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Contradictions in the Resurrection Account

A Swiss Army knife with dozens of crazy "blades"How many days did Jesus teach after his resurrection? Most Christians know that “He appeared to them over a period of forty days” (Acts 1:3). But the supposed author of that book wrote elsewhere that he ascended into heaven the same day as the resurrection (Luke 24:51).

When Jesus died, did an earthquake open the graves of many people, who walked around Jerusalem and were seen by many? Only Matthew reports this remarkable event. It’s hard to imagine any reliable version of the story omitting this zombie apocalypse.

The different accounts of the resurrection are full of contradictions like this. They can’t even agree on whether Jesus was crucified on the day before Passover (John) or the day after (the other gospels).

  • What were the last words of Jesus? Three gospels give three different versions.
  • Who buried Jesus? Matthew says that it was Joseph of Arimathea. No, apparently it was the Jews and their rulers, all strangers to Jesus (Acts).
  • How many women came to the tomb Easter morning? Was it one, as told in John? Two (Matthew)? Three (Mark)? Or more (Luke)?
  • Did an angel cause a great earthquake that rolled back the stone in front of the tomb? Yes, according to Matthew. The other gospels are silent on this extraordinary detail.
  • Who did the women see at the tomb? One person (Matthew and Mark) or two (Luke and John)?
  • Was the tomb already open when they got there? Matthew says no; the other three say yes.
  • Did the women tell the disciples? Matthew and Luke make clear that they did so immediately. But Mark says, “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” And that’s where the book ends, which makes it a mystery how Mark thinks that the resurrection story ever got out.
  • Did Mary Magdalene cry at the tomb? That makes sense—the tomb was empty and Jesus’s body was gone. At least, that’s the story according to John. But wait a minute—in Matthew’s account, the women were “filled with joy.”
  • Did Mary Magdalene recognize Jesus? Of course! She’d known him for years. At least, Matthew says that she did. But John and Luke make clear that she didn’t.
  • Could Jesus’s followers touch him? John says no; the other gospels say yes.
  • Where did Jesus tell the disciples to meet him? In Galilee (Matthew and Mark) or Jerusalem (Luke and Acts)?
  • Who saw Jesus resurrected? Paul says that a group of over 500 people saw him (1 Cor. 15:6). Sounds like crucial evidence, but why don’t any of the gospels record it?
  • Should the gospel be preached to everyone? In Matthew 28:19, Jesus says to “teach all nations.” But hold on—in the same book he says, “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans” (Matt. 10:5). Which is it?

And there are lots more.

Many Christians cite the resurrection as the most important historical claim that the Bible makes. If the resurrection is true, they argue, the gospel message must be taken seriously. I’ll agree with that. But how reliable is an account riddled with these contradictions?

I’ve seen Christians respond in three ways.

(1) They’ll nitpick the definition of “contradiction.” Contradictions, they’ll say, are two sentences of the form “A” and “not-A.” For example: “Jesus was born in Bethlehem” and “Jesus was not born in Bethlehem.” Being precise helps make sure we communicate clearly, but this can also be a caltrop argument, a way of dodging the issue. These sure sound like contradictions to me, but if you’d prefer to imagine that we’re talking about “incongruities” or “inconsistencies,” feel free.

(2) They’ll respond to these “inconsistencies” by harmonizing the gospels. That is, instead of following the facts where they lead and considering that the gospels might be legend instead of history, they insist on their Christian presupposition, reject any alternatives, and bludgeon all the gospels together like a misshapen Swiss Army knife.

  • How many women were at the tomb? Obviously, five or more, our apologist will say. When John only says that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, he’s not saying that others didn’t come, right? Checkmate, atheists!
  • Why didn’t all the gospels note that a group of 500 people saw Jesus (instead of only Paul)? Why didn’t they all record the earthquakes and the zombie apocalypse (instead of only Matthew)? Our apologist will argue that each author is entitled to make editorial adjustments as he sees fit.
  • Was the tomb already open or not? Did Mary Magdalene recognize Jesus or not? Did Jesus remain for 40 days or not? Should the gospel be preached to everyone or not? Did the women tell the disciples or not? Was Jesus crucified the day after Passover or not? Who knows what he’ll come up with, but our apologist will have some sort of harmonization for these, too.

