The Resurrection Accounts

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

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Having looked at the evidence confirming the death of Jesus and the reliability of the gospel writers, let us now look at the actual evidence concerning the resurrection. Because of the need for detailed assessment of this evidence, the points considered are briefly summarised below, with links to the detailed analysis which appears on other pages. As has been mentioned before, there are significant, almost contradictory, differences between the resurrection accounts in the various gospels. These differences provide strong evidence against the theory that the writers copied their accounts from each other. But I will also show how, by taking careful account of small incidental details, all four accounts can be harmonised into one. It has also been suggested that the more detailed accounts are attempts to embellish the original story. 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 astonishment of the disciples can be clearly seen in the accounts of the resurrection itself, which we will now look at…
3. Where were the disciples before the resurrection?
Peter and John stayed in Jerusalem and Mary the mother of Jesus was with them. But the other disciples and some of the other women had probably fled to Bethany.
This brings us to the resurrection morning…
4. What about the guards?
Matthew says that Roman soldiers guarded the tomb from the second day onward. When the angel appeared they fled and were paid to say that 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 moved away from the tomb. The women also saw angels who looked like men clothed in white. Some women saw more angels than others.
The issue of whether or not these variations indicate ’embellishment’ is also discussed here.
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 sees Jesus; but at first she thinks Jesus is a gardener. A little later, Jesus greets the other women while they are 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 (Lk 24:11). These accounts would only be included for the sake of honesty: 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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