Friday, April 27, 2007

Christianity and Ego.

One of the main critiques I hear/read on evolution or secularism is that it reduces man to only focusing on him/herself. Religion, on the other hand, helps man focus on something higher than himself.

I’m wondering how true that is, though. Because in some ways, Christianity seems very ego-driven. After all, think of what many people would lose if it turns out Christianity was just a myth.

The concept is that this infinite, all-powerful Being created man to completely glorify Him. However, humanity sinned, and so could no longer be in paradise. But God still guided all of human affairs and history. God also hated sin with an incredibly intensity, and so either showered blessings or wrath on humans. It places God as very much focused on humans, and what humans do, and that humans get God angry enough that He punishes them for sinning. It makes man be God’s crowning achievement (because of free will and the fact that unlike animals, humans have a soul), and then says that this infinite, perfect, just, loving Being cares about us. In a way, it somewhat makes humans the center of God’s universe – which would be reflected in early Christianity, on the belief that the Earth was the center of the universe. It states that this infinite Being actually cares if people believe in Him or not, or cares of people love Him back.

With no God, humans lose the fact that humanity should glorify God. Humans lose the sense that they are so loved by this Being so much higher than themselves, and they lose the sense that the Being made the ultimate sacrifice for them. They lose the sense that this infinite Being cares about them. They lose the sense that an infinite Being has invited them to take part in His purpose, or has invited them to play a special role in creation. Just look at the Sinner’s Prayer:

"Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ, died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey you, and to do your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen."

Look at how incredibly people-focused that prayer is. ‘I have broken the laws, I am sorry, I want to turn away, Jesus died for my sins, hears my prayer, I invite Jesus …’ The entire focus here is on the person, not God. It’s on how the person made God respond, and the fact that God is influenced by His emotions towards humanity.

Really, in a certain light, can’t religion be the most ego-driven of all? It makes humans feel important, in a way. It makes humans feel that there is a special purpose behind why they were created.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

God as female.

I would consider God to be both male and female (and actually, given the combination, I find God genderless. It just seems very odd to refer to God as ‘It,’ so I’m left with male and female pronouns). And I’ve often found it curious why some would panic if God is referred to as ‘Mother’ or with feminine pronouns. First, if God created both male and female in His image, then wouldn’t God have to be both? Even in looking at the Garden of Eden: the name ‘Adam’ referred to humankind, not a male person in particular. Sexuality and gender didn’t really come into play until after Eve was pulled from Adam’s side. Then there was a distinction between man and woman. Up until that point, ‘adam’could be seen as androgynous.

I’ve seen the argument that God can be only male, because Jesus was God Incarnate and Jesus was male. Isn’t it more likely that Jesus was male because absolutely no one would listen to a female prophet? Jesus already had enough difficulties. But if that argument is true, then how could God have possibly created female to be in His/Her image? That, and if God could manage to be a Trinity, surely God could manage to be female even though Jesus is male.

What it ultimately comes down to is how am I, as a woman, supposed to relate to God is God is only male? How is God supposed to be seen in me? How am I supposed to see the female creation in an all-male God? How am I supposed to approach God without feeling second-rate?

I’ve seen posts elsewhere, and read many books which praise woman’s highest calling as being a mother. That’s what God meant for her to do: the most important job, as it pertains to raising the next generation. Okay. But if it’s that noble, and that much of an important duty, why are we so reluctant to assign the same qualities to God? Shouldn’t God also be a mother as well, as it pertains to the care of children? Since motherhood pertains to the care, compassion, kindness and self-sacrificing love? The standard family is father, mother and children. If God is only male, then it becomes Father and child. What part does the mother play? A father could take pride in his role, because of how it mirrors God. But how is the mother to take pride, or find a connection to God?

