Jewish Rabbi Identifies Big Holes in the Resurrection Story

In the video below, Rabbi Michael Skobac of Jews for Judaism gives a fascinating Jewish insight into the many discrepancies in the central story of Christianity:  the alleged Resurrection of Jesus, the rabbi from Nazareth.

Here are just four of them:

1. If Jesus had truly appeared to his followers in a flesh and bones body, why didn’t early Christians memorialize this site?  They memorialized practically every other site from the Gospel stories, including the location of his baptism, his birth, and some would allege, his grave.  So why not the site of Jesus’ first post-resurrection appearance or of any of his alleged appearances?  Why is there no shrine at any of these locations?  Answer:  These appearances were visionary!  Only in later decades did the vision take on a flesh and bones body.

2.  If Peter and James had told Paul about the appearance to them of a flesh and bones Jesus, why does Paul not record this fact anywhere in his writings?  Instead, Paul infers in First Corinthians chapter 15 that all the appearances were similar to his experience:  a vision.

3.  When Jesus took three of the disciples up on the Mount of Transfiguration, and they “saw” Moses and Elijah, had these ancient prophets been resurrected?  Did they have bodies of flesh and bones?  If Christians say that they had flesh and bones bodies, what happened to these bodies?  Did they hang out in Judea for a few years and then die again?  Of course not.  So when Paul says that he “saw” the Christ, it could have been the very same type of “seeing” that Matthew, James, and John experienced when they “saw” Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration?  It was a visionary experience!  And people have been having visions of Jesus and other saints appearing to them and talking to them for the last two thousand years!

4.  When the Jewish authorities asked Jesus for a sign to prove his claim as the messiah, he responded:  “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”   In other words, just as Jonah was in the belly of a fish for three days, so Jesus would be in the belly of the earth…and would then rise from the dead and prove to the Jewish authorities his true identity and mission from God!  But Jesus never appeared to the Sanhedrin after his resurrection.  He never showed up in the Temple and said, “Hey guys, here I am, just as I promised!”.  No, instead he (allegedly) only appeared to his followers.  This is no different than Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism.  If Smith had really wanted to prove that an angel had give him plates of gold he could have taken them to the Smithsonian or some other museum for confirmation.  But, no, Smith’s confirmation came from members of his family and close friends!  Just like Jesus!

This story is a legend that grew bigger and more exotic with each time it was retold.  It is a myth.

33 thoughts on “Jewish Rabbi Identifies Big Holes in the Resurrection Story

  1. you had this list from the from I disproved every point you just ignored it, if I answer these are going to respond?

    the did memorize and venerate the location of the tomb, they marked it they passed on the knowledge to gentiles when they were kicked out in 135/ that’s how we know to mark the crhch of the Holly seplechur,

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    1. There is no definite proof that any early Christian knew about a location of Jesus’ tomb until the bishop of Jerusalem (Melitis??) mentioned it to Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea in 325 CE in an effort to get him to build a basilica in Jerusalem. Read the article listed in my reading list on this issue.

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        1. Archaeology cannot yet identify with certainty the tomb of Christ, but here is strong evidence supporting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher as the original site. The site does date back to the fourth century when it was shown to Constantine. Bruce attests to the providential support.(FF Bruce, New Testament Documents) . More important confirmation comes from Gaalyah Cornfeld in Archaeology of The Bible Book By Book. (1976). Cornfeld tells us that from early times Christians reverenced the site, but it was desecrated when the Romans put up a statue of one of their gods and temple of Venus over the site,. Jewish-Christians could no longer worship at the site for that reason, but they continued the knowledge of the place, using the temple of Venus to mark where it was, until the time of Constantine when they were able to point him to it as the original site of the resurrection. Constantine put up a basilica over the original shrine, the Anastasis. Excavations by V. Corbo found a gold ring with the representation of the dome of the original shrine Anastasis. This indicates that this site was venerated by Christians in ancient times as the site of the resurrection. (and there is an empty tomb underneither it). (See Archaeology of The Bible: Book by Book, New York: Harper and Row, 1976, 271-2). Corbo’s excavation found the Venus Temple of Venus under the Church of the Holy Sepulcher,

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          1. Please provide specific evidence that ANY Christian mentioned the location of the Empty Tomb of Jesus prior to the bishop of Jerusalem making this claim (which Eusebius seems to have never heard of previously) at the Council of Nicea in 325 CE, after Constantine announced that he would be building basilicas at the most important sites of Christianity in Palestine.

