Problem: Women watched the crucifixion from afar, or not
Verses: Mark 15:40, John 19:25; Status: Weak

After Jesus is crucified, all three synoptic gospels tell us that a group of women were watching from afar. For example, this is Mark 15:40:

There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. (ESV)

Matthew 27:55 and Luke 23:49 are similar. On the other hand, John 19:25 tells us that the women were close to Jesus:

but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (ESV)

But this doesn't seem to be a difficult problem. When read in context, it's clear that John is describing their location before the death of Jesus, whereas the synoptics are describing their position during and afterwards. So presumably they moved away from the cross at some point, either of their own accord, or because the soldiers made them.

Updated: 2009-03-10

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