Tag Archives: Matthew

Different Accounts Of Resurrection Appearances Of Jesus

Resurrected Jesus First Appears To Mary Magdalene

According to Mark 16:9 and John 20:16–18 the resurrected Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. And according to John 20:17 Jesus is supposed to have told Mary Magdalene “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father” The Greek verb that was translated in the King James Version as “touch me not” could also be translated as “stop touching me”. From this it could be understood that Mary Magdalene is hugging Jesus from the sheer joy of seeing him alive again.

Mary Magdalene Was Considered The Next Most Important Teacher Only To Jesus

The fact that three gospels state that it was Mary Magdalene that Jesus appeared to first, is considered to be significant for several reasons. While she was considered a principle figure in Gnosticism, she was also considered to be the next most important teacher only to Jesus.

Mary Magdalene is not the only one who fails to recognize the resurrected Jesus, according to Luke two other disciples also fail to recognize him immediately. Many reasons have been put forward to explain this. One is that her tear soaked eyes impaired her vision, two, that her preoccupation with finding the body of Jesus prevented her from recognizing something that was right there before her eyes and three, that the physical appearance of Jesus was different, either because of the “resurrection process itself, or due to the ordeal of crucifixion”.

According to some claims “Peter was the first to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection.” However others claim that it was “James, not Peter (and certainly not Mary Magdalene) was the “first witness of the resurrection.””

Some Scholars Reject the Resurrection Claim

Some scholars have questioned the very concept of the resurrection. They say that the resurrection stories were all written much later than the purported occurrences and based on narratives by people who reported what eyewitnesses were supposed to have seen. As a consequence the narratives are contradictory and sometimes puzzling (1).

Some Christian accounts claim that the risen Jesus was seen as an actual human being. According to Luke the disciples, astonished and terrified at the appearance of Jesus in their midst, thought that they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus reprimanded them “Handle me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see that I have.” However as the disciples continued to be baffled Jesus asked for something to eat and ate the piece of broiled fish that was offered to him. This prompted Peter to later exclaim: “[We] ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”

Jesus eating fish

The resurrected Jesus eating with the apostles

However some Christians rejected the literal interpretation. Christians who rejected the literal resurrection were labeled as heretics. These heretics interpreted the resurrection experiences as “encounters on a spiritual level.” They claimed that such spiritual encounters occurred “occur in dreams, in ecstatic trance, in visions, or in moments of spiritual illumination.”

Why did orthodox Christian literally interpret the resurrection of Jesus? Some scholars believe that the resurrection accounts not only had a religious connotation but also political undertones. Individuals who claimed to have seen the bodily resurrected Jesus had more authority “to exercise exclusive leadership over the church”. Probably it is for this reason that there are contradicting claims as to who the resurrected Jesus first appeared: Mary Magdalene or Peter? It is probably for the same reason that Paul also claimed to have seen the risen Jesus.

Others question the day of Jesus’ resurrection. They say that the claim that Jesus resurrected on Sunday is untenable. According to Talmudic tradition a spirit does not depart from a body until after the third day. This led to the practice of embalmment after three days. And this seems to be the reason why the resurrection is said to have occurred after the completion of three days. This was a precaution against claims that Jesus may have just been in a trance or that he had been resuscitated.

Therefore, first century Jews would not accept that an individual was truly dead unless three days had passed. As a consequence they had interpreted Jesus’ statement that “After three days I will rise again,” as a claim that he would resurrect after the completion of three days. This is the argument they put forth to Pilate when they asked him for permission to seal the tomb (Matt. 27:63). Jesus also told the Jews (John 2:19) that the sign he would show them is to “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”. John explains that by Temple Jesus was referring to his body.

Some scholars claim that “A Friday crucifixion and Sunday morning resurrection do not allow for three days and three nights in the tomb”.
Matthew 27:57 states “And evening having come, a rich man from Arimathea coming up to Pilate, requests the body of Yeshua”. Mark 15:42 says “Now evening occurring, since it was a preparation which is toward a sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea…came with daring to Pilate and requests the body of Yeshua”. Elsewhere in the bible the similar phrase “Now evening occurring” (Mark 15:42 and Matthew 27:57) has been interpreted as when the sunsets. To avoid upsetting the “Pharisees and leaders of the synagogue” who considered even the miracle of healing as work on a Sabbath, people waited till after sundown before they brought the sick to Jesus to be healed.

Jesus Resurrected On The Second Day

Another argument that Jesus’ body was interred only after sunset is that washing the body of Jesus and then wrapping it with 75 pounds of myrrh and aloe could only have been done elsewhere outside the tomb and would have taken some time. This suggests that Jesus could only have been entombed after sunset. Based on this some scholars argue that to maintain that Jesus resurrected on Sunday would mean a second day resurrection and not a third day (2). Mark does not report any resurrection appearances (16: 1-8). (3)

In Matthew (Mt 28: 2) he reports how an angel of the lord descended from heaven and rolled back the stone covering the tomb’s entrance.

