Why is so little recorded about the 40 days after the resurrection of Christ?

This has been really bugging me, and I can find virtually nothing on this site or on the internet itself about this.

The ministry of Christ before His crucifixion is meticulously detailed by at least four authors (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) - I say at least because there may have been more but we only recognize these four as being Canonical. So I find it really odd that no one appears to have written an account of what Jesus said and did AFTER He was resurrected beyond a few tidbits about a few appearances and The Great Commission. Our Lord was on earth an additional 40 days, I can’t imagine that His disciples didn’t just pepper him with questions for clarification on His teachings, that there weren’t more healings, I would think the pharisees and the sadducees would have wanted to see if his resurrection was true, etc. It seems like this would be very dramatic, and that someone would have wanted to write it down.

It just seems like you have this major blank spot. I just am baffled that no one sat down and wrote an account of this period. Why is so little recorded about this?

Well, firstly, think back to before Jesus was crucified. He was sort of flying under the radar:

Matthew 8:1-421st Century King James Version (KJ21)

8 When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.
2 And behold, there came a leper and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”
3 And Jesus put forth His hand and touched him, saying, “I will: be thou clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
4 And Jesus said unto him, “See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded for a testimony unto them.”

And when he was resurrected he was appearing to people in the form of someone else.

Just wasn’t his style to grandstand to the Pharisees or anyone else. He will come with great glory in supreme fashion in his 2nd coming, though.

Now, in regards to the details of the 40 days. Jesus ministry was 3 years…yet all we have are the gospel accounts of what was actually said…and that isn’t much. So it comes as no surprise to me that not much is said about the 40 days.

Also, when he ascended, he didn’t leave a library…he didn’t even leave a book, he left a living Church of which he is the head of. So I, personally, do not concern myself with what’s not in the gospels or NT. We have the complete picture with the Church and Sacred Tradition.

John 21:25

There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written.

Like all authors, in a practical manner, not all can be covered, and the important points are given. We will always thirst for more.

His ministry was three years. Only a tiny amount of what he said and did during that time is recorded in the Gospels. What we can trust in is that what is recorded in the Bible and Apostolic Tradition is sufficient for us.

The intent of the scriptures. They were never intended to be a complete record, as that is neither how Christ established the faith, nor how He intended for it to be passed on. It is a Jewish faith, and the oral tradition reigned supreme. Mystery abounds - with but a single exception, think of our Lord’s first 30 years.

Note that his last words on the cross were “It is finished” (John 19:30). He thus put a definitive end to his earthly ministry.

The post-Resurrection appearances were primarily to convince/reassure/strengthen/motivate his disciples. He considered the baton passed on and hence there was no need for him to continue directly working miracles. I also don’t think he would cheapen himself by going and parading himself before the Sanhedrin/Pilate.

It was his disciples duty henceforth to keep the ball rolling and that’s why he gave them the Great Commission (and what a good job they did!).

Until “recently” history was mostly oral history.

The English language didn’t appear for more than a thousand years.

There were people who were hired to memorize events and transactions.

There are places in the Middle East where oral history is still practiced. You can visit them where they have not been destroyed by the current fighting.

Some people there still “remember” Alexander the Great when he came through.

In addition, after Jesus was Crucified and Killed … their world collapsed … and then Rose from the Dead, the apostles were in clinical shock.

There wasn’t time for them to recover and then Jesus appeared for barely a month and then Ascended to Heaven.

Finally: "John 21:25New International Version (NIV)

25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

So the Apostles were flooded.

Some of the early Church Fathers did set things down in writing. And if you bought all the books they wrote, you would need to add a room to your house.

There is/was a book store in Fort Worth, Texas … Ave Maria? … that has a catalog listing them all … or at least those that survived all the wars that took place in the interim.

Starting in the year 625, Islam swept the region and they took major efforts to destroy all writings. The worlds biggest library in Alexandria was burned.

There is a lot to study.

