Alleged Problems in the Book of Mormon #5: The Problem of the Longer Ending of Mark Quoted in the Book of Mormon
This page discusses one of the more challenging difficulties with the Book of Mormon, wherein a portion of the so-called "Longer Ending" of the Gospel of Mark (Mark 16:9-20) is quoted by Christ in His teachings when He visited the Nephites in the Book of Mormon (see Mormon 9:22-24). The main problem is that most modern scholars have concluded that Christ never spoke the words given at the end of Mark 16, viewing the Longer Ending as a late forgery or spurious addition to round out the abrupt real ending (so it is alleged) at Mark 16:8. However, there is actually compelling evidence that the Longer Ending of Mark is legitimate. Further, some of the tools of scholarship that reveal subtle thematic unity between the Longer Ending and the rest of Mark can be applied to 3 Nephi to enhance our appreciation of the subtle themes being developed there.
This page is a continuation of my LDSFAQ pages on Book of Mormon Problems #1, Problems with Plants and Animals (#2), Alleged Problems with Plagiarism (#3), and Further Book of Mormon Problems (#4). These are pages in a collection of "Frequently Asked Questions about Latter-day Saint Beliefs." This work is the responsibility of Jeff Lindsay alone.
One of the most effective and interesting arguments against the Book of Mormon is that it quotes from the disputed ending of the Gospel of Mark. In Mormon 9:22-25, Mormon quotes words spoken by Christ to His disciples in the New World that gave them essentially the same commission that Christ gave His apostles at the end of the Gospel of Mark in Mark 16:15-18: go preach the Gospel, he that believes and is baptized will be saved, and signs will follow. Now some people will object to New Testament language being used at all in the Book of Mormon, but there is no problem with Christ quoting himself as He does with the Sermon on the Mount in His words to the Nephites (3 Nephi 12-14) and no serious problem with use of King James language as a style choice and using passages directly from the KJV Bible when they fit. So why should we worry about also Christ using His own words as quoted in Mark?
However, there is a real problem here, for the quoted words from Mark should not be in the Bible and are a late, spurious addition, according to the consensus of most Bible scholars. The two earliest, extant New Testament manuscripts both have the Gospel of Mark ending at Mark 16:8 with two women, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James amazed and afraid as they stand before the empty tomb: "And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid." According to modern scholars, the following verses, known as the "longer ending of Mark," covering the appearance of Christ to Mary and then the apostles and the great commission to preach the Gospel to every creature, should not be there and may not have been inserted into some manuscripts until much later. So what's it doing in the Book of Mormon, ascribed to Christ in His teachings to the disciples? If the words in the longer ending of Mark were not in Mark's Gospel and not spoken by Christ, it would be unlikely that Christ would quote them or words similar to them in the New World.
Fortunately, very recent scholarship on the longer ending of Mark provides many compelling reasons to accept the disputed longer ending after all. It's a fascinating story with many lessons for students of the Bible and the Book of Mormon that I'll be covering here in several future posts.
For those interested in this matter, the key resource I recommend, available in both print and for Kindle, is Nicholas P. Lunn's The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2014). Lunn demonstrates how to dig deeply into the scriptures and explore them from many lines of analysis. Also see James Snapp, Jr., Authentic: The Case for Mark 16:9-20: 2016 Edition, with extensive information about early Christian references to the longer ending of Mark. Cases for and against the longer ending are provided by four differing authors in Perspectives on the Ending of Mark, ed. David Alan Black (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2008), though the analysis in favor of the longer ending lacks the benefit of the extensive foundation provided by Nicholas Lunn's later work.
Here is the passage in question from Mormon 9:22-25:
22. For behold, thus said Jesus Christ, the Son of God, unto his disciples who should tarry, yea, and also to all his disciples, in the hearing of the multitude: Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;
23. And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned;
24. And these signs shall follow them that believe -- in my name shall they cast out devils;
they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover;
25. And whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth.
Here is the related portion from Mark 16:
15. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
19. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
20. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
If these verses were made up by some scribe to round out the abrupt ending of Mark at Mark 16:8, and if Jesus did not actually say this to his apostles in the New World, it would seem very odd that Mormon would quote from the teachings of Christ to his New World disciples and end up with the very same content given in the disputed longer ending of Mark. It is an issue that needs to be considered. One could argue, as some LDS people have, that the Book of Mormon is somehow an expanded text that builds on ancient gold plate material or, more extremely, at least on ancient "truthy" ideas, with lots of Joseph's added commentary and thoughts taken from modern sources, but this is unsatisfying and is inconsistent with the data we have about the translation process, both in terms of the mechanics of dictation and composition, as well as the structure and language found in that text.
Fortunately, in spite of an ongoing scholarly "consensus," there is surprisingly impressive evidence that the longer ending of Mark is authentic. Before I explore some of those details, let me first point out that over 95% of the existing ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament have the longer ending of Mark. The problem came with the relatively recent discovery of the two oldest extant manuscripts, the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus, both of which end at Mark 16:8 and lack the longer ending. These manuscripts, though, differ from our canon in many other ways and need not be assumed to be the best and most accurate manuscripts.
They are the oldest extant manuscripts, yes, but they were not the oldest manuscripts used and quoted by early Christians, and that's the area where things are especially interesting. Dozens of ancient sources provide evidence that at least multiple portions of the longer ending of Mark were in place before the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus came into existence. In fact, both of those manuscripts provide evidence that the copyists were at least aware of an alternate ending for Mark (one has an unusually large space after Mark 16:8 as if leaving space for the additional verses, and the other has unusual markings at the end as if to physically prevent insertion of known additional verses).
The case for the longer ending of Mark, as we'll explore below, includes an impressive array of different lines of thought. The evidence from early Christian writers is impressive. The analysis of individual words, themes such as the Exodus theme, grammatical patterns, parallelism, prophecy and fulfillment, and so on provide a fascinating, multidimensional approach to Mark from an able bible scholar that consistently calls for accepting the integrity of Mark as we now have it. Along the way, there are some interesting approaches that we can also apply to the Book of Mormon to better appreciate some subtleties in that ancient text.
Many scholars feel there is no need to even consider the questions Lunn and other raise about the "consensus" rejection of the longer ending of Mark, but this is truly unfortunate and reminds of some of the human limitations of scholars, no matter how impressive and infallible they may seem.