Yep, the ol’ kindergarten try.

(3) They’ll try to turn this weakness into a strength by arguing that four independent stories (the gospels aren’t, but never mind) shouldn’t agree on every detail. If they did, one would imagine collusion rather than accurate biography. Yes, biography and collusion are two possibilities, but a third is that this could be legend.

Let’s drop any preconceptions and find the best explanation.

Wandering in a vast forest at night,
I have only a faint light to guide me.
A stranger appears and says to me:
“My friend, you should blow out your candle
in order to find your way more clearly.”
This stranger is a theologian.
—Denis Diderot

(This is a modified version of a post originally published 4/9/12.)

Photo credit: ThinkGeek

Acknowledgement: This list was inspired by one composed by Richard Russell

About Bob Seidensticker
  • John Kesler

    Bob Seidensticker wrote:
    Did Mary Magdalene recognize Jesus? Of course! She’d known him for years. At least, Matthew says that she did. But John and Luke make clear that she didn’t.

    KESLER
    Actually, Luke says that Mary Magdalene and the other women never saw Jesus at all; he was gone before they got there.
    Luke 24: But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in, THEY DID NOT FIND THE BODY. 4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? HE IS NOT HERE, but has risen. 6Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ 8Then they remembered his words, 9and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10Now IT WAS MARY MAGDALENE, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.

    This is, of course, another contradiction, since Matthew says that Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” met Jesus after they left the tomb as they were on their way to tell the disciples what happened (Mathew 28:8-9).

    Bob Seidensticker wrote:
    Should the gospel be preached to everyone? In Matthew 28:19, Jesus says to “teach all nations.” But hold on—in the same book he says, “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans” (Matt. 10:5). Which is it?

    KESLER
    I think that the problem is even worse when Matthew 24 is included:
    Matthew 10:5, 16-23
    5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 16 “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19 When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

    Matthew 24:9-14
    9 “Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10 Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.

    Matthew 28:19-20
    19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    If Jesus told his disciples that they were to go only to Israel and not to Gentiles, and that Jesus would return even before the disciples had evangelized all Israel (per Matthew 10), then why would Jesus later state that the “good news” had to be “proclaimed throughout the world” before “the end” came, and still later state that “all nations” were to be evangelized. If he was going to return as promised in Matthew 10, then why was there even allowance for a Gentile mission? Is this an after-the-fact rationalization for the delay of the parousia (see also Matthew 16:27-28)?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      John K:

      Actually, Luke says that Mary Magdalene and the other women never saw Jesus at all; he was gone before they got there.

      You’re right. Thanks for the correction.

  • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com Michael

    The best way to lose faith in the Bible is to actually read the book, viewing all the absurdities, atrocities and contradictions. No wonder many Christians have not, or that non-believers show greater knowledge of it.

  • John Kesler

    Bob Seidensticker wrote:
    Who buried Jesus? Matthew says that it was Joseph of Arimathea. No, apparently it was the Jews and their rulers, all strangers to Jesus (Acts).

    KESLER
    Also, John’s gospel alone says that Joseph of Arimathea got an assist from Nicodemu for the burial. What’s interesting, too, is that Matthew is the only person who said that the tomb that Jesus was buried in belonged to Joseph. (Matthew is also the only one to say that Joseph is “rich,” an apparent attempt to link Jesus to the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah 53, of whom it is said that they made his “tomb with the rich” v:9.) And John, while not outright contradicting this, not only doesn’t say that the tomb was Joseph’s; he says that Jesus’ tomb wa simply chosen out of expediency, because it was close and the Sabbath was near.

    John 19:38-42:
    38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. 39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

  • Peter

    Another point is how long Jesus was in the tomb? Throughout the Gospels he repeatedly tells his disciples it will be three days and three nights. Then, Jews counted a day from sundown to dusk the following day. So their Sabbath started on Friday at sundown. Therefore, if the Romans crucified him on Friday—Good Friday—and Joseph placed him in tomb before sundown he was at least in the tomb Friday night and all day Saturday—one night, one day. If Mary Magdalene went before sunrise the day after the Sabbath (John 20:1) and found the tomb empty it means at maximum Jesus was in the tomb Friday night, Saturday and Saturday night. Two nights and one day! I’m surprised most Christians don’t see this discrepancy.