It doesn’t help that translations have obscured the feminine aspect. Take Deuteronomy 32:18. The Revised Standard Edition says, “You forgot the God who gave you birth.” The Jerusalem Bible translates it as “You forgot the God who fathered you.” However, the verb used is ‘hul,’ which means to twist. It was used elsewhere in terms of dance movements or in ‘writhing in labor,’ which puts a distinctive feminine aspect on that sentence. That verb is something I can relate to, as it gives me a means to approach God not only as a Father, but as a Mother as well. Then there’s the whole aspect of wisdom/Sophia and how that relates to the Logos. There’s the phrase El Shaddai, which could mean “the breasted one.” The root word for compassion/mercy in Hebrew is ‘rechem,’ which means womb. The term for the spirit of God is a feminine one, which is ‘ruah.’ It’s used to indicate the life of God or how the Divine acts

For men that do hold that God can only be male, and only be the Father, I’d like you to ask yourselves a question. Picturing yourself sitting through sermons for a day, or a month, or maybe even a year. The sermons constantly refer to God as ‘She’ or ‘the Mother God.’ Then ask yourself how included you’d feel, and how valued.

Friday, April 20, 2007

If you've done it for the least of these, you did it for me.

Matthew 25: 31-46 is an interesting section. I've often seen it used in justification for not all those who call on Jesus's name will actually be saved, and it proves the existence of a hell in referring to an eternal fire.

I think both viewpoints miss the purpose of the chapter.

First -- with the sheep and the goats (is there a signifigance to picking goats? Sheep I understand, given all the Shephard references). If this is combined with Matthew 7: 21-24, one category alone determines everything: helping the less fortunate. As much as the emphasis is on grace and faith, works do matter. They really do, because it's the very thing that makes the sheep be sheep. It's even more interesting with Matthew 7: 21-24, because prophecies and casting out devils and doing wonderful works in Jesus's name isn't always enough. Actually, it's almost like Jesus doesn't matter at all in terms of salvation, according to Matthew 25.

Second -- the sheep are surprised that it was a qualification, as are the goats. It's almost as though the matter of salvation is a surprise for everyone. Which, actually, I really like what that says. It means the sheep didn't act kindly out of a sense of reward, but they simply acted kindly. I recently ran across as website that asked if people wanted to be sheep or goats on the day of the Second Coming. If we want to be sheep and get into Heaven, then we must make sure to do kind things to the less fortunate. Doesn't that reduce the kind deeds to only doing them to ensure you get something out of them -- to avoid Hell? That makes doing the deeds completely selfish, of which there was no element in Matthew 25.

Third -- who are the less fortunate, exactly? Are they the sheep or the goats? Really, it almost seems like there are three groups here -- the sheep, the goats, and 'the least of these.' Are 'the least of these' goats or sheep?

Fourth -- Jesus's identification with 'the least of these.' The inference here is that whenever the sheep helped someone, they were helping Jesus. Jesus identified with 'the least of these.' Truthfully, hasn't every single person been 'the least of these' at one point or another. If Jesus is seeing himself in the 'least of these,' then would he really cast some people into an eternal fire? It seems like Jesus identifies himself with all people, period.

Therefore, I think the point of this section of Matthew 25 has nothing to do with hell or the Second Coming, but rather to make one aware of how connected we all are, and how connected God is to everyone. It's to reduce selfishness.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Christianity and suicide.

This post is not meant to offend or attack Christian beliefs, despite the eye-grabbing title.

Of course, what’s fun about that disclaimer is usually people who utter it then consider it a free pass to do just what they said they wouldn’t do. Hopefully, I’m not about to do the same.

I stumbled across a post elsewhere, about a college student who said he loved Jesus, and was going to commit suicide. What he meant by the ‘suicide’ comment was that he was overloading on courses for the spring semester, and worked 20 hours a week. Only Jesus would get him through it.

But his post did get me thinking about the crucifixion and such.

One of the comments I’ve seen in certain evangelical circles is that every person who has been born, who is born right now and who will be born killed Jesus, or our sins killed Jesus, or somebody somewhere killed Jesus, who was completely innocent. Yet God still turned His face away when Jesus was on the cross because all our sins were on Jesus.