We now review a portion of the external evidence for the authenticity of the disputed longer ending of Mark (Mark 16:9-20). Nicholas P. Lunn's The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 provides a good summary of the external evidence, though the emphasis of his work is on the many internal evidences. The most extensive resource I've found on external evidence is James Snapp, Jr., Authentic: The Case for Mark 16:9-20: 2016 Edition (Kindle). In "Introductory Summary: Mark 16:9-20: A Scholarly Consensus?" in the section "Manuscript Evidence," Snapp explains that the evidence from New Testament manuscripts does not present an overwhelming case for rejecting the longer ending:
Regarding the Shorter Ending [wherein Mark ends abruptly at the empty tomb in Mark 16:8], it is very misleading to vaguely say that some manuscripts have the Shorter Ending and some manuscripts have verses 9-20, because only six Greek manuscripts contain the Shorter Ending. The Shorter Ending was composed in Egypt , where the abruptly-ending text had previously circulated, in order to round off the otherwise sudden stoppage of the narrative. All six of the Greek manuscripts that contain the Shorter Ending also present at least part of the usual 12 verses, showing that they contained the entire passage when they were in pristine condition. The rest of the Greek manuscripts, that is to say, the remaining 99% of the manuscripts, uniformly present Mark 16:9-20 after verse 8. Gundry's assertion that these manuscripts (over 1,600 in number) "hopelessly disagree" with each other is absurd.
In the following section, "Patristic Evidence," he summarizes evidence from the earliest references to Mark (discussed in much detail in later sections):
Four compositions from the 100's attest to the existence of copies of Mark which contained Mark 16:9-20: Epistula Apostolorum (by an unknown author), First Apology (by Justin Martyr), the Diatessaron (by Tatian), and Against Heresies (by Irenaeus).
Epistula Apostolorum (150) echoes the narrative structure of these 12 verses; it depicts the disciples not believing the report of a woman who had seen the risen Jesus –an event unrecorded in the Gospels except in Mark 16:10-11. The author also mentions the command of Christ to the apostles to "Go and preach," (resembling Mark 16:15), and his use of the phrase "mourning and weeping" resembles wording in Mark 16:10.
Justin Martyr (155), in First Apology chapter 45, as he interprets Psalm 110, makes a strong allusion to Mark 16:20 (blended with Luke 24:52, just as one would expect a person to do who was using a Synoptics-harmony, as Justin did). As Justin refers to how the apostles went forth from Jerusalem preaching everywhere, he used three words – exelthontes pantachou ekeruxan – which appear together nowhere else except in Mark 16:20, in a different order. In chapter 50 of First Apology, Justin alludes to the scene in Mark 16:14, using the phrase, "And later, when he had risen from the dead and was seen by them."
Tatian (c. 172) incorporated all twelve verses into his Diatessaron, which expanded on his predecessor's Synoptics-harmony by including the text of the Gospel of John. In the Latin Codex Fuldensis (a Diatessaronic witness from the West), and in the Arabic Diatessaron (from the East), the contents of Mark 16:9-20 are given essentially the same arrangement, thus echoing their second-century ancestor.
Irenaeus (c. 184), in the tenth chapter of Book Three of Against Heresies, wrote, "Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: 'So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God.'" Like most of Irenaeus' work, this part of Against Heresies exists only in Latin. A Greek annotation in Codex 1582 (based on an ancestor-manuscript produced in the mid-400's) next to Mark 16:19 affirms the genuineness of Irenaeus' statement; the annotation says, "Irenaeus, who lived near the time of the apostles, cites this from Mark in the third book of his work Against Heresies." This annotation also appears in minuscule 72, and in an uncatalogued manuscript recently described by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.
Papias, a writer very early in the 100's (c. 110), wrote something that may relate to the contents of Mark 16:18. Eusebius of Caesarea, in Book 3, chapter 39 of his Church History, quotes Papias along the following lines: "Papias, who lived at the same time, relates that he had received a wonderful narrative from the daughters of Philip. For he relates that a dead man was raised to life in his day. He also mentions another miracle, regarding Justus surnamed Barsabbas: he swallowed a deadly poison, and received no harm, on account of the grace of the Lord."
Papias describes a believer who was not harmed by poison, but he does not explicitly say that he is providing an example of the fulfillment of the prophetic words of Mark 16:18. It is possible that he mentioned this anecdote as an illustration of how Mark 16:18 was to be understood –- that is, as a prophecy about incidental dangers, rather than deliberate self-endangerment –- but it is also possible that he told the story simply because it was interesting.
Snapp addresses claims that Clement and Origen show no knowledge of the longer ending, which turn out to be arguments from silence that bear little evidentiary weight But in fact, there is a compelling case that Clement actually was aware of the longer ending, discussed below.
Further, Jerome is repeatedly said, by commentator after commentator, to have regarded the longer ending of Mark as spurious, and to have known of no Greek manuscripts supporting it. But those claims arise from his tendency to freely copy the text of others with minimal change, resulting in his use of a passage ultimately deriving from Eusebius that questioned the longer ending. But Jerome himself actually supported the longer ending by including it in his Vulgate Gospels. As for Eusebius, who is perhaps the main early Christian voice cited to support rejection of the longer ending, he was clearly aware of New Testament manuscripts that had the longer ending, did not insist that it should be rejected, and "recommended to Marinus that the passage be punctuated and retained" (Snapp, section "Introductory Summary," sub-section "Patristic Evidence").
The patristic support for the longer ending include Tertullian (195-220), Hippolytus (235), Vincentius (256), and many more. Snapp has chapters dealing with evidence from the 100's, the 200's, the 300's, the 400's, and later evidence for the authenticity of the longer ending. It is also clear that the longer ending was an important part of early Christian lectionary documents used in worship (Snapps, Chapter 7, "Lectionary Evidence").
If the concepts in Mark 16:9-20 were fabricated long after the Gospel of Mark was written, it is difficult to understand how some of the earliest Christian documents we have provide support for their authenticity. Many of these documents existed long before the two related manuscripts, the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus were composed, the earliest extant Greek manuscripts that are the primary tools used to reject the longer ending of Mark. What we learn from the early Christian evidence is that there were much earlier manuscripts of Mark known in the Christian world but not extant today that support the authenticity of the longer ending of Mark. This strengthens the possibility that Christ actually spoke the words quoted at the end of Mark 16, and that He could have spoken similar words to His New World disciples in the Book of Mormon, as quoted in Mormon 9.
Lunn's take on the extensive evidence from early Christianity is also valuable. Among the many sources he considers, one of the more important is the work known as First Clement, the book authored by Clement of Rome. It is one of the earliest Christian writings we have after the New Testament. Lunn illustrates Clement's awareness and use of the Gospels in several ways, with language and teachings drawn from Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Words and phrases unique to Mark are used in several cases, such as in Clement's allusion to the parable of the sower (First Clement, 24.4-5, discussed in Lunn, pp. 65-66).