Luke reports the appearance of two men in dazzling clothes in the tomb to the women (Lk 24:1-7). Luke (Lk 24: 13-35) also states that the resurrected Jesus first appears to Cleopas and a companion on the road to Emmaus. However the two do not recognize Jesus until the evening. In (Lk 24: 30-51) Jesus appears as a ghost and then disappears only to reappear and is then finally carried up to heaven. This he says happened the day after the disciples discover the empty tomb.

John (Jn 20:2-9) talks about the mysterious “other disciple” who Jesus loved accompanying Peter in search of Jesus at the empty tomb. According to the book of acts Jesus appears to his believers for forty days and is then lifted up to heaven (Acts 1: 3-10).

There are other instances in the Gospels to show that Jesus resurrected bodily. After his appearance to Mary Magdalene Jesus appeared to a group of women who were returning home from the empty tomb. The women “held him by the feet, and worshipped him” (Matthew 28:9). After this incident Jesus appeared to ten of the Apostles (Luke 24:36–42; John 20:19–23). Since the disciples thought that Jesus was just a spirit, Jesus told them “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

Proof That Jesus Resurrected Bodily

As further proof that Jesus resurrected bodily we can cite the example of the many ossuaries that were excavated near the Mount of Olives’ Dominus Flevit, Jerusalem. Inscriptions on some of these ossuaries state “Jesus, have mercy,” and “Jesus, remember me in the resurrection”. This shows that even from an early date, there were people in Jerusalem who believed in the physical resurrection of Jesus (4).

While the majority of the apostles were not witnesses to the resurrection, it was Paul who wanted to give Jesus the status of divinity, makes bodily resurrection the foundation of Christianity. Peter adds his bit to this concept. However as for most of the other apostles, they were told different resurrection stories at different times. At the other extreme are stories suggesting that the apostles hid in the tomb and robbed the body of Jesus. This seems a rather flippant theory considering that the apostles were so afraid for their own lives that they went into hiding.

Again as regards Jesus’ post resurrection appearances, there are quite a few claims, but the evangelists agree that it was Mary Magdalene to whom Jesus first appeared. However based on the counter claims it would appear that those jostling for the leadership of Jesus’ movement tried to downplay the significance of Mary Magdalene. It would appear that the then leaders of the nascent church claimed that Jesus appeared to them wanting to create the impression that Jesus revealed something special only to them and to lend credibility to what they taught. And probably Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene is more significant than the church acknowledges.

It’s settled then; Jesus most likely appeared to Mary Magdalene first. But did he appear in the flesh and blood or as a spirit?

That’s a debate that will probably have no conclusion. According to Mary Magdalene, she held the resurrected Jesus. Therefore this must have been a bodily appearance. On the other hand, according to Paul he appeared as a spirit. And then later when he appeared to the apostles, he is said to have walked through a wall. These appearances may have been as a spirit.


(1) Resurrection appearances of Jesus. (2012). Retrieved 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurrection_appearances_of_Jesus#The_appearance_to_Mary_Magdalene
(2) Derstine, Todd. (n.d.). Timing of the Savior’s Death and Resurrection. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.todd-derstine.com/americaspropheticdestiny/the-timing-of-the-saviors-death-and-resurrection/
(3) http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_did_Mark_not_include_post-resurrection_appearances
(4) Steve Keohane (n.d.). Documentary Claim – tomb of Jesus and the entire (postulated) Holy Family found in Jerusalem cave. Retrieved 2012, from http://www.bibleprobe.com/jesustomb.htm
Picture Credits:

(Fig 1) Jesus eating fish https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1024&bih=635&q=resurrected+jesus+with+the+apostles&oq=resurrected+jesus+with+the+apostles&gs_l=img.3…4120.15342.0.16419.….0…1ac.1.64.img..20.17.1126.wER1r15jBCM#hl=en&tbm=isch&q=resurrected+jesus+eating+with+the+apostles&imgrc=mLdoNnie_S10MM%3A


Mysterious Joseph Of Nazareth – Facts And Myths

The Family of Jesus is a simple nuclear family. We are told that Mary is his mother and that Joseph is his foster father. At first blush this seems straightforward.

But not if you look at the story of Joseph of Nazareth from the perspective of the Talpiot tomb.

In March 1980 construction workers uncovered part of a burial cave belonging to the Second Temple period in the south of the Old City of Jerusalem, in the vicinity of East Talpiot. Based on the names inscribed on the ossuaries (bone boxes) excavated from this tomb some scholars claim that this is the family tomb of Jesus.

