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away the stone which closed the entrance
to the tomb, and that done, any one might
go freely into the sepulchre, which was a
grotto entered on the level, and perform
the usual embalming.

The women came, then, at the earliest
dawn, to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
They were asking themselves who would
roll away the stone for them, when from
afar they perceived that the stone was no
longer in its place ; it had been rolled on
one side, and the door of the sepulchre was
yawning. They drew near, trembling
with emotion and grief; they leaned over
and peered in; no one was there — Jesus'
body was not there. What had become
of it? Some one had taken away their
Master's body, and they knew not where
he had laid it.^

This is the first fact that stands out,
certain, authentic, undeniable, from all
the narratives. There is not the slightest
doubt that the tomb was empty on the
morning of the third day after Jesus'
death ; that is, the first day of the week.

What had happened ?

To this question the four Gospel narra-

1 John XX. 2.


tives are unanimous in replying that Jesus
had returned to life, and that, having
arisen from the dead, he appeared to a cer-
tain number of persons on the third day
and the days following; but all four
differ, and are even contradictory, as to
the details.

If we read attentively, we see that the
Gospels are the echoes of two entirel}^ dis-
tinct traditions, which no doubt became
confounded in the end, but which were
at first distinct and separately developed.
According to one, the appearances of Jesus
were all in Galilee; this is the Galilean
tradition. According to the other, they
took place in Jerusalem and its immediate
environs ; this is the Judean or Jerusalem-
ite tradition.

Let us first study the Galilean tradition.
It is reproduced in its oldest form in the
Gospels of Mark and Matthew. The
latest form of this tradition and the last
stage of its development known to us is
set forth in the apot3ryphal Gospel of
Peter, discovered a few years ago.

This is the story of the resurrection
given by this tradition; it attempts to
describe the very act. It says that in the


night between Saturday and Sunday the
soldiers who were guarding the tomb
heard a great voice from heaven. They
raised their eyes ; the heavens were opened,
and two shining angels descended from
heaven and came to the sepulchre. The
stone which served as a door rolled away of
itself. The two angels entered the tomb,
and the soldiers made haste to awaken
their captain and the elders of the Jews,
who were with them watching the tomb
but who had fallen asleep. While they
were telling them what they had seen, be-
hold three men came forth from the tomb,
— that is, Christ, supported by the two
angels ; the cross on which he had suffered
followed them. The angels were so tall
that their heads touched the sky. Jesus
Avas taller still, and his head passed
through the sky. A voice was heard
from heaven, saying, " Hast thou preached
to them who are asleep?" and a reply
came from the cross, saying, "Yes." The
whole company ran to report the fact to
Pilate. Meanwhile, at daybreak, Mary
Magdalene came to the tomb, with several
other women, to embalm the body. An
angel appeared to them, announced to


them the resurrection, and they fled,
affrighted. The angel had said to them,
"He is risen, and gone thither from
whence he was sent," that is, to heaven.
It is seen that the Pseudo-Peter placed
the ascension immediately after the com-
ing forth from the tomb. This, however,
did not prevent the return of the Risen
One to earth; for the lost conclusion of
the Gospel of Peter apparently included
the narrative of an appearance on the shore
of the Lake of Tiberias.

According to Mark,^ this is what took
place: Three women, whom he names,
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of
James, and Salome, went into the tomb,
saw there an angel, who announced to
them the resurrection of Jesus, and bade
them inform Peter and the other apostles,
telling them that the Risen Jesus would
precede them into Galilee, where they
should see him as he had said. Terrified,
the women fled, and said nothing to any

The close of the Gospel of Mark is lost,
but it is evident that what followed, no
more than the Gospel of Peter, related the

1 xvi. 1-8.


appearances in Jiidea, for the angel bade
the apostles "go to Galilee."^

According to Matthew, two women only,
Mary Magdalene and the other IMary,
came "to see" the sepulchre. An angel
descended from heaven, rolled away the
stone from the door of the sepulchre, and
sat upon it; he spoke to the women in
nearly the same words as the angel in
Mark's Gospel, the latter being, however,
within the sepulchre : " Jesus is arisen ; he
goes before the apostles into Galilee, there
they shall see him." The women, at once
trembling and joyful, far from saying-
nothing, as Mark affirms, ran to carry the
news to the apostles. Then Jesus appeared
to them, and he also told them that it was
in Galilee that the apostles should see
him. The eleven therefore repaired to
Galilee, "unto the mountain where Jesus
had appointed them " (though there had
not before been any allusion to a moun-
tain). Jesus appeared to them, and — a
curious detail — some disciples doubted,
though they saw him before them, alive.
Jesus, however, spoke to them, command-
ing them to preach the gospel to all nations.

