Every Word Uttered by the Dying Jesus on the Cross in Mark/Matthew is a Quote from Psalm 22. Fulfillment of Prophecy or Quote Mining?

Image result for image of why have you forsaken me?

Jewish scholars accuse the Christian authors of the Gospels of scouring through the Old Testament for passages into which they could “shoehorn” Jesus to create “Jesus prophesies”.  Jews cite Psalm 22 as one of these passages.

Is there any evidence for this accusation?

Mainstream Christian New Testament scholar Raymond Brown says the following in his book, The Death of the Messiah, pp. 988-989:

The only words spoken on the cross by the dying Jesus in Mark/Matthew will quote Psalm 22:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
    and by night, but find no rest.

Christians will counter that I cannot prove that Jesus did not quote this passage in the Psalms to fulfill a prophesy.  And that is true.  But think about this:  In my reading of Raymond Brown’s two volume book The Death of the Messiah (I am currently almost to page 1000!) Brown has given massive evidence that the Gospel of Matthew is really nothing more than a re-write of the Gospel of Mark.  The author of Matthew cuts and pastes entire sections of Mark and places them in his gospel almost word for word.  I don’t know how anyone who reads Brown’s book can still believe that the Gospel of Matthew was written by any eyewitness with the massive evidence of the author’s non-stop plagiarism of the author of Mark’s gospel.  So the fact that the Gospel of Matthew includes this alleged saying of Jesus should not be taken as independent evidence of its historicity.  Matthew copied Mark in including this phrase in his Gospel.

But get this:  The authors of Luke and John never mention this famous saying of Jesus in their Gospels!  Christians will give you all kinds of excuses why these authors left out this saying of Jesus, but come on!  Wouldn’t the dying last words of Jesus be something that every early Christian would know by heart?  After all, if we are to believe the author of the Gospel of John, Jesus had a number of followers at the foot of the cross including his own mother who would have remembered this saying!

In reality, we have just one independent source who states that Jesus made this statement on the cross.

So which is more likely, Readers:  Jesus really made this statement in his dying last breath as a fulfillment of a messianic prophesy in Psalm 22, or, the author of Mark scoured the Old Testament for a passage into which he could shoehorn Jesus, and…voila:  A Jesus prophesy was born!

And the icing on the cake:  Both Mark/Matthew state that the crowd at the cross mocked Jesus, and while they mocked him, they “wagged” their heads.

Read Psalm 22:7:

All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

Come on, folks.  This is quote mining at its best.  Jewish scholars are right.

 

 

56 thoughts on “Every Word Uttered by the Dying Jesus on the Cross in Mark/Matthew is a Quote from Psalm 22. Fulfillment of Prophecy or Quote Mining?

  1. I’ve long known that Jesus’ quote was from the Psalms. I never understood it to be some kind of fulfillment of prophesy. Whether Jesus really said it, or whether it was just an “insert” by Matthew, I don’t know. I’m sure that somebody can make some kind of case either way.

    If it’s an insert by Matthew, then it’s there because, for whatever reason, that writer felt it to be consistent with the character of Jesus. If you’re writing an “historical fiction” about Abe Lincoln, you have to make up considerable dialogue, but, you don’t write a scene in which he takes out his iPhone and makes a call. Whatever his words and actions are, they must all have a consistency with all the rest of what *is* known historically and factually about Lincoln. So, my guess is that if Jesus didn’t really quote the psalm, then Matthew must have had reason to (at least) see it consistent with what was factually known about him.

    Once again, though, this “great revelation” only has relevance to those who seem to believe the bible is virtually on a par with God Himself. But, then, this is a website about getting out of fundamentalism. And, a lot of believers don’t suffer under that particular encumberance.

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    1. Mark, not Matthew.

      What matters is this: Brown gives massive detailed evidence that the authors of the Gospels invented a significant quantity of their material. This fact calls into question everything they wrote, in particular, the historicity of the Empty Tomb of Arimathea and the Detailed Appearance stories. If these stories are literary or theological inventions, the evidence for the Resurrection becomes very, very weak indeed.

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      1. Roger “Mark”… (I wasn’t really paying attention when I was typing, I guess)

        It would be true that if the story of the resurrection itself was a literary or theological invention, then most clearly, any reason to believe the story is pretty much out the window.

        But, I don’t think the historicity of that story itself is in terrible danger. Granted, the actual words spoken at any given encounter might be based on stories that were passed on orally, for example, and as such, it’s totally possible that none of those accounts are “verbatim”. And, it doesn’t matter one bit.

        Clearly, the *story* was that Jesus was crucified, died, buried and bodily resurrected. Whether the crucifixion was on a dark and overcast day, or whether there were flowers blooming on the morning of the resurrection is totally irrelevant.

        Most historians agree on the historicity of the empty tomb. I’m not really sure it matters *who* the tomb actually belonged to. That’s not material to the story. Whether it was really owned by Joe or not is hardly evidence of anything, one way or another.

        It always gets down to this: Jesus was crucified, and died. The Big Question is “what happened next”? Ehrman doesn’t buy into the empty tomb story, opting for the “communal pit”. That German guy – what’s his name? Ludemann, I think, figures Jesus’ body was just left on the cross. But, there was some odd reason that people bought in to the resurrection story, and I (along with most historians) don’t figure there’s a story to tell at all without an empty tomb. A story of a resurrection is already near impossible to believe in the first place, and even less so if you can’t show where a body was put, and then disappeared from.

        Bottom line: I figure there may be a lot of things that were “made up” in the gospels. But, I also figure there was quite a bit that was true. Everybody is going to have their theories on which is which, especially these days, because – hey, it’s the internet. Everybody is an historian or a theologian on the internet.

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        1. 1. Even if there was an empty tomb, there are many natural explanations for empty tombs.
          2. If the detailed Appearance Stories are literary fiction, the early Christian sightings of Jesus may have been no different than modern day sightings of the Virgin Mary…or Elvis Presley. People have been claiming to see dead people since the dawn of time.

          Even believers agree that resurrections are extremely rare. If they occur, they have only occurred once. Therefore, based on the above, the probability that the Resurrection Belief began due to a true resurrection is very, very, very low. There are too many natural explanations for the development of this belief to jump to the very improbable explanation of an actual resurrection of a three day brain-dead corpse…unless…one’s desire for the reality of a resurrection is stronger than one’s desire to accept the truth, whatever that may be.

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  2. And it ALWAYS works back down to this:

    Go try to start your own resurrection story of someone you know personally, and who died recently. See how *that*goes. And, if you’re not willing to do the Research Project I outlined recently (in another thread), then it totally proves my point. It ain’t easy to start a resurrection story of a person who is known by others, an (at the time) contemporarily-living person having families, friends, acquaintances, etc, and living in a known location among those friends and families, and dying at a known location, seen (potentially) by thousands. And the reason it’s not easy is that nobody would do that: Nobody will volunteer to tell the family and mutual friends of a beloved and deceased person that they had, in fact, seen that deceased person very much alive again. Why not? Because the friends and relatives are never going to believe the story, and most likely, are going to believe the story-teller is either a liar or bonkers crazy, and, a lot of them are going to consider the story-teller as being horrifically unkind, insensitive, an horrid person for making up such a thing.

    There’s no way to get around this. There was this singular point in history in which *something* happened that caused a number of people to actually believe that their relative, their close friend, who potentially thousands of people saw dead, to rise again. If it were simply a matter of cognitive dissonance, then we should have seen that same story repeated many, many times throughout history, because CD is a well-known phenomenon. Yet, as you say, we’ve seen it only once.

