Ask any Christian apologist about the Resurrection of Jesus and one of the first pieces of evidence they will present for this supernatural claim is that there was an Empty Tomb. And to support this claim, they will usually then refer to research conducted by evangelical Christian New Testament scholar, Gary Habermas, in which he claims that 75% of scholars believe in the historicity of the Empty Tomb of Jesus.
Let’s take a look at Mr. Habermas’ research below. I will intersperse my comments in red.
(Article copied from: here)
Resurrection Research from 1975 to the Present:
by Gary R. Habermas
An edited version of this article was published in the
Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, 3.2 (2005), pp. 135-153
During the last thirty years, perhaps the most captivating theological topic, at least in North America, is the historical Jesus. Dozens of publications by major scholars have appeared since the mid-1970s, bringing Jesus and his culture to the forefront of contemporary discussions. The apostle Paul has been the subject of numerous additional studies. Almost unavoidably, these two areas make it inevitable that the subject of Jesus’ resurrection will be discussed. To the careful observer, these studies are exhibiting some intriguing tendencies. The mid-70’s? That was 40 years ago. If we wanted to discuss the latest research on any other subject would we go back to the 1970’s? I doubt it. But, let’s look at Mr. Habermas’ study, anyway.
Since 1975, more than 1400 scholarly publications on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus have appeared. Over the last five years, I have tracked these texts, which were written in German, French, and English. Well over 100 subtopics are addressed in the literature, almost all of which I have examined in detail. Each source appeared from the last quarter of the Twentieth Century to the present, with more being written in the 1990s than in other decades. This contemporary milieu exhibits a number of well-established trends, while others are just becoming recognizable. The interdisciplinary flavor is noteworthy, as well. Most of the critical scholars are theologians or New Testament scholars, while a number of philosophers and historians, among other fields, are also included. Interesting. If we were examining the expert consensus on the historicity of any other historical claim, would we include theologians in our survey? I doubt it. But even if we did, shouldn’t we at least insure that the majority of experts in our sample be primarily professional historians? And why include philosophers? Do we consult philosophers when we investigate the historicity of other alleged events in Antiquity? Do we need a philosopher’s opinion on whether or not Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon or whether or not Alexander the Great invaded India? It seems to me that Habermas has pre-selected a biased sample. Whether or not the Bible’s claim of an actual empty tomb is true is not a question of theology or philosophy. It is a question of history. So let’s poll the professional historians on this issue! It would be very easy. Print out on a piece of paper a one sentence question: “Do you believe that the Empty Tomb of Jesus is an historical fact?”, mail it to every professional historian on the planet, tally the results. Done!
This essay is chiefly concerned with commenting on a few of these most recent scholarly trends regarding the resurrection of Jesus. I will attempt to do four things here, moving from the general to the specific. This will involve 1) beginning with some tendencies of a very broad nature, 2) delineating several key research trends, 3) providing a sample interpretation of these research trends from the works of two representative scholars, and 4) concluding with some comments on what I take to be the single most crucial development in recent thought. Regarding my own critics over the years, one of my interests is to ascertain if we can detect some widespread directions in the contemporary discussions—where are most recent scholars heading on these issues? Of course, the best way to do this is to comb through the literature and attempt to provide an accurate assessment.
Some General Tendencies
After a survey of contemporary scholarly opinions regarding the more general issue of Jesus’ christology, Raymond Brown argues that the most popular view is that of moderate conservatism. It might be said, with qualification, that similar trends are exhibited in an analysis of the more specific area of recent scholarly positions on Jesus’ resurrection. When viewed as a whole, the general consensus is to recognize perhaps a surprising amount of historical data as reported in the New Testament accounts. In particular, Paul’s epistles, especially 1 Corinthians 15:1-20, along with other early creedal traditions, are frequently taken almost at face value. For the purposes of this essay, I will define moderate conservative approaches to the resurrection as those holding that Jesus was actually raised from the dead in some manner, either bodily (and thus extended in space and time), or as some sort of spiritual body (though often undefined). In other words, if what occurred can be described as having happened to Jesus rather than only to his followers, this range of views will be juxtaposed with those more skeptical positions that nothing actually happened to Jesus and can only be described as a personal experience of the disciples. This is a theological issue. Professional historians aren’t going to touch this issue with a ten foot pole.
And here is something for Christians to consider: Just because the majority of (Christian) theologians (one of the main subgroups in Habermas’ study sample) believe there was some type of a Resurrection (bodily or spiritual) doesn’t carry much weight as to whether or not this event was an historical reality. Ask Muslim scholars, who readily believe in the supernatural, if they believe that Jesus was resurrected and the overwhelming majority will say, no. “But Muslim scholars are biased,” Christians will complain. Yea, but so are Christian scholars, my Christian friends! So you see, the fact that most Christian theologians believe in the Resurrection is no different than the fact that most Muslim theologians believe that Mohammad truly did ride on a winged horse to heaven.
Of course, major differences can be noted within and between these views. One way to group these general tendencies is by geography and language. For example, on the European Continent, recent German studies on the subject of the death and resurrection of Jesus are far more numerous, generally more theological in scope, and more diverse, than French treatments. This German diversity still includes many moderate and conservative stances. French studies, on the other hand, appear less numerous, more textually-oriented, and tend to reach more conservative conclusions. For example, German works of approximately the last 30 years include the more critical stances of Hans Conzelmann, Willi Marxsen, Gerd Lüdemann, Ingo Broer, and the early Rudolf Pesch. But they also encompass more numerous works by Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jürgen Moltmann, Martin Hengel, Jacob Kremer, Walter Künneth, and Ulrich Wilckens. Examples of the French writings would be the works of Francis Durrwell, Xavier Leon-Dufour, and Jean-Marie Guillaume. Guillaume is typical of some of the more exegetical French studies, concluding that there are primitive, pre-synoptic traditions behind Gospel accounts such as the women discovering the empty tomb, Peter and John checking their claim, the proclamation in Lk. 24:34 that Jesus appeared to Peter, as well as Jesus’ appearance to the disciples on the initial Easter Sunday.
As has been the case for decades, British publications on the subject often reach rather independent conclusions from Continental thinkers. There are also a wide range of positions represented here, some of which differ from mainline conclusions, such as the works of Michael Goulder, G.A. Wells, and Duncan Derrett. Still, the majority of British writings support what we have called the moderate conservative position. Examples are the publications of Thomas Torrance, James D.G. Dunn, Richard Swinburne, and Oliver O’Donavan. Most recently, the writings of N.T. Wright have contributed heavily to this outlook.
North American contributions include both the largest number and perhaps the widest range of views on Jesus’ resurrection. These extend from the more skeptical ideas of John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg, to the more moderate studies by Reginald Fuller, Pheme Perkins, and Raymond Brown,  to the more conservative voices of William Lane Craig and Stephen Davis. My publications would fit the latter category. A rough estimate of the publications in my study of Jesus’ resurrection among British, French, and German authors (as well as a number of authors from several other countries), published during the last 25 or so years, indicates that there is approximately a 3:1 ratio of works that fall into the category that we have dubbed the moderate conservative position, as compared to more skeptical treatments. Of course, this proves nothing concerning whether or not the resurrection actually occurred. But it does provide perhaps a hint–a barometer, albeit quite an unofficial one, on where many of these publications stand. By far, the majority of publications on the subject of Jesus’ death and resurrection have been written by North American authors. Interestingly, my study of these works also indicates an approximate ratio of 3:1 of moderate conservative to skeptical publications, as with the European publications. Here again, this signals the direction of current research.
When Mr. Habermas states that his research of the literature regarding the Resurrection of Jesus published since the mid-1970’s arrived at an approximate 3:1 ratio of moderate conservative publications to skeptical publications is he counting multiple articles by the same author individually in his statistics or is he just giving each author one vote regardless of the number of articles the scholar has written? If he used the former method, wouldn’t this skew his numbers in favor of the conservative position? Persons holding the most extreme of views on this issue, very conservative (Christian fundamentalists/evangelicals) or very liberal (mythicists), as in other areas of life, are more likely to speak out more frequently on the topic, publishing more article on the topic, than say a moderate who doesn’t have the same intense feelings about the outcome of the debate. And since we know that there are many more fundamentalist/evangelical scholars than there are mythicist scholars, the results will be heavily skewed to favor the fundamentalist/evangelical Christian perspective.
Some Specific Research Trends
I will note six particular areas of research that demarcate some of the most important trends in resurrection research today. In particular, I will feature areas that include some fairly surprising developments. First, after a hiatus since their heyday in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, recent trends indicate a limited surge of naturalistic explanations to the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection. Almost a dozen different alternative theses have emerged, either argued or suggested by more than forty different scholars, with some critics endorsing more than one theory. In place of the resurrection, both internal states of mind (such as subjective visions or hallucinations) as well as objective phenomena (like illusions) have been proposed. The vast majority of scholars, however, still reject such proposals. Once again, if you are taking a biased sample from a group of experts who are primarily Christian theologians and NT scholars, and counting multiple articles from the same author, it is not surprising that you would find this result.
A second research area concerns those scholars who address the subject of the empty tomb. It has been said that the majority of contemporary researchers accepts the historicity of this event.
Go ahead, Reader. Look at footnote  below. How many scholars does Habermas quote to make this sweeping claim? Answer: two. And guess who he lists first of these two scholars: WILLIAM LANE CRAIG; a scholar from the extreme far right of conservative Christian scholarship (Craig has an informal “alter call” at every debate he engages in)!
But is there any way to be more specific? From the study mentioned above, I have compiled 23 arguments for the empty tomb and 14 considerations against it, as cited by recent critical scholars. Generally, the listings are what might be expected, dividing along theological “party lines.” To be sure, such a large number of arguments, both pro and con, includes very specific differentiation, including some overlap. Of these scholars, approximately 75% favor one or more of these arguments for the empty tomb, while approximately 25% think that one or more arguments oppose it. Thus, while far from being unanimously held by critical scholars, it may surprise some that those who embrace the empty tomb as a historical fact still comprise a fairly strong majority.
But as you state above in your opening remarks, Mr. Habermas, the majority of the experts you have selected to answer this historical question are theologians and NT scholars; hardly an unbiased group. Why not limit the study to professional historians, such as experts in the Roman Empire and the ancient Near East? If you had a question involving geology, would you ask a theologian or philosopher? Ask the professional historians, Mr. Habermas! …or are you afraid of the results!
By far the most popular argument favoring the Gospel testimony on this subject is that, in all four texts, women are listed as the initial witnesses. Contrary to often repeated statements, First Century Jewish women were able to testify in some legal matters. But given the general reluctance in the Mediterranean world at that time to accept female testimony in crucial matters, most of those scholars who comment on the subject hold that the Gospels probably would not have dubbed them as the chief witnesses unless they actually did attest to this event.
Maybe the original “sightings” of the dead-but-alive-again Jesus did involve women. Maybe a few days after Jesus’ crucifixion, a group of women saw a man in the distance whom they believed to be Jesus, but before they could reach him he had “disappeared”. Maybe it was women who had the first visions/vivid dreams of a resurrected Jesus. But just because a story developed of women being the first witnesses to a “resurrected” Jesus doesn’t mean that all the other details in the story are true.
And here is another point, why aren’t women mentioned in the Early Creed of First Corinthians 15? Isn’t it possible that the early Resurrection belief was due only to visions and dreams (not empty tomb claims) involving the prominent male members of the Early Church? We hear nothing about women finding an empty tomb until “Mark’s” gospel appears in circa 70 AD. Maybe the educated, Gentile, Mark, living in Rome or Antioch, felt it was important for Christians to have more evidence for the Resurrection claim other than dreams and visions of a few uneducated Galilean peasants. Maybe he believed that a physical, empty tomb owned by a rich member of the Jewish ruling classes would give this supernatural Christian claim more validity; but how could he have the male disciples coming to this tomb on Sunday morning when he had already said that they were in hiding?
So…he invented the women.
Third, without question, the most critically-respected witness for Jesus’ resurrection is the apostle Paul. As Norman Perrin states, “Paul is the one witness we have whom we can interrogate.” And 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 is taken to be the strongest evidence for the historicity of this event. Howard Clark Kee boldly asserts that Paul’s testimony here “can be critically examined . . . just as one would evaluate evidence in a modern court or academic setting.” For several strong reasons, most scholars who address the issue think that this testimony predates any New Testament book. Murphy-O’Connor reports that a literary analysis has produced “complete agreement” among critical scholars that “Paul introduces a quotation in v. 3b. . . .” Paul probably received this report from Peter and James while visiting Jerusalem within a few years of his conversion. The vast majority of critical scholars who answer the question place Paul’s reception of this material in the mid-30s A.D. Even more skeptical scholars generally agree. German theologian Walter Kasper even asserts that, “We have here therefore an ancient text, perhaps in use by the end of 30 AD . . . .”  Ulrich Wilckens declares that the material “indubitably goes back to the oldest phase of all in the history of primitive Christianity.”
Paul was a witness to the Resurrection? Really?
In his own epistles, Paul claims only to “have seen the Christ”. That’s it. He gives no other details of when, how, and where this “seeing” occurred. The anonymous author of Acts, a book which most authors believe was written in the late first century, claims to quote Paul in chapter 26 in which Paul claims to have seen…a talking, bright light on the Damascus Road a couple of years after Jesus’ crucifixion. If you met a man today who told you that he conversed with a talking, bright light on a dark, desert highway, would you believe that he had just seen God or that he was certifiably nuts??
I would hardly call this evidence that Paul was “a witness to the Resurrection”.
Fourth, while this pre-Pauline creed provides crucial material, it is not the only instance. For example, many scholars think that the Book of Acts contains many early confessions, embedded in the sermons. These creeds are indicated by brief, theologically unadorned wording that differs from the author’s normal language. Although this is more difficult to determine, it appears that most critical scholars think that at least some reflection of the earliest Christian preaching is encased in this material. This can be determined not only by the many authors who affirm it, but also because it is difficult to find many who clearly reject any such early reports among the Acts sermons. The death and resurrection appearances of Jesus are always found at the center of these traditions. Gerald O’Collins holds that this sermon content “incorporates resurrection formulae which stem from the thirties.” John Drane adds: “The earliest evidence we have for the resurrection almost certainly goes back to the time immediately after the resurrection event is alleged to have taken place. This is the evidence contained in the early sermons in the Acts of the Apostles.”
So what? So the early Christians believed that Jesus had been resurrected. Most skeptics do not deny this. The real question is: Why is there no mention of an empty tomb until the first Gospel appears in circa 70 AD?
Some contemporary critical scholars continue to underplay and even disparage the notion that Jesus was raised bodily. But a fifth, seemingly little recognized and even surprising factor in the recent research, is that many recent scholars have been balancing the two aspects of Paul’s phrase “spiritual body,” with perhaps even a majority favoring the position that, according to the New Testament writers, Jesus appeared in a transformed body. Lüdemann even proclaims: “I do not question the physical nature of Jesus’ appearance from heaven. . . . Paul . . . asserts that Christians will receive a transformed physical body like the one that the heavenly man Christ has (cf. 1 Cor 15:35-49).” Wright agrees: “there can be no question: Paul is a firm believer in bodily resurrection. He stands with his fellow Jews against the massed ranks of pagans; with his fellow Pharisees against other Jews.” Many other scholars have spoken in support of a bodily notion of Jesus’ resurrection. Sixth, the vast majority of contemporary theologians argue in some sense that Jesus’ resurrection variously evidences, leads to, or otherwise indicates the truth of Christian theology. Some prefer a non-evidential connection between this event and doctrinal truths, while others favor some level of entailment between them. Even skeptical scholars frequently manifest this connection. Willi Marxsen is an example of the tendency to find significance in Jesus’ resurrection. Though he rejects the historicity of this event, he thinks that, “The answer may be that in raising Jesus God acknowledged the one who was crucified; or that God endorsed Jesus in spite of his apparent failure; or something similar.” Immediately after this, Marxsen rather amazingly adds: “What happened . . . was that God endorsed Jesus as the person that he was: during his earthly lifetime Jesus pronounced the forgiveness of sins to men in the name of God. He demanded that they commit their lives entirely to God. . . . I could easily add a whole catalog of other statements.” Though this is from a much older text, Marxsen closes his later volume on the resurrection on a related point, with “Jesus’ invitation to faith” declaring that, in some sense, it might be said that Jesus is still present and active in faith, encouraging us to bring reconciliation, forgiveness, and peace to others. Also more recently, Marcus Borg delineates five areas of New Testament meaning that follow from Jesus’ death and resurrection. For instance, what “may well be the earliest interpretation” is that the rejection caused by Jesus’ execution gave way to “God’s vindication of Jesus” as provided by the resurrection. Another area is Jesus’ sacrifice for sin, the literal truth of which Borg rejects, while holding that this picture is still a powerful metaphor of God’s grace.
So the overwhelming majority of “experts”, primarily consisting of Christian theologians and NT scholars, believe in the historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus. So what!! No one should be surprised.
So a number of contemporary scholars realize that multiple truths follow from the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is difficult to avoid a correlation here. When Jesus’ actual resurrection is accepted in some sense, related theological doctrines are often accepted more-or-less directly. Conversely, when the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection is rejected, the corresponding theological doctrines are often held in less than literal terms. So where the event of Jesus’ resurrection is rejected, one might also expect to discover the rejection of certain theological concepts, too. For instance, one might reject claims regarding Jesus’ self-consciousness, or the exclusivity his teachings, if the historical resurrection has also been discarded. On the other hand, if the resurrection actually occurred, and doctrine follows from the event, this would seem to place Jesus’ theology on firmer grounds, as well. In keeping with Borg’s remark above, perhaps the earliest New Testament witness is that the doctrine relies on the event. The doctrine appears to have relied on the early belief that a dead corpse was resurrected and seen by some of his grieving family and friends shortly after his death, NOT on an empty rock-hewn tomb. These six developments indicate some of the most recent trends in resurrection research. We will return below to an additional area that is drawn from several of these trends.
A Comparison of Scholars
As an example of these recent trends, I will compare briefly the ideas of two seemingly different scholars, John Dominic Crossan and N.T. Wright. We will contrast some of their views on Jesus’ resurrection, following the specific list of topics that we just provided. This will indicate some of their major differences, but perhaps some unexpected similarities, as well. Such will serve as a sample demarcation from the recent theological scene, as well.
Neither Crossan nor Wright espouse naturalistic theories specifically regarding the resurrection appearances. Wright is much more outspoken in his opposition to these alternatives hypotheses, referring to them as “false trails.” Crossan has also recently agreed that the disciples, in some sense, experienced the risen Jesus and that natural substitutes are unconvincing. Here we have an indication of the comment above that postulating natural alternatives is a minority option among recent scholars. Does Crossan state that he believes that Jesus appeared to his disciples in some supernatural manifestation and not in a natural manifestation, such as a vivid dream, trance, vision, or hallucination? Let’s look at footnote 63 below:
 In a recent dialogue, Crossan indicated that he does not think that alternative responses are good explanations for the appearances to the disciples. (See Robert Stewart, ed., The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N.T. Wright in Dialogue.) Still, it could be pointed out that Crossan’s comparison of the resurrection appearances to dreams or visions of a departed loved, however normal, still involves the reliance on a natural scenario instead of the New Testament explanation. (John Dominic Crossan, “The Resurrection of Jesus in its Jewish Context,” Neotestamentica, 37
Huh??? So Crossan compares the resurrection appearances to dreams and visions of a departed loved one. Those sound pretty natural to me! Sounds as if Habermas has misconstrued Crossan’s position in the body of his article but covers his scholarly derriere in the small footnotes at the bottom of the page, which most of his lay Christian readers will most likely not bother to read!
Regarding the empty tomb, there is definitely a contrast between these two scholars. Crossan thinks that the empty tomb narrative in Mark’s Gospel was created by the author, although he concedes that Paul may have implied this event. On the other hand, Wright thinks not only that the empty tomb is historical, but that it provides one of the two major pillars for the historical resurrection appearances.
Both Crossan and Wright agree without reservation that Paul is the best early witness to the resurrection appearances. They both hold that Paul was an eyewitness to what he believed was a resurrection appearance of Jesus. Further, they share the view that Paul recorded an account in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 that he had received decades before writing the letter in which it appears, and that the apostle probably learned it during his early visit to Jerusalem, just a short time after Jesus’ death.
Both scholars include comparatively little discussion regarding the other early creedal passages in the New Testament that confirm the pre-Pauline report of the death and resurrection of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15, but they do at least acknowledge a few texts. Wright has slightly more to say here, but Crossan does not dispute this data. Perhaps most surprisingly, both Wright and Crossan embrace the claim that the earliest Christian teachings taught that Jesus appeared in a bodily manner. This is the case for several reasons, such as this being the predominant Jewish view at the time. Most of all, this was the clear meaning of the terms. Wright has argued passionately for over five hundred pages that, for pagans, Jews, and Christians in the ancient Mediterranean world up until the second century AD, the terms anastasiV (anastasis) and egeirw (egeiro) and cognates like exanastasiV (exanastasis), almost without exception, indicate a resurrection of the body.
Interestingly, when the ancient writers who rejected (and even despised) this doctrine utilized these same terms, they spoke only of a bodily afterlife. When writing about the soul or spirit living after death, pagan authors used different words. Even Paul clearly held that Jesus’ body was raised, agreeing with the other New Testament authors. On all three occasions when Wright and Crossan have dialogued concerning the resurrection, Crossan has noted his essential agreement with Wright’s major thesis regarding the meaning of bodily resurrection. In fact, Crossan notes that he “was already thinking along these same lines.” Crossan even agrees with Wright that Paul thought that Jesus’ appearance to him was also bodily in nature. Crossan and Reed explain that, “To take seriously Paul’s claim to have seen the risen Jesus, we suggest that his inaugural vision was of Jesus’ body simultaneously wounded and glorified.” Although the Acts accounts claim that Paul saw a luminous vision, Crossan and Reed decided to “bracket that blinded-by-light sequence and imagine instead a vision in which Paul both sees and hears Jesus as the resurrected Christ, the risen Lord.” As a result, to take seriously the earliest Christian teachings would, at the very least, address the bodily nature of their claims. Lastly, both Crossan and Wright readily agree that the resurrection of Jesus in some sense indicates that the truth of Christian belief ought to lead to its theological outworkings, including the radical practice of ethics. As Crossan states, “Tom and I agree on one absolutely vital implication of resurrection faith . . . that God’s transfiguration of this world here below has already started . . .” To be sure, Crossan’s chief emphasis is to proceed to the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection in the world today, contending that we must live out the literal implications of this belief in “peace through justice.” Just as Jesus’ appearances inspired the disciples’ proclamation of God’s victory over sin and the powers of Caesar’s empire, we must “promote God’s Great Clean-Up of the earth” and “take back God’s world from the thugs.”
Just curious, but why did Habermas choose to contrast the position of two Christian scholars, albeit one conservative and one liberal Christian scholar. Why not contrast the positions of a Christian NT scholar and a non-Christian NT scholar? Both Crossan and Wright seem to believe in a Resurrection, although Crossan probably believes that it was a spiritual event and not physical event. Oh well.
