More on Mark 16:8
One of the more encouraging events of the past week was an email from David Catchpole that he found persuasive and enjoyable my essay on Mark (“The Women, the Tomb, and the Climax of Mark”, posted in manuscript form on the “Essays, etc.” page of this site). He is now retired from his professorial post in the University of Exeter, but still active in scholarly pursuits.
It was one of his essays that first alerted me to the more positive reading of Mark 16:8, an essay insufficiently noted in my view: David R. Catchpole, “The Fearful Silence of the Women At the Tomb: A Study in Markan
Theology,” Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 18 (1977): 3-10.
He observed that the Greek phrase more typically taken as ascribing a disobedient silence to the women in 16:8 actually could (and should) be taken to mean that the women did not speak to others en route to conveying the message that they had been given. Effectively, “they said nothing to anyone (else).” David drew attention to Mark 1:44 where a very similar phrase is used in a sentence that obviously is to involve the leper communicating his miraculous healing to the temple priest, but not speaking to others.
I’m not the only one to have found David’s proposal persuasive. But it’s disappointing how many scholars seem never to have considered any alternative to reading Mark 16:8 as indicating total silence/disobedience.