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26. THE STORY OF JESUS RESURRECTION.
As to the occurrences after Jesus resurrection, especially as to what transpired at the empty grave, the Fourth Evangelist tells us so much that is not found in the other Gospels that it might easily be supposed we have here the words of an eye-witness. The more so because amongst these statements we find also one to the effect that the disciple whom Jesus loved—and whom to all appearance we might sup pose to be the author of the Gospel—hastened with Peter to the tomb. But if that were so, the story of Mk. (xvi. 1-8) and of Mt. (xxviii. 1-8) would be quite inconceivable.
Their chief variation from Jn.—though in this feature Lk. agrees with him—is found, that is to say, in the statement that the women who find the tomb of Jesus empty are commissioned by an angel to bid the disciples go to Galilee, for there they would see their risen Lord. According to Mt. the latter event afterwards happened, and it must have been narrated by Mk. as well; but the original 131conclusion to his Gospel has been lost, and a much later supplement (xvi. 9-20) substituted for it. In Lk. and Jn., on the other hand, all the appearances of the risen Lord take place in or near Jerusalem. And this too seems really to be the only natural course. All the Gospels agree that Jerusalem was the place in which Jesus rose, and that the disciples were still staying there on Easter morning. Why, then, should the disciples be advised to go to Galilee in order that they might see Jesus?
But for this very reason Mk. and Mt. could never have been led to tell us of this advice to the disciples to go to Galilee, if they had ever heard that Jesus appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem. In no case, therefore, can this account in Lk. and Jn. be the original one; for, if it had been, Mk. and Mt. would unquestionably have heard and accepted it. On the contrary, they must have known of only one account, to wit, that the appearances of the risen Lord had taken place in Galilee.
Even in their case, however, it is remarkable enough that an angel should have to commission the women at the tomb to bid the disciples go to Galilee; and, as a matter of fact, judged by all that we may suppose to have happened, this story is not plausible. Only, the truth is not to be looked for in Lk. and Jn., but in quite a different quarter. In Mk. (xiv. 50) and Mt., that is to say, we read that when Jesus was arrested all the disciples forsook him and fled. Whither? Hardly to Jerusalem; for there what happened to Peter might only too easily happen to them: they might be identified as followers of Jesus. Mk. (xiv. 27 f.) and Mt., however, give us a further clue. When, shortly before his arrest, Jesus prophesied to the disciples that they would all forsake him, he added, “Howbeit, after I am raised up, I will go before you into Galilee.” The idea that he would 132reach Galilee before them agrees with the account of the angel’s advice to the women; but it is really too obvious to see in this statement merely a veiled indication that the disciples made their escape to their native place, Galilee, and that Jesus appeared to them there, simply because they took up their abode there from the day of his resurrection or a little later (the distance is two or three days journey). Peter, too, after his denial of Jesus, would certainly have followed the rest.
The mistake in Mk. and Mt., therefore, is not that they assume the appearances of the risen Lord to have taken place in Galilee, but that they suppose the disciples to have been still in Jerusalem on Easter morning. But it was this very mistake that must have suggested to Lk. and Jn. the necessity of making a change. If the disciples were still in Jerusalem after Jesus resurrection, these two Evangelists could not but suppose that here also Jesus must have appeared to them. But what to their mind, of course, was the correction of an error, in reality simply added to the -first mistake a second which was much greater.
If, however, in view of this, Jn. does not by any means give us the truth on the main point, it is clear that in the details also we cannot expect to find it. For instance, in the story of Thomas, which is so beautiful in itself, but of which the Synoptics know nothing, and the scene of which, moreover, is likewise Jerusalem. In the case of the story of Mary Magdalene, attractive and affecting though it is to persons of delicate feeling, we can detect from a particular expression that it is not original, but a reconstruction of a story told in the Synoptics. In Jn. Mary Magdalene came to the sepulchre alone, and yet she says (xx. 2), “we know not where they have laid him.” The plural here is only appropriate if there were several women, as in the Synoptics. 133In xx. 13, the mistake is avoided; Mary Magdalene says here: “I know not where they have laid him.”
And, lastly, the race of Peter and the beloved disciple to the sepulchre! This cannot have happened if the disciples were no longer in Jerusalem. But even if they were still there, we must still insist that the Synoptists never had any knowledge of this race; for, had they had any, who could believe that they would have been silent about it? Moreover, we can see here quite clearly step by step how the statements of the Evangelists developed. Although Mk. and Mt. presuppose that the disciples were still present in Jerusalem, they are quite unaware that any of them has visited the sepulchre (and this will be an echo of the truth that they were no longer in Jerusalem). Lk. already knows something about it, but only in the quite indefinite form (xxiv. 24): “and certain of them that were with us went to the tomb, and found it even so as the women had said, but him they saw not.”66Lk. xxiv. 12, according to which Peter ran to the tomb, saw the linen cloths lying, and departed to his home, wondering, certainly did not originally find a place in the Third Gospel but was only added to it subsequently as an abstract from the Fourth. Only, in Lk. the beloved disciple was ignored, because he was not known at all to the readers of the Third Gospel. Jn. already knows the names of the disciples and all the details of their visit to the grave.
And how are these details told? The beloved disciple ran faster than Peter, came first to the grave, and saw the linen cloths lying in it, but did not go in. Peter went in and saw, in addition to the linen cloths, the napkin as well. Afterwards the beloved disciple went in too, saw and believed, that is to say, gained the faith that Jesus had risen. Thus, alternately the one gets an advantage over the other; 134but, first and last, the beloved disciple appears as the greater.
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