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Why the Resurrection Was Not a Conspiracy

WomenTomb

When confronted with the early Christians’ testimony about the Resurrection of Jesus, it is natural to question whether it’s credible. A healthy skepticism demands we test the claims of such an event.

One way to do so is by offering alternative explanations, and one such explanation is the conspiracy theory. This theory purports to explain Christ’s empty tomb and postmortem appearances by claiming the early Christians stole the body and made up the Resurrection story.

I don’t fault anyone for raising the question, because it's natural to ask, “Did the early Christians make this stuff up?”

I contend they did not, and there are two good reasons to think so.

The Apostolic Dilemma

First, the early Christians had nothing to gain and everything to lose in lying about Jesus’ Resurrection. As I learned from my mentor and friend Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, this kind of jeopardy makes for the most credible witness, and St. Paul understood this. Paul uses this fact to argue for the credibility of the early Christian testimony and presents his argument in the form of a two-horned dilemma in 1 Corinthians 15:

[I]f Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised (1 Cor. 15:14-15).

St. Paul presents the second horn in verse 19 and then expounds on it in verses 30-32:

If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied . . . Why am I in peril every hour? I protest, brethren, by my pride in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Notice in the first horn St. Paul argues that if he and the witnesses believed in God, then they would be bearing false witness in their proclamation of Jesus’ Resurrection—“we are even found to be misrepresenting God.” What would the early Christians have to gain from a lie while still believing in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Damnation! Is it reasonable to think the early Christians believed their eternal salvation was worth risking for such a lie?

In the second horn St. Paul seems to consider what they might gain from the lie if they were unbelievers and didn’t believe in God or the Resurrection. Notice in verse 19 he writes, “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ” and then in verse 32 “What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus.” Paul’s argument is thatnothing except persecution and death is to be gained from such a lie. For Paul, if this is the reward, then we might as well “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

There may be alternative explanations for the falsity of the Resurrection testimonies that are worthy of consideration, but for St. Paul the conspiracy theory is not one of them.

The Testimony of Women

The second reason to think the early Christians were not making up the Resurrection story: they included women as the first witnesses.

One of the many criteria historians use to test historicity is the criterion of embarrassment. This refers to any action or saying the early Christians would have found embarrassing and apologetically unappealing. No Gospel writer would want to include such information, because it would undermine the Gospel’s purpose. Having women as the first witnesses of the Resurrection fits the bill for such a criterion.

In first-century Judaism, the testimony of women was inadmissible in a court of law: “But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 4.8.15).

If a woman’s testimony was not considered credible in a court of law, it would seem that the apostles would not use the testimony of women to convince their hearers about the truth of the empty tomb and the appearances of the resurrected Christ. It is more reasonable to conclude, if the Gospel writers were fabricating this story, that they would have chosen men to be the first witnesses—perhaps Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

The atheist activist and historian Richard Carrier, in chapter 11 of his book Not the Impossible Faith, objects to this appeal to women. He argues that because the Gospels are history and not court documents, it is improper for the Christian apologist to go from “courtroom decorum to everyday credibility.”

Furthermore, he contends, while the testimony of women was not accepted in a court of law, it was admissible as a source for historical claims. Carrier appeals to Josephus’s account of the massacres at Gamala and Masada, both of which have two women as their sources.

In response to Carrier’s first objection, I think it is legitimate for the Christian apologist to use the inadmissibility of women’s testimony in the court of law, because the Gospel writers were making an apologetic case to convince their hearers of the truth of the Resurrection. They were not merely recounting a historical event but presenting a convergence of evidence for the truth of Jesus’ rising—empty tomb, multiple post-mortem appearances, conversions, etc.

Moreover, notice the reason Josephus gives for not admitting the testimony of women: “on account of the levity and boldness of their sex.” The word levity means to treat a serious matter with humor or in a manner lacking due respect. While this view of women might not lead to an utter dismissal of a woman’s testimony, it would surely make such a testimony less desirable if one is fabricating a story, especially when it is just as easy to use men as the first witnesses.

Neither does Carrier’s appeal to Josephus using women as sources for his account of the massacres at Masada and Gamala undermine the Christian apologist’s argument.

In reference to the slaughter at Gamala, Josephus states that the two women who served as his sources were the only ones who escaped (The Wars of the Jews, 4.82). While not explicit when recounting the massacre at Masada, Josephus seems to imply the two women who were his sources for that event were sole survivors as well (The Wars of the Jews 7.399).

So it’s obvious Josephus is going to use the testimony of women for these events, since no one else survived.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why Carrier’s appeal to Josephus’s reliance on these women does not undermine the Christian argument. The Gospel writers had options when deciding whom to place as witnesses of Christ’s Resurrection, but Josephus did not have options when considering on whose testimony to base his account of the massacres.

The unreliability of the testimony of women in first-century Judaism still stands as a legitimate case of the criterion of embarrassment and thus can be used when making the case for the historicity of Jesus’ Resurrection.

There are many more reasons one can give to show the conspiracy theory is unreasonable. But I think the two presented above are sufficient—namely, people don’t die for what they know to be a lie; and liars don’t use unreliable testimonies to convince audiences of their fabricated stories.

In this Easter season, we can rest assured that faith in the resurrected Jesus is at least not based on a lie.

Karlo Broussard

Written by

After a three-year apprenticeship with Fr. Robert Spitzer S.J. PhD., nationally known author, speaker, philosopher, and theologian, Karlo works as a full time apologist and speaker for Catholic Answers giving lectures throughout the country on topics in Catholic apologetics, theology and philosophy. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in theology from Catholic Distance University and the Augustine Institute, and is currently working on his masters in philosophy with Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He is one of the most dynamic and enthusiastic Catholic speakers on the circuit today. He resides in Murrieta, CA with his wife and four children. You can view Karlo's online videos at KarloBroussard.com. You can also book Karlo for a speaking event by contacting Catholic Answers at 619-387-7200.

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  • Lazarus

    I think that there are several reasons why the general NT narrative and the resurrection is extremely plausible. Oddly enough, and maybe it's because I'm a trial lawyer, the argument of the women witnesses never impressed me one bit.

