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Date Posted:02/12/2009 6:00 AMCopy HTML

Hi Everyone,

  Thought I'd have a stab a picking something to kick off Didaktikos Debunking Revivalist Theology room. 

  I have in my library "The New International Greek Testament Commentary - NIGTC - The Gospel of Mark. R.T.France., Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan., Pasternoster Press. 2002."   
  Page 685, France clearly states;

" ..what is the virtually unanimous verdict of modern textual scholarship, that the authentic text of Mark available to us ends at 16:8, "

However revivalist soteriology is almost exclusively based on verse 16 and 17 and yet the revivalist methodology of blatant eisegeses only accepts parts of verse 17 whilst excluding other remaining parts of the verse. Namely believers "will speak with new tongues" whilst excluding "they will cast out demons". In the revivalist ignorance of Greek grammer the demonstrative pronoun for "these" as in "these signs shall follow" is "tauta" and it is nominative neuter, PLURAL, thus pointing directly at both tongues and demons. (and also I might add to the picking up of snakes and laying hands on sick and what not etc.) Also I might add that in their methodology of eisegeses, the revivalist soteriology builds itself by coupling together with Acts 2:38 and thus they come to an awkward unbiblical statement that defies orthodoxy of "having to speak in tongues to be saved." 

But anyway just to open this discussion, France on Page 687 states:

" the almost unanimous conclusion of modern scholarship is that both the Shorter and Longer Endings, in their different ways, represent well-meaning attempts, probably sometime in the second century, to fill the perceived gap left by the 'unfinished' ending at 16:8, in the case of the Longer Ending by drawing eclectically on what had by then become the familiar traditions of the post-apostolic church, and these endings, particularly the longer, established themselves in general usage so that by the fourth century they appeared in many MSS, though by no means yet all (so Eusebius and Jerome). As time went on, the text concluding at 16:8 was increasingly forgotten, and virtually all later MSS included one (or occasionally both) of the endings."   

Since there is no strength in the revivalist position and argument of the verses being inspired and since the RCI and RF have appeared to have dumped "Bible Numerics" from their "beliefs" which they have heavily relied upon as their sole support for Mark 16 as "being inspired", their entire soteriology therefore fails.


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Re:The Longer Vs the Shorter Ending of Mark 16.

Date Posted:02/12/2009 9:56 PMCopy HTML

Eric, good morning.

Mark 16:9 ff is one of those "thorny" passages for Revivalists. It contains elements which they desperately want to grasp hold of and actively promote, but considerably more which they desperately wish wasn't there, and as such, which they largely skip over! And whilst it's perfectly valid that Christian scholarship (beginning with Origen and Jerome) has questioned the authorship of the traditional "longer ending", it's also the case that the "longer ending" was accepted as being canonical by the early Church. In other words, verses nine through twenty forms a part of Christian Scripture.

So having accepted that the "longer ending" is Scriptural, one must consider what it teaches, and then compare this to what Revivalism promotes.

To begin with, the most important teaching of the entire passage concerns the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the fact of the empty tomb. The "longer ending" of Mark succinctly confirms the eyewitness accounts contained in the Gospels According to Matthew and Luke, and was likely a source used by them. Next, the "longer ending" also confirms the "Great Commission"; the charge that we read of being fulfilled in Luke's Acts of the Apostles. In other words, Christ's resurrection itself forms the very basis for the commission to preach the Gospel! Third, Christ assured his hearers that belief in the Gospel would result in salvation! This belief would then be outworked via admission to a new "synagogue", the Christian Church, through the rite of proselyte baptism. Just as a Gentile identified with, and was admitted to the Synagogue of Israel through baptism, so too would believers in Jesus identify with, and be admitted to the Synagogue of Christ through baptism.

Before addressing the important points of contention, I'd like to summarise the "hierarchy" of what the "longer ending" to Mark 16 presents by way of a (mental) diagram consisting of concentric circles. The core is the fact of the resurrection. This forms the basis from which each other point develops and draws its authority. The first "ring" comprises of the requirement for the preaching of the Gospel, which is the immediate "ripple" resulting from the resurrection. The very next "ring", the second, is the promise that belief in the Gospel would result in salvation. And it is such belief which triggers the third "ring": baptism into the Church.

Having briefly established the taxonomy that the "longer ending" to Mark presents, we can now consider the issue of the "signs". To begin with, as the previous paragraph demonstrates, the signs are not "independent" or "self-evident" issues. They draw their authority from (1) the fact of the resurrection, (2) from the preaching of the Gospel, (3) from subsequent belief in the Gospel, and (4) from admission into the Church. As you intimated in your opening post, the signs are largely presented as "couplets": (1) drive out demons and speak with new tongues; (2) pick up snakes with their hands and drink poison without harm; (3) place hands on the sick to heal them. However, this is more of a literary or stylistic feature than it is a statement of function. What is most important; however, is that each of the statements incorporates what is known in Greek grammar as a categorical (or "generalising") plural. The purpose of this feature is to separate and distinguish groups from other groups: in this instance, Christians from non-Christians. This form of plural is very useful in that it yields itself to a generic notion, with the focus being more on the "action" than it is on the "actor". So the "signs" in the "longer ending" function to distinguish Christians as a group, from every other group. Second, the fact that the signs are appended as an implied apodosis to a Greek conditional statement (verse 16), indicates that they are predictive rather than promisory. These two factors combined, a conditional statement described via the use of categorical plurals, concretely indicates that the "signs" of Mark 16:17ff are corporate predictions and not individual promises!

