The Appearance to the Five Hundred and the Ascension were the Same Event!

Image result for image of a flock of sheep on a hilltop

Immediately after Jesus’ arrest in Jerusalem, his male disciples fled home to Galilee.  Only a few women followers stayed behind in the city.  These women found the Empty Tomb on Sunday morning following Jesus’ execution and burial.  They believed that someone had stolen or moved the body.  They fled the scene terrified.  They returned to Galilee and told the male disciples what had happened.

The story of the Empty Tomb triggered wild speculation.  Was Jesus’ body stolen by thieves?  Had the Sanhedrin moved the body?  Had the Romans moved the body?  Or…had God raised Jesus from the dead???

This idea sparked a glimmer of hope in the grieving, despondent disciples.  Maybe they would reign with Jesus in the New Kingdom after all!  This glimmer of hope quickly fanned the flames of religious superstition and created an atmosphere of emotional hysteria.

Disciples started seeing Jesus in their dreams (visions), in their day dreams (trances), and in false sightings of someone who looked like Jesus in large crowds, or in illusions of natural phenomena.

One day, hundreds of Jesus’ followers gathered on a mountain in Galilee, a few hundred yards from the summit.  It was a cloudy day.  Fog enveloped the top of the mountain.  The disciples began to pray.  They prayed that if Jesus had been raised from the dead, that he would appear to them.

Suddenly they looked up at the summit of the mountain.  The fog had lifted and there was a man.  He was looking down at them.  He looked…he looked like JESUS!  Jesus had heard their prayers and had appeared to them!  The man smiled at the crowd of people looking up at him and waved.  His wave was unusual. It was a movement of the outstretched arm and hand from top to bottom, then a slow sweeping movement of the arm and hand from left to right.

He had made the sign of a cross!

[Or, the man made some other gesture which the disciples interpreted as unique to Jesus.]

It WAS Jesus!

In the next second, the fog enveloped the summit again and the disciples could no longer see the man.  Some of them ran to the summit to take hold of Jesus, but could not find him in the thick fog.  After a half hour, the fog at the summit lifted, and the man was nowhere to be seen in the entire area.

“Jesus has appeared to over 500 of his followers and now God has taken him to heaven, just like Elijah!!!”

The stories of the appearance of Jesus to the Five Hundred and the Ascension were born.

(The man on the mountain top was a shepherd looking for his sheep in the fog.  Yes, he looked like Jesus, but he was not Jesus.)

Image result for image of a man in the fog on a hill

 

 

 

 

End of post.

20 thoughts on “The Appearance to the Five Hundred and the Ascension were the Same Event!

  1. I’d say this is the best “alternate version” of the “gospel” that you’ve ever come up with!

    Now, honestly, I think you could do without the “sign of the cross” thing — that’s not only a tad hokey, but, the “sign of the cross” business wasn’t something that even came up until maybe a couple of centuries after Jesus’ death.

    Aside from that one “complaint” (as it were), I’d definitely have to say this is your best “theory” to date…

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    1. Thank you, ft.

      I suggest that just as I made up this story, the authors of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John made up many of theirs. Yes, Jesus existed; was an apocalyptic preacher; had a reputation as a miracle worker and healer; got into trouble with the Jewish authorities; was crucified by the Romans; was buried in the Sanhedrin’s tomb which was later found empty; and sometime thereafter his disciples experienced something that led them to believe he had appeared to them. And the rest is…theological fiction. Good story telling. Evangelism. Propaganda.

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  2. You’re probably going to have to “fill in some blanks” in your story, though.

    The first question raised by your scenario has to do with Jesus’ death and “empty tomb”.

    In your scenario, the male disciples all took off for Galilee when Jesus was arrested. At that point, they don’t even know what happened to him, including whether he was crucified or not. And certainly, they’d have no knowledge of what happened with Jesus’ corpse.

    Then you have the remaining women going and finding Jesus’ tomb, empty.

    SO – according to this scenario, the women eventually go back to Galilee and tell the disciples that Jesus was crucified. BUT, they add, “his tomb was found empty”.

