Was the First Jesus Appearance a Case of Mistaken Identity?

Image result for silhouette of a man waving on the beach

Jesus had been publicly executed several weeks earlier.  His grave was found empty a few days after his burial.  His despondent disciples had returned to Galilee to resume their lives as fishermen, etc..

But today, not long after Simon Peter and his brother Andrew had shoved off from the shore of the Sea of Galilee to go fishing, the fog and morning mist on the receding shoreline (several hundred feet away) suddenly parted and there is a man standing on the shore looking at them.  He slowly raises his arm to wave at them.

“It is Jesus!” both men exclaim.

“But how can this be?” asks Andrew.

Then the fog rolls back in and “Jesus” can no longer be seen.

They both begin shouting to Jesus on the shore.  They plead for him to wait for them until they bring the boat to shore.  But there is no reply from the fog and mist.  Are they too far away for him to hear them?

As they frantically row back to shore, an exuberant Peter proclaims, “God has raised Jesus from the dead!  That is why the tomb was empty!  Jesus is the Messiah just as he told us!  Jesus will restore the kingdom of Israel!  He will crush the Romans!  Our hopes and dreams are not dashed!  (And then to himself under his breath):  …And I have been forgiven of my betrayal.”

Once they get to shore, they cannot find Jesus.  He is gone.

“It was an appearance! Jesus has appeared to his first two disciples as a sign!  He will appear again; to the others; to all of us!”

Peter and Andrew rush to tell the other disciples and share the good news that Jesus is back from the dead; the New Kingdom is about to break forth; and they will soon rule as princes on thrones of gold in the New Israel.  Soon, other disciples and groups of disciples are “seeing” Jesus.

But after a few months pass and there is no restoration of the Kingdom, the disciples are forced to reconcile their revived hopes and dreams with reality through the process known as cognitive dissonance.  Their desperate attempts to find some solution to keep their dreams alive eventually results in the conclusion that God has not “raised” Jesus from the dead, but something far greater:  The general resurrection of the righteous dead has begun, with Jesus as the FIRST fruits! 

“Sell all your positions, move to the capital, Jerusalem, and live in one large commune. The End is Near!!!”

Is this how the Resurrection Belief began??




End of post.

46 thoughts on “Was the First Jesus Appearance a Case of Mistaken Identity?

  1. Todd: Jesus? Jesus Christ!
    Dave: No. You’ve got me confused with someone else.
    Todd: No. It’s me Todd, Jesus. We went to Nazareth High together.
    Dave: Sorry, no. My name is Dave. I went to Capernaum Tech.
    Todd: Oh, Jesus! It’s great to see you. We should do lunch sometime. Catch up.
    Dave: Really. I don’t know this Jesus fellow.
    Todd: I’m so glad I ran into you. Small world. I gotta run. But give me a call. We’ll have that lunch.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. No need for a therapist, just a dose of that “cold, hard truth” you claim to prefer. Ready? You deal in baseless speculation that has zero connection to any historical record. For someone claims you prefer science, reason, and cold, hard facts, you certainly have a vivid imagination. Lol…Have fun in your make-believe world.


    1. It baffles me why intelligent Christians like Joel accuse skeptics of baseless speculation regarding the empty tomb of Jesus and the alleged sightings of him after his death when they do the very same thing with other odd mysteries.

      –Why did Amelia Earhart never return with her plane? Does Joel know? Of course not, but he will “speculate” that her plane crashed somewhere.

      –Why did Charles Lindbergh’s baby disappear from his house? Does Joel know? Of course not, but he will speculate that someone kidnapped the child.

      –Why do people claim to see UFOs? Does Joel know? Of course not, but he will speculate that the “UFO” was a rocket, shooting star, or other natural object.

      –Why have there been alleged sightings of Elvis Presley? Does Joel know? Of course not, but he will speculate that the alleged eyewitnesses to an Elvis Presley sighting saw an illusion, were drunk, or are lying.

