Third Sunday of Easter – April 15, 2018

Texts for the Day

Textual Criticism

Today’s Gospel reading is a portion of the resurrection narrative from Luke. What about Mark? In the year of Mark, we only get Mark’s resurrection story once in the lectionary and only part of it at that. The reason may be that the ending of the Gospel of Mark is disputed by scholars and there is disagreement on how much of it was genuinely written by Mark.

First, read Mark 16:1-20 in its entirety.  Contemporary scholars generally agree that verses 9-20 were a later addition and were not written by Mark. However, there is nothing that prevents us from reading it as a whole and accepting what has come to us as scripture. What do you think of this story? It describes a progression from fear, through disbelief, and finally to carrying out the Great Commission. Is there anything you can identify with in this path?

Now read Mark 16:1-8. There is consensus that these verses were written by Mark. Whether there is an additional ending that is now lost remains a mystery. What do you think of this ending? It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, with the disciples running from the tomb in fear. Is this annoying? Or do you see this as an invitation to complete the story?

Besides these two options, there are additional variants such as the “Shorter Ending” and the “Freer Logion.” These can be found online or in the notes to a study Bible. Why do you think the setters of the lectionary have avoided passages such as Mark 16:9-20 that are part of the Bible, but have a disputed textual history? Is something lost by not reading these passages in church?

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