The Resurrection Puzzle


By Merle Hertzler

It is interesting to compare the resurrection stories as they appear in the four gospels. If these accounts are from separate eyewitnesses, we would expect the accounts to compliment each other, and fit together to form a coherent story. When we look at them side-by-side, it becomes obvious that something is wrong. How can these accounts differ so much, if they are based on reliable eyewitnesses?

Dan Barker has issued an Easter challenge (offsite link), asking people to sort these passages into chronological order. This is my attempt to do exactly that. As you can see, the effort shows how hopelessly incompatible the accounts are.







Matthew 28  (KJV)

1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.







2And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

Mark 16 (KJV)

1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?









4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

Luke 24 (KJV)

1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.













 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

John 20 (KJV)

1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre,













  and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.


How many women came? Each gospel has a different count.

When did they come? Did they come when it was "yet dark" (John), "as it began to dawn" (Matthew), or "at the rising of the sun" (Mark)?





Matthew makes it appear that the stone was rolled away after the women arrived. But the other gospels indicate that the stone was already rolled away when they arrived.


(Matthew 28, cont.)

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
7 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.















 8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

(Mark 16, cont.)







5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
7 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.





8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.

(Luke 24, cont.)







3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
8 And they remembered his words,


9 And returned from the sepulchre,

(John 20, cont.)



















2 Then she runneth,


In Matthew we find an angel speaking to the women, apparently before they enter the tomb.





In Mark and Luke they do not see anyone until they enter the tomb. Mark says they saw a young man, Luke says they saw was two men. Neither mention the angel outside the tomb that Matthew reports.

Matthew's angel outside the tomb reports much the same thing as the man (men) in the other gospels who were inside the tomb. Did Matthew take the story of a man inside the tomb, and change it to an angel outside the tomb?






Mark 16:8 tells us they told nobody. But all of the other writers disagree.

The original version of Mark ends here, but a later redactor added verses 9-20. Interestingly, the  redactor ignores verse 8 which says they told nobody and states that Mary Magdalene told the disciples. (v. 10)

The earliest copy of Mark ends here at verse 8. The case can be made that the other writers had a copy of Mark to this point, and so their differences with Mark up to this point consist of a few edits. But after this point the accounts completely diverge. Other than some coordination between Luke and John, the accounts appear to be completely independent. They have little in common other than an attempt to explain later appearances, something that can be inferred from Mark 16:1-8.

(Matthew 28, cont.)

9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.






11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.









(Mark 16, cont.)

9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. 




















 10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.









11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.

(Luke 24, cont.)























And told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
10 It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.







11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

(John 20, cont.)























and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.









As the women ran from the tomb, Matthew says they talked to Jesus. In the added ending of Mark  (Mark 16:9-20) the book which started with 3 women, has Jesus appear only to Mary Magdalene, not to everyone as Matthew indicates. For some reason, Luke and John didn't think it was important to mention that Jesus had appeared to the women.

Matthew continues to refer to more than one woman. But Mark limits it to Mary Magdalene after this point.


Only Matthew says anything about the guards. Could it be he made this story up?











What did the women say to the disciples? In Mark and Luke, Mary Magdalene tells the disciples about the appearance of Jesus.  In John, we find Mary Magdalene saying she does not know where they have laid him. How can Mary Magdalene possibly no know at this point?  For Matthew and Mark say that she had just seen Jesus. That was before approaching the disciples. If she had just seen Jesus, how could she possibly say she didn't know where they have laid him?  See The Resurrection Maze by Farrell Till (offsite).


(Matthew 28, cont.)









































(Mark 16, cont.)





















(Luke 24, cont.)

12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre;








and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.










(John 20, cont.)

3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre




4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.


5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.





6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.


11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him.
14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the LORD, and that he had spoken these things unto her.


Beginning here, John and Luke begin to parallel closely, using many of the same words, indicating a common source. But John inserts a Disciple whom Jesus loved into the story. Luke makes no mention of that disciple.


Here the unknown disciple beats out Peter.



 Interestingly, Luke describes Peter as stooping down and seeing the linen clothers, but John says it was the other disciple. Apparently one or both authors changed the identification of the disciple in the original story. But neither Matthew or Mark mention anything about disciples going to the tomb.












Now here it gets quite strange. For Matthew and Mark declare that Mary has already seen Jesus, and Luke tells of the man (angel?) who reminds the women of the resurrection at the tomb. Luke says they remembered his words. But John finds Mary oblivious to the fact that a resurrection may have occurred!












