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But the Women Who Did *NOT* Doubt the Resurrection

In my previous post I noted something unusual about the doubting tradition in the resurrection narratives (i.e., the tradition that some of the disciples simply didn’t believe that Jesus was raised) – in addition, of course, to the fact that there is such a dominant doubting tradition! (itself a fascinating phenomenon) – which is that there is no word anywhere of the women who discover the tomb doubting, but clear indications (either by implication or by explicit statement) that some or all of the male disciples doubted. This is true of three of our four Gospels.

  1. Mark 16:8. (This one is by implication only) We are told that the women never tell anyone that they have found the tomb to be empty. So, the disciples are not said to believe and, in fact, so far as we know from this Gospel, no one does come to believe. (Obviously someone did, otherwise we wouldn’t have the Gospel!)
  2. Luke 24:10-11. The disciples think the tale of women told that Jesus has been raised as he predicted is “idle” and they do not believe it
  3. John 20:1-10. Peter and the Beloved Disciple do not believe Mary Magdalene that the tomb is empty; they have to see for themselves.

It should be noted that in every instance of doubt, it is the men disciples who doubt; the women (Mary Magdalene and Co.) are never said to doubt. When they see Jesus (e.g., Matthew 28) then know it’s Jesus brought back from the dead. But the men sometimes doubt. Why is that?

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Why Was Jesus Crucified?
Why Would Jesus’ Disciples Doubt the Resurrection?

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    francis  October 16, 2019

    Dr Ehrman..Would it have mattered if the women did doubt??? As women, there word meant nothing.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      Yeah people today certainly say that a lot about the ancient world, and Judaism in particular, but I’m not sure it’s universally true: lots of people believed women! Happened all the time.

  2. Avatar
    seahawk41  October 16, 2019

    I have a comment re hallucinations, similar to but different from visions. I was in a serious accident 27 years ago, and in the aftermath of two major surgeries, I was on morphine and percocet! And, boy did I have hallucinations. All of them were very real. In three cases that I recall, they were *so* real that I had to check on them later. And that is even though I was pretty sure they were just hallucinations. My point is that these things can be very real and believable, even when you have been trained as a scientist and have a pretty good idea of what is happening!

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      Right!! Important to bear in mind. But sorry to hear about he accident. Hope it’s all better now, and just a horrible memory.

  3. Avatar
    quadell  October 16, 2019

    I just finished Adela Yarbro-Collins book on Mark, and she holds that the earliest view of the resurrection was that Jesus went straight up to heaven when he was raised — no hanging out here on Earth to talk with people. She thinks this better fits in with early Jewish stories (e.g. Enoch), as well as the Philippian Hymn and Mark’s abrupt ending. According to this view, the disciples who saw Jesus initially believed they were seeing the exalted Christ who was in heaven, miraculously appearing to them (the same as Paul’s experience). The idea of a post-resurrection, pre-ascension period only came later, in response to doubts, as did the tradition about “proofs”.

    What do you think of this? And is this theory compatible with your tentative suggestion of a very few enthusiastic and respected disciples who saw visions and convinced many of Jesus’s followers on Earth (though some doubted)?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      I think she’s right!

      • Rick
        Rick  October 19, 2019

        Does away with any need for his corpus and tomb so it fits with what we apparently understand about Roman executions!

      • Avatar
        rivercrowman  October 19, 2019

        This book is on my Watch List now.

      • tompicard
        tompicard  October 20, 2019

        This view coincides with the view that for the earliest and first follower of Jesus, that they understood “resurrection” to be to “heaven” (someplace other than the physical earth)

        it doesn’t coincide at all with the silly view that Jesus and his earliest followers thought resurrection would be in an eternal physical body on earth

        • Bart
          Bart  October 21, 2019

          Not sure I follow you. The idea is that Jesus’ body was taken up to heaven and he was made a divine being. That’s what the earliest Christians, as apocalypticists, appear to have thought.

          • tompicard
            tompicard  October 21, 2019

            I am not sure what apocalypticist and/or earliest christians (i.e. Jesus Mary Paul Peter) believed.

            But it seems like if the above theory is correct, then the DESTINATION of “the resurrection of Jesus” was “heaven” – it was NOT earth.
            Then it is reasonable and likely that if Jesus taught about “the end times resurrection of the righteous”, he taught that their destination would likewise also be in heaven, ie with God wherever God is/lives. We call that “heaven” for lack of better word, it may or may not have been understood by 1st century Jews to be up in the sky.