    And about Paul: Where did Paul depart from, on his Road-to-Damascus trip? He departed from Jerusalem. He was right there, where he himself could have known full-well that there was, in fact, no “empty tomb” to begin with. He knew well the “story” he was trying to quell, the “rumors” he was trying to quench. This “Jesus”, who had been crucified – resurrected (of all things). Entirely unbelievable, especially if there were others who could testify that the body had been left on the cross or thrown into a communal grave, and even more especially if there were no empty tomb to point to. Yet, it is this same Paul who gives the bare-bones gospel: crucified, died, resurrected, seen by Peter then by the others. It’s all indicative of the fact that *someone* actually announced to the family and mutual friends that the deceased person (Jesus) had, in fact, been seen very much alive again – and – those family members and friends had reason to believe the story was true.

    *Somehow*, you’ve got to be able to explain that one point in history, that one day that someone decided to say, without ambiguity, “I saw Jesus alive again” in such a fashion that the story was actually believed by Jesus’ close friends and family.

    I’ve suggested a perfectly good Research Project to go and do, yet you yourself said “science doesn’t mean making a fool of yourself” (or something very close to that). And yet, *that’s* the “project”, isn’t it? The fact that you yourself wouldn’t go tell the mutual friends and family of someone who died a couple of days earlier that you saw him/her alive again just demonstrates one thing: it’s not likely that someone else would do it either.

    So, you can blow off all the navel-lint picking about “scripture”, or theology, or the myriad of other seemingly-related (but totally irrelevant) other topics, and just get down to the one, central topic, and do an actual Research Project to find out (a) if you yourself could actually bring yourself to telling close friends and the family of the deceased that you, yourself, have actually seen them alive again, and (b) to find out through follow-up investigation whether they believed your story or not, and how your story affected them. But, if you’re not willing to do that, then all this other stuff is “interesting”, but totally missing the point.

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    1. You are making a lot of assumptions in this statement, FT.

      First, what did the alleged eyewitnesses see? Did they see a body? Did they see a “glorified” body that glowed or had some other visible supernatural trait? Did whatever they saw speak to them? Did whatever it was that they saw allow them to touch him/it? Answer: We don’t know. Maybe all anybody saw among those who claimed to have received an appearance from Jesus was a bright light, which is all that Paul saw, at least according to the unknown author of the Book of Acts.

      Second, did the original alleged eyewitnesses believe that they had seen the “resurrected” Jesus or simply a “risen” Jesus? Did the first alleged eyewitnesses tell everyone, “Jesus is RESURRECTED!”, or, did they simply say, “Jesus appeared to me”.

      Third, when did the concept that Jesus had been “resurrected” first emerge? Maybe initially the original eyewitnesses simply claimed to have received an appearance of Jesus in some form. They did not understand how this could happen. Over time (months? A few years?) the followers of Jesus came to believe that Jesus had been resurrected as the first fruits of the general resurrection of the Righteous. It was only then that people believed that Jesus had been bodily resurrected.

      Then, decades later, the authors of the Gospels (who were not eyewitnesses nor the associates of eyewitnesses, writing in lands far away) wrote books about Jesus. These books were works of evangelization; of theology; they were never meant to be taken as 100% historically accurate. The detailed appearance stories in Matthew, Luke, and John of multiple disciples seeing, touching, and interacting with a resurrected body are literary/theological fiction.

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    2. FT: And about Paul: Where did Paul depart from, on his Road-to-Damascus trip? He departed from Jerusalem. He was right there, where he himself could have known full-well that there was, in fact, no “empty tomb” to begin with. He knew well the “story” he was trying to quell, the “rumors” he was trying to quench. This “Jesus”, who had been crucified – resurrected (of all things).

      Gary: Look at what you said: “Paul would have known if there was an empty tomb.” Exactly! If there had been an empty tomb Paul would have known about it…yet Paul says NOTHING about an empty rock tomb anywhere in his writings. The biggest piece of objective evidence that Christians have been using for centuries if not two millennia for the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus and Paul never mentions it! The only argument Paul uses for the Resurrection is his own appearance experience, and according to the unknown author of the Book of Acts, all Paul saw was a “bright light” in a “heavenly vision”.

      But let’s say that there was an empty rock tomb. Paul doesn’t seem to have been impressed by this evidence. He obviously believed, like I do, that there are plenty of explanations for empty tombs other than a literal resurrection of a brain-dead corpse!

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    3. FT: It’s all indicative of the fact that *someone* actually announced to the family and mutual friends that the deceased person (Jesus) had, in fact, been seen very much alive again – and – those family members and friends had reason to believe the story was true.

      Gary: There are books full of stories of grieving family and friends believing that a dead loved one has appeared to them. And in many of these stories the family and friends believed that the person appeared to them in their bodies; bodies that could be touched, with voices that could be heard.
      The Jews of the first century were expecting a messiah. They were also expecting the resurrection of the righteous dead. I believe that due to their profound sorrow at the loss of not only Jesus, but the loss of their hopes and dreams of a better future in the New Kingdom that Jesus had promised them, cognitive dissonance set in and allowed for the merger of these two Jewish expectations: Messiah and Resurrection…and the Story of the Resurrected Messiah as the first fruits of the general Resurrection developed.

      A few Jews, mostly of the lower, uneducated classes, including some of the family of Jesus, accepted this new Resurrection/Messiah perspective. Most Jews rejected it and have been rejecting it for two thousand years.

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      1. You are correct that there are books and stories throughout history in which people have believed they have seen deceased loved ones alive again.

        But, again, you miss my point.

        First, nobody else believes the grieving persons account that the decease person is alive again. If they did, we’d have LOTS of resurrection stories out there.

        Second: you yourself would not go to your deceased best buddy’s Mom and tell her that, in fact, you have seen that buddy alive again. You might say “I almost thought I saw him”, or “sometimes, I think I still see him”. But, to actually tell Mom “he is alive, and I know it” is a totally different thing. *Nobody* does that. If they did, again, we’d have LOTS of resurrection stories in history.

        It’s absolutely true that the Jews had a hope for a Messiah and a Resurrection. But, that still doesn’t get us past this point: NOBODY ever tells their mutual, good friends of a deceased person “He is alive, and he has come out of his grave, and I’ve seen him myself, in person”. The audacity of that is overwhelming. And, it’s a story that is never believed. *Except this once*.

        What was so special about Jesus that *anybody* would have believed a story of some grieving friend saying Jesus was alive again? Clearly, nobody has believed such stories in the rest of history.

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    4. FT: I’ve suggested a perfectly good Research Project to go and do, yet you yourself said “science doesn’t mean making a fool of yourself” (or something very close to that). And yet, *that’s* the “project”, isn’t it? The fact that you yourself wouldn’t go tell the mutual friends and family of someone who died a couple of days earlier that you saw him/her alive again just demonstrates one thing: it’s not likely that someone else would do it either.

      Gary: Rumors and legends must usually be culturally compatible for them to take off and garner a sufficient number of believers. If the rumor developed that Hindu statues in the Hindu temples of India had all cried real tears of milk last week, how many Americans would believe this story? Not many I bet. But the same rumor in India would garner thousands if not millions of believers. (We know this to be true because it happened!)

      So what about the claim that one person in America was resurrected from the dead last week with a glowing body that can walk through locked doors, teleport between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and levitate into outer space? Very few people in America are going to believe this claim because such an event is not part of our cultural expectation.

      The general resurrection of the dead and the coming of the messiah were cultural expectations of first century Judaism. That is why it did work…for a very small number of first century Jews. Most Jews rejected it as blasphemous nonsense.

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  3. re: “You are making a lot of assumptions in this statement, FT. First, what did the alleged eyewitnesses see? ”

    I dunno. I didn’t bring it up, did I?