Wright argues that, for both the New Testament authors like Paul and John, as well as for us today, the facticity of Jesus’ resurrection indicates that Christian theology is true, including doctrines such as the sonship of Jesus and his path of eternal life to those who respond to his message. The resurrection also requires a radical call to discipleship in a torn world, including responses to the political tyranny of both conservatives as well as liberals, addressing violence, hunger, and even death. As Wright says, “Easter is the beginning of God’s new world. . . . But Easter is the time for revolution. . . .” So there is at least general agreement between Crossan and Wright regarding most of the individual topics which we have explored above. There is at least some important overlap in each of the six categories, except for the historicity of the empty tomb. The amount of agreement on some of the issues, like the value of Paul’s eyewitness testimony to a resurrection appearance, his report of an early creed that predates him by a couple of decades, as well as his knowledge of the message taught by the Jerusalem apostles, is rather incredible, especially given the different theological stances of these two scholars. The emerging agreement concerning the essential nature of Jesus’ bodily resurrection, especially for Paul and the New Testament authors, is a recent twist that would have been rather difficult to predict just a few years ago. And both scholars argue for the believer’s literal presence in righting the world’s wrongs, because of Jesus’ resurrection. Still, we must not be so caught up in the areas of agreement that we gloss over the very crucial differences. We have noted the disagreements concerning the empty tomb, along with my suggestion that Crossan essentially holds a natural alternative to the resurrection. So why did you infer earlier that Crossan believed that the post-death appearances were not of a natural nature if Crossan believes that the resurrection belief itself was based on something natural?? So, the most glaring difference concerns whether or not Jesus was actually raised from the dead. While Wright clearly holds that this is an historical event of the past, Crossan’s position is much more difficult to decipher. In my experience, the position of liberals and moderates, for instance those of my former LCMS pastor, are always much more complicated that that of conservatives. I attribute this to the intense desire of liberal and moderate Christians to appear reasonable, rational, and aligned with modern science in the eyes of the educated, secular world, but still hold onto the basic tenets of the supernatural based Christian belief system. In order to do this, they often contort themselves into “pretzels”. For instance, my former LCMS pastor believes in Darwin’s origin of species. He believes that all animals today are the end product of millions of years of evolutionary natural selection. However, ask him if man is evolved from lower life forms, and he will say, no. Man was made in the image of God out of the dust of the earth. So why do humans have DNA similarities to the great apes? Answer: Maybe God created man out of some dirt that had gorilla dung (therefore, gorilla DNA) in it! And such is the twisted logic of the Christian liberal, and even worse, the Christian moderate. They are forced to make up the most incredible stories to maintain the core Christian teaching that man was made in God’s image (Christian teaching), while asserting that the rest of nature evolved from lower life forms (Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection). Still, in spite of the wide agreement even in some very crucial areas, Crossan has clearly said that he does not think that the resurrection is an historical event. For Crossan, at a very early date, the resurrection appearances were held by Paul and the disciples to be actual, bodily events. Though he personally rejects that view, Crossan accepts Jesus’ resurrection as a metaphor. Perhaps shedding some further light on his position, Crossan has affirmed what appears to be a crucial distinction. He rejects the literal resurrection of Jesus at least partially because he does not believe in an afterlife, so he has no literal category into which the resurrection may be placed. Or perhaps he finds no good evidence to believe that such an extraordinary event actually occurred.
The Disciples’ Belief that they had Seen the Risen Jesus
From considerations such as the research areas above, perhaps the single most crucial development in recent thought has emerged. With few exceptions, the fact that after Jesus’ death his followers had experiences that they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus is arguably one of the two or three most recognized events from the four Gospels, along with Jesus’ central proclamation of the Kingdom of God and his death by crucifixion. Few critical scholars reject the notion that, after Jesus’ death, the early Christians had real experiences of some sort. Reginald Fuller asserts that, “Even the most skeptical historian has to postulate an `x’” in order to account for the New Testament data—namely, the empty tomb, Jesus’ appearances, and the transformation of Jesus’ disciples. Fuller concludes by pointing out that this kerygma “requires that the historian postulate some other event” that is not the rise of the disciples’ faith, but “the cause of the Easter faith.” What are the candidates for such a historical explanation? The “irreducible historical minimum behind the Easter narratives” is “a well-based claim of certain disciples to have had visions of Jesus after his death as raised from the dead . . . .” However it is explained, this stands behind the disciples’ faith and is required in order to explain what happened to them. Fuller elsewhere refers to the disciples’ belief in the resurrection as “one of the indisputable facts of history.” What caused this belief? That the disciples’ had actual experiences, characterized as appearances or visions of the risen Jesus, no matter how they are explained, is “a fact upon which both believer and unbeliever may agree.”
Yes, most skeptics agree that , very early after Jesus’ death, the disciples had some form of experiences which caused them to believe that the dead Jesus had appeared to them. However, skeptics point out the fact that over the course of human existence, tens of thousands of grieving friends and family of the recently departed have “seen” their loved one appear to them, talk to them, and even touch them.
Most educated people living in the western world today do NOT believe that these appearances are real, physical appearances, but rather vivid dreams, visions, or hallucinations. So why should we believe similar claims from a small group of mostly uneducated, very superstitious, Galilean peasants living two thousand years ago?
An overview of contemporary scholarship indicates that Fuller’s conclusions are well-supported. E.P. Sanders initiates his discussion in The Historical Figure of Jesus by outlining the broad parameters of recent research. Beginning with a list of the historical data that critics know, he includes a number of “equally secure facts” that “are almost beyond dispute.” One of these is that, after Jesus’ death, “his disciples . . . saw him.” In an epilogue, Sanders reaffirms, “That Jesus’ followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my judgment, a fact. What the reality was that gave rise to the experiences I do not know.” After beginning with a list of “a few assorted facts to which most critical scholars subscribe,” Robert Funk mentions that, “The conviction that Jesus was no longer dead but was risen began as a series of visions . . . .” Later, after listing and arranging all of the resurrection appearances, Funk states that they cannot be harmonized. But he takes more seriously the early, pre-Pauline confessions like 1 Corinthians 15:3-7. John Meier lists “the claim by some of his disciples that he had risen from the dead and appeared to them” as one of the “empirically verifiable historical claims.” Paul, in particular, was an eyewitness to such an appearance, and James, the brother of Jesus, appears in the pre-Pauline list of appearances. James D.G. Dunn asserts: “It is almost impossible to dispute that at the historical roots of Christianity lie some visionary experiences of the first Christians, who understood them as appearances of Jesus, raised by God from the dead.” Then Dunn qualifies the situation: “By `resurrection’ they clearly meant that something had happened to Jesus himself. God had raised him, not merely reassured them. He was alive again. . . .”
Wright asks how the disciples could have recovered from the shattering experience of Jesus’ death and regrouped afterwards, testifying that they had seen the risen Jesus, while being quite willing to face persecution because of this belief. What was the nature of the experience that dictated these developments?  Bart Ehrman explains that, “Historians, of course, have no difficulty whatsoever speaking about the belief in Jesus’ resurrection, since this is a matter of public record. For it is a historical fact that some of Jesus’ followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead soon after his execution.” This early belief in the resurrection is the historical origination of Christianity. As we have mentioned throughout, there are certainly disagreements about the nature of the experiences.
But it is still crucial that the nearly unanimous consent of critical scholars is that, in some sense, the early followers of Jesus thought that they had seen the risen Jesus. This conclusion does not rest on the critical consensus itself, but on the reasons for the consensus, such as those pointed out above. A variety of paths converge here, including Paul’s eyewitness comments regarding his own experience (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8), the pre-Pauline appearance report in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, probably dating from the 30s, Paul’s second Jerusalem meeting with the major apostles to ascertain the nature of the Gospel (Gal. 2:1-10), and Paul’s knowledge of the other apostles’ teachings about Jesus’ appearances (1 Cor. 15:9-15, especially 15:11).
Further, the early Acts confessions, the conversion of James, the brother of Jesus, the transformed lives that centered on the resurrection, the later Gospel accounts, and, most scholars would agree, the empty tomb. (most scholars from a biased sample.) This case is built entirely on critically-ascertained texts, and confirmed by many critical principles such as eyewitness testimony (which alleged eyewitness accounts? The Gospels? Nope. The majority of scholars do not believe that eyewitness or the associates of eyewitnesses wrote these books. Paul? Paul himself never tells us what exactly he saw. Maybe he “saw” Jesus on his intergalactic space voyage to the “third heaven”? I personally think that Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was mental illness with episodes of psychosis and delusions of grandeur…but that is just my humble opinion…), early reports, multiple attestation (at least two, and maybe three of the Gospels borrow heavily from the first gospel written, Mark. That is hardly a case of multiple attestation), discontinuity, embarrassment, enemy declarations (which contemporary “enemy” of Jesus mentions the empty tomb or the resurrection?), and coherence.
These same data indicate that Jesus’ followers reported visual experiences, witnessed by both individuals and groups. It is hardly disputed that this is at least the New Testament claim. The vast majority of scholars agree that these persons certainly thought that they had visual experiences of the risen Jesus. As Helmut Koester maintains, “We are on much firmer ground with respect to the appearances of the risen Jesus and their effect.” In addition to Paul, “that Jesus appeared to others (Peter, Mary Magdalene, James) cannot very well be questioned.” What?? We have suddenly gone from the majority of scholars believing that “the disciples had experiences in which they BELEIVED that Jesus had appeared to them, to “Jesus DID appear to them” and this “cannot be very well questioned”. Wow.
The point here is that any plausible explanations must account for the disciples’ claims, due to the wide variety of factors that argue convincingly for visual experiences. This is also recognized by critical scholars across a wide theological spectrum. As such, both natural and supernatural explanations for these occurrences must be entertained. Most studies on the resurrection concentrate on cognate issues, often obstructing a path to this matter. What really happened? I certainly cannot argue the options here, but at least the possibilities have been considerably narrowed. Sure. Allow for a supernatural explanation, but why not consider at least as equally possible, much more frequently observed explanations such as grieving friends and family “seeing” their dead loved one in vivid dreams?
This study attempts to map out some of the theological landscape in recent and current resurrection studies. Several interesting trends have been noted, taken from these contemporary studies. Most crucially, current scholarship generally recognizes that Jesus’ early followers claimed to have had visual experiences that they at least thought were appearances of their risen Master. Fuller’s comment may be recalled that, as “one of the indisputable facts of history,” both believers as well as unbelievers can accept “[t]hat these experiences did occur.” Continuing, Wright asks: “How, as historians, are we to describe this event . . . History therefore spotlights the question: what happened?” We cannot entertain the potential options here regarding what really happened, although we have narrowed the field. But due to the strong support from a variety of factors, these early Christian experiences need to be explained viably. I contend that this is the single most crucial development in recent resurrection studies.
Gary R. Habermas is Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University. He has authored several books related to this articles’ topic including The Historical Jesus and Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? The Resurrection Debate (with Antony Flew).
Dear Reader. Let me summarize my critique of Gary Habermas’ above research regarding the position of scholars on the historicity of the Empty Tomb:
1. This is not a peer-reviewed article. That is a BIG problem. Unless Habermas opens up his records; shares his data with other scholars; and allows other scholars to critique his data and methodology, all we have in this article is one man’s hearsay.
2. Habermas did NOT take a survey of scholars to arrive at his claim that “75% of scholars believe in the historicity of the Empty Tomb. This could have very easily been done. Why didn’t Habermas do this and why has he still not done this? No, instead of surveying scholars on this question, Habermas reviewed all articles on the subject of the Empty Tomb and recorded how many articles supported the historicity of this claim and how many did not support the historicity of this claim. There are several problems with this methodology. First, it only includes scholars who have written published articles on the Empty Tomb. What percentage of NT scholars have done so? He doesn’t tell us. However, it is safe to say that fundamentalist and evangelical NT scholars, whose faith and world view depend on the existence of an empty tomb, will have written many more articles on this subject than NT scholars for whom an empty tomb is unimportant (say, a Jewish scholar or a liberal Christian scholar).
Secondly, Habermas does not tell us whether or not he counted only authors of Empty Tomb articles or the total number of Empty Tomb articles. The problem here is that if he is basing his percentage on articles, not on scholars, his number will be biased towards the fundamentalist/evangelical position of an empty tomb and a bodily resurrection, as these scholars are much more motivated to write on this subject. For instance, if Mike Licona has written ten articles on the Empty Tomb, and someone like Levine has never or rarely ever written on this subject, Habermas’ statistics will be biased towards the conservative Christian position. We need to know this information before asserting just how accurate Habermas’ study really is.
3. Habermas states that the participants in his survey are primarily (Christian) theologians and NT scholars, with a smaller group of historians and philosophers. Why? This is an historical question, not a theological question. We are not asking scholars to tell us the meaning of Jesus’ death, for instance. That is a theological question. Why not ask the experts in the relative field: HISTORIANS! But I doubt that Habermas will ever want to do this because he knows that the results of this survey would most likely be very different from the results of his survey of mostly theologians and NT scholars.
 There are no “bookend” dates that necessarily favor this specific demarcation of time. But as I began gathering these sources years ago, the last quarter of the Twentieth Century to the present seemed to be as good a barometer as any for deciphering recent research trends.
. Raymond Brown, An Introduction to New Testament Christology (New York: Paulist, 1994), 4-15, 102.
 Hans Conzelmann, 1 Corinthians, trans. James W. Leitch (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975).
 Willi Marxsen, The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, trans. Margaret Kohl (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1970); Jesus and Easter: Did God Raise the Historical Jesus from the Dead? trans. Victor Paul Furnish (Nashville: Abingdon, 1990).
 Gerd Lüdemann, The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology trans. John Bowden (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994); Lüdemann with Alf Özen, What Really Happened to Jesus, trans. John Bowden (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1995); The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus, 2004). See also Hansjürgen Verweyen, editor, Osterglaube ohne Auferstehung? Diskussion mit Gerd Lüdemann (Freiburg: Herder, 1995) and the lengthy book review by Andreas Lindemann in Wege zum Menschen, 46 (November-December 1994), 503-513.
 Ingo Broer, et. al. Auferstehung Jesu–Auferstehung der Christen: Deutungen des Osterglaubens (Freiburg: Herder, 1986); Broer and Jürgen Werbick, “Der Herr ist wahrhaft auferstanden” (Lk 24,34): Biblische und systematische Beiträge zur Entstehung des Osterglaubens, Stuttgarter Bibel-Studien 134 (Stuttgart: Verlag Katholisches Bibelwork, 1988).
 Rudolf Pesch, “Zur Entstehung des Glaubens an die Auferstehung Jesu,” Theologische Quartalschrift, 153 (1973), 219-226; “Materialien und Bemerkungen zu Entstehung und Sinn des Osterglaubens,” in Anton Vögtle and Pesch, Wie kam es zum Osterglauben? (Düsseldorf: Patmos-Verlag, 1975).
 Wolfhart Pannenberg, “Die Auferstehung Jesu: Historie und Theologie,” Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, 91 (1994), 318-328; Die Auferstehung Jesu und die Zukunft des Menschen (Munchen: Minerva-Publikation, 1978); Jesus–God and Man, second ed., trans. Lewis L. Wilkins and Duane A. Priebe (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1977).
 Jürgen Moltmann, The Way of Jesus Christ: Christology in Messianic Dimensions, trans. Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993).
 Martin Hengel, “Ist der Osterglaube noch zu retten?” Theologische Quartalschrift, 153 (1973), 252-269; The Atonement, trans. John Bowden (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981); “Das Begräbnis Jesu bei Paulus und die leibliche Auferstehung aus dem Grabe” Auferstehung-Resurrection, ed. Friedrich Avemarie and Hermann Lichtenberger (Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 2001).
 Jacob Kremer, Die Osterevangelien–Geschichten um Geschichte, second ed. (Stuttgart: Verlag Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1981); “Zur Diskussion über `das leere Grab,’ ” Resurrexit: Actes du Symposium International sur la Résurrection de Jésus, ed. E. Dhanis (Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1974), 137-159.
 Walter Künneth, Theologie der Auferstehung, sixth ed. (Giessen: Brunnen, 1982).
 Ulrich Wilckens, Resurrection: Biblical Testimony to the Resurrection: An Historical Examination and Explanation, trans. A.M. Stewart (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1977).
 Francis X. Durrwell, La Résurrection de Jésus: Mystère de Salut (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1976).
 Xavier Léon-Dufour, Résurrection de Jésus et Message Pascal (Paris: Seuil, 1971).
 Jean-Marie Guillaume, Luc Interprète des Anciennes Traditions sur la Résurrection de Jésus, Études Bibliques (Paris: J. Gabalda et Cie, 1979).
 Guillaume, Luc Interprète des Anciennes Traditions sur la Résurrection de Jésus, esp. 50-52, 65, 201, 265-274.
 Michael Goulder, “Did Jesus of Nazareth Rise from the Dead?” in Stephen Barton and Graham Stanton, eds, Resurrection: Essays in Honour of Leslie Houlden (London: SPCK, 1994); “The Baseless Fabric of a Vision,” in D’Costa, ed., Resurrection Reconsidered (Oxford: Oneworld, 1996), 48-61; “The Empty Tomb,” Theology, vol. 79 (1976), 206-214.
 G.A. Wells, A Resurrection Debate (London: Rationalist Press, 1988); The Historical Evidence for Jesus (Buffalo: Prometheus, 1988); Did Jesus Exist? (London: Pemberton, 1986).
 Duncan M. Derrett, The Anastasis: The Resurrection of Jesus as an Historical Event (Shipston-on-Stour, England: P. Drinkwater, 1982).
 Thomas Torrance, Space, Time and Resurrection (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976).
 James D.G. Dunn, The Evidence for Jesus (Louisville: Westminster, 1985); Jesus Remembered (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003).
 Richard Swinburne, The Resurrection of God Incarnate (Oxford: Oxford University, 2003); “Evidence for the Resurrection,” in Davis, Kendall, and O’Collins, eds., Resurrection, 191-212; editor, Miracles (New York: Macmillan, 1989).
 Oliver O’Donavan, Resurrection and Moral Order (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986).
 This includes Wright’s series, Christian Origins and the Question of God, published in the U.S. by Fortress Press. See especially his third volume, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003).
 John Dominic Crossan, “Empty Tomb and Absent Lord (Mark 16:1-8),” in Kelber, ed., The Passion in Mark: Studies in Mark 14-16 (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976), 135-152; Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1994); The Historical Jesus (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1991); The Birth of Christianity: Discovering what Happened in the Years Immediately after the Execution of Jesus (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1998).
 Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1999), Parts 3-4; “Thinking about Easter, Bible Review, X:2 (April, 1994), 15, 49.
 Reginald H. Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives, Revised Ed. (Philadelphia: Fortress, Press, 1980); Fuller, Reginald H., Eugene LaVerdiere, John C. Lodge, and Donald Senior, The Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord: A Commentary on the Four Gospels (Mundelein, Ill.: Chicago Studies, 1985); “John 20:19-23,” Interpretation, 32 (1978), 180-184.
 Pheme Perkins, Resurrection: New Testament Witness and Contemporary Reflection (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1984); “I have Seen the Lord (John 20:18): Women Witnesses to the Resurrection,” Interpretation, 46 (1992), 31-41; “Reconciling the Resurrection,” Commonweal, (April 5, 1985), 202-205.
 Raymond E. Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (N.Y.: Paulist, 1973); A Risen Christ in Eastertime: Essays on the Gospel Narratives of the Resurrection (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991); The Death of the Messiah, two vols, (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1994).
 William Lane Craig, Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus (Lewiston, N.Y. Mellen, 1989); The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus During the Deist Controversy (Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellen, 1985).
 Stephen T. Davis, Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993); Davis, Daniel Kendall, and Gerald O’Collins, eds., The Resurrection (Oxford: Oxford, 1997), 191-212; editor, Miracles (New York: Macmillan, 1989).
 Some examples include Gary R. Habermas, The Risen Jesus and Future Hope (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003); Habermas and Antony G.N. Flew, Resurrected? An Atheist and Theist Dialogue (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005); “Resurrection Claims in Non-Christian Religions,” Religious Studies 25 (1989), 167-177; “The Late Twentieth-Century Resurgence of Naturalistic Responses to Jesus’ Resurrection,” Trinity Journal, new series, 22 (2001), 179-196.
 Gerald O’Collins might be mentioned here: What Are They Saying About the Resurrection? (New York: Paulist, 1978); Interpreting the Resurrection (Mahweh, N.J.: Paulist, 1988); Jesus Risen: The Resurrection—What Actually Happened and What Does it Mean? (London: Darton, Longman, and Todd, 1988); Easter Faith (N.Y.: Paulist, 2003).
 These percentages reflect only those publications that answer this specific question, where I have conducted a detailed investigation.
 Such as the hypotheses of Lüdemann or Goulder above.
 Goulder also raises this question.
 I have categorized these natural hypotheses, naming two alternative proposals (the illumination and illusion options) that have so far eluded any recognized designations. For details see Habermas, “The Late Twentieth-Century Resurgence of Naturalistic Responses to Jesus’ Resurrection,” 179-196.
 For example, Craig, Assessing the New Testament Evidence , 373-374; cf. Kremer, Die Osterevangelien–Geschichten um Geschichte, 49-50.
 Michael Goulder avers: “Only male witnesses are valid in Jewish jurisprudence” (“The Empty Tomb,” Theology, 79
 For the circumstances under which Jewish women could testify, including the conclusion that this Gospel report nonetheless provides evidence for the empty tomb, especially Carolyn Osiek, “The Women at the Tomb: What are they Doing There?” Ex Auditu, 9 (1993), 97-107.
 Norman Perrin, The Resurrection according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977), 83.
 Howard Clark Kee, What can We Know about Jesus? (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 1-2.
 For example, Paul precedes the text by using the equivalent Greek for the technical rabbinic terms “delivered” and “received,” which traditionally were the way that oral tradition was passed along (see also 1 Corinthians 11:23). Further, the report appears in a stylized, parallel form. The presence of several non-Pauline terms, sentence structure, and diction all additionally point to a source prior to Paul. Also noted are the proper names of Cephas and James (including the Aramaic name Cephas
[cf. Luke 24:34]), the possibility of an Aramaic original, other Semitisms like the threefold “kai oti” (like Aramaic and Mishnaic Hebrew narration), and the two references to the Scriptures being fulfilled. See Pinchas Lapide, The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective, from the German, no translator provided (Minneapolis: Augsberg, 1983), 97-99; John Kloppenborg, “An Analysis of the Pre-Pauline Formula in 1 Cor 15:3b-5 in Light of Some Recent Literature,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 40 (1978), 351, 360; Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, “Tradition and Redaction in 1 Cor 15:3-7,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 43 (1981), 582.
 Murphy-O’Connor, “Tradition and Redaction in 1 Cor 15:3-7,” 582. Fuller agrees: “It is almost universally agreed today that Paul is here citing tradition.” (The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives, 10)
 I have outlined the case elsewhere, for instance, in Habermas, The Risen Jesus and Future Hope, chap. 1; “The Resurrection Appearances of Jesus” in In Defense of Miracles, R. Douglas Geivett and Gary R. Habermas, eds. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1997), 262-275.
 For just a few of these scholars, see Hans Grass, Ostergeschen und Osterberichte, second ed. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Rupert, 1962), 96; Francis X. Durrwell, La Résurrection de Jésus: Mystère de Salut, 22; Reginald Fuller, The Foundations of New Testament Christology (New York: Scribner’s, 1965), 142, 161; C.H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments (Grand Rapids: Baker, reprint, 1980), 16; Oscar Cullmann, The Early Church: Studies in Early Christian History and Theology, ed. A.J.B. Higgins (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966), 65-66; Pannenberg, Jesus: God and Man, 90; Raymond Brown, Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection, 81, 92; Peter Stuhlmacher, Jesus of Nazareth–Christ of Faith, trans. Siegfried S. Shatzmann (Peabody, MA.: Hendrickson, 1993), 8; Helmut Merklein, “Die Auferweckung Jesu und die Anfange der Christologie (Messias bzw. Sohn Gottes und Menschensohn),” Zeitschrift fur die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der Alteren Kirche, 72 (1981), 2; John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, vol. 3: Companions and Competitors (New York: Doubleday, 2001),139; Dunn, The Evidence for Jesus, 70; Leander E. Keck, Who is Jesus? History in Perfect Tense (Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina, 2000), 139; C.E.B. Cranfield, “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Expository Times, 101 (1990), 169. O’Collins thinks that no scholars date Paul’s reception of this creed later than the 40s A.D., which still would leave intact the major conclusions here (O’Collins, What Are They Saying? 112).
 Conzelmann, 1 Corinthians, 254; Lüdemann, The Resurrection of Jesus, 38; Robert Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels (New York: Macmillan, 1993), cf. 18, 24; Michael Goulder, “The Baseless Fabric of a Vision,” in D’Costa, Resurrection Reconsidered, 48; Jack Kent, The Psychological Origins of the Resurrection Myth (London: Open Gate, 1999), 16-17; A.J.M. Wedderburn, Beyond Resurrection (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999),111, 274, note 265; Thomas Sheehan, The First Coming: How the Kingdom of God became Christianity (New York: Random House, 1986), 118; cf. 110-112, 135; Michael Grant, Saint Paul (Glasgow: William Collins, 1976), 104; G.A. Wells, Did Jesus Exist?, 30.
 Walter Kaspar, Jesus the Christ, new ed., trans. V. Green (Mahweh, N.J.: Paulist, 1976), 125.
. Wilckens, Resurrection, p. 2.
 For the sermon segments that may contain this traditional material, see Acts 1:21-22; 2:22-36; 3:13-16; 4:8-10; 5:29-32; 10:39-43; 13:28-31; 17:1-3; 17:30-31.
