That’s All There Is (Mark Ch.16)

“…there isn’t any more.” As the final essay I wrote for my Gospel of Mark class, this paper strays into some speculative territory… Personally, I have my own theories surrounding the creation of John-Mark’s Gospel and its sudden ending. True or not, I hope you enjoy it.

There is much speculation about whether or not John-Mark intended to end his Gospel so abruptly.  Even considering John-Mark’s lean style, the ending is too unsatisfactory to have been intentional, in my personal opinion.  Brevity does not preclude completeness, and all of John-Mark’s previous stories have ended on a vicious point, even if many of the details were left to speculation.  It seems remiss that a writer who has followed such strong literary structure and spent a great deal of effort establishing the Kingdom would close without a proper epilogue—and without ushering the Kingdom into its new era by reiterating Christ’s Great Commission.

Assuming there was an epilogue, more speculation abounds as to what happened to it.  Most believe that it was simply lost to time.  While this is logical given the era in which it was written, I find this spiritually hard to accept.  God divinely preserved Scripture against all odds for centuries; why would He allow a single chapter of one of the key Gospels to be lost, while the other three appear intact?

My personal theory is that, assuming John-Mark was writing under the tutelage of Peter, the writing of the Gospel was cut short by Peter’s crucifixion—or perhaps John-Mark’s own arrest.  This would explain the hasty tone of the writing; there was no time to waste in capturing Peter’s precious first-hand experience of these world-changing events.

Irregardless of what actually happened, anyone who has studied the Gospel can easily infer what John-Mark would have said in an epilogue, if one had been included.  As before, he would have included select stories and precise details to paint metaphorical pictures.  He would demonstrate how all of Jesus’ previous teachings and prophecies had come to a grand fulfillment in His death and resurrection.  He would have likely included more about the women’s involvement, to farther emphasize his extended teaching about Jesus embracing the outcasts.  He probably would have pounded in one final sermon about how the exclusivity of the Kingdom had been shattered.  And, of course, we can assume that he would have included the redemptive ending to Peter’s story, if even in an abridged version.

But above all, I am confident that the one point John-Mark would have wanted his readers to take away from His Gospel’s conclusion would be this:

Rejoice, for the Kingdom of God has come!

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