Thursday, March 15, 2012

Easter chronology

Another issue that some raise is how the resurrection account in John differs from the accounts in the Synoptics. A key figure, Mary Magdalene, leads those who inform the disciples of the empty tomb in the Synoptics after being told Jesus was raised. Luke 24:4 and John 23:13 have this announcement begin with two angels, Matthew 28:5 speaks about an angel, and Mark 16:5 has a young man tell them. Yet in John Mary is perplexed and does not know where the body is until Jesus appears to her, a scene described after John and Peter have run to the tomb.

So what is one to make of these differences? My own understanding is that part of the issue is resolved by seeing that John’s telling begins with how John and Peter experienced the event. John has Mary begin her report even though John and Peter do not wait for her to tell her whole story but run to check the empty tomb. Then John tells in detail what Mary experienced. John’s mention that the women did not know where the body was placed is where their report to him begins, but the report did not get as far as the messenger’s announcement of Jesus’s resurrection before Peter and John departed to see what had taken place. This is all collapsed in the Synoptics into the women’s report to the group about the announcement of an empty tomb. John often supplements the Synoptics with fresh details that overlap the accounts of the other evangelists. Likewise here, literary arrangement and choices are the keys to differences in sequencing.

D. Bock, “Precision and Accuracy: Making Distinctions in the Cultural Context,” J. Hoffmeier & D. Magary, eds. Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? (Crossway 2012), 374-75.


  1. hopefully these urls are still good

    Here are two by by Justin Taylor & Matt Perman.

    Harmony of the Resurrection Accounts OR


    Resurrection Harmony by Matt Perman. This is just another version of the above in a more narrative form. OR

    "This Joyful Eastertide: A Critical Review of The Empty Tomb (2006)" by Steve Hays