Saturday, December 09, 2017
Text Note: John 6:8 and Mark 16:9
Image: Mary Magdalene, by Frederick Sandys, c. 1860, Delaware Art Museum
Mark 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
Mark 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
John 1:40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
John 6:8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,
Last week as I was preparing to preach through John 6:1-14, the account of Jesus’ Feeding of the Five Thousand, I came across the reference to Andrew in John 6:8. What interested me was the description of Andrew as “Simon Peter’s brother.” This same description had appeared in John 1:40 when Andrew first entered the narrative. Why does John repeat this reference? Surely the reader would remember who Andrew was.
This reminded me of one on the “internal” arguments against the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20. It is suggested by those who reject the passage as spurious that the description of Mary Magdalene in Mark 16:9 as one “out of whom he [Jesus] had cast out seven devils” (cf. Luke 8:2) is incongruous with the fact that Mary had previously been introduced in the narrative (15:40, 47, and most importantly, in 16:1). This supposedly “proves” that Mark 16:9-20 had been tacked onto the narrative at a later stage with the addition’s repeated introduction making for a clumsy transition. Would such interpreters also suggest, however, that John 6 is a spurious addition to John, since Andrew is re-introduced in the narrative, after making his original appearance in John 1:40?
Clearly, the ancient writer did not think it inappropriate to offer descriptions of characters later in the narrative who have already appeared earlier in the narrative. So, John’s treatment of Andrew illumines Mark’s treatment of Mary Magdalene and supports the traditional ending’s authenticity.