Why Didn’t the Followers of Other Messiah Pretenders Continue to Believe in Their Leader’s Messiahship after his Death?

Image result for image of bar kochba
Simon bar Kochba

There have been plenty of messiah pretenders down through history.  So why is it that only the followers of Jesus continued to believe in his messiahship after his death?  When other messiah pretenders died, their movement died with them.

Christians use this fact as evidence that Jesus must truly have been resurrected; his resurrected body was truly seen by multiple eyewitnesses.  Only seeing a resurrected messiah claimant with one’s own two eyes would make a devout Jew believe that someone could be the promised messiah even though he had at one time been dead.

But I suggest another possibility:  The reason that only the followers of Jesus continued to believe in his messiahship after this death was because Jesus was the only messiah pretender with an empty grave!

The other messiah pretenders could not be the messiah because Judaism had no concept of a dead messiah.  However, the empty grave of Jesus allowed for the possibility, however slim it might be, that Jesus was not dead.  So the disciples of Jesus clung to this hope…that Jesus was somehow still alive.  Since there was no body that skeptics could point to and say, “Look.  There is his body.  He’s dead.  Jesus can’t be the messiah”, Christians could still cling to a sliver of hope.

“But could he really still be alive?  What are the chances that someone survives a crucifixion?  Didn’t some of our women watch as a spear was driven into his side?  Didn’t these same women watch as his motionless body was prepared for burial and placed in a tomb?”

“He couldn’t have survived.  There must be some other explanation for the empty tomb…”

“Maybe God has raised him from the dead!!!  Maybe God raised Jesus from the dead and took him directly to heaven like he did Elijah!”

“Hmm.  Are there other possible explanations for the empty tomb of Jesus?”

“Maybe the Resurrection of the Dead has begun!!!  Maybe Jesus was simply the first to be resurrected; like the first fruits of a harvest; the rest of the righteous dead will be resurrected at any second now!”

“OMG!  The Resurrection of the Dead means that the New Kingdom is just around the corner!!!!  The end of the age; the beginning of God’s Kingdom on Earth is about to happen at any moment now!”

And then, euphoric disciples start having vivid dreams of a resurrected Jesus.  Groups of them see bright lights that they believe to be Jesus appearing to them…and the Resurrection belief is born!

Dear Reader:  There are so many possible  natural explanations for the early Christian resurrection belief and they are all so much more plausible than a supernatural reanimation/transformation of a three day brain dead corpse.

So …why was the tomb empty?

Answer:  The gardener moved the body…just as Mary Magdalene initially believed!

Image result for image of a gardener near the tomb of jesus
He was just the gardener, Mary.









End of post.


34 thoughts on “Why Didn’t the Followers of Other Messiah Pretenders Continue to Believe in Their Leader’s Messiahship after his Death?

  1. I really very much want to commend you on finally getting down to the brass tacks here…

    Jesus’ tomb was found empty.

    After that?

    Yep, that’s the Big Question.

    My first question for you: When do you figure the disciples first learned of the empty tomb?


      1. well, as they say, the Devil’s in the details…

        was it days? or was it weeks?

        If it were days – meaning, presumably (?) two or three days (?), then that would mean they were probably still in Jerusalem when the tomb was found empty. Unless, of course, they just headed out of Jerusalem on a Sabbath? Is that what they did? They actually traveled on a Sabbath?

        If it were weeks, then, would that imply that they had made the eight or ten day trip back to Galilee? Eight or ten days and nights, on the road, walking along, talking with each other, sitting by the fire at night, having supper, talking about Jesus, their loss, the tragedy of the whole thing, the “unbelievable-ness” of it. Maybe waking each morning, and saying the Kiddush for their lost Rabbi. Lots of mutual mourning, sharing of sorrow, expression of disbelief, shock, and so on, for eight or ten days and nights, on the road back to Galilee. And, after all that, then hallucinations began?

        You see, it matters. So, let’s get serious here.


        1. Just to humor you, I will go with: the tomb was found empty on Sunday, two days after his crucifixion on Friday.


  2. Or, the empty tomb is one of those fictions Gary talks about in the previous post. It’s more than likely that Jesus’ body was thrown with all the other criminals’ corpses into the infamous rubbish dump just outside Jerusalem for the dogs to eat (as Ehrman and others argue.)

    But that doesn’t make for a very good story, so decades after the event, Joseph of Arimathea, the empty tomb and the disciples’ sightings are brought in. The entire resurrection story is what the dreams and visions of early followers had mutated into by the time the later gospel accounts came to be written.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What frakking tomb?
    The supposed most famous man in all of history and there is no record of his tomb?
    ”Oh dear … we just forgot. We witnessed all those miruckles and dead people poncing about Jerusalem and yet we just … er … forgot where tomb is, and that’s why there is no record. Honest!
    I guess we’ll just have to wait ’til Helen comes along and discovers it. Would you chuffin’ believe it, right?”

    Well,no actually I don’t believe any of it, and there is not a stitch of evidence to suggest anything else. In fact all we have is a bunch of credulous halfwits and liars for Jesus.


    1. I agree with you, Ark. The evidence for Jesus being buried in a rock tomb owned or borrowed by J. of Arimathea is weak. However, I have chosen to accept this claim as historical fact for the following reasons:

      -It is difficult for me to argue that conservative Christians should accept majority scholarly opinion on the non-eyewitness authorship of the Gospels if I then reject the majority scholarly opinion on the historicity of the Empty Tomb. Even Bart Ehrman believes that the majority of NT scholars believe in the historicity of the Empty Tomb.

      -Raymond Brown presents decent evidence in his book, “The Death of the Messiah” for the historicity of Jesus being buried in J. of A.’s rock tomb. Brown believes that the author of Mark presents Joseph of Arimathea as a devout Jew who buried Jesus in his (or a borrowed) rock tomb for one reason: so that the Law of Moses would not be violated (a Jewish corpse above ground on the Sabbath). Joseph was not a disciple of Jesus neither was a sympathizer. He had voted with the entire Sanhedrin for Jesus’ execution.

      -There is no mention in Mark that the tomb in which Joseph buried Jesus was his personal or family tomb. It is simply “a” tomb. So there is no sign that Joseph is bestowing a high honor on Jesus.

      -In Mark, there is no mention of Joseph cleaning the body and applying spices. He simply wraps the body in a cloth and buries it. Was this an “honorable” Jewish burial? This is disputed. I will not argue either way.

      -The later Gospel authors change Joseph from a devout Jew doing his duties under the Law of Moses to a follower or at least a sympathizer of Jesus. Brown believes that this is a sign that the later Gospel authors found Mark’s account embarrassing: Why give such prominence to a “good” Jew? Anti-Jewish sentiment was very strong in the last half of the first century. Why would Mark invent a “good” Jew if it wasn’t really true? By the criteria of embarrassment, the Joseph of Arimathea in Mark (not in the other Gospels) is probably historical fact.

      I realize that there are many arguments against the historicity of the Empty Tomb, but I have chosen to accept its historicity because it makes it easier for me to go straight to the main argument (the “jugular”): the outrageous implausibility of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. An empty tomb does NOT help this very implausible claim.


      1. I am not particularly interested in the tomb … empty or otherwise, Gary, but WHERE it is.
        We are talking about the most famous death (and resurrection (sic)) in the entirety of human history and yet there is absolutely no archaeological evidence, or even a written hint where this tomb is.
        We hear again and again and again about these supposed witnesses … the same damn witnesses that visited the tomb and yet noone knows where it is.
        You choose to believe it on what basis, Gary?
        What evidence is there or a tomb of any description whatsoever?


        1. I do not believe that we can know for sure if the tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is Jesus actual tomb. Constantine’s workers found multiple tombs when they dug underneath the foundation of the Greek Temple over the alleged site of Jesus’ tomb. But I believe that it is possible that the tomb of Jesus was in this area. I believe that the Christians simply picked one of the many tombs found and christened it “Jesus’ tomb”. There is zero evidence that there was any graffiti or other indication to know which tomb belonged to Jesus.

          It is possible that the Christians in Jerusalem prior to Hadrian’s destruction of Jerusalem in 110 (?) CE did know and revere the site of Jesus’ tomb but after it was covered up with a pagan temple, people no longer venerated the site.

          Why doesn’t Paul mention the rock tomb? I have no idea. But once again, accepting the historicity of the Empty Tomb is useful for me apologetically, so I accept it, even though the evidence is weak and the evidence against its historicity is relatively good.


          1. And now you give it credibility by using capitals when it has none.

            Many places are mentioned in the gospels, but not even a hint of the location of the tomb of the most famous human being in history.

            Burial in a tomb flies in the face of known Roman practice for the crime the biblical character was apparently crucified for.

            Why are you arguing about any tomb, never mind if it was empty or not?


            1. Because I do not want to waste my time debating Christians over the historicity of a damn grave, I want to talk about the core issue: the alleged appearances! All your objections to accepting the historicity of the Empty Tomb Story are very good, and duly noted, but I am not interested in debating this side issue. It is a distraction.


              1. Fair enough.
                But you must surely realise that by talking about the supposed ”core issue”, you are also giving credence to the forged long ending to Mark?
                You do realise this, yes?


