§ 92. The report of Mark

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 3



Fourteenth Section.

The Story of the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ.


§ 92.

The report of Mark

C. 16.

When the Sabbath was over, the women, among them Mary Magdalene, bought spices to embalm the body of Jesus and early in the morning after the Sabbath, as the sun rose, they went to the tomb.
Their anxiety as to who would roll away the stone from the vault of the tomb was lifted when they looked up and saw that the stone had been rolled away. They entered the tomb and saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were frightened. But he says to them: Do not be afraid; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the crucified – how inappropriate is the detail of this advertisement here in the assumed situation, i.e. how much the intention here betrays itself to present the contrast completely for the congregation—he has risen, he is not here. See there — again, how inappropriate and detailed! But the evangelist wants to exhaust all contrasts in brief — the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.


After these words, the conclusion begins immediately and not later, which later hands added to the original gospel and which displaced the true conclusion. Even the words, “And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them” (Mark 16:8) are already partly the work of a later hand. Matthew still reveals the true content of the original report when he writes, “So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples” (Matthew 28:8). These words in their later form are inappropriate, for the angel whom the women met in the tomb had already dispelled all fear from them. However, the following belongs solely to the later hand: that the women said nothing to anyone out of fear, that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene in the morning, that she brought the fleeting message to the disciples but found no belief, that Jesus then appeared to two disciples in a foreign form on a walk, and finally to the Eleven when they were at table (Mark 16:8-14).

Mark’s pragmatism is not so uncontrolled and wasteful that he would leave the angel’s mission to the women so useless and futile, which gave Mary Magdalene a proof of Jesus’s resurrection once again, after she had already learned about it with the other women – as if the angel, who even took so much trouble to convince the women, was not credible enough – and then, after Magdalene again found no belief with her report, the Lord should be sent twice to the disciples. The note of the appearance that Magdalene was honored with is borrowed from Matthew and the Fourth Gospel, the characterization of Magdalene that the Lord cast out seven demons from her is from Luke, the same Luke provides the note that the disciples did not believe the unexpected message, and the note of Jesus’s appearance twice before the disciples.

There is no place in the Gospel for all these things, for only in Galilee should the Risen One appear to the disciples, as the angel expressly states.


The later hand therefore made a serious mistake in the conclusion by placing the last appearance of Jesus not in Galilee, but still in Jerusalem in connection with the previous revelations. The error became even more pronounced by not separating the last appearance (v. 15-20) from the preceding one that took place at the table, and now the matter comes down to the fact that Jesus gives his last instructions to the Eleven here at the table and is taken up into heaven.

In the original Gospel, Jesus can only appear to his followers once, in Galilee, and he must appear to them outdoors so that, after commanding them to preach the gospel to the whole world and baptize those who accept it, he can be taken up into heaven at the right hand of God without offense. The later glossator overlooked that Jesus, after giving his final instructions to the disciples, leads them out into the open country to Bethany, and that it is only after Luke (24:43-51) that the ascension takes place here.

The description of the miraculous power that is promised to the believers is patched together from the writings of Luke. That they (Mark 16:17-18) should drive out demons in the name of Jesus is necessary so that they may be like the Seventy; that they should pick up snakes is also appropriate so that they do not fall behind the Seventy who tread on snakes, and so that they become like Paul, who shook off a snake that had bitten his hand without any harm coming to him (Acts 28:3-6); that they will not be harmed if they drink something deadly is a proof that, like the Seventy (Luke 10:19), nothing can harm them; they will speak in new tongues, as actually happened according to the Acts of the Apostles, and finally they will lay their hands on the sick, as they had already healed the sick before, following the command of their Lord (Mark 6:13).


It does not seem that the original account promised the disciples the power of miracles, since they already had this power before and there is nothing in the parallel accounts of Matthew and Luke that suggests a promise of this kind was included in the original text

The power over snakes was given to the believers only by Luke, in whose writing the account of the Seventy was first created. Luke showed, through the example of Paul, that the privilege of the Seventy had been passed on to all messengers of faith. Luke found the source of this privilege in the Old Testament (Psalm 91:13).


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