Now this is truly interesting. After looking at it, the explanation is obvious.
First of all, Matthew does not contain an account of the Ascension. No contradiction there.
In Luke, as in Acts ("Luke part II"), the directive to remain in Jerusalem until imbued with the Holy Spirit is given just before the Ascension. This allows 40 days (Acts 1:3) for the intervening action, including the journey of some of the Disciples to Galilee (presumably they went home in order to "sort things out").
Thank you so much for the opportunity to clear that up!
This is only 'cleared up' if you ignore a lot of information. I am afraid there are details you have not taken account of.
Here are the appearances to the disciples specifically mentioned in the gospels.
1) On the first day of the week after the resurrection (John 20:19) in Jerusalem where the disciples are hiding for fear of the Jews. From the text, it seems all 11 are there except Thomas. At this point, the Apostles receive the Holy Spirit.
2) One week later in the same place with Thomas present.
3) Some time later by the Sea of Tiberias. This is specifically said to be the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples
after he was raised form dead. (John 21:14). As you noted, only 5 of the 12 are said to be there along with two other disciples. However, this is only the third time he has appeared to these. Note this is by the Sea of Tiberias, not by the mountain in Galilee.
Note that no ascension is mentioned in John.
Since these two Biblical books are, by tradition and their own testimony, part of the same work, I will deal with these together.
1) Jesus does not appear to the women at the tomb at all, but does appear to two disciples walking to Emmaus. This is also on the first day of the week after the resurrection.
2) That same day, while the larger group of disciples are discussing the experience of the first two, Jesus appears to them. This occurs in Jerusalem. Jesus commands them to remain in the city until they are clothed with power from on high.
Immediately after this, the walk out to Bethany, and we have the ascension of Jesus from that location. The disciples return to Jerusalem, and are said to be continually in the temple blessing God.
Now, even just taking into account Luke and John, we have issues. John makes no mention of the appearance on the road to Emmaus. It is conceivable the second appearance in Luke is the same as the first appearance in John. They do occur on the same day.
In Acts, Luke reviews some of this. He repeats that Jesus ordered the disciples not to leave Jerusalem. He repeats the description of the ascension at Bethany. He adds mention of two men in white robes who ask them why they are looking up to heaven and says Jesus will come in the same way you saw him go. They then return to Jerusalem, as described in the gospel. All 11 are specifically said to be there in the upper room.
From the narrative, this would still be on the first day of the week.
This creates a problem with respect to John who says Thomas was NOT present when Jesus appeared to the disciples on this first day of the week.
Luke does indicate Jesus appeared further over 40 days. This would indicate Jesus did come back after the initial ascension from Bethany. No mention is made of any appearances in Galilee. There is NO indication the Apostles ever left Jerusalem until well into the book of Acts, after interactions with the chief priests, and the sever persecution which begins with the stoning of Steven described in Chapter 7. However, even after this, as noted in Chapter 8, all except the Apostles
were scattered throughout Judea.
Clearly, according to Luke, there are NO appearances of Jesus to the disciples except in Jerusalem. To assert otherwise is to read into the text facts that are not there.
The original gospel of Mark records no appearances of Jesus to anyone at all. A man in a white robe appears to the women (plural) and tells them to tell the disciples to go to Galilee. The gospel ends with â€œand they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.â€�
Now, Mark has come to include either a shorter ending, or a longer ending, neither of which was part of the original according the manuscript evidence as analyzed by most scholars. However, if we include the longer ending, we do have appearances.
1) After appearing to Mary Magdalene, he appears to two unnamed believers in the country. This could conceivable the same two described in Luke.
2) Later, no time specified, he appears to the 11 â€˜at tableâ€™ and upbraids them for their lack of faith.
The time and place of both appearances is vague, but if we make the assumption (and that is what it is, an assumption) that Mark is consistent with Luke and John, this second appearance to the 11 must be in Jerusalem. But again, it is inconsistent with John in that all 11 are said to be present, while John said Thomas was absent.
Note that after this appearance, Jesus ascends. Given what is written in Luke, this again must be from Bethany, and this would put the timing of this event on the first day of the week.
Jesus appears to the two Maryâ€™s after they see the angel. They grasp his feet and worship him (this is inconsistent with John). They get the same message to tell the disciples to go to Galilee, but here, unlike in Mark, they deliver this message.
Here, the disciples DO go to Galilee without ANY mention of having seen Jesus before doing so. All 11 see him at the mountain to which they had been directed, as Jesus had told the women. In fact, In Matt. 28:11, the author says â€œWhile they were going . . â€œ the Roman guards relay the news of Jesusâ€™ absent body to the authorities. This happens directly after getting the message from the women. According to Matthew, the disciples immediately leave Jerusalem to go to Galilee, where they have their first meeting with Jesus.
There is no reasonable way to reconcile all these details. The disciples canâ€™t be leaving Jerusalem on the day of or after the resurrection, and still be there for over a week to meet with Jesus twice in the upper room in Jerusalem.
They canâ€™t have their first meeting with Jesus on the mountain in Galilee, and then have their third meeting with Jesus by the Sea of Tiberias after two meetings with Jesus in Jerusalem as described in John.
Not to mention that the women canâ€™t both say nothing to anyone, and then also tell the disciples what the angel told them as soon as they get back from the tomb.
In addition, I will give you two more details that are not reconcilable.
Read Mark chapter 11 and Matthew chapter 21. In Mark, Jesus curses the fig tree and it is withered the next day. In Matthew, it withers on the spot before their very eyes.
Secondly, how many women actually are at the tomb and what happens there? Note that in Matthew, an earthquake is mentioned which causes the stone to roll away, and an angel appears to reassure the women, who are evidently witnessing all of this. The women are both named Mary.
In Mark, Salome is also present and there is no earthquake. The stone is already rolled away before they get there. Again, there is no reasonable way both can be literally true down to the details.
In Luke, an unspecified number of women from Galilee saw his tomb the day before, and then came back the next day. The stone had already been rolled away. Later, the women are said to be the two Maryâ€™s along with Joanna, one of their mothers, and other unnamed women. Thus, not two as in Matthew, nor three as in Mark but four and probably more. In addition, in Luke, Jesus does NOT appear AT ALL to any of these women.
Finally, in John, ONLY Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb and finds the stone rolled away. She goes back and without any mention of angels or Jesus, tells the disciples that Jesus is gone. Peter and John run to the tomb and find it empty. Mary returns as well. Then, after Peter and John leave, an angel and then Jesus appears to her. Here, Jesus says not to touch his feet.
And in fact, here is another. Did Judas ever kiss Jesus? In Mark, he does. In John, he does not.
These are just some of the example indicating that inerrancy is not really a tenable position. I will again point out that the Bible itself no where proclaims inerrancy. Paul does say that scripture is inspired, which I believe, and useful, but not 'inerrant.'
" . . . the line separating good and evil passes, not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart . . . ." Alexander Solzhenitsyn