Evidence for Mark’s Longer Ending
by Perry Hall
Should we accept Mark's longer ending (Mark 16:9-20), or instead concur with a popular scholarly conclusion that verse 8 is the proper ending? Here I will present one argument for why I think the longer ending is fitting to Mark's gospel.
Notice the claim: "the longer ending is fitting to Mark's gospel". One way this fits Mark is his use of 3's throughout the book, including the resurrection scene.
For example, the ending includes the third time Jesus is anointed:
- First Anointing - Jesus's baptism where the Spirit descends upon him (Mark 1:10). This is an anointing scene although the word "anoint" is not used. Prophets were anointed at the beginning of their ministries.
- Second Anointing - Woman's anointing (murizo - Mark 14:8) Jesus with perfume (Mark 14:3-9). Jesus claims this is for his burial.
- Women at the tomb (Mark 16:1) came to anoint (aleipho) Jesus. The third anointing is a failure since Jesus has already risen.
The third anointing being a failure fits three failures within the resurrection scenes of Mark. So again, a series of 3's:
- First Failure - Mark 16:8 - They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
- Second Failure - Mark 16:11 - When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.
- Third Failure - Mark 16:13 - They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.
All three times there is a reaction that is not acceptable by God's standards after a telling:
- First Failure - The angel tells the women to tell others, but they fail to obey.
- Second Failure - When Mary Magdalene does finally tell, the apostles fail to believe.
- When the two men tell "others", they fail to believe.
If this is a later addition, the additional writer was a scholar on Markan writing.
Is this definitive proof of the longer ending? No. But what it does show is it is fitting, by including a common Markan "mark" of a series of 3's.
I accept Mark's longer ending. There are far more reasons than the one presented here. But isn't it amazing how what some consider unnecessary redundancy, actually fits into a very authentic writing style of Mark that would be missing using Mark's shorter ending?