This is / was typical … and may be one of the last remaining places in the world … this is how everything was done in the “old days” … where information was exchanged and oral history kept:



Many cultural and culinary traditions followed the paths of trudging caravans and invading armies. Peshawar not only marked the end of long caravan road from Turkistan, Persia, and China, but it was also the end of Grand Trunk Road that ran across northern India. Stretching back over two millennia, Peshawar at different times fell under the sway of Muarayans, Greeks, Scythians, Kushans, Sassanid, White Huns, Hindu Shahi, Mughals, Sikhs, and the British.

Thousands of years of oral tradition.


**For locals, the bazaar remains a place to gather, discuss news, and drink gallons of their much beloved green tea. But the market is no longer the draw it once was. The Taliban insurgency that spilled across the border from Afghanistan continues to haunt Peshawar, including the horrific December terrorist attack on a school that killed 132 school children. In recent years a series of bombings targeting the bazaar has killed scores of civilians.

Storytellers Street begins at the arched Kabuli Gate, one of 16 gates of the old walled city that once led travelers to the forbidden lands of Afghanistan and beyond. It takes just ten minutes to walk the entire length of the non-descript street, perennially crowded with people, noisy rickshaws, and cars. The east end splits into a fork: a right turn takes you into to labyrinthine alleys of the interior city; a left leads to Bazaar Misgaran, or Coppersmith Street. From Bazaar Misgaran, narrow and crowded streets leads to city’s central square, Chowk Yadgar.**

The decline began after the Soviet invasion in 1979, which flooded the city with refugees and hurt local businesses.

Of course there is no way we can, this side of Heaven or without special revelation, know why. But I agree with your view. I would add the purpose may have been to further teach the Apostles but this was not recorded. Also as to strengthening and motivating, while I’m sure Jesus did so post Resurrection, of course the Apostles were not fully strengthened until receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. That is why I wonder if the post Resurrection time was more about convincing, reassuring, and teaching. Whatever exactly transpired we know the time was spent preparing them for when the Holy Spirit came up one them to go out to spread the Faith.

In the year 33, there was very little paper.

What they did have was supremely expensive and difficult to get.

How are you going to write stuff down?

I found it:

Stella Maris books has a huge section on Patristics:


The study of the writings of the early church.

The same way the gospels were written down? The same way other histories were recorded? We have the Old Testament, which predates all this- they managed to get that written down, including some incredibly boring and tedious and ostensibly unimportant to the faith stuff like genealogies. I guess to me, the fact that Christ rose from the dead and hung out with them for 40 days is just as momentous as the rest of his ministry. I’d think that some people came to believe for that reason alone. I’d think that his apostles asked for further instruction- and I would love to know what he told them. I’d think more miracles were performed. It just seems really weird to me that other than the very few and brief accounts we have of his appearances, there is nothing. He appeared to over 500 people at once, we’re told, and yet not one word of what he may have said appears to have been recorded. Even what he said prior to the ascension isn’t recorded…but the words of the angels are. The reactions of the pharisees and sadducees isn’t recorded. The reactions of former non-believers isn’t recorded. Miracle accounts aren’t recorded. I’m not suggesting we NEED these things in order to believe- but it just seems really weird that no one recorded them when so many other things were recorded. It’s almost like a deliberate blackout. And I wonder why.

From what is recorded, I don’t think Jesus just walked around like a normal person for a few extra weeks, as you seem to be imagining.

After the Easter appearances, He doesn’t seem to have appeared again until a week later. Further, He was in his glorified body, and could come and go as He pleased, seemingly without regard for distance or intervening matter.

I take from that example that He appeared a few times over the course of the 40 days to various groups of His followers, not that he went around as the guy who had been executed in full view of the general population and His former enemies.

Here is Paul’s list of Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances from his first letter to the Corinthians (chapter 15, verses 3-8). He includes himself, which was a post-Ascension experience, but I think we can trust that the rest happened during the 40 days. These may or may not have been all the appearances, but I think the implication is that they were all like this: Jesus appearing to smallish groups of people, not Jesus continuously going about on Earth for forty days.