1 Mark xvi. 7.


He instituted baptism, giving its ecclesias-
tical formula, " Into the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,"
and he declared to his disciples that he
would remain with them even to the end
of the world.

Thus closes the Gospel of Matthew,
without the slightest allusion to the ascen-
sion into heaven. This Gospel, notwith-
standing the brief apparition of Jesus near
the tomb, belongs then also to the Galilean
tradition. According to it, Jesus showed
himself to his disciples only once,^ upon a
mountain in Galilee.

According to these narratives of the
Galilean tradition, the Risen Jesus, not-
withstanding the interview mentioned in
Matthew xxviii. 9,^ appeared only in Gali-
lee. More than this, it was not on the
third day that he showed himself to his
disciples; it was at least a week after
the crucifixion that Peter and the other
apostles saw Jesus.

Finally, these were true apparitions,

1 Matt, xxviii. 16.

2 This interview, in fact, confirms our assertion, since
Jesus himself there says that it is in Galilee that he
will show himself to his apostles (verse 10).


the apparitions of a being who no longer
dwells on earth; they are in no sense a
continuation of the life of Rabbi Jesus, a
life interrupted by death for a few hours or
a few days, to be resumed afterward such
as it had been before. No; Jesus appears
and disappears. According to the Gospel of
Peter, he even had a celestial body, and a
very extraordinary one. The Galilean tra-
dition then tells of four ajDparitions.

It is evident that stories of this sort
would lead the incredulous to say: That
which appeared to you was simply a phan-
tom without life or reality. Believers
would reply: Not at all; it was indeed
the body which we knew that appeared to
us; and the proof is that the body is no
longer in the tomb. The sepulchre has
been officially recognized by the authori-
ties as empty, and that after they had
sealed the door and placed a guard before
it. Besides, adds the Pseudo-Peter, the
Roman soldiers and the Jews saw the
Ascension of the Risen One; he went up
into heaven before their eyes, supported
by angels, with his cross following him.

In Jerusalem and Judea the resurrection
of Jesus was otherwise described.


This is how Luke narrates it: Several
women (he names three of them, Mary
Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of
James, but there were others) come to the
tomb and find it empty. Two angels tell
them of the resurrection, but without
informing them where they are to see the
Risen Lord. They run to tell the news to
the eleven apostles, who do not believe

That very evening Jesus appears to two
disciples who are going to Emmaus. He
shows himself to them, using a sort of
dissimulation. A divine power further
hinders these disciples from recognizing
him. He was no doubt recognizable, but
a higher will, which could be none other
than that of God, held their eyes. As
for Jesus, he acts as though he were some
one else ; he appears not to know why the
disciples are sad, and asks what is the
matter with them, although he knows
perfectly well. He makes as if he would
go beyond the village of Emmaus. Finally
he makes himself known to them, and at
that very moment he disappears, the vision
vanishes. The two disciples at once
return to Jerusalem, and there are told


that Peter lias seen him also. Then sud-
denly Jesus appears. The disciples be-
lieve that they are seeing a disembodied
spirit; but Jesus shows them his wounds
and begins to eat. Then he leads them
to Bethany (all this, apparently, the same
evening, Sunday, the first day of the
week) and disappears, being parted from
them in a final manner, while in the act
of blessing them.

Luke thus offers us another series of
appearances. According to him there
were none in Galilee, and the scenes of
the resurrection took place in Jerusalem
or its immediate neighborhood. It was
upon the Mount of Olives, near Bethany,
that Jesus was seen for the last time;
from there he arose into heaven, ^ the same
day according to the Gospel; forty days
later the same author says, in so many
words, in the first chapter of the Acts of
the Apostles.

