[Music] Are the New Testament reports of Christ’s resurrection like discrepancies found in Joseph Smith’s First Vision?
Welcome to the final edition in our series “Is Christianity the Mormonism of Judaism?” where we are answering the claims of the Jewish rabbis who assert that Christianity has distorted Judaism in much the same way that we Christians believe that Mormonism has distorted the teachings of Christianity. As we have been seeing throughout this series, Christianity has not distorted Judaism. Rather, it’s the Judaism of the second century onward to today that has distorted Judaism. It is the Judaism of the second century that changed their views about the Messiah being the Son of God, to try to get people not to believe that Jesus fulfilled those prophecies in the Old Testament. It is the Judaism of the Middle Ages, as we saw, that changed their definitions and their interpretations of the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 to try to make it look like the Messiah would not suffer, that this is not a prophecy about a messiah who would come to redeem Israel, as we Christians believe.
So Judaism has changed over the years, but Christianity is consistent with ancient Judaism in asserting that these prophecies are fulfilled in Christ when He came in the first century, and we believe that Christianity came out of ancient Judaism as revealed in the Scriptures, as consistent with the teachings of both the Old and the New Testament Scriptures.
Now today, we’re going to be examining the evidence for the resurrection of Christ. This being our final video in the series, I chose this topic to be the final video to end on, because the resurrection forms the basis of the historic Christian faith. As the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, if Christ has not been raised, we are indeed the most miserable, we are to be pitied, if you will. Paul was saying that the resurrection of Christ, that event, the historicity and the reliability of that event forms the foundation of the Christian faith. Thus it’s very important, it is of utmost importance, that we evaluate the evidence for the resurrection of Christ and the reliability of the New Testament eyewitness accounts of the resurrection to be able to determine if we can trust the claims of Christ and of Christianity. So this is our final video in the series and this is the topic of discussion today. We are going to be examining not only the evidence for the resurrection of Christ, but also the unfair claims of the rabbis where they try to equate alleged discrepancies within the resurrection accounts, just differences that we find between the gospel accounts of Christ’s resurrection. They try to equate that with Joseph Smith’s first
vision accounts where he has multiple discrepancies that are irreconcilable. We’re going to be examining the alleged discrepancies in the New Testament and we are going to find those discrepancies are not real, true discrepancies. There are differences in their accounts, but those differences in the accounts, when you put them all together, actually agree with one another. That is what we’re going to see here when we are addressing the claims of these Jewish rabbis who make an unfair parallel with Mormonism.
On contrast, we’re going to be looking at the first vision accounts of Joseph Smith. We’re going to see that his accounts cannot be reconciled, that he gave different versions of his account and that those different versions cannot be put together to agree with one another, but rather to disagree and to discount the claims of Joseph Smith, just like Christianity, which has a historical event at the basis of its claims, so Mormonism has the alleged historical event of Joseph Smith’s first vision at the basis of its claims.
So again, in evaluating the claims of both Christianity and Mormonism, we need to look at the historical basis and are they reliable? Is the witness of Joseph Smith reliable? Are his first vision accounts irreconcilable or can you reconcile them? We’re going to look at that, we’re going to apply the same standard that we apply to Mormonism to Christianity and we’re going to find that, unlike the claims of the Jewish rabbis, who try to say that Christianity is the Mormonism of Judaism, it’s quite the opposite.
Christianity can stand up under the examination of the evidence when you put everything all together, but Mormonism cannot. And that’s why Mormonism is a counterfeit, but Christianity is the real thing. As we find in Christ, He has fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah and has indeed resurrected to prove He is not a liar or a lunatic, but rather he is Lord Almighty. These are the claims of what we are going to be looking at today and this is the conclusion that we will end on with this video series.
Now, let’s start with the first claim of the Jewish rabbis against the resurrection accounts of Christ. They start out by questioning the reliability of the New Testament gospel accounts, and what I’m going to be using as my reference in addressing their claims against the eyewitness testimonies in the gospel is a book, Cold Case Christianity, by J. Warner Wallace. J. Warner Wallace is a former homicide detective who served for many years bringing evidence in cold cases to court. He talks about the evidence for the resurrection accounts using the same kind of reasoning, kind of argumentation, that he would present his cases in a court of law.
I really appreciate what J. Warner Wallace had to say when he was examining the accounts of the resurrection given in the Gospels. One of the things that he pointed out throughout his book is how, when he would bring a case to court to try to point to who could possibly have committed the crime, he would present a variety of evidence that the detectives would gather at the scene. And these were called cold cases for the primary reason because they don’t have first-hand evidence, that the criminal was not caught in the act and, when he wasn’t caught in the act, you have to put together the pieces at the crime scene to try to fill in the gaps of what actually occurred at the event. That is the job of detectives, and as J. Warner Wallace explains, they would put forth a case against a particular individual who they felt was the most reasonable person to have committed the crime, and the job of the defense attorneys is to go against those accusations by trying to find something wrong in the testimony. They will question the integrity of the eyewitnesses, of those people who may have seen the event or may have seen some aspect of the event. They’ll
question the motives of the eyewitness, and they will raise doubt as to the reliability of the eyewitness account.
That’s exactly what we see today in the accusations of skeptics and Jewish rabbis who assert that the New Testament isn’t reliable, just like defense attorneys will present evidence, or try to make the case that the defendant wasn’t present at the event, or their defendant didn’t actually, couldn’t possibly have committed the crime, didn’t have the right motives, or they’ll try to attack the witnesses of the event by insinuating that perhaps the witnesses had ulterior motives that would have led them to lie about who actually committed the crime.
Those are all things that defense attorneys do when they are attacking the evidence in favor of a conviction of the criminal. That’s exactly what we see with skeptics and with Jewish rabbis who try to attack the resurrection accounts. They try to assert, first and foremost, that the Gospel writers didn’t actually write the Gospels, that those writers weren’t actually eyewitnesses of the accounts of Jesus, even though they assert that they are. Mark, for example, which is considered one of the earliest, if not the earliest, gospel to have been written, they will assert that that was written sometime perhaps in the second century or very late first century, and they’ll assert that it was written by somebody other than the Gospel writer. Somebody other than Mark, or somebody other than an eyewitness to Jesus Christ, and that they will assert that Mark would just (have) had the name put on the book just to make it look authentic. That is one of their claims. We’re gonna examine that claim today.