    What I said was this: “There was this singular point in history in which *something* happened that caused a number of people to actually believe that their relative, their close friend, who potentially thousands of people saw dead, to rise again. ” (note: i used bad English here. I should have said “that caused a number of people to believe……… *had risen again*”. But, I guess you might have understood what I meant).

    re: “Exactly! If there had been an empty tomb Paul would have known about it…yet Paul says NOTHING about an empty rock tomb anywhere in his writings. ”

    this remains the biggest “so what?” in history. So what if Paul didn’t say anything about it in his writings? Who cares? We’ve got a total of seven authentic letters that Paul wrote. I’ve got about 2000 emails I’ve written, and except when *asked*, I do not believe that I’ve ever even mentioned the empty tomb. Why would I? And, why would Paul? Every single one of Paul’s letters are written to people who *already believed*, so there’s no point in re-hashing what they already knew, except the bare-bones basic version.

    re: “He obviously believed, like I do, that there are plenty of explanations for empty tombs other than a literal resurrection of a brain-dead corpse!”

    He probably *did* think there are plenty of other explanations. And yet, he believed the “resurrection” explanation over the others.

    You keep saying (basically) “anything is more believable than a brain-dead corpse coming back to life”, and I’d say “yes, that’s exactly the point. *Anything* is more believable that that. And yet, that’s what was believed.

    If there is a God at all, one cannot discount the possibility of miracles. One has no guarantee that they won’t happen. But, most people in the world are just like you: they don’t believe Jesus was resurrected. Be happy. You’re in good company. You’ve got lots and lots of people who already agree with you. Be of good cheer.

    But, still, it’s like I keep saying: Resurrection stories aren’t all that easy to start. If they were just the result of something like somebody’s cognitive dissonance, then we’d have see LOTS of them. But, we don’t. As you’ve pointed out, it’s only happened ONCE. What you have to be able to explain is WHY that is. Why is it we’ve only seen it once in human history? Why did it work *that* time, and not a million *other* times? This is the very point where every skeptic falls short: They say (rightly) that there could be a million other things more likely. And here’s the point: EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT. And that’s precisely why no other resurrection stories have worked. So, why did *this* one? It’s not enough to throw out all the reasons it *shouldn’t* have worked. Those reasons – ie, “no such thing as miracles”, or “they were just seeing things”, and so on and so on, existed long before this story came along. We all know them. Heck, back then, it’s totally evident that people were not going to believe in a resurrection story, because EXCEPT FOR THIS ONE, nobody believed them. But, for *some* reason, this time, the story worked. And *that’s* the part that I’ve never seen a skeptic truly explain: why, *this* time, did it work? Every single reason to object to believing such stories were already in place even back then – obviously – because in all of history, we don’t see people believing such stories. And yet, people believed *this* story of Jesus’ resurrection.

    What made *that* story so special, such that it would have been believed?

    I’d really like you to give your comprehensive explanation of that. Don’t do the “shotgun” thing (which you love to do). Make a STATEMENT. Go out on a limb. Be like Ehrman. Give me YOUR explanation as to why, *that* time, the story worked.
    Then, we’ll have something to talk about. But as long as you’re just “shotgunning”, there’s nothing to talk about. It just tells me you can’t really explain what happened that caused a totally unbelievable story to be believed, this one time in history.

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    1. Gary: “He obviously believed, like I do, that there are plenty of explanations for empty tombs other than a literal resurrection of a brain-dead corpse!”

      FT: He probably *did* think there are plenty of other explanations. And yet, he believed the “resurrection” explanation over the others.

      Gary: Wrong! If Paul lived in Jerusalem as the Book of Acts suggests, and the Empty Tomb of Jesus was a well-known fact, Paul would have known about this “evidence” for the resurrection of Jesus. However, Paul remained a un-believer! He remained an in-believer until his “heavenly vision” experience three years later on the Damascus Road. Therefore, if the Empty Tomb existed, it was not convincing evidence for Paul to believe in Jesus as his Lord, Savior, and Messiah. ie., Paul did not see an empty tomb as sufficient evidence for someone to believe in a Resurrection.

      FT: this remains the biggest “so what?” in history. So what if Paul didn’t say anything about it in his writings? Who cares? We’ve got a total of seven authentic letters that Paul wrote. I’ve got about 2000 emails I’ve written, and except when *asked*, I do not believe that I’ve ever even mentioned the empty tomb. Why would I? And, why would Paul? Every single one of Paul’s letters are written to people who *already believed*, so there’s no point in re-hashing what they already knew, except the bare-bones basic version.

      Gary: You are 100% correct. The omission of any mention of a confirmed empty tomb in Paul’s writings is not proof that Paul had not heard of this story. However, the absence of any mention of this alleged empty tomb makes it possible for skeptics to suggest that the Empty Tomb was the invention of later Christians, possibly the author of Mark. If Paul had mentioned it, it would be impossible for skeptics to suggest that it was a later invention. So this omission proves nothing…other than to demonstrate another weakness in the overall Christian argument.

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      1. so, ummm… what’s “wrong” about what I said??? I was just agreeing with you.

        You say “if the Empty Tomb existed, it was not convincing evidence for Paul to believe in Jesus as his Lord, Savior, and Messiah. ie., Paul did not see an empty tomb as sufficient evidence for someone to believe in a Resurrection.”

        I’d say “yes” to that, too. The empty tomb wasn’t enough for Paul, and, I don’t see how it, by itself, could have been enough for the believers *before* Paul.

        So again I ask “What made *that* story so special, such that it would have been believed? ”

        Paul didn’t believe it, despite an empty tomb. Why should anyone else have believed it??? And yet, they did. And as you have pointed out repeatedly, this is the only time it’s happened. So, why *this* time?

        I honestly don’t think you’re getting my point…. You didn’t even address it in your response.

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    2. FT: You keep saying (basically) “anything is more believable than a brain-dead corpse coming back to life”, and I’d say “yes, that’s exactly the point. *Anything* is more believable that that. And yet, that’s what was believed.

      Gary: Anything is more believable than that a comet named Hale-Bopp is going to bring some type of salvation to the followers of Heaven’s Gate cult. Yet, that is exactly what these very devout, sincere religious people believed…believed strongly enough to commit suicide to make it happen.

      Human beings have been known to believe the craziest of ideas. Just because a group of people believes a new, never heard of before idea does not prove that it is true.

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      1. You really have a “filtration system” there, Gary.

        I didn’t SAY the story was TRUE. I said it was *believed*. And, as you’ve pointed out a million times, it’s the ONLY time in history when such a story was believed.

        You keep saying “anything is more likely”, and I keep agreeing.

        But, you never answer my question: Why was this resurrection story believed *this* time?

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        1. Wrong. Some of the followers of Rabbi Schneerson still believe that he will come back from the dead as the messiah. Please explain to me how educated Jews living in the United States of America in the 21st century can believe such a concept?

          Answer: Cultural expectation and cognitive dissonance.

          Rabbi Schneerson welded HUGE influence among post-WWII Judaism until his death in the 1990’s. Israeli prime ministers and politicians would routinely see the Rabbi when visiting the United States. He was very well known and very highly respected among the world’s Jews. Many thought, while he was alive, that he might be the messiah. But he died. The messiah is not supposed to die.

          So most Jews rejected the claim that Rabbi Schneerson was the messiah due to his death, just as most Jews rejected the idea that Jesus was the messiah when he died. However, a small group of hard core followers still believes that Schneerson was and is the Jewish messiah, therefore out of cognitive dissonance, they have come up with the radical idea that Rabbi Schneerson will come back from the dead as a…resurrected messiah…exactly like a hard core group of Jesus followers believed about Jesus.

          Cultural expectations and cognitive dissonance.

          These two phenomena most likely explain these two resurrected messiah beliefs.

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    3. FT: If there is a God at all, one cannot discount the possibility of miracles. One has no guarantee that they won’t happen. But, most people in the world are just like you: they don’t believe Jesus was resurrected. Be happy. You’re in good company. You’ve got lots and lots of people who already agree with you. Be of good cheer.

