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Answering The Atheist
October 17, 2004 / Volume 4, Issue 42

Where did the women watching the crucifixion stand? Some texts say they were afar off (Matthew 27:55; Mark 15:40; Luke 23:49), but others say they stood near the cross (John 19:25). Is there a contradiction?

It is not uncommon for people to view a spectacle from a distance at first, and then afterward, to draw closer. It is this very inclination in man that requires our emergency squads to block off the scene of accidents or other events which draw a crowd. Were the blockade not present, many would press toward the site.

Likewise, and more akin to the supposed contradiction cited, I can recall the day upon which my grandmother passed away. Arriving at her hospital room, I did not immediately come to her side, but stood at a distance for a few moments first. Such a pause is not unusual, but rather an opportunity to reflect upon the situation. How much more appropriate for these women to stand afar off, given the means by which their loved one was to die. Whether it be shock or fear (or very likely a combination of both) which kept them at a distance, before the deed was done, they gathered close to the Son of God.

To prove a contradiction, the questioner must establish that the time spoken of was precisely the same. That is, the Synoptic gospels proclaim these women to be afar off at the precise time when John says they were nigh to the Saviour.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible