The “Confirmatory Test” of Mark 16

Some Bible scholars reject the validity of Mark 16:9-20 stating that “the most reliable early manuscripts” do not contain the verses 9-20, thus they must have been added to the Bible. They support this by quoting B. F. Westcott who said they were “no part of the original narrative but an appendage.” Some also appeal to the Catholic Encyclopedia (IX, 240):

“Its vocabulary and style differ so radically from the rest of the Gospel that it hardly seems possible that Mark himself composed it.”

But the facts show that only two Greek manuscripts (Mss) don’t have these verses 9-20. The Syriac (Peshito) Ms., the Latin translations derived from the Vetus Itala, the Gothic version (350 AD) and the Egyptian versions (the 4th century Coptic or 3rd century Thebaic) contain it.

Some scholars state that these verses are suspect because the Vaticanus Ms (an uncial text) leaves a blank space at Mark 16:9-20. But this same Vaticanus due to damage in the manuscript leaves out Genesis 1-46, Psalm 105:137, Hebrews 9:14-13:25 and all of 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus and even Revelation as well. The Mark 16:9-20 left out was also due to manuscript damage which made the copyist stop at verse 8.

Furthermore, the signs and doctrines listed in Mark 16:9-20 perfectly harmonise with the rest of the Bible (see Luke 24:49-53, John 6:62, Acts 1:9-11, 2:33, 7:33, Ephesians 1:20, Hebrew 1:3 etc). That settles it.

On the flip side are Muslim apologists like Zakir Naik who like to throw this Mark 16:17 at Christians as a “scientific confirmatory” test of true believers. He wrote:

“In the past ten years of my life, I have personally interacted with thousands of Christians including missionaries. I have not come across a single Christian who passed this confirmatory test.”

Thousands of Christians? This man’s exaggerations never cease to amaze me. Again, there is a vestige of ignorance in his narrative. Jesus said in that verse: “These SIGNS shall follow them that believe…” Signs are supernatural feats, not “scientific tests”.

If the “thousands of Christians” in Naik’s imagination didn’t know this simple fact, I expect his Muslim parrots to know better. Bible students agree that Jesus Christ and His disciples demonstrated these listed signs.

1. They casted out devils (Matt. 10:7-8, Acts 16:18).

2. The disciples spoke with new tongues (Acts 2:4, 10:44-48).

3. The disciples had authority over spiritual serpents and scorpions (Luke 10:19).

4. As part of God’s protection, they were immune to physical poison (Acts 28:1-5, Cf. 2Kings 4:4).

5. They healed the sick (Matt. 10:1-8, Acts 5:12).

These signs are also evident among Christians today. But we have to draw a line. Christians are not magicians who publicly show off their snake-handling or poison-drinking skills. We don’t put God to test by using His power as we wish in order to impress people or win their approval. This is what Satan tried to make Jesus do in Luke 4:8.

Now, when we apply this ‘confirmatory test’ on Muhammad whom Naik follows, his credibility as a prophet is seriously undermined.

1. Muhammad didn’t cast out a single demon from anyone, but actually came under the influence of a demonic spell in which he began to imagine himself having marathon sex (Bukhari 7:660).

2. Muhammad didn’t speak with any new tongues. His claims were also full of lies and fairy tales e.g claims of riding a winged camel to the 7th heaven (Bukhari 1:345).

3. He healed no one, but rather came to wound, enslave, punish and kill mankind (Bukhari 1:2:24).

4. He wasn’t immune to poison, he was instead killed by the effects of a poisoned mutton (Kitab al-Tabaqat 2:251-252).

Thus, what Naik (and his parrots) thought was his knock out punch to the Bible rebounds back to him and his false prophet with much more force.

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