Monday, May 02, 2016

Is the Longer Ending of Mark Inspired? (with Poll)

Not a picture of the ending of Mark.
For some, the question of whether Mark 16.9–20 belongs to the original text of Mark’s Gospel settles the matter of whether it should be read, preached, and taught as Scripture. For others it’s not so simple. These 12 verses may have been added, but this does not mean they aren’t inspired by God.

I count myself among that small group that thinks Mark 16.9–20 is not Mark’s original ending but is still Scripture. These verses are attested early and widely and there is nothing in them that I can see that would discredit them theologically. The fact that they have been received by so many Christians as Scripture seems to me to weigh heavily in their favor.

But I admit I am probably in a minority in holding this position. So I was glad to find an ally this week in Samuel P. Tregelles who held the same view. I might still be wrong, but at least I’m in good company!

Here is how Tregelles explained his view:
As, then, the facts of the case, and the early reception and transmission of this section, uphold its authenticity, and as it has been placed from the second century, at least, at the close of our second canonical Gospel;­—and as, likewise, its transmission has been accompanied by a continuous testimony that it was not a part of the book as originally written by St. Mark;—and as both these points are confirmed by internal considerations—

The following corollaries flow from the propositions already established:—

I. That the book of Mark himself extends no farther than ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ, xvi. 8.

II. That the remaining twelve verses, by whomsoever written, have a full claim to be received as an authentic part of the second Gospel, and that the full reception of early testimony on this question does not in the least involve their rejection as not being a part of Canonical Scripture.

It may, indeed, be said that they might have been written by St. Mark at a later period; but, even on this supposition, the attested fact that the book once ended at ver. 8 would remain the same, and the assumption that the same Evangelist had added the conclusion would involve new difficulties, instead of removing any.

There is in some minds a kind of timidity with regard to Holy Scripture, as if all our notions of its authority depended on our knowing who was the writer of each particular portion; instead of simply seeing and owning that it was given forth from God, and that it is as much his as were the commandments of the Law written by his own finger on the tables of stone. As to many books of Scripture, we know not who the writers may have been; and yet this is no reason for questioning their authority in the slightest degree. If we try to be certain as to points of which there is no proof, we really shall find ourselves to be substituting conjecture in the place of evidence. Thus some of the early Church received the Epistle to the Hebrews as Holy Scripture; who, instead of absolutely dogmatising that it was written by St. Paul—a point of which they had no proof—were content to say that “God only knoweth the real writer”: and yet to many in the present day, though they have not one whit more evidence on the subject, it seems, that to doubt or disbelieve that Epistle to have been written by St. Paul himself, and to doubt or disbelieve its canonical authority, is one and the same thing. But this mode of treating Scripture is very different from what ought to be found amongst those who own it as the word of God.

I thus look on this section as an authentic anonymous addition to what Mark himself wrote down from the narration of St. Peter (as we learn from the testimony of their contemporary, John the Presbyter); and that it ought as much to be received as part of our second Gospel, as the last chapter of Deuteronomy (unknown as the writer is) is received as the right and proper conclusion of the books of Moses. I cannot but believe that many upholders of orthodox and evangelical truth practically narrow their field of vision as to Scripture by treating it (perhaps unconsciously) as though we had to consider the thoughts, mind, and measure of apprehension possessed personally by each individual writer through whom the Holy Ghost gave it forth. This is a practical hindrance to our receiving it, in the full sense, as from God; that is, as being really inspired: for, if inspired, the true and potential author was God, and not the individual writer, known or anonymous.

Mark 16.9-14 in Tregelles’s GNT
We know from John the Presbyter just enough of the origin of St. Mark’s Gospel to be aware that it sprang from the oral narrations of the Apostle Peter; and we have the testimony of that long-surviving immediate disciple of Christ when on earth (in recording this fact) that Mark erred in nothing. But even with this information, if we thought of mere human authorship, how many questions might be started: but if we receive inspiration as a fact, then inquiries as to the relation of human authors become a matter of secondary importance. It has its value to know that Apostles bore testimony to what they had seen of Christ s actions, and that they were inspired to write as eye and ear witnesses of his deeds and teaching. So it is of importance to know that in this Gospel we have the testimony of Peter confirmed by John the Presbyter; but the real essential value of the record for the continuous instruction of believers, is that inspiration of the Holy Ghost which constitutes certain writings to be Holy Scripture.

Those which were originally received on good grounds as such, and which have been authentically transmitted to us, we may confidently and reverently receive, even though we may not know by what pen they were recorded. (An Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament [1854], pp. 258-261)

The Longer Ending of Mark is...