    Yes, women had little to no credibility and at first glance the argument seems sound. It is however equally true that a cynical bunch of liars, concocting the story, may have been astute enough to realize that by hiding the core of the evidence in witnesses that were not competent, whose evidence could not be compelled or tested, was in fact the best way to hide the lie in plain sight. The story, at least as far as the women's evidence is concerned, could not be meaningfully tested in the Roman legal system of the time. Truth, or a brilliant legal strategy.

    In any event, as I say, there are much stronger reasons for accepting the resurrection tradition.

    • ClayJames

      Of course there are possible reasons to use women. Conspiracy theories work by simply asking what if and giving possible (no matter how improbable) reasons for why something can still be the case. Do you really think that the reasoning you gave is plausible? You think that the apostles, who were all persecuted to such an extent that the majority were martyred, decided to sacrifice the strength of their message to their peers so that their witness testimony cannot be tested in open court?

      • Lazarus

        You skimmed my post in the car, didn't you?
        You certainly didn't read it properly. I will gladly chat with you once you understand my post.

        • ClayJames

          I try not to be on my phone while driving.

          If there is a misunderstanding, please adress it.

          • Lazarus

            If that's really what you got from my post there will be little hope of me rectifying it.
            If you still believe, after properly reading my post, that my message was saying anything against the apostles or the resurrection then we have little chance of communicating effectively.
            Hint : "Truth, or brilliant legal strategy."
            Hint 2 : "In any event...."

          • ClayJames

            I think you are the one that is not understanding me.

            You said that the argument of the women witnesses does not impresses you because liars concocting a story may have been astute enough to hide the evidence in witnesses that are not competent and therefore, whose claims cannot be tested.

            My response to this is to point out that these apostles primary interest was to convice their audience instead of ¨hiding¨ evidence in someone not trusted by their audience. Why would you need to test evidence that is coming from a source that you dont particularly trust?

          • Lazarus

            My entire post was highly supportive of the apostles and the resurrection. I pointed out why I believe that the women as witnesses angle fails to impress me, and I explain why it could have been seen as a legal strategy. I then ask whether it is a strategy or the truth. Then I repeat that I believe that there are other, stronger arguments for the resurrection.

            From that you ask me whether I believe that the legal strategy is plausible. You are asking me to defend a position that I clearly do not hold. I am pointing out why the women as witnesses argument is not a strong one because it has a very plausible explanation.

  • David Nickol

    I do not believe that the earliest Christians somehow faked the resurrection (for example, stole the body of Jesus from the tomb) or concocted a false account of Jesus's death and resurrection so they could build on the already extant Jesus movement for their own reasons. However, I don't see that Paul's testimony demonstrates anything other than that he and others firmly believed in the resurrection. Just because Paul was utterly convinced of it does not make it true.

    As for the Gospel accounts, they do not agree. First, the author of the Gospel of Mark has no account of any resurrection appearances. There is near universal agreement that Mark 16:9-20 is a 2nd-century addition and was not written by Mark.

    In the Gospel of Luke, the women go to the tomb, find it empty, and are told by two angels that Jesus has risen. Then we have Luke 24: 9-12:

    9 Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. 10 The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them.
    12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.

    So according to Luke, the women do not see Jesus, and the Apostles don't believe the women's account of the empty tomb.

    Matthew tells somewhat the same story as Luke about the women going to the tomb and seeing the angels, but as the women go to tell the apostles, we get this account of them seeing Jesus (28:9-10):

    And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

    While it is true that the women do see Jesus first, the account immediately jumps to Jesus's appearance in Galilee. The apostles seem to have accepted the account of the women and gone to Galilee, but the reader of Matthew's Gospel certainly does not have to rely on the testimony of the women to believe that Jesus was indeed resurrected.

    Also note that the Gospel accounts do not agree as to whether Jesus appeared to the apostles in Jerusalem or Galilee. Matthew does not say where in Galilee Jesus appears, but Jerusalem is not close to anywhere in Galilee. For example, Nazareth (in Galilee) is about 60 miles from Jerusalem.

    John's account of Mary Magdalene and Jesus (John 20:11-18) is certainly one of the most touching stories in the Gospels, but it is difficult to harmonize it with any other account.

    I suppose there is some sense to the idea that if the Gospel authors were making the resurrection stories up out of whole cloth, they would not have had the women (Matthew) and Mary Magdalene alone (John) be the first to see Jesus alive. But I think very few of us (doubters, non-Christians, agnostics, etc. here on Strange Notions) believe the Gospels were made up out of whole cloth. And of course no resurrection account relies solely on the testimony of women to convince us of the resurrection. So the question really is not why the testimony of women is presented in the Gospels, but why (in two Gospels accounts that differ) the women are the first to encounter Jesus.

    • Lazarus

      You know what would have been really suspicious? If the gospels were the same on all counts.
      It is a practical truism in trial lore that witnesses that collaborate each other too closely are probably singing off the same concocted hymn sheet. And that is for an event of a few months prior.

      • David Nickol

        You know what would have been really suspicious? If the gospels were the same on all counts.

        While there is some truth in what you say, there is obviously a point beyond which differences between multiple accounts of an alleged occurrence begin to raise doubts about what actually happened.

        And by the way, if you were a lawyer for the defense and Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were witnesses for the prosecution, would you really not point out all the differences and discrepancies in their accounts? Would you concede to the prosecution that the differences in their accounts argued for the reliability of the accounts?

        • Lazarus

          I fully agree that there comes a tipping point beyond which those quaint little discrepancies, signifying objective and independent recall, becomes too far removed from each other, and where discrepancies become fatal contradictions. I don't believe we have any of those in the gospels.

          If I was cross-examining these gents (and I'm not sure who in that case my client would be) I may have to point out those apparent discrepancies, and I may not concede the fact that they could actually be evidence of independent witnesses, but I know that the prosecution would point that out in closing. And I know that I would need something stronger than that simple allegation to win my case.

          • David Nickol

            I don't believe we have any of those in the gospels.

            But Mark gives no account of anybody seeing the risen Jesus, Matthew gives an account in which the women do not see the risen Jesus (but only angels)—and even the apostles don't believe the women—and Luke and John give conflicting accounts (three women in Luke, and Mary Magdalene alone in John). And in the Gospels where Jesus does appear after the resurrection, the accounts differ as to where (Jerusalem, or somewhere in Galilee).

