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Resurrection Contradictions Part 2 of 3

Updated: Apr 16

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Note: Below is part 2 of “Chronological Order and Harmony of the Resurrection Events. Watch for future submissions.


Chronological Order and Harmony of The Resurrection Events (A response to critics of Scripture for believers)


By Jeff Berry


A word to the reader


If you are reading part 2 after having read part 1, you are to be commended. If you recall, early in part 1 we described “Chronological Order and Harmony of The Resurrection Events as “arduous, onerous and repetitious and we encouraged the reader to be “patient with both the writer and himself.The resurrection story is a beautiful, yet tragic love story that has a lovely ending. “Untangling the...chaotic events that occurred following the crucifixion,requires many brush strokes (similar to my lovely wife brushing her long lovely hair). With each stroke of the brush, there is less resistance as her efforts become increasingly rewarding (as will the love story of our Savior’s resurrection).

Eyewitnesses to the Resurrection


Eyewitnesses include: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and Joseph, Mary the mother of Zebedee’s sons, Joanna, Susanna, Salome, Mary the mother of Jesus, the sister of Jesus’ mother, Mary the wife of Clopas and many other women, along with Peter and John.


Before proceeding, it will be important to remember that our main objective here is simply to establish that no contradiction exists even though one gospel lists (for example) three eyewitnesses and another lists four or six, etc. Additionally, we want to establish that there is no contradiction when we find an individual identified by one name and another identified by a similar name and we cannot be certain whether they are the same person or two different individuals (nor is it necessarily important).


Below is a table showing the same nine eyewitnesses listed above (not including Peter and John) that we will return to shortly. Before returning to explain the table, we will attempt to explain how we narrowed the list of eyewitnesses to the nine. As we shall see, these nine eyewitnesses are key (with Mary Magdalene being central) to establishing that the Gospels do not contradict one another. The reader should be careful not to get bogged down with details that we are about to share, you can always return for a closer look at just how we came to the conclusion of nine eyewitnesses later. Also, keep in mind that Jesus appeared to many others, including the rest of the disciples and Paul adds “more than five hundred” (1 Corinthians 15:6) before ascending to the Heavenly Father. We will address these appearances later.


We will explain Table #1 in more detail in a moment. For now, keep in mind that we have assigned each eyewitness a number, so for example (as best we can tell) the eyewitness assigned the #2 are all the same individual. So Mary the mother of James and Joseph (also known as “the other Mary”) found in Matthew; Mary the mother of James the younger and Joseph found in Mark; Mary the mother of James found in Mark and Luke; and Mary the mother of Joseph found in Mark, are all the same individual.


Table 1a

Table 1a animated (click here to open in another tab)


We have both first and second hand written accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Of the author’s of the Gospels, we have Matthew and John that were eyewitnesses and Mark and Luke (both a companion of Paul’s, although Paul himself was not an eyewitness) that spoke to many eyewitnesses. Mark’s Gospel undoubtedly was influenced by both Peter’s (an eyewitness) and Paul’s preaching. (Paul was a well educated enemy of the early church that converted from Judaism to Christianity.) Luke (a doctor) who knew of the other (oral and/or written) Gospel accounts, took it upon himself to investigate the reports of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.


The difficulty in “meshing” these four accounts alone, is an argument for their credibility! And, of course we have both secular writings such as Josephus mentioning Jesus and church historians such as was previously mentioned (Eusebius Pamphilius quoting Papias a contemporary of Mark and Matthew). Why would any of these men, or the authors of any of the 66 books (written over a span of hundreds of years that are consistently proven to be grammatically and historically accurate or without error) lie?


Luke writes:


Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the Word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you...” (Luke 1:1-3, NIV).


Later in his gospel account Luke states that the women that followed Jesus from Galilee were witnesses to the resurrection. “The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee...followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it” (Luke 23:55, NIV). Luke lists several of their names in Chapter 8:


1After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”


Luke adds to his list, Mary the mother of James and Salome in Chapter 24 verse 10. Mark adds: Salome and Mary the mother of James (16:1) and John adds; Mary the mother of Jesus, his mother’s sister and Mary the wife of Clopas to the list (19:25). Matthew adds: Mary the mother of James and Joseph, the mother of Zebedee’s sons, being the disciples James and John (27:56) and the other Mary (27:61). (The other Mary that Matthew mentions later in Chapter 27 verse 61, we can assume is the same Mary the mother of James and Joseph that he mentions in verse 56.)


