An XAnon look at the Gospel According to St. Mark first off notes that the final twelve verses (as included in your English translation Bibles) are not included in the oldest manuscript copies. For those lame stream media following “Christians” believing the Bible is “inerrant” this will need careful explaining. For those who could care less OR who think the Bible has errors, this will probably not be too big a deal. For those who find the Bible to be authoritative despite discrepancies, there is still a need to make some kind of accounting for this one.
How will we do that?
Conspiracy theory, of course. Thus, XAnon.
This observation about the final twelve verses is not actually a hidden feature (or if it is, it’s hiding in plain sight). Though not advertised in the brochures, any decent “study Bible” and most reputable “reference Bibles” too will disclose this information in a footnote or a side note. The information is readily available, but the conclusions are up for grabs.
The final twelve verses are canonized, a conspiracy in its own rite, and so the church surely must accept these verses as Bible truth, though they include some of the strangest features in the whole Bible, and the bits that are not too strange can largely be found in a slightly varied version at the end of Matthew’s Gospel. This leaves very little text and spiritual teaching outside the realm of verification and authentication on other grounds anyway. In simplified form, then, the only bits which might be deemed questionable in the entirety would be snake-handling, poison-drinking, and walking on scorpions.
But even with those issues safely tucked away to the side, marginalized, rejected or accepted on whatever theory you might like, it seems clear, based on textual criticism, that Mark did not write these verses, but they were added later by copyists (scribes) who knew full-well that the story of Jesus simply does not end at 16:8 (the last verse we trust Mark did write).
Why the addition to the Bible? Where did the original ending go?
Aha! Questions abound! Nasty little questions that have a pesky way of NOT being answered with confidence or convention, rather answered only with theories – conspiracy theories!!!
Seriously! Friends. Sometime open up Mark’s Gospel and sit down and read it through in one sitting. Average readers can do this in about an hour and fifteen – maybe hour and twenty – minutes. Out of your whole life as a follower of Jesus, try this little exercise just once as part of your spiritual discipline. But, when you do, stop reading as you get to chapter 16: verse 8. See if this “gospel” doesn’t leave you feeling troubled.
If you aren’t troubled by it, then you didn’t really read it.
For that matter, even if you continue through the “long ending,” you will likely feel a bit troubled by the account of Jesus you just read, though certainly some relief will be had.
But, seriously, stop at 16:8 and ask yourself: Where is Jesus? Did Mark present him alive again, resurrected from the grave? Or did Mark merely leave us with a few women as witnesses, women who (at that time) are not even allowed to testify in court. Women who are afraid, astonished, terrified, and run away not telling anyone anyway! Did THEY see Jesus alive again? Or only an “angel”?
WHAT IS GOING ON HERE???
Of course, theories abound, as I have said. Probably Mark wrote more, but we lost his original ending. Perhaps it was lost in a fire, or maybe rats ate it. That kind of thing definitely happened to parchments in ancient libraries from time to time. Mark wrote this “gospel” during the rebellion of 66 A.D., and so maybe it was destroyed in the conflict. The later copyists who added the “long ending” surely knew the truth about how the story ends, even if the original ending was lost. Right?
We don’t have the original manuscript of Mark. In fact, we don’t have originals of any of the Bible writings. We have mere copies. But we can trust the older copies more than the newer ones. The older the copy, the closer to the original we get. It stands to reason, then, that when we determine the content of the oldest copies, we should trust them more.
And well… the oldest copies of Mark we ever found do not include the final twelve verses.
Now… maybe you are willing to think that a piece of Holy Writ inspired by the Holy Spirit got ate by rats or burned “accidently,” but I am not. I find it much more likely that Mark wrote as he was inspired by God to write, and I find that the book he wrote calls us disciples to wrestle the angel of God like Jacob before us. Mark’s Gospel does not make it easy for us, he makes us work for it. We must wrestle our own misguided allegiances, and listen extra carefully to Jesus, and then maybe – MAYBE – maybe we will have the guts to follow Jesus.
Mark is “looking for a few good men”! (We will get into that more anon!)
I will have a lot to say about this in future posts. I will outline the conspiracy in detail over time. But for now I merely ask you to read Mark 1:1. Read just that one, single verse and sit with it. Pray on it. Think about it carefully. (You will find textual variants with it too, by the way.)
Do you see any verbs in that sentence?
No. Of course not.
Let me ask you this: When St. Mark first sat down with pen and parchment, what do you think he entitled his work? Did he call it “The Gospel According to St. Mark” like is printed in bold type across the top of the page in my English translation?
He most certainly did not.
No. Mark wrote these words at the top of the first page: The BEGINNING of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (the Son of God).
The fact of the matter is, and it helps if you can read the old Greek to really get this, the last word of the last verse (assuming it really is 16:8) is “gar.” “Gar” in the ancient Greek is a conjunction. No language in the history of languages ends a sentence with a conjunction – much less a whole book.
Technically, we would rightly translate “gar” as “for” in English. But for our purposes, let us think of the word “AND” in English. Not the correct translation, strictly speaking, but perhaps the most well worn conjunction. It’s as if Mark ended his inspired Gospel with the word “AND”! “The women fled the tomb frightened, scared, and terrified, and they didn’t tell anyone [what they saw and heard] AND….”
Really, Mark??? Is that how you end it???
How do you end a book like that?
How do you end any book like that?
Especially, how do you end a GOSPEL of God with a sentence like that?
It’s not a complete sentence. It’s not a complete story.
It just doesn’t seem right. It almost makes you want to believe rats ate it.
But our very first clue to this mystery is found right in the opening line of the whole book! Mark calls this book “The BEGINNING of….”
Did you catch that?
The first sentence of the book has no verbs. It’s a title of sorts. A title does not require verbs. It also is not a complete sentence, but it describes everything that follows. And among the descriptive terms there, it claims to be THE BEGINNING of the story. Just judging from the title, Mark never intended to write the end of this story.
Mark never said he was telling the whole story; he said he was telling the beginning.
But, as I said before, he invented a new genre of writing when he did this. (Many believe the gospels to be “biographies,” but that is not quite accurate, even if largely true. There is MORE to this genre than merely biographical information!)
So, there, dear reader. You have your first clue to the conspiracy of Jesus.
Come back again, and as time permits, I will divulge more of this mystery, and we will see Jesus for who he really is.
In a time of Capitol Assaults with “Christians” waving “Jesus Saves” flags while inflicting violence, injury, and death in rebellion against the state (something the Bible elsewhere prohibits, by the way), we need to see Jesus the way Mark intended from THE BEGINNING, and wrestle the angel of God all over again.
Hope to see you soon.