The “Strange” Ending of the Gospel of Mark and Why It Makes All the Difference

James Tabor presents a new look at the original text of the earliest Gospel

This article was originally published on Dr. James Tabor’s popular Taborblog, a site that discusses and reports on “‘All things biblical’ from the Hebrew Bible to Early Christianity in the Roman World and Beyond.” Bible History Daily first republished the article with consent of the author in April 2013. Visit Taborblog today, or scroll down to read a brief bio of James Tabor below.


And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing.

Women-at-TombMost general Bible readers have the mistaken impression that Matthew, the opening book of the New Testament, must be our first and earliest Gospel, with Mark, Luke and John following. The assumption is that this order of the Gospels is a chronological one, when in fact it is a theological one. Scholars and historians are almost universally agreed that Mark is our earliest Gospel–by several decades, and this insight turns out to have profound implications for our understanding of the “Jesus story” and how it was passed down to us in our New Testament Gospel traditions.

The problem with the Gospel of Mark for the final editors of the New Testament was that it was grossly deficient. First it is significantly shorter than the other Gospels–with only 16 chapters compared to Matthew (28), Luke (24) and John (21). But more important is how Mark begins his Gospel and how he ends it.

He has no account of the virgin birth of Jesus–or for that matter, any birth of Jesus at all. In fact, Joseph, husband of Mary, is never named in Mark’s Gospel at all–and Jesus is called a “son of Mary,” see my previous post on this here. But even more significant is Mark’s strange ending. He has no appearances of Jesus following the visit of the women on Easter morning to the empty tomb!

Like the other three Gospels Mark recounts the visit of Mary Magdalene and her companions to the tomb of Jesus early Sunday morning. Upon arriving they find the blocking stone at the entrance of the tomb removed and a young man–notice–not an angel–tells them:

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing (Mark 16:6-8)

And there the Gospel simply ends!

Mark gives no accounts of anyone seeing Jesus as Matthew, Luke, and John later report. In fact, according to Mark, any future epiphanies or “sightings” of Jesus will be in the north, in Galilee, not in Jerusalem.


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This original ending of Mark was viewed by later Christians as so deficient that not only was Mark placed second in order in the New Testament, but various endings were added by editors and copyists in some manuscripts to try to remedy things. The longest concocted ending, which became Mark 16:9-19, became so treasured that it was included in the King James Version of the Bible, favored for the past 500 years by Protestants, as well as translations of the Latin Vulgate, used by Catholics. This meant that for countless millions of Christians it became sacred scripture–but it is patently bogus. You might check whatever Bible you use and see if the following verses are included–the chances are good they they will be, since the Church, by and large, found Mark’s original ending so lacking. Here is that forged ending of Mark:

Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover. So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.

Even though this ending is patently false, people loved it, and to this day conservative Christians regularly denounce “liberal” scholars who point out this forgery, claiming that they are trying to destroy “God’s word.”

The evidence is clear. This ending is not found in our earliest and most reliable Greek copies of Mark. In A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Bruce Metzger writes: “Clement of Alexandria and Origen [early third century] show no knowledge of the existence of these verses; furthermore Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them.”1 The language and style of the Greek is clearly not Markan, and it is pretty evident that what the forger did was take sections of the endings of Matthew, Luke and John (marked respectively in red, blue, and purple above) and simply create a “proper” ending.


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Even though this longer ending became the preferred one, there are two other endings, one short and the second an expansion of the longer ending, that also show up in various manuscripts:

[I] But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after these things Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.

[II] This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the truth and power of God to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits [or, does not allow what lies under the unclean spirits to understand the truth and power of God]. Therefore reveal your righteousness now’ – thus they spoke to Christ. And Christ replied to them, ‘The term of years of Satan’s power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was handed over to death, that they may return to the truth and sin no more, in order that they may inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness that is in heaven.

I trust that the self-evident spuriousness of these additions is obvious to even the most pious readers. One might in fact hope that Christians who are zealous for the “inspired Word of God” would insist that all three of these bogus endings be recognized for what they are–forgeries.

That said, what about the original ending of Mark? Its implications are rather astounding for Christian origins. I have dealt with this issue more generally in my post, “What Really Happened on Easter Morning,” that sets the stage for the following implications.

1. Since Mark is our earliest Gospel, written according to most scholars around the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE, or perhaps in the decade before, we have strong textual evidence that the first generation of Jesus followers were perfectly fine with a Gospel account that recounted no appearances of Jesus. We have to assume that the author of Mark’s Gospel did not consider his account deficient in the least and he was either passing on, or faithfully promoting, what he considered to be the authentic Gospel. What most Christians do when they think about Easter is ignore Mark. Since Mark knows nothing of any appearances of Jesus as a resuscitated corpse in Jerusalem, walking about, eating and showing his wounds, as recounted by Matthew, Luke and John, those stories are simply allowed to “fill in” for his assumed deficiency. In other words, no one allows Mark to have a voice. What he lacks, ironically, serves to marginalize and mute him!

2. Alternatively, if we decide to listen to Mark, who is our first gospel witness, what we learn is rather amazing. In Mark, on the last night of Jesus’ life, he told his intimate followers following their meal, “But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee” (Mark 14:28). What Mark believes is that Jesus has been “lifted up” or “raised up” to the right hand of God and that the disciples would “see” him in Galilee. Mark knows of no accounts of people encountering the revived corpse of Jesus, wounds and all, walking around Jerusalem. His tradition is that the disciples experienced their epiphanies of Jesus once they returned to Galilee after the eight-day Passover festival and had returned to their fishing in despair. This is precisely what we find in the Gospel of Peter, where Peter says:

Now it was the final day of the Unleavened Bread; and many went out returning to their home since the feast was over. But we twelve disciples of the Lord were weeping and sorrowful; and each one, sorrowful because of what had come to pass, departed to his home. But I, Simon Peter, and my brother Andrew, having taken our nets, went off to the sea. And there was with us Levi of Alphaeus whom the Lord …

You can read more about this fascinating “lost” Gospel of Peter here, but this ending, where the text happens to break off, is most revealing. What we see here is precisely parallel to Mark. The disciples returned to their homes in Galilee in despair, resuming their occupations, and only then did they experience “sightings” of Jesus. Strangely, this tradition shows up in an appended ending to the Gospel of John–chapter 21, where a group of disciples are back to their fishing, and Matthew knows the tradition of a strange encounter on a designated mountain in Galilee, where some of the eleven apostles even doubt what they are seeing (Matthew 28:16-17).


