1 Corinthians 15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve...
Hold on a minute, the critic bellows -- how can Paul refer to the "Twelve" seeing Jesus when there were only eleven apostles? Judas was dead! May we suggest that:
- "The Twelve" was
a traditional colloquialism that referred to the apostles, originally
used by Jesus, that continued to be used (even with, when appropriate, "the
eleven") even when there weren't 12 of them - just as we still refer
to a particular college football conference as "The Big Ten," even
though it has more than 10 teams now! (Otherwise, what would happen
as the Apostles died off one at a time? Would Peter be introduced, "This
is Peter, one of the Seven [formerly Twelve]?")
A reader found another ancient example of this from a website now defunct: "The title Three Hundred Tang Shi therefore tells us that this is an anthology of three hundred poems in the shi styles, all written during the Tang dynasty. The 'three hundred' is approximate. Chinese people have, or at any rate in pre-modern times had, no very passionate attachment to numerical exactitude. (Another classic collection bears the title Nineteen Ancient Poems; it contains twenty-one.) The original edition of Three Hundred Tang Shi, compiled in the late eighteenth century by a scholar named Sun Zhu, included 310 poems. Later editors added or dropped poems at their whim, though the bulk of the collection remained unchanged. Bynner's The Jade Mountain contains translations of 294 poems." This is a clear example in which association with a number was considered more important for identification than being exact in how many members were in the identified set.
- That the specific
instance referred to by Matthew is not the same as referred to by Paul?
Paul may be referring to another appearance where the remaining eleven
were present, along with the future #12, Matthias.
It is not necessary to suggest, as some have, that Judas was still alive for a while and witnessed the appearances Paul is referring to.