In First Clement 42.3-4, right after a discussion of the apostles having received the Gospel from Jesus Christ, who was sent by God (42.1-2), Clement uses language with striking parallels to the longer ending of Mark, compared below:
Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection [ ἀναστάσεως ] of our Lord Jesus [ κύριος Ἰησοῦς ] Christ, and full of faith in the word [ τῷ λόγῳ ] of God, with full assurance of the Holy Spirit they went out [ ἐξῆλθον ] proclaiming the good news [ εὐαγγελιζόμενοι ] that the kingdom of God was about to come . . . preaching [ κηρύσσοντες ] in the country and in the towns . . . (1 Clem. 42.3–4)
Having been raised [ ἀναστὰς ] . . . he appeared to the Eleven . . . and he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach [ κηρύξατε ] the gospel [ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ] to all creation . . . ." So then, after the Lord Jesus [ κύριος Ἰησοῦς ] had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And going out [ ἐξελθόντες ] they preached [ ἐκήρυξαν ] everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word [ τὸν λόγον ] through the accompanying signs. (Mark 16:9, 14 –15, 19 –20) (Lunn, pp. 6-67)
Lunn notes that the setting in both passages is similar, dealing with the commissioning of the apostles and their going forth to preach the gospel. There is also "obvious thematic coherence" and in some cases "words unique to that ending among all the Gospel accounts." Lunn explains (footnotes omitted):
Regarding the apostles going out to preach, the particular verb chosen by Clement to describe that event ( ἐξελθεῖν ) is the same as that occurring in Mark 16:20 of precisely the same action. None of the other Gospel writers uses this verb in this context. This uniqueness with respect to the verb found in the Markan ending makes a strong connection between Clement and that intertext. The verb "preach" in the active voice with the apostles as grammatical subject appears in both Clement ( κηρύσσοντες ) and the disputed verses of Mark ( κηρύξατε , ἐκήρυξαν ), yet not in this particular way in any of the other Gospel endings. Luke is the only one here to employ the same verb, though evidently in quite a different manner. Luke makes no explicit mention of the apostles as the agents of preaching, while his use of the verb is passive with the abstract noun "repentance" as the grammatical subject. Moreover, Clement and Mark are further united in using "preach" absolutely, that is, without an explicit grammatical object. The former has the phrase "preaching [ κηρύσσοντες ] in the country and in the towns," and the latter "they preached [ ἐκήρυξαν ] everywhere." In each instance the absolute verb is qualified by a locative expression. Undoubtedly there is much semantic overlap between "in the country and in the towns" and "everywhere." Indeed, it may be the case that, for stylistic reasons, Clement here consciously avoided using "everywhere" ( πανταχοῦ ) since he had used this very term just a few sentences before in 41 . 2 . Whether this is so or not, there is a specific semantic and structural correspondence at this point between the two phrases which is unparalleled in the other Gospels. Also found in both writers is the definite noun "the word" referring to the message preached. This sense of λόγος is another uniquely Markan feature in the Gospel endings. The presence of all these elements together in a passage relating an identical setting, plus the fact that the other Gospel endings do not contain such usages, makes not merely a good case but an extremely forceful one for Clement's familiarity with the questioned ending of Mark. If so, the significance of this cannot be overestimated since Clement's letter is generally dated to the late first century.
Lunn also considers the possibility that another document from the Apostolic Fathers alludes to the longer ending of Mark as he examines the Shepherd of Hermas, a document often mentioned by LDS apologists for its vivid reference to early Christian baptism for the dead. Like First Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas was also written in Rome, where by tradition Mark was said to have written his Gospel. Since the Shepherd of Hermas was mentioned by Irenaeus and the author of the Muratorian Canon, both dating to around 175 –190 AD, it was likely written around 150 AD or earlier, and some authorities give much earlier dates. While it does not directly quote from Mark or any other scriptural source, it has apparent allusions to scripture. Lunn says, "It is certain that the author was familiar with the Gospel of Mark seeing that in 97.2–3 unmistakable reference is made to Mark 10:23–24" (Lunn, p. 68). The passage in question is part of a parable involving twelve figurative mountains, compared with a part of the longer ending of Mark below:
And from the eighth mountain, where there were many springs and all the creation [ πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις ] of the Lord drank from the springs, are believers [ οἱ πιστεύσαντες ] such as these: apostles and teachers who preached [ κηρύξαντες ] to the whole world [ εἰς ὅλον τὸν κόσμον ], and who taught the word [ τὸν λόγον ] of the Lord [ τοῦ κυρίου ] soberly and purely, and who misappropriated nothing for evil desire, but always walked [ πορευθέντες ] in righteousness and truth . . . . (Herm. 102 . 1 –2) .
. . and he said to them, "Go [ πορευθέντες ] into all the world [ εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἅπαντα ] and preach [ κηρύξατε ] the gospel to all creation [ πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει ]. Whoever believes [ ὁ πιστεύσας ] and is baptized will be saved . . . ." And going out they preached [ ἐκήρυξαν ] everywhere, the Lord [ τοῦ κυρίου ] working with them and confirming the word [ τὸν λόγον ] through the accompanying signs. (Mark 16:15 –16 , 20)
Lunn offers this analysis:
Here the mountain with its springs that give water to all creation represents those who preach the gospel to the world. Obviously there are several NT texts that deal with a similar subject. Yet of these, the phraseology of one in particular is traceable in the Hermas passage significantly more than any other, and that is the commissioning and preaching of the apostles recorded in Mark 16:15–20. The most conspicuous link between the two texts is the occurrence in each of not just one but both of the semantically related phrases "all creation" and "the whole world." The former phrase, apart from grammatical case, is identical in words and order ( πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις / πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει ), while the latter in both instances consists of the basic prepositional phrase εἰς τὸν κόσμον with a synonymous quantifying adjective adjoining the noun. Mark 16:15 is, it should be stressed, the only verse in the entire NT where both these ideas are expressed together. Elsewhere in the NT the phrase "all creation" also appears in Romans 8:22; Colossians 1:15, 23. The first two of these three texts do not concern the subject of preaching. Though Colossians 1:23 does relate to preaching, the use of the verb "preach" in this text differs from that found in Hermas in three ways: the subject is not the third person plural referring to the apostles but the third person singular of the gospel, the verb is passive not active, and the context lacks any equivalent phrase "to the whole world." Hermas and Mark 16, on the other hand, agree in all these specifics. Speaking of the apostles each employs the aorist active of the verb κηρύξαι which, as explained earlier, is a form particular to Mark among the four Gospel endings. Additionally, both Hermas and the Markan passage contain the noun "the word" of the gospel message, which in each case is associated with "the Lord." Both passages also refer to believers by means of an aorist participle. These several verbal connections, some quite specific, and especially the co-occurrence of the two phrases relating to κτίσις and κόσμος, lead to the conclusion that the author of the Shepherd of Hermas was in fact familiar with the final verses of Mark. (Lunn, p. 68.)
