One of the most surprising discoveries during my four month deconversion from orthodox Christianity was the number of assumptions built into the conservative/orthodox Christian belief system. There is probably no greater assumption in Christianity than the belief that the stories in the Gospels are undisputed historical fact. For example, when discussing the resurrection, Christian apologists will almost invariably start from this point: “How do you, Mr. or Ms. Skeptic, explain the Empty Tomb?”
How do we know that there was an empty tomb? How do we know there was even a tomb?? Do we have any non-Christian writings that attest to an empty tomb? No. We have no Roman writings about this alleged event. We have no Jewish writings about this alleged event. Not even Josephus mentions an empty tomb…nor does he mention anything about a resurrection!
The only writings that mention an empty tomb or even a resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth are Christian. But the shocking fact is that we do not have any contemporaneous writings of the resurrection and empty tomb even in Christian documents! The first writings that specifically mention an empty tomb are the Gospels, written 35-40 years after the alleged event…by anonymous writers…in foreign countries…far, far away. And…the Apostle Paul never once mentions anything about an empty tomb or even a tomb in any of his epistles!
Below is an example from NT Wright of this Christian propensity to assume that what is said in the Gospels is…well,…the historically factual, “gospel” truth:
page 22, “Even if it were true that a fully Christian epistemology would want to begin all its knowing with Jesus, confessed as the crucified and risen Messiah, that does not mean that there is no access to Jesus and his death and resurrection in the public world. Peter did not need to appeal to Christian writings when reminding the crowd of what they already knew about Jesus.”
This statement assumes that Peter’s sermon on Pentecost really did occur; that it was a true historical event.
Read part 3 here.