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The faith that Mark reflects, namely that Jesus has been “raised up” or lifted up to heaven, is precisely parallel to that of Paul–who is the earliest witness to this understanding of Jesus’ resurrection. You can read my full exposition of Paul’s understanding “the heavenly glorified Christ,” whom he claims to encounter, here. And notably, he parallels his own visionary experience to that of Peter, James and the rest of the apostles. What this means is that when Paul wrote, in the 50s CE, this was the resurrection faith of the early followers of Jesus! Since Matthew, Luke and John come so much later and clearly reflect the period after 70 CE when all of the first witnesses were dead–including Peter, Paul and James the brother of Jesus, they are clearly 2nd generation traditions and should not be given priority.

Mark begins his account with the line “The Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). Clearly for him, what he subsequently writes is that “Gospel,” not a deficient version that needs to be supplemented or “fixed” with later alternative traditions about Jesus appearing in a resuscitated body Easter weekend in Jerusalem.

Finally, what we recently discovered in the Talpiot tomb under the condominium building, not 200 feet from the “Jesus family” tomb, offers a powerful testimony to this same kind of early Christian faith in Jesus’ resurrection. On one of the ossuaries, or bone boxes in this tomb, is a four-line Greek inscription which I have translated as: I Wondrous Yehovah lift up–lift up! And this is next to a second ossuary representing the “sign of Jonah” with a large fish expelling the head of a human stick figure, recalling the story of Jonah. In that text Jonah sees himself as having passed into the gates of Sheol or death, from which he utters a prayer of salvation from the belly of the fish: “O Yehovah my God, you lifted up my life from the Pit!” (Jonah 2:6). It is a rare thing when our textual evidence seems to either reflect or correspond to the material evidence and I believe in the case of the two Talpiot tombs, and the early resurrection faith reflected in Paul and Mark, that is precisely what we have.2 That this latest archaeological evidence corresponds so closely to Mark and Paul, our first witnesses to the earliest Christian understanding of Jesus’ resurrection, I find to be most striking.


Interested in the Gospels’ authors? Check out the Bible History Daily post “Gospel of John Commentary: Who Wrote the Gospel of John and How Historical is It?”

Dr. James Tabor is a professor of Christian origins and ancient Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Since earning his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1981, Tabor has combined his work on ancient texts with extensive field work in archaeology in Israel and Jordan, including work at Qumran, Sepphoris, Masada and Wadi el-Yabis in Jordan. Over the past decade he has teamed up with with Shimon Gibson to excavate the “John the Baptist” cave at Suba, the “Tomb of the Shroud” discovered in 2000, Mt Zion and, along with Rami Arav, he has been involved in the re-exploration of two tombs in East Talpiot including the controversial “Jesus tomb.” Tabor is the author of the popular Taborblog, and several of his recent posts have been featured in Bible History Daily as well as the Huffington Post. His latest book, Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity has become a immediately popular with specialists and non-specialists alike. You can find links to all of Dr. Tabor’s web pages, books, and projects at



1. Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd edition, (Hendrickson Publishers, 2005), 123. Metzger also states: “The last twelve verses of the commonly received text of Mark are absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts (? and B), 20 from the Old Latin codex Bobiensis, the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript, about one hundred Armenian manuscripts, 21 and the two oldest Georgian manuscripts (written a.d. 897 and a.d. 913).”

Correction: In the original publication of this article, Bruce Metzger’s statement “Clement of Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of the existence of these verses; furthermore Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them” (Metzger, 2005, p.123) was not appropriately referenced as a quotation from Metzger. We thank our careful reader James Snapp, Jr., of Curtisville Christian Church in Indiana, for bringing this to our attention. —Ed.

2. We offer a full exposition of these important discoveries in our recent book, The Jesus Discovery. The book is a complete discussion of both Talpiot tombs with full documentation, with full chapters on Mary Magdalene, Paul, the James ossuary, DNA tests, and much more. You can read my preliminary report on these latest “Jonah” related findings at the web site Bible & Interpretation, here, and a good account of the controversy here. During March and April, 2012 I also wrote a dozen or more posts on this blog responding to the academic discussions, see below under “Archives” and you can browse the posts by month.


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  1. James says

    In response to “James” above, who is obvious “another” James, not me :-) I had a few quick comments. This is likely not the best place (comments on a blog page on BHD) to “debate” the issue of Mark 16:9-20 but I have to respectfully and strongly disagree–despite Mr. Snapp’s rather gracious granting of my honest ignorance. The problem here really is not one about manuscripts, though it remains that case that several early and important witnesses leave the text off with Mark ending at 16:8 and plenty of space on the page had one wanted to go further. The key issue is content. Those verses are self-evidently bogus, added by a rather clumsy scribe, and their style, content, and so forth is not Markan. I realize how dear these verses can be to Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals and their defense, even by certain scholars from those apologetic circles who want to defend “inerrancy” of the N.T, has been strong and spirited, but anyone who really looks at all three “supplied” endings can see what is going on here. Folks were just not happy with Mark’s ending, though most mainstream scholars are almost universally agreed that the ending at 16:8 makes perfect sense in view of Mark’s overall theology. Once would be hard pressed to find a single N.T. scholar at any major university who would defend this ending as authentic. I realize that “truth” is not taken by polling the status quo, even among scholars, but I do not believe that all of us have drunk some sort of “cool aid” and mysteriously agreed to this mistaken view. We have been persuaded by arguments. The percentage game does not work here, as 99% of Greek manuscripts say all sorts of bogus things, see Bart Ehrman’s work, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture for lots of examples.

    I quote here Bruce Metger’s conclusion, in the article cited above, and Dr. Metzger was considered a conservative scholar at Princeton:

    “It is obvious that the expanded form of the long ending (4) has no claim to be original. Not only is the external evidence extremely limited, but the expansion contains several non–Markan words and expressions (including ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος, ἁμαρτάνω, ἀπολογέω, ἀληθινός, ὑποστρέφω) as well as several that occur nowhere else in the New Testament (δεινός, ὅρος, προσλέγω). The whole expansion has about it an unmistakable apocryphal flavor. It probably is the work of a second or third century scribe who wished to soften the severe condemnation of the Eleven in 16.14.”

  2. James says

    P.S. to James Snapp…I forgot to thank James for noticing that I had failed to put quotation marks around the original blog post quoting Metzger. We have corrected this here and on my blog. I appreciate James’s sharp eye and gracious manner in private communications we have had in the past. I find him to be a great dialogue partner.

  3. Mike says

    Jerusalem Post June 2014

    Extra extra read all all about it. Complete text of gospel of Mark 1:1-16:20 discovered in Judea wilderness cave, Archaeologists date to 1st century A. D. (Just like so many other so called Bible blunders)

  4. James says

    You’re right that this is probably not the best place to debate about Mark 16:9-20 but I’ll take what I can get.

    Mark 16:9-20 is not “self-evidently bogus.” I realize how dear the abrupt ending at verse 8 can be to liberals and heretics, who want to attack inerrancy, or to dismiss the doctrine of the bodily resurrection of Christ, but anyone who carefully considers the evidence can see what’s going on here: Mark was compelled by some emergency to stop writing in 16:8, and his colleagues were unwilling to distribute the text in such an unfinished form, so they attached verses 9-20, which already existed at the time as a freestanding text. (Clearly verse 9 was not intended, when written, to form a continuation from 16:1-8.) Then someone, regarding the passage as a document in its own right, separated it from the end of Mark’s Gospel (perhaps with the understanding that John 21 wrapped up Mark’s otherwise unfinished narrative-thread). Mainstream scholars almost universally misrepresent the evidence about this passage, because they almost universally have drunk, not from a pitcher of kool-aid, but from the wide-flowing fountain of half-truths that is pages 122-126 of Bruce Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the GNT. The percentage-of-scholars game does not work here, as 95% of commentators say all sorts of bogus things about Mark 16:9-20: if they’re not misrepresenting Clement’s silence, then they’re claiming that some Ethiopic manuscripts end at 16:8, or that many manuscripts have asterisks alongside Mark 16:9-20 to indicate that it’s spurious, or they claim – as Bart Ehrman has claimed — that Mark 16:9-20 was added in the early Middle Ages!

    When you quoted from Metzger the statement that begins, “It is obvious,” you were quoting what he said about the Freer Logion. He was not referring to verses 9-20 there, was he. Metzger’s conclusion about verses 9-20 was that although they were attached by someone other than Mark, “The Committee decided to include verses 9-20 as part of the text.” And in “The Canon of the New Testament,” although the flaws in the evidence-presentations handed down to Metzger (some of which he detected, but certainly not all) persuaded him that the evidence conclusively shows that verses 9-20 did not come “from the same pen as the rest of the Gospel,” he then said, “The passage ought to be accepted as part of the canonical text of Mark.”

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  5. James says

    Oh no, the fangs have come out…it is only “liberals and heretics” who hold the view that Mark 16:9-20 is bogus and their only motive is to “deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus,”…here we resort to name calling and imputing of dishonest motives, not honest scholarly judgment. I will not indulge in such things. I am not labeling YOU as bogus, only the text. It is not part of Mark, it was not written by Mark, and you have not a shred of historical evidence to support your idea that Mark had to stop, and his “colleagues”(?? who would they be?) added the ending…how could you possible know such a thing? It is self-evidently taken from the compressed endings of Matt, Luke, and John…would you not agree? The Metzger quote is totally about the longer ending…no idea what you are reading here. On the “bodily resurrection” my argument is that Paul agrees with Mark…there is a “natural body” that is corruptible and a “spiritual” body that is a “live-giving spirit…” Do you really think that those who have “died in the sea” can not be resurrected unless their physical corruptive body parts are somehow reconstituted…or those turned to ashes, or God only knows all the other states of the physical bodies of countless good souls of the past. I have written a lot about this but the links are in the blog post…Enough is enough…for comments on the BAR site at least.

  6. James says

    Thanks for the response.

    I completely deny the charge that “the fangs have come out.” Such a claim is diversionary. I have not called you any names here. If you don’t like it when I say that a view that you support is dear to liberals and heretics (because, to you, it seems to suggest that your motive is being impugned), then you know how I felt when you said that a view that I support is dear to fundamentalists (because, to me, it seemed to suggest that my motive was being impugned).

    You asked how I could possibly know that Mark 16:9-20 was a short freestanding text that was attached to Mark’s unfinished text before copies of the Gospel of Mark began to be made. It’s a deduction, the entire basis for which would take too long to review here. You also asked if I would agree that Mark 16:9-20 is “self-evidently taken from the compressed endings of Matt, Luke, and John.” No; I do not agree; the “pastiche” theory is contrived; it only looks plausible at a distance, not up close.

    Regarding the Metzger quote: can you really imagine that the quotation that begins “It is obvious that the expanded form of the longer ending (4) has no claim to be original” is referring to 16:9-20? I guess you do. So open Metzger’s book and notice why that “(4)” is there. This item is part of a list. In that list, item (3) is “the traditional ending of Mark,” verses 9-20. The fourth item in the list is the usual 12 verses with an expansion (the Freer Logion) between v. 14 and v. 15. The quotation that you gave is certainly not “totally about the longer ending.” It is about the expanded form, which is why when Metzger listed O AIWN OUTOS, AMARTANW, APOLOGEW, etc., as words which appear in the expansion, he was listing words which appear in the Freer Logion. The Freer Logion, not verses 9-20, is the “whole expansion” to which Metzger refers in that paragraph. I am confident that this cannot elude you much longer.

    Regarding the questions about the resurrection: I don’t believe that human physical bodies must be physically reconstituted in order for the people who occupied them to be resurrected. But this is tangential to the main question, about whether Mark 16:9-20 was attached during the production-stage, or at some later time, well into the transmission-stage.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  7. Joe says

    Enough already James Snapp, go to bed..3:47am..really?

  8. James says

    James Snapp: I will leave it to readers to judge whether your tone changed in your post to an aggressive name calling rather than staying with the facts.

    You are right, the portion of Metzger I quoted is the beginning of a conclusion that covers all the three additional endings, and yes, he begins his comment on (3) the Codex Washingtonianus (love that name–I have a copy of it, really interesting text), that includes the longer ending but then adds even more to v. 14, thus showing the process of scribal expansion. Metzger then goes on to talk about (3), the expansion you favor, and we could quote it all for readers but it essentially makes a similar argument, that vocabulary, style, and substance are non-Markan. Remarkably, you apparently agree with this–that the author of Mark did not write it. He stopped for some unknown reason and then others (unknown) added it but it is still the “genuine” ending.

    The words liberal and conservative are interesting here. I would say my position is actually not liberal but conservative. I am trying to get to the original text of Mark–that is, to stick to the text as it was written, which is surely a conservative move. That is the whole point of my blog post. I think we have something preserved in Mark that is most precious and that people find the ending so disturbing, since it records no resurrection sightings, is all the more telling. It tells us something vital about the earliest Christian traditions about Jesus’ resurrection, entirely separate from the Jerusalem tradition known to Luke and John…

  9. James says

    James Tabor: It should not be hard for readers to notice that the contents of the first paragraph in post #4 on this page, which you referred to as “aggressive name calling,” is your own rhetoric, from the first paragraph of post #1 on this page, turned against your view.

    I’m glad you now agree that the paragraph you had cited from Metzger refers to the Freer Logion.
    I do not agree with Metzger’s view that verses 9-20 “are the work of an author other than the evangelist;” he over-extrapolated. Mark probably did write these verses. (That explains why they were attached, instead of some freshly-written ending composed for the purpose.) But Mark did not write them as the ending of his Gospel-account, and he did not attach them to 16:8. Here’s the thing, though: Mark does not need to be the person who attached verses 9-20, or even the person who wrote them, in order for these 12 verses to be part of the original text. The verses just need to be present when the production-stage is over and the transmission-stage begins. Composite-authorship, or the involvement of a redactor, has never been a defining parameter of the form of the “original text.” Since you are trying to get to the original text of Mark, I encourage you to define the term “original text” consistently, without using different definitions for different books.

    I also encourage you to test the claims about the evidence that you have been spreading, and ask yourself if you have responsibly minimized the chance of promoting false impressions. Ask yourself: isn’t it misleading to use Clement’s non-use of Mark 16:9-20 as if it implies that Clement’s copies lacked the passage? Shouldn’t readers be told that Clement hardly ever specifically quoted from Mark outside chapter 10? Isn’t it misleading when you fail to mention that Jerome’s statement is embedded in Jerome’s own Latin abridgement of part of Eusebius’ composition (i.e., it is Jerome’s loose translation of something Eusebius wrote)? Shouldn’t readers be told that this is not an independent statement from Jerome, and that Jerome elsewhere casually used Mark 16:14 to explain where he had seen the Freer Logion in Greek copies? And so forth.

    Also, regarding your claim that “most mainstream scholars are almost universally agreed that the ending at 16:8 makes perfect sense in view of Mark’s overall theology” – this is an appeal to authority, not to evidence. But even as such, it is considerably diminished when one considers that (1) Hort, Metzger, Stein, Gundry, Witherington, Wright, Croy, and Edwards are on record against that idea, and (2) it is not much of an exaggeration to say that where you find five commentaries promoting the idea that abrupt ending at verse 8 was intentional, you will find five theories about what Mark’s intent was.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  10. Joe says

    I will say is all a theory. Every last book, letter, sentence, word, is a theory. Just because we have ancient text laying around, does not prove anything. People can set around and debate till they are blue in the face, but at the end of the day each party must admit..we do not really know who God is, or how he deals with mankind. Religion lives and breaths nothing but theory’s. Personally I believe that we are limited with human words when we attempt to describe God. That is why God is given human attributes in the bible…we have no choice. All religion’s are attempts to know God, but they all fall short of knowing who God really is. When we debate about the bible, in all actuality we are debating what the bible is trying to teach, not who God really is. It seems like if I can prove my theory right, then I have proved who God is, but really, I have proven nothing, but how smart I think I am.

  11. Mauno says

    What a gnostic rubbish. Your view of God is really underestimated, if you think God couldn’t preserve His texts (Textus Receptus). Unfortunately we use now days gnostics texts from Egypt, where gnostics used to have habbit of removing certain texts, insteading of accusing Christians adding texts.

    You should rename the site to Gnostics Archaeology really. For some reason, people still fall on “hidden knowledge” offered by the Serpent.

  12. Milos says

    Interesting article. In my opinion, the single biggest hint to what really happened is this: why would the women not tell anyone (Mark 16:8)? To me it sounds like the writer is trying to justify the fact that no one has ever heard about the resurrection events he’s describing decades later. Simple as that – it never happened. He blames the women for not spreading the message so that his forgery is less transparent.

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  14. Hansie says

    Mike (post no 3) … what is your source please as it seems to refer to June 2014 which must still happen. Will be interesting to read that.

  15. Lila says

    Your style is very unique compared to other folks I’ve read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this web site.

  16. fred says

    Did I read somewhere of a curse to anyone who adds to or deduct from the holy scripture?

  17. Mike says

    Maybe those who agree with Dr. Tabor should watch this clip before they decide whether or not the last 12 verses of Mark are of divine origin.

  18. Jerry says

    I was curious about the illustration with the three women in this post. Do you know the artist’s name by chance? I greatly appreciate your help. Thanks.

  19. Truth says

    What is PATENTLY FALSE is not the Ending of Mark but all the ignorance and lies used to reject it, like this dumb article demonstrates. All anyone has to do is read John William Burgon’s THE LAST TWELVE VERSES OF MARK, written over 130 years ago. This textual scholar extraordinaire vindicated the reading factually from all the apostates who were trying to remove it from the Scripture. Nothing since has come that overturns Burgon’s evidence. Burgon was a REAL CHRISTIAN, born of the Spirit, and who knew the Scripture needed to be defended from all the unregenerate children of Hell, the wolves in sheep’s clothing who were attacking it

  20. Alan says

    The very fact that some of those oldest manuscripts supposedly left off those last verses in Mark is a testimony that they were originally there. It’s NOT a “problem with Mark”, it’s a problem with the thinking process that has not faith in God’s staying power and the importance God gives to his word.

    Plus there is no such thing as oldest “and” best. The first writings that got used the most also got USED UP, with the wear and tear. Only an academic or gnostic would frame the thing and ignore it so much that it would appear in the last days to send strong delusion to those that receive not the love of the truth, like Paul wrote to the Thessalonians.

    He esteemed his word above his name, and the Word was God.

  21. danny says

    does it matter? their is enough proof of Jesus divine resurrection…and that the God Head is very much alive and well, your just looking to something to support your unbelief, its a relationship He came to bring and you cant get there by intellect but you have to believe that He is, you should go see the movie “Gods not Dead”, I don’t think Gods world is shaken by you finding, be cause if you look closely at Pauls writing you can see many of this teaching Paul spoke about this untruths. the big question here is Man god in is own eyes, or is God “the great I’am” and will you except Gods gift fro you, where He him self, became a man to reach all who would except Him, and die for you, that He would have a relationship with you, then rising from the dead, and giving you Him self threw the Holy Sprit, full filling to all that believe “I will never leave you nor forsake you” …. the Emmanuel … it only a fool that says that their is no God, all shall bend before Him, and only the blood of Christ is the door into a relationship with Father God….mans wisdom is as foolishness to God… im one that works in the science field but thank Jesus for every thing He’s done for …… yes He Lives

  22. mercedes says

    It seems like an abrupt ending. Is this a plausible explanation?
    “(1341.4) 121:8.3 1. The Gospel by Mark. John Mark wrote the earliest (excepting the notes of Andrew), briefest, and most simple record of Jesus’ life. He presented the Master as a minister, as man among men. Although Mark was a lad lingering about many of the scenes which he depicts, his record is in reality the Gospel according to Simon Peter. He was early associated with Peter; later with Paul. Mark wrote this record at the instigation of Peter and on the earnest petition of the church at Rome. Knowing how consistently the Master refused to write out his teachings when on earth and in the flesh, Mark, like the apostles and other leading disciples, was hesitant to put them in writing. But Peter felt the church at Rome required the assistance of such a written narrative, and Mark consented to undertake its preparation. He made many notes before Peter died in A.D. 67, and in accordance with the outline approved by Peter and for the church at Rome, he began his writing soon after Peter’s death. The Gospel was completed near the end of A.D. 68. Mark wrote entirely from his own memory and Peter’s memory. The record has since been considerably changed, numerous passages having been taken out and some later matter added at the end to replace the latter one fifth of the original Gospel, which was lost from the first manuscript before it was ever copied. This record by Mark, in conjunction with Andrew’s and Matthew’s notes, was the written basis of all subsequent Gospel narratives which sought to portray the life and teachings of Jesus.”

