Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The resurrection did too happen

Ah Easter-time. Never mind the business with the pancakes and chocolate, we all know the true story of Easter, don’t we? Jesus died for our sins, of course.  Or rather, for the vicarious sins of Adam and Eve which God foisted on every human since in a fit of childish pique. And Jesus died to wash those sins away. I don’t know how that’s supposed to work or why it was needed. If God wanted to cancel original sin, couldn’t he just have gone right ahead and done it? 

And then Jesus cheated by coming back to life after 3 days. Or was it 2 days and 2 nights (John 20:1)?  Or 3 days and 2 nights (Luke 24:1, Mark 16:2, Matthew 28:1)?  All of which, by the way, contradict Jesus’ own statement in (Matthew 12:40) that he’d be dead for 3 days and 3 nights.

Then Mary and Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and an angel rolled away the stone (Matthew 28:1-2).  Unless it was Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome and the stone had already been rolled away (Mark 16:1-4). Or perhaps it was Joanna and an unnamed woman rather than Salome (Luke 24:10).  Or then again, perhaps it was just Mary Magdalene by herself (John 20:1).

Mary both touches Jesus (Matthew 28:9) and is simultaneously not permitted to touch him (John 20:17). Once Mary has finished at the tomb, she runs to tell the disciples the good news (Matthew 28:8, Luke 24:9, John 20:18) although to be fair she also says nothing to anyone because she's afraid (Mark 16:8).

When the disciples arrive at the tomb, there’s an angel there, having a nice sit down outside (Matthew 28:2) who tells them to hurry to Galilee (Matthew 28:6-7). However, there was also no angel, just a young man sitting inside the tomb (Mark 16:5). At the same time, there were actually two men, who were standing up and who specifically tell the disciples not to leave Jerusalem (Luke 24:49). Of course, what really happened was that the first time Mary visited the tomb, it was empty, but then she came back and there were two seated angels who only told her not to cry.  Then Jesus himself – not the angel/s or young men – told her about the resurrection and nobody gets told to go anywhere (John 20:13-17).

Jesus then appears to a widely differing cast of characters in a bewildering range of locations either 2, 3 or 5 times including either the 11 surviving disciples or 12 disciples (even though Judas was already dead). Or, according to John, 10 disciples, since of course Thomas wasn’t there.

So now you know the story of the resurrection, by far the most important event in the New Testament.  We know it’s true because of all the detailed accounts in the Bible.  And we know all the accounts are simultaneously true despite being entirely contradictory because (II Timothy 3:16) says that the Gospels are the revealed word of God and therefore absolutely correct in every detail.

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