  1. Tregelles arguments and by presumption yours assume that those who not only dispute that these passages are not part of original Mark nor inspired do so because the author is unknown, this is not so, at least for me. The issue is not even whether this passage recounts actual events, instead it is all about whether the passages were part of the writing by Mark and inspired by the Holy Spirit.
    I would deny that because a passage is early and cited often makes it authoritative. Similarly, because a passage is attached at a later date to an inspired writing does not imply inspiration.
    The Canonical argument is also invalid unless one assumes that it was the Church that determined what was canonical rather than inspired writings revealing themselves to the church.

    1. "instead it is all about whether the passages were part of the writing by Mark and inspired by the Holy Spirit." Elaborate the argument for us since lots of non-Markan passages were inspired by the H.S.

      Also I think Tregelles is saying precisely that this passage has revealed itself to the church as inspired.

    2. Peter G.,
      Of course lots of scripture was non-Markan and inspired, but here the question is if this passage was not written by Mark and therefore not included in the original Gospel how can it be scripture. The answer has to be, in my opinion, that if not composed by Mark and not part of original Gospel we have no more reason to assume inspiration than we do for writings like Clement or Shepherd. At what point would you propose that because something has been accepted by the church would make it inspired? Would the Comma Johanneum qualify? Variant readings which were perpetuated for how long?
      Every book of the NT was accepted based on its apostolic origin, (yes I know that Mark was not an apostle, but clearly his connection to Peter qualified his apostolic authority,) to include works like Hebrews which current scholarship deems anonymous but was included in Pauline Corpus in surviving manuscripts. Like PH I am a fan of Tregelles but believe he is mistaken here.
      I would be interested in the take of someone who believes this passage to be original to Mark to answer hypothetically if they found out it was not. Would they continue to argue for inspiration?


    3. Seriously, what else would supposedly make the passage conclusively non-original to Mark beyond all the arguments already urged that obviously have not convinced those who accept Markan authorship or at the very least some form of inspired canonicity?

    4. Dr. H.,
      I suppose from your response that even a first or second century manuscript of Mark without longer ending would not change your position. I just assumed that there was hypothetically something that would change the view of those who accept the longer ending. For me, just such a manuscript with the longer ending would convince me of its originality and inspiration
      I certainly appreciate your position and as always your insight.

    5. It would seem, obviously, if absence of the PA in early Egyptian papyri such as p66 and p75 do not alter my opinion on that passage, neither would an early Egyptian papyrus lacking the Long Ending of Mark -- although as I stated elsewhere, I do think the presence of either the PA or LE in an early papyrus might cause some re-evaluation from those holding the contrary perspective.

  2. Tregelles: normally very good. Not persuasive here though.

  3. Dear Peter, et al.

    this is my first ever response on ETC.

    I'm just wondering, what does/will the poll result demonstrate? To me it is begging a question. Future 'research' will refer to "a sizeable proportion of scholars, when asked, were of the opinion".

    (And, speaking as a proud Dubliner) Can the Johannine Comma be considered "not original but still inspired" based on the acceptance of the majority of Bible readers over the past 400+ years?

    It seems that time is the only consideration in both cases. Mark's ending comes shortly after the gospel was written, but not by the author, while John's 'comma' was written a millenium after the John died.

    Thanks for the opportunity to respond.
    Michael Connolly

    1. Michael, the poll's just for fun. Nothing more serious than that.

      I would say the Comma is different in that it was not read by hardly anyone in Greek until the Reformation. But I do admit that my own reasons for accepting Mark 16.9-20 could possibly apply to others passages. That may be a weakness of my view.

      Welcome to the blog!

    2. Michael Connolly5/03/2016 5:33 pm

      I understand that the Johannine Comma is “spurious and has no right to stand in the New Testament.” I chose it to highlight my point, that just because it stands as part of someone’s ‘critical text’ does not establish the fact conclusively that it should be considered part of a critical text. I was looking for the most extreme example I could think of from the New Testament.

      I do see a parallel between Mark and 1John. In past times readers read both without the addenda, taking what was read as Scripture (albeit in Mark’s case the time for circulation without the final 12 verses was relatively short). I imagine ordinary Christians in the early second as well as the fifteenth century would have taken things at face value. Then additions were made, and consequently both sets of (now different) readers read these expanded texts as Scripture. These post-addition readers read and believed their texts to be inspired Scripture, just as strongly as our pre-addition readers. The only difference between the addenda is the length of time involved – one early blooming and the other late (to quote Dr Robinson below).