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          2. Excavations by V. Corbo found a gold ring with the representation of the dome of the original shrine Anastasis. This indicates that this site was venerated by Christians in ancient times as the site of the resurrection. (and there is an empty tomb underneither it).

            I do not doubt that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre lies on top of the pagan shrine. What I doubt is that there is any way to prove that the tomb found under the original Greek temple was that of Jesus. The fact that there ALLEGEDLY were no bones or ossuaries in this tomb does not prove that it was the tomb of Jesus. If there had been graffiti in one tomb that said, this is the tomb of Jesus, and we could date this graffiti to the first century CE, that would be good evidence. But we do not have any solid evidence that anyone ever made the claim that such graffiti existed in this tomb. In addition, the tomb found and identified as that of Jesus was not the only tomb found under this temple. Eusebius never tells us what evidence eventually convinced him of the authenticity of the tomb found under the Greek/Roman temple, but if the site of Jesus burial had been common knowledge in Palestine prior to 325 CE, wouldn’t the Bishop of Palestine in Caesarea have known about it??? But it appears he did not. Christians often will then say, why would Eusebius lie? Answer: Many reasons are possible, but political pressure is at the top of my list. Assuming that someone in Antiquity would not have lied is very poor evidence upon which to build a case for historicity.

            The evidence that the tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the Empty Tomb of Jesus is very feeble. It is another case of Christians grasping at straws to hold together their “house of cards” supernatural-based belief system. Additional evidence that demonstrates how truly weak the evidence is for the authenticity of the tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is that it has not convinced the overwhelming majority of Protestant Christians who reject its authenticity and revere another tomb in Jerusalem as the site of Jesus burial.

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        2. The only evidence for the tomb of Jesus being located inside what today’s is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is this:

          1. The passage in Mark which discusses the Empty Tomb has a literary form which MAY indicate that this was an early liturgical formula, evidence that the early Christians did revere the site of Jesus’ burial.
          2. Some researchers believe that there MAY have been graffiti inside the tomb that was dug up under the Greek temple (that is now referred to as the Tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) indicating that it was the tomb of Jesus.
          3. The initial claim by the Bishop of Jerusalem at the Council of Nicea that the burial tomb of Jesus was known to be under the foundation of the temple of the Greek goddess in Jerusalem was met with skepticism by the then Bishop of Palestine, Eusebius. However, when the Emperor’s mother, Helen, came to Jerusalem to inaugurate the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Eusebius had changed his mind regarding the authenticity of this site. We do not know why he changed his mind. Was it evidence or was it political pressure?
          4. A couple of Church Fathers toured the holy sites in Palestine prior to 325 CE. They mention visiting the sites of Jesus baptism and the place of his birth, but NO ONE mentions visiting the site of the burial, or mentioning that the grave was underneath the foundation of the temple to the Greek goddess. No one.

          This information can be found in the article below regarding the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, written by a Roman Catholic scholar, attempting to provide support for the historicity of this site.

          “The Argument for the Holy Sepulchre” (journal article) by scholar Jerome Murphy-O’Connor. Google to find it.

          If you have better evidence, give me a quote from one of your sources. I do not have the time or interest to read every source you, Liam, or ftbond throw at me.

