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The Gospel According to Mark, Chapter 16

Analysis and Commentary

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Women at the Tomb

Women at the Tomb

The exact length of the sixteenth chapter of Mark’s gospel is a matter of debate. The oldest manuscripts end awkwardly after just eight verses. Most Bibles today present us with a Mark that is twenty verses long. Which is the “correct” version and why?

Jesus’ Resurrection and the Empty Tomb (Mark 16:1-8)
After the Jewish sabbath, which occurs on Saturdays, women who were present at Jesus’ crucifixion come to his tomb to anoint his corpse with spices. These are things his close disciples should have done, but Mark portrays Jesus’ female followers as consistently showing more faith and courage than the men.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene and the Two Disciples (Mark 16:9-13)
The oldest manuscripts of Mark end with verse 8 while the rest of the chapter contains language and symbolism which strongly suggest that they were taken from other, later sources. There appear to have been several efforts to end Mark differently because the verse 8 is not only abrupt, but ends the gospel on a note of fear and silence — hardly an appropriate message for the early Christian community.

Jesus Commissions the Eleven & Ascends (Mark 16:14-20)
Jesus’ commissioning of his remaining eleven disciples describes the post-resurrection ministry in a manner completely unlikely anything found elsewhere in the gospels. It draws upon a number of other gospel passages, but the information conveyed is closer to what we find in Acts, which also probably served as a source.

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