The second claim that the skeptics bring up against Christianity would be the idea of the integrity of the Gospel accounts. They will question if the Gospel writers really saw a literal vision of Jesus Christ, a literal person appearing, or whether it was just some(one’s) imagination. That’s one of the arguments that the Jewish rabbis bring up. They’ll assert that everybody, just like Paul saw Jesus in the vision, they’ll assert that most of the people, if not all of them, just saw Jesus in a vision, so it wasn’t real. But that’s not true, because when we read the Gospel accounts, what do we read? We read Jesus appearing to Thomas and He (said), “Put your hands in My side, feel these nail holes.” How do you feel something if He’s not physically present in the room?
We also see other accounts where Jesus ate food and walked with the disciples. That doesn’t sound to me like a vision or an immaterial spirit appearing to them. And then you have another account when we just look at the testimony of Paul, who was the last one to see Jesus. And it does say in the text that, although the people that were travelling with Paul heard a voice, they didn’t see anyone. But they heard a voice, so they did attest to having at least heard something when Paul went blind, he had something physically
happen when he saw Jesus. But then he spent a majority of his time among the eyewitnesses of Christ’s resurrection, among the disciples themselves. He was trained by the disciples, so he was taught the true teachings of Christ through eyewitness testimonies. And then he goes on in 1 Corinthians 15 to explain that 500 people saw Jesus at once. Now, if Jesus was just a vision appearing to the disciples or in just a small, little group like the rabbis would have you believe, the rabbis would have you believe that was just Jesus’ close associates who had these visions, just like people who lose a loved one, quite often will hallucinate ideas of talking with their dead loved ones. That is a common occurrence, but to have 500 people at once seeing Jesus, now that is something that stretches the reality of visions beyond credulity. You can’t make that just some immaterial vision or dream when 500 people at once saw Jesus, and Paul even went on to say the greater number exists even to this day, at the time of his writing in 1 Corinthians 15 (4-7).
This doesn’t sound like something that was written in the second century. If the people, the greater number existed at the time to be able to validate what Paul was saying in his letter, it’s very hard to make the case that this was something written by non-eyewitnesses, that this was not a testimony of eyewitnesses, that this wasn’t a valid fact when he had so many people who attested to having seen Jesus Christ.
The other thing that Jewish skeptics will bring up against the gospel accounts is the idea of discrepancies, as I mentioned earlier, just like J. Warner Wallace brings up in his book here in Cold Case Christianity. The prosecuting attorneys, when they bring up evidence against a defendant, the defense attorney’s job is to pick apart that evidence, and what they’ll do is they’ll try to get the court to look at little pieces of the evidence that don’t seem to line up, to raise enough ambiguity in the case, so that the jury cannot give a conviction and that’s exactly what skeptics do today.
Just by nature, cold cases do not have a 100 percent evidence backing every little detail in the event, so it’s true, just like pieces in a puzzle, you can put together some of the pieces but you don’t have all the pieces on the resurrection of Christ and that’s the same with the Gospel accounts. We don’t have absolutely every little piece of the resurrection account accounted for within the Gospels, so we have to assemble the picture and take each of the gospel accounts and when you put them together, causing the Gospels to be looked at as complementary to one another, not contradictory to one another but complementary, that is when you’re able to put together a case for the reliability of the Gospels as giving a true account of Christ’s resurrection, and that is what we’re gonna look at. We’re gonna look at some of the details that skeptics bring up against the resurrection account and we’re going to
show how those details can be reconciled if we put the gospel accounts together.
So that’s what we’ll do in the second part of our video, and then finally we’re going to examine Joseph Smith’s first vision account and the irreconcilabilities within his different versions of the account and show how there is no parallel between Mormonism’s historical event, or alleged historical event, and Christianity’s true historical event of the resurrection of Christ, which has been verified by many eyewitnesses and also unbelievers of the first century who wrote about the life of Christ.
So let’s dig into the evidence for the resurrection of Christ. Now, as we get into the details of these accounts, I’m going to be using a few resources to discuss first of all, the credibility of the eyewitness accounts. I’ve already mentioned this Cold Case Christianity book by J. Warner Wallace, and I’m also going to be reading from Josh McDowell’s The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. This book is excellent, not only in dealing with the credibility of the New Testament and the reliability of the manuscripts of the New Testament, it also discusses the Old Testament and how we know that we can trust our Bible. As you can see, it’s a very thick book, it provides a lot of good information.
First of all, let’s look at what J. Warner Wallace provides as evidence of the biblical accounts of the gospel being valid eyewitness accounts. We’re gonna look at a chart that he gives, it’s basically a graphic that he put together, and this is found on page 256 of his Cold Case Christianity book. And here he talks about, first of all, the unintentional support for the Gospels. The Gospels agree with the kinds of things you would find in first century like the correct names, the types of names that we find given in the Gospel accounts fit first century names, the most common names we find in the first century are the kinds of names we find in the Gospel accounts. Appropriate language: the language is consistent with first century writings; we find correct locations. The non-biblical corroboration and Jewish corroboration: we see Jewish writers and non-Christian writers corroborating the types of events or even the life of Christ. Jewish writers wrote about a man who was known for his miracles and, of course, they attributed his powers to the demons, to Beelzebub, as the Gospel accounts also explain, but they do recognize both that Jesus lived, that He was killed for His beliefs and, of course, His claims to be the Messiah. So these kinds of corroborations are
found in the writings of non-Christian and Jewish scholars of the day. Archaeology, of course, verifies many of the events or specific places in the New Testament; we also see that the Gospels were accurately delivered when we look at the manuscript support for the Gospels, it seems that they have been preserved and we covered this a lot in our video series on textual variants in the New Testament, so if you want to review some of that, I did go into some of those details in that video. But J. Warner Wallace reviews some of that same evidence for the textual veracity of the New Testament in this book, and then he talks about the evidence for the New Testament writers and the Gospels having been written before 70 A.D.
