If You Discovered That The Gospels Are Not Eyewitness Accounts, Would You Still Believe?

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Dear conservative Christian: Would you continue to believe in the virgin birth, Jesus’ miracles, and in particular, his bodily resurrection, if you were to discover that the Gospels are not eyewitness accounts but stories told by persons living one or two generations after Jesus’ death, people who never had access to any of the original disciples, people telling stories about Jesus which they had heard from other non-eyewitness story tellers, retelling stories about events which had allegedly occurred 30-70 years previously?

If yes, please tell us why.

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47 thoughts on “If You Discovered That The Gospels Are Not Eyewitness Accounts, Would You Still Believe?

  1. Of the things mentioned – virgin birth, Jesus’ miracles, and Jesus’ resurrection – the only one I am convinced actually happened HISTORICALLY is Jesus’ resurrection.

    The rest? Well, compared to the resurrection, the virgin birth and the miracles of Jesus are almost “childs play”, as far as “miracles” go. So, while I can’t (and will never even bother to attempt to) provide any historical support for the virgin birth or the miracles of Jesus, I’m totally OK with considering them things that I believe as “articles of faith”, or really, even more accurate, as “points of theology or basis of doctrine”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let’s condense the question: What if it is an historical fact that some of Jesus’ followers sincerely did believe that he had appeared to them, but the details of those appearances are lost to history; and the burial story, the empty tomb story, and all the appearance stories found in the Gospels are theological embellishments.

      Would you still believe in the Resurrection, and why?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The burial stories in the Gospels make no difference to me at all. I sort of lean in the direction of thinking they’ve got an “historical core” (meaning, Joe of A did request Jesus’ body, and did put the body in a tomb), but, I have absolutely no insistence on it, and nothing hinges on it.

    I don’t know how we could “factually” know that the appearance stories are embellishments without first having the real story, to see what the differences are. But, that’s neither here nor there. As you know, “I don’t do Gospels”; the appearance stories in the Gosples make no difference whatsoever to my being convinced that Jesus was raised from the dead.

    You might imagine it this way: My “belief” (or, really, my “being convinced”) has nothing to do with the Gospels, in the same way that the earliest church being convinced of Jesus’ resurrection couldn’t possibly have to do with the Gospels, because they hadn’t been written yet.

    The earliest church professed that Jesus died, was buried, was raised up, and was seen by Peter and then The Twelve. That’s the simple, core belief, expressed in creedal form – a form which is intended (even as modern, and non-religious creeds are) to express the core beliefs or values of an individual or group in a simple and concise manner.

    So, minus the Gospels, we’d have to ask a few questions:

    What did the core belief that Jesus was “raised up” actually mean to the earliest believers?
    What did the core belief that this “raised up Jesus” was “seen” by Peter (et al), mean to the earliest believers (ie, what did they mean by “see”)?

    And, once the answers for those first two questions is figured out, then one has to ask

    “why would anybody even tell such a story (ie, what was the motivation)”?

    The answer to this last question depends on the answers of the first two questions. And lastly, one has to ask

    “based on whetever my previous answers were, how did this result in a message that mattered to anyone outside of Jesus’ original group of disciples”?

    If you start getting serious about asking THOSE questions, then you’d be going down the path that led me to ultimately becoming convinced that Jesus was bodily raised from the dead, in an historical event.

    And none of it requires the Gospels at all.

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    1. The burial stories in the Gospels make no difference to me at all.

      Interesting. If I may?
      As you believe in the resurrection from where do you believe the character Jesus of Nazareth resurrected – common grave , tomb, other?
      Do you believe in a wholly physical bodily resurrection or spiritual in some manner? Or something else entirely?
      Lastly, how, what or whom do you consider responsible for Jesus’ resurrection?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ark –

        I’ve got no idea where Jesus was buried. And, it just doesn’t matter.

        I think Jesus’ corpse vacated whatever his “final resting place* was. I do NOT think that corpse was revivicated. I think that corpse became something else, as per Paul’s very clear “seed analogy” in 1 Corith 15. And, whatever that transformed corpse became, I believe it had (essentially) “physicality on demand”. It was the very expression of the “physical” being entirely subject to the “spiritual” (or, “supernatural”).

