Modern Commentary

Torah & Spirit
Family Life






Conflicting Accounts of Resurrection

The gospels are supposed to be an accurate historical account of the life of Jesus. However, they are plainly at odds with each other. This is evident, among other things, from the fact that there are three "synoptic" gospels and one "aberrant" gospel (for lack of a better word). The mere existence of a gospel that disagrees with the others is reason for concern. Aside from this, there are even great points of disparity among the so-called synoptic gospels. This can be plainly seen in the story of the resurrection.

To see these discrepancies, we will examine the story progressively and observe how the "synoptic" gospels recount the story of Jesus "resurrection:"

Who found out that Jesus tomb was empty?

According to Matthew it was Mary and Mary Magdalene (Mt. 28.1).
According to Mark it was Mary, Mary Magdalene and Salome (Mk. 16.1).
According to Luke, it was Mary, Mary Magdalene, Joanna and another woman (Lk. 24.10).

Was the tomb opened or closed when they arrived?

Open (Luke 24:2).
Closed (Matt 8:1-2).

What did the women find at the tomb of Jesus?

According to Matthew, they found an angel (Mt. 28.5).
According to Mark, they found a man (Mk. 16.6).
According to Luke, they found two men (Lk. 24.4).

Were these men or angels inside or outside the tomb?

Outside (Matt. 28.2).
Inside (Mark 16:5, Luke 24:3-4).

What did the women do when they found out Jesus had come back to life?

According to Matthew and Luke (Mt. 28.8, Lk. 24.9), they rushed to tell Jesus disciples.
According to Mark, they kept the news to themselves (Mk. 16.8).

If we go outside the "synoptic" gospels, the picture becomes even more unclear:

At what time in the morning did the women visit the tomb?

At the rising of the sun (Mark 16:2)
When it was yet dark (John 20:1).

There are many more inconsistencies with this story, however, those listed above should be sufficient to detail the problematic nature of the narrative. Apologists often submit the witness-at-an-auto-accident argument, which states that the accounts of the resurrection differ much like the accounts of witnesses at an auto accident will differ on what exactly happened. This response is perfectly acceptable, assuming that Christians are willing to drop their claims of scriptural inerrancy! Witnesses at an accident, unlike gospel writers, do not claim to be inerrant.