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I have a question about the context of Mark 16:1 and Luke 23:56 as they relate to the buying and preparing of the burial spices for Jesus of Nazareth.

Mark 16:1 (ESV) states:

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.

Luke 23:56 (ESV) says:

Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Mark clearly shows that, the purchasing of spices occurs after the day of rest after Jesus death. And Luke clearly shows the preparing of spices clearly occurs before the day of rest, after Jesus death.

If the spices were purchased after the day of rest, how could they be prepared before the day of rest unless the verses speak of two different days of rest?

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migrated from Jan 7 '14 at 15:31

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Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites. This question was really hard to follow. I've edited it to make it more clear. Let me know if I've missed your intent. – Dan Jan 8 '14 at 1:00
I find this to be resolved if Luke's phrase is taken as an authorial insertion to describe to the reader as to why they returned to do this activity. – swasheck Jan 9 '14 at 4:44
@swasheck Could you expand that into an answer? I don't see how it fits the context. (24:1, "But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.") To my ears, it sounds like they had prepared the spices before their rest. – Bruce Alderman Jan 9 '14 at 19:19
I keep getting ignored but the question from me can be restated like this-- since it is clear that the women bought spices after a day of rest and that the women prepared spices before a day of rest --then in order to follow proper hermeneutics we can only have the women buy the spices before preparing the spices. This must be so because if we have Luke go first and prepare spices precedes buy spices then the problem exists for the exegete to resolve the issue of where and when did the women get the spices. If preparing of spices prior to buy occurs then one must add to the text to answer the – Mary Jan 12 '14 at 0:41
question of where and when did they get the spices. Since days of rest (greek has one word for atleast 3 possible Hebrew renderings of day of rest) can therefore be referring to anyday of the week (seventh day Sabbath does have one day- but the others do not) we are easily looking at Mark answering the question of what and when did the women get the spices. Mary – Mary Jan 12 '14 at 0:41

3 Answers 3

I find your question a little perplexing, though I assume--rightly I hope--that your question has to do with the apparently conflicting descriptions of the events which occurred after Jesus' death and before He resurrected and appeared to His disciples, starting with Mary Magdalene.

In attempting to come up with an answer, I consulted Orville E. Daniel's excellent A Harmony of the Four Gospels (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986), pp.281-285, which puts all four evangelists' accounts side by side in a rather novel way: either you can choose to read only the bold print, which conflates all the differing details of all four Gospels into one narrative which you can follow by reading from column to column wherever you see bold print; or you can simply read each evangelist's account separately in each of the four columns, which contain both bold print and regular print. Neat!

Perhaps if I list the events which are of particular interest to you in quasi-chronological order (and some events that are not of particular interest to you), we can see how there is no contradiction among the two (let alone four) Gospel accounts of these events:

  1. On Friday, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus take Jesus' expired body from the cross and carry it (or perhaps they have servants with them to do the heavy lifting; we just don't know) to the unused tomb Joseph had purchased and prepared which was located in a garden near the site of the crucifixion. They wrap Jesus' body with cloths and 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes and place Him in the tomb.

  2. On the same day, Friday, the two Marys (and perhaps others) take note of where Joseph and Nicodemus placed Jesus' body and had rolled the stone over the grave's entrance.

  3. The two Mary's return home, and from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday (Sabbath) they rest.

  4. Perhaps after sundown on Saturday, the two Marys purchase their spices, although I suppose it's a possibility they bought them early Sunday morning. From whom they bought the spices the Bible does not tell us. The seller could have been a merchant, I suppose, with whom the women had conducted business before, or s/he could have been a neighbor. We just do not know.

  5. Very early on Sunday morning while it was still dark, the two Marys brought the spices with them to Jesus' tomb, expecting to anoint His body.

