Why Are There Multiple Accounts of Jesus’s Resurrection in the Bible?

(system) #1

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/guest/why-are-there-multiple-accounts-of-jesuss-resurrection-in-the-bible

(Jay Johnson) #2

Ladd’s I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus is a forgotten gem still available on Amazon. His harmonization of the resurrection accounts is definitely the most logical and persuasive that I have seen.

Just to throw out a couple of books for those interested in reading more, I suggest Michael Licona’s The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach and, of course, N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God.

(George Brooks) #3


I think it would be more beholden of us to point out how difficult it is to assemble a successful harmonization.

The study of successive edits and revisions from Mark to Matthew to Luke (or is it the other way?) to John can be extremely revealing about how sacred texts are put together and how various “schools” of priests will go to great lengths to borrow what they like from a predecessor… and to make insertions to change the whole sense of what the earlier work was trying to say!

(Jay Johnson) #4

Trust me, I know. I spent about five years creating my own paraphrased Diatessaron. Just for fun, here’s a peek at how I treated the first part of the resurrection accounts, following Ladd’s proposal:


As dawn broke on the first day of the week, an angel of the Lord appeared at the tomb. The ground shook as violently as the guards themselves, and the angel rolled away the stone and sat upon it. His face was radiant like lightning, and his clothes were white like snow. The guards, for their part, were so paralyzed by fear that they appeared dead.

About this time, the Galilean women (among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome, and Joanna) who had set off for the tomb with the spices they had prepared for anointing the body of Jesus began to wonder aloud, “Who will move the stone for us?” as they neared the spot. Although the sun had crept above the horizon, the hillside tomb was enveloped in shadowy gloom when they realized that the stone already had been moved, even though it was extremely large. They stepped inside and saw that the body of the Lord Jesus was gone.

Mary Magdalene ran to find Simon Peter and John. “They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb,” she reported to them breathlessly, “and we don’t know where they’ve laid him.”

While the other women waited in confusion, suddenly two young men appeared in clothes that gleamed like lightning! The women were terrified and bowed down to the ground in awe.

“Don’t be afraid,” one of the angels said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. Why do you seek the Living One among the dead? Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee? He said the Son of Man must be handed over to sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again. He isn’t here. He has risen just as he said. Look! Here is the place where they laid him.”

While Jesus’ words flooded back to the women, the angel continued, “Go quickly and tell his disciples and Peter: ‘He has risen from the dead, and he will precede you into Galilee and see you there, just as he said to you.’ Observe what I have told you.”

The women practically fled from the scene, trembling in astonishment and joy. Yet they were gripped by fear, as well, and said nothing to anyone because of it.

After receiving Mary Magdalene’s report, Peter and John rushed to investigate. The two ran together, but John was faster and arrived first. He stooped to peer inside and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t enter. Peter barged into the tomb, where he saw the linen burial cloth on the ground, as well as the facial wrap that had been on Jesus’ head. That cloth wasn’t with the others but had been rolled neatly and set aside. John then entered, and he saw and believed. At this time, however, the company of disciples didn’t understand from Scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead, so they parted ways and returned to their homes.

Mary Magdalene remained behind at the tomb to mourn, and as she wept, she stooped to look into the tomb and again saw two angels. They were dressed all in white, with one at the head and the other at the feet of where the body of Jesus had been.

“Woman,” one said to her, “why are you weeping?”

“Because they’ve taken away my Lord,” she answered, “and I don’t know where they’ve laid him.” She turned and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t immediately recognize him.

“Woman, why are you weeping?” Jesus asked.

Supposing him to be the caretaker of the garden, she replied, “Sir, if you’ve carried him away, please tell me where you put him, and I’ll take him somewhere else.”

Jesus said, “Mary!”

She cried out, “Rabboni!” (which means “teacher” in Aramaic), and fell upon his neck.

“Stop clinging to me,” he told her, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”

So Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and she told them what he had said to her.

After this, Jesus met and greeted the other women who had fled from his tomb. They fell to his feet and worshipped him, and Jesus told them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and take word to my brothers and sisters to leave for Galilee, and I will meet them there.”

So they returned and reported all of these things to the eleven and the rest of his disciples. Now, those who were telling the apostles that they had seen Jesus were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Joanna, as well as the other women who had been with them, but their story sounded like nonsense to the men, who refused to believe it.

Footnote: All of the evangelists agree that the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection were women. Like the despised shepherds who came to see the infant Jesus, women were not regarded as trustworthy and their testimony was rarely admitted in Jewish legal proceedings, which explains the reaction of the men. Had the evangelists been inventing a story, they certainly would not have identified women as the first eyewitnesses