Cerinthus and the Gospel of Mark: The Priority of the Longer Ending

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In the study of the endings of Mark, manuscript studies alone may not be able to answer the question of Mark’s initial text. The reasons why certain texts were edited need to be explored. Here we will consider the issues arising from the adoptionist perspective of Cerinthus. This is important given that Cerinthians are attested as preferring the Gospel of Mark. In their perspective a great power—called ‘Christ’—came down from God and entered into Jesus after his baptism, ‘in the form of a dove’, and departed before Jesus’ death. Jesus rose from the dead, but not ‘Christ’. What then of Cerinthus’ reading of the ending of Mark? From the Epistula Apostolorum it appears that for Cerinthus Jesus’ resurrection was not physical, but transformative. Indeed, we have a resurrection of the ‘Lord Jesus’ in the Longer Ending that reads as transformative: Jesus appears in different forms and is seen but not touched. Given this, it is very unlikely that such an ending so suited to Cerinthian interpretation could have been composed by the proto-orthodox out of elements of other gospels in which the physical resurrection of Jesus in the same body was affirmed (by men). Rather, the Longer Ending can be read as foundational for other Gospel developments. However, it is not entirely intact, as evidenced by a glitch at 16:9: there is missing piece concerning the details of Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-707
Number of pages33
JournalComparative Oriental Manuscript Studies Bulletin
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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