      Gary: Yes, if there is a God, miracles are possible.

      However, the evidence strongly suggests that even if there is a Creator God, this Creator has determined that after Creation was completed, the supernatural would not operate in our universe. There is no good evidence that any of the “laws of science” have EVER been violated. When you can conduct an experiment on live television demonstrating that a prayer to Jesus will cause a law of nature to be violated, such as levitating a coffee table or walking on water, then skeptics will take your claim that miracles are real seriously. Until then, don’t try to convince us of the reality of miracles based solely on anecdotal claims, the majority of which come from people who are already highly superstitious (and for the most part, poorly uneducated).

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      1. You keep dancing around the one, basic, fundamental question I’m asking you:

        WHY was the story of Jesus’ resurrection *believable*, when nobody else has ever believed such a story?

        I’m ASKING you for your theory, your scenario. I’m ASKING you for your viewpoint on this: Jesus is crucified, died, buried someplace. Then, somebody (maybe Peter?) *claims* that Jesus is alive.

        You keep saying this is a story that has happened only ONCE. And I agree. It’s a story that has never worked in any other circumstance.

        So why *THIS* time? If nobody ever believes such stories, then why would Joe believe Peter when Peter said “I’ve seen Jesus alive”, if Joe also knew Jesus personally, and knew he had been crucified?

        I’m just asking for YOUR version of the story. That’s all. How did it REALLY go?

        If you don’t have a version worked out, then, this is a waste of time. I want to know YOUR explanation of what really happened. That’s all I’m asking for.

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    4. FT: Why is it we’ve only seen it once in human history? Why did it work *that* time, and not a million *other* times? This is the very point where every skeptic falls short: They say (rightly) that there could be a million other things more likely. And here’s the point: EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT. And that’s precisely why no other resurrection stories have worked. So, why did *this* one?

      Gary: How many cultures in the world possess a resurrection concept? There are plenty of cultures that teach that the dead can come back to visit the living, but how many teach a bodily resurrection of the dead in glorified (glowing?) bodies? In the first century, the only culture in the known world that possessed a bodily resurrection concept was the Jews. So it is actually expected, sociologically, that if a bodily resurrection belief was going to happen in the first century it would happen among Jews!

      So why did Gentiles buy this bodily resurrection story if such a concept was foreign to their culture and thinking? I don’t think anyone can answer that question with 100% certainty but my guess as to how this happened is that all “pagan” cultures in the Greco-Roman world were polytheistic. When the Romans conquered a people, they did believe it was necessary to force the conquered people to abandon their gods. The Romans actually adopted that people’s gods into their own religious belief system! So the Roman world was already accustomed to accepting new religious beliefs. And historians tell us that the majority of converts to Christianity in the first few centuries were from the lower, uneducated classes. Christianity offered social equality, shared communal living (at least initially). and the promise of riches in the afterlife. I think it is very easy to see why this was a very attractive belief system for many poor Gentiles.

      Jews, on the other hand, overwhelmingly rejected this modified Jewish resurrection concept. The fact that a few mostly uneducated Galilean Jewish peasants accepted this claim should not surprise anyone.

      The idea of “resurrection” did not occur again in the Western World, to my knowledge, until the 1990’s when an ultra-orthodox Jewish rabbi, Rabbi Schneerson, died and his followers believed/believe that he will return as the Messiah.

      Why not?

      I believe it is all about cultural expectations, FT. The Christian West does not expect individuals to be resurrected prior to the general resurrection, that is why we haven’t seen this phenomenon in the Christian West since Jesus. (But as I demonstrated above, we have seen it occur again in Judaism with Rabbi Schneerson!)

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      1. I think we’re all totally aware that first century Jews had a belief in resurrection.

        But, that still doesn’t answer my question, which I’ve tried to be very direct about:

        Why do YOU think the “resurrection story” worked in the case of Jesus? It never worked for anybody else.

        I just want YOUR theory on WHY it worked in that one case. That’s all.

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        1. Jesus is not the only case. YOU must address the other (known) case, the Schneerson case.

          Why would a group of very devout, literate, 20th century Jews believe that their dead rabbi will come again as the Jewish Messiah when it had been ingrained in their heads for the last two thousand years that there is no such thing as a “resurrected messiah”.

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    5. FT: I’d really like you to give your comprehensive explanation of that. Don’t do the “shotgun” thing (which you love to do). Make a STATEMENT. Go out on a limb. Be like Ehrman. Give me YOUR explanation as to why, *that* time, the story worked.

      Gary: For 2,000 years Jews have resisted Christian attempts to assimilate them into western Christianity. The have resisted the concept that one person can be bodily resurrected prior to the general resurrection of the righteous. Yet in the 1990’s a prominent ultra-orthodox Jewish rabbi dies and his devout Jewish followers soon start believing that the good rabbi will return from the dead as the Jewish Messiah. THAT to me that is as difficult if not harder to explain than the early Christian resurrection belief that Jesus had been resurrected as the “first fruits” of an imminent general resurrection.

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      1. “Schneerson’s message that the messiah was nigh became the leitmotif of the movement in 1991, when the rebbe suddenly and urgently began advocating a series of programs to induce the redeemer to reveal himself. His followers identified him, at least potentially, as the long-expected messiah, and were sure he saw himself in that light. But the rebbe’s exact intentions were still unclear when he suffered a debilitating stroke the next year, and passed away in 1994. Many Lubavitchers – how many is a matter of dispute – continue today to view him as the messiah who either is not actually dead or will return from the dead. The notion of a resurrected messiah, uncomfortably reminiscent of Christianity, has led some Jewish critics to pronounce Chabad messianists to be heretics.”

        Source: https://www.haaretz.com/1.5084898

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        1. There’s nothing to address in the Schneerson case.

          The chabad Jews believe he WILL BE resurrected. Jesus’ follower believed he WAS resurrected.

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          1. Excellent. Then we can agree that the belief that a messiah can be dead and then resurrected is not unique to Jesus. The only difference is that early Christians believed that the dead Jesus had appeared to them and as far as I know, no Lubivitcher has claimed that Rabbi Schneerson has appeared to them.

            FT: Jesus’ follower believed he WAS resurrected.

            Gary: Big deal. Maybe people in the first century were more superstitious and more prone to believe they had seen a dead person! Research has shown that “dead person sightings” were very, very common in the Roman world in the first century. The Bible even indicates this by mentioning that the disciples thought they had seen a “ghost” on the Sea of Galilee. How many Jews today believe in ghosts???

            The evidence indicates that first century Jews were much more likely to believe they had seen a dead person/ghost than Jews living in the 20th and 21st centuries!

            Very easily explained.

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  4. If I might interject something …

    The story of Jesus and anything related to him (including the resurrection) boils down to one thing — whether a person believes the stories contained in a several thousand year old book … or not.

    It’s challenging to “discuss” the veracity of the various stories, but rarely will one side ever convince the other. 🙂

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  5. This has GOT to be the absolutely weird conversation I believe I’ve ever been in.

    I’m not even offering any kind of debate.

    I’m ASKING A SIMPLE QUESTION.

    WHAT IS YOUR VERSION OF WHAT HAPPENED, GARY? CAN YOU READ THAT, NOW THAT I’M TYPING IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS???

    JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED, AND THEN??? ________________________________
    (FILL IN THE BLANKS)

    THERE IS NO DEBATE GOING ON.

    ANSWER THE QUESTION.

    IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN ANSWER FOR THE QUESTION, JUST SAY SO.

    and… *sheesh*

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    1. sorry about the earlier “all caps” msg…

      I’m really just wanting to know how YOU see the story went down. Starting with the crucifixion. That’s all.

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      1. Not problem.

