• Easter, Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on April 5th, 2012

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    3. What Happened Before Midnight on Thursday

    3. What Happened Before Midnight on Thursday

    I suggested on an earlier page that considerations of time played a peculiar and decisive part in determining the events that immediately preceded the death of Christ. If we wish to get at the real truth about this matter we must study it with our eyes, as it were, constantly upon the clock. Particularly is this the case when we approach two very important elements in the case: The dealings that the Jewish leaders had with judas and later with Pontius Pilate.

    Both these men played a strange and, at first sight, an inexplicable role in the happenings of those twelve hours that closed the earthly life of Christ. Let us begin by considering the case of Judas.

  • Frank Morison, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on February 4th, 2012

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    15. The Servant of the Priest

    15. The Servant of the Priest

    Who was the young man who, if this interpretation be the true one, anticipated the women and shared with them the earliest experiences of that memorable morning? We shall probably never know, for if Mark withheld his name it must have been for very good and sufficient reasons. But there is one thought in that connection that I venture to think will bear profound and repeated study.

    If the reader will take the last eight verses of Mark’s Gospel (16:1-8) and will study them carefully, remembering that they represent probably the earliest written account of these events, he will, I think, be pulled up very sharply by one fact — the absence of any hint or suggestion as to how the stone itself came to be moved. An impenetrable curtain descends abruptly at the conclusion of the burial on Friday afternoon and does not rise again until dawn on Sunday, when the stone has already been removed. Why was this? Did the church, as late as AD. 58, know nothing of what happened during that critical period, or was Mark writing under the pressure of some intense reserve?

  • Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on February 3rd, 2012

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    14. Some Realities of that Far-off Morning

    14. Some Realities of that Far-off Morning

    What is the secret of this silent and impenetrable tomb? It is a question that presses insistently for an answer, and I propose to discuss it in the present chapter.

    Certain things about this story impress me profoundly. They are not the kind of things that can lightly be set aside as of minor or only relative importance. They belong to the fundamental and bedrock features of the problem. In the first place, whatever the physical or dogmatic consequences may be, I cannot and do not believe that the body of Jesus of Nazareth rested in Joseph’s garden during any part of that period that is contemporary with the rise of Christianity.

    If it could be shown that there was a single document of admittedly early date dealing with the crucifixion and burial of Jesus in which it was even remotely hinted that such was the case, I for one should attach to that hint very considerable weight. It would at least introduce the same kind of uncertainty that exists concerning certain other aspects of the problem. It would provide a peg, however shaky and insecure, on which to hang a doubt. But the documents are adamant on this fundamental feature of the Easter dawn.

  • Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 28th, 2012

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    13. The Witness of the Great Stone

    13. The Witness of the Great Stone

    I suppose that no one can read through the earliest account of the Resurrection as it is given in the Gospel of Mark without being arrested by the extraordinary significance of what we are told about the golal or great stone that, according to the evidence, was placed against the entrance to the grave.

    We are all familiar with the kind of shock a person experiences when he suddenly encounters something for which he is not looking, something which, like the footprint on the sand in Crusoe’s stow, sends the mind swiftly back in search of an explanation. Such an experience, I think, awaits everyone who comes fresh to the story as it is told in Mark, because, contrary to expectation and without searching for it, we are driven by the logic of the facts to investigate another story, told in another Gospel, the story of the guards.

  • Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 22nd, 2012

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    12. The Evidence of the Man from Tarsus

    12. The Evidence of the Man from Tarsus

    It is almost impossible to imagine anything more fortunate from a purely historical point of view than the fact that, just at the moment when Christianity was taking the measure of its adversaries, there chanced to come to Jerusalem a young man, who, judged even by high modem standards, can claim to be a very competent and almost impartial observer.

    The name of this young man was Saul. He was a Hebrew of very careful upbringing, intensely zealous in the performance of his religious duties, but with a mind broadened by contact with the wider life and speculative thinking of the Greco-Roman world. He was acquainted with at least some of the writings of Aratus, of Epimenides, and of Menander, as his later speeches show. And he hailed from Tarsus, in Cilicia. The year was about AD. 34.

  • Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 21st, 2012

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    11. The Evidence of the Prisoner’s Brother

    11. The Evidence of the Prisoner’s Brother

    With one single exception, which I shall deal with later, there is nothing in the whole of this strange story that impresses me so profoundly as the part played by the individual known to the ancient church as James, the Lord’s brother, or, alternatively, as James the Just.

