“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” — 1 Corinthians 15:14
The Christian religion, at least for the sects that claim that Jesus is God, hinges upon the resurrection, which is what is being celebrated today amidst egg hunts and two hour long Masses. The resurrection represents Christ’s triumph over death and is the proof of his divine nature and the truthfulness of life after death. It appears, however, that even the people at the time of the Bible weren’t very interested in the raising of the dead.
Two people were raised from the dead by Jesus — his friend Lazarus (John 11:1–44) and the daughter of Jairus (Matthew 9:18–26, Mark 5:21–43, and Luke 8:40–56). Nowhere in the accounts regarding these miracles were they even asked what it was like to have come back to life. Saints Peter and Paul were both allegedly able to raise people from the dead (Acts 9:36–42 and Acts 20 9:12, respectively). Again, in these two cases, no one seemed intrigued by people surviving death, beyond the initial shock.
Jesus was crucified after the Passover meal at nine in the morning, according to Mark, but it was before the Passover meal at twelve noon, according to John. And, when Jesus had expired on the cross, Matthew relays that, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split…” (Matthew 27:51).
You may remember that scene in The Passion of the Christ. What may have been left on the cutting room floor, however, was the sequence for the following verses, “…the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” (Matthew 27:52–53)
I would think that these ‘saints’ might have included Moses, Abraham, Elijah, and other great leaders of the Jewish people, but Matthew doesn’t say who they were. I wonder, when they came to the city, did they go back to their old homes? Did the headless John the Baptist resurrect and start preaching again? Why didn’t the resurrected saints play a role in the Christian Church (and this should, at least, be evident in Church records)? Wouldn’t the apostles give special positions to the patriarchs of the Jewish faith? Having Abraham on your side would have been definitive proof to convert all the Jews to the Christian faith. Unfortunately, Matthew is alone in his assertions, as the other evangelists didn’t even write about an earthquake.
Did the resurrected people die again? What did the Romans think of these events? Surely something as extraordinary as a dead person coming back to life is deserving of inquiry by the Roman scientists and philosophers. What more for a legion of people breaking out of their graves? The lack of curiosity or further commentary on these astonishing incidents belies Christianity’s claims to authenticity. With regards to the greatest miracle possible, all Biblical characters appear decidedly indifferent.
To further reveal that the evangelists were either lying or didn’t care enough to pay attention during the resurrection, they wrote contradicting reports as to what had happened after Jesus rose from the dead. Matthew says that it was dawn when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to visit Jesus’ tomb. Mark says it was sunrise, while John says it was dark and it was only Mary Magdalene. Luke, however, says that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James, along with other women were there. How can we come to believe these writers when they couldn’t even get the facts of their religion’s most important story right? Even the most pathological of liars try to have a modicum of consistency.
Matthew tells us that an angel said to the two Marys, “…behold, he goeth before you into Galilee.” So, they told the disciples who went to a mountain in Galilee “which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.”
Now, John tells us that Jesus showed himself to the disciples when they had assembled in a house, not at the mountain in Galilee. The disciples weren’t looking for Jesus because they were hiding from the Jews. So, which version is right?
These are historical accounts and only one timeline of events can be true. The only refuge left for apologists to take, when factual inconsistencies are so glaring as these, is the dishonest safe harbor of metaphor. At this point, all rational discussions end, with the details of the reports twisted with hermeneutical nonsense.
It is too much to ask for people to give these mutually opposed narrations the benefit of the doubt. If this were a court case and these were the kinds of testimonies given by the accused, they would be imprisoned, after adding perjury to their crimes. For questions pertaining to whether there is a God, and if he is the Christian God, we must have a standard for evidence befitting such an important and life-altering proposition. If even the evangelists couldn’t take this savage doctrine of human sacrifice seriously enough to write congruously, why should we give them a moment’s notice?