      And I could give many, many more examples. Skeptics do not need to provide ANY evidence to speculate why the tomb of Jesus was empty or why a few religious zealots in the first century claimed to have seen him alive again. We simply have to review the probable explanations for these events, based on cumulative human history. And cumulative human history tells us that most empty graves have a natural cause—someone moved the body—and most sightings of dead people also have a natural cause—illusions, vivid dreams, hallucinations, drunkenness, mental illness, or lying.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, you need to listen closely.
        (1) We have first century writings from within a generation of Jesus’ death that state the earliest believers claimed he was resurrected and that they were witnesses to a real, bodily resurrection; (2) We have earlier writings in the letters of Paul that claim Jesus was really resurrected.

        In strict, historical terms, those are the documents we have. You don’t believe those claims–fine. But you have to acknowledge that when you proceed to give an alternative explanation, that THAT explanation has LESS historical evidence to support it than the claim that Jesus was resurrected. Thus, your alternative explanation LITERALLY is baseless–it is not based on any historical evidence whatsoever. You literally made it up, here in the early 21st century. No matter what you say, those are the basic facts.

        If I wasn’t convinced of the historical veracity of the resurrection claims in the New Testament, I would move on with my life and not give it another thought, just like I don’t spend my time obsessing over the Book of Mormon or Muhammad’s claim to having flow to Jerusalem on a winged horse. I think those claims are crap, so I’m not going to waste my time with them. If I thought the resurrection claims were crap, I wouldn’t waste my time with them either.

        But that is precisely what you do, Gary. Why is that? Why can’t you let go of this and move on with your life? Why do you plunge yourself into fantasy and speculation this much? What lies at the root of this unhealthy obsession of yours?


        1. We have reports by real, living breathing human beings who saw Elvis after his death. That doesn’t make the sightings any less the product of human imagination.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. And as far as Jesus is concerned — we have 1 witness. Just 1. Paul.

          Paul gives us a list of people, but none of those people have left us their statements on the subject.

          We have the gospels, but none of them were written by eye witnesses. So, again, nothing from actual witnesses of the resurrection. Just hand me down stories.

          Paul remains the only witness to tell us his story. And his can be disregarded as fevered dreams of a religious zealot.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Well, there are a host of problems with your statements.
            (1) Paul did not begin the Christian movement. He joined the movement after his Damascus Road experience–that means that it was begun by others, namely the original followers of Jesus. And the first century documents we have tell us it was THEY, not Paul, who originally proclaimed Jesus was resurrected.
            (2) Yes, you can always find crazies out there who claim they saw Elvis alive, but I doubt there are any who claim he rose from the dead and who then started entire messianic movement, claiming the resurrection of Elvis brought God’s interactions with Israel to their fulfillment. In short, if the resurrection claim just came from a crazy person or two, it’s really hard to explain how it could turn into what Christianity became.
            (3) The issue of the historical reliability of the Gospels and whether or not they are rooted in eyewitness accounts is a real scholarly issue–and a host of scholars would disagree with your assessment.
            (4) But that is all beside my original point. My point was simply this: if Gary is so convinced the resurrection didn’t happen, if he expresses his doubts in the credibility of the first century documents we have, then what is up with this obsession with it? What is up with throwing you baseless speculations and alternative explanations that have EVEN LESS historical evidence to back them up? At least with the resurrection claims, one can analyze the Gospels and the writings of Paul. With Gary’s alternative explanations, there literally is NOTHING. It literally is nothing more than fantasy and imagination.


            1. Yes, you can always find crazies out there who claim they saw Elvis alive, but I doubt there are any who claim he rose from the dead and who then started entire messianic movement, claiming the resurrection of Elvis brought God’s interactions with Israel to their fulfillment. In short, if the resurrection claim just came from a crazy person or two, it’s really hard to explain how it could turn into what Christianity became.

              Bizarre cults and sects spring up all the time: Islam, Mormonism, David Koresh, Golden Gate, Falun Gong, etc.. Some flourish (Islam and Mormonism); others peter out. The rise of Christianity is not unique.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. You’re missing the point…again. Equating the resurrection claims in the NT to a supposed Elvis sighting is misguided at best.


