This morning in my Gospels class we looked at the resurrection of Jesus. One task we did was to look at what each Gospel says about the timing, the locations, the people involved, and the focus of each episode. After doing this with individual Gospels, we combined these points onto a table on the board, with red representing Matthew, black representing Mark, green representing Luke, and blue representing John…
(click to enlarge…)
We then talked about issues of harmonisation and tension. Key commonalities that we noted were the presence of Mary Magdalene at the tomb, around dawn, and the message that Jesus would appear to his disciples. Slight differences involved the precise timing of that visit to the tomb, the presence of angel/s at the tomb, and the mentions of Galilee vs. Jerusalem. Bigger differences related to the specific comings and goings on the first day of the week, with varying accounts of appearances and reports. We then looked briefly at ways people have attempted to harmonise the data.
My advice was neither to jump to the conclusion that it cannot harmonise, nor to jump to an immediate enforced harmonisation, but rather to feel the weight of the tensions, and yet remain open to trying out different configurations of the puzzle pieces.