(Matthew 28, cont.)

















































(Mark 16, cont.)

12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.







































13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.


(Luke 24, cont.)

13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.

24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

 33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

(John 20, cont.)













































The women have apparently seen Jesus already. Now we find that two disciples see him in the countryside.


















Luke tells us that the women reported seeing visions of angels. But Mathew reports that the women had said they had seen Jesus. So which did they see? Angels or Jesus? If the women were excited about seeing the risen Jesus, as Matthew reports, why did these disciples mention only the visions of angels?


















Here Luke tells us that the disciples know he had "appeared to Simon [Peter]". When did this happen? No gospel mentions when this happened. Where does that fit back into the story?


(Matthew 28, cont.)


































(Mark 16, cont.)





























(Luke 24, cont.)

36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered,

he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
43 And he took it, and did eat before them.
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.


(John 20, cont.)

 19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD.





21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.













24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.
29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.


Here L:uke and John seem to be telling the same story. But Luke says the eleven were there (all twelve but Judas), but John says that Thomas was missing also (see v24).









 Here Luke and John completely diverge. Jesus tells the disciples completely different things. Isn't it likely that one or both are taking this story and inserting their own words into Jesus' mouth at this point?














If we try to merge the stories of Luke and John above, then Thomas had already seen Jesus as recorded by Luke. If, instead, we try to move Luke's story after the story in John to clear up the contradiction about Thomas not being there, we need to explain why the disciples are so surprised upon seeing Jesus in Luke after having already seen Jesus as recorded in John.






(Matthew 28, cont.)

(Mark 16, cont.)

14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

(Luke 24, cont.)

(John 20, cont.)


Now we are left with another difficult passage to locate. For Mark 16:14 makes it clear that this is the first time the eleven had seen Christ. But, according to John, ten of the eleven had seen Christ in John 20:19-23. Then Thomas had joined them and they had seen Jesus again. So why are they being scolded for not believing the testimony of others? They had seen for themselves! If they were still unbelieving, they should be scolded for not believing what they saw. Instead, we are told they didn't believe the women. We cannot resolve the problem by moving the passage in Mark earlier. For v18 of Mark is closely tied to v19 where Jesus ascends.


(Matthew 28, cont.)

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

(Mark 16, cont.)


(Luke 24, cont.)


(John 20, cont.)



This passage is one of the hardest to fit into the scheme. For Luke 24:49 says that the disciples were not to leave Jerusalem. And Acts confirms that they followed that command, and stayed in Jerusalem. But this passage finds them in Galilee, many miles away. What were they doing there? If we try to insert this trip before Luke 24:49, the disciples would have needed to race up to Galilee after hearing from the women, and then race home to see Jesus in Jerusalem that night. So we cannot reasonably insert this trip to Galilee before the command to stay in Jerusalem in v49. But if the trip came after Luke 24:49, then Luke-Acts is wrong. See Did They Tarry in the City? by Farrell Till (offsite).

(Matthew 28, cont.)
































(Mark 16, cont.)








































(Luke 24, cont.)








































(John 20, cont.)

30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

John 21

1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? Knowing that it was the Lord.
13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.

14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.


Okay, now it is John's turn. Suddenly we find Jesus and the apostles experiencing a whole new life. None of the other writers thought this was worth mentioning. Could all of these stories have taken place, and none of the others think to mention it?





























The third time? Well, yes, the third time in John, but what about all of those other appearances?








(Matthew 28, cont.)



















(Mark 16, cont.)

19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
















































20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

(Luke 24, cont.)

50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.




Acts 1:3-13

3 To whom also he [Jesus] shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.

13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.


(John 21, cont.)






It strains the imagination to put a huge gap between Mark 16:18 and Mark 16:19 as I have done here, but where else can we insert the sightings of John?  And we cannot move Mark 16:14-18 to a later time, because those verses are clearly the first time that these disciples saw Christ.  So I have taken the liberty to insert a huge but unnatural gap between v18 and v19. There is no easy way out of the problem.



I include Acts 1:3-13 here, since it is believed to be written by the same author as Luke, and is really a continuation of his story.


Note that Luke has the disciples go and stay at Jerusalem, just as they were commanded on the first visit of Jesus. There is no place here for the trip to Galilee.


To get a complete picture, there are other passages we would need to incorporate. Where shall we place the many that came out of their graves, and showed themselves in Jerusalem after the resurrection, as recorded in Matthew 27? Wouldn't these other resurected people enter into the story somehow? And what about the 500 disciples that supposedly saw Jesus at once, as recorded in I Corinthians 15:5-8? Where do they fit in?