Lunn also points to the early Epistle of Barnabas which has some specific parallels to the longer ending, though the evidence is not as strong as the two cases considered above. Lunn also explores a variety of non-canonical or apocryphal sources which provide early allusions to the longer ending of Mark (pp. 71-76), before delving into evidence from 150 AD to 300 AD (p. 76 ff) and later sources.
The evidence in favor of the longer evidence is not limited to Greek writings. James Snapp, Jr., in Authentic: The Case for Mark 16:9-20: 2016 Edition (Kindle edition) weaves together numerous threads from other parts of early Christianity. Among the Armenian evidence, for example, we have this:
Eznik of Golb (440) was one of the Armenian scholars who took part in the revision of the Armenian translation of the Bible in the 400's. Eznik quoted Mark 16:17-18 in part 112 of his composition " Against the Sects " (also known as "De Deo" ) 1:25 : "And again, 'Here are signs of believers: they will dislodge demons, and they will take serpents into their hand, and they will drink a deadly poison and it will not cause harm.'" This evidence is over 400 years earlier than the earliest Armenian manuscript of Mark which does not contain Mark 16:9-20.The wide variety of early Christian sources pointing to the authenticity of the longer ending of Mark strike me as compelling and impressive evidence. But for Lunn, it's just the beginning of the extensive analysis and evidence to be considered. We'll survey a few highlights of the internal evidence in upcoming posts, and will find that there may even be some lines of analysis that can help us better appreciate some details in the Book of Mormon.
Lunn's significant, detailed, and lengthy analysis of the internal evidence involves many technical issues that require a good knowledge of biblical Greek. I am unable to assess the accuracy of many of these points, but much can still be appreciated and understood by laymen and by those who have explored authorship in terms of statistical analyses like word prints and other measures. While Lunn is not a statistician and could certainly refine the statistical tools he applies, the analyses he conducts generally strike me as reasonable in principle and often quite compelling. What really impresses meis how extensive and multidimensional the arguments are. Some of the subtle points he makes suggest lines of analysis that might bear fruit in exploring the Book of Mormon, through we lack the benefit of the text in the original language of the authors.
As one of several aspects of his exploration, Lunn examines each of the major words in the disputed ending as well as the grammatical patterns employed and compares them to Mark and other texts, providing evidence pointing to Markan origins in many cases. For example, except for a related instance in Luke that is said to be dependent on Mark, the only occurrences of the form "cast out / demons / in the name of" are found in the longer ending of Mark and earlier in the main body of Mark, consistent with common authorship (Lunn, 187-8).
Analysis of Jesus' statement, "they shall lay hands on the sick," shows that the collocation of "lay hands upon" and a sick person occurs five times in Mark, including the longer ending, but just once in Matthew and twice in Luke. In Matthew and Luke, the healed person is represented with a pronoun, while Mark alone uses a noun to refer to the infirm/infirmity (6:5, 8;25, and 16:18 in the longer ending).
More than this, in 6:5 those upon whom Jesus lays his hands are described as ἀρρώστοις ("sick"), an adjective that we have previously noted to be more frequent in Mark than the other Synoptics. What is significant here is that this is very same word as that appearing in the collocation of 16:18. So, with that specific object in view, this three-part collocation is only found in Mark 6:5 and 16:18. In the whole of NT literature the grouping "lay/hands/on the sick" is seen to be an exclusively Markan collocation. (Lunn, 189.)
This kind of thing crops up over and over in the analysis, and to me creates another compelling case for common authorship. Of course, other scholars argue that the use of Markan words, phrases, and grammatical patterns is evidence of deliberate imitation. Lunn properly objects to that argument as wanting to have it both ways: unique words or grammatical patterns are said to be evidence of a second author, and common words and style are also evidence of a second author just trying hard to imitate Mark. But it is in the abundance of subtle consistency that the "just imitating Mark" argument becomes implausible, for many of the details favoring Markan authorship require scholarship, analysis, and attention to detail that just doesn't make sense for a plagiarizer, much as most of the plagiarism charges against the Book of Mormon don't make sense if one wishes to offer a coherent theory of how the Book of Mormon was concocted.
Here are some summaries from several of the chapters dealing with internal evidence to give you a flavor for the work:
Summary for Chapter Five, "Linguistic Evidence (2)" In this chapter we have studied a selection of different linguistic features present in Mark 16:9–20. From this we have observed the following significant facts:
- The analysis of the various parts of speech, regarding their range of frequency in individual sections, their hierarchy, and their deviation from the Markan average, results in the inclusion of the longer ending within the parameters exhibited by the rest of Mark. The same cannot be said of the undoubtedly spurious shorter ending and Freer Logion.
- The implicit manner of participant reference used with respect to Jesus at the beginning of the distinct units within the longer ending (16:9, 12, 14) matches that commonly found in the same episode-initial position in the preceding part of Mark.
- The majority of the two-or three-part collocations found in the longer ending have their exact or closest parallels elsewhere in Mark.
- The rare temporal phrase μετὰ τὸ + infinitive (16:19), attested only five times elsewhere in the Gospels, has its only exact Gospel parallels earlier in Mark.
- The particular form of juxtaposed genitive absolute phrases (16:20) has three matching constructions in Mark, which is more than appear in all the other Gospels.
- For the verb ἀκούειν followed by a complement clause in the present tense (16:11) the majority of its Synoptic parallels occur in Mark.
- The partitive phrase with preposition and pronoun (16:11) conforms to the pattern seen elsewhere in Mark's Gospel.
- The form of the conjoined noun phrases with possessive pronoun (16:14) corresponds precisely to the preferred configuration for such constructions in Mark.
The commonality of these very specific and very varied features with known Markan usage carries considerable weight. This contrasts with the weakness of the usual linguistic arguments against the genuineness of the longer ending discussed and refuted in the previous chapter. Here then we have noted positive linguistic indicators which collectively form another important element of our case for Markan authorship.
We note in conclusion that the findings of this chapter effectively refute Kelhoffer's thesis that the supposed later author of the longer ending actually sought to deliberately imitate Mark. Kelhoffer's arguments are based largely upon surface features of the language, in which, it is posited, the hypothetical writer only partially imitated the earlier Evangelist, leaving the basic non-Markan nature of his work detectable to the scholar. This, however, raises an insurmountable objection. Assuming the correctness of this thesis, if even regarding the more obvious features he only managed to imitate some and not others, how do we explain the fact that he went to even greater efforts to conform to Markan usage in less evident features of the language, such as those dealt with above? The greater subtlety of such linguistic components as discussed in this chapter is proven from the fact that no scholar, either in antiquity or in recent times, has remarked upon these within the context of the present debate. Almost certainly our hypothetical writer would have been completely ignorant of such things. Furthermore, assuming he/she was so linguistically informed, to have taken the trouble to have included these elements would have been pointless, since their significance would have remained almost entirely unappreciated by those who read or heard his work. Consequently, to claim imitation with respect to such details is quite groundless.