    • John Kesler

      Peter wrote:
      “Throughout the Gospels he repeatedly tells his disciples it will be three days and three nights.”

      KESLER
      In fairness, only once is “three days and three nights” used in reference to the length of Jesus’ entombment–in Matthew 12:40. In that passage, Matthew claims that the Pharisees were present to hear the prediction. However, when requesting that a guard be placed at Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 27:62-64), the Pharisees claim that Jesus predicted that he would rise “after three days,” and they ask that the guard be present “until the third day.” Other passages also use less specific language than Matthew 12:40, such as “the third day” (Mark 10:34) or “in three days” (Matthew 26:61). I think that Matthew was so eager to connect Jesus to the “prophecy” in Jonah, which claims that Jonah was “three days and three nights” in the great fish’s stomach, that he used that same verbiage in the only pericope in which the Pharisees heard a resurrection prediction.

      • Peter

        Actually he uses the three day often in Mark. And I think twice in Jorn.

    • JohnH

      Or we could take the view which caused quite a bit of debate and was eventually considered heresy (but is still debated today): that of the crucifixion occurring on Thursday being the Passover, with Friday being the 1 st day of unleavened bread, and therefore a holy day with sabbath restrictions, rather then the traditional claim. It makes more sense to me, I am not entirely sure why the councils decided that the crucifixion had to of occurred on Friday.

  • avalon

    (3) They’ll try to turn this weakness into a strength by arguing that four independent stories (the gospels aren’t, but never mind) shouldn’t agree on every detail. If they did, one would imagine collusion rather than accurate biography.

    This excuse is yet another contradiction. Apologists claiming this is the words of men rather than the “word of God”. Is the bible is inspired, or is it just the recollections of men?

    avalon

  • Rain

    8: And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

    Interesting verse. Was Paul lying his unworthy arse off?

    9: For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

    I am not worthy. But yet here I am writing “epistles” and telling everyone what to do. False modesty much, Paul?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Rain:

      False modesty much, Paul?

      It’s like the televangelists who get caught doing something that they’ve preached against themselves and then tearfully repent and are welcomed back.

  • SparklingMoon

    The term ”Resurrection” in religious language is always used for spiritual coming of a Prophet in the body of an other person to reform his followers. A person is selected as a prophet by God because of the great love he has for his people. After his physical death when his followers with the passage of time leave the right path then his spirit becomes restless to reform them again therefore God send his spirit in the body of an other person to reform his followers. The meaning of this resurrection of a prophet in the body of a new one is that this new prophet is given the attributes of this passed prophet by God and also the truth of his teachings to inform and reform the followers of this passed prophet. Here in the New Testament the spirit of Jesus after cross was not in the body of a new person. He had the same physical body that he had before going to cross and his spirit had not left his physical body therefore the word ”Resurrection”can not be applied to this situation. All verses of the Gospels speak that Jesus had not physically died on cross.
    ”Among the testimonies of the Bible in support of Jesus’ escape from death on the Cross is his journey to a far-off place, on which he started after coming out of the tomb. On the morning of Sunday he first met Mary Magdalene, who at once informed the disciples that Jesus was alive, but they did not believe it. Then he was seen by two of the disciples when they were going out to the countryside; and last of all he appeared to the eleven when they were at their meal and censured them for their callousness and lack of faith.(Matthew 16:9-14.)
    When two disciples of Jesus were going towards the hamlet called Emmaus which was at a distance of 3.75 miles from Jerusalem, Jesus met them; and when they were near that hamlet, Jesus went forward to part company with them, but they did not allow him to go, saying that that night they would be together. He then dined with them, and all of them, along with Jesus, spent the night at the village named Emmaus.(Luke 24:13-31)Now, to say that Jesus did all this with a spiritual body (which is supposed to be the nature of the body after death), which only the physical body was capable of doing, as, for example, eating and drinking, and sleeping, and making a long journey to Galilee which was at a distance of seventy miles from Jerusalem, is saying something impossible and quite against reason. In spite of the fact that on account of individual bias the accounts of the gospels have differed, the texts as they are, nevertheless, clearly show that Jesus met his disciples in the ordinary mortal human body, and made a long journey on foot to Galilee; showed his wounds to the disciples, dined with them at night, and slept  in their company.
    Now, here one has to consider whether, after acquiring an eternal spiritual body, i.e., after gaining that immortal body which entitled him, having been freed from the necessity of eating and drinking, to sit on the right hand of God and to be free of all wounds, and pain, and infirmities, it still suffered from one defect, although it had the glory of the Eternal and Ever-Existing God — the defect, namely, that his body had on it fresh wounds of the Cross and the nails, which were bleeding and were very painful and for which an ointment had been prepared, and even after acquiring a glorious and an immortal body, eternally sound, faultless, perfect, and unchangeable, that same body continued to suffer from defects of many kinds: Jesus himself showed to his disciples the flesh and bones of his body, and again, not only this, but there were also the pangs of hunger and thirst — necessities of the mortal body; otherwise, where was the need for him during the journey to Galilee to do such useless things as eating and drinking water, resting, and sleeping? Undoubtedly, hunger and thirst, in this world, are painful for the mortal body, which may even prove fatal if they become extreme. So there is no doubt that Jesus did not die on the Cross, nor did he acquire a new spiritual body: rather, he was in a state of death-like swoon.(Jesus in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmed)

