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Matthew writes:

7And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 8And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. 9And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. (Matthew 28:7-10)

However, Luke does not mention this anticipated encounter at all, and instead seems to say that Christ appeared to the disciples first in Jerusalem, and told them to stay there, and rose again shortly afterward (after forty days, as is recorded). In Luke 24:49, Christ says:

And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

How can the two accounts be harmonized in this regard? Thank you.

  • If you look at a published Harmony of the Gospels, a great deal more is going on than reported in any one of the gospels. Each gospel gives a condensed account. – Perry Webb Aug 11 '18 at 14:18
  • Related to this question is how many times did the disciples go between Jerusalem and Galilee after the Resurrection until the Ascension. – Perry Webb Aug 11 '18 at 14:41
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@CMK.....What Perry Webb suggested is fair enough. However, the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke) and John all have these sorts of issues. The reason is because each author had a different audience and agenda when presenting their biography of Jesus (i.e. Gospel). They have similarities and differences because of the time they were written (60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s in the 1st century), region of circulation (Mark + Luke = Rome | Matthew = Palestine or Antioch) and presentation of the same stories. To harmonize is a default reaction, but the Gospels dont work that way. Mark was written first, and then Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source (and perhaps Luke used Matthew as well, and maybe they knew of other sources, just like scholar propose the Q source). In doing so, the authors used documentation practices known to the greco-roman period such as conflation and compression. . Therefore, to answer your question is a bit difficult since it supposes that the authors must be saying the same thing, otherwise they are unreliable. But, it doesnt quite work this way. In all honesty, the Synoptic Gospels and John are filled with issues that NT scholars have been dealing with for hundreds of years. The scholarly libraries are filled with this stuff. I recommend the following resources, in order of importance:

  • Scot McKnight, Interpreting the Synoptic Gospels (vol. 2; Guides to New Testament Exegesis; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988),

  • Michael R. Licona, Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?: What We Can Learn from Ancient Biography (Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 17, 2016)

  • Mark Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem: A Way through the Maze (London: T&T Clark, 2005)

Here is a list of compositional devices (documentation practices-- in my own words) by Dr. Mike Licona on why there are differences in the Synoptic Gospels:

  1. Transferal
  2. Displacement
  3. Conflation
  4. Compression
  5. Spotlighting
  6. Simplification
  7. Expansion of narrative details
  8. Paraphrasing
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