Sunday, February 18, 2007

One Truth? Two Truths? No Truth.

Well folks, since I said in my last post that my next post which is this post, would be about Gospel proof vis. Matthew and Mark, that the New Testament cannot be a collection of truths which were written by divinely guided hands I here present the contradictions and fallible comments of the Gospel according to Matthew and Mark.

Why Matthew and Mark?

I could have used any two, any three, or all of the Gospels for this post, but there are reasons for just using these two:

  • Matthew and Mark were presented to me in a previous comment as examples of the accuracy and infallibility of the Gospels.
  • Matthew, being the largest of the Gospels is the one most people use when speaking about the teachings and life of Christ, and is the only Gospel that contains all of the most familiar stories making it the obvious choice as one to be compared to the others.
  • Matthew contradicts all of the other Gospels in many ways making it the best source of contradictions.
  • Like all of the Gospels, Mark contains contradictions with the other three. Basically it is as good as any of the others for this purpose, and it does contain some of the more easily explained contradictions.

Explanation of Comparison:

It has been my experience here in this blog and in other venues, that some people do not understand the point of my making comparisons such as this one. So, before I begin I will explain the concept of comparison as it pertains to the Bible.

First of all I am not comparing two normal pieces of literature or chapters, whatever you want to call them--I am comparing two pieces of work that hold the distinction of being considered by many to be divinely pre-edited by an omnipotent entity. According to this belief, everything contained in these works is the truth. Though written by fallible men, the hands and thoughts of these men were supposedly guided by one perfect being. If this is the case then the works should agree on detail thereby revealing one truth, because there cannot be two truths about an event.

Establishing the validity of the Gospels is important, because they and the rest of the New Testament constitute the only place on the planet with mention of Jesus' ever having existed. If the Gospels can be shown to be unreliable sources of factual information, then they can not be used as valid proof of the laws and existence of Jesus, and since there is no other substantiated evidence for his existence, the whole thing becomes no more valid than stories of other mythological beings like Zeus, Thor, elves, gnomes, and even Frodo Baggins.


None of the Gospel writers were present at all of the events recorded, and Mark, Luke, and Paul who is given credit for the Epistles, weren't there at all, so these writers have to have divine guidance or else they would not get the story right. The New Testament cannot be considered historically accurate if the stories in it contradict each other


One omnipotent God+One occurrence+divinely guided writers=The same story written by different authors.


Two different stories about the same event=No Omnipotent pre-editor, and no validity for their claims.

So, do Matthew and Mark tell the same divinely guided inerrant story? Let's see.

Of all the tenants of the Christian faith, the passion story of Jesus is the most important. It is through his death and resurrection that Jesus acquires his standing as the Savior. No resurrection--no divinity. No divinity--no authority to make rules. No authority--no reason to believe.

The importance of this story is a central point in the rest of the New Testament, and in the religion that has formed around it. Therefore, if there is any story in the Bible that is important enough to be presented correctly by God, then this is it.

Please feel free to follow along with your own Bible, or use the links I provide here. (all book, chapter, and verse references are from the King James Version of the Bible, since that is the version most fanatics use)


The accepted story to the point of Jesus' resurection goes something like this:
Jesus is born of a virgin, he grows up and then begins his ministry following a baptism, he gathers twelve disciples, he performs some miracles and teaches many people many things, he is betrayed by one of his disciples, he is arrested, all of his disciples run away fearing for their own welfare, Jesus is tried, crucified, and dies, he is then buried.
There are many contradictions in the New Testament concerning all of this, but those things are for another time.

Contrary to the three days and three nights that Jesus is supposed to spend dead, he is resurrected after two nights on the morning of the second day after his death.

The proof of the resurrection comes first from his tomb's being empty. Who found the empty tomb?

Matthew 28:1 says that Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" (not his Mother) go to the tomb. Two women go to the tomb.

Mark 16:1 says that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, AND Salome go to the tomb. Three women go to the tomb.

Normally a story where there is a difference of opinion about the number of women involved wouldn't be a problem. But, this is supposed to be two inerrant accounts of the same event. One's wrong.

When the women get to the tomb what do they see?