        I also believe that it’s impossible to describe such a transformed body, because such a body is beyond anything that humans have encountered; hence, in the very same way I’d struggle to attempt to come up with any reasonable description, so I would think that even those that saw the resurrected Jesus would struggle to describe it.

        As far as “who was responsible” for Jesus’ resurrection, I’d put that squarely on God. Unlike many, I don’t think that Jesus “raised himself up”. I think “God raised up Jesus”, as per multiple statements by Paul. But, my thoughts on this are different than that of Trinitarians. But, I don’t even remotely imagine that anyone of the very earliest church was a Trinitarian…

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    2. What did the core belief that Jesus was “raised up” actually mean to the earliest believers? What did the core belief that this “raised up Jesus” was “seen” by Peter (et al), mean to the earliest believers (ie, what did they mean by “see”)?

      What if these questions are lost to history? If someone today living 2,000 years ago can never know the answer to these two questions, and the Gospels are not historically reliable accounts, why believe this very extra-ordinary claim?

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  3. Gary –

    In response to your last TWO questions:

    “Raised up” can really mean only one of two things: (a) Jesus was “raised up from the grave”, meaning, his corpse would no longer be found there, or (b) “raised up” means Jesus’ “spirit” was raised up, or Jesus was “raised up in our hearts as long as we remember him” — but, either way, Jesus corpse was left rotting away where-ever it was last put.

    You do your own investigation into that.

    Same kind of thing with “seen by Peter (et al)”. Either it mean “seeing with the normal faculties of eyesight”, or, it meant “seeing” in a more metaphoric fashion, or in some kind of “spiritual vision” fashion.

    Again, you do your own investigation.

    But, the way you answer those two questions will determine the other answers.

    “Why do people claim to see Jesus today?” You’d have to ask whoever has made that claim. I certainly haven’t seen Jesus, if we’re talking about “normal faculties of eyesight”.

    I know a woman who told me, with intense enthusiasm, that she had “seen” her deceased father on three occasions. I asked her directly: “Do you mean to say that your father had come back to life and left his grave?” She responded “Oh, no! I don’t mean that!”, and went on to explain it was a “spiritual thing”.

    So, you’d have to do your own inquiries to people who have claimed to see Jesus, as to find out WHY they made that claim.

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    1. “Raised up” can really mean only one of two things: (a) Jesus was “raised up from the grave”, meaning, his corpse would no longer be found there, or (b) “raised up” means Jesus’ “spirit” was raised up, or Jesus was “raised up in our hearts as long as we remember him” — but, either way, Jesus corpse was left rotting away where-ever it was last put.

      The answer to that question is lost to history. But let’s assume that the original eyewitnesses believed that Jesus had been raised up from his grave; his grave was empty.

      Same kind of thing with “seen by Peter (et al)”. Either it mean “seeing with the normal faculties of eyesight”, or, it meant “seeing” in a more metaphoric fashion, or in some kind of “spiritual vision” fashion.

      The answer to that question is again lost to history. But let’s assume that they claimed to have seen something with the normal faculties of eyesight.

      So, you’d have to do your own inquiries to people who have claimed to see Jesus, as to find out WHY they made that claim.

      All the original claimants are dead and we have no uncontested eyewitness statements from any of them. So again, the answer to your questions are lost to history.

      My question: Is it possible for someone to literally see something with the normal faculties of eyesight which they believe, either immediately or come to believe after a period of reflection, to be someone raised from the dead; that the grave of that person is empty?

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      1. First of all, I totally disagree that the answers to the first few questions (as you noted) are “lost to history”.

        My question: Is it possible for someone to literally see something with the normal faculties of eyesight which they believe, either immediately or come to believe after a period of reflection, to be someone raised from the dead; that the grave of that person is empty?

        I’ll ask with a question, just to get this out of the way: Is that possible for you?

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        1. Is it possible for someone to literally see something with the normal faculties of eyesight which they believe, either immediately or come to believe after a period of reflection, to be someone raised from the dead; that the grave of that person is empty?