Here’s the thing with that phrasing – usually, when someone says, “You killed so-and-so,” that’s implying that someone had power over someone else, and proceeded to victimize someone. It implies that the one who was killed was killed against his/her will. It implies that the one who was killed probably fought back, or tried to hide, or do whatever s/he could to not get killed.

That’s not Jesus. In reading the Gospels, it’s very obvious that the Pharisees were after him for a very long time, and wanted him out of the way. Yet they couldn’t really go after him, because whenever they saw him, he was surrounded by large crowds and they were afraid of inciting a riot. The only way they could get to him was through betrayal, and that’s where Judas came in. Jesus also made it very clear that he had resources in which to fight back – twelve legions of angels, I believe. He told Pilate that power was given to him ‘from above.’ Jesus was not a helpless victim.

The only way Jesus could be killed is if he let himself be killed. At which point, people are no longer killing Jesus; they are helping him get himself killed. In many instances, we would then refer to that as suicide.

I know there are references to Jesus saying that there is no greater love than for someone to lay his/her life down for a friend. I agree with that. But there is a huge difference between a random person and Jesus, especially if one goes with the viewpoint that Jesus is God, or even Jesus is the Son of God. The only way to kill Jesus is if Jesus lets someone (or many someones) kill him, and that does drift into the realm of suicide. In a way, Jesus took his own life, and used the Romans and Pharisees to do so. And that starts painting a completely different picture. Is it an admirable act, if that’s the only means to salvation? Yes. But it’s also a little difficult to go around claiming that we all killed Jesus when we never had the power to do that.

And the element of suicide isn’t just in the Gospels. Romans is all about how the old man or the unspiritual man died on the cross with Christ, and how one must be dead to sin and alive to Christ. Okay. But again, the only way to do that is to ‘kill’ the unspiritual man, and be ‘born again.’ In a way, this also involves suicide, because under this system, you have to go to God and ask Him to ‘kill’ your sinful self/side. You have to be willing to do this – in effect, God can only do this if you let Him.

So as much as the New Testament preaches about an eternal life and salvation, there is a huge focus on death. And not just a ‘regular’ death, but what many view as the most selfish type of death there is. Yes, Jesus did so out of love for others – but it just feels like more emphasis is placed on individual guilt in terms of responsibility for Jesus’ death.

I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say here. I’m not trying to be insulting to those who follow this, or treasure Jesus’ sacrifice. But to me, there’s no getting around the fact that there’s a huge element of death in Christianity. Its symbol is the cross, which is an instrument of death and torture. Most churches have crosses or crucifixes around. The emphasis is always on how Jesus died for us, and not so much on the Resurrection – even though Paul is all about the Risen Christ, and without the Resurrection, there is no Christianity. Death is seen as a stepping-stone to Heaven – you only get there after you die, and that’s only assuming you’ve done the right things or held the right beliefs.

When seen in a certain light, death is almost glamorized in Christianity. It really is, and it’s somewhat disturbing. I'm not denying that it's done a lot of positive things, and that it has -- well, resurrected, for lack of a better word -- a lot of people from a horrible life or circumstance or a bad decision. It is a comfort for a lot of people. Myself included, most days. It's changed a lot of people for the better. The New Testament does have some beautiful passages.

But it can be chilling at times, too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Resurrection Challenge, in summary

The reaction to the Resurrection Challenge from all sides was very interesting to watch. The challenge itself was to take every single detail and try to organize them in a sensible fashion.

This is what I noticed from those who said that the accounts could be harmonized: many addressed the list of discrepancies and explained how everything could be accounted for, or linked to some sort of answer. But that wasn't the challenge, and when trying to organize the questions themselves, discrepancies popped up. For example, the Gospels kind of give four different 'times' in the appearances, which can be harmonized by saying it was within fifteen minutes of each other. The Gospels had different people first showing up, which was harmonized by saying that they could've shown up at different times. Individually, this works. According to the Gospels, this doesn't, because if the four different times given all occur within fifteen minutes of each other, then the women couldn't have shown up at different times.