Such, then, are the two independent
and distinct traditions of the resurrec-
tion of Jesus Christ held in the early

The Fourth Gospel unites them. It

1 Acts i. 12.


tells how Mary Magdalene went alone to
the tomb on the morning of the third day ;
it was empty. She ran to apprise Peter
and the other disciple whom Jesiis loved.
They came, made certain that the body of
Jesus was no longer there, and went away.
Mary remained alone ; two angels appeared
to her, and finally Jesus himself, who
would not permit himself to be touched.
On the evening of that day he appeared,
the eleven apostles being assembled, then
disappeared. A week later they saw him
again, and this time he permitted Thomas
to touch him. A supplementary chapter,
added to the Gospel at a later time, shows
us Jesus taking a meal with his disciples
on the shore of Lake Tiberias, but it w^as
difficult to recognize him. He spoke to
Peter three times, putting to him the
question, "Lovest thou me?" Then he
reinstated him in his place as apostle.

Thus the Fourth Gospel unites the tvvo
currents, the Galilean and the Judean,
but without losing one in the other. We
are approaching the time when the two
traditions were definitively placed side by
side to form a continuous narrative. But
this juxtaposition was artificial; it was


made after the event. The two traditions
were developed each in its own sur-

The reader has already perceived the
great, the fundamental difference between
them. According to the Galilean tradi-
tion the Risen One had but a fugitive
life, and made only brief appearances.
According to the Jerusalem tradition, on
the contrary, the life of the Risen One
was the continuation pure and simple of
his earthly life. The latter, interrupted
during the space of three times twelve
hours, recommenced such as it had left
off. The Resurrection days are days sup-
plementary to those of the earthly ministry
of Jesus, and must be added to it. This
ministry was continued. No doubt there
are two points of difference. Jesus was
not constantly present and was not always
recognizable. He could be instantane-
ously transported from place to place ; he
appeared and disappeared ; but he had the
very body which had been put in the tomb,
the body which died upon the cross and
became a corpse. This body, this physical
organism, had become alive again; it ate
and drank and walked. The Risen Jesus


had interviews with his apostles just as

It is interesting to observe that the
Jerusalemite form of the tradition became
ever more affirmative in the sense of the
materialization of the body of Jesus. It
is easy to follow the progress which it has
made in this respect. When the apostles
saw Jesus the first time they thought they
saw a spirit.^ But Jesus spoke to them;
he replied in advance to objections, and
finally he ate fish and honey before them.
This continuation of the Master's life with
his friends lasted precisely forty days. The
figure is fixed, and at his last appearance
the material body of Jesus was detached
from earth and rose toward heaven, toward
the abode of God, who is overhead in the
blue sky, above the clouds. From that
day they never again saw Jesus. He
is no longer corporeally present on the
earth. He had been up to this time;
but from that time forth he has been
seated in heaven at the right hand of
God, and he will not reappear until the
Last Judgment.

Furthermore, during the forty supple-

1 Luke xxiv. 37.


mentary days Jesus was seen only by his
disciples and friends; that is, by those
who believed in him.

Such are the gospel stories of the resur-
rection of Jesus.




The Narrative of Saint Paul

'T^HE reader has no doubt observed that
up to this point we have not yet
heard a single eye-v^itness of the resurrec-
tion of Jesus. Not one of the four Evan-
gelists says : " I have seen the Risen One ;
he appeared unto me." On the contrary,
all four bring only indirect v^^itness, —
the statement of others and not their own

It is especially interesting to note that
we have not the direct testimony of a sin-
gle one of the eleven apostles, and so far
as St. John is concerned, if he is the
author of the Fourth Gospel, this is most
extraordinary. If this book was written
by him, if it is entirely from his hand, it
is most strange that he does not say in
speaking of the Risen Jesus, as he did of


Jesus crucified, " He who saw bare witness,
and he knows that he saith true." This
would have been Johannean language.
But these words, applied to the Christ as
returned to life, are not found in the
Gospel by St. John. He, like the others,
knows of the resurrection of Jesus only
by hearsay, and gives us only the testimony
of others, especially of Mary Magdalene.
It is true that he relates the appearances
to the Eleven, those of the first two Sun-
days, and being one of the Eleven he was
present. But why does he not say " I
was there " ? He remains impersonal,
and expresses himself as if he were speak-
ing of other persons than himself.^

Have we then the testimony of no single
direct witness of the resurrection of
Jesus ?