      So, to my mind, the question you posed to begin with has more to do with what we view as inspired Scripture and the processes involved. Is it a case of scholarship informing faith, or faith shaping scholarship?

      Michael Connolly

    3. I would raise a caution in such matters against what sounds like some sort of "reader-response canonicity". The issues involved would have to be generally collective, with early attestation and perpetuation, and far exceed any individual or merely small-group preference, else all easily could descend into some sort of canonical chaos.

    4. Dr. R.,
      This response was what I was trying to ask below. Thanks for your insight. I fully concur that a "reader-response canonicity" is a far difference from acceptance of the longer ending to Mark and the inclusion of the Pericope Adulterae in John.


  4. Peter Gurry, for what it's worth, you can count me in your little company. The anonymity of the Epistle to the Hebrews was, historically, a major reason for it being withheld from the canon until the Pauline corpus had already been assembled. Likewise, the apparent anonymity of the Marcan ending appears to have limited its acceptability. I can't speak authoritatively as to the authorship of either--only that each must have been known as someone capable of authoring Scripture at the time these respective writings started to circulate as such.

  5. The issue here really transcends NT textual criticism per se and instead impacts the limits and boundaries of canonicity as well as particular theological views regarding inspiration and authority.

    Were one to take somewhat of a Brevard Childs approach, it would seem that both the Long Ending of Mark and also the Pericope Adulterae would qualify as canonical (and therefore authoritative), since such passages would have been received and accepted in a manner similar to that regarding the various supplementary material added to the Pentateuch and at various points within the OT, all stemming from some point subsequent to that of the primary presumed author.

    If so, the key in such matters becomes one of general ecclesiastical reception as opposed to decretal proclamation (and yes, both the early date and widespread acceptance of any such promulgated passage clearly becomes an important factor, as opposed to any late-blooming passage found only in a small handful of MSS).

    Of course, since I accept both the Markan ending and the PA as original by the respective authors, these considerations are not a primary issue for me, although they might be for others.

    1. Dr. R.,
      Would you in fact accept the Canonical or as you put it Ecclestiastical reception on any portion of scripture? Would you assume so here if in fact new evidence became available that convinced you this passage did not originally belong in Mark's Gospel.
      I realize I am asking what amounts to a hypothetical question for you.


    2. I'm not sure what "new evidence" would be forthcoming beyond what we already know, especially given Irenaeus' statement from the 2nd century that this was how Mark concluded his Gospel. To turn the question around, what should be the assumption were some 2nd or early 3rd century fragment found, unquestionably part of Mark, that actually contained a portion of the Long Ending? How many opinions regarding authenticity or canonicity actually would change?

      As for the other question, canonical/ecclesiastical reception from various early times seems already to be a given, so I don't know what else you are asking about; certainly not the Johannine Comma.

  6. Whoever wrote it as an addendum to the original material (or whoever wrote the separate pieces of it if it's in multiple parts) was certainly inspired—by the gospel of Mark, and many other parallel stories. Had they not been inspired to write it, they wouldn't have, and had it not then inspired other people, it wouldn't have become popular enough to be canon. And there's no better inspiration to write such a thing than the shorter ending, which narratively raises a problem for the audience!

    Of course, Evangelical culture tends to mean some combination of "Did God dictate it" and "does it belong in the Bible," and there's no good answer to those questions when it comes to material that's obviously redactional in some way. It obviously belongs in the canon, by criteria used for its formation, and it should equally obviously be critically regarded, like all scriptural texts. And you're all doing that, so you're in good shape. The question of what authority it should have as a text is an entirely separate question from its canonical status. Do you all really think asking questions out of the inerrancy framework is the best way to pursue that? It's dangerously close to begging the question.

    That said, and recognizing how fine a line I'm walking here, I feel for you, that you're kind of stuck there. Still, it makes me happy to follow a blog that engages in serious critical work even as its participants struggle through cultural issues like this.

    1. Matthew Frost,
      Presently I am neck-deep in some research that is related to this very passage -- but lemme just chime it to say, against the notion that vv. 9-20 were written by someone "inspired by the Gospel of Mark," that such a thing is highly unlikely, because if someone inspired by the Gospel of Mark wished to compose an ending for the Gospel of Mark, the natural thing to do would be to continue the narrative from where the scene left off in 16:8 -- not to restart the play after hitting "rewind," so to speak, reintroducing Mary Magdalene, re-mentioning the day and time, and removing Mary Magdalene's companions from off the narrative stage, and focusing mainly on post-resurrection appearances in/near Jerusalem instead of Galilee.