The general attestation is that many of the Gospels were written any time before 70 A.D.; there’s no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem either in the book of Acts, which mentions several events that occurred with the Apostles, there’s no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem; the Gospel writers are also silent about the major persecutions that came against the church in 61 to 65 (A.D.). So if these Gospel accounts or the book of Acts were written after these events, it seems kind of strange that at least Acts would not have at least mentioned these major persecutions of the Church.
None of the martyrdoms of the Apostles are mentioned in the gospel or the book of Acts, and if we look also we find that the apostle Paul, who wrote to several churches, in some cases referencing churches that were later destroyed by persecution, and so many people believe, many scholars believe that Paul wrote his letters sometime between 53 A.D. to 57 A.D., and he cites Luke’s Gospel. Now, how can Paul cite Luke’s Gospel if Luke’s Gospel wasn’t written until the latter part of the first century or the early second century? Again, these are some of the reasons why biblical scholars place the gospel writings in very early, at least by the middle part of the first century.
And then we see also Mark seems to have been perhaps the first gospel account to have been written, and Mark relied heavily on Peter’s support for his gospel as well. In fact, many people believe Peter worked directly with Mark in producing that gospel, and Mark was definitely an eyewitness with Peter’s experience with Jesus. So these are all things that support the New Testament witness of Christ.
And finally in this graph here, J. Warner Wallace talks about how the New Testament accounts are attested by the fact that they did not have any ulterior motives for a conspiracy or for trying to propagate a deception that Jesus rose from the dead. And he points out they were not driven by financial gain, they were not driven by sexual lust or relationships, they
were not driven by a pursuit of power, and these are the kinds of things that witnesses who are trying to propagate a lie are usually driven by. When you don’t have any evidence of any of this type of motive that would be behind the New Testament writers, propagating a lie or being part of a conspiracy to try to make it look like Yeshua Jesus rose from the dead and when he supposedly didn’t, if that were the case, why would they go to their deaths, why are there so many examples of the horrendous deaths of the martyrs, and even (the) apostle Paul undergoing stoning and shipwreck and everything for the gospel of Christ? He had absolutely nothing to gain for believing this idea that Jesus rose from the dead, or for teaching this idea.
If they knew that this was false, that they were part of this supposed conspiracy to try to proclaim something that didn’t happen, they have absolutely nothing to gain and, in fact, when we look at the New Testament accounts, what do we see? The disciples were hiding in the upper room, and when they first heard from the women that Jesus rose from the dead, what did they do? Did they go, “Oh, wow, let’s check this out”? Well, they looked at the empty tomb but they didn’t believe the women. They questioned their testimon(ies) because they were not expecting Him to rise from the dead, and that wasn’t because Jesus hadn’t told them. He had warned them that He would die and that He would rise from the dead, but they had forgotten about those statements and they didn’t want to believe that. It didn’t fit what they thought Jesus was going to do. So there was absolutely nothing to gain for promoting a myth or a conspiracy that Jesus rose from the dead. In fact, quite the opposite – they promoted this idea at the expense of their own lives and that is one of the evidences that seems to indicate that these New Testament gospel writers were indeed eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, to a real, valid, historical fact.
Now, let’s look at something else that Josh McDowell gives as support for the New Testament gospel accounts. I want to share some of the things that he has to say. First of all, he provides a chart for the conservative datings for the gospel, Paul’s letters being 50-66 (A.D.), notes Matthew 70-80, Mark 50-60 or 58-65, depending on which scholar you’re going with; Luke early dating of about the 60s and John 80-100 at the max, conservative dating, and then he points out some of the liberal datings that would put these letters later than that time frame, but one of the things that he notes is, “William Foxwell Albright, one of the world’s foremost biblical archaeologists, said, ‘We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150
given by the more radical New Testament critics of today.'” And that’s definitely the camp that these Jewish rabbis fall under. They claim that the majority of these writings in the New Testament, and these gospel records in particular, were written closer to the second century and so they go with these late dates but as this scholar says, Albright says, there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80. So then he goes on. “He reiterates this point in an interview for Christianity Today, 18 Jan. 1963: ‘In my opinion, every book of the New Testament was written by a baptized Jew between the forties and the eighties of the first century A.D. (very probably sometime between about A.D. 50 and 75).'” And that was his view. “Albright concludes, ‘Thanks to the Qumran discoveries, the New Testament proves to be in fact what it was formerly believed to be: the teaching of Christ and his immediate followers between cir. 25 and cir. 80 A.D.’ [(Albright, FSAC, 23)]. (And that’s Albright and he gives his reference here.) Many liberal scholars are being forced to consider earlier dates for the New Testament.'”
And that’s the bottom line: anyone who, with this evidence, still believes the Gospels were written well after the time of any New Testament or any eyewitness testimony could be gained from them to be inserted into the gospel text, really has to disregard the evidence, not only the evidence of the Gospel writers who said that they were eyewitnesses of these events, but also the internal evidence of the gospel writings using first century language, first century names, the archaeological support, and they have to disregard even the internal quotations of the Gospels amongst themselves, particularly like the letters of Paul quoting Luke. You really have to stretch credulity to try to embrace the later dates that these Jewish rabbis and skeptics give for the Gospels.
So again, if they’re going to continue to postulate those concepts, those ideas, that the New Testament was written so far after the events in the lifetime of Christ, then you’re doing so because you have a bias against the New Testament, not because of historical facts, but because you don’t want to believe these facts and indeed, that’s exactly the point that J. Warner Wallace makes in his book here in Cold Case Christianity. He talks about the fact that some of these skeptics will go so far as to look at the fact that the New Testament Gospel accounts do not record the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., and they’ll say something along the lines of, “Well, maybe it was excluded from the Gospels simply because they, the writers who made up these books,” (because that’s what they think, in these minds, that these were written well after the time of the eyewitness accounts), they will say, “Well, they were trying to prove that Jesus made a prophecy after the fact, after it happened, so they wouldn’t mention the destruction of the temple.”