    And, it is on the basis of this that the disciples started having wild speculations. Yet, they didn’t know if the women even had their story right. When do the disciples get confirmation that Jesus was indeed crucified, that he was indeed placed in a tomb, and that the tomb was, in fact, found empty? Why be grieving (thus possibly having hallucinations), or experiencing “illusions” or “mistaken identities” if you’re not even sure Jesus was dead in the first place? What if the real story, back in Jerusalem, was that Jesus’ was arrested, then he got sentenced to a life as a slave on a Roman galley? Or, what if, back in Jerusalem, the story was that Jesus was, in fact, crucified, but he wasn’t even buried? Or, what if the story, back in Jerusalem, was that Jesus’ was crucified, and his body was actually put in a tomb, and body was, in fact, moved by the Sanhedrin, after the Sabbaths, to a common trench grave? What I’m getting at is that the disciples were going to need some confirmation on the women’s story. More importantly, they were going to need to know that “some other story” – a contradictory story that might well already be known by a number of people – wasn’t already confirmed back in Jerusalem. And, I strongly suggest that most any historian that was “worth his salt” would need such questions answered, as well.

    So if you want to be serious about this scenario, I think you have a bit more writing to do. You’ve not even made an attempt to explain what happened to Jesus body at all, or, how how the disciples would really even know that Jesus was dead, put in a tomb, and the tomb found empty…

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    1. So if you want to be serious about this scenario, I think you have a bit more writing to do. You’ve not even made an attempt to explain what happened to Jesus body at all…

      On Saturday evening, after sunset, the Sanhedrin sent a few servants to the tomb in which they had placed Jesus the day before (Friday, late afternoon). They rolled back the stone, took Jesus’ body and placed it into a donkey-drawn cart, covered it with hay, and then drove to another burial site used to bury paupers and criminals. Jesus’ new (dirt) grave had no marker and was one among thousands of graves. The men who dug the grave soon forgot about it’s location and its occupant. (Jesus was in reality a nobody at the time of his death.) On Sunday morning, the women show up to the original rock tomb and find it empty. They are horrified and fearful. They flee the scene without telling anyone in Jerusalem.

      SO – according to this scenario, the women eventually go back to Galilee and tell the disciples that Jesus was crucified. BUT, they add, “his tomb was found empty”. And, it is on the basis of this that the disciples started having wild speculations?

      Not only did these women find the empty tomb, they had witnessed the crucifixion…from afar. From afar, they saw Jesus die. From afar, they watched Jesus hang his head and his body go limp, not to move again. From afar, they later watched as a soldier drove a spear into Jesus’ side. They then followed the burial party and witnessed Jesus’ burial in the tomb of the Sanhedrin (J. of Arimathea).

      The only thing they didn’t witness was the removal, relocation, and reburial of the body on Saturday night after sunset.

      The male disciples trusted the women. Some of the women had been followers of Jesus for almost as long as the men. One of the women was Jesus own mother! Of course they trusted her testimony.

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  3. I guess this is an improvement, but, I think a bit more work is necessary.

    In this New and Improved version, the disciples know that Jesus is dead (because the women can at least be believed for that much).

    And, the disciples might truly believe that the women went to “a” tomb, and saw it was empty. But, they couldn’t know that the women actually went to the right tomb.

    Neither could they know whether the body had simply been moved, quite legitimately, and that there was record of it, and, Sanhedrin members that gave the order, and grave-diggers that actually moved the body and put it in a trench grave, and that there might well have been 10, 50, 100, (1000?) Passover piligrims, camped very nearby, that saw the body being moved. So, maybe the women went to the right tomb, and it was quite empty, but that doesn’t mean a resurrection occurred.

    The point: there’s no reason for the disciples to start praying for some kind of “sign” from God that Jesus had been resurrected, when, for all they knew, the “empty tomb” might be fully explainable by Caiaphas or other Sanhedrin members, or by the grave-diggers who moved the body, or by any number of onlookers that saw the body being moved. They might fully accept that Jesus died, and fully accept that the women did indeed to to the right tomb, and that it was empty. But, how and when do they learn that nobody back in Jerusalem (or anywhere else, for that matter) can explain what did happen with the body?

    I think that’s something you’re going to have to expound on a bit….

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    1. The women’s story of an empty tomb did not trigger the resurrection belief. It only triggered speculation which over time developed into a superstitious frenzy, resulting in alleged “appearances”.

      The “appearances” of Jesus to multiple individuals and to groups triggered (eventually) the resurrection belief. At first, the alleged appearances only triggered the belief that God had raised Jesus from the dead…the cause of the empty tomb.