                1. That is a matter of opinion. I will bet that most Jews (and many people of other religions)view the alleged Jesus sightings as no different than the alleged Elvis Presley sightings: superstitious nonsense.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. That doesn’t change the cold, hard truth that we actually have first century documents within a generation of Jesus’ crucifixion that say his disciples claimed to have witnessed the resurrection. Your alternative explanations regarding mistaking bright lights for the resurrection, or mistaking another person for the resurrected Jesus have ZERO grounding in any historical document or fact. They are a figment of your imagination with no basis in history. Just accept it.


                    1. And we have a story that George Washington chopped down his father’s cherry tree written within decades of his lifetime, but that doesn’t mean we must take this story to be historical. Stories are only stories. We need better evidence, in particular for really fantastical claims.

                      For an intelligent, educated professional, you seem to have a blind spot for this one historical claim. Why do you think that is, Joel?

                      Liked by 2 people

                    2. For an intelligent, educated professional, you seem to have a blind spot for this one historical claim. Why do you think that is …

                      HA! A question that can be directed to numerous individuals!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. Again, you are playing games, Gary. Everyone can see that. For one who harps on how you think first century documents that bear witness to Jesus and the early Church aren’t historically reliable, it is fascinating to see how you think the baseless imaginative speculations of your own mind somehow carry more weight.

                      I notice one your blog, you have, “Some prefer the comfort of faith. I prefer the cold, hard truth.” Sorry, no you don’t. You prefer your own yarns that you make up out of your head. What you put out there is not the cold, hard truth at all, and deep down you know it.


                    4. The reason why our worldviews are so different, Joel, and why we will never come to agreement on the evidence for the alleged resurrection of Jesus is that you believe in the reality of the supernatural and I don’t. We can talk about historical evidence until we are both hoarse and blue in the face but it really comes down to our diametrically opposed world views.

                      Either I will need to see a fantastical miracle with my own two eyes or you will need to experience something in your life that demonstrates to you that Jesus is not living inside your body, performing laws-of-science defying miracles for you, or giving you secret knowledge and insight. Until then, we will just be butting heads.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    5. Yes, very true. I have a healthy skepticism of “supernatural” claims, but at the same time I take historical texts seriously, and I do not hold to some kind of certain-dogmatic tenet of faith that the material world is all there is, no questions asked. I’m willing to admit there are things in this world I may not be aware of or understand, and I am open to the possibility of being wrong.

                      But you have, as a dogmatic statement of faith, the presupposition that there is no such thing as any kind of reality besides that of the material world, and you dismiss out of hand any claim to the contrary. You don’t really even entertain the possibility.

                      And on top of that, I have to say, that last paragraph displays a shockingly ignorant caricature of what the Christian faith is anyway.

                      Be that as it may, you are correct on one thing: I doubt we will ever agree.


                    6. I presuppose the non-existence of Yahweh and Jesus the resurrected Christ for the same reason that you presuppose the non-existence of Zeus, Jupiter, Ra, and Lord Krishna; I presuppose the non-existence of resurrected dead bodies for the same reason that you presuppose the non-existence of talking water buffalo and flying horses: insufficient evidence.

                      Evidence should be objective, but often humans see objective evidence subjectively. I see the evidence for the existence of Jesus the resurrected Christ as sorely insufficient and believe that my position is based on an objective review of the evidence (or lack thereof) for this fantastical claim. You, of course, view my position on the evidence as being biased and subjective. Yet a Hindu would accuse you of the same bias and subjectivity regarding your rejection of the evidence for the existence of his gods. So who is right?

                      We are not going to convince each other, Joel. I wish you the best. I encourage us both to be open to all evidence, regardless of whether or not it helps our current position on this issue. So if you ever come across good evidence of a group of Romans or other non-Christians claiming that they too saw the walking, talking body of Jesus after his death, let me know. That would definitely peak my curiosity in this ancient claim.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    7. False equivalence between mythological figures anda historical person.

                      You are not objective in the least, and you are self-deluded to think that.

                      Hinduism believes the material world is an illusion. Your conflation of vastly different religions and worldviews and your failure to tell the difference between myth and historical claim lies at the heart of your inability to give objective analysis.


