Category Archives: Gospel of Mark

Circular Reasoning: Mark 16:9-20

(courtesy Exposing PseudoAstronomy

By Spencer D Gear PhD

The Textus Receptus, on which the KJV was based, was supported by a few late MSS gathered by Erasmus. See information on Desiderius Erasmus.

These Byzantine manuscripts (MSS) contain this longer ending. The earlier Alexandrian text-type does not contain this longer ending. This is exemplified in the Codex Sinaiticus.


Matthew 6:4-32 (Codex Sinaiticus) (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Most modern translations follow the older Alexandrian text-type and we find some comment like this from the English Standard Version after Mark 16:8, ‘[Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20.]’1

1.  An issue with Mark’s long ending

I was directed to this article ‘to clarify for any who are confused [over the short vs long ending of Mark 16]. Interesting that some “scholars” muddy the waters and some clarify them. As always, careful research is needed’.

The article by James Snapp Jr is: ”Mark 16:9-20 – Sorting Out Some Common Mistakes . When I did some ‘careful research’ on Snapp Jr’s article, I discovered the following:

2.  Reasonable discussion shut down: Circular reasoning

A greater problem for me is the begging the question logical fallacy (or circular reasoning) Snapp committed.

What is a begging the question fallacy?

Any form of argument where the conclusion is assumed in one of the premises. Many people use the phrase “begging the question” incorrectly when they use it to mean, “prompts one to ask the question”. That is NOT the correct usage. Begging the question is a form of circular reasoning

Logical Form:

Claim X assumes X is true.

Therefore, claim X is true (source: Logically Fallacious)

This is how he committed the begging the question fallacy:

2.1  Beginning of the article

He began the article from this perspective:

They [preachers] approached their trusted commentaries and found . . . a spectacular mess. The amount of misinformation that continues to circulate about these 12 verses is staggering. Here are 12 claims about Mark 16:9-20 that should not be taken at face value.

To support Mk 16:9-20, he spoke of those commentaries that excluded these verses that contained ‘a spectacular mess … of misinformation’. So, he wants us to understand the opponents of the long  ending as supporting this mess of misinformation. 

Therefore, I  can fill in the first part of the …

Logical Form:

Claim X is that the commentators supporting the short ending contain ‘a spectacular mess …  of misinformation’. This assumes that the long ending is true if the objections are a mess of misinformation.

2.2  Ending of the article

How does Snapp’s article end?

If we deduce (in agreement with J. Rendel Harris, T. C. Skeat, and other researchers) that Sinaiticus was made at Caesarea, and if we also notice that when Eusebius of Caesarea commented about the ending of Mark, he displayed no awareness of the Shorter Ending (even when the subject invited and even demanded mention of the Shorter Ending, if it had been known), we may conclude that the alternative text in the minds of the copyists of both.

Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, when they produced the anomalous features at the end of Mark in their manuscripts, was verses 9-20.

Here, Snapp supports the longer ending of Mark 16, as he does in the following paragraph. So the  

Logical Form:

Claim X (part 2) is: Therefore, the long ending of Mark 16 is true. 

The complete Logical Form is:

Claim X is that the commentators supporting the short ending contain ‘a spectacular mess … of misinformation’. This assumes that the long ending is true if the objections are a mess of misinformation.

Therefore, Claim X, the long ending of Mark 16, is true. Snapp began with the presupposition that Mark 16:9-20 is Scripture and represents the correct ending of the book. How did he conclude his article? Mark 16:9-20 is the truth of how Mark 16 ends.

When discussing logical fallacies, we are not dealing with the information or facts relating to the topic. We expose the erroneous reasoning used.

If I begin a message, stating that the Bible is the word of God (claim X, part 1) and conclude that the Bible says it is the word of God (claim X, part 2), I have committed a begging the question (circular reasoning) logical fallacy. I have not provided evidence to support this claim.

Logical fallacies prevent reasonable / rational conversation. Why?

3.  Logical fallacies do not deal with the issues

They divert attention from the topic being debated to some other topic for various reasons.

We see it in this example of circular reasoning. James Snapp Jr started with the presupposition that Mark 16:9-20 was the true ending of that chapter and reached the same conclusion after his research.

Whether or not Mark 16:9-20 ought to be included in Scripture is not determined by a begging the question fallacy. Fallacies sidetrack discussions by spinning the wheels on a topic or distracting to another topic the person is more comfortable in addressing.

Whether Mark 16:9-20 is true or not is determined by research into various areas of transmission of the text, called the bibliographical approach.

There are a number of matters that need investigation on any topic. Using a logical fallacy turns the topic to other content. It prevents reasonable conversation on that topic.

(courtesy Ram Pages)


1The ESV adds this footnote: ‘Some manuscripts end the book with 16:8; others include verses 9-20 immediately after verse 8. A few manuscripts insert additional material after verse 14; one Latin manuscript adds after verse 8 the following: But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this, Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Other manuscripts include this same wording after verse 8, then continue with verses 9-20 ‘.



Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 24 October 2018.

Should Mark 16:9-20 be in the Bible?

Papyrus Roll Clip Art

By Spencer D Gear

One fellow claimed there were only three options and he put it into a poll:

Poll: Should the resurrection account of Mark 16:9-20 be removed from the bible?

Be advised that this is a public poll: other users can see the choice(s) you selected.

Poll Options

Should the resurrection account of Mark 16:9-20 be removed from the bible?



I do not know

View poll results

His assessment was:[1]

Should the resurrection account of Mark 16:9-20 be removed from the bible?

Many new bible versions question whether Mark 16:9-20 should be in the bible. This is done in footnotes or the use of single or double brackets around the passage. As far as I know not a single bible actually leaves out the passage, which contains the description of the resurrections of the Lord Jesus, a record of the apostles and some others seeing Him, words that Jesus Christ spoke and a declaration of His ascension into heaven.

In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Paul declares that gospel of salvation as the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Lord. So the resurrection, as the apostles as eyewitnesses, should be in the Gospel according to Mark.

Here is the passage from the King James Bible: Mark 16:9-20

9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.
11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.
13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
Should the resurrection account of Mark 16:9-20 be removed from the bible?

He asked for those who voted ‘yes’ to reply. I did:[2]

I voted ‘yes’

Why? I voted in the affirmative because my research has found that some of the earliest MSS (manuscripts) do not include Mark 16:9ff. I support the statement that precedes these verses in the ESV, ‘Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20’.
In addition, I believe this section teaches false doctrine. It seems to have an apocryphal flavour. This false doctrine includes:

  1. Baptismal regeneration (Mk 16:16);
  2. Picking up serpents with their hands and drinking deadly poison will not hurt people (16:18).
  3. ‘They will lay their hands on the sick, and THEY WILL recover’ (16:18). We know that there is no guarantee that laying hands on the sick will lead to recovery from sickness. That is the Lord’s sovereign work.

There are 4 actual endings in the MSSs from v 9ff. Which one do you support?

The long ending, Jerome told us, was in Greek copies in his day.

There are 17 non-Markan words in Mk 16:9ff and the lack of a smooth transition from 16:8-16:9 indicates that there are features in 9ff that were added by someone who knew something of a form of Mark’s Gospel that ended abruptly at 16:8 and he/she wanted a smoother conclusion.

There is an Armenian MSS of the Gospels copied about AD 989 that contains 2 words at the end of v 8 and before vv 9-20. They are Aristion eritsou (‘of the Presbyter Aristion’). Some have interpreted this to refer to Aristion, a contemporary of Papias in the early 2nd century. Papias has been traditionally understood to be a disciple of the Apostle John (this information from Bruce Metzger 1991:227). Could it be that Aristion added these words?

So there are a number of reasons why I reject Mark 16:9-20 as being in the original text.

You are wrong!

Here is his response to my post:[3]

Mark 16:16 is not baptismal regeneration at all. It is baptism by the Holy Spirit. The verse itself shows that.
Paul in Acts 28 did have viper bite him and it had no effect. This is string evidence that Mark 16:9-20 is indeed original.
Paul also laid his hands on someone who recovered in Acts 28. This is string evidence that Mark 16:9-20 is indeed original.
These signs do disappear in the New Testament but that too matches Mark 16:9-20.
The rest of your response is full of assumptions and presuppositions.
Your extraordinary claim that all English Bibles are in error must be proved beyond all doubt.

My reply was:[4]

He claimed: ‘Mark 16:16 is not baptismal regeneration at all. It is baptism by the Holy Spirit. The verse itself shows that’.

My response: The context doesn’t indicate Spirit baptism but ‘whoever believes and is baptized will be saved’.

He claimed: ‘Paul in Acts 28 did have viper bite him and it had no effect. This is string evidence that Mark 16:9-20 is indeed original’.

My reply was that Paul’s being bitten by a viper in Acts 28:3f and not being killed, is very different theology from ‘picking up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them’.

He claimed: ‘Paul also laid his hands on someone who recovered in Acts 28. This is string evidence that Mark 16:9-20 is indeed original.’

My response was that laying hands on a person and that person is healed is different from the theology of Mk 16:18, ‘They WILL lay their hands on the sick, and they WILL recover’. Many people have had pastors and elders lay hands on the sick and pray for them and they HAVE NOT recovered from that sickness. I’m one such person. Healing from laying hands on the sick is not guaranteed. That’s determined by the sovereign God and there is no guarantee THEY WILL recover.

He came again: ‘These signs do disappear in the New Testament but that too matches Mark 16:9-20.’

Not according to Mk 16:17, ‘These signs will accompany those who believe’. It is expected that there will be ‘those who believe’ from the time of Jesus to the time of his second coming. See also John 14:12.

His view was, ‘The rest of your response is full of assumptions and presuppositions.’

Yes, I have presuppositions, but I try to back them with evidence. Let’s not overlook that both of us operate from presuppositions.

He claimed, ‘Your extraordinary claim that all English Bibles are in error must be proved beyond all doubt.’

My response was: I have never made such a statement. You have misrepresented my view.

Options for Mark 16:9-20 being in canon of Scripture

At one point this fellow stated: ‘Yes, no, or I do not know does indeed covers (sic) all choices’ (of his poll re Mk 16:9-20 being included in the Bible).[5]

My response was:[6]

These could be some of the choices:

  • Yes
  • No
  • I do not know
  • Some oldest MSS do not include 16:9-20;
  • Early MSS & other ancient witnesses don’t have 16:9-20;
  • There is serious doubt about whether 16:9-20 belongs in Mark;
  • Some ancient versions add 16:9-20; others leave it out.

These are but examples. There are more than 3 options.

Some further points

These are some further points I made:

clip_image002 The statement was made by another, ‘Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 declares that the gospel of salvation includes the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore the gospel according to Mark must have it. It would never have been accepted if it did not have it’.[7]

My response was:[8]

This is circular reasoning. Just because 1 Cor 15:1-4 declares the gospel of salvation involving Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, that does not place a requirement on what should appear in Mark’s version of the resurrection.

What God has permitted for Mark 16:1-8 to be Mark’s version of the resurrection and what is in the other gospels, is what God provided in his authoritative Scripture.
I Cor 15:1-4 does not dictate the extent of what should be in Mark when the other details of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus are in the FOUR Gospels.
It is circular reasoning to require that 1 Cor 15 dictates what should be in Mark.

clip_image002[1]’We need to be clear on something about Jesus’ resurrection. We have no record of any eyewitnesses who saw the actual resurrection of Jesus. Not a single person saw the resurrection – based on the NT evidence.

We do have evidence of people who spoke with, touched, and ate with Jesus after his resurrection. But that is not the same as these people being eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection’.[9]

clip_image002[2] A person wrote:[10]

The Bible gives warnings about adding to or taking away from the Bible.

Deuteronomy 4:2
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
2 You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you

Deuteronomy 12:32
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
32 “[a]Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.

Revelation 22:18
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book.

My brief reply was:[11]

Proof texting does not help this discussion for these reasons:

1. You quote 2 verses from Deuteronomy about not adding to the Word. But what does the New Testament do? It ADDS to the Word of the OT. There are issues of interpretation that must be dealt with to understand what’s going on here. Quoting from Deut without this discussion is not helpful.

2. Then you quote Rev 22:18, which is a common one for questioning those who discuss whether or not Mk 16:9-20 should be in or out of Scripture. But you did not discuss these matters:

  • Rev 22:18 was written at the end of a single book when it was composed. It was not in the canon of Scripture when originally written. Therefore, how can it relate to the entire OT and NT when it seems more likely to apply only to the Book of Revelation? There needs to be questions around this question rather than providing proof texts.
  • Also, how do you know what is the exact content of the canon of Scripture to know that one is adding to or subtracting from it? Does the canon include Mk 16:9-20 or is it an addition? This question of bibliology needs to be pursued. This is not possible with proof texting.
  • I find that proof texting leaves too many questions unanswered – and especially in a discussion like this.

A fellow replied:[12]

That makes two doubting Thomases?
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe’ (John 20:27).

My response was:[13]

Sounds like there are 3 of us.

I’m one who wants to be honest with the evidence from the Gospels. We have records of eyewitnesses who walked and talked with Jesus AFTER his resurrection and BEFORE the ascension. But, to my knowledge, there was not a single witness to his actual resurrection.

In many ways I’m pleased about that as such people could have found it difficult to maintain their humility. However, we have all the evidence in the NT that the Lord wanted us to have.

Works consulted

Metzger, B M 1992. The text of the New Testament. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.



[1] SavedByGraceThruFaith#1, Christian Forums, Christian Apologetics, ‘Should the resurrection account of Mark 16:9-20 be removed from the bible?’ 27 December 2013. Available at: (Accessed 2 January 2014).

[2] Ibid., OzSpen#6.

[3] Ibid, SavedByGraceThruFaith#19, available at:,

[4] Ibid., OzSpen#21, available at:

[5] Ibid, SavedByGraceThruFaith#5,

[6] Ibid., OzSpen#27,

[7] Ibid., SavedByGraceThruFaith#8,

[8] Ibid., OzSpen#27,

[9] Ibid., OzSpen#25.

[10] Ibid., SharolL#20,

[11] Ibid., OzSpen#29.

[12] Ibid., SkyWriting#30.

[13] Ibid., OzSpen#31,

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 12 November 2015.