no resurrection in mark

No Res­ur­rec­tion In Mark’s Gospel : Paul of Tar­sus Says That The Gospel Of Mark Is Futile

The whole of Chris­tian­i­ty rests on the ques­tion of the res­ur­rec­tion as its founder, Paul of Tar­sus writes : And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is use­less and you are still guilty of your sins.“1 But the first of the four gospels, i.e., the Gospel accord­ing to Mark, appar­ent­ly did not receive Paul’s memo.

There is no res­ur­rec­tion in Mark’s gospel. And this is a very impor­tant point as we keep in mind that each of the gospels was ini­tial­ly divorced from each oth­er and were writ­ten in dif­fer­ent local­i­ties for dif­fer­ent audi­ences. There was no canon of the New Tes­ta­ment as we know it today in the first 70 years of Chris­tian­i­ty in the first century.

No Res­ur­rec­tion In Mark ?

The first per­son to canon­ise scrip­ture was the heretic Mar­cion and this was, accord­ing to most bib­li­cal crit­ics, the impe­tus behind the ortho­dox canon­i­sa­tion process. Per­haps it is also per­ti­nent to note that a gospel that pre­dates Mark, the so-called Say­ings Gospel or Q (quelle, which means source” in Ger­man), which has been recon­struct­ed by schol­ars through the Syn­op­tic Prob­lem, has absolute­ly no cru­ci­fix­ion or res­ur­rec­tion nar­ra­tives in it. Pro­fes­sor James Robin­son writes : “…the Say­ings Gospel has no pas­sion nar­ra­tive or res­ur­rec­tion sto­ries…” 2. Bart D. Ehrman writes : Most strik­ing was the cir­cum­stance that in none of the Q mate­ri­als (that is, in none of the pas­sages found in Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark) is there an account of Jesus’ death and res­ur­rec­tion.“3

The Gospel of Mark seems to sup­port the Islam­ic world­view as it stark­ly keeps silent or omits any men­tion of the res­ur­rec­tion. The gospel ends in verse eight with the women, in utter con­fu­sion, flee­ing the scene of the tomb, which was empty :

Trem­bling and bewil­dered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said noth­ing to any­one because they were afraid.“4

The late Catholic Jesuit schol­ar John McKen­zie writes :

…for Mark real­ly has no res­ur­rec­tion and no appari­tions, just the emp­ty tomb.“5

Light­foot Pro­fes­sor of Divin­i­ty and New Tes­ta­ment schol­ar, James Dunn writes :

… the ear­li­est Gospel (Mark) ends with­out any record of a res­ur­rec­tion appear­ance’,…“6

Dean at the Insti­tute of Pas­toral Stud­ies at Loy­ola Uni­ver­si­ty, Dr Bri­an Shmisek writes :

For our pur­pos­es, let us note that the ear­li­est gospel has no appear­ance nar­ra­tive and leaves many ques­tions unan­swered.“7

Chair of the Depart­ment and Cen­tre for the Study of Reli­gion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, Prof. John S. Klop­pen­borg writes :

Mark, famous­ly, has no res­ur­rec­tion appear­ance sto­ries, only the dis­cov­ery of an emp­ty tomb.“8

Mark’s Faith Is Futile”?

The ear­ly Chris­t­ian land­scape was any­thing but mono­lith­ic. Var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties empha­sized dif­fer­ent aspects of Jesus’ life, teach­ings, and pur­port­ed mir­a­cles. How­ev­er, Paul’s dec­la­ra­tion in 1 Corinthi­ans 15:179 sets a clear stan­dard for what he believes is the cor­ner­stone of the Chris­t­ian faith : the res­ur­rec­tion. The Gospel of Mark, on the oth­er hand, does­n’t seem to align com­plete­ly with Paul’s viewpoint.

Paul’s Empha­sis vs. Mark’s Narrative

  • Paul’s claim is cat­e­gor­i­cal : with­out the res­ur­rec­tion, Chris­t­ian faith col­laps­es. It’s the linch­pin of his the­ol­o­gy.10 The sig­nif­i­cance he attrib­ut­es to the res­ur­rec­tion is unequiv­o­cal, mak­ing it not just a the­o­log­i­cal claim, but also a fun­da­men­tal tenet for sal­va­tion.11
  • Mark’s Gospel, how­ev­er, does­n’t quite toe Paul’s line. The end­ing is abrupt, and the con­spic­u­ous absence of any post-res­ur­rec­tion appear­ance of Jesus to his dis­ci­ples is a glar­ing omis­sion, giv­en Paul’s stance.12

