Uber-Gospel: The Resurrection

It’s well known that the gospels accounts of the resurrection differ in some details. When I was a Christian, I remember teaching a high school Bible class once that was going through the life of Christ. During this study, we were studying each account side-by-side, and when it came to the resurrection, I really wasn’t sure how to fit it all together. I actually told the kids in my class as much, but assured them that it obviously fit together in some way — otherwise, it wouldn’t be in the Bible, right? But once I began to question my faith, I thought about these differences again.

So I thought it would be interesting to take the different accounts and sandwich them all together. Can we make them fit logically? It’s not easy, honestly. In the 2nd century, Tatian gave it a shot and wrote the Diatesseron, which is an attempt to wrap all four gospels into one. His take is interesting, especially in tying in the gospel of John. He’s forced to write some things out of order, and he omits a number of verses that illustrate this (such as what time of morning certain things happened). If you’d like to read it, you can do so here — the resurrection account starts about halfway through Section LII.

In my version, I’ve tried to remain faithful to the times that the various authors refer to. This makes for some interesting behavior among those visiting the tomb that day, so I add a little commentary in places to help explain it. In my version, here are some things to watch for: Mary Magdalene makes about 4 trips to the tomb that day, and Peter makes 2. And the stone is not rolled away from the tomb once, but twice. And when the women left the tomb, they are somehow able to tell no one what they saw and tell the disciples everything. If you have any ideas on how to make all this fit better, please let me know.


After the Sabbath, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” (John 20:1-2).

3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes. (John 20:3-10)

Then as the day began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to visit the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door [it had been rolled back to the door since Mary’s first visit], and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. (Matt 28:1-4)

5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” (Matt 28:5-7)

8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. (Matt 28:8)

BUT before they had gone far at all, now that the sun had risen, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 3 And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” [Because Mary worried that it might have rolled back again]. 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away — for it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. (Mark 16:1-5)

But they also didn’t see the young man — instead, they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to the women, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’” (Luke 24:3-7)

And one of the men said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples — and Peter — that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” 8 So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (Mark 16:6-8)

But in addition to saying nothing to anyone, they also went to tell the other disciples what happened. But behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” (Matt 28:9-10)

11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” [Perhaps all the shock had caused her to forget her previous conversation with them.] 14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. (John 20:11-18)

The Guards’ Report
While the women were returning to the disciples, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. 12 When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. (Matt 28:11-15)

Telling the Disciples
Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened. [Still amazed, despite seeing them earlier, I suppose].

Road to Emmaus
13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.

17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”

18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”

19 And He said to them, “What things?”

So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”

25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.

30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread. (Luke 24:13-35)

Appearance Before the Disciples
36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence. (Luke 24:36-43)

22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:22)

44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen. (Luke 24:44-53)

Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came [back from Heaven], the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:24-30)

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matt 28:16-20)


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16 thoughts on “Uber-Gospel: The Resurrection”

  1. So far, I have only seen the contradictions in JC’s genealogy. This, though, is almost hilarious. So many books touting “Harmony of the Gospels”, but this is discord, not harmony.

    I know, we shouldn’t expect “historical accuracy” the way we do now, but there is a point. This example you’ve given is just like 4 people writing about 9/11 wherein one says 1.”both planes hit at the same time”,
    2. “one plane hit and the tower collapsed, then the other plane hit and the other tower collapsed” or
    3. “one plane hit, then later the other, and the collapsing of the towers came at about the same delay as the initial impacts” or…
    4. “one plane hit in the morning, and one hit in the afternoon, and by nightfall both towers had collapsed.”

    To have 4 different versions of a(n) “historical occurrence” does not speak well for Reliability.

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  2. In your redaction did you leave out the guy in the cape who wears his underpants over his tights? You know? The bloke who moved the damn stone.

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  3. “. If you have any ideas on how to make all this fit better, please let me know.”

    We already have. Perhaps thats why you are rehashing it in the hope we will not have the time to correct all your errors yet again.

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  4. Mike (TBlackman), I dont recall you ever correcting anything.

    I asked you before to tell us where they met the angel’s (messengers)? On the rock? in the tomb? both places?

    How many times and where did they see jesus after he arose?

    Did the women tell anyone what they saw or not?

    what day was jesus crucified? Passover or the day before?

    I haven’t seen you address these… I’ve seen you dodge and “hand wave” while saying that everyone else is hand waving.

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  5. “Mike (TBlackman), I dont recall you ever correcting anything.

    I asked you before to tell us where they met the angel’s (messengers)? On the rock? in the tomb? both places?”

    I love it when someone lies and then immediately proves they are lying. If I never corrected anything then in what thread were you asking me “to tell us where they met the angels”?

    I guess in whatever thread that was I was all in agreement with you guys right? ahem since i
    never corrected anything. Cue the hand waving and semantics game to try and get out of the obvious lie.

    lol

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  6. “I love it when someone lies and then immediately proves they are lying. If I never corrected anything then in what thread were you asking me “to tell us where they met the angels”?” – mike

    It was in the “letter to kathy” thread. I only asked it multiple times there, but you’re welcome to answer it here.

    And no, you haven’t corrected anything. You type a lot, it’s just of little substance.

    “Cue the hand waving and semantics game to try and get out of the obvious lie.” – mike
    well, if you want it to stop, then stop doing it. You’re the only one I can think of who keeps both of these going.

    You’re so stupid it’s making my nose bleed. Really, how do you make it through the day? your current existence actually makes me believe in miracles, because I see no rational explanation to how someone with your mental deficiencies is still alive.

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  7. @Mike
    Hey, D’head, that you would argue for the veracity of this crap, let alone try to harmonize it is more hilarious than anything.

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  8. For what it’s worth Nate, NT and Greek scholar John Wenham wrote a book on this topic – Easter Enigma. I came to the book with the view that the accounts didn’t fully mesh, and was quite surprised at how well he put it all together. He lived for many years in Jerusalem, apparently, and uses this knowledge of location to good effect. He is cautious to say that his reconstruction cannot be shown to be true historically, but it is consistent with the historical evidence (there is a big gap between those two sometimes!).

    His reconstruction isn’t contorted, and follows fairly logically from his starting assumptions about authorship and sources and that each gospel is written from the viewpoint and location of each of the sources/authors.

    Whether his reconstruction is correct we will never know, but it shows the accounts can be put together.

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  9. While the women were returning to the disciples, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. 12 When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. (Matt 28:11-15)

    What saying is commonly reported among the Jews…? That the disciples style the body? Or that the chief priests (or whoever) bribed the soldiers to say so?

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  10. I think it’s talking about the idea that the disciples stole the body.

    Matthew is the only gospel that records guards being there. Personally, I think this is something the writer invented to counter the claim that the disciples had merely taken his body.

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  11. @UnkleE

    Whether his reconstruction is correct we will never know, but it shows the accounts can be put together.

    A work of fiction remains a work of fiction. Period.

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