no resurrection in mark

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

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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 protege 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 October 4, 2023,
  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 Continuum International Publishing Group), p. 67[]






5 responses to “No Resurrection In Mark’s Gospel: Paul of Tarsus Says That The Gospel Of Mark Is Futile”

  1. SamB Avatar

    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. Rene Avatar

    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. Иван Иванченков Avatar

    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. Jonny Ettinger Avatar
    Jonny Ettinger

    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. Bismika Allahuma Team Avatar

      Circular argument. Try again!

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