            So what actually happened? The women did not see Jesus? Three women saw Jesus? One woman saw Jesus? Remember, the official Strange Notions position is that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts, and even if not, oral tradition was extremely reliable in those days. So why does one account in which the women do not see Jesus get dismissed in favor of conflicting accounts in which one woman or three women do see him?

          • Lazarus

            That Markan ending is not as simple as the Internet would have it. It also does not explain why Paul, prior even to the gospels, talks about the resurrection. People like Ehrman like to imply that (a) Mark said nothing about the risen Jesus and then (b) later gospels added that part in. This is of course quite incorrect. The golden thread running from Paul to John is that something very unusual happened here, and that some people saw Jesus risen. Paul, the gospels, the Didache and others - these efforts speak to me of essentially honest renditions of what people experienced, and what they are trying to convey in their own way, with full acknowledgement of their respective shortcomings and theological biases.

          • Will

            People like Ehrman like to imply that (a) Mark said nothing about the risen Jesus and then (b) later gospels added that part in. This is of course quite incorrect.

            What's incorrect? Mark doesn't say anything about the risen Jesus. Ehrman knows that Paul predates Mark's gospel, but Paul gives a different version of who sees Jesus first. 1 Cor 15

            4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters[c] at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.[d] 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

            Matthew 28

            5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead,[b] and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

            16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

            Paul speaks of the 12. Matthew of the 11. What gives there, and what happened to the women? These are some serious differences in the stories. Again what is Ehrman incorrect about?

          • Lazarus

            He is incorrect that the four gospels, or at least the Synoptics, show a progression, a gradual addition in story elements when read "horizontally". The later gospels do not add something that wasn't there. The resurrection was proclaimed before Mark.

          • Will

            Mark proclaims the resurrection, so does Paul. I've never seen Ehrman say otherwise. Can you quote?

          • Lazarus

            Will dust off my Ehrmans when I have time.

          • Will

            I've read almost all of his books, he never says that quite confident. Here is an example:

            http://ehrmanblog.org/jesus-death-resurrection-mark/

            He debates the empty tomb, and there are arguments for an against it isn't clear. I usually try to quote things to avoid misrepresenting people.
            In another post you talk of collaboration of witnesses. Matthew and Luke almost surely copied parts of Mark or an unknown source Q (most scholars go with Mark). That's not collaboration?

          • Will

            In retrospect, this post would probably have been more relevant:

            http://ehrmanblog.org/pauls-view-of-resurrection-for-members/

            Partial Question: So if, as you say, Paul believed in a ‘physical resurrection of the body ( = of the corpse, right?) of Jesus’ then why did he never refer to an empty tomb or to the discovery of such an empty tomb by the apostles in his letters although that would have fitted well at occasions?...

            Answer:These are great questions, and get to the heart of the matter. I will deal with them one at a time.

            (1) My guess it that Paul does not talk about any traditions that indicated that women went to the tomb and found it empty because he had not heard these tradition. Paul certainly thought, and would have said, if asked, that the tomb was empty, because he definitely thought Jesus was physically raised from the dead. That is his entire argument in 1 Corinthians 15. His Corinthian opponents maintained that the resurrection of believers was a past spiritual event, and they had already experienced it. Paul’s purpose in 1 Corinthians is NOT, decidedly not, to argue that Jesus really was raised from the dead physically. That is the view that he accepts as OBVIOUS and AGREED UPON between himself and the Corinthians. I say this because some people have claimed that 1 Corinthians 15 is the chapter where Paul tries to prove Jesus resurrection. That’s not true at all. He USES the belief in Jesus’ physical resurrection – a belief he shares with his readers – in order to argue a different point, about their OWN resurrection.

            Obviously Paul's writing is pre-Markan. Ehrman doesn't get everything right, no one does, but claiming no one believed in the resurrection before Mark seems pretty foolish by any standard. It isn't clear what Paul meant by spiritual bodies after being resurrected, however. Paul can be really hard to interpret, obviously.

          • David Nickol

            People like Ehrman like to imply that (a) Mark said nothing about the
            risen Jesus and then (b) later gospels added that part in.

            I am unfamiliar with Bart Ehrman saying something like that, and in fact Mark specifically affirms the resurrection:

            5 On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. 6 He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold, the place where they laid him. 7 But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.’”

          • Lazarus

            The later gospels do not ADD anything that wasn't there before Mark. The resurrection, and consequently an empty tomb, was part of the Christian tradition long before that.

          • David Nickol

            The later gospels do not ADD anything that wasn't there before Mark. The resurrection, and consequently an empty tomb, was part of the Christian tradition long before that.

            How can such a claim be supported? I agree that Mark is clear on the resurrection of Jesus, but aside from the very sketchy comments of Paul, we have nothing of Christian tradition that we know for a fact predates Mark. It could be that if we had more than Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, there would be more discrepancies or even contradictions. There might even be completely different stories.

          • Lazarus

            Craig A. Evans does quite a good job of supporting that argument in his "From Jesus to the Church : the first Christian generation". I would strongly disagree with an argument holding that we do not have anything of the Christian tradition prior to Mark. Paul predates him. In any event, why would such a tradition be created at Mark's stage of the first century?

          • David Nickol

            I would strongly disagree with an argument holding that we do not have anything of the Christian tradition prior to Mark. Paul predates him.

            As I said, regarding the resurrection, we have what Paul says, and that precedes Mark, but Paul says hardly anything at all. The OP argues, "The second reason to think the early Christians were not making up the Resurrection story: they included women as the first witnesses." However, Paul not only doesn't include women as the first witnesses, he never mentions Mary Magdalene or Mary the Mother of Jesus (unless you count the statement that Jesus was "born of a woman" as a mention of Mary).

            Now, of course, I would not argue that Mark invented everything in his Gospel, but what I said (and meant) was the following:

            I agree that Mark is clear on the resurrection of Jesus, but aside from the very sketchy comments of Paul, we have nothing of Christian tradition [about the resurrection] that we know for a fact predates Mark. [Emphasis added]

            Paul actually says nothing about the empty tomb. Was it so obvious as not to be worth commenting on? In any case, the first explicit mention we have of the empty tomb is in Mark? Since we have nothing that precedes Mark (except Paul), while it may be a reasonable assumption that the empty tomb had long been a part of Christian tradition about the resurrection, there is absolutely no way to prove that for a fact.