According to Matthew 28:2-7 two women arrive and feel an earthquake and watch an angel move the stone away from the opening. The guards around the tomb pass out. Then the angel sits on the stone, and tells them that Jesus is no longer there. The angel then invites the two women to look into the tomb, then tells them that Jesus will meet the disciples in Galilee and commands them to go tell the disciples what they have seen and heard.

According to Mark 16:3-7 three women head toward the tomb wondering among themselves how they will move the big stone in front of the opening. When they get there the stone has already been moved, and the guards are gone. So, they go inside. Inside the tomb they find a young man in a white robe who tells them the same thing that Matthew's angel said.

So is it two women showing up to see some guards and an angel who moves the stone, or is it three women who see an open tomb and nobody around except the young man inside. Mark's version is not as exciting, and is obviously different. One story is wrong.

Both stories say that the women freak out and run away. What do the women do after they leave?

According to Matthew 28:8 the two women do what they are told, and head out to go tell the disciples what has happened.

According to Mark 16:8: the three women just run away and tell nobody what they have seen. Later Mary Magdalene tells the disciples, but that's covered below.

So do two women go straight to the disciples or do three women just run away and tell nobody? One story is obviously wrong.

So now that Jesus is out of the tomb who does he appear to first?

According to Matthew 28:9-10 Jesus appears to the two Mary's as they are headed to tell the disciples. Then tells them again to go tell the disciples.

Mark 16:9-10 says the Jesus "appeared first to Mary Magdalene." This is after she and the other two women ran away from the tomb. After Mary (alone) sees him, she does what the the young man in the tomb had told her to do--goes to tell the disciples.

So, does Jesus appear to two women on their way to the disciples, or to just one woman who then goes to the disciples. The only thing for sure here is that Jesus seems to have had something for Magdalene, and that God and/or proponents of an inerrant Bible can't count.

So after Mary, or Mary and Mary tell the disciples about Jesus' not being dead anymore what is the reaction of the disciples?

Matthew's version has the disciples believing the women and running straight to their secret hideout in the mountains near Galilee. "Holy resurrected messiah Batman. To the Bat Cave!"

Mark's disciples are a bit more skeptical. They don't believe Mary. "Yeah right, you lying whore. Next thing you're going to tell us is that you're carrying his love-child. Run along Monalisa." Not only do Mark's disciples not believe Mary, they don't even believe two of their own club that Jesus appears to while they were out for a Sunday stroll through the country.

So, do the disciples believe the two Marys and run off to the mountain in Galilee, or are they agnostics and call Mary Magdalene and two of their own crew deluded liars? Obviously, either Matthew or Mark has his divinely guided facts wrong. Or do both of them have the story wrong?

Now that Jesus has appeared to either two or five people where does he finally catch up with his whole posse?

According to Matthew, Jesus appears to his faithful followers after they arrive at their mountain retreat in Galilee.

According to Mark, the disciples stay put, so Jesus surprises his little band of agnostics while they are having supper. He then jumps their shit for not believing Mary, or the two he appeared to out in the country.

So, did Jesus have to catch a bus to Galilee or not. Somebody wasn't listening to God while he was writing his story, otherwise they would be the same story.

So, now Jesus has convinced his disciples that he is really not dead. Now what?

Well Jesus tells his little band of evangelicals to run out and spread the word. Then:

In Matthew Jesus tells them that he will be with them always. End of story.

But, in Mark Jesus ascends to Heaven and sits down next to his old man thus giving us two gods looking down on us. From there Jesus helps his posse spread the word. Amen.

So, did Jesus ascend or not? This is a pretty big deal. You would think these guys could at least get this part of the story straight. But, considering all the other differences between Matthew's stories and Mark stories, like take the staff, no wait a minute don't take the staff, I guess it is to be expected that they wouldn't tell the same story about this.

Unless of course, they were divinely inspired and their hands and minds were guided by an omnipotent God who doesn't make mistakes, and then went on to write a believable story about a real person and a real series of events, that could be used as a valid basis for the way a person should or should not live his or her life.

But as we have seen here--that simply cannot be the case.

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Michelle said...

Look you just don't understand, they're both true. You just don't see it because you're looking at it cynically. And anyway God is magic, and he magicked it all true, who are you to say that God can't do that?

R Nicolas said...

Shhhh! Be quiet about the magic thing--I was hoping people wouldn't think of that.