        I have no idea what really went down. And neither does anyone else because we have no confirmed eyewitness testimony of these alleged events and at most two (and very possibly only one source, Mark) for the Empty Tomb and detailed Appearance Stories.

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    2. There are many possible natural explanations for the development of the Resurrection belief but let me give two (I can give many more if you would like them):

      Scenario #1:
      -Jesus is crucified.
      -As one crucified for treason, the Romans did not allow the body to be given to the family, neither did they grant permission to the Sanhedrin to take possession of the body.
      -Jesus’ body is left on the cross for days as a warning to other potential persons viewed as threats to Caesar’s rule over Palestine.
      -Days later, what is left of Jesus’ body is collected with other corpses from executions carried out that week/month and tossed unceremoniously into a common, unmarked grave and covered over…and forgotten.
      -An empty tomb was never part of the original Jesus story. The disciples knew that the Romans buried the corpse of Jesus because that was their custom, but they did not know where it was buried. (According to NT scholar Bart Ehrman, the Greek word for “to bury” used by Paul in First Corinthians 15 in regards to Jesus death and burial CAN mean “to place something in a hole and then cover up the hole”.)
      However, weeks or months later, Peter has one of his trances. It is just as real as his “trance” of seeing a floating sheet full of animals. In this trance (a vivid dream while awake/a vivid daydream), Jesus appears to him bodily, touches him, forgives him for his betrayal, and calls on Peter to preach the message of the Resurrection to the world.
      -Peter convinces the other disciples that Jesus had truly risen from the dead, just as he had promised them, and that he had appeared to Peter.
      -Soon other disciples are having vivid dreams of Jesus, experiencing illusions of Jesus, mistaking people in a crowd or in the distance for Jesus, or even having individual hallucinations of Jesus.
      -And voila, the Resurrection Belief is born.

      Scenario #2:
      -Jesus is crucified.
      -Jesus is buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s rock tomb.
      -Sometime between late Friday afternoon after the stone is rolled in front of the door of the tomb and Sunday morning, someone takes the body for unknown reasons.
      -There are no guards. This is a “Matthean” literary embellishment.
      -The women come to the tomb on Sunday morning, find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty.
      -They run away in fear and tell no one.
      -Weeks or months later, Peter has one of his trances…(see the Scenario #1 and start at same point involving Peter and continue.)

      -decades later, “Mark” tells us about the Empty Tomb but invents a “young man” announcing the Resurrection.
      -a decade or so later, two Christian authors plagiarize “Mark’s” work, each of them adding their own embellishments. “Matthew” has resurrection appearances to the male disciples only in Galilee while Luke has all Jesus appearances occurring in the environs of Jerusalem. Matthew has a fantastical embellishment that dead people were shaken alive out of their graves the moment that Jesus died. “Luke” did one better: He adds an embellishment in which Jesus teleports into outer space in front of all the disciples!

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  6. Gary –

    re: “According to NT scholar Bart Ehrman, the Greek word for “to bury” used by Paul in First Corinthians 15 in regards to Jesus death and burial CAN mean “to place something in a hole and then cover up the hole”

    I just had a long discussion with Bart on this, and two things became apparent:

    1. He could provide no examples or documentation at all in which thapto meant anything other than “burial with honors / rites”, and
    2. In another of his blog entries, he actually comes out and asks “Isn’t it just the common word used for burying someone?? THAPTŌ” (He actually ASKS someone that, because he flat doesn’t know),
    3. He says “Thapto came to be used to refer to simply putting a body in the ground, *as I understand it*. He then follows this by noting that Ananias and Saphira were buried, but there were no mention of “honors”. Ehrman understands wrongly. There are simply no examples in ancient or koine Greek, out of thousands of pages of documents studied by Liddell, Scott, Autenreit, Brill, Brown, and others, in which thapto means anything other than “burial with honors”. Ananias and Saphira were thapto’ed, buried with rites.
    4. Someone questioned him about the word in another entry, because someone told the questioner that thapto meant only “burial with honors”, and he replied “I don’t really know. What Greek word does he think would be used for putting someone in the ground without a ceremony, or in a common grave?” Again, he doesn’t really know.
    5. In my own discussion with him a couple of days ago, after he mentioned Ananias and Saphira, I pointed out to him that there need not necessarily be mention of honors or rites, because thapto *means* “burial with honors”. I said that “krupto” would probably be used for simply burying something in the ground, as it was used in the story when Moses killed the Egyptian, and “krupto’ed” the guy (which can and does mean “bury in the ground”, but it also more commonly means to hide or conceal). Bart conceded “Being hidden in the ground may be an alternative way to say it”. Evidently it is, because that’s how krupto is used in reference to Moses buried the Egyptian in the sand.

    Bottom line is this: Ehrman is NOT a linguist. Ehrman studies, well, other stuff. And, he does NOT know what he’s talking about, when it comes to this issue, and he even SAYS so.

    And, Liddell, Scott, Jones, Autenreit, Briggs, and many others will all gladly confirm that Ehrman doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    A true linguist who studies ancient and koine Greek would rip Ehrman to shreds on this. But then, Ehrman has had only a semester or two of Greek, so what the heck does he know?

    I saw a post by you on Ehrmans blog in which you were talking about what Hurtado said about “thapto”, and what does Ehrman respond? “Interesting. I wonder what word he thinks (or knows!) was used for placing a body in an unmarked grave with no ceremony (whether or not that grave had other bodies in it). ”

    The guy DOES NOT EVEN KNOW what you’d call an unmarked grave with no ceremony.

    You’ve had a Rabbi tell you that a Jew can indeed be buried in the ground, AS LONG AS the hole is dug by Jews. But, there’s more to it than that. The body needs to be put in the ground by other Jews. That’s part of the ritual. And, I can guarantee you that NO Rabbi would ever consider those Jewish bodies that were shoved into trenches in Auschwitz and other camps to have been “buried with rites”.

    I thought we were done beating this dead horse.

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    1. If you can provide a reputable source which states that the majority of NT scholars agrees with your point of view on this issue, I will accept it as fact and will also accept as fact that Jesus was buried in a known location, in a known tomb, in the environs of Jerusalem. But until then, it is just your opinion.

      However, the historicity of the Empty Tomb is the least of your problems. Empty tombs have many possible natural explanations. Let’s hear why my scenario #2 is less probable than a never heard of before or since resurrection.

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      1. oh, goodness, it’s not my opinion. It’s the studied interpretation of Liddell, Scott, Jones, Autenreit, Briggs, Brown and many others who’s job it is to know these things. New Testament scholars got nuthin’ to do with it. They don’t write *about* the Greek language. The guys I mentioned *do* write about it, and at great length.

        I’d say it’s the other way around: Unless YOU can provide me with a majority view of Greek-language linguistics experts that say otherwise, then it’s just YOUR opinion.

        Don’t force your lack of knowledge on me as if doing so obliges me to do your studies for you. Go study Greek yourself. I know I did.

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        1. What a silly statement.

          One cannot be a New Testament scholar without being fluent in reading Greek.

          If you are unable to give me a reputable source which states that the majority of NT scholars agrees with your position then spare me the heming and hawing and just say so. I’m not interested in your personal opinion or that of your little group of “linguists” regardless of how many insults you want to hurl at me.

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          1. If I can’t give you a reputable source that states the majority of NT scholars agree with my position, it might be very well because nobody has ever taken a survey to ask them all what thapto means. In other words, lack of that particular tidbit of info means absolutely nothing at all.

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            1. If your view is true, it does give evidence of an early tradition that Jesus was given a proper Jewish burial. However, it doesn’t prove that Jesus was buried in Arimathea’s rock tomb. Jesus could have been buried in a dirt trench as was the custom for the lower classes in Israel at that time. If the Sanhedrin disposed of the body, maybe they did not mark the grave, so that Jesus’ disciples could not steal the body.