  23. Mickey says

    Regardless of whether or not the ending is authentic, there is still early evidence of everything that took place in the other gospels. I’m talking about 1 Corinthians 15 of course! That letter by Paul was written in the 50s AD, same as Mark. We don’t even need the gospels to prove the physical resurrection.

  24. Joseph says

    Big whoop! While it is wrong that anyone “added” this ending, as the Lord said Himself in scripture, it takes NOTHING away from the other gospels! The author of this article goes out of his way to imply that because Mark chose to leave out some historical accounts that the other writers of the gospels recorded that this somehow means this 1 account outweighs the other 4 that do document sightings of Jesus, post-resurrection. That is really reaching! Luke included some things the others did not, and being a physician he detailed some things none of the others did. They each emphasized what was important to them. Isn’t that what anyone does when telling their account of an event? Keep trying to debunk the Bible, you never will!

  25. pearlman says

    maybe they meant they took his body to give a proper burial in the Galil and to visit his burial site there?

  26. lanzini says

    Dear D.Tabor, for many years I have studied gospels. I think there are evidence that Mark is the only one true gospel and not only the first. Not only because the story was that of a normal jew who at the age of 30 decides to do something, not only because the differences are very simple to find out so as the reasons of why. With the second we want transform the story of a normal man with some particular connection with God in the waited Messiah and then we add at beginning all the parts needed. Later we decide to transform this man in son of God and we do the necessary steps. And later we see the monotheism of new religion is in serious danger and then we add the fourth and later the explanation of trinity. But because were the verses have not been modified for the reasons to enlarging the story they are to much similar, with the same words (more evident in the copies precedent to vulgate) and sometimes with the same succession for three or four verses. Thing completely impossible for probability rules. For first gospel we must trust in a story of a man who seems to do some miracles and who says will
    do a resurrection. The story passed from mouth to mouth before to have been written step after step forget the military part of the adventure, also if remain strong a very clear the sword of
    Peter, something much expensive and without a serious explanation in hands of a poor fisherman who show to be able also to use properly but more of that remain the deliberately erroneous translation of nicknames of John and brother that is not sons of thunder but sons of revenge, name that marries very badly with men of peace. This man die and someone who the wife admits is unknown tell her is the risen man. Later this fact probably seems not enough strong and we add the other testimony. But the success is so great and someone decide to
    increase the story but the original was too much known and then we write another. You know better than me how the job was done in a very poor way. Beginning from the two genealogy
    different and both impossible, from the claim to move Quirinus census 12 years before, the invention of a sister of Mary with the same name to explain cousins of Jesus and when the excuse to call them cousins expired and became brothers in law the absurdity of two sister with same names each with for sons with same names, the evidences that the story was written from one or more people who were not from Giudea because unaware of Geography, History, Religion of that country and who did not know Hebrew or Aramaic as show the sentence Jesus says on the cross. So as the blind man and mad man who double, the star able to guide somebody for a distance of ten kilometer when should be seen in same shape from all the Mediterranean and all the other things. Thank you

  27. Rick says

    Tabor writes about forged endings of Mark and then uses his speculation and non-gospel material to elucidate on the ‘missing’ ending.

    I wonder if there was an original ending that was lost? Could be, but not provable.

  28. tammy says

    It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it’s time

  29. Richard says

    The fact that the author of this article continuously refers to Mark as “the author of the Gospel of Mark” leads me to believe that the author does not believe Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark.
    The author of this article also tends to use the CE abbreviation more than a Christian scholar stricltly should, since it is an attempt to take Jesus and the Ressurection out of history.
    The author of this article also fails to note that Mark was simply not present for anything that is in the Gospel of Mark; for centuries critical scholars have known that this is the account of Paul DICTATED to Mark.

    I don’t know who this hack is, but I don’t think I like the vibe he sets. I suppose that to the strictest letter he is not bastardizing the Bible, but he sure does allude to some pretty unbiblical thigns….

  30. Allison says

    I like listening to intelligent people argue. And while I’m not capable of debating at this level, I don’t see why the original ending would prove that the other 3 gospels were not accurate. Your supporting evidence is Peter’s gospel which is not included in the bible, thus not the most convincing. I like the theory that Mark was unable to finish and went back later to add the other verses, but even if a scribe or other sort of meddler added these “bogus” verses, neither ending are in conflict with the other disciple’s stories. I think where you lost me was when you called the resurrected Jesus in His glorified state a “revived corpse.” That might have been the point I feel like you let the fangs out. I am but a humble bible reader, just wondering why Mark has so many optional endings and will continue my search for plausible scenerios. Thanks.

  31. Bonnie says

    Sounds like to me that this man needs to go pray that Jesus will send him the Holy Spirit, because he has no faith at all.

  32. annese says

    Everyone is approaching this as if it was a book written by a modern author. The fact that there are inconcistencies in the content of Mark (for example) is consistent with the scenario that the gospel of mark was complete in the collective of the oral tradition but not on an individual level. That is to say that not everyone involved in the production of Mark had the “complete” story or account. That’s it. That does nothing to deductively either persuade or dissuade one from believing that this was exactly what happened. It is entirely possible that this entire story happened and the account existed but was incomplete in its written form for some time. In fact it is mentioned that even the current written account of the events during Jesus Christs visitation in the flesh is incomplete.

  33. blueget says

    While I do find the issue with the “longer ending of Mark” interesting, I have to strongly object to Mr. Tabor misusing his authority as a scientist to promote his world view and the general unscientific approach in interpreting facts that is evident in this text. This begins with calling the ending “forged” (note the unsubstantiated use of that negatively connotated word, implying malicious intent) and goes on through the whole text, right to the very confuse ending (wouldn’t it be much more logical that the depiction is about the faith that the persons that are buried there will themselves be resurrected?)
    All this is symptomatic of most “liberal Theologians” – trying to bend the facts until they fit their personal presumptions, always on the lookout to destroy the faith of christians, and ignoring even the most basic scientific rules in the process.