 For just some of the critical scholars who find early traditional material in Acts, see Max Wilcox, The Semitisms of Acts (Oxford: Clarendon, 1965), esp. 79-80, 164-165; Gerd Lüdemann, Early Christianity According to the Traditions in Acts: A Commentary, trans. John Bowden (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989), 47-49, 112-115; Merklein, “Die Auferweckung Jesu und die Anfänge der Christologie (Messias bzw. Sohn Gottes und Menschensohn),” 2; O’Collins, Interpreting the Resurrection, 48-52; John E. Alsup, The Post-Resurrection Appearance Stories of the Gospel Tradition: A History-of-Tradition Analysis with Text-Synopsis, Calwer Theologische Monographien 5 (Stuttgart: Calwer Verlag, 1975), 64-65, 81-85; Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments, 17-31; Brown, An Introduction to New Testament Christology, 112-113, 164; Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives, 44-45; Perkins, Resurrection, 90, 228-231; Durrwell, La Résurrection de Jésus: Mystère de Salut, 22; M. Gourges, À La Droite de Dieu: Résurrection de Jésus et Actualisation du Psaume 110:1 dans in Noveau Testament (Paris: J. Gabalda et Cie Editeurs, 1978), especially 169-178.
 Gerald O’Collins, Interpreting Jesus (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1983), 109-110.
 John Drane, Introducing the New Testament (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986), 99.
 Gerd Lüdemann, “Closing Response,” in Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment? Paul Copan and Ronald Tacelli, eds. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2000), 151.
 Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 272; cf. 321. In this volume, perhaps Wright’s major emphasis is the bodily nature of resurrection in general, and Jesus’ resurrection, in particular (see next note). See also N.T. Wright, “Early Traditions and the Origin of Christianity,” Sewanee Theological Review, 41 (1998), 130-135.
 The best current treatment is Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 32-398. Also exceptional is Robert H. Gundry, Soma in Biblical Theology: With Emphasis on Pauline Anthropology (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1976), esp. chap. 13. Compare Caroline Walker Bynum, The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200-1336 (New York: Columbia University, 1995); Stephen Davis (126-147) and William Alston (148-183), both in Davis, Kendall, and O’Collins, eds., Resurrection; Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ According to the New Testament,” The Month, second new series, 20 (1987), 408-409; Cranfield, “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” 170; Norman Kretzmann, “Resurrection Resurrected,” in Eleanore Stump and Thomas Flint, eds., Hermes and Athens (Notre Dame: Notre Dame, 1993), 149. For a detailed treatment of this point, see Gary R. Habermas, “Mapping the Recent Trend toward the Bodily Resurrection Appearances of Jesus in Light of Other Prominent Critical Positions,” in Robert Stewart, editor, The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N.T. Wright in Dialogue (Minneapolis: Fortress, forthcoming, 2006).
 Marxsen, The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, 125 (Marxsen’s emphasis); cf. 169.
 Marxsen, Jesus and Easter, 92.
 Borg in Borg and Wright, The Meaning of Jesus, 137-142.
 While Crossan is well known for his view that Jesus’ dead body was probably buried in a common grave (Jesus, 152-158), this is actually an alternative burial account. It does not even address the resurrection appearances, since, conceivably, Jesus could have been buried other than in a traditional tomb and still have been raised from the dead.
 N.T. Wright, “Christian Origins and the Resurrection of Jesus: The Resurrection of Jesus as a Historical Problem,” Sewanee Theological Review, 41 (1998), 119.
 In a recent dialogue, Crossan indicated that he does not think that alternative responses are good explanations for the appearances to the disciples. (See Robert Stewart, ed., The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N.T. Wright in Dialogue.) Still, it could be pointed out that Crossan’s comparison of the resurrection appearances to dreams or visions of a departed loved, however normal, still involves the reliance on a natural scenario instead of the New Testament explanation. (John Dominic Crossan, “The Resurrection of Jesus in its Jewish Context,” Neotestamentica, 37
 John Dominic Crossan, Who Killed Jesus? Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story of the Death of Jesus (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1995), 185, 209.
 Crossan, The Birth of Christianity, 550.
 See Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, especially 321, 686-696, 709-710.
 For these points, see John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed, In Search of Paul (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2004), 6-8, 341; Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 318-319; 378-384.
 Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 453-456; Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 364, cf. 293-294; Crossan and Reed, In Search of Paul, 341.
 Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, xvii-xix, 31, 71, 82-83, 200-206.
 Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, Chapters 5-8, especially 273, 314, 350-374.
 Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, Chapters 9-10, especially 424, 476-479.
 Crossan, “Mode and Meaning in Bodily Resurrection Faith,” in The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N.T. Wright in Dialogue, especially endnote 4.
 Crossan, “Mode and Meaning in Bodily Resurrection Faith,” endnote 3. Compare Crossan, “The Resurrection of Jesus in its Jewish Context,” especially 37-40, 46-49, 55.
 Crossan and Reed, In Search of Paul, 6-10 (their emphasis). We have already seen above that Lüdemann also holds a similar position to that of Wright, Crossan, and Reed.
 Crossan, “Mode and Meaning in Bodily Resurrection Faith,” see especially the Conclusion and the preceding section, “Caesar or Christ?”
 For examples, see Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 244-245, 355-361, 426, 441-444, 450, 578-583.
 N.T. Wright, Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), Chapter 6. The quotes are from 54-55.
 Crossan, “Mode and Meaning,” Part I; “Resurrection of Jesus in its Jewish Context,” 46-47.
 Personal discussion with Dom Crossan, March 11, 2006, before the dialogue in which we both participated (The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N.T. Wright in Dialogue, Fortress). Still, any misconception here remains my mistake.
 Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives, 2.
 Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives, 169, 181-182.
 Fuller, The Foundations of New Testament Christology, 142.
 E.P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (London: Penguin, 1993), 11; cf. 10-13.
 Sanders, Historical Figure of Jesus, 280.
 Funk, Honest to Jesus (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1996), 32, 40, as well as the entire context here.
 Funk, Honest to Jesus, 266-267.
 Funk, Honest to Jesus, 35-39.
 John Meier, A Marginal Jew, vol. 3, 252; cf. 70, 139, 235, 243, 252.
 Dunn, The Evidence for Jesus, 75 (Dunn’s emphasis).
 N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 109-111.
 Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 231.
 In the study referred to above, virtually every critical scholar recognizes this fact, or something very similar. It is very difficult to find denials of it. This is evident even if we listed just some of the more skeptical researchers who hold this, such as Lüdemann, The Resurrection of Jesus, 37, 50, 66; Borg, “Thinking about Easter,” 15; Crossan, “The Resurrection of Jesus in its Jewish Context,” 46-47; Funk, Honest to Jesus, 40, 270-271; Michael Goulder, “The Baseless Fabric of a Vision,” in D’Costa, Resurrection Reconsidered, 48; Rudolf Pesch, “Zur Entstehung des Glaubens an die Auferstehung Jesu: Ein neuer Versach,” Freiburger Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie, 30 (1983), 87; Helmut Koester, Introduction to the New Testament, vol. 2: History and Literature of Early Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982), 84; Anton Vögtle in Vögtle and Pesch, Wie kam es zum Osterglauben? (Düsseldorf: Patmos-Verlag, 1975), 85-98; James M. Robinson, “Jesus from Easter to Valentinus (or to the Apostles’ Creed),” Journal of Biblical Literature, 101 (1982), 8, 20; Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (New York: Random House, 1979), pp. 3–12; Wedderburn, Beyond Resurrection, 47, 188; Ehrman, Jesus, 227-231; Kent, The Psychological Origins of the Resurrection Myth, 16-17; John Hick, Death and Eternal Life (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), pp. 171–177; Conzelmann, 1 Corinthians, 258-266; Thomas Sheehan, The First Coming: How the Kingdom of God became Christianity, 1986), 91; Hans Werner Bartsch, “Inhalt und Funktion des Urchristlichen Osterglaubens,” New Testament Studies, 26 (1980), 180, 190-194; Norman Perrin, The Resurrection according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, 80-83; J.K. Elliott, “The First Easter,” History Today, 29 (1979), 209-220; Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels (N.Y.: Scribner, 1977), 176; Hansjürgen Verweyen, “Die Ostererscheinungen in fundamentaltheologischer Sicht,” Zeitschrift für Katholische Theologie, 103 (1981), 429; Alsup, The Post-Resurrection Appearance Stories of the Gospel Tradition, 274; John Shelby Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1994), 51-53, 173; Michael Martin, The Case against Christianity (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), 83, 90; G.A. Wells, Did Jesus Exist?, 32, 207; James Keller, “Response to Davis,” Faith and Philosophy, 7 (1990), 7; Traugott Holtz, “Kenntnis von Jesus und Kenntnis Jesu: Eine Skizze zum Verhältnis zwischen historisch-philologischer Erkenntnis und historisch-theologischem Verständnis,” Theologische Literaturzeitung,104 (1979), especially 10; Merklein, “Die Auferweckung Jesu und die Anfänge der Christologie (Messias bzw. Sohn Gottes und Menschensohn),” 2. For a list of more than fifty recent critical scholars who affirm these experiences as historical events, see Habermas, The Risen Jesus and Future Hope, 50-51, endnote 165.
 For details on this consensus, see Habermas, The Risen Jesus and Future Hope, chap. 1.
 Koester, History and Literature of Early Christianity, 84.
 Fuller, The Foundations of New Testament Christology, 142.  Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 110.
105 thoughts on “A Review of Gary Habermas’ Claim that 75% of Scholars believe in the Historicity of the Empty Tomb”
This is a rather hilarious and tedious attempt to dismiss the figures and findings of Gary Habermas, especially considering the fact that the majority of critical scholars support the historicity of the empty tomb is even admitted by prominent dissidents like Bart Ehrman. All critical scholars are included in the survey, whether they are philosophers, theologians, historians, etc, because a peer-reviewed critical publication in history is a peer-reviewed critical publication in history, and that is final.
“All critical scholars are included in the survey…”
Would you kindly provide your evidence for this claim?
Habermas very clearly states that his study was only a literature search of articles written by scholars on the topic of the Empty Tomb during a certain period of time. Did all critical scholars write articles regarding the Empty Tomb during this time period? That is the question that needs to be answered.
Whoops — I misspoke. I did not mean to say literally ALL critical scholars are included in the survey, but that the survey only consisted of critical scholars. Obviously, 1,400 publications written by about 1,300 different scholars is without question a representative sample size academias take on the empty tomb. For example, when polls are taken on which president someone will vote for in America, the surveyors do not survey ALL OF AMERICA, they survey a representative sample of people (couple thousand) to know the general publics outlook on who they’re going to vote for in the elections.
75% of critical scholars accept the historicity of the empty tomb. Get over it. You win some, you lose some. You and Bart are on the losing side of this one.
I will be more than happy to admit that 75% of all critical NT scholars during the period of 1975-2005 believed in the historicity of the Empty Tomb when you can prove that all critical scholars participated in the study.
And by the way, do you have a current study? Just because a scholar believed something in 1975 doesn’t mean that he or she holds the same view today. Imagine stating the current position in any other field based on a study that is 40 years old.
Looks like you say “I will be more than happy to admit X”, trying to paint yourself as unbiased, whilst proceeding to give a laughably biased self explanation. Firstly, the papers were not all published from 1975, they consist of papers all the way from the latest of 1975 all the way to 2005, a full 1,400 publications in numerous languages, so let’s get that out of the way. Another thing to get squared away is that the study is 12 years old, not 40 years old.
Your objections are meaningless and ridiculous. 1,400 critical publications is a more than large enough representative sMple of the view and opinion of the scholarly community on the subject, if you’re a margin of error nearing an astonishing 30% for such a large survey sample of publications on the empty tomb, then you must have some hardcore evidence on you. Otherwise, what the evidence exactly says is that the position of academia maintains that the empty tomb is historical. End of discussion.
Wrong. Please provide a quote from just ONE American public university world history textbook which states that the Empty Tomb is an historical fact.
“University history textbook”
Do you think I have university text books lying around? These guy is hilarious. Out of 1,400 publications between 1975-2005, an extraordinary 75%, an EXTRAORDINARY level of PUBLISHE SCHOLARLY MATERIALS in the field supported the historicity of the empty tomb, which goes out to over 1,000 papers supporting the empty tomb, compared with under 400 against it. It can be easily shown from countless scholarly texts that the historicity of the empty tomb is maintained.
I mean, who the hell asks for an American university textbook in a discussion like this? What university is going to be distributing historical textbooks that talk about the empty tomb? Why are you even asking about a textbook — which would be based on the scholarly material — instead of the scholarly material itself?
Your overwhelming bias has utterly blinded you from critical reasoning, and have gated your brain faculties from making any further advancements. We’ve seen that the fact is that the majority of critical papers support the empty tomb, which means it is as good as it gets for the Christian and as bad as it gets for the atheist. I can show countless scholarly papers establishing the empty tomb as a historical fact, which is what really matters. Also, the first word in your response was “wrong”. What exactly am I wrong about?
The fact is that the overwhelming majority of NT scholars are Christian. So if it is true that 75% of NT scholars believe in the historicity of the Empty Tomb it should not come as a big surprise.
But even if we accept this statistic as accurate, it means that one quarter of all NT scholars do not believe in the historicity of the Empty Tomb. Imagine if one quarter of all historians did not believe that the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 AD! How strong of an historical “fact” can any event be considered if one quarter of experts do not believe it happened?
“The fact is that the overwhelming majority of NT scholars are Christian.”
False, about half are Christian from all the stats I’ve seen. These excuses on you don’t work, because the scholars in the field ARE critical. The majority of scholars in the field think Mark 16:9-20 is a later addition. How could a majority think this if they were biased? The majority of scholars in the field think Paul only wrote 7 authentic letters. How could a majority think this if they were biased? These examples should be enough to dismiss your accusations of bias, and not only that, but we aren’t even counting heads when determining the views of scholars — we’re counting critical peer-reviewed publications on this issue.
“But even if we accept this statistic as accurate, it means that one quarter of all NT scholars do not believe in the historicity of the Empty Tomb. Imagine if one quarter of all historians did not believe that the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 AD! How strong of an historical “fact” can any event be considered if one quarter of experts do not believe it happened?”
Correct, now you’re getting it. 25% do NOT accept the historicity of the empty tomb. That’s why historians are still debating this, it’s not yet a closed question. Personally, I think the arguments against the empty tomb are rather amazingly weak.
“The greatest event to ever occur on the face of the planet…and everyone forgot the location until the fourth century.
Give me a break.”
Not an argument against the historicity of the empty tomb, and people didn’t “forget” either.
Please give evidence of any Christian or non-Christian prior to Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem in the fourth century who mentions the location of the Empty Tomb or who mentions ongoing veneration or visitation of an Empty Tomb site since the death of Jesus.
“Please give evidence of any Christian or non-Christian prior to Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem in the fourth century who mentions the location of the Empty Tomb or who mentions ongoing veneration or visitation of an Empty Tomb site since the death of Jesus.”
I don’t need to, because that hasn’t a figment of relevance to any subject at hand. Can you give any attestation prior to the 4th century regarding where Jesus was exactly crucified? Of course not, because it’s IRRELEVANT, LOL. A generation after Jesus rose from the dead, Christians were more interested in preaching and avoiding Roman soldiers then giving freaking burial visits to a body and tomb that weren’t there anymore.
Seriously, where do you get these objections? Do you seriously think “where’s the tomb” is coherent in any conceptual manner to rebuke the empty tomb? This is hilarious, and exactly why 75% of critical scholars reject the nonsensical claim of there being no empty tomb, because the defense of it is so weak that it’s really hard to take seriously.
Melito of Sardis and Origen both mention visiting holy sites of Palestine in the second and third centuries, in particular the alleged cave of Jesus’ birth and the alleged site of his baptism, but no mention is made of the site of the Empty Tomb, the site of the greatest event in human history.
Macarius made up the location of the Empty Tomb so that Emperor Constantine would build a cathedral in his city. Even his superior, Eusebius, Bishop of Palestine, was initially dubious of his claim. If the location of the Empty Tomb had been known since the first century, why was Eusebius dubious? His doubts are clear evidence that the location of the Empty Tomb was a recent “discovery”. (Eusebius only “jumped on board” when the mother of the Emperor showed up for the dedication ceremony of the tomb.)
Your excuses for the total silence regarding the location of this holy site for over 300 years are weak, friend. And not only is the location of the Empty Tomb not mentioned prior to c. 325 CE, the apostle Paul seemed to have no knowledge of Arimathea’s rock tomb. Based solely on the writings of Paul, Jesus was buried in a dirt grave, as was the typical Roman burial custom for executed criminals. A significant number of scholars believe that the author of Mark invented the Empty Rock Tomb of Arimathea story, just as many scholars believe that the author of Matthew invented the Roman Guards story and the Shaken Out of Their Graves Dead Saints story.
How about this: I agree that the majority of NT scholars believe that the Empty Rock Tomb of Arimathea is historical if you agree that the majority of NT scholars do not believe that eyewitnesses nor the associates of eyewitnesses wrote the four canonical Gospels. Deal?
You continue peddling the weakest argument in all the reality of history: “Where is the tomb?” – LOL! There is as much relevance to the location of the tomb to its historicity as the location of the crucifixion to its historicity (which puts an end to your argument). The simple fact is that no one knows where, and the relevance of knowing where is precisely zero. This argument is so insane that I’m clearly not going to take it seriously. Melito of Sardis mentions Jesus being born in a cave as early as 160 AD? Thanks for throwing your argument into the bin, Jesus wasn’t born in a cave, read Luke 2. It’s funny you claim a significant number of scholars think the tomb story is made up, even though they’re a minority. If I’m supposed to be impressed by your minority, why aren’t you impressed by my majority?
The evidence for the historicity of the empty tomb is very, very, very magnificent and exactly why the majority of critical scholars accept it’s factuality. You somehow go crazy about Paul not knowing where the tomb was, even though Paul wasn’t even a Christian until about 2-3 years after the death of Jesus. Interesting. The funny thing is, Paul DOES make the empty tomb known in his letters, in his early creed in 1 Corinthians 15 where he tells us that Jesus was buried, and then raised — a clear implication of an empty tomb right there as has been noted by many historians. There are many other evidences for the historicity of the empty tomb that I won’t get into in this comment, but if you actually want sources to read about some of the evidences that has convinced the majority of scholars on this particular issue, you can ask.
“How about this: I agree that the majority of NT scholars believe that the Empty Rock Tomb of Arimathea is historical if you agree that the majority of NT scholars do not believe that eyewitnesses nor the associates of eyewitnesses wrote the four canonical Gospels. Deal?”
No deal. LOL.
“The funny thing is, Paul DOES make the empty tomb known in his letters, in his early creed in 1 Corinthians 15 where he tells us that Jesus was buried, and then raised — a clear implication of an empty tomb right there as has been noted by many historians.”
Where does Paul explicitly state that there was an empty ROCK tomb…which is what I said. I fully agree that Paul believed that Jesus rose from a grave of some type.
So you deny that the majority of NT scholars doubt that eyewitnesses/associates of eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels?
I personally do not know if the majority of scholars view that the authors of the Gospels were either themselves eyewitnesses or associates of the eyewitnesses, but I think they probably do from what I know.
As for the “ROCK” tomb, Paul makes no such implication, although he does imply an empty tomb in 1 Corinthians 15:4. Most people crucified were thrown into common graves, although there is no reason to think this happened to Jesus since the Gospels tell us a rich man named Joseph of Arimathea buried just in an actual tomb. There seems to be not much reason to doubt this narrative, as Joseph of Arimathea was part of the Sanhedrin, and the Gospel writers greatly disliked the Sanhedrin — so there seems to be absolutely no reason why, if the Gospels were making this up, they would choose a member of the Sanhedrin of all people to be the one to bury Jesus.
Again, I definitely agree with you that Paul implies an empty grave of some type in First Corinthians 15. What I am trying to point out is that it is POSSIBLE from reading Paul’s epistles without having the details found in the Gospels, that Paul believed that Jesus had been crucified, buried in a dirt grave, and then raised from this dirt grave.
The authors of the Gospels were writing Greek biographies and in that style of writing, adding “fictional” details would not have been seen as a problem to first century readers as long as the central facts remained constant. So if the author of Mark added the Rock Tomb of Arimathea detail for literary purposes, it didn’t change the overall story that Jesus had been crucified, buried, and raised. Neither does it change any Christian doctrine.
If we were to agree that the majority of NT scholars believe that the Rock Tomb of Arimathea is historical, the fact that there is no extant evidence that anyone knew of its location until circa 325 CE doesn’t prove it never existed, but it does serve as good evidence for the 25% of NT scholars who don’t believe it ever existed.
I can give you several scholarly sources that say that the majority of NT scholars believe that neither eyewitnesses nor their associates wrote the Gospels. Here is a link:
In addition to this list, conservative NT scholar Richard Bauckham states in his book “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” that the majority of scholars believe that neither eyewitnesses nor their associates wrote the Gospels.
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There seems to be no evidence to me that Paul’s letter implies any dirt/rock grave, because it doesn’t even talk about the grave! It’s just implies the grave in a little over half a verse, and so we really have no grounds for assuming Paul supports either side. If he did outright support one side, my guess is that it would be supporting my side as I view the rock grave as historical on the evidence.
Again, if the story of the rock grave was an invented fiction, the last thing the Gospels would do is have a member of their enemies group take the initiative to actually bury Jesus, in fact if it was being invented I’d bet on that the Bible would say one of the disciples buried Jesus, which would make a lot more sense in a fictional religious story. But we seem to have the exact opposite here, though. It’s also good we agree that that Paul does in fact imply the existence of an empty tomb of some sort.
I guess I wasn’t clear. I’m not saying that Paul implies a dirt grave. He doesn’t. He simply states that Jesus was “buried”. I think this could mean either in a dirt grave or in a rock tomb. So just from Paul’s writings, we have no idea how or where Jesus was buried.
I don’t think that the author of Mark was making up fiction just to make up fiction. I think he had very clear theological objectives and he added fictional details (fictional details which did not contradict the central facts as he believed them to be) to meet those theological objectives. Why would the author of Mark want Jesus to be buried by a member of the Sanhedrin? Here is my theory: NT Wright in his book, “The Resurrection of the Son of God” states that first century writers of Greek biographies would often make up details or even change the details to stimulate the reader’s attention. You have to admit that a resurrection from a rich Sanhedrinist’s rock tomb with a large stone and a “young man” sitting inside is much more interesting reading than a resurrection from a dirt grave. There is so much you can read into the first scenario! Maybe the description of Joseph as a “devout Jew” and member of the Sanhedrin (and possible Jesus sympathizer, as the other Gospel authors seem to pick up on) is meant to let the reader know that not all of Jesus followers were poor, uneducated peasants. Joseph was an educated, wealthy, upper class Jew who would have been well read in OT messianic prophecies.
I see many reasons why an author would want to invent a Joseph of Arimathea and a rock tomb. Again, the absence or presence of this pericope changes not ONE Christian doctrine. We could remove the entire story out of the Gospels and the doctrine of the Resurrection would be untouched. The (alleged) post-death appearances of Jesus to multiple persons was very possibly the only evidence for the Resurrection for the earliest Christians, if, it is true that the author of Mark invented the Empty Rock Tomb story in circa 65-75 CE.
It seems hard to me to believe that Mark was making this up to “grab the readers attention”, considering if he wanted to do this, the Gospels would look more like the apocrypha, where you have giants appear with heads through the sky in the resurrection narrative. If Joseph was being invented, which there lacks any evidence at all to support, why is Mark 15:44 added into Joseph’s narrative? This is an irrelevant addition to a fictional narrative that seems only necessary to add in because it would be important for keeping history. Not only that, but if Mark were making this up about Joseph, why didn’t he also say that Joseph became a Christian? In Mark 15:39, just a few verses earlier than Joseph, we are told the centurion acknowledges that Jesus is truly the Son of God! So if Joseph was being made up, why wouldn’t Mark just repeat his fiction and simply say Joseph also became a Christian and had to admit that Jesus was the Son of God? Furthermore, there are even more challenges to the claim of the ahistoricity of the empty tomb, aside from Joseph’s narrative. Let’s remember that Paul does in fact imply an empty tomb in his early creed, so your only challenge is to whether or not it’s a rock or dirt tomb, which seems inconsequential but still does not have the evidence on its side.
According to the Gospel accounts, the earliest response of the Jews to early Christianity and the empty tomb is that the body was missing. If the enemies of Christianity themselves acknowledged that the tomb was empty, that seems to be a very powerful hostile witness in favour of the historicity of our rock tomb. Not only that, but the Gospels tell us the earliest finders of the empty tomb were women, which would not at all be made up as the testimony of women at the time was dismissed. So if this was being invented, the last possible thing that Mark would figment is that women were the earliest finders of the tomb, because that would simply cause the enemies of Christianity to dismiss their claims because they were propagated by unreliable women! So clearly the empty tomb narrative has many proponents which would not be made up.
