Challenge to Readers: Is Jesus’ Resurrection the Only “Back from the Dead Story” in History?

Image result for image of "I see dead people"

If, in our modern database records of case studies we can’t find a single instance in which just one person had an hallucination of a deceased person, and then insisted that the dead person had come back to life (not as a ghost, but as a corporeal being) and left the grave, then how on earth are we going to find SEVERAL people who have had hallucinations, and who then insist that the dead person had bodily come back to life, and left the grave?

–Christian reader of this blog

 

The problem with this statement is that it contains a huge assumption.  It assumes that we know anything about what the original eyewitnesses to Jesus appearances believed they saw, and then, what these eyewitnesses then told others about what that they believed they had seen.

Detailed stories about Jesus appearances were not written down until five to six decades after Jesus’ death, by authors whom most experts suspect were not eyewitnesses nor even associates of eyewitnesses.  These detailed appearance stories do not appear in the earliest Christian writings, the epistles of Paul, nor do they appear in the earliest gospel written, the Gospel of Mark.  Therefore, the most that we can assume, if we listen to the majority of experts, is that a significant percentage of early Christians quickly came to the belief that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead.

But what period of time is “quickly”?

Even if the Early Creed as quoted by Paul in First Corinthians 15 was formed approximately three years after Jesus’ death, as many conservative Christians claim, that still gives time for the Appearance Stories to have evolved and to have been embellished.  Rumors in our own time evolve very quickly.  Why should we expect it to have been any different in the first century?

Bottom line:  We have no idea what the original eyewitnesses saw nor what the original eyewitnesses told others that they had seen.  Even conservative Christians will admit that the Early Creed is not chronologically accurate as it fails to mention any women discovering the empty tomb prior to any appearances to the male disciples.  This indicates one of two things:  the Early Creed is a theological statement, not an historical statement, or, the Early Creed is chronologically accurate and the appearance stories in the last three Gospels are historically inaccurate.  And both these options are bad for conservative Christians.  If the Early Creed is only a theological statement, never meant to be read as an accurate recording of historical events, but rather for the purpose of evangelization and perhaps to establish the authority of the Jerusalem church, how do we know that certain appearance stories weren’t invented?  And of course if the detailed appearance stories in the Gospels are historically unreliable, that leaves the bare-bones account of appearances in the Early Creed, in which not one single description is given of what the eyewitnesses saw or even where these appearances occurred!

But what about the claim that there are no recorded accounts of anyone else claiming to have seen a dead person and then continuing to believe that that dead person is alive and that his or her grave is empty.  I suggest that if we dig (no pun intended), we will probably find such stories.  Here is one.

Mourning seems to be a time when hallucinations are particularly common, to the point where feeling the presence of the deceased is the norm rather than the exception. One study, by the researcher Agneta Grimby at the University of Goteborg, found that over 80 percent of elderly people experience hallucinations associated with their dead partner one month after bereavement, as if their perception had yet to catch up with the knowledge of their beloved’s passing. As a marker of how vivid such visions can seem, almost a third of the people reported that they spoke in response to their experiences. In other words, these weren’t just peripheral illusions: they could evoke the very essence of the deceased.  Occasionally, these hallucinations are heart-rending. A 2002 case report by German researchers described how a middle aged woman, grieving her daughter’s death from a heroin overdose, regularly saw the young girl and sometimes heard her say “Mamma, Mamma!” and “It’s so cold.”  

Source:  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ghost-stories-visits-from-the-deceased/

Did this grieving mother believe that her daughter was still alive and that her grave is empty?  The article doesn’t say.  But I think it is pretty safe for us to assume that this mother believed that she was seeing and speaking to her daughter, not just an ethereal, ghostly representation of her daughter.  Why couldn’t the experiences of the disciples of Jesus have been very similar to that of this mother?

Using critical thinking skills, we can dismiss these stories, including the stories about Jesus, as nothing more than grief hallucinations; and in Jesus’ case, heart-gripping grief hallucinations which resulted in carefully crafted, heavily embellished works of evangelization decades later.

 

 

 

End of post.

16 thoughts on “Challenge to Readers: Is Jesus’ Resurrection the Only “Back from the Dead Story” in History?

  1. re: “A 2002 case report by German researchers described how a middle aged woman, grieving her daughter’s death from a heroin overdose, regularly saw the young girl and sometimes heard her say “Mamma, Mamma!” and “It’s so cold.”
    and
    “Did this grieving mother believe that her daughter was still alive and that her grave is empty? The article doesn’t say. But I think it is pretty safe for us to assume that this mother believed that she was seeing and speaking to her daughter, not just an ethereal, ghostly representation of her daughter. ”

    GO READ THE CASE REPORT. That woman was fully aware that she was having “experiences” that, while seeming very real, were NOT real. THAT’S why she was talking to the researchers.