  34. Andrew says

    If we take the religious bias out of the equation, it becomes more apparent that the Bible is not infallible, but has truths mixed with untruths and mythology. The quote from Clint Eastwood’s movie High Plains Drifter comes to mind, “It’s what people know about themselves inside that makes them afraid.” What truths made the Nicene Trinitarian Christian movement so uncomfortable that they murdered, tortured and oppressed so many hundreds of thousands of non-orthodox believers? The church killed many scientist who dared proclaim that the Earth was round and not flat, but turns out they they spilled innocent blood unjustly. The truth came out and I thank GOD the Earth is not flat. I grew up in the church since I was a baby; son of a Protestant Bishop. I notice most Christians become either polarized with anger or paralyzed with fear at the thought that their Holy Bible might not be so holy and might contain ungodly additions and myths. If we cannot be honest with ourselves about the pagan origin of the holy trinity, the virgin birth, Christmas or Easter then we will never heal the world or ourselves for that matter. We build houses out of straw and wonder why we are not sheltered from the strong winds of truth rising. It is a truth that modern Christianity is nothing like the early 1st century believers. Modern Christianity grew out of much bloodshed, funded by the spoils of unjust inquisitions, witch-hunts, punishments of so-called heretics, and bloody Christian crusades. Modern Christianity justified slavery and the brutal treatment of women with silence for hundreds of years as some sort of conscious liberation. There were other gospels that were destroyed and not included in the Bible because of religious doctrine and creeds were preferred over truth and righteousness. There were other sets of books not identical to the modern accepted books of Moses. Thomas Paine, Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln all recognized that the Bible was flawed but that didn’t stop them from trying to make the world a better place. Picking up ones cross and loving each other has nothing to do with any Holy Book or perceived infallibility. It has to do with conscious choice to pursue goodness with our whole heart. I don’t need to believe that someone died for my sins to want to live in a way that is of benefit to mankind and promotes righteousness and peace. I don’t need a blank ticket to live any way; feeling my sins will be covered by the blood of a religious made demi-god. It is just fine with me for Jesus to be 100% human because I am human, which means he was just like any one of us and chose to live upright of free-will. Many Christians cling to their belief in the infallibility of the bible, while at the same time clinging to things like pornography, bigotry, malice and deception. We owe it to ourselves to realize that we did not make ourselves and reach for a higher call in life of our own free-will. So called holy books can burn and never be reprinted, but the pleasure in doing good that fills the soul of man can endure forever if we so choose that path. Every religion boast of a demi-god but in 2000 years no savior has shown up to encourage mankind; not Krishna, not Jesus, not Mohammed nor Buddha. GOD is waiting for mankind to finally get it and choose not religion but love. Choosing any other path but love, peace and upright living creates a world full of darkness, pain and spiritual death; but that is what we have today, in spite of our holy books and world religions because man is choosing the written letter rather than the universal laws written in the DNA of mankind. We should love GOD with our whole heart and stay in that mind frame until we find the path that leads to loving strangers all over the world as ourselves. We must denounce paganism, idolatry and lies that stem all the way back to the Sumerians and Egyptians. Mythology and idolatry has blinded the world and kept us from finding the inner path that quenches all spiritual hunger and thirst. Once we find divine love then we find what compelled Jesus to serve mankind with an upright life and we become ourselves many Jesus-like beings living in a world starving for truth, joy, peace and love.

  35. ME says

    Please excuse my oppositional ignorance, yet over and over it is widely presumed and propagated My Lord and Savior rose on Sunday, later, even being paganistically termed as easter (due KJV faulty transliteration of Passover).

    Please Believe, and if so, observe over and over again the Apostles and even My Lord Himself stated: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whales belly; so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. / Next: and shall kill Him; and the third day He shall rise again. / Pharisee’s even stated: remember the deceiver said; while He was yet alive; after three days I will rise again. Even if one wants to somehow depict three day propaganda legitimized by calling Friday one of them, No way no how can one get around the third night. If U honestly believe our Lords words are inerrant, then please respect His words. My continued research finds so many times catholicism has distorted and even outright altered, transposed, left out, added to, within their powerful allowances of The Holy Scripture. In my possession is a personal letter from the catholic church themselves, (dated 4-6-1929) last paragraph states: “We also say that of all the Protestants, the seventh day Adventists, are the only group that correctly and are consistant with their teaching. It is always somewhat laughable to see the Protestant Churches, in pulpit and legislature, demand the observance of sunday, of which there is nothing in their bible”. The writer of the letter is mr. petter r. kraemer, of the catholic church extention society, of the United States of America, 180 North Wabash Avenue, Chicago.(as stated dated:1929). (A Friends Grandfather’s inquiry answered)

    Please research for ones self, and not blindly say someone said therefore I believe. If all constantine’s blasphemies were listed, this would get overly lengthy. My Love is for Christ my Savior, my fear is of God Almighty. And God’s the one the dishonoring of His Sabbath is errantly placed, as My Holy Spirit just jumps every single time my eyes or ears come in contact with this exact issue. Please believe ME an absolute quack, and do U’r own research. No where other than the errant Passover transliterated into easter, in KJV, is any support backed. Yes the italic trash placed for “easy reading” continually errors, yet U give a pagan sun worshipper a minute, he’ll add, remove and replace as much as he can get away with. Find a Hebrew linguist, get to the bottom of it, and stop transgressing the Sabbath, by believing in some festive sunday, established by a sun worshipping roman.
    If this site has a reply person, and a copy of aforementioned letter is desired, it can be provided. Please have a Blessed God filled Day.

  36. ME says

    ME again, a P.S. of sort.
    If the entry prior to mine had been read, my entry would have initiated with: My whole Hearted Belief is in My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. ….. Then the above.

  37. Don says

    I don’t see why, if a fuller ending was supplied later by a different person or persons, it is “bogus”. Who says for material to be divinely inspired, it has to be written in one sitting, or even by one person. The Church made its decisions on what is divinely inspired canon, and there is no way to prove or disprove whether it is or not. All you can do is look at its impact on the world, and go with your hunch. That’s called faith.

  38. Don says

    I don’t see why having another person or persons add on to the end of the Gospel is “bogus”. Who says for a piece to be Divinely inspired, it has to be written in one sitting, or by one person? The Church then chose its canon of what it considers Divinely inspired, and nobody can really prove or disprove it. All you can do is look at its impact on people and history, and go with a hunch. That’s called faith.