We have : we possess the writings of a
man who says, I have seen him. These
writings are certainly authentic, and this
man is the greatest among all the disciples
of Jesus Christ. We refer to the testimony

1 This remark confirms us in the opinion that John
himself did not write the Fourth Gospel. Besides, the
book, while continually speaking of an eye-witness,
never claims to have been written by him. See Jesus
Christ during his Ministry, Introduction, p. xxvii.


of St. Paul in his First Epistle to the

In this letter Paul writes in so many
words, KCLfjiol axfyOi] : " To me also he ap-
peared." ^ Let us study this testimony
and ascertain its value.

In the passage in which he thus speaks
St. Paul relates not merely the appearance
with which he had been favored, but all
the others, at least those with which he
was acquainted, and gives a fifth narrative
of the resurrection of Jesus, widely dif-
ferent from those of the four Gospels, and
much older than theirs.

In this narrative Paul contradicts the
Gospels, and especially the Synoptics, be-
fore they were written. Between them
and Paul, since we must choose, there is
no room for a moment's hesitation. Paul
wrote in the year 57. Not only are his
statements much earlier than those of the
Synoptics, they are also earlier than the
development which the traditions that be-
came fixed in the Gospels finally received.
Paul is a direct witness. The Synoptics
simply repeat what they have heard from
one or another ; Paul tells what he has seen.

1 1 Cor. XV. 8.


The following are the points on which
the Evangelists and Paul differ. Accord-
ing to Paul, the appearances covered a
considerable time ; they might still occur,
and they occurred anywhere ; while Mat-
thew, Mark, and Luke declare that the
appearances have come to an end, and that
when they did occur it was at a given place
and no other. They localize them, placing
them only where Jesus had been in life.

These two differences are not the only
ones ; the list of appearances as given by
St. Paul hardly accords with what the
Evangelists say, and it is of great impor-
tance. He gives the complete catalogue,
in their order, of the appearances, as it was
accepted in Jerusalem during his lifetime.
We cannot go back of this.

Paul was acquainted with the Jerusalem "j

tradition, and this is what he says : Jesus
appeared (they were apparitions, u>(j)6r}') —
1, to Peter ; 2, to the Twelve ; 3, to more
than five hundred brethren ; 4, to James ;
5, to all the apostles (that is, no doubt, to
the Twelve and to others bearing the
name of apostles, like Barnabas) ; ^ 6, " to
me, as to one born out of due time." ^

^ Acts xiv. 14 passi7n. ^ 1 Cor. xv. 8.


Six appearances, then. The first ob-
servation to make is that Paul saw no
diiference between the appearances to the
Twelve and the one with which he had
been favored;^ quite the contrary, he
treats them all as precisely the same.

Let us also observe that of the six
appearances of which Paul speaks, the
first and second are mentioned in the
Third Gospel ; but the third, that to five
hundred brethren, is nowhere mentioned,
nor is that to James. More than this,
Paul omits the appearance to the women
at the tomb, notably that to Mary Magda-
lene ; neither does he refer to the appear-
ance upon a mountain in Galilee, nor to
that to the disciples of Emmaus.

Let us more closely examine the appear-
ance to Paul ; it is evidently that which
took place on the road to Damascus, and
which, in the Epistle to the Galatians, ^ he
calls a revelation of the Son " in him." In
none of the narratives of Paul's conver-

1 In another Epistle, not less certainly authentic
than the First to the Corinthians, his Epistle to the
Galatians (i. 15, 16), Paul thus defines the appearance
vouchsafed to him : " It pleased God to reveal his Son
in me."

2 Gal. i. 15.


sion which we find in the Acts of the
Apostles ^ is it said that he saw Jesus ;
he was dazzled, he was blinded, and he
heard a voice. Nor had he touched the
Being who appeared to him ; but he was
convinced that it was Jesus himself, that
he was there and speaking to him.

Here there is a witness who fulfils the
conditions generally required of a witness ;
his attestation is contained in an undis-
puted letter ; and not only does he affirm
the Resurrection like the others, but he
WTites in so many words, "He appeared
to me " {/cdfjLol mcj^Ot]).