I also noticed that very, very few people who claimed inerrancy actually attempted to organize every detail themselves. There were either links posted, or the attempts given that didn't have all the details. But these were from the same people that said answering the challenge was easy or had been done before -- but very few actually attempted to do so on his/her own. As far as I've seen, one person actually posted the answer to the challenge in full, and another said that s/he is working on it.

Overall, I don't think the Gospels can be harmonized, and I think it does them a disservice to try to. There are accounts where people have posted harmonizations. But when I go back and read each Gospel while taking that harmonization into account, the individual Gospels lose something in terms of the flow or the emotional impact, or what's being inserted doesn't make sense within the Gospel itself.

But that's only my two cents. :)

The Resurrection Challenge, Part Two

I decided to keep going, just for the fun of it, but I’m going to stop here. This isn’t complete in terms of all the events, but to keep going seems kind of silly now.

So they left the tomb quickly, frightened yet filled with joy; and they ran to give the news to his talmidim (Matthew). Trembling but ecstatic they went out and fled from the tomb, and they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid (Mark). When Yeshua rose early on Sunday, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had expelled seven demons (Mark). Suddenly Yeshua met them [Mary Magdalene and the other Mary] and said, “Shalom! (Matthew)” They came up and took hold of his feet as they fell down in front of him (Matthew). Then Yeshua said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and they will see me there (Matthew).”

She went and told those who had been with him, as they were crying and mourning (Mark). But when they heard that he was alive and that she had seen him, they wouldn’t believe it (Mark). After that, Yeshua appeared in another form to two of them as they were walking into the country (Mark). They went and told the others, but they didn’t believe them either (Mark).

Then they remembered his words; and, returning from the tomb, they told everything to the Eleven and to all the rest (Luke). The women who told the emissaries these things were Mary of Magdalane, Johanna, Mary the mother of Jacob and others in their circle (Luke). But the emissaries didn’t believe them; in fact, they thought that what they said was utter nonsense (Luke). However, Peter got up and ran to the tomb (Luke). Stooping down, he saw only the burial cloths and went home wondering what had happened (Luke).

That same day, two of them were going toward a village about seven miles from Jerusalam called Emmaus, and they were talking with each other about all the things that had happened (Luke). I’m going to paraphrase here. Jesus shows up, they are prevented from recognizing him, and he asks what they’re talking about. They ask Jesus how he can’t know about everything that’s going on, with Jesus and him being a prophet and proving it and how he was handed over, so he could be sentenced to death and executed as a criminal. They hoped he’d liberate Israel, and today is the third day, and this morning, some of the women astonished them saying that they couldn’t find his body and came back, but they also had a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of their friends went and found it as the women said, but didn’t see Jesus. Jesus calls them foolish, says that they’re unwilling to put trust in what the prophets spoke, and that the Messiah had to die like that before entering his glory, and then explained from Moses and all the prophets of all the things that can be found in the OT concerning Jesus. Everyone approaches the village, Jesus makes to go further, the two prevent him saying to stay with them because it’s almost evening and getting dark. So he stays with them, and reclines at a table, he breaks the bread and hands some to them, their eyes are opened and they recognize him, only he becomes invisible. They say that their hearts burned within them as he spoke. So they return to Jerusalam, and find the Eleven gathered together with friends, and say it’s true, the Lord has risen, Simon saw him (the other one was named Cleopas). Everyone is still talking about it when Jesus is suddenly standing among them. They’re terrified, thinking they’re seeing a ghost, but he asks them why they’re upset and have doubts, look at his hands and feet, touch him and see, a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones, and then eats fish. He also says that this is what he meant when he was still with them and said that everying written about him in the law of Mesoses, the Prophets and Psalms to be fufilled, and he opned this minds, so that they’d understand, and said that the Messiah is to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day; and in his name repentece leading to forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to the people from all nations, starting with Jerusalame. They are witnesses, and he’ll be sending them forth on what his Father promised, so stay in the city until equipped with power from above. He leads them to Bethany and then, raising his hands, he blesses them, and as he was doing so, he withdrew from them and carried up into heaven. They worship, return to Jerusalem, and spend all their times in the Temple courts, praising God. Acts goes further and says that during a period of forty days they saw him, and they also asked if he’d restore self-rule to Israel. Jesus says they don’t need to know the dates or the times, the Father keeps this in His authority. But they’ll receive the power of the Holy Spirit and they’ll be witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Sameria, and the ends of the earth. Then he’s taken up, and a cloud hides him from their side. (This is from Luke and Acts)