  6. An earthquake occurs; an angel descends from heaven and rolls the stone from the entrance of the tomb and sits on it; the Roman guards are frightened nearly to death; Mary Magdalene (and the other Mary), upon seeing the open tomb and finding no body inside the tomb is confronted by two men in gleaming clothes. Perhaps one of them who stood before her had heretofore been sitting on the stone (we don't know), and the other man was already standing before her. The two men (both angels, I assume) tell Mary to go quickly to inform the disciples--Peter first--that Jesus had risen and that He will meet them in Galilee. When Peter and John hear the news, they race to the tomb. John outruns Peter and only peers into the empty tomb, whereas Peter goes right into the tomb! Reluctantly, perhaps, John screws up his courage and decides to enter the tomb, whereupon he believes, though along with Peter He did not yet make the connection between the empty tomb and the scriptures which foretold Jesus' resurrection.

  7. Mary Magdalene who had returned to the tomb with Peter and John (this was her third trip to the tomb) lingers behind after Peter and John go back home; she sees two angels inside the tomb who ask her why she's crying; she tells them; she turns around (perhaps because she senses the presence of someone behind her) and seeing a man she presumes is the gardener asks Him if He's taken Jesus' body somewhere; when Jesus speaks her name, she immediately recognizes Him.

I hope you find this list helpful! More to the point, I hope it answers your question!

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I've edited the question to make it more clear. You may now want to include specific verse references in your answer for each parallel account to make it clear which texts are being discussed. I made a small edit to your post because we expect posts to not use signature, taglines, or greetings. +1 from me :) – Dan Jan 8 '14 at 1:12
So are you saying you favor Mark's chronology over Luke's? – Bruce Alderman Jan 9 '14 at 4:40
@BruceAlderman: I don't think so. I've tried to conflate the unique details of each Evangelist into a narrative flow, just as Dr. Orville did, without giving a preference to any one Evangelist. I plan to edit the post for better clarity, so I may need to get back to you again. Don – rhetorician Jan 9 '14 at 19:09

I believe the other answer is not a good understanding of the historical event in context.

One thing we should not do is try to read into the text what we know from tradition. The tradition I am speaking of is Good Friday. We should not try to fit the text into man made traditions because it simply doesn't work and it does not match with the written record. The Sabbaths spoken of here are indeed two different Sabbaths. Let me explain.

The only way this portion of scripture makes sense is if you remember how the Jewish people handle days and the fact that this is all taken place during the time of the Spring Feasts of the Lord. Remember a Jewish day is from sundown till sundown... An evening and a morning which completes a day Gen 1:5. So for instance the weekly Sabbath is from Sundown Friday evening until Sundown Saturday evening. That is the weekly Sabbath. So what about this apparent contradiction? The issue resolves itself if you understand the cultural and Biblical mandate here. The "Last Supper" was actually the Passover Seder. This had to have taken place on a Tuesday evening which would make Jesus' arrest, trial and execution happen between his arrest sometime late Tuesday evening through sometime early Wednesday Morning... He would have been on the Cross at the 9th hour or 3:00pm Wednesday...

You see in the text they want him off the cross because the Sabbath was about to start right? Well indeed it was. This would have been the High Sabbath the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:5-8) which the first day would have been a High Sabbath. So the High Sabbath starts off and would have been Wednesday Evening until Thursday sundown. This would have given Mary time to buy the spices on Friday which would have been after the High Sabbath and yet before the weekly Sabbath. Remember, they couldn't be purchased on a Sabbath, there is no buying or selling allowed. So then you have the weekly Sabbath Friday Evening and Saturday... Then the Sabbath closes on Saturday Evening and Mary shows up Sunday morning after the weekly Sabbath and Jesus has risen! He arose Sometime after Sundown Saturday evening and before she arrived Sunday Morning.

Oh by the way... This is indeed Three Days and Three nights just as Jonah was in the whale. So don't forget that this was during the Lord's Feast days... Also, another fun tidbit... Jesus would have rose on what is called the Feast of First Fruits! Ever wonder why 1 Cor 15:21-23 calls Jesus the First Fruits? Because He was raised on the Feast of First Fruits. So in detail, the Spring Feasts of the Lord are all in play here. There are 7 Feasts, The first 4 (Spring) are in relation to Jesus Death, Burial, Resurrection, and the giving of the Holy spirit 50 days later. Then we have the three fall feasts all in which are in relation to His second coming. I hope this clears things up for you. If you need any further clarification please feel free to ask.

