Hey, Who Messed With The Resurrection Story?

Someone tinkered with the resurrection story in the Gospel of Mark.  Material was added at least 150 years after the first writing and was recognized as not part of the original writing some 500 years ago.  We don’t know who tinkered with it or why.

Author “Mark” had ended his story. Then, more was added.

Mark wrote that the two women entered the tomb. A man in a white robe told them Jesus had been there, then arose.  He instructed the women to tell the disciples.  But, the women fled the tomb and said nothing because they were afraid.  Mark’s story ended there.

Others came along much later and wrote various additions to the story.  The most common one was about how Jesus arose and appeared before the various characters in the story.  It spoke of snake healing and of Jesus going to heaven and sitting to the right of God.

The added material has been so appealing it is among the most quoted.  It has started branches of the faith, such as the snake handlers, all by itself.  But, it was not in the original writing.

A nonbeliever or the-Bible-is-metaphor mind would conclude those who added that material had some different goal in mind than that of Mark.  Those who regard the Bible as a sacred book guided by an almighty must have their own way of explaining what happened here.

Who wrote the Bible and what it means remains up for grabs.


17 Responses

  1. StanB

    A small change Jon. One is that most think it was from the early second century or some time between 100-150 AD. From less then 70 years from the original writing, not 150. The second is that it was part of Catholic tradition since about 160AD, 500 years ago was the start of Protestant churches forming, in which much of early Catholic traditions were discounted.

  2. Catholic Dad


    Thanks for the post – it got me to study the gospel of Mark more closely. Mark 16:9-20 has things in common with other parts of the bible, your question is a good one. You helped reinforced that the Catholic Church is the one true church. When all you have is sola scriptura, you will have, “branches of the faith, such as the snake handlers, all by itself”, start. Appreciate your blog, and letting me share.
    Have a great day

    1. Catholic Dad 2:38 It always seemed like the Catholic Church had one thing figured out. Since there are a gazillion copies of Bibles from 200 CE forward, all of them at least a little different, and, the interpretations are all over the park, having a hierarchy that decides what the doctrine shall be is “good management”. I don’t happen to agree those clergy have any extra insight into what things mean, however.

      1. StanB

        Jon, you keep insisting the new translations are just the next copy of a copy of a copy, one after another in an uninterrupted sequence for 2000 years. You never even read the link I posted which you asked for…

        1. Stan 3:14 Sorry I missed the link–it was in your text and I have a habit of looking at the bottom of essays for links.

          That link is OK, a guy who is primarily a parish priest, is a part time farmer and seem to have a hobby of writing and speaking about this stuff. I don’t see how you can say he is the drop dead ultimate authority on all this. There are probably a few hundred university Bible scholars who publish in peer reviewed publication and challenge and counter challenge each other. I’m not saying they are the last word, either. From what I read, there are new techniques being developed all the time and new ways of analying material.

          Incidently, how am I “insisting the new translations are just the next copy of a copy of a copy?” Of the hand written material, it was copied in the same language over and over. They were both distributed across the countries and passed down to new generations. No two of them have been found to be exactly the same. So, when researchers who read Greek study them, what they find depends of which one they read. I agree most of the variations are spelling, etc. but not all of them are.

          1. entech

            Mark’s Gospel in the Authorised Version ends at verse 20 of chapter 16. However, modern translations end at verse 8 with the report of the young man (angel?) that Jesus had risen and the effect of this message on the women who had come to visit the tomb. The reason for this is that verses 9-20 do not occur in the two most reliable manuscripts and are obviously later additions.
            It seems odd that Mark should not have included some of the resurrection appearances of Jesus, as he would certainly have been familiar with them, if not actually present on some of those occasions. He was a young man in Jerusalem at the time and a member of the early Christian community. However, it may well be that his original ending has been lost, and someone copying the manuscript felt it necessary to round off the story by adding a summary of those appearances that appear in the other gospel stories. It certainly reads like such a summary. Indeed, several other endings to Mark’s gospel have turned up where other scribes have also done this.


            Could this be Stan’s source, seems to be confirmation of your post.