John has Jesus showing up in the evening, when the disicples are hiding behind locked doors, out of fear of the Judeans. Jesus comes, stands in the middle, and greets them. He shows them his hands and side, the disicples are overjoyed, Jesus says “Just as the Father sent me, I myself am also sending you.” He breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit, if you forgive someone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you hold them, they are held.” Thomas, one of the Twelve, wasn’t there the first time, and when told, he says he won’t believe unless he sees nail marks, puts his finger in the place where the nails were and hand on the side. A week later, they’re once again in the room, with Thomas, and Jesus shows up. He says to Thomas to perform any proofs needed, Thomas says, “My Lord and my God,” and Jesus says, “Have you trusted because you have seen me? How blessed are those who do not see, but trust anyway.” In the presence of the disicples, Jesus performs many miracles which are not recorded in this book.

--Here are what I’m noticing: Matthew has Jesus showing up to the women, telling the women to tell the disicples to go meet Jesus as Galilee and it’s implied that it’s the first time the disicples see him. Mark has him first showing to Mary Magdalene, and then two of ‘them’ on a road, which can lead into Luke, and showing up to the two emessaries. But then at what point do the disicples head to Galilee, and why would Jesus have the disicples meet him there for the ‘first’ meeting if he met them in Jerusalem? Take a look at a New Testament map – those two are *not* close to each other at all. I don’t think one can travel between those two in a day. Plus, angels tell the women that Jesus is going ahead of them to Galilee and Mark says that people will see Jesus there.
--John really likes doing things in threes. I believe this is one of the Gospels where Peter denies Jesus three times, then says later he loves Jesus three times. John notes that Jesus has ‘three’ appearances. Three people are aware of the missing body in Jesus before he shows up to anyone in John.
--In John, the disicples are hiding due to fear. This makes sense, and ties into John because Jesus is much harsher towards the Pharisees in this then he is in the other Gospels. But Luke has the emissaries walking around and talking about this, and in the first appearnace in Mark, Jesus appears and reproaches them for lack spiritual sensitivity. Would they have bothered with food if hiding in fear from the Jews?
--Reading the ‘Eleven/Twelve’ is interesting in this. Taking it literally or symbollically depends on how one is harmonizing the Gospels. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, and Paul, anyone would say that Jesus appeared to the disicples all at once for the first time when using ‘eleven. ‘ But John forces one to read that differently, since Thomas isn’t there until the second appearance.

--Paul has Jesus seen first by Peter, then by the Twelve, and afterwards seen by more than five hundred brothers at one time, the majority of whom are alive. Later Jesus is seen by Jacob, and then by all the emissaries, and last he is seen by Paul.
--Notes on this: the impression I get is that Paul had a vision of Jesus, yet he doesn’t seem to differentiate between physical contact with Jesus, and the vision here. He treats them all the same. I know an argument was that the reason was Paul didn’t mention the women was that it would lack credibility – except one of the driving appeals of Christianity was that it saw everyone as equals. Paul makes references in his other letters of female disciples who held very high positions. Why would he leave them out as witnesses? The other thing is that one can argue Luke shows that Jesus appears to ‘Peter’ first, except the account uses ‘Simon.’ I think all the other mentions use ‘Peter.’ Luke also has the women going to the ‘emissaries’ and telling them everything, so the ‘them’ walking on the word to Emmaus goes back to the ‘emissaries.’