            The assumption would be that the empty tomb and the differing stories of the resurrection appearances had been part of Christian tradition (in the form of oral tradition) for some time before the writing of the Gospels. But I don't think there is any compelling reason to assume that the accounts in Matthew, Luke, and John are correctly remembered accounts of actual events.

            There is a natural tendency to want to harmonize the Gospel accounts, but I think that is a mistake under any circumstances, and it is particularly a mistake when, in Matthew's account, the women do not see the risen Jesus, in Luke the women do see the risen Jesus, and in John only Mary Magdalene sees the risen Jesus. How do you harmonize Matthew and Luke? That is, how do you harmonize an account in which the women clearly did not see Jesus with an account in which they did?

            If you are arguing that the empty tomb was part of Christian tradition, then you can cite all four Gospels as evidence and claim that Paul at least does not contradict the Gospels. But if you are arguing that "the women" were the first to see the resurrected Jesus, then you have to face the fact that you have contradictory accounts.

          • Lazarus

            Different takes on certain aspects of a story only make for contradictions on those aspects, it does not necessarily invalidate the entire narrative. We have narratives telling of Jesus having risen, and people witnessing that. Why does contradictions in the detail invalidate the entire body of evidence? What is the golden thread running through this? He has risen, people saw it.

          • David Nickol

            What is continuing to bother me—although perhaps those who agree with the OP would accuse me of nitpicking—is the scant attention paid to the accounts of Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. I repeat this from the OP again: "The second reason to think the early Christians were not making up the Resurrection story: they included women as the first witnesses." What precisely is "the Resurrection story"? There were no witnesses to the Resurrection itself. Is seeing the empty tomb part of "the Resurrection story," or is it only "the Resurrection story" if someone sees the Resurrected Jesus? The OP doesn't say.

            Paul says nothing about an empty tomb, and he says nothing about any women seeing the risen Jesus, not even Mary Magdalene. Paul is of course the earliest (and in fact, our only) "eyewitness." Why doesn't Paul name any of the women among those who saw the risen Jesus? Didn't he know? If he did know, is he deliberately not mentioning them because women didn't count as witnesses? Or is it perhaps that Paul is giving "the Resurrection" story as it circulated in the early 50s, and it became more elaborate in the retelling over the next several decades, resulting in the stories as we have them in the Gospels?

            I guess I am accustomed, in the kind of reading I do about the Gospels, to see each of the four Gospels (and Paul) carefully considered as separate sources, and all discrepancies no matter how minute noted and explained (if possible).

          • Lazarus

            I have seen various explanations for Paul's silence on the tomb, and I can see how this could be troublesome. However, if we note that Paul does preach the risen Christ then I suppose the empty tomb follows necessarily, regardless of him not mentioning the event. If you allow me a bad analogy, it may be like you and I discussing the state of US politics and terrorism in 2016. We could talk for hours without mentioning 9/11, but we would both be aware of it, and it would be understood, accepted by both of us, even though we may even disagree on exactly what happened that day.

          • David Nickol

            I suppose it is not that Paul says nothing of the empty tomb itself, since he does say Jesus died, was buried, and was raised. One can deduce an empty tomb. But Paul says nothing of the discovery of the empty tomb. Each of the Gospels has an account, and each one is of great importance within its particular Gospel. The big question is, How much did Paul really know about the life and ministry of Jesus? Or I suppose some of us skeptics could ask how much about the life and ministry of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels might have developed out of oral tradition (or have otherwise been created) later than Paul's death?

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            The big question is, How much did Paul really know about the life and ministry of Jesus?

            Perhaps that is the big question for our historical project of reconstructing "what actually happened", but Paul himself doesn't seem to think this is of central importance with regard to evangelization. Granted, he is supposed to have gone on his fact checking mission in Jerusalem, so the facts apparently mattered to him. But in none of his letters do we get the sense that he sees transmission of facts, or exegesis of facts, to be at the heart of evangelization. Perhaps the dominant theme in his letters is that of evangelization through imitation. He claims to have learned how to conform his own life to Christ, and so he tells others that if they imitate him (Paul) they will thereby be living in the reality of Christ. It is that "recursive templating" mode of evangelization, and not some convincing historical argument, that he sees as central to the spread of the good news.

            From that perspective (and also bearing in mind that his letters were meant to offer specific pastoral guidance rather than a systematic catechism), I think it is not at all surprising that Paul would not give much ink to details that some folks today think are of the utmost importance.

          • Mike

            i agree wholeheartedly but he also emphasizes that unless he is risen our faith is in vain.

          • Doug Shaver

            he also emphasizes that unless he is risen our faith is in vain.

            But that's a circular argument, isn't it? All he is actually saying is that if the resurrection didn't happen, then Christianity is a mistake. Paul is just presupposing that his religion cannot be wrong.

          • Mike

            i don't see how that's circular. he believes that Jesus rose but he's conceding that if Jesus didn't then he'd be proven wrong.

          • Doug Shaver

            but he's conceding that if Jesus didn't then he'd be proven wrong.

            What is the context of the statement? Does it not occur within a passage that is offering reasons to believe that Jesus actually did rise from the dead? In that case, the concession "If he didn't rise, then we'd be proven wrong" would be be vacuous without the presupposition "We cannot be wrong."

          • Mike

            how about this: atheism is true but if somehow it were proven that there is a supernatural realm then our faith in it would be in vain? what's circular in that?

          • Doug Shaver

            That argument doesn't have the same logical form, so there is no basis for comparison. First, "a supernatural realm" need not include any entity of the sort that most people would call a god. And then, if anything supernatural were proven to exist, then it's not clear to me why we would need any faith to believe in it. But that depends on what the words "proven" and "faith" are intended to mean.

          • Mike

            ok i think the form is the same.

            i think that when you wake up in purgatory you're going to respond by saying there's nothing necessarily supernatural about this ;)

          • Doug Shaver

            Actually, I regard disembodied minds as the quintessence of supernaturalism. If I wake up anywhere after I'm dead, I'll know I was wrong about something.

          • Mike

            i think we'd say disembodied 'selves/souls' not minds but i know what you mean. anything will prove the supernatural that is not natural imho.

          • Lazarus

            He's simply pointing out the consequences of their faith if it's wrong. He's also, I believe, pinning his colors to the mast and making it clear that he would not live the life he was leading if he didn't hold the resurrection to be true. No circularity at all.

