Mark 16:9-20 includes the disputed longer ending of Mark that is included in later Greek manuscripts yet is missing from earlier ones, including Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. Should these verses be in the Bible?
Were Mark 16:9-20 added to the Bible by scribes? Should Mark 16:9-20 be in the Bible?
These verses should only be included in the Bible today if they were originally included in Mark's writing of the Gospel. Therefore, the best way to determine whether Mark 16:9-20 should be in the Bible is to investigate whether these verses were in the earliest preserved manuscripts.
The external evidence offers an interesting history to Mark's longer ending. In the fourth century, the church fathers Eusebius and Jerome wrote that almost all of the Greek manuscripts available to them at that time lacked the longer ending. This longer ending must have been added early if not original, since Justin Martyr and Tatian both seemed to be aware of Mark's longer ending as early as the second century. In about 180, Irenaeus included a quotation from Mark 16:19 in Adversus Haereses.
The internal evidence offers an additional line of evidence regarding the ending of Mark. First, the transition between verses 8 and 9 in Greek is considered awkward. Second, the vocabulary changes greatly in the Greek language of verses 9-20. Eighteen words are used in these verses that are not used elsewhere in the Gospel.
Two other factors must also be considered. First, what would be the best explanation for some manuscripts having a longer ending and others having a shorter ending? Though some have suggested the original ending may have been lost, the most likely suggestion is that the longer ending was added because the ending at verse 8 appeared too abrupt and did not include much detail regarding the resurrection appearances of Jesus. In other words, it is much easier to explain why the longer ending was added than it is to explain why the longer ending is missing in significant older manuscripts.
Finally, a look at Mark 16:1-8 may offer the most compelling internal explanation. A close look at these verses reveals that it is structured to present the angel's message of the risen Jesus as the focus. Verses 6-7 note, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you." Here we find the crucifixion, empty tomb, resurrection, and a message to Peter (traditionally the source of Mark's Gospel) all combined in a fitting summary to this book.
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