So, all four evangelist list Mary Magdalene:


~Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; Luke 8:2 and John 19:25


Matthew and Mark list Mary the mother of James (Mark specifies, the younger) and Joseph. (We will assume that these are the same individual. Mark’s distinction, “the younger” would perhaps be more significant if he only mentioned James and not his brother:)


~Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40; “Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph.” (Again, this was also “the other Mary,” that Matthew mentions in Chapter 27 verse 61).


It is interesting that Mark lists a “Mary the mother of Joseph,” a “Mary the mother of James” and a “Mary the mother of James the younger and Joseph.” (We will assume that the “Mary the mother of James” that is mentioned by Luke is the same “Mary the mother of James” mentioned by Mark:)


~Mary the mother of James the younger and Joseph, Mark 15:40

~Mary the mother of Joseph, Mark 15:47

~Mary the mother of James, Mark 16:1 and Luke 24:10


At a time when it would be important to identify individuals (without a surname) it seems peculiar that Mark would do this. Was he referring to two additional “Marys” or was this Mary the same “Mary the mother of James the younger and Joseph” mentioned in Mark 15:40?


Additionally, Jesus’ mother was of course Mary and he had two brothers named James and Joseph (Mark 6:3). The simplest interpretation is always the best. Are Mark and/or Matthew referring to Mary the mother of Jesus when they list “Mary the mother of James and Joseph?” The “simplest interpretation” would be, likely not. More likely they would identify her as “Mary the mother of Jesus,” as John did (19:25). Whether Mark and Matthew are speaking of two additional Marys or not, we cannot know for certain. Again, for the purpose of our study, we will assume that they are referring to the same individual; Mary the mother of James, Mary the mother of Joseph and Mary the mother of James and Joseph. Remember, Mark and Luke (especially) relied on verbal accounts to compile their gospel records. It is very possible that “Mary the mother of James and Joseph” was referred to by some as “Mary the mother of James” and others “Mary the mother of Joseph.”


Now just in the event that some skeptic might think aha, we have a contradiction! Not so fast. There is no “contradiction” whether Mark was referring to “Mary the mother of Joseph” being one Mary and “Mary the mother of James” being another and “Mary the mother of James the younger and Joseph” as being still yet a third Mary; or he was referring to the same Mary all three times, either way she (or they) was (or were) present. So, it is not a contradiction. Nor is there a contradiction if one evangelist lists two or three witnesses while another lists five or more.


Matthew is the only one to list the mother of Zebedee’s sons (within this context):


~The mother of Zebedee’s sons (James and John) Matthew 27:56 (see also Matthew 4:21)


Mark is the only one to list Salome:


~Salome, Mark 15:40 and 16:1


Matthew, Mark and Luke list “many others.” Others that followed Jesus from Galilee:


~Matthew 27:55

~Mark 15:41

~Luke 8:3; 23:55 and 24:10


Luke is the only one to list Joanna and Susanna:


~Joanna, Luke 8:3; 23:55

~Susanna, Luke 8:3; 23:55


John is the only one to list Mary the mother of Jesus, the sister of Jesus’ mother and Mary the wife of Clopas:


~Mary the mother of Jesus, the sister of Jesus’ mother and Mary the wife of Clopas, John 19:25


There has been much speculation about just who Matthew was referring to (Matthew 27:61) when he listed “the other Mary” (an issue we have already addressed) and much speculation about what Mary’s sister’s name was and who “Mary the wife of Clopas” was, etc. For example, was Mary the wife of Clopas another of Mary’s sisters? Although it is possible that Mary had a sister that was also named “Mary,” we will assume that that is not the case. However, more likely (as others have speculated) Mary, the wife of Clopas is Mary’s sister-in-law. Still others have speculated that Salome is the same as “the mother of Zebedee’s sons.” For our purpose, we are only concerned about possible contradictions. If one evangelist states that such and such was a witness and another evangelist gives another name but in reality they are both the same person, there is no contradiction. On the other hand, if one evangelist stated that such and such was a witness and another evangelist stated that such and such was not a witness (same name/person) then we would have a contradiction. Also, we want to establish that there is not a contradiction when one evangelist list 3, 4, 5 or more women, some of them clearly the same and others likely not the same person.


