Friday, February 15, 2013

He Wants His Snakes Back

The pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church in Middlesboro Kentucky would like his snakes back.

The pastor was transporting the snakes, three rattlers and two copperheads, through Tennessee after purchasing them in Alabama (They sell snakes in Alabama? WTF?) for $800. Apparently our good pastor was stopped on Interstate 40 by the Tennessee Highway patrol for having windows with too dark a tint (Your car windows can have too dark a tint in Tennessee? WTF?) and the snakes were confiscated.

It seems that it’s illegal in Tennessee to possess any type of poisonous snake without a permit and typically only zoos and educational facilities can get one of those. Tennessee also has regulations about transporting poisonous snakes. Gee, good thinking. These are the first rational things I’ve ever heard about Tennessee.

In Kentucky, on the other hand, you can have poisonous snakes as long as they’re native species (You can keep poisonous snakes in Kentucky? WTF?), which of course the rattlers and copperheads are, and you have less than five of each species. You also need a special permit to bring snakes into Kentucky (GOOD thinking!).

Why would this guy want snakes you ask? It’s biblical. This church believes in a literal interpretation of Mark 16:17-18, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

There’s no polite way to say this so I’m just going to say it. Our pastor is a nut.

First of all, most objective scholars are convinced that Mark didn’t write Mark 16:9-20 but that it was added much later. Objective scholars are those that don't pursue biblical scholarship with the sole purpose of defending conservative Christian interpretations. In other words people that actual care about the truth.

There are actually four different endings to Mark.

The oldest and best manuscripts end after Mark 16:8, “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”

One manuscript continues after Mark 16:8 with “Then they quickly reported all these instructions to those around Peter. After this, Jesus himself also sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen,” but doesn’t have verses 9-20. Other manuscripts have this additional text and then continue on with verses 9-20.

The modern ending to Mark eliminates the “Then they quickly reported...” verse, which is an obvious interpolation that even contradicts the previous sentence, but continues on with verses 9-20.

There are a lot of arguments about what is the real ending to Mark including one that says the verses that originally followed Mark 16:8 are lost. I have no dog in that race but, in order of probability, I think it's most likely the original Mark (1) ended at Mark 16:8, (2) continued on with Mark 9-20 or (3) continued on but the original verses are lost.

Even if you’re of the mind that Mark 16:9-20 is a legitimate part of the Gospel of Mark, it doesn’t say POISONOUS snakes you twit!

How can anyone take Christianity seriously?

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