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What Does the Gospel of Mark Say About the Resurrection?

By Sjbedard @sjbedard

I am confident that the Gospel of Mark ends with Mark 16:8 and the rest of the ending is a later addition not written by Mark. But what does that mean for the resurrection? I have heard scholars suggest that Mark does not teach the resurrection and the resurrection is an addition by Matthew. What does this mean for our understanding of the resurrection? Let us look at the passage in question and then go through it step by step.

“When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (Mark 16:1–8 ESV)

1. Paul’s epistles are earlier or at least contemporary with Mark. The concept of the resurrection was well known by the time Mark wrote. It could not have been a later addition.

2. Mark describes the death of Jesus. Any examination of the resurrection must include the crucifixion.

3. The stone was rolled away. How does that make sense without a resurrection?

4. There was an angelic visitation. The angels announce the resurrection. Even if Mark does not share resurrection appearances, the angel’s announcement of the resurrections seems very conclusive.

5. The tomb was empty. This is the first description of the empty tomb. Crucifixion plus empty tomb equals resurrection.

6. The women were afraid. This was not the terror of defeat. This type of fear is found throughout the Bible. It is the response when humans are in the presence of God’s awesome power. What was the manifestation of God’s power? The resurrection.

It is true that Mark, unlike the other three canonical Gospels, does not describe the risen Jesus walking around and chatting with his disciples. But that does not mean that Mark did not believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Everything else points to Jesus Christ being risen from the dead.

  • Gospel of Mark
  • Resurrection of Jesus

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