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          1. Please provide specific evidence that ANY Christian mentioned the location of the Empty Tomb of Jesus prior to the bishop of Jerusalem

            I just did the source alluded to document, Cornfeld says it goes to first century,Crobo proved it right thorough excavation.. The legend is that the Romans put a temple to Venus over the tomb of Christ so the Christians could not worship there. The Christians used the temple to mark the site. Years latter they used that to identify the site for Constantine. That’s just a legend but in 1968 Corbo digs down and finds the temple of under the church where everyone says the tomb of Christ is located. That’s a good reason to think that is the spot.

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          2. If you have better evidence, give me a quote from one of your sources. I do not have the time or interest to read every source you, Liam, or ftbond throw at me.

            Excavation is empirical. The temple of Venus was under the church can;t be coincidence

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            1. It is undisputed fact that Constantine ordered that the Temple of Venus be destroyed to dig for the tomb of Jesus due to the claim by the bishop of Jerusalem that Jesus’ tomb was underneath. That issue is not in dispute. The question is: Just because tombs (plural!) were found under the Temple of Venus is that proof that one of them was the tomb of Jesus? Maybe it was a known fact that the temple to Venus had been built on top of a Jewish burial ground and the bishop of Jerusalem used this fact to convince Constantine that one of the tombs found was that of Jesus so that he could get a big, beautiful basilica in his city.

              We just don’t know.

              But again, the best evidence of how poor the evidence for the Holy Sepulchre is, is that most Protestants don’t believe it!

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  2. 2. If Peter and James had told Paul about the appearance to them of a flesh and bones Jesus, why does Paul not record this fact anywhere in his writings? Instead, Paul infers in First Corinthians chapter 15 that all the appearances were similar to his experience: a vision.

    because he didn’t need to ,He was writing to people who had already heard the basics and accepted the faith the matters he wrote them about were more related to their own problems,

    3. When Jesus took three of the disciples up on the Mount of Transfiguration, and they “saw” Moses and Elijah, had these ancient prophets been resurrected? Did they have bodies of flesh and bones? If Christians say that they had flesh and bones bodies, what happened to these bodies? Did they hang out in Judea for a few years and then die again? Of course not. So when Paul says that he “saw” the Christ, it could have been the very same type of “seeing” that Matthew, James, and John experienced when they “saw” Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration? It was a visionary experience! And people have been having visions of Jesus and other saints appearing to them and talking to them for the last two thousand years!

    that does not matter what mode hes aw him in,I* assume Jesus’ body disintegrated (or transmogrified) when he retired back to being the logos,

    4. When the Jewish authorities asked Jesus for a sign to prove his claim as the messiah, he responded: “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” In other words, just as Jonah was in the belly of a fish for three days, so Jesus would be in the belly of the earth…and would then rise from the dead and prove to the Jewish authorities his true identity and mission from God! But Jesus never appeared to the Sanhedrin after his resurrection. He never showed up in the Temple and said, “Hey guys, here I am, just as I promised!”. No, instead he (allegedly) only appeared to his followers. This is no different than Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. If Smith had really wanted to prove that an angel had give him plates of gold he could have taken them to the Smithsonian or some other museum for confirmation. But, no, Smith’s confirmation came from members of his family and close friends! Just like Jesus!

    according to Luke he walked through the streets of Bethany everyone in tow saw him.that was probably the 500

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  3. If I’m not mistaken, veneration of sights was medieval phenomenon. So this Rabbi has to use anachronistic reasoning to mount his argument.

    Christians venerated the risen Lord Jesus. It was about Gospel proclamation, not where His body lay. See the early preaches in Acts.

    This Rabbi also doesn’t seem to understand what his Scriptures teach – bodily resurrection. The only kind of resurrection that any Jewish person in the first century was expecting was a physical one. Again, see Paul at Mar Hill. The Greeks scoff when Paul teaches Resurrection, because they believed that matter was evil, and death was liberation from the evil matter of our physical bodies.
    So when Paul speaks of Jesus being risen in 1 Corinthians 15, he only has that type of a Resurrection in mind.
    The Rabbi is wrong, again.

