Oh, the Indiana Jones’ tropes will fly as we tackle Mark’s secondary and tertiary endings! While scholars debate endlessly about Mark 16:8b-19 (just examine your study bible notes to confirm), I’ve been waiting for weeks to drop this Raiders of the Lost Ark ode to paralyzing ophidiophobia (oh yes it is a word, and a really good one too! Look here, here and, although not as culturally sensitive as we might like, here because I love you!) What in the world you say?! Read on, read on….
Many study bibles divide Mark 16:8b-19 into two sections, euphemistically entitled “The Shorter Ending” (Mark 16:8b) and “The Longer Ending” (Mark 16:9-19) and some even subdivide further. Forget all that for a moment and simply read the passage. My guiding biblical scholars suggest both 16:8b and the remainder constitute generational editorial attempts to complete the story which their beloved Mark had inferred by his abrupt ending in 16:8a we read yesterday. This makes complete sense to me; the shorter ending was perhaps a closing by a Markan disciple shortly after the gospel was circulated (they didn’t quite publish these scrolls the way we use the term) while the longer ending was appended by a later generation. I believe Mark’s church was reading other circulating gospels which included actual resurrection accounts so they wanted a resurrection epilogue also. A few ancient scrolls do not append this chapter to Mark at all so we have textual evidence it was attached at a later date.
What do you read? 16:9-11 seem to reflect a Johnannine (Gospel of John) tone featuring Mary of Magdala. 16:12-13 seem to summarize a longer Lukan (you get the idea!) resurrection account featuring the road to Emmaus. 16:14-15, Matthean. 16:16, John. 16:17-18, maybe a summation of Acts?! 16:19-20, definitely a Lukan Acts inference. And snakes?! Why did it have to be snakes Jacque?! What a brilliant catalogue of late 1st century (even perhaps into the early 2nd century) resurrection, complete with a unique Markan Great Commission: Go into all the world and proclaim the Good News to all creation! Not asps, but still very dangerous! Who will go first?! (yes, another Raiders citation, the final one I promise!)
- Does it disturb you to consider the scriptures to be living documents reflecting the generational aspirations and insights of the churches which produced them?! Does that interpretation comfort you? How does this gospel change with this catalogic epilogue of resurrection appended?
- All serpentine snark aside, how does it strike you that Mark’s church boldly states the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it?! How might that claim impact your sense of ministry today?
- Mark’s epilogue includes a clarion commissioning: Command to go and proclaim the resurrection of Jesus everywhere. Well?! Have we?! Gone and proclaimed?!