          • Doug Shaver

            He's simply pointing out the consequences of their faith if it's wrong.

            Yes. He's pointing out that if their faith is wrong, then they've made a mistake. Absent some assumption of infallibility, that is irrelevant to the question of whether Jesus actually did rise from the dead.

          • Lazarus

            But now we are talking about the fact that his mere statement does not prove the resurrection, and with that I agree with you. Paul's statement, in my view, is however not circular at all.

          • Doug Shaver

            But now we are talking about the fact that his mere statement does not prove the resurrection, and with that I agree with you

            If we have found that much common ground, then I'm OK leaving it there.

          • Lazarus

            Thanks for the chat, Doug. I always learn something from you.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I agree with that, but I am not talking about whether Christ is risen. I am talking about how Paul (who was already convinced that Christ was risen) sought to convey that reality to others. I am suggesting that he saw that conveyance occurring primarily through imitation, and perhaps only secondarily through historical argument.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Perhaps that is the big question for our historical project of reconstructing "what actually happened", but Paul himself doesn't seem to think this is of central importance with regard to evangelization.

            Usually fact checking and reconstructing what actually happened is not of utmost importance when inventing a religion.

            From that perspective (and also bearing in mind that his letters were meant to offer specific pastoral guidance rather than a systematic catechism), I think it is not at all surprising that Paul would not give much ink to details that some folks today think are of the utmost importance.

            That is mighty convenient. The problem I have with arguments like this is that supposedly the Bible was inspired by the Almighty to be the holy book for all of time. One would hope that the Almighty would have had a little more foresight when inspiring authors.

          • Lazarus

            The book seems to be doing ok.

          • Doug Shaver

            The book seems to be doing ok.

            That says something about the people reading it, not about whoever wrote it.

          • Lazarus

            Not your best work today, Doug.
            What do we learn from the people who don't read the book, or who don't want to read the book?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            That they are wise enough not to take 1st century religious texts seriously? ;-)

          • Lazarus

            The two of you are really defining yourself to victory here ;)

          • Ignatius Reilly

            We were both trained by apologists. ;-)

          • Lazarus

            Of the theist or atheist variety?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Theist of course. Atheists are too busy being hedonists to train apologists.

          • Doug Shaver

            What do we learn from the people who don't read the book, or who don't want to read the book?

            We learn something about how they prioritize their time.

          • Will

            We'll ignore all of the problems in the Hebrew Bible and make a couple statements about the New Testament. There are some good things in the Gospels, and Paul was a brilliant man (even though I think his visions were caused by temporal lobe epilepsy, he spoke of a thorn and I can provide evidence for this).
            The imposters in the N.T. are what bother me. Forged letters, really? Why would God allow such a thing? To few people are aware these lies are in the N.T. Let me quote a couple forged sections. Forged ending to Mark

            6 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes in their hands,[e] and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

            So Mark's gospel bases salvation on right action and faith power's Jesus's miracles. This clown has to come along and ruin it by saying that people that don't believe are condemned. THEN he spouts nonsense that believers can handle deadly things and NOT BE HARMED! This clown has directly gotten many people killed in the U.S. because they BELIEVED HIM!

            Although exact records are difficult to substantiate, at least 71 people have been killed by venomous snakebites during religious services in the United States.[citation needed] The first report of a death from a serpent bite occurred in 1922 at the Church of God Evangel.[7] Hensley, the founder of modern snake handling in the Appalachian Mountains, died of a snakebite in 1955.[8] In 1998, snake-handling evangelist John Wayne "Punkin" Brown died after being bitten by a timber rattlesnake at the Rock House Holiness Church in rural northeastern Alabama,[9] although members of his family contend that his death was probably due to a heart attack. Brown's wife had died three years earlier after being bitten in Kentucky. Another snake handler died in 2006 at a church in Kentucky.[10] In 2012, Pentecostal Pastor Mack Wolford died of a rattlesnake bite sustained while officiating at an outdoor service in West Virginia, as did his father in 1983.[11] In 1992, Glen Summerford, a serpent-handling preacher, was convicted of attempted murder of his wife with a rattlesnake.[12]

            How can one NOT be offended that this liar has gotten people killed? This passage by the liar who claimed to be Paul in 1 Timothy 2

            8 I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; 9 also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, 10 but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. 11 Let a woman[b] learn in silence with full submission. 12 I permit no woman[c] to teach or to have authority over a man;[d] she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

            So women should shut up, dress shabby, and pump out babies. Oh, pumping out babies is the only way to make up for the fact that they cause the fall and ruined the whole universe! How can one not be deeply offended by this babble! Paul himself seemed to have a good view of women, read 1 Corinthians 7. Why on earth would a God inspired book contain such garbage, and it is garbage.
            FWIW I rejected Christianity at an early age largely due to the immorality in the Bible, especially the barbarism attributed to God in the Hebrew Bible. Don't be surprised if I get snarky when someone claims a book that contains genocide and the murder of all of the first born children in Egypt a great book that's doing ok. The fact that it is doing this well still tells me things I don't like about the human race. How can people ignore this stuff? I simply cannot. I cannot ignore what I regard to be deeply immoral. Isn't that a good thing?

            EDIT: Not trying to direct this a you personally really, but I couldn't help a "the Bible upsets me personally" rant. These things are why I will never be able to give faith to the religion, it seems poisoned even though there are good things in it. I must do what I think it right, even if it damns me.

          • Lazarus

            Then you'd make a great Catholic, use the Bible as a foundation and build on the good bits, using other foundations to supplement your foundation ;)

            My dogs are clamoring for their afternoon walk - as to forgeries, 1. Not sure that the difference between forgery and dictation is always understood and 2. Does the authorship really matter all that much? How would you defeat the statement that the Holy Spirit wanted those "forged" books to be included? If we take them out of the canon, how would Christianity be different?

          • Will

            If we take them out of the canon, how would Christianity be different?

            If we take them out Christianity gets much better, in my opinion. It becomes much more female friendly (and there is more evidence that early Christianity was, in fact, very female friendly compared to later incarnations). It also removes any New Testament defense of slavery, the only verse in the NT that really supports slavery is also from 1 Timothy, chapter 6

            6 Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church;[a] rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved.[b]

            Compare 1 Timothy's antifemale passage to this from 1 Cor 7

            1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman.”2 But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

            This is consistent with his theological view that we are one in Christ. He's against marriage and sex (not a sin, but recommends against it) because the time is short 1 Cor 7

            27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life,[f] and I would spare you that. 29 I mean, brothers and sisters,[g] the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

            This is consistent with Jesus's claim from Mark 13 (in all synoptic gospels)

            17 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not be in winter. 19 For in those days there will be suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, no, and never will be.

            This is right before the claim "this generation shall not pass". Clearly he was worried about what happens to women, especially with the new rule against divorce (which was often a death sentence back then). When speaking of Paul expecting the parousia during his lifetime, I didn't mention 1 Cor 7 (I did say there was more). Good reason not to get pregnant, and not worry about slavery as Christ was about to come back and fix it. Sad it didn't happen, but I do have a positive view of very early Christianity :) "God is about to fix the world" is a compelling message. I suppose I can definitely claim to know my Bible. Sola scriptura upbringing has a few advantage :P

          • Lazarus

            Some interesting thoughts there. You do know your Bible, indeed. You don't seem too keen on the proposition that these were not forgeries as we understand them, but dictation done by juniors on the instructions of Paul?

          • Will

            You don't seem too keen on the proposition that these were not forgeries as we understand them, but dictation done by juniors on the instructions of Paul?

            Why would Paul contradict his own theology and make it worse? Why would he go from a very positive and protective view of women to one where they are nothing more than baby factories? I suspect Paul would be horrified by some of the things that were written in his name, I know I would be.

            Most modern critical scholars argue that 2 Timothy was not written by Paul but by an anonymous follower, after Paul's death in the First Century.[1][2]

            1 Timothy 1

            1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

            2 To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith:

            Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

            The author does not claim to be a follow, he claims to be none other than Paul. This is lying.

            2 Timothy 1

            1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

            2 To Timothy, my beloved child:

            This Catholic scholar, whom I like says this:

            Pseudepigraphic Letters: The three Pastoral Letters, along with three other Deutero-Pauline epistles (Col, Eph, 2 Thess), are attributed to the apostle Paul, but were almost certainly not written by Paul himself. Rather, they are probably pseudepigraphic (i.e., written in Paul's name by one or more of his followers after his death).

            Essential all but sola scriptura protestants who can't afford to go against the inerrancy dogma admit they were not written by Paul. "Almost certainly" is strong language, and I agree with it. Here he says:


            For the other four letters, about 80% of scholars think they were not written by Paul himself, but by one of his followers after his death:

            Ephesians is almost definitely a later expansion of Colossians, since they are so similar in structure and theology, but quite different from Paul's earlier letters; Ephesians was probably written to serve as a “cover letter” for an early collection of Pauline letters.

            The Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus) were most likely written late in the first century by some member(s) of the “Pauline School” who wanted to adapt his teachings to changing circumstances.

            To me it's comical that so many Protestants I've met use 2 Timothy as proof that the Bible is inspired and perfect...2 Timothy 3

            16 All scripture is inspired by God and is[a] useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

            The Bible is true because it says so, right here! I have to point out circular reasoning to them, and Paul was writing letters, not scripture.

          • Lazarus

            Interesting, thanks.

            I wonder why the church fathers allowed that into the canon? They would have been aware of the contradictions. I suppose they accepted it as coming from Paul.

            Clearly a job for .... Research Man!!

          • Will

            Good question, I've researched and posted about this quite a bit here on SN (more so 6-8 months ago probably).

            1 Timothy is one of the three epistles known collectively as the pastorals (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus). They were not included in Marcion's canon of ten epistles assembled c. 140 CE. Against Wallace, there is no certain quotation of these epistles before Irenaeus c. 170 CE.

            If you click that link, it provides a pretty decent summary of why scholars think what they do here. No early Church father seems to know of it, and Irenaeus is pretty late. It was used to attack the gnostics and other heresies, and what better way to mount the attack then have "Paul" do it directly himself. There was much left unclear by the teachings of the Apostles, and so much is still unclear. Orthodoxy became the beliefs that won a drawn out competition. No doubt many men living in the first and second centuries didn't appreciate the pro-female approach of Paul. WRT women speaking in church 1 Cor 11

            5 but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved.

            She just needs a veil, similar to what Islamic women are expected to were to day. Saying women can't speak in Church is a direct contradiction to what Paul says here, and there is an interpolation later in 1 Cor 13 that was added later that contradicts this. Messy stuff.

          • Lazarus

            I will see if Research Man can come up with something ... better.

          • Will

            Tell RM I said good luck ;)

          • Ignatius Reilly

            So are lots of other books. That one religion becomes dominant in a geographical region isn't suprising. Other books have done quite well as well - the Quran, Rigveda, Book of Mormon, Pali Canon, etc.

            At the time of Paul, Christianity was a small cult, similar in size to early Mormonism and Scientology. Did Hubbard and Smith lie, were they mistaken, or perhaps they were mad? Few rational minds think that Hubbard or Smith are actuall correct. Yet, when it comes to the early Christians the passing of time, and the centuries of cultural indoctrination lends respectability and plausibility to the writings of a cult leader. This is special pleading. We know very little about early Christian leaders they could have been much more like Hubbard and Smith.

            The fact that the books are doing ok has nothing to do with their historicity. The Jesuits tried to convert the Iroquois with preaching and martyrdom to little avail. Galleon and Gun proved much more effective.

            And we haven't even touched on what it means for a book to be inspired or how do we know whether a book is inspired or not.

          • Lazarus

            I was simply responding to your comments about the book.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            My point is that the success of the book has little to do with its veracity. I thought I was being relevant. :-)

          • Lazarus

            Has the book's absence of veracity been significantly demonstrated? Why do you think it continues to attract so many people? I even bet that you are just a little bit fascinated by it.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I think we have to decide what we mean by absence or veracity. There are definitely non-historical things in the NT and there are words on Jesus's lips that were probably not ever spoken by Jesus. I think we can cast very serious doubt on the resurrection, but I don't think anything can be absolutely proven.

            It attracts people, because there are good messages in the scriptures, which are often emphasized over the bad ones. It has the potential to give people meaning, it promises eternal life, and there are general geographical and cultural considerations.

