Taking Easter Seriously – Revised & Enhanced

It is that time of year again, and so I am reposting the popular “Taking Easter Seriously” infographic. This 2015 version includes slight enhancements and corrections to the prior version.

Many Christians read the Easter stories year upon year, as I did for several decades, yet we never compare them in detail. As a consequence, we often do not realize that they are not telling the same story. There are indeed contradictions in the texts, but it is very important to move beyond “mere contradiction” — the issues with our gospels are far more extensive than that. Comparison against the historical record and assessing the gospels for trends of legend development are probably far more crucial. As with many non-believers, I left Christianity specifically because of the Bible, and because I considered and examined its content very seriously indeed.

Perhaps it is time for more Christians to take the Bible and our Easter stories seriously.

[Click Image for Full Size Version (PNG), Use Ctrl+ and Ctrl- to adjust zoom.] or [PDF Version ]  or [Greek Version]

I am indebted to scholars like Bart Ehrman, Marcus Borg, & Richard Carrier, without whom I would no doubt continue in my own past failures to take Easter seriously. And as always, I look to improve the accuracy of my work wherever possible. Please reply with any factual errors found, and I will correct appropriately. Thanks.

Also See: Infographic for New Testament Timeline

(C) Copyright 2015, JerichoBrisance.com

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

[In other words, feel free to pass along, distribute, etc., just don’t repackage it and sell it. Thanks!]

 

~

References:

  • Dennis, Lane T., ed. ESV Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.
  • Thomas, Robert L, and Stanley N. Gundry. A Harmony of the Gospels, NASB. Harper Collins, 1978.
  • Ehrman, Bart D. Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them). HarperOne, 2010.
  • Borg, Marcus J. Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written. HarperOne , 2012 
  • Price, Robert M. (2012-02-07). The Christ-Myth Theory And Its Problems. American Atheist Press. 
  • Carrier, Richard. On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. Sheffield Phoenix Press Ltd. 2014.
  • Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. Yale University Press; 1 edition (October 13, 1997)
  • http://rationalfaiths.com/a-brief-history-of-the-bible-part-iii-new-testament-timeline/
  • Selected lectures by Richard Carrier, YouTube.

Additional Information:

Related Wikipedia Sites:

About this graphic: Template content from GraphicRiver.com, Data Deck II Retro. Fonts include Abraham Lincoln and Fabrica.

Comments

  1. Janelle says:

    One of my favorites!

    Like

  2. You don’t post enough, Matt.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m glad that everyone is well, please remember, you don’t have to believe any of the stories to enjoy a seasonal chocolate rabbit!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well done!

    A couple of thoughts. In section 4: “Why did the women go to the tomb at all?”, laymen may not understand the question, since we commonly visit “closed” gravesides today to mourn the dead. You might mention that Mark 16 and Luke 24 state specifically that the women go to the tomb to annoint the body with spices.

    Carrier’s position on Jesus as a mythical figure is really a very fringe position. The vast majority of even atheist biblical scholars find this position untenable. Not because there is a wealth of historical information about Jesus, but rather because an ordinary man embellished with miracle tales is a far more likely explanation for the stories we have than the creation of a completely mythological figure.

    In other words the problem that legitimate biblical scholars like Ehrman have with Carrier is not so much that we have lots of historical information about Jesus (we don’t). Only that Carrier’s alternative origin theory is a poorly supported explanation for the Pauline letters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point Beau, perhaps I could add a phrase to reduce ambiguity there.

      Like

    • I find the utter lack of contemporary mentions of Jesus by the 100+ historians and other writers of the time and area of whose works we have knowledge, to be irreconcilable with Jesus having actually existed. It is simply inconceivable that none of these writers would have mentioned Jesus, even disparagingly, as an impostor or trouble-maker.
      Paul was simply one of the first to drink the Kool-aid.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Very well done and concise. Thank you for your time and efforts! I shared on Facebook!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great material. There’s also the fact that John has the crucifixion occur on the Thursday, ‘the day of Passover preparation’ (John 19:14-16 & 19.31) while the synpotics suggest Friday, ‘the morning after’ the Passover meal (eg: Mark 14:12; 15:1, 25 ). See also: http://jamestabor.com/2013/03/29/jesus-died-on-a-thursday-not-on-friday/ . There may also be a discrepancy with the time – 3rd hour in Mark, 6th hour in John.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very true. Nearly included them. The counter apologetic made it a complex point though, and it was a little more abstract. Had to cut something, and there were definitely more contradictions left on the table, sadly. But I concur with you.

      Like

  7. Hercules was probably based upon King Eurytheus of Argos. Many legends are based upon real people, they just get blown out of proportion.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A sixth way of looking at it might be to consider those first-generation Christians (Jesusites? Nazarists? they certainly didn’t call themselves Christians, that came later) not as though they should have been first century reporters documenting history in case people might want to analyze the details of it for contradictions two thousand years later.

    Instead, what if they were semi-literate working class men and women, passionate believers in something life-changing and miraculous, who thought Jesus was coming back again any day now, and for whom writing the story down just wasn’t high on their list of priorities or abilities? Eventually they did, at least in part to share the miracle in a different way, with different audiences, in different languages, emphasizing different parts of the story.

    It seems pretty facile to pick those writings apart as though they were powerpoint decks or documentary films.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan, if we approach the documents as simply human accounts, I concur. The elevation of those accounts to scripture, bedecked with halo and authority, is the wellspring of Christendom and its accompanying problems. I created this Infographic in large part as a tool for interacting with scriptural inerrantists. My corresponding NT Timeline Infographic on the right sidebar deals with the notion of chronology and evolution over time.

      Like

  9. One of my faves, as you know. 🙂

    The only content change I’m seeing are the newly-alliterated titles in section 5. Are there others?

    Rock on with the version numbers and creative commons.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Forgot to add: those “famous last words”…they all do so sound so…dramatic.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. In the section “Was Pilate actually reluctant to convict?”, you wrote “yet he felt acute concern for justice and hesitation over a VIOLENT small-time troublemaker?”. Did you mean to say NON-VIOLENT? Great info graphic anyways, but could use a good proof reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Matt, good infographic there, thanks. The varying Christian attitudes towards the bible are part of what caused me to walk away too. However, from a scholarly perspective, I spent 5 years teaching religious education in secondary schools and as a non-partisan department we taught that Jesus was a factual historical figure, and can be found referenced in the works of Tacitus, Josephus, Pliny the Younger, the Babylonian Talmud, and Lucian. None of these figures had any ‘interest’ in confirming the existence of a man named Jesus (or more commonly, Yeshua) but they all mention him.

    I’ll not quibble about the nature of the man; far be it for me to make any claims about a man who lived millennia before me, but that he existed is surely not in any doubt?

    Like

    • Hi Nimone, thanks for your comments. I think a sea change is upon the field of NT studies there. I’ve reviewed the references you cited, and much open territory remains IMO. response to Christian belief does not provide solid independent historical attestation. The Mythicist position is viable, though I cannot say it commands a scholarly majority. I am not a NT scholar, but I think the “market share” of that view is likely to increase in the next 20 years.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Great job!
    Matt, would you mind if I translate this to Spanish? I think this would be beneficial (or at least informative) to a lot of people in my country.
    Or, if you would prefer, I can provide you with a Spanish translation if you’d like to produce one. Let me know if you are interested.

    Like

  14. Hello,

    I will begin by confessing (see what I did there?) that I only stumbled upon this blog/image because of a “related links” section of Facebook. I am a believer in Jesus as the Christ. I am no student of the bible, or scriptures as I normally refer to them as. I’m glad that you created this infographic! Honestly I am glad. In my opinion, too many Christians hold the bible as central to their faith, rather than Jesus. They should be called Biblicans or something!

    Because I’m not a scripture scholar, I comment with no authority. Here are some opinions of mine I offer.

    Regarding the last words, it seems entirely possible that the accounts that are retold and retold and eventually written, would be from different perspectives. Going by the Old Testament, it seems to reason that the Jews were really skilled at telling the same story over and over again consistently. I imagine people being people and simply do not remember everything during such a chaotic event.

    Regarding Jesus at the tomb after his death. In John 20, when Mary returns to the tomb with Peter and John, and they leave, she encounters the angels. In verse 14 it goes into her encounter with Jesus there, at the tomb. You seemed to have omitted that part.

    Regarding magical powers, you posed a question asking why the stone needed to be rolled away. It seems logical that it would be done to show the tomb being empty. I don’t imagine such a stone would easily be moved away by a few women, or even a few men.

    Regarding the women going to the tomb, in John 19 starting at verse 38, it shows that there was at least a little allowance by Pilate for the Jews to adhere to their customs regarding the burial of Jesus. If this is what the women were going to the tomb to complete, it stands to reason they would be granted access. Surely the guards wouldn’t be overpowered by some women?

    The reason I’m glad you put this together is the hope that it causes many people to stop accepting everything they’re told in blind faith and actually demonstrate some critical thinking on their own. Thank you for that!

    Also, because I am not familiar with you, why do you associate this all with Easter? It makes no sense to me.

    Like

    • Thanks for your comments Rob. Yes, I omitted the later sequences from John. Ultimately, the start and end points of those sequences all omit things pre/post what is shown. For John, whose order differs the most, I only included sufficient events to show how the sequencing differs from the synoptics. This is actually a big issue with John everywhere. Baptism, miracles, travel, trial, day of crucifixion, resurrection morning, etc. John differs just about everywhere. It’s like pulling the yarn on a sweater.

      As to your other comments, consider the alternative explanation – that the gospels demonstrate a building legend that became embroidered with more details as time went by. There are lots of ways that could *plausibly* explain why the gospel tellings differ. The better question is, among the plausible explanations, what is probable? Here it helps to see how legends are built regarding other religious figures. A general pattern emerges. And what we see here tends to fit that pattern, which explains things in a way that mainstream modern scholars tend to regard as the more powerful overall model to account for the divergences.

      The question then becomes, what was true and what was legendary buildup? Enter the entire field of Historical Jesus studies. See my bibliography for a 5-Views comparative book that gives essays and rebuttals by scholars from five different viewpoints. Very valuable for the layman IME.

      Like

  15. It would be really great if you could include references to the bible chapter/verse for each statement on the infographic. Either a separate list you could link to or an alternate version with the text more transparent and just the references imposed on top.

    Great work though nicely presented.

    Like

    • Thanks Zardoz. I omitted any uber-detailed lists of verses because the Easter accounts all fall within a compact sequence of each Gospel. One doesn’t have to hunt around the books or the Old/New Testament much to find the sections of interest. The most useful single tool for this would be a Harmony of the Gospels, and the one I’ve used can be found following the graphic.

      Like

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Michael Seidel, writer

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