  7. Thank you for this post, very interesting. Calvin's comments on John 8 came to mind while reading it. He says:

    'It is plain enough that this passage was unknown anciently to the Greek it has always been received by the Latin Churches, and is found in many old Greek manuscripts, and contains nothing unworthy of an Apostolic Spirit, there is no reason why we should refuse to apply it to our advantage'

    His reasoning applies equally to Mark's ending doesn't it? In fact, perhaps even more so since so much of the longer ending is made up of abbreviations of NT texts from elsewhere. Whether he would claim this meant it can be accepted as inspired or simply as a useful summary of Apostolic teaching I don't know. Either way I wonder what his response says about the reformers' understanding of the Bible.

    1. Benjamin Lucas,
      Calvin's statement about the story of the adulteress cannot be made (at least, not by informed and honest people) about Mark 16:9-20 because it is obvious that Mark 16:9-20 was widely received by the Greek churches; Irenaeus and Tatian had the passage in their manuscripts, and there's an abundance of patristic support for the passage.

      Also, I submit that the "pastiche" idea collapses under close scrutiny.

    2. James,
      Sure, clearly on that level. But what about the general notion of commenting on something that, despite being considered spurious, measures up to the canon of apostolic teaching? The question I have is, would you preach on the longer ending or pericope adultera? I feel I want to say no, but Calvin, seems at least, to say yes.

      Could you say more about the collapse of the "pastiche" idea?

    3. Benjamin Lucas,
      I would, and have, preached on both Mark 16:9-20, and on John 7:53-8:11. In both cases, this is *not* because of any notion of "If the church acts as if this is an inspired text, then it is an inspired text." In both cases I regard the passage as part of the original text, and (as a matter of faith) grant that those who produced the text, produced exactly the text that God wanted to be produced.

      Regarding the collapse of the "pastiche" theory -- well, this little-comment-box is not sufficient to hold all there is to say about that. But, to say at least a little: a pastiche-maker would have no reason to remove Mary Magdalene's companions from the narrative stage for no reason. Nor would a pastiche-maker have a motive to restate the day and time, nor to reintroduce Mary Magdalene. There are many more reasons, but the non-transition from v. 8 to v. 9 is, by itself, a very strong point against the idea that verses 9-20 were composed with the intention of forming a continuation of the narrative-thread left dangling in 16:8.

  8. Is Tregelles' position really the same as yours? If I understand you right, you consider the LE spurious but inspired (unless by "not original" in the poll you mean "not written by Mark but part of the book we habitually call by his name). Tregelles, however, seems to me (maybe I misunderstood him when I read him before) not to have thought it spurious, simply written by someone other than Mark. Tregelles seems to take Mark as being parallel to, say, the book of Psalms in that multiple human authors were involved.

    As to the main question, I find that a plain reading of 2 Tim 3:16 shows inspiration to be a quality inherent in the text of Scripture, not founded upon that text's reception. Wide acceptance of a work (or, in this case, a pericope) does not imbue inspiration. So if the LE were to be considered secondary, we would have to withhold the label "inspired," though many who take it to be spurious consider it historically accurate.

  9. Anglicans may have another option which could be considered for a passage like this and the PA. "In the name of the holy Scripture we do understand those Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church." But in relation to the apocrypha: "And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following: ..."

    It might be possible to regard passages which are not part of the original text (parallel to the apocrypha as not part of the original Hebrew Bible) in similar ways to the apocrypha - good stories with some breadth of attestation, not 'inspired' or fully canonical. ANyway it may be an interesting avenue avoiding polarities.
    Hi Ben, by the way.

    1. Peter Head,
      This is exactly how I would view these passages. Their early attestation, their wide dissemination, their accord with Apostolic Teaching all argue for their profitability in reading but, the questions about their originality preclude their use in establishing doctrine or claiming inspiration.
      Thanks for the clarity.


    2. Hi Peter,
      Thanks for that, very helpful, a clearer version of what I was trying to say above from Calvin!

  10. I think Maurice is right: this is, strictly speaking, outside of textual criticism and into the realm of theology, namely our doctrine of inspiration and canonicity.

    Looking at it from a strict text critical perspective, the question we are asking is "was it original to Mark or not?" and the overwhelming consensus is that it was not.

    What to do with it then? Toss it in the river with the epistle of James?

    Again, that depends on how you define inspiration and canon.

