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women discover an empty tombMushtaq provides us with an Easter challenge.

Few examples of Conflicting Gospels can convert a Christian Missionary into an Atheist (provided Missionary has mental power to understand meaning of these contradictions).

I HAVE AN EASTER CHALLENGE for Christians. My challenge is simply this: tell me what happened on Easter. I am not asking for proof. My straightforward request is merely that Christians tell me exactly what happened on the day that their most important doctrine was born.
Believers should eagerly take up this challenge, since without the resurrection, there is no Christianity. Paul wrote, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.” (I Corinthians 15:14-15).

Any Christian missionary turned into an atheist by such a feeble challenge was already on his way. Let us begin with Matthew 28:1-15. In Acts 10:41 Peter makes it clear that not everyone saw Jesus, just selected witnesses, and this one mus bear in account when reading the so-called conflicting accounts.

There are four versions of the arrival of the women of the tomb: Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, and John 20:1. It might seem here that Mark contradicts himself – ‘very early’ is not what we would call ‘when the sun has risen’, but in Biblical times sunrise was the time when the first streaks of light appeared, not when the sun had fully risen. There is no contradiction in terms of time – all of them make it clear that the women came to the tomb around the time when the sun was making its first rays felt, and the dark was not yet dispersed – a natural time to go on such a potentially dangerous expedition, when, if there were soldiers, they could have retreated into the dark.

If John is thinking of Mary Magdalene starting from Bethany, then John is strictly accurate – she started whilst it was still dark, to get the tomb before the sun was fully up Matthew’s account suggests the same Bethany standpoint – the two Marys starting together. Mark, who writes ‘very early’, is known to be the expositor of St Peter, and here may be capturing Peter’s recollection of the Marys and Salome leaving John’s house; Luke’s account fits with Joanna and Susanna leaving from Herod’s palace. The first departures take place under the cover of dark, and they arrive just as light is beginning to appear above the horizon. Mary and Clopas set off from Bethany to go to John’s house, as anointing was women’s work, Clopas goes no further, but the two Marys joined by Salome and her ointments, go on together.

Anyone knowing the geography of the area would know that the quickest way to Joseph’s garden was through the Gennath Gate. By the time they got to the tomb it was light, and the things that had been worrying them, how to remove the stone was seen to be a worry no more – it had been rolled away.

Mary Magdalene at once jumped to the conclusion that the body had been taken away and dashed off to see Peter and John; the two older women stood there lost for words. But before Mary of Clopas and Salome could decide what to do, Joanna and Susanna join them, coming from the palace via the Ephraim gate. They had been in the tomb on Friday and had no indecision. Joanna led the way into the tomb. They stood against the wall on their left, as they arrived in order that their eyes should get used to the light. Then they saw what they saw.

Those who say there is a conflict between the synoptists need to read their Bibles with greater care. It is to the scene in the tomb we turn next.