Gospel of Mark’s ending — I give up

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by Neil Godfrey

It hurts, but having caught up with old news about Mark posted by David Ross (which I should have followed up long before now since it was referenced by Michael Turton in his commentary on Mark), I have to consider (again) revising my view about the ending of Mark. I think it’s time I gave up the question and left it on the shelf as “awaiting more evidence” before a definitive conclusion can ever be reached.

I recently expressed my view that the 16:8 ending of Mark is balanced neatly with the beginning of the gospel by common and inverted motifs. But the same argument of motif inversion and balance applies equally well if the original ending included a story currently found in both John 21 and Luke 5.

In both we have:

  • the disciples casting nets into the sea
  • in Mark a net is being mended, in the Luke/John pericope the net is being broken, or in danger of it
  • as an ending of Mark the problem of the disciples not apparently knowing Jesus had been resurrected in the John pericope is resolved
  • in both there is a calling beside the sea

Not that I am arguing that this was the original ending of Mark. Still many unresolved questions. But will have to be less confident about my view of Mark as based on the OT template of failure of Israel, and more. Now that hurts a bit. Wish I had more time to investigate this, but maybe it’s better I don’t — maybe one could die mad trying to resolve some questions.