I think we first need to agree on the “facts”. I agree that Jesus was accused by the Jewish authorities of claiming to be the King of the Jews, convicted by Pilate of treason against Rome, crucified for that crime, buried in some manner, and shortly thereafter some of his followers came to believe that he had been resurrected from the dead. I dispute that there was ever an empty grave. I believe that it was quite possible that Jesus body was dumped into a common grave with the bodies of other executed criminals, in an undisclosed location, known only to a few Roman soldiers. The belief in the Resurrection developed due to appearance claims not due to an Empty Tomb.
So the pericopes of Pilate asking if Jesus was already dead and the centurion exclaiming that surely Jesus was the Son of God may or may not be historical. They could be more literary or theological inventions. And as far as using women as the first witnesses to the Empty Tomb, one explanation could be this: the readers of the first century KNEW there was no Empty Tomb. They knew that there were no women finding an empty tomb. They were fully aware that they were reading a Greek biography and Greek biographies frequently added exciting details that were not necessarily historically factual. The important facts were still present in the story: Jesus had died. Jesus was buried. Jesus had risen.
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You seem to be throwing in the can. You say that the centurion might have been invented himself, thus practically shooting yourself in the foot (either way you’d be in trouble whether or not he was invented, but it’s even better to hear you think he is an invention). If Joseph of Arimathea was being invented into the story for burying Jesus, even though he belonged to the Sanhedrin which had condemned Jesus and Christianity, if he was being invented to bury Jesus, then why didn’t Mark claim Joseph converted to Christianity if he was making it up, especially since just a few verses earlier he invented the centurion converting to Christianity to accommodate his theological lies? This casts powerful doubt on the claim that Joseph was being “invented”. I also find your dismissal of the women simplistic, as you basically say “it doesn’t matter because the basic facts of Christianity are unaffected” — actually, it does matter, and to Mark there was no list of “basic facts” — he was just penning the events as they went. If Mark were making it up, he would NOT have chosen women to be the very people who first discovered the tomb, because HE KNEW and the JEWS KNEW that the testimony of women was considered unreliable and not worth consideration as that of a man. So, the fact that women were made to find the tomb shows that this wasn’t being made up, and all Mark was doing was explaining to us the events as they had occurred. You also dismiss Mark 15:44, where Pilate asks to know if Jesus is dead for pretty much no valid reason as well. If Mark were making up the Joseph narrative, why would he add this irrelevant part in? There’s absolutely no reason for Mark to do this when he’s inventing a fiction for a specific theological goal, but this verse WOULD be included if Mark was simply writing history.
And there’s another hole in your theory — you say that Jesus was dumped into a common grave with the bunch of other dead bodies. This clearly contradicts what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, because 1 Corinthians 15 clearly states Jesus was BURIED, and if Jesus body were dumped into a pit, this is NOT a burial.
So it looks to me that the evidence says Jesus was buried and raised leaving behind an empty tomb, rather than Jesus being dumped into a pit. All the evidence conforms to this historical fact, which is exactly why the majority of critical scholars accept its historicity, and I think all we’ve seen on your part are unconvincing explanations and simple dismissals of the evidence.
This much evidence is too good of evidence, the grounds for the historicity of the empty tomb, apart from its attestation in the Gospel narratives and implication in the Pauline epistle based on the absurd nature of it being invented because of aspects in the narrative like 1) women being the lead finders of the tomb 2) man who buried Jesus being part of the Sanhedrin 3) extra unnecessary details for an invented story like Pilate checking up on Jesus body to quickly see if he actually died so quickly 4) the earliest response of the enemies of Christianity acknowledging that the tomb was empty, and others, all attest to that there was in fact an empty tomb. The case otherwise is weak, Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate because the Jews were aggravated by His divine claims, and buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. Three days later Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of His women followers, followed by Jesus revealing Himself as the Risen Lord to His disciples and commanding them to spread the Word across all peoples of all nations of all languages, praise the Lord God and amen.
Everything you say could very well be true. But here is a list of NT scholars who believe that you are wrong:
A list of 20th century writers on the NT who do not believe that the empty tomb story is historically reliable: Marcus Borg, Günther Bornkamm, Gerald Boldock Bostock, Rudolf Bultmann, Peter Carnley, John Dominic Crossan, Steven Davies, Maurice Goguel, Michael Goulder, Hans Grass, Charles Guignebert, Uta Ranke-Heinemann, Randal Helms, Herman Hendrickx, Roy Hoover, Helmut Koester, Hans Küng, Alfred Loisy, Burton Mack, Willi Marxsen, Gerd Lüdemann, Norman Perrin, Robert Price, Marianne Sawicki, John Shelby Spong, Howard M. Teeple, and Rev. John T. Theodore.
Here is an excellent article that summarizes the evidence against the Empty Tomb:
Click to access kirby_tombcase.pdf
No matter how many names you provide, it will be irrelevant, because as already know based off of Habermas’s study that critical scholars who accept the empty tomb outnumber the ones who don’t buy 3 to 1. By the way, John Shelby Spong isn’t even an NT scholar, he’s a bishop, but not only that, literally insane. He says he’s a Christian yet doesn’t believe in hell, heaven, the resurrection, the CRUCIFIXION, THE EXISTENCE OF JESUS OR EVEN GOD LOOOL. If you actually know anything about this madman, you’ll realize he is the epitome of insanity.
By the way, I think it’s also crazy you listed Robert Price — this guy is a MYTHICIST, meaning he doesn’t believe Jesus historically existed. That should be enough to dismiss him as a lunatic, aside from the fact that he has basically given up on peer-review and has no professorship in any academic institution at all.
But lo’ and behold, your list actually derives from the paper you posted, so I’m going to completely forgive you for any supposed insanity I might have placed on you for making that list, because it’s actually Peter Kirby who is insane. I remember reading Kirby’s name many times before, where he actually put forth that both references Josephus makes about Jesus, even the one on John, are all forgeries! Now that’s obvious craziness in and of itself. I see that the paper you sent me was published to the ‘Journal of Higher Criticism’ — and the editor of this journal is… You guessed it, freaking Robert Price. So I don’t know if this is a fringe journal or it has any validity at all. But let’s put aside allllll that for now.
Reading the paper, it’s already clear to me that Kirby isn’t objective at all, where he puts forth that he’s going to prove the empty tomb is “fiction”, clearly showing his lack of form and maturity, rather it seems to me he has an agenda.
He starts by claiming that Paul nowhere says there is an empty tomb, but we’ve both already come to recognition that this is false and that the creed in 1 Corinthians 15 does in fact do that. Perhaps you need to read a real paper by a Christian scholar like William Lane Craig on the empty tomb.
The paper basically goes on to claim that all resurrection narratives contradict and are based on Mark. Which I see no evidence for, perhaps Mark was a partial source for Luke but I see no evidence of full dependency, let alone contradictions. The paper goes on to assert that Joseph of Arimathea is a fiction, also without evidence. Just a bunch of assertions on some things that may/may not be fiction.
I got bored by this point, and just scrolled through the pages. But one thing irrevocably caught my eye. The paper cites the fringe maniac Richard Carrier. LOL. As if citing Robert Price and Shelby Spong wasn’t bad enough as well as the fact that the paper was published to a fringe journal edited by Robert Price who has an obvious agenda against Christianity, it cites frigging Richard Carrier! Where is the evidence in this paper? I see not a figment of it. No evidence == no reason to take this paper seriously.
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“He starts by claiming that Paul nowhere says there is an empty tomb, but we’ve both already come to recognition that this is false and that the creed in 1 Corinthians 15 does in fact do that.”
Would you please define a couple of words for me? Paul nowhere uses the word “tomb”. He uses the word “buried”. Do you see these words as synonymous? I just looked up the dictionary definition of “tomb” and it seems to refer to some type of underground enclosure (a crypt, mausoleum, etc.) not just a dirt hole in the ground. So if Jesus was buried in a dirt hole in the ground/grave, I don’t think that would qualify as a “tomb”. Yet if that is where his body was placed, and dirt was placed over his body to cover up the hole, this would still qualify as being “buried”. Being buried in a dirt trench (a hole in the ground) was the typical pattern of burial for the lower classes in first century Palestine.
“Would you please define a couple of words for me? Paul nowhere uses the word “tomb”. He uses the word “buried”. Do you see these words as synonymous?”
An actual burial is COMPLETELY inconsistent with the idea that the body of Jesus were tossed into a pit of dead criminal bodies. So you’re on a life-liner either way, and where else would Jesus be buried other than a tomb? Paul implies that Jesus was buried at least SOMEWHERE, and then was raised, implying that the location where Jesus was buried is now empty… An empty “tomb”, whatever you define as a tomb here.
“Being buried in a dirt trench (a hole in the ground) was the typical pattern of burial for the lower classes in first century Palestine.
Paul’s testimony rebukes the pit for executed criminals, and receiving a dirt burial is hardly an option here for an executed criminal. Our testimony from the Gospels notes a burial into an actual rock tomb and that it became an empty tomb, and Paul does not of the empty burial tomb/grave site of Jesus.
The evidence seems to conform to my position here. We’ve seen many reasons and evidences as to why Mark is NOT making up history, why Joseph of Arimathea was NOT made up, and that the idea that Jesus was tossed into a common pit of criminals is incompatible with the early creed in the Pauline epistles. The evidence for the historicity of the empty tomb remains great. We even know that the earliest Jewish response to the supposed resurrection of Jesus was that the body was stolen, so even the enemies of Jesus acknowledged the empty tomb — which would be impossible if Jesus were supposedly buried in sand or thrown into a pit. So the evidence seems to pile in one place, and the only valid conclusion is that the empty tomb is historical and DID actually happen. I wonder when you’re just going to abandon your obvious presuppositions that are controlling your conclusions and just admit that the evidence is on the side of the Christians in this case. Considering the historicity of the empty tomb is itself evidence for the resurrection, which means that we have REAL evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, a miracle, you should just convert to Christianity as you’re playing an enormous gamble with your soul by denying it. Why don’t you love God? Why don’t you want to love God? We’ve clearly seen there is historical backing to the resurrection, and that’s EXACTLY what the Bible told us we’d have.
Acts 17:31: because He has set a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.
God told His children that He gave evidence for all of humanity for His miracles by raising Jesus from the dead. And that’s exactly what the evidence says. The empty tomb is real. Why don’t you just throw all your bets into the only evidence-based position in town? Jesus is knocking on the door.
Wait a minute! You are using the Gospels to confirm the historicity of the Gospels??? That is called Begging the Question.
The question is this: What did Paul mean when he said in 1 Corinthians 15 that Jesus “was buried”? He never says that Jesus had a “burial”. He simply says that Jesus “was buried”. If I say that my grandfather “was buried” you don’t know if he was buried in a rock mausoleum, a crypt, or in a dirt hole (grave).
In order to bring back the conversation to empty tomb, I must first quickly disperse of your ten thousand assertions you sent in none other than a single reply.
“I find it hard to believe that if there is a Creator who designed the universe he/she/they/it would design such a disorganized, sloppy plan of eternal salvation.”
An analysis of the actual universe without loading your presuppositions actually reveals overwhelming organization and complexity. The complexity of the universe has baffled scientists and the more we discover, the more complexity it turns out the universe had.
“The very idea that billions of humans have been condemned to eternal suffering all because our ancient ancestors ate some of Yahweh’s forbidden fruit is just downright stupid.”
It of course is not stupid, however your obvious strawman of Jewish and Christian religions reveals your inability to adequately address what they really believe.
” And then of course there are the talking snakes and donkeys”
Snake = Satan, and the donkey was made to talk by an angel if I’m not mistaken. So what’s wrong with that? There’s only something wrong with that if you start with atheism… Which is circular reasoning.
“the world wide flood that geologists have proven never happened”
Except for the part where they proved it did happen. Oops. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/evidence-for-a-flood-102813115/
“a mass Exodus of Hebrews from Egypt that archeologists tell us never happened, ”
Your failure to figure out facts requires you to consult my blog regarding the exodus theory.
Now that all that has been cleared up, we shall now go to the real issue of discussion — the empty tomb.
“Wait a minute! You are using the Gospels to confirm the historicity of the Gospels??? That is called Begging the Question.”
What the hell are you talking about? The Gospels are historical and early accounts, therefore they can be used to evaluate history, and in fact are used by historians to evaluate history.
“The question is this: What did Paul mean when he said in 1 Corinthians 15 that Jesus “was buried”? He never says that Jesus had a “burial”. He simply says that Jesus “was buried”. If I say that my grandfather “was buried” you don’t know if he was buried in a rock mausoleum, a crypt, or in a dirt hole (grave).”
The words ‘He was buried’ debunk the concept of Jesus’ body being thrown into a pit of bodies, as that is not a burial. When Paul says Jesus was buried, he means exactly that, Jesus was buried. That’s exactly what all the overwhelming historical evidence shows. Why are you against overwhelming historical evidence? We must consider the empty tomb just as much of an event as the second world war.
“The words ‘He was buried’ debunk the concept of Jesus’ body being thrown into a pit of bodies, as that is not a burial.”
First, Paul never used the word “burial” he simply said that Jesus “was buried”. Period.
If an army kills a number of foreign soldiers, puts their bodies in a common dirt trench, and covers that trench over with dirt, that qualifies as the bodies of the foreign soldiers having been “buried” regardless of whether there was any religious service attached to the burying of the bodies. Putting any object into the ground and covering it up meets the definition of “to be buried”.
Simply by what Paul tells us in First Corinthians 15, we have no idea how or in what type of grave Jesus was buried. All we know is that Paul believed that Jesus had been killed, was buried, raised, and that he then “appeared” to a number of people. Paul believed these events to be historically true not because he personally witnessed these events but because he had “received” this information from persons he believed to be reliable sources, and then, he adds the personal detail that Jesus had appeared to him. So for all we know, Paul had no idea what kind of grave Jesus was buried in. I will bet, however, that he did know. But we can’t say for sure. But I will bet Paul did know, and I will bet that Paul knew that Jesus’ body had been buried in a dirt grave by the Romans, either a solitary dirt grave, or a common dirt grave. But I will bet that Paul knew nothing about an empty grave that people could visit. If he had known of such incredible evidence, I think he would have mentioned this in his epistles, pointing this out to the doubting Jews whom he so desperately wanted to convert. But he never says a word about it. I think that Paul believed in the Resurrection of Jesus based on APPEARANCES not due to an Empty Tomb.
“First, Paul never used the word “burial” he simply said that Jesus “was buried”. Period. ”
Which is the exact same thing. You show your desperation by literally attempting to disconnect the meaning between ‘buried’ (past tense) and ‘burial’ (present tense) in order to maintain you’re ridiculous argument. Throwing a body into put is does not make said body buried, have a burial, or any form of the word you can imagine. Period.
“If an army kills a number of foreign soldiers, puts their bodies in a common dirt trench, and covers that trench over with dirt, that qualifies as the bodies of the foreign soldiers having been “buried” regardless of whether there was any religious service attached to the burying of the bodies”
Now you’re just making this up. When exactly did the Romans bury their pits of bodies? How exactly would the disciples know if Jesus rose before His appearances from an empty burial pit if it was a massive pit of bodies?
“and I will bet that Paul knew that Jesus’ body had been buried in a dirt grave by the Romans, either a solitary dirt grave, or a common dirt grave.”
As we’ve seen, this claim contradicts all the evidence and is debunked by the Gospel accounts, which have been proven to contain many elements that would not be made up. Considering Paul wasn’t even a Christian until three years after the death of Jesus, and thereby three years after Jesus left behind the empty tomb, there is absolutely no reason to assume Paul knew of the region of the tomb. And if he did, he would have certainly known it wasn’t a common dirt grave, because all our evidence contradicts that.
Anyways, we’ve seen what your position stacks down to. It requires ignoring literally all the evidence of an account and making up your own ridiculous theories. We’ve seen that Paul confirms Jesus was buried and left behind an empty burial site, and the Gospels not only corroborate Paul’s accounts, but also confirm that the burial site was indeed a tomb acquired by Joseph of Arimathea. So that means we have no reason to take your case seriously.
The evidence has spoken. The scholars have spoken. You have so far not provided even a FIGMENT of evidence for your claims on how Jesus was buried, and thereby we can go by the phrase “whatever is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”.
In other words, unless you can provide positive evidence Jesus was buried in a criminal pit (that wouldn’t even be covered with dirt in the first place) that overwhelms the overwhelming historical evidence for the case of the empty tomb, then there is no debate here, the empty tomb is as historical as the war of 1812, obama’s 8-year presidency, etc.
“How exactly would the disciples know if Jesus rose before His appearances from an empty burial pit if it was a massive pit of bodies?”
I believe that it is very probable that the first person to receive an “appearance” from the dead Jesus was Simon Peter, as is stated in the Early Creed of First Corinthians 15. Just as in Peter’s trance mentioned in the opening chapters of the Book of Acts, in which, during the middle of the day, Peter “sees” a floating sheet full of animals, Peter “sees” the dead Jesus standing before him, even speaking to him, telling him that he had risen from the dead, just as he had promised.
Peter did not need to see an empty tomb to believe that Jesus had been resurrected. He had just seen the resurrected body! He then told his fellow disciples who then had their own trances, hallucinations, visions, vivid dreams, false sightings, and misperceptions of reality…and the Resurrection belief was born.
“Considering Paul wasn’t even a Christian until three years after the death of Jesus, and thereby three years after Jesus left behind the empty tomb, there is absolutely no reason to assume Paul knew of the region of the tomb. And if he did, he would have certainly known it wasn’t a common dirt grave, because all our evidence contradicts that.”
I don’t understand what you are trying to say here. There is no evidence of an empty rock tomb of Arimathea until the writer of the first Gospel, the Gospel of Mark, which the majority of scholars believe was not written until circa 70 CE, mentions it. I cannot prove that Paul did not know about Arimathea’s rock tomb but you cannot prove that he did. That is a real problem for your side, my friend. Without the Empty Tomb, your best evidence is the appearance claims which are weak. Tens of thousands of people throughout human history have claimed to have seen dead people.
Think about this: Notice how very, very hard you are working to prove the historicity of the Empty Tomb but yet Paul seems to have no desire to use this argument to prove the central claim of Christianity: the Resurrection of Jesus. Isn’t that odd. Yes, he could claim that he had seen Jesus himself, but people could say he was insane or hallucinating. If Paul knew that the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem knew that on the third day the tomb of Jesus was found empty, why didn’t he include this fact in EVERY sermon he preached in Asia Minor, Greece, and every other place he stepped foot? Isn’t that really, really odd? I think so. Why do you and Paul find the strength of the Empty Tomb as evidence for the Resurrection so very, very different in importance?
Probable answer: Paul didn’t know anything about an Empty Tomb! Jesus had been buried in a dirt grave and for whatever reason no one ever dug up the grave to verify if the body was still there or not. The resurrection belief was based on post-death APPEARANCES, not an empty grave!
“We’ve seen that Paul confirms Jesus was buried and left behind an empty burial site, and the Gospels not only corroborate Paul’s accounts, but also confirm that the burial site was indeed a tomb acquired by Joseph of Arimathea.”
You are using the Gospels to prove the Gospels when it is the reliability of the Gospels that are in question. This is the logical fallacy of Begging the Question.
At a minimum, we both agree that 25% of qualified experts on the subject do NOT believe in the historicity of the Empty Tomb, so my position is NOT as fringe as you seem to want to make it out to be. And as I have said before, an empty tomb is NOT proof of a Resurrection, only proof of an empty tomb! There are MANY natural explanations for empty tombs that are much more probable than the never heard of before or since reanimation of a dead corpse by an ancient Canaanite deity!
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I find it interesting that conservative Christians always want to appeal to “majority expert opinion” on the Empty Tomb, but will then turn around and adamantly reject majority expert opinion when it comes to other issues related to Christianity. The majority of experts believe that:
—the universe is billions of years old.
—the earth is billions of years old.
—humans have existed for millions of years.
—evolution is true.
—humans evolved from lower life forms.
—there was no world wide flood.
—Moses did not write the first five books of the Old Testament.
—there was no mass exodus of Hebrews from Egypt.
—there was no conquest of Canaan by wandering Hebrews.
—the gospels were not written by eyewitnesses nor by the associates of eyewitnesses
—only seven of the Pauline epistles were written by Paul, therefore fraudulent books exist in the New Testament.
Let’s accept Habermas’ literature search as an accurate reflection of modern NT scholarship and add the Empty Tomb to this list. Let’s then discuss the probability of the reanimation of one dead corpse 2,000 years ago in first century Palestine, the central claim of the Christian religion.
Will conservative Christians agree to this? I highly doubt it.
“I find it interesting that conservative Christians always want to appeal to “majority expert opinion” on the Empty Tomb, but will then turn around and adamantly reject majority expert opinion when it comes to other issues related to Christianity.”
This accusation can be easily dismissed because you were the one who came arguing against the facts presented by Gary Habermas’s study, trying to dispute that the actual majority of critical scholars accept the historicity of the empty tomb.
The fact is, both sides play the majority card whenever possible. I already told you to consult my blog regarding the historicity of the exodus :https://faithfulphilosophy.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/historical-evidence-for-the-exodus/
Anyways, I must still debunk your earlier response to me.
You go on to invoke that Peter hallucinated a sighting of Jesus, and then everyone else magically had their own hallucinations of the risen Jesus. It seems you know extraordinarily little about how hallucinations work, and anyways, the hypothesis that the disciples believing they had seen Jesus as a hallucination has already been debunked by the medical academic literature. Here’s a peer-reviewed paper showing that the hallucination hypothesis is medically impossible here: http://garyhabermas.com/articles/irish-theological-quarterly/Habermas_Resurrection%20of%20Jesus.pdf
The Pauline epistles still record that Jesus had a burial, and then the body of Jesus disappeared from the location of the burial. Because it was a burial, it could not be a heap of bodies dumped into a pit — that’s not even on the market. The Gospels clearly record Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus in a tomb, and we’ve seen countless features of the Resurrection narrative involving the empty tomb that simply would not have been invented by a fictitious writer. So we can be very strong in understanding that the empirical data strongly supports the empty tomb. We have yet to see a counter-explanation for the facts that isn’t completely contradicted by the data.
You go on to invoke an argument from silence, basically saying “Paul didn’t say it himself, which is super dooper odd because he should’ve surely said it!” — which is entirely false. Paul’s sermons all stem based on this: That Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. Read Romans 10:9, “If you believe in your heart that Christ died for your sin, and that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (or something). Now, what relevant facts are there to Christ dying for our sins and rising from the dead? The crucifixion (dying) and resurrection (rising), and so we clearly see throughout Paul’s epistles he only focuses on these two facts and hardly mentions much else about Jesus.
We even see that in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, it’s not even Paul talking! Paul is just passing on an early tradition that dates to, according to scholars, within the first five years of the death of Jesus. So it’s not even Paul mentioning the burial in 1 Corinthians 15, he was just passing on an even earlier tradition which cites the burial.
As for Mark, the historical data has already established that Mark was the interpreter of Peter, Peter being Jesus’ disciple. So all of Mark’s information was directly coming from the eyewitness and disciple Peter himself, who was there with Jesus throughout the events, including the empty tomb and resurrection. So Mark’s information comes from Peter, who was an eyewitness — and Mark thereby is directly passing on an eyewitness account, including the part about Joseph of Arimathea and the empty tomb. In other words, we have an extraordinarily reliable and early account filled with facts that would NOT be made up as early as 70 AD according to the majority position in scholarship (I see evidence for an even earlier dating of about 60-64 AD).
In other words, all these facts about Mark’s Gospel converge to show that Mark’s Gospel gives an overwhelmingly historically reliable account of Joseph of Arimathea and the empty tomb, which is overwhelming evidence for the historicity of the empty tomb. We’ve seen all the evidence shows Mark’s Gospel is valid, and that the counter-hypothesis of Jesus being thrown into a pit is debunked by Paul’s tradition.
In other words, you literally not only haven’t a fragment of evidence to support your idea on what happened to the body of the crucified Jesus, but it’s contradicted by the evidence we have from Paul. So why are you invoking your hypothesis considering the following facts?
1) You have no evidence for it.
2) It directly contradicts our earliest account of the events (Paul)
Any historian would find themselves almost embarrassed to be perpetuating such an insane theory at this point, and their theory would also require Mark’s data to be false, even though it’s early, derived from the eyewitness Peter and was written under the genre of a history, not theology.
What I find most annoying about your replies to me is that you seem almost impervious to evidence, it doesn’t phase you AT ALL! I can debunk you ten thousand times but all you’ll do is respond to me with the exact same assertion, presented in the exact same way. Do you even read my responses?