            Of course I am fascinated by the beginnings of a major world religion. I'm not attracted to it though. I can't say I approve of the idea of loving a hidden God more than your family and friends.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Honestly, it seems pretty providential to me. The value of case studies in instruction is pretty important. Or similarly, we could note that many chapters in instructional texts end with worked examples. You get to see how the principles that were illustrated in chapter play out in practice, so that you then have some functional knowledge that you can go out and put into practice in a creative way.

            I have referred to this several times before, but I think the following lecture by N.T. Wright is right on the money in describing how the Bible can function as an authoritative book for all time. In particular, I am thinking of the metaphor that he uses of a five act Shakespearian play for which we are charged with writing the fifth act. We have creative license in the way that we write the fifth act, but we must do so in a way that is in fidelity to the first four acts. Working within that metaphor, I think one could look at Paul's letters as examples of, "here's how you might go about writing that fifth act ...".

            http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Bible_Authoritative.htm

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I'm not sure I know what you are getting at here. That is I think I disagree.

            I'll check out the link when I have the time to read it carefully.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Totally off topic, but I picked up Led Z 4 at the record store to test out my new speakers. I've heard it countless times, but never on vinyl. It is amazing. I'm going to get a noise complaint.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Zep without digital compression - sounds delightful. Enjoy! IV was the first one I had (on cassette, regrettably). I listened to it so much I feel like saying what Joyce said about Dublin: "if the city [album] suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book [memory]".

          • David Nickol

            But in none of his letters do we get the sense that he sees transmission of facts, or exegesis of facts, to be at the heart of evangelization.

            It seems to me one very real possibility that Paul didn't know much about—and didn't care much about—the earthly ministry of Jesus. Paul seems to have cared basically about the (alleged) facts that Jesus was "born of a woman," died, and rose from the dead. We have in the Gospels the teachings of Jesus, but Paul shows no sign of being a student of Jesus who wished to teach to others what he learned from Jesus. Paul is very different from Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John.

            Getting down to brass tacks, it seems to me Jesus believed his mission was to call Jews—and only Jews—to become more faithful Jews, and Paul believed his mission was to call Gentiles to join his own personal interpretation of the Jesus movement. It seems to me quite odd to imagine that Jesus spent so much time interpreting Jewish Law only to have it abrogated after his death. It seems quite odd for Paul not to have been interested in the teachings—in fact, in any and every word uttered—by God Incarnate. I don't see how a case can be made that Paul regarded Jesus as a great teacher.

          • Mike

            didn't Jesus specifically say that the OT was not null and void that he was bringing it to fulfillment? where do you get the impression that Jesus was only interested in saving Jews?

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Getting down to brass tacks, it seems to me Jesus believed his mission was to call Jews—and only Jews—to become more faithful Jews

            I'm open to that possibility. I don't think the full meaning of Christ was revealed until the resurrection-ascension-pentecost trajectory had played out. I'm not an Apollinarian, so I have no trouble imagining that even Jesus was not completely aware of the totality of his calling during his earthly life.

            interpreting Jewish Law only to have it abrogated after his death

            Paul's post-conversion relationship to the Jewish Law is complex, but it is surely an oversimplification to say that he was calling for the abrogation of the Law. If I could try to summarize in my own words, he came to recognize the Law as an approximate codification of a reality that had come alive. Nonetheless, approximate codifications are useful, and I think Paul's writings reflect a continued appreciation for this utility.

          • Lazarus

            Paul only met Jesus, in a very different form, on the road to Damascus. Was it not this experience that drove him, that inspired him, as opposed to, what to him, would have been hearsay?

          • Doug Shaver

            What is the golden thread running through this? He has risen, people saw it.

            I agree that all the gospel authors, and Paul, affirm that much.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          While there is some truth in what you say, there is obviously a
          point beyond which differences between multiple accounts of an alleged
          occurrence begin to raise doubts about what actually happened.

          Such as differences between Tacitus, Plutarch, and Suetonius?

          • Will

            Such as differences between Tacitus, Plutarch, and Suetonius?

            Certainly. Why would we presume that accurately reported events? People always bias history in favor of themselves, their ideas, and their tribe. It's expected.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          While there is some truth in what you say, there is obviously a point beyond which differences between multiple accounts of an alleged occurrence begin to raise doubts about what actually happened.

          Such as the differences between the accounts of the murder of Hypatia given by Socrates Scholasticus, Damascius, and John of Nikiu?

    • OverlappingMagisteria

      ... but why (in two Gospels accounts that differ) the women are the first to encounter Jesus.

      Perhaps for the logistics of the story? If someone is going to find an empty tomb it makes sense that it would be the ones going to anoint the body. I believe that the anointing was a woman's job then so its gotta be women who find the empty tomb.

      The alternatives, if you are writing a story, would be to either come up with a reason for a man to visit the tomb, or have Jesus just appear and skip the empty tomb altogether. But the empty tomb bit adds some nice suspense to the story (and reinforces the "bodily resurrection vs spiritual resurrection" idea) so we don't want to leave that out.

      • ClayJames

        The alternatives, if you are writing a story, would be to either come up with a reason for a man to visit the tomb

        This seems like a pretty easy and straightfoward path to take. If I am trying to make up a story and a credible witness, it seems like the best course of action is to put a credible witness on the scene instead of relying on a couple of junkies simply because the place in question is often visited by drug adicts.

        • OverlappingMagisteria

          I kind of agree. There may be reasons that having the disciples visit the tomb would be problematic (What is a man doing visiting a tomb of a convicted criminal if he's not a follower, and if he's a follower, shouldn't he be in hiding?) Though I'm sure a good story writer could come up with a way to get a guy to show up at the tomb. Would it be more natural than the women going for the anointing? Maybe, maybe not.

          But I also don't see the women being the first witnesses as that much of a deal breaker as your "junkies" analogy. There still are plenty of male witnesses afterward, as David pointed out. And women may have played a larger role in early Christianity, so having them as the first witnesses may not be quite as problematic as it seems.

          • Doug Shaver

            And women may have played a larger role in early Christianity, so having them as the first witnesses may not be quite as problematic as it seems.

            I suspect that "Nobody would have believed women's testimony" is just an apologetic myth. It seems to be based on proof-texting some rules for legal proceedings. I think we're all aware that what a court of law will accept as evidence has no necessary connection with what people in general will find credible outside of a courtroom.

