Friday, May 08, 2015

Follow Up on WM # 36: The Ending of Mark and Fulfillment in Acts

Note:  A reader of the blog sent this note yesterday regarding WM # 36 on the Ending of Mark, Cessationism, and Apologetics.  With his permission, I post it here.  His point is that the signs in Mark 16:17-17 find fulfillment in Acts (or in one case, the drinking of poison, in at least one account from extra-biblical descriptions of early Christianity).  In Nicholas P. Lunn’s The Original Ending of Mark he also stresses the connection between the traditional ending of Mark (16:9-20) and fulfillment in the book of Acts.  One does not have to wait even till citation of and allusion to Mark 16:9-20 in second century Fathers like Tertullian and Justin Martyr.  It is happening even before the last NT book is written (namely, in Acts).  This also reminded me that one of the very first academic presentations I did for a regional Society of Biblical Literature Meeting was titled “Mark and Acts.”  Here is Jimmy’s note:

Pastor Riddle,

I just listened to your program #36 dealing with the textual criticism of the ending of the Gospel of Mark, and I agree with you that its traditional ending is valid Scripture. I think I have come across a way to prove both its legitimacy and your point about the signs being limited to the Apostolic age, and you kind of hit on it. It's simply comparing Scripture with Scripture combined with some Church history. Every sign listed in Mark 16:17-18 occurs in the Book of Acts, except for one - drinking something deadly and not being harmed. See the table below.

Mark promise
Acts fulfillment
“cast out devils”                     
8:7, 16:16-18
“speak with new tongues”      
2:4, 10:45-46, 19:6
“take up serpents”                 

“drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them”    
not recorded

“lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” 
8:7, 28:8

It does, however, occur in Church history. The Apostle John's disciple Papias recounted a story he heard from Philip's daughters (mentioned in Acts 21:9) of Justus, who was nominated to take Judas' place among the Apostles in Acts 1, and may have been one of the 70 in Luke 10, drinking poison and suffering no harm. So, assuming the story is true, we still have these signs occurring in connection to the Apostles during the Apostolic age.

It's a shame that Dr. White is doing this. Whether he knows it or not, it's actually working to weaken Christians' faith in the Word of God. Any time Muslims, atheists, and other unbelievers can use his work in attempt to undermine Christianity, it's never a good thing.

Thank you for your work and God bless,



Phil Brown said...

Thank you Jimmy for the helpful observation! Is there a good source to find this historical record? Thanks again!

Unknown said...

Hi Phil, Church historian Eusebius recounts this story in his Book 3: Missions and Persecutions #39.