    • SparklingMoon

      If the meaning of ”Resurrection ” according to the followers of Trinity is that Jesus was arisen from the dead with a glorious spiritual body, then why he was afraid of being caught.”When the decree of God had descended upon him, and he had, after suffering death, come to life again, assuming a spiritual and a glorious body, what fear did he now have of the Jews — surely the Jews now had no power over him; he was now beyond and above mortal existence? One observes with regret that while, on the one hand, it is said that he was made to live again and assume a spiritual body, that he met the disciples and went to Galilee and thence went to heaven, he is nevertheless afraid of the Jews for quite trivial things and, in spite of his glorious body, he fled secretly from the country, lest the Jews discover him; he made a journey of seventy miles to Galilee in order to save his life and time and again asked the people not to mention this to others. Are these the signs and ways of a glorious body? No, the truth is that it was not a new and a glorious body — it was the same body, with wounds on it, which had been saved from death; and, as there was still the fear of the Jews, Jesus, making use of all precautions, left the land. All talk of anything contrary to this is absurd — as the one about the Jews having bribed the soldiers in order to make them say that the disciples had stolen the corpse while they (the soldiers) were asleep. If the soldiers were asleep they could be very well asked how they came to know in their sleep that the corpse of Jesus had been stolen away. From the mere fact of Jesus not being in the tomb, can anybody in reason believe that he had gone up to heaven? May there not be other causes as a result of which tombs might remain empty. At the time of going up to heaven, it was up to Jesus to meet a few hundred Jews, and also Pilate. Whom was he afraid of in his glorious body. He did not care to furnish his opponents with the slightest proof. On the contrary, he took fright and fled to Galilee. That is why we positively believe that though it is true that he left the tomb, a chamber with an opening, and though it is true that he secretly met the disciples, yet it is not true that he was given any new and glorious body; it was the same body, and the same wounds, and there was the same fear in his heart lest the accursed Jews arrest him again. Just read attentively Matthew, chapter 28, verses 7 to 10. These verses clearly say that the women who were told by someone that Jesus was alive and was going to Galilee, and who were also told quietly that they should inform the disciples, were no doubt pleased to hear this, but they went with a terrified heart, — they were still afraid lest Jesus might still be caught by some wicked Jew. The ninth verse says, that while these women were on their way to inform the disciples, Jesus met and saluted them. The tenth verse says that Jesus asked them not to be afraid, i.e. of his being caught; he asked them to inform his brethren that they should all go to Galilee; that they would see him there, i.e., he could not stay there for fear of the enemy. In short, if Jesus had really come to life after his death and had assumed a glorious body, it was up to him to furnish proof of such life to the Jews. But we know that he did not do this. It is absurd, therefore, to accuse the Jews of trying to render negatory the proof of Jesus’ coming to life again. No, Jesus himself has not given the slightest proof of his restoration to life; rather, by his secret flight, by the fact of his taking food, and sleep, and exhibiting his wounds, he himself proved that he did not die on the Cross.

