Why It Matters What You Believe

By Robin Schumacher

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What evidence supports this claim? First, the verses are missing in the two earliest codices B and Aleph (Vaticanus and Sinaiticus), in codex K (codex Bobbiensis, the best exemplar of the earliest African Old Latin text), the Sinaitic Syriac, and other very early manuscripts. Further, early church fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen seem not to have known them.

Also, according to Eusebius, the famous church historian who was born about the year 260 AD and died around the year 340, "the most accurate copies" and "almost all the copies" of Mark's Gospel ended with the words of 16:8, " for they were afraid." Jerome also writes that almost all the Greek copies he knew of lacked the verses. [1]

From an internal evidence perspective, about 1/3 of the significant Greek words in verses 920 of chapter 16 are "non-Marcan," that is, they do not appear elsewhere in Mark or they are used differently from Mark's usage prior to verse 9. [2]

For these and other reasons, nearly every Bible other than the King James Version heavily documents the skepticism toward the longer ending of Mark. There is no question that later Greek manuscripts contain the verses, but when the manuscript evidence is properly evaluated instead of just counted, the balance swings heavily toward the omission of the disputed verses.

To put a more practical perspective on it, these verses are not something on which someone like Jamie Coots should have bet his life.

Examining Things Carefully

Let's not forget that being wrong about a belief can have tragic outcomes — not just in this life but also in the next. For example, my family has become friends with another family whose college-age daughter is beginning to practice Wicca. She is very intelligent, bound for medical school, and is quite open about her new beliefs.

I hope we are given an opportunity to have a deeper conversation with her about it where we can ask important open-ended questions like, what evidence do you have that the Wiccan beliefs are true and, why do you believe that the goddess Gaia actually exists?

The Apostle Paul tells us, "examine everything carefully" (1 Thessalonians 5:21) for a reason. Whether it's a misguided pastor who puts his trust in spurious Bible verses (while at the same time putting God to the test — Matthew 4:7), or a smart college girl following a false religion, they both eventually learn an unfortunate truth: consequences exist for being incorrect.

To be sure, being mistaken about something in this life is one thing, but where eternity is concerned, that is simply far too long a time to be wrong.

1. Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Vol. 10: Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark. New Testament Commentary (683). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
2. Grassmick, J. D. (1985). Mark. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck, Ed.) (Mk 16:920). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

TagsControversial-Issues  |  Current-Issues  |  False-Teaching

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Published 2-25-14