Conclusion of Mark

The conclusion of Mark is a prime example of the Church adding to Scripture in order to enforce Church doctrine.  The 16th and last chapter of the Gospel of Mark originally had just 8 verses but now has 20.  12 verses were added to the end of the chapter by the Church in order to justify observing the Sabbath on the first day of the week.  Mark 16, in its entirety, originally read like this:

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body.  Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.  As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

"Don’t be alarmed," he said.  "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.  He has risen!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him, just as he told you.'"

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb.  They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. [NIV]

The next 12 verses state the following:

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.  She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping.  When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country.  These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who believe:  In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.  Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. [NIV]

Notice a few contradictions here.  The first 8 verses state that two women went to the tomb early in the morning on the first day of the week, saw that it was empty, and hid, telling nobody what they saw because they were afraid.  All of this happened without either of these women ever seeing Jesus risen from the dead.  The next verse states that early in the morning on the first day of the week, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene who then told the disciples what she saw.  This would mean that she was not with the other Mary and that she wouldn't have the time (or the need) to visit the tomb to try to anoint Jesus' body.

Also, notice that Mark 16:9 states that Jesus rose early in the morning on the first day of the week.  Jesus stated that he would spend three days and three nights "in the heart of the earth".  Jesus died in the afternoon and was buried just before sundown, which would start a special Sabbath [John 19:31-42].[1]  It is mathematically impossible for Jesus to be buried at Sundown and spend 3 days and 3 nights in the grave, and then rise from the dead early in the morning.  He would have been in the grave either one night too many or one night too few.  To fulfill this prophesy with a sunset burial, he would have to have risen at sunset three full days (72 hours) after he was buried.

Now the Church has a tradition that Jesus spent the latter hours of Friday, the early hours of Sunday, and all of Saturday in the grave, rising early on Sunday morning.  They claim that spending part of the day doing something was counted as spending the whole day (ignoring the prophesy mentioned above).  This tradition is the reason why the Church observes the Sabbath on Sunday instead of Saturday.  This is why the Church added these 12 verses to the end of the book of Mark.  By the way, those promises in verses 17 and 18:  Jesus never made those promises.  If you do these things, you do them at your own risk!

Footnotes

  1. Jesus died on Passover at the same time that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered.  The next day would be the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is a special Sabbath.  The first and seventh days of Unleavened Bread are both special Sabbaths.  Jesus had his last supper Tuesday night, was tried Wednesday morning, died that afternoon, and was buried that evening just before sunset.  The end of the weekly Sabbath would mark the start of the Feast of First Fruits, which is always on the first day of the week that is after the first day of Unleavened Bread.