        • Will

          Paul says Cephas is the first to see Jesus. He says this to the Corinthians in chapter 15. He then says Jesus appears to the 12, not the 11 (i.e. Judas was still one of the disciples).

          1 Cor 15

          3 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, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters[c] at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.[d] 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

          Why would we believe the gospels over Paul himself? It was probably written 30 YEARS before even Mark! This is beyond a minor difference, Paul doesn't even know about Judas?
          Why is it that Christians here seem to know so little about Biblical scholarship?

  • I don't think the stories about the empty tomb and the appearances were fabricated from whole cloth. Or that the Gospel authors and Paul conspired to write these stories. My guess is that Paul wrote of his experience of an appearance and that the other authors used a mix of stories they heard and their own theological point of view.

    The first point Karlo makes is that these stories are credible because their authors had nothing to gain and everything to lose by writing them? I don't agree. We don't know who they were with any significant consequence. Scholars generally date them some 40 years after the events they were describing. Danger should not be presupposed. But even if there was, they, like Paul, would have much to gain if they believed these stories. We know people will commonly place themselves in danger even sacrifice their lives and torture themselves based in such religious beliefs.

    The issue with the women is also I would think to be easily explained. I think it is correct to say women were generally less trusted. But in the stories about Jesus, women play a different role than we normally see. So we might very well expect them to play a role in discovering the empty tomb for example.

    But beyond that the women's role in discovering the empty tomb makes sense if you are trying to explain anomalies generated by the Easter story. If you have stories circulating some months or decades after the execution that Jesus was met alive and walking around. Questions would arise. Who saw him? Didn't all the disciples flee? They would not have gone to his tomb, they'd have been arrested. Why not check the tomb? So, these authors make up or relate stories invented to explain this.

    • Mike

      what would they have to gain in a world dominated by pagan romans and greeks by hostile jewish authorities, by pushing a bodily resurrection from the dead of a nobody local carpenter turned preacher?

      • I think they would have nothing to gain. But I think they would have believed they had eternal life through the grace of god. I think Paul and the authors of the gospels believed what they wrote, but they never witnessed the empty tomb, Paul never mentions the women seeing Jesus. No one is said to have witnessed the resurection. None of the authors of the Gospels said they saw Jesus appear. So I imagine, like chirstians today they heard these stories from others, believed them, wrote about them.

        People believed all kinds of crazy things then and now.

        • Mike

          so just wishful thinking? all the references to an actual body a person eating speaking etc all just hearsay?

          maybe.

          • "all the references to an actual body a person eating speaking etc all just hearsay?"

            There is no question these references in the writings are hearsay.

            The earliest writings, Paul and Mark never mention them, Paul's own "appearance" experience was more of a spiritual experience. The only reference in Mark to the empty is one that scholars accept was added much later (it does not appear in the earliest sources)

            The other gospels are dated later, and in these the author does not claim to have personally witnessed these things, but is speaking of the experience of others.

            This is exactly what we mean by hearsay. In fact, in a legal context, even if these texts identified specifically who the author was and said they were true, they would still be considered inadmissible hearsay, unless we have the author to cross-examine.

          • Mike

            and so why would ppl have said that he rose physically to start?

          • Doug Shaver

            so why would ppl have said that he rose physically

            Because they believed it.

          • Doug Shaver

            so just wishful thinking?

            Sort of. Somebody wrote a story allegorizing certain theological ideas. Some people who read the story thought it was a true story and told other people "This really happened."

          • Mike

            ok but that would have to happen VERY soon after it was claimed to happen. i think it would have to work like this.

            ppl claim Jesus rose from the dead metaphorically (bc he didn't rise physically) then some years later someone decides (to strengthen the idea) to write it down as if he rose physically.

            but wouldn't then the ppl who were first introduced to the "physical" story be turned off by it? I mean they would have been 'used' to the allegory which bc it is 'spiritual' would make sense to them. but then later they would have to try to reconcile themselves with this new version? wouldn't that make evangelization more difficult?

            why not just stick with the allegory? why introduce this new difficult narrative that claims he literally was alive again?

          • Doug Shaver

            ok but that would have to happen VERY soon after it was claimed to happen.

            That depends on when the gospels were written. I have found no unambiguous evidence for their existence before Irenaeus talks about them.

            wouldn't then the ppl who were first introduced to the "physical" story be turned off by it? I mean they would have been 'used' to the allegory which bc it is 'spiritual' would make sense to them. but then later they would have to try to reconcile themselves with this new version? wouldn't that make evangelization more difficult?

            Successful evangelization didn't require changing the mind of anyone who was already familiar with the story and who accepted it as allegorical. It required only that anyone hearing the story for the first time accept it as historical fact.

            why not just stick with the allegory? why introduce this new difficult narrative that claims he literally was alive again?

            It seems to me that your question presupposes some centralized institution that was in control of propagating the story and was telling people how to interpret it. I don't believe there was any such institution before the third century, or maybe the late second.

          • Mike

            but it would have changed things for thousands of ppl. all along it was a metaphor and now they have to believe it happened in real life?

            how come there's no evidence for that massive change?

          • Doug Shaver

            and now they have to believe it happened in real life?

            Depends on what you mean by "have to believe." Most people naturally do believe whatever they're told by people they consider authorities. It occasionally facilitates matters if they're told they'll burn in hell if they don't believe it, but they don't normally need threats of that kind.

            how come there's no evidence for that massive change?

            The only evidence we could have would be documents in which the transition was recorded by people who witnessed it. Do you think we have good reason to believe that those documents, assuming they ever existed, would have been preserved?

          • Mike

            there is lots of evidence for heresies. that christ was not co equal with God is well documented. no one tried to destroy that evidence.

            why isn't there evidence for that change from allegory to real?

          • Doug Shaver

            there is lots of evidence for heresies . . . . no one tried to destroy that evidence.

            And I'm not claiming that anybody tried to destroy anything. Only a minuscule fraction of all the writings produced during the time still exist. The documents that survived had to be copied and recopied, by hand, over and over again, during all the centuries that elapsed until Gutenberg came along. It was preservation, not destruction, that required deliberate effort.

          • Mike

            right but they copied the texts pertaining to arianism. so why not these?

          • Doug Shaver

            so why not these?

            Wrong question. Almost all documents produced during that time vanished