In an attempt to not “muddy the waters” unnecessarily and being aware of what many others have speculated, we will always try to stick with the simplest interpretation.


Each of the evangelist list 1) Mary Magdalene. She is clearly identified and is our first witness.


2) Mary the mother of James and Joseph that Matthew and Mark list. and, 2) Mary the mother of James listed by Mark and Luke. and, 2) Mary the mother of Joseph listed by Mark (are considered to be the same person) and is our second witness.


We see no reason to suspect that 3) the mother of Zebedee’s sons (the disciples, James and John) listed by Matthew is another “Mary” or any of the other women that the other evangelist mention and is our third witness. 4) Salome is our fourth witness. We consider 5) Joanna as our fifth witness, 6) Susanna as our sixth witness and 7) Mary the mother of Jesus’ our seventh. While it is possible that the sister of Jesus’ mother and Salome are the same, it is not likely that Mark would list Jesus’ mother’s sister (if indeed she is Salome) and not his mother, so we will count them as being two different individuals, making the 8) sister of Jesus’ mother our eighth witness. And finally, 9) Mary the wife of Clopas our ninth witness. Assuming that Salome and Mary the mother of Jesus sister are not the same individual, we have nine plus the “many others” listed by Matthew, Mark and Luke. Mary the mother of Jesus’ sister and Salome might be the same individual but it is doubtful. And again, at a time when it would be important to identify individuals without a surname (and sticking with the simplest interpretation) we can assume that the evangelist were careful to identify the witnesses accurately.


As a result, we have the following tally:


Table 1b

Table 1b animated (click here to open in another tab)


Good Friday

(The women saw where his body was laid and then went home)


After the crucifixion, Luke states that some of these women went home and prepared spices and perfumes (before the Sabbath). Note that there was a group of women possibly splintering off, leaving the one or two that lived (or stayed) the farthest to travel alone. Luke does not say whether they traveled to their own homes (which is unlikely) or back to the homes where they had been staying prior to the crucifixion. Remember that they had followed Jesus from Galilee, it could take a day or two to walk to Galilee and back. They likely would not have time to walk that distance before the Sabbath (and likely would not have travelled that far before daylight in order to arrive “very early” on the first day of the week). Perhaps they were staying at the homes of some of the “many other” women mentioned by Matthew, Mark and Luke. Because this group of women “prepared spices” before the Sabbath it is doubtful that they had time to travel back to Galilee and prepare the spices before the Sabbath. Whatever the case may be, it is not likely that all the women were staying at the same home (Luke 23:55):


The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.” (...Prepared before the Sabbath). Luke does not specifically state the name’s of the women that prepared the spices and perfumes before the Sabbath. However, it could only have been Joanna, Susanna or any of the “others.” Because Mark (16:1) states that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James with Salome bought spices after the Sabbath.


Map


Note that we are establishing at least two groups of women. One group prepared the spices and perfumes before the Sabbath and the other purchased the spices after the Sabbath. So by process of elimination (of the group of women that followed Jesus from Galilee), Joanna, Susanna and perhaps some of the (many) other women prepared spices and perfumes before the Sabbath. Because (again) Mark states specifically that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices after the sabbath. The Sabbath (being Saturday) ended at sundown:


Mark 16:1 “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.” (...bought after the Sabbath). It is not likely that the same group of women prepared spices before the Sabbath and bought spices after the Sabbath. (We can also assume that the spices were not purchased and then needed to be prepared because the spices were “prepared” before the Sabbath and purchased “after the Sabbath....”) The reasoning for establishing (at least) two groups of women will become increasingly apparent as we progress.