To bring our consideration of language-related matters to a close we may state that the findings of this chapter, plus the conclusions of the previous, contrary to popular scholarly opinion, enable us to firmly set Mark 16:9–20 linguistically within the Markan domain. (Lunn, 200-1)
Had our findings merely consisted of one or two possible literary features, these might have been dismissed as coincidental. The literary evidence, however, is plainly manifold and in most instances quite objective. Such testimony cannot so readily be dismissed, especially when to it we add the corroboration of the thematic evidence, the topic that next falls to our examination. (Lunn, 240)
Summary for Chapter Six, "Literary Evidence"
This chapter has looked to literary factors for the resolution of the question concerning the authenticity of the longer ending. Through the examination of a range of diverse rhetorical techniques commonly utilized by the biblical writers it has been demonstrated that these disputed verses show no signs of being a late appendage, but rather form an integral and indeed essential part of the author's original composition. Several strands of literary evidence, both structural and intratextual, give confirmation to the church's traditional acceptance of this portion of the Gospel. We here, by way of conclusion, summarize the findings of this chapter. Our investigation has demonstrated that
(a) the longer ending, by the reoccurrence of particular themes, words, and phrases, establishes an inclusio with the opening passages of the Gospel (1:1–20).
(b) the longer ending conforms to a specific form of episodic structure (ABCX) that is exclusively Markan.
(c) the longer ending relates to the immediately preceding verses (16:1–8) by way of a formal parallelism with distinct verbal and thematic correspondences.
(d) the unified narrative of chapter 16 , in displaying a resurrection-unbelief-preaching sequence, aligns closely with the material closing the first major section of the Gospel (5:21–6:13), with which it also correlates at a macrostructural level.
(e) the unified narrative of chapter 16 relates intratextually to material of 5:21–6:13 through multiple verbal linkages.
(f) the resurrection-unbelief-preaching accounts of 5:21–6:13 function as narrative anticipations or foreshadowings of the events recorded in 16:1–20.
In Chapter 7, "Thematic Evidence," Lunn explores the extensive foreshadowing in Mark that points to multiple elements in the longer ending that are needed to complete prophecy or complete themes raised by Mark earlier. Lunn finds that a relatively unique aspect of Mark is the way he lays out forthcoming themes (foreshadowing) "with distinct verbal links in the narrative fulfillments" (Lunn, 246). With that in mind, Lunn explains that the multiple predictions of the resurrection of Christ, Mark 8:31, 9:31, and 10:33-34, are not completed by the empty tomb alone if Mark ends at 16:8, but require the declaration that Christ has arisen. "Having risen..." in 16:9, the first verse of the disputed longer ending, does precisely that with a "resounding" echo of Christ's words (Lunn, 246-7).
I was especially intrigued by the subtle exodus themes that unite Mark, according to Lunn (Lunn, 248-263). Lunn shows numerous references to Exodus in the language of Mark, suggesting that Mark has framed the mission of Christ as a New Exodus. Christ seeks to bring Israel across the waters of baptism into a spiritual Promised Land, and in so doing, rather than casting out Gentile nations, Christ's work is to cast out Satan and his demons.
As one of many examples, Lunn explains how the transfiguration in Mark 9 points to Moses at Mount Sinai, something which a variety of scholars have previously observed (Lunn, 256-7). Both take place in a mountain, Moses and Jesus both take three persons with them (Exodus 24:1,9; Mark 9:2). A cloud overshadows the mountain in both cases. A voice is heard from the cloud. There are references to tabernacles in both (Exodus 25:9; Mark 9:5). The appearance of both principle characters is transformed. The injunction to "Hear him" in Mark 9:7 also has overtones from Moses, with similar words used to describe a Moses-like prophet in Deut. 18:15 (Lunn, 257), as other scholars have also noted.
Among other details, the miracles of feeding point to manna in the wilderness and the last supper points to the Passover feast. Christ's words, "This is the blood of the covenant" (Mark 14:24) have been observed by many commentators to reflect Exodus 24:1-8, where God establishes His covenant through Moses. As Moses throws blood upon the altar, he says "Behold, the blood of the covenant."
The longer ending, not surprisingly, has multiple exodus allusions that are consistent with Mark's overarching implementation of exodus themes. The appearance of Christ to the Eleven uses the term "appeared" in a way the recalls the divine commission of Moses. Exodus 3:2 reports that "the angel of the Lord appeared to him," but we soon learn it is Jehovah that is appearing to Moses and giving him his commission, just as Christ does for the eleven.
The call of Moses in Exodus 3 and 4 involves miraculous signs, possibly reflected by the reference to signs in Mark 16:17. The signs are related to the belief of the people in both cases.
Lunn also sees a parallel in the snakes mentioned in the longer ending: "they shall take up serpents" (Mark 16:18). Taking up a serpent with his hand is exactly what Moses does after his rod is turned into a snake by the Lord (Exodus 4:2-3). It's a fascinating parallel that I hadn't noticed before. Also in this episode, "hands" play an important role in both accounts.
Mark's use of "hardening" of hearts also has affinity to the Exodus account in the Old Testament, both from the Egyptian's response to his message and miracles, and in the waning faith of the House of Israel.
Moses is also commanded to "go" and carry out his work of deliverance from slavery (Exodus 3:10), just as the Apostles are commanded to "go" and preach the Gospel among all nations.
With this perspective, it seems that much in the longer ending resonates subtly with the exodus theme that permeates Mark, consistent with common authorship and thematic intent.
In many cases, what we learn from Lunn has ramifications for Book of Mormon studies. For example, what happens when we look at 3 Nephi through the lens of the Exodus account? Does it show similar themes in the appearance of the Messiah to Book of Mormon peoples? Is there a new Exodus present in that book? And does Lunn's analysis of the theme of transfiguration offer any help in appreciating 3 Nephi and its transfiguration/translation scenes?