      • Bob Jase

        You’re still just spouting your dogma. BTW you don’t seem to have converted any of the Christians here either.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      SparklingMoon: The term ”Resurrection” in religious language is always used for spiritual coming of a Prophet in the body of an other person to reform his followers.

      That sounds like “reincarnation” to me.

  • MNb

    “Yep, the ol’ kindergarten try.”
    Ha, I disagree with you for once. It is legitimate to try to harmonize different accounts. There is another snag for the christians though you haven’t mentioned. All these suggestions are “just theories”, just hypotheses. And unlike a certain famous theory way too many christians object to to a smaller (Plantinga) or larger degree (about 40% of the American population, I think) none of these suggestions are backed by empirical evidence.
    The very fact that these christians must harmonize means, if they want to be reasonable and even scientific, that they cannot claim that the Resurrection is a historical fact. The best they can show is that the Resurrection is possible based on certain assumptions. In the same way it’s possible that Alexander the Great was a descendant of Zeus indeed. Or Jesus could have travelled to India. Whatever.

    Essential here is this article:

    http://www.livius.org/th/theory/theory-maximalists.html

    Minimalism obviously shows that the Resurrection is a legend.
    Maximalism doesn’t work either.

    “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”

    Natural laws count as evidence. And they say that dead bodies don’t come alive. Ever. “But it was a miracle!” Well, see David Hume.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      MNb:

      It is legitimate to try to harmonize different accounts.

      Once you’ve determined that they’re accurate, I agree. If we haven’t and their accuracy is the very question we’re trying to resolve, we follow the evidence.

      “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”

      It’s not proof of absence, but it is very often evidence. if you’ve looked for your keys in the drawer for 5 minutes and you still can’t find them, absence of evidence is very much evidence of absence.

    • MNb

      “It’s not proof of absence, but it is very often evidence.”
      Uhoh, Anglo-American philosophy of science vs. it’s contintental counterpart. Of course Anglo-Americans (Hawking is one example) can use the latter while many continentals prefer the former. The first assumes that 100% certainty is possible. In my continental view that gives too much room to pseudoscientists. Defenders of the miraculous Revelation will argue that you can’t provide 100% certainty with secular, ie scientific explanations of the Revelation stories as told in the NT. Thus he/she, like any pseudoscientist, will conclude that the religious Revelation hypothesis is reasonable.
      The continental version argues that 100% certainty is impossible (see for instance A brief History of Time). If I say that I will fall upward when jumping off a tower tomorrow, especially if I don’t attach a specific date to tomorrow, you won’t be able to prove that I’m wrong. All pseudoscientific arguments, including creationism and Revelationism, fall in the same category.
      In Dutch proof and evidence even are synonymous. Both are translated as “bewijs”. If we want to use a weaker expression we use “aanwijzing”, which means “indication”. That’s not to the taste of Revelationists obviously.
      Now let’s see how this applies to your keys in the drawer analogy.

      “absence of evidence is very much evidence of absence.”
      How can you be absolutely certain that you have looked well, that you can completely trust your senses? You may have overlooked something.
      What’s worse, the analogy as you use it is not very correct. To make the analogy work you have to assume that several parts of the drawer are not accessable to you. Your keys might very well be in one of them.

      “Once you’ve determined that they’re accurate, I agree.”
      That’s impossible for any source stemming from Antiquity. It’s the very task of Antique History to determine which parts of any source is accurate and which is not. No exceptions for the Bible please, not in a positive, not in a negative way.

      “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”
      firmly holds. Concluding that the hypothesis of Moses wandering through the Sinai for forty years, Alexander the Great descending from Zeus, some divine entity creating our whole shenanigan iso evolution or the Resurrection being a historical event is just a non-sequitur. Just like the prediction that I will fall upward tomorrow.
      That’s why I disagree with you and Revelationists are still wrong. Anglo-American philosophy of science gives pseudoscientists too much unnecessary room to wriggle.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        MNb:

        Uhoh, Anglo-American philosophy of science vs. it’s contintental counterpart.