                    8. Jesus of Nazareth and Caesar Augustus were both real historical figures. Caesar Augustus the god, however, is a mythical invention of Roman authors, just as your resurrected Jesus the Christ is a mythical invention of early Christian authors.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    9. Let me break the news to you, Joel. You are not a scientist. You are not a medical professional. You are not an expert in anything other than ONE ancient, superstition-laden, text.

                      I respect the knowledge and expertise of Christian “theologians” just as much as I will bet that you respect the knowledge and expertise of Muslim “theologians”. Each may know a lot about his or her religion’s teachings but that doesn’t mean that either one knows diddly squat about the true operations and prinicples of our universe. I am a medical doctor. You are a theologian. I feel very comfortable stating that I am, at a minimum, your intellectual equal.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    10. Gary, your comments continue to exude an amazing mixture of both arrogance and utter ignorance. Expertise in one field does not mean expertise in another field. Your being a medical doctor has zero bearing on your understanding of first century Judaism, or Roman history, or ancient biblical texts.

                      If I was to do the kind of thing you are doing, I would have to go around saying, “I have a PhD in Old Testament, therefore have just as much expertise and knowledge about the medical profession as Gary.”

                      No one in ancient Rome thought Augustus was a mythical figure. His elevation to “a god” after his death was a ceremonial honor. Furthermore, no one claimed he resurrected. On top of that, the resurrection claim regarding Jesus is the exact opposite of myth. The Jewish concept of resurrection was rooted in the conviction that their God is active WITHIN HISTORY and acts WITHIN HISTORY. Therefore, resurrection was that God’s conquering of death WITHIN HISTORY.

                      Again, for the hundredth time, you are free to say you don’t believe Jesus was resurrected. But please, get your basic concepts and facts right. Comparing it to Islam, or Mormonism, or the Imperial Cult is just the height of ignorance.

                      And please, get a reality check and realize that being a medical doctor does not make you an authority on ancient history and biblical texts.


                    11. Please, get a reality check and realize that being a medical doctor does not make you an authority on ancient history and biblical texts.

                      I have never presented myself as an expert in ancient history or biblical texts. But since there is no such thing as an expert in “the supernatural” we are, at a minimum, equals on that topic (which is the foundational belief of the entire Christian religion).

                      You need to understand, Joel, that just because you are an expert in “theology” does not make you an expert in science or medicine, specifically, an expert in the probability/possibility of dead body reanimations. When it comes to the probability of dead body reanimations (resurrections) I have more expertise as a physician than you do as a college professor. Period.

                      I’m not going to continue this pissing contest. I will let you have the final word.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    12. Oh, I get the final word? Great. I’m not an expert in “theology.” My area of expertise is Biblical Studies and Biblical History.

                      You continue to use the nebulous “supernatural” as a deflection that excuses your ignorance of biblical history and texts.

                      You dont need a medical degree to know dead bodies don’t come back to life after days being dead. People 2,000 years ago viewed the early Church’s claim of the resurrection of Jesus with just as much mockery as you. Yet, still, the early Christians made the claim in texts that tell us about the historical Jesus. They weren’t claiming myth, they didnt mistake a bright light or another person for the resurrected Jesus. They claimed he bodily rose from the dead within history. All the first century texts we have attest to that. NO texts support your alternative explanations and baseless speculations. You may not believe the claim of resurrection, but you just sound like a fool in your alternative explanations and your reasons for rejecting the reliability of the texts.

                      If you were intellectually honest, you’d just say, “Yes, that is what they claimed, yes that is what resurrection means, no they would not have mistaken a bright light or someone else or a vision for resurrection–there is zero evidence foe that. I just don’t believe it and I can’t explain the origins of their claim.” And then you’d move on with your life and stop with this obsession in which you employ the exact same tactics as the fundie-apologists you claim to be fighting against.

                      Think about it.


            2. The issue of the historical reliability of the Gospels and whether or not they are rooted in eyewitness accounts is a real scholarly issue–and a host of scholars would disagree with your assessment.

