The Evangelical Universalist Forum

My Reconstruction of the Resurrection Sequence


Scholarly Consensus: Matthew copies Mark and a source unique to him that scholars call M.
The story of Roman guards at the tomb (28:2-3, 11-15) is an independent literary unit from M and originally lacks any mention of the women. Matthew awkwardly splices it with Marcan material and thus creates the false impression that the women experience the earthquake and witness that angel that spooked the guards sitting on the stone. Matthew makes the mistake of equating this angel with the “young man” in Mark 16:5-7. As we sill see, this insight solves the contradiction between 1 (Mark/ Matthew) vs. 2 (Luke/ John at the tomb.

(2) John 20:1-10: The women discover the empty tomb in the "dark (not at dawn) and Mary Magdalene (= MM) volunteers to notify the disciples… The Beloved Disciple (= BD) outruns Peter to the tomb, but lets Peter enter first. Peter apparently accepts MM’s claim that the corpse has been humanly removed and leaves, but the BD remains in the tomb, reflects on the neatly separated funeral cloths, and soon concludes that Jesus is risen…

(3) This is the point where Mark 16:1-8 picks up the story. Assumption: The BD is the unnamed “young man” (Greek: “neaniskos”) inside the tomb. He tells the waiting women that Jesus is alive and asks them to go and tell the disciples and the skeptical Peter that Jesus will “go before” them to Galilee and will appear them there (16:5-7). This is the same unnamed “young man” (again, “neaniskos”) who loses his linen robe in his effort to follow the arrested Jesus (14:51-52). In both contexts, this “young man” is identified by his linen robe. He was present to hear Jesus’ promise of a post-Easter Galilean appearance (14:28), The BD then leaves (John 20;20), perhaps for Galilee, but the women disobey his instructions and wait for MM’s return to the tomb. They doubt the BD’s assurance and have good reason to fear ridicule if they heed his request to tell them Jesus is now alive (16:8).

(4) Luke’s empty tomb account begins at this point (24:2-10), 2 angels now appear to the waiting women and assure them that Christ has risen. This angelic word ends their disobedience and sends them to notify the disciples who ridicule their report just as they feared. Assumption; The humiliated women now rush back to the tomb, hoping the 2 angels are still there to advise them on what to do next.

(5) By now MM has returned from her mission to spread the news of Jesus’ missing corpse. She stands outside the tomb alone and weeps (John 20:11). The same 2 angels appear to her and assure her that Jesus is alive. Indeed, when she turns around, she sees Him, though she initially mistakes Him for the gardener (20:11-18). Assumption: The other women also encounter Jesus “on the way” back to the tomb (Matthew 28:9-10) and rendez-vous with MM. Feeling the sting of the disciples’ rebuff, the other women agree to let MM report their encounter with Jesus alone (20:18). Note that Matthew never tells us that the women tell the disciples that they have encountered the risen Jesus.(see 28:10, 16).

My next planned post will offer my proposed logically consistent sequence for the various appearance to the male disciples in the Gospels and in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.


Qaz, let’s just say that this M section is the most historically problematic for 2 reasons:
(1) Matthew 28:2-3, 11-15 acutely raises the question of how this Roman experience, conversations, and cover-up are discovered by Christians. Of course, with all the current leaks in the White House and senate deliberations on Kavanaugh, one might imagine Roman leaks about this sensational event that filter through to Christians.
(2) The guards’ experience precludes the possibility that Jesus’ body was stolen, contrary to what the Jews later charge (28:11-15). So why don’t our other 3 Gospels report it? This M source also claims that many of the dead Jewish “saints” were bodily resurrected, appearing to many (27:52-53). So why don’t our other Gospels, not to mention Jewish sources, mention so spectacular a miracle? So the issue is at what point convenient miracle after miracle taxes the credulity even for Christians who believe in miracles.

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Why are the women omitted from Paul’s list of appearances in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8? Because the testimony of women is deemed worthless in that culture. For that very reason, it is unlikely to have been fabricated! The list of appearances handed down to Paul is much earlier than the Gospel resurrection narratives and is no doubt given to him during his 2 earlier trips to Jerusalem during which his version of the Gospel is checked out and approved by Peter, James (Jesus’ brother), and John (see Galatians 1-2). So Paul’ list is invalutaable as a means of linking the resurrection sequence to eyewitness testimony. Consider the way I harmonize Paul’s witness with the implied Gospel sequence.

(1) Paul: “He appeared to Cephas [= Peter], then to the 12 (1 Corinthians 15:5).”
Without giving details, Luke 24:36 confirms Paul’s report that Peter receives the first Easter appearance to “the 12,” “The 12” is a technical term for Jesus’ male disciples and can actually refer to 10 or 11 men. After Jesus appears to Peter, He next appears to the 10(given Thomas’s absence John 20:24) and then appears to all 11 eight days later (20:26). It normally took 4 days (15 miles per day) to walk to Galilee; so it seems unlikely that a Galilean appearance to the disciples can be sandwiched betwee these 2 Jerusalem appearances. It is in this sense that Paul’s order first to Peter, then to the 12 finds corroboratation.