Other scholars vehemently oppose this claim. One of the principal reasons they cite as to why the Talpiot tomb cannot be the Family Tomb of Jesus is that the ossuary of Joseph the foster father is not among those excavated from this tomb.

Could there be a reasonable explanation for this?

The seemingly straightforward Joseph of Nazareth is actually ambiguous.

Matthew And Luke Are The Principle Source Of Information About Joseph

The principle source of information about Joseph the patriarch of the family of Jesus is from the first chapter of the gospels of Matthew and Luke. They are also probably the only reliable source. However apocryphal literature abounds with information about Joseph. Yet the reason they have not found their way into the Canon of the Sacred Books could be because they are not considered to be reliable. Besides this, even though some of this literature is based on dependable traditions they are considered too fantastic for a place in the Sacred Books.

The apocryphal literature concerning the life of Joseph include the “Gospel of James”, the “Pseudo-Matthew”, the “Gospel of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary”, the “Story of Joseph the Carpenter” (Fig 1), and the “Life of the Virgin and Death of Joseph” (1). To make matters worse not all of this little information is consistent. There are differences in the accounts of Matthew and Luke.

Joseph the carpenter

Joseph Of Nazareth Is A Controversial Biblical Character

Joseph of Nazareth is probably one of the most controversial biblical characters. The controversy begins with his very genealogy. While Matthew refers to him as the son of Jacob (2), Luke refers to him as the son of Heli (3). Although these two claims are different they both attempt to trace the lineage of Joseph to David

There are quite a few explanations for the difference in the genealogies of Joseph as per Matthew and Luke:

Matthew was Jewish and wrote for a Jewish audience. Therefore if he is to present Jesus as the king of the Jews, his descent from David was paramount. This is why he begins verse one in 1:1-17 by describing Jesus as the “son of David, the son of Abraham.” In his statement Matthew gives more importance to Jesus’ kinship to David the king of Israel than to his descent from Abraham the father of Israel (4).

Tracing The Lineage Of Jesus Through Joseph

If the bloodline of Jesus is to fulfill the condition that he is the son of David and the son of Abraham (5), then his lineage must only be traced through the legal father of Joseph i.e. Jacob. Doing this was important from Matthew’s perspective because he was trying to project Jesus as the heir to the throne of David – the new “King of the Jews”. In an attempt to emphasize this Matthew refers to Jesus as the “son of David” seven times in his gospel (6). And it is only in his gospel does Jesus refer to the “The throne of his glory” (19:28, 25:31). By tracing the lineage of Jesus through Joseph the adopted father, Matthew was following Jewish tradition since it was the practice then for an adopted son to be given the lineage of the adopted father (7).

One explanation as to why Matthew refers to Joseph as the son of Jacob is that of Julius Africanus (Epistle to Aristides, c. 200-225). According to him a woman named Estha (the name according to tradition) was married to Matthan a descendant of Solomon (Mt 1). She bore a son named Jacob. After the death of Matthan, Estha married Matthat a descendant of Nathan (Lk 3). She bore him a son called Heli. This made Jacob and Heli half-brothers. When Heli died without any heirs, his half-brother Jacob took his widow as his levirate wife. Joseph was born of this union. Thus Joseph became the biological son of Jacob while being the legal son of Heli. Julius Africanus claims that his account is based on information given to him by the descendants of James the brother of Jesus (8).

However this explanation does not pass Jewish tradition. According to Jewish tradition the genealogy of a levirate son would show him as the natural son of his deceased father and not as the son of his natural father. The author of the gospel of Matthew was either fully aware of Jewish tradition or tended to ignore it as otherwise he would have had to reproduce the genealogy of Joseph on similar lines as that of Luke. However this explanation will be true if Jacob was the legal father of Joseph and Heli the biological father. It is quite likely that the relationship of Joseph to Heli and Jacob was misunderstood by Julius Africanus or an error of textual tradition.

Tracing The Lineage Of Jesus Through Mary

Luke on the other hand not being Jewish did not concern himself with details and limited himself to tracing the genealogy of Jesus from Nathan. Besides this Luke was writing for a non-Jewish audience and was more concerned with showing Jesus as descended from God. He had to do this, since being a descendant of King David was not of any great significance to non-Jews. Therefore he traced the genealogy of Jesus through Mary who was the daughter of Heli. Had he traced the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph and Jacob, then Jesus would not qualify as the son of God. The genealogy of Luke was inspired by the baptism of Jesus when God cried out from heaven that “This is my beloved son”. By doing this not only did Luke show that Jesus was a descendant of David through Nathan, but that he was also the son of God (9).

