The Book of Mormon Versus the Consensus of Scholars: Surprises from the Disputed Longer Ending of Mark, Part 2

Abstract: Following the account of the ministry of Christ among the Nephites as recorded in the Book of Mormon, Christ gave a charge to His New World disciples (Mormon 9:22–25). These words are nearly like the commission of Christ to His apostles at the end of the Gospel of Mark (Mark 16:9–20). According to the general consensus of modern Bible scholars, Christ did not speak those words; they are a later addition. If so, this is a problem for the Book of Mormon. Fortunately, recent modern scholarship offers compelling reasons for overturning the old consensus against the longer ending of Mark. Some of the factors from modern scholarship that indirectly help overcome a potentially serious objection to and apparent weakness in the Book of Mormon also help us better appreciate its strength as we explore unifying themes derived from an ancient Jewish perspective. Part 1 of this two-part series looked at the evidence for the unity of Mark and the plausibility of Mormon 9:22–25. In Part 2, we examine further Book of Mormon implications from the thematic evidence for the unity of Mark. Continue reading

The Book of Mormon Versus the Consensus of Scholars: Surprises from the Disputed Longer Ending of Mark, Part 1

Abstract: Following the account of the ministry of Christ among the Nephites as recorded in the Book of Mormon, Christ gave a charge to His New World disciples (Mormon 9:22–25). These words are very similar to the commission of Christ to His apostles at the end of the Gospel of Mark (Mark 16:9–20). According to the consensus of modern Bible scholars, Christ did not speak those words; they are a later addition. If so, this is a problem for the Book of Mormon. Fortunately, recent modern scholarship offers compelling reasons for overturning the old consensus against the longer ending of Mark. Some of the factors from modern scholarship that indirectly help overcome a potentially serious objection to and apparent weakness in the Book of Mormon also help us better appreciate its strength as we explore unifying themes derived from an ancient Jewish perspective. In this Part 1 of a two-part series, we look at the evidence for the unity of Mark and the plausibility of Mormon 9:22–25. In Part 2 we examine further Book of Mormon implications from the thematic evidence for the unity of Mark. Continue reading

A Redemptive Reading of Mark 5:25-34

In what is surely one of the saddest tales in the Bible, Jephthah vows that if granted success in battle, he will sacrifice the first person to cross the threshold of his home upon his return. Tragically, it is his only child, a daughter, who hurries out to meet him (Judges 11:29-34). New Testament scholar Mary Ann Beavis shows that this harrowing text has many similarities to the story of Jairus and his daughter in the Gospel of Mark (5:21-24 and 35-43).1 Mark’s story, however, has a joyous outcome: Jairus intercedes for his daughter, and Jesus raises her from the dead. Beavis calls this a motif inversion,2 meaning the text in Mark establishes similarities to Jephthah’s story to encourage the audience to compare the events, only to reverse course and have the story end on a very different note. In other words, Mark suggests correspondences but then shows how, when the story plays out in Jesus’ life, it has a dramatically dissimilar ending. Beavis also discusses another widely recognized example of motif inversion in Mark: in the story of the calming of the sea (Mark 4:35-41), there are many echoes of the story of Jonah (1-4). Jesus, like Jonah, is asleep in a boat and is awakened by questions when a terrifying storm threatens. But Jesus, of course, is no Jonah. The motif is inverted as Jesus, who initially parallels Jonah, takes on the role of God, and, being the only one who can, calms the storm. Continue reading