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Answering The Atheist
June 11, 2006 / Volume 6, Issue 24

When did the women (or woman) arrive at the sepulchre? While it was still dark (John 20:1), or at sunrise (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1-2)? Is there a contradiction?

Let us see the three texts in question:

  • The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. (Jn 20:1)
  • In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. (Mt 28:1)
  • And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. (Mk 16:1-2)
All three of these accounts describe what we might call "twilight". It is correct to describe the period which is "very early in the monring" as still "dark", for the sun has not yet risen. However, it is correct also to speak of this time "very early in the monring" as when it begins to "dawn". The sun has not yet risen, but the sun is "rising".

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible