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As a Catholic, I have to take it as a dogmatic tenet of faith that everything in the Latin Vulgate during the council of Trent was inspired by the Holy Sprit.

That being said, I am seeing good arguments for Mark 16:9-20 being later additions, for example, it is missing from both Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.

What would be the best arguments in favor of Mark 16:9-20 being part of the original text?

Edit: I found this (very long) article very helpful in answering this question for myself. I realize now looking back that this question deserves a small book as an answer and is therefore not appropriate for this medium. If you are also asking this question I recommend you read the article linked to below. God bless!

https://www.bereanpatriot.com/majority-text-vs-critical-text-vs-textus-receptus-textual-criticism-101/

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    You ask two different questions. Is Mark 16:9-20 inspired and is it part of the original text. Not part of the original text does not mean it was not inspired. Other books have endings which were written by a different writer. That does not mean both the main part and the ending were not both inspired. Jan 15 at 7:07
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    @RevelationLad Isn't it accepted that only the original autographs are inspired? Jan 15 at 12:56
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    Upon later reflection I realized this is a silly problem to get hung up on. Many books in the Bible do not have one author. For example, the book of Daniel could have easily been written by anywhere from two to more different people at different times. If multiple authors prior to initial promulgation is a deal breaker then Christianity falls apart before Christ was ever born and half your Bible no matter you denomination would be trash. Jan 15 at 14:33
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    As a Catholic I'd have to say that any arguments that question dogmatically defined truths can't be good by definition. Modern(ist) biblical "scholars" question everything from the authorship to the historicity of Scripture through a naturalist lens. For example, the now common dating of the Gospels is based upon the "fact" that it is impossible for Christ to predict the destruction of the temple. I'd disregard anything that goes against the thousand-year tradition of the Church. Unlike Protestants we don't have to verify each part of our faith. By being Catholic we get the whole Truth.
    – Glorius
    Jan 15 at 19:38
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    This is a matter of the science of Textual Criticism and, in particular, the place of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus in regard to all the other evidence available. Dean John Burgon argues against putting undue weight on those two in his book Revision Revised and Herman Hoskier strongly advises against accepting the recension in the 5th century (and the part played in that recension by those two documents) in his book Codex B and its Allies. This question might better be answered on SE-Biblical Hermeneutics.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 16 at 7:37

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This is as big (bigger) problem for Protestants than it is for Roman Catholics - for very different theological reasons. In the Protestant church it can simply be omitted, but it isn't. It's the same basic practical issue, questioning this passage upsets Christians. In Protestant churches it complicates the common understanding of the inerrancy.

It's useful to clear the background to the question. My understanding of the council of Trent (I'm not RC).

  • It was a very significant event in response to the Reformation.
  • The interpretation subject to huge debate much later, Vatican I sort of thing.
  • It declared the Latin Vulgate as adequate for doctrinal proofs rather than the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts

Thus, Mark 16:9-20 is therefore part of the Latin Vulgate, as it is in Protestant bibles. Whatever the Vulgate was at the Council of Trent, thats the Roman Catholic bible, because the issues post-council of Trent concern Tradition et Scripture, not what is the relevance of Mark 16:9-20.

The timing of the Council is relevant as to whether the issue was widely known. Moreover, how much authority at the time would have been placed on a single book? The real underlying issue surfaced when supporting codices were discovered much later notably in 1844 and then 1892.


I would politely suggest there is very little evidence for Mark 16:9-20 being part of the original Gospel of Mark. The arguments are well known:

  • the discovery of the codex Sinaiticus (1844) and the Codex Sinaiticus Syriacus (1892) confirmed codex Vaticanus. Thus, all the earliest codices are in agreement.
  • I believe the Codex Sinaiticus Syriacus contains the words "The End" after Mark 16:8, which seems pretty strong evidence.
  • Obviously the style of writing is completely different to the Gospel of Mark.
  • There are difficulties with the contents of the passage:
  1. Drinking deadly poisons and snake bites: I would suggest of all the Christian blessings immunity from poisons and snake bites does not appear high on the list of priorities. The Council of Trent concerned salvation, rather than clinical toxicity. Moreover, I would advise any individual suffering toxicity to seek immediate medical attention rather than proclaim Scriptural authority over a disputed passage.
  2. Jesus rebukes his disciples. This is not the Jesus of the bible. The biblical Jesus has incredible patience, and never collectively (stress intentional) rebukes his disciples. It also seems to contradict Jesus' restoration of the leadership of Peter at the end of the Gospel of John. If you were going to rebuke someone, Peter's denial of Jesus seems pretty good grounds for doing so.

There are additional arguments of context.

  • The Gospel of Mark starts with a bang, a vagrant in the middle of a desert dressed in camel hair, very little historical context;
  • it ends with a bang at Mark 16:8.
  • The repetition of predicting the resurrection is in the build up to this dramatic conclusion.
  • Arguments such as "the original ending went missing" purported on grammatical criteria have not stood up to subsequent analysis on bigger sample sizes of ancient Greek correspondence.

Thus what I am leading up to is simply that @RevelationLad's response is the most consistent answer from a Roman Catholic perspective. Here the authority of the Council of Trent is clear. Ultimately, I would (obviously) argue its about individual belief.

My thoughts By tradition the Gospel of Mark was written under the authority of Peter. I think the ending is very much in character of Peter. He never really appeared to consider the long term ramifications of short term decisions. If you want to get people into your church, ending on a cliff-hanger is exactly how to do it. Thus, I think it points to the Gospel of Mark being written and distributed when the witnesses to the resurrection were still alive. These are just thoughts however not an argument for the Gospel of Mark ending on 16:8 and the discussion of dating when the Gospel of Mark was written is a separate question.

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