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Tom, Could you add in some links to where folks can look into this further? – user2027 Jan 14 '14 at 5:52
Here is a nice link explaining my points I wrote earlier. Although I am not sure my days line up with this writer, the events are the same.… – user3301 Jan 15 '14 at 2:17
I have been writing up a detailed response on this. I may not have it ready until next week. – user3301 Jan 16 '14 at 14:18
Well thank you Lance- finally someone who understands some Torah. Sara the links are in the Word- or email something to and we will walk with you through a complex but not complicated subject. Back to Lance- the "last supper" is on the 14th but is not the official Passover meal- Jews may have seders but let us stick to Torah and not tradition. That said the last supper was just that for the sinless one went into the garden after the meal and the command in Torah is that none shall go out till morning after partaking in Passover- – Mary Jan 18 '14 at 0:25
He is sinless and did not break this command- He laid in the grave at the true time and thus did not go out. I think it is better to say how the Torah handles days or how in the Torah this truth is given to us by the Father- this is not about the Jews and what they came up with- this is about the Word- messiah- savior. Mary – Mary Jan 18 '14 at 0:25

Though Christian tradition tells us that messiah dies on Friday, the gospel accounts (see above) to indicate that he more likely was crucified and died before sundown on Wednesday. My questions, outlined below, revolve around this thesis.

Luke's record about the preparation of spices leaves open the question of what spices, and from where they were purchased. The account in Mark clearly answers the questions; So if we put the accounts in Mark and Luke together, we discover that more than one Sabbath is recorded. So if we read Mark and Luke together we discover the Pesach (Passover) occurred on Wednesday, unless you can refute the above text.

We know from Torah that days of "rest" (Sabbaths) may occur on any day of the week (year to year). For example, the Day of Atonement is an automatic Sabbath day irrespective of the day of the week that this feast/festival occurs, because the date never changes on the calendar. The same with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which immediately follows Pesach (Passover). The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (day right after Passover) is a Sabbath day of rest irrespective of the day of the week this occurs. In other words, while the date of Pesach (Passover) never changes, and by implication the date of the Feast of Unleavened Bread never changes (because it immediately follows Passover), the day (not date) of "Sabbath" rest of the Feast of Unleavened Bread will change from year to year.

So if messiah dies on Wednesday and is laid in the tomb just before sundown, then 3 days and 3 nights later would be just before sundown on the Sabbath according to my calculations. That is, messiah would or could rise from the dead on Saturday before sundown.

The aforementioned discussion concerning the spices provokes us to reexamine our assumptions concerning the day when Jesus was crucified and died. (At least we should re-open discussion on the subject.) Let us suppose that Jesus dies on Wednesday and rises on the Sabbath Saturday...

Here are three scenarios that I wish to propose for consideration and comment:

(1) The "panim" or Bread of Presence is renewed or replaced by the cohen (priest) on the Sabbath per Lev 24:5-9. My first question is why did the Father of all perfection have this recorded as a shadow or symbol for us to learn from... do you know of any other application of the replacement of the Bread of Presence in this context? I inferred this conclusion regarding the "panim" and its meaning after reading and meditating upon the word panim after reading a book from Brandt Pitre titled Jesus and the Jewish roots of the Eucharist (New York: Doubleday, 2011).

(2) The second scenario of the Sabbath resurrection reveals our future: on our day of resurrection we shall enter our eternal rest ("Sabbath"), that very day.

