Monday, April 6, 2015

AT-A-GLANCE: Chart Comparing the Empty Tomb and Resurrection Appearance in the Four Gospels

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (2 women)
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome (3 women)
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, and the other women (5 or more women)
Mary Magdalene (1 woman)
To see the sepulcher
To anoint him with spices
To take spices they had prepared
(John's Gospel does not say why.)
After the Sabbath, toward the dawn, on the first day of the week
After the Sabbath, very early, on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen
At early dawn, on the first day of the week
While it was still dark, on the first day of the week
The women witnessed an angel and an earthquake rolling the stone back.
The women worry how they’ll ever move it, but they find the stone already rolled back.
The women find the stone rolled away.
Mary Magdalene finds the stone rolled away.
An angel descended, he looked like lightning, dressed white as snow, and he sat upon the stone outside the tomb (only in Matthew are there guards posted; they tremble and become like dead men).
A young man in a white robe was sitting in the tomb on the right side.
Two men appeared in the tomb in dazzling apparel.
After Peter and the other disciple (John?) left, while Mary was weeping, she stooped to look in and saw two angels in white, sitting where the body had been laid, one at the head and one at the feet.
“Don’t be afraid . . .”
“Don’t be amazed . . .”
“Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
“Woman, why are you weeping?”
The women departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and they ran to tell the disciples.
The women fled from the tomb trembling, astonished, afraid, and said nothing to anyone.
The women returned and told the disciples.
Mary Magdalene saw the stone taken away, she went back and fetched Peter and the other disciple (John?) who came, saw, and left her weeping at the tomb; she answered two angels concerning her weeping, “Because they have taken my Lord away. . .”
Somewhere between the tomb and the disciples’ hideout in Jerusalem, Jesus met the two women and said, “Hail!” and they worshiped him.
Jesus doesn’t appear to anyone, as our oldest and best copies of Mark end at 16:8; 9-20 was almost certainly written later by someone else.
Somewhere on the road to Emmaus, Jesus walked with two disciples, one named Cleopas. And at an unnamed place Jesus is said to have appeared to Simon (Peter). These two appearances happen about the same time, and it's unclear which was first.
Just outside the tomb, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene who mistakes him for the gardener.
To the eleven on a Galilean mountain
(In the longer ending of Mark written by someone else, Jesus appeared to two disciples walking in the country and to the eleven while at table.)
To the eleven plus companions in Jerusalem behind closed doors
Somewhere behind closed doors without Thomas; same room one week later with Thomas; later to seven disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee


Book of Acts - the risen Christ appeared:
1-Acts 1:3-5 --- to disciples, teaching during forty days (Passover-Pentecost)
2-Acts 1:6-11 --- to disciples who witness his ascension
3-Acts 7:55-56 --- to Stephen in a “vision” of heaven as he is about to be stoned
4-Acts 9:1-9 --- to Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus—not an appearance like others

First Corinthians 15:3-11 - the tradition handed to Paul says the risen Christ appeared:
1 - to Cephas (Peter)
2 - then to the twelve (at first eleven)
3 - then to more than five hundred believers at one time
4 - then to James (Jesus' brother and eventual leader of the church in Jerusalem)
5 - then to all apostles
6 - then to Saul/Paul last


Gary said...

Alternative Explanation for the Empty Tomb, #4:

Martians done it!

Late Saturday night, a Martian mothership hovers over the tomb of Jesus. The commander, a sinister fellow with one eye, commands five of his Martian soldiers to teleport down to the ground, enter the bodies of the Roman soldiers, roll back the stone, and take the body. The body is levitated into the mothership using a tractor beam.

The Martian-possessed Roman soldiers go to the Sanhedrin and report that an angel has stolen the body. The members of the Sanhedrin all soil their undergarments and tell the soldiers to tell the people, “The disciples did it.”

The soldiers leave the Sanhedrin and are immediately teleported up to the mothership which returns to Mars, where a slave class is created from the Roman soldiers…who continue to live on the red planet…to this very day.

“Preposterous!” complain Christians.

“Just as preposterous as your supernatural tall tale!” I retort.

Bert Gary said...

I've heard it said that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, that it is the last resort of a defeated mind. Before you respond with further insult, I've also heard that insults are the last resort of insecure people with crumbling positions.

There was a lot offered in this post to respond to, Gary, but you chose to dismiss it en masse with a disparaging wisecrack.

How is contemptuous ridicule working for you in your relationships?

Gary said...