    If, for example, you have some doctrine of canon that requires something like "apostolic authorship" as a pre-requisite, then obviously the text critical findings would present you a problem.

    If you viewed "inspiration" as some sort of specialised, mystical event that the original author experienced, then too the text critical findings would present a problem - since a text outside of the authorial experience would therefore automatically be outside of the inspiration experience.

    Myself, I tend to think that inspiration was more mundane than my evangelical upbringing allowed. Growing up, we assumed a "special mystical event" model, and that tends to be accompanied by a bunch of special attendant circumstances.

    Now days I tend to believe that the Spirit is the same as he always was, and still works in the same way. Does he, on occasion today, "guide" or "lead" human beings? I believe he does. And perhaps you've had an experience where you strongly felt the spirit "led" you to do something. I think that could be considered the experience of the Spirit inspiring you to one end or another.

    But wait, all kinds of whackos claim god or the spirit has told them to do all kinds of crazy things, so how do we know if a given conviction is actually from the Spirit's inspiration, and not just the result of your own preferences, wishes, or that shot of vodka you had before breakfast? I tend to think the judgement there can largely be made in community by judging the results: if the community of the faithful deem your conviction to be leading to, as Jesus said, good fruit, then we can probably conclude that you were being led by the Spirit.

    That's how I see the Spirit working in the church today, and as I said, I tend to think the Spirit worked the same way in the church at the start. On a phenomenological level, I think when Paul was "inspired" to write what he wrote to the Romans, or when Mark was inspired to write his gospel, the actual experience from Paul's or Mark's perspective was not that different from the experience I have when I might feel the Spirit compelling me to go offer some word of encouragement to this person, or some word of guidance to that person. And if years later that person is able to come back to me and say "remember when you spoke to me that day and said this or that, well, let me tell you about the positive effect that's had on my life" well, in that case I would probably see that as confirmation that the Spirit was inspiring me back on the day I spoke to him. I see that as a simple analog for how canon developed in the church.

    In a way, that's a lower doctrine of inspiration and canon - certainly lower than the view I was raised with - but on the plus side, it's a lot more flexible and accessible. It's a doctrine that has no problem admitting the longer ending of Mark into the inspired canon notwithstanding its text critical status. The idea that other authors could have also been led by the Spirit -inspired - to write this or that seems just as reasonable as the fact that other "inspired" writers, like Paul, also wrote other works that are not considered inspired. And the idea that the church, as community, could come to recognise these various writings as bearing good fruit, that dynamic too fits right in.


    1. So I answered the middle option: not original, but still inspired. How do I know it was inspired? I don't. But I bet that it probably was, because we have a fruitful history of accepting it as such.

    2. Yet this raises another issue (straying further from textual criticism per se, but also affecting the results of such):

      Just as for the Roman Catholics, the Council of Trent declared books canonical "with all their parts", we similarly should inquire as to what limits exist among the "parts" that we should accept.

      Would any purported additions or subtractions be considered valid, regardless of their degree of manuscript or versional support or common acceptance? I doubt that.

      What if such might involve potentially authentic sayings or factual data within our existing MSS (e.g., Bezae at Lk 6.4 or at various places in Acts)? Or should a limit be established on the ground of widespread support within the MS base and/or acceptance of such by the early church writers and the churches themselves?

      It seems that, for most of us, the canon is readily accepted, but the specific content of the canonical books remains fluid.

    3. Ryan,
      Now that is a "community-acceptance response" which really opens up what inspiration means and clearly allows any text to be inspired at a given time in history and the same text to not be inspired at another time.
      Your understanding of inspiration seems to be outside of what is typically evangelical.

    4. Well, I've never been a very good evangelical!

      Evangelicals, as I said, tend to prefer to think of inspiration as some special, unique act of the Spirit.

      I can understand why they prefer that: if the event was unique, that means they don't have to worry about it potentially happening again, getting out of hand, everybody going nuts, etc. Inspiration as a one-off special event gives them a feeling of control, in my opinion; let's them organise things all neat and orderly.

      I just don't think that's the most likely description of what the event of inspiration was actually like.

      I've long been interested in the concrete specifics of things that often get couched in more abstract theological language. Ever since in a first year old testament class, we read the line about how God fought with the Israelites and helped them to win the battle. I'd read it a million times, never thought much of it. Some guy in the front row though stuck his hand up: "Sir, how'd that actually work? Like, physically, how did God help them fight? Did he like grab their arms and make them swing their swords harder? did guys who couldn't throw a spear accurately before suddenly get great aim? What physically happened there?" And I thought "hmmm... great question."

