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 …”


HeIsSailing said...

Heather, I will look over your article when I get the chance.

But if we ever get this thing figured out, you know the next step is to hire some actors to film it and see how it plays out. I wonder what it would look like?

Heather said...

**I wonder what it would look like? **

Honestly? Odd. Part of the difficulties I'm finding with the harmonizations is that each Gospel really flows in terms of what it says. When you start combining everything together, then each Gospel gets a lot of 'pauses,' which then almost takes away from the account.

JumpingFromConclusions said...

Wow, Heather, you worked very hard on this. It does seem like a giant puzzle. It is, of course, difficult to follow, and there is a lot of repetition (especially early on). Thanks for posting it. . . it must have taken a lot of patience to work on this.

HeIsSailing said...

I'll print it up and look at it over lunch. I like puzzles. Plus I am really considering my cheesy idea of filming it. hmmm

Thanks Heather.

Heather said...

I was bored at work yesterday, which is why I typed all this.

The funny part is that I do believe a resurrection occured of some nature. I just don't think these accounts can be harmonized. The Gospels themselves almost don't 'allow,' it, which really comes across after going through line-by-line.

SocietyVs said...

Heather, now that's quite the work you just did there and needs to be applauded - that is a lot of analytical study and must of been time-staking - awesome job!

What I will ask of you is the 'the Complete Jewish Bible' - do you have a link for this - I am very interested in it.

"The Gospels themselves almost don't 'allow,' it, which really comes across after going through line-by-line." (Heather)

I totally agree - the harmonization process is quite the stretch of the imagination. I can't see Luke, John, Matthew, and Mark all lining up in perfect harmony - 4 various writers trying to relate the same story in their own words - not very likely.

I also think the resurrection event occured - although I admit the obvious 'who can prove this'? We're dealing with stories over 1900 years old from a time and culture much different than ours...there is bound to be a lot of things we struggle through. And nothing wrong with the struggle - it's quite normal I think.

Bored at work huh? Been there, done that, blogged also (lol).

Heather said...

HIS -- if filmed, you could always get really creative and film it with Legos or something. :)

SocietyVS --

The Complete Jewish Bible was written from the Messianic Jew perspective. What I like about it is that in the NT, it gives footnotes for the OT reference. Looking up Romans 3 with the whole 'all have sinned ...' got a whole new perspective when done that way. I don't have a direct website, but here's the amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Jewish-Bible-Testament-Hadashah/dp/9653590154/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-7091533-0562357?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1176333138&sr=1-1

I have an ENglish Lit major and a History minor, so this is like candy for me. :) And I want to keep going.

HeIsSailing said...

Thanks for the link Heather. You have made me interested in this translation also.

Heather said...

HIS --

**You have made me interested in this translation also. ** I really recommend it, just for the fact that it references all the prophecies. The context of how the NT uses those is a big help.

I don't think it's the most accurate translation, but it's fairly close.

10Matt39 said...


I worked on trying to harmonize the resurrection accounts a few years ago. My match ups between the different accounts can be found at:

I also wrote an interpretive narrative incorporating all the details and that can be found at:

Matthew Tenney

Heather said...

Hi, Matt.

Welcome. :)

I think I also saw your post on 'Agnostic Atheism's' blog, and read it. I was impressed and gratified that you put everything together, and it looked like you got all the details. It looks like you're going with Matthew having the stone rolled away before the women got there? Based on verb usage and the way the account flows, including the angel's language of telling them to not be afraid (which comes right after the soldiers being terrified), I still say the stone was rolled while the women saw it.

However, I'm curious about something. Do you think each account still works when harmonized? I'm finding harmonizing them almost interupts each individual gospel, in both narration and the emotional impact.

10Matt39 said...

Hi Heather,

Thank you for mentioning that you had seen my comments at another location. I am curious as to the extent of this community and this helps me make that estimation.

I have no independent expertise but it seems the verb usage in Matthew 28:1 can just indicate that the commencement of the women's journey was in the past tense. I have not seen a translation that definitely puts the end of the journey in the past.

We can surmise that Matthew leaves something out between verse 1 and verse 5 because in verse 5 it says "and the angel answered ..." and the word "answered" almost certainly means the women asked a question, a question which Matthew does not record. But from the answer, the question would seem to be "where is Jesus?", a somewhat odd question to ask if they had in fact just seen the angel move the stone.

I think each Gospel writer told the story that he knew and in the sequence that he knew. I think none of them knew the whole story and they knew they didn't know the whole story yet they wrote their accounts as if they were complete. This is nothing unusual and it is what we all would have done. If the Gospel writers had been interrogated, we might have found out more about what they didn't know. So I guess the harmonization can indeed be a distraction from the power of each individual Gospel account.

Heather said...

Hi, Matt.

I would still read Matthew as a chronological event: as in, the women are walking, and they see the stone move, the angel descend, and the guards freeze.

**We can surmise that Matthew leaves something out between verse 1 and verse 5 because in verse 5 it says "and the angel answered ..." ** Here I would disagree with you, because there are other translations that use 'spoke.' The Greek word can mean 'to speak or say (by word or writing) answer, bid, bring word, call, command, grant, say (on), speak, tell.' 'Answer' might be a King James phrase of using 'said.' It just seems to more that the angel is speaking immediatly because the guards are afraid and he's rushing to ensure that the women don't become afraid. I also don't see the women asking 'where is Jesus,' because the angel then goes onto to say, "I know you seek Jesus ..." which can indicate that the angel already knew why they were there. That, and as far as they know, Jesus's body is still in the tomb, and then the angel invites them to see where Jesus lay, as proof that the body is no longer there.

10Matt39 said...

Hi Heather,

You may be right. I am not at all a Greek scholar. I was using www.blueletterbible.org and the word in Matt 28:2 is "apokrinomai" (Strong #611)and the blue letter bible website says that Greek word is used:

1) to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer

2) to begin to speak, but always where something has preceded (either said or done) to which the remarks refer.

So that's why I think the phrase, "answered and said" is closer to the Greek but I don't know.

The word is used many times in the NT and if anyone is interested, a study could be made using those other verses.


Heather said...


#1 would work to support your theory, and #2 would work to support mine. So, to each their own, I suppose. :)

SocietyVs said...

Thanks Heather for the link - I will check it once I get the chance to (I suppose i have to buy the book - lol).

"#1 would work to support your theory, and #2 would work to support mine. So, to each their own, I suppose. :)" (Heather)

Agree to diagree - interesting - but that makes the most sense I heard throughout this whole process (being there is no real concensus on what definitely happened in the timeline). This makes both of you that much smarter than me - LOL.

"So I guess the harmonization can indeed be a distraction from the power of each individual Gospel account." (Matt)

My opinion exactly also.

Heather said...

**being there is no real concensus on what definitely happened in the timeline** Well, I would say that all timelines agree that there was a Resurrection. It's all the other details that people argue about. ;)