    For our knowledge of this man we are not entirely dependent on sources favorable to the Christian faith. Like Pilate and certain outstanding personalities of the early Christian era, he is mentioned by Josephus, a writer notoriously contemptuous of the whole movement. Moreover, some independent details are given by Hegesippus, the father of church history, in some fragments preserved by Eusebius.

    It will be convenient if we trace his record backwards, beginning with the famous paragraph in which Josephus describes his death. The passage from Josephus is as follows:

  • Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 20th, 2012

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    10. The Evidence of the Principle Fisherman

    10. The Evidence of the Principle Fisherman

    There are three men in particular whose testimony concerning this matter, if it could be obtained, would be absolutely final and conclusive. The first is the fisherman, Peter, who himself led the attack on Jerusalem, and who was for several years the unchallenged leader of the movement. The second is the Prisoner’s brother, James the Just, who for some extraordinary reason threw in his lot with the Christians and who ultimately perished for the cause. The third is a certain Saul from Tarsus, who, backed by the full power of the State, tried to smash the movement and was eventually engulfed by it.

    All these three men thus came under the spell of the post-Crucifixion experiences of Christianity. They all suffered the extreme penalty of their convictions after the manner of that barbaric age James in Jerusalem itself Peter and Saul in Rome. If we could learn what each of these outstanding primary witnesses for Christianity believed and taught about the Resurrection, many obscure points in our study would be made clear. Let us consider first the case of Peter.

  • Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 18th, 2012

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    9. The Historic Crux of the Problem

    9. The Historic Crux of the Problem

    Whoever comes to this problem has sooner or later to confront a fact that cannot be explained away or removed by any logical processes whatever. It looks us persistently in the face as the one concrete and unassailably attested certainty of the situation.

    This fact is that, sometime between the close of the thirty-six-hour gap and a period we cannot reasonably place more than six or seven weeks later, a profound conviction came to the little group of people whose behavior we have been considering a change that attests to the fact that Jesus had risen from the grave.

  • Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 15th, 2012

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    8. Between Sunset and Dawn

    8. Between Sunset and Dawn

    It is strange that there is no escaping the clock in all this baffling story of the closing phase of the life of Jesus.

    We saw in an earlier chapter how the inexorable pressure of events precipitated the arrest, forced the hands of the authorities, prolonged the hour of the preliminary hearing, and modified profoundly the character of the Roman trial. It is as though everything in this affair was done under the lash of an invisible taskmaster, from whose decree there was no appeal. So now, whether we realize it at first or not, we shall find the problem steadily narrowing itself down to an investigation of what was happening just outside the walls of Jerusalem about 1,900 years ago between sunset on a certain Saturday and the first streaks of dawn on the following morning. Let us begin by considering in some detail the various hypotheses that have been put forward to account for the facts.

  • Encouragement, Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 10th, 2012

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    7. On The Behavior of Two Sisters…

    7. On The Behavior of Two Sisters…

    Before we can consider what these facts mean, and especially what validity attaches to the various explanations that have been brought forward to account for them, it is necessary to complete the general picture of the historic background that has hitherto engaged our thought.

    We saw in a preceding chapter that the sudden and unexpected arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane late on Thursday night split the little party of His personal adherents into two distinct groups. Throughout the preceding chapters we have been studying in some detail what took place in connection with the smaller of these fragments, the one that was, as it were, marooned or temporarily isolated in Jerusalem itself. We have given comparatively little thought to the larger fragment outside. Yet the behavior of this larger fragment is one of the essential factors of the problem. Is there anything in the documents that throws any light upon this important question?

  • Easter, Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 8th, 2012

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    6. Thirty Six Hours Later

    6. Thirty Six Hours Later

    By all the ordinary standards of human reasoning, the mystery attaching to the person of Christ ought to have terminated with His death and burial. That He really did die in the full physical meaning of that term we have already judged to be one of the certainties of history, and we have seen how a consistent and straightforward account is given of the steps taken to give the body a respectful burial. I cannot personally see anything in the accounts of the crucifixion and burial that is not deeply and profoundly true to expectation. The whole account reads like an actual, unvarnished, and even naïve transcript from real life. Yet when we turn over the page to the events of the succeeding days we run into a situation that, were it not for the complete singularity of certain aspects of the problem, would be utterly unbelievable by any student acquainted alike with history and the conclusions of modern thought.