      Same thing with inspiration and canon. It's one thing to use lofty sounding phrases like "the texts revealed themselves as inspired" but what does that actually mean? How did a text - any text - go about revealing itself as anything? Did it grow legs and lips and jump up and shout "here I am! here I am!" Well, of course I'm being silly. But the point is that a phrase like that is necessarily metaphor. No text, literally speaking, reveals itself to be anything: literally speaking, texts just sit there on the table and do nothing. So what actually happened there?

    5. So what about inspiration?

      Let's start with a different question: do we think the Spirit acts today among people? Lots of brands of Christians don't. They say "that's an interventionist theology, and I don't believe that."

      Evangelicals - and I still consider myself one, if a lousy one - tend to say "yes, the Spirit does work and intervene among people."

      So how actually does that work?

      One type of event which many believers would say they've experienced is the "leading of the Spirit." When you have some sense that the Spirit is inspiring you to do or say a particular thing. You may have experienced this yourself. We might experience something like "well, I saw that person sitting there alone, and I really felt the Spirit leading me to go and talk with them, and express God's love to them." Or express to them that they were dressed inappropriately for church, or whatever the case may be.

      So let's look at that event - that act of the Spirit's intervention. What were the practical results?
      Did the Spirit guide you to one particular end? Yes.
      Did he take control of you though, and force you to say exactly this word or that? No, you still spoke as yourself.
      So did you still speak in your own idiom and habitual manner? Yes.
      Were all the words that you said Spirit led? No. You were inspired to one particular message, but when you later talked with that same person about the football game, you likely weren't inspired at that point.

      And so that's the practical results of what we today typically call being led by the Spirit.

      Now Let's turn back to biblical inspiration. Evangelicals like to think it was a special act, but when you look at the practical results, you see suspicious similarities. Traditionally it's stressed that inspiration did not force the writers to say this or that specific word - the evil "dictation theory" - rather they were still free to speak in their own idiom and habitual manner. Traditionally it's conceded that inspiration didn't apply to everything that writer wrote - thus we have references to other letter's of Paul that were not canonised.

      So we have two acts of divine intervention: the "inspiration" of the biblical text, and the "Spirit leading" that believers can experience today. In both events, we have the same actor - the Holy Spirit - and the same practical results - a guidance to a particular message that still allows for the speakers own idiom, habit and does not encompass all of their communication. So if you have the same actor and the same results, which is more likely: that in one case there was one type of special action, but in the other case there was another? Or is it more likely that it was the same manner of spiritual intervention in both acts?

      Of course, I think it was more likely that it was the same type of act, which dovetails nicely with my general belief that God generally acts the same today as he did yesterday.

    6. That leads to canon. I'm not sure I'd go with you to say that it was a matter of audience acceptance.

      Yes, of course, I did say the community accepted it, but I don't want to give them all the credit.

      Rather, I think their acceptance of the text was a guided act of Spirit intervention of the exact same type as that which guided the author to write the text.

      The same Spirit led one person to write it, and led the next person to accept it as authoritative.

      That is, by the way, what I think must be meant by a phrase like "the texts revealed themselves as authoritative." I think that necessarily must mean something like "The Spirit led the people to accept the texts as authoritative." The event was entirely confined to the consciences of the people, and the active party was the Spirit, not the texts.

      For that matter, such inspiration is, I think, the only way a person can come to see the biblical texts as authoritative. After all, we all know a good number of very skilled and gifted biblical scholars who can read and comprehend the exact same biblical texts, and yet do not accept them as authoritative. What is the missing ingredient? Only the Spirit.

    7. You are always welcome round here Ryan!

  11. Apparently C. W. Hodge, Charles Hodge's son, also shared Tregelles's view. Warfield did not though. (from Theodore Letis’s Ecclesiastical Text, pp. 12, 15)

  12. Peter Gurry,
    Warfield, however, was thoroughly misinformed about the pertinent evidence (as are many commentators to this day): he listed L, 22, 743 (which we know as 579), and the Ethiopic version in the "omit" category (though he did at least describe L's pages later in his comments -- he interprets L and 743 (=579), which have the double-ending, as support for the abrupt ending, but somehow they are not also listed for the inclusion of 16:9-20). Likewise Jerome is listed for omission but not for inclusion. And Severus, too is listed for omission but not for inclusion. Warfield even listed Victor of Antioch for omission. And he never seems to make the connection between the note in 22 and the note in f1.

    At least Warfield acknowledged, when describing verses 9-20, "This fragment is certainly as old as the first third of the second century."