(3) Thirdly we must look at the Feasts as set forth in Torah itself (without necessarily defining their significance through the lens of contemporary Jewish traditions). Prior to the Feast of First Fruits ever appearing on the Biblical calendar, the barley is first checked for ripeness Ex 12. Barley must be ready prior to the end of the Sabbath and the beginning of First Fruits. In other words, one does not offer fruit of the ground that is unripe; to offer unripe barley does not make sense. So if messiah is the First Fruits, which always lands on a Sunday, then he is ripe, ready prior to the end of the sabbath and the beginning of FF. One does not need to rise on FF to be FF,you are such prior to First Fruits by designation.

In summary, these three descriptions clearly point to a Saturday Sabbath resurrection. I submit that Jesus the Messiah rose on the Sabbath, which was a Saturday. (We rise on a day that begins our eternal "rest").... I am sorry for lacking specific texts to support my views; I follow a regimen of not using the word of man, but in the future I understand the need to use them and will. But I must say that if we had been doing as the Psalmist says, then we would be much further along. We are not ( I was not), so I will try to provide more information in the future.

That being said we find in Ex 12:1-3 that the Father (the Lord) had commanded the Hebrews to "synchronize" their watches -- i.e., have the lambs blood on your doorposts when I tell you or it will not go well for you. This is in the month of the "ripe" barley and shall be the first month of your year. Most Jews celebrate the new year, Roshhoshana, on the first day the seventh month. I see the Father giving us a new calendar so that we will see His plan unfolding, and so something happening on the wrong day, and we should be wary (maybe the deceiver at work), and so days are very important to the Father. Pesach (Passover) is on the 14th day of first month; the day is the 14th, which again is Pesach (Passover), the slaughter of the lamb. Pesach (Passover) is date of the month driven, and so (as noted above in this posting) can happen any day during the week (year to year).

In conclusion, the discussion of the spices in Mark and Luke tell us this event happened on a Wednesday before sundown and is followed by a day of rest (first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread) or Thursday (Lev 23:6ff). The next important day is the Sabbath followed by the Feast of First Fruits (Lev 23:9-14). This First Fruits feast is an offering of the barley harvest each spring in Israel: the barley is ripe prior to the offering, so if the Jesus the Messiah is fulfilling the Feasts ("shadow pictures of good things to come") then how do you have Him rise after First Fruits begins? Does He come late for His own feast/festival which He had set in motion before the hills were ever formed?

Thus I have presented three scenarios, or word pictures for a Sabbath resurrection. Can anyone provide me feedback? I do want to know truth and believe that I am sent to present this truth. Thank you for your patience!!

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Mary, thank you. This is a start. It was not easy though to follow your logic because of all the other messages you were sending in your answer. I edited it in effort to draw out your thesis, logic, support, and sources by removing everything else. I encourage you to focus your answer: 1) State your thesis clearly at the top, 2) present your three main points/proofs, 3) explain them clearly and logically, step by step so we can follow them, 4) provide specific references for all Bible passages you refer to, 5) provide sources if you know of any where others have set forth this perspective. – user2027 Jan 24 '14 at 16:08
You make a number of allusions (e.g. to some stuff you say is in the Torah) but you don't actually give us references out quotes that can be verified. The same goes for historical and other assertions here. Sarah's edit is a big help to following your main point, but it is still nearly impossible to reconstruct your argument because you haven't given us all the pieces. With something that reads contrary to conventional wisdom, you will have to be more detailed in order for anyone to buy this. – Caleb Jan 24 '14 at 18:41
Mary - I very much admire your desire to dig and fathom the depths. You indicate that the Feast of First Fruits "always" lands on a Sunday, which seems to be contrary to your argument that the "day" of the "date" of these festivals and feasts changes year-to-year. (Why then "always" Sunday?) Also, according to Lev 23:11, this High Feast Day of First Fruits occurs on the day immediately after the Sabbath, which in context is the First Day of Unleavened Bread (High Sabbath). What are your thoughts? – Joseph Jan 25 '14 at 21:50
joseph thanks for the help-- ff is day of week sensitive- pesach is an event on the 14th making it day of month sensitive mary i reedited the question above – Mary Jan 26 '14 at 18:17

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