12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you be saying that there is no resurrection of the dead?13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ cannot have been raised either,14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without substance, and so is your faith. 1 Corinthians 15: 12-14 (NJB)
According to the apostle Paul in the above cited text, the entire gospel hinges on the so called “fact” of the resurrection of Christ. The above cited letter was written to the church of Corinth and it is dated approximately around 54 CE, an amazing 21 years give or take a year or two from Jesus alleged crucifixion and subsequent death! Based on the content of the letter at the time of its composition, it was rumored that the church of Corinth had already begun doubting the historical “facts” of the resurrection of Jesus. In this article I will try and uncover what we know about the resurrection of Jesus based almost entirely on the gospel accounts which relate to this alleged event.
The first question that we have to ask was who discovered the empty tomb on resurrection morning. Well, all of that depends on which gospel you read. According to Matthew it was Mary Magdalene and the “other Mary which he does not bother to distinguish of whom he is referring to. According to Matthew an angel came down and rolled away the stone and gave the women instructions for the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee. It also says that as they went to relay the message that the Lord himself met them and repeated the same instructions. Later in the chapter we are told that they met with Jesus in Galilee but that there were still some that were in doubt Matthew 28:17. Feel free to read the entire chapter to help put this narrative in perspective.
According to the gospel of Mark the first to discover the empty tomb was Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and finally Salome. According to the author of Mark after the women arrived at the tomb the stone had already been rolled away and a man in the tomb told them to go tell his disciples and Peter that he had risen and would meet them in Galilee. But the narrative then say’s that the women told no one for they were afraid. Later Mary Magdalene is met by Jesus himself and is told the same instructions she had received earlier from the young man in the tomb, who we are to assume was an angel. You can read this narrative in Mark chapter 16 and compare it with Matthew just for kicks.
Luke on the other hand says that on resurrection morning it was Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Joanna and some other unnamed women that found the tomb and later told the disciples what they had been instructed to say. Not by one but get this two men (angels?) in brilliant clothes. Jesus later appears to two of his followers and then to the eleven. I invite my readers to read Luke chapter 24 for this very different narrative of Jesus post resurrection appearances.
The author of the gospel of John has a very different story to tell about what happened on that early morning visit to the tomb. He states that only Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and found it empty and told Simon Peter and an unnamed disciple that Jesus body was not in the tomb and she did not know what had happened to it. John completely fails to mention the angelic appearances and the fact that Mary was informed by these various angelic beings that Jesus had risen from the dead and that he would meet the disciples in Galilee.
The narrative states further that Mary went back and informed Peter and another disciple that Jesus body was missing. They came and saw that he was gone and went home not yet realizing that the scriptures had been fulfilled. Mary stayed at the tomb and then two angels appeared in the tomb and so did Jesus himself! At first she did not recognize him and thought he was the gardener. She then told the disciples that she had seen Jesus and then Jesus later presented himself to them as well. Thomas doubted but 8 days later Jesus showed up again and let him touch his wounds to prove that it was him. According to John he appeared to the disciples 3 times after his resurrection. John then leaves the narrative there and goes no further.
The book of Mark 16:19 states that Jesus ascended up to heaven right after giving his disciples their final instructions to proclaim the gospel to the world. Luke 24:51 states something similar to what Mark narrates. Matthew and John don’t even mention the ascension of Jesus and the other two books state that it happened at a particular time within the narrative. None of them mention Jesus hanging around for 40 days or ascending to heaven in the sight of 500 witnesses as told by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:6.
It is important to know that Paul was not a witness to any of the alleged occurrences regarding the resurrection of Christ. He had learned what he did through the testimony of others. He is the only one that claims that five hundred people had seen Christ ascend into heaven but this is obviously in disagreement to the synoptic gospels telling of this tale. Apologists love to disregard the discrepancies in the various narrations of this tale and state that they are irrelevant. They claim that the “fact” that Jesus rose from the dead is all that matters. But I disagree.
When I read the various narrative regarding this matter I am led to believe that the reason that these stories contradict each other so blatantly is that since they are based on oral traditions they never did happen. Keep in mind that none of the narratives of the gospels are firsthand accounts of the events they claim to report on. All four gospels are anonymous works trying to convey oral traditions and myths as fact.
This story would never hold up in a court of law and from a logical standpoint it makes no sense at all. You would probably get a more reliable witness of a crime from a crack head than you would from the gospels. Not to mention that any mention of the resurrection of Jesus outside of the gospels are also admittedly based on hearsay and not actual historical documents that would attest to them as facts. I invite all my readers to read the four narrations of the events of the gospels and compare them one to the other detail for detail. I guarantee that you would find it an insult to your intelligence to be expected to believe this nonsense.
There is no evidence outside of the gospels that provide strong enough support for the resurrection. The bible narratives all contradict themselves blatantly and the earliest of these was Mark and it was written approximately 65 to 70 CE about 32 or so years after the alleged event. Feelings of the presence of Christ etc. do not count as evidence since subjective evidence is not evidence of anything at all.