              In addition, the Early Creed is a liturgical statement, not a quote in a modern history book. Liturgical texts do not have to be 100% historically accurate. It is the theology that matters.

              Third, Paul never claims that he witnessed the burial of Jesus or knows where the burial site is. He is simply repeating something someone “handed on” to him.

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              1. I said above: the Early Creed is a liturgical statement, not a quote in a modern history book. Liturgical texts do not have to be 100% historically accurate. It is the theology that matters.

                As an example of this, the Early Creed states that after appearing to Cephas, Jesus appeared next to “the Twelve”. How could Jesus have appeared to “the Twelve” if Judas was dead and Matthias had not yet been selected to take Judas’ place? Christians have a ready answer for that: “The term ‘The twelve’ was a special term for the apostles, the original followers of Jesus. It wasn’t meant to be taken literally. The term is being used here in a liturgical sense not in a historically accurate sense.”

                Ok. I’ll accept that.

                But if that is true, then it is also possible that when the Creed says “and was buried” that this was more liturgical language. It is possible that Jesus was never literally “thapto’d” (buried with religious ritual proceedings) in the Jewish sense of the word. However, a creed that states that Jesus was given a proper Jewish funeral and burial sure sounds a lot nicer and more dignified than admitting that his body had been unceremoniously tossed into a dirt hole in the ground by a bunch of indifferent Roman soldiers.

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  7. Gary –

    Regarding your Scenario #2, I’d say it’s a far more challenging scenario than #1.

    But, it’s really late right now, so I’m gonna get back with you on this one tomorrow… Stay tuned…

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  8. Gary –

    An “aside”: I just love this response Hurtado gave you — “Why, one must ask, such wriggling and squirming to avoid what is the more economical view: that Jesus was buried “properly” in accordance with Jewish piety? ”

    My thoughts exactly.

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  9. hehehe… here’s another great one by Hurtado: “I think you may have misread my point. Which is that “thapto” = burial, not simply being cast in a ditch. All the Greek sentences that I know which use the word are sentences referring to a disposal of a body in a grave of some sort, not casting it into a pit.”

    You pressed this issue by asking ” So as long as the Romans placed Jesus’ body in a dirt trench and covered it over with dirt, that would qualify as “thapto’d”?”

    He responded “I suppose. But you need to reckon with another matter that is sadly and curiously often under-estimated. Why does Paul include Jesus’ burial as one of the four core affirmations that comprise the kerygma that he says he shares with Jerusalem church? It’s not enough to say that Paul presumed Jesus was entombed. In that case, it would have been enough (as usually the case) to affirm Jesus’ death and resurrection. So, why is the burial included? The most reasonable answer is because Jesus’ burial (and probably the place of his burial) had become (in the Jerusalem tradition) a component of tradition. I doubt that dropping Jesus’ body into a trench would have generated such a tradition. It’s more likely that “thapto” in 1 Cor 15 has its more typical meaning: a body placed in a tomb.”

    Hurtado DIDN’T mention that in the Jewish culture at that time, “burial” *always* meant “a decent burial”. And, you already know from a Rabbi that even the hole dug for a grave would have had to have been dug by Jews to qualify as a “burial”.

    Ehrman has wondered why I brought the word “qabar” into the discussion. It’s because language reflects culture. Pauls culture was the Jewish culture, and his whole mindset of burial was a Jewish mindset. Regardless of what *language* he used, he was talking about the Jewish concept of burial, which was (like in the Greek culture) a “burial with rites”.

    The only sense I know of in which thapto could be used for anything other than a decent burial with rites would be to use it in a derogatory sense, like saying “yeh, we’ll thapto him allright, with the thapto of a pile of cat poop”. But, that would be like saying “yeh, I graduated with honors – honors for being the worst student in my graduating class”.

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  10. OK, on to Scenario #2 ———–

    This scenario is basically the Stolen Body Hypothesis plus hallucinations. I’m not sure what all the stuff about “gospels” (written much later, having embellishments, etc) has to do with the historicity of what actually happened with the body and / or the reactions of Jesus’ followers at the time, so I’m not going to concern myself with the “decades later” stuff — if the body was stolen, then clearly, whatever was written in the gospels that said otherwise was of no importance…

    So, with all that in mind:

    The Stolen Body Hypothesis, of course, dates back to the first century. To me, it’s the most plausible scenario than, say, the Swoon Theory, and even more plausible than the Resurrection Theory.

    But, of course, the Stolen Body Hypothesis doesn’t account for “what happened next”, which was the claims made by disciples of Jesus that they had seen him alive again, resurrected.

    For this, you’re proposing the following:

    -Weeks or months later, Peter has one of his trances. It is just as real as his “trance” of seeing a floating sheet full of animals. In this trance (a vivid dream while awake/a vivid daydream), Jesus appears to him bodily, touches him, forgives him for his betrayal, and calls on Peter to preach the message of the Resurrection to the world.
    -Peter convinces the other disciples that Jesus had truly risen from the dead, just as he had promised them, and that he had appeared to Peter.
    -Soon other disciples are having vivid dreams of Jesus, experiencing illusions of Jesus, mistaking people in a crowd or in the distance for Jesus, or even having individual hallucinations of Jesus.
    -And voila, the Resurrection Belief is born.

    Here’s the problems I see with the above:

    This “trance” you refer to would, I guess, be a form of hallucination, and thus the appearance of Jesus (to Peter) would be an hallucination. The thing about hallucinations, though, is that they are entirely “internal” events – they have no “external” correlate. They are projections of the perceiver’s own brain, something created by the brain itself, and always and only with information that is already stored in the brain. In other words, the hallucination of “Jesus *resurrected*” would, of course, have to have been invented by his own brain. But is a Resurrected Being something that Peter’s brain would have been likely to conjure up? I would assert that it would be *very implausible*. Why? Because:

