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October 15, 2011

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Q: When was the temple veil torn in two?

A: The Gospel accounts seem to disagree as to when the temple veil was torn in two in relation to Christ’s death. A quick look at the relevant passages will highlight this supposed contradiction.

And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:37–38)

Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last. (Luke 23:45–46)

At first glance, the differences between these passages may seem irreconcilable. However, there is a plausible solution which demonstrates that these passages are complementary rather than contradictory.

There is a rather simple resolution to this issue: the temple veil tore at the same moment Jesus died. If three eyewitnesses were to record two simultaneous events, would they be forced to list the occurrences in the same order? Of course not. The individuals would be allowed to choose which one to report first. In this case, Matthew and Mark chose to highlight the death of Christ before mentioning the tearing of the temple veil. Luke chose to mention the veil before reporting the death of Christ.

Continue reading to learn more about this issue—and why it’s a big deal for Christians.

News to Note Quick Look

Skink link: A lizard with a true placenta? That’s what researchers Daniel Blackburn and Alexander Fleming have discovered by dissecting Trachylepis ivensii, a rare species of African skink. Read more.

Comet-created oceans?: Evolutionary scientists believe that water was needed for the evolution of life but have long debated how the early Earth could have been supplied with that water. Many have suggested that asteroids bombarding the earth about 4 billion years ago brought organic compounds and water, supplying the raw materials for life to evolve. Read more.


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