          I would bet that all or most of the people today who claim that Jesus has appeared to them believe that his grave is empty. So yes, I think it is very possible.

          Your issue, from our past discussions, is that you do not believe it is possible that Jesus’ family members would believe that he had come back from the dead in a “touchable” body because you can’t find any examples today of someone losing a loved one who then claimed that the loved one appeared to them in a touchable body and at the same time were certain that this meant that their loved ones’ grave was empty.

          But you are comparing apples with oranges.

          Jesus wasn’t just another dead person. Jesus had claimed to be the promised Messiah; the “anointed one” who would deliver the Jews from the oppression of the Romans, re-establish the independent Kingdom of Israel, and sit on David’s throne. In addition, people believed him to possess supernatural powers (a healer and miracle worker).

          So, at what point in time did some of Jesus’ family members buy into Jesus’ “messiahship” and his supernatural powers?? We don’t know. Again, that fact is lost to history. It is entirely possible that Mary and James (and other family members) believed Jesus’ messiahship claim before his execution. But even if James remained a skeptic until sometime after Jesus’ death, is it possible that James experienced an illusion or vivid dream which convinced him that Jesus had come back from the dead? I would say, why not?

          If other people are saying that your brother, who himself claimed to be the messiah and possess supernatural powers, had appeared to them in some fashion, why couldn’t you then have an experience which confirmed that belief?

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  4. Just in case my question wasn’t clear (and, it probably wasn’t), I’m asking if it’s possible for YOU, Gary, to “to literally see something with the normal faculties of eyesight which YOU believe, either immediately or come to believe after a period of reflection, to be someone raised from the dead; that the grave of that person is empty?”

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      1. OK, good. “Highly improbable” for you. Same as it is for me.

        now, regarding this: “But you are comparing apples with oranges.

        Jesus wasn’t just another dead person. Jesus had claimed to be the promised Messiah; the “anointed one” who would deliver the Jews from the oppression of the Romans, re-establish the independent Kingdom of Israel, and sit on David’s throne.”

        The Jewish Encyclopedia notes: “From Josephus it appears that in the first century before the destruction of the Temple a number of Messiahs arose promising relief from the Roman yoke, and finding ready followers.”

        It goes on to talk about Theudus (also mentioned in Acts), who was killed by Cuspius Fadus. Then, it talks about an Egyptian with 30,000 followers, killed by Felix (mentioned in Acts). Then, another who promised the people “”deliverance and freedom from their miseries”, and he and his followers were all killed by Festus (mentioned in the book of Acts). Then, by name, it mentions Menahem be Judah – killed by a zealot.

        All these were before the destruction of the Temple, and all except one were killed by the Romans.

        Nobody claimed any of them to have been resurrected.

        SO – exactly “how special” was Jesus? Are we going to do “special pleading” here? I mean, it very much appears that your contention is very, very dependent on some “specialness” of Jesus. So, exactly HOW SPECIAL does one need to be in order to get someone to claim that he’s risen from the dead, and left the grave?

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    1. I think most people would assume that if someone has “risen” from the dead, then their grave is empty. One can get all that from the Early Creed.

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    2. I don’t think we necessarily need an empty tomb to explain how this belief arose.

      For over 1800 years of Christianity, no one had ever proclaimed a new “testament” had been sent by God to earth, yet it happened in 1827. Every once in a while, a really bizarre belief erupts and takes off like wildfire. That is why we call them cults.

      So we both believe it is possible that Jesus’ family came to believe that he had come back from the dead, appeared to them, and left an empty grave. We both agree that such a belief is highly improbable. However, the difference is that you believe that this highly improbable belief more probably arose due to a true violation of the laws of nature where I believe it more probably arose due to an illusion, vivid dream, or case of mistaken identity.

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  5. can they???? wow. I had no idea. Because that very thing you say is very highly debated. Certainly Ehrman, Ludemann, Crossan, Tabor, Funk, Borg, Spong (shall I go on?) don’t think you can get an “empty tomb” from that creed.

    Besides, even IF everyone agreed that being buried, then raised up, would imply an empty tomb, it does not, in any fashion, imply that anyone had actually seen that empty tomb. Or, that it was even a tomb. It might have been an ordinary trench grave, or a communal burial pit.

    So, let’s not “assume” anything here. Certainly, above all, YOU shouldn’t be the one making assumptions: you constantly accuse others of doing so, so it would seem very beneath you to be making one yourself.

    Try again: Exactly what made Jesus so “special” that he warranted a claim of resurrection, when nobody else has managed that?

    OH – and BTW – explain it to me without reference to the Gospels. That is, after all, the parameters you yourself set.

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    1. I should have used “grave” instead of “tomb” in the first sentence. Note I used “grave” in the second. My bad.

      Jesus was the only messiah pretender with an unexplained empty grave? I think most people would assume that if someone has “risen” from the dead, then their grave is empty. One can get all that from the Early Creed.

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  6. BTW – my response starting with “can they???” was in response to your msg saying “I think most people would assume that if someone has “risen” from the dead, then their grave is empty. One can get all that from the Early Creed.”

    We must have been typing at the same time.

    I’m still waiting on you to explain Jesus’ level of “specialness” – and to describe that – such that it was so very, very special that he warranted a resurrection claim. Because, that IS your claim. I need you to explain it to me. Tell me exactly how special Jesus was, and why you say that.

    I’m not willing to bunnytrail into the rest of what you said.

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    1. I’m still waiting on you to explain Jesus’ level of “specialness” – and to describe that – such that it was so very, very special that he warranted a resurrection claim.

      It is true that Jesus was not the only messiah pretender in the first century. I personally don’t think there was anything special about him. That is why no contemporary Jewish or Roman writer mentions him. But must someone be special to have a new, never heard of before belief spring up about them?

      Why have dozens of new Christian denominations arisen from the Catholic Church but only one one of them claimed to have received a new testament from God (Mormonism) that has attracted over 15 million followers worldwide. Most of Mormonism’s “weird” beliefs have their roots in previous Christian teaching. And the same is true of early Christianity: At its roots was the belief in bodily resurrection, a uniquely Jewish concept. New cults typically take a belief from the mother religion and tweak it so much that they are no longer accepted as part of the mother religion.

      Really odd beliefs occasionally pop up. Human history records numerous such occasions.

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      1. “But must someone be special to have a new, never heard of before belief spring up about them?”

        OK, so basically, you are completely withdrawing your earlier statement that “Jesus was special”.

        But YOU were the one that said “Jesus wasn’t just another dead person”, and YOU were the one that said there was an “empty tomb”. But, sure, let’s make it “empty grave”. I say “fair enough – if a body is ‘raised up’, it would imply an empty grave”.

        Are you, for some reason that I don’t know about, insisting that anyone actually SAW an empty grave? Because if nobody SAW it, then it’s scant little reason to claim that “Jesus was resurrected”.

        But, if you’re saying someone SAW the empty grave, then where are you getting that from? The Gospels??? That’s disallowed. So, you can tell me how you KNOW someone saw the empty grave, and subsequently claimed “resurrection”.

        But, there have been instances in modern, recorded history where the grave of a person was found empty. Nobody claimed “resurrection”. There are NO instances in which an empty grave was found and such a “resurrection claim” was made (of course, excepting Jesus). So once you explain to me how you KNOW that someone SAW Jesus’ empty grave, then we can consider the probability of someone figuring a resurrection occurred because of seeing that empty grave.

        But, to back up….

        You said that for you, yourself, “to literally see something with the normal faculties of eyesight which YOU believe, either immediately or come to believe after a period of reflection, to be someone raised from the dead; that the grave of that person is empty”” would be “highly improbable”.

        My question about this is “why should this be “probable” for someone else?” The “Jesus was special” thing won’t work, because you yourself have disallowed it. And unless you can tell me how you know someone saw an empty “final restng place” (whatever it might have been), then you can’t use that as a basis for a claim that Jesus was resurrected.

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        1. OK, so basically, you are completely withdrawing your earlier statement that “Jesus was special”.

          No, I am stating that there are multiple scenarios in which I believe Jesus’ family could have come to the conclusion that he had been raised from the dead.