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”

I don’t think the Lord walked around like a normal person, and that’s exactly why I’m baffled that there’s no record of what he did and said when he appeared. Maybe I’m just the odd duck, because no one else seems to be bothered by this, but to me the Resurrection is the point. As per St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:14 “and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” So it just baffles me that the evidence of the Resurrection is just sort of skimmed over when without it, nothing else matters.

Okay, but, for example, I don’t think the Pharisees or the general public had a reaction, because (aside from tales of the empty tomb), Jesus didn’t show Himself to them. They had no reason to know He had returned until Peter started preaching about it on Pentecost.

Paul’s passage in my last post does list living witnesses that the Corinthians could track down and ask if they wanted, though admittedly that doesn’t do us nearly as much good. I’d love it if we had the story from Peter or James or the 500 brethren, too, but that doesn’t seem to have been considered a key thing to get down in writing.

Hi, AK!

…this sounds like a genuine concern… have you considered that you may not have connected the correct dots?

I concur with you that on the surface it seems you may be correct… but if you understand (not that I’m so much more advanced than you or others that may hold your understanding…) what has been transpiring you will be able to know the necessity of the Written Word and its limitations…

Let’s take a general understanding from the Gospel of John:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]30 Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, you may have life in his name.

(St. John 20:30-31)
There are two things that this passage demonstrates: 1) not everything Jesus did (which would include “say/Taught”) is included in the Gospel of John (which would also necessitate the same understanding for the other Gospels), and, 2) the purpose of recording the particular events that were included in Scriptures: Written Testimony of Faith.

When we turn to the actual events that are transpiring we find that the Gospel are attesting to:

  • The Coming of the Messiah
  • The Incarnation of the Word
  • The Birth and Life of the Immanuel
  • The Mission of the Messiah
  • The revelation of the Suffering Servant
  • The Fulfillment of all of the Scriptures about the Messiah and the Promise
  • The Institution of the Church
  • The Mission of the Church

Neither the Gospels nor the totality of Sacred Writing infers that everything that God Reveals is Written… Jesus makes note of this in particular as He tells His Disciples that:

12 I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you. 14 He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it to you. 15 All things whatsoever the Father hath, are mine. Therefore I said, that he shall receive of mine, and shew it to you.

(St. John 16:12-15)
Jesus expresses that there should be no further Revelation because the Disciples are not yet ready to accept these Teachings; could that not be part of God’s Salvific Plan (Old Covenant: the Father; New Covenant: the Son; Unfolding of the New Covenant: the Holy Spirit)?

From my perspective, this particular passage of Scriptures demonstrates that there in deed exists no gap/vacuum, but that everything is proceeding according to God’s Schedule: Pentecost shall usher in the Pouring of the Holy Spirit and the Inception of the Church–it is the Holy Spirit Who will Reveal further Knowledge Bringing the Fullness of Truth to the Church (Acts 2).

Finally, if God wanted man to rely on record and not to depend on Him (Faith), could Jesus not have employed a generous numbers of scribes to put into ink everything God wanted to Reveal, once and for all?

Scriptures tell us that:

1 Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.

(Hebrews 11:1)
God may not want to record everything but to allow some things to remain so that man should rely not on self and self-knowledge but on God and what God Reveals…

…though you and others may feel that “more” is better… look at what has been Revealed, yet man continues to resist Salvation:

If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if** one rise again from the dead**

. (St. Luke 16:31b)
Maran atha!



The gospels were not written contemporaneously.

Jesus was not followed around by a scribe who wrote down all of His utterances.

And not once do we see Jesus quoted as saying “write this down”.

But we do see him pointing to himself in prayer and to the Church.

Good enough for me.

Another reason: To underscore the IMPORTANCE of what DID get recorded! :wink:

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