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Post Info TOPIC: Snake Handling and a Forged Ending of the Gospel of Mark


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Snake Handling and a Forged Ending of the Gospel of Mark

Snake Handling and a Forged Ending of the Gospel of Mark

The recent death of Jamie Coots, the pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, KY, while handling a rattle snake during a church service, has been well covered by the national media, including ABC’s “Nightline.”

Snake Bitten PastorCoots had been bitten previously in such demonstrations of faith, refusing medical treatment, but this particular bite became his last. He had even appeared on the National Geographic television reality show Snake Salvation. “Snake-handling” Pentecostals have been the butt of many jokes in our culture but their motivation goes back to a passage at the close of the Gospel of Mark where Jesus sends his apostles out to evangelize the world declaring:

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17-18).

Although there are two other New Testament passages that might give credence to this practice, it is this ending of Mark that has clearly become the hallmark.[1] It is hard to blame sincere folks with faith in Jesus, up against a scoffing public, who just want to demonstrate to others that the promises Jesus made here are true to this day. After all, these are thesigns that are to demonstrate to non-believers the truth of the Gospel! Those who believe such things now face a dilemma–is Coots a fool or a martyr–and have the promises of Jesus failed? But there is a another more serious problem here.

Based on our best manuscript evidence the longer ending of Mark (16:9-20), which appears in the King James Version and many other evangelical Christian translations, is aforgery and we have no idea who wrote it–much less whether Jesus ever said it! Of course among most conservative Pentecostals that makes little difference since questioning the King James Version of the Bible is akin to doubting there is a God! But there is much more at stake here than “snake handling” since the way Mark ends his gospel is critical to an understanding not only of Mark–our earliest Gospel, but of the ways in which the earliest Christian resurrection faith developed. I have written previously about this recommend this post to my readers who want to go a bit beyond the headlines on the snake handling tragedy:

The Strange Ending of Mark and Why It Makes All the Difference

Finally, I might point out that this is hardly a neutral subject with many passionate defenders of what they imagine to be true Christian faith. After all copies of the New Testament Revised Standard Version, which properly printed the three bogus endings of Mark in smaller print with notes indicating they were later “additions,” were burned in bonfires as the “Devils” translation in 1946 when it was first released. Here is a comment I recently received from an irate reader of the post above, ready to condemn me to the first of hell. Of course everyone who works on this material knows Burgon’s work, which is out of date and not considered of consequence on this matter by most academic scholars.

What is PATENTLY FALSE is not the Ending of Mark but all the ignorance and lies used to reject it, like this dumb article demonstrates.  All anyone has to do is read John William Burgon’s THE LAST TWELVE VERSES OF MARK, written over 130 years ago.  This textual scholar extraordinaire vindicated the reading factually from all the apostates who were trying to remove it from the Scripture.  Nothing since has come that overturns Burgon’s evidence.  Burgon was a REAL CHRISTIAN, born of the Spirit, and who knew the Scripture needed to be defended from all the unregenerate children of Hell, the wolves in sheep’s clothing who were attacking it.

  1. The book of Acts records a case in which Paul shakes a viper off his hand into a camp fire and is unharmed (Acts 28:3-5) and according to the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus sends out 70 disciples to preach his “Kingdom of God has drawn near” message he assures them: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you” (Luke 10: 19). []

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