Mark’s ending and Masada (& Elisha)

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by Neil Godfrey

This may be nothing but another passing shape in a cloud, but has anyone else passingly wondered if there might be some relationship to Mark’s ending in the way the Jewish war ended at Masada? I sometimes wonder (without anything to hang the thoughts on) over this ending of the Jewish war (word-search “Masada” on the link page):

War.7.8.1-7 (mostly 7):

1. about 3 years after the destruction of the Temple,

2. at dawn,

3. romans going to the stony outcrop expecting to find the living,

4. a couple of women came out from an underground stone cavern,

5. speaking of 2 women and 5 children

6. the women told them the story,

7. a noble and wellbred woman giving the most lucid account,

8. the romans did not believe them,

9. the romans cut their way through massive walls and stone pillars with their siege weapons into the place (palace) of the dead,

10. the romans enter the place (palace) of the dead,

11. they see the dead,

12. they are amazed,

13. at the courage that left the place dreadfully silent.

Comparing Mark’s complex of inversions and matches:

1. about 3 days after the destruction of the metaphorical temple,

2. at dawn,

3. women coming to the tomb hewn out of stone expecting to find the dead,

4. women left the tomb,

5. speaking of 3 women and 2 named children,

6. and told no-one,

7. a finely dressed man gave a detailed account,


9. the women wondered how they would move the massive stone to get inside to the place of the dead,

10. the women enter the tomb,

11. they see the living,

12. they are alarmed,

13. their trembling fear compelled them to silence.

Mere shapes in the dark? Maybe. but….? :0-)

& Elishah

Not suggesting that Mark’s thoughts were wandering in and out of Josephan-only chambers.

Brodie suggests 2 Kings 13:20-21 as another possibility:

Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites would invade the land in the spring of the year. As they were burying a man, behold, they saw a marauding band; and they cast the man into the grave of Elisha. And when the man touched the bones of Elisha he revived and stood up on his feet.

p. 90 of The Crucial Bridge.

While the essential content of Mark’s ending is new, its abrupt and enigmatic (16:8) manner corresponds in part to the abrupt and enigmatic account of Elisha’s death and burial, including the dead man’s rising to life (2 Kgs 13:21). (Is it coincidence that Mark’s picture of the women fleeing frightened from the tomb is partly matched by the apparent fright of the pall-bearers and by their implied flight from the tomb of Elisha?)

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Neil Godfrey

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