                1. Not at all. It is obvious to most non-fundamentalist scholars that the long ending of Mark is an amalgam of Matthew’s appearance stories and Luke’s appearance stories. Even Raymond Brown believes that the detailed appearance stories in Matthew, Luke, John, and the long ending of Mark are fictional embellishments to the core Jesus story. Brown believes that the appearance stories most probably first developed in Galilee, after the disciples had returned home. What exactly the first appearance claims involved, is anyone’s guess.

                  The Longer Ending of Mark
                  Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
                  9 [[Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

                  Jesus Appears to Two Disciples
                  12 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

                  Jesus Commissions the Disciples
                  14 Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.[c] 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news[d] to the whole creation. 16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes in their hands,[e] and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

                  The Ascension of Jesus
                  19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.[f]]]


                  1. If you remove the forged long ending to Mark – from verse 9 if memory serves, yes ? – what is there to argue about regarding the : ” …. core issue: the alleged appearances!”


                    1. You must deal with the alleged appearances listed in the Early Creed. The overwhelming majority of scholars believe that very soon after the his death some of the followers of Jesus experienced something that convinced them that Jesus had appeared to them. The question is: what?

                      Christians allege that a resurrection is the most plausible explanation. I say they are very, very wrong. There are many more plausible, natural explanations for these appearance claims.

                      You are not going to win the war fighting a minor battle over an empty grave. The only way to destroy this superstition is to show how absolutely preposterous it is to assume that these appearance claims are based on literal appearances of a teleporting, space-levitating corpse.


                    2. Price disagrees with this view. And of course the majority view is based on Paul being a genuine historical character, which is based solely on the fact his name is tagged on a few of the epistles.
                      There is no evidence for this character outside of the bible and we already know that Acts is now regarded as historical fiction.

                      I am inclined to think the ”creed” is an interpolation.
                      And once you consider it as such it makes everything else come into focus.

                      It truly is simply all made up.

                      ,However, if the YEC crowd swear dinosaurs walked the earth with humans dickheads like ft etc will continue to argue for a resurrection.

                      I guess all said and done you gotta do what you gotta do, right?


                    3. I’m consistent. I accept majority expert opinion.

                      No Christian apologist can rightfully accuse me of a bias if I accept majority expert opinion even when it hurts my overall argument. You and I will have to agree to disagree. 🙂


                    4. This could be a slippery slope, but as I said, you gotta do what you feel you gotta do.
                      Besides, most of what you write/ your approach I fully agree with, Gary.


  4. Gary –

    re: “Just to humor you, I will go with: the tomb was found empty on Sunday, two days after his crucifixion on Friday.”

    OK. Good. That’s a start. Now, where were the disciples at that time? Had they already headed back to Galilee, or were they still at Jerusalem, and did they know, on that Sunday, that the tomb was found empty?

    (Just trying to get the actual details of the theory here — hehehhe — and unless you just go ahead and spell it all out *in detail*, then these kinds of questions are going to go on for a while)


    1. Ok, let’s go with this:

      -the earliest Gospel, Mark, states that the disciples fled on Thursday night. Did they flee the city? A chapter later the women at the tomb are told to tell the male disciples to GO to Galilee. So let’s go with the disciples still being in Jerusalem or the vicinity of Jerusalem, but in hiding.

      -As far as when they found out about the Empty Tomb, I would guess that some of the female disciples of Jesus did go to the tomb on Sunday morning (to mourn or for unknown reasons) and found it empty and shortly thereafter the women told the male disciples.

      But Mark says that the women left and told no one, which is odd. Very odd. Some skeptics believe that Mark invented the Empty Tomb and since no one prior to the writing of Mark had heard of an empty rock tomb of J. of Arimathea, Mark had to add the statement that the women fled telling no one to explain why no one had ever heard this story before. I’m going to ignore this problem and assume that the women (eventually) did tell the male disciples.


      1. I don’t understand what Mark has to do with any of this…

        I’m trying – VERY hard – to get YOU to tell me, in detail, YOUR version of what happened. And, stress the “detail”…

        I don’t give a rip about Mark.. What do YOU think happened – IN DETAIL…

        Like I said, the Devil’s in the details. So, I really want to know your best-thought-through scenario.


