Friday, January 20, 2006

Is There a Contradiction in the Accounts of the Women at Jesus' Tomb?

Someone emailed me yesterday who was troubled by the apparent contradiction in the Gospels regarding the women at Jesus' tomb on the morning of His resurrection.

Mark 16:2 says, "And very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen."

John 20:1 says, "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."

So
, "Which was it? Did they go to the tomb 'while it was still dark?' or 'when the sun had risen?'"

The difficulty is solved when we realize that the women, whether they had
stayed in Jerusalem or Bethany, had to walk quite some distance to reach the grave. It was dark when they left the place in which they were staying, but when they arrived at the tomb, the sun was beginning to shine. John was referring to their DEPARTURE ("still dark"). Mark was speaking of their ARRIVAL ("sun had risen"). This is one of a couple of plausible solutions. For more help with apparent contradictions in the Bible, I highly recommend everyone own a copy of The Big Book of Bible Difficulties by Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. This book addresses just about every apparent contradiction, or error in the Bible. It is excellent.