I was reading through the resurrection narratives in the four gospels, thinking about writing something about Mary Magdalene because of some comments I wrote on a Wheat & Tares post by Mormon Heretic [Smearing Mary Magdalene].
I was writing down the order of appearences made by Jesus after he resurrects from the grave, as given by each of the four witnesses that we have canonized currently.
The four gospel narratives:
- Mary Magdelene, out of whom Jesus had cast seven devils
- two of them as they walked and went into the country
- the eleven
- Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with him
- two of them on the road to a village called Emmaus
- the eleven
- Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
- the eleven
- Mary Magdalene
- the disciples
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:
Though we think of Paul as coming later in chronology — in terms of historical dates for the written records — the authenticated letters of Paul are the earliest written Christian documents of the bible. In other words, what got written down into [e.g.] Corinthian epistles was physically put to paper before the words that got written down as the Mark, Matthew, Luke, or John narratives.
1 Corinthians 15:5-8, then, gives what is the earliest [historically-speaking] written account of post-mortal appearances of Jesus, given as testimony that he did indeed resurrect from the grave. Paul writes the appearances in this order:
- the twelve
- over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain unto this present but some are fallen asleep
- all the apostles
- Paul himself
Of interest in Paul’s list is that the order is unlike anything seen in the four gospel narratives. The risen Jesus is seen by Peter first — not Mary [she's not there at all].
Then he is seen by “the twelve” — not the “eleven” [implying Judas was not counted out of the number of the quorum].
Then there is a large event where over 500 men see him at one time. This would have undoubtably been a miraculous account, if only our canon contained it. Paul was obviously using that appearance to lend the most verifiable credibility to his own testimony — because he makes it a point to mention that many of those men are still alive today — as if to say to the readers, “You can go ask them if you doubt me, they’re still around.”
Then James is mentioned separate from “the twelve” — presumably because this is “James, the Lord’s brother“, rather than the apostle who was John’s brother. Also it is interesting to note that Peter, the twelve, and James are all mentioned as separate from “all the apostles.” This suggests that what Paul considered an “apostle” is different from the Quorum of twelve male key-holders that we currently think of when we use that word:
and my fellowprisoners
who are noteworthy apostles
who also were in christ before me
Paul’s bound-less concept of the gospel:
I was thinking of some reasons why this would be. Paul seems to have thought about the church of Christ in terms that were broader in scope and more “bound-less” in understanding than did the brethren at Jerusalem. It was his radical idea that if it is indeed true that every one is justified, sanctified, and purified by faith in the blood of Christ alone — then:
there is neither jew nor greek
there is neither bond nor free
there is neither male nor female
for ye are all one
… a message of a gospel of uncircumcision — egalitarian tribal anarchy — or complete liberty in Christ.
Paul, in fact, did not seem to quorum with the twelve at Jerusalem and Peter at all. He makes it a point in his letter to the Galatian church to state that the gospel he delivered to them was given to him straight from the mouth of Jesus — and not from the oral tradition and records of the men at Jerusalem:
an apostle not of men, neither by man
but by Jesus christ, and god the father, who raised him from the dead
unto the churches of Galatia
I certify you
that the gospel which was preached of me
is not after man
for I neither received it of man
neither was I taught it
but it came by the revelation of Jesus christ
but when it pleased god
to reveal his son in me
that I might preach him among the gentiles
immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood
neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me
after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter
and abode with him fifteen days
but I saw none of the other apostles
save James the Lord’s brother
I was unknown by face unto the churches of Christ in Judea
Paul also describes how Peter acted with “stiffneckedness and unbelief” [3 Nephi 15:18]:
when the brethren at Jerusalem saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me
as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter
and when James, Cephas, and John
who seemed to be pillars
perceived the grace that was given unto me
they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship
that we should go unto the gentiles
and they unto the circumcision
but when Peter was come to Antioch
I withstood him to the face
because he was to be blamed
for [...] he did eat with the Gentiles
but when they were come [from Judea]
he withdrew and separated himself fearing them which were of the circumcision
but when I saw that they walked not uprightly
according to the truth of the gospel
I said unto Peter before them all
if thou, being a jew, livest after the manner of gentiles [...] why compellest thou the gentiles to live as do the jews?
knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law
but by the faith of Jesus christ
even we have believed in Jesus christ
that we might be justified by the faith of christ
and not by the works of the law
for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified
In fact, the undisputedly authentic letters of Paul [Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Philemon, and 1 Thessalonians] are never addressed to:
- “Bishop So-and-so, of the church at ______”
- “The elders of the church at _______”
But are always addressed to just “the church”, as a leaderless body of equals who gather together for worship. It’s not until the disputed letters of Paul [1 and 2 Timothy and Titus] that you start to see a leadership hierarchy being given direction that they are to pass on to the lay-members.
The church of Christ in Judea went through all three stages of the church of God:
It started in stage one, built on the miraculous works of the Father:
and when the day of pentecost was fully come
they were all with one accord in one place
and suddenly there came a sound from heaven
as of a rushing mighty wind
and it filled all the house where they were sitting
and there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire
and it sat upon each of them
and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost
and began to speak with other tongues
as the Spirit gave them utterance
The church of Christ multiplied greatly, the word of God was preached with authority and power, the community of believers lived as Zion, etc.
By the time we get to the time at which Paul begins writing his letters [~40-50's AD], the church of Christ has entered the stage two, built on the works of men.
The church in Judea governs according to their Judean culture, instead of the purity of the truth of the gospel alone. The “stiffneckedness and unbelief” that Jesus mentioned to the Nephite church began to exert itself until manifestations of power began leaving the church.
The church of Christ begins to solidify into a hierarchy of religious brokers — who see themselves as having the jurisdiction over who experiences Jesus and how.
In the gospel of Mary Magdelene, it reads:
When Mary had [told the twelve what Jesus taught to her], she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her.
But Andrew answered and said to the brethren: “Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas.”
Peter answered and spoke concerning the same things. He questioned them about the Savior, saying: “Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?”
Then Mary wept and said to Peter: “My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?”
Levi answered and said to Peter: “Peter you have always been hot tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well.”
Finally the history of the church of Christ passes through stage three [built on the works of the devil] — where at some point, it is wholly rejected by the Lord and ceased to have any power or authority.
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