          Scenario one: An empty grave triggers delusions, vivid dreams, and cases of mistaken identity giving rise to the Resurrection Belief.

          Jesus was one of many messiah pretenders who was killed by the Romans. However, unlike the others, Jesus’ grave was found empty. That would set Jesus apart from the other messiah pretenders: the followers of other messiah pretender would very probably not continue to claim that their leader was the messiah if they could go and visit his grave. A dead messiah would not liberate the Jewish people from the Romans. The empty grave of Jesus gave his followers and his family a glimmer of hope that he was still the messiah. A member of Jesus family (ie. James) could hear that Jesus’ grave was empty, come and see it for himself, receive the news that some of Jesus’ disciples were reporting that he had “appeared” to them, telling them that the “New Kingdom” was still on, and upon hearing this and seeing the empty tomb, James became so excited that then he experiences his own appearance of his brother…through an illusion, vivid dream, or mistaken identity.

          Scenario 2: No known grave. Appearance claims triggered by illusions, vivid dreams, cases of mistaken identity.

          Jesus’ body was dumped into a common pit by the Romans or possibly by the Jews, so there was no way for his followers to determine if his grave was empty or not. So an empty grave did not trigger the appearance claims. The appearance claims came about by the emotionally devastated disciples and family members experiencing illusions, vivid dreams, or cases of mistaken identity. The disciples and family assumed that the body was no longer in the mass grave.

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    2. Something else to consider: Why don’t Jews find it improbable that a Jewish family would come to believe that their dead loved one had come back from the dead and left an empty grave? If this scenario were a good argument for the Resurrection, we should see this issue discussed in both Christian and Jewish circles. It isn’t.

      Why??

      I think it is obvious: Jews do not find it surprising that a Jewish family would come to believe that their deceased loved had come back from the dead and left behind an empty grave! Everyone knows that human beings are superstitious, gullible creatures.

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      1. You’re making an argument from silence, Gary. You have no idea of whether the Jews thought it “probable” that someone would come to believe that “their deceased loved had come back from the dead and left behind an empty grave”.

        I would argue precisely the opposite: the “probability” that someone would come to believe that a deceased loved-one had come back to life and vacated a grave would be – even for Jews – an astronomically small probability. Even Jews know that “dead people stay dead”. Even Jews that believe in a “general resurrection” believe it is something that happens at the Last Day – way off in the future. For a Jew, a belief in a general resurrection is still an “afterlife” belief — only, it means an afterlife spent as an embodied spirit, not as a *disembodied” spirit. But, it takes place at the Last Day – in the End of Days: the point at which some cataclysmic, cosmos-changing event happens, resulting in Olam-ha-Bad (the World to Come). It doesn’t happen to Grandma. Not until the End of Days. It happens after “life on this planet as we know it” has come to an end.

        So, I absolutely disagree that “the Jews” (which Jews?) would find it even REMOTELY probable that a Jewish family could “come to believe” that some relative had been raised from the dead, and had vacated the grave. Any more than modern-day Christians, or modern-day Muslims (who also believe in resurrection), or modern-day Jews (that believe in resurrection).

        People ARE superstitious and gullible. But, “dead is dead”, and dead people stay dead. And everyone knows that.

        But, if you can give me just one documented example of friends or family of a deceased person (other than Jesus) that claimed their deceased loved-one had come back to life and exhumed himself, then maybe you’re on to something.

        Otherwise, you’re just making an argument from silence.

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        1. You’re making an argument from silence, Gary. You have no idea of whether the Jews thought it “probable” that someone would come to believe that “their deceased loved had come back from the dead and left behind an empty grave”.

          I have no idea what first century Jews would have thought. But I’m telling you that for two thousand years, the collective Jewish people have not seen this issue as a reason to take this bizarre resurrection claim seriously.

          If you have links to Jewish websites where a rabbi says something like: “The evidence for the alleged resurrection of Jesus is poor, but it is very, very odd that a Jewish family would come to believe that their family member had come back from the dead and left an empty grave. That dilemma cannot be explained, therefore we must take this claim seriously.”

          If you can find such a statement, and not by a “Jew for Jesus”, I will be shocked.

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        2. So, I absolutely disagree that “the Jews” (which Jews?) would find it even REMOTELY probable that a Jewish family could “come to believe” that some relative had been raised from the dead, and had vacated the grave. Any more than modern-day Christians, or modern-day Muslims (who also believe in resurrection), or modern-day Jews (that believe in resurrection).

          You may find this a sufficient reason to believe in a once in history resurrection, but the collective Jewish people for the last 2,000 years say it is not. What do you know about the reactions of families to the death of a loved one that billions of Jews do not?

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  7. “I think it is obvious: Jews do not find it surprising that a Jewish family would come to believe that their deceased loved had come back from the dead and left behind an empty grave!”

    OK, so, some Rabbi or other Jewish Scholar should just come out and say “of course Jesus wasn’t resurrected. Some Jewish family making a claim that their deceased loved-one has come back to life and left the dead DOESN”T SURPRISE US JEWS ONE BIT. Heck, it goes with the ‘Jewish territory’. We ALL think like that. I mean, oy vey, we ALL make that kind of claim from time to time (and nobody believes it). And that’s PRECISELY why we don’t think Jesus was raised from the dead”.

    That IS what you’re arguing, Gary. And, it’s patently absurd.

    And, you think that because no Rabbi (etc) has come out and SAID that, then, well, that’s supposed to be proof that there was no resurrection????? SERIOUSLY?????

    I’m not going to fart around with this nonsense any more.

    And this: “You may find this a sufficient reason to believe in a once in history resurrection…” (meaning, the “oddity” that some family would claim a deceased loved one had come back to life and left the grave”)

    No, I don’t find that as a “sufficient reason” to believe in a “once in history resurrection” (and, admittedly, I don’t know what difference it makes whether it was once or twice).

    I believe – for good reason – that NOBODY DOES THAT as any normal course of events. People just do NOT claim a dead loved-one has come back to life and left the grave. And, you (nor Ehrman, Ludemann, Crossan, et al) can provide me with a single instance (except in the case of Jesus) where anyone else has ever done that.

    In itself, it’s not “sufficient reason” to believe in a resurrection, but I’ve never once claimed it was. It’s just one piece of information, and that’s all.

    Now, on to this bogus-ness: “Scenario one: An empty grave triggers delusions, vivid dreams, and cases of mistaken identity giving rise to the Resurrection Belief.”

    Wait right there. You still haven’t answered how you KNOW anybody SAW an empty grave.

    Explain it to me how you KNOW that. If you can’t establish that, then you’re just making stuff up.

    And this: “No known grave. Appearance claims triggered by illusions, vivid dreams, cases of mistaken identity.”

    OK, just SHOW me one documented example of where someone lost a loved-one, then had hallucinations, illusions or vivid dreams, and then went on to develop the delusional belief that “my loved one has come back to life and left the grave”, and thus made that claim.

    If it’s something that could occur naturally, we’ve had 3000 years (or more) of recorded history, billions and billions of deaths in which there was no known grave, and hundreds of millions of hallucinations, illusions and vivid dreams. So, show me the example, Gary.

    Ehrman couldn’t find one. Ludemann couldn’t. In fact, no scholar since the beginning of The Enlightenment has come up with an example of this.

    If you can’t come up with one, then, don’t even bother me with nonsense about “probability”.

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    1. Some Jewish family making a claim that their deceased loved-one has come back to life and left the dead DOESN”T SURPRISE US JEWS ONE BIT. Heck, it goes with the ‘Jewish territory’. We ALL think like that. I mean, oy vey, we ALL make that kind of claim from time to time (and nobody believes it). And that’s PRECISELY why we don’t think Jesus was raised from the dead”.

      Strawman.

      What I said was: Why haven’t you heard Jews making this statement about the Resurrection: “The evidence for the alleged resurrection of Jesus is poor, but it is very, very odd that a Jewish family would come to believe that their family member had come back from the dead and left an empty grave. That dilemma cannot be explained, therefore we must take this claim seriously.”