      Confirmation? Evidence? The male disciples did not need to confirm the women’s story with Caiaphas or any other Jew in Jerusalem nor did they need physical proof that the body had or had not been moved…because JESUS himself, in his appearances to some of them individually (which in reality were vivid dreams or day dreams/trances), the reason for the empty tomb: “I am risen from the dead. Go and preach my message to all the world.” Jesus had also appeared to some of them, individually and even in groups, in bodily form (in reality, cases of mistaken identity such as the man in the fog above). This was all the evidence they needed. Any stories or evidence to the contrary would be rejected due to their vivid appearance experiences. They were certain: The New Kingdom would soon appear with Jesus as the King of Israel and they would rule the entire world with him!

      The concept of “resurrection” did not appear immediately after the alleged appearances. It “evolved”. At first, as mentioned above, the disciples believed that God had raised Jesus from the dead. However, when Jesus never showed up to confirm this fact, cognitive dissonance set in: If God raised Jesus from the dead, where the hell is his body???

      Some then speculated that God had taken Jesus to heaven, just as he had (allegedly) done with Elijah. But Elijah never came back, so again, that conflicted with their hope (cognitive dissonance) that they would soon reign with Jesus in the New Kingdom. Jesus had said he was the messiah, not just a great prophet like Elijah. He HAS to come back to set up the kingdom!

      If Jesus was coming back to earth to set up the New Kingdom as the Messiah, that would mean that the resurrection of all the righteous dead would also occur. Was there a connection between Jesus’ death and his empty tomb and the general resurrection???

      Maybe God hadn’t just raised Jesus from the dead. Maybe God had RESURRECTED Jesus from the dead! But how could that happen when the pharisees/rabbis taught that in the general resurrection ALL the righteous dead would rise, not just one righteous man. Hmm. Well, what about this: Jesus was the FIRST FRUITS of the Resurrection! The rest of the righteous dead will be resurrected at any moment! Maybe today! The resurrection of the righteous dead is occurring at this very moment, we have only seen the beginning of it! Let’s sell all we have, move to Jerusalem, set up a commune, and pray and fast until the resurrected Jesus returns to establish the New Kingdom…when he will place us on our thrones next to him, in…Jerusalem!!!

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      1. The point: there’s no reason for the disciples to start praying for some kind of “sign” from God that Jesus had been resurrected, when, for all they knew, the “empty tomb” might be fully explainable by Caiaphas or other Sanhedrin members, or by the grave-diggers who moved the body, or by any number of onlookers that saw the body being moved. They might fully accept that Jesus died, and fully accept that the women did indeed to to the right tomb, and that it was empty. But, how and when do they learn that nobody back in Jerusalem (or anywhere else, for that matter) can explain what did happen with the body?

        By the time the disciples finally move to Jerusalem (two to three years after Jesus’ death), no one in Jerusalem remembers Jesus or where he is buried. He was a no body during his lifetime.

        Jesus was just some Galilean peasant who caused a disturbance in the Temple, claiming to be the messiah (the Jewish king), violently attacking some of the merchants. This kind of behavior could not be tolerated. It was a threat to the Jewish control of the Temple. If the Romans viewed the Temple area as a source of rebellion, they could take away the last bit of Jewish autonomy. The Sanhedrin was not going to let that happen. Jesus was seen as a loon, but his act of violence was too risky for the Sanhedrin to tolerate. He was quickly snuffed out like an annoying fly. His small band of followers fled to Galilee so there was no concern for any further problems from this crazy bunch of zealots.

        So why would anyone remember him two or three years later when approximately 120 of his peasant followers return to the capital city of 30,000 people???

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  4. OK – I’m OK with these point so far (which is not to say I agree, but to say I’m not taking issue with these points at this time):
    1. Jesus, a nobody with a small group of follower, gets crucified.
    2. Male followers go back to Galilee
    3. Female followers stay in Jerusalem, seeing that Jesus was crucified and put it a tomb, and they find the tomb empty after the Sabbaths. They then return to Galilee.
    4. In Galilee, the story of Jesus death, and, the empty tomb, are believed.
    5. Some have hallucinations, others have visions, dreams, and so on.
    6. They all pray about it, go to a mountain and we have the “Jesus in the fog” incident. It’s the “sign” they asked for. Jesus was “raised from the dead”.
    7. Over the next few years, a “resurrection theology” develops.
    8. In this same time period, people in Jerusalem have long forgotten the event. They don’t know who Jesus was, nobody remembers having moved a body from a tomb to a trench grave. It’s just a totally forgotten incident.

