Gospel of Mark Study
He who hung the earth [in its place] hangs there, he who fixed the heavens
is fixed there, he who made all things fast is made fast upon the tree,
the Master has been insulted, God has been murdered, the King of Israel
has been slain by an Israelitish hand. O strange murder, strange crime!
The Master has been treated in unseemly fashion, his body naked, and not even
deemed worthy of a covering, that [his nakedness] might not be seen.
Therefore the lights [of heaven] turned away, and the day darkened,
that it might hide him who was stripped upon the cross.
--Melito of Sardis (Homily on the Passion)
1. Crucifixion in the Ancient World
a. Josephus: “the most wretched of deaths”
b. “From the time of Plautus, that is, from the third century BC onwards, there is evidence of the use of crux as a vulgar taunt among the lower classes.”
c. Quintilian (AD 35-95): “Whenever we crucify the guilty, the most crowded roads are chosen, where most people can see and be moved by this fear. For penalties relate not so much to retribution as to their exemplary effect.”
d. “Roman Crucifixions were carried out by specialized teams of five experienced men; the exactor mortis, a centurion who was in charge and four soldiers, the quaternio.”
2. Crucifixion: Medical perspectives
a. See Joseph W. Bergeron’s website: http://www.causeofjesusdeath.com/
3. Jesus’ cry from the cross: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15.34 (Psalm 22.1)
a. Theory - Jesus quoted Psalm 22.1 but also had the larger Psalm in mind; especially the victorious ending. Becomes a cry of victory
i. John Stott disagrees
“This is ingenious but (it seems to me), far-fetched. Why should Jesus have quoted from the Psalm’s beginning if in reality he was alluding to its end? It would seem rather perverse. Would anybody have understood his purpose?”
ii. “This interpretation appears to stretch the bounds of credibility in the interest of protecting Jesus from an apparent lapse in divinity. It does, however, draw attention to the psalm itself, which Mark obviously plumbs for correspondences to the crucifixion scene.”
b. We should take note of Psalm 22. It moves from despair to deliverance. Cross to resurrection.
i. Also note the allusions to Psalm 22:
1. Mark 15.24 - Psalm 22.18
2. Mark 15.31 - Psalm 22.8
4. Crucifixion in the text - we are not given much detail
a. The physical elements of suffering are barely mentioned
i. “and after having Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified” 15.15
ii. “And they crucified him…” 15.24
iii. “It was the third hour when they crucified him” 15.24
b. Mark spends more space on the mocking and shame-heaping activities
i. 15.16-20 - Roman soldiers “mocked him” v. 20
1. dressed him in purple
2. crown of thorns
3. “Hail, king of the Jews!”
5. kneeling and bowing down before him
ii. 15.29-32 - Jewish people and leaders
1. “Ha! You who were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days save yourself and come down from the cross?”
2. chief priest and scribes à “mocking him”
3. “He saved others; he cannot save himself”
4. “Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe.”
5. Two criminals “also insulting him”
iii. Ironies of situation
1. Romans call him “king of the Jews” and that is what he was and is; and all Romans (and all peoples!) will bow before him and confess him as Lord – Philippians 2.9-11
2. Jews call him “the king of Israel” and that is what he was and is!
3. “Save yourself and come down from the cross” à Jesus refused to save himself. By staying on the cross he saved us!
4. “Come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe” à Mark wants us to see Jesus on the cross and believe!
5. Mark narrates the event of the crucifixion but the meaning, interpretations, and applications are seen throughout the rest of Scripture
a. Mark 10.45; 14.24
b. Romans 5.8-10, 6.3-7
c. 1 Corinthians 1.18-25; 2.1-5; 6.19-20
d. Galatians 2.20; 6.14
e. Ephesians 1.7-8; 2.13-16
f. 1 Peter 1.2, 18-19; 2.21-24; 3.18; 4.1-2, 13
g. Revelation 5.9-14 (esp. 9, 12)
6. Mark 15.39 - Centurion’s declaration: “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
a. Links up with Mark 1.1 (beginning of Gospel)
b. First human to accurately declare that Jesus is the Son of God
d. Did he fully know what he was saying? Probably not. But Mark’s readers would have understood the full implications!
“It is astonishing when one reflects on it, that the sight of a dying man on a cross can evoke such an exalted confession.”
7. Women mentioned - 15.40, 47; 16.1 (Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome)
a. Women have been there all along (Mark 15.41)
b. The fact that they are specifically named is significant; only females to be named in Mark up to this point: Mary, mother of Jesus (6.3) and Herodias (6.17-29)
c. They are observers of three important things: death, burial, and empty tomb
d. Some see the women as failures as disciples since the angel told them to “go tell his disciples and Peter” (16.7) but they disobeyed by not telling anyone (16.8)
i. Better to see them as obeying angel’s instructions but telling no one else (cf. Mark 1.44 and 7.36 for similar constructions)
e. “These women, not the disciples, constitute in St. Mark’s gospel the connecting link in the witness of the threefold event of the death, burial and resurrection, which formed so important a feature of the church’s testimony.”
