Mark 16:15–18: In or Out of the Bible?


Mark 16:9–20, The Great Commission. Many modern scholars call into question the genuineness of these last twelve verses. For a discussion on whether these verses of Mark’s Gospel should be included in the Bible, see E. W. Bullinger’s (1837-1913) The Companion Bible (appendix 168).

Bullinger states that the two oldest Greek manuscripts of the Testimony of Yeshua (from the fourth century) don’t contain these verses. On the other hand, more than six hundred other Greek manuscripts do contain them as do the oldest Syriac manuscript known as the Peshitto (which Bullinger believes is from the second century) and the Curetonian Syriac (from the third century). He notes that Jerome when translating the Bible into Latin (The Vulgate, A.D. 382) had access to Greek manuscripts older than any now extant,which is why he included these twelve verses in his Bible. Additionally, he notes that the Gothic Version (A.D. 350), the Coptic (fourth or fifth century), the Armenian (fifth century), Ethiopic (fourth to seventh centuries) and Georgian (sixth century) versions all contain these last twelve verses. Bullinger goes on to say that there are nearly one hundred ecclesiastical writers before the oldest extant Greek manuscripts who attest to the authenticity of these verses. Moreover, between A.D. 300 and 600 there are about two hundred more writers who do.

Bullinger gives two reasons why he believes these verses may have been omitted from several of the oldest Greek NT manuscripts. After the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 extending forward one hundred years, there is a complete blank regarding the history of the early church and a complete silence about this era from Christian writers. Therefore, no one knows what was going on in the church during this period including whether such signs and wonders as enumerated in these last verses in Mark’s Gospel were still occurring. He speculates that when later translators came to the last twelve verses of Mark and saw no trace of these spiritual gifts currently being manifested in the church (in the fourth century), some marked them as doubtful, spurious or even omitted them altogether. This same doubt has been passed on to modern scholars.

 

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