My challenge to you will be he following for your next reply:
1) Show that your hypothesis doesn’t blatantly contradict Paul
2) Show that the evidence against the account of Mark is greater than the evidence for the account of Mark
Of course, you’ll be able to do neither, just like the 25% of scholars who still haven’t gotten the memo of the empty tomb fact as of yet.
Let me address one issue at a time:
“You go on to invoke that Peter hallucinated a sighting of Jesus, and then everyone else magically had their own hallucinations of the risen Jesus. It seems you know extraordinarily little about how hallucinations work, and anyways, the hypothesis that the disciples believing they had seen Jesus as a hallucination has already been debunked by the medical academic literature. Here’s a peer-reviewed paper showing that the hallucination hypothesis is medically impossible here:”
I didn’t say that ALL the persons listed as eyewitnesses in First Corinthians 15 had hallucinations, I suggested only that Peter did. In addition to claiming to have “seen” the dead but alive again Jesus, Peter claimed to have seen a floating sheet full of animals, during the day, in a trance, as he (is alleged by the author of Acts) states in the Book of Acts. This is good evidence that Peter suffered from a mental illness, such as Bipolar Disorder and at times had psychotic features, including auditory and visual hallucinations. I am a medical doctor. Mentally healthy people do not have trances, in which they see floating sheets of animals, during the day. This is a sign of mental illness.
I then believe that his hallucinations created emotional hysteria among the despondent followers of Jesus, inspiring other followers to have vivid dreams of a resurrected Jesus, false sightings of a resurrected Jesus, misperceptions of natural phenomena (shadows, lights) for Jesus, and maybe some others did have their own hallucinations.
“Peter claimed to have seen a floating sheet full of animals, during the day, in a trance”
This is hardly relevant, it seems like you’re presupposing the Bible is wrong and that Peter didn’t actually see these things. This is barely a valid argument. Furthermore, why would Peter hallucinate a risen Jesus? Why would ANY of the disciples, in fact, hallucinate a risen Jesus? You go on to claim you’re a medical doctor — I doubt you’re specialized in anything relevant to what we’re talking about, because hallucinations are projections of the contents of the mind. Back in the age of Jesus, Jews thought that no one would rise from the dead until the end of the world literally came — and Peter’s mind therefore could not have projected a risen Jesus, because Peter and all other Jews at the time frankishly believed that people would only rise from the dead after the world ended. Now, before I continue, I must quote further from your nonsense hallucination hypothesis:
“I then believe that his hallucinations created emotional hysteria among the despondent followers of Jesus, inspiring other followers to have vivid dreams of a resurrected Jesus, false sightings of a resurrected Jesus, misperceptions of natural phenomena (shadows, lights) for Jesus, and maybe some others did have their own hallucinations.”
Basically what you said here is “hallucination, hallucination, hallucination, and a missighting”. All of them contradict Jewish thought of the time, and the hilarious thing is that your explanation is so implausible that it is practically dismissable off-hand.
If you simply read the peer-reviewed paper on this hallucination hypothesis I gave you, you would not have reiterated this ridiculous narrative. Why don’t you simply read a source when you are given one?
Click to access Habermas_Resurrection%20of%20Jesus.pdf
There is not one single documented case in the peer-reviewed medical literature to ever show any cases of collective-hallucinations, because it is medically ridiculous.
Furthermore, when one asserts that all these hallucinations were virtually the same amongst the disciples, they’ve jumped off the cliff of insanity for sure. For one, a collective hallucination is already medically ridiculous, but even aside that, and if we imagine we live in a magical world where they do and in fact did happen, they would happen DIFFERENTLY. In other words, the disciples would have had different types of hallucinations of Jesus, but they all oddly seem to receive the exact same hallucination. If you submit that not only was there a collective hallucination, but were all identical, you’ve jumped into the avalanche of insanity as medically speaking, that is not even coherent. Different people have different minds, different experiences, different projections and different expectations.
Therefore, we’ve seen the hallucination fail in numerous ways as an explanation for the appearances of Jesus to the disciples. But that isn’t even all. The hallucination hypothesis is considerably bad, and that’s because although it would explain the appearances of Jesus, it still would not explain the empty tomb! In other words, as William Lane Craig says, it lacks explanatory power — making it an inferior explanation for the facts then the Resurrection hypothesis, which explains both the empty tomb and the appearances to Jesus.
And we’re not even done yet. The hallucination hypothesis can only even apply to the disciples of Jesus — but what about Paul and James? Paul wasn’t even a Christian when Jesus died and was raised. In fact, Paul was going around killing Christians after the death of Jesus like the other Jews! According to Paul, one day whilst he was on his journey, Jesus appeared to him. Paul was not a Christian, and therefore there is absolutely no phenomena in which Paul could have had a hallucination, and Paul’s appearance is the most important appearance in the entire Biblical narrative, as well as the one who recorded the tradition in 1 Corinthians 15. Not only that, James wasn’t a Christian either when Jesus appeared to him. The hallucination hypothesis falls flat and fails here as well. But what’s worse is that James not only wasn’t a Christian, he was the brother of Jesus.
Galatians 1:19: But I didn’t see any of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
Imagine, what would it take to convince you that your very brother was literally God in the flesh? You wouldn’t POSSIBLY hallucinate something after your brother dies, especially when you’re an extremely fundamentalist Jew. Likewise, what would it take a Jew like James to come to the belief that his brother who was executed by the Romans as a criminal was literally God in the flesh all along? The hallucination hypothesis not only flat out fails here for James but we realize without a doubt that the Resurrection hypothesis is the only coherent explanation for the facts that we have here.
“Paul says only that Jesus “was buried”. That means he that was put into the earth, in some fashion, and covered over. Whether his body was put into the earth alone or into the earth with other bodies is irrelevant. For instance, if Jesus’ body had been buried in Arimathea’s tomb along with the bodies of the two thieves would you deny that he had been buried just because two other bodies were present? Of course not.”
Oops, you’re starting to flail. You propose that Jesus was dumped into an open Roman pit of bodies in some drench. The Romans didn’t “bury” their victims. In fact, the entire point of the crucifixion and body-dumping of the Romans was to humiliate their victims, so why would they bury it? It didn’t happen, the Roman pit is not a burial no matter how you try to play with facts.
” Please present ONE feature of the Empty Tomb story which could not have been invented. I’d LOVE to see it.”
This is exactly why I said you are utterly impervious to evidence. I have already named countless features.
1. The Christians hated the Sanhedrin, yet it is exactly a man from the Sanhedrin that is responsible for burying Jesus. This would not be invented, if they were making anything up they would make up that John or Peter buried Jesus or something.
2. There are verses in Mark’s narrative which would have no relevance to someone making something up. For example, in the Resurrection narrative, why would Mark make up 15:44? ” Pilate was surprised that He was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him whether He had already died” — this is useless for a fictitious narrative and would only be relevant if it actually happened.
3. According to the Gospels, the first people to discover the empty tomb were women. However, the testimony of women in the age of Jesus was virtually useless, and so only a complete moron would actually decide to say the very original witnesses of the tomb were women. This of course also wouldn’t be made up. If this was a fiction John would have found the empty tomb or something.
The best you’ve done is try to explain Joseph of Arimathea as something “edgy” or whatever that Mark was making up to give the story a twist or something, which is a laughable explanation and still falls flat. If Mark were making up the Joseph, a man from the Sanhedrinn to bury Jesus, he either 1) wouldn’t even mention he was from the Sanhedrin or 2) write that Joseph ended up converting to Christianity instead of keeping up part of the Sanhedrin. You’ll see that just a few verses before Joseph buries Jesus, the centurion at the crucifixion of Jesus, at the death of Jesus, proclaims “surely this man was the Son of God!” — if Mark made up Joseph just a few verses later, he would’ve also made it so that Joseph converts to Christianity in recognition of Jesus, just like the centurion did moments ago if it was all made up.
It’s amazing that you already forgot all this.
“Wrong!!! I hope you have some good evidence to back this up, my friend, because I have studied this issue in detail, including reading Richard Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”, reviewing his evidence for this claim here on this blog, chapter by chapter. The Christian evidence for this claim is based on nothing more than Papias’ repitition of third and fourth hand rumor and silly claims of literary clues hidden in the Gospel of Mark such as the “inclusio”. For Pete’s sake, was the author writing the Gospel of Mark as a tool of evangelization or to win a damn Pulitzer. ”
You have already failed by remarking your doom, Richard Baukham’s book ‘Jesus and the Eyewitness’, which is described by scholars as the most important work in the field in this entire century. Indeed, Baukham showed without question that Mark’s Gospel was based off of Peter’s testimony. Papias wrote in 95-110 AD, meaning he was probably a contemporary to Mark himself. Papias’ testimony is inconceivably early, and for that reason the historicity of his claims can basically be established. Saying Papias is “fourth hand” is blatantly erroneous, Papias is at best third hand, and that is VERY good, because most information in the ancient world to ever be available to us is NOT third hand. It’s very simple, Mark told the elders, and the elders told Papias. Papias testimony is ridiculously early, and internal evidence in the Gospel of Mark like inclusio, which is very important to historians, provides corroboration for this. Not only that, but other early writers from 160-200 AD who all also attest to the authorship of Mark’s Gospel include an Anti-Marcionite Prologue, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Irenaeus. So we have abundant external attestation to the historicity of the authorship of the Gospel of Mark, and internal evidence for the authorship of Mark’s Gospel includes the very important inclusio.
Further internal evidence for the authorship of Mark’s Gospel includes the letters of Paul. In Philemon 1:24, we are told Mark is residing in Rome, and we know that’s where Peter was also residing. And all this internal evidence is apart from the literary device you mentioned, inclusio.
So considering all this overwhelming evidence for the authorship of the Gospel of Mark, it’s virtually certain. I’m not aware of any document to ever be written which has as much evidence for its authorship as Mark’s Gospel (except for maybe Matthew’s Gospel or John’s Gospel).
“What evidence have you given??? You have stated that I should believe the events presented in the Gospels are historically accurate because the Gospels say they were. ”
This is a blatant lie on your part. I’ve already shown that no matter how you put things, Paul’s letter still contradicts your ridiculous narrative, and it contradicts Mark’s Gospel. Mark’s Gospel, as we’ve seen, was written by an interpreter who was under Peter, a direct eyewitness to the events and not to mention Mark was a very early writer. Furthermore, Mark’s Resurrection narrative contains many features that were not to be invented, including the fact hat Mark’s Gospel itself is an ancient biography. So we’ve seen literally all the evidence is on my side and you don’t have a figment of evidence to support your explanation of how Jesus’ body was “buried” by not being buried and actually thrown into a Roman pit.
You then lay down the hammer of dishonesty by accusing me of being a young-earth creationist, as well as claiming that 95% of historians believe in the non-historicity of the exodus which is a blatant lie as well. A rather significant number of historians (I don’t know if it’s a majority) believes there was an exodus of Hebrews from Egypt, but it wasn’t as many as the number recorded in the Bible which is over 603,000. However, does the Bible actually claim there were 603,000 Hebrews, or is this number non-literal? There is significant evidence to show the number is non-literal, as the books of Moses repeatedly tell us that the Hebrews are the “fewest of all the peoples” as well as many other things to take into consideration.
We’ve seen ALL the evidence regarding the empty tomb is on my side. It’s almost too funny you ask me for evidence for an empty tomb, and when I provide it, your position doesn’t even need any evidence for justification! Why don’t you actually follow your own guideline and give evidence that Jesus was thrown into a pit of criminals and left to rot? It’s hilarious because you have none. If all my evidence for an empty tomb was one testimony 200 years after the events, I’d STILL have more evidence than you do!
In 1968, an archaeologist was excavating various tombs, and found something very interesting. On one of the tombs, the name ‘Yehohanan son of Hagakal’ was inscribed, and what lay inside was beyond discovery. What lay inside the tomb was a crucified man. This man, Yehohanan was crucified and then buried in a tomb. End of discussion, if Yehohanan can be crucified and buried in a tomb, so can Jesus.
You said, ” Back in the age of Jesus, Jews thought that no one would rise from the dead until the end of the world literally came — and Peter’s mind therefore could not have projected a risen Jesus, because Peter and all other Jews at the time frankishly believed that people would only rise from the dead after the world ended.”
If we believe the Bible, Jesus had been telling Peter for THREE YEARS that he would be killed and rise from the dead! Therefore the concept of Jesus’ rising from the dead was well established in Peter’s mind. A psychotic break could therefore have produced an hallucination in which he “saw” a risen Jesus. Persons in a state of psychosis who experience an hallucination believe that they are real. Therefore if Peter “saw” Jesus in an hallucination, in a state of psychosis, he would have believed it had really happened: he had seen the risen body of Jesus. The resurrection had occurred, just as Jesus had promised.
As for Jews not believing in people rising from the dead prior to the general resurrection of the righteous, this is true as a general rule. However, the Bible itself shows that there were exceptions. Some Jews could be persuaded to believe that someone had come back from the dead prior to the general resurrection.
1. Some Jews believed that John the Baptist was Elijah returned from the dead.
2. Herod and his court believed that Jesus was John the Baptist returned from the dead.
3. If the story of Lazarus is true (only recorded in the Gospel of John) all of Israel, including the Sanhedrin, knew that Lazarus had come back from the dead.
4. The Jews in Asia Minor were convinced of Jesus’ rising from the dead, not because they saw his resurrected body, but because they “searched the Scriptures”.
“[the floating sheet full of animals trance] it seems like you’re presupposing the Bible is wrong and that Peter didn’t actually see these things. This is barely a valid argument.”
If someone today walked into a doctor’s office and told the doctor that he had just seen a floating sheet full of animals, during the middle of the day, while awake, this person would be diagnosed with a mental disorder or tested for drug abuse. Could it have been a sign from a god? Sure! Anything is possible. But modern medical doctors don’t deal in those possibilities. You want to make an exception for Peter. I say, no exceptions! People who see floating sheets of animals, while awake, who are not on drugs, need medical help.
For goodness sake, are you crazy? Twelve replies to one comment? The only thing redeeming about this is that, although you turn up the drive on insanity to level 10, your responses are written in chronological order so I can debunk them point by point. The first thing to note is the fact that the hallucination hypothesis is basically outright laughable and has been debunked in medical peer-review as an explanation to the Resurrection! It seems to me that you’ve still yet to even read the paper: http://garyhabermas.com/articles/irish-theological-quarterly/Habermas_Resurrection%20of%20Jesus.pdf
Now, let’s get to your claims:
“If we believe the Bible, Jesus had been telling Peter for THREE YEARS that he would be killed and rise from the dead! Therefore the concept of Jesus’ rising from the dead was well established in Peter’s mind.”
If you want to take the Bible’s word for it, you’ve already buried your own argument because Peter never believed Jesus when He told him that He would die in the first place!
Matthew 8:31-33: Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be killed, and rise after three days. 32 He was openly talking about this. So Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and looking at His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan, because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s!”
But it gets infinitely worse, because we are specifically told that the disciples thoought it was NONSENSE when the women told them about the resurrection:
“Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them were telling the apostles these things. But these words seemed like nonsense to them, and they did not believe the women.”
HOW THE HELL ARE YOU GOING TO HALLUCINATE SOMETHING YOU THINK IS ALREADY NONSENSE LOL? This hardly seems like a projection of the contents of the mind, which we will continue to see you debunked regarding.
Something you are apparently prone to doing is picking and choosing which parts of the Bible follow your ridiculously nonsensical hallucination theory, and ignoring the parts that knock it out.
Then, for you to prove that the concept of resurrection was already part of Jewish thought before Jesus was claimed to have risen from the dead in 33 AD, you list these four points:
1. Some Jews believed that John the Baptist was Elijah returned from the dead.
2. Herod and his court believed that Jesus was John the Baptist returned from the dead.
3. If the story of Lazarus is true (only recorded in the Gospel of John) all of Israel, including the Sanhedrin, knew that Lazarus had come back from the dead.
4. The Jews in Asia Minor were convinced of Jesus’ rising from the dead, not because they saw his resurrected body, but because they “searched the Scriptures”.
The funniest one is point 3, where you say “if the story of Lazarus is true”, LOL. If it’s true, then Christianity is a fact and you might as well convert. However, if it’s not true, then it was a later addition after Jesus rose from the dead, and therefore would not have been part of Jewish thinking, i.e. they would take place after the Resurrection and therefore would be irrelevant to trying to show that Resurrection could have been conceived by Jews. Not only that, but point 4 also post-dates the Resurrection and is thus irrelevant here. Therefore your only point is with Herod, but again if this story is false then it comes after the Resurrection, and thus has no bearing that Jews somehow thought Resurrection was possible before Jesus, but if it’s true, then Christianity is true and this conversation is over. So no matter how we look at your 4 points, the only conclusion possible is that Christianity is either true or all four of these events post-date the resurrection. In other words, it’s unquestionable that Jews had no concept of resurrection before the end of the world, until Jesus Himself rose from the dead. Therefore the hallucination hypothesis fails, because hallucinations are only projections of the mind.
If Peter had a hallucination of Jesus, which we’ve shown is impossible because Peter didn’t even believe what Jesus was telling him, Peter would have simply believed Jesus was projected into heaven after death, not risen from the dead, because that WAS part of Jewish thinking.
“A vidid dream is something that occurs when someone is asleep”
All the appearances of Jesus were bodily appearances to people while they were awake, such as the women when they visited the tomb, Paul on his trip in Damascus, the disciples when they were travelling together, so unless they were sleep-walking, vivid dreams are dismissed LOL.
I go on to point out that group hallucinations don’t even exist in documented peer-review, and so the idea that different people at different ages from different cultures would all, as a group, have the exact same hallucination in multiple sensory ways is outright dismissable. You go on to say the following:
“I agree with you. I don’t think it is possible for groups of people to have the same hallucination. But I do believe that groups, even large groups, of people can be convinced that they all have “seen” something that they did not. In the early twentieth century approximately 70,000 people in Fatima, Portugal said that the sun did all sorts of funny movements (spinning, for instance) all to demonstrate the truthfulness of the appearances of the Virgin Mary to some children in that town.”
This is a false reporting on what happened in that event. All that was reported by these tens of thousands of attendants is that they say “extraordinary sun movement”, and there were of course tens of thousands of people there, including doctors, etc. It was not made to “prove the Virgin Mary”. The fact that there were tens of thousands of people who saw it, and that group hallucinations are known to be impossible, shows very specifically that something extraordinary did happen that day, whatever it was. Something happened that day, it was not “mass hysteria”. And no matter how you chop up this story, it cannot be used to save you from the MULTIPLE group appearances of Jesus, because it’s a false analogy. With Jesus, you have multiple cases of group appearances, not one. Not only that, but there is an overwhelming difference between seeing some spectacular light movement and actually seeing a physical risen body that is speaking to you, in fact multiple people at once. They cannot have the same explanation, the sun event most likely has an explanation with optical light movement, whereas this is an impossible explanation for the resurrection.
We’ve already agreed that group hallucinations are ridiculous, and so now we must consider even more. How is it that multiple people saw Jesus saying the exact same things? Did they all miraculously hallucinate the exact same speech? That, we have seen, is impossible. We’ve seen from the paper I’ve reported on above that all medical explanations are scientifically incoherent, they are inexplicable. This is why I continue pointing out that the hallucination hypothesis fails on countless grounds, one of the most important being not only group appearances, but get this, MULTIPLE group appearances. The fact that there were multiple group appearances puts a sword through any mind-phenomena to explain the Resurrection appearances.
Regarding Paul, you say:
“Paul himself gives evidence that he was prone to “visions”. He states in Second Corinthians that he took an intergalactic space voyage to a “third heaven” and received secret transmissions there. He states he is unsure if this was in reality or in non-reality. These are clear signs of mental illness.”
This is a blatantly false statement, this is what Paul actually says in Second Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 12:2: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of it I do not know, but God knows.
This “vision” had NOTHING to do with Paul, Paul says that someone HE KNEW actually had this meeting with God, and Paul believed him that he said he met with was brought by God to heaven. So Paul has nothing “prone” to any kind of visions in the first place, which already damages your claims.
“Therefore all of this information was in his brain when Paul, whom I believe most likely also suffered from some form of mental illness, possibly Bipolar Disorder, had a psychotic break down on his way to Damascus, and in a delusion experienced a visual and auditory hallucination in which he “saw” a bright light which “told” him that it was Jesus of Nazareth. Paul believed this experience to be real, and based on this delusion, converted to the new faith.”
There are ten thousand and one failures with this explanation. First, WHY would Paul magically break down in his trip, and conclude that he had seen the risen Jesus? Secondly, Paul did not say he heard a light that told him it was Jesus, he said HE SAW JESUS speaking to him. The former does have some possibility of some kind of optical hysteria, the latter doesn’t. Paul reports that the people travelling with him to Damascus only saw a great light and a sound, and that basically establishes that this event was not limited to Paul’s brain, rather outside of it. What’s even greater is that Paul literally is BLINDED for three days after Jesus appears to him.
Acts 9:9: He was unable to see for three days and did not eat or drink.
So there’s virtually no question that this had nothing to do with Paul’s brain, as Paul’s eyes were literally blinded by the event. The next of the ten thousand problems with this explanation is that, again, Paul HATED CHRISTIANS LOL. This guy was an insanely hardcore Jew, he was killing people who disagreed! Remember, hallucinations are projections of the mind. So, we KNOW Paul had absolutely nothing prone to hallucinations, let alone Christianity out of all things! There are so many failures with this hallucination nonsense that it is hard to count, and of course the fact that even non-Christians are seeing Jesus like Paul and James really blows this hallucination/”misperception” hysteria to blithereens. But you say something quite funny regarding James:
“I personally am not surprised that one or more of Jesus’ family would be caught up in the hysteria of Peter’s hallucination, experiencing his own vivid dream of Jesus visiting him, as an angel visited his father, Joseph. If his father Joseph took vivid dreams so seriously that he would move the family to a foreign country in the middle of the night because of an angel’s “appearance” in his dreams, I am not surprised that his son, James, would consent to be bishop of the Jerusalem church because of a similar “appearance” by his brother in a similar vivid dream.” ”
Considering the appearance to James was not in a dream, and that literally the last thing you would have a vivid dream of is of your own brother as God. And if that didn’t put the sword into the chest, even if James had this vivid dream, he wouldn’t BELIEVE it after he woke up! LOL. So not only was the appearance to James not inside a dream at all in the first place, not only would the LAST THING you would hallucinate is that your own bro has actually become God (which would be the most insane thing to a Jew, he would’ve probably concluded that he had been demon-possessed rather than saw an actual Jesus), but James in fact was also a non Christian and therefore would have had no projection of such content.
But you want to have a little more fun with James:
“James was an uneducated, superstitious peasant from the boonies of Galilee. His father moved the family in the middle of the night to a foreign country based solely on his belief that he had received a warning of impending doom from a divine being in a dream. His mother claimed that his older brother had been fathered by an invisible ghost. His older brother claimed to have created the universe. This family was screaming for psychiatric assistance, so nothing this man said or did would surprise me.”
Ugghh LOl. Mary was either intentionally lying or had in fact been miraculously impregnated, there is no inbetween. You can’t have a baby without sex. Mary was either lying about the entire holy ghost thing, or she was miraculously impregnated. There is no inbetween. Calling James “superstitious” is also baseless, unless you want to play a game of circular reasoning where you say James was superstitious because he saw Jesus risen, and conclude that therefore the appearance to James was because James was superstitious.
But of course, your claims against James are again a failure, as James was still a non Christian, not to mention the 500 where you have laughably tried to claim that a group of 500 people saw a light and some wind, and concluded that therefore Christianity must be true! If you think that actually happened then you’re insane, considering it’s literally impossible for such a thing to happen — if 500 people see a bright light and some wind, they do NOT think “oh, that Christianity thing must be true after all, in fact that light was probably Jesus!” LOL. The amount of stretch one needs to make in order to save this hallucination garbage (again, debunked in medical peer review) is laughable. We’ve seen that;
1) Resurrection before the end of the world contradicted Jewish thought
2) Group hallucinations are impossible
3) Even non Christians were seeing Jesus
4) When the Christians themselves, the very disciples of Jesus were told Jesus rose from the dead initially from the women, they thought that it was nonsense. This is horrible for any hallucination/hysteria/vivid dream nonsense hypotheses.