8. If Mark intentionally ends at 16.8, why are there no resurrection appearances like in the other Gospels?
a. “It is most likely, therefore, that ‘Mark’ declined to add any such appearance-narrative because he judged it unnecessary for addressing his emphasis on Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as the model for believers. Indeed, the author may have thought that an appearance-narrative would have detracted from the sharp focus that he intended to place on Jesus as the sole valid model, as well as the basis, for Christian existence.”
b. “Mark does not really end on a note of failure and uncertainty. Instead, Mark 16:1-8 forms a fully satisfactory climatic episode that was designed to thrill and empower intended readers to follow Jesus in mission, through opposition and even their own potentially violent death, confident in an eschatological vindication by resurrection for which Jesus’ resurrection was the inspiring model.”
9. The ending of Mark’s Gospel
a. Various endings of Mark in the Greek manuscripts
i. Mark 16.8
1. Early Greek Codices: Codex Sinaiticus (א) and Vaticanus (B)
2. 304, certain Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, and Georgian manuscripts
3. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Jerome
ii. “Shorter Ending”
“A second ending found in the manuscript tradition is the shorter ending. The ending reads, after 16:8, ‘And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.’ The best known example of this in its pure form is found in the Old Latin Codex Bobiensis (itk), which dates from the late 4th or early 5th century. The non-Markan origin of the shorter ending is witnessed to by its poor and late textual attestation; the fact that 9 of the 34 words in this ending are not found elsewhere in Mark; it non-Markan style; and especially the presence of the expression, ‘the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation,’ which reflects a later date.”
iii. The “Longer Ending” (16.9-20)
1. This ending is found in 95-99% of the Greek manuscripts available
2. This ending has earlier attestation
a. Epistles of the Apostles 9-10 [mid-2nd century]
b. Tatian’s Diatessaron
c. Irenaeus Adv. Haer. 3.10.5
d. Possibly Justin Martyr Apology 1:45
“The longer ending has excellent textual attestation, but a number of manuscripts have asterisks or other markings by the text indicating that the copyists thought the longer ending was spurious. It has, however, early patristic support, and Hengel argues that it ‘must be dated to the first decades of the second century.’”
3. Modern scholars are almost unanimous in rejecting the “longer ending” as being from Mark; Stein lists out some of the reasons:
1. Manuscript Evidence. Although the number of manuscripts containing this ending is impressive, the quality of manuscripts lacking it (Codexes א and B, itk [Codex Bobiensis], Clement of Alexandria and Origen, and the comments by Eusebius and Jerome that the majority of Greek manuscripts they were familiar with lacked it) is weighty.
2. Transcription. It is unlikely that a copyist would omit 16:9-20 if it was originally part of the Gospel of Mark. It is far more likely that a scribe would add 16:9-20 to 16:8 than delete it from 16:8.
3. Lack of Attestation by Early Church Fathers. The lack of reference to 16:9-20 by Origen, Tertullian, Cyrian, Cyril of Jerusalem, and others, indicates that they were apparently unacquainted with the longer ending of Mark.
4. Vocabulary. The vocabulary is non-Markan and contains 18 terms not found anywhere else in Mark.
5. Style. The Greek style of the longer ending is quite unlike the style we find in Mark 1:1-16:8.
6. Theology. The theological content is decidedly non-Markan.
iv. The “Shorter Ending” followed by the “Longer Ending”
“This is found in four uncial manuscripts dating from the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries (L Ψ099 0112), the Harclean Syriac manuscript, and several Sahidic, Bohairic, and Ethiopic manuscripts. The individual judgments concerning the non-Markan nature of the shorter ending and the longer ending make one even more certain that the combination of these two endings does not come from Mark.”
v. The “Longer Ending” with the Freer Logion after verse 14
“There exists an expanded version of the longer ending in W (alternately called the Codex Washingtonianus or Codex Freerianus), 032; and Jerome, Against Pelagius 2.15, which includes after v. 14 ‘And they excused themselves, saying, “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. 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 or righteousness that is in heaven.”’”
b. If 16.8 is the best attested ending, is this the intentional ending or was there more that got lost?
i. Larry Hurtado: Mark 16.8 makes sense as the intentional ending (see above)
ii. Robert Stein: Ending is missing
“Whether Mark’s intended ending telling of a resurrection appearance of Jesus and the disciples in Galilee was subsequently lost or intentionally mutilated or whether, for some reason, Mark was never able to write his intended ending (perhaps because of martyrdom or persecution or some other reason), however, can only be conjectured.”
 Frederick T. Zugibe, “A Forensic Way of the Cross” [n.d.; n.p.]. Online: http://www.crucifixion-shroud.com/Turin2000.htm.
 Travis Williams has recently written that there are 16 words in the Longer Ending that appear nowhere else in Mark’s Gospel. One of these is a term that appears nowhere else in the New Testament (hapax legomenon). Travis B. Williams, “Bringing Method to the Madness: Examining the Style of the Longer Ending of Mark” Bulletin for Biblical Research 20 (2010), 405.