Mark's Gospel

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The Empty Tomb and the Ending of Mark

(Mark 16:1-8)

The Sabbath ended at sunset on Saturday so the women could buy the spices and perfumes they required for the Sunday morning. As they are making their way to the tomb they discuss how they are going to remove the stone sealing the tomb. However, they soon discover that the stone has already been rolled away. On entering the tomb they are alarmed by the sight of a young man wearing a white robe. Some commentators have linked this young man with the young man fleeing the garden of Gethsemane. They draw the comparision of the young man in the garden running away naked in a panic with the young man dressed in white in the tomb who tries to reassure the women.

The young man tells the women that Jesus has been raised from the dead. He tells them to return to the disciples and tell them that Jesus will meet them in Galilee. In this Mark both starts and finished his Gospel in Galilee.

Most scholars agree that Mark's Gospel originally ended at verse 8 with the words, 'for they were afraid.' It is thought that remaining verses are a later addition and not the work of Mark. Some manuscripts add verse 8b (the Shorter Ending) while others add verses 9-20 instead (the Longer Ending). Some manuscripts insert both. Most of the ancient manuscripts bring the book to an abrupt ending at verse 8a. The author's style in both of these endings is different from that of Mark. Since most of Mark's Gospel is contained in Luke and Matthew it was once thought that Mark was a later summary of the other two. This may account for a certain neglect of Mark and that consequently the original ending was lost.

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