Skip to comments.The problem with snake-handling: it's not in the Bible
Posted on 06/01/2012 1:01:23 PM PDT by ReformationFan
Two days ago, the Washington Post published a lengthy story on snake-handling pastor Mack Wolford, who died Sunday night from, well, a snakebite he got in church.
Wolford cited Mark 16:17-18 as the source for his practice of handling rattlesnakes, water moccasins, copperheads and other venomous snakes. And Mark 16:18 does seem clear: "they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them."
There's only one problem: Mark 16:18 is not in the Bible.
The last 12 verses of Mark's gospel were added sometime after the original gospel began to circulate, likely to provide a supplement since Mark's account stops so abruptly in Mark 16:8. The reason for the abrupt end of Mark's original account is likely that the final leaf was somehow lost before it began to be copied.
According to eminent New Testament scholar Bruce Metzger, Mark 16:9-20 is missing from the two earliest and most authoritative manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, from the Old Latin codex Bobiensis, and from ancient Syriac, Armenian and Georgian manuscripts.
Early church fathers Clement of Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of these verses, and Jerome and early church historian Eusebius write that the passage was missing from almost all the Greek copies of Mark's gospel they had seen.
Many manuscripts that do contain this section have scribal notations to the effect that older Greek copies lacked it, and in other manuscripts there are scribal markings indicating, according to Metzger, that it is a "spurious addition."
(Excerpt) Read more at renewamerica.com ...
Even if it is scripture, snakes can’t read.
I have faith that God won’t let a snake bite me if I don’t pick it up.
So far he hasn’t let me down.
If you are so bored that you need to play with death, find something else to do.
Except of course you are in correct
Since Mark 16:9-20 is part of the Gospel of Mark in the Vulgate, and the passage has been routinely read in the churches since ancient times (as demonstrated by its use by Ambrose, Augustine, Peter Chrysologus, Severus of Antioch, Leo, etc.), the Council’s decree affirms the canonical status of the passage. This passage was also used by Protestants during the Protestant Reformation; Martin Luther used Mark 16:16 as the basis for a doctrine in his Shorter Catechism. Mark 16:9-20 was included in the Rheims New Testament, and in the King James Bible and other influential translations. In most modern-day translations based primarily on the Alexandrian Text, it is included but is accompanied by brackets or by special notes, or both.
oh and by the way, most reformation fans do not like textual critics
The problem with snake-handling is that you get bitten and you die
I believe Clement of Alexandria was around long before Martin Luther, Rheims New Testament, or the King James Bible by about 1,400 years.
Is the Bible what academic palaeographers say it is?
Or is the Bible what believers have historically read as the Word in their worship?
Mark 16:9-20 may fail by some of the standards of the academy - but this pericope passes with flying colors by the standards of the Church.
And it is the importance of scripture in the Church that generated the interest in creating the academic endeavor of textual analysis in the first place - it seems as if the discipline has forgotten its roots.
I bet they are not drinking any deadly poisons.
It’s in my bible. I checked. Still, pretty dumb idea. See Matthew 4:5-7.
I wonder if it was an addition by some group trying to sell it to some group who had snakes as part of their established rituals?
A horrible statement that casts doubt on the power of God to preserve his word.
The truth is that Mark's gospel does not end abruptly but in verse 20. The vast majority of ancient manuscripts include all the verses.
The key to understanding the snake verse is in the context and the last words of the book. The words were addressed to the apostles (v 14) and not us today. The last words of the book says that the believers were confirming the word with signs following, one of them being living through deadly snake bites. God never asked men to believe new revelation without miraculous confirmation. The word is confirmed now so miracles have ceased (I Corinthians 13).
The article says that his works "show no knowledge" of this particular pericope.
That is a meaningless point.
If Clement had written an exhaustive commentary on Mark that discussed all the verses except for these, then it would be a meaningful discussion.
But Clement wrote only a few hundred pages that survive, and they are works of exhortation - not textual commentaries.
He quotes less than 5% of the Bible - does that mean he had no knowledge of 95% of the Bible?
This is the definition of a weak argument.
No, the “long ending” to Mark is part of Holy Scripture, as it occurs in the Scriptures as received and used by the Holy Orthodox Church since ancient times (what Western scholars call the “Byzantine Majority Text”).
The problem with snake handling is that doing it intentionally on the basis of Mark 16:18 is an example of what Anglicans back when they were identifiably Christian used to call “expounding one part of Scripture in a manner repugnant to another”, as it violates the point made by Our Lord in his reply to the Devil’s temptation to engage in a similarly risky behavior (leaping from the top of the Temple in Jerusalem) on the basis of a Scriptural promise of safety. As we all know, Our Lord demurred and told the Evil One, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”
On the other hand, St. Paisios of the Holy Mountain had asps wander in and out of his cell, and was quite friendly with them. So much so that when some pilgrims coming to visit him killed an asp on their way up the mountain to his cell, he came and berated them (having seen the snake’s demise by a gift of second sight), “What have you done? What have you done? You killed my friend!”
The problem we have is that we have a First Hand observer, who dealt directly with the Son of God; and wrote his books - then we have 2,000 years in which scholars have had time to “pad” the Word of God with the Word of Man.
Me, I’m a big fan of the Dead Sea Scrolls - because they have slipped through time (written between 150 BC to 70 AD) largely untouched by the corruptions of man. It is in Man’s nature to exaggerate - even truths from God. The closest thing we can get to the origional message, is the origional manuscript - and barring that, perhaps a manuscript that hasn’t been touched for nearly 2,000 years.
When Islam is pushed to it’s irrational extremes (a short trip usually) you end up with exploding Jihadis and such. However, when you push Christianity to it’s irrational extremes, you end up with snake handlers and televanglist...and no one gets killed.
I always figured the problem with snake-handling was that it pissed off the snake. A lot.