“Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise…”
Mark 16:2 (NIV)
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark…”
Having studied religion and the Bible at university I was in certain courses where the professors were not sympathetic to the Bible at least where its accuracy was concerned. I recall various occasions when one professor in particular would gleefully point out inconsistencies in the text of Scripture. It seemed to me that the professor lived to show the students that the Bible did not know what it was talking about, or at least made some gross errors of fact in its relating of historical incidents.
Then a book came to my attention written by a world renowned expert in the study of law. This remarkable scholar had taken the time to apply the laws of evidence to the study of the Gospels’ witness to Jesus. This was new to me as it seems my professors never seemed to have experts in other fields influence their observations about the Bible.
The brilliant law professor criticised my university professor’s stance on biblical “contradictions” because it seems that in a court of law the judge looks for the witnesses to “contradict” one another to be certain they are all telling the truth!
For example, if all the witnesses to a crime told precisely the same story about the accused and how he did the illegal thing, then the judge would know for sure that they were lying. It would appear that they got together and invented a story, memorized it, and all recited what they had memorized.
What is necessary to be sure the witnesses are telling the truth is to have variety in how they describe the same scene. For example, in our two texts for today we see a “contradiction”. Mark says the women went to Jesus’ tomb after sunrise and John says it was still dark when they went.
My university professor did not understand the laws of evidence or he would have recognized that both are correct. John is apparently referring to when the women left Jerusalem for the tomb and Mark is referring to when they arrived at the tomb. If you have been in the near east you know that the sun rises quickly and it would be easy for them to leave in the dark and arrive at the tomb when the sun was up. Any competent lawyer would easily see the harmony in Mark and John’s testimony.
We may trust the Bible for its accuracy. It is true and many believers have proven its promises through the centuries. We have never found a need to revise the Bible though all of us have had to revise our opinions from time to time. Scripture is called a flashlight to shine on the path of life. It is reliable because God inspired it. Its truths are not the inventions of various individuals.
When people come to serious difficulties in life or even to the end of life itself, great comfort is found in the Bible. However comfort is not to be found in the words of the great philosophers. Through the Bible God has spoken truthfully and accurately. Are you listening?