              The overwhelming majority of scholars, including a large percentage of scholars who believe in the supernatural (Roman Catholics), doubt the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels and believe that the original stories passed through one or more generations of retellings and embellishments before arriving to the Evangelists. The only scholars who agree with you on the authorship of the Gospels are almost exclusively fundamentalist Protestants and evangelicals. You are clinging to fringe scholarship, Joel. Why? (I suggest that you haven’t let go of all your evangelical fundamentalism.)

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Again Gary, no–like a dishonest fundie, you are simply twisting things. The fact you say I am the one clinging to fringe scholarship is laughable. You are out of your depth and out of your league.

                Seriously, you speak about biblical scholarship the way Ken Ham speaks about science.


                1. If it were just my non-expert opinion, it would be laughable. But I can give you a long list of statements by respected authority figures who agree that the consensus of scholars is that the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses or even by the associates of eyewitnesses. Here is a statement by the American bishops of the Catholic Church on the Gospel of Matthew:

                  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: The questions of authorship, sources, and the time of composition of this gospel [Matthew] have received many answers, none of which can claim more than a greater or lesser degree of probability. The one now favored by the majority of scholars is the following.

                  The ancient tradition that the author was the disciple and apostle of Jesus named Matthew (see Mt 10:3) is untenable because the gospel is based, in large part, on the Gospel according to Mark (almost all the verses of that gospel have been utilized in this), and it is hardly likely that a companion of Jesus would have followed so extensively an account that came from one who admittedly never had such an association rather than rely on his own memories. The attribution of the gospel to the disciple Matthew may have been due to his having been responsible for some of the traditions found in it, but that is far from certain.

                  Gary: Here is a link to statements by author authorities and scholars:


                  Liked by 1 person

        3. There is zero contemporary, non-Christian evidence for the supernatural claims involving the details of Jesus of Nazareth’s death and alleged appearances. Zero. All that exists are books that contain (at best) third-hand information, written decades after Jesus’ death, by anonymous first century believers in this ancient tale—and—one book (Galatians) written by an alleged eyewitness who never tells us one single detail about what exactly he saw! In addition, we have an alleged “creed” which gives a list of alleged eyewitnesses to sightings of this dead person come back to life, but again, this creed gives us zero details about what these witnesses allegedly saw.

          Joel, if we inserted the names and books of another religion into the above paragraph you would hand wave away this “evidence” with a dismissive chuckle. It is BAD evidence, Joel. It is not sufficient to confirm the details of a traffic accident let alone a resurrected body sighting!

          Just because we have stories about an odd event from Antiquity doesn’t mean we have to accept those stories as historical fact. We need better evidence. Anonymous, at best, third hand stories is NOT sufficient evidence to believe this fantastical claim…unless one has emotional reasons for WANTING to believe it.

          Why can’t I let this go? Answer: Evangelists do not “let it go” just because someone doesn’t like their message. I am an evangelist. I am trying to save you from your deadly and destructive religious superstitions; superstitions that have caused so much harm in human history.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Gary, at least there are first century documents that claim resurrection that can be examined, analyzed and debated. What YOU are putting out has, quite literally, ZERO historical evidence of ANY KIND to support it. That is what you are missing.

            And yes, you are most certainly an “evangelist.” You are an atheist-fundie-evangelist who works with the same tool kit as an ultra-fundie Christian evangelist. That’s the problem. You have the EXACT same mindset.


            1. @ Joel

              And yes, you are most certainly an “evangelist.” You are an atheist-fundie-evangelist who works with the same tool kit as an ultra-fundie Christian evangelist. That’s the problem. You have the EXACT same mindset.

              Aww, sweet. You two have something in common after all.


        4. Problem is, Joel, an entire sector of people have made it their life’s mission to “spread the gospel” (e.g., Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection), often intruding into other people’s lives with their beliefs. In fact, many are so determined, they even threaten people with eternal damnation if they don’t believe as they do.