  39. Richard says

    I follow the Neo-Greisbachian thesis – as good as any and it pretty much destroys the credibility of the Markan priority theory and the need for hypothetical constructs like Q to bolster its tottering structure. I recommend “Beyond the Q Impasse, Luke’s Use of Matthew: A Demonstration by the Research Team of the International Institute for Gospel Studies,” edited by Allan J. McNicol, with David L. Dungan and David B. Peabody. I also recommend the follow-up book, “One Gospel from Two, Mark’s Use of the Matthew and Luke: A Demonstration by the Research Team of the International Institute for Gospel Studies,” edited by David B. Peabody, with Lamar Cope and Alan J. McNicol. So it’s Matthew first, then Luke and then Mark which explains why Mark ended it that way.

  40. Joseph says

    I think it’s rather common knowledge that “lifted up” was and is an expression that refers to being crucified. How it is that Dr. Tabor is not aware of that is beyond me. It is wrong of him to force in “lifted up” as some “proof” that Mark was quoting Jesus speaking of his ressurrection. Dr. Tabor only hurts his case by attempting to pull that fast one. Mark lets the world know in chapter one, verse one that Jesus Christ is God Himself. Mark 1:1 “A beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, Son of God.” Mark I.D.’s Jesus as The “Christ” …and the prophecies concerning the Christ reveal that the Christ is God. That should be good enough for the believer, no matterr how Mark ended his gospel. There’s no need to bring in some bogus gospel of Peter or to twist “:lifted up” into an ascended pretzel. Mark was correct. The women told no one what they’d experienced. Instead, when they reached the disciples they reported only that the body was gone. And Peter and John ran to check it out. So what’s all the hub bub… bub?

  41. Allan says

    Why do you think Marks ending is strange?

    Yes, they were written at different times, and you have to know they were written from different perspectives. Also you must know even though they were disciples, they were still not really sure what was happening. They were human beings. Remember in Matthew at the mount, Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus, why do you speak in parables?, and He answered because, it is NOT for everyone to JUST understand. It takes study to begin understanding God’s Word. It was not until later, when Jesus just “appeared” in the room to them, that they began understanding what happened.
    These were real people Mark, with normal human brains. writing about something they had seen that was not a normal occurrence. That’s what really makes the Bible real.

    Nitpicking has NO place in your preception to discredit the Word.

  42. allan says

    God bless you “ME” (above statement). And for you Richard, with your “Q” and institutional study friends, watch out for the lightning bolts! and Joseph, I hope Richard will call on you for enlightenment. lol

    Anyway, discussion about the bible is good. I believe, when we pass on, we get to explain our belief’s with Jesus, and we will all be amazed at how little we all know.
    blessing’s to all that are willing to discuss or debate. It is all good.


  43. Allan says

    Hi Andrew #34
    You sound like an honest, great guy with an analytical mind. You are correct, up to a certain point in most of what I hear you say. Please let me continue for your consideration.
    1.You….Bible is not infallible, but has truths mixed with untruths and mythology.
    Me…. the mythology. Yes the sumarians made the fables and makes it sound like the Hebrews copied them and just changed the names, ect in the bible. These fables were known many hundreds and hundreds of years before the bible accounts.
    WELL here is what I think really happened. back in the garden cain and abel grew up together until they became adults. Adam and Eve taught them all they knew and understood about creation. Cain killed Abel and was banished and sent east to nod. I think nod was the area of the summarians and Cain taught the summarians all the stories of the “biblical accounts” but changed their names and stuff in a more mytical evil way.
    It wasn’t until much later that adam and eve had seth, and even later before the real creation stories were correctly written down in our “Bible” This was satans way of trying to make the bible sound like a re-creation of the myths, rather than the true story.
    So I came to this conclusion and I believe that I am correct. Remember evil (satan) has always twisted the truth of God just so slightly, but just enough to cause doubt.
    So the bible is the true original story but the fables are Cains twist on the true accounts.
    2. You…The church killed many scientist who dared proclaim that the Earth was round \.
    ME… this is so true and not only about the flat earth but in many other things. People then and even now are so afraid that any little or big deviation in thought will destroy Gods word. How strange that is. When the bible is thought to be in error, its because man has not understood the bible enough. It is mans intepretation that is ALWAYS wrong.
    3. YOU…If we cannot be honest with ourselves about the pagan origin of the holy trinity, the virgin birth, Christmas or Easter….also..It is a truth that modern Christianity is nothing like the early 1st century believers. Modern Christianity grew out of much bloodshed, funded by the spoils of unjust inquisitions, witch-hunts, punishments of so-called heretics, and bloody Christian crusades. Modern Christianity justified slavery and the brutal treatment of women with silence for hundreds of years as some sort of conscious liberation.
    ME…. OK this is a tough one. 1st one has to believe that satan has his own seed here on earth and they work against Gods plan for us while we are here on earth. A study of Genesis will substantiate this, but is contriversial (satans seed) When God wanted his people to have their land, God told them to kill every man woman and child in the cities God sent them to. Thats because God knew that they were evil. and not of God. God knew if they didn’t,kill all of satans seed, that they would always be a donkey or trouble. I know, we are not taught this, but that is the fault of the church, not God. We couldn’t understand why God wanted them all killed, but we can know now, if we study the bible and listen to what God says, not what mans doctrines say.
    4. YOU…There were other gospels that were destroyed and not included in the Bible because of religious doctrine and creeds were preferred over truth and righteousness.
    ME… Yes there were many other writings that could be part of the bible, but then it would be too much to read and understand. We have to trust that God made sure everything was in the bible that we needed to serve His purpose. Please remember..God wrote the bible, man just got to hold the pen, Man didn’t have choice of what to write.
    Always remember Man is fallible, NOT God.

    in Christian Love, Allan

  44. AJ says

    Does rejecting the last few verses of Mark necessarily mean rejecting the endings of the other three gospels? I don’t see why it should have to. Even if Mark ended his gospel at verse 8 or 9, everyone seems to assume that means he didn’t believe in the resurrection, and that any additional information in the later gospels must not reflect the earliest Christian teachings. I don’t see why that has to be the only logical conclusion. The fact of Christ’s resurrection is certainly mentioned in enough other places in the New Testament.

  45. Debbie says

    The mistake that most 21st century Bible readers make is that the books appear in a linear order. However, the synoptic gospels document events that overlap each other during course of of Jesus’ 3 1/2 years of Rabbinical ministry. Parts that are not mentioned assume that the reader is familiar with the customs and practices of the 1st century assemblies/followers of Judaism. The writers also use 1st-century Judaic idioms which 21st century readers misunderstand as physical descriptions—due to Greek transliterations of the synoptic gospels. Thus a messenger becomes a “winged angel”, the temple crier becomes a “rooster”, an alms box becomes a “trumpet”, etc. These “sacred-cow” Greek misunderstandings prevent 21st century believers from knowing the actual accounts and cause them to get hung-up on arguments over details that were crystal-clear to 1st century Messianic readers.

