Who Saw the Resurrected Jesus—When and Where?
Question: Some of the most blatant contradictions in the Bible involve the account of the supposed resurrection of Christ upon which Christianity is founded. For example, Mark:16:1–2 says Mary Magdalene came to the tomb when the sun had risen. John:20:1 says she came to the tomb while it was still dark. Which was it?
Response: I checked more than 20 translations of Mark:16:1–2, and only one (NASB) says “when the sun had risen.” I found one paraphrase (NEB), which says “just after sunrise”; all other translations say “at the rising [anatello] of the sun.”
The Greek anatello is not an exact statement of time and really means the start of the action. The Greek implies that the sun had just appeared on the horizon. Anyone without an axe to grind would allow “sunrise” to include a period just before the sun peeped over the horizon as well as just after. Furthermore, the expression “cometh Mary” in John 20 would include her entire journey toward the tomb from her home. Some distance being involved, she would have set out that morning “when it was “yet dark” (John:20:1) to arrive at the tomb just as the sun was coming above the horizon.
Mary sees, obviously from a distance as soon as she has a clear view of the tomb’s entrance, that the stone has been rolled away. John doesn’t record her being at the tomb until much later. Moreover, the Greek word skotia, translated “dark,” includes the meaning of dimness, not necessarily pitch-black darkness. To be perfectly honest, if you took these two statements into a court and tried to prove them contradictory, the judge would quickly dismiss the case.”
—An excerpt from In Defense of the Faith (pp. 102-3) by Dave Hunt