There are so many attacks against the New Testament offered by unbelievers, including atheists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, etc. that believe the New Testament has been corrupted. They say that men have corrupted the text and have mistranslated the Bible since the Apostles wrote it. One such example that many may bring up is Mark 16:9-20. Some say it does not belong in the Bible. Some say it does. Below are some of my opinions based on what I have read and learned about this issue.
Many people claim that this passage in Mark is not authentic. There seems to be three main reasons why they believe this to be the case:
- Mark 16:9-20 is not included in two of the oldest manuscripts that we currently have today, the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts.
- The vocabulary and style of the verses are deemed non-Markan, and
- The connection between verse 8 and verses 9-20 seems awkward and gives the surface appearance of having been added by someone other than Mark.
Not Included in Two Oldest Manuscripts
- There are a few problems that I have with this position:
- It is in the Alexandrian manuscript, which is about the same age as the other two. It is only 40 years older. What makes the other two more reliable than this one? It is an arbitrary decision to say that the oldest manuscripts are the more reliable manuscripts. Vaticanus and Sinaiticus should carry no more weight over Alexandrinus.
- The vast majority of manuscripts do include Mark 16:9-20
- This passage is referred to by Irenaeus (in Against Heresies), an early church father, in the second century. It is also mentioned by a disciple of Justin Martyr around 170AD, and by Tertullian in the early 3rd century.
- One of the manuscripts that leaves Mark 16:9-20 out (Vaticanus) also leaves out the book of Revelation, but no one questions the book of Revelation as being canonical.
- Nothing within it contradicts other scripture, and most of what it teaches is taught elsewhere in scripture. (one exception is the drinking of deadly poison)
Connection Between Verses 8 & 9 is “Odd”
- I believe this point is easily dismissed as arbitrary and subjective opinion. Some may agree that the connection between verses eight and nine is awkward, some may disagree. Both opinions are equally valid and do not give evidence for its being excluded or included.
This point also seems invalid to me. I am sure you could find many books in a bookstore that may contain different words in the last chapter compared to the other chapters that are written by the same person. This really proves nothing.Also, if you provided the same test on verses one through eight with the rest compared to the rest of Mark, you find the same problem. Should we reject verses one through eight also? This is not solid evidence to reject verses that are included in the vast majority of manuscripts.
- The strongest three evidences against Mark being included can easily be dismissed. By far the strongest evidence, (different vocabulary) could be used to dismiss sections of the book which are clearly written by Mark. Based on this fact, along with the vast amount of manuscript evidence, the question I ask is: Is there a bias that many scholars hold that leads them to reject Mark 16:9-20? Do they have a bias because they believe the oldest manuscripts are the best? Do they have a bias against something taught in the passage?