The Sequence of Events after Jesus' Resurrection


I have started this thread to enhance the relevance of ADCs and NDEs to the credibility of both postmortem survival and the historicity of the Gospel resurrection narratives.
Evangelicals embrace the doctrine of biblical inerrancy without confronting the most obvious and important test of that doctrine. So read (1)-(4) and try to create a logically coherent sequence of events that allows the Gospel narrative to be error-free. I will eventually propose my own theory of the sequence of events after the discovery of the empty tomb.

a. They find it empty and conclude that someone has removed Christ’s body (John 20:1-2).
b. They find the stone rolled away and encounter an unnamed “young man” sitting inside the tomb (Mark 16:7. This “young man” might be the same “young man” who is identified by his unique robe in Mark 14:41-52.
c. They experience an earthquake and see 1 and only 1 angel roll back the stone and sit upon it outside the tomb (Matthew 28:2).
d. 2 (not 1!) shining angels appear to them only after they discover the empty tomb (Luke 24:2-5).

a. They flee from the tomb and tell no one what happened (Mark 16:8).
b. They promptly report their vision of angels (not of Jesus!) to the disciples (Luke 24:9, 23).
c. They tell the disciples that they have seen Jesus (Matthew 28:10).

a. They relay the instruction of the angel and Jesus to go to Galilee where He will appear to them (Matthew 28:10. 16). The disciples obey by going to Galilee.
b. By contrast, Luke rewords the angel’s instruction to send the disciples to Galilee to remove the command to go there (Luke 24:6). Instead, Luke has Jesus tell His disciples to remain in Jerusalem (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4). If you just had Luke, you would never know that Jesus appeared to His disciples in Galilee or that they ever returned there.

Where do the Galilean appearances fit into Paul’s sequence? And how can we fit the appearance to over 500 followers and the one to James into Paul’s sequence?


I don’t know. Do you know the answers?

I’ve seen countermissionary Jews point out the contradictions in the Gospels’ resurrection narratives and on that basis conclude Christianity must be false.



My OP was created several weeks ago, and yet, no one has tried to solve the problem of these apparent contradictions. I anticipated this deafening silence, a silence that testifies to a widespread naïve Evangelical willingness to affirm the doctrine of biblical inerrancy without having the integrity to test that doctrine as it applies to one of the most important and obvious biblical examples of apparently conflicting reports. It was my exposure to this lack of intellectual integrity as a young man that drove me to get a Princeton Seminary MDiv and a Harvard doctorate in NT Testament, Judaism, and Greco-Roman religion. Since Jesus’ resurrection is the most important Christian doctrine, The Bible commands us to love God with all our mind as well as with all our heart. I will eventually post my detailed reconstruction of the events after the discovery of the empty tomb. But first I want to wait longer to see if anyone will take up the challenge. This boondoggle of problems illustrates why the evidence for an afterlife from NDEs and ADCs should be very important to Christians.


You’re not the first person to take on the problem - you know that. And you also know that there are many ‘evangelical’ and non-evangelical scholars who have addressed this.
If you have something substantial to add, well and good; but to sling around
naive’ and no ‘integrity’ and ‘no one has tried to solve’ etc. - just be careful. We are not idiots. We are aware of the problems. We don’t have the time to write a book.
I look forward to your timeline.


A nice way to duck the issues, when 3 manageable paragraphs should suffice to point the way to a solution that removes the contradictions. Why do evangelicals on this and other sites where I have posed this issue freeze like Bambi in the headlights instead of grappling with the issues head on posed by the crucial question for Christian apologetics? As already not ed, a professor acquaintance converted during an evangelistic service told me that he rejected the resurrection because of these apparent inconsistencies.


DaveB, what author(s) do you recommend for explaining the contradictions?


So NOW I’m ducking the issues. B, you have a way of just intentionally irritating - why not stop that and just make your case? I’d take you more seriously, at least.
Bambi in the headlights, quotha!!
Qaz, you could worse than taking on NT Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God. It’s a big investment in time but worth it.




But that’s just it… you “create” supposed or “apparent inconsistencies” i.e., discrepancies, THEN invent some ingenious solution to resolve such — meh!

I don’t hold to “inerrancy” either but to claim “contradictions” is just more of the same furphy as above. The differences are readily explained in differences of recollection and perspective of said events; like it’s not rocket science.

Without popping anyone’s bubble as to having discovered the amazing secret to solving this apparent mystery, I’d simply suggest by way of example the following:

Any handful of racing commentators will call the same horse race and although similar in given aspects will differ in other described details — are they really contradictions or just variants of the same thing, and as such do they thereby nullify or negate said event? Hardly!


Berserk, as to “The Sequence of Events after Jesus’ Resurrection” being “the most obvious and important test” of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, to each his own. For myself, variations in that sequence of events have never caused me any concern, although I will be happy to read your suggested chronology.

The Gospels were written and shared among first-hand witnesses. So I doubt that among themselves the authors clashed about details; rather, they each simply noticed and emphasized different details, sometimes supplementing and complementing each other’s narratives, and sometimes repeating (and thus emphasizing) the very same story or point.

And besides, “inerrant” is a non-biblical word. While I believe the Scriptures are inspired, I don’t believe God verbally dictated the Bible, do you? There are many voices heard in the Scriptures besides the voice of God, including Satan, demons, false prophets, pagans, unbelievers, and fools. To be understood correctly, the Bible must be interpreted by the help of the Spirit, and not merely by the letter meeting intellectualism, which can be deadly (John 5:39, 2 Cor. 3:6).

I believe the Bible shows progressive revelation, as I discuss in “Is God Violent, Or Nonviolent?” And since I argue there that God does not kill people, I certainly don’t believe, for example, that Moses was “inerrant” when he editorialized God’s thoughts to Himself in Genesis–that He (and not Satan, who the NT later clarifies actually has the power of death, Heb. 2:14) was fed up and would therefore wipe out the world with a Flood:

So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” Genesis 6:7.

And again, generally speaking, “After-Death Communications” to me smack of spiritism, and I don’t believe, generally speaking, we should seek them, accept them, or promote them today in order to validate or advance the gospel message.


For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Romans 1:16.

Additionally, this is what I desire to see happen in our day, through people just like us, Berserk:

-God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Hebrews 2:4.

-My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Cor. 2:4-5.



Agreed! I have always sought to build faith on resurrection apologetics and metaphysics, not “near death experiences”.