5) The hallucination hypothesis is simply terribly lacking in explanatory power — it can only explain the appearances but cannot explain the empty tomb, so that means you need to join a second hypothesis to the hallucination hypothesis to explain both the appearances and empty tomb. However, the resurrection hypothesis is a single hypothesis that can explain both the appearances and empty tomb, meaning it is a better explanation for the events. But actually, you have more then two hypotheses already, you’ve been shown that the hallucination hypothesis fails on its own so you already have four hypotheses for the appearances alone, being 1) hallucinations 2) misperceptions 3) mass hysteria and 4) missightings
6) Your explanations as to how the hallucinations are going to work are INCONCEIVABLY improbable in almost every existing detail they posit. Look at this:
We are required to believe that hundreds of random non-Christians actually concluded they had seen Jesus risen from the dead when they saw some wind blowing, we must believe that pretty much all the main disciples were mentally disabled with things like Bipolar Disorder which affects not even 3% of the world population, we must believe that CONSECUTIVE GROUP HALLUCINATIONS continuously occurred which is pure insanity in reality, that out of all things even the persecutors of Christianity had random break downs where, in the moment of the breakdown, the person concluded that nothing other than Jesus was risen!! What on planet Earth are these explanations? Why are they all so stupid? We must ALSO believe that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE DISCIPLES had ended up with the exact same hallucination! If out of all the Christians, only Peter and maybe Thomas had an appearance, we might be able to explain them, but EVEERRRYONE was seeing these things and Jesus, EVEN THE WOMEN followers of Jesus! ALL of them, no exceptions, even countless non Christians. What on Earth is the probability of all this?
I posit, as a conclusion here, that it would be more miraculous to believe in all the aforementioned improbabilities then to believe in the Resurrection. No joke, it would be more of a coincidence for all these things to happen then for someone to hit five consecutive lottery jackpots. Seriously.
Anyways, but now that I’ve done away with all that and showed your overwhelming failures in almost every aspect to account for the Resurrection appearances of Jesus, let’s see your fallings on the empty tomb. I first mentioned that Joseph of Arimathea wouldn’t be invented because of course he was part of the Sanhedrin, and even if he was somehow invented, he would have been said to have converted to Christianity, otherwise impossible to have been invented. This is your response:
“Wrong. You can’t prove that. Do a google search on “Why would the author of Mark invent Joseph of Arimathea and his Tomb” and you will find numerous explanations by respected NT scholars. You may not like their explanations but to say “this would not be invented” is blatantly FALSE!”
You give absolutely no plausible evidence that Joseph of Arimathea could have been invented, you say “search it up” which is a response so worthless that I’m not even going to address it. I actually did search it up though, and the arguments were as bad, if not even more bad, then “search it up”.
My second point was that there were verses in Mark that are utterly useless to a fictitious story, and you say:
“Nonsense! This narrative may seem “useless” to YOU, someone living in the 21st century, if it had not really happened but you cannot say that the first century author did not invent this detail of the story. Again, all that mattered in first century Greek historical biography was that the core facts were maintained. The accuracy of peripheral details was unimportant.”
This is another argument that no one will ever find existing in peer-review, because it’s totally baseless and a simple projection of something you pulled out of your buttocks. We actually understand ancient literature, especially the Gospels, very well in the 21st century, considering new testament scholarship has been one of the largest fields of ancient history for two centuries, and the literary knowledge on the Gospels is overwhelming. This is something that wouldn’t be made up. You funnily enough, say “peripheral details are unimportant”, which is exactly why Mark wouldn’t have included irrelevant peripheral details in a fictitious story.
If you look at the apocrypha, which are obvious legends, you’ll see a rather incredible lack of “peripheral details”.
For point 3 where I mention that the women wouldn’t be invented as they were women, you say:
“The Early Creed says nothing about women witnesses. I know Christians have many harmonizations for this fact but it is entirely possible that not only is the Empty Tomb story fictional but the women witnesses are fictional. ”
Your responses get worse by the second, the early creed only lists the witnesses to the resurrection, not the people who found the empty tomb. There is no connection here, zero. Your response essentially boils down to “they would be invented”, but that’s exactly my point, they WOULDN’T. The testimony of women was unreliable at the time, and so the last thing that would be made up is that the FIRST PEOPLE to find the empty tomb were… Women. A fiction would have made a disciple of Jesus the primary witness, that’s a fact.
And you go on to project this:
“The earliest Christians probable knew full well that there were no women and there was no rock tomb. Paul seems to know nothing about either topic.”
They evidence has already established that the women were not literary inventions, and your claim that the “earliest Christians probably knew that there were no women” is a complete bare assertion fallacy and isn’t worth responding to.
I didn’t even see a response to my fourth point. But all your responses are pure assumptions to hard literary evidence and basically saying “search it up”. Craziness. We’ve already seen the evidence overwhelmingly favors the historicity of the empty tomb.
As for Mark’s authorship, you first say “most Scholars” think Papias was written 125 AD — Papias was originally thought to have been written 160 AD, and that was the consensus. Then, scholarship transitioned to a date of abou 145-160 AD, and then it moved down to 145 AD, and then it moved down to 125 AD, and now support for a 95-110 AD writing is quickly growing. Here is a paper that strongly argues for such a dating:
Click to access 26-2-pp181-191_JETS.pdf
Scholarship for the last century has been continuously getting Papias older and older of a testimony. The evidence seems to be on my side, I don’t see support for a 125 AD dating. And again, the fact that Papias did not directly know the disciples is irrelevant. Absolutely irrelevant. You don’t need to know a person directly to know whether or not they wrote a certain book, Papias tells us he knew the people who knew the disciples. The evidence shows that we have someone who directly knew the the disciples of those who wrote the Gospels attesting to this authorship, that’s better evidence for authorship then we have of most documents. You say Papias, even at 95-110 AD, would be 70 years after Jesus death. Ugh, not only is that a failure of an argument because 70 years is still very early, we’re NOT TALKING about Jesus, we’re talking about the GOSPELS. Papias would have written about 40 years after Mark and Matthew were written at the least, and would have been a direct contemporary to Mark and Matthew.
Inclusio is still a known literary device of ancient works that appears in Mark’s Gospel. We also have many early Church writers I’ve noted who also attest to the authorship of Mark. Another fact that shows Mark wrote the Gospel, which is an entirely non-miraculous claim, is the fact that there’s no reason for Mark to be invented. If the early Church was inventing Gospel authors, they WOULDN’T INVENT someone as irrelevant as Mark to author a Gospel who happened to be Peter’s disciple, they would have made up that PETER wrote the Gospel. So why would they make up an irrelevant figure to write this Gospel? They wouldn’t, and the fact they wouldn’t attests to Mark’s authorship. We have very early attestation of Markan authorship, and the internal evidence of Mark’s Gospel, such as inclusio, also corroborates our attestation, and overall we have the fact that it would be improbable for the Church to make up irrelevant figures to author their most important documents. We see, when we look at the apocryphal writings, almost all of them are forged in the name of Peter, Paul, Thomas, James, Mary, or other very important figures. We’re never told that one of them is written by ‘Stephen’ who was a very irrelevant early Christian.
So apparently all the evidence is on my side. Not surprised, considering Christianity is true.
You said, “HOW THE HELL ARE YOU GOING TO HALLUCINATE SOMETHING YOU THINK IS ALREADY NONSENSE LOL?”
One may think it nonsense, but the idea is still in one’s brain. But when suddenly confronted with the resurrected person (in an hallucination) who originally said it, telling you that it is NOT nonsense, but has really happened, you now believe it. I believe that this is what happened to Peter, and so do many scholars, such as Bart Ehrman and Gerd Ludemann.
Peter didn’t believe it prior to the death of Jesus, but the concept was still in his brain. He experienced an hallucination and in this hallucination “Jesus” told him that he had been resurrected. This time, Peter believed it, and he convinced the other disciples to believe it, and in the ensuing emotional hysteria, these disciples had their own experiences, of some sort, of a “resurrected” Jesus: the Resurrection belief was born.
This scenario is MUCH more probable that the supernatural tall tale presented in the Gospels; four books written decades after the alleged event, by anonymous, non-eyewitness authors, living in lands far away.
You said, ” So no matter how we look at your 4 points, the only conclusion possible is that Christianity is either true or all four of these events post-date the resurrection.”
Let’s stick with the example of Herod and his court. Even NT Wright admits in “The Resurrection of the Son of God” that if this story is true, this is an exception to the rule that no first century Jew would have believed in the coming back from the dead of one individual. So…SOME first century Jews were susceptible to believing that an individual could return from the dead and that is EXACTLY what we see with the Jesus movement. The OVERWHELMING majority of Jews rejected the claim of Jesus’ resurrection, only a small minority (of mostly uneducated, poor, Galileans) believed it.
You said, “All the appearances of Jesus were bodily appearances to people while they were awake, such as the women when they visited the tomb, Paul on his trip in Damascus, the disciples when they were travelling together, so unless they were sleep-walking, vivid dreams are dismissed LOL.”
Wrong. This is what the Gospels say, but since the Gospels are the documents in dispute…
If we go by the earliest record we have of what the earliest Christians believed about the Resurrection that would be the Early Creed found in First Corinthians 15. In this Creed we find ZERO details about these appearances. In fact, just from this Creed AND from all the writings of Paul, it is possible that Jesus “appeared” to everyone on this list and to Paul as…A BRIGHT LIGHT…and that was it. For all we know, the detailed appearance stories in the Gospels are later literary, non-historical embellishments, typical of first century Greco-Roman biographies.
You said, “With Jesus, you have multiple cases of group appearances, not one.”
Again, IF the Gospels are historically accurate…
However, if we go by the Early Creed all we are told is that Jesus “appeared” to several groups of people. THAT’S IT! For all we know Jesus appeared to ALL these groups of people in the same manner he appeared to Paul in Luke chapter 26: in the form of a bright LIGHT!
You just can’t accept that the Empty Tomb and the detailed Appearance Stories in the Gospels COULD BE fictional, can you? I’m not saying that they are, just that it is possible that they are. And since even you agree that Resurrections are EXTREMELY rare, we agree that only one may have occurred in all of recorded history, therefore a very highly improbable event in the day to day lives of human beings, the possibility that these stories are fiction is MUCH MORE PROBABLE than your ancient Resurrection tale.
You said, “Ugghh LOl. Mary was either intentionally lying or had in fact been miraculously impregnated, there is no inbetween. You can’t have a baby without sex. Mary was either lying about the entire holy ghost thing, or she was miraculously impregnated. There is no inbetween.”
Actually, there is another option: The birth narratives in Matthew and Luke are later literary inventions/embellishments. One piece of evidence: Paul seems to know nothing about Jesus being born of a virgin. This is a pretty amazing piece of evidence to never include in your sermons or epistles! I don’t think that the earliest Christians believed that Jesus was born of a virgin. I don’t think that the author of the Gospel of Mark knew anything about a Virgin Birth. In the Gospel of Mark, the entire family of Jesus seems shocked by his behavior, even thinking he is mentally ill. I think the Virgin Birth myth was invented sometime in the late first century when most if not all of the original disciples, Mary, and James were DEAD.
As to the remainder of your comment, I have addressed these issues in my recent review of Richard Bauckham’s book, “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”. I would be happy to respond to comments under those posts. Each post addresses one chapter of the book, in the order the chapters are found in the book. Here is the first:
“One may think it nonsense, but the idea is still in one’s brain. But when suddenly confronted with the resurrected person (in an hallucination) who originally said it, telling you that it is NOT nonsense, but has really happened, you now believe it. I believe that this is what happened to Peter, and so do many scholars, such as Bart Ehrman and Gerd Ludemann. ”
You have failed to establish any evidence for this, whatsoever. In my previous comment, I sent an overwhelming debunking of all your points, and there was none left.
There was no idea in Peter’s head that he would have hallucinated, and we’ve seen absolute evidence debunking the hallucination hypothesis, including the impossibility of group halluinations. In your entire comment, you are unable to reply to any of my remarks. Saying “I believe” Peter hallucinated is not good enough, in fact it’s a useless claim because it’s backed up by not a shred of evidence. We’ve seen that group hallucinations are impossible, we’ve seen that even non Christians ended up seeing Jesus thus crushing the hallucination hypothesis, etc, etc, etc. The medical and logical problems with it completely shudder its veracity, and I have at this point completely debunked it as seen in my previous comment. Both Gerd Ludemann and Bart Ehrman have failed to defend the hallucination hypothesis from even a single one of its trillions of gaping holes.
It’s almost too funny how Ehrman invokes that the visions of Jesus “were infectious” — and that quotation is not a typo. Their ideology that hallucinations are infectious is so medically ignorant that it’s hard to even conceive that this is something they seriously attempt to defend.
“This time, Peter believed it, and he convinced the other disciples to believe it, and in the ensuing emotional hysteria, these disciples had their own experiences, of some sort, of a “resurrected” Jesus: the Resurrection belief was born.”
I’ve already debunked this hypothesis by showing all of its problems, simply restating your debunked position isn’t helping you bud. I’m really exasperated that you actually decided to ignore the complete debunking of this nonsense and continue invoking this medical trash.
“This scenario is MUCH more probable that the supernatural tall tale presented in the Gospels; four books written decades after the alleged event, by anonymous, non-eyewitness authors, living in lands far away.”
This trash can be easily laid to waste with basic evidence, and in fact is in Richard Baukham’s renowned book. Baukman shows that the names appearing throughout the Gospels correlate with the names of the time. The most popular male name in Judea in the time of Jesus is also the common name found in the Gospels. The second most common name in Judea in the time of Jesus is also the second most common name found in the Gospels. The nine most common names in Judea in the time of Jesus are also PERFECTLY also the nine most common names in the Gospels. This is beyond just coincidence — it has been accurately reported by scholars such as Peter Williams that for such an astounding feat, you cannot only have eyewitness testimony, you need to have really, really good eyewitness testimony. The truth is, the author of Matthew and John were probably eyewitnesses themselves, whereas Mark was an interpreter of Peter and Luke was simply acquinated with the eyewitnesses, as clearly shown reflected in his gospel. Historians have also concluded that the author of the Gospel of Luke was in fact a historian, making the weight of his words remarkably more powerful.
“Wrong. This is what the Gospels say, but since the Gospels are the documents in dispute…
If we go by the earliest record we have of what the earliest Christians believed about the Resurrection that would be the Early Creed found in First Corinthians 15. In this Creed we find ZERO details about these appearances. In fact, just from this Creed AND from all the writings of Paul, it is possible that Jesus “appeared” to everyone on this list and to Paul as…A BRIGHT LIGHT…”
The conclusion that they were appeared to as a bright light can instantly be utterly destroyed because not even Paul’s appearance was a bright light, Paul fully saw Jesus. Furthermore, Paul’s appearance came about a few years after Jesus died, whereas the appearances for the disciples happened very, very early after the crucifixion. The early creed establishes a list of eyewitnesses, and in fact a list of group eyewitnesses ranging from believers to even non believers and the very family members of Jesus.
Now, let’s try this again. You say:
“You just can’t accept that the Empty Tomb and the detailed Appearance Stories in the Gospels COULD BE fictional, can you? I’m not saying that they are, just that it is possible that they are. And since even you agree that Resurrections are EXTREMELY rare, we agree that only one may have occurred in all of recorded history, therefore a very highly improbable event in the day to day lives of human beings, the possibility that these stories are fiction is MUCH MORE PROBABLE than your ancient Resurrection tale.”
This is all just a bunch of loaded assertions, fallacies, and ridiculous statements, etc. It’s possible the empty tomb didn’t happen. It’s possible that you’re a freaking monkey randomly hammering your keyboard and not a real person, as I find it highly improbable that a real human with an actual brain can say such stupid things.
The question is what the evidence says. The evidence says the empty tomb is historical, get over it. Denying the empty tomb is like denying the Roman-Jewish War of 70 AD, it’s insane… At least if you care, at all, about sources.
The Resurrection, in light of the evidence, is not only not improbable, but HIGHLY probable because all other explanations are utter failures and disasters. We’ve seen that the hallucination hypothesis has so many improbabilities and outright ridiculous implications that it would be more miraculous to believe in the hallucination hypothesis than the actual resurrection claim.
Because all the evidence clearly and overwhelmingly favors the Resurrection of Jesus, that’s the only valid conclusion.
But the above fact is probably problematic for you, considering you have a high resistance to common sense. You invoke things like:-
“Actually, there is another option: The birth narratives in Matthew and Luke are later literary inventions/embellishments.”
-without a figment of evidence.
I went through your review of Bauckman’s book, and it’s as if you provide more of a commentary on some of his opening statements rather than an actual rebuttal. For example, you say this:
NOVEMBER 27, 2016
If you have been following this blog you know that lately I have been involved in an ongoing discussion with Lutheran author and historian, Dr. Adam Francisco, regarding my review of his book, “Making the Case for Christianity”. In his book, Dr. Francisco and his colleagues make the claim that Christians can be very confident that the Gospels are reliable sources of history as they were written by eyewitnesses; even going so far as to say that the Gospels were written by the traditional authors—Matthew, John Mark, Luke the physician, and John the son of Zebedee.
I disagree with this claim. I believe that the current consensus of NT scholars is that none of the four Gospels were written by eyewitnesses. I have given a list of sources for this claim here.
Dr. Francisco has asked me to read Richard Bauckham’s book, “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony”. Dr. Francisco says this about Bauckham’s book:
“His book has made quite a splash; some says it’s paradigm shifting. (I’m not an ancient historian, my knowledge of Greek is pretty slim, so I need to rely on an expert. I suspect you aren’t an ancient historian and have limited knowledge of Greek, too.) We could look at each of the pieces of evidence Bauckham provides and assess it based on our own research of the primary sources. What do you say?”
I have agreed. So let’s start the review.
But first, how will I as a non-theologian, non-Koine Greek speaking layperson review a book written by a NT scholar who is known for his scholarly detail and his ability to interpret ancient Greek? Well, I intend to review his book as Dr. Francisco would review a medical book regarding tobacco smoking and its relationship to lung cancer. I will review the book looking for claims by the author which seem contrary to my perception of the current consensus opinion of experts in the field and compare the two positions. Just as Dr. Francisco would not accept the claims of just one cancer specialist who states that there is no relationship between tobacco smoking and lung cancer, neither will I accept the claims of just one NT scholar based solely on the fact that he is an expert in the field. There are outliers in every field. I am open to examining evidence which Bauckham claims refutes the current scholarly consensus on the authorship of the Gospels, but just as Dr. Francisco would not accept just any claim or any alleged evidence that tobacco smoking does not cause cancer, I too will not settle for mediocre evidence. I will insist upon very compelling evidence to side with Bauckham against the consensus position of NT scholars.
Chapter 1, From the Historical Jesus to the Jesus of Testimony
“Here then is the dilemma that has always faced Christian theology in the light of the quest of this historical Jesus. Must history and theology part company at this point where Christian faith’s interest in history is at its most vital? Must we settle for trusting the Gospels for our access to the Jesus in whom Christian believe, while leaving the historians to construct a historical Jesus based only on what they can verify for themselves by critical historical methods? I think there is a better way forward, a way in which theology and history may meet in the historical Jesus instead of parting company there. In this book I am making a first attempt to lay out some of the evidence and methods for it. Its key category is testimony.” p.5
So Bauckham believes that there is a better way for people living today to discover the real historical Jesus. He believes that the standard method used by historians to investigate the historical Jesus (critical historical methods) are inadequate and flawed. He is going to strike out on a new course of finding the real Jesus. But why? Why does he believe that historians have it wrong? Why does he believe that the historical critical method is flawed? Would he use the historical critical method to investigate the historical Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great? If so, why not use it for Jesus? Well, hopefully he is going to tell us later in the book.
“I suggest that we need to recover the sense in which the Gospels are testimony. This does not mean that they are testimony rather than history. It means that the kind of historiography they are is testimony. An irreducible feature of testimony as a form of human utterance is that it asks to be trusted. This need not mean that it asks to be trusted uncritically but it does mean that testimony should not be treated as credible only to the extent that it can be independently verified.” p. 5
So Bauckham is saying that testimony should not be automatically excluded from credibility just because it cannot be independently verified. I can buy that…for most claims. If Farmer Brown, an upstanding member of your community, one day states that two men with a red pickup truck stole one of his cows, I think we should view his testimony as credible until proven otherwise. But what about if the same Farmer Brown claims that little green, antennae-toting, Martians abducted one of his cows? How credible should we view this claim without independently verifying it? I would say that regardless of Farmer Brown’s reputation for honesty and integrity, we should only believe his very out of the ordinary claim if we are able to independently verify this claim. And I think that most people would use this same standard when evaluating truth claims based solely on testimony. Reasonable, ordinary claims by a reputable person are believed until disproven. Very unusual, out of the ordinary claims, even if made by very reputable people, are rarely accepted as fact without additional evidence and thorough investigation. Even Christians must agree that the resurrection of a dead body is not an ordinary, every day occurrence. In fact, Christians believe that there has only been ONE of these events in all of history, making it EXTREMELY rare. Therefore, I agree that most eyewitness testimony should be accepted as credible, but most modern, educated people are not going to accept very extra-ordinary testimony without first thoroughly investigating the very extra-ordinary claims in that testimony and obtaining strong supporting evidence for those claims.
“Gospels understood as testimony are the entirely appropriate means of access to the historical Jesus.” p. 5
But were the authors of the Gospels writing history books? Was their primary purpose for writing these books to provide an accurate historical biography of Jesus of Nazareth? I would like to see Bauckham prove this. ”
Considering it is the scholarly consensus that the Gospels were ancient biographies (which means written under the genre of history) and that Luke-Acts is historiography literally authored by a historian themselves, there seems like nothing problematic with accepting it.
It seems that the fact that the gospels are ancient histories is rather new to you, so this video should bring you up to speed:
I see many of your points in your response simply show your lack of familiarity with what Bauckman’s talking about. You ask for “evidence” that the eyewitnesses were in contact with one another, or that the “evangelists” (whatever you mean by that, Paul?) were in contact with the eyewitnesses — in Galatians 1-2, Paul records his meeting with what he calls the “pillars” of the early Christian church, being James, Peter and John — all of whom are together.
A very early Christian writer, Ignatius (writing 95-105 AD) probably was disciple of John. An even earlier Christian writer, Clement of Rome (ca. 70 AD) may have been the very Clement mentioned by Paul in Phillipians 4:3. This shows a very deep interconnection with the basic known Christians, such as the authors of the Gospels, with the established Church figures. In fact, this is really plausible to accept — if Luke didn’t have any connections to the eyewitnesses, for example, how did one of his Gospels literally become part of the church consensus of inspired canonical books of the New Testament within a decade or two of its writing? Not even the work of Clement made the canon (but it got close). Are we to believe a random figure writing decades later had his work randomly picked up and accepted as a consensus by the entire Church of the world?
You can probably see where the evidence adds up about now. Richard Bauckman’s book is considered the most important book in New Testament scholarship in the last several decades, if not century.
Dude. Your comments are way too long for me to respond to. Cut them down if you expect me to respond.
“Your comments are way too long for me to respond to”
LOL! Says the guy who sent TWELVE COMMENTS to a single reply of mines once. It’s clear there’s no longer any fruit in continuing this conversation — so the only thing I can say to you is to review my responses in your free time and take the points (facts) I make into consideration.
You said, “Basically what you said here is “hallucination, hallucination, hallucination, and a missighting”. All of them contradict Jewish thought of the time, and the hilarious thing is that your explanation is so implausible that it is practically dismissable off-hand.”
Wrong. A vivid dream is not an hallucination. First a dream occurs while someone is asleep. An hallucination occurs while someone is wide awake. Second, dreams occur in mentally healthy people. Hallucinations rarely occur in mentally healthy people.
First century Jews appear to have taken their dreams very seriously. The step father of Jesus, Joseph, had a vivid dream in which an angel told him, in the middle of the night, to move the family to a foreign country, that night—and he did. So if some of the disciples had similar vivid dreams in which Jesus appeared to them and told them to spread his Gospel to the world, they would have taken it just as seriously as Joseph took his visit from an angel. Did an angel “appear” to Joseph? Yes. It may have been in a dream, but he still “appeared” to him. The same could have happened with some of the disciples.
Vivid dreams are not hallucinations. I think it is difficult to say whether or not a “vision” is a vivid dream or an hallucination. I would say it would depend on when the experience occurred. If it occurred while asleep, it was probably a vivid dream. If it occurred while awake, it was probably an hallucination.
You said, “There is not one single documented case in the peer-reviewed medical literature to ever show any cases of collective-hallucinations, because it is medically ridiculous.”
