Sunday of the Myrrhbearers

Mark 15:43-16:8


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43  Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.


44  And Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead.


45  And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph.


46  And he bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.


47  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.


16:1  And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.


2  And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen.


3  And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?"


4  And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; -- it was very large.


5  And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed.


6  And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him.


7  But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you."


8  And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.

43 ἐλθὼν Ἰωσὴφ ὁ ἀπὸ Ἀριμαθαίας, εὐσχήμων βουλευτής, ὃς καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν προσδεχόμενος τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ, τολμήσας εἰσῆλθε πρὸς Πιλᾶτον καὶ ᾐτήσατο τὸ σῶμα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ.


44 ὁ δὲ Πιλᾶτος ἐθαύμασεν εἰ ἤδη τέθνηκε, καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τὸν κεντυρίωνα ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτὸν εἰ πάλαι ἀπέθανε·

45 καὶ γνοὺς ἀπὸ τοῦ κεντυρίωνος ἐδωρήσατο τὸ σῶμα τῷ Ἰωσήφ.

46 καὶ ἀγοράσας σινδόνα καὶ καθελὼν αὐτὸν ἐνείλησε τῇ σινδόνι καὶ κατέθηκεν αὐτὸν ἐν μνημείῳ, ὃ ἦν λελατομημένον ἐκ πέτρας, καὶ προσεκύλισε λίθον ἐπὶ τὴν θύραν τοῦ μνημείου.

47 ἡ δὲ Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ Μαρία Ἰωσῆ ἐθεώρουν ποῦ τίθεται.

1 ΚΑΙ διαγενομένου τοῦ σαββάτου Μαρία Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ Μαρία τοῦ Ἰακώβου καὶ Σαλώμη ἠγόρασαν ἀρώματα ἵνα ἐλθοῦσαι ἀλείψωσιν αὐτόν.


2 καὶ λίαν πρωΐ τῆς μιᾶς σαββάτων ἔρχονται ἐπὶ τὸ μνημεῖον, ἀνατείλαντος τοῦ ἡλίου.



3 καὶ ἔλεγον πρὸς ἑαυτάς· τίς ἀποκυλίσει ἡμῖν τὸν λίθον ἐκ τῆς θύρας τοῦ μνημείου;


4 καὶ ἀναβλέψασαι θεωροῦσιν ὅτι ἀποκεκύλισται ὁ λίθος· ἦν γὰρ μέγας σφόδρα.


5 καὶ εἰσελθοῦσαι εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον εἶδον νεανίσκον καθήμενον ἐν τοῖς δεξιοῖς, περιβεβλημένον στολὴν λευκήν, καὶ ἐξεθαμβήθησαν.


6 ὁ δὲ λέγει αὐταῖς· μὴ ἐκθαμβεῖσθε· Ἰησοῦν ζητεῖτε τὸν Ναζαρηνὸν τὸν ἐσταυρωμένον· ἠγέρθη, οὐκ ἔστιν ὧδε· ἴδε ὁ τόπος ὅπου ἔθηκαν αὐτόν.


7 ἀλλ᾿ ὑπάγετε εἴπατε τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ καὶ τῷ Πέτρῳ ὅτι προάγει ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν· ἐκεῖ αὐτὸν ὄψεσθε, καθὼς εἶπεν ὑμῖν.


8 καὶ ἐξελθοῦσαι ἔφυγον ἀπὸ τοῦ μνημείου· εἶχε δὲ αὐτὰς τρόμος καὶ ἔκστασις, καὶ οὐδενὶ οὐδὲν εἶπον· ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ.


Larger Thought Unit

Sometimes it is worth knowing a few things about ancient biblical manuscripts.  For example, the Gospel of Mark has a shorter and longer ending to chapter 16, and depending on your translation, you will have the longer ending (vss 9-20) in a footnote or added as normal continuation to the main text with a footnote telling you that these verses are not found in the most ancient manuscripts.  From the point of view of the text, the shorter version has to be preferred as it is consistent with the general treatment of the gospel that begins quickly with the proclamation of repentance and the kingdom, and ends with the message to meet Jesus back in Galilee to begin again where he left off. 