Lunn's interesting lines of analysis reveals structure and unifying themes in Mark that can be easily missed by modern readers and, likewise, by ancient forgers. Analysis of the Exodus theme throughout Mark, including the disputer longer ending, is important evidence for its unity and for the authenticity of the disputed verses. The same can also be said of the weaker but still noteworthy Elijah theme. For a Jewish writer steeped in the Hebrew scriptures and aware of its Messianic prophecies and symbols, the Gospel of Mark is made more powerful and instructive through its subtle and clever adaption of those themes to describe the New Exodus led by Christ in a role with Elijah-like overtones. In Lunn's analysis of the parallels between the longer ending of Mark and the Exodus account, he offers this table as a summary (262-3, numbering added):
|1. Jesus "appeared" to the disciples (v.14)||The LORD "appeared" to Moses (3:16, 4:5)|
|2. Commissioned to "go" into all of creation and proclaim the gospel (v. 15 )||Commissioned to "go" to Egypt and bring out the Israelites from slavery (3:10)|
|3. "Whoever believes . . . whoever does not believe . . ." (v. 16 )||"What if they will not believe me...?" (4:1); "that they may believe..." (4:5)|
|4. "signs" (v. 17 )||"signs" (4:9, etc)|
|5. "with their hands" (v. 18)||"in his hand" (4:4)|
|6. "they will pick up snakes" (v. 18)||Moses took hold of a snake (4:4)|
|7. The disciples went and preached, accompanied by signs (vv. 19 –20)||Moses went and spoke the message and performed the signs (4:20, 30–31)|
|8. "hardness of heart" (v. 14)||"hardened . . . heart" (passim)|
|9. "cast out seven demons" (v. 9 )||cast out seven nations (3:8; 34:24, etc)|
In looking at the parallels Lunn sees in the ending of Mark with the appearance of Christ and His commission to the Apostles, we may wonder if anything similar might be happening in 3 Nephi with the appearance of Christ to Book of Mormon peoples. Exodus themes are strongly present in the Book of Mormon, though most strongly in the writings of Nephi. Alma the Younger, clearly a devoted student of the brass plates, also uses Exodus themes in his writings. But do we find that in the 3 Nephi account of Christ's appearance and ministry in the New World?
Several of the items in Lunn's list have relationships to the Book of Mormon account. Obviously, Christ's ministry begins with an appearance to the Nephites. The heading before 3 Nephi 11, present in the earliest manuscripts of the Book of Mormon and thus representing text from the gold plates, not a later editorial insertion, states that "Jesus Christ sheweth himself unto the people of Nephi.... And on this wise did he shew himself unto them" (see Royal Skousen, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 593). The word "appeared" is also used directly in the body of the chapter. After a divine voice speaks three times to the people to call attention to the descent of Christ, they look up and see a Man descending from heaven, but did not know what it meant and "though it was an angel that had appeared unto them" (3 Nephi 11:8). The same word, "appeared," as found in the KJV of Mark and Exodus is also used to describe the visit of the Lord in the New World.
Incidentally, just as the Nephites initially thought it was an angel appearing unto them, so Exodus 3 initially reports that "an angel of the Lord appeared unto [Moses]" in the fire of the burning bush (vs. 2), but shortly thereafter we learn that it is actually God calling Moses from the midst of the bush (vv. 4-6).
Regarding issue 2, the charge to "go" given to Moses and the Apostles is also found in 3 Nephi 11:41 in the introductory words of Christ, where He commissions His disciples to "go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth." It is a commission to go unto "this people," but the words and the Gospel message are intended to be taken "unto the ends of the earth." This echoes the commission in the longer ending of Mark and reminds us of God's command to Moses to "go" and free Israel in Exodus 3:10. ("Go" is found in many translations of Exodus 3:10 such as the NIV, though the KJV has "Come now" instead of the NIV's "So now, go," even though the corresponding Hebrew root, yalak, is much more frequently translated as "go" in the KJV -- see Strong's H3212, Blue Letter Bible.)
The next three issues in Lunn's table, items 3 to 5 dealing with belief, signs, and hands, are all present in 3 Nephi 11 and somewhat in later parts of 3 Nephi. Before the miraculous appearance of the Lord, 3 Nephi 11:2 refers to the "sign" that had been given and fulfilled concerning His death in the Old World. Another dramatic sign is given immediately after His appearance, when the Lord invites the Nephites to come and "thrust your hands into my side" and to "feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world" (3 Nephi 11:14). Here the Lord offers his hands as a both a visual and tactile sign, and asks those present to use their hands to touch Him and confirm that He had been slain, removing any grounds for disbelief, that they might know that their God had appeared and completed His Atonement to redeem them. The topic of "signs" is explicitly addressed later, when the Lord speaks of a "sign" He will give Israel in the Latter-days so that they might know that the Lord is fulfilling His promises and keeping His covenant with Israel (3 Nephi 21:1, 2, 7).
The Exodus-related significance of Christ's opening words and the wounds He showed has been noted by S. Kent Brown in "The Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon," BYU Studies 30/3 (Summer 1990):111; reprinted and revised in S. Kent Brown, From Jerusalem to Zarahemla: Literary and Historical Studies of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 1998), 75-98. Brown observes that in ancient times, agents sent to negotiate for the release of captives in foreign lands would be sent with credentials that could be shown to confirm that they had the requisite authority. Thus, Moses and Aaron were sent as representatives of the Lord to Pharaoh (Ex. 3:10; 4:14–15) and presented their "credentials" in the form of divine signs worked by the power of the rod of Aaron/Moses (Exodus 7:8–12). Relating this concept to the Book of Mormon, Brown writes:
Brown points to additional parallels between 3 Nephi and the Exodus account, including the use of "I AM" and the response of the Nephites in bowing and worshiping Him. Who "had visited the children of Israel" (Exodus 4:31). Christ, of course, was visiting the Nephites, and in His address to them, said that the Father will "visit him [who believes in Christ] with fire and with the Holy Ghost" (3 Nephi 11:35).
When we turn to 3 Nephi, the need and the effort to recover those who were captives of sin becomes clear. The principal differences, of course, were that (a) the risen Jesus, the one who sought the recovery, came in person rather than sending a messenger, and (b) there was no captor to whom he needed to present his credentials. In this connection, important features of Jesus' visit grew out of the scene in which he presented his "credentials" and the tokens of his mission to those whom he sought to rescue. Note the following overtones in the wonderful moments just after his arrival: "Behold, I AM Jesus Christ whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I AM the light and the life of the world" (3 Ne. 11:10–11, capitalization added). The similarities with Moses' situation cannot be missed. In the first instance, Jesus identified himself as the one whom the gathered crowd had been expecting. Moses, too, had to identify himself as the envoy of Israel's God (Ex. 4:29–31). Further, Jesus announced himself specifically by using the divine name I AM, the same name which Moses carried from his interview on the holy mount (3:14). Additionally, as Moses had carried at least one token of his commission which had the form of a physical malady, namely, his arm which could be made leprous (4:6–8), so Jesus bore the tokens of his crucifixion in his person. Moreover, to demonstrate the validity of his wounds, Jesus asked the entire crowd of twenty-five hundred people (3 Ne. 17:25) to come forward so that "ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet" (11:14). My last point in this context is that as the children of Israel had "believed" Moses and had then "bowed their heads and worshipped" (Ex. 4:31), so the people in Bountiful, after "going forth one by one . . . did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come" (3 Ne. 11:15). They too "did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him" (11:17). And like the scene in which worship was extended to Jesus who was present, the Israelite slaves worshiped the Lord who "had visited the children of Israel" (Ex. 4:31).