Sabbath

(From sundown Good Friday until sundown Saturday)


Remember that something had to be done with Jesus’ body before sundown, however there was not enough time to give Him a proper burial, that task would have to wait until after the Sabbath was over. Therefore nothing could be done until after sunrise on Sunday – the first day of the week.


Resurrection Morning

(Before the first group of women arrive)


Matthew records an event that occurred during the night, but before Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Salome and others had arrived:


Matthew 28:2 “There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.”


Note again that this event occurred after sundown (on Saturday, after Sabbath ended) but likely before Mary Magdalene (and others) visited the tomb. Also keep in mind that we don’t know how long “the guards...were like dead men.” Possibly until after the last group of women visited the tomb. As we shall see, Mary Magdalene and the other women were first to visit while Peter and John came second. At some point Mary Magdalene visited a second time, alone. And lastly, the rest of the women that followed Jesus from Galilee visited a second time as well. It was (likely) after this last group of women that visited that Matthew (28:11) tells us that “some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened.”


Before proceeding to the first visit to the empty tomb, we will repeat that Matthew reports in chapter 28 and verse 1; “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb” and then (seemingly back tracking) reports an event that had likely occurred prior to the women’s first visit in verse 2; “There was a violent earthquake....” The point being that the chronology of events was not something that (at least the first three) resurrection accounts were concerned about (being Matthew, Mark and Luke). While much of Matthew’s account was his eyewitness experience, he and especially Mark and Luke relied on oral accounts that they compiled much like one might compile a “scrap book” of articles that were in more or less chronological order and did not include every possible detail that may have occurred between each article.


The first group of women make their first trip to the tomb

(These are the three ladies that bought spices after the sabbath)


Critics of the Bible will point out that the Gospel accounts seem to “contradict” one another concerning the time of the visitor’s arrival. While John (20:1) states that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb “while it was still dark,” Matthew (28:1) states “at dawn...Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb,” Luke (24:1) states “very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb” and finally, Mark (16:1-2) states that “Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome” arrived “just after sunrise.” We will address whether or not there is a contradiction between the gospel accounts concerning exactly who arrived first, second, etc., but I want to first of all address the time issue.


To the believer, it seems to be absurd to say there is a contradiction here, however critics have been known to make the charge of a contradiction in these accounts. First of all, we can leave Luke’s account out of this conversation because he merely states that it was “very early.” The seeming “contradiction” is among John stating that it was “still dark,” Matthew who states that it was “at dawn” and Mark that states that it was “just after sunrise.” Are these describing the same time? Possibly. However, many scholars have reconciled these statements by pointing out that John may have been describing exactly when (“while it was still dark”) Mary Magdalene left for the tomb, and the others were describing exactly when she had arrived at the tomb. Again, possibly. Certainly “while it was still dark,” “at dawn,” ”just after sunrise” and “very early” could adequately describe the approximate time she/they had arrived. Another explanation may be that since the ladies apparently segregated into at least two groups going home (or back to where they were staying), one group preparing spices before the Sabbath (Luke 23:56) and the other group buying spices after the Sabbath (Mark 16:1), that they returned to the tomb on resurrection morning still segregated and at about (albeit not exactly) the same time. (Certainly any, or all of the above explanations, adequately suffice any charges of a contradiction).


Now, is there a contradiction between the gospel accounts concerning exactly who visited the tomb? It is interesting to note that John only speaks of Mary Magdalene in his account. (John lists Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary’s sister and Mary the wife of Clopas as witnesses to the crucifixion (19:26) but he does not state that they accompanied Mary Magdalene to the empty tomb...). Certainly, we cannot automatically conclude that Mary Magdalene was alone. Details, more or less, do not automatically mean that there is a contradiction. Nor does the lack of details discredit John’s account. John does not say that Mary was alone:


John 20:1 “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’”


So, at this point we have Mary Magdalene (and as we shall see, others) visiting the tomb as a group, she was not alone. Mary’s use of the first person plural, “οὐκ οἴδαμεν” (literally, “not we know”) makes it very clear that she was not alone. This was Mary Magdalene’s first visit. Does the fact that John states that Mary Magdalene “went to the tomb” (not mentioning anyone else) and the fact that Mary used the first person plural “we” constitute a contradiction? No. No more than, if a child’s father asked if the child’s mother went to the store and the child said yes, but did not mention that the child’s sister also went. Because Scripture is grammatically and historically inerrant, we can assume that she was not alone. (Would a writer, especially one that was “making up a story” make such a “contradiction?” No. John was merely stating facts.)


