“For they were afraid”
It is known as the short ending to The Gospel according to St. Mark. Why? Because some of the earliest texts of St. Mark’s Gospel end at verse eight of the sixteenth chapter rather than with the accounts of the Resurrection that take us to verse twenty. To be sure, the canonical Gospel, the gospel that is authoritative for orthodox Christians, includes those additional twelve verses. The shorter ending does not mean that Mark does not believe in the Doctrine of the Resurrection or that the additional verses are somehow unrelated and disconnected to the rest of his Gospel and unfaithful to it. Quite the contrary.
And yet, what are we to make of that shorter ending? From a literary point of view, I think it is a powerful and poignant ending, and serves to make the doctrinal point about the Resurrection even more strongly. After all, it is only in the light of the Resurrection that the story of Jesus makes any sense. The Resurrection has captured the imaginations of the Gospel writers, such as St. Mark, and compelled them to see things in a new light without which the Gospels could never have been written.
The additional verses serve as an epilogue and as a further point of confirmation, whether as added by Mark or by someone else later on is entirely uncertain and unknowable, and, I must add, quite irrelevant to our understanding of the Christian Faith.
But some speculation is called for. Read the rest of this entry »