Are there improvements that could be made to the order I arrange things here? If so, please write and let me know how I could improve this chart.

I am left with the conclusion that these are not eyewitness accounts. It certainly appears that these are different accounts that cannot all be true. What do you think?

Since writing this, I have been informed of this site claiming to solve the Resurrection of Jesus Puzzle by Steve Hinrichs. It is a noble attempt, but I believe that it falls short for the following reasons:

1. There is a big discrepancy between Matthew and John. Matthew says that Mary Magdalene and another Mary came to the empty tomb where an angel announced the resurrection. Matthew says they then ran to tell the disciples, and that, on the way, they saw Jesus. However, John indicates that after Mary Magdalene went to the disciples, she was unaware that Jesus had risen. According to John, Mary Magdalene does not see Jesus until she returns to the tomb later. So the accounts conflict. In Matthew Mary sees Jesus before she meets the disciples, but in John she doesn't. Hinrichs gets around the problem by declaring that Mary Magdalene could have left the tomb immediately to tell the disciples. According to Hinrchs, Mary Magdalene did not see the angel or Jesus on the first visit. But Mathew tells of only two women, Mary and Mary Magdalene, so when Matthew goes on to say that they heard the angel declare the resurrection, and that they they ran to tell the disciples and that they saw Jesus as they ran, that clearly includes Mary Magdalene.  Since Matthew says that Mary Magdalene saw the angel, the empty tomb, and the risen Jesus before she went to the disciples, how can John have her tell the disciples, "They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him?"

2. Hinrichs says that Mark 16:14, Luke 24:36-48, and John 21:19-23 all refer to the same event. But how can that be? Mark and Luke say that 11 disciples were there. But John says there were only 10 (Thomas and Judas were missing). And each gospel has a completely different message being preached by Jesus. Luke has Jesus tell of repentance and witnessing to the resurrection. John has Jesus promising the Holy Spirit. Mark has Jesus scold them for not believing what others have said about the resurrection. Each seems to have Jesus preach the words that are consistent with the author's point of view. Could it be they all just made these words up, and inserted them here to make it look like Jesus said them?

3. Matthew 28:16 says that the disciples went to Galilee, and saw Jesus on a mountain. If you read Matthew by itself, it is obvious that the writer thought this was the first time the disciples saw Jesus. But Hinrichs puts Matthew 28:16 after the three appearances in John. It strains the imagination to think that Matthew would ignore those appearances and present this appearance in Galilee as though it was the first.

4. Hinrichs strips Mark 16:15-19 away from the story beginning at 16:14. He needs to do this, because verse 14 is the first appearane of Jesus, in which he scolds them for not believing others. Obviously he would not scold them for not believing others if they themselves had already seen him. But verse 19 has Jesus ascend to heaven. If verse 14 is the first appearance, and Jesus ascends to heaven in verse 19 after saying a few words, where can we insert all the other appearances of Jesus? Hinrichs can't put them before verse 14, or after verse 19. So he iserts a gap between v14 and v15, to allow everything else to happen.This break is unwarranted. Here is Mark 16: 14-15 with the gap that Hinrichs inserts:

Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen [and then a gap occurs in which they went to Galilee and saw Jesus several times there and then they they see him yet again] And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Notice how unnatural it is to insert this gap into Mark. If Mark intended that the words of verse 15 were several weeks after the story of verse 14, then the author of Mark was incompetent. In my analysis above I had inserted the gap between v18 and v19, which is also totally unwarrented, but I think it makes more sense than putting the gap here. But the best explanation is that Mark had no concept of the fishing trip to Galilee.

5. A similar problem occurs with Luke 24:33-49. Verse 36 is clearly the first appearance, but verse 49 is the command not to depart from Jerusalem, which Acts says they followed. So how can we explain all the appearances in Galilee? Hinrichs inserts a gap between verses 48 and 49 to allow those events to happen. This split is even worse than the split in Mark, for he needs to interupt Jesus in the middle of a sentence to insert the other visits. Here is Luke 24:46-49 with Hinrichs' gap:

46 And [Jesus] said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things [and then a gap occurs for a fishing trip in Galilee and multiple appearances there] 49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. (KJV)

And so, right in the middle of Jesus' sentence, we are told that the disciples went fishing in Galilee, and they there saw Jesus several times. Then they came back to Jesusalem, and Jesus finished his sentence. Somehow Luke didn't see the need to mention the month long fishing trip in the middle of that sentence. I can't buy it.

 So I do not think this link resolves the problems.

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