I finished W.D. Davies' The Gospel and the Land. Davies includes as Appendix IV an article by Gunter Stemberger entitled "Galilee----Land of Salvation?" Stemberger is arguing against certain viewpoints about Galilee in the Gospels----that there was a Galilean church, for example----and his conclusion is that Galilee is emphasized in the Gospels because, well, that's where Jesus conducted his ministry.
I don't want to talk here about the debates about Galilee. What I want
to discuss here is the issue of why the Gospel of Mark ends so
abruptly. In Mark 16, a man in a white garment appears to women at
Jesus' tomb, says that Jesus is risen, and instructs the women to tell
the disciples and Peter that Jesus will show up at Galilee. But v 8
then says that the women told no one because they were afraid. (Many
scholars regard vv 9-20 as a later addition.) Other Gospels present the
women telling the disciples, and they also show the disciples having
experiences of the risen Jesus. But this is not the case with the
Gospel of Mark. Why?
What I understand Stemberger to be saying is
that Mark does not want for his readers to focus on Jesus' appearances
to a few witnesses in the past. Rather, Mark wants for his readers to
anticipate the coming parousia, and to realize that the risen Jesus
A professor I had at my undergraduate institution
had another explanation for the abrupt ending of Mark. My professor
thought that the parable in Mark 4:26-29 was relevant. That parable
says (in the KJV): "And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man
should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and
day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the
earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear,
after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought
forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is
In this parable, a seed grows into a plant, but the planter
does not know how. Similarly, my professor said, Mark is saying that
the Kingdom of God grows, even though we don't know how this happens.
In the case of Mark 16, how could the Kingdom of God have grown, if the
women told no one about the risen Jesus because they were afraid?
Didn't the women need to testify to the risen Jesus for the church to
even get off the ground? Who knows? It's a mystery! God works
notwithstanding human failure. That was my professor's explanation of
the abrupt ending in Mark.
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