--John has them receiving the Holy Spirt the day of the resurrection, Acts implies that it takes a while.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Resurrection Challenge, Part One

I did an initial attempt of this on Heissaling's blog, but figured I'd give it a better attempt here, going line-by-line.

It's from the Complete Jewish Bible. Now, the posting is a little disjointed, because trying to organize this is ... well, very difficult. 'Talmid' means disiciple.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark (which in Greek means ‘At dawn, the day-break, early (in the morning)), Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb (John). So she came running to Kefa and the other talmid, the one Yeshua loved, and said to them, “They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him. (John). Then Kefa and the other talmid started for the tomb (John). They both ran, but the other talmid outran Kefa, and reached the tomb first (John). Stooping down, he saw the linen burial-sheets lying there but did not go in (John). Then, following him, Kefa arrived, entered the tomb and saw the burial-sheets lying there, also the cloth that had been around his head, lying not with the sheets but in a separate place and still folded up (John). Then the other talmid, who had arrived at the tomb first, also went in; he saw, and he trusted (John.) They had no yet come to understand that the Tanakh teaches that the Messiah had to rise from the dead (John). So the talmid returned home, but Mary stood outside crying (John). AS she cried, she bent down, peered into the tomb, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Yeshau had been, one at the head and one at the feet (John). “Why are you crying?” they asked her. “They took my Lord,” she said to them, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” (John)

After Shabbat, as the next day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the grave (Matthew). When Shabbat was over, Mary Magdalene and Miryam the mother of Jacob, and Salome brought spices in order to go and anoint Yeshua (Mark). Very early in the morning, just after sunrise, they went to the tomb (Mark). They were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb for us? (Mark)” But the next day, while it was still very early, [Mary Magdalene, Johanna, Mary the Mother of Jacob, and others in their circle] took the spices they had prepared, went to the tomb (Luke). Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, for an angel of Adonai came down from heaven, rolled away the stone, and sat on it (Matthew). His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were as white as snow (Matthew). The guards were so terrified at him that they trembled and became like dead men (Matthew). But the angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know you are looking for Yeshua, who was executed on the sake. He is no here, because he has been raised – just as he said. Come and look at the place where he lay. The go quickly and tell the talmidim,’He has been raised from the dead, and now he is going to the Galilee ahead of you. You will see him there.’ Now I have told you (Matthew).” Then they looked and saw that the stone, even though it was huge, had been rolled back already (Mark). They found the stone rolled away from the tomb (Luke). Upon entering the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right and they were dumbfounded (Mark). But he said, “Don’t be so surprised. You’re looking for Yeshua from Nazareth, who was executed on the stake. He has risen, he’s not here. Look at the place where they laid him. But go and tell his talmidim, especially Kefa, that he is going to the Galilee ahead of you. You will see him there, just as he told you. (Mark).” On entering, they discovered that the body of the Lord Yeshua was gone (Luke). They were standing there, not knowing what to think about it, when suddenly two men in dazzlingly bright clothing stood next to them (Luke). Terror-stricken, they bowed down with their faces to the ground (Luke). The two men said to them, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has been raised. Remember how he told you while he was still in Galilee, ‘The Son of Many must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be executed on a stake as a criminal, but on the third day be raised again’? (Luke)” Then they remembered his words (Luke);

--So here’s what we’ve got. Regardless of who or how many showed up to the tomb, it happened very, very early. There’s not enough time for Mary to go by herself, and then come back with the other woman and still have it be just after sunrise. Plus, if it doesn’t happen that early in the morning, the event loses its symbolism. Matthew has the stone rolled away before the women – between the verb tense and how the passage flows, I find it hard to read it any other way. The angel in Matthew spoke to the women almost as soon as he appeared. We can tell this because the guards got terrified as soon as they saw the angel, so the angel tells the women to not be afraid. “But the angel said …” Plus, the angel also says, “Come and look where he lay,” which invites them inside, so he would’ve had to say this before the women even stepped into the tomb.

