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Gospels, the women ultimately delivered their message, it was received by the Apostles with disbelief, even with scorn; these words appeared in their sight as idle talk,2 unworthy of serious consideration :
S. Matthew adds that on their way to the Eleven the other women were met, as Mary had been, by the risen Lord. He greeted them with the salutation of ordinary life ;3 they, recognizing Him at once, fell at His feet and clasped them, unrebuked. He bade them not to fear, and repeated the angel's message: go tell my brethren that they depart into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Notwithstanding the manifest differences between the details of this story and those of the appearance to Mary, it may reasonably be doubted whether the two narratives do not relate to the same incident. In the first and third Gospels there certainly seems to be some confusion between Mary's return to Jerusalem
1 Mt. xxviii. 16 seems to presuppose that the Eleven received the message of v. 7; Lc. xxiv. 9 says expressly that the women reported what they had heard, though Lc.'s account of the angel's words differs.
2 voel aspos.
3 xalpere, the Greek salutation, as 'peace' was the salutation of the Semitic East : cf. Lc. i. 28. This is perhaps obscured by the * All hail' of the English versions, which from long associations suggests a greeting peculiarly solemn and perhaps of mystical import.
4 There was no need to repeat the lesson which had been taught to the Magdalene; or perhaps the other women were not ready to receive it.
and the return of the other women, and it is possible that the first Gospel has worked into the latter some features of the interview which belong to the former. It is not surprising if, with the exception of the evidently genuine reminiscences in the fourth Gospel, the story of the women has reached us in a less certain form than the rest of the narratives of the forty days. The first surprises of the Resurrection Day fell to the share of witnesses who were little qualified to retain or to communicate to others an exact and connected account of what they saw and heard. It was natural, moreover, that less importance should be attached to their story than to the accounts of the later appearances; the appearance to the women was superseded, as it seemed, by the abundant manifestations of the risen Christ which followed. In these circumstances the uncertainties which attend the Synoptic accounts of the doings of the women at the tomb are not greater than we might have expected, and cast no shadow of suspicion on the general truth of the narrative.
TO SIMON PETER.
AUTHORITIES: Lc. xxiv. 34; 1 Cor. xv. 5.
IF Mary of Magdala was the leader of the womendisciples of the Lord, Simon Peter was yet more decidedly foremost among the men, both in office and by force of character. He stands first in all lists of the Twelve, the most conspicuous person in the first group of Apostles. He possessed a nature at once impetuous and strenuous; if James and John were 'sons of thunder,' Simon was 'the rock,' on whose rugged strength the storms of life would beat to little purpose, who might be trusted to rise again and again out of the waves that went over him.
But on the morning of the Resurrection he was for the moment in the lowest depths. There was
1 As her place in all the narratives seems to intimate. In the Coptic Gnostic literature edited by Schmidt (Texte u. Unters. viii.) this priority of the Magdalene is pressed in an exaggerated way: see Schmidt, p. 452 ff. . ? Mt. x. 2 mpôros Eluwe.
no sadder man in Jerusalem. In common with his brethren, he had lost the Master; even His dead body had now been taken from them. But Peter had also a private grief, and one of his own making. The bitter weeping which followed the denial had left his heart sore and angry with itself. Since Friday morning he had been brooding, perhaps in the silence of a solitary lodging, over the irretrievable past and the hopeless future. It had been almost a relief when Mary brought word that the tomb was empty, for the tidings was a call to action; it broke for a time the monotony of his gloomy thoughts to hasten with John to the garden outside the walls, to examine the tomb, and form his own conclusions. But whereas in the mind of John a new faith seems to have sprung up at the sight of the separated and folded linen, Simon Peter went back as he came. The day wore on, the strain became intolerable, and he left the house again to seek rest from his burden. Perhaps he retraced his steps to the tomb in the hope of gaining further light; perhaps he sought comfort in the memories awakened by Gethsemane, the mount of Olives, the village of Bethany. On the way the Lord appeared to him, as He had appeared to Mary when she turned from the empty tomb. For this fact we have a guarantee which is scarcely open to dispute. When, eight or nine years after the first Easter day, Saul went up to Jerusalem 'to visit Cephas,'? who can doubt that the conversation turned upon the appearances of the risen Lord; or that while Saul had much to say of his experiences on the Damascus road, S. Peter told how the Master had appeared to himself on the very day of the Resurrection? 'He appeared to Cephas' was thenceforth a prominent feature in the Gospel which S. Paul delivered to the Gentile churches. Yet nothing more than the bare fact has reached us, and what passed between the Lord and His disciple it would be worse than idle to conjecture. The words of Christ, more especially of the risen Christ, are marked by their unexpected. I ness; though for the most part they arise out of some passing incident, they are seldom obvious; it is only upon reflection that we realize their perfect appositeness, their inexhaustible fulness. The words spoken by the Lord on this occasion 3 were probably not divulged by S. Peter; he kept them locked up in his own mind as a sacred treasure. He had not been entrusted, like Mary, with a message for the Church; the Lord's words to him were meant only for himself. Therefore