An Earnest Observation

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Jimmy_Jam, Oct 11, 2012.

  1. Jimmy_Jam
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    Jimmy_Jam Senior Member

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    I am not a Christian. I used to be, and there are many factors that played a hand in my departure from that faith, but those times are gone.

    I have read the Bible a good deal, and continue to do so on occasion, sometimes in an effort to see if there is anything of inspiration, and sometimes to reference what somebody might say, such as in a forum like this.

    I want to offer for consideration an observation that has bothered me for some time. In my research, there seems to be a general consensus that of the four gospels, Mark is considered to be the oldest and freest of influence from the other three. I don't know if this is true beyond a shadow of a doubt, simply what appears to be a consensus of many theological sources as well as what is supported by textual criticism.

    I have read all four accounts of the resurrection passages, and there has been, for some time, something that bothers me immensely about a stark contrast in details between Mark and the other gospels.

    Let's start with the discovery of the open tomb. In Mark, Mary Magdalene finds the tomb open, Jesus not there, and a man, not an angel, but a man dressed in white, telling her that Jesus is risen. In Luke, it is two men, in robes gleaming like lightning delivering essentially the same message. In John, Mary observes an open, empty tomb, fetches two disciples who come and see the empty tomb and then depart, and after that Mary sees two angels, then talks to Jesus, although it is unclear if he appeared to her or if he was simply speaking to her. The account with the most fireworks is Matthew, in which there is an earthquake, the two Mary's see an angel who looks like lightning remove the stone (presumably Jesus must have walked through the stone when he was resurrected?)

    I can forgive some discrepancies in narrative, but that is a pretty big gap in accounts. Now, if Mark is indeed the oldest of the gospels as I am to understand, something very peculiar would seem to be going on. We start with a fairly mundane depiction of a man sitting in Jesus' tomb telling Mary that he is risen, which then becomes increasingly more dramatic and supernatural in the other gospels.

    Now on to Jesus' appearance to Mary and the disciples. In Mark, he appears to two of the disciples, and then later to all of them, in a different form, to the point that they do not recognize him. Presumably, he changed appearance and looked like a completely different person, OR, it wasn't Jesus at all but somebody claiming to be Jesus. It doesn't say that he looked different and had lighting shooing from his fingertips or anything, simply that he was in a different form and they did not recognize him. Then this person gets very angry with them for not believing that it is him, and at that point they believe. In Luke, the narrative of failing to recognize him remains, but is a bit more detailed and at some point the gathered disciples thought he was a ghost. Disbelief continues in the John narrative, although it is a more stubborn disbelief, no talk of being in a different form, just that they won't believe unless they can see the nail marks. In Matthew, there is little about disbelief, and the narrative ends rather tersely.

    There are some pretty big discrepancies here. When I read the resurrection passages of Mark, I am dumbfounded by how glaringly suspect the story is. I came to this independently, and then researched a bit to find that there are others who have made the same observation. It sticks out like a sore thumb. If I accept that Mark is the oldest of the gospels, this begs the question: did the others take the Mark narrative and embellish it? It seems likely enough, as a man in a white robe become an angel or even two, gleaming like lightning. Further, the Mark narrative makes the disciples' disbelief understandable, since here is a man saying he is Jesus who doesn't look anything like him, then in the other narratives makes their disbelief ore stubborn, and instead of admonishing them he shows them nail marks. In other words, the somewhat mundane narrative of Mark becomes more extraordinary and supernatural in the others.

    I am voicing my disbelief and being very upfront about it, and not trying to trick any Christians into anything. So there are not attempts at deception involved. I am being about as honest as I can possibly be about what I see as a rather glaring issue with the narrative of the resurrection. Since the resurrection is such an integral part of Christian belief, it seems hard for me to believe that other Christians haven't read the passages and at least questioned this to some extent.

    I am opening the subject up for debate, and fully expect some lashing for it.
     
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  2. Caroljo
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    Caroljo Gold Member

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    I think i understand what you're saying.
    I'm a Christian and i've read all of the gospels and i have also noticed the differences. I know they were written at different times, and it is confusing as to why they are so different. People don't always see things the same way, but when some say "one" person, or angel, and another says "two" people...you wonder why? I have no doubt of the truth of the Bible, but sometimes it's so hard to understand. I've always wanted to go somewhere to really learn...but who do you trust to teach the truth?

    I try to just do what i believe is right by God. You know, the good things he would preach, and we all know what is good. As for all the rest, i guess i probably won't know the truth until i'm in heaven too. I try to follow the 10 commandments, and live by what Jesus preached. But other than that, i'm just waiting to find out the truth of all of it.
     
  3. Jimmy_Jam
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    Jimmy_Jam Senior Member

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    Yours is probably one of the nicer responses I'm likely to get. I do my best to look at things on their own terms. In other words, while I know that I am likely to be lambasted by most Christians, I try not to judge the belief itself on how its followers behave.

    Christianity is an important part of the last 2000 years, and I cannot reasonably overlook that even if I don't hold the faith. It has been and continues to be an important basis for people's morality, so it stands to reason that there will be valid moral messages contained in scripture, and I am pretty good about acknowledging it when I see it.

    I appreciate the response.
     
  4. Caroljo
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    Caroljo Gold Member

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    I have a hard time with ANYONE that says they know exactly what the Bible is telling us. Sure, they could be close to the truth, but i'm always a skeptic... :)
    There are areas that i really struggle with.

    For example, i don't believe that gays should be "married". I guess i get that from the bible telling us it's an abomination to God. But....even in the Bible it's not a QUOTE from God. It's just man telling us that. However, i have a problem with them getting married. I'm ok with civil unions, and if they want the same benefits as a married couple. God DID say a "marriage" is between a man and a woman.

    I don't believe in abortion. I can understand when a young girl gets pregnant through rape, and especially if it's a family member, that they want to do this. But i still think as long as she's health and the child is healthy, it should just be put up for adoption. Of course if someone is raped now, they have the option of the Day After pill (or whatever it's called!) and can end it before it's even an issue.

    I'll never say i know i'm right about ANYTHING when it comes to God or the Bible... :)
     
  5. spectrumc01
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    spectrumc01 I give you....the TRUTH

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    When you mention Gay marraige and abortion and your stance against it I have to wonder... If God gave everyone free will to sin or not why does man try so hard to remove free choice?
     
  6. Caroljo
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    Caroljo Gold Member

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    I can only support what i believe. You're right, God gives us that choice. My choice and belief is that gays should not be "married", and i think if at all possible a baby should be born and put up for adoption. People are still going to do what they want, or legally can do....and i can't stop them. But if it came up for a vote, i could not morally vote for something that i think is wrong. What you do is your choice...and it's between you and God.
     

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