      The fact is that the overwhelming majority of first century Jews did not buy this story, even knowing that some of Jesus family were also making the claim. So the fact that any Jew would buy a “dead-but-back-to-life messiah” is probably surprising to them. So yes, they might have found it surprising, but they wouldn’t find it impossible. That is my point.

      Why have millions of Jews over the last two millennia had no problem with the fact that some of Jesus’ family members came to believe that he had been resurrected—a uniquely Jewish concept? Why is this issue a problem for you but not a problem for the very people who invented the concept of “resurrection”??

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      1. re: ” but it is very, very odd that a Jewish family would come to believe that their family member had come back from the dead and left an empty grave.”

        Gary, you are first of all AGREEING that it would be very very odd that a Jewish family would come to believe… (and so on).

        But WHY would anybody ever comment on that? It would be very, very odd for ANY family to claim a deceased person had come back to life and left the grave.

        Just go ask a Rabbi: Would it be odd that a person in your congregation claimed one of their dead relatives came back to life and left his grave? What the heck do you think he’s going to say? OF COURSE it would be odd.

        You could as that of a Muslim, a Hindu, whatever – and EVERYBODY is going to say “it’s really odd”

        AND THATS MY POINT. You’re making my point for me.

        The ridiculous “argument from silence” is absurd. Everybody on God’s green earth KNOWS it would be very, very odd for a family to claim a deceased loved one had come back to life and has left the grave (and might be looking for a job at WalMart at the time). So why, on God’s green earth, would you expect someone to point out the OBVIOUS?

        You make no sense whatsoever.

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        1. You are not addressing the issue: Yes, it would be odd to Jews and to everyone else for someone to claim that their dead family member has come back to life and that their grave is empty. But the overwhelming majority of Jews in Jesus’ day and for the last 2,000 years don’t find the fact that some of Jesus’ family claimed he had been raised from the dead as sufficient reason to believe this event had really occurred. If they don’t have a problem, why do you??

          Bottom line: Is it or is not possible that Jesus’ family came to believe that Jesus had returned from the dead, appeared to them, and left his grave empty without any supernatural involvement?

          Jews overwhelmingly say: Yes! It is possible!

          So what do you know that they do not?

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    2. I believe – for good reason – that NOBODY DOES THAT as any normal course of events. People just do NOT claim a dead loved-one has come back to life and left the grave. And, you (nor Ehrman, Ludemann, Crossan, et al) can provide me with a single instance (except in the case of Jesus) where anyone else has ever done that.

      Millions of Jews don’t buy your argument. Just because some of Jesus’ family bought into the idea that he had returned from the dead and that his grave was empty is not sufficient reason for millions of Jews to believe this alleged violation of the laws of physics occurred to a Jewish man in the first century CE. So what do you know that thousands of Jewish Bible scholars, Jewish medical experts, and Jewish scientists don’t know???

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    3. Now, on to this bogus-ness: “Scenario one: An empty grave triggers delusions, vivid dreams, and cases of mistaken identity giving rise to the Resurrection Belief.” Wait right there. You still haven’t answered how you KNOW anybody SAW an empty grave. Explain it to me how you KNOW that. If you can’t establish that, then you’re just making stuff up.

      “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures…” –First Corinthians 15

      Most Bible scholars, including Bart Ehrman, believe that this is a creed of the early church, formulated within a few years (there is no consensus on exactly how many years) of Jesus’ death. Many scholars also believe that the phrase “he was raised on the third day” implies an empty grave, which these scholars believe implies that someone witnessed the empty grave.

      All speculation. But it is possible, and it is possible to come to that conclusion without any information from the Gospels. If you think it is impossible, argue with the scholars, not me.

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      1. This does NOT answer my question.

        How do you KNOW anybody SAW an EMPTY grave (tomb, whatever). The disciples could have known Jesus was buried – someplace. They could have learned that after the fact, even after they had gotten back to Galilee. But, that doesn’t mean they’d necessarily even know where Jesus was finally buried. Much less does it mean that any of them SAW Jesus’ empty tomb or grave.

        So, again – how do you KNOW they SAW an EMPTY tomb or grave? What’s your evidence for that?