And again, that’s the kind of excuse or kind of argument a person would give when they don’t want to believe the truth, don’t want to believe the evidence, that actually the earlier dating fits better with the evidence and it’s the most reasonable conclusion for these Gospel
accounts to have been written as first-hand eyewitness accounts, or at least with the strong influence like in the Gospel of Mark, strong influence of Peter’s experiences with Jesus. So that is the evidence that we can see that supports the New Testament accounts, as indeed eyewitness accounts of the Lord Jesus Christ and His resurrection.
Now, I want to talk about the next point here – the Jewish rabbis bring up against the resurrection of Jesus Christ is they will point to alleged discrepancies between those accounts, and I just want to talk about a few of them here. These are the points that were put together by Jews for Judaism; you’ll see the rabbi featured there on screen and he argues that there’s a discrepancy on the day that Jesus was crucified, because you have one account saying that it was a preparation day, or the day before the Passover in John 19-21, and then the other accounts, the other Gospels, say it was the first day of Passover. Now this is easily reconciled: the Passover Feast, the whole area, the several days that encompassed that holiday in the Jewish system, if you say the preparation day, that was the first day of the Passover range, not the specific day of Passover but it was a preparation day when they would kill the lambs, and so these Gospel accounts that say the first day of Passover, they’re alluding to the first day that that whole Passover holiday would begin, and it would begin with a preparation day which was essentially the first day of Passover. So this is an easy reconcilable so-called discrepancy and it’s not a real discrepancy when you understand how they looked at that time frame in the Jewish system.
The next discrepancy they bring up would be who carried Jesus’ cross. In three of the Gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, they say that Simon of Cyrene carried His cross and John had Jesus carrying His cross. Now, I want you to know, when you’re looking at these alleged discrepancies is there any indication that, like in the example of John, does it say Jesus was the only one who carried His cross or does it just merely reference Jesus carrying His cross? If it just merely references Him carrying His cross, it doesn’t mean necessarily that Jesus carried His cross the whole way.
By the same token, when you read in the other Gospel accounts that Simon of Cyrene carry Christ’s cross, the question that needs to be asked is, was he the only one that carried His cross. And if you don’t see any allusion to him being the only one to carry the cross, then you can easily reconcile these Gospel accounts with the idea that Jesus started carrying His cross, and then it became too heavy for Him; He was worn out from the beating and so then Simon of Cyrene was compelled to carry His cross for Him. So we can reconcile those accounts easily by looking at the Gospel accounts and putting them together as complementary to each other, not contradictory, but rather filling in the gaps, each one filling in a different
aspect of the Gospel accounts and that’s what we’re going to see here in the next section of alleged discrepancies.
In the gospel account we have, who was the first person to come to Jesus’ tomb? Well, Mark 15 – 16, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother and Salome – Mary the mother of Jesus. He says here in the chart, I believe when I read the text, was actually Mary the mother of James, but either way. Then you go to Matthew’s account. He says Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary; and then in Luke’s account is Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Jonah, and other women; and then, of course, in John’s account we have only Mary Magdalene being mentioned as coming to the tomb.
How do we reconcile this? Well, we’re gonna reconcile that by putting all the accounts together in just a minute; I want you to to remember that thought. So there’s a question on who was the first to come to the tomb, who was actually at the tomb when these angels appeared? How many angels actually appeared? Those are differences in the accounts. We’re gonna look at that in just a minute. I want to also look at some more of these claims: what did the woman see at the tomb? Mark 14-15, a young man sitting inside the tomb, Jesus has risen. Okay, so you see a young man, actually Mary thought it was a gardener. Or other people thought they saw angels. Matthew 27-28, angels sitting on the rock outside the tomb, you have Luke’s account, two men standing inside the tomb and that the two men (were) actually two angels in many of our translations of these passages, and then we have John: when Mary first arrives at the tomb, she sees no one. When she returns later with two disciples, she sees two angels. Okay, so we have all of these accounts, how do we reconcile them?
We’re going to now put those accounts together, asking the question(s): who was first at the tomb? Who actually was there with Mary or without Mary? Was Mary there multiple times? Were these (women) there multiple times? What did the women see? Did they see an angel, did they see a man? Did they see two angels? What’d they actually see? And then we’re also going to ask the question of what time did these events take place?
They will point out some of the timeframe given in the Gospel accounts; for example, in Matthew (it) says that as it began to dawn, that’s when Mary Magdalene was at the tomb. Mark 16 says after the sun has risen, and we have Luke: very early in the morning, the woman took spices; then we have John who is saying, while it was still dark. So when did Mary Magdalene actually get there, when did the other women get there? Were there several groups of women that came to the tomb? We need to ask that question. Could that account for some references saying that it was before the dawn, or as it was beginning to dawn, or very early in the morning. That’s kind of a vague term. That could be when it’s dawning or after the sun had risen. We could also see the reference, “while it was still dark.” Well, if this event took place while it was still dark, it wasn’t taking place after the sun had risen. So that does lead to the idea that there were several times that various groups of women were at the tomb, and that is the position that I land on, especially in reconciling the
different names that are thrown out. Who was at the tomb? Was it just Mary Magdalene by herself, or was it Mary with the other Mary, or Mary the mother of James, or was it Mary Magdalene by herself, or what about these other woman that are mentioned: Joanna and Mary the mother of James, along with other women. Many of these accounts talked about other women, don’t necessarily give their names. So it kind of gives the idea that this is taking place with many different groups of women coming to the tomb.
And somewhere in this mix, you have the disciples also coming to the tomb, particularly Peter and John, who ran to the tomb to find it empty. So let me now explain what I believe actually occurred, and how I reconcile these accounts. I reconcile them with first, the idea when we read in Matthew 28 and in Mark 16, you have a reference to Mary Magdalene being the first to appear at the tomb, it says in Mark 16:9. Now at that point, it doesn’t specifically say that the first time Mary came to the tomb, because I do believe she came to the tomb more than once. It doesn’t say that this first time that Mary came to the tomb that it was after the sun had risen; however, it does say that when Mary Magdalene came with Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, and brought spices, it says after the sun had risen.