-- Mark has no angel outside, and a young man sitting inside, one that they women see right when they enter. Luke has them entering, and then standing, puzzled, and then two men appear, standing next to them. Depending on how one wants to interpret this, there can be up to four angels/messengers here. One outside on the stone, one sitting inside right when the women walk in, and then another two showing up, standing next to the women. The problem with that harmonization is that the individual texts don’t read that way. Luke shows them absolutely confused and alone, until the two men appear – it’s also interesting that they suddenly get terror-stricken at the appearance, if one goes with harmonization. They already saw the earthquake and the stone moving, no body and two other angels telling them things. But Mark shows someone immediately obvious as soon as they walk in.

-- [Correction to this section] I originally had it that Mary had to be in the tomb, except Mark has three women -- Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome, so the 'them' could just refer to Mary the mother of James and Salome. However, what does lend credence to Mary being a part of the 'them' is the flow in Mark. They get there, the stone is rolled away, they go into the tomb and the text seems to imply they see a young man immediatly. All the actions seem consecutive.

-- John is what makes everything fun, and does do an interesting with with the grammar. She’s the only woman mentioned, but when she runs to the beloved disciple and Peter, she says that, “They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him!” The ‘we’ could modify the other potential women with Mary. But it could also be her way of including Peter and the beloved disciple, along with herself. Because later with the angels, she just says ‘I.’
Trembling but ecstatic they went out and fled from the tomb, and they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid (Mark). So they left the tomb quickly, frightened yet filled with joy; and they ran to give the news to his talmidim (Matthew). Suddenly Yeshua met them and said, “Shalom. (Matthew)” They came up and took hold of his feet as they fell down in front of him. Then Yeshua said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galil, and they will see me there. (Matthew)” When Yeshua rose early on Sunday, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he expelled seven demons (Mark). As she said this, she turned around and saw Yeshua standing there, but she didn’t know it was he (John). Yeshua said to her, “Lady, why are you crying? Whom are you looking for? (John)” Thinking he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you’re the one who carried him away, just tell me where you put him; and I’ll go and get him myself. (John).” Yeshua said to her, “Mary. (John)” Turning, she cried out to him in Hebrew, “Rabbani! “John” “Stop holding onto me, “Yeshua said to her, “because I haven’t yet gone back to the Father. But go to my brothers, and tell them that I am going back to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. (John).” She went and told those who had been with him, as they were crying and mourning (Mark). And, returning from the tomb, they told everything to the Eleven and all the rest (Luke). Mary Magdalene went to the talmidim with the news that she had seen the Lord and he had told her this (John). But when they heard that he was alive and that she had seen him, they wouldn’t believe it (Mark). But the emissaries didn’t believe them; in fact, they thought that what they said was utter nonsense (Luke). However, Kefa got up and ran to the tomb (Luke). Stooping down, he saw only the burial clothes and went home wondering what had happened (Luke).

--Matthew includes Mary Magdalene, grammatically. Her counter with Jesus is on the way to the disciples, because it says they left the tomb and ran to give the news. John has Mary encounter Jesus almost right outside the tomb. Plus, Mary is crying out of fear and bewilderment, because she doesn’t know where the body is. Matthew and Mark show that they do know what happened, because the angels told them, so they’re frightened (for a different reason) yet also ecstatic/joyful.

--John has Peter and the BD show up way before they receive any news of a resurrection. Yet Luke has Peter go there after the news, and it’s written as though he’s confirming the story of no body. But, if harmonized, he already did that, so why the second visit? Because Luke’s giving the impression that the emissaries are finding the entire story, including the no body, nonsense, and then goes , “However …”