Matthew is the only Gospel that mentions guards at the tomb. John's Gospel says nothing about guards. If John was an eyewitness, as Christians claim, isn't that a pretty important detail to leave out of your story? The missing Roman guards in the Book of John raises an important issue. Christians often contend that it would have been impossible for anyone to have surreptitiously removed Jesus’ corpse from the tomb because there were guards posted at the tomb who would have prevented such an occurrence. Therefore, they argue, without any possibility for the body to have been quietly whisked away, the only other logical conclusion is that Jesus must have truly arisen from the dead. A stolen body hypothesis is impossible.

This argument completely collapses in John’s account, however, because according to the fourth Gospel, this is precisely what Mary thought had occurred! Mary clearly didn’t feel as though the scenario of Jesus’ body being removed was unlikely. In fact, according to John, that was her only logical conclusion. Clearly, Matthew’s guards didn’t dissuade John’s Mary from concluding that someone had taken Jesus’ body because Roman guards do not exist in John’s story.

To further compound the problem of the conflicting resurrection accounts, John’s Gospel continues to unfold with Mary returning to the tomb a second time, only to find two angels sitting inside the tomb. Mary is still unaware of any resurrection as she complains to the angels that someone had removed Jesus’ corpse. As far as John’s Mary is concerned, the only explanation for the missing body was that someone must have removed it, and she was determined to locate it.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying12 , one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

(John 20:11-13)

Although in Matthew’s account the angel emphatically tells Mary about the resurrection (Matthew 28:5-7), in John’s Gospel the angels do not mention that anyone rose from the dead. The angels only ask Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Mary responds by inquiring whether the angels removed Jesus’ body. Then, Mary turns and sees Jesus standing before her, but mistakes him for the gardener. Mary is still completely unaware of any resurrection, and therefore asks the “gardener” if he was the one who carried away Jesus’ body. It is only then that Mary realizes that she was speaking to the resurrected Jesus.

When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” which means Teacher.

(John 20:14-16)

It is at this final juncture of the narrative that the accounts of Matthew and John become hopelessly irreconcilable. The question every Christian must answer is the following: When Mary met Jesus for the first time after the resurrection, had the angel(s) already informed her that Jesus had arisen from the dead? According to Matthew, the angels did inform Mary of the resurrection, but in John’s account they did not. As we survey the divergent New Testament accounts of the resurrection, we see that we are not just looking at contradictory versions, we are reading two entirely different stories!

Bert Gary said...

Gary, thanks for dropping the sarcasm. And I appreciate the seriousness with which you engaged the scriptures. Are you aware that the chart I posted agrees with you? I ask because you seem to be arguing with someone who DIDN'T post that chart!

Gary said...

I apologize if I have your position confused. Do you believe that Jesus was bodily raised from the dead?

Bert Gary said...

Gary: Which is worse---coming to believe that the resurrection happened based on conflicting accounts, or, trolling for believers to ambush, judge, stereotype, and lampoon?

That's my problem: You didn't comment here, it seems to me (I don't know about elsewhere), with the intent of making personal connection with people you disagree with or don't understand, or entering into dialogue (to explore scriptural perspectives with people who don’t share your views) intending to stretch yourself beyond your own prejudices. You seemed to target me, which is fine. I’m a big boy. And you’re in good company: Saul of Tarsus targeted Christians too.

Do you believe your hit-and-run, sophomoric mockery is more enlightened and defensible than concluding Jesus rose? You don’t know me, you don’t know the intensely personal and scholarly processes that have defined my 50 decades of seeking intellectual integrity, yet to you it seems simple: ALL believers are the same---anti-intellectual morons worthy of your mocking disdain. Isn’t that what you believe? If not, can you understand my coming to that conclusion base on your comments?

So what do you get out of this? Do you really hope to enlighten Christians with your current approach? Is being an anonymous, sneering sniper really "you"?

Gary said...

I am willing to use whatever (non-violent) means necessary to wake you from your delusion that virgins give birth to babies, men walk on water, and dead people walk out of their graves to eat broiled fish sandwiches with their former fishing buddies.

I too was once under this deadly delusion. I believe that the best means of opening your eyes is to show you how ridiculous it is, not conduct endless theological debates with you.

You wouldn't believe this supernatural nonsense from any other religion, so why do you believe it for yours?

Answer: you have been indoctrinated (brainwashed) to believe that two plus two really can equal five.

Bert Gary said...

So you don't seem able or willing to respond to my questions, ignoring everything I write/ask. You must be in college, Gary! LOL

You think other people are reading our little back and forth here, eh? Not likely. I have few readers and even fewer comment writers and readers. I will not think less of you for responding personally here, and you needn't feel like "the world" is looking on because it isn't.

