CUP Undergraduate Research


Looks should not be Deceiving: The Portrayal of the Ending of Mark's Gospel in Biblical Manuscripts, Past and Present

Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2009

Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences



Degree Name

Theology, BA

First Advisor

Michael A. Thomas, PhD


The ending of Mark’s gospel presents one of the great mysteries of the New Testament. The earliest copies of Mark end with a note of fear and bewilderment, concluding with these words: “And [the women] said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (16:8). In these earliest copies, there are no resurrection appearances of Jesus. In fact, reading this ending literally, the gospel proclamation (“kerygma”) never would have gotten out because the women kept it to themselves. This presents an obvious question: According to Mark, was Jesus really raised from the dead? Did the kerygma really spread?

In the first half of the second century, additional endings were written to answer these questions. However, their style and vocabulary reveal them as unoriginal additions to text of Mark’s gospel. These various endings are absent from extant Bibles before the fourth century. However, by the fifth century, these endings were included in Bibles, almost without exception.

Working under the assumption that these Bibles are glimpses into the judgments of Christians about these variant endings, various Bibles – both ancient and modern – will be analyzed to determine what clues they yield about the people who produced them. This thesis will show that, although scholarship is universally opposed to the authenticity of the variant endings, the Church today holds an inconsistent position as to whether or not the variant endings are to be considered part of the canon of Holy Scripture.

This document is currently not available here.