I am going to dismantle one of modern Christian apologists’ primary claims of “evidence” for the Resurrection: that no Jew would believe that one individual had been resurrected from the dead prior to the general resurrection of all the righteous dead unless they had truly seen a resurrected body.
1. Many Jews believed that John the Baptist was Elijah raised from the dead.
2. Many or at least some Jews believed that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead.
3. When the disciples allegedly saw Jesus walking on water, they believed that he was a ghost.
4. All of Judea knew that Lazarus had been raised from the dead.
So the claim that no Jew would believe that an individual could be raised from the dead is blatantly false. Jews seemed to readily believe that people could come back from the dead, as ghosts, as other people, or as themselves, in the case of Lazarus. So it is no stretch of the imagination that a small minority of first century Jews came to believe that Jesus had come back from the dead. And if Jews could believe that ghosts could walk on water, then Jews could believe that raised bodies could walk through locked doors, teleport between Emmaus and Jerusalem, appear and disappear in front of their eyes, or levitate/ascend into the clouds.
Christians may argue that there is a big distinction between being “raised” and being “resurrected” but no one would have known the difference until the “raised” person died for the second time! But maybe the “raised” person wouldn’t die. Maybe the “raised” person would be taken up into heaven, without dying, as allegedly occurred to one of the prophets in the OT. See folks, there is plenty of precedent for the Jesus Story to be believable by some Jews.
Christians might also say that a “resurrected” body has no need of food, water, or toileting, unlike a “raised” person, but if Jesus was always eating broiled fish with these guys, how would they ever know??
And here is something else about this story: if Jesus can appear and disappear in a matter of milliseconds, teleporting between Emmaus and Jerusalem, why did he need to “ascend” into the clouds?? I’ll tell you why: to make this supernatural tall tale more fantastical (magical)!
The belief that Jesus appeared to people after his death can be easily explained: the Jewish people were superstitious people who believed in ghosts and dead people coming back to life as other people. Jesus’ despondent followers started having false sightings of Jesus, mistaking some guy in the distance or in a crowd for him, seeing shadows of him at twighlight, having visions, etc. It is no stretch of the imagination to see these superstitious, ghost-are-real-believing people having sightings of a dead Jesus.
And don’t give me the excuse, “but there were witness who could counter a false claim”. There is currently a rumor going around that Bart Ehrman is going to convert to Islam…and Bart Ehrman is still alive (and denies the claim)! And we have the internet!
Rumors can perpetuate even if there are eyewitnesses around. When Charles Darwin died, a rumor started that he had converted to Christianity on his deathbed. His children, who were present at his bedside when he died, denied the rumor. However, Christian pastors were making this claim from their pulpits for years afterwards!
Open your eyes, folks. You are following an ancient superstition.