    I’m OK with all this stuff, to this point… (again, not agreeing – just not taking issue)

    SO – years later, when they went to Jerusalem, nobody knew anything about Jesus. Jesus’ tomb might really have been empty when Mary went to see it (because, unknown to her, Caiaphas just had the body moved to a trench grave). But, certainly, no “stir” had been caused in Jerusalem by stories of an “empty tomb of Jesus”, because Mary certainly didn’t cause any stir with the story in Jerusalem, and, because nobody even knew or cared about Jesus anyway. “You say your friends tomb is empty, young lady? Well, it sounds like somebody stole the body. Sorry to hear that”… Heck, even Mary thought the body was probably stolen. So, in Jerusalem, the “empty tomb” was simply never even some kind of “rumor”. And, over the years, in Jerusalem, the whole thing became a forgotten incident by the scant few that even knew anything about it.

    THE PROBLEM:

    If Peter (et al) wait “several years” before going back to Jerusalem to preach, then, that means they are showing up right at the same time Paul begins his persecution of “the church”, which had already begun to spread out, at least as far as Damascus, Syria.

    So, exactly when did the “church” have time to grow, such that it had become a problem on the radar of the Jewish leadership, leading them to get Saul of Tarsus to start making arrests, if Peter (et al) had just arrived at the same time Paul began his persecution?

    And, WHY would the church have any appreciable growth at all, such that it would draw the attention of the Jewish leadership, if Peter (et al) waited “several years” before returning to Jerusalem?

    You got a handful of Galileans that were ardent followers of Jesus, but, nobody else knew who he was. This handful of followers now claim, among themselves, that Jesus was resurrected.

    SO – some of them go to Jerusalem after several years. They start telling others that they believe that Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified (which the listener probably didn’t know), was then resurrected.

    Their story might matter if Jesus was a “somebody”. It might matter if huge parts of the population believe that he was a teacher of profound truths, a miracle worker, a healer, the Messiah.

    But, nobody has any idea of who this “Jesus” was, or was “supposed” to be (according to you). Like you say, he was a “nobody”, so, I don’t see the relevance of this “Jesus story” to anybody, such that the Galileans might start winning “converts” (for lack of a better term).

    The Galileans start telling people about “Jesus of Nazareth” who was crucified and raised to eternal life, right there, in Jerusalem, and yet the people of Jerusalem have no idea who he was. Caiaphas doesn’t really remember the guy (Jesus) as anything but somebody who vandalized the Temple (if he remembers at all). Pilate? He’s got absolutely no clue at all of who this “Jesus” was. Empty tomb? Nope, nobody’s ever even heard anything about that. The Rabbis in the synagogues don’t know who Jesus was. Right there, in that very city, a resurrection was supposed to have occurred, and yet nobody has any idea of who this “great prophet” was, and certainly, no idea of why he warranted resurrection. How on earth could something as earth-shaking as that have happened right there in Jerusalem, and yet, nobody’s ever heard a thing about it?

    The point: If that’s the way it really was, then, the story is going to be a really “tough sell”, resulting in very few converts.

    So, returning to the Main Problem: If Peter (et al) show up years after the crucifixion, telling a story that is a very “tough sell” (and thus, winning few converts), then there was nothing going on that would have caught the attention of the Jewish leadership such that they’d immediately “hire” Saul of Tarsus for “prosecutorial services” in that exact same timeframe.

    Thus – this “Peter (et al) waited several years before returning to Jerusalem” just doesn’t line up with what the vast majority of historians agree on: Paul began his persecution within about three years of the crucifixion. But, if Peter (et al) had just arrived in Jerusalem, there really wouldn’t have been anything for Paul to persecute.

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    1. No one knew about the empty tomb except one guy in the Sanhedrin in charge of disposing of the bodies of crucified criminals (J. of Arimathea), his servants, and the women who went to the tomb. Since Jesus was a nobody in his lifetime, J. of A. and his servants quickly forgot about him. And remember, the women fled the empty tomb…and told no one. And they not only immediately fled the tomb, they immediately fled Jerusalem and Judea.