Both the acceptance of the tokens and the response seem significant in each context.
Turning to the next item on Lunn's list, number 6, there is no mention of snakes or serpents in 3 Nephi, apart from a passage on the Sermon on the Mount as adapted for and quoted to the Nephites ("Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?" in 3 Nephi 14:10). However, Mormon in Mormon 9:22-25 later reports that Christ told the disciples essentially the same words found in the commission to the Apostles in the disputed longer ending of Mark (Mark 16:15-18, with the taking up of serpents mentioned in vs. 18 and in Mormon 9:24). Though it is so speculative that I hesitate to mention it, if the Nephites in Mesoamerica connected the brass serpent of Moses with Christ, perhaps in the context of an early form of what would become the Quetzalcoatl myth, then it is conceivable that there might be a link between touching Christ with their hands and the Exodus theme of Moses taking up the serpent that would become his rod again, or more directly a link to touching the living reality behind the symbol of the brass serpent. But if such a connection were intended in 3 Nephi, one might hope to find an allusion to the brass serpent or to Moses' rod associated with the scene in 3 Nephi 11.
As for item 7, speaking the message accompanied with signs, this was thoroughly accomplished by the twelve disciples in the New World. Beginning the very night after Jesus appeared, they undoubtedly led the effort to announce the coming of the Lord to thousands during the night that they might be present for His return the next day (3 Nephi 19:1-4). On the next day, they then began fulfilling their commission by teaching what Jesus had taught, dividing the crowd into twelve bodies, then leading them in prayer and teaching the very words that Christ had taught the day before (3 Nephi 19:5-8). That day their divinely appointed ministry would be confirmed through dramatic signs including the return of Christ in their midst. This commission to go and teach the words of Christ would be continued throughout their lives (3 Nephi 26:17). Numerous signs would accompany the ministry in particular of the three disciples who were given special power to tarry on earth until the return of Christ in the last days (3 Nephi 28:1-23). These three "did go forth upon the face of the land, and did minister unto all the people" (3 Nephi 28:18) and would miraculously surviving many attempts of the wicked to kill them or hold them captive (3 Nephi 28:19-22).
Item 8 dealing with the "hardness" of hearts is not clearly present in the context of Christ's ministry, though in 3 Nephi it is referenced as a key factor associated with the wickedness of the people before the great destruction in 3 Nephi 9. As reported in 3 Nephi 1:22, "there began to be lyings sent forth among the people, by Satan, to harden their hearts, to the intent that they might not believe in those signs and wonders which they had seen; but notwithstanding these lyings and deceivings the more part of the people did believe, and were converted unto the Lord." Here the hardening of hearts under Satan's influence leads to disbelief of the signs and wonders they saw that were pointing to the coming of Christ. Then 3 Nephi 2:1-2 again reports that the people "began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen," ascribing signs and wonders from God to the works of Satan or the deception of men. Further, in 3 Nephi 21, in speaking of a sign to be given in the latter days regarding the gathering of Israel, Christ states that the Gentiles may be counted among His people "if they will not harden their hearts," and in the following verse He observes that the His prophecies about the gathering of Israel in the last days "shall be a sign unto them [the Gentiles]" (3 Nephi 21:7). These passages link hardness of hearts to disbelief of divine signs, which is what we find in several verses in Exodus. For example, in Exodus 4:21, "the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart [the JST has "Pharaoh will harden his heart"], that he shall not let the people go." The hardened heart does not believe and obey in spite of signs. Later in Exodus 7:3-4, the Lord tells Moses that I will harden Pharaoh's heart [also changed to Pharaoh will harden his heart" in the JST], and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you" (NIV).
Other heart-related passages in 3 Nephi include 3 Nephi 7:16 where the great prophet Nephi, "being grieved for the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds -- went forth among the people" to preach repentance. Then when the Lord speaks to the Nephites immediately after the great destruction of 3 Nephi 9, He commands them to "offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (v. 20), which is the opposite of a hardened heart. In Christ's initial words to the Nephites, he warns against Satan's power over the hearts of men, to stir them up to anger (3 Nephi 11:29-30). While not using the word "hardness," the concept is related.
Item 9, as mentioned (casting out seven nations/seven demons), may be a weak element in Lunn's analysis and is not found in 3 Nephi. However, the Exodus theme of casting out pagan nations to prepare the way for Israel not only has parallels to Christ's casting out demons in Mark as part of a new Exodus, but also has links to 3 Nephi, where the theme of a New Exodus is also present. This New Exodus, unfortunately, appears to requiring casting out portions of a pagan Gentile nation in the New World, as described in 3 Nephi 20:15-22 and 21:12-24. The words Christ uses makes the ties to the Exodus particularly strong, for he introduces the concept after declaring that "this land" in the New World was given unto the Nephites/House of Israel for an inheritance (3 Nephi 20:14), and then begins the warning to the Gentiles on this land (3 Nephi 20:15-22), among whom the remnant of the House of Jacob shall be "as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep" (v. 16), which is quoting Micah 5:8, but also making reference to Numbers 23:22-24, where Balaam prophecies that Israel, as it had left Egypt and was entering its promised land, would "rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain" (vs. 24). This lion/young lion combination is repeated in a similar context in 3 Nephi 21:12. The future gathering of Israel, coupled with some degree of scattering of Gentile peoples that reject the Gospel, is part of the New Exodus of the last days and is rich in parallels to the original Exodus.
Significantly, nearly all of the Exodus themes that Lunn lists for the disputed ending of Mark, where Christ appears and gives the great commission to His apostles, are also found in 3 Nephi where Christ does the same with His twelve disciples in the New World. It was already known that Exodus themes run deep in the Book of Mormon, though 3 Nephi has received less attention than the abundant Exodus themes in the writings of Nephi and other early writers. Elements identified by Lunn in defense of the integrity of Mark also help us see more of the Exodus roots in 3 Nephi.
While Lunn focuses on Sinai-related parallels to Exodus 3 and 4, the Sinai experience continues in Exodus 6, where we find several noteworthy relationships to the 3 Nephi account in vv. 1-8:
1. Then the Lord said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.
2. And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord:
3. And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.
4. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.
5. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant.
6. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:
7. And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
8. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord.
Parallels to 3 Nephi occur in the declaration, "I am the Lord" and "I appeared" as well as the language around the covenant and the land of inheritance given the House of Israel, all discussed above. Further, Christ begins His words to the Nephites as he "stretched forth his hand and spake" (3 Nephi 11:10), similar to the "stretched out arm" in Exodus 6:6. He then made the declaration, "Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world" (3 Nephi 11:11-12).
