This blog has been following the book of Genesis and the Gospel of Mark in tandem, but today it deals with the final chapter of Mark. The daily headlines are reminders of the world we live in
40 YEARS OF DEMOCRACY IN PORTUGAL
Mark 16 Darby Translation (DARBY)
16 And the sabbath being now past, Mary of Magdala, and Mary the mother ofJames, and Salome, bought aromatic spices that they might come and embalm him.
2 And very early on the first day of the week they come to the sepulchre, the sun having risen.
3 And they said to one another, Who shall roll us away the stone out of the door of the sepulchre?
4 And when they looked, they see that the stone has been rolled away for it was very great.
5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right, clothed in a white robe, and they were amazed and alarmed;
6 but he says to them, Be not alarmed. You seek Jesus, the Nazarene, the crucified one. He is risen, he is not here; behold the place where they had put him.
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, he goes before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him, as he said to you.
8 And they went out, and fled from the sepulchre. And trembling and excessive amazement possessed them, and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.
In the story of Jesus’ arrest a mysterious young man dressed in a robe runs away from the soldiers naked, leaving his robe in their hands. He is a representative of inadequate discipleship, stripped naked by fear. Now in this passage he is present again, this time clothed in the colour of martyrdom and victory, announcing the resurrection of Jesus. He is representative of discipleship of the crucified and risen Jesus, envigorated by his sacrifice and new life.
My own study of this Gospel has convinced me that Mark intended it to end at verse 8. Scholars agree that all the subsequent verses are additions to the gospel but many doubt that Matk intended it to finish with the lame words ‘for they were afraid ‘. It is of course possible that an original Markan ending was butchered by those who added the the other verses. I think that the ‘gospel of the suffering servant’ may well have ended with the direction to the reader/ disciple that he/she must keep their own rendezvous with the risen Jesus. For Mark the empty tomb is a question which can only be answered by disciples who meet Jesus in Galilee.
Where is Galilee? It is back at the start of the Gospel where Jesus comes into Galilee with the good news of God’s rule. He comes without information about his origins and immediately is introduced to the reader and the beloved son of God. Throughout his ministry as I have noted Mark always presents him as already the crucified and risen Lord. The true disciple is asked to meet him there again and again to take up his ministry as he has revealed it. Mark, the master of inclusive circles of narrative, has made his whole Gospel an inclusive circle which encompasses the witness of Jesus and the witness of his followers.
I do not know a single reputable scholar who agrees with me, so I must warn the reader to take this as yet another outrageous interpretation by this blogger. I can only defend it by my own witness, that all the appearances of Jesus to people 2000 years ago would be of little use to me without my experience of sharing the ministry of the crucified and risen Lord, with other disciples. It is to this experience that Mark directs his readers.
I fully agree that Mark ended his manuscript at v. 8, and how scandalously inappropriate the later additions by the “inadequate discipleship” of the early church! Anyone who ascribes infallibility to the church simply needs to get over his/her need of a nanny! But those last words in Mark are not “lame”! They are intentionally provocative, especially in the Greek: efovounto gar. Ending a book on a conjunction tells us the story of Jesus is still open, still going on, just as you so clearly state in your thoughts on Galilee. I have often preached this theme, and tomorrow I will do so again, as this is our Gospel reading at Liturgy. Your “outrageous interpretations” are the only ones worth bearing when sharing Christ’s ministry in today’s world. Mark would approve your appropriation of his message. I hope you conclude your study of Mark with a summation, just as you intend to do with Genesis.
Your identification of the young man at the tomb is one that I had never encountered or considered before. It reveals new dimensions of discipleship to which you give eloquent expression. I love your thoughts here.
[…] friend in Scotland, Mike Mair, has an excellent blog site. Yesterday he speculated that the young man who met the women at the tomb was the same young man who […]