Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Concession: Mark's Ending

The more you know the less you believe. Right? Well, not always... I now consider one of my past arguments to be incorrect. I don't see this as part of a trend, but regardless of who is right in the big picture, truth is better found when bad arguments are trimmed out.

In Which Resurrection Account?, I wrote: “In Mark, the women come to the tomb where a young man tells them Jesus is risen. They tell no one (Mark 16:8) – this detail clashes badly with all three other Gospel accounts.”

I do not know if I made an incorrect statement. But I made an incorrect argument and I see no way of fixing it.

Mark 16:8 “They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” While Mark 16:8 is the end of what we have of the authentic Mark, it is not where Mark originally ended. So the question is how much can be inferred of the real ending of Mark from “they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

The way this could be consistent with the other Gospels is that the time period during which they told no one is unclear. Perhaps they cowered in fear for an hour and then told the disciples. This possibility leave inerrancy issues regarding what was done immediately after leaving the tomb, but I don't think this undermines the general truthfulness of the accounts, and that is what I was attempting to accomplish.

Perhaps this point could still be defended by someone else. But I no longer stand behind this argument.


  1. The world would be a much better place if everyone, atheists and believers alike, searched for truth and weren't afraid to admit they were wrong or didn't know.

    I highly respect your post, thanks,

  2. Yup, honest admissions like that are rare - from either side!

    If I were even more cynical, I guess I'd suggest you boost your credibility even higher by strategically making a couple more mistakes and "correcting" them. ;-)

  3. LOL.

    Of course, if I was being strategic, I could have done a better job. The point I'm half conceding is one that Loftus, Ehrman, and Price all accept (at least when the argument is made correctly.)

    The skeptics' case requires the claim that Mark ended at 16:8. Apologists counter that the real ending is missing. I don't know who's right. What I do know is that the point of disagreement needs to be recognized and engaged. My first post didn't do this, and I still lack the knowledge to do so properly.