Easter narrative discrepancies

Okay, scripture monkeys, I could use a little help. I rarely take on atheists, but this guy is decent, and it’s been a slow day in my usual hangout: forum.protestwarrior.com in the “36th Chamber.”

He issued a challenge to write a simple narrative of the Easter sequence. I took the challenge because I think I can do much to surprise him. He’s expecting knee-jerk fundamentalist reponses. Catholics have the benefit of being more “nuanced.” The challenge poses no threat whatsoever to my faith, but I’d be interested in any thoughts on it.

Here is a summary of the discrepancies. Let me know what you think, and thanks in advance.

Here are some of the discrepancies among the resurrection accounts:
**What time did the women visit the tomb? **

  • Matthew: “as it began to dawn” (28:1)

  • Mark: “very early in the morning . . . at the rising of the sun” (16:2, KJV); “when the sun had risen” (NRSV); “just after sunrise” (NIV)

  • Luke: “very early in the morning” (24:1, KJV) “at early dawn” (NRSV)

  • John: “when it was yet dark” (20:1)
    **
    Who were the women? **

  • Matthew: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (28:1)

  • Mark: Mary Magdalene, the mother of James, and Salome (16:1)

  • Luke: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women (24:10)

  • John: Mary Magdalene (20:1)

**What was their purpose? **

  • Matthew: to see the tomb (28:1)
  • Mark: had already seen the tomb (15:47), brought spices (16:1)
  • Luke: had already seen the tomb (23:55), brought spices (24:1)
  • John: the body had already been spiced before they arrived (19:39,40)

**Was the tomb open when they arrived? **

  • Matthew: No (28:2)
  • Mark: Yes (16:4)
  • Luke: Yes (24:2)
  • John: Yes (20:1)

**Who was at the tomb when they arrived? **

  • Matthew: One angel (28:2-7)
  • Mark: One young man (16:5)
  • Luke: Two men (24:4)
  • John: Two angels (20:12)

**Where were these messengers situated? **

  • Matthew: Angel sitting on the stone (28:2)
  • Mark: Young man sitting inside, on the right (16:5)
  • Luke: Two men standing inside (24:4)
  • John: Two angels sitting on each end of the bed (20:12)

**What did the messenger(s) say? **

  • Matthew: “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead: and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.” (28:5-7)
  • Mark: “Be not afrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.” (16:6-7)
  • Luke: “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” (24:5-7)
  • John: “Woman, why weepest thou?” (20:13)

**Did the women tell what happened? **

  • Matthew: Yes (28:
  • Mark: No. “Neither said they any thing to any man.” (16:
  • Luke: Yes. “And they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest.” (24:9, 22-24)
  • John: Yes (20:1

**When Mary returned from the tomb, did she know Jesus had been resurrected? **

  • Matthew: Yes (28:7-
  • Mark: Yes (16:10,11)
  • Luke: Yes (24:6-9,23)
  • John: No (20:2)

**When did Mary first see Jesus? **

  • Matthew: Before she returned to the disciples (28:9)
  • Mark: Before she returned to the disciples (16:9,10)
  • John: After she returned to the disciples (20:2,14)

**Could Jesus be touched after the resurrection? **

  • Matthew: Yes (28:9)
  • John: No (20:17), Yes (20:27)

**After the women, to whom did Jesus first appear? **

  • Matthew: Eleven disciples (28:16)

  • Mark: Two disciples in the country, later to eleven (16:12,14)

  • Luke: Two disciples in Emmaus, later to eleven (24:13,36)

  • John: Ten disciples (Judas and Thomas were absent) (20:19, 24)

  • Paul: First to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve. (Twelve? Judas was dead). (I Corinthians 15:5)
    **
    Where did Jesus first appear to the disciples? **

  • Matthew: On a mountain in Galilee (60-100 miles away) (28:16-17)

  • Mark: To two in the country, to eleven “as they sat at meat” (16:12,14)

  • Luke: In Emmaus (about seven miles away) at evening, to the rest in a room in Jerusalem later that night. (24:31, 36)

  • John: In a room, at evening (20:19)

**Did the disciples believe the two men? **

  • Mark: No (16:13)
  • Luke: Yes (24:34–it is the group speaking here, not the two)

**What happened at the appearance? **

  • Matthew: Disciples worshipped, some doubted, “Go preach.” (28:17-20)
  • Mark: Jesus reprimanded them, said “Go preach” (16:14-19)
  • Luke: Christ incognito, vanishing act, materialized out of thin air, reprimand, supper (24:13-51)
  • John: Passed through solid door, disciples happy, Jesus blesses them, no reprimand (21:19-23)

**Did Jesus stay on earth for a while? **

  • Mark: No (16:19) Compare 16:14 with John 20:19 to show that this was all done on Sunday
  • Luke: No (24:50-52) It all happened on Sunday
  • John: Yes, at least eight days (20:26, 21:1-22)
  • Acts: Yes, at least forty days (1:3)

**Where did the ascension take place? **

  • Matthew: No ascension. Book ends on mountain in Galilee
  • Mark: In or near Jerusalem, after supper (16:19)
  • Luke: In Bethany, very close to Jerusalem, after supper (24:50-51)
  • John: No ascension
  • Paul: No ascension
  • Acts: Ascended from Mount of Olives (1:9-12)
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