Sunday, 24 April 2011

Does the Bible's account of the Resurrection add up?

I was on the interwebs today and came across a 'quiz' by an atheist that included some questions about the events in the gospel accounts surrounding the Resurrection, with the purpose of showing that the Bible accounts were inconsistent.

I confess I hadn't noticed these before, so I had a look at the Gospel accounts to see if this was accurate, turns out there are a few apparent inconsistencies (pertaining who went to the tomb when, and who they met when there etc.). Here are the 4 accounts:

Dilemma, eh? Well, I had a look on the internet, and found what seems to be a pretty good accounting for the whole thing here.

As an interesting aside, it is also of note that the Bible characters confound the popular myth that is put round that people in those times where credulous and prepared to believe any old miracles, because they were superstitious and not naturalists like us. Well, in actual fact, I think the Jews of that time were probably not that different. Sure, they believed the Old Testament miracles, but there had been 400 years since the last significant prophetic activity - I imagine they saw miracles as a thing of the past.

However, more than that, firstly, Luke was a doctor, and he describes his intent to put together an orderly account based on interviews of eyewitnesses - he was systematic and thorough in seeking the facts.

Secondly, the couple on the road to Emmaus were also sceptical. They had been told that Jesus was risen, and yet rather than rushing to believe in a miracle, they were doubtful, and it was only when Jesus appeared to them, explaining how the whole Bible pointed to Jesus and His resurrection, that they actually believed.

Thirdly, Thomas was a thorough sceptic. Even when the other 11 said that they had actually seen Jesus, he still refused to believe until he saw Jesus for himself. He did not believe until he saw Jesus for himself.

Lastly, the Gospels also describe that Jesus explicitly told them that he must die and rise again, but when he did, rather than taking what he said at face value, the disciples debated what he meant by 'rising from the dead'. If they were quick-to-believe primitives, surely they would have worked out what Jesus meant? But they knew that dead men did not rise from the dead (even though they had seen Jesus do miracles, they were still slow to believe).

The Gospel account of the Resurrection is coherent, and is not simply the work of gullible, superstitious believers. The whole of the Christian faith hangs on the Resurrection - it is the evidence that proves that Jesus' redeeming work on the Cross worked. As Paul says in 1 Cor. 15 - if He did not rise from the dead, we will not also rise, and thus we have no hope for the future and of all men, Christians are the most pitiable. If we believe the Resurrection, we can believe anything else that the Bible says, because it is the summit - the whole Bible is aiming to this point.

The Resurrection is the central truth of the Christian faith - everything else stands or falls with it - so what do you think, do you find it credible?

1 comment:

  1. Not a very convincing apologetic in my opinion. Sure you could reconcile them but it does take some major swings and roundabouts with people visiting, revisiting and being met by different groups of men and angels each time all the while with the authors choosing to document completely different things!

    I find it far more likely that upon seeing the ending of Mark at 16:8 (forgetting the later verse additions), the authors of Luke and Matthew decided to flesh out the tale a bit and the conflicting accounts are what emerged. There are other issues as well, such as where Jesus agreed to meet the Disciples.

    One question to ask - if you were an all powerful being, why would you - as your sole tangible communication to your creations - provide a text that could only be understood through logical and linguistic gymnastics?

    This is all academic however - there is still no evidence outside the bible to support what is written about the resurrection.