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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Resurrection Texts Comparison

One of the big clues for me that I needed to read the Bible more closely was when Bishop Spong's Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism taught me that the nativities were irreconcilably different. I did a graph comparison of the two stories a couple of Christmases ago here. So, let's try a similar technique with the resurrection story.

So, let's start with Mark, which was written first. The story is contained in Mark 16:1-8.
The major points are that the women find a single man dressed in white. They tell no one what they saw, and Christ's ascension is implied by the ending.







The next story is from Luke. Here the women see two men, also dressed in white. They tell the disciples what happened. Jesus appears to two non-disciples on the road to Emmaus. He appears in the flesh to the disciples in Jerusalem. Then there is an ascension, which takes place in Bethany. The story is at Luke 24.






In Matthew 28 the women see an angel. Then Jesus appears to Mary in the Garden, although it is only briefly described. She tells the disciples to meet him in Galilee, which they do. Then the book ends, implying Jesus' ascension.









Finally, we have John. John spends two chapters, 20 & 21, describing Jesus' appearances. In John, no one at the tomb tells them anything. Even Peter sees the empty tomb. However, in the Garden, Jesus appears to Mary. Then he appears three times to the disciples. Twice after they went "home", which I assume is Galilee, and once on the Sea of Galilee. Then John says I he doesn't have time to list all of the appearances Jesus made all over. Again, the ascension is only implied.

4 comments:

Lin said...

I like your maps. Interesting that you did this exercise - fascinating comparisons. At Jesus and All That Jazz last Thursday we read all those accounts and compared them!

My first initiation to scripture happened in a literalist context. I remember assuming that the various gospel writers were simply giving parts of the story and to get the whole picture you had to put all the parts together. I think I ignored the inconsistencies as long as I could, and then explained them as the kind of discrepencies you get when two people witness the same accident and report it differently. That was probably the beginning of my journey away from the notions of God as author of scripture and inerrancy of scripture.

Much later I began to understand that these accounts were written at different times, in different places, intended for specific audiences 2000 years ago, with unique intended messages.

A great next step in this exegetical exercise would be to mine each scripture for the meanings of the specific details.

JimII said...

A great next step in this exegetical exercise would be to mine each scripture for the meanings of the specific details.Absolutely. Just like dealing with uncomfortable scriptures, when dealing with scriptural inconsistency the end should not be discovering the inconsistency. Or at least it does not have to be.

It does usually require a lot more work.

JimII said...

Lin,

What are your thoughts? Can you give us a shove in the right direction on the reasons for the different stories?

Mystical Seeker said...

Wow, this is great. The visual maps are a great way of summarizing the differences in the resurrection accounts.