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The major Resurrection appearances of Jesus in the canonical gospels (and to a lesser extent other books of the New Testament) are reported to have occurred after his death, burial and resurrection, but prior to his ascension. Among these sources, most scholars believe First Corinthians was written first, authored by Apostle Paul along with Sosthenes c. AD 55. Finally, the apocryphal Gospel of the Hebrews recounts the resurrection appearance to James the brother of Jesus.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene and another Mary at his empty tomb. Later, eleven of the disciples (minus Judas Iscariot) went to a mountain in Galilee to meet Jesus, who appears to them and commissions them to make disciples of all people and to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, referred to as the Great Commission.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus appears to the disciples and eats with them, demonstrating that he is flesh and bones, not a ghost. He tells them to wait in Jerusalem for the start of their mission to the world, and then he ascends into the heavens. In Acts, written by the same author as Luke, Jesus appears to his disciples after his death and stays with them for 40 days before ascending to heaven. Acts also describes Jesus' appearance to Paul, in which a voice speaks to Paul and a light blinds him while he's on the road to Damascus. In the Gospel of John, Mary alone finds Jesus at the empty tomb, and he tells her "touch me not" because he has not yet ascended to his father. Later, he appears to the disciples. He moves through a closed door and has "doubting Thomas" touch his wounds to demonstrate that he is flesh and bones. In a later appearance, Jesus assigns Peter the role of tending to Jesus' sheep, that is, leading Jesus' followers. The traditional ending of Mark summarizes resurrection appearances from Matthew and Luke.
|Events in the|
|Life of Jesus|
according to the Gospels
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In Luke 24:13-32 Cleopas and his companion relate how Jesus was made known to them "in the breaking of bread". B. P. Robinson argues that this means the recognition occurred in the course of the meal, but Raymond Blacketer notes that "Many, perhaps even most, commentators, ancient and modern and in-between, have seen the revelation of Jesus' identity in the breaking of bread as having some kind of eucharistic referent or implication."
The so-called "longer ending of Mark" contains three appearances:
The ending of Mark varies substantially between ancient manuscripts, and scholars are in near universal agreement that the final portion of the traditional ending, in which all Mark's resurrection appearances occur, is a later addition not present in the original version of Mark's gospel. Most scholars view the lack of a resurrection appearance as having theological significance. Richard Burridge compares the ending of Mark to its beginning:
|“||Mark's narrative as we have it now ends as abruptly as it began. There was no introduction or background to Jesus' arrival, and none for his departure. No one knew where he came from; no one knows where he has gone; and not many understood him when he was here.||”|
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|Death and Resurrection of Jesus|
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The antiquity of the creed has been established by many biblical scholars as dating to less than a decade after Jesus' death, originating from the Jerusalem apostolic community. Concerning this creed, Campenhausen wrote, "This account meets all the demands of historical reliability that could possibly be made of such a text," whilst A. M. Hunter said, "The passage therefore preserves uniquely early and verifiable testimony. It meets every reasonable demand of historical reliability." Robert M. Price and Hermann Detering asserted that 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 was not an early Christian creed but a post-Pauline interpretation. However, according to Geza Vermes in The Resurrection (2008) these verses are not interpolated but were written by Paul in the early 50s AD. Vermes says that the words of Paul are "a tradition he has inherited from his seniors in the faith concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus". According Paul's Epistle to the Galatians he had previously met two of the people mentioned in these verses as witnesses of the resurrection: James the Just and Cephas/Peter:
Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord's brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. —Apostle Paul[Gal 1:18-20]
John of Patmos experienced a vision of the resurrected Christ described in . According to , the Son of Man whom John sees is the one writing the letters to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3. In , meanwhile, he calls himself "the First and the Last, who died and came to life again."
