If you’ve already carefully read Authentic: The Case for Mark 16:9-20, then you may recall that in the list of patristic witnesses supporting the passage, there was one called The Enthronement of the Archangel Michael. Even though this short book was composed before the year 600 – and is thus older than several other witnesses which are routinely cited when the subject of the ending of Mark is addressed – it is not mentioned in the lists of witnesses in the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament, nor in the Nestle-Aland compilation, nor in the notes in the New English Translation. Bart Ehrman does not mention it in his descriptions of the evidence pertaining to the ending of Mark; nor did Bruce Metzger, his mentor, who authored the influential (but obsolete) A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament.
|A page from a manuscript of
The Investiture of the Archangel Michael
This implies that sometime before bishop John of Parallos (c. 540-620) wrote his criticism of heretical books, including objections against The Investiture of the Archangel Michael, someone in Egypt borrowed verbiage from Mark 16:15-18 when constructing the closing narrative of this text – and this implies, in turn, that at that time, copies of Mark were circulating in Egypt that contained verses 9-20 of chapter 16.
of the Investiture text.
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“Now then, my disciples, go forth into the world and preach the four gospels and the sweet teaching that I told you when I was teaching. . . . . Everything you eat, pray over it first, because everything is purified by prayer. Everything you embark on, pray first before you do it and preach the gospel to all creation. The one who believes and receives baptism will not be slighted. These signs will be revealed to those who believe. They will cast out demons in my name. They will speak other languages. They will seize serpents in their hands. Even if they drink poison, it will do them no harm. They will place their hands on the sick, who will be healed.”
A clearer utilization of Mark 16:15-18 could hardly be asked for. It should be noted that the text which the author used included the variant “in their hands,” showing that his text of Mark likewise contained this phrase at the beginning of MarkAnthony Alcock is to be thanked for this new English translation of The Investiture of the Archangel Michael. May the news of its existence be shared with, and by, future commentators!
16:18. This little detail suggests that the author
was using a form of the text of Mark that was indigenous (because this reading tends to be found in the Alexandrian form of Mark 16:18), not something newly
arrived from a locale where the Byzantine Text was in use (because the Byzantine Text
does not have “And in their hands” in Mark 16:18).