The Many Endings of Mark

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Mark 16:1-8

[[And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.]]

The Shorter Ending of Mark

I’ve always been confused about why Mark has two endings, a long and a short. So I looked it up. Evidentally, Mark originally ended with verse 8 when the women don’t say anything because they are afraid. But over the years, people found that insufficient and added their own endings. Two of these endings, including the short one I read today, were so popular that they continue to be included in Bibles, long after their “forgery” has been proven by academics. Whether these endings should be considered part of the gospels is way above my pay grade, but I decided to go ahead and read them, because I figure it can’t hurt.

Mark scholars did take note of  the significance of the original ending. As far as Mark knew, they say, there were never any encounters with Jesus’s resurrected body. Marked believed Jesus ascended directly to Heaven, and that later encounters were more mystical than physical. And, after all, isn’t that what really matters? Whenever it may have happened, JESUS ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN! And so will we! We get to be in Heaven with Jesus! What Good News!

It’s funny, I always that the young man at the tomb was Jesus, and that the women just didn’t recognize Him. I don’t know why. In Matthew and Luke it’s angels, and John is completely different. Mark doesn’t specify who the young man is, so presumably he is the angel from Matthew. But one site I read talked about the significant difference between him and the young man in Mark 14, which I talked more about here.

The short ending of Mark is essentially useless. It’s really just a summary of the endings of Matthew and Luke. But I guess it reminds us that the women eventually told what they saw, and that the disciples didn’t completely loose faith. Still, it’s easy to see how (especially when combined with it’s forgery status) Biblical scholars may choose to ignore it.

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