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    2. Three years earlier, one Galilean peasant and his TWELVE disciples caused a disturbance in the Temple that got him killed and caused his followers to flee for their lives. Three years later, ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY disciples of this same dead guy show up to the Temple and start accusing the high priest, the Sanhedrin, and the entire Jewish nation of murdering the MESSIAH—the divinely appointed Jewish KING!

      Remember that the Temple was the only location in all of Palestine where the Romans allowed Jewish autonomy. The Jewish authorities were not going to allow anything or anyone to jeopardize that autonomy. Just as they had done three years earlier, they moved to snuff out the new threat to their power. They hired Paul to do it.

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      1. You’re missing the point.

        In your scenario, the disciples show up in Jerusalem, three years after the crucifixion. Nobody knows who they are. And, they are the only “church”. There are no other churches, elsewhere (ie, Damascus).

        Yet, that “three-years-later” tiimeframe is when historians say Paul began to persecute the church – and – his particular efforts were outside of Jerusalem.

        But, if the disciples had just shown up, then, there is no church in Damascus (for example) for Paul to be persecution.

        Your timeline doesn’t work.

        Ehrman: “Based on a very careful assessment of everything that Paul says about his “about face” (= conversion), it must have happened some 2-4 years after Jesus’ death.”

        You can’t have the disciples just showing up three years after the crucifixion, and, somehow explain how Paul got “converted” while going to Damascus to persecute a church there – because – if the disciples had just then showed up at Jerusalem in that time frame, there would not BE a church in Damascus to persecute.

        You need to re-think your timeline.

        Somehow, the church has to have time to spread from Jerusalem to Damascus.

        Ehrman: ” there must have been communities of Jewish-Christians living outside of Palestine of sufficient number for Paul to have heard of them, learned what it was they were actually saying, and decided to try to wipe them out of existence.

        I very seriously doubt that ANY historian would agree to your timeline…

        I think it’s gonna take a re-work.

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        1. I never said that ALL the disciples (early Christians) moved to Jerusalem. Only approximately 120 did.

          In my story, a couple hundred of Jesus followers “saw” Jesus on the foggy mountain top in Galilee (“Five hundred” was probably an exaggeration). This occurred at some point in time between Jesus’ crucifixion and approximately three years later when Paul starts persecuting the Church. Note: Just because there were a couple hundred followers of Jesus on the mountain top that day, doesn’t mean that all the Christians in Galilee were on that mountain top that day. Let’s say that there were 400 believers in the entire world on that day, all of them living in Galilee.

          But this “sighting” of Jesus on the foggy mountain was the stimulus for the movement to share the Good News of Jesus to the entire world! (It would later be memorialized by non-eyewitness authors, writing decades later, as the moment Jesus gave the “Great Commission”.) Prior to this event, Jesus had appeared to them in “visions” and “trances” individually, but now he had appeared bodily to the majority of Christians on the planet at one time and place!

          One hundred and twenty of this “four hundred” moved to Jerusalem (including the “Twelve”, as they expected to soon sit on thrones in the Jewish capital), two hundred of them stayed in Galilee, and 80 of them moved to Damascus!

          So when Peter and his band showed up in the Temple accusing the Sanhedrin and the Jewish people of murdering the anointed King of Israel (the messiah), Christians became enemy #1 of the Jewish high priest. He hired Paul to hunt them down. Paul started in Jerusalem, then went to Galilee where he found out that some of the Christians there had moved to Damascus, leading him to travel on the Damascus Road to persecute the 80 Christians in the Syrian capital.

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          1. this is all nice, but, this is the point where you’d have to actually provide some real support for your theory, if you were to get it to pass muster with historians.

            You’re going to have to contend with the view that many scholars hold – Peter and the “120” were in Jerusalem by Pentecost, 50 days after the crucifixion…

            “Concerning Acts 2, Lüdemann considers the Pentecost gathering as very possible,[46] and the apostolic instruction to be historically credible.[47] Wedderburn acknowledges the possibility of a ‘mass ecstatic experience’,[48] and notes it is difficult to explain why early Christians later adopted this Jewish festival if there had not been an original Pentecost event as described in Acts” [wiki]

            ‘There is a historical occasion behind the description of the story of Pentecost in Acts and Peter’s preaching, even if Luke has depicted them with relative freedom.’, Hengel & Schwemer, ‘Paul Between Damascus and Antioch: the unknown years’,

            even if Acts 2:5 reflects an earlier tradition which spoke of an ethnically mixed audience at Pentecost,49 it is clear that for the author of Acts only Jewish hearers come in question at this stage and on this point he was in all probability correct.’, Wedderburn, ‘A History of the First Christians’, p. 30 (2004).