    You’re wrong too. Joseph Smith: one guy, alone, maybe an angel appeared.
    Jesus: a group of women, 2 disciples on Emmaus Road, groups, groups, groups – even 500 at one time. Paul’s conversion was witnessed by others.
    No room for one person to deceive others, everyone affirming that Jesus had appeared to THEM (not him or her).
    Same point can be made about Muhammed’s visions. Did they happen? Who knows, only Muhammad was there.

    Thomas was told that he should have believed based on the testimony of the other disciples. We are told we are blessed for believing that testimony. This Rabbi has the historically validated testimony of the New Testament. He cannot deny the sign of Jonah given everyone on historical grounds.
    The Jewish leaders had to pay the soldiers guarding the tomb to lie about Jesus’ Resurrection. They knew full well that Jesus had risen, but rejected it anyway. Again, this Rabbi wants to “blame” Jesus for the hardness of the Jewish leaders’ hearts (and maybe his own?), but they are responsible for rejecting the truth (as is he).

    Oh and the Transfiguration was the pre-resurrection spirits of Moses and Elijah appearing, since they wait with us to receive their glorified bodies. It wasn’t a “visionary” experience shared by the 3 disciples and Jesus, but a real event.
    We know that people don’t all share visions/hallucinations all at once. As a science pundit you should be aware that this doesn’t hold water. You might want to say the “miracle” is that everyone of the 500 people saw a physically resurrected Jesus, but this isn’t what our sources say.

    So again, modern Judaism rejects the physical Resurrection of Jesus. Since it gets this historical fact wrong (and has to change the Tanakh in order to validate its teachings), it can’t be true.

    I choose to follow the facts. Jesus rose, validating His claims and teachings. Christianity is true.

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    1. veneration of sights was medieval phenomenon.

      Wrong. There is evidence of the veneration of Jesus’ alleged site of birth and baptism in the third century (and maybe the second) prior to Constantine’s legalization of the religion in the fourth century.

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    2. Oh and the Transfiguration was the pre-resurrection spirits of Moses and Elijah appearing, since they wait with us to receive their glorified bodies. It wasn’t a “visionary” experience shared by the 3 disciples and Jesus, but a real event.

      So you admit that the disciples claimed that they had seen people who did not have actual physical bodies!

      This is probably what happened in their experiences of a resurrected Jesus: They saw something (an illusion) and believed it to be the bodily resurrected Jesus…but alas, there was no actual body.

      People see dead people (ghosts) all the time!!!

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      1. This is probably what happened in their experiences of a resurrected Jesus: They saw something (an illusion) and believed it to be the bodily resurrected Jesus…but alas, there was no actual body.

        Holy conjecture Batman, an immaterial spirit with nails prints in its hands and eats fish,

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        1. The first recorded mention we have of appearance claims is by Paul in First Corinthians 15, probably written about 55 CE. There is no mention of a fleshly body eating fish or allowing people to touch his nail holes. All it says is that Jesus “appeared”.

          I believe it is true that Paul probably did believe in a bodily resurrection, but must one see a body to believe in a bodily resurrection? I don’t think so. The Jews in Asia Minor believed in the bodily resurrection of Jesus based solely on Paul’s report and “searching the Scriptures”. This is proof that first century Jews did not need to see an actual body to believe in a bodily resurrection. And all we know about the appearance to Paul is what the author of Acts tells us in Paul’s words: all he saw was a bright light.

          Next, we have the Gospel of Mark written in circa 65-75 CE. There are ZERO appearance claims in this gospel.

          In Matthew, written in circa 80 CE, Jesus appears but does not allow any one to touch him. This appearance sounds like a ghost. Spirits/ghosts in the ancient world could not be touched (as a general rule). Some of the disciples do not even recognize Jesus when he “appears” to them!!! This sounds like a ghost.

          In Luke, written about the same time as Matthew or a little later, Jesus is described in a much more physical manner—he eats fish!