    GIGO -- text-critical deductions are only as valid as the evidence on which they are based.

  13. Tregelles wrote that section in "An Account of the Printed Text" in 1854. He clearly was confused, double-minded (James 1:8), straddling, since in 1857 Kelhoffer (who does not even bother with the faux authenticity position of Tregelles) tells us, in addition to the Tregelles "arguments against the authenticity", that:

    "Tregelles' critical edition of Matthew and Mark appeared in 1857. Unlike Lachmann, Tregelles emphasizes the break between Mark 16:8 and Mark 16:9 by reproducing the twofold superscription occurring in many MSS in which KATA MAPKON occurs after both Mark 16:8 and 16:20. In addition, his copious notes on the passage summarize many of his earlier published arguments against the authenticity of the LE.43" - Miracle and Mission, 2000, p. 12

    Kelhoffer does say that Tregelles is one of those who "explored the passages relevance for the early church", which is a far more accurate way to describe any of the various faux authenticity positions (which include F. F. Bruce, LaGrange, Childs and many others, in fact, today faux authenticity has a large popularity.)

    Now Burgon related directly to the Tregelles confusion in:

    The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to S. Mark Vindicated Against Recent Critical Objectors and Established
    John William Burgon

    The section is a great read, the critical paragraph is on p. 12 and Burgon did notice the above phenomenon in Tregelles.



    it is difficult to understand why the learned editor should think himself at liberty to sever them from their context, and introduce the subscription KATA MAPKON after ver. 8. In short, "How persons who believe that these verses did not form a part of the original Gospel of Mark, but were added afterwards, can say that they have a good claim to be received as an authentic or genuine part of the second Gospel, that is, a portion of canonical Scripture, passes comprehension."


    With this I concur 100%. If the ending was not the original text from Mark, there is no claim to authenticity. And the only true authenticity and genuineness position on the Mark ending, and one that is exceedingly easy to expound and defend, is that taken by Burgon.

    Professor Maurice Robinson, the premier defender of the full authenticity of the two long sections questioned today, also takes that historical/textual position as well as his personal belief:

    "I accept both the Markan ending and the PA as original by the respective authors" - (above)

    However, Maurice Robinson may be more tactically lenient than Burgon in allowing alliance by concession with weaker "authenticity" views (the ones I consider faux authenticity), such as those of Brevor S. Childs or James Snapp.

    Steven Avery
    Dutchess County, NY


    Let's add one more point from Burgon, where he emphasizes that this is a critical issue for evaluating the current fad he saw for certain elements of the critical method:

    "It becomes absolutely necessary, therefore, to examine with the utmost care the grounds of their verdict, the direct result of which is to present as with a mutilated Gospel. If they are right,
    there is no help for it but that the convictions of eighteen centuries in this respect must be surrendered. But if Tischendorf and Tregelles are wrong in this particular, it follows of necessity that doubt is thrown over the whole of their critical method. The case is a crucial one. p. 9 "

  14. For completeness on the main point, I should point out that the critical quote used by Burgon:

    "How persons who believe that these verses did not form a part of the original Gospel of Mark, but were added afterwards, can say that they have a good claim to be received as an authentic or genuine part of the second Gospel, that is, a portion of canonical Scripture, passes comprehension.”

    was his using in agreement the position of the more forthright Mark ending opponent, Samuel Davidson, which you can see here:

    An Introduction to the Study of the New Testament, Critical, Exegetical, and Theological, Volume 2

    Fascinating thread! (A credit to the ETC forum.)

    Steven Avery

  15. Bold move for a NT guy, but from an OT perspective it seems, kind of... obvious...? Large swaths of what we almost universally consider scripture are in fact late addenda. And we almost never know anything about a specific author! Pretty much all we have are composite works from an anonymous scribal collective. Surely any viable concept of inspiration has to be able to account for this situation.

  16. Drew,
    Is this your view, the consensus view of OT scholars? The way stated makes it sound like an undisputed position, is it?



    I wanted to enter this evidence for the authenticity of Mk 16:9-20 as truly inspired Scripture and not a as spurious addition. This evidence was apparently first found by Burgon and is mentioned in his book on the Last Twelve Verses of Mark [the exact name escapes me now] Anyway, I have found that most people are not even familiar with Burgon's example here. I do not have his exact words on this but I ca nfind them and publish them later. However, I will present in my own words the evidence:

    I think it is clear that in the verses below from Paul's epistle to the Colossians that Paul is indeed alluding to Mk 16:15 and actually quotes verbatum "to every creature" [πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει] from Mk. 16:15 in Col. 1:23.