            Whether the identical physical body which encompassed the soul during earthly life rose up, or whether it transformed and then rose up, or whether it decayed in a grave doesn’t appear to be germane to those few people who proclaimed visions of Jesus post crucifixion, as far as I can tell, until maybe Paul needed to create or invent some explanation for the curious Corinthians.
            So the first people proclaiming visions of jesus didnt need to say his tomb was empty didnt need to say he had a meal with them didnt need to say they felt his wounds, that is – the state of his body and or corpse was immaterial.

          • Bart
            Bart  October 22, 2019

            Yes, as a divine being Jesus went up to heaven. And he’s coming back down.

  4. Avatar
    Mark57  October 16, 2019

    I wonder if supernatural visions like this had more acceptance as fact at that time than now. For the average person supernatural explanations still occupy a large percentage of the the world no matter how much science is produced to refute it. But back then they didn’t even have that. Its hard to imagine that mind frame back then.

  5. Avatar
    AHBrown  October 16, 2019

    I have always had a problem theologically with the idea that the Disciples themselves could doubt and receive many physical proofs of Jesus’s resurrection (40 days worth!) while faith is required for the rest of us.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      And one wonders what kind of “proofs” were needed….

  6. Avatar
    fedcarroll77  October 16, 2019

    Professor,

    So I’m sort of confused…maybe you could clear up a few things. Do you differentiate between appearance and vision? Do you think they are the same? Different? If they are the same Then Paul clearly wrote in 1 Cor 15:5 that Jesus appeared to all of the twelve. Of course paul gives no indication that any doubted. I agree there seems to be at minimal a few individuals who had visions. My question is did all twelve? Or are they appearances instead? This is what I’m sort of confused on. Your thoughts would be awesome to clarify. Thanks!!

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      I hesitate to use the word “appearance” because that implies he really did show up. When I use the term “vision” I mean it in a neutral way: someone sees and/or hears something. That’s true whether the thing / person they saw/heard was really there or not. Some would say yes, others would say no, but in either case it’s something seen/heard, i.e., a “vision”

  7. Avatar
    trevortimpson  October 16, 2019

    Hello Professor Ehrman. Surely Mary Magdalene is doing the same as the “doubting” disciples in John 20:14-15…

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      I’d say it’s not the same, but similar. The disciples have heard Jesus was raised and doubt it. Mary sees someone and doesn’t realize it’s Jesus; once she does, she immediately believes.

  8. Avatar
    mwbaugh  October 16, 2019

    That’s something I have wondered about before. Women were not considered reliable witnesses in the Greek, Roman, and Jewish cultures of late antiquity, were they? I’ve read that the testimony of women (when it was allowed) was never given the same weight as men’s testimony. It’s interesting then to see that all four canonical Gospels agree that women were the first witnesses to the risen Jesus. If this were a fabricated story, you’d expect the writers to make the witnesses men to make the story more credible.

    I notice that you speak as though Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene are all historical people. Is this a general consensus among historians? I’d be interested in your take on fictional and historical people in the NT someday. I’ve heard that Joseph is considered ahistorical by many, and John Shelby Spong (a smart guy, though not a historian) maintains that Judas Iscariot was fictional.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      I don’t think rules about what could happen in a court of law are necessarily applicable to everyday life. Of course women were often believed! But people talk today as if it never happened. But would anyone make up the story of women finding the tomb? I deal with this objection in my book How Jesus Became God (since I used to agree with it, but came to see it was problematic).

      I think there was certainly a father of Jesus. 🙂 Whether he was named Joseph, I don’t know, but I don’t see any reason to doubt it. And in my book on Judas I mount a sustained argument that he really existed and that actually is the one who turned Jesus in.

      • Avatar
        mwbaugh  October 21, 2019

        There are two reasons I’ve heard put forward for the uncertainty. The first is that Jesus is called “son of Mary” in Mark 6:3. The argument was that a man would be referred to as the son of his father. Designating him the son of his mother would be unusual unless his father’s identity was unknown. It could even be a taunt, effectively calling him a bastard.

        The second builds on that. In Matthew, Joseph plays an active role in the infancy story. He has a prophetic dream telling him that he is to marry Mary, and a second telling him to flee to Egypt. This seems to be part of a pattern in Matthew of telling the Gospel stories in a way that roughly parallels stories from the Hebrew Scriptures. Joseph in Genesis also had an important connection to prophetic dreams.

        The idea is that if the name Jesus’ father was not known, Matthew may have inserted the name of Joseph so fill in a gap in knowledge.

        It’s been many years since I heard this and I may not be remembering it well. I think the main point was actually that we know his mother’s name with a greater degree of certainty than his father’s.

  9. Avatar
    fishician  October 16, 2019

    Any comment on Elizabeth Schrader’s work at Duke on how Mary’s role was deliberately diminished, possibly changed to Martha in some texts?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      I’m afraid I can’t comment on her because I’m on her graduate committee. I will say that I do not find the view at all persuasive.

  10. Avatar
    Fernando Peregrin Gutierrez  October 16, 2019

    [ B. E ] “But others did not believe, even among the twelve.   But Mary at least really believed it, as, possibly, did some of her friends. ”

    [ F. P. ]
    Twelve?Not eleven?
    I think it’s the same mistake Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5.

    And another thing: if Mary was such an important witness and she was also convinced of the resurrection of Jesus, why didn’t Paul ask her anything? And if he asked her, if he met her, I don’t remember Paul writing anything about that possible interview in his letters. Why? 

    And why are you so sure that

    [ B. E. ] “Paul in 1 Cor. 15: 5, based on what he says he “received,” meaning almost certainly “received from Peter” when he was visiting him, as described in Galatians 1:18”?

    [ F. P.] Isn’t it interesting to you that Paul writing that, “after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days”, wrote in that same letter paragraphs before: “11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. “? What did Paul and Peter talk about during those 15 days so that Paul firmly states that he has not received any information about the gospel of Jesus from Peter?

    What Paul affirms in 1 Cor. 15: 5, his “creed,” is necessarily part of the gospel he preached. And yet it makes clear that: “the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” Perhaps the gospel that Paul preached did not include the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, which sounds very strange to me if it were so.

    In addition, I insist, the entire passage 1 Cor. 15: 5 and following lines sounds to me false, invented. The prophecies that never existed and especially not realizing Paul that there were no longer 12 apostles, but only 11 until the ascension of Jesus to heaven.

    If the information of his “creed” comes from Peter, why doesn’t he say so and therefore  leave the door open to think that this information comes from rumors, from narratives transmitted from mouth to mouth without any way of knowing or its origins or if they are true? 

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      I”m not sure wehre he got the creed from, but you’re right, he doesn’t say Peter (or anyone else in particular! Just that he received it)

  11. Avatar
    Iskander Robertson  October 16, 2019

    Dr Ehrman ,

    In the gospels ,Jesus says no one knows the day or the hour of judgment

    some have interpreted it to mean “the son knows, but the father makes known”

    In your opinion is this altering the text

    ? why?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      Not sure what you’re asking. In the next line he says “not even the son.” But scribes did change the text sometimes at that point, leaving out “not even the son.”

  12. fefferdan
    fefferdan  October 16, 2019

    “The most impressive thing is that people who have visions INSIST that the visions were real, not made up in their heads.” Count me among the exception to the rule then. I’ve had visions, including one very real-feeling one with Jesus. But I also admit that they might well be a product of a psychological or in some cases psycho-chemical processes. 😉 And for the record, I definitely think John of Patmos was either fasting too much or eating the wrong kind of mushrooms.

    • Rick
      Rick  October 19, 2019

      Yes, but it (Revelation) Is pretty good poetic prose… reminds me of one comment I read about Poe’s The Raven, that you could almost smell the opium while you read it!

  13. Avatar
    forthfading  October 16, 2019

    Dr. Ehrman,

    Apologist put tons of emphasis on the notion that a woman’s testimony meant nothing in the ancient world of Judaism. The goal of course to show the criterion of embarrassment in a woman proclaiming the “Good News” of Jesus’ return. In your scholarly opinion, how much of this assertion actually is legitimate based on what we know of the role of women at the time?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      Right. Would anyone make up the story of women finding the tomb? I deal with this objection in my book How Jesus Became God, since I used to agree with it, but came to see it was problematic and don’t buy it anymore. The idea that “women were never believed” is completely bogus. They were believed all the time, every day, of course, by one person or another or everyone.

      • Avatar
        Pattylt  October 20, 2019

        May I add…and correct me if I’m wrong…evangelicals state that a woman’s testimony was not accepted in court hearings. This is wrong. Women were not allowed to testify on matters of the Jewish Law but testified all the time as to what they heard or saw in other areas. And they were certainly believed in these matters!

        • Bart
          Bart  October 21, 2019

          I”m not really sure how to answer. The Roman world didn’t have trials by jury the way we imagine them.

  14. Avatar
    mkshehab  October 16, 2019

    Mark 16:4-8:
    But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
    “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
    Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

    (1) Mark doesn’t identify if the “young man” was an angel. Is Mark assuming here that the reader would know that he is obviously an angel?

    (2) It was well know to the women that Jesus was crucified, why repeat it to them? The whole of verse six (6) sounds like a line from a very low budget movie.

    (3) “But go, tell his disciples and Peter”. Why say “and Peter” when Peter is also one of the disciples?

    (4) “They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid”. In John 20:2, Mary Magdalene went and told Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. Isn’t this a contradiction?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      1. No, not necessarily; 2. It’s to emphasize the point, I suppose; 3. I’ve often wondered that, but it’s clearly to emphasize his central role among the followers after JEsus’ death; 4. Yes indeed! Also contradictory to Matthew, who got his story from Mark!

  15. tompicard
    tompicard  October 16, 2019

    It certainly sounds reasonable that only a few (Peter Paul and Mary at least) had a vision of Jesus post-crucifixion.

    but wouldn’t that lead you to believe that at least for these 3 individuals, they understood Jesus ‘resurrection’ to be non-physical.

    I mean if they said or reported to others (which they must have) Jesus was physically raised, wouldn’t others then naturally say “please take me to see him?” then what would/could these 3 answer ? “well he had a glorified body, so I can’t take you to him”, what would that even mean?

    Don’t you think walking into locked rooms, eating, poking his wounds, came later (ie not from these 3 )
    and wouldn’t that also likely mean the empty tomb came later?

    Anyway if your hunch is correct what implications does it have on the idea of a ‘physical resurrection’ for the first followers of his?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      No, it would actually lead me to think they thoughthe had been raised *physically*. The reason: they were all Jewish apocalyticists who believed at the end of the age would come a *bodily* resurrection. That’s what they were expecting as “the afterlife” — life in the body. If someone was raised, it would, for them, necessarily be inthe body. But yes, the empty tomb and the eating/poking traditions are almost certainly later, among doubters (e.g., converted gentiles) who were not raised on traditions of bodily resurreciton but believed in the immortality of the soul.

      • tompicard
        tompicard  October 18, 2019

        I don’t follow your logic
        of course if you start wiht the the unquestioned premise that
        >>all Jewish apocalyticists who believed at the end of the age
        >> would come a *bodily* resurrection.
        but it is just that a premise

        but if you agree that these 3 individuals had some vision or revelation that jesus was “alive” even after his crucifixion, and their expierences DID NOT include what we normally correlate with “physical”, like eating, like coming out of tomb (zombi-ish), like having pokable wounds, then it means they were somehow able to convince a number of followers (allowing for some doubters), that Jesus “resurrection” may not have required his “physical” body.

        • Avatar
          Celsus  October 21, 2019

          The earliest Christians believed Jesus went straight to heaven after the resurrection regardless of what “type” of body he had. They then thought he “appeared” (ophthe) to them from there. These were thought of as appearances of the exalted Jesus from heaven. Later, after the story evolves is when we get the physical earthly appearances. They were probably written to convince gentile audiences who were more familiar with Greco-Roman hero stories which always involved a physical body. We see Luke combating the docetic views of Jesus in his resurrection story – “look at my hands and feet, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as I have” which indicates people were claiming Jesus was just a spirit. So we can infer there were different views of the Resurrected Christ but eventually the physical corpse revivification won out and became the Orthodox view.

          • Bart
            Bart  October 22, 2019

            Yup, that’s it. The original view was the resurrection of a body, which came back down on occasoin to appear to the disciples. Later followrs said it must not have been a real body. Authors like Luke were determined to show it really was.

          • tompicard
            tompicard  October 24, 2019

            >>The original view was the resurrection of a body,
            I don’t think so
            yeah, the original view was that Jesus was “alive”; but whether a physical “body” was an aspect of this/his “resurrection” didn’t seem to be germane

            that
            >>Christians believed Jesus went straight to heaven
            is more plausible

      • Avatar
        Pattylt  October 20, 2019

        Using your research into visions and how they almost always consider it real…the person was physically there, this leads me to assume that Peter Paul and Mary absolutely believed they saw the risen Jesus. Some others believed their testimony and some would naturally doubt…as they didn’t see a durn thing! While I think their apocalyptic beliefs probably factors in, their vision was even more of a factor. They really believed they SAW Him.

  16. Avatar
    Bernice Templeman  October 16, 2019

    Previously I decided to stay out of the Old Testament. I studied it recently while also listening to the Book of the Dead (or Book of Life). Dr. Hayes said in her Old Testament class that she didn’t let her children study the Old Testament. Torah is not for ministering Angels.
    I have been rereading the New Testament and found some truths and also found some Old Testament. SIlencing women, putting women down, and other conflicts. So if I have to stay out of the Old Testament, and it is in the New Testament, then I will stay out of it also.
    So I am going to stay with the Book of Life (Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead).

    It may have been the New Testament that directed me to Moses & Ancient Egypt previously. Also maybe in there that says you have to stay out of the Old.

    Also, Adoration helped me with several things. Adoration is adoring the body of Christ, which I think of as the God, the one body, mind, spirit… connected by mutual love and equality… like-minded…
    people went to adore Christ at birth
    In adoration, you are free to say your own prayers and read whatever you want

    During Mass you follow along with the prayers and readings, you may hear you are a sinner not worthy and you eat and drink the body and blood

    I think Adoration is better: you don’t have to be a sinner, you are worthy, and you can be part of the One body,mind, spirit.

    Since they had to get the New Testament to this point to attract people, it must be what people want to hear. Adoration may get people to the next level. We need to raise people’s awareness, loving-kindness, and worthiness. We begin with our own.
    Once you get to that point, you may just have to stay out of the Bible. There is good and evil in it. The cost of finding the good is too high due to the negatives.

    So I am staying out of the Bible and won’t be on this blog.
    I do know that I have to speak to people who want to listen.

    I feel like I graduated,

    • Avatar
      WendyRWolf  October 20, 2019

      Thx for sharing Bernice
      I too found it useful to avoid the Bible for a long time, it was like razor blades to me.

      I needed to detox from preconceived ideas and programming, learn to allow the spiritual meaning to come through, learn to eat the fruit and spit out the pits …

      What amazes me is, after much soul adventure and blossoming,
      I read the gospels, and sometimes even other writings, and I am Blown Away by Glory and
      Wisdom that shines through these words.

      Imoe ymmv
      Bless you on your Unique journey,
      Wendy

  17. tompicard
    tompicard  October 16, 2019

    additionally in reference to the paragraph

    >>A couple of readers have suggested that if these
    >> were “visions” then it makes sense that there
    >> would be considerable doubt. It’s an interesting . . . \
    >> . . .people who claim that they have been abducted by UFO’s.
    >>. . . People who have visions really seem to believe it.

    not sure exactly what the readers you are referring to meant however
    maybe the people who CLAIM to have been abducted by UFO’s believe they were real encounters (whatever real means)
    BUT the people they report their encounters to are probably going to close to universal ‘doubters’

  18. Avatar
    Barnsweb  October 17, 2019

    The four gospels testify against themselves. Why don’t people discuss the scriptural evidence of Jesus teachings in the Hebrew gospel account that was translated by George Howard? Looks to be very interesting to me. http://www.onediscipletoanother.org

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      It’s almost certainly a Hebrew translation of the Greek, made in the middle ages. I’m afraid George’s view never passed muster with other experts.

  19. Avatar
    godspell  October 17, 2019

    I’ve thought this for a while now. That it was the women who refused to let him go.

    Why did the cult of Jesus thrive after his death, while that of John the Baptist, which had been so much more influential, gradually languish and disappear?

    One reason could be that Jesus picked more talented disciples, better suited to finding new converts and building on the existing foundation (and would ultimately attract new leaders like Paul to their ranks). Another could be that Jesus was more open to gentiles than John, though it seems clear that both saw themselves as primarily reaching out to fellow Jews. Though both were charismatic preachers, perhaps Jesus’ parables and sayings were more suited for oral and written transmission, once that charisma had exited the stage.

    These could all be reasons–we don’t know enough about John and his cult to be sure. But even if all of these factors existed, I consider them secondary to the fact that Jesus went out of his way to talk to women, and seems to have regarded them as equals in the spirit. Unlikely that John shared this quality with his former student.

    John met his end by harassing Herod Antipas over what he considered an immoral marriage to his brother’s wife. Jesus would have likewise disapproved of the divorce and subsequent remarriage, but does not seem to have made an issue out of this type of thing. He was not, in the main, preaching about sexual morality–which very often turns into a condemnation of women as ‘occasions of sin.’

    And John was, to all accounts, a very intimidating figure–not the kind you can see engaging in lively discussions with females, even bidding one of them to stop preparing a meal and join such a discussion, because matters of the spirit are more important–for men and women alike.

    So their devotion to him was stronger. They followed him to the cross, not the men. No matter what you think happened to his body, the stories all say they were the ones who tried to tend to it. Think how terrifying that would be. But they did all they could for him.

    They wouldn’t let him go. And as for Mary–don’t some stories say she had demons? Meaning she saw things that weren’t there. (Or so we say.)

    • Bart
      Bart  October 18, 2019

      I”m not sure demon possession in antiquity was ever associated with false visions, the way it is today. I can’t think of an instance anyway…

      • Avatar
        godspell  October 18, 2019

        Yes, but we don’t actually believe she was possessed by literal demons, do we? Assuming we believe the stories of her having demons that Jesus cast out are even based on real events. She could have just been an imaginative and independent-minded young woman, who had powerful visions, that were taken as demonic possession, or later interpreted as such.

        In other words, she, like Jesus (who may have claimed to speak to demons) was a visionary. And to a visionary, the inner vision as is real as the physical world, if not more so.

        So wouldn’t she be the likeliest among his inner circle to have had a very real-seeming vision of the man who had believed in her potential risen in physical form, a vision that was not merely visual, but tangible as well?

        And she might well have had charisma to rival that of Jesus–which would have made her vision very compelling when recounted to others.

        But why would many if not most of the disciples have doubted her, when we must assume they wanted to believe he wasn’t really gone? It’s almost too obvious to mention, isn’t it?

        • Avatar
          godspell  October 19, 2019

          Now I think on it, aren’t there some stories where Jesus himself is accused of either being in league with demons or being possessed by one? Not such an uncommon thing to say of somebody who has unconventional religious views. St. Teresa of Avila, who had powerful religious visions, was nearly burned by the Inquisition for the suspicion her visions came from Satan, and of course Joan of Arc really was burned (though more for beating the English in battle).

        • Bart
          Bart  October 20, 2019

          No, since I don’t believe there really are supernatural beings called demons, I don’t think she was possessed by them.

          • Avatar
            godspell  October 20, 2019

            But that isn’t the question. The question is, did she have that reputation, even before she met Jesus, and if she did, might she have been the type of person who might, under moments of emotional stress and mystic exaltation, have seen Jesus before her in the flesh, experienced that just as vividly (if not more) as if he really was there–and then described that vision in such a compelling way as that many were convinced it had really happened, and perhaps had visions of their own as a response?

            If that could happen with Teresa of Avila (and it did, beyond question), why not Mary Magdalene? The difference being that Teresa really would have been burned if she’d said Jesus or Mary of any saint had appeared to her in the flesh. That would have been overstepping, claiming equality with figures from the gospels. Teresa understood her visions were visions, much as she hoped they came from heaven (she did accept the possibility that visions could come from demonic sources, devoted much thought to how one discerned true visions from false).

            No rules for Mary Magdalene. She’s rejected the authority of her fellow Jews by following this man. She reportedly had some measure of financial independence. Jesus’ other followers know she enjoyed great favor with him. She’s utterly free to decide what she has experienced and what it means. But since she’s a woman in a patriarchal society, she can’t seek official positions of authority–which in some respects, gives her a higher status.

            Maybe it all really did start with her.

          • Bart
            Bart  October 21, 2019

            Yes, that is indeed a different question. We don’t know what her reputation was. We just have a couple of verses in Gospels written decades after she had died. She’s actually not mentioned much in the Gospels at all — only *once* (total, in all four) before the Passion narrative.

  20. Avatar
    Salmonguy  October 17, 2019

    One of the proofs of Jesus’s ministry was his miracles. I find it quite ironic that the greatest miracle of all… coming back from the dead, was not reported to anyone outside of his followers. As Jesus told the leper to show himself to the High Priest as a testament to his healing, certainly Jesus would have done the same thing. After all… he had already conquered death and there was little the world could do to him now.

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