Skeptics have often criticized the biblical accounts at the end of the four gospels……the details surrounding the death on the cross and resurrection morning. The gospels spend a great deal of ink describing these events, and include many details. Many of the passages do not match word-for-word, and the critics try to make a lot of hay with this. One angel at tomb or two? Who went to the tomb first, and how many were in the group? Was it before dawn or after? And there are many other questions.
First, those of us who believe in the historical accuracy of the biblcal accounts have been placed in a paradoxical box by the critics. For we have one set of critics who say the gospels are shot through with discrepancies, a regular swiss cheese of disagreements. They then cry foul, claiming that none of the documents can be trusted. Other critics do their best to point to similarities in the documents, saying that the gospel accounts are so similar that they were copied from each other, and are therefore not original and cannot be trusted. Whichever postition we take–whether we say that the accounts match exactly or whether we say that they differ a bit–some critic will say that position is proof of the falsity of the documents. Whatever is the case with the gospel accounts, these two situations cannot both be true at the same time of the same details. The four gospels cannot be mostly different and be mostly the same, and therefore false for opposite reasons. At least one of these critics’ claims is false.
Second, the accounts read just like one would expect: four eyewitness accounts of something that happened once, and they did not have instant replay. They wrote down what they saw. Critics are not being genuine when they treat the gospel accounts with a different standard than other eyewitness accounts.
Third, most, if not all, of the problems have simple solutions. Matthew says “an angel” came and spoke, and Luke says “two men stood by in shining garments,” presumably angels. A very simple solution: if two were there, and one was silent and the other did all the talking, it is normal to say an angel was there and said such-and-so. This is no contradiction at all. The text does not say “only one angel.” Likewise with the account of the women at the tomb on Easter morning: none of the gospel writers say ’the only people there were….” but rather they give a list of people, and the list could be an incomplete list. Further, the audiences of the gospel writers differ, and therefore the accounts mention different details because they wanted to emphasize different things.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, the reasonableness of the critics is in significant doubt. For example, one gospel describes Easter morning as “when the sun had risen,” another says “began to dawn,” and another says “while it was still dark.” There are several very reasonable answers for this. It could have been dark when they left and light when they got there; it could have been light on top of the hill and dark down in the valley; it could have been cloudy that day and dark even though the sun was up. But my friends, let us say, for arguments sake, that we are willing to give this point to the critics. Is it reasonable to deny our eternal destiny because of an argument over how light is light and how dark is dark? Are you willing to risk the fires of Hell due to someone’s misinterpretation of when dawn occurs? There are vast amounts of historically accurate information contained in the bible (see here, and here, and here). Are we really willing to put our soul on the line due to arguments over how many women were at the tomb?
The four gospels present themselves as eyewitness accounts. Read them as such, give the writers the benefit of being there while you were not, and let the text speak for itself. You will find that it is accurate, reasonable, and historical.