Baker Academic

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Does Mark 16:9-20 represent a later addition to the Gospel?

As an almost scientific sociological experiment, we are polling the Jesus Blog community to learn a bit more about you. Feel free to register your vote above and comment below this post to explain your thoughts, hopes, and dreams.



  1. I'm here for the mint juleps. I heard there were mint juleps.

  2. "Later" than what?

  3. Vote - Mark 16:9-20 Campaign Slogan "Better late than never'. They should have let us vote for the ending of the Sopranos with at least 3 choices.

  4. Voted yes. I think it's pretty obvious it must have come decades later than the rest of the book, and was heavily based on the Luke-Acts narrative, with maybe additional influence from Matthew.

  5. My wife has a Masters of Fine Arts, and lots of our friends are writers. In the overwhelming number of cases, they write the beginning first and the middle next. They tend to address the ending last. It seems to help the logical flow.

  6. So far, your polls shows Clowns 4 - Serious Jesus studies academics 0.

    I think we can stop there, that sounds pretty representative! :)

  7. Anthony,
    Q: Does Mark 16:9-20 represent a later addition to the Gospel?
    A: No.

    As I explain in my book: it is an addition but (A) it was added during the production-stage, not sometime in the second century, and (B) it was not composed to continue the narrative from verse 8; it existed as a freestanding document first.

    (Now I am curious as to why Mark Edward thinks that an author dependent upon the Gospel of Matthew (or even aware of the Gospel of Matthew) would write an ending in which the women finally report to the eleven disciples but their words, not being believed, are ignored -- inasmuch as Mt 28 relates that the disciples went to Galilee. But to explore this would go beyond the parameters of a poll.)

    Perhaps one should follow-up with a couple of other polls: Do you think Jeremiah 52 represents a later addition to the text of Jeremiah? And, do you think Proverbs 31 represents a later addition to the text of Proverbs?

    1. How about this for a poll (for a different blog, perhaps): do you think that the additional psalms found in the Dead Sea Scrolls ought to be added to the Jewish and Christian canons?

    2. Hey James, can I engage your thesis? I think you rightly note that 16:9-20 is an addition to the text as it lacks some narrative continuity with 16:1-8 and has some stylistic differences. I also agree with you that 16:9-20 does not work as a full-out harmony of all four Gospels (e.g. you rightly note above differences with Matthew), but I do think that the scribe who added resurrection appearances to Mark's empty tomb conclusion has been influenced by singly attested traditions in Luke and John so 16:9-20 post-dates the production stage. Third, your thesis depends on the evangelist Mark having written 16:9-20 as a stand-alone text in Alexandria before it was added to Mark's Roman Gospel and that later Alexandrian scribes removed it for this reason, but early evidence for Mark in Alexandria is extremely limited (Eusebius, possibly Clement if you accept the Letter to Theodore) and the Roman provenance of Mark's Gospel (cf. Irenaeus, Clement) is also debatable. I would put the addition of 16:9-20 on the earlier end of the 2nd century since there is considerable external evidence in its favour, though I think I would disagree with you about some of the earliest references you list (e.g. Papias, Epistula Apostolorum).

    3. James, I'm not a text critic, but I used to live in Hollywood. So, isn't your argument that Mark 16:9-20 was added in post-production?

    4. James, I said 'maybe' there was additional 'influence' from Matthew (i.e. the author may have received traditions from Matthew 28). I didn't say I think Mark 16.9-20 was directly dependent on Matthew.

      However: Matthew and Luke are both directly dependent on Mark 1.1-16.8, but they still make deliberate changes. For example, three times Mark predicts Jesus will appear to the disciples in Galilee; Luke scrubs all of those, and has Jesus appear to them in Jerusalem instead. Disagreements between Mark 16.9-20 and Matthew 28 wouldn't preclude a direct dependence of the former on the latter, if that happened to be the case.

      In any case, I think it's very obvious Mark 16.9-20 was directly dependent on Luke-Acts, which necessitates a date much later than Mark 1.1-16.8. That's the brunt of my thoughts.

  8. From Dr G

    I think it's later. Added to smooth over the to-some disconcerting brain-eater ending. Otherwise the people - and later readers too - are left dismayed and afraid.

    In other words? The longer ending looks like an obviously later bit of pastoral reassurance.

    Probably it was influenced by (or was even the partial origin of?) the other, smoother gospel endings. As many here rightly suggest.

    Probably a fairly early addition.