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The Crucifixion in the Bible’s Gospels Differences and Contradictions

All of the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion are actually very brief1 – half a chapter of each gospel. The best comparison of the gospels’ crucifixion stories is that of Bart Ehrman in The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot where he compares them to other Christian writings of the time. He describes not only differences in details but a difference in style and emotion from the earlier accounts to the latter ones. As time progresses, Jesus becomes more and more mythologized and romanticized. Especially given that the first person to mention the event in writing, St Paul in 1 Cor 2:2, mentions no details at all and has Jesus crucified by a mythological being from the Gnostic religious tradition (an Archon, the archangelic servants of the Gnostic Demiurge)1. Given all of the problems, Robert Price asks “what are we to make of this very strange circumstance, that no memory of the central saving event of the Christian religion survived1? Critics of Christianity delight in these significant obstacles to belief.

The gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke contradict each other’s records of the crucifixion, even on the parts that consider to be the most important. Jesus died at different times of the day in the gospels, spoke to different people, gave different sets of final words and confusingly different accounts of the circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. It is not simply a case that they recorded different details: the actions of Jesus in each gospel reflect general differences in opinion about what Jesus’ character should be. In Mark‘s sombre account Jesus is silent and mocked by all around him, and cries out in despair at the end. But in Luke and John Jesus is talkative, gives advice, and is surrounded by followers even while on the cross. Despite the massive impact they would have had on entire communities, the gospel writers also record different supernatural events occurring upon Jesus’ death too – Matthew 27:51-53 describes Earthquakes and the rising of the dead – things which no-one else at all noticed. Each gospel writer states their version as fact even though it is clear that some of them simply didn’t know the truth. Read more of this post