The Impli­ca­tions for Ear­ly Chris­t­ian Communities

  • If a Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty in the first cen­tu­ry pri­mar­i­ly relied on Mark’s Gospel, their under­stand­ing of the post-cru­ci­fix­ion events would be dra­mat­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent from those who adhered to Paul’s let­ters or the lat­er gospels.13
  • Such a com­mu­ni­ty would be in the dark about the res­ur­rec­tion, giv­en that Mark’s account con­cludes with women flee­ing from the emp­ty tomb in fear, telling no one.14

Con­trast­ing with Oth­er Gospels

The oth­er gospels – Matthew, Luke, and John – not only describe the res­ur­rec­tion but elab­o­rate upon Jesus’ appear­ances, inter­ac­tions, and instruc­tions to his dis­ci­ples post-res­ur­rec­tion.15 When placed side by side with Mark, these gospels make Mark’s account look not just incom­plete but almost defi­cient.10

Intent or Oversight ?

Crit­ics argue that the omis­sion might be inten­tion­al. If Mark intend­ed to present a full pic­ture of Jesus’ min­istry and sig­nif­i­cance, omit­ting the res­ur­rec­tion seems like a crit­i­cal over­sight.11 Such a glar­ing omis­sion, par­tic­u­lar­ly of an event Paul deemed cen­tral, either sug­gests Mark had a dif­fer­ent the­ol­o­gy or was unaware of the res­ur­rec­tion nar­ra­tives.13

Ambi­gu­i­ty or Incompleteness ?

Mark’s Gospel does hint at an emp­ty tomb but pro­vides no expla­na­tion. While some may argue this serves to fos­ter a sense of mys­tery, from a crit­i­cal stand­point, it could be seen as a fail­ure to pro­vide clo­sure or clar­i­ty to its read­ers.14

Chal­lenges to Pauline Christianity

If Mark’s Gospel was the pri­ma­ry source for a com­mu­ni­ty, their under­stand­ing of Chris­tian­i­ty would be in direct con­flict with Paul’s teach­ings.15 By Paul’s own words, their faith would be futile”, and they’d still be guilty of their sins”.16

In a crit­i­cal analy­sis, the Gospel of Mark either points towards a diver­gent ear­ly Chris­t­ian the­ol­o­gy or under­scores the evo­lu­tion­ary nature of Chris­t­ian doc­trine in its nascent stages.13 Giv­en Paul’s promi­nence and the lat­er gospel accounts, Mark’s Gospel becomes an out­lier, mak­ing its accep­tance in the canon­i­cal New Tes­ta­ment a curi­ous deci­sion, giv­en its diver­gence from the Pauline empha­sis on the res­ur­rec­tion.17


The orig­i­nal end­ing of Mark proved very dis­turb­ing to the ear­ly scribes of the Bible and it real­ly did not sit too well with them. So per­turbed was their the­o­log­i­cal sen­si­bil­i­ties, that they sought to smoothen the end­ing with their own ver­sion of an end­ing by append­ing to verse 8 the longer end­ing of Mark that extends from verse 9 to 20 and that cur­rent­ly remains part of the main text in the New King James Ver­sion. In fact, more cre­ative scribes added two oth­er ver­sions of the end­ing, i.e., the Freer Logion and the Short­er Ending.

North Amer­i­ca’s most emi­nent tex­tu­al crit­ic — the pro­tégé of Bruce Met­zger, Bart D. Ehrman — writes :

Obvi­ous­ly, scribes thought the end­ing was too abrupt. The women told no one ? Then, did the dis­ci­ples nev­er learn of the res­ur­rec­tion ? And did­n’t Jesus him­self ever appear to them ? How could that be the end­ing ! To resolve the prob­lem, scribes added an end­ing.“18

And that was how easy it was to mint the so-called words of God” in Christianity.

In short, the gospel accord­ing to Mark — accord­ing to the gospel of Paul — is noth­ing but a use­less gospel, because with­out the res­ur­rec­tion the faith of Chris­tian­i­ty is use­less and the res­ur­rec­tion sim­ply does not exist in Mark’s gospel.Endmark