Matthew states that Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” (likely Mary the mother of James and Joseph) went to “look at the tomb...at dawn.” Confirming that Mary Magdalene was not alone and was part of the first group of women to visit the tomb:


Matthew 28:1 “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.” Again, the fact that John only states that “Mary Magdalene” went to the tomb and Matthew states that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” went to the tomb does not constitute a contradiction. (At this point both Matthew and John are only reporting what they have been told, not what they have witnessed first hand. Either way, there is no contradiction.) Would the father that asked his child if his mother went to the store, be contradicting his child if he told the neighbor that his wife is at the store but the child told the neighbor that his mother and his sister were at the store? No. The father would only be contradicting the son if he said “my wife is at the store but my daughter is not” or if he said, “my wife went to the store alone.” Remember, a statement cannot be both true and false at the same time. That would be a contradiction.


Mark also seems to be describing Mary Magdalene’s first trip to the tomb. In fact Mark lists Mary mother of James and Salome as accompanying her (Mark 16:1ff). This is the most likely scenario because Mary Magdalene would have already known that the stone had been rolled away her second trip:


Mark 16:1 “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices... 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’ 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.”


So, Mary Magdalene was accompanied by Mary the mother of James (and Joseph) and Salome her first trip to the tomb. (This is consistent with Matthew’s account and these are the three ladies that bought spices after the Sabbath mentioned by Mark, 16:1).


Now Luke (Chapter 24) does not identify the women in verse 1 where he states: “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.” Except to say that these were the women that prepared the spices before the Sabbath (that we identified earlier by process of elimination, being Joanna, Susanna and others). As we shall see, the ladies Luke identifies a few verses later are the combined groups (including those that bought spices after the Sabbath along with Mary Magdalene and those that prepared spices before the Sabbath) making their first report to the apostles.


The second group of women make their first trip to the tomb

(These are the ladies that prepared spices before the sabbath)


Before addressing the second group of women to visit the tomb, we need to reiterate that no one gospel account is intended to be a complete account of the life and ministry of Jesus. Each account can stand alone however, each account can serve as a supplement to the other three accounts giving us a more complete picture. For example, Matthew’s (and Mark’s) account records Mary Magdalene’s first trip to the tomb (Matthew 28:1) “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.” (And Mark 16:1-2 “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb....”) However, again Matthew then inserts an event that occurred prior to Mary Magdalene’s first visit:


Matthew (28:2) “There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.”


Matthew then picks up in verse 5 where he is reporting the events that occurred when the second group of women made their second visit to the tomb, leaving a “gap” in the events between Matthew 28 verse 4 and verse 5. As we shall see, Mary Magdalene does visit the tomb a second time but she was alone when she returned to the tomb. Matthew is simply recording what was reported to him by the two groups of women. This can be said of all three synoptic gospels. Of the disciples, we only have record of Peter and John visiting the tomb after the resurrection. And Peter and John were alone when they visited (with Mary Magdalene arriving just before or just after they left). Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are simply recording what the women had reported to them. While Matthew and John witnessed first hand much of the ministry and life of Jesus, they had to rely on eyewitness reports for some of what they recorded. As we shall see we have a similar “gap” in Mark’s account in chapter 16 between verse 4 and verse 5.


Concerning Luke’s account, what Papias said of Mark can also be said of Luke, he “wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ...so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.” We will address these “gaps” as we proceed. While John’s account does not have a similar “gap” (because his focus is solely on Mary Magdalene) he does not record the women that were present during Mary’s first visit nor does he record the other women’s second visit.


