2021_06_30 Insight Post- Rusty Coram
This week's reading- Mark 16
This week we read chapter 16 which closes out the book of Mark. Depending on the translation you are using, you may find a break after verse 8 indicating that the rest of the chapter (vs. 9 through 20) are not found in the earliest manuscripts, and therefore, not considered to be from Mark. However, if you are reading the Authorized, or King James Version (KJV), you will likely not see that disclaimer. There are a couple of issues here that are important to note. First, we don’t have the “originals” of any of the Old or New Testament books. Long before digital recording, they were written on fragile media that required constant copying to new materials. The scribes that copied the documents were extremely well vetted and meticulous in their work. When it comes to English translations, what you read has been translated from ancient copies which there are many of. The oldest ones are considered best, since they are closer to the time of the original writing. Mark 16:9-20 is not included in the oldest manuscripts we have so they were not available to the team that translated the KJV. So, what’s the deal? Well, it is possible, but not probable, that Mark meant to stop at verse 8, “The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.” but this seems unlikely. Mark’s style was not to leave things hanging, like modern writers do today to set up sequels.
It seems reasonable that either Mark was interrupted before he could finish, or that the last part of his record was lost. If that was the case, vs. 9-20 were added by a scribe to complete things. The different style and language in the last verses supports the theory that it was written by a different writer. Some of the things said, also imply a writer trying to tie things together with aspects of history well past Jesus’ resurrection. For instance, the comment about believers picking up snakes and not being killed, could be referring to what happened to Paul in Acts 28, where the poison reference may refer to an event that happened and wasn’t recorded.
In all of this, three things stand out to me:
(1) We don’t have the original manuscripts, and that may have been God’s plan to protect us from worshipping them, instead of following their content.
(2) The Bible is amazingly accurate and trustworthy and the fact that there are such few instances like this is a great reminder of how trustworthy it actually is.
(3) When reading the Bible, always look at what you read in context with the rest of the Bible. For example, the snake and poison comments are in no way an endorsement of testing God by risking our lives. We are never to “test God” by doing risky things just to try and get Him to save us (Matthew 4:7), though if you read that segment of Mark without putting it into context, you might think it’s ok.
There are a lot of great resources out there that help explain why the Bible is a source that can be trusted. If you have questions about the validity of the Bible, I’d strongly encourage you to do some research.