  46. Grant says

    Just because someone publishes the first account of a story does not immediately make it the most accurate version. In fact, often just the opposite. Lot’s of speculation here.

  47. ALock says

    “The longest concocted ending… but it is patently bogus… Here is that forged ending of Mark…”

    Such inflammatory and inequitable language is unbefitting scholarship. Make your argument, by all means… but do so properly and objectively.

  48. ilan says

    “Mike says:
    Jerusalem Post June 2014

    Extra extra read all all about it. Complete text of gospel of Mark 1:1-16:20 discovered in Judea wilderness cave, Archaeologists date to 1st century A. D. (Just like so many other so called Bible blunders)”

    Mike, care to give us a link to this find? I follow the latest digs very carefully and I never heard of it nor can I find a link to a Jerusalem post article about such a find. Can you provide more info as to where and how, what experts were on or privy to this news other then that the JP say s and Judean Desert. That tell us nothing other then wishful thinking.

  49. gary says

    Which of these two stories has a higher probability of having occurred:

    Jesus of Nazareth is crucified in Jerusalem in circa 30 AD. As he draws his final breath, the entire earth goes dark for three hours, a violent earthquake shakes dead people awake in their graves, and rips the Temple veil down the middle. Jesus’ body is taken down off the cross and placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea, a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish governing body which the previous night had voted unanimously to execute Jesus. The tomb is sealed with a large stone and Roman guards placed in front of it. Three days later, a second great earthquake shakes Jerusalem, causing the dead who had been shaken awake in the first earthquake to now come out of their tombs to roam the streets of Jerusalem and reconnect with old acquaintances; an angel (or angels) comes and rolls away the great stone in front of the tomb, causing the soldiers to faint, and testifies to one, several, or many women that Jesus’ tomb is empty; that he had risen from the dead. Jesus later appears to the Eleven, and eight days (or forty days) later, ascends into heaven from a mountain in Bethany (or Galilee, or from the Upper Room in Jerusalem). The resurrection appearances of Jesus so emboldened the previously easily-frightened, doubting disciples that they now boldly preach the gospel of Jesus in the temple, Judea, and the world, dying martyrs deaths, refusing to recant their eyewitness testimony that they had seen the resurrected, walking/talking body of Jesus. These same disciples soon write the Gospels and several epistles which would soon become the New Testament of the Bible. The Gospel of Jesus spreads like wildfire, furiously persecuted by both the Jews and Romans, to become the dominant faith of the Western World for two thousand years.

    Or, is this what happened:

    Jesus of Nazareth is crucified. He dies. His body is left on the cross for days, as was the Roman custom, to warn any other “King of the Jews” pretender to think twice about stirring up trouble. After a few days have passed and the birds, dogs (Roman crosses were low to the ground), and other carrion have ravaged the body, the remains are taken down at night and tossed into an unmarked common grave—a hole in the ground— with the bodies of other criminals executed that week. The location of this common grave is known only to a few soldiers, as the Romans do not want to give the “King of the Jews” a proper burial nor do they want a known grave to become a national shrine where Jews can later come to pay homage to their “King”, possible inciting more trouble. Jesus disciples who were already in hiding, go home to Galilee to take up their prior professions—fishing and collecting taxes. The small band is devastated. Their beloved leader is dead; their hopes of reigning over the New Kingdom on twelve thrones with Jesus are dashed to pieces; there will be no overthrow of the hated Romans after all. All hope seems lost. Then…months or a few years after Jesus’ death…a couple of women disciples see a man in the distance, at sunset, and in the silhouette of the fading sun…he looks like Jesus. Is it Jesus? He turns to them, waves with his hand, and then disappears behind a hill. “It was Jesus!” they exclaim. They run and tell the disciples. Soon other disciples are “seeing” Jesus. “He is risen, just as he said he would!” The disciples are ecstatic! They WILL reign in the New Kingdom after all! They begin to preach the Gospel of Jesus, telling everyone how he has risen from the dead, as he had promised.

    …and forty years later, after Jerusalem has been destroyed and most of the disciples are dead, a Greek speaking Christian in Rome writes down the story of Jesus. However, the version of the oral story that this man hears circulating in Rome at the time tells of an empty tomb, the tomb of a member of the Sanhedrin…so “Mark” writes down the story. A decade or so later, “Matthew” in another far away location and “Luke” in another, write down the story of Jesus. They borrow heavily from “Mark’s” story, from another common source (Q), and from other sources that they do not seem to have shared. For instance, “Matthew’s” story contains incredible supernatural tales, such as an earthquake occurring when Jesus died, causing dead people to come back to life…but they don’t come out of their graves until three days later when Jesus walks out of his grave! One wonders what they were doing in their tombs for three days!

    And two thousand years later, every Christian on earth believes that the stories written by “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John” are the historically accurate accounts of the life, death, and miraculous resurrection of Jesus, when all they are are legendary stories. No one lied. No one made anything up. It’s a legend. Now, dear Christian, how many supernatural events such as dead people coming out of their graves to walk around town chatting with friends and family have you seen in your life? Not many, have you? And how many times have you seen a simple story about a missing person or someone’s mysterious death, evolve within days, into the wildest tale, with all kinds of bizarre details and claims?

    So, honestly, friend: Which of the above two stories about Jesus is more probable to be true?

1 2

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    [...] and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them.”1 The language and style of the Greek is clearly not Markan, and it is pretty evident that what the [...]

  6. What are the contents of the Bible? | linked to this post on April 8, 2014

    […] through the gospel that the disciples begin to piece together Jesus’ true identity (8:27-30). The original ending to the gospel ends at 16:8 with the women fleeing the empty tomb, too afraid to say anything to anyone; the reason for this […]


    […] el pasaje estaba ausente de casi todas las copias griegas de Marcos conocidas por ellos. ” 1 El lenguaje y el estilo del griego claramente es no de Marcos , y es bastante evidente que lo que […]

  8. Day 51: Awestruck and Afraid | Sandie's Bible Blog linked to this post on February 24, 2015

    […] James Tabor on the Original Ending of Mark […]

  9. The Many Endings of Mark | Understanding the New Testament linked to this post on March 4, 2015

    […] always been confused about why Mark has two endings, a long and a short. So I looked it up. Evidentally, Mark originally ended with verse 8 when the women don’t say anything because they are […]

  10. Sunday’s sermon: Needing Empty | Fearfully and Wonderfully Made linked to this post on April 6, 2015

    […] Difference” from Bible History Daily, an online publication of the Biblical Archaeology Society,…. Originally published April 2013, reposted 2 Feb. 2015, accessed 3 Apr. […]

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