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            1. it is difficult to explain why early Christians later adopted this Jewish festival if there had not been an original Pentecost event as described in Acts” [wiki]

              I never said that Peter’s denunciation of the chief priest and the entire Sanhedrin did not occur on Pentecost…just not in the same year that Jesus died! Why couldn’t this event have occurred three years later? The claim that it occurred 50 days after Jesus’ death could very easily be one of many literary embellishments found in the works of the Gospel authors.

              I challenge you to provide a reputable source which states that the majority of historians (or even NT scholars) believe that it is an historical fact (a highly probable historical certainty) that the alleged Pentecost story occurred in the same year as Jesus’ death.

              And remember this: We are talking about plausibilities and probabilities. Even if the majority of historians and experts believe that the Pentecost story, occurring 50 days after Jesus’ death, is an historical fact, the probability that the majority of experts is wrong on this issue is much, much higher (in the world view of non-supernaturalists) than the resurrection of a dead body.

              However, I do not believe that you can prove that the majority of scholars believe that the Pentecost Story occurring 50 days after Jesus’ death is an historical fact (highly probably historical certainty). This claim isn’t even part of Gary Habermas’ Minimal Facts.

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            2. There is no passage in the New Testament that states that Peter’s preaching on Pentecost occurred 50 days after Jesus death. I just perused Acts 1 and 2. There is no mention there that the disciples went to Jerusalem 50 days after Jesus’ death. This timeline is an assumption.

              If one reads Acts alone, it certainly appears that the Pentecost in question occurs in the same year as Jesus death, but we are not dealing with an eyewitness author in this situation. Even Christians must admit this.

              In addition, the same author, in the Gospel of Luke, writes that Jesus appeared to the disciples in the Upper Room on the same day as his resurrection, “and then” went to a mountain near Bethany where he ascended into heaven. Skeptics ask, “Don’t Christians believe that Jesus stuck around for another 40 days??? Isn’t this a major discrepancy??? Christians frequently reply, ” ‘then’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘immediately’.” So when the same author in Acts chapter one tells us the Ascension story, and “then” has the disciples go into Jerusalem to elect Matthias as the twelfth disciple, and “then” they go to the Temple on Pentecost—to be consistent, these “then’s” could also refer to an extended period of time, including THREE YEARS later!

              Here is the beginning of Acts chapter 2:

              When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

              If we apply the same standard here that Christians apply to the appearance stories in Luke, then there is no reason why this event could not have occurred three years later. This is a new pericope. The non-eyewitness author of Luke could have simply spliced this story onto the stories in the previous chapter of Jesus’ ascension and the selection of Matthias as the twelfth disciple even though the events on Pentecost occurred several years later than these two (alleged) events.

              Note too that in neither the Gospel of Luke nor in Acts does Jesus EVER appear to anyone in Galilee! Christians state that Luke simply left them out as they were unnecessary to his theme. However, if the absence of Galilean appearance stories in the Gospel of Luke and Acts can be construed as irrelevant to their historicity, then Christians must accept other possibilities for their absence, such as that Matthew and John’s Galilean appearances are fictional inventions, or, Luke’s Judean appearances are fictional inventions. Let’s be consistent, Christians.

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  5. re: “I challenge you to provide a reputable source which states that the majority of historians (or even NT scholars) believe that it is an historical fact (a highly probable historical certainty) that the alleged Pentecost story occurred in the same year as Jesus’ death.”

    Heck, Gary – YOU’RE the one making the claim that the Pentecost in question was NOT the one immediately after the Passover, at which Jesus was crucified.

    You do your OWN research on this one.

    What you’re writing doesn’t just have to pass muster with ME, as if this is some kind of point of contention between you and me. If you’re going to come up with this kind of theory, YOU need to show why you think the Pentecost referrered to in Acts was one several years after the Crucifixion.