    Mk 16:15 15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

    Col 1:5,6 ... the word of the truth of the gospel;6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world;

    Col 1:23... from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister

    Mk 16:15 Καὶ εἴπεν αὐτοῖς, Πορευθέντες εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἅπαντα, κηρύξατε τὸ εὐαγγέλιον πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει.

    Col. 1:5-6 ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῆς ἀληθείας τοῦ εὐαγγελίου 6 τοῦ παρόντος εἰς ὑμᾶς, καθὼς καὶ ἐν παντὶ τῷ κόσμῳ

    Col 1:23 ἀπὸ τῆς ἐλπίδος τοῦ εὐαγγελίου οὗ ἠκούσατε, τοῦ κηρυχθέντος ἐν πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει τῇ ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανόν

    The parallels are certainly striking. I am convinced, like Burgon, that Paul is indeed alluding to Mk 16:15 in these verses above in Colossians. The main difference is where Paul substitutes "under heaven' for "all the world". But the meaning is still there and Paul is just using a synonym here.

    Please notice that Paul quotes verbatum "to every creature" [πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει] from Mk. 16:15 in Col. 1:23.

    Mk 16:15 Καὶ εἴπεν αὐτοῖς, Πορευθέντες εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἅπαντα, κηρύξατε τὸ
    εὐαγγέλιον πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει.
    Col 1:23 ος τοῦ εὐαγγελίου οὗ ἠκούσατε, τοῦ κηρυχθέντος ἐν πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει

    I personally believe this evidence is literally overwhelming. There is much more evidence that could be presented. But that is for another time. I really wish critics would stop questioning the authenticity of these verses. I really believe they are above reproach.


  18. COLOSSIANS 1:23 MARK 16:15 Is Paul alluding to Mk. 16:15 in COl 1:5,6 and 1:23?

    Are my posts coming through? I tried earlier but apparently unsuccessfully.

    Anyway, Burgon suggested such a possibility in his book on the last 12 verses of Mark.

    Here is the evidence:

    Mk 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

    Col 1:5,6 ... the word of the truth of the gospel;6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world;

    Col 1:23... from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister

    Mk 16:15... εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἅπαντα, κηρύξατε τὸ εὐαγγέλιον πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει.
    Col.1:5-6 εὐαγγελίου 6 τοῦ παρόντος εἰς ὑμᾶς, καθὼς καὶ ἐν παντὶ τῷ κόσμῳ
    Col 1:23 ...τοῦ εὐαγγελίου οὗ ἠκούσατε, τοῦ κηρυχθέντος ἐν πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει τῇ ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανόν

    The parallels are certainly striking. I am suggesting, like Burgon, that Paul is indeed alluding to Mk 16:15 in these verses above in Colossians. The main difference is where Paul substitutes "under heaven' for "all the world". But the meaning is still there and Paul is just using a synonym here.

    Please notice that Paul quotes verbatim "to every creature" [πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει] from Mk. 16:15 in Col. 1:23.

    Mk 16:15 ..... εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἅπαντα, κηρύξατε τὸ εὐαγγέλιον πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει.
    Col 1:23λπίδος τοῦ εὐαγγελίου οὗ ἠκούσατε, τοῦ κηρυχθέντος ἐν πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει


  19. Thank you, GB. I think this fine evidence is often bypassed due to the bondage of even "Evangelical" scholars to false and unbelieving late dating paradigms. So far, I only have Burgon, although it would be good to check Lunn, Farmer, et al, as well as the earlier 1700-1800s writers, as you mention. Maurice Robinson might have a reference? Did it come up in the debate? James Snapp would likely omit it since it does not fit his late dating approach to Mark.

    The section from John William Burgon can be seen here:

    The Last Twelve Verses of Mark (1871)
    John William Burgon

    And I agree with your evaluation of the strength of the evidence, rather than the conservative Burgon "conjecture" approach. Probability comes to play, and at least a connection is virtually certain.

    I've placed some of the earlier discussions of this Colossians 1:23 connection to Mark 16:15 on a Facebook forum, and plan to point from there to an easier to read post on a regular vBulletin (non-Facebook) forum, purebibleforum.

    Facebook - PureBible
    Ending of Mark confirmed as pre-65 AD

    Steven Avery

  20. Hi to all,

    I have posted all evidence (manuscript scans, church fathers) both for and against authenticity of Mark 16 longer version in here, as well as in several posts following the first one: