Or Does it? …………………Well in an era of scientific rationalism it would seem that to take refuge inside the subjective realm of faith is a safe bet. Afterall no one can deny (or confirm) what we’re feeling right now. For you and for me our feelings or beliefs are equally valid.
There’s no way another person can discredit your belief in the resurrection, because it’s “your own personal leap of faith”.
Sadly however, what’s implied by “our personal leap of faith” is that this is somehow meritorious. Meaning, that although all the evidence conclusively (and supposedly) refutes the “Resurrection”, we believe it anyway. Like jumping off a tall building, into pitch-black darkness and believing someone at ground level is going to catch you.
I’m not sure about you, but in my opinion this position not only portends stupidity, it’s also the antithesis of what the Bible calls “faith”. When God asks us to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, He’s not asking us to believe in something that didn’t happen, in order to get a fuzzy feeling, but to believe in something that did.
Why Would You Listen to the Testimony of a Woman?
Now, I’m sure the statement above, rankled the heckles of the Feminists among us.
But hear me out!
Over the last two articles we’ve been looking at the evidence within the Gospels which corroborates the Resurrection. We’ve seen that although Science claims it’s impossible, nonetheless we’ve seen that Science is a blunt and unreliable instrument when studying events in the past. The strategies of Lawyers, Historians and Literary Critics bring the right tools, fitting to the task.
So, here’s the kicker. In the first century, in both Roman and Jewish societies, a woman’s testimony in a court of law was usually inadmissible. For they were considered to be hysterical, and irrational (don’t shoot the messenger).
Yet, Mark for a good reason, places them bang in the centre of the crucifixion – resurrection scene (Mark 15-16). Hitherto, Mark barely mentions the women, who had accompanied Jesus during his three-year ministry. But not anymore, at the point of the crucifixion they take front stage as eye witnesses of the Resurrection (embarrassing for the male ego, none of the disciples are there). Mark surprisingly and intentionally brings the women into his narrative. He places them at a distance watching Jesus, as he hung upon the cross and then dies.
“Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were there also ……… …………………… Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid”. Mark 15: 40-41,47
Then once the body of Jesus is taken down, they follow Joseph of Arimathea from Golgotha to his personal tomb, there they wait for Joseph to place Jesus’ corpse in the grave, and then watch as it is sealed. And at dawn, Sunday morning they are at the tomb again, perplexed by the open grave, which had seen sealed two days before (Mark 16:1).
The first person to see Jesus alive was Mary Magdalene a woman, then the other women. The disciples (male) were missing in inaction.
Furthermore, they are mentioned by name. This is a serious breach of Jewish custom. Women are customarily introduced and represented by a male family member, a husband, uncle or brother, eg the wife of Benjamin, and not Mary the mother of James. But not on this occasion.
Why is it different on this Occasion?
The questions we should be asking ourselves are firstly “Why are the names of these women mentioned?” And secondly “Why are the women mentioned at all?”
Paul in his stentorian defence of the Resurrection found in 1 Cor 15, doesn’t mention women witnessing the Resurrection, instead writes them out of history. Because he felt that using the testimony of women when defending the bodily Resurrection of Jesus before the Corinthians would weaken his case, on account of the commonly held view that a woman’s testimony could not he trusted.
I’m sure the Gospel writers felt the same pressure to remove women from their accounts. But they couldn’t do it. Knowing that making women the first eyewitnesses to the Resurrection would be disparaged by those in the ancient world. Nonetheless, they recorded it as it happened. The truth had to be told, as unpalatable as it was because this is exactly how it happened. The truth needed to be told no matter the cost.
Vic Matthews has three degrees: B.Optom, B.Arts & B. Christian Studies. He is a kiteboard tragic, and a fledgling author, and copywriter. His books can be found at http://www.graphw.co/books/
Vic Matthews' previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/vic-matthews.html