Sunday, January 23, 2011

News of the Resurrection

There are a huge number of contradictions in the gospels, primarily because they are four parallel accounts of the same basic story. The concentration of clashing details is especially high in the resurrection accounts. One of these is centered on the following question: What did the women visiting Jesus' tomb do when they found that he had been resurrected? Here's what Matthew 28:8 says:
"So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring the disciples his word."
So the women immediately ran to the disciples to tell them the good news of Jesus' resurrection. Luke 24:9 says basically the same thing:
"Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest."
Okay. Now look at what Mark 16:8 says:
"So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid."
Here the women flee from the tomb and say nothing! This is a very clear contradiction, and not one that I think can be plausibly reconciled.

Apologetics Press writer Eric Lyons makes an attempt. He claims that "for a time" the women said nothing, as portrayed in Mark, but "later that day" they went to tell the disciples, as in Matthew and Luke. But neither Matthew nor Luke give any indication that the women waited to tell them. In fact, Matthew indicates precisely the opposite: the women "went out quickly ... and ran to bring" the news. There is simply no room here for the women to have hesitated.

Lyons also mentions that Mark 16:10 has Mary Magdelene going to tell the disciples. However, this does not solve the problem, for three reasons. First, Mark mentions only Mary giving the news, while Matthew and Luke have all the women doing so – another contradiction. Second, Lyons ignores the consensus among biblical scholars that Mark 16:9-20 is a later addition and not part of the original gospel. Third and (in my opinion) most importantly, verse 10 does not magically make verse 8 go away. For "they said nothing to anyone" to make any sense at all, a significant amount of time must have passed before any of the women gave the news – in direct contradiction with Matthew.

As I said, I don't think this contradiction can be plausibly reconciled. But even if it can, there are hundreds of other contradictions in the Bible, many of which would be even harder to resolve than this one.

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