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The Ending of Mark

I’m reading Perspectives on the Ending of Mark right now. It discusses four views (two in favor of the long ending and two in favor of the short ending) for grasping how Mark should end. I won’t go into their views today. Instead I’ll save that for the book review (hopefully early next week; it’s a short read).

I would like to know what your thoughts are on where Mark ends. Should it end after verse 8? Or after verse 20? And no, I don’t want to hear from you, Steven Anderson!



12 Responses

  1. Great timing of this post. Just a few hours ago I was having a joke about Anderson and the ending of Mark. We decided that whatever the KJV, as the infallible and perfect word of God…in a 17th century translation says must be the true answer.

    For a real answer- I do not see the longer ending as authentic. However, this doesn’t preclude an original longer ending. I am trying to remember something interesting I heard form N.T. Wright recently about his suggestion that Mark originally had a birth narrative and resurrection appearance ending. I believe his suggestion was that they were lost as part of a scroll ends.(?) I really haven’t looked into Wright’s view here but the lack of Mark in pre-3rd century manuscripts may allow for such a hypothesis.

  2. I personally think it is most probable that the original ending of Mark has been lost, and that the abrupt ending at 16:8 in our earliest manuscripts reflects this (presumably accidental) truncation.

    I’ve posted on this subject on my blog (more than once) as well as reviewing a book by N. Clayton Croy, The Mutilation of Mark’s Gospel.

    • I think I’d agree with you on this one. It just makes sense. Considering that in v. 7 the women were told that Jesus was going ahead of them to Galilee where they would see him, you would expect that the next appearance of Jesus would be in Galilee, yet it doesn’t seem to be the case with the rest of the chapter.

      I also have a review copy of Croy’s book that I’ll reading soon. I’ll have to check out your review and see what you thought.

  3. Ari: Good to know. I’ll really have to bump Croy’s book up on my list and read that before a couple of others I have planned.

  4. I might be inclined to say the ending to Mark may have been lost. However, on text critical grounds I don’t think that argument can be made.

    Based upon the extant manuscript evidence (attesting to four separate possible endings to Mark), 16:8 is the most original reading. Notice I said MOST original. We have to deal with what we have. Musing over whether it was lost–a conclusion arrived at most often because the ending at 16:8 is unsettling to those of us who want a resurrected Jesus to appear and want people to find out–is ultimately not a viable response from text critical guidelines. It is a reconstruction or assumption that has little to no solid grounding.

    So, based upon what we have, 16:8 is the most original ending in my view.

    • You are right. It would be unsettling for Mark to end at v. 8. If that is how it originally ended (or if the last part was lost very early on), then it is easy to see why scribes would want another part added to clean things up.

      • Matt:

        Thanks. My basic point is that the fact it is “unsettling” is NOT a valid reason to argue it is not the most original. Ergo, if that is the reason one postulates the ending was lost, it isn’t the most convincing line of argumentation.

  5. John: I can agree with that statement. I assume that there is another part, but could be wrong in that case. However, if there is an alternate ending missing, does it hurt anything to be without it? I think the answer is ‘no’. We have other witnesses to tell us what happened after where Mark leaves off in v. 8. Curious to know what you think though.

    • Matt:

      Of course we have other material that indicates the story was completed and the women did tell others (presumably). What is fascinating to me, though, is that Mark, likely the first of the canonical gospels written, ends in this way. I don’t think we can (nor should) interpret Mark through Matthew, or Luke, or John. We must interpret Mark as and through Mark alone. No Diatesserons here, buddy!! So, the fact that the gospel ends in such a way is indeed meaningful, unsettling, and beautiful all at the same time.

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