So it does kind of give the idea that perhaps Mary came to the tomb by herself while it was still dark, and then the women with spices came later. Perhaps they were not staying together and they got a later start with the spices, the ones who were bringing the spices, and Mary just ran to the tomb ahead of them, it’s hard to say exactly, but that is kind of where I kind of lean to, this idea that she might have gotten to the tomb first, before these other women did, because it does say that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. And it does seem to indicate she was by herself, because we have no reference to the other women when we read John’s account of Mary as well, at the tomb, while the tomb was still dark.
We also read in John’s account that when Mary Magdalene saw these angels, it was two angels that appeared to her. But when we read of the account with Mary Magdalene when the other women with spices encounter the angels, we see it’s not the angels, plural, but rather they see an angel. So that’s another indication that these were different times that Mary Magdalene was at the tomb, and that the other women were at the tomb. And then, what else can we see in this account? If Mary Magdalene got to the tomb before the other women came with the spices, it is conceivable that when she got to the tomb she saw the stone rolled away, and the other women soon followed and potentially arrived at the tomb, but here we find Mary stunned by the stone being rolled away, and (thought) that the body of Jesus might have been stolen, that she
immediately leaves the women who came with the spices, and runs back to tell Peter and John. And so when she goes to tell the disciples Peter and John, what do we see, what actually happened? I believe that at the sight of the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene left Salome and the other Mary who had come with the spices, and she left them at the tomb and Mary left by herself to tell Peter and John that the body was missing and she particularly said, we do not know where they have taken him. Now, when she says we, (it) doesn’t mean that the other women were with her when she was talking to Peter and John; rather, she’s making allusion to the fact that those other women that arrived with the spices arrived there along with her, saw the tomb empty, so she ran away to tell, I believe, Peter and John.
During that time, I believe, while the other women were still at the tomb, (there (are) two possible ways we can reconcile) either those women with the spices decided to leave for a period of time, disillusioned (“What do we do? We can’t embalm the body”) and perhaps they came back later and had the encounter with the angels. Or they maybe saw the angels when Mary was talking to Peter and John, and going to get Peter and John, and perhaps they had that encounter with the single angel who appeared to them, and told them, He’s not here, He’s risen.
But Mary wasn’t there to hear that, because she was going to get Peter and John. And then perhaps, when Peter and John ran to the tomb, perhaps that’s when Mary followed them, came back to the tomb; by this time, the women with the spices had already left. And when they had already left with the news, being told to tell the disciples that Jesus had risen and to meet them in Galilee, perhaps while they are heading back to tell the disciples, that is when Mary and Peter and John show up at the tomb.
Peter and John immediately see that the tomb is empty, so they run back to the other disciples to share the news, while the women with the spices preceded them, running back to the disciples and to say that the angel had appeared to them. Meanwhile, Mary doesn’t know any of this. She’s left at the tomb alone, here at her second time at the tomb. And that’s why we get here, at the rising of the sun, this is when Mary’s there at the tomb alone, and now she sees two angels who speak to her and tell her that He’s not there, that He’s risen, and she turns around and sees a man standing there, thinking that this is the gardener. She asks him where the body of Jesus is, and then of course Jesus (we all know the story) reveals Himself to her and calls her by her name, and she recognizes that He’s her Lord, that He’s resurrected from the dead, and so here we see Jesus’ first appearance being to Mary when she
was by herself. I think that just easily reconciles the differences that we see in the Gospel accounts between the women with the spices that were, perhaps, with Mary the first time; maybe Mary got there first, but I believe the time when she was actually alone when the angels appeared to her was after those women with the spices had left, and after the disciples, Peter and John, had seen the empty tomb. Again, they didn’t know about the resurrection of Christ, and so there’s no indication in the account that neither Mary nor the disciples had seen any angels prior to this coming to the tomb the second time, in the case of Mary coming the second time, and the disciples coming there for the first time. So that’s how I reconcile those differences.
What else do we have to to deal with? We talked about the different timeframe of the sun. Again, while it was still dark, as it was beginning to dawn, the women with the spices at the tomb, they first get there, it’s beginning to dawn but doesn’t take long for the sun to rise, and so as all of these events are transpiring, no doubt, the sun came up. So here we have Mary after the sun had risen, coming back to the tomb and perhaps it’s also the timeframe that these women who had brought spices incurred the angels with the sun already risen up, and then going back to the disciples. All of this took some time with their paths crossing on the way to the tomb, and back and forth.
There’s also some indication (that) perhaps there may have been another group of women that showed up at the tomb after Mary went back to the disciples, after the women with the spices had gone to the disciples and reported these things, that Jesus had risen from the dead. Perhaps that is when we see these other women that came to the tomb, like Joanna and some of the others that are not mentioned. And we also want to keep in mind here, when the women are at the tomb and they do encounter first that angel that told them that Jesus had risen, these women with the spices, it specifically says in Mark’s account, “Go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.'” I find it interesting that in Mark’s account, he specifically says, “Go tell the disciples and Peter.” That seems to indicate to me that perhaps, the angel being well aware that Peter and John had seen the empty tomb, that perhaps that’s why he emphasized, go and tell the disciples and Peter.
So overall, when we put all of the accounts together and basically lay them out like you would the pieces of a puzzle, you can kind of fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle that are not given in the Gospel accounts, and see how they essentially reconcile when you lay them over, and see how the Gospel accounts actually complement each other, some accounts giving more information than other accounts, like in the case of John; he provides a whole lot more information that’s not carried in Matthew’s and Mark’s and Luke’s accounts. (The Gospel of John has) a lot more detail, the disciples running to the tomb, that’s not given in the other Gospel accounts, but that does not make them contradictory, rather it makes them complimentary. And as we can see, we can easily reconcile these accounts.
