In this book you can explore many fascinating biblical mysteries, including: -- Does the Devil really exist? -- What Was in the Lost Gospels? -- Where is Hell located? -- Who was the mysterious Beloved Disciple? -- Does a divine language exist? -- What causes stigmata? -- Can people be possessed by demons? -- And many more.
The Original Ending of Mark
Ancient copies of the Gospel of Mark can have several different endings. The shortest ending is found in the oldest manuscripts, all of which terminate at verse 16:8. Most later manuscripts contain some additional verses, not always the same, which were apparently added to the gospel at later points in time. Excluding minor variations, these later additions created three new endings. The authors of these new endings didn't identify themselves.
Several theories have been put forward to explain the various endings:
Theory 1. The original ending (beyond verse 16:8) was accidentally lost. Later readers noticed the abrupt cutoff in the story, and several of them tried to finish it by inventing new endings.
Theory 2. An unknown person intentionally removed the original ending by cutting the manuscript at verse 16:8. Several later readers, unaware of what had happened, created new endings.
Theory 3. The original author was interrupted or died before he could finish the gospel, and had reached verse 16:8 at the time of the interruption.
Theory 4. The original author actually did intend to stop at verse 16:8, even though the story seems unfinished to most people.
The possible loss of the original ending is especially unfor-tunate because many biblical scholars consider Mark to be the earliest and most reliable gospel. It's also unfortunate that the apparent cutoff of the original text occurs at a critical point in the story, early on the first Easter Sunday just after Mary Magdalene and two other women discover that the tomb is empty. These women had just been told that Jesus was alive and on his way to Galilee, and that the disciples would see him there. But any account of what happened next, if it ever existed, is now lost.
One popular theory is that the original ending (beyond verse 16:8) was lost when part of a scroll accidentally broke off. In fact some scholars think that a portion of verse 16:8 itself is missing, with the extant text stopping in the middle of a sentence. If true, this would provide strong support for the theory of an accidental break off.
But there is another way to interpret verse 16:8 in which the final sentence does come to a proper end. If this interpretation is correct, it would mean that the cutoff point occurred between sentences, which goes against the theory of an accidental severing of the manuscript. Another argument against the accidental-loss theory is that an ancient scroll was normally rolled up with the ending on the inside where it would be unlikely to break off.
Another theory is that someone intentionally destroyed the original ending because it was inconsistent with some basic Christian beliefs. Of course this is merely speculation, since there is no direct evidence to support such an idea. Also, if someone had decided to destroy the ending for this reason, he or she probably wouldn't have chosen verse 16:8 as the cutoff point, because that still leaves inconsistencies. For example, verse 16:7 indicates that the disciples will have to go to Galilee to see the risen Jesus, whereas the other gospels say that he was first seen in Jerusalem. And verse 16:8 says that the women didn't tell anyone about finding the tomb empty, but the other gospels say that they immediately went and told some of the male disciples.