        1. I believe that shortly after his crucifixion and burial in a rock tomb, Jesus’ tomb was found empty. I would guess that it was within days, maybe on the Sunday following his death and burial. I would guess that the tomb was found by some of the female members of Jesus’ disciples who then told the male disciples. I believe that shortly after this discovery, the disciples returned to Galilee to resume their former professions. While in Galilee, the reason for the empty tomb of Jesus weighed heavily on their minds. Was the body stolen? Was it moved by the Sanhedrin? The Romans? The gardener? Or did something miraculous happen? Was Jesus raised from the dead as had happened three times in the Old Testament? Or has the general resurrection of the dead begun; Jesus was simply the “first fruits”; will the Kingdom of God will break out at any second?

          Then one of the disciples had a vivid dream or hallucination in which Jesus appeared to him in a “heavenly” body, telling him that he had risen from the dead, that the Kingdom of God was about to begin; go and preach my message (gospel) to the world!

          Soon other disciples were experiencing “appearances” of Jesus (vivid dreams, trances, hallucinations, illusions). Then groups of disciples started to “see” Jesus in bright lights, cloud formations, etc.

          And the resurrection myth was born…


          1. Gary – OK – THANK YOU for that more detailed response…

            So, over the eight to ten days and nights it would have taken to return to Galilee, do you supposed the disciples that were traveling back together *talked* about what happened? They had eight or ten days and nights to sit around talking, asking questions, sharing grief, crying together, sharing their dismayed and confused thoughts, trying not only to make sense of what happened to Jesus, but also, of what was to happen to themselves and the (former) “Jesus movement”. Heck, they probably got up each morning and said the Kiddush for their lost Rabbi. And, of course, they would have certainly had both the time and the opportunity to sit around and speculate what happened with the body….

            Do you think that’s plausible?


            1. I’m not sure where you intend to go with this, but here is my guess:

              ftbond: No first century Jew would have ever done/thought X
              Gary: Which is more probable: X or a first century corpse came back to life and eventually levitated into outer space?

              ftbond: How probable is it that someone would believe the claim that a corpse has been resurrected unless that person had actually seen a resurrected body?
              Gary: Which is more probable: Someone believes the claim that a corpse has been resurrected, or, a corpse is literally resurrected?

              And we can do this ad infinitum.

              Bottom line: The probability of an exception, regardless of how unlikely it might be, to a generalization about the behavior and beliefs of first century people is infintisimally greater than the probability of the literal resurrection of a three day brain dead corpse.


              Three day brain dead corpses do NOT come back to life in any way, shape, or form…including “resurrections”!

              Am I ruling out the probability of the supernatural?

              You’re damn right I am!

              I may not be able prove that the supernatural does not exist, but I can ignore it until supernaturalists come up with much better evidence for it’s reality.


              1. Gary –

                re your post beginning “I’m not sure where you intend to go with this, but here is my guess”

                Actually, I wasn’t going to say anything at all about what a “first century Jew” would or wouldn’t do. I was, however, going to say that after spending eight or ten days and nights walking, resting, eating together, sleeping together, and above all – talking, sharing grief and sorrow, confusion, disappointment, uncertainty, and a myriad of other related thoughts and feelings about the loss of Jesus, you’re not going to end up with a group of people who are just “ripe” to buy into somebody’s eventual hallucination. That’s eight or ten days and nights of people all dealing with a mutual loss and shared feelings. You can’t really expect someone – days after they’ve finally reached Galilee, and tried to get on with their lives – to even want to consider some cockamamey story about somebody “thinking they saw Jesus alive again”.

                That’s not just what a first century Jew would do. That’s what most anybody would do. They would have no inclination at all, at that point, of entertaining some “dream” that somebody had.

                And, that’s why I don’t think the hallucination theory works. Because when you get down to the details, and remember just that one little thing – that the trip from Jerusalem to Galilee was eight or ten days and nights of constantly being with your traveling partners, talking, grieving, wishing, denying, being profoundly sad, angry, and all those other emotions – such a “theraputic situation” might not keep someone from having an halluciation at some future point, but it sure as heck would keep most anyone else from wanting to re-visit the whole, pathetic and disappointing scenario. Most of them, by that time, would have just wanted to get back to their own lives, and lay the whole thing to rest.

                So – give me another scenario that you think would work.


                1. First of all: What proof do you have that this merry band ran back to Galilee together? For all we know they avoided each other for fear of being identified as followers of Jesus.

                  And most important: Which is more probable: A group of people who spent 10 days on the road together discussing “what happened” fall for someone’s hallucination, vivid dream, trance, or illusion, or, a brain dead corpse comes back to life and later flies off into outer space?

                  My original scenario works for everyone except someone who already believes that brain dead corpses can and have come back to life and flown off into outer space.


                  1. re: “First of all: What proof do you have that this merry band ran back to Galilee together? ”

                    There you go again, using that “proof” word.

                    The word is “plausible”, Gary. Plausible. You really need to get that in your vocabulary.

