The Resurrection Accounts

This page examines the New Testament evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.

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Following on from the evidence presented before concerning the death of Jesus and the integrity of the gospel writers, let’s look at the actual evidence concerning the resurrection. Because of the need for detailed assessment of this evidence, the points considered are briefly summarised here, with links to the detailed analysis which appears on other pages.

As has been mentioned before, there are significant differences, even apparent contradictions, between the resurrection accounts in the various gospels. This actually makes the theory that the writers copied their accounts from each other seem less, rather than more, probable. But in order to address the claimed contradictions I will endeavour to present the evidence from the four gospels as a harmonised account.

I note that it has also been suggested that successive accounts are embellishments of the original story; so as I am going through the account I will discuss various aspects of that hypothesis.

First, a couple of preliminary points:

1. The disciples were not expecting a resurrection.

2. A non-physical resurrection would have been easier for them to accept than a physical one.

The disciples’ surprise at what happened can be clearly seen in the accounts of the resurrection itself, which we now turn to.

3. Where were the disciples prior to the resurrection?

Peter and John apparently stayed in Jerusalem, whereas the other disciples fled, probably to Bethany. Some of the women probably also returned to Bethany; although Jesus’ mother Mary would have been with John.

This brings us to the resurrection morning.

4. What of Matthew’s account of the guards?

Matthew records that guards were put on the tomb from the second day onward, who fled when the angel appeared and were paid to say the disciples stole the body. Such an account would make no sense unless the body really had disappeared.


5. What Did the Women Find??

They arrived early in the morning and found the stone already rolled away from the tomb. They also saw angels who had the appearance of men clothed in white; the precise number reported depending on the viewpoint of the woman relating their story.

The issue of whether or not these variations indicate ’embellishment’ is also discussed.


6. Who saw Jesus first?

Mary ran to fetch John and Peter, who saw the empty tomb but didn’t see Jesus. After they had left, Mary meets Jesus, after mistaking him for the gardener. A little later, Jesus meets the other women who were still on their way to the other disciples.

7. One final point about the women’s accounts:

If anyone wanted to create a convincing story in Jesus’ day, the last thing they would have done would be to focus on a woman’s testimony. The male-dominated culture of the time despised womens’ testimonies as hopelessly unreliable: in court female testimony was seldom ever accepted (cf Lk 24:11). The only good reason for including these accounts would be if they had actually happened: not as an embellishment.


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2 thoughts on “The Resurrection Accounts

  1. Well actuall I still do not believe that jesus is dead because allah has said in the holy quran that when jesus was about to die on the cross allah had sent another human being who looked like jesus and sent the real jesus to the sky. He is still alive now adays but we can not see him the only day we can see him is on the [….] I was saying that we all will see him on qayamat day I meam on the last day of earth with all the other prophets y [… rest of comment not received]

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