Which Resurrection Apologetic do you Prefer?

As most of you here will probably be familiar with, there are discrepancies in the resurrection accounts between the gospels. Many of these, such as whether the stone was rolled away when the women arrived at the tomb are relatively minor and can be handled with a fairly simple apologetic response. However, the specific experience of Mary Magdalene is more problematic.

The synoptics, particularly Luke and Matthew are quite clear in saying that Mary Magdalene (and various other women) went to the tomb, met and spoke with the angels, then went off to tell the disciples that the angels told them Jesus had risen from the dead.

However, John says Mary went there, found the tomb empty, and went to tell the disciples someone had stolen his dead body and she didn’t know where they’d put it. If the gospel writers were inspired by a god to tell the world about this most important of events, why would they disagree?

There are two standard apologetic responses to this problem:

(1) The first is to say that Mary got “confused” on the way to tell the disciples and, instead of telling them that the angels had told her Jesus had risen, she said the body had been stolen and she didn’t know where it was.

(2) The second approach is to say that Mary went there first by herself, found the tomb empty, and went to tell the disciples someone had stolen the body. And, just a bit behind her, some other women came to the tomb who met and talked to the angels. It was these women who told the disciples about meeting the angels who said Jesus had risen from the dead.

So the question is, which apologetic approach do you prefer and why?

Neither of these.
I believe, as I have been taught, that different people will relate the exact same experience in different ways. And I believe that is why there are discrepancies between the Gospels. The apostles were ordinary men. We cannot expect perfection from them. Details will be omitted, experiences will be related in ways that reflect the narrator’s own beliefs and perspectives.

[quote=IrishRush] Neither of these.
I believe, as I have been taught, that different people will relate the exact same experience in different ways. And I believe that is why there are discrepancies between the Gospels. The apostles were ordinary men. We cannot expect perfection from them. Details will be omitted, experiences will be related in ways that reflect the narrator’s own beliefs and perspectives.
[/quote]

Ok but, since John and Matthew/Luke’s accounts can’t both be right, which one is correct? So, for example, did Mary Magdalene find angels at the tomb and tell the disciples Jesus had risen, or did she just find an empty tomb and tell the disciples someone had stolen his body?

The most important event is the resurrection and they all agree on the point that Jesus is resurrected.

[quote=marty1818] The most important event is the resurrection and they all agree on the point that Jesus is resurrected.
[/quote]

But if they get basic elements of the story wrong, how do you know you can trust them?

Hello Vic.
I’m assuming that is your first name. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I guess you may not know it but we Catholics aren’t confined to Scriptures for our understanding. We go beyond. As for the Gospels perhaps seeming somehow at fault for discrepancy as to modern standards of accounting facts, etc. they really need no defense. They are the inerrant Word of God. They also state that they aren’t the last Word God spoke. For St. John concludes his Gospel with this: “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written.” Chapter 21, verse 25. There you go: Scripture itself stating it isn’t the last Word God spoke. How about that.

Glenda

Now, providing you believe Jesus existed, there are only 5 possibilities here.

  1. Jesus rose
  2. Jesus didn’t rise…apostles were deceived…hallucination theory
  3. Jesus didn’t rise…apostles were myth makers…myth theory
  4. Jesus didn’t rise…apostles were deceivers…conspiracy theory
  5. Jesus didn’t die…swoon theory

Each theory has its own response.

Are you asking this question for yourself? Do you believe in the resurrection? If not, which theory do you believe in?

We know, because the alternative explanations don’t work.

Who’s to say they are wrong?

newadvent.org/cathen/12789a.htm

[quote=glendab] Hello Vic.
I’m assuming that is your first name. Please correct me if I am wrong.
[/quote]

Vic’s fine, Glenda.

[quote=glendab] As for the Gospels perhaps seeming somehow at fault for discrepancy as to modern standards of accounting facts, etc. they really need no defense.
[/quote]

Well apparently believers think they do. That’s why they have gone to great lengths to construct the two standard defences I presented in the OP.

And, I don’t think you can appeal to “modern standards”. Either Mary found nothing and told the disciples she found nothing or she met angels and tole the disciples she met angels.

[quote=glendab] They are the inerrant Word of God.
[/quote]

Well apparently not, as I’ve demonstrated for you. Since they both can’t be right, one must be wrong.

[quote=glendab] For St. John concludes his Gospel with this: “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written.” Chapter 21, verse 25. There you go: Scripture itself stating it isn’t the last Word God spoke. How about that.
[/quote]

Not sure how this gets you out of the problem. You’d have to explain that to me.