        I’d never heard that distinction. Interesting.

        assumes that 100% certainty is possible.

        Outside of math and logic, where you can have proofs, who would imagine this?

        In Dutch proof and evidence even are synonymous.

        In the land of Leeuwenhoek? Surprising.

        How can you be absolutely certain that you have looked well, that you can completely trust your senses? You may have overlooked something.

        Quite so, which is why it’s only evidence, not proof. Nevertheless, before you’ve looked in the key drawer and after are two very different situations. The results of that search aren’t proof of anything, but they’re evidence.

        To make the analogy work you have to assume that several parts of the drawer are not accessable to you.

        I didn’t intend for it to be an analogy (to searching for God, I assume?). I was simply saying that “absence of evidence is no evidence of absence” makes no sense.

        That’s impossible for any source stemming from Antiquity. It’s the very task of Antique History to determine which parts of any source is accurate and which is not. No exceptions for the Bible please, not in a positive, not in a negative way.

        Agreed. I was simply saying that, in this proof-less world that we live in, every conclusion is tentative. If we’ve concluded that God exists, then it’s reasonable to harmonize gospel problems. It’s when we simply presume (with insufficient evidence) that God exists and then harmonize that we’ve got a problem. That harmonization is unjustified.

  • Dave Gardner

    The contradictions you cite, Bob, remind me of the “choose your own adventure” books that kids used to read. Get to the bottom of a page and choose where you want to go. Every time you read the book, you get a different story.

    Dave

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Dave: Great example–I loved reading those books to my kids. One difference, as I recall, is that some of the endings were bad (everyone dies or something). Of course, every ending for the Christian has him safely in Abraham’s bosom at the end.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    Could Jesus’s followers touch him? John says no; the other gospels say yes.

    Is this correct? The gospel of John has the story of Doubting Thomas, and he definitely touched Jesus.

    • JohnH

      John records that Jesus told Mary not to touch (or hold or embrace) him because he hadn’t ascended to God yet. Apparently He must of ascended within that same day because later when he appears again people are told to touch Him.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      OM:

      Is this correct? The gospel of John has the story of Doubting Thomas, and he definitely touched Jesus.

      Look at John 20:26-7:

      A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

      This is the second instance in the chapter where Jesus materializes in a locked room.

      • SparklingMoon

        This is the second instance in the chapter where Jesus materializes in a locked room.
        —————————————————————————————–
        Gospels John and Luke,both, had described in detail the meeting of Jesus to his followers after cross and Jesus had confirmed again and again that he has not a new body but the same one that have marks of wounds of cross and his followers after seeing the marks of wounds on his hands and feet became happy that he is miraculously saved by God.

        Second, the theory of Trinity about the ascension of Jesus with his physical body to God is religiously and scientifically wrong .An ascension towards God with physical body is impossible as God is spiritual . An ascension of a person towards God with his physical body is possible on the condition when God is also a physical one and second, He exists in a particular place or a particular side of this universe. As all prophets has informed and all believers also know that God is spiritual and is Omnipresent. If a person accept this theory of Trinity that this ascension of Jesus towards God after his cross was of a Physical one then who will decide that this physical body of Jesus had moved to which particular direction of sky,thinking God to be there?

        As our earth is floating in the space and we have sky all around us and all objects and all that exist in the space is a part of our physical universe and and it is a reality that God does not exist directly in this physical world. According to the information of all religions, there exist beneath and inside of this physical world an other very ethereal spiritual world that is working equally everywhere and God actually belongs to that spiritual world. Heaven is usually called as an existing place for God in religious books but this is not a name of a physical place but the name of the highest height of the Sanctity and Holiness of God’s spirituality( The particles of this physical world are the physical manifestation of god’s different attributes and these objects after coming into existing also get their sustenance constantly from Him for their maintenance through angels as a middle source because The Sanctity of God’s spirituality stops Him to touch a physical object directly ) A physical person or an object of this physical world can never enter in that spiritual realm where God exist except through his nature and that nature must be highly spiritual according to the attributes of God. As all human beings through their souls have an unbroken connection to that spiritual realm during this life therefore those human natures that have the colour of God’s attributes begins to ascend towards God spiritually . A Prophet is always sent by God to create this ability of spiritual ascension in the nature of his followers by practicing good morals in the love of God. A physical ascension towards God is never described by any Prophet as it brings no fruit.

