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May 20, 2015


This is not the way you would make up a story if you were going to make it up. It's clear that if Luke made up the gospel of Luke, that based on his historical references, he was obviously an intelligent person (first 4 verses written in classical greek and presented in a way that indicates the author is educated). If someone wanted to make up a story that is clearly intelligent, why in the world would they have made up this kind of story, and had it play out in this way? I think that at least even the most serious skeptic can say that Luke believed he was writing history.

They will point to apparent contradictions or miracles to bolster their claim. I've even heard a well-educated person state that the Gospels were just "made up" by their authors, like a modern-day fictional author. f

I'm not aware of any skeptics who question the authenticity of the information you presented. There probably are some somewhere, but my point is that you seem to be refuting a strawman here.

It seems to me that a much more relevant issue would be trying to make sense of the conflicting events among the gospels of holy week, for example, because that series of events is something that skeptics actually use in arguments.

A list of resources pointing to these archeological references would be great to easily share with sceptics.


So you've never heard of people who say that Jesus is entirely legendary?

Because you could not say that Jesus is entirely legendary unless you thought the Gospels were made up. Could you?

Now, I grant you, such people are stupid. But they aren't straw men.

As for the 'bible contradictions' in the Gospel accounts of Holy Week, don't tease. Which of them do you find so troubling?


It's been a while since brgruker raised the specter of "conflicting events among the gospels of holy week." It could be just the laid back feeling you get on a holiday weekend. It could be that "conflicting events among the gospels of holy week" is but an idle rumor, or better, a previous rumor that got the best of rational explanations.

The two main "difficulties" that I hear about Holy Week are:

1) the different listing of women at the tomb.

2) a supposed difficulty in arranging the events of Easter into a sensible whole.

I haven't had problems with these complaints.

As for the first, the ladies noted by Matthew (Mary Magdalene and the other Mary), Mark (Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James), Luke (Mary Magdalene, Johanna, Mary the mother of James and several other women), and John (Mary Magdalene, who had allowed Peter and John to beat her to the tomb on her second, lengthier trip to the grave) have been dealt with in several ways. I like Dan Wallace's suggestion of several independent groups of ladies moving toward the tomb and meeting en route. But I prefer the explanation of designated source, the writer noting the woman/women who had supplied the information. No writer had a complete list of ladies, and relied on their eye-witness testimony to events they were missing due to being in hiding from the authorities. All the writers note the presence of these specific women being on Golgotha or at the scene of the burial, and so use them as the key witnesses to the empty tomb and the first sighting of the risen Jesus. If all this is taken into account, there is no difficulty at all.

The problem of the coordination of Easter events is difficult, but the pieces slide into place with study. I see the events as: the women approach the tomb and note the stone rolled away. They approach but Mary Magdalene bolts back first and runs into Peter and John. The women meet the angel, returns to Jerusalem and meets Jesus. they are given instructions for the disciples, but these refuse to believe. Peter and John, drawn by Mary Magdalene's report go to the tomb and note the neatly folded grave-clothes. They return puzzled (note that the angels withdraw from the scene at the approach of the disciples. A matter of testing their faith??). Mary Magdalene returns to weep and meet Jesus personally. See returns to repeat the message to the disciples. Peter is granted a "snatch-sighting." Jesus takes His walk with the Emmaus disciples. Jesus times His first meeting with the disciples on the arrival of the Emmaus pair. this summation is sketchy, but it entails all the elements that the four evangelists noted in their independent accounts.

While brgrulker may still get back to you, his viewpoint is skewed by Ehrmann's view of each gospel as an independent work. These works may be harmonized, but it is felt that such structurings are artificial (much like Tatian's Diatessaron, a work of the middle of the next century). Still, a failure to mention all the details contained in another account doesn't qualify as a difficulty.

Now, if all the gospels read too much like the others, I'd be suspicious. Wouldn't you?

I agree DGF, if the gospels were all the same then it would be a lot less persuasive, but I think a coherent chain of events can be pieced together from the varying accounts.

Here's how I'd put together the Easter day events:

  1. There is an earthquake. An angel opens the tomb. This is witnessed by soldiers some of whom converted and later told Matthew et al. None of the Holy Women or disciples see this.
  2. The Holy Women (which includes but might not be limited to: Magdalene, The Mother of Jesus and James, Mary of Bethany, Salome and Joanna) start out well before sunrise for the tomb. On the way, they discuss how to open it.
  3. Anxious, Magdalene runs ahead of the rest of the Holy Women to the tomb arriving before sunrise. She finds the tomb open and empty.
  4. Magdalene runs to tell Peter and John who come (running), with Magdalene, to find the tomb open and empty.
  5. Peter and John leave.
  6. Magdalene lingers outside the tomb crying.
  7. Magdalene finally looks or goes into the tomb and sees two angels.
  8. Magdalene subsequently sees Jesus, recognizing Him eventually, but not right away.
  9. Jesus returns to the father unseen by the other Holy Women.
  10. Just after sunrise, the rest of the Holy Women arrive at the empty tomb.
  11. The rest of the Holy Women are informed of the resurrection by the angel that had rolled away the stone. Magdalene also hears this announcement.
  12. The Holy women, including Magdalene, go to tell the disciples.
  13. Jesus meets them on the way.
  14. The Holy Women reach the disciples.
  15. The women tell the eleven (not Thomas) about the resurrection.
  16. As a group, the disciples do not initially believe the women (though John does).
  17. Peter decides to return to the tomb (perhaps to see if the angel is still there and talking).
  18. Peter returns to the tomb and still finds it open and empty. He still sees no angel.

Very interesting those two verses. I am looking for stuff like this. Can you also give me the sources of archeology and ancient litary that verify the two Bible verses? That would be really helpfull!

Andre, just pick up almost any scholarly commentary like Word Biblical Commentary and they will have all the sources there.

Looking at the prologue:

1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Another words, Luke's account is based on two sources:

- Eyewitnesses - He wrote this account based on eyewitness testimony he had heard from people who participated in or saw the events.

- Servants of the word - This word is tricky to translate and what it likely means is that they were people who were authoritative sources as far as telling the story of Jesus. The early church would have controlled narratives about Jesus as this is what is done in oral cultures (see the Bedouin culture). It is believed by many that this is a reference to authoritative individuals who had been versed in the official version of what had happened and had memorized large portions of the story.

So, Luke used eyewitness, first generation testimony, and he also consulted the second line of stories that had been passed down. Considering that in Acts we find that Luke traveled with Paul to Jerusalem, we can assume that he knew Peter, James, and John. Luke writes his gospel somewhere between 50 and 90 AD. I think we can assume this was a lifetime of collecting data from official sources.

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