          Finally in John, written in 90-100 CE, Jesus is very physical in nature. He invites the disciples to touch his wounds, eats with them, and even cooks breakfast for them on the shore of the Sea of Tiberius!

          What does common sense tell us: We are seeing a gradual change in how first century Christians described the resurrection. This is the natural consequence of legendary development and a higher christology.

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  4. Gary –

    re: “People see dead people (ghosts) all the time!!!”

    Exactly. And, what do such sightings actually reveal? What they actually serve to confirm is that the dead person is, in fact, still quite dead. Hence – “ghosts”.

    Whatever the experiences of the early believers who claimed to have seen Jesus alive, it was not an experience that led them to believe they had see a ghost – a “remnant” (if you will) of a dead person. To the contrary, whatever it was, it led them to believe that Jesus was very much alive.

    To claim a resurrection (anastasis) was, in the mind of the first-century Jew, not only to claim a “living body”, but one that had become an *eternally* living body, not bounded by the constraints of “life in the purely physical realm”.

    And, this, most clearly, was the claim of early Christians.

    If the claim were merely a “vision”, as a ghost would be, then the response would simply have been “oh, well, you’ve seen a ghost. Everybody sees those, especially when they’ve lost a loved one. Don’t worry, it’ll all pass…”

    The Rabbi who wrote this book is not making any arguments than haven’t long since been made, so, I’m not sure why you think it’s significant that a Rabbi is making those same old arguments.

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    1. To claim a resurrection (anastasis) was, in the mind of the first-century Jew, not only to claim a “living body”, but one that had become an *eternally* living body, not bounded by the constraints of “life in the purely physical realm”.

      First century Jews (and Christians) had all kinds of different views on resurrection. Read the scholarship. The claim that all Jews (and all Christians) had the same view of Resurrection is unfounded.

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  5. Ah, well… yeh… the claim that *all* Jews or Christians held the same view of Resurrection is indeed unfounded.

    So – I’m merely correct my post to say To claim a resurrection (anastasis) was, in the mind of the first-century Pharisee not only to claim a “living body”, but one that had become an *eternally* living body, not bounded by the constraints of “life in the purely physical realm”.

    Now, is it possible that Paul was a Pharisee, but, well, he really didn’t quite hold to the idea of a “physical” resurrection?

    Well… ummmm… yeh, I guess…. sort of. meh… I dunno…. maybe….

    But, Paul wrote this in Romans: “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you”.

    That sure sounds a lot to me like he’s talking about physical bodies that die…

    Look, you can go round and round with trying to support the notion that the “resurrection” spoken of in the NT was a “spiritual resurrection only”, but, that’s going to leave you to still come up with the significance of (a) the empty tomb, and (b) Paul’s statement that Jesus had been buried and risen.

    Neither of these concepts has any importance at all to the idea of a “spiritual resurrection”, hence, there’s no need for them to show up in the NT at all, and even LESS of a reason for Paul to point out that “He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you”.

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    1. Just because Paul most probably had the typical Pharisee view of Resurrection does not mean that the original disciples had this view! We have no idea what the original disciples of Jesus believed they had seen when they claimed that Jesus had “appeared” to them because we have no confirmed testimony from ANY of them!

      For all we know, all the original appearances involved seeing a bright light!

      As I said before, we have proof from the Bible itself (the Jews in Asia Minor) that first century Jews would not always insist on seeing a body to believe in a bodily resurrection.

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  6. Gary –

    re: “As I said before, we have proof from the Bible itself (the Jews in Asia Minor) that first century Jews did not have to see a body to believe in a bodily resurrection.”

    Dang, buddy – all you gotta do is look around at all the present-day Christians to figure out you don’t need to see a body to believe in a bodily resurrection.

    re: “Just because Paul most probably had the typical Pharisee view of Resurrection does not mean that the original disciples had this view! We have no idea what the original disciples of Jesus believed they had seen when they claimed that Jesus had “appeared” to them because we have no confirmed testimony from ANY of them!”

