Have you ever been in a parking lot at night and noticed the shadows cast by the lights coming from various directions? There may be three different shadows all offset from one another. They overlap in some areas, but are not perfectly aligned.
This is what I saw when I compared the four Gospel accounts of the resurrection.
Christians will say that they can be harmonized; that they all tell different parts of the same story. However, I have tried on three different occasions to do just that. Below you will see how I have attempted to reconcile the various parts of the narratives by piecing them together in different ways. I even make a few assumptions that are not in the texts in order to see if they fit together in any way.
ARRIVING AT THE TOMB
Scenario I: Mary comes to the tomb while it was still dark, then returns with the other women:
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, [Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome] went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”
John tells us Mary Magdalene came to the tomb “while it was still dark.” He seems to indicate that she was alone. If this is the case, then she would have seen the stone rolled away from the tomb, left, and upon coming back with the other women would have told them what she saw. But instead she participates in a conversation about how they were going to remove the stone.
Scenario II: Mary Magdalene and the other women come together and John did not think it was important to mention the other women:
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
On the first day of the week, they came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and when the sun had risen they went to the tomb; at early dawn, they came to the tomb. They were asking one another “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”
In this scenario there is a contradiction between when they came to the tomb. If you try to assume they left for the tomb while it was still dark, and by the time they arrived the sun had risen, you are changing John’s story. His story plainly says that they came to the tomb while it was still dark.
HE IS RISEN
Scenario I: Assuming the earthquake and an angel rolling the stone back and sitting on it happened before they got there and at some point, the angel got off the rock:
And entering the tomb, they saw a young man and/or an angel sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe. Two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing, and they all said, “Do not be afraid, You seek Jesus who was crucified. Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, for he has risen as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
This scenario just doesn’t make sense. A young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe and two men suddenly standing near them in dazzling clothing? Did the man disappear and reappear with another man?
Scenario II: Assuming the angel who rolled back the stone was still sitting on the rock:
The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” And entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe and two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing and they said, “Why do you seek You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen.
Here you either have to assume that there was a man sitting down, which would be the same being as the angel who had rolled the stone away (because they basically tell the women the same thing), then two men suddenly appeared as well (reiterating that Jesus had risen) or there was an angel sitting on the rock, a man sitting inside the tomb, and two men suddenly standing and they heard 3 different times that Jesus had risen.
GO AND TELL
Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you. See, I have told you.” So she/they ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them (the women) and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” They returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.
If we assume again that John did not mention the other women being with Mary Magdalene, then we have them leaving to tell Peter that they do not know where Jesus’ body is, then going back for another visit to anoint his body and that is when they get the word he had risen. This scenario makes no sense.
If we take John as his word that Mary Magdalene was alone and got there while it was still dark, again, she would have seen the stone removed with the body being gone, then returned with the women to prepare spices for his body and apparently forgetting what she saw earlier that morning.
Finally, Mark’s story, completely contradicts all of these.
“And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
The rest of his Gospel contains a narrative that was added on later. Most Bibles have this part in brackets with a note saying, “These verses are not found in the earliest manuscripts.” And it is quite obvious that those added verses do not belong. They do not flow at all with the story-line. It seems as though these verses were taken from John’s story. John’s story was the last Gospel written (around 90 C.E.) and Mark’s was actually the first – written around 70 C.E.