Suspicions About Mark 16

Q. Two part question for “ask the Bible Teacher.”

1. I’ve recently had a discussion with someone concerning Mark 16:9-20. The footnote in my bible states that the oldest and more reliable manuscripts did not include these verses. What do you think of this?

2. Mark 16:17-18, “These signs will accompany those who have believed….” Then giving a list of the signs that “will” accompany those who believed, casting out demons, speaking in new tongues, picking up serpents, laying hands on the sick, and they “will” recover. It would seem that the writer was very forceful that these things “will” happen to those who have believed. I’m a full out believer in Christ, and I have never cast out any demons, spoke in a new tongue, and snakes scare me! What is your take on these few verses?

A. No one knows whether something happened to the original ending of Mark, or if it just ends abruptly at 16:8, or what. In any case verses 9-20 do not appear in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts and some scholars think that their vocabulary, style and theological content differ from the rest of Mark’s Gospel. They didn’t begin to appear until the early 3rd century and from the beginning were footnoted as being suspect. The consensus among scholars is that the original ending was lost and excerpts from Matthew 28, Luke 24 and John 20 were inserted to give Mark’s gospel a proper ending.

The comment about speaking in tongues conflicts with Paul’s teaching, and the other signs given to demonstrate belief, while having occurred, have never been common to the Christian experience.

Arguments on both sides of this issue are long and loud, and in my opinion none on either side are bullet proof, but I don’t think the Lord would have allowed His word to be contaminated since it would open the door to all kinds of attack. If they’re in the Bible, it means they’re supposed to be there.

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