    So, I guess you figure that when Paul went to meet (on more than one occasion) with the leaders in Jerusalem, the topic never came up? So, in other words, you got on one hand, Paul talking about the very-Pharisaic view of “bodily resurrection”, yet on the other hand, maybe you got Peter, James and John all saying “spiritual resurrection”? And, that little tidbit never shows up as a point of contention, but circumcision does? Or, Paul confronts Peter because Peter is acting inconsistently, but, on the other hand, Paul doesn’t really concern himself with the sharp divide between his own belief in a bodily resurrection and Peters belief in a “spiritual resurrection”?

    OK. Sure. It’s a theory. Yeh. I like that.

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    1. So, I guess you figure that when Paul went to meet (on more than one occasion) with the leaders in Jerusalem, the topic never came up? So, in other words, you got on one hand, Paul talking about the very-Pharisaic view of “bodily resurrection”, yet on the other hand, maybe you got Peter, James and John all saying “spiritual resurrection”?

      If Paul met with any of the disciples, I would bet that they did speak about their appearance experiences, but maybe all they each said, including Paul, is that they saw a bright light! You are assuming that the detailed appearance stories in the Gospels are historical facts. You cannot prove that. It is entirely possible that Paul, Peter, and James sat around Peter’s apartment for 14 days talking about bright lights!

      I never said that the original disciples believed that Jesus had been spiritually resurrected (not bodily). No one knows for certain what the original disciples believed on this topic! What we do see, however, is the development of the “appearances” from no appearances, to ghostly appearances, to fleshly appearances, to really fleshly appearances. If it quacks like a duck it is probably a duck. If it looks like the development of a legend, it is probably the development of a legend.

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  7. Gary –

    re: “If Paul met with any of the disciples, I would bet that they did speak about their appearance experiences, but maybe all they each said, including Paul, is that they saw a bright light! You are assuming that the detailed appearance stories in the Gospels are historical facts. ”

    Actually, no, I’m not at all assuming that the detailed appearance stories in the Gospels are historical facts.

    The topic-at-hand had to do with *bodily* resurrection, as opposed to some kind of “spiritual” resurrection.

    You had said “Just because Paul most probably had the typical Pharisee view of Resurrection does not mean that the original disciples had this view!”

    And, I responded (basically) that if Paul ever talked about Jesus’ resurrection with the others (Peter, James, John, et al) and discovered that they believed in a “spiritual resurrection”, then it would have been entirely contrary to Paul’s Pharasaic beliefs, and yet, there is never any mention of such a profound difference between Paul and the others.

    NOW – you’re bringing up stuff about “bright lights”, which I simply didn’t address at all.

    But, since you seem to want to talk about bright lights now, rather than sticking with your own original topic, then fine, let’s talk about bright lights.

    Paul said he saw a bright light, and was addressed by a voice which identified itself as Jesus. *Somehow*, this was sufficient for Paul to believe in a *bodily* resurrection. That seems entirely inconsistent. But, is it?

    The Pharisaic belief in a bodily resurrection did *not* mean that, for example, all the original molecules of the body would be recollected and reconstituted into the same physical body that had died. There was a recognition that a human body was not fit to live in eternity; therefore, that body, whatever it was going to be, was going to have to be something that was fit to exist for an eternity.

    As I have pointed out before, in another thread, at the time of Jesus’ resurrection, nobody had ever *seen* a resurrected person. Hence, there were *only* theories as to what a resurrected body might or might not be like. The picture presented in the NT is that Jesus, resurrected, sometimes simply appears in a room, then vanishes. Sometimes he sits and eats. Sometimes, he doesn’t appear as he was expected to appear – he is initially unrecognizable. And, sometimes, he appears as “light”.

    But, here’s the deal: *None* of this resurrection stuff makes a bit of sense *unless* there was a known place where the body had been put, and, the body was no longer found there. If a “spiritual resurrection” was what Paul and the others believed in, then there was positively no point to Paul ever accounting for the body of Jesus in any fashion (as when he mentioned the body was buried). If Jesus had been “spiritually resurrected”, then, that could have happened the moment he died on the cross. So, there’s just no point in giving *any* account of the disposition of the body at all, if they believed in a “spiritual” resurrection of Jesus.

    Paul does, though, give such an account, claiming the body had been buried. And Paul does claim the bodily resurrection of Jesus. And, Paul does claim that he saw Jesus as “light”.

    Is that inconsistent with the appearances of Jesus to the other disciples? How would we know? There were no pre-set “rules” about how a resurrected body might appear. If a resurrected body can appear, disappear, be touched, be unrecognizable then recognizable, then I’ve got no idea why it couldn’t appear as light. Because however a resurrected body is “constructed”, it is clear that it is not constructed as we are, in our present bodies. The only thing that might be clear is that if a body dies and is put into a grave, then resurrected the next day, that body will no longer be in the grave. And, that’s about all we can really say about it.

    Did the other disciples just see “light” as well? Hey, maybe so. I don’t know. But, again, the question gets down to whether there was a body still in Jesus grave or not. If that body was gone, and if the other disciples only saw “light”, then, all we could say is that “resurrected bodies appear to us as light”.

    It would have been just as easy for the gospels to say “Jesus appeared to the twelve as a light which spoke to them”, if that were the case. Because any way you cut the cake – “body” or “light” – it’s not an easy story to believe. I would very strongly suggest, though, that the *reason* for Paul’s insistence on “bodily resurrection” is because there was, in fact, an empty tomb: the body that was *supposed* to be there was no longer there.

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    1. And, I responded (basically) that if Paul ever talked about Jesus’ resurrection with the others (Peter, James, John, et al) and discovered that they believed in a “spiritual resurrection”, then it would have been entirely contrary to Paul’s Pharasaic beliefs, and yet, there is never any mention of such a profound difference between Paul and the others.

      I never said that the disciples believed in a “spiritual resurrection”. I have no idea what they believed. What I said is that we see a graduation in the “fleshliness” of the appearances with the writing of each new Gospel over the decades of the last half of the first century.

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    2. The only thing that might be clear is that if a body dies and is put into a grave, then resurrected the next day, that body will no longer be in the grave

      Does one necessarily need to confirm that the body is absent from its grave to believe that the body has been resurrected? Did Paul need to see the empty tomb of Jesus to believe he had been bodily resurrected? I suggest that if one believes that he or she has just seen a resurrected body one does not need to see the empty grave of that body to confirm that belief.

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      1. of course one doesn’t necessarily have to confirm the body is absent from the grave in order to believe the body has been resurrected, any more than one needs to see “the resurrected Jesus” (as in a vision) in order to believe he was resurrected. There are lots of people out there who believe in the bodily-resurrected Jesus that have never had a “vision-type” experience and who most assuredly haven’t seen an empty tomb.

        But, what was Paul doing when he had his Damascus Road “vision”? He was off persecuting the church. He was headed to Damascus, Syria in order to do so (because the belief had already spread that far).

        In other words, he already *knew* the story of the resurrection. That is, after all, what he was out to put an end to. He clearly believed Jesus to have died; he *didn’t* believe Jesus had been resurrected. So, when he has his “vision”, then “resurrection” – a *bodily* resurrection – was his conclusion.

        The *real* question is this: Would that belief of a bodily resurrection have *remained* his belief if (a) the other disciples claimed only some kind of “spiritual” resurrection, and (b) there was no validity to the empty tomb story?

        Paul *lived* in Jerusalem. He knew the town, he knew the people. And the city’s “normal” population (aside from times like the Passover, when there were hundreds of thousands of pilgrims) was probably in the neighborhood of 25000 or so. All in a city that was roughly a quarter mile on any given side. It wasn’t a big place. In a town of that size, it’s hard to imagine he didn’t know the story that he was trying to quash. I mean, clearly, he already knew the resurrection story. But, my guess is that he already knew the story of the empty tomb, too. And, my guess would also be that that might be the only reason he didn’t just blow off his “vision” as just an overly-weird experience, but rather, understood it to be the resurrected Jesus.

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        1. There are a lot of guesses and assumptions in your statement.

          Look at how often Christians today appeal to an Empty Tomb as proof of the Resurrection…but Paul never mentioned it even once. Again, I never said that the disciples believed in a spiritual resurrection. It is possible that they also believed in a bodily resurrection. However, as we have agreed, one did not need to see a body to believe in a bodily resurrection. We can agree that the earliest Christians had some type of an experience in which they believed that Jesus appeared to them in some fashion. That is the most we can say.

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  8. good grief, sometimes you make no sense at all.

    I never *said* that *you* said the disciples believed in a spiritual resurrection. I was making the point that if the *disciples* believed in a spiritual resurrection, and if it conflicted with Paul’s bodily resurrection claim, “there is never any mention of such a profound difference between Paul and the others”.

    believe it or not, everything posted doesn’t have to do with *You*….

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  9. Gary –

    re: your post beginning with “Look at how often Christians today appeal to an Empty Tomb as proof of the Resurrection…but Paul never mentioned it even once.”

    It’s entirely irrelevant that Paul doesn’t mention it in one of seven authenticated letters. Utterly irrelevant. That means absolutely nothing. Paul – unlike Christians, who are called on to defend their belief in a Resurrection to non-believers at every turn these days – Paul wasn’t writing to non-believers. He was writing to an audience, in every single case, of people that already knew that story. So, I know you think you’re making some great point here, but, I just ain’t seein’ it… Scores of books over the centuries have been written on various topics of “Christianity”, or “Christian life”, etc, that never once mention the empty tomb.

    CS Lewis, to the very best of my recollection, never once mentions the tomb in his classic book “Mere Christianity”.

    In all certainty, I can say that in another of his classics, “Miracles” (a much more exhaustive work than “Mere Christianity”), Lewis mentions the tomb only once:

    “When modern writers talk of the Resurrection they usually mean one particular moment—the discovery of the Empty Tomb and the appearance of Jesus a few yards away from it.”

    He turns immediately away from the tomb to point out that when the ancient writers were talking about the Resurrection, they were not talking only of *that moment*, but rather, “What they were claiming was that they had all, at one time or another, met Jesus during the six or seven weeks that followed His death.”

    And that’s it. In two entire, modern books dealing with Christianity and Miracles, there is one mention of the empty tomb – and even then, it is simply to say that “the empty tomb is not what I’m talking about when I’m talking about the resurrectin”.

    So, Paul doesn’t mention the tomb in seven letters – the aggregate length of which is maybe a third the size of Mere Christianity. That’s a big “so what”?

    “We can agree that the earliest Christians had some type of an experience in which they believed that Jesus appeared to them in some fashion. That is the most we can say.”

    I’d agree with the first sentence. That second sentence? Not sure I’d agree, but, maybe that depends on what you mean, exactly.

    The question, though, has always been finding a way to explain that experience, in conjunction with a myriad of other things. We go from an historically-established crucifixion to… what? A story of a resurrection. But, not only that. This same storyline also hits “historicity” when it gets to Paul, in AD 36.

    The big “revival” of the old hallucination hypothesis seems to be the latest rage.

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    1. It is true that Paul’s lack of mention of an Empty Rock Tomb in any of his epistles is not proof that he was unaware that such a tomb existed. However, Paul’s failure to mention this important piece of evidence is another crack in the conservative Christian claim that the evidence for the Resurrection is as good—or better—than the evidence for any other alleged event in Antiquity. In reality, the evidence for the historicity of this supernatural event is very, very weak.

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