Friday, September 06, 2002

The Missing Galilean Meeting

In a comment to yesterday’s post, R.W. recommends this site and in particular its Apologetics Encyclopedia, which has refutations for a large number of alleged biblical contradictions. I found many interesting articles there. Nice site!

Here is a summary of one article from that site, James Patrick Holding’s discussion of the post-resurrection Galilee/Jerusalem question.

Keep in mind the accepted major timeline puts the Ascension at 40 days after the resurrection, and Pentecost about 10 days later. (Acts 1:3-5, Acts 2:1-4)

Here is the problem. In his post resurrection account, Matthew writes that the disciples are to meet the resurrected Jesus in Galilee. (Matt. 28:7, 10). This they did, meeting with Jesus on a Galilean mountain (Matt. 28:16).

In Luke’s post resurrection account (Luke 24:36-53), it reads as if
  • On the night of the resurrection, Jesus met with his apostles.
  • Jesus instructed them to wait in Jerusalem until Pentecost.
  • Barring disobedience or Jesus changing his plans, there is no room for a meeting on a mountain in Galilee.
Let’s look closely at the verses in question:
42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
44 He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." 50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. (Luke 24:43-51, NIV)
Holding agrees that this passage starts on the night of the resurrection, when Jesus is eating fried (broiled?) fish with the disciples. He then argues (as have others) for a 40-day gap in between verses 44 and 45 during which the events of Matthew 28 occurred.

Holding argues that if we allow, as critics suggest, that all verses (up to 49) refer to the same night (leaving us with no Galilean meeting) then why stop there? The same interpretation should be extended, which would seem to imply that the Ascension, beginning in verse 50, also happened on the same night. Since this would make their claim absurd, the crictics, accordind to Holding, stop at verse 49 for maximum effect.

On that last point, I disagree. Verse 45 starts (in some translations) with the word then, which indicates immediacy. Verse 50 starts (in some translations) with when which implies a gap, or the word and which is more or less neutral. Holding may be correct to place a 40-day gap in Luke’s account. However, I think he is wrong in claiming that the same logic used by critics (of the missing account of the Galilean meeting) implies that Luke’s account also teaches that the Ascension occurred on the same night—in which case he would be contradicting his own account in Acts.

I don’t know if I agree with Holding’s explanation (I have no better one to offer), but it is interesting. And an interesting site. Go take a look.

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