    • SparklingMoon

      Could Jesus’s followers touch him? John says no; the other gospels say yes.
      —————————————————————————————–
      The descriptions of four Gospels about the meeting of Jesus to his followers after cross had been described by different writers in their own words:
      Gospel John 20—
      18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had said these things to her. 19 When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were locked where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the middle, and said to them, “Peace be to you.”20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus therefore said to them again, “Peace be to you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 

      24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, wasn’t with them when Jesus came.  25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord!”But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”26 After eight days again his disciples were inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors being locked, and stood in the middle, and said, “Peace be to you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see my hands. Reach here your hand, and put it into my side. Don’t be unbelieving, but believing.”28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”29 Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed.”
      -======================================================
      Gospel Luke:
      37 But they were terrified and filled with fear, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled? Why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39  See my hands and my feet, that it is truly me. Touch me and see, for a spirit doesn’t have flesh and bones, as you see that I have.” 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While they still didn’t believe for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”42 They gave him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 He took them, and ate in front of them ( Luke 24: 37-43)
      =========================================================
      Gospel Mark:16
      After these things he was revealed in another form to two of them, as they walked, on their way into the country. 13 They went away and told it to the rest. They didn’t believe them, either.
      14 Afterward he was revealed to the eleven themselves as they sat at the table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they didn’t believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
      ================================================
      In all these Gospels there is a description of hands and feet of Jesus that had wounds of Cross on them and Jesus had presented these wounds as a proof to his followers that he is physically saved by God as had been promised by Him. Actually the followers of Jesus had no complete belief to him as all had left him alone at the time of cross but after seeing him safe from a physical death in those tough circumstances then had gotten a strength in their belief about God and about his Prophethood.

  • http://www.hongkongudy.com Karl Udy

    Bob,
    As you’ve pointed out there are many ways to reconcile these “contradictions” that you bring to the table, some more easily that others.

    What I would like to ask you is: When and who first noticed these inconsistencies in the accounts? And what implications did they have for them?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Karl:

      Interesting questions. I believe some of the earliest church fathers began the long task of identifying and harmonizing these. Is your point that, if it didn’t bother them, then why should it bother us?

      Tertullian is said to have said, “I believe because it is absurd.” If that is even something that he might have said, I think that modern ideas of evidence are not part of the tool set that he’s working with.

      • MNb

        Didn’t Kierkegaard say something similar? “Belief is faith despite the facts”?

  • MNb
    • Bob Seidensticker

      MNb: Thanks for the links. I’ll check them out.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    Sort of like when two witnesses to the hit and run accident say that the driver was wearing a different color hat. “It was dark blue.” “No…it was brown.” Does it really matter? The accident occurred and they both agree heartily on that fact.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Adam: When it looks like a story (important details of various accounts vary), then we can suppose that it is a story. (That it has a supernatural element makes it inherently unlikely to begin with, of course.)

    • Bob Jase

      So when the witness who said the hat was blue says the accident involved a yellow van and a bicycle while the witness who said the hat was brown says the accident involved a semi and an red SUV will be still be confident an accident happened?

    • Greg G.

      It’s worse than that. The witnesses are reporting the accident decades after the event was supposed to have happened, they disagree on many major claims, they don’t have any evidence that the accident happened, the witnesses don’t even claim to be witnesses, and it is questionable whether the victim lived during that time or ever existed.

  • pete

    Maybe Jesus’ own version of what happened would be helpful: http://www.channelingerik.com/channeling-jesus-part-three/

  • Erick

    According to various investigative reports about the death of Bin Laden that I’ve read over the past several months, there are at least 3 versions of his shooting death given in interviews by members of the SEAL Team that killed him. Does this mean that Bin Laden isn’t really dead?

    Grousing over conflicts in minor details that each author adapted for his own literary style, audience, and agenda is irrational when the major idea and teaching from the eyewitness is agreed by all….


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