Bible scholars and theologians have debated the seemingly confusing ending to Mark’s gospel, accepting the first eight verses in chapter sixteen, while rejecting the remaining verses because they don’t appear in the earliest manuscripts and writings of the early Church Fathers or Ecclesiastical authorities. Be that as it may, a systematic and analytical reading of this last chapter alongside other gospel narratives relating to Jesus’ resurrection seem to more strongly support, at least as it pertains to the early post Sabbath events, some parts of the disputed latter portion over the earlier verses.
Mark 16: 1-8
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene (Cp. Matthew 2: 23; Acts 24: 5), who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go; tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as he told You.’” Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
NOTE: For whatever reason the Christian Church seems to accept this traditional and more controversial ending version as more authentically plausible, but not the alternative scenario starting at verse 9 and following. The one person quite unlikely to withhold spreading the good news about an empty tomb because of fear, bewilderment, or astonishment when told by a mysterious stranger about Jesus’ resurrection is Mary Magdalene, as in the following:
John 20: 18
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the LORD!” And she told them that He had said these things to her.
Mark 16: 9-12
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen Him, they did not believe it [they did not believe her]. Afterward Jesus appeared in another form to two of them while they were walking in the country.
Luke 24: 13-23
Now that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing Him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas (Cp. John 19: 25), asked Him, “Are you only a visitor and do not know the things that have happened in these days?” “What things?” He asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests of our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him; but we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find His body. They came and told us they had seen a vision of angels, who said He was alive.
Luke 24: 10-11
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.
Luke 24: 24
Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see.”
Luke 24: 11
Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
John 20: 1-8
Early on the first day of the week while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the LORD out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He [the other/beloved disciple] bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb, He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside.
Luke 24: 28-31
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged Him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening: the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them. When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight.
Luke 24: 33-35
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true!” The LORD has arisen and appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when He broke the bread (Cp. Luke 22: 19).
Mark 16: 13-14
These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal (hardness of heart) to believe those who had seen Him after His resurrection.
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