Cite this arti­cle as : Ibn Anwar, No Res­ur­rec­tion In Mark’s Gospel : Paul of Tar­sus Says That The Gospel Of Mark Is Futile,” in Bis­mi­ka Allahu­ma, March 11, 2017, last accessed May 27, 2024, https://​bis​mikaal​lahu​ma​.org/​b​i​b​l​e​/​r​e​s​u​r​r​e​c​t​i​o​n​-​i​n​-​m​a​rk/
  1. 1 Corinthi­ans 15:17, NLT[]
  2. Robin­son, J. M. (n.d.). The Real Jesus of the Say­ings Q” Gospel[]
  3. Ehrman, B. D. (2003), Lost Chris­tian­i­ties (New York : Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press) p. 57[]
  4. Mark 16:8, NIV[]
  5. McKen­zie, J. L. (2009), The New Tes­ta­ment With­out Illu­sion (Eugene, Ore­gon : Wipf & Stock), p. 198[]
  6. Dunn, J. D. G. (1985), The Evi­dence for Jesus (Louisville, Ken­tucky : The West­min­ster Press), p. 66[]
  7. Schmisek, B. (2013), Res­ur­rec­tion of the Flesh or Res­ur­rec­tion from the Dead : Impli­ca­tions for The­ol­o­gy (Col­legeville, Min­neso­ta : Litur­gi­cal Press), p. 61[]
  8. Klop­pen­borg, J. S. (2008). Q, the Ear­li­est Gospel : An Intro­duc­tion to the Orig­i­nal Sto­ries and Say­ings of Jesus (Louisville, Ken­tucky : West­min­ster John Knox Press), p. 84[]
  9. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile ; you are still in your sins.” (NIV)[]
  10. Ehrman, B. D. (2005). Mis­quot­ing Jesus : The Sto­ry Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. Harper­San­Fran­cis­co.[][]
  11. Crossan, J. D. (1995). Jesus : A Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Biog­ra­phy. Harper­One.[][]
  12. Sanders, E. P. (1993). The His­tor­i­cal Fig­ure of Jesus. Pen­guin UK.[]
  13. Tabor, J. D. (2012). Paul and Jesus : How the Apos­tle Trans­formed Chris­tian­i­ty. Simon and Schus­ter.[][][]
  14. Mar­cus, J. (2002). Mark 1 – 8 : A New Trans­la­tion with Intro­duc­tion and Com­men­tary. Yale Uni­ver­si­ty Press.[][]
  15. Wright, N. T. (2003). The Res­ur­rec­tion of the Son of God. Fortress Press.[][]
  16. Ehrman, B. D. (2005). Mis­quot­ing Jesus : The Sto­ry Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. Harper­San­Fran­cis­co.[]
  17. Met­zger, B. M., & Ehrman, B. D. (2005). The Text of the New Tes­ta­ment : Its Trans­mis­sion, Cor­rup­tion, and Restora­tion. Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press.[]
  18. Ehrman, B. D. (2006). Whose Word is it?: The Sto­ry Behind Who Changed the New Tes­ta­ment and Why (Lon­don : The Con­tin­uüm Inter­na­tion­al Pub­lish­ing Group), p. 67[]


  1. Is it not good to cri­tique the bible ? it is cathar­tic ! Imag­ine the same is done to the Qur’an…It is need­less to hide behind the inli­bra­tion of the Qur’an even­tu­al­ly you have to emerge from its shad­ows. Bib­li­cal crit­i­cism as you point out is good and you quot­ed all research, remem­ber they are all Chris­tians who have a desire for demythol­o­giz­ing the scrip­ture is this, not the path this team in apolo­get­ics should walk to make Islam and the Qur’an relevant ?

  2. Mark 8:6 reads : but the angel said, Don’t be alarmed. You are look­ing for Jesus of Nazareth, who was cru­ci­fied. He isn’t here ! He is risen from the dead ! Look, this is where they laid his body.”

    So this arti­cle is not cor­rect. There is clear men­tion of the res­ur­rec­tion in Mark.

  3. Thank you very much for this arti­cle. Peo­ple could learn again and again, but they’ii find some­thing new. It vas very inter­est­ing for me to read anoth­er point of view and explanation.

  4. Mark 8:31_Jesus speaks of His com­ing death and res­ur­rec­tion. This web­site and arti­cles are deceitful.
    2 Corinthi­ans 4:1 – 6
    4 There­fore, since we have this min­istry, as we have received mer­cy, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced the hid­den things of shame, not walk­ing in crafti­ness nor han­dling the word of God deceit­ful­ly, but by man­i­fes­ta­tion of the truth com­mend­ing our­selves to every man’s con­science in the sight of God. 3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are per­ish­ing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blind­ed, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glo­ry of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach our­selves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and our­selves your bond­ser­vants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who com­mand­ed light to shine out of dark­ness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowl­edge of the glo­ry of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

    1. Cir­cu­lar argu­ment. Try again !

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