WHY DOESN'T THE EARLY ALEXANDRIAN TEXT CONTAIN THIS PASSAGE?
Although the abrupt ending (at 16:8) may have had an accidental origin, its
perpetuation was deliberate. It is possible that at some location in Egypt, the text of
Mark was first encountered without 16:9-20. Even if other manuscripts which
contained the missing passage later became known there, three considerations would
work in favor of the abrupt text:
(1) The oldest available exemplar was considered the one most likely to preserve the
(2) Copyists on guard against additions and alterations would almost certainly regard
with suspicion a text which begins with a woman in the spotlight, and then records how
the apostles were sternly rebuked, and then mentions tongues-speaking, snake-
handling and poison-drinking among the signs accompanying believers. This is
especially probable in Alexandria, which (according to patristic writings) was a
veritable hive of heretics in the late second century.
(3) The contents of the Long Ending appeared difficult to harmonize with the other
Gospels to some individuals in the early church. Marinus, to whom Eusebius wrote,
was one of these individuals. Quite a bit of energy seems to have been expended in
the early church in the quest to harmonize the Gospel-accounts -- and it may have
occurred to some of them (just as it does to the apologist pictured by Eusebius) that
some energy can be saved if one appeals to the manuscripts which lack Mark 16:9-20
when making a harmonization. A motive to achieve harmonization between the
Gospel-accounts was not the source of the absence of Mark 16:9-20 in the Proto-
Alexandrian Text. But it may have contributed to the preservation of a reading which
would otherwise have been dismissed as an accidental omission.
This essay is a summary of a longer composition, which provides much more information.
The long (100+ pages) essay is available on request as an e-mail attachment.
[TextExcavation note: The email address given is firstname.lastname@example.org.]