Which Was It? Dawn or Dark? One or Several?

“And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene,
and Mary the mother of James, and Salome,
had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
And very early in the morning the first day of the week,
they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.”
Mark 16:1:2 (KJV)

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark,
Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw
that the stone had been removed from the entrance.”
John 20:1 (NIV)

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There are many reasons for believing in the complete accuracy of the Bible. I have studied Scripture for over 70 years ever since I learned to read and started committing chapters of it to memory. I believe the Bible is true and never misleading.

However, while I never lost confidence in the complete accuracy of my Bible, I faced various challenges from professors in university who tried to shake my faith. One prof stood in front of the class and read our verses for today then asked, “Which was it? Did Mary come alone before dawn or did a group of women come after dawn?”

I did not have an answer then but wish I could have known then what I do now. I have learned over the succeeding decades that some theologians seem to be educated beyond their intelligence and are academically incestuous. They do not always consult scholars in other disciplines who might help them in their research. For thinking people, the two accounts can be reconciled rather readily.

JND Anderson was one of the world’s leading academics on the laws of evidence (a legal expert) in the twentieth century. He wrote a book with the title, A Lawyer Among The Theologians in which he took to task theologians who are mistaken about various passages in Scripture because they have not consulted the laws of evidence in trying to reconcile “apparent contradictions” in Scripture.

Regarding today’s verses Anderson asserts that both are quite correct because one writer is likely speaking of when the women set out for the tomb and the other speaks about when they arrived. The sun rises and sets faster about 2,200km north of the equator (Jerusalem) than in Toronto, Ontario (4,900km north of equator). Also witnesses on the stand in court could easily focus on one person as they describe an event than another witness to the same situation. No professor of law would make the mistake my professor did that day.

Do you believe the accuracy of Scripture? Do you accept as true God’s promises as well as His judgments on us as sinners?

“But without faith you cannot please God:
for he that comes to God must believe that He exists,
and that He rewards all who earnestly search for Him.”
Hebrews 11:6

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