"Personally," I can't understand your impersonal, evasive, abusive approach. There's no hope of your responding to what I write and ask, is there?

So you're willing to do anything to wake me up from my delusion? You care that much about me? You're desperately determined to help me? Really? What is my name? Why haven't you used it even once? Why haven't you asked about my health, my family, my jobs, my writing?

How is choosing to ignore my name, ignore my life, and ignore my questions an expression of your deep concern for me and your passionate determination to help me? How is it that you see sarcasm as hope for my healing? Dismissing me, ignoring my replies, mocking me, lecturing me, and judging me are all being administered "lovingly" by you to help me because you care for me and are worried for me? Is that really what you wanna go with? You gonna double down on the compassion-for-me claim?

I'm not a modern evangelical. Therefore I'm not your enemy. But that never occurred to you, did it.

You know what the irony is to me? Modern evangelicals target strangers, push tracts on them at fairs and on Bourbon St. and all over the US, never caring about the persons they accost, never asking their names or attempting to build relationships. And YOU are acting just like them with me. If that's not ironic, I don't know what is.

Gary said...

Don't take it personally, Bert. I post on multiple Christian websites for the purpose of debunking a deadly superstition that has caused millions of human beings to be persecuted and killed over the last 2,000 years, and is still causing persecution and discrimination today.

Some would call me a spammer. (My wife thinks I'm nuts. I may be.)I call myself a messenger of truth and liberation; liberation from an invisible ghost in the sky, who even under the most liberal of Christian views, sits on his throne in heaven and watches thousands of human beings die (each day, year after year) excruciating deaths from war, hunger, and disease.

It's not personal Bert. I am not focusing on you specifically.

However, if you would like to have a conversation, let's talk.

Bert Gary said...

I get it, Gary, that you are on a mission or crusade, as am I. I've been angry with Christian evangelical fundamentalism and biblical literalism all my life. And while I am more at peace in terms of relating to these persons and loving them, I'm still writing, teaching, and preaching so as to expose biblical misrepresentation, theological absurdity, and evangelical abuse.

Having at least some things in common, you'd think you and I would recognize and appreciate that to some degree we are on the same page---without of course denying or minimizing our differences, as it seems to me that you are more sweepingly opposed to the Christian religion and its practitioners than I, and seemingly angrier at "God" than I, which I do not judge or disparage.

I get being a messenger of truth and liberation, and I leave your message and method in your hands as it is none of my business. I too see myself absolutely as a messenger of truth and liberation, and, for me, being an agent of change also involves being an advocate for people. I find I have to earn the role of liberator by standing with people where they are. Rapport and trust, the absence of judgment, acceptance and affirmation---these create an atmosphere of hospitality where people can choose to open their doors to real reconsideration freely. I don’t think most people care what you have to say until they know you care, as the trite but true saying goes.

My experience has been that it sometimes takes years of pastoral relationship with persons before they start to “get it,” and start to feel safe about asking me their important questions. I think the average person is in a precarious position, not knowing scripture very well, hearing a “gospel” of fear and threat all of their lives, then hearing more accurate biblical/theological teaching from me that contradicts practically everything else they’ve heard from everybody else, and who are they supposed to believe? The entire evangelical world or little ole me? Several people in my congregation only started to wake up after two full years of hearing me, and some are just beginning to think it through now after five years.

None of this truth/liberation would be happening if in addition to being an agent of change I weren’t also a personal advocate. That’s my own theological/pedagogical core.

Gary said...

I appreciate your approach. You are trying to "shepherd" individuals to the truth, I, however, am trying to change a cultural attitude. I am not really trying to convert individuals unless someone grabs me and says, "Hey, hold on a minute. I really want to hear what you have to say", then I will.

I see myself as a movement, not a therapist or counselor. It is my goal to cause conservative Christianity to lose its social respectability; for it to be seen for what it is, silly, superstitious nonsense. My goal is not to convert the individual conservative Christian, although that would be wonderful, my goal is to shame them all; to shut them up; to diminish their influence on public policy and politics; to end their discriminatory practices against those who do not hold their views.

Sorry if I come across as rude. I'm not trying to insult, I am trying to expose. If my exposure of someone's superstition is taken as be it.

Bert Gary said...

I feel that I understand and appreciate you, and I'm glad for our dialogue.

Gary said...

By the way, Bert, I have no issue with liberal Christians who teach "live and let live".

My only concern is that by maintaining a belief in the supernatural, liberal Christians provide a cover of respectability for the fundamentalists. If no one but fundamentalists believed in the supernatural, fundamentalists would be treated like delusional social outcasts instead of just extremists of an acceptable worldview.

I wish you well, my friend.