But Jesus’ 2 Jerusalem appearances to “the 12” create the problem that “the young man”
in the tomb (Mark 16:5-7 and later Jesus (Matthew 28:9-10) had pointed to Galilee as the place for Him to appear. So why are the disciples still in Jerusalem 8 days later? Because in His appearance to “the 12” Jesus commands them to “stay in Jerusalem” until they receive “power from on high (Luke 24:49).” But how can these contradictory instructions be explained? On at least 2 grounds:
(a) The disciples have no choice but to return to Galilee. Their Jerusalem pilgrimage was intended to last through Passover; so a more financing, provisions, and more permanent lodging is need for an indefinitely long stay.
(b) Jesus’ followers in Galilee and the Decapolis region need to know ASAP that He has risen from the dead. In fact, the risen Jesus likely told “the 12” to make preparations in Galilee for an extended stay in Jerusalem. , After the 30 day gap between the Ascension and the Pentecost outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Jerusalem, not Galilee, becomes the first center of the Christian church.

(2) Paul: “Then He appeared to more than 500 brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep (1Corinthians 15:6).”

There are 3 grounds for equating this mass appearance to over 500 with the appearance to the 12 on a mountain (Matthew 28:16-20):
(a) Matthew reduces Jesus’ missionary instructions from the Q sayings source from an address to the 72 (Luke 10:1) to an address just to the 12 Matthew 10:1). This opens the door to the possibility that more than “the 12” were present for the appearance on a mountain.
(b) In Matthew 28:16-20 we are told “but some doubted” Jesus’ appearance. Why would the 12 still have doubts after 2 Jerusalem appearances during which Jesus offers physical evidence of His presence? Apparently, in the Galilean appearance on a mountain many others are present for their first exposure to a resurrection appearance.
© This appearance takes place on “the mountain to which He had directed them (28:16).” If the Galilean location is prearranged, surely invitations would be extended to all believers in the Galilean region. Such an easily found isolated outdoor locale would do nicely for over 500 expectant visitors During Jesus’ Jerusalem appearances, He probably designated this Galilean mountain locate in the same context in which He commanded His disciples to make arrangements to return and stay in Jerusalem until the outpouring of the Spirit.

(3) Paul: “Then He appeared to James [Jesus’ brother], then to all the apostles
(1 Corinthians 15:7).”

In my view, Paul (in 15;7) and John 21:1-19), refer to Jesus’ 2nd Galilean appearance, the one that begins with the BD alone recognizing Jesus standing along the shore shortly after daybreak. It is too dark for Peter to recognize Jesus, but he takes the BD’s world for it. In my view, the BD is Jesus’ brother James. If I’m right, then John 21:1-19 nicely fits Paul’s phrase, “Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” Here the phrase “all the apostles” contrasts with the solitary recognition by James and may also include the subsequent final appearance to the apostles just prior to the Ascension.

This claim makes it advisable for me to start a new thread in which I lay out my extensive case for identifying James as the BD. For now I’ll just give one of the many examples of my case. At the cross, Jesus identifies the BD as the son of His mother and Mary as the mother of the BD, so that the BD will take care of Mary after Jesus’ death (John 19:25-27). The natural interpretation of this is that the BD is Jesus’ brother, not John. By now Joseph is dead and therefore figures in no story of Jesus’ public ministry. The task therefore falls to the eldest son, James, to take care of Mary. Indeed, in Acts 1:14 Mary is in the company of Jesus’ brothers as expected, not of John! So the later tradition that Mary was taken by John to Ephesus is a myth based on a misidentification of the BD as the Fourth Gospel. Stay tuned for a more detailed presentation of this case in a future thread…

Staying tuned!
I’m also reading Tom Wright’s section of TROTSOG in the chapter ‘General Issues in the Easter Story’ as we go along here.


Luke 24:24 implies that Jesus doesn’t appear to Peter on his walk back from the empty tomb And if Peter was lodging with the BD, Peter doesn’t seem to have a private encounter with Jesus there. On the other hand, Jesus has already appeared to Peter by the time the 2 disciples (neither 1 of the 12) return from Emmaus (Luke 24:24) and probably before Mary Magdalene reports her vision of Jesus to the now gathered disciples (John 20:18). My best guess is that Jesus appears to Peter,in the aerly evening of Easter Sunday while he is out trying to gain information about where Jesus’ corpse has been relocated. Your summary of the sequence is correct as far as it goes.

I respect your effort to explain apparent contradictions in this account but sometimes i wish to respond. First in John 1 re the women discovering the tomb in the dark rather then dawn, Matthew says “as it began to dawn” 28.1 which can certainly be described as dark.
Matthew never claimed the women experienced the earthquake, he only reported that it happened. Then you claim Matthew mistakenly equates the Angel with the “young man” of Mark 16? IMHO “young man” is probably an angel rather then the other way around, but i’ll be back.

Also rather then Matthew “awkwardly splices it”, to me this sounds like a flashback by someone.

My mistake here in that the earthquake happened after the women arrived and so the issue is because only one gospel mentioned it does that make it untrue? I’m guessing Matthew (Levi) got this info from Peter and or the women and maybe Luke and John saw no need to repeat it.
IMO this is similar to Jesus seven statements from the cross where no single gospel has all seven statements but in combination we find out all that he said.