          To non-believers, this is unacceptable … and people like Gary have chosen to “fight back” by demonstrating the fallacies of Christianity. In essence, what he’s doing is no different than what most Christians do. He’s just on the other side.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Nan, just because there are some who are like that doesn’t mean that Gary has to become an atheist-fundie doppleganger of those very people. And sorry, Gary isn’t doing anything more than throwing out his own unhistorical, unverifiable, baseless speculations. He is no different than those fire-and-brimstone ultra-fundies in his tactics.


            1. Joel, why do you bother visiting and commenting on Gary’s blog if you feel so strongly about what he does? Why don’t you ask yourself the same question you asked Gary: Why can’t you let go of this and move on with your life?

              Liked by 1 person

              1. (1) Because he has trolled my blog.
                (2) I’ve commented on his blog for the past few days. That’s it. If I am still doing this months from now, I will heed your question and say you have a valid point, because that WOULD be obsessive. 😉
                (3) I just hope you see the similarities between Gary and the obnoxious Fundie-apologists you referenced earlier.


                1. IMO, once it’s become apparent the other person is not going to accept your opinion/evidence/personal experiences, it’s time to move on.

                  It reminds me of the old adage, you can’t beat a dead horse. 😄

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Very true….and in a way, that’s what I’ve been telling Gary over these past couple days! 😉

                    But don’t worry, I have no plans to continue doing this–just wanted to give Gary a small taste of his own medicine. lol…


              2. It is a good question, Nan, but I personally am happy that Joel is not letting go of this. He is doing what many Christians refuse to do: he is venturing outside of his safe, comforting Christian bubble. He is allowing his beliefs to be challenged on “enemy territory”. My hat is off to his boldness.

                Liked by 2 people

                1. Agreed Gary. I’d also add that Joel’s persistent here with you on this blog-post and others actually demonstrates a LACK OF TRUE FAITH in his God’s powers, abilities, and foresight/forethought. Too many radical Evangy-Fundy Christians, like Joel Edmund Anderson and thousands more, want to act as if they’re God or Jesus battling the entire world and domains of Satan. 😆

                  Say your peace, then shut up and let your God work the rest!!! Boom. Done. It’s a beautifully simple concept that too many Evangy-Fundy Xians don’t get. Lol


    2. @ Joel

      You would reject cold truth if it leapt out the undergrowth and bit you in the arse, Joel.
      In fact, you have been doing this ever since you professed to being a Christian.
      You are just another indoctrinated sycophant fawning over a narrative construct in the delusion that you get to sit on Jesus’ knee when you pop your clogs.


  3. Gary,

    I’ve brought this up to you before and I think it applies to your blog-post here on precipitators Peter and Andrew, then the other ten disciples of Greek-Christ and their closest colleagues. Aside from the many other problematic, contradictory, ambiguous, erroneous passages throughout the 4th-century CE Greek, Canonical New Testament Gospels, there are many other means of explaining the wild, common place of the time-period “divine” goings on with this tiny Jewish sect that later Hellenistic Greeks reported on from the rumor mills everywhere.

    According to a long, long recorded history, dating back to 1518 CE, there is a now well-known phenomena among highly energized (by surrounding traumatic, volatile events and within themselves) sociopolitical, cohesive cultural groups/populations that indeed suffer from what is medically and sociopsychologically known as Mass Psychogenic Hysteria or a modern medical term Mass Sociogenic Disorder/Illness. For example:

    • The Dancing Plague, Strasbourg, Alsace, 1518
    • The Salem Witch Trials, Massachusetts, 1692
    • A Montreal, Canada seminary, 1894
    • 1999 Belgium Coca-Cola Hysteria
    • The Great Clown Panic of 2016, U.S. and Canada

    This is in no way an exhaustive list. And for the last 80,000 years or more human beings and our body’s neurological systems with our neurons in our brains have not changed, particularly the right parietal lobe and left inferior parietal lob, but every person’s spiritual experiences differ inside their brains correlating to their external life experiences… also enhanced by brain traumas and epileptic seizures—two very common occurrences in the traumatic ancient world and not understood.

    Excellent blog-question Gary! Tons of questions, then newer questions based on results, etc, must always be asked, huh!? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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