People are sometimes confused by the differences in the Gospels’ infancy narratives and their resurrection narratives. Sometimes it is claimed that they contradict each other.

I’ve already written about how the infancy narratives fit together. You can read that here.

Now I’d like to show how the Gospels’ resurrection narratives fit together, not only with each other but also with information about this period from Acts and 1 Corinthians.

When I first began studying this issue, I was startled by how easily the resurrection narratives fit together.

To see how this happens, one needs to bear in mind a few aspects of the way the Evangelists wrote, because the ancient Greek genre of a bios (“life”) worked differently than a modern biography.

In particular, it is important to note that the Evangelists had the freedom to:

  1. Choose which details they will record or omit
  2. Choose the order in which to present events
  3. Present things Jesus said on different occasions in a single, particular location in their work
  4. Reconstruct scenes to make implications clear

In what follows, we will use the material from the Gospels after Jesus has been buried. We will also deal with material from the beginning of Acts and from 1 Corinthians 15.

One passage of special note is the longer endings of Mark. The original narrative of Mark cuts off at Mark 16:8. Whether Mark stopped writing at this point or whether he composed an ending which has been lost is debated by scholars.

However, it is generally agreed that the material which follows (Mark 16:9-20) was composed afterwards—either by Mark or by another author. We will refer to it as the longer ending of Mark. Even if it was not produced by Mark’s hand, it represents traditions about Jesus that were of very early date and in circulation in the first century Christian community.


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