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Mark 16:9-20 – An Orthodox View

From:  (St.Athanasius)
Newsgroups: aus.religion.christian
Subject: Re: Mark 16:9-20
Date: Sun, 06 Dec 1998 23:24:42 GMT

In  the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the One God,
Amen. Peace and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Dear Mike,
                Greetings again, I respond to your questions this way:

>Was wondering if anyone has any up to date ideas regarding the inclusion
>of Mark 16:9-20.

Canonical Orthodoxy receives the text as is. I have found a relevant
quote from St Ireneaus (120-202 AD), "Also, towards the conclusion of
his Gospel, Mark says, :"So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to
them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of
God.",  confirming what had been spoken by the prophet." (p.428, ANF).
Also you may be interested to know that St Mark founded the Coptic
Orthodox Church in 42 AD and it is recorded in our tradition that he
wrote his Gospel in Egypt just prior to his martyrdom in 67 AD. (Not
in Rome or later as some modern 'scholarship' asserts).
>NIV study bible states that:
>"The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not
>have Mark 16:9-20"

This is an incorrect assumption. I have just quoted an early/ancient
witness who had it in his Bible. I could quote others (later). The
argument from manuscripts is interesting but carries no weight as it
assumes age equals 'most reliable' This is not necessarily so. The
Christians burnt old manuscripts (still do) yet the heretics and
secular people tended to hang on to them. This means that the majority
texts or most ancient could have in fact been rejected by the
Christian Church as they did not use them and subsequently burn them.
This is evidedced by  Count Zinzendorf's discovery of his ancient
manuscript in the Monastery in Egypt, he discovered it whilst a monk
was burning the pages in the furnace. He quicklbought the remaining
pages. It turned out to be one of the oldest manuscripts in existence
I believe. Strictly speaking the monk should not have sold the
manuscript at all, and should have burnt it as tradition demanded. We
in the Orthodox are still not allowed to just bury or throw away old
Bibles etc, we have to burn them to ashes. The respect for the words
of God does not allow us to think that the Bible could be used for
disrespectful purposes by the unbelievers or that it could end up on a
rubbish dump with human waste.. Another important point regards the
'most reliable=ancient' manuscripts that do not contain the specific
references to Christ's Deity at Acts 8 etc. This is also explained
that the Arians removed certain verses (just as todays JW's change
John  1:1), however, frequently there were Arian Emperors ruling the
world thus the Christian manuscripts were burnt and the  Arian
retained in the official courts. It is no wonder that the majority of
texts that survived would cause mass confusion leading to many bizarre
assumptions by modern scholarship. 
>and in its study notes it warns:
>"Serious doubt exists as to whether these verses belong to the gospel of
>Mark.  They are absent from important early manuscripts and display
>certain peculiarities of vocabulary, style and theological content that
>are unlike the rest of Mark"

It is not prudent to remove the words because the 'apparent' baptismal
salvation passage does not fit ones theological content. This is the
heresy of the Arians and JW's.(Same thing happened to Second Maccabees
due to the assumption that it taught purgatory, however, the Orthodox
receive this book in the Old Testament Canon (secondary) without ever
teaching a doctrine of purgatory).Same goes with the tongues passage.
>Whilst a local pentecostal group uses NIV exclusively, it amazes me that
>their whole justification for tongues and the laying on of hands relies
>almost totally on those verses - given the disclaimer
>clearly spelt out in NIV.

Tongues can be dealt with appropriately with the authority in the
Universal ChurchTradition, which includes the Scriptures. There is no
need to deny the verses above.
In Christ,
Greg Scully.


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