Mark 16v9-20 Proved

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Senior Member
Feb 27, 2010
Part I

It is only since the appearance of Griesbach’s second edition [1796-1806] that critics of the New Testament have permitted themselves to handle the last twelve verses of St Mark’s Gospel with disrespect.

Previous critical editions of the New Testament are free from this reproach. "There is no reason for doubting the genuineness of this portion of Scripture," wrote Mill in 1707, after a review of the evidence (as far as he was acquainted with it) for and against. Twenty-seven years later, appeared Bengel's edition of the New Testament (1734); and Wetstein, at the end of another seventeen years (1751-2), followed in the same field. Both editors, after rehearsing the adverse testimony in extenso, left the passage in undisputed possession of its place. Alter in 1786-7, and Birch in 1788, 7 (suspicious as the latter evidently was of its genuineness,) followed their predecessors' example. But Matthaei, (who also brought his labours to a close in the year 1788,) was not content to give a silent suffrage. He had been for upwards of fourteen years a laborious collator of Greek MSS. of the New Testament, and was so convinced of the insufficiency of the arguments which had been brought against these twelve verses of S. Mark, that with no ordinary warmth, no common acuteness, he insisted on their genuineness.

It is well known that for determining the Text of the New Testament, we are dependent on three chief sources of information: viz. (1) on Manuscripts — (2) on Versions, — (3) on Fathers. And it is even self-evident that the most ancient MSS., — the earliest Versions, — the oldest of the Fathers, will probably be in every instance the most trustworthy witnesses.


Mark 16v9-20 is contained in every MS in the world except two, the Codex in the Vatican Library in Rome known as “Codex B” (Vaticanus), and the Codex which Tischendorf brought from Mount Sinai in 1859, and which he designates by the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet (א) “Alef” (Sinaiticus). These two manuscripts are probably not of equal antiquity. An interval of fifty years at least seems to be required to account for the marked difference between them. If the first belongs to the beginning, the second may be referred to the middle or latter part of the 4[SUP]th[/SUP] century. But the two Manuscripts agree in this, that they are without the last twelve verses of Mark's Gospel. In both, (ver. 8), comes the subscription: in Cod. B, — KATA MAPKON; in Cod. (א)— EYAITEAION KATA MAPKON.


1) In the 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] century by the Old Latin and Syraic versions.

2) In the 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] century by the Coptic and Sahidic versions.

3) In the 4[SUP]th[/SUP] century by Cureton’s Syr. and Gothic versions.

4) In the 5[SUP]th[/SUP] century by Armenian versions.

5) In the 6[SUP]th[/SUP] and 7[SUP]th[/SUP] centuries the Georgian and Ethiopic versions.

Early Church Fathers:

1) Papias refers to Mark 16v18 when he records a marvellous tradition concerning "Justus surnamed Barsabas," "how that after drinking noxious poison, through the Lord's grace he experienced no evil consequence." He does not give the words of the Evangelist. It is even surprising how completely he passes them by; and yet the allusion to the place just cited is manifest. Now, Papias is a writer who lived so near the time of the Apostles that he made it his delight to collect their traditional sayings. His date (according to Clinton) is 100 AD.

2) Justin Martyr, the date of whose first Apology is 151 AD, is observed to say (pharaphrased) concerning the Apostles that, after our Lord's Ascension, “And they went forth, and preached everywhere…” which
is nothing else but a quotation from the last verse of Mark's Gospel. Thus it is found that the conclusion of Mark's Gospel was familiarly known within fifty years of the death of the last of the Evangelists.

3) Irenaeus, in his third Book against Heresies, deliberately quotes and remarks upon the 19th verse of the last chapter of Mark's Gospel, we are put in possession of the certain fact that the entire passage was
extant in a copy of the Gospels which was used by the Bishop of the Church of Lyons sometime about the year 180 AD, and which therefore cannot possibly have been written much more than a hundred years after the date of the Evangelist himself.

4) Hippolytus, Bishop of Portus near Borne, a contemporary of Irenaeus, quotes the 17th and 18th verses in his “Refutation of All Heresies.”

5) At the Seventh Council of Carthage held under Cyprian, 256 AD (on the baptizing of Heretics,) Vincentius, Bishop of Thibari, (a place not far from Carthage,) in the presence of the eighty-seven assembled African bishops, quoted two of the verses under consideration; and Augustine, about a century and a half later, in his reply, recited the words afresh.

6) Eusebius, the Ecclesiastical Historian, was profoundly well acquainted with these verses. He discusses them largely, and was by no means disposed to question their genuineness. His Church History was published 325 AD.

7) Marinus also, a contemporary of Eusebius, inasmuch as he is introduced to our notice by Eusebius himself as asking a question concerning the last twelve verses of Mark's Gospel without a trace of misgiving as to the genuineness of that about which he inquires, is a competent witness in their favour.

8) Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan (A.D. 374-397) freely quotes this portion of the Gospel, citing ver. 15 four times: verses 16, 17 and 18, each three times: ver. 20, once.

Part II