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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Mark 16

 

 


Verses 1-20


The Resurrection

1-8. The women at the tomb, and the angel (Matthew 28:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). See on Mt and Jn.

1. Mary the mother of James] lit. 'Mary of James,' i.e. probably 'Mary daughter of James,' or just possibly 'Mary wife of James.' She is perhaps the same as Mary the mother of James and Joses, Mark 15:40.

9-20. Conclusion of the Gospel. One uncial MS gives a second termination to the Gospel as follows: 'And they reported all the things that had been commanded them briefly (or immediately) to the companions of Peter. And after this Jesus Himself also sent forth by them from the east even unto the west the holy and incorruptible preaching of eternal salvation.' Internal evidence points definitely to the conclusion that the last twelve vv. are not by St. Mark. For, (1) the true conclusion certainly contained a Galilean appearance (Mark 16:7 cp. Mark 14:28), and this does not. (2) The style is that of a bare catalogue of facts, and quite unlike St. Mark's usual wealth of graphic detail. (3) The section contains numerous words and expressions never used by St. Mark. (4) Mark 16:9 makes an abrupt fresh start, and is not continuous with the preceding narrative. (5) Mary Magdalene is spoken of (Mark 16:9) as if she had not been mentioned before, although she has just been alluded to twice (Mark 15:47; Mark 16:1). (6) The section seems to represent not a primary tradition, such as Peter's, but quite a secondary one, and in particular to be dependent upon the conclusion of St. Matthew, and upon Luke 24:13.

On the other hand, the section is no casual or unauthorised addition to the Gospel. From the 2nd cent, onwards, in nearly all manuscripts, versions, and other authorities, it forms an integral part of the Gospel, and it can be shown to have existed, if not in the apostolic, at least in the sub-apostolic age. A certain amount of evidence against it there is (though very little can be shown to be independent of Eusebius the Church historian, 265-340 a.d.), but certainly not enough to justify its rejection, were it not that internal evidence clearly demonstrates that it cannot have proceeded from the hand of St. Mark.

The most probable account of the literary history of the section seems to be the following. The Gospel of St. Mark, being the first extensive and authoritative account of our Lord's life as distinguished from His discourses, attained at its first publication (55-60 a.d.) a considerable circulation, first in the W. and afterwards in the E. At that time it concluded with an account of the Galilean appearance, which is now only to be found in St. Matthew (Matthew 28:16). The subsequent publication of the First and Third Gospels, which incorporated practically its whole subject-matter, and were far more interesting as containing discourses, practically drove it out of circulation. When at the close of the apostolic age an attempt was made (probably in Rome) to collect the authentic memorials of the Apostles and their companions, a copy of the neglected Second Gospel was not easily found. The one that was actually discovered, and was used to multiply copies, had lost its last leaf, and so a fitting termination (the present appendix) was added by another hand. A recently discovered Armenian MS (1891) definitely ascribes the appendix to Ariston, i.e. probably Aristion, 'a disciple of the Lord' mentioned by Papias (130 a.d.).

Some think that the Gospel originally concluded at Mark 16:8; ('for they were afraid'), but this is unlikely. Such a conclusion would be unaccountably abrupt—more so in the Greek than in the English; and Mark 16:7; Mark 14:28 prepare the way for and anticipate a Galilean appearance.

9-11. Appearance to Mary Magdalene. See on John 20:14.

9. Seven devils] cp. Luke 8:2.

10. She went] cp. Luke 24:10; John 20:18. As they mourned and wept] cp. Luke 24:17. The author of the 'Gospel of Peter' (150 a.d., or earlier) must probably be added to the early witnesses to these twelve vv., for he writes, 'And upon all these things we fasted and sat mourning and weeping night and day until the sabbath... But we, the twelve disciples of the Lord, wept and were grieved.'

11. Believed not] This appendix lays great stress on the slowness of the apostles to believe (Mark 16:13-14). Cp. Matthew 28:17; Luke 24:11, Luke 24:25, Luke 24:37; John 20:25, John 20:27.

12, 13. Appearance to two disciples. They were walking to Emmaus: see Luke 24:13.

12. In another form] This is an explanation of the fact that Christ was not at first recognised. It differs somewhat from that of St. Luke, 'Their eyes were holden, that they should not know him' (Luke 24:16).

13. Neither believed they them] Another slight discrepancy with St. Luke, who says (Luke 24:34) that when the two disciples reached Jerusalem they were greeted with the words, 'The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.'

14-18. Appearance to the eleven. This is variously identified with the appearance on the evening of the resurrection day (Luke 24:36; John 20:19), and with the final interview (Acts 1:6). But Swete is probably right in thinking that after an allusion to the first appearance to the Eleven on Easter Day, the writer passes on to give a summary of the words of Jesus spoken on various occasions during the forty days.

14. Upbraided them] According to certain ancient MSS mentioned by Jerome (340-420 a.d.), the apostles thus replied to our Lord's reproaches: 'This age is the very essence of iniquity and incredulity, and on account of unclean spirits permits not the true virtue of God to be apprehended. Do Thou, therefore, now at this time reveal Thy justice (or, righteousness).'

15. Go ye into all the world] This seems part of the same charge as that mentioned Matthew 28:18. To every creature] RV 'to the whole creation.' A rabbinical expression for mankind in general.

16. Baptism is here declared necessary to salvation only for those who have heard the gospel message. It is not declared necessary for unevangelised heathen, or for those who have not attained the age of reason. Not the want of baptism, but contempt of it condemns a man. (For infant baptism, see on Matthew 19:13-15.) Damned] i.e. condemned.

17. New tongues] Some MSS omit 'new': see on Acts 2:4. The gift of miracles was given in order to assist the diffusion of the gospel at the very first. When Christianity was firmly planted, the gift of miracles was withdrawn.

18. Serpents] cp. Luke 10:19; Acts 28:3. Drink any deadly thing] There is no example in the NT., but St. John and Barsabas (Acts 1:23) are said in early tradition to have drunk a cup of poison unharmed. Lay hands on the sick] doubtless at the same time anointing them with oil (Mark 6:13; James 5:14).

19, 20. The Ascension (Luke 24:50; Acts 1:9, which see).

19. On the right hand] the place of highest honour and power.

20. Signs following] viz. the miracles mentioned in Mark 16:17, Mark 16:18.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Mark 16:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/mark-16.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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