    It is because I believe there are things lying hidden beneath the surface of the narrative that must profoundly modify the construction we place upon it, that I will ask the reader to consider first the trend of events from about six o’clock on Friday afternoon to the setting out of the little party of women at dawn on Sunday morning.

  • Easter, Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 5th, 2012

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    5. The Situation on Friday Afternoon

    5. The Situation on Friday Afternoon

    If we are to gain a teal insight into the events immediately following the death of Christ we shall have to begin by studying carefully the situation as it probably existed about four o’clock on Friday afternoon.

    Hitherto we have approached this subject almost exclusively from the official and priestly point of view. That point of view was extremely important in the earlier stages of the case. The prosecution was the priests’, and it was vital to our purpose to know what lay behind it. But with the achievement of their main object, these official representatives of Jewry recede temporarily into the background and a new group of people takes their place. It is with this group the personal friends and adherents of Jesus-that we shall be chiefly concerned in the next two or three chapters. Let us begin by considering who these people were, and what the documents tell us with regard to them.

    If we exclude Mary and Martha of Bethany, and their brother Lazarus, who, for certain reasons that we shall discuss later, are not heard of in connection with the final tragedy, we are left with a group of sixteen persons, all of whom are known to have belonged to the inner circle of Christ’s personal supporters:

  • Easter, Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 3rd, 2012

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    4. A Psychological Parallelogram of Forces

    4. A Psychological Parallelogram of Forces

    If anyone thinks that in approaching the trial of Jesus of Nazareth by Pontius Pilate he is approaching the simple and the obvious he is making a big miscalculation.

    This thing is extremely subtle: Outwardly, it has all the placidity of still waters, but beneath the apparent stillness there are deep and hidden currents that make it incomparably the greatest and most profoundly interesting psychological study in history. We do not get rid of the mystery of Christ when we bring Him to the Roman bar; we increase it tenfold.

    The first hint that there is something curious about this story that is not directly disclosed by the narratives comes, strangely enough, not from the behavior of the Jews, or even of the Prisoner Himself, but from the behavior of Pilate. I remember reading through the four accounts side by side, not once but many times, trying to discover what it was that subconsciously stamped the story of this trial as peculiar. And every time I read them the conviction grew that the hidden and disturbing element lay in what, for want of a better phrase, I must call the unsatisfactory alignment of Pilate’s behavior, as uniformly reported in the Gospels, with his known character and antecedents.

  • Easter, Frank Morison, Is The Bible the Word of God?, Resurrection/Easter

    Posted on December 30th, 2011

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    2. The Real Case Against The Prisoner

    2. The Real Case Against The Prisoner

    I remember this aspect of the question coming home to me one morning with new and unexpected force. I tried to picture to myself what would happen if some two thousand years hence a great controversy should arise about one who was the center of a criminal trial, say, in 1922. By that time most of the essential documents would have passed into oblivion. An old faded cutting of The Times or Telegraph, or perhaps some tattered fragment of a legal book describing the case, might have survived to reach the collection of an antiquary. From these and other fragments the necessary conclusions would have to be drawn. Is it not certain that people living in that far-off day, and desiring to get at the real truth about the man concerned, would go first to the crucial question of the charge on which he was arraigned? They would say: “What was all the trouble about? What did his accusers say and bring against him?” If, as in the present instance, several charges appear to have been preferred, they would ask what was the real case against the prisoner.

  • 1. The Book That Refused To Be Written

    1. The Book That Refused To Be Written

    I suppose that most writers will confess to having hidden away somewhere in the secret recesses of their most private drawer the first rough draft of a book that, for one reason or another, will never see the light of day.

    Usually it is Time — that hoary offender — who has placed his veto on the promised task. The rough outline is drawn up in a moment of enthusiasm and exalted vision; it is worked on for a time and then it is put aside to await that leisured “tomorrow” that so often never comes. Other and more pressing duties assert themselves; engagements and responsibilities multiply; and the treasured draft sinks farther and deeper into its ultimate hiding place. So the years go by, until one day the writer awakens to the knowledge that, whatever other achievements may be his, this particular book will never be written.