While Mark doesn't mention when the incident occurred, Matthew states that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and "the other" Mary while they were returning to tell the disciples what they had seen. John, on the other hand, presents a completely different incident. John's account parallels the synoptic Gospels' accounts of Mary's first visit to the tomb, though in John, Mary has already been to the tomb once, and Peter has already inspected it. Unlike the first visit, the second visit, reported in John, is much more similar to the synoptic Gospels' account of the empty tomb, with Mary peering into the tomb and witnessing two angels inside dressed in shining white. Having been questioned by the angels about her concern for the tomb's emptiness, Mary turns and sees Jesus, according to John.
Why John describes Mary as remaining outside the tomb is unknown, though Augustine of Hippo proposed that "when the men went away, a stronger affection kept the weaker sex firmly in place". F.F. Bruce suggested that Mary was hoping someone would pass by who could give her some information. It is wondered why Mary does not seek out Joseph of Arimathea, the owner of the tomb, for information. One theory is that Joseph was so senior to Mary in terms of social class that it would not be right for her to approach him directly. A more obvious solution is presented by Schnackenberg—the Codex Sinaiticus version of John has Mary waiting inside rather than outside, and this may be the original form—though that does not explain why she was waiting at all.
John depicts Mary as weeping, ultimately causing her name to be associated with Maudlin (a corruption of Magdalen, "typifying tearful repentance"). Both the angels address Mary as woman, and then ask why she had been crying. This is not as uncouth as it may first appear since the underlying Greek term—gynai—was the polite way to address an adult female. While the synoptic Gospels demonstrate an awareness of Jewish beliefs, and people at the tomb are presented as being shocked and afraid of angels, John demonstrates no such awareness. Instead, he presents Mary as responding straightforwardly. While some believe that this is due to Mary's not recognising the figures as angels, due to grief or tears, some scholars attribute it to issues surrounding the author of John. The conversation itself differs considerably from the one reported by the synoptics, and the angels are brief and do not give any hint of resurrection having happened. Calvin attempted to justify this by arguing that John was only including what was necessary to back up the resurrection. At this point the angels abruptly disappear from the narrative, and John and the synoptics begin to share the order of events again.
Mark mentions Mary's post-tomb encounter with Jesus but gives no details, though he does remark that Jesus had cast seven devils out from her, presumably indicating an exorcism. Matthew instead reports that Jesus met Mary and Mary as they were returning to the other disciples; that they fell at his feet and worshiped him; and that he instructed them to tell the disciples that they would see him in Galilee.
John presents a far more elaborate conversation. According to John, once Mary has explained to the angels about her concern at the emptiness of the tomb, she turns and suddenly sees Jesus, but mistakes him for a gardener. In John's account of the conversation, Jesus repeats the angels' question of why Mary is weeping, and Mary responds similarly, by requesting to know what Jesus (whom she does not yet recognize) has done with Jesus' body. After this response, John states that Jesus says Mary's name. She turns, realises who he is and cries out, "Rabboni!" (which means "Teacher"). Jesus enigmatically tells her to Touch [him] not, for [he is] not yet ascended to [his] father (see Noli me tangere). He then instructs her to inform the disciples. To resolve the differences between the Gospels, some inerrantist commentators like Norman Geisler believe that after the events recounted by John, Mary runs into another group of women, whereupon the events of the synoptic accounts occur, though there is no evidence for such a conclusion from John's Gospel.
Matthew 28:1 reports that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. After the Resurrection, Jesus met them. After he greeted them, "they came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.'" as instructing Mary to arrange for the disciples to meet him.[Mt. 28:9-10] Matthew also reports that while Mary and Mary were returning to the disciples, the watchmen of the city informed the chief priests of "the things that were done", and the Sanhedrin gave money to the soldiers to spread the message that Jesus' corpse had been stolen by his disciples. Matthew mentions that this had become a common claim of the Jews.[Mt. 28:11:15]
Mark only states that Jesus met Mary.[Mk 16:10]
Luke 24:9-11 says that "When (the women) came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense".
John's gospel gives a rather complete report of Jesus' post-Resurrection appearance to Mary.