I agree with you. I don’t think it is possible for groups of people to have the same hallucination. But I do believe that groups, even large groups, of people can be convinced that they all have “seen” something that they did not. In the early twentieth century approximately 70,000 people in Fatima, Portugal said that the sun did all sorts of funny movements (spinning, for instance) all to demonstrate the truthfulness of the appearances of the Virgin Mary to some children in that town. Are we really to believe that 70,000 people saw the sun perform movements that science says is impossible? I say it was mass hysteria. And I would bet this is what happened with the accounts of Jesus appearing to groups of people and to the “five hundred”. A group of a couple hundred believers were sitting on a hillside and suddenly a bright light appeared at the top of the hill and a rushing wind occurred at the same time that sounded like a human voice, then suddenly both were gone. “It was Jesus!”
Some scholars believe that the appearance to the five hundred refers to Pentecost.
You said, “Furthermore, when one asserts that all these hallucinations were virtually the same amongst the disciples, they’ve jumped off the cliff of insanity for sure. For one, a collective hallucination is already medically ridiculous, but even aside that, and if we imagine we live in a magical world where they do and in fact did happen, they would happen DIFFERENTLY. In other words, the disciples would have had different types of hallucinations of Jesus, but they all oddly seem to receive the exact same hallucination. If you submit that not only was there a collective hallucination, but were all identical, you’ve jumped into the avalanche of insanity as medically speaking, that is not even coherent. Different people have different minds, different experiences, different projections and different expectations.”
Actually, I think it is highly likely that only ONE of the original disciples, Peter, and one other important early Christian had an hallucination causing them to believe they had seen a resurrected Jesus: Paul.
Paul himself gives evidence that he was prone to “visions”. He states in Second Corinthians that he took an intergalactic space voyage to a “third heaven” and received secret transmissions there. He states he is unsure if this was in reality or in non-reality. These are clear signs of mental illness.
I believe that both Paul and Peter were most likely Bipolar. Bipolar people can be very high-functioning people, but at times can become psychotic and delusional, experiencing wild hallucinations. Seeing floating sheets of animals and participating in intergalactic space voyages are NOT normal. These men needed medication.
You said, “In other words, as William Lane Craig says, it [the hallucination hypothesis] lacks explanatory power — making it an inferior explanation for the facts then the Resurrection hypothesis, which explains both the empty tomb and the appearances to Jesus.”
First, I don’t believe that ALL the disciples had hallucinations, most likely only Peter. The other appearance claims could have been due to vivid dreams, false sightings, and misperceptions of natural phenomena. I know you don’t believe that but you can’t prove that these natural explanations weren’t the basis for many of the “appearances” and since these possibilities are much more probable than a once in history resurrection, based on cumulative human experience, unbiased people must assume that one or several of these natural explanations are responsible for the early Christians Resurrection belief.
Second, even if there was an empty tomb an empty tomb does NOT prove a resurrection occurred, only that the tomb was empty. There are many natural explanations for empty tombs.
You said, “And we’re not even done yet. The hallucination hypothesis can only even apply to the disciples of Jesus — but what about Paul and James?”
Paul was persecuting Christians. He knew their beliefs. He knew that they believed that Jesus of Nazareth had claimed to be the messiah and (in some sense) the son of God. He knew that the Jews had accused him of claiming to be the King of the Jews and brought him before the Romans. He knew that the Romans had crucified him for this crime. He knew that the followers of Jesus believed that shortly after his death Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to his followers.
Therefore all of this information was in his brain when Paul, whom I believe most likely also suffered from some form of mental illness, possibly Bipolar Disorder, had a psychotic break down on his way to Damascus, and in a delusion experienced a visual and auditory hallucination in which he “saw” a bright light which “told” him that it was Jesus of Nazareth. Paul believed this experience to be real, and based on this delusion, converted to the new faith.
Persons who experience delusions with psychotic features including hallucinations believe these experiences to be very real. They cannot distinguish them from reality. Therefore once Paul was no longer delusional, he would not realize that his “vision” was simply a moment of psychosis.
As for James, we never hear from him directly about his experience. We are never told in the Gospels that Jesus appeared to him, we only learn this from the Early Creed in First Corinthians. (Isn’t that odd? Jesus appears to the Bishop of Jerusalem, his own brother, but the four Gospel authors don’t find this important enough to mention.)I personally am not surprised that one or more of Jesus’ family would be caught up in the hysteria of Peter’s hallucination, experiencing his own vivid dream of Jesus visiting him, as an angel visited his father, Joseph. If his father Joseph took vivid dreams so seriously that he would move the family to a foreign country in the middle of the night because of an angel’s “appearance” in his dreams, I am not surprised that his son, James, would consent to be bishop of the Jerusalem church because of a similar “appearance” by his brother in a similar vivid dream.
“Imagine, what would it take to convince you that your very brother was literally God in the flesh? You wouldn’t POSSIBLY hallucinate something after your brother dies, especially when you’re an extremely fundamentalist Jew. Likewise, what would it take a Jew like James to come to the belief that his brother who was executed by the Romans as a criminal was literally God in the flesh all along? The hallucination hypothesis not only flat out fails here for James but we realize without a doubt that the Resurrection hypothesis is the only coherent explanation for the facts that we have here.”
James was an uneducated, superstitious peasant from the boonies of Galilee. His father moved the family in the middle of the night to a foreign country based solely on his belief that he had received a warning of impending doom from a divine being in a dream. His mother claimed that his older brother had been fathered by an invisible ghost. His older brother claimed to have created the universe. This family was screaming for psychiatric assistance, so nothing this man said or did would surprise me.
I originally said, ” Please present ONE feature of the Empty Tomb story which could not have been invented. I’d LOVE to see it.”
You said, “This is exactly why I said you are utterly impervious to evidence. I have already named countless features.
1. The Christians hated the Sanhedrin, yet it is exactly a man from the Sanhedrin that is responsible for burying Jesus. This would not be invented, if they were making anything up they would make up that John or Peter buried Jesus or something.”
“This would not be invented.” Wrong. You can’t prove that. Do a google search on “Why would the author of Mark invent Joseph of Arimathea and his Tomb” and you will find numerous explanations by respected NT scholars. You may not like their explanations but to say “this would not be invented” is blatantly FALSE!
You said, “2. There are verses in Mark’s narrative which would have no relevance to someone making something up. For example, in the Resurrection narrative, why would Mark make up 15:44? ” Pilate was surprised that He was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him whether He had already died” — this is useless for a fictitious narrative and would only be relevant if it actually happened.”
Nonsense! This narrative may seem “useless” to YOU, someone living in the 21st century, if it had not really happened but you cannot say that the first century author did not invent this detail of the story. Again, all that mattered in first century Greek historical biography was that the core facts were maintained. The accuracy of peripheral details was unimportant.
You said, “3. According to the Gospels, the first people to discover the empty tomb were women. However, the testimony of women in the age of Jesus was virtually useless, and so only a complete moron would actually decide to say the very original witnesses of the tomb were women. This of course also wouldn’t be made up. If this was a fiction John would have found the empty tomb or something.”
The Early Creed says nothing about women witnesses. I know Christians have many harmonizations for this fact but it is entirely possible that not only is the Empty Tomb story fictional but the women witnesses are fictional. In the first century books weren’t written for mass publication, they were most often written for the benefit of one rich patron. The author of the Gospel of Luke addresses his Gospel to ONE person. Therefore there is no need for the authors to worry about being called before a court to verify their stories. And once again, people of that time knew that Greek biographies were “loose with the peripheral facts”. It was the core facts that mattered and the core facts are present in all four Gospels: Jesus died. Jesus was buried. Jesus rose again. The earliest Christians probable knew full well that there were no women and there was no rock tomb. Paul seems to know nothing about either topic.
You said, “You have already failed by remarking your doom, Richard Baukham’s book ‘Jesus and the Eyewitness’, which is described by scholars as the most important work in the field in this entire century.”
You obviously haven’t read the book yourself. It is the biggest collection of assumptions and grasping at straws since NT Wright’s “The Resurrection of the Son of God” which I also read and reviewed on this blog. I suggest you read books before you tout them as being so important.
You said, ” Indeed, Baukham showed without question that Mark’s Gospel was based off of Peter’s testimony. Papias wrote in 95-110 AD, meaning he was probably a contemporary to Mark himself.”
What chutzpa, my friend! First of all, the majority of scholars believe that Papias wrote his five volume work in 120-130 CE, that would be 90-100 years after the death of Jesus. Some scholars believe it was written even later, and of course some evangelical scholars believe Papias was writing even earlier in 80 AD (although most historians believe that Papias was born in c. 70 AD!). Papias admits that he never met ANY eyewitness. Bauckham even states this as fact. The closest Papias got to an eyewitness was that the disciples of John the Elder and Astrion (sp?) came through his town and shared the teachings of these two men. Papias described these two men as “disciples of Jesus”. He never specifically stated that these men accompanied Jesus during his ministry. So Papias never says that he met Mark or the disciples of Mark. So please provide the evidence that proves “without question” that Mark’s gospels is based off of Peter’s testimony. (Please tell me you are going to invoke the author’s use of the “inclusio”.)
Dear Readers: Think about this. If the purpose of the Gospels was to…spread the Gospel, the Good News of salvation by faith in Jesus the Christ, and if the Gospel of Mark is based on the testimony of Peter, why the hell didn’t the author just say so???? What more convincing proof of the reliability of this Gospel than to say right at the beginning of the Gospel: Hey Readers! This Gospel is based on the testimony of Jesus’ chief disciple, Simon Peter. I, John Mark, the traveling companion of Peter, wrote down the testimony of Peter from his sermons, and here it is!
But no, the author of the Gospel of Mark didn’t do that. Not only did he not tell us that his source of information was Peter, he never tells us ANY sources for his information! Christians have all kinds of excuses for this lack of naming of a source, but why not just accept the obvious: there was no one source for this Gospel or any other Gospel. The Gospels were based on oral traditions which had been in circulation for DECADES prior to being written down. And these oral traditions had crossed national borders, passed from one language to another, one culture to another, one decade to another, to finally arrive to the ears of the authors who wrote our four Gospels. Christians want desperately for us to believe that these stories were not embellished during these decades or when the authors wrote these stories down but we KNOW from other Greek biographies of the first century that it was TYPICAL for the authors of Greek biographies, which even Christians claim the Gospels are, to change and add details to the stories. The Empty Tomb, the women witnesses, Joseph of Arimathea, the details of the trial by Pilate, and the detailed appearance stories are very likely all literary embellishments, typical of Greek biographies of the time period.
You said, “So considering all this overwhelming evidence for the authorship of the Gospel of Mark, it’s virtually certain. I’m not aware of any document to ever be written which has as much evidence for its authorship as Mark’s Gospel (except for maybe Matthew’s Gospel or John’s Gospel).”
“Virtually certain”, when the majority of NT scholars, including NT Wright, says that no one knows who wrote the Gospels. Are you a scholar, SC?
Out of curiosity, who do you believe wrote the Gospel of Matthew? The Gospel of John?
You said, “A rather significant number of historians (I don’t know if it’s a majority) believes there was an exodus of Hebrews from Egypt, but it wasn’t as many as the number recorded in the Bible which is over 603,000. However, does the Bible actually claim there were 603,000 Hebrews, or is this number non-literal?”
How about this: I’ll agree that the number of Hebrews exiting Egypt as stated in Exodus is non-literal if you agree that the bodily resurrection of Jesus as stated in the Gospels is non-literal. Agreed? I see no good reason why one statement of fact should be interpreted literally and another statement of fact interpreted non-literally in the same book unless one is trying to twist the facts to conform to one’s preconceived belief system.
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You said, “Why don’t you actually follow your own guideline and give evidence that Jesus was thrown into a pit of criminals and left to rot? It’s hilarious because you have none. If all my evidence for an empty tomb was one testimony 200 years after the events, I’d STILL have more evidence than you do!”
I never said that this is what happened, I simply said this is what probably happened based on the usual pattern of Roman crucifixions.
But you are confusing the issue. You seem to believe that I must prove the Empty Tomb story did not happen. This is like someone telling you that you must prove that George Washington did not chop down his father’s cherry tree since you do not believe that this story is historically factual. No, you do not have to prove this story false. It is the proponents of this story who must provide evidence of its truth! The onus is on Christians to provide the evidence for the historicity of the Empty Tomb. You have 75% of scholars on your side. But 25% say this event did not happen, so it is not a settled fact of history. It is in dispute. I believe that within another generation, the Empty Tomb will be held in the same level of esteem by most scholars/experts as a world-wide flood is by the overwhelming majority of geologists.
You said, “In 1968, an archaeologist was excavating various tombs, and found something very interesting. On one of the tombs, the name ‘Yehohanan son of Hagakal’ was inscribed, and what lay inside was beyond discovery. What lay inside the tomb was a crucified man. This man, Yehohanan was crucified and then buried in a tomb. End of discussion, if Yehohanan can be crucified and buried in a tomb, so can Jesus.”
What does this prove??? Nothing. I never said that Jesus was NOT buried in a rock tomb. I simply said I doubted that he was. Is it possible that Jesus was buried in a rock tomb? Yes! Is it possible that Jesus was buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s rock tomb? Yes! Is it possible that women were the first witnesses to this empty tomb? Yes! Is it possible that this empty tomb was empty because the ancient Canaanite god Yahweh reanimated the dead body of Jesus and magically transported him out of his sealed tomb? Yes!
Is it probable that this happened? Hell no!
That is the issue! Probability. The Christian fantastical, supernatural claims are just not probable. They are very, very, very improbable. There are too many much more probable, natural explanations to explain the early Christian belief in the Resurrection of Jesus.
For readers who would like to read a NT scholar’s view on this issue; a scholar who like me doubts the historicity of Joseph of Arimathea and his rock tomb; here is a link to a series of posts by Bart Ehrman:
“The Pauline epistles still record that Jesus had a burial, and then the body of Jesus disappeared from the location of the burial.”
You keep trying, but keep failing.
Paul says only that Jesus “was buried”. That means he that was put into the earth, in some fashion, and covered over. Whether his body was put into the earth alone or into the earth with other bodies is irrelevant. For instance, if Jesus’ body had been buried in Arimathea’s tomb along with the bodies of the two thieves would you deny that he had been buried just because two other bodies were present? Of course not.
And there is no where in the epistles of Paul where he talks about an empty grave of Jesus of that the body of Jesus disappeared from a grave. In fact, there are a good many scholars who believe that Paul believed in a resurrection of a spiritual body, not a physical body, therefore to Paul, the grave of Jesus would have still have contained his physical remains. Scholar Gregory Riley wrote an excellent book on this issue. I reviewed it here:
You said: “The Gospels clearly record Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus in a tomb, and we’ve seen countless features of the Resurrection narrative involving the empty tomb that simply would not have been invented by a fictitious writer.”
“Simply could not have been invented by a fictitious writer.” Please present ONE feature of the Empty Tomb story which could not have been invented. I’d LOVE to see it.
You said: “We have yet to see a counter-explanation for the facts that isn’t completely contradicted by the data.”
What facts????? The “facts” as you call them are exactly what are in dispute! The only facts that everyone (except mythicists) will agree to are that Jesus existed; was a first century apocalyptic Jewish preacher; he got on the wrong side of the Jewish authorities; they accused him of claiming to be the King of the Jews and turned him over to the Romans who crucified him for treason against Rome; shortly thereafter some of his followers came to believe that he had been resurrected from the dead. That’s it. All the rest IS disputed.
You said: “You go on to invoke an argument from silence, basically saying “Paul didn’t say it himself, which is super dooper odd because he should’ve surely said it!” — which is entirely false. Paul’s sermons all stem based on this: That Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.”
Paul’s silence is DEAFENING!!!
Why do you, SC, goes to such extreme lengths to prove the historicity of the Empty Tomb as evidence for the Resurrection, the cornerstone evidence for Christianity, but Paul NEVER, EVER mentions this issue? I think Christians and NT scholars who believe in the historicity of the Empty Tomb of Jesus should think long and hard about that. Why is Paul silent about the Empty Rock Tomb of Arimathea?
And why do 75% of NT scholars believe in the Empty Tomb? Based on what evidence? Let’s see what this scholarly opinion is based upon.
You said: “As for Mark, the historical data has already established that Mark was the interpreter of Peter, Peter being Jesus’ disciple.”
Wrong!!! I hope you have some good evidence to back this up, my friend, because I have studied this issue in detail, including reading Richard Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”, reviewing his evidence for this claim here on this blog, chapter by chapter. The Christian evidence for this claim is based on nothing more than Papias’ repitition of third and fourth hand rumor and silly claims of literary clues hidden in the Gospel of Mark such as the “inclusio”. For Pete’s sake, was the author writing the Gospel of Mark as a tool of evangelization or to win a damn Pulitzer.
“What I find most annoying about your replies to me is that you seem almost impervious to evidence, it doesn’t phase you AT ALL! I can debunk you ten thousand times but all you’ll do is respond to me with the exact same assertion, presented in the exact same way. Do you even read my responses?
My challenge to you will be he following for your next reply:
1) Show that your hypothesis doesn’t blatantly contradict Paul
2) Show that the evidence against the account of Mark is greater than the evidence for the account of Mark
Of course, you’ll be able to do neither, just like the 25% of scholars who still haven’t gotten the memo of the empty tomb fact as of yet.”
What evidence have you given??? You have stated that I should believe the events presented in the Gospels are historically accurate because the Gospels say they were. This is not evidence, it is poor logic. Present actual evidence and I will deal with it.
I believe that as long as Jesus’ body was buried in the ground, in some fashion, this is perfectly compatible with the teachings of Paul. You have not proven that placing multiple bodies in one grave, and covering that grave with dirt, is not a burial. The onus is on you to do so.
I cannot prove that the Empty Tomb is not historical, but neither can you prove that it is historical. It is a matter of probability. Accepting Habermas’s study as accurate, 75% of experts believe it is historical. 75% does not establish it as a “fact”. It is simply a majority held position. I would bet that over 95% of experts believe in the other positions I listed above, such as the age of the universe, evolution, the origin of species, the non-historicity of the Exodus and the world-wide flood. Yet you deny some (all?) of these positions. So don’t get so exasperated with me. My position regarding the Empty Tomb is a well-respected, minority position. Your position on the other issues is FRINGE.
” I wonder when you’re just going to abandon your obvious presuppositions that are controlling your conclusions and just admit that the evidence is on the side of the Christians in this case. Considering the historicity of the empty tomb is itself evidence for the resurrection, which means that we have REAL evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, a miracle, you should just convert to Christianity as you’re playing an enormous gamble with your soul by denying it.”
There are MANY, much more probable explanations for an empty tomb other than a once in history resurrection. Yes, an Empty Tomb is helpful to your case, but not much.
“God told His children that He gave evidence for all of humanity for His miracles by raising Jesus from the dead. And that’s exactly what the evidence says. The empty tomb is real. Why don’t you just throw all your bets into the only evidence-based position in town? Jesus is knocking on the door.”
I find it hard to believe that if there is a Creator who designed the universe he/she/they/it would design such a disorganized, sloppy plan of eternal salvation. I think the Jewish and Christians religions are entirely man made concoctions. The very idea that billions of humans have been condemned to eternal suffering all because our ancient ancestors ate some of Yahweh’s forbidden fruit is just downright stupid. And then of course there are the talking snakes and donkeys, the world wide flood that geologists have proven never happened, a mass Exodus of Hebrews from Egypt that archeologists tell us never happened, etc., etc.
It’s all just an ancient tall tale friend, including the reanimation of the dead corpse of a first century Jewish preacher.
Keep reading, friend. Keep an open mind. The truth will set you free.
Regarding the use of women as eyewitnesses, consider this: Maybe the author used women in his story for the very reason that he knew no one in the first century would call them to court to testify regarding his (invented/fake) story of the Empty Tomb. If he had used male eyewitnesses, they could be forced to testify in court, exposing his story as false.
Just one of many possible explanations for why we should not take this ancient supernatural tall tale seriously.
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The greatest event to ever occur on the face of the planet…and everyone forgot the location until the fourth century.
Give me a break.
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Ehrman does not admit that – he claims the opposite. Watch and see..
Skip to 54:10
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Ehrman doesn’t admit the opposite at 54:10. He simply says the majority of historians disagree with the resurrection — without any substantiation. Kremer also writes ““By far most exegetes hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements concerning the empty tomb.” Soo … No.
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Hey, Gary! Old SC is such a sweetheart, isn’t he!
Gary, above you wrote: You are using the Gospels to prove the Gospels when it is the reliability of the Gospels that are in question.
That’s the tactic that’s always used and for some reason, “they” just don’t seem to “get it.”
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Yes, I know. I think that many of them believe that the four Gospels are four independent sources and therefore four independent pieces of evidence for any claim made in the Gospels. However, those that have studied the issue know that they are not. Even many conservative scholars will admit that the authors of Luke and Matthew borrowed heavily from the Gospel of Mark, the first gospel written. And although the Gospel of John tells it’s own version of the Jesus Story, it was written so many years after the first Gospel, Mark, it is very probable that the author of John was familiar with “Mark’s” core story and simply used this Markan core story as the framework for his story, adapting it as needed for his theological needs. Therefore the Empty Tomb could very well have originated with the author of Mark. From the evidence we have, no Christian prior to the writing of the Gospel of Mark had ever heard of Joseph of Arimathea or his Empty Rock Tomb.
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A clear and nonsensical review of an outstanding research paper. It should immediately raise eyebrows when the people critiquing Habermas’s study are not actual other scholars in the field, but… Blog posters. The fact that actual scholars have no issue with the study (but have in fact cited it countless times) and it is only internet bloggers who seem to think they have a knockdown response is concerning. To begin with, I’ll name several obvious problems with this rather strange ‘review’.
1. “not peer-reviewed”
The study was of course peer-reviewed and published to the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus (Brill), a major international journal based on historical-academic discussion on the life of Jesus and relevant sources. It has also been cited numerous times since its publication.
2. “most surveyed papers were theologians and philosophers, not historians”
This was pulled out of thin air, of course. Nowhere does the study indicate that the majority of scholarly papers were written by theologians. In fact, since theologians focus mostly on theology, not history, it almost seems axiomatic to me that by definition most papers must have been written by historians. You say that they should have been “Roman” or “ancient near eastern” historians — this is a confused statement because most NT scholars *are* specialized in these fields. Not only that, but if someone publishes a historical paper to a historical journal, it’s irrelevant whether or not they are a theologian or philosopher. William Lane Craig, who is first and foremost a philosopher and theologian, is one of the most important modern historians in this field and has made invaluable contributions. Why would the opinions of such a major scholar like Craig get ignored? This is a blatantly ridiculous claim. Not only that, but you’d actually be surprised just how critical many theologians are of the historicity of the Bible.
3. “Paul was psychotic” — “the women saw a man far in the distance and thought they were seeing Jesus”
Both obviously insane statements. Paul was a highly educated Jew who composed many works in his lifetime, outright eliminating the possibility of him somehow being pyschotic. The claim that some women saw a man in the distance and *actually believed they were seeing Jesus* to explain the appearance is so ridiculous that it’s almost phenomenal that someone has actually figured out a way to believe it. Seriously, have these women never seen a human being before in their lives? According to our friend Gary, it’s actually possible for a full group of women to have seen some random dude in the distance and come to the conclusion that Jesus actually rose from the dead.
Gary goes on to make an absurd claim, that the ‘women’ were invented. But, by definition, they probably *weren’t* invented precisely because they are women, the last source to be invented for the initial eyewitnesses of the Resurrection would be women, because the testimony of women were considered invalid to a certain extent in the Second Temple Period.
Many other problems, but the level of nonsense of these objections show exactly why it is online bloggers who take issue with Habermas’s study, not professional scholars of any field.
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“This is not peer-reviewed scholarship:
Habermas admitted in 2012, “Most of this material is unpublished.” With his data secret, his conclusions are uncheckable. Carrier says that Habermas has denied repeated requests to review his data. Habermas cites the ever-growing list of articles in his database (3400 at last count), but what does the 75% refer to? Is it 75% of the database articles? If so, how does he deal with multiple articles from one author? Or is it 75% of authors? If so, are professors and street preachers weighed the same? If it’s 75% of scholars, are experts in the fields of theology and philosophy given equal weight with experts in history? What journals and other sources does he search. Habermas assures us that he is careful to include scholars both friendly and unfriendly to the resurrection idea, but how do we know without seeing the data?”
Recommendation to Habermas:
Habermas says about his database, “The result of all these years of study is a private manuscript of more than 600 pages.” That’s an impressive project, and yet his argument crumbles under scrutiny. This frequently-cited database is no proxy for a simple poll. A poll would have been far less work, and it actually would’ve provided useful information—just not the information that Habermas would like to see.
