|THE LAST TWELVE VERSES OF MARK'S GOSPEL. Appendix 168 To The Companion Bible.|
Most modern critics are agreed that the last twelve verses of Mark 16 are not an integral part of his Gospel. They are omitted by T [A]; not by the Syriac Appendix 94. V. ii.
The question is entirely one of evidence.
From Appendix 94. V. we have seen that this evidence comes from three sources: (1) manuscripts, (2) versions, and (3) the early Christian writers, known as "the Fathers". This evidence has been exhaustively analyzed by the late Dean Burgon, whose work is epitomized in Numbers I-III, below. I. As to MANUSCRIPTS, there are none older than the fourth century, and the oldest two uncial Manuscripts (B and , see Appendix 94. V.) are without those twelve verses. Of all the others (consisting of some eighteen uncials and some six hundred cursive Manuscripts which contain the Gospel of Mark) there is not one which leaves out these twelve verses. II. As to the Versions:— 1. The SYRIAC. The oldest is the Syriac in its various forms: the "Peshitto" (century 2), and the "Curetonian Syriac" (century 3). Both are older than any Greek Manuscript in existence, and both contain these twelve verses. So with the "Philoxenian" (century 5) and the "Jerusalem" (century 5). See note ³ page 2 Ap. 94. 2. The LATIN Versions. JEROME (A.D. 382), who had access to Greek Manuscripts older than any now extant, includes these twelve verses; but this Version (known as the Vulgate) was only a revision of the VETUS ITALA, which is believed to belong to century 2, and contains these verses. 3. The GOTHIC Version (A.D. 350) contains them. 4. The EGYPTIAN Versions: the Memphitic (or Lower Egyptian, less properly called "COPTIC"), belonging to century 4 or 5, contains them; as does the "THEBAIC" (or Upper Egyptian, less properly called the "SAHIDIC"), belonging to century 3. 5. The ARMENIAN (century 5), the ETHIOPIC (century 4-7), and the GEORGIAN (century 6) also bear witness to the genuineness of these verses. III. The FATHERS. Whatever may be their value (or otherwise) as to doctrine and interpretation yet, in determining actual words, or their form, or sequence, their evidence, even by an allusion, as to whether a verse or verses existed or not in their day, is more valuable than even manuscripts or Versions.
There are nearly a hundred ecclesiastical writers older than the oldest of our Greek codices; while between A.D. 300 and A.D. 600 there are about two hundred more, and they all refer to these twelve verses.
PAPIAS (about A.D. 100) refers to verse 18 (as stated by Eusebius, Hist. Ecc iii. 39).
IV. We should like to add our own judgment as to the root cause of the doubts which have gathered round these verses.
They contain the promise of the Lord, of which we read the fulfillment in Hebrews 2:4. The testimony of "them that heard Him" was to be the confirmation of His own teaching when on earth: "God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of pneuma hagion (that is to say, spiritual gifts. See Appendix 101. II. 14), according to His own will".
The Acts of the Apostles records the fulfillment of the Lord's promise in Mark 16:17, 18; and in the last chapter we find a culminating exhibition of "the Lord's working with them" (verses 3, 5, 8, 9). But already, in 1Corinthians 13:8-13, it was revealed that a time was then approaching when all these spiritual gifts should be "done away". That time coincided with the close of that dispensation, by the destruction of Jerusalem; when they that heard the Lord could no longer add their confirmation to the Lord's teaching, and there was nothing for God to bear witness to. For nearly a hundred years ¹ after the destruction of Jerusalem there is a complete blank in ecclesiastical history, and a complete silence of Christian speakers and writers.² So far from the Churches of the present day being the continuation of Apostolic times, "organized religion", as we see it to-day, was the work of a subsequent and quite an independent generation. When later transcribers of the Greek manuscripts came to the last twelve verses of Mark, and saw no trace of such spiritual gifts in existence, they concluded that there must be something doubtful about the genuineness of these verses. Hence, some may have marked them as doubtful, some as spurious, while others omitted them altogether.
A phenomenon of quite an opposite kind is witnessed in the present day.
Some (believers in these twelve verses), earnest in their desire to serve the Lord, but not "rightly dividing the Word of truth" as to the dispensations, look around, and, not seeing these spiritual gifts in operation, determine to have them (!) and are led into all sorts of more than doubtful means in their desire to obtain them. The resulting "confusion" shows that God is "not the author" of such a movement (see 1Corinthians 14:31-33). ____________________________ ¹ See Col. 1, opposite.
² Except the Didache, or Teaching of the Twelve, which is supposed to be about the middle of the second century, but which shows how soon the corruption of New Testament "Christianity" had set in.