…she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, "Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out, "Rabboni!" (which means "Teacher"). Jesus said, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her. —John 20:14-18
What is meant by Jesus telling Mary (in older Bible translations) to Touch [him] not, for [he is] not yet ascended to [his] father,[Jn 20:17] has been the subject of debate. The Latin phrase, Noli me tangere ("Touch me not"), became well known as a reference to these words found in translations of the Gospel of John, words that appear to be at odds with Jesus' invitation, later in the same chapter of John, to Thomas Didymus to touch his hands and side[Jn 20:27] and to the account in Matthew 28:1-9 of Mary Magdalene "and the other Mary" taking hold of his feet.
There are a wide variety of proposed solutions, perhaps the most facile being suggestions of textual corruption, with some saying that the word not was not originally there, while W.E.P Cotter proposed that the text originally said fear rather than touch (i.e., do not fear me), and W.D. Morris has proposed it originally said fear to touch (i.e., do not fear to touch me).
There is, however, no manuscript evidence for these suggestions, and so most scholars concentrate on non-textual arguments. Kraft proposes that it was against ritual to touch a corpse, and Jesus wished to enforce this, regarding himself as dead, while C. Spicq proposes that Jesus saw himself as a (Jewish) high priest, who was not meant to be sullied by physical contact, and others still have proposed that Mary is being ordered to have faith and not seek physical proof.
These non-textual solutions neglect the fact that John later describes Jesus as encouraging doubting Thomas Didymus to touch Jesus' wounds,[Jn. 20:27-28] apparently contradicting the prior arguments. Consequently, other proposals hinge on portraying Jesus as upholding some form of propriety, with Chrysostom and Theophylact arguing that Jesus was asking that more respect be shown to him. The notion of "propriety" held by some is linked to the idea that, while it was inappropriate for a woman to touch Jesus, it was fine for a man like Thomas. Kastner has argued that Jesus was naked, since the grave clothes were left in the tomb, and so that John portrays Jesus as being concerned with Mary being tempted by his body.
H.C.G. Moule suggested that Jesus is merely reassuring Mary that he is firmly on Earth and she need carry out no investigation, and others have suggested that Jesus is merely concerned with staying on-topic, essentially instructing Mary "don't waste time touching me, go and tell the disciples". Barrett has suggested that as Jesus prohibits Mary by arguing that he "has not ascended to [his] father", he could have ascended to heaven before meeting Thomas (and after meeting Mary), returning for the meeting with Thomas, though this view implies that the meeting with Thomas is some form of second visit to Earth, hence raising several theological issues, including that of a second coming, and is consequently unfavourably viewed by most Christians. John Calvin argued that Mary Magdalene (and the other Mary) had started to cling to Jesus, as if trying to hold him down on Earth, and so Jesus told her to give up. Some say Jesus was willing to provide Thomas with sufficient evidence to overcome his unbelief, whereas this was not a problem for Mary. In the case of Mary, she had evidently loved Jesus deeply, not surprising in view of her deliverance,[Mk 16:9] and was reluctant for Jesus to leave her now that he had returned. This shows Jesus' ability to penetrate beneath the surface and understand each individual's deepest motivations.
The phrase formed one of the main arguments in the early debate on Christology, seemingly suggesting some form of intangibility—a view shared in the modern era by Bultmann—and hence appearing to advocate docetism (a view where Jesus' body is not resurrected as a physical object—do not touch me because you can't). This is quite at odds with John's general emphasis elsewhere against docetism, and so those who regard John as being deliberately polemic tend instead to see this verse as an attack on Mary. It also is at odds with Jesus' invitation to Apostle Thomas to "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
Why John portrays Mary as initially not recognising Jesus, even though she had known him well for a long time, is something of much debate. One theory is that, since Luke records two disciples as failing to recognise a post-death appearance of Jesus, the physical form of Jesus after resurrection must have been different, either due to the resurrection process itself, or due to the ordeal of crucifixion. More down-to-earth explanations have also been advanced, the most prominent being that Mary's tears had clouded her vision, or alternately that she is so focused on recovering Jesus' body that she is temporarily blind to its being in front of her. However, John Calvin and many other Christians[who?] read this as a metaphor: that Mary's blindness despite seeing Jesus represents the blindness, according to Christians, of non-Christians who have already been informed about Jesus. Why Jesus initially encourages Mary's lack of recognition is also something of a mystery, though Dibelius sees it as a literary conceit, since the trope of a returning hero being unrecognised or disguised dates back at least as far as Homer's Odyssey, and André Feuillet sees echoes of the Song of Solomon in this passage.