Even though it was Jewish custom to trace only male genealogies, Luke did not commit an error by tracing a female genealogy. There were two conditions under which it was proper to trace female genealogies. One “If a man dies without leaving a son, you shall let his heritage pass on to his daughter” (10), and two “This is what the Lord commands with regard to the daughters of Salphahad: They may marry anyone they please, provided they marry into a clan of their ancestral tribe, so that no heritage of the Israelites will pass from one tribe to another, but all the Israelites will retain their own ancestral heritage” (11). Mary satisfied these two conditions: her father had no sons and she married within her tribe: the tribe of Judah (12).

Are Joachim And Heli The Same Person?

On the surface this explanation to reconcile the difference in the genealogies of Jesus by Matthew and Luke seems reasonably satisfactory. But this gives rise to another controversy. According to the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal Gospel written sometime during the end of the second century, the Gospel of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, and the Book of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the parents of Mary are given as Joachim and Anna. So are Joachim and Heli the same person? Many scholars answer this question in the affirmative. They say that Joachim is just a variation of Joakim or Eliakim. The following two verses tend to support this line of thought:

Kings 23:34, “And Pharao Nechao made Eliakim the son of the Josias king in the room of Josias his father, and turned his name to Joakim…”

Chron 36:4, “And he made Eliakim his brother king in his stead over Judah and Jerusalem; and he turned his name to Joakim…”

It is probable that over the centuries the name Eliakim was shortened to Eli or Heli, after all, what is Heli in Greek is Eli in Hebrew. For instance the high priest in Sam 1:3 is called Heli in the Challoner-Rheims, but is referred to as Eli in the New American Bible and in Mark 2:14. Joachim and Heli seem to be the same person (13).

The Controversy About Joseph’s Hometown

The other principal controversy relates to Joseph’s hometown. Joseph is supposed to have descended from a Bethlehem family in Judea. This is also the birthplace of King David. Although by profession Joseph was a carpenter he was said to be a wise and learned man who was also a priest of the temple of the lord. He was a good-natured man, hard-working and a strict adherent of Jewish religious principles and observances (14). Even though it is generally understood that Joseph was from Bethlehem a town in Judea, there is nothing known about how he then finds himself in Nazareth in Galilee. It is quite likely that the skimpy means of his family and the rebuilding of Sepphoris and the ample work that was available there may have prompted Joseph to shift to Nazareth which was in proximity to this bustling town. Joseph was a carpenter by trade a skill that was in demand in Sepphoris. Whatever the reason we learn from the scriptures that Joseph is settled in Nazareth a short time before the Annunciation.

However from the lengthy stories relating to Joseph from apocryphal sources it would seem that Joseph was in Nazareth long before the Annunciation. According to apocryphal sources it appears that when he was forty years, Joseph married a woman named Melcha or Escha. Other sources name this woman Salome. In any case it is said that they were married for forty nine years and that the couple had six children – two girls and four boys.
More about the hometown of Joseph of Nazareth later.

Please also read my blog “Is The Introduction Of Nazareth Retrospective Prophecy?” at bit.ly/1NkO85k


(1) Souvay, C. (1910). St. Joseph. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2011, from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08504a.htm

(2) Matthew 1:16 (New American Standard Bible)
“Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.”

(3) Luke 3:23-38 (New International Version, ©2011)
“Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli”

(4) The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah. (1973, 1978, 1984, 2011). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+1:1&version=NIV

(5) Pursiful, Darrell. (2010). The Genealogy of Jesus 6. Retrieved 2011, from http://pursiful.com/2010/10/the-genealogy-of-jesus-6/

(6) The Genealogy of Christ. (n.d). Retrieved 2011, from

(7) Genealogy of Christ. (n.d). Retrieved 2011 from http://www.geocities.ws/christiantriviaworld/GenealogyofChrist.htm

(8) Pursiful, Darrell. (2010). The Genealogy of Jesus 6. Retrieved 2011, from http://pursiful.com/2010/10/the-genealogy-of-jesus-6/

(9) Unique Placement of the Genealogy. (2010). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.lifeofchrist.com/life/genealogy/luke.asp

(10) Laws Concerning Heiresses.(n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.usccb.org/bible/numbers/27/

(11) Stanley, Bob. (2000). The Genealogy of Jesus Christ Through Mary… Retrieved 2011, from http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/geneal.htm

(12) Stanley, Bob. (2000). The Genealogy of Jesus Christ Through Mary… Retrieved 2011, from http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/geneal.htm

(13) Stanley, Bob. (2000). The Genealogy of Jesus Christ Through Mary… Retrieved 2011, from http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/geneal.htm

(14) The Urantia Book, BIRTH AND INFANCY OF JESUS. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.truthbook.com/index.cfm?linkID=1374#U122_1_1

Picture Credits:

(Fig 1) Joseph of Nazareth – the carpenter https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:La_Tour.jpg