Much criticism has come from Bible critics about the number of women who are described to be at the tomb of Jesus on the morning He resurrected. This is a relatively easy answer, solved by (gasp!) reading the passages.
The Gospel of Matthew
And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave. . . Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. (Matthew 27:61, 28:1)
The Gospel of Mark:
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was laid. When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. (Mark 15:47 – 16:1)
The Gospel of Luke:
Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes.
And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. . . Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. (Luke 23:55-24:10)
The Gospel of John:
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” (John 20:1-2)
From these passages, we can see that:
- Matthew says that two people named Mary were there: Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary.”
- Mark lists Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James (Joses), and Salome.
- Luke Lists “the women who had come with him,” including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and “other women with them.”
- John mentions only Mary Magdalene.
So the resolution is quite simple. Suppose I were to tell you that I had run into Marvin today, and Marvin had told me such-and-so. It would not be any sort of problem if I had also run into several other people, yet did not mention these. This happens all the time; we read that the President said this and that, and we do not have any issue with the news reporter leaving out that there were two other speeches, and a host of secret service men hanging around.
So when we have three gospel writers listing both Marys, and one just mentioning one Mary, there is no problem at all. When Dr. Luke mentions “the other women” but does not give their name, we do not fault him, for this is a normal way of telling a story. John’s way of just mentioning only Mary Magdalene would be very routine, especially if Mary Magdalene had become a prominent leader in the church.
There is no contradiction, or even difficulty, in the number of women who appear at the tomb on resurrection morning. Trying to make an issue out of this only appears to be a skeptic in search of a controversy, determined to find one.