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        1. What the hell are you babbling about? All I’m saying is that a reading of the Early Creed alone suggests there may have been a grave, and if there was a grave and people are claiming that Jesus had been raised from it, this could be evidence that someone witnessed that the grave was empty.

          It is all speculation!

          But that is what holds the Christian supernatural belief system together: speculation and assumptions!

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    4. OK, just SHOW me one documented example of where someone lost a loved-one, then had hallucinations, illusions or vivid dreams, and then went on to develop the delusional belief that “my loved one has come back to life and left the grave”, and thus made that claim.

      Jesus of Nazareth.

      🙂 You said just “one”.

      I don’t need to show you any more cases. The fact that millions of Jews (who invented the concept of resurrection) are not impressed by your argument is sufficient evidence to me that your argument is bogus.

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      1. oh, that’s cute.

        Yeh, you DO need to show me evidence of someone who had hallucinations, dreams, whatever, and then went on to develop the delusional belief that their deceased loved one has come back to life and left the grave.

        Why? Because YOU DO NOT KNOW that the disciples saw hallucinations, had dreams, or whatever. You’re just ASSUMING that. And you (like Ehrman, Ludemann, et all) are ASSUMING it, yet, have NO DATA and NO EVIDENCE to show that anyone has ever had hallucinations (etc) and then came to believe the lost loved one had come back to life and left the grave.

        You can think that’s what happened, you can postulate it as does Ehrman and Ludemann. But, you can’t give a single example to give any reason whatsoever to support the idea.

        So – cute, Gary. But, unless you’re an idiot, you knew what I was asking for. I shouldn’t have to tack on “except Jesus” in everything I say, and you know it.

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    5. If you can’t come up with one, then, don’t even bother me with nonsense about “probability”.

      And if you can’t come up with a good explanation for why tens of thousands of highly educated Jewish scientists, medical experts, Bible scholars, and rabbis aren’t impressed by the fact that a couple of Jesus’ first century illiterate, peasant family members bought into this ancient supernatural tall tale, then don’t bother me!

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      1. re: “And if you can’t come up with a good explanation for why tens of thousands of highly educated Jewish scientists, medical experts, Bible scholars, and rabbis aren’t impressed by the fact that a couple of Jesus’ first century illiterate, peasant family members bought into this ancient supernatural tall tale, then don’t bother me!”

        Oh, I got a perfectly GOOD explanation for that: most people are pretty durn convinced that dead people stay dead. That’s pretty much what the overwhelming majority of people believe. So, that’s why they’re not impressed with this ancient supernatural tall tale or the fact that some illiterate, peasant family members bought into it. Underneath it all is “well, look,I just can’t believe that story because I just don’t think a dead person can come back to life”. It’s real, real simple, Gary. Just real easy to figure out. A blind man could see it.

        Do you realize you haven’t made one single, rational point in about your last dozen posts?

        You assert that “Jesus was special”, and then, you say “OK, he wasn’t special”. You say somebody saw an empty grave, but you have absolutely nothing to base that on. You point out the OBVIOUS – that it’s very, very odd that a family would claim a deceased loved one had come back to life and left the grave, and then turn around and actually (and, I can hardly type this without laughing) think it MEANS something that nobody has SAID that!!! But OF COURSE it’s ODD, and everybody – including YOU – already KNOWS that the “resurrection story” is odd. Good grief. That’s the Number One Objection to Christianity: the claim that somebody rose up from the dead and left the grave IS ABSURD. and DUH.

        You bring up hallucinations, vivid dreams – and NO PROOF that either phenomenon has EVER caused anyone to come to believe that somebody got out of their grave, having come back to life. So EVEN IF the disciples DID just have hallucinations, illusions, or vivid dreams, it BEGS THE QUESTION: Why on earth should I believe that that’s what happened in the disciples case? There is absolutely no reason to believe it did, because It sure as heck hasn’t happened at any other time in the 3000+ years of recorded history.

        And you can’t answer that question.

        This is going nowhere.

        Let me know when you have some real information that shows that anyone claimed to have SEEN Jesus’ empty grave. Or that somebody in history had a dream, hallucination or illusion, and it caused them to have the delusional belief that somebody dug their way out of a grave because they came back to life.

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