Collection Staatsgalerie Bamberg/Bayerische Staatgemaldesammlungen/Photo by Jochen Remmer/Artothek

Jesus appears before the disciples gathered in the upper room in this panel (c. 1450) from an altarpiece by the German painter known only as the Master of the Heisterbach Altar. Jesus carries a staff flying a white pennant with a red cross, a symbol of the Resurrection.

According to the long ending (Form 3) of Mark’s gospel, the resurrected Jesus instructs his disciples: “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick and they will recover” (Mark 16:15–18).

Of the three italicized phrases, the first does not appear elsewhere in Mark; the others appear nowhere else in the New Testament. These unique readings provide literary evidence that these verses might be late additions to the gospel.