    You show ME some reputable source that states that the Pentecost in Acts was NOT a reference to the Pentecost, fifty days after the Passover at which Jesus was crucified.

    Otherwise, you’re just blowing hot air.

    You can write this up, get a peer review, and see what scholars agree with you. Or, go get a doctorate and write your own books as a so-called authority.

    But, until YOUR theory passes muster with the broader community of scholars, you’re just blowing hot air… It’s up to YOU to provide evidence for your own theory, Gary. I’m not gonna do your research for you.

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    1. You are missing the point of this entire discussion.

      I am not pretending to know what DID happen 2,000 years ago, I am simply presenting a plausible hypothetical natural explanation of the early Christian resurrection belief that incorporates all the accepted historical facts (accepted by the consensus of experts). This is what a detective would do to solve a crime. He (or she) would consider all the plausible explanations for the crime, incorporating all the agreed upon evidence. He would then start at the most plausible explanation, eliminate it or confirm it, and then move down the list.

      The onus is not on me or any other skeptic to prove that the majority of scholars believe that the Pentecost Story in Acts 2 is non-historical, I only have to assert that it might be non-historical based on the fact that most scholars believe that fictitious material is present within the writings of the Gospel authors. So until someone presents good evidence that the majority of scholars believe that the Pentecost Story of Acts 2 is historically accurate, I am justified in asserting it might not be.

      Bottom line: I have provided a plausible, natural explanation for the Resurrection Belief. You are free to believe that your supernatural explanation is more plausible/probable, but the majority of non-Christians (theists and non-theists) think you are irrational to believe this.

      And I am willing to bet that one could come up with several more plausible natural explanations for this very unusual first century claim. The fact that I could invent a plausible natural explanation within two days is good evidence of that.

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  6. I don’t know if the account of Pentecost in Acts is historical.

    What I balk on is a three-year period of time that the “church” was growing in Galilee, and of “believers” going off to other places (such as Damascus), and no historical or archaeological OR even traditional or even anecdotal information that would even point anyone in the direction of saying that there was this three-year period of time before Peter and others finally went to Jerusalem.

    There is a point in Acts where Paul’s own, personal history meets up with Lukes, and it is that point at which a persecution of the church began in Jerusalem:

    The one and only reference to a church in Galilee was in Acts 9, but this is on the advent of the persecution that Paul was a part of:

    “And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles…” (Acts 8). So, according to Luke, the believers in Jerusalem (except the apostles) were all “scattered” – and – in those places, they “spread the word”.

    Paul was in pursuit of those that had scattered, and hence, he was off to Damascus.

    Later, in Acts 9 “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace”. This was after Paul’s “conversion” (as it were)

    Now, I realize the historical reliability of Acts is in question. But, Luke had no reason to omit those three years in Galilee, deciding instead to invent a narrative that – by any “natural” reading – puts Peter (and the 120) back in Jerusalem shortly after the crucifixion. There is simply nothing gained by not accounting for those “three years in Galilee”.

    Furthermore, Luke says it was because of the persecution that Paul played a part in, that the church was scattered from Jerusalem. Again, there are no “points” gained here.

    Let me put it another way: There is no great “shame” in Peter and the others staying in Galilee, growing in numbers, having people go out and start other congregations elsewhere (including Damascus), and so on – and then, “at the Lord’s leading” – deciding it was time to return to Jerusalem, where they are immediately met with persecution, and with Saul of Tarsus.

    In fact, if Luke was just making up stuff out of whole cloth, he could have had Peter (et al) returning to Jerusalem – AFTER three years – and still, getting up and doing a “Pentecost sermon”, and that could have been what started the persecution.

    Instead, he actually accounts for considerable time in Jerusalem: People were becoming converts, they were selling their property, starting to live “communally”, “day to day” meeting at the Temple. Peter and John get arrested, then, more mention of more people selling their property and joining in communal living. Still later, Peter and John arrested again and get flogged, then, back to more “communal living”, “day to day”. THEN – this story about appointing Deacons… Why is this important? By this time, there were Greek-speaking Jews in the Jerusalem congregation. And there were SEVEN of these Deacons – all of them having Greek names, charged with tending the needs of the Greek-speaking Jews. And, this seems to attest to a good number of Greek-speaking Jews having been added to the Galilean bunch. One of these Deacons was Stephen, who got stoned — and — that began a great persecution.