    Don’t go posting this kind of ASSUMPTION, Gary. The info is out there, and available. Just go look it up, rather than making BASELESS ASSUMPTIONS.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Superstitious human beings are very gullible. They believe all kinds of bizarre things. I believe that the primary reason that Jesus’ “back from the dead” story survived and prospered was exactly for this reason: Jesus’ tomb was found empty! Without a body to dig up, ANYTHING was possible! Hysteria set in and the consequence was that a dozen or so frothing-at-the-mouth religious fanatics began to see his ghost in every nook and cranny!

      Even the stories in the Gospels indicate that not everyone believed that what they saw was a real, flesh and blood body. So I say that the most probable explanation for the Christian resurrection belief is that they all saw a ghost (an illusion). You nor anyone else can prove me wrong!

      My position is rational and consistent with the principles of critical thinking. Your’s is not.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Detailed stories about Jesus appearances were not written down until five to six decades after Jesus’ death, by authors whom most experts suspect were not eyewitnesses nor even associates of eyewitnesses.”
        You are assuming that the “experts” you have thrown your lot with are 100% correct! I will apply your standard: the “detailed stories about Jesus’ appearances were not written down until five to 6 decades after Jesus’ death” is disputed. Paul’s undisputed testimony found in Galatians was written in AD 48/49, and that is not “five to six decades after Jesus’ death.”

        Also, you again assume and accept the view of your experts who say and I quote you: “by authors whom most experts suspect were not eyewitnesses nor even associates of eyewitnesses” is also and again using your words: “disputed testimony.” Most does not mean all and there are some experts who disagree with your experts, ergo: disputed testimony and of course you are always concerned on the usage of disputed testimony.

        “Bottom line: We have no idea what the original eyewitnesses saw nor what the original eyewitnesses told others that they had seen.”

        You love to use the “we” but again you assume too much which by now I have realized is second nature to you. It is much more accurate for you to say that “you” have no idea, because I have an idea what the original eyewitnesses saw and what they told others, and I also know others who have an idea as well.

        Why do you not follow your own advice and apply “critical thinking skills” in your statements?

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        1. Disputed evidence is disputed evidence. It doesn’t mean it cannot be used as evidence for one’s case, but it is not nearly as convincing as non-disputed evidence.

          If you asked me: “Did Paul of Tarsus claim to have received an appearance of Jesus?”, I would agree with you that he did. That is not a disputed claim.

          If you asked me: “Did Paul claim to have seen, touched, and talked to a breathing, flesh and blood body?” I would not agree with you as that is a disputed claim.

          I don’t see why you have a problem with this.

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        2. “I have an idea what the original eyewitnesses saw and what they told others…”

          Let’s examine your statement using Critical Thinking principles. Please explain how you know what the original eyewitnesses saw.

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    2. This interaction you describe? Did the mother learn anything new she couldn’t have previously known without these spectral encounters? It always comes from prior knowledge, ie; your head. That’s the funny part. No revelation is anything new or unknown, but a rehash of prior input.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d agree, in regards to the interaction that Gary posted.

        but, what’s your point? I’m sure that neither Gary or I would disagree that such hallucinations are entirely subjective events.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t. But if there was an empty tomb, it would make sense how this tale got started.

      But we don’t need a tomb to arrive at the conclusion that this story is a tall tale!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. the story is that a guy died, was buried, came back to life, and was seen by X-number of people.

        A guy dying isn’t uncommon. Being buried isn’t.

        Coming back to life? OK, now that raises eyebrows.

        But, if that happened, then being seen by somebody isn’t all that extraordinary.

        So, the REAL “sticking point” is about the guy coming back to life.

        If you already have a pre-determined, set, and un-changeable view that a dead guy coming back to life is impossible, then, it really doesn’t matter if it happened; you’re not going to believe it anyway.

        And, that’s “you”, Gary. You simply hold the position that a dead person coming back to life is just not a possibility.

        Almost 100% of the rest of the stuff you post is just “personal issues”, and nothing more.

        Like, what the heck do YOU care if somebody else thinks it’s possible that a dead man could come back to life? What is that to you? Whatever it is, it’s just your “personal issue”, and that’s all.

        What kind of person devotes his time and efforts to creating a website just to vent personal issues?

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        1. Because your particular superstition has unleashed massive discrimination, persecution, torture, and death upon millions of people over the last 2,000 years. It is one of if not THE deadliest superstition on the planet.

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      2. Your view of it as a ‘tall tale’ simply reflects your world-view, that miracles dont happen and God doesnt exist. Regardless of what anyone else says or where the evidence points.

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    1. “that I am aware of”

      That is the problem. People who believe in the reality of superstitions fail to recognize that their deeply held beliefs are superstitions. That is why critical thinking skills are so important for everyone to use to evaluate the rationality of his or her beliefs.

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  2. Since Paul uses a “vision” as a resurrection appearance then it necessarily follows that “visions” (experiences that don’t necessarily have anything to do with reality) were accepted as “seeing” the Risen Christ. This has severe implications because it shows that even though Jesus wasn’t physically located on earth, one could still claim he “appeared” to them in a vision or a dream and that was evidence he was “risen.” Paul makes no distinction between his experience and the others so, given what he says, we have no reason to think the others experienced anything more physical than a “vision” too.

    Like

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