Do we have any Evidence that the Earliest Christians believed the Resurrection occurred as described in the Gospels?

Evangelical Christian: 

(Gary said): Even if some early Christians had a very high christology this does not in any way confirm that an ancient Hebrew god reanimated the decomposing flesh of a dead first century prophet. It only infers that early Christians BELIEVED that he had been resurrected. That’s it.

Reply: Right, and the question is why would they think that? Since the first Christians were Jews, to get them to change beliefs about YHWH which were core to their identity and they would face a great price if they were wrong, they would have to have some pretty strong evidence. Note also the nature of resurrection. If the thief on the cross had been resurrected, no one would have said “Wow! The Messiah has come!” They would have thought it was an odd world. They thought this about Jesus however. Why?

Gary:  We have no evidence of what the earliest Christians believed during the time period between Jesus’ crucifixion and the first epistle of Paul. You have not provided any evidence that the Creed Paul recites in First Corinthians was formulated within a short period of time after Jesus death. You are assuming it did, and that is it. No matter what your evangelical Christian Bible scholars might present as evidence for your assertion on this issue, you will be forced to admit that the best your scholars can do is guess as to the date of this Creed. Bottom line: we have no concrete evidence what the earliest Christians in the first circa twenty years after the crucifixion believed.

We must settle this issue first before we can move on. Please provide evidence that proves that the earliest Christians believed that the Resurrection of Jesus occurred in the manner as described in the four Gospels, and not merely that they believed Jesus had been resurrected in some form or manner. I do not doubt that early on, Christians believed in a resurrection, and they most certainly did so by Paul’s time. The big question is: Why?

(Gary said): There are many possible scenarios that could explain how early Christians could have come to this conclusion, including false sightings as I mentioned above. Another possible scenario for the resurrection story is this:

Reply: There is a possible scenario where we’re all living in the Matrix. So what? What you need is a probable scenario and one based on the evidence.

What evidence?  There is no evidence.  Just because four anonymous first (and second?) century writers write a story that says Jesus was buried in the personal hand-hewn tomb of a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the same body that unanimously condemned Jesus to death, does not mean that this is good evidence to accept as historical fact.  For one thing, we know that two and maybe three of the anonymous gospel authors blatantly plagiarized the first gospel author.  So we do not have four independent stories.  We have one.  And two, are we really to believe that all the fantastical events as recorded in the Gospels really happened but not one non-Christian chose to write about it?

We have an ancient story about Cyclops and mischevious Greek gods in The Iliad and the Odessey.  Are we to accept the preposterous supernatural claims of this story too as factual evidence just because we can find it written in a book?

(Gary said): Jesus really was buried in Joseph of Arimethea’s tomb, but only until the end of Passover. As soon as sun set on Saturday, Arimethea went to the tomb (in the dark), with Pilate’s permission, and removed the corpse of Jesus and reburied him in an unmarked hole in the ground in the criminal section of the local cemetery.

The women showed up the next morning to find an empty tomb, and voila! A resurrection legend is born!

Reply: Um. No. Again, tons of flaws with this one. First off, Joseph is not going to go to the tomb on a Sabbath.  The Sabbath ends at sundown Saturday night.  He’s definitely not going to handle a dead body on the Sabbath.  Saturday night after sundown is not the Sabbath.

Second, an empty tomb in itself would not explain resurrection. It would be most likely seen as grave robbing or something of that sort. (Although grave robbers would not steal the whole body.)  Says who?  How are you able to read the minds of uneducated middle-eastern peasants living twenty centuries ago to know what they would or would not assume to have happened regarding an empty tomb? More assumptions.

Third, this does not explain the appearances either. Those include mass appearances as well and appearances to skeptics.  What proof do we have of these appearances other than three anonymous gospel writers and Paul who explicitly said he saw Jesus in a vision, and, that he received the report of five hundred witnesses as second, third, or fourth, etc.-hand information.

Fourth, this doesn’t explain Paul and James.  Let’s deal with the above issues first then I am happy to get to Paul and James.

Fifth, this doesn’t explain why the shameful beliefs of Christianity would catch on in an agonistic society and why people with the most to lose would believe the claims.  Why did the shameful beliefs of Heaven’s Gate and the Jonestown cult catch on?  Answer:  people are gullible.

(Gary said): Again, I know you don’t believe this happened, but my point is this: You cannot prove that this is not what happened, and, this scenario is much, much more probable, statistically speaking, than the reanimation of dead human tissue. And I could give you many more possible explanations for the Resurrection story, all of them naturalistic explanations, that based on collective human experience, are much more likely to be the cause of this story than your supernatural-based belief.

Reply: No. Your explanation is not more probable. It does not explain the data and it involves ad hoc scenarios that we have no evidence took place.

What data and evidence???

Better step up your game. You said all it takes is a high school education. Looks like a high school education is failing you.

I suggest you re-evaluate what you consider to be “evidence”.


4 thoughts on “Do we have any Evidence that the Earliest Christians believed the Resurrection occurred as described in the Gospels?

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