In addition, Eusebius (c. AD 263–339) and Jerome (c. 347 – 30 September 420) both state that the longer ending was not found in the majority of Greek manuscripts available to them.
3. The literary style (grammar and word choice) in vv. 9-20 does not match the literary style of the rest of Mark’s gospel.
4. The transition from v. 8 to v. 9 is awkward. In v. 8 the women are the subjects and then in v. 9, it abruptly shifts to Jesus as the subject, addressing Mary Magdalene with no mention of the other two women.
5. It seems as though vv. 9-20 is a compilation of the accounts found in the other three Gospels (Matthew, Luke, and John).
For a more in-depth analysis of Mark’s ending, see “Irony in the End: A Textual and Literary Analysis of Mark 16:8”
Ultimately, wherever the Gospel of Mark really ends, the life-changing question still remains: How will you respond to the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
What are your thoughts about Mark’s ending?