Snake Handling in Jolo, West Virginia

This is a Pentecostal snake-handling church in Jolo, West Virginia. They don’t only handle snakes, they also drink strychnine. If you die from a snakebite or from the poison, it is evidence that your faith wasn’t strong enough. Their reasoning comes from a textual variant found at the end of the gospel of Mark chapter 16 – specifically verse 9-20. It is only found in a few manuscripts. The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not include these verses. Therefore, they are not to be considered as Scripture. Here are the verses:

[Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. 

10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. 

11 When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.

12 After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country. 

13 They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.

14 Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. 

15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 

16 “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 

17 “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;

18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 

20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.]

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