Now I want to just take a moment here and look at a little bit more of the alleged discrepancies that are also given. How about what is said to the woman, or what is said to Mary. She’s told not to touch Jesus because He hasn’t ascended to
their father; and we read about in Hebrews that Jesus had to, after He made purification for sins, He had to enter into the holy place in Heaven. So we read that in Mary’s account in John, but then we also read, later on, that when the disciples were in the Upper Room and Jesus appears to them, that is when they were allowed to touch Him; in fact, Jesus told Thomas to put his finger in His side. I also want to point out that, when the women are told to tell the disciples that Jesus will meet them in Galilee, we see that in a couple of the accounts they’re told that, but in one of their accounts, in Mark, it says the women told no one after they had spoken with the angels and left the tomb. Well, even though the text doesn’t say it, we can conclude that, just like we read in the other accounts where the disciples said they did not believe the testimony of the women, the women did tell the disciples about the resurrection of Christ, but it said they told no one on the road, on their journey back to the town, to the upper room. So again, we have to just take all of these pieces and put them together as a puzzle, realizing that the text is complementary, not contradictory.
And then I want to address a few more. Let’s look at what was said on the sign. The Jewish rabbis bring up the argument the sign had differences in the different accounts. We have “The king of the Jews” or “This is Jesus the King of the Jews” or we have “This is the king of the Jews” or, in John’s account, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Now, when we take all that and put it together, we can see how John provided more information than the other accounts did, and all together, we can come up with that conclusion of what was actually on the sign: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews, Jesus of Nazareth.” That’s not a contradiction, that’s complementary. None of the statements in the text say that this is the only text that was on the sign.
That’s a very important point to look for. If these were to be legitimate discrepancies that could not be reconciled, we have to read things like, “This is the only appearance of Jesus to the disciples” or “This is the only appearance of Jesus to women at the tomb” and that is simply not stated in the text. So we can conclude, that (it) is just reasonable to conclude, that there were different accounts of the women at the tomb appearing to – the angels were appearing to these women, or in the case of Christ, He appeared to Mary Magdalene first, and then He appeared to different groups of the disciples, like on the road to Emmaus, or let’s say in Galilee, they’re told to meet Him in Galilee. Acts actually tells us in Acts 1:3 that there are many more occasions of Jesus appearing to people: the disciples, the women, many more than what’s recorded.
So we have to see how the text gives allowance to maybe some ambiguity that isn’t fully stated in the text, but that can be easily reconciled. The disciples are told to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t also see Jesus in Galilee. It doesn’t mean that there weren’t occasions in these other places where Jesus appeared. So again, all of these statements that we see in the gospel(s), you have to take them as pieces of a puzzle and realize that, just as in cases that are given at the court for
cold cases, where we don’t have all of the evidence, we just have to take all the evidence that we do have and draw a reasonable conclusion with the evidence, and that reasonable conclusion, given the eyewitness testimon(ies) of the disciples, these writings claiming to be eyewitness testimonies, being consistent with first century verbiage, language, it all seems to fit that these are legitimate eyewitness accounts, and there is no evidence to the contrary. There isn’t a case of another account being written that was dated to the first century, saying that those Gospel accounts were not a witness accounts. Nobody contradicted these statements. When Luke wrote out and said that this is an eyewitness account of most excellent Theophilus, he was not contradicted by Theophilus saying, “Oh no, I hear somewhere that your account is not valid.” Nobody ever contradicted that. In fact, the church fathers actually regarded these Gospel accounts, the early church fathers regarded them as authentic. There is no indication anyone questioned the authenticity of this. So again, that all lends support to these accounts being valid.
So the important thing I want to I want to point out is that, for these accounts to be irreconcilable, you have to see statements like, “only,” “this is the only one who carried Jesus’s cross,” or, when Jesus was given wine and myrrh, in one account, some wine with gall or sour wine, none of those accounts say He was only given sour wine, or when we see the time frame of Jesus’ crucifixion which unfolded over a course of several hours, one account saying at nine o’clock, another account given more of a noon timeframe. it probably unfolded over that full length of time. So it wasn’t a discrepancy, when you look at the two different accounts giving different time references for the crucifixion. And many of these arguments are just so easy to basically see how they don’t show any discrepancy, just by simply laying them all out and saying, “Well, let’s take all the pieces here, and let’s put them all together, like in a puzzle,” and we see, again, they are not contradictory. They are complementary.
That is simply not the case with what we have with Joseph Smith’s first vision account. The resurrection stories, for example, had many people and many different times at many different events and many different places occurring, they’re either seeing an angel or they’re seeing Jesus, and there’s nothing in those accounts that say that these were the exact same events but rather different events. These are different people; different groups of women were at the tomb at different times whether before the sun was up or after the sun had risen, those were different events. Those are not one and the same event.
That is simply not the case with Joseph Smith, who couldn’t figure out how old he was when the first vision occurred. Was he 14, 15, 16? There are differences in his own accounts about these events and what he told his followers which, by the way, there were absolutely no other witnesses of the first vision. Joseph Smith was the only one. So getting his own story confused – there
is no excuse for that. When he can’t figure out whether it (was) Jesus who told him that his sins are forgiven, or he read it in the Scriptures that his sins are forgiven, that is a discrepancy that is irreconcilable. This is not the case of two occurrences of Christ talking to Joseph Smith, and telling him one thing or perhaps not telling him, because he was reading it in the Scriptures. I mean there are differences in the first vision accounts. Did Joseph Smith learn of the apostasy through his first vision account, or did he learn it through searching the Scriptures? Those are the differences we see. Joseph Smith saw two personages in one of his accounts: the Father and the Son. In another account of the same event, Joseph Smith said that he saw the Lord of Glory and there’s no mention of the Father. And so then you have to ask, well who did he actually see? Did he see the Father or did he not see the Father?
Now you have the case where Moroni visits Joseph Smith (on) the 21st of September 1823, but then in another account it’s the 22nd of September. Okay, not a big deal, maybe (he) got mixed up on one day, but then it’s 1822. That’s a whole year difference when this angel supposedly appears, and in some of the accounts it’s not the angel Moroni who appears to Joseph Smith, it’s the angel Nephi. He couldn’t even figure out his own angel who appeared to him in the bedroom.
