ges 8, 16: autumn 1992 OUR OWN EFFORT A thousand dollars Is certainly nothing to sneeze at

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ges 8, 16: autumn 1992 OUR OWN EFFORT A thousand dollars Is certainly nothing to sneeze at, so we decided to try for Ralph Nielsen's $1,000 offered in the summer issue. In taking the information from the opening verses of each account of the resurrection, we hit a snag when we tried to fuse it all into one consistent statement. Our effort came out like this: When the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, Salome, and the other women bought spices to anoint the body. Late on the sabbath day, at early dawn, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, they came to see the sepulchre when the sun was risen, very early on the first day of the week, while it was yet dark. That was obviously no good, because glaring contradictions were already present. The statement about the purchase of spices was taken from Mark's version, but Luke (23:54-56) says that the spices were obtained before the Sabbath. More serious than this, however, were the notable time discrepan- cies that say the women went to the tomb when the sun was risen but while it was yet dark. So we tried again: When the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, Salome, and the other women bought spices to anoint the body. Late one the sabbath day while it was yet dark, they came to see the sepulchre at early dawn, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, very early on the first day of the week, when the sun was risen. The theory behind this second attempt was to test the merits of the inerran- tist claim that John meant for his readers to understand that the trip to the tomb began while it was yet dark (see EFFORT, p. 16), whereas the ref- erences of the other writers to early dawn and the risen sun were alluding to the arrival time at the tomb. It's a good theory, but it completely ignores the fact that John said, "While it was yet dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb" (20:1, NRSV). "While it was yet dark" is an adverbial expression of time that obviously modifies the verb came; thus, Mary came to the tomb while it was yet dark, according to John. Likewise, expressions like "very early on the first day of the week," "late on the sabbath day," "at early dawn," "as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week," and "when the sun was risen" are also adverbial phrases or clauses that modify the verb come in the passages that they are used in. There is just no other verb in any of the accounts for them to modify. For this reason, any effort to fuse all of the expressions into one consistent statement is doomed to fail. "When the sabbath was past" is an adverbial clause in Mark 16:1 that modifies the verb bought. In other words, the women bought spices "when the sabbath was past," yet came to the tomb "while it was yet dark." How could both statements be true? And how could the women have bought the spices "when the sabbath was past" yet had obtained the spices before the sabbath (Luke 23:54-56)? With no plausible way to solve this problem, we looked ahead and saw another inconsistency waiting in the wings. According to Matthew, when the women arrived, an "angel of the Lord" descended during an earthquake and rolled the stone away from the sepulcher (28:2), but the other three writers all said that the stone was already rolled away when the women came to the tomb (Mk. 16:4; Lk. 2: Jn. 20:1). At this point, we gave up and decided that Mr. Nielsen's money is safe. 1 ******************************** FREE SUBSCRIPTION: A free one-year subscription to The Skeptical Review can be obtained by writing to P. O. Box 617, Canton, IL 61520-0617. 2

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