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  #1  
Old Jan 4, '12, 1:46 pm
pm2222 pm2222 is offline
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Default How many angels were at the tomb of Jesus?

I was reading a book and it mentioned that the gospels differ in the number of angels who appeared at Jesus's tomb. After looking for some answers online, I found some that said that the two gospels that only mention one angel choose not to mention the other angel. What is the Church teaching on these verses? Also, I read at the beginning of one of my Bibles that the Church believes the Bible is correct down to every detail no matter how small or inconvenient. That is why I am having trouble with these verses. If you have any answers please let me know, thanks!
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  #2  
Old Jan 4, '12, 2:19 pm
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Default Re: How many angels were at the tomb of Jesus?

I dunno, I see no contradiction. Matthew 28 says there was an angel outside on the rock. Mark 16 implies there was an angel inside the tomb. Luke 24 says there were two angels, it doesn't specify inside or outside (if there is one on the rock outside, and one inside.. that's two.) John 20 says that Mary looked in the tomb and saw two angels.

I think it is clear that there are minor details, but when telling a story from memory about something you may have only heard second hand from the other disciples, you could have minor details. All four synoptic Gospels agree in the details, just slight order in events that are different.

The only two disciples we know for sure that were at the Tomb were Peter and John. So the rest would be telling from their account and the account of the women who were there.

Where did you read that the church teaches the bible is correct down to every minor detail? That sounds more like a 'literal' or fundamental view of the bible, which is not my impression at all of church teaching.
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  #3  
Old Jan 4, '12, 2:42 pm
TMC TMC is offline
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Default Re: How many angels were at the tomb of Jesus?

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Originally Posted by bmullins View Post
I dunno, I see no contradiction. Matthew 28 says there was an angel outside on the rock. Mark 16 implies there was an angel inside the tomb. Luke 24 says there were two angels, it doesn't specify inside or outside (if there is one on the rock outside, and one inside.. that's two.) John 20 says that Mary looked in the tomb and saw two angels.

I think it is clear that there are minor details, but when telling a story from memory about something you may have only heard second hand from the other disciples, you could have minor details. All four synoptic Gospels agree in the details, just slight order in events that are different.

The only two disciples we know for sure that were at the Tomb were Peter and John. So the rest would be telling from their account and the account of the women who were there.

Where did you read that the church teaches the bible is correct down to every minor detail? That sounds more like a 'literal' or fundamental view of the bible, which is not my impression at all of church teaching.
I do see it as a contradiction, or at least as an inconsistency. But I otherwise generally agree with your comments. The Gospels are inconsistent in a number of such details, which should not be surprising. But the inconsistencies are only troubling if one takes a literalist/fundamentalist view of the bible, which is not the Catholic view.
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Old Jan 4, '12, 2:55 pm
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ByzCathCantor ByzCathCantor is offline
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Default Re: How many angels were at the tomb of Jesus?

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Originally Posted by bmullins View Post
The only two disciples we know for sure that were at the Tomb were Peter and John. So the rest would be telling from their account and the account of the women who were there.
Indeed, it would have been the myrrh-bearing women who first encountered the angel(s) at the tomb.

In Eastern tradition, we generally refer to a single angel appearing to the myrrh-bearing women (Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome), seated in the tomb, as per the account in the Gospel of Mark. They were instructed by this angel to "go tell the disciples and Peter".
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Old Jan 4, '12, 2:56 pm
SonCatcher SonCatcher is offline
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Default Re: How many angels were at the tomb of Jesus?

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Originally Posted by pm2222 View Post
I was reading a book and it mentioned that the gospels differ in the number of angels who appeared at Jesus's tomb. After looking for some answers online, I found some that said that the two gospels that only mention one angel choose not to mention the other angel. What is the Church teaching on these verses? Also, I read at the beginning of one of my Bibles that the Church believes the Bible is correct down to every detail no matter how small or inconvenient. That is why I am having trouble with these verses. If you have any answers please let me know, thanks!
I suppose that is correct for matters of doctrine. The number of angels or men at the tomb is not a matter of doctrine that I am aware of (I just checked Holy Joe's compendium of doctrines and dogmas to be sure).

The Church does not hold that the Bible is either a historical or scientific textbook, however.
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Old Jan 4, '12, 4:05 pm
_Abyssinia _Abyssinia is offline
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Default Re: How many angels were at the tomb of Jesus?

This is not from a Catholic website, but it clarifies it:

Matthew 28:1

Mark 16:1

Luke 24:1

John 20:1

There are several factors at work here. First, I would recommend that you read the Tekton article on inspiration linked to above, so you can understand how small details (the sort which would not qualify as “mistakes” in a way as to undermine the doctrine of inerrancy) wouldn’t concern the Gospel writers or their audience. Then see how the author applies those principles to the Resurrection narratives in his more detailed article The Resurrection Narratives Harmonized Contextually. However, most of the ‘contradictions’ here don’t even fall in that category. They are simply not errors or contradictions at all. Each evangelist is picking and choosing which details to report, so that one evangelist chooses to describe only one angel out of two or leaves out an earthquake. That isn’t a contradiction; it’s the author’s prerogative to choose which details to report as long as an omission does not distort the story. Many biblioskeptics don’t understand logic (see this explanation from Logic and Creation).

