Mary Magdalene: Her distinguishing name Magdalene (meaning “Of, or Belonging to, Magdala”) likely stems from the town of Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee about halfway between Capernaum and Tiberias. It has been suggested that Magdala was Mary’s hometown or place of residence.—See study notes on Mt 15:39; Lu 8:2.
James the Less: One of Jesus’ apostles and the son of Alphaeus. (Mt 10:2, 3; Mr 3:18; Lu 6:15; Ac 1:13) The designation “the Less” may indicate that this James was either not as old or not as tall as the other apostle James, the son of Zebedee.
Salome: Probably from a Hebrew word meaning “peace.” Salome was a disciple of Jesus. A comparison of Mt 27:56 with Mr 3:17 and 15:40 may indicate that Salome was the mother of the apostles James and John; Matthew mentions “the mother of the sons of Zebedee,” and Mark calls her “Salome.” Further, a comparison with Joh 19:25 points to Salome as possibly being the fleshly sister of Mary, Jesus’ mother. If so, then James and John were first cousins of Jesus. In addition, as Mt 27:55, 56, Mr 15:41, and Lu 8:3 imply, Salome was among the women who accompanied Jesus and ministered to him from their belongings.
Mary Magdalene: See study note on Mt 27:56.
James: That is, James the Less.—See study note on Mr 15:40.
Salome: See study note on Mr 15:40.
bought spices . . . apply them to his body: Jesus’ body had already been prepared for burial “according to the burial custom of the Jews.” (Joh 19:39, 40) However, since Jesus died about three hours before the start of the Sabbath and the Jews were not allowed to do such work during the Sabbath, this task was likely done hastily. Now, on this first day after the Sabbath, that is, the third day from Jesus’ execution, the women may have come to add more spices and oils, perhaps as a means of preserving the body for a longer period. (Lu 23:50–24:1) Likely, they would apply the spices and oils over the wrapped body.
the first day of the week: That is, Nisan 16. For the Jews, the day immediately after the Sabbath was the first day of the week.
tomb: Or “memorial tomb.” A vault, or chamber, cut into the soft limestone rock, rather than a natural cave. Such tombs often contained benchlike shelves or niches where bodies could be laid.—See Glossary, “Memorial tomb.”
the stone: Apparently a circular stone, since this verse says that the women asked about who would “roll the stone away,” and verse 4 says that it “had been rolled away.” It might have weighed a ton or more. Matthew’s account calls it “a big stone.”—Mt 27:60.
tell his disciples that he was raised up: These women are not only the first disciples to be told of Jesus’ resurrection but also the ones instructed to inform the other disciples. (Mt 28:2, 5, 7) According to unscriptural Jewish tradition, a woman’s testimony was not permissible in a court of law. By contrast, Jehovah’s angel dignifies the women by giving them this joyful assignment.
tell his disciples: See study note on Mt 28:7.
and Peter: Mark is the only Gospel writer to include the detail that Peter was specifically named in the angel’s message. (Compare the parallel account at Mt 28:7.) Joh 20:2 says that Mary Magdalene brought the message “to Simon Peter and to the other disciple,” that is, John. Sometime before Jesus appeared to his disciples as a group, he apparently appeared to Peter when Peter was alone. (Lu 24:34; 1Co 15:5) This personal attention, plus the specific mention of Peter in this angelic message, no doubt reassured Peter that he had been forgiven for three times denying any association with his friend.—Mt 26:73-75.
for they were in fear: According to the earliest available manuscripts of the last part of Mark, the Gospel ends with the words found in verse 8. Some assert that such an ending is too abrupt to have been the original conclusion to the book. However, in view of Mark’s generally terse writing style, that assertion is not necessarily valid. Also, fourth-century scholars Jerome and Eusebius indicate that the authentic record closes with the words “for they were in fear.”
There are a number of Greek manuscripts and translations into other languages that add either a long or a short conclusion after verse 8. The long conclusion (consisting of 12 extra verses) is found in Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Ephraemi Syri rescriptus, and Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis, all from the fifth century C.E. It also appears in the Latin Vulgate, the Curetonian Syriac, and the Syriac Peshitta. However, it does not appear in two earlier fourth-century Greek manuscripts, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, or in Codex Sinaiticus Syriacus of the fourth or fifth century, or in the earliest Sahidic Coptic manuscript of Mark of the fifth century. Similarly, the oldest manuscripts of Mark in Armenian and Georgian end at verse 8.
Certain later Greek manuscripts and translations into other languages contain the short conclusion (consisting of just a couple of sentences). The Codex Regius of the eighth century C.E. has both conclusions, giving the shorter conclusion first. It prefaces each conclusion with a note saying that these passages are current in some quarters, though it evidently recognizes neither of them as authoritative.
The short conclusion after Mr 16:8 is not part of the inspired Scriptures. It reads as follows:
But all the things that had been commanded they related briefly to those around Peter. Further, after these things, Jesus himself sent out through them from the east to the west the holy and incorruptible proclamation of everlasting salvation.
The long conclusion after Mr 16:8 is not part of the inspired Scriptures. It reads as follows:
9 After he rose early on the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magʹda·lene, from whom he had expelled seven demons. 10 She went and reported to those who had been with him, as they were mourning and weeping. 11 But they, when they heard he had come to life and had been viewed by her, did not believe. 12 Moreover, after these things he appeared in another form to two of them walking along, as they were going into the country; 13 and they came back and reported to the rest. Neither did they believe these. 14 But later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table, and he reproached their lack of faith and hardheartedness, because they did not believe those who had beheld him now raised up from the dead. 15 And he said to them: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16 He that believes and is baptized will be saved, but he that does not believe will be condemned. 17 Furthermore, these signs will accompany those believing: By the use of my name they will expel demons, they will speak with tongues, 18 and with their hands they will pick up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly it will not hurt them at all. They will lay their hands upon sick persons, and these will become well.”
19 So, then, the Lord Jesus, after having spoken to them, was taken up to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 They, accordingly, went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and backed up the message through the accompanying signs.
The Codex Sinaiticus is a vellum manuscript written in Greek and dating from the fourth century C.E. It contains all of the Christian Greek Scriptures and portions of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures known as the Septuagint. Scholars consider Codex Sinaiticus to be one of the authoritative sources for the Greek Bible text. Until the mid-1800’s, the manuscript was located in St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai. Today, a major part of this manuscript, including the section shown here, is preserved at the British Library in London, England. This photo shows the end of the Gospel of Mark (1) and the beginning of Luke’s account (2). In both this manuscript and the equally important fourth-century manuscript known as the Codex Vaticanus, Mark’s account clearly concludes with the words that appear in modern Bibles at Mark 16:8.—See study note on Mr 16:8.
The Vatican Manuscript No. 1209, also known as Codex Vaticanus, dates to the fourth century C.E. Scholars consider it to be one of the authoritative sources for the Greek Bible text. This image shows the end of the Gospel of Mark. In both this manuscript and the equally important fourth-century manuscript known as Codex Sinaiticus, Mark’s account clearly concludes with the words that appear in modern-day Bibles at Mark 16:8. (See study note on Mr 16:8.) The codex was possibly produced in Alexandria, Egypt. This codex originally contained the entire Bible in Greek and probably had approximately 820 leaves, 759 of which remain. Most of Genesis is missing, as well as a part of Psalms, Hebrews 9:14 to 13:25, and all of 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Revelation. Codex Vaticanus is preserved at the Vatican Library in Rome, Italy, and is known to have been there from as early as the 15th century.