Chapter 12.  Jesus rising.

The great miracle of the New Testament can be seen as a combination of the Death and
Resurrection of Jesus. If one is able to believe this, then all other miracles of the Gospels and
Acts are easily believed.… The resurrection, more than any other miracle of the New
Testament, is the foundation on which . . . Christian faith and hope rest.
Dr. C. Matthew

Christ’s resurrection is the central event of Christianity, a fundamental truth that must be
reaffirmed with vigor at all times, as to deny it in different ways, as has been attempted and
continues to be attempted, or to transform it into a merely spiritual event is to make our faith
vain. If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
Pope Benedict XVI

The Jesus coming-back-from-the-dead story is probably the most important miracle
myth for Christians. You might think they would have their story straight, especially
since they had years to rehearse it before writing the Bible. But if you think so, you are
wrong. Take this multiple choice test about the Jesus rising story:

1. What time of day was an empty tomb found?
A.         While it was still dark (John 20:1)
B.         Very early in the morning (Luke 24:1)
C.         At dawn (Matthew 28:1)
D.         After sunrise (Mark 16:2)
E.         All of the above

2. Who first went to Jesus’ tomb?
A.         Mary Magdalene (John 20:1)
B.         Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (Matthew 28:1)
C.         Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome (Mark 16:1)
D.         Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna and the others
       with them (Luke 24:10)
E.         All of the above

3. Did the woman or women meet anyone at the tomb?
A.         Yes, a young man dressed in white was already sitting in the tomb
       (Mark 16:5)
B.         Yes, two men in clothes that gleamed like lightening were not there
        initially but quickly appeared (Luke 24:4)
C.         Yes, an angel who rolled away a stone from the tomb entrance and some
       guards who were standing there (Matthew 28:2-4)
D.         Not at first, but later that day two angels appeared inside the tomb and
       talked to Mary Magdalene (John 20:12)
E.         All of the above

4. To whom did Jesus speak first?
A.         Two disciples (Luke 24:13)
B.         Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (Matthew 28:9)
C.         To Mary Magdalene alone (Mark 16:9)
D.         In the presence of two angels, to Mary Magdalene, who first thought
      Jesus was a gardener (John 20:14-15)
E.         All of the above

5. How long did Jesus hang around before heading up to heaven?
A.         Only one day (Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51)
B.         An unspecified period of time, but at least long enough for his disciples to
      get to Galilee (probably several days walk)(Matthew 28:16)
C.         More than a week (John 20:26, 21:1-25)
D.         Forty days (Acts 1:3)
E.         All of the above

My guess is that you answered “all of the above” to each. That means either you are a
cynic, a Bible scholar, or you figured the citations next to each answer means that I
read the Bible passages and reported the answers accurately. The correct answer is
“all of the above.”

It is difficult to believe that almost one-third of Americans think the Bible is the inerrant
word of god when the story tellers cannot even keep their most important story
straight. If the “testimony” of the Bible were presented in court, the case would be
dismissed for lack of reliable evidence. Religion requires faith because it lacks facts.
The great mystery is why so many people let these poorly constructed ancient myths
dictate their modern behavior.
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