The various Revivalist groups have sought to "explain away" the apparently "missing signs" in a variety of ways. However, the approach that these groups take to the act of interpretation requires that they display all of the "signs", all of the time! Quite simply, they don't have the luxury of claiming one or two and simply dismissing the remainder.

I have intended this post to be a fairly straight-forward summary of the major issues. For those who have a ken for detail, I've prepared a more involved essay on this very subject, one which can be accessed by copying the following link into an open browser:



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Re:The Longer Vs the Shorter Ending of Mark 16.

Date Posted:03/12/2009 3:28 AMCopy HTML

Hi, guys.

Given that Mark 16 has been appealed to recently, I thought I might just expand on what I believe this passage teaches and why.

I hope this post helps to explain my position a little more clearly.

Mark 16:16-18 is often used to defend the idea that *all* Christian believers *will* (perhaps, must?) speak in tongues to demonstrate that they've been saved. But as I'll try to show, this is just one of many biblical passages that demonstrates that those making doctrinal rules on matters like this *must* be able to understand the Scriptures in the original languages. Relying exclusively on an English translation (especially a very old one) just doesn't ?cut the mustard', because English often uses ambiguous statements to translate what are concrete positions in Greek! Further, I've no interest or intention whatsoever of calling into question whether or not this passage was originally written by the author of Mark's gospel. The answer is basically moot in any case - the Christian Church has accepted the ?longer ending' (which is simply one of four ancient endings it has accepted, by the way) as being canonical and therefore authoritative.

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 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." (KJV)

What I'll try to do below is explain (as simply and concisely as possible) the significance of the Greek grammar and syntax of this passage.

First, the entire passage from verses 16 through 18 describes one rather lengthy conditional clause, hence the "...he *that*...and *is*...shall *be*..." and so on. Next, each time the English pronoun ?they' appears in the above passage, it points back to the two Greek words that lie behind the translation, ?he that believeth'. These two words define the *subject* of the subordinate conditional clauses that follow - the people who believe, or Christians. Third, the different Greek words that the KJV uses ?they' to describe are all: future aspect, active voice, indicative mood, 3rd person plural verbs. What results from this particular combination of grammatical data, matched with the fact that we have before us *conditional* clauses, is crucial to a proper understanding of the intent of the passage. It's crucial because this specific combination of grammar and syntax defines what is known as the use of the ?Categorical (or ?Generalizing') Plural'. And the reason that this sort of plural (which in our case is the six instances of ?they') is used is that it more easily yields itself to a *generic* notion: the focus is more towards the action, than the ?actor' (i.e. "this is the *kind* of person who does this"). In simple terms, the 'Categorical Plural' is used to define one group or class as being separate to, and distinct from, another group or class.

So what's the significance of all this grammatical mumbo-jumbo to Mark 16, you may ask?

Well, many people mistakenly assume two things about Jesus' words at the beginning of verse 17, based solely on how the passage *appears* to them in English. First, that the future tense is a *promise* rather than a *prediction*; and second, that it's a promise to *all* believers. But however strongly someone might like to wish this to be the case (especially when this passage is used as an important ?proof-text' to defend a particular doctrine on ?salvation with signs'), the grammar and syntax of the Greek text contradicts, and dismisses, this mistaken view. It simply isn't possible. So what this passage teaches isn't that *all* believers will ?cast out demons through to healing the sick' at all. In other words the stress *isn't* on the idea of promises given to believers (presumably in order to strengthen or validate their faith); it's on the *authentication* of Christianity in order to establish it's *validity* as being from God before an unbelieving world. What this passage properly teaches, then, is that *some* Christians *may* speak in tongues, others *may* cast out demons, others *may* be involved in the other supernatural effects that are described; but these effects are simply one part of what it is that demonstrates the *uniqueness* of the Christian *Church* as a *group*. The effects, therefore, aren't *individual* promises, they're *corporate* predictions.

As an aside, the use of the KJV translation in this instance will cause confusion, if for no other reason then it starts the passage with: "*He* that believeth..." This gives the impression that the focus is *individually* appropriated and directed, and a present reality. But the two Greek words that define the subject actually have something of an *indefinite* force, and a clear future intent, which is why the majority of English translations use the words: "ANYONE who believes", or "THOSE who believe", or "WHOEVER believes", or something similar.

In closing, Mark 16:17-18 doesn't mean what you're probably certain it means at all. I'm perfectly happy to discuss the issue further, but I'll expect that everyone who chooses to do so will be prepared to take the discussion to the underlying Greek text, where the author of this passage was *explicitly* clear. This isn't an issue about what you *may* think the KJV says on the matter. At stake is what the Greek text *does* say.

God bless,

RCI prophesies
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