If Christ has not been raised,
our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
— 1 Corinthians 15:14
Above excerpts are from this fantastic article which rebuts all “Scientific Christian’s” assertions, assumptions, and conjecture: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/02/scholarly-consensus-for-the-jesus-resurrection/
To begin with once more, we must reiterate the important point. Why is it that Habermas’s critics are online bloggers, not actual scholars in the field?
As for the points, once again, It seems as if Habermas’s 600-page database for 75% of scholars accepting the resurrection is unpublished, but as we’ve seen before, this unpublished database is much different from the one we’re discussing, and that is that 75% of scholars accept an argument in favor of the historicity of the empty tomb. The patheos blog you cite doesn’t help here, either.
We’ve already seen the conclusions of Habermas have been published into an international academic peer-reviewed journal, the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus.
I recall you e-mailed Habermas once about these 1,400 publications, and he responded by referring you to a source where you can find ‘hundreds’ of these publications. Did you miss that? Secondly, if Habermas’s findings of about a 3:1 ratio in favor of the empty tomb is wrong, 1) where are the scholars saying this, and more importantly, 2) where are the other studies conducted by people aside from Habermas that have found different or significantly different results?
“A poll would have been far less work, and it actually would’ve provided useful information—just not the information that Habermas would like to see.”
Habermas’s study obviously was not a poll, it was an in-depth survey into the literature and the arguments being made. Please read the study for yourself;
Onwards to the women. It seems you have done an excellent job in selectively choosing the publications that side with you, albeit not in the best way. In my previous comment, I was able to easily raze off the fantastical idea of women seeing a man in the distance, and coming to the conclusion that Jesus literally rose from the dead.
In a weird sort of way, you basically admit that women were not considered reliable witnesses — you properly note (or quote someone who notes) that there are some rare recorded instances where a women was allowed to be a witness to some event. However, this properly shows that these were the exception, not the rule, and the norm in almost all the time was that they were un-allowed to serve as a witness. Secondly, did Mark invent the empty tomb? Hard to consider, since an empty tomb is already implied in the epistles of Paul, where Jesus is buried and then raised, necessarily leaving behind a tomb. Nonetheless, the explanation given is “not bad”, at least an improvement from “they saw wind and thus thought Jesus wasn’t dead anymore”. I’ll read up on these views some more, but this will at least be a frustrating task since you gave no sources.
“Christians, of course, hold Paul in reverential awe, as he is the true founder of the Christian religion (Jesus remained, to his death, a devout Jew.) However, any guy who claims to have spoken to a talking bright light on a desert highway, and, to have maybe, possibly taken an intergalactic space voyage to a “third heaven” where he received secret transmissions that he was not allowed to disclose with other humanoids…is NOT a man dealing with a full deck!”
No Christian in the world considered Paul the ‘founder’ of Christianity, in fact that is at best a funny Islamic apologetic move to try to explain away the origins of Christianity if Jesus was supposed to have been an Islamic prophet. Jesus of course, founded Christianity — Christianity is specifically the view that Jesus was the messiah, died for our sins and rose from the dead. Derives right from Jesus, and these views were present before Paul converted to Christianity anyways.
Paul also never claims to have visited the ‘third heaven’. According to Paul, a man he knew told him that he had visited the ‘third heaven’ (God’s kingdom or something, definitely not space) in 2 Corinthians 12:2. A man Paul knew, not Paul himself. And as I noted earlier, it is virtually impossible for Paul to be mental. Paul was a very highly educated Jew, may have even been a wealthy man before his conversion to Christianity, and wrote many highly eloquent Christian works towards the end of his life. Many (many many) medical papers have been published on the Christian works and Christians themselves, but I’m familiar with simply not a single existing one that makes Paul out to be delusional or mental. Indeed, if Paul was so mental, why do we have only a single supposed event in his lifetime where he went crazy, being the very appearance of Jesus? These nonsensical ideas are hard to take seriously to say the very least.
Paul admits that he was a man of visions. Someone today who considers himself to be a “man of visions” is considered by medical professionals to be delusional = mentally ill.
“Paul admits that he was a man of visions. Someone today who considers himself to be a “man of visions” is considered by medical professionals to be delusional = mentally ill.”
I cannot find the phrase ‘man of visions’ being used to describe Paul anywhere in his epistles or Acts (or anywhere else, at that, besides your comment). I looked it up, and I am aware of only 1 case in the entire NT where Paul was supposed to have had a vision — Acts 16:9. The appearance of Jesus was not a vision, it seems to have been physical. Apparently, the people travelling with Paul saw a “bright light” (but Jesus specifically made Himself visible to Paul), and Paul actually became blind for three days thereafter the appearance. So, this was not a vision, there was at least something physical going on.
If the author of the Book of Acts is correct, Paul very clearly describes his experience on the Damascus Road as a “heavenly vision”. You are of course free to call it whatever you wish, but for Paul, it was a “vision”. Paul’s trip to the third heaven was also a vision, unless you believe that intergalactic space travel was possible in the first century:
2 Corinthians 12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Paul’s Visions and Revelations
12 It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows.
And then there is this vision:
During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Acts 16:9
Then there is this statement from Paul:
“For I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[d] that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” —Paul of Tarsus, Letter to the Galatians, chapter 1, verses 11 and 12
Any one who believes that he receives private communications from a dead person is NOT, I repeat, NOT, dealing with a full deck.
“Tick tock tick tock tick tock”
Calm down buddy, I went offline since my last reply to you.
“If the author of the Book of Acts is correct, Paul very clearly describes his experience on the Damascus Road as a “heavenly vision”. You are of course free to call it whatever you wish, but for Paul, it was a “vision”. Paul’s trip to the third heaven was also a vision, unless you believe that intergalactic space travel was possible in the first century:”
Funnily enough, I explained earlier that Paul did not visit the third heaven, in fact as the very biblical quotation you post in your comment shows, Paul did not get caught up in the third heaven, a man that Paul knows said that this happened about himself. Again, I’m going to paste the very verses straight out of your response:
“12 It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows.”
I also already noted Acts 16:9 (but you felt the need to re-quote it), and Galatians 1:11-12 refers to the appearance back from Acts 9, and as we’ve seen, that one was physical, not a heavenly vision. I failed to ever find a single time where Paul calls this appearance of Jesus a “heavenly vision”, although Acts 9 does say Paul had a vision of a man named Ananias who was to meet him (or something). So, we can clearly see here that the appearance of Jesus to Paul was a physical thing. And, we’ve already seen the evidence dictates Paul was a highly educated Jew, very highly unlikely to have been someone delusional (as such people did not often survive in ancient societies).
You are delusional, SC.
“You are delusional, SC”
The response of a defeated argument.
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Your problem, SC, is that you reject expert opinion, and instead, set yourself up as the highest authority on all issues. It is therefore impossible to have a rational discussion with you. If you reject expert opinion, all discussions with you will result in a stalemate: my non-expert opinion against your non-expert opinion. It is therefore wasted effort on both our parts.
LOL! Whose ‘expert opinion’ am I rejecting?
In reality, all my arguments come from ‘experts’ — if it wasn’t for the many books, papers and scholars I’ve read on until now, I’d have nothing to confront you with. However, I have read much of that, and even though I am not a professional historian myself, the skills I’ve attained have allowed me to publish an article on the worlds most widely read online historical encyclopedia (see ancient.eu).
So, even though neither of us have PhD’s, we can exchange meaningful information. My discussions with you thus far have been very useful. I know I’ve made you discard many of your original beliefs and arguments, and you have done the same for me once that I recall.
I not only bring objections to your blog to shape myself, but you as well. Indeed, I read through your ‘about’ page and found that you’ve been all around the spectrum of ‘denominations’ in Christianity. Baptist, Protestant, Lutheran, etc. However, I have noticed this problem earlier and have come to this conclusion: I am a Christian and do not associate with any denomination. The word ‘Christian’ appears in the Bible three times, but ‘Catholic’, ‘Protestant’, ‘Baptist’ never does. Thus, aligning your religious ideologies with mine will benefit us both, both as intellectuals and as pursuers of the truth of this world.
Ok. How about this? Can we agree to accept all expert consensus positions as fact and all majority expert opinions as probable fact, whether the subject is cosmology, physics, biology, archeology, or New Testament Studies?
1. If you did this, you’d have to delete half your blog
2. Err… Nope.
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1. Give me one example.
2. I told you so.
1. One example of a minority opinion in your posts? How about a complete conspiracy theory, LOL:
Seriously, Ludemann sometimes has the most creative ways of explaining things away. Why would Paul suddenly convert to a religion he thought was against God and hated? This time, Paul was “really just a secret Christian all along!” Problem solved! LOL! I don’t know of a single scholar who takes this weirdness seriously besides Ludemann himself. Ludemann failed to convince his fellow scholars that the disciples had a hallucination, so it looks like he’s not only going to sit on the edge of the cliff this time, he’s going to jump it!
2. You never “told me so”, actually. Why on Earth would I simply ‘accept’ the majority position without any research for myself? That sounds a bit dogmatic. It’s perfectly fine to hold some minority views, as long as you have good data to back up your claims.
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What does your first statement have to do with my original proposal to you:
“Can we agree to accept all expert consensus positions as fact and all majority expert opinions as probable fact, whether the subject is cosmology, physics, biology, archeology, or New Testament Studies?”
I never stated that it is the consensus of scholars that Paul was a secret Christian prior to Damascus. So why are you bringing this up?
Ok, so let’s see if we can limit my proposal to something we both can agree on: Can we agree to accept as probable fact any claim upon which the overwhelming majority (greater than approximately 90%) of experts in the relevant field believe to be true?
“I never stated that it is the consensus of scholars that Paul was a secret Christian prior to Damascus. So why are you bringing this up?”
You said that you want us both to accept all majority of opinions of scholarships. I noted that if you did such a thing, it would force you to basically delete half your blog. You asked me to give one example of a post you’d have to delete if we did such a thing. I gave you one such example: The idea that Paul was actually a Christian all along when he was trying to strangle all the other Christians.
Anyways, I will repeat from before. It is perfectly okay to have *any* non-majority position, as long as you can substantiate it with good, valuable evidence.
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You have entirely missed (or dodged) my point. That is why debating with you is a waste of time.
SC, you are aware, I’m sure, the detailed description of Paul’s “vision” was written by the writer of Acts, not Paul himself. Paul says very little about his “experience.” (I’m sure you know the verses.) Doesn’t that seem at least a little bit strange to you? I would think most people would want to share such an experience … especially those you wanted to “convert.”
Further, some bible historians believe Paul’s mystic experience took place approximately three years after Jesus had died and made his heavenly ascent (some Bible historians place it as late as six years). The question that keeps coming up for me is why did Jesus wait so long to pay Paul a visit? Surely if Paul was, as Ananias had indicated, “chosen by God to know his will” (Acts 22:14), wouldn’t it have been much more efficacious to put him to work right away instead of giving him time to create an uproar in the community?
And more importantly, why did Jesus send Paul to the gentiles when, in the gospel accounts, he clearly indicated the disciples were to go nowhere among the Gentiles?
“SC, you are aware, I’m sure, the detailed description of Paul’s “vision” was written by the writer of Acts, not Paul himself. Paul says very little about his “experience.” (I’m sure you know the verses.) Doesn’t that seem at least a little bit strange to you? I would think most people would want to share such an experience … especially those you wanted to “convert.””
The author of Acts is in fact not Paul, but the majority if not vast majority of scholars do believe that the author of Acts and Paul traveled together. This is somewhat obvious if you’ve read Acts yourself.
“Further, some bible historians believe Paul’s mystic experience took place approximately three years after Jesus had died and made his heavenly ascent (some Bible historians place it as late as six years). The question that keeps coming up for me is why did Jesus wait so long to pay Paul a visit?”
This is a non-question. Why didn’t the Lord appear after 1 year? Why not 12 years? Why not exactly 837 days? No one on planet Earth knows why. The timing seemed to be good enough, though, for Paul to become one of the most influential humans in all history.
“And more importantly, why did Jesus send Paul to the gentiles when, in the gospel accounts, he clearly indicated the disciples were to go nowhere among the Gentiles?”
Many problems here. One, where did Jesus say the disciples couldn’t be amongst the gentiles? If I’m not mistaken, Jesus Himself preached amongst gentiles. We need to start off with you providing evidence for your claims.
“And more importantly, why did Jesus send Paul to the gentiles when, in the gospel accounts, he clearly indicated the disciples were to go nowhere among the Gentiles?”
this is what is strange here. according to the jews, the gentiles are to come to the jews to learn about god, not that the jews go to the gentiles.
In Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 we see a version of the future where gentiles are going to Jerusalem to find out more about God which is contrary to Christian scriptures about the future which depicts Jesus killing and condemning all unbelievers when he comes back.
Gary , i quote this from vridar, my questions are below
Acts 2:14–40 — Peter’s Pentecost Sermon
Audience: Jewish crowd at Pentecost.
Scripture References: Joel 2:28-32; Psalm 16:8-11; Psalm 110:1
Sayings of Jesus: None.
Deeds of Jesus: Unspecified miracles and wonders. Was crucified, resurrected, exalted.
Facts about Jesus: From Nazareth.
Acts 3:12–26 — Peter at the Temple
Audience: Jewish crowd, witnesses to healing.
Scripture References: Deut. 18:15,18,19; Gen. 22:18; 26:4
Sayings of Jesus: None.
Deeds of Jesus: Killed by Pilate at their urging, raised from the dead, received into heaven.
Facts about Jesus: God’s servant and “author of life.”
Acts 4:5-12 — Peter before the Sanhedrin
Audience: Rulers, elders, and teachers of the law.
Scripture References: Psalm 118:22
Sayings of Jesus: None.
Deeds of Jesus: Crucified, raised. Ultimately responsible for healing lame man at Temple.
Facts about Jesus: Only path to salvation.
Acts 7 — Stephen’s Speech
Audience: A Jewish mob about to stone him.
Scripture References: Gen. 12:1, 15:13,14; Exodus 1:8, 2:14, 3:6, 3:5,7,8,10, 32:1; Deut. 18:15; Amos 5:25-27; Isaiah 66:1,2
Sayings of Jesus: None
Deeds of Jesus: None
Facts about Jesus: The people in the mob betrayed and murdered him.
Acts 10:28–47 — Peter on Gentile Inclusion
Scripture References: None.
Sayings of Jesus: None.
Deeds of Jesus: Baptized by John, did good deeds, healed the sick, cast out demons, hanged on a tree, was resurrected, ate with and taught disciples after resurrection.
Facts about Jesus: Judge of living and dead. Sole source of salvation.
Acts 11:4-18 — Peter Tells What Happened at Joppa
Audience: Jerusalem Church.
Scripture References: None.
Sayings of Jesus: “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Oddly, a saying that was attributed to John the Baptist in the gospels.)
Deeds of Jesus: None.
Facts about Jesus: None.
Acts 13:16-41 — Paul at the Synagogue in Antioch
Audience: Men of Israel and God-fearers.
Scripture References: Psalm 2:7, 16:10; Isaiah 55:3; Hab. 1:5
Sayings of Jesus: None. (However, he quotes John the Baptist: “What do you suppose that I am? I am not He. But behold, one is coming after me the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.”)
Deeds of Jesus: Betrayed to Pilate, killed on a cross, laid in a tomb, raised.
Facts about Jesus: Through him sins are forgiven.
Acts 15:13-21 — The Judgment of James (Which Laws Apply to Gentiles?)
Audience: “Brothers” (gathered believers in Jerusalem).
Scripture References: Amos 9:11,12
Sayings of Jesus: None.
Deeds of Jesus: None.
Facts about Jesus: None.
Acts 16:30-32 — Paul and Silas Convert a Prison Guard
Audience: The guard.
Scripture References: None.
Sayings of Jesus: “And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.” (It is not altogether clear what this means. The sayings of Jesus? The scriptures?)
Deeds of Jesus: None.
Facts about Jesus: Saves from sin.
Acts 17:22–34 — Paul on Mars Hill
Audience: Athenian gentiles.
Scripture References: None, but he does quote two philosophers.
Sayings of Jesus: None.
Deeds of Jesus: None.
Facts about Jesus: “He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Paul never mentions the name of Jesus, let alone anything he said or did. This is a “God-centric” sermon.
Acts 20:17–35 — Paul to Ephesian Elders
Audience: Christians (elders of the church).
Scripture References: None.
Sayings of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (A saying found nowhere else in the NT.)
Deeds of Jesus: None
Facts about Jesus: The church was “bought” with his blood.
Acts 22:1–21 — Paul to Jerusalem Crowd
Audience: Hostile Jews.
Scripture References: None.
Sayings of Jesus: A handful of utterances from the resurrected Jesus, talking directly to Paul (Saul).
Deeds of Jesus: None.
Facts about Jesus: Knocked Paul down, talked to him, sent him to the Gentiles.
Acts 26:1-29 — Paul before Agrippa and Festus
Audience: King Herod Agrippa II, his wife, Bernice, and Porcius Festus, procurator of Judea.
Scripture References: None.
Sayings of Jesus: A handful of utterances from the resurrected Jesus, talking directly to Paul (Saul).
Deeds of Jesus: None.
Facts about Jesus: Suffered and died. Resurrected from the dead.
in the speeches quoted , is it true that there is absolutely no reference to what a post resurrected jesus looked like ? for example, is any of the speeches, can one find anything about jesus having wounds or eating fish ?
There is no description of Jesus ANYWHERE in the Gospels or Acts, either before his death or in his alleged appearances. For all we know Jesus was a short, overweight, ugly, dark pigmented man, not the tall, blue-eyed handsome European we see in the paintings.
And what about “Scientific Christian’s” statement about the alleged women at the alleged Empty Tomb?:
“Apologetic efforts to defend the historicity of the women at the tomb primarily stress how women in 1st century CE Palestine were not considered reliable courtroom witnesses, and accordingly the author of Mark would not have invented this story because of the criterion of embarrassment. But there are many problems with this argument. For starters, this claim is factually wrong. Jeffery Lowder (pgs. 283-285) has shown in The Empty Tomb that women were allowed to serve as witnesses in court on rare occasions. But furthermore, the women are not presented as courtroom witnesses! We are not talking about a Palestinian legal document, but a Hellenistic prose novel influenced by previous Hellenistic literary motifs. Women being associated with burial rites was a common tradition in previous Greek literature. Anyone who has read Sophocles’ Antigone can see this easily. And likewise in Mark there are plausible literary reasons for women going to care for Jesus’ body.
But furthermore, if one really wants to believe that the women would be considered unreliable witnesses, and thus could not have been invented, part of their role in Mark is actually as unreliable witnesses! What happens at the original ending of Mark? The women run away and don’t tell anybody because they are too afraid. Why have this bizarre ending to the Gospel? Bart Ehrman (“The Women and the Empty Tomb”) has suggested that the reason why the women are specifically said to have told nobody about the empty tomb is because it would be a perfect explanation for why Mark’s readers had not heard the story before. If there really was no such tradition of an empty tomb prior to Mark, and the author invented the story for literary/theological purposes, how could he explain to his audience why they had never heard the story before? Because the women, unreliable witnesses that they were, ran away in fear and told no one! Hence why the story was just now being heard.
While it may be difficult to pin down the exact motive for why the author of Mark would specifically choose Mary the mother of James, Mardy Magdalene, and Salome as the three women who find Jesus’ empty tomb, there are nevertheless multiple possibilities for how this scene could be invented. For example, following from the previous Homeric motif of a father figure requesting a son’s burial, MacDonald (pgs. 154-161) has argued in his chapter “Rescued Corpses” that the women in Mark who find the tomb could plausibly be designed to parallel the women who anoint Hector’s body in Iliad 24. In the Iliad, Hecuba (Hector’s mother), Andromache (Hector’s wife), and Helen (promiscuous beauty) care for his body. In Mark, Mary the mother of James, Mary Magdalene (Jesus’ most intimate female disciple), and Salome (known for promiscuity) go to anoint Jesus’ body. Again, historical coincidence or yet another literary motif like the several above?”
Above excerpt from: https://celsus.blog/2013/06/29/knocking-out-the-pillars-of-the-minimal-facts-apologetic/
It has always baffled me that, if the women did not tell anybody, then unless one of them wrote the gospel of Mark it is obviously a work of fiction.
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And what about Paul/Saul of Tarsus?
Christians, of course, hold Paul in reverential awe, as he is the true founder of the Christian religion (Jesus remained, to his death, a devout Jew.) However, any guy who claims to have spoken to a talking bright light on a desert highway, and, to have maybe, possibly taken an intergalactic space voyage to a “third heaven” where he received secret transmissions that he was not allowed to disclose with other humanoids…is NOT a man dealing with a full deck!
Paul needed MEDICATION!
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And remember the cool wind in his hair and the warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air.
I note SC is back! Yippee.
Why is he not aware that Acts is a work of fiction?
And this makes all those scholars he thinks believe in the veracity of Acts to be complete nobs … just like him, in fact. I presume he likely means evangelical Christian scholars, not genuine biblical scholars
is there possibility the author of acts did not know the stories in the gospels ?
9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
compare to mark
17After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)
15Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
16“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
how did peter forget that it was he who asked jesus to explain the parable ? why would he even NEED a vision? why not say, “but jesus told me that…”
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Very good question.
I took several months to track down the many scores of books and articles I found mentioned in some of Habermas’ books, in regards to empty tomb, post mortem Jesus appearances, resurrection, etc., and checked out a ton of them via interlibrary loan on and off for about 6 months. Almost every reference I checked out, that Habermas mentioned, was NOT really as Habermas had claimed. He’s either a bold face liar, or he’s just so damn blinded by his need to believe, that he is simply delusional and cannot represent other scholars’ works in a fair and honest way. He is NOT a trustworthy “scholar” (and I hesitate to even slander the term by using it in conjunction with him). He’s simply an apologist.
Bart Ehrman says that critical scholars do not take Habermas’ work seriously. You have probably discovered the reason why.
It never ceases to amaze me how believers just swallow hook line and sinker, the sorts of claims made by fat bloated lying Habermas, without even critically examining his claims, and then they argue to the hills their case, by standing on those unchecked claims of his.
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David, after investing so much time and effort into tracking down Habermas’s citations, and after finding that he misrepresents almost all of them, I hope you have published or posted online somewhere some specific examples of those misrepresentations. This would be very helpful to those of us who want to critically yet fairly evaluate his arguments.
I am a South Korean. Please understand that I am writing a comment through a translator (I worship a translator). I want to ask Gary. I agree with most of Gary’s claims. The claim that Paul’s letter implies an empty grave is only a Christian wish. In the days of Paul, there was only a resurrection faith, and in Mark’s day there was an empty grave and a physical resurrection tradition. Mark obviously thought that people did not know the empty grave case and wrote the gospel. The reason the witness is a woman is his excuse. The “woman possessions” strategy that Christians always use to defend an empty grave is also valid here (because a woman is a man’s slave). This is what I want to ask. The Internet community in South Korea is only a laugh that nobody is seriously dealing with, claiming that archaeological evidence for floods or Old Testament events has been found. Why are you dealing seriously? Is it a characteristic of Internet culture in your country? Does the argument with the person claiming that the Flood story is true is meaningful? I am honestly impressed. There is no one like Gary on the South Korean Internet. Still, in a space that historically criticizes the Gospels, the actual author of the Gospel thinks it is a waste of time to talk to people who do not agree with the most basic fact that they are not Marc, Matthew, Luke, or John
Gary Habermas is a FRAUD. His claims are WILDLY INFLATED. I have spent several years, sporadically tracking down dozens and dozens of his references, to check them out for MYSELF. Nearly EVERYONE of them, he had misconstrued or taken out of context. I had once trusted him, but after doing so, I now see him for what he is: At best he is unable to deal honestly with the sources as he is blinded by his need for his faith, at worst he is simply deliberately peddling a con to make money and a name for himself. Either way, if one takes the time to track down his references and the way he (mis) uses them, and if one checks with the WIDER WORLD OF SCHOLARSHIP BEYOND APOLOGISTS………. one discovers that the claims of Habermas (and similar apologists) ARE BUNK.
Here are a few TRUSTWORTHY sources:
– The New Testament: An Introduction to Biblical Scholarship by Arthur Bellinzoni
– The New Testament: A Critical INtroduction by Edwin Freed
– The Old Testament: An Introduction to Biblical Scholarship by Arthur Bellinzoni
– An INtroduction to The Hebrew Bible by John J. Collins
– The Biblical World Volume 1 & 2 edited by John Barton
After 20 years of searching, studying and inquiring, I have to admit, the resurrection of jesus did NOT literally happen. It was a THEOLOGICAL conviction of the earliest Jesus as the christ cultists………. ( he was vindicated in the afterlife ), and then it picked up steam and morphed into the tales we find in the gospels………