He Is Risen Indeed
Textual analysis of the gospels and an understanding of the first-century world point to the reality of Jesus' resurrection.
BY: Ben Witherington
It is not believable that early Christians made up stories about women, and particularly Mary Magdalene, as the first and foremost validating witnesses of the risen Lord. This is not credible especially because the writers of these Gospels, like other early Christians, were hoping for more converts. "These things are written in order that you might believe," says the Fourth Evangelist at the end of John 20. A more serious reckoning with these narratives, especially John 20, but also Mark 16, Matthew 28, and to a lesser degree Luke 24, is necessary if we really want to get at the heart of the earliest forms of the stories about that first Easter, and get to the bottom of what happened on that first Easter Sunday morning. I submit that these stories cannot be ignored. It is not convincing to appeal to Mark 16:8 as the proposed ending for such stories, as that is an argument from silence not substance. In fact, even if we stop at Mark 16:8, the empty tomb and resurrection are clearly proclaimed (cf. 16:7), and the "going before you into Galilee" motif suggests appearances not only in Jerusalem but also in Galilee. Thus a consistent witness to Jesus' resurrection runs throughout our sources, and this provides prima facie evidence that Jesus' resurrection and appearances provide the key historical middle terms between the life and death of Jesus and the birth of the early church.