          2. entech 5:27 Yes, that is the site Stan referred to. It’s not althogether different from what I read, but I don’t see any date on the written material there. Was it written 20 days ago or 20 years ago? There is a phrase, “Mark would have been a young man ..” who might have seen NT events. I’ve not seen any proof he was young or old or if it was one person or several.

            Today, there are researchers who group the variations in ancient copies by their errors,or, the versions of stories they tell. The copies are so different, their areas and to some extent origins can be categorized. Stan’s link does not discuss this so far as I know. I haven’t spent much time on it and probably will not.

            I was a little turned off by the site when it launched into the argument that we treat other ancient writing as accurate but question that of the Bible. Are there any other ancient writings that are considered “the word of God?” Are there any other ancient writings that are quoted here on this site day after day, year after year. If stuff is to be quoted as “the word of God”, it seem like we should know what that word is.

          3. entech

            Jon, true, I have never been impressed by the argument that because there are so many copies it must be true. The difference is no one is asked to treat Jason and the search for the Golden Fleece as literal and true history and the words of Zeus, yet they would build a world based on Moses and the search for the Promised Land as absolutely true and historically accurate, even inspirational. There is no more objective evidence for one than the other.

          4. I want to mention one other thing about the site Stan posted:


            I alway question whether a site is up there to provide information, or, to spread propaganda. If the commentary sticks to what was found, how it was found and issues around the finding of information, I’ll consider what it says. But, if it goes off the argument to score propaganda points, it’s not worth my time.

            It would be like a site that has informations about the debate between creationism and evolution. If it launches into how the Bible says creation is what happened, there is not point in going further.

            In the case of the above link, it doesn’t stick with information about what Bibles were found and where. Instead, it goes into propaganda issues like how atheists don’t question other ancient documents so why should they question the Bible. This has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the ancient Bibles were like one another and how accurately the reflected the original writing which is gone forever. Not worth anyone’s time.

          5. entech

            One of your frequent questioners asks questions like who, what qualifications, what experience:
            Dick Tripp is an Anglican Clergyman with experience in parish ministry in the Diocese of Christchurch, New Zealand, and is also a business partner in a family farm. He has an MA in Theology from Cambridge University. He has had several years experience in training people to share their faith, using the programme developed by Evangelism Explosion Ministries. He likes chopping wood and enjoys his family.

            I wonder if Stan has anything to do with the Evangelism Explosion Movement, must confess I have not checked them out, the name puts me off before we start.

  3. Brad

    ” You helped reinforced that the Catholic Church is the one true church.”

    This right here explains the atrocity of religion in a nutshell. My religion is the only true religion, therefore everyone else is wrong. There is absolutely no way to coexist with those who hold that belief. It’s what causes wars, because of course if my religion is the only true one, then everyone else is of the Devil and therefore must be eliminated.

    1. Wolfy32

      My parents are of the strong evangelical persuasion. And they disdain catholics like they have a disease. I remember my mom talking about a catholic lady and how surprised she was that the lady prayed or believed in Jessus… And she just tsked, wondering how this could be of a catholic, then went on to state all the things wrong with the person… ….

      It’s probably by far my biggest issue with Christianity. If everyone believes in God, then why is one right and one wrong? Makes me question if anyone has it right or is everyone partially right and partially wrong? And if there is a God why would he leave it to us to figure out as a puzzle vs. identifying himself?

    2. Michael Ross

      . “It’s what causes wars, because of course if my religion is the only true one, then everyone else is of the Devil and therefore must be eliminated.”

      ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.” (Zachariah 4:6)

      “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . .(Galatians 5:22)

      1. entech

        Blessed be the LORD, my rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle; My lovingkindness and my fortress, My stronghold and my deliverer; My shield and He in whom I take refuge; Who subdues my people under me.
        Psalm 144:1-2

        And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah. 10 Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. 11 And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. 12 So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled. 13 And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the Lord, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.
        2 Chronicles 14 9:13

        “Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.” Isaiah 13:15-16

        “Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.”
        Deuteronomy 12:2-3

  4. Beau Weber

    Verses 9-20 are cited by writers from the late 2nd century and are found in the overwhelming majority of existing Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark.

    1. Beau 2:12 “Versus 9-20 … found in the overwhelming majority of existing Greek manuscripts..”

      Did your source say the overwhelming majority of scholars agree they were written by “Mark”?

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