The appearance with which he was
favored presents peculiar characteristics
which the others do not present, and such
testimony as this is very different from all
that we have hitherto collected. All the
others, as has been observed, are, without
a single exception, merely hearsays. Mary
Magdalene did not write the story of the
appearance of which she was a witness;
nor did the disciples of Emmaus, nor any
one of the Eleven. It is most surprising
that Peter in his Epistle does not say, like
St. Paul, " He appeared to me." The ap-

1 There are three, chapters ix., xxii., xxvi.


pearance to Peter, the first day, was held
in the primitive Church to be of capital
importance ; but he himself does not say so.
Nor does John say anything, as we have
already observed. We have, then, only the
word of Paul; but we have this word,
and Paul is not a mere casual witness;
his word has more value than would have,
if we possessed it, the testimony of a
formerly demonized woman like Mary
Magdalene, though written by her own
hand. M. Renan made faith in the re-
surrection to rest upon the testimony of
Mary Magdalene, and this gave him
ground for writing, '' The enthusiasm of a
hysterical woman has given a Risen God
to the world." It is not solely to Mary
Magdalene, it is also and above all to St.
Paul, that we owe the Risen Christ.

St. Paul's conviction was wholly based
upon the perfectly clear recollection which
he cherished of all that took place upon
the road to Damascus. Now the conver-
sion of Saul of Tarsus, transformed into
St. Paul, is an evident historic fact, and
Paul was convinced that on that day he
had heard the Lord ; that he had been in
communication with Jesus Christ; that


Jesus had spoken to him, uttering words
in the Hebrew tongue. Such is the
testimony of the great apostle, and such
were the motives for his belief in the res-
urrection of Jesus.

Let us study more closely this testimony
of St. Paul. Like all the Jews, he believed
in the possibility of a resurrection. The
Jews did not clearly hold the doctrine
of the immortality of the soul, according
to which death is deliverance from the
body which fetters the spiritual part of
one's being ; without which the spirit can
live, and indeed without which it is more
happily circumstanced. The Jews under-
stood little or nothing of this doctrine,
according to which man is composed of
two more or less inimical substances. In
their view the world was to be trans-
formed, the death of the body done away
mth, and the kingdom of God thus set up.

St. Paul had been brought up in these
ideas ; he not only admitted a future res-
urrection, but believed that partial or
individual resurrections took place now
and again. He found it in no sense " in-
credible that God should raise the dead." ^

1 Acts xxvi. 8.


Thus belief in the resurrection of a dead
man met in his mind (and for that matter,
in the mind of any one of his time) no
such objection as it would everywhere
meet at the present day ; it was a miracle,
but at that period miracles occurred every

St. Paul wrote, '^ If the dead rise not,
Jesus Christ is not risen; and if Jesus
Christ is not risen, your faith is vain." ^
He takes his stand, then, on the fact that
there are dead men who arise from the
dead. That has happened. In Paul's
view Jesus is not the only risen one, and
he did not arise simply because he is the
Son of God, the Messiah : he arose be-
cause there are dead who rise, Jesus
among others, and like the others.

A general resurrection was expected.
It was a widely held Pharisaic doctrine,
and Paul was a Pharisee. At the Palin-
genesis all the dead would rise. And the
Palingenesis was imminent; it was there-
fore perfectly simple and natural that
even at that present time the bodies of
some of the saints should be resuscitated.
They were the precursors, the heralds

1 1 Cor. XV. 13, 14, 17, etc.


of the great renovation, the catastrophe
which would make all things new, the
eternal dream of man.

How did Paul picture to himself the
Risen Jesus ? He believed that he had
had an exterior vision, but it had only
stunned him; he had, however, heard a
voice, and at the same time he had had
an interior vision, a drama had taken
place in his soul. He was convinced
that Jesus had really appeared to him.
But it was not the material body of Jesus
of Nazareth that had been shown him;
God had revealed Jesus Christ " in him."
He says this in the most explicit manner
and without opening a possibility of at-
tributing another meaning to the term of
which he makes use.^ In this regard
Paul had the true faith in the resur-
rection, as we shall presently set it forth.

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