    1. “Seeing” (or “believing to have seen”) a deceased person in an hallucination is quite common, yet it only serves to prove that the deceased person is really *dead*. Now, granted, Peter himself could have *believed* that his hallucination was a real and living person, but others hearing Peter’s story would not be likely to believe it themselves. It is far more plausible that they would think Peter had seen a ghost.”
    2. Peter may have *believed* he actually saw Jesus alive, but, making a determination that he had seen, specifically, a “resurrected being” would take conscious, “theological” thought: After all, the “vision” he had could well have been understood to have been that of a person who had been “assumed” into Heaven, as was Elijah, who was taken up to “heaven” in a whirlwind. I would assert that it is implausible that anyone else would have understood Peter’s hallucination as an indication of Jesus’ bodily resurrection, because there was no precedent for a resurrection of an “individual” (but only of a “general resurrection”) and there was precedent for a person to have “bodily disappeared” and “gone to the heavens”, in Elijah. And, a “resurrected Messiah” was simply not the understood order of things: the Messiah was to usher in an era of peace, some time after which there would be a general resurrection.
    3. Peter’s hallucination was not “catchy”, which is to say, an hallucination which is produced entirely as a subjective event in the brain of an individual, is not “transferable” to another individual. As such, while it’s possible that others also hallucinated that they had “seen Jesus”, it is still a matter of conscious thought to determine *what* the nature of what they had seen actually was. Was it a ghost? Was it a Spirit in Paradise? Was it an “assumed” person such as Elijah? Understanding *what* the hallucination was (if nobody just figured “it was just an hallucination) was going to have to be a determination made *after* the hallucination. I find it highly implausible that any other individuals that had their own, unique hallucination, would conclude “He is risen”. I think it far more plausible that each would understand their own hallucinatory event in a different fashion, some thinking “I saw a ghost”, some thinking “Jesus was taken up like Elijah”, but concluding that Jesus had been *resurrected* would be on the bottom of the list. Nobody would have had that in their brain, already, as some kind of precedent, as it was entirely unexpected. And, as I’ve pointed out, hallucinations come from stuff already in the brain of the individual.
    4. Peter, having an hallucination brought on by “guilt”, seems quite unlikely to me. After all, it was Jesus who ultimately “failed” by getting himself crucified. This was *not* the Messiah after all. There would have been little reason for Peter to have felt guilty for having failed Jesus, when ultimately, Jesus just got himself killed and therefore was *not* the Messiah after all; rather, it was Jesus who had been the cause of all the grief. Could Peter have felt profound grief over the loss of a beloved friend? Yes, of course. And this could certainly have been enough to trigger an hallucination. But again, that hallucination would have to be *interpreted* in conscious thought. When my very beloved dog died, I had several hallucinatory events (although, no actual “sightings”). For example, I had several experiences lying in my bed at night, then “sensing” that my deceased pup had jumped up on the bed with me, and I could even feel her footsteps as she crossed the bed. And, this was, on one hand, very real to me, but on the other hand, it never once caused me to believe that she had come back from the dead. It *did* make me think that maybe she had “gone to heaven”, and these “visits” were some type of “spiritual” thing. But, during the events themselves (which were really spooky), I could not determine what the nature of those events were, and most certainly, it took conscious thought to understand what they were. So, while Peter could have had an hallucination brought on by extreme grief, I do not think it’s plausible at all that he should have an hallucination brought on by guilt, and thus, should not have had any reason to think of “forgiveness of sins”. It was, after all, Jesus, and not Peter, who had truly failed. Peter had no reason to think in terms of “being forgiven” by someone who was not, after all, God’s Annointed, as Peter once believed Jesus to have been.
    5. Ultimately, we have no way whatsoever to determine anything about Peter’s “mentality”. It’s hard enough to make an accurate psychoanalysis of someone when they’re lying on a psychiatrists couch, let alone trying to make this kind of determination 2000 years after the fact. All we have are imaginative conjectures about Peter’s state of mind. And, this is why most historians reject such “psychobiographical” theories. And, besides, if we’re taking *anything* that the gospels say into account at all, there are only two references to Peter having seen Jesus: “then he appeared to Cephas” (I Cor. 15.5); “The Lord is risen, indeed, and has appeared to Simon” (Lk. 24. 34)”. To try and actually formulate a plausible “psychological theory” from nothing more than this is far beyond an historians realm.

    To sum up: As an historical theory, I do not find it plausible that Peter would have hallucinated a “resurrected Jesus”, even if it were plausible that Peter, suffering from grief, would have indeed had an hallucination *of* Jesus. But, making the determination that the vision was of a *resurrected being* is one that requires conscious and even theological thought, and I find it highly implausible that the general theology of first century Pharisaic adherents would even consider resurrection as being the chosen option. Rather, I believe it to be far more plausible that Peter would have been more likely to figure that Jesus had been assumed to Paradise, like Elijah. And while it may be plausible that a few others would also have had hallucinatory “vision” of Jesus, once these things entered into discussion, I believe it to be highly implausible that “He is risen from the dead” to have become the consensus conclusion. I think it far more plausible that some would simply think the body had, in fact, been stolen, and that Jesus was still quite dead, and that they had only seen a “ghost”.

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    1. FT: This “trance” you refer to would, I guess, be a form of hallucination, and thus the appearance of Jesus (to Peter) would be an hallucination. The thing about hallucinations, though, is that they are entirely “internal” events – they have no “external” correlate. They are projections of the perceiver’s own brain, something created by the brain itself, and always and only with information that is already stored in the brain. In other words, the hallucination of “Jesus *resurrected*” would, of course, have to have been invented by his own brain.

      Gary: A daydream is just like a nightdream except it happens when you are awake. Do you remember sitting in 8th grade English staring off out the window for the entire period daydreaming about that hot cheerleader? You don’t remember a word the English teacher said or did. You don’t remember anything else that happened in that class that day. You only remember the cheerleader talking to you and giving you a big kiss!!!

      That is a daydream.

      Now, we can’t be sure if the author of Acts considered the “trance” he describes involving Peter to be something that occurred when Peter was awake or asleep, but since the text states it occurred during the day and does not say that Peter was asleep, I assume the author to be talking about a daydream. A daydream is not a psychosis. Now, I suppose that the author of Acts could have meant that Peter had an hallucination when he used this term, but I doubt it. It would infer that Peter was mentally or physically ill at the time of the “trance” (mentally healthy people can have hallucinations when they are very ill, intoxicated, or exhausted) and therefore would cast doubt on whether anyone should believe that Peter saw a divine message from God or whether his brain was “messing with him”.

      Next, and very importantly: We have no idea what the first disciples claimed when they had their “Jesus appearances”. Maybe they initially only claimed that “Jesus was risen”, not that “Jesus was resurrected”. Maybe the appearances were initially only perceived as Jesus is risen (similar to “Lazarus is risen”) but were later re-interpreted to be: “Jesus is resurrected”. We have no verifiable proof that the first alleged “eyewitnesses” to an appearance of Jesus claimed that he was resurrected.

      This is one of the many Christian assumptions about the early Christian Resurrection Belief.

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      1. re: ” I assume the author to be talking about a daydream. ”

        Exactly. You’re making an assumption about the nature of a mind-related event. And this is why historians generally don’t put much stock in such analysis. You’re calling a “trance” a “daydream”, but a trance is decidedly different than a daydream. And, whatever Peter may have experience (as far as his “seeing” a “resurrected Jesus”), it may have been neither a daydream nor a trance.

        You also said:

        -Soon other disciples are having vivid dreams of Jesus, experiencing illusions of Jesus, mistaking people in a crowd or in the distance for Jesus, or even having individual hallucinations of Jesus.
        -And voila, the Resurrection Belief is born.

        Here, you are talking about illusions and hallucinations. And, yeh, it’s a theory. You asked me to address the theory, so I did. But the bottom line is this: Just as you point out that “We have no verifiable proof that the first alleged “eyewitnesses” to an appearance of Jesus claimed that he was resurrected”, neither do we have any proof of hallucinations.

        Maybe Peter didn’t fall into a trance at all. Maybe he had an outright hallucination. It’s all conjecture. But, if it was hallucination, then I’ve covered my reasons I don’t find the theory plausible. If Peter just had a daydream, well, I’m pretty sure we all know when we’ve just been daydreaming. They’re quite ordinary, and generally are about pleasant, but not-wholly-unrealistic imagined events. And, I’m about 100% positive we all know our daydreams are just a form of self-entertainment. So, I think that particular idea – that Peter simply “daydreamed” about seeing Jesus alive – is even less plausible and has far less explanatory power than the Hallucination Theory.

        Now, maybe Peter was nuts. Like, schizophrenic or something. As long as we’re just making stuff up, I’d say that’s the route you need to go.

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        1. FT: You’re calling a “trance” a “daydream”, but a trance is decidedly different than a daydream.

          Gary: Prove it.

          I suggested that the “trance” was either a daydream or an hallucination. I gave my reasoning for why I doubt that the author of Acts would have wanted his readers to think that Peter was experiencing a dysfunction of the brain (which is what an hallucination is). But the truth is: We have no idea what the Hell this first or second century author was talking about!

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          1. “Prove it”??? What are you, like, 15 years old or something? Seriously. Just go wiki daydream and trance. You’ll figure it out real fast, I promise.

            And, honestly, I really don’t give a rip about what the author of Acts was talking about. That’s YOUR deal. You brought that one up.

            The topic had to do with your Scenario #2. My point was that an hallucination, as a means of explaining the origin of the resurrection story, was implausible. Daydreams and trances would even be more implausible, as far as I’m concerned.

