Extra information on the long ending of Mark

Is the long ending real or not?  The short ending (where the gospel ends at 16:8), is in two 4th century manuscripts, one 12th, and the Syriac translation.  The intermediate ending has one extra verse, but it only in one manuscript.  Every other manuscript that has this extra verse also includes the long ending! The long ending (which has verses 9-20) is contained in all other 1600+ manuscripts.  There is actually an even longer ending in one manuscript.  While some church fathers/theologians leave out the longer ending or don’t seem to be aware of it, two of the earliest church fathers quote it (Justin Martyr and Irenaeus; both 2nd century).

Is there another reason the long ending could have been left out?  It could have been left out by accident.  One of the two early manuscripts that leaves it out may actually leave room for it.  It could have been left out deliberately.  The ending of Mark was removed from the other early manuscript and different sheets were included that omit the long ending.  It could have been left out because of liturgical reasons (Mark 15:43-Mark 16:8 was read for the 3rd Sunday after Easter).  For all practical purposes, the gospel ends when the liturgy moves on.

Some also point out that the ending has a different style and vocabulary from the rest of the gospel.  However, if you consider that different events/settings will demand a different vocabulary, this is very easily explained.  For example, Mark 14:42-52 has 15 words that are completely unique to Mark!  There are also various thematic elements in the gospel that continue in the ending.

My view?  The long ending was known about at the earliest times, could have very easily been left out either accidently or deliberately, and is not drastically different from any other section of Mark in either vocabulary or theme.  The long ending is original.

Newsletter Article for March/April

Pastors are often called for help when people are at their lowest.  It’s an unfortunate fact of life.  I suppose it’s why you develop armor.  You begin to feel that nothing will surprise you.  However, although the armor does protect, sometimes there are so many things battering against it that you end up dented and bruised, amazed at the circumstances around you.  That’s where I find myself now.

One of the constants in ministry is that people are sinful and will do selfish things.  Unfortunately, there are some events that are so sinful and selfish that you wonder how they could happen, especially when believers are involved.  How can someone apparently give no thought to the utter chaos they leave around them, only to do exactly what they want to do?

Where would we be if Jesus had been that way?  Instead…

“Although he was in the form of God and equal with God, he did not take advantage of this equality.  Instead, he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant, by becoming like other humans, by having a human appearance.  He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

It is because of this sacrifice that we receive eternal and abundant life!  And, as a reward for His selflessness, He receives a particular kind of glory:

“This is why God has given him an exceptional honor— the name honored above all other names—so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will kneel and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

This glory is what we should give every day of our lives, every time we gather together for worship, and especially on Easter!  But there is another way we give God glory.  The reminder comes at the beginning of the passage.  Philippians 2:5 says: “Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”  We give God glory by being like Jesus Christ, and we are like Jesus Christ when we are willing to sacrifice for others.  So, this Easter, I would ask that you look at your life to determine where you are being selfish and sinful, and instead seek to be like the one who gave Himself for you.