I would like to address here the fact that the NIV (and other translations) has Luke stating that he has written an “orderly account...” (Luke 1:3). While most translations use “in order,” “an orderly,” “consecutive order,” or “orderly sequence,” other translations use “with method” (Berean Literal Bible) and “a careful account” (New Living Translation). The Greek καθεξῆς (kathexēs) can be translated “in order,” “in succession,” “in the time immediately after,” or “just after,” (καθεξῆς, from the word kata, meaning; against, down from, throughout, by, over against, among, daily, day-by-day, each day, according to and by way of; and the word hexēs meaning next in order, the next day, the following day and at the period immediately following). The question is, was Luke claiming to be writing a chronological account? Luke uses the Greek; καθεξῆς, five times and is the only gospel writer to do so. Following we will look at each of the five examples in selected versions, then the original Greek and finally translated literally.


Luke 1:3 (our first example);


With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus...” (NIV).


It seemed good also to me, having been acquainted with all things carefully from the first, to write with method to you, most excellent Theophilus...” (BLB).


Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus...” (NLT).


ἔδοξε κἀμοὶ παρηκολουθηκότι ἄνωθεν πᾶσιν ἀκριβῶς καθεξῆς σοι γράψαι κράτιστε Θεόφιλε


Literally: it seemed good also to me, having been acquainted from the first with all things, carefully with method to you to write most excellent Theophilus...


In Luke 8:1 (our second example) some translations use “after,” “afterward” or “soon afterward:”


After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him...” (NIV).


And it came to pass soon afterward that He was traveling throughout city and village, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. And the Twelve were with Him...”(BLB).


Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him...” (NLT).


Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ καθεξῆς καὶ αὐτὸς διώδευεν κατὰ πόλιν καὶ κώμην κηρύσσων καὶ εὐαγγελιζόμενος τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ Καὶ οἱ δώδεκα σὺν αὐτῷ...


Literally: And it came to pass afterward soon that He was traveling throughout city and village preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. And the Twelve [were] with Him...


In Acts 3:24 (our third example) many translations use “subsequently:”


Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days,” (meaning the prophets after Samuel, NIV).


And also all the prophets from Samuel, and those subsequently, as many as have spoken, also have proclaimed these days” (BLB).


Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today” (NLT).


καὶ πάντες δὲ οἱ προφῆται ἀπὸ Σαμουὴλ καὶ τῶν καθεξῆς ὅσοι ἐλάλησαν καὶ κατήγγειλαν τὰς ἡμέρας ταύτας


Literally: And all now the prophets from Samuel, and those subsequently, as many as have spoken, also have announced the days these.


In Acts 11:4 (our fourth example) various translations use “order,” or “sequence;”


Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story” (NIV).


Now Peter having begun, set forth to them in order, saying...” (BLB).


Then Peter told them exactly what had happened” (NLT).


ἀρξάμενος δὲ Πέτρος ἐξετίθετο αὐτοῖς καθεξῆς λέγων


Literally: Having begun now Peter he set [it] forth to them in order saying....


And finally in Acts 18:23 (our fifth and last example) some translations using “in order,” “successively,” etc.;


After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples” (NIV).


And having stayed some time, he went forth, passing successively through the Galatian region and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples” (BLB).


After spending some time in Antioch, Paul went back through Galatia and Phrygia, visiting and strengthening all the believers” (NLT).


καὶ ποιήσας χρόνον τινὰ ἐξῆλθεν διερχόμενος καθεξῆς τὴν Γαλατικὴν χώραν καὶ Φρυγίαν ἐπιστηρίζων πάντας τοὺς μαθητάς


Literally: And having stayed time some he went forth passing through successively the Galatian region and Phrygia strengthening all the disciples.


Of the five examples we have (literally translated); “method,” “afterward soon,” “subsequently,” “order” and “successively.” So it is easy to understand why the translators of the various versions translated καθεξῆς as they did. However, taking the above into consideration and believing that Scripture will never contradict itself, we can only conclude that Luke was not stating that he was giving a chronological account of events. (Certainly, an orderly account does not necessarily imply strict chronological order.) Because, as we shall see, the verbal account that Luke recorded was very likely not in chronological order.


Consequently, καθεξῆς, in this context might be best translated “method” or better “soon afterward:”


With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write (soon afterward or with method) an account for you...”.