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            1. Then you obviously do not understand the nature of hallucinations.

              The entire Resurrection belief could be based on ONE disciple having an hallucination of receiving an (imagined) appearance of some type from the “risen” Jesus, even if it was just a bright light. He may have only seen “Jesus” in his brain, which is what happens in an hallucination, but he believed it was a real experience. He (always) remembered it as a real experience. His belief was so intense and impressive that he convinced the other disciples that he had truly seen the “risen” Jesus.

              Other disciples then “saw” Jesus in illusions, vivid dreams, and mistaken identity experiences. Groups of disciples saw a bright light on a wall and believed that Jesus had appeared to all of them at one time and in one place!

              Prove me wrong…if you can! 🙂

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        2. Maybe an educated person like yourself living in the 21st century would not take his (night) dreams or his day dreams seriously, but it seems that people in the first century did, if we are to believe the Bible. The author of Matthew tells us that the step-father of Jesus had a dream in which an extra-terrestrial appeared to him and told him that a king was going to try and kill his new born step-son.

          Did Joseph wake up out of his dream and say, “Wow! That was a doozy! I gotta lay off the cheap Bethlehem wine!”

          No. That very night, he loaded up the family and moved to…Egypt…an entirely different country and culture!

          If Joseph would move his family to another country in the middle of the night based on a dream, I will bet that Jesus’ emotionally exhausted, sleep-deprived, terrified, grief-stricken disciples were even MORE likely to believe their vivid dreams that Jesus had appeared to them…in some form…maybe just as a bright light.

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          1. “if we are to believe the bible”? Who’s talking about believing the bible here? I thought you wanted to talk about your Scenario #2, which has nothing at all to do with the bible.

            I think I’m off of this topic….

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    2. FT: “Seeing” (or “believing to have seen”) a deceased person in an hallucination is quite common, yet it only serves to prove that the deceased person is really *dead*. Now, granted, Peter himself could have *believed* that his hallucination was a real and living person, but others hearing Peter’s story would not be likely to believe it themselves. It is far more plausible that they would think Peter had seen a ghost.”

      Gary: I am a primary care physician. Due to my interest in the Resurrection and my medical background, I have studied the issue of hallucinations extensively. If Peter believed that he had seen the “risen-from-the-dead Jesus” in an hallucination, he would have believed he had truly seen the risen Jesus after the hallucination was over. People who experience hallucinations believe them to be real!

      Here are a couple of things medical experts say about hallucinations:

      -Visual and auditory hallucinations are alterations in the perception of reality that occur in the brain. Someone who is experiencing a visual hallucination believes that he (she) sees something in his environment that is not there. He only sees the “thing” in his brain. It is not present in the environment.

      -The person who is experiencing the hallucination is not aware that he/she is hallucinating. He believes that his experience is very real, and, he REMEMBERS the event as real! He does not “wake up” from the hallucination and say, “Wow! That was a wild hallucination! I’m glad that is over!”. A person remembering a hallucination does not remember the experience as an hallucination. He remembers the experience as a real experience; as reality.

      -One does not need to be mentally ill to have an hallucination. Healthy people can have hallucinations due to a number of causes, such as, intoxication, sleep depravation, a high fever, metabolic disorders involving liver and/or kidney dysfunction, and even extreme stress.

      -No two people can have the same hallucination. Two people may hallucinate about the same subject, but their hallucinations will never be identical. Any skeptic who claims that the disciples all had a “group hallucination” in which Jesus appeared to them in a body, talked to them, and engaged in activities with them. is ignorant of the physiology and psychology of hallucinations. Group hallucinations are impossible!

      FT: …but others hearing Peter’s story would not be likely to believe it themselves.

      Gary: You are making an assumption. If Paul had a “heavenly vision” as the unknown author of the Book of Acts claims, then the Jews in Asia Minor believed in Paul’s claim that he had seen the resurrected Jesus, based on Paul’s claim of having seen a talking bright light.

      So it seems that people in the first century did accept other people’s claims of seeing dead-but-alive-again people (or bright lights) after all! Paul’s statement that the devout Jews of Asia Minor believed in the resurrection of Jesus based on his seeing a talking bright light is much more far-fetched than Peter claiming to see an embodied Jesus in a trance (which Peter assumed was either reality, or, a special ‘vision’ from God, similar to Paul’s special ‘vision’).

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  11. re: “Prove me wrong…if you can!”

    you know, Gary, you really need to learn the language of serious historians. There’s no “prove me right” or “prove me wrong” to any of this kind of stuff. There is only “plausible” and “implausible”.

    I’ve already stated that I believe the whole hallucination theory was implausible, and I gave my reasoning. You can either accept it, or, come up with your own well-thought-through means of demonstrating what you think is plausible.

    That’s how it works. You don’t find scholars like Licona or Ehrman or Evans saying “prove it” to each other at all. It’s honestly a very childish approach.

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    1. It was humor, FT. You are much too serious, my friend.

      Your entire argument against my Single Disciple Hallucination Theory is due to the fact that you do not understand what happens with people who have an hallucination. They don’t wake up and realize, “Wow! What a wild hallucination” and realize it wasn’t real.

      Second, you assume that no one would believe someone’s hallucination, but yet Paul says that people believed his equally bizarre “vision”.

      Bottom line: In a 21st century world in which the supernatural has not ( yet at least) been proven to be fact, and fewer and fewer people believe in its existence, it is much more probable that the disciples did buy into someone’s hallucination than that eleven first century peasants really saw a resurrected corpse.

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      1. re “Your entire argument against my Single Disciple Hallucination Theory is due to the fact that you do not understand what happens with people who have an hallucination. They don’t wake up and realize, “Wow! What a wild hallucination” and realize it wasn’t real.”

        I never once said they did. But, I myself have had an hallucination. In fact, many people have. It is in the process of trying to *understand* whatever the hallucination was *about* that one may (or may not) realize it was an hallucination.

        re: “Second, you assume that no one would believe someone’s hallucination, but yet Paul says that people believed his equally bizarre “vision”.”

        Nope. Didn’t assume that at all. I’ve got no idea where you get this idea from.

        re: Bottom line: In a 21st century world in which the supernatural has not ( yet at least) been proven to be fact, and fewer and fewer people believe in its existence, it is much more probable that the disciples did buy into someone’s hallucination than that eleven first century peasants really saw a resurrected corpse.”

        Fine. Then, write that up as your theory, and put some real scholarship into making your case. I probably won’t read it, though, because as I’ve pointed out, most historians really don’t get into psychobiographical approaches. They boil down to nothing but conjecture and speculation.

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        1. FT: Then, write that up as your theory, and put some real scholarship into making your case. I probably won’t read it, though, because as I’ve pointed out, most historians really don’t get into psychobiographical approaches. They boil down to nothing but conjecture and speculation.

          Gary: Of COURSE it’s conjecture and speculation!!!!

          My goodness, I was NOT attempting to prove what DID happen 2,000 years ago only what MIGHT have happened 2,000 years ago to create the necessary environment for the development of the Resurrection Belief.

          Are you inferring that just because the Christian explanation is the only story in existence for the development of this belief that skeptics must accept it as historical fact unless they can provide EVIDENCE for an alternative explanation??? Wow. That is preposterous.

          Come on, folks. Which is more probable based on cumulative human experience to explain the development of the Resurrection Belief among early Christians in the first century:

          1. One highly religious, highly superstitious, emotionally exhausted, grief-stricken, sleep-deprived follower of Jesus had an hallucination and was able to convince his fellow disciples that his hallucination was real.
          2. A first century brain-dead corpse came back to life, ate broiled fish with his buddies, and later flew off into outer space.

          No contest…unless you’ve already accepted as fact the existence of invisible, magic-working spirits and devils.

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