[quote=ClearWater] Now, providing you believe Jesus existed, there are only 5 possibilities here.

  1. Jesus rose
  2. Jesus didn’t rise…apostles were deceived…hallucination theory
  3. Jesus didn’t rise…apostles were myth makers…myth theory
  4. Jesus didn’t rise…apostles were deceivers…conspiracy theory
  5. Jesus didn’t die… …swoon theory

Each theory has its own response.

Are you asking this question for yourself? Do you believe in the resurrection? If not, which theory do you believe in?

We know, because the alternative explanations don’t work.
[/quote]

Happy to answer that once you’ve answered my question from the OP above.

[quote=marty1818] Who’s to say they are wrong?
[/quote]

You’re answering a question with a question. My question was, since they got basic elements of the story wrong, how do you know you can trust them?

Did you read the article I linked?

newadvent.org/cathen/12789a.htm

Here is an outline of a possible harmony of the Evangelists’ account concerning the principal events of Easter Sunday:

[LIST]
*]The holy women carrying the spices previously prepared start out for the sepulchre before dawn, and reach it after sunrise; they are anxious about the heavy stone, but know nothing of the official guard of the sepulchre (Matthew 28:1-3; Mark 16:1-3; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).
*]The angel frightened the guards by his brightness, put them to flight, rolled away the stone, and seated himself not upon (ep autou), but above (epano autou) the stone (Matthew 28:2-4).
*]Mary Magdalen, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome approach the sepulchre, and see the stone rolled back, whereupon Mary Magdalen immediately returns to inform the Apostles (Mark 16:4; Luke 24:2; John 20:1-2).
*]The other two holy women enter the sepulchre, find an angel seated in the vestibule, who shows them the empty sepulchre, announces the Resurrection, and commissions them to tell the disciples and Peter that they shall see Jesus in Galilee (Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7).
*]A second group of holy women, consisting of Joanna and her companions, arrive at the sepulchre, where they have probably agreed to meet the first group, enter the empty interior, and are admonished by two angels that Jesus has risen according to His prediction (Luke 24:10).
*]Not long after, Peter and John, who were notified by Mary Magdalen, arrive at the sepulchre and find the linen cloth in such a position as to exclude the supposition that the body was stolen; for they lay simply flat on the ground, showing that the sacred body had vanished out of them without touching them. When John notices this he believes (John 20:3-10).
*]Mary Magdalen returns to the sepulchre, sees first two angels within, and then Jesus Himself (John 20:11-16; Mark 16:9).
*]The two groups of pious women, who probably met on their return to the city, are favored with the sight of Christ arisen, who commissions them to tell His brethren that they will see him in Galilee (Matthew 28:8-10; Mark 16:8).
*]The holy women relate their experiences to the Apostles, but find no belief (Mark 16:10-11; Luke 24:9-11).
*]Jesus appears to the disciples, at Emmaus, and they return to Jerusalem; the Apostles appear to waver between doubt and belief (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35).
*]Christ appears to Peter, and therefore Peter and John firmly believe in the Resurrection (Luke 24:34; John 20:8).
*]After the return of the disciples from Emmaus, Jesus appears to all the Apostles excepting Thomas (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25).
[/LIST]

What elements of the story do you think are wrong? I see nothing that’s wrong, just accounts written by 4 men who chose to include different things.

[quote=mary1818] Did you read the article I linked?
[/quote]

I’m familiar with the Catholic Encyclopedia and other source for this. I want to know what you think.

[quote=mary1818] What elements of the story do you think are wrong? I see nothing that’s wrong, just accounts written by 4 men who chose to include different things.
[/quote]

That may be because you don’t want to see anything wrong. Let’s compare your source to the gospels themselves so see if it matches up.

[quote=your source] Mary Magdalen, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome approach the sepulchre, and see the stone rolled back, whereupon Mary Magdalen immediately returns to inform the Apostles (Mark 16:4; Luke 24:2; John 20:1-2).
[/quote]

Only she doesn’t according to both Matthew and Luke. Here’s Matthew:

Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, **Mary Magdalene and the other Mary **came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women [who’s the angel talking to here?], “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

And in Matthew, both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary actually meet Jesus on the way, clasp his ankles and worship him:

And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

When he says “they” he’s still talking about Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. These are the only two women who are even in his narration. He’s clearly not talking about some other group of women

Here’s a question for you. Since Mary Magdalene actually met Jesus and worshiped him on the way to tell the disciples, why would she tell them the body had been stolen and she didn’t know where it was?

