The three problems I listed in the beginning of the message are only the main ones I see in Mark's account. There are two lesser ones:(1)
In Mark 16:8, after hearing the young man's/angel's instructions to tell the apostles about Jesus going to Galilee, "they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid." And here Mark's original gospel ends. This leads the reader to the impression that they kept quiet at least for a long period of time. For example, if some girls meet a very strange man in the woods who tells them to give a message to their friends, and they say nothing to anyone, it leads the reader to think that they did not tell their friends either.
But in Matthew and Luke, they immediately went to tell the apostles about the angel, and the disciples came back and looked at the tomb. I don't think that the two accounts are necessarily contradictory, because they could have been scared and didn't tell anyone until they arrived at the apostles' to tell them. It's more like a secondary text issue.(2)
When Jesus appears to all the disciples in Mark to give them their mission, He says: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." That sounds categorical and has led many Evangelicals to think that everything depends on belief alone.
The problem is that in Church teaching, salvation doesn't depend on believing alone, since someone could, like the demons, think that Jesus is a divine Messiah and yet lack salvation due to a lack of good works. (as James' letter says). Further, why should rational mental belief be the criterion for invoking a moral judgment on a person? Why should a person with a natural strong attitude of skepticism about the world and society be condemned for lack of an affirmative belief, which the apostles themselves lacked until Jesus allegedly appeared to them?
The question that these issues together raise,
beyond resolving questions like whether the Ascension was at Bethany (Luke 24?) or at the mount of Olives (Acts 1?), is whether we should assume that other passages in the resurrection accounts are neither embellished nor could easily lead to a misunderstanding (without being necessarily totally wrong).(1)
The gospels don't directly say how Jesus' body left or was removed from the tomb. In Matthew, an angel scares the soldiers and rolls away the tomb stone, and later people see appearances of Jesus, so the strong implication is that Jesus' body transformed and it left the tomb on its own,
instead of people taking the body like the women feared. But as we have seen, we might not be able to totally rely on even strong implications.
In Mark, the women find a young man in a white robe at Jesus' tomb. Earlier in the gospel, an unnamed young man, whom some scholars think is a follower like Mark himself, had been following Jesus in Gethsemene and a guard had grabbed him so he had run away with no robe. Maybe it was the same unnamed youth?
He had told the women that Jesus is going before them to Galilee. How did he know Jesus rose and went to Galilee? Had he been staying at the tomb and saw what happened? Did he find the tomb empty before they did and assumed Jesus rose and "went to Galilee like He (Jesus) had said" to them before in Mark's gospel?That's my best guess:
Fascinatingly, the word neaniskos ("youth"), which is rare in the Christian Testament, crops up a second time in Mark, to describe the young man in the long white robe who tells the women disciples that Jesus has been raised... If the previous dress [of the young man in the garden] was the linen cloth, this one [he wears] in the tomb, however, is white. Though he is dressed in both cases, the difference in dress expresses the development within the narrative. The portrayal is therefore characterized by closure: the shameful condition of the young man as he flees the scene of Jesus arrest in the nude is replaced by his restoration. http://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/4826/what-is-the-significance-of-the-young-man-who-runs-away-naked-in-marks-gospel
The effect of Mark's location of the young man's character is to create an inclusio. The last one who has been with and who then abandons Jesus is also the first one to announce his resurrection.
In Matthew however, the women find an angel at the tomb in a "snow white robe" who tells them the same exact thing, but Matthew adds that the angel had paralyzed the soldiers. So did Mark avoid telling the reader directly that the youth was an angel? Was Matthew embellishing the white robed youth into an angel in a "snow white" robe who told the women the same thing but had also paralyzed the soldiers?(3)
In Mark's added account, Mary Magdalene sees Jesus after leaving the tomb. When I read this, it sounded like Jesus was appearing in physical form instead of being a ghost. Yet Paul saw Jesus in the Temple in the form of a vision, so perhaps Mary Magdalene saw Jesus as a vision too (real or imaginary, with her past demons being an expression of mental illness)? Nowhere does Mark specify that Jesus' appearances were physical, although the empty tomb suggests His body was with Jesus.says that(4)
When Jesus appeared to the two disciples in Luke, they didn't recognize Him physically, but instead recognized Him in the breaking of the bread. It then says that Jesus vanished. When I read this, it made me think that Jesus disappeared into thin air right in front of the two apostles. But if impressions in the resurrection accounts can be misleading (eg. Bethany vs. Mount of Olives), perhaps the stranger simply went away quickly and quietly when the two apostles weren't looking? In that case, perhaps the stranger simply was a normal person who looked physically different from Jesus, talked about the Messianic prophecies about the Messiah's death, and performed the common Jewish ritual of prayerfully breaking bread? (5)
Mark mentions Jesus appearing to the 11 (that would include Thomas), but it doesn't give any details of what kind of appearance it was. Only two Biblical books (Luke and John) specify any physical attributes to the appearances. Luke specifies that Jesus appeared to the 11 on Day 1 or 2, and John agrees about this appearance except that Thomas wasn't with them and doubted until Jesus cleared it up. Then Matthew has the disciples in Galilee seeing Jesus, but with some of them still doubting. But why were they doubting if Jesus had stayed and talked with them at length, ate with them, they touched Him, He already cleared up their doubt, etc.?
It sounds like there could be more to the story of Jesus' appearances to explain what exactly was doubtful about them for those apostles.