    What am I getting at? Luke is making up a whole bunch of stuff here, with all indication of the passage of an appreciable amount of time. But WHY? Is he just making up all this stuff about the “communal living” and people “selling their property”, and “day to day, adding to the numbers”, and two different arrests of Peter and John, and floggings, and time for Greek-speaking Jews to be added in sufficient numbers that dissentions arose between the Greek-speaking believers and the Hebraic believers, leading to the appointing of seven Greek-speaking Deacons – all just to fill in that “unaccounted-for three years in Galilee”?

    Well, maybe so. I doubt it, but, may be so. Maybe the real history is just like you said: Peter (et al) shows up in Jerusalem after three years, pisses off the Sanhedrin immediately, and the Sanhedrin hits back immediately with a persecution, hiring “Saul”.

    But, there’s nothing wrong with THAT story, if that’s the way it really went. There’s no reason at all for Luke to have to say differently.

    So, I’ll just say it would take a LOT of convincing, on your part, to get me to think that NONE of the stuff that Luke writes about, up until the persecution that Paul was a part of, has a shred of truth to it.

    This has nothing to do with whether I’m a “theist” or not. NONE of this touches on anything “supernatural”. What this has to do with is that there’s not a thing you can point to, as evidence of the “three years in Galilee”. SURE, it’s “plausible”, as long as you’re willing to totally dismiss this lengthy passage of time that Luke indicates.

    On the other hand, there is nothing remotely “implausible” about Peter (et al) going to Jerusalem at the Pentecost after Jesus was crucified, either.

    The thing that makes your scenario “suspicious” is that you’re willing to totally dismiss, as fiction, this lengthy timespan that Luke indicates for Peter, John, and this whole “growing movement” in Jerusalem, ONLY for the purpose of making your “fog on the mountain” scenario work.

    But, this ain’t got anything to do with whether I believe a “supernatural” version or not. It has to do with your version having a total dependancy on Luke just totally fabricating a whole “life in Jerusalem” for the early church, when he had absolutely no reason to do so, because the real story (if it was the real story) of Peter (et al) staying in Galilee, is totally fine… Not a thing to be embarrassed about at all. It’s just a different story.

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    1. Why doesn’t Luke mention any appearances of Jesus in Galilee? Why omit these appearances when Matthew’s only appearances of Jesus (to male disciples) are in Galilee and Mark, the author of the first Gospel written, infers that future appearances of Jesus will be in Galilee (with no suggestion that there will be appearances in Jerusalem)? Why should we trust anything that Luke says when he appears to contradict Matthew, Mark, and John (who also has appearances in Galilee)?

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      1. Most scholars believe that “Luke’s” claim that 3,000 Jews converted to Christianity on Pentecost is a blatant exaggeration. If Luke can massively embellish the number of conversions on Pentecost, why couldn’t he exaggerate the YEAR of this event???

        Here is a comment by Bart Ehrman on this topic:

        “Sometimes, a source will give numbers, but they clearly cannot be trusted. Take the book of Acts. This is our first account of early Christianity, and, of course, became the “canonical” account. According to Acts 2 (this and the following are examples that I’m giving; they are not found in Hopkins), just 50 days after Jesus’ death, on the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came upon the disciples and they preached in foreign tongues in some kind of open-air setting, and Jews from around the world heard them and came to believe. How many Jews? 3000 became Christians that day. A few days afterward, Peter and John are involved with a great miracle and Peter uses the opportunity to preach to the crowd, and he is remarkably successful. 5000 more Jews convert that day (Acts 4:4) So here we are less than two months after Jesus’ death, and 8000 non-Christian Jews have converted to believe in Jesus, in Jerusalem. Really? Can that be right?”

        Source: https://ehrmanblog.org/christians-and-their-exaggerated-numbers/

        Gary: So not only was “Luke” not an eyewitness (and the majority of scholars do not believe that he was Paul’s traveling companion or an associate of ANY eyewitness), but he was a blatant exaggerator of the facts. So his other “facts”, including time lines, should be taken worth a grain of salt.

        I have given a plausible explanation for the early Christian resurrection belief that fits with all the accepted historical facts. So why do you, ft, still believe that a resurrection is more probable?

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