Our Sunday reading starts in the middle of a thought unit, and then continues right into another thought unit.  Mark 15: 42-47 ends a larger unit that has been going on since Chapter 11 when Christ moved towards Jerusalem and his coming passion.  Mark 16:1-8 functions as an epilogue inviting the disciples to meet the resurrected Christ in Galilee.



Today’s reading interestingly starts with Jesus’ entombment instead of simply concentrating on the resurrection. The reason is that, in Mark, the earliest of the written ‘gospels’, there is no ‘account’ of the resurrection per se, in contradistinction with the following gospels of Luke, John, and Matthew (Mk 16:9-20 are additions taken from the other gospels, which were included upon the closing of the New Testament canon). Mark followed in the footsteps of Paul, understanding fully that Jesus’ resurrection is a reality that is to be ‘preached/heralded’ rather than ‘shown’ or ‘pointed out’ (see especially 1 Cor 15:12). Mark explicated the ‘meaning’ of the resurrection. Its meaning is that the resurrected Jesus cannot be contained within the “stone” of Jerusalem and its temple, where both the Jew Joseph of Arimathea tried to place him, and the Gentile Pontius Pilate agreed, that he, Jesus, should find his end there. Rather, to understand Jesus’ resurrection one has to accept the message of the “young man,” a follower of Jesus who reneged on him and thus was left “naked” (14:51-52) and now appears in the white robe (of baptism), i.e., the outward sign that he has fully endorsed the ‘teaching’ concerning  Jesus’ ‘end’ (as Son of man)  which teaching was relayed thrice due to its difficulty as well as importance (Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34).


The ‘message’ that the disciples, beginning with Peter who also reneged on Jesus just as the “young man” did,  are to leave the “stone tomb” of Jerusalem that was not able to contain God’s messiah, but follow that messiah to (the) Galilee (of the nations) where he has already started his mission to the Gentiles and the Jews of the diaspora. It is there that Peter, “the apostle to the circumcision” (Gal 2:7-8), is to fulfill the mission assigned to him.


When the gospel is preached to all nations (Mk 13:10), the same Jesus (again as Son of man) will come at an unexpected time to judge all (13:24-37). That is why, when “the women went out and fled from the tomb,” “trembling and astonishment had come upon them”. Indeed, beyond the empty tomb, the only reality facing (ahead of) us is the Lord coming on God’s judgment seat. Again, this is the “word” that the Apostle received “from the Lord” and which is to be commemorated whenever we are gathered at the Lord’s supper: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:26) That is, any rendering of the meaning of the Lord’s ‘resurrection’ outside the confines of the “word” as it appears in the New Testament scriptures—in this case, the gospel of Mark, which is the ‘reading’ of the day—is mere “tradition of men”—even when coming from the “elders”—that “voids” [ἀκυροῦντες] the word of God” (Mk 7:1-13). In turn, this would be tantamount to “voiding” God’s promise of  blessing unto all who, like Abraham, put their trust in God’s “word” of promise (Gal 3:14-17; notice how this passage revolves around the verb κυρῶ [ratify] and its opposite ἀκυρῶ [void, annul]).


The ending of Mark is a caveat for all ‘theologians’ who use their own, mainly extra-biblical, ‘word[ing]s’ to top “God’s word,” under the guise of making it more ‘understandable’ and ‘palatable’ to the hearers. ‘Theologians’ are to constantly remind themselves that God’s word is to be found within the canon of the ‘one’ scripture, New as well as Old Testament.


Further resource

Sharyn Dowd, Reading Mark, Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Macon, GA, 2000; pp. 164ff.

Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.1: Paul and Mark, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 1999; pp.230-36.

Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.2: Luke and Acts, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 2001; pp.178-81.


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