Monday, April 13, 2009

He Is Risen Indeed!

This past Lord's Day was of course the special day we call Easter Sunday, the Day Jesus was raised from the dead. As a part of our celebration of this historical event, my family and I spent some time in the afternoon going through and contrasting the different accounts found in the four Gospels with our children. Yes, I not only teach my children about differences in the Gospels, but I also teach them (dare I say it?) textual variants within the texts themselves. We even discussed Mark's longer ending!

While studying the resurrection accounts, I was reminded of the apparent contradiction between Luke's Gospel and John's Gospel. If you are not familiar with this problem (there are others), take a careful look at Luke's account of the women going to the tomb verses John's.

In Luke, it seems that the women first arrive at the tomb and see the Angels before they tell Peter and Peter's arrival at the tomb. In John's account, it appears that the women do not initially see the angels but instead go and tell Peter that the tomb was merely empty. So now I must ask the same question I asked my kids. Do we throw out the Bible because of its apparent contradictions?

After spending some time explaining to my children what is a contradiction and why differences in the Gospel accounts is truly a great thing, I began to think about this supposed problem for the rest of the evening.

For years I have read different apologists try to come up with all kinds of explanations. Some were good and some were bad. After thinking about the texts and the style of writing, I didn't see any problem at all. If you read Luke carefully, Luke isn't giving a blow by blow account that John does. Notice Luke's words in the first eight verses. Luke uses the term "they" to refer to the women that went to the tomb. He then gives a general description or summary of the morning events by explaining that the women saw the Angels.

In verse 10 Luke then backs up and gives us some of the name of the women that went to the tomb. He then gives us another summary account of the fact that these women told the Disciples including Peter. Yet none of them believed. Then Luke recounts how Peter did check out their story by going to the tomb himself. Luke is simply stating some facts in a summary way. He never intends to give a moment by moment account. when read that way, isn't this something we might do today?

John's account is more specific in the precise order of events. John says that the women went to the tomb and found it empty. They went and told the disciples. Peter and John ran to the tomb and went home. Then the women went back and saw the angels.

There is simply no contradiction unless we want to force our modern thinking upon the ancient writers. Yet Luke does what many of us have done today, even with our supposed modern thinking. So be encouraged that we have varying accounts. If they all said the same thing in the same way, then DaVinci Code conspiratorial theories would have some basis for an argument. They don't!

Jesus Is Risen. He Is Risen Indeed!

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