Thursday, May 12, 2005

Making Sense of Mark's Ending 2

Take a single verse in the Bible, say John 11:35 (“Jesus wept”). Take five biblical scholars using the same method for interpreting scripture, say redaction criticism. And what do you have? Five different readings. There’s no such thing as a disinterested reading or reader. Interpretation is always perspectival and particular. Interpretation always involves choices. Take a popular telenovela, say Darna. Take five faithful followers of the show, including my 8-year-old son Ian, and ask them why nobody in the narrative recognizes Narda as Darna, and vice-versa. And what do you have? Five different reasons.

Take Mark’s ending, 16:8 which reads, “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Check out your Bible. Most have a footnote on verse 8 that says ancient manuscripts end on this verse. Verses 9 to 20 are later additions—attempts of ancient communities to make sense of Mark’s ending. If you subscribe to the argument in synoptics studies that Mark was written first and both Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source document, then Matthew and Luke also provide endings that try to make sense of Mark’s. You find in your Bible then at least four or five different attempts at making sense of Mark 16:8.
Post a Comment