Gnostics frequently viewed Mary Magdalene as being greater than the other disciples, and much closer to Jesus on both a spiritual and personal level, and hence Jesus treating Mary with disdain would question the respect and emphasis that gnosticism placed on her, much in the same way that Thomas Didymus is presented as doubting Jesus is physically there until he actually confirms it, while Gnostics viewed Thomas as a great teacher who had many revelations, and advocated docetism.
John describes the crucifixion as taking place in a garden in which the tomb used for Christ's burial also is located. The two angels which Mary Magdalene later sees in this tomb are described as sitting on stone bench on which Christ's body had lain in terms reminiscent of the Cherubim on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. Thus, through Christ's resurrection his burial place as the place of ultimate defilement has been transformed into the very Holy of Holies: the burial bench with the Mercy Seat; his body with the Shekinah, the visible form of the Divine Presence. In this light, Christ's words to Mary Magdalene could indeed represent the fact that as the heavenly high priest he is not to be touched until he has entered the heavenly Holy of Holies to appear before "my God and your God" (i.e., indicative of the human relation to God he shares with Mary Magdalene and his disciples) and "my Father and your Father" (i.e., indicative of the his divine relation to God which he shares with Mary Magdalene and his disciples as the first-born of an new humanity). Like the Jewish high priest on the Day of Atonement and the angels in resurrection narratives he would not have been naked, but clothed in a radiant white garment, the same garment of white light in which he appeared at his Transfiguration.
That three of the Gospels portray Mary Magdalene as the first to see Jesus post-death, is generally considered to be of significance. Mary Magdalene was a major figure in Gnosticism, and one of the main teachers besides Jesus, the only other of similar significance being Thomas Didymus. Supporters of Gnostic priority (that Gnosticism is the original form of Christianity) see this as clear evidence that Mark, and hence, due to Markan priority, the entire resurrection narrative, was intended to be interpreted gnostically. Though owing to intrinsic beliefs about the nature of the physical world, Gnosticism generally viewed women as equals, in Judaism of the era women were not considered valid legal witnesses. Westcott, and other supporters of John's authenticity, sometimes use this to argue that the narratives must be factual, since someone faking it would be more likely to use a prominent and respected witness.
Critics have suggested that Jesus may have existed and the events chronicled in the Bible may have happened but were misinterpreted by his followers. James A. Keller questions the reliability of the resurrection appearances, claiming: "All we have is other people's accounts of what the eyewitnesses purportedly saw, and these accounts are typically sketchy and were written many years later. Thus, the historian who wants to understand what the resurrection event was must use later, sketchy, second-hand accounts of what the eyewitnesses saw, and from these accounts he must try to determine what the resurrection event was."
In the Gospel of Peter, the watching soldiers see Jesus emerge from the grave, supported by two men, followed by the Cross, which speaks on his behalf:
"And while they were relating what they had seen, they saw again three men come out from the sepulchre, and two of them sustaining the other, and a cross following them, and the heads of the two reaching to heaven, but that of him whom they led by the hand overpassing the heavens. And they heard a voice out of the heavens crying, 'Have you preached to those who had fallen asleep?, and from the cross there was heard the answer: 'Yes.'"
In the theology of the Latter Day Saint movement, Jesus appeared to the inhabitants of the Americas following his resurrection in Jerusalem, as recounted in the Book of Mormon (starting in 3 Nephi 11). This is believed by its adherents to be a fulfillment of Christ's mentioning "other sheep" in the Gospel of John.