We also have discrepancies in this whole first vision, in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon story with the whole idea of an 1820 revival that supposedly spurred Joseph Smith to ask which churches to join. Well, if we go back to the newspapers of that timeframe, there was no activity, no revival, in the area that Joseph Smith was in at this time until 1824. But yet Joseph Smith claims (that he) had this first vision in 1820. Again, it doesn’t agree with the historical record. We find first New Testament accounts, the Gospel accounts, agree with the historical record, but the historical record of Joseph’s mistake do not validate Joseph Smith’s claims, nor do they validate his first vision accounts or his alleged timeframe that he gives for these events. For example, Joseph Smith says that when he encountered the angel Moroni three years after his first vision, the angel Moroni tells him that he cannot receive the gold plates for another additional four years. Now, if you put that together you have the first vision, supposedly in 1820, he then meets the angel Moroni in 1823, or perhaps it’s the angel Nephi. Again, there (are) discrepancies in his own accounts. But 1823 he meets this angel, supposedly Moroni, and then he doesn’t get the plates for another four years. That’s a total of seven years from the time he has his first vision to the time when he can obtain the plates. Now let’s just think about this for a minute. If you have Joseph Smith not getting the plates for seven years after the first vision, and then you read in Joseph Smith’s account that he is seeking God to know what church to join, and we read from close apostles and John Witzel records this in his book Apostle, he records that Joseph Smith was not able
to – he actually started to pray about what church to join because his brother Alvin had died. Then when did his brother Alvin die? His brother Alvin died in 1823, in the fall of 1823. Joseph Smith claims to have had his vision, his first vision, in the spring. So now we have another discrepancy. The historical account seems to put the first vision in 1824, not in 1820. We have the revivals occurring in 1824, we have Joseph Smith praying about what church to join after Alvin’s death, which would again put the timeframe for this in 1824. Now we got a problem, because according to Joseph Smith’s own testimony, it’s seven years from the time of the first vision before he can receive the gold plates, in order to translate the Book of Mormon.
So add those seven years to 1824, the spring of 1824, and what do we get? 1831. The first year Joseph Smith’s able to obtain the gold plates to translate the Book of Mormon. Now, if you have the Book of Mormon being published in 1830 but he doesn’t receive the gold plates to translate the Book of Mormon until 1831, we have a major problem with the chronology of the first vision account of Joseph Smith. Again, there is absolutely no comparison between Joseph Smith’s first vision account and his story and the foundation that is given for Mormonism and that of the New Testament gospel accounts that are reconciled with both archaeology, non-Christian Jewish support for the life and the teachings of Jesus Christ. We see all of this supporting and corroborating the New Testament accounts, the Gospel accounts.
And then when we tie the gospel accounts, their testimonies together, recognizing that they fit like pieces in a puzzle, that we can fill in some of those gaps by realizing that there were many occasions where Jesus appeared to His disciples, and many occasions where the angels appear to women at the tomb. Then it’s easy to reconcile the alleged discrepancies and see them not as discrepancies, not as reasons to deny the the resurrection account of Christ, which forms the basis for the Christian faith. So again, there is no comparison with Mormonism. Christianity is not the Mormonism of Judaism. Rather Christianity is ancient Judaism restored according to the Bible. It’s Christianity that is taught in the Bible. We can see the support for Christianity in the ancient teachings of the ancient Jewish rabbis, and we see the support of Christianity and Christian beliefs from the Old Testament Scriptures going forth into the New Testament, where we see the eyewitness testimonies of Christ being validated both by the historical record, the archaeological record, and ultimately by the testimony of the eyewitness accounts who saw Christ, saw the resurrected Lord and chose to devote their lives to Him even though it cost them everything. I hope this course has been encouraging to you in your faith as a Christian, and if you’re a Jew watching this, watching these videos, I hope you consider the claims of Christ, and the claims of the New Testament and come to know Yeshua Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Now as we
conclude our series, I would like to leave you with a few resources that you can use for further study, as I just merely touched on some of these topics dealing with Judaism and their (the Jews’) objections to Christianity. I highly recommend Dr. Michael Brown’s books.
This is volume one of Answering Jewish Objections, and here he talks about general and historical objections. I highly recommend that you read the series, he has a five-volume series. Volume one kind of deals with Jewish arguments like, why didn’t Jesus bring peace on the earth if he’s the Messiah? Because the Messiah is supposed to bring peace on the Earth and kind of deals with a lot of their (the Jews’) objections, general objections to the Messiah in volume 1, and in volume 2, he deals with the sacrificial system and the claims of the Jewish rabbis that we don’t need a blood sacrifice. I kind of touched on some of these things in one of my videos dealing with Psalm 40, and sacrifice and offering you would not desire but a body you prepared for me. That quote there and my video on that, but I highly recommend Dr. Michael Brown’s books because he gets into a whole lot more depth than what I can get into in this small little series.
I also recommend the volume 3, (it) deals with the Messianic prophecies and the Jewish interpretation of those prophecies, and particularly things like the New Testament quotations of the Old Testament that would be Matthew’s quotations and Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 9, and many other passages of the Old Testament that are quoted in the New Testament. He does a really good job in volume 3 of addressing those, again, in much more depth. We kind of touched on some of these things in the video series, but not nearly to the level that you can get when you get (the) good five-volume series from Dr. Michael Brown addressing Jewish objections.
Now this is volume four, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus. Michael Brown, in this book, deals with New Testament objections that the rabbis bring up against the New Testament, and I saw some of the things that he covered in here, like the genealogies that are given of Jesus by Matthew. Supposedly the rabbis claim those are contradictory, he addresses those claims and shows you how they’re not contradictory. (These are) just some of the examples of the things. You can see these are pretty thick volumes, these are not small, little books. He covers also, “Is the New Testament self-contradictory?” and just really their objections to the New Testament as a whole, he addresses in this volume.
