A Logical Defense of the “Longer Ending” of Mark

The Gospel of Mark?

Image“I would remind you,” Paul says, “of the gospel which I preached to you.” He defines this Gospel as follows: “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scripture . . . He was buried . . . He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and . . . He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” (1st Cor 15:1-5) Note that the content here is very broadly outlined by the Holy Spirit. He says that the Gospel consists of (1.)our Lord’s substitutionary death for His people, (2.)His burial, (3.)His resurrection, and (4.)His appearance to Peter and the remaining apostles (i.e. “the twelve”). He tells us, moreover, that these historical events fulfill the Scripture. Paul’s definition, in other words, seems to be a compression of the contents of the Evangelical writings, as each book in this category contains the four events mentioned above, referring the reader to Old Testament prophecies of which these events are the fulfillment.

This poses a problem for contemporary scholarship rejecting the authenticity of the so-called “longer ending” of the Gospel of Mark. For if the Gospel necessarily consists of the four events outlined above, then Mark’s Gospel, without the last nine verses, would not contain Christ’s appearance to Peter and the remaining apostles. If the four Gospels are to be Gospels, then it seems that they should meet the definition of the Gospel as articulated in 1st Cor 15:1-5, not the changing opinions of empirical studies. This isn’t, of course, to belittle textual criticism. Rather, it is to raise a possibility that is not being seriously considered by scholars.

As the definition of the Gospel is given in Scripture, and as this definition includes the four events outlined above, the logical case for the “longer-ending” of Mark cannot be overlooked. Textual critics may reject this proposal as speculative, but it is a necessary inference from the Gospel as defined by Paul in 1st Cor 15:1-5. The empirical presuppositions that form the foundation of textual critical evaluations of manuscript data on the other hand are not derived from Scripture, as far as I know (though I am willing to be corrected). Furthermore, the conclusions drawn from empirical data (i.e. manuscript data) are drawn via induction, which is always formally fallacious. Valid deduction from sound Scriptural premises, however, is neither.

This is a logical consideration that I hope will be raised by scholars in the future.

Solus Christus!

-h.

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3 thoughts on “A Logical Defense of the “Longer Ending” of Mark

  1. James says:

    Interesting argument. Though IF the gospels are meant to complement one another, then as long as the four requirements that you mention are found in at least one of the gospels then 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 is still fulfilled. The hypothetical that I state is merely one observation from the danger in harmonizing the gospels. Anyway, regarding the longer ending of Mark, I wrote the following: https://christpluszero.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/textual-criticism-when-mere-men-become-arbiters-of-truth/

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