snake handler
Modern day snake handlers derive their practice from Mark 16:17-18

How do we know Mark 16 ends at verse 8 and not 20? The two best available Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus do not have either the usual 12 verse ending or the shorter ending. Neither does manuscript 304, the Sinaitic Old Syriac, some manuscripts of the Sahadic Coptic version, manuscripts of the Armenian translation, and some versions of the Georgian translation. It is significant that it does not appear in any manuscript prior to the fifth century. This passage is included in a number of other, later manuscripts, but with critical marks such as asterisks or obeli (marks to indicate that a passage is spurious, doubtful or corrupt), which tell us that the scribe knew of the questionable nature of these verses. The shorter ending is found in some less important manuscripts. In some other manuscripts, this shorter ending is combined with the longer ending. Codex W, an important early Greek manuscript, adds an entire paragraph between verses 14 and 15. All of this together is strong proof that Mark 16:9-20 was not originally part of Mark’s Gospel. Bible scholar and translator Jerome, around 400 CE, said “Almost all the Greek codices (are) without this passage”.

Possibly even a bigger problem for anything after Mark 16:8 than the manuscript evidence, or lack thereof, is the variety of different endings. These make no sense if verses 9-20 were part of the original Gospel of Mark. If Mark 16:9-20 was authentic, then there would not be all these various endings. The variety of endings are extremely strong proof that Mark originally ended at 16:8. These endings were obviously added later, so they would not be genuine.

Additional evidence against verses 9-20 is that the vocabulary, syntax and theological content are radically different from the genuine part of Mark’s gospel. The natural reading of these verses strongly implies that whoever wrote them originally wasn’t entirely familiar with the entire book of Mark and the other gospels, and was using apocryphal (false) and extraneous sources. Verse 9 introduces Mary Magdalene as though she is being introduced to the reader for the first time, although she was mentioned just 8 verses previously, in 16:1, as well as in 15:40,47. She is also mentioned in Matthew 27:56,61, which was probably written some years before Mark’s gospel, possibly 20 years prior to Mark.

Verses 17 and 18 have Jesus promising: “These signs will follow those who believe (implying ALL who believe): In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick; and they will recover” (NKJV). NLT says: “They will be able to handle snakes with safety”. These verses are similar to many apocryphal (false) writings that were circulating in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The NT records no Christian drinking deadly poison, much less recovering. 1 Corinthians 12:29,30 notes that some early Christians spoke in tongues, and had other miraculous gifts, it impresses the point that not all did so. 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3 emphasizes that these were not the greatest gifts, but love is. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 stresses that these miraculous, but lesser, gifts would pass away once “completeness comes” (NIV), apparently the complete NT. The point is that the spurious promise of Mark 16:17,18 is contradicted by other scriptures, those which are actually inspired by God.

Deuteronomy 4:2 and Rev 22:18,19 warn about the seriousness of ‘adding to’ God’s word. Mark 16:9-20 et al is a notable example of such ‘adding to’. Therefore, we would do well not to use these verses as though they were “the word of God”, since they are “a human word” (1 Thessalonians 2:13 NIV). This is especially true if we take to heart the serious warning at Revelation 22:15 about those who ‘like and carry on falsehood’, which Mark 16:9-20 is!

4 thoughts on “HOW DO WE KNOW MARK ENDS AT 16:8, AND NOT 16:20?

  1. Cut-and-paste James White much? Yes you do — including his reference to the “Sahadic” version, which, if you knew what you were writing about, you would have corrected to “Sahidic.”

    How sad to see such confidence combined with such ignorance. I don’t think that you double-checked any of these claims at all; you just regurgitated what you’ve read. And that is what such posts are worth — a puddle of vomit.

    Study the materials for yourself. Do real research. Don’t be a parrot.

    1. Thank you for visiting this site.

      However, your attack on me, the messenger, rather than the substance of the argument is very typical of those whose position is weak regarding the facts of the case. Rest assured, I have done much research on this subject. The main acts are summarized here:

      1. The oldest and best manuscripts do not contain it.
      2. Greek texts from Griesbach, Westcott-Hort, Nestle-Aland, UBS, and others mark it as not original.
      2. The vocabulary, style, and content are clues that it was written by someone other than Mark.
      3. The multiple conclusions (long and short) in themselves are powerful evidence against the authenticity of these 12 verses. But when combined with points 1 & 3 above, an unbiased assessment reveals that it is impossible that these 12 verses could have been written by Mark in the first century.

      I have read yours and others’ articles supporting the inclusion of these 12 verses. The problem is:
      1. They do not overturn the above stated main acts.
      2. They are supported by theories and speculations, which are built on few facts.
      3. Your assertions that these 12 verses were originally included in the early manuscripts such Sinaiticus and B, are unprovable, and are contradicted by the primary facts of the case.
      4. Just because theses 12 verses have become traditionally included at the end of Mark is not evidence in their favor. Jesus condemned holding onto beliefs for the sake of religious tradition. (Mk 7:7-9,13).

  2. My “attack” is not of you, but your shallow research; we both know that you cut-and-pasted from James White.


    Which is another way of saying that B and Aleph do not contain it. All other Greek MSS of Mark, barring damage, contain 16:9-20.


    I do not believe you.


    If you had read my work on Mark 16:9-20 with a modicum of comprehension, you would have perceived that I do not argue that Mk. 16:9-20 were originally in B and Aleph; rather, I argue that unusual features in both MSS convey their copyists’ awareness of the absent verses.

    I’m not going to waste more time when it is clear that you are not being honest. My work is freely available when you want to become better informed on this subject.

  3. Your statement that ‘all Gk MSS other than B and Aleph contain Mk 16:9-20’ is false and misleading. See UBS and N-A notes. 304 does not contain it. Others have the short, rather than the long ending. Still others contain the long ending, but with notes marking it as questionable.
    Your argument that B and Aleph copyists were aware of Mk 16:9-20, does nothing to support your conclusion that these 12 verses were inspired, and should be included in our modern Bibles. In fact, this apparent awareness of the copyists of B and Aleph of the existence of Mk 16:9-20, but their conscious decision to omit them argues very strongly against their authenticity. As you know their were many works circulating that made, or offered, varying degrees of claims of inspiration, and therefore aspiration to NT canonicity. The known existence of these 12 verses, but their deliberate exclusion from such early and vitally important MSS, highlights the gross weakness of any claims to authenticity of Mk 16:9-20.
    The multiplicity of endings after Mk 16:8 also argues very strongly against their canonicity. Therefore, the warning at Rev 22:18,19 applies. By exposing these fraudulent verses, God has proved that he has, and does, preserve his Word in its original purity (2 Pt 1:24,25).
    Your work is obviously biased in favor of the inclusion of these spurious verses. This places you in a dangerous position before God (Rev 22:15).

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