Here’s Luke:

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles.

Luke can’t be much clearer. Mary Magdalene was one of the women telling the disciples that they’d met angels who told them Jesus had risen.

[quote=your source] The other two holy women enter the sepulchre, find an angel seated in the vestibule, who shows them the empty sepulchre, announces the Resurrection, and commissions them to tell the disciples and Peter that they shall see Jesus in Galilee (Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7).
A second group of holy women, consisting of Joanna and her companions, arrive at the sepulchre, where they have probably agreed to meet the first group, enter the empty interior, and are admonished by two angels that Jesus has risen according to His prediction (Luke 24:10).
[/quote]

This separation of the women is an invention, created out of thin air. There’s no separation in any of the gospels. It’s simply made up, despite what the gospels say, in an attempt to avoid the contradiction.

So, in essence, the apologetic you provided (number 2 from the OP), instead of harmonizing with the gospels, creates a fifth gospel which disagrees with all of them!

Exactly. Differences in details would be easy confuse-and to be expected with eye-witness accounting. But there’s no confusion on the fact of the resurrection-an event hugely more difficult to differ on- and on the encounters with the risen Christ as well.

You’ve caught my interest. …

[quote=fhansen] Exactly. Differences in details would be easy confuse-and to be expected with eye-witness accounting.
[/quote]

Not if the eyewitnesses are being aided by an actual god.

Let’s say two people were testifying about a traffic accident. One witness said the red car came into the intersection with the blue motorcycle just behind it, and the other witness said the blue motorcycle came into the intersection with the red car just behind it. You’d put their difference down to human fallibility. However, if they both said God helped them in their testimony, you’d have a problem believing both of them. Wouldn’t you?

And this isn’t a difference in “detail”. Either Mary met angels and told the disciples they’d told her Jesus was risen, or she met no one and went to tell the disciples someone had stolen the body. Which do you think it is?

In the case of the resurrection the event itself is the focus-the center of attention. Did the accident occur or not, regardless of the details witnesses gave surrounding it? In my understanding, Scripture and Tradition contain various truths which are pertinent to our salvation. It’s the purpose of the Church, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to infallibly interpret and convey that revelation to the world.

[quote=fhansen] In the case of the resurrection the event itself is the focus-the center of attention. Did the accident occur or not, regardless of the details witnesses gave surrounding it?
[/quote]

Then why give any details? Why not just say, “After Jesus died, he came back to life. The end.”

I don’t think anyone would be impressed with that as purported eye-witness testimony. I’d say the details are there to counter criticisms like, “How do you know the tomb was empty?” Or, “Perhaps someone stole the body.” Or, “Maybe he wasn’t buried in a special tomb.” On the contrary, I think the gospel writers considered these details to be important.

And I guess you’re not going to answer my question and tell me which resurrection account you think is correct. Up to you, I guess.

A couple years ago a driver of mine was involved in an accident. From his perspective a car changed lanes running into his truck, then began veering off the road, as my driver immediately turned on his right signal and pulled off onto the shoulder. From another perspective, that of a witness following from a distance, my driver turned on his signal and moved into the adjacent lane, causing the accident, then pulled onto the shoulder. The accounts disagreed on details but no one denied that the accident actually took place. I have no way of determining with 100 % accuracy which account was true but that doesn’t affect the veracity of the event.

Humans were inspired by the revelation of Christ-all He said and did-to write that revelation down for posterity. The Church determined what was worthy of preserving and including in the canon. God uses human agents, with all our frailties and foibles, to write down what He wants, sufficiently how He wants, and the Church, again, infallibly transmits the relevant truths of the gospel from there.

[quote=fhansen] The accounts disagreed on details but no one denied that the accident actually took place.
[/quote]

Nice try, but this is not analogous since the problem with this resurrection contradiction is not one of perspective.

So, once again, here’s the question that you refuse to answer: Did Mary find angels at the tomb and go tell the disciples that Jesus had risen, or did she find nothing and tell the disciples that someone stole Jesus’ dead body? Perspective doesn’t help you here. I’m sorry.

[quote=fhansen] God uses human agents, with all our frailties and foibles, to write down what He wants, sufficiently how He wants, and the Church, again, infallibly transmits the relevant truths of the gospel from there.
[/quote]

When God used the four gospel writers to write down the facts, what was his involvement? In other words, what does it mean that the writers were “inspired” in practical terms. How would this “inspiration” actually affect what they wrote?

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