Other parallels to consider include the location of appearance of the Lord at the temple in Bountiful, the "mountain of the Lord's house" (Isaiah 2:2), which can be connected to Mount Sinai, site of Moses' theophany.
As with the burning bush on Sinai, one of the striking elements in the 3 Nephi account of the Lord's ministry to the Nephites is the word "fire." The theme of fire and burning begins with the first hint of the Lord's appearance, as the "small voice" from the heavens pierced the souls of the people gathered at the temple and "did cause their hearts to burn" (3 Nephi 11:3). After Christ appears and speaks, he says that those who believe in Him will be visited "with fire and the Holy Ghost" (3 Nephi 11:35). Being baptized with "fire and the Holy Ghost" is mentioned again in 3 Nephi 12:1, 2. Dramatically, in 3 Nephi 17:34, the little children in the group are encircled with heavenly fire.
The transfiguration of Christ, an important Exodus theme in Mark 9, also plays a large role in 3 Nephi, with transfiguration occurring for Christ and his disciples (3 Nephi 19:14, 24-25), a scene in which "the light of [Christ's] countenance did smile upon them" (v. 25) and caused the disciples faces and clothing to glow white like Christ in this mystical transfiguration scene, apparently alluding to the way that Moses' face shone when he came down from Sinai in Exodus 34:35. The surrounding of the children in 3 Nephi 17 with divine fire may also count as a transfiguration scene.
Finally, the translation of the three Nephite disciples should also be considered. Here Lunn's analysis of the transfiguration of Christ in Mark 9, relevant to the many ways Mark alludes to the Exodus in his writings, also has relevance to 3 Nephi. One of the parallels between Mark 9 and the Exodus is that "Moses and Jesus both take with them three named persons (Exodus 24:1, 9; Mark 9:2)" (Lunn, 256). The three Nephites who are translated/transfigured and given power to live until Christ returns would seem to fit that pattern, but their names are withheld though among the listed twelve (3 Nephi 28:1-17). The word "transfiguration" is used twice to describe the change (3 Nephi 28:15, 17) which was accompanied by being caught up into heaven as the dramatic change took place (3 Nephi 28:13-15).
Among the other Exodus concepts that occur in 3 Nephi, another dramatic one is the feeding of the people with bread and wine in a sacramental meal offered by Christ, even though there was no bread nor wine that was brought for that event (3 Nephi 20:3-7), in parallel to the feeding of Israel with manna and miraculously produced water during their journey in the wilderness.
Another water-related concept from Exodus was the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14), for which Lunn sees parallels in Mark to teachings regarding baptism. This is consistent with 3 Nephi's emphasis on baptism, one of the first topics that Christ touches upon after he appears (3 Nephi 11:21-27). Baptism, of course, is a ceremony whose symbolism includes being rescued from the waters of death and chaos. Water is explicitly mentioned in 3 Nephi: "ye shall go down and stand in the water" (3 Nephi 11:23), "ye shall immerse them in the water" and "come forth again out of the water" (3 Nephi 11:26), "I have given power that they may baptize you with water" and "after ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and the Holy Ghost" (3 Nephi 12:1), and four times in the context of baptism in 3 Nephi 19 (vv. 10-13), including going down to the water's edge (3 Nephi 19:10), which may be a parallel to the House of Israel approaching the Red Sea before the miracle began or to the crossing of the Jordan by Joshua and the priests carrying the tabernacle (Joshua 3:5-17, with the "brink of the water of the Jordan" mentioned in vs. 8, or "the edge of the Jordan's waters" in the NIV). Further, those who are not built upon his rock but on a sandy foundation will be received by the gates of hell "when the floods come" (3 Nephi 11:40, 18:13), followed by two references to the flood-like "waters of Noah" (3 Nephi 22:9, quoting Isaiah 54:9), waters whose destructive force reminds us of the Red Sea that destroyed the Egyptian army with its horses and chariots.
Speaking of horses and chariots, Christ's partial quotation of Micah 5:10 in 3 Nephi 21:14, "I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots," is likely a reference to the destruction of Egypt's horses and chariots in the Red Sea (Exodus 14:6-9, 17-18, 23-28, 15:19; and especially Deuteronomy 11:4 where the Lord "destroyed" the Egyptian's horses and chariots).
The "cloud" that surrounds Jesus and hides Him from the Nephites as He ascends into heaven (3 Nephi 18:38) is also reminiscent of the cloud associated with God's presence and power in the Exodus story (Exodus 13:21-22, 14:19-20, 24, 16:10, 19:9, 16, 24:15-16, 18, 34:5, 40:34-38).
Christ's command to "Look unto me and endure to the end" (3 Nephi 15:9), followed by healing of the people (3 Nephi 17:9), could point to the account of the brass serpent that healed Israelites who would look to that symbol of Christ (Numbers 21:8-9), as George S. Tate has suggested in "The Typology of the Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon."
In addition to multiple Exodus themes that unite the longer ending of Mark with the rest of his text, Lunn also notes the subtle presence of references to Elijah in Mark's text, including the longer ending (Lunn, 263-5). Following Lunn's lead, we also see Elijah references in 3 Nephi. The only explicit reference to Elijah in the Book of Mormon occurs in the words of Christ in 3 Nephi 25:5, quoting Malachi 4:5 about the future sending of Elijah. Further, there may be an allusion to Elijah's theophany on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:9-15), where Elijah witnessed destructive forces of wind, earthquake and fire (1 Kings 19:11-12), akin perhaps to the destruction reported in 3 Nephi 9, followed by the voice of the Lord as "a still small voice" (1 Kings 19:12), like the "small voice" that pierced the Nephites to the center and caused their hearts to burn (3 Nephi 11:3; cf. Helaman 5:30) as Christ began His majestic descent to them.
Lunn's work on the longer ending of Mark not only helps us understand the appropriateness of the word that Christ taught to His New World disciples, following the commission given in Mark 16, but also gives us tools and perspectives to better understand subtle themes woven into the description of Christ's ministry to the Nephites. As always, there is more to the Book of Mormon than meets the eye.
One Day in the Life of Joseph Smith, Translator Extraordinaire of the Book of Mormon--a script for a satirical skit dealing with allegations that Joseph Smith plagiarized from numerous sources in preparing the Book of Mormon.
FARMS Reviews of Books, originally known as Review of Books on the Book of Mormon -- these publications, now archived at ScholarsArchive.BYU.edu (search for items or use the drop-down box to select specific volumes), offer some of the best resources for intellectually refuting the arguments of many popular anti-Mormon publications.
. Free Online Books at the Maxwell Institute--many gems for a lifetime of reading.