And then also Answering Jewish objections to Jesus, volume 5. This is his most recent volume, and he goes into more depth with rabbinic arguments addressing the traditional Jewish objections in the areas of rabbinic teachings and, again. a whole lot more understanding and depth that he has on Judaism than, of course, I do in one year of research. He’s spent his lifetime studying Judaism and Michael, Dr. Michael Brown, is indeed a
real authentic Jew.
I mean, he was born a Jew, and then of course became a Messianic Jew when he found Christ, so he really addresses things from a deep understanding, not only having grown up Jewish, he also has spent a significant amount of time getting his doctorate in Near-Eastern languages. I forget how many languages he knows, but he can actually read the source documents that I have to rely on English translations when I was doing my research.
Dr. Michael Brown can actually go to the source, and so he does that in these volumes, and I really like this chapter he has here in the appendix on unequal weights and measures, and he shows the inconsistencies of the one standard that the Jewish rabbis will apply to the New Testament. If they applied that same standard to try to write off the New Testament, if they applied that to the Old Testament, they would not be able to hold their arguments. And that’s the reality, though, to apply one standard of the New Testament that is just not even a reliable standard to use for any work of antiquity, let alone work that is regarded as Scripture, and the Jewish rabbis don’t apply those same measuring standards to their Old Testament. So again, unequal weights and measures, a critique of methodologies of the anti-missionaries, those are the anti-Christian Jewish rabbis that attack Christianity. So again, if anyone understands how to deal with Jewish objections, it certainly is Dr. Michael Brown.
In addition to his five-volume books, he also has a couple YouTube channels: the real Messiah is one of his channels, and ask Dr. Brown. I would highly recommend that you check out those channels for his answers to rabbinic objections there in the video format.
I do have some differences with Dr. Michael Brown when it comes to some of his theological positions on non-essential issues and a few other things. He gets a little more charismatic than I’m comfortable with, but when it comes to Judaism, he really is the expert in that area.
Now another book that I would recommend too, if you’re not wanting to get quite as in-depth into researching Judaism, perhaps five volumes is a bit intimidating. I would recommend then get Refuting Rabbinic Objections to Christianity and Messianic Prophecies by Eitan Bar. He’s, I believe, the director of One for Israel, that YouTube channel, and also he’s working right in Israel with Jews who have come to know the Messiah Jesus, and he’s doing quite an amazing on-line ministry to Jews, and so he has this book out. This is a fairly recent – I believe he just came out with this book, I think it was 2019 (… yeah, 2019), so it’s a fairly new publication. I really found this book helpful, especially when I was starting my research. I’ve spent a lot of time in this book. A few issues that I had (were) some of his sources that he would cite, he was so familiar with them and that he didn’t always give full citations to the sources. I had to do a bit of digging; probably anybody familiar with Judaism wouldn’t have had
as much trouble digging up those sources, but I kind of did, because he might mention a rabbi but not exactly tell you where that quote is actually found. So that was a little frustrating, but overall the quotes I was able to source and find in my research definitely, definitely helpful, and in some cases, he said enough in the book that I knew kind of where to dig to get the answers I was looking for. So I really, I do really appreciate his work here in this book and hopefully in subsequent editions, he will maybe correct some of those citations.
So again, these are the sources that I use in my research in addition to quite a bit of YouTube videos I checked out online – anything free that I could find, especially as I was studying on a tight budget to begin with, but I ended up breaking down and buying these volumes because Dr. Michael Brown is so in-depth in his research in these volumes, and it’s really a good library to have, even if you’re not studying Judaism it’s a good library, because it addresses a lot of common objections that people have to the gospel, and also it provides a real good basis for understanding the roots of our Christianity, the Jewish roots of our Christianity. So again, check out Dr. Michael Brown’s resources, and there are other really good ministries as well, and we’ll be giving you links.
If you go check out my website article on “Is Christianity the Mormonism of Judaism?” just the the regular article (has) all kinds of links to free resources online that you can use to understand in more depth. There (are) other Messianic Christians or she used to say Messianic Jews who have done a significant amount of research in just understanding how the New Testament quotes the Old Testament. And so I can’t remember all the rabbis, former rabbis, I don’t even want to call Rabbi Fruchtenbaum I think his name is, he’s written some work and I have a link on my website to that as well in that article.
So again, there’s so much available that all you need to do is do a little more digging, when you have questions that you can’t answer. Just dig a little deeper and pray, and the Lord will lead you to answers because Christianity is a reasonable faith. Given the evidence, there’s enough evidence out there if you have a heart to know truth, and you have a heart to believe, to have faith, then you can certainly find enough evidence to support that faith. So thanks again for watching this series. I hope you are blessed in your walk with Christ, and if you aren’t a Christian, or if you aren’t a Messianic Jew who has come to know Yeshua Jesus, I encourage you to check out the Scriptures and to read those Scriptures with a heart to know the truth, and ask God to reveal His son Yeshua Jesus, Yeshua the Messiah, to you and I trust you will see that Jesus fulfills those roles. As
Messiah, you can trust Him, you can know that He’s forgiven you of your sins if you come to Him and ask Him to forgive you for what you’ve done wrong, and make Him your Lord and Savior, and I can assure you that, in coming to know Yeshua Jesus, you can have that peace and that assurance of salvation that you cannot find in any other religion or any other type of thing that you pursue to find answers to that deepest longing in your soul to know the truth and to know who God really is. [Music]
FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE:
Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions: Examining the Foundations of Christianity and Mormonism – Book by Robert M. Bowman available on Amazon. of Faith Thinkers – Just as the resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of Christianity, the visions of Joseph Smith are the foundation of Mormonism. In Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions, Robert Bowman compares the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection with the evidence for Joseph’s visions, showing how the historical data confirm the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, and that the accounts of Joseph Smith’s visions are historically unreliable. For Mormons who have doubts about their religion, this study will help them find a more reliable basis for faith in Christ. For Christians, this study provides a fresh angle on the historical evidence for the truth of Christianity.