Matthew is organizing his material topically in 28:2, not chronologically; the earthquake, rolling away of the stone, and appearance of the angel could have happened at any time before the women got there. A translation of the Greek which properly brings this out would be “And behold there had been a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and went and rolled away the stone and sat on it.” We do things like this in writing even today, so it’s not a contradiction in chronology.

The question about how many angels there were, one or two, is another selection issue. Matthew and Mark choose to depict the one who did the most talking, Luke added the detail that there was another there too. The same goes for how many women saw Jesus. It’s not surprising that Mary Magdalene is highlighted in the accounts, because she was Jesus’ most prominent female follower, and there’s evidence that she was actually funding His (and His disciples’) ministry.

Carson’s commentary on John’s gospel has the best discussion I’ve found on the alleged Resurrection account discrepancies.1 To sum it up, some of the discrepancies are on the trivial level and are based on the selectivity of the Gospel writers in choosing some details and leaving out others. Critics who say these things are actual contradictions are imposing their ridiculously rigid, uniquely Western, views on what consists of precise reporting. No one in ancient Palestine would take things like who went to the tomb to be a contradiction. Other things are judged to be contradictions based on too little evidence. Carson’s harmonization is worth quoting at length:
“For example, Mary Magdalene finds the tomb empty and, upon hearing her report Peter and the beloved disciple rush off to the tomb. Eventually they return to their own homes (v. 10), while Mary is found outside the tomb crying (v. 11). When or how did Mary get there? For almost two thousand years it has been assumed, not unreasonably, that she returned to the garden alone, or possibly in the wake of the two running men. Must a narrator report each mechanical step? This lack of information, coupled with modern assumptions about the way ancient editors and communities constantly cut up their sources and patched them together in new pieces, has led to several ingenious but unbelievable reconstructions.”2
Constructing a chronology for the Resurrection appearances is one of the more complicated issues; this is because we’re not exactly sure how the different authors’ accounts relate to the details in the other authors’ appearances. This is because there is nothing that would force the disciples to record the resurrection appearances in precise chronological order;
“in terms of the fundamental meaning and significance of each resurrection account, and in terms of the way they were first preached, each of Jesus’ resurrection appearances could stand more or less alone: the entire sequence of appearances was not necessary to establish meaning and credibility. This means that the student of the Gospels must proceed with extraordinary caution when historical or source-critical harmonizations are attempted.”3
Modern news stories covering the same event have much the same sort of ‘contradictions’ skeptics point to in the Gospel accounts

JP Holding’s article on harmonization points out that modern news stories covering the same event have much the same sort of ‘contradictions’ skeptics point to in the Gospel accounts, while at the same time not having any “mistakes” in the sense of false elements to the report. The Christian Thinktank also has a very good article; especially the point about the apparent discrepancies lending credibility to the Gospels as four separate witnesses to the Resurrection; absolute agreement in every small detail would be evidence that they had depended on each other to such an extent that they could not be considered independent witnesses.

http://creation.mobi/claimed-bible-errors
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Old Jan 5, '12, 5:14 pm
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COPLAND 3 COPLAND 3 is offline
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Default Re: How many angels were at the tomb of Jesus?

Here is a quote from the Aquinas Study Bible

Quote:
And the angel answered, &c. (Mt 28:5) You will say, How is it that Matthew and Mark speak only of one angel as seen by the women, when Luke affirms that two were seen, who comforted the women with different words from those which Matthew and Mark have? I answer that the account of Luke (24:4) is different from that of Matthew, and that he relates what happened later, as I shall hereafter show. The women. Namely, the Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, and the rest (see Luke 24:10). Those are mistaken, therefore, who think that Magdalene, after she had seen the empty sepulchre, immediately ran back to tell the Apostles, without seeing the angels, and that they were only seen by Mary the mother of James and the rest. John, therefore (Jn 20:1), while he mentions Magdalene only, with her understands all the rest of her companions; for she was the leader and chief of them all.
In the historical order of the events must be brought in here what Luke mentions (24:3), namely, that Magdalene and her companions, while at the invitation of the angel they had entered the sepulchre and seen that it was empty, yet were affrighted; on account of which the angels cheered them, and at the same time gently reproved their want of faith. For that Luke’s account is not the same as that of Matthew and Mark, as some think, is clear from the words themselves, which are evidently different. Also, from the circumstance that in Luke two angels are said to have appeared, while in Matthew and Mark only one is mentioned.
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