In summary and before picking up with the second group of women’s first visit:


1) Mark (16:1) lists the First Group (the ladies that bought spices).


2) Matthew (28:2) records an event that occurred prior to the first visit.


3) Matthew (28:1) and Mark (16:2-4) records the first group of women making their first visit to the tomb and John (20:1) records Mary Magdalene’s first visit accompanied by the first group (First Group/First Visit, Mary Magdalene/First Visit; see Table 2 below).


4) Luke (24:1) records the second group of women making their first visit to the tomb occurring at about the same time or shortly after Mary Magdalene and the first group of women. These are the ladies that prepared spices (Second Group/First Visit; see Table 2 below).


5) Luke (24:9-12) and John (20:2-9 accompanied by Mary Magdalene) records the combined group of women making their first report to the disciples (Combined Group/First Report, Mary Magdalene/First Report; see Table 2 below).


6) Luke (24:12) and John (20:3-10) record the only 2 disciple’s to visit the empty tomb (Peter’s & Likely John’s Only Visit, Peter & John’s Only Visit; see Table 2 below).


7) John (20:11-17) records Mary Magdalene’s second visit to the tomb, this time alone (Mary Magdalene/Second Visit; see Table 2 below).


8) John (20:18) then records Mary Magdalene’s second report to the disciples (Mary Magdalene/Second Report; see Table 2 below).


9) Matthew (28:5) and Mark (16:5) and Luke (24:4) then “jump” to the combined group of women’s second visit (Combined Group/Second Visit; see Table 2 below).


So we have Mark identifying the first group of women, and as we shall see, likely the first group to visit the tomb (16:1) including Mary Magdalene (as previously discussed) and then Matthew recording an event that likely occurred prior to their arrival (28:2). We then have Matthew (28:1), Mark (16:2-4) and John (20:1) recording the first group’s visit (First Group/First Visit). Next we have Luke (24:1-3) recording the second group’s arrival, at about or after the first group’s arrival (Second Group/First Visit). Luke (24:9-11) then reports the combined groups of women’s first report to the disciples, including Mary Magdalene, John 20:2 (Combined Group/First Report, Mary Magdalene/First Report). Next Luke (24:12) and John (20:3-10) report Peter and John’s only visit (Peter’s & Likely John’s Only Visit, Peter & John’s Only Visit). John (20:11-17) then records Mary Magdalene’s second visit and (20:18) Mary Magdalene’s second report to the disciples. Matthew (28:5), Mark (16:5) and Luke (24:4) then report the combined groups of women’s second visit to the tomb (minus Mary Magdalene). (It is perhaps likely that Mary followed Peter and John back to the tomb, for her second visit and once she made her second report to the disciples “I have seen the lord” the combined groups of women made their second visit).


A chronological order would look something like we have below (read from top to bottom and left to right, respectively):


Table 2

Table 2 animated (click here to open in another tab)


Now to continue, Luke records the second group of women to visit the tomb. This group “prepared” spices before the Sabbath and had apparently not heard that the stone had been rolled away:


Luke 24:1 “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb...”


It is important that we note here that Luke goes on to say in verse 10 “It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.” Luke is not identifying Mary Magdalene here as one of the women that “prepared” spices before the Sabbath, rather he is identifying her as one of the combined groups of women that, after their first visit to the tomb make their first report to the apostles. So, Luke (24:1-3) reports the second group of women to arrive at the empty tomb (identified as the group that prepared spices before the Sabbath).


He then reports the combined groups of women making their first report to the apostles (24:9-11) and lastly reports the combined group’s second visit to the tomb (this time without Mary Magdalene) verses 4-8. (With Luke’s account, we do not have a “gap” so much as we have a lack of chronology.)


So, at this point we have Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph and Salome (the first group of women to visit the tomb and the women that purchased spices after the Sabbath) and the second group of women (that prepared spices before the Sabbath, including Joanna, Susanna and at least some of the “others”). These two groups of women arrive at the tomb at about the same time (or the second group arrive shortly after the first group) and likely leave to tell the disciples together.


Note: Watch for the third and final submission


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