                    And, you’re fallacious “probability” notion once again rears it’s very ugly head: “Which is more probable: A group of people who spent 10 days on the road together discussing “what happened” fall for someone’s hallucination, vivid dream, trance, or illusion, or, a brain dead corpse comes back to life and later flies off into outer space?”

                    “Probability’s” got nuthin’ to do with it. Not if we’re talking about a willful and chosen act of a God who has agency and acts according to His own decisions.

                    So, you’ve given me nothing to respond to, except to say “learn the word ‘plausibility’, and use it”, and “as always, ‘probabilty’s got nuthin’ to do with it”.



                    1. It is impossible for you and I to have a productive discussion about “plausibility” or “probability” as long as you assume the existence of your magic performing, omnipotent, invisible friend and I assume his non-existence.

                      We have no common ground upon which to have a discussion.

                      Either you must argue without your assumption or I must argue without mine. The problem is, the first one to drop his assumption, immediately loses the debate. That is why supernaturalists and non-supernaturalists cannot have a productive discussion regarding plausibility and probability on any issue involving supernatural claims.


              2. re: “I may not be able prove that the supernatural does not exist, but I can ignore it until supernaturalists come up with much better evidence for it’s reality.”

                Well, there’s still this little matter of this “resurrection thing”…

                I don’t think the hallucination idea works, for a whole lot of reasons – including the fact that you yourself wouldn’t buy into somebody’s hallucination. Most people, I figure, have a bit better grasp on reality than that – just like you do. So, even *you* don’t really think the hallucination theory works, because *you* don’t believe it, either.

                And yet – we still have that story. It didn’t just “go away”. A person – a “prophetic, religious person” – was crucified (of all times) on the Passover (and how on earth could *that* have been planned?) – and then, he’s buried, and what happens? His tomb is found empty. And, nobody has ever been able to account for the body. Nobody knows what happened to it. This is the kind of stuff that only happens in movies.

                What if God really only did two miracles? The Creation, then, the Re-Creation (starting with the resurrection of Jesus)?

                You know, nobody knows how the Universe got here. Just like nobody knows what happened with the body of Jesus. Is it *possible* that there is a Creator God, and that the answer to both those questions *is* that there is a Creator God?


                1. Yea, and it’s possible that donkeys fly.

                  Brain dead corpses do NOT come back to life, ft. The fact that a few first century peasants believed otherwise is not good evidence for modern people to believe this tall tale.


  5. I don’t give a rip about Mark.. What do YOU think happened – IN DETAIL…

    As we only have the biblical account, then we can say it is nothing but hearsay.
    So therefore it can be dismissed with impunity.

    Or as is said in the Life of Brian — ”He’s making it up as he goes along”

    If you have any evidence to the contrary regarding this tomb feel free to present it, ft.


  6. ftbond: ‘I don’t think the hallucination idea works, for a whole lot of reasons – including the fact that you yourself wouldn’t buy into somebody’s hallucination.’

    Say what?
    1. The only first-hand, eye-witness account we have of the ‘risen lord’ is Paul’s – and it’s a frickin’ hallucination!
    2. Millions have ‘bought into’ this particular hallucination, and continue to do so to this day. 3. Yes, ‘most people… have a bit better grasp on reality than that,’ except those like yourself, ft, who choose to ‘buy into’ Paul’s and others’ hallucinations, and the later fictions, such as the empty tomb, that were added in the hope of giving them credence.


  7. Neil –

    First, the discussion is concerning the disciples of Jesus that were with him at Jerusalem at the time of his crucifixion. It’s not about Paul, nor his experience. Paul wasn’t mentioned in my argument. Try to keep on topic.

    Second, the millions of people that have “bought into this particular hallucination” – (again, Paul’s, which is not germane to this discussion) – have not bought into an “hallucination”, but rather, have bought into an argument that says Paul’s experience was *not* an hallucination, but an actual event in which there were certain physical attributes – such as “others heard the voice” – something that would not happen if an individual (Paul) were having a completely subjective, mentally-self-contained experience such as an hallucination. Now, whether that argument holds water is outside the topic we’re talking about. Again, please try to stay on topic.

    Third – “…‘most people… have a bit better grasp on reality than that,’ except those like yourself, ft…” — Thanks for the very sophomoric example – a *textbook* sophomoric example, mind you – of “attack the opponent, not the argument”. You have demonstrated for readers exactly the way to lose points in any given college-level, judged debate competition.

    A Bonus: “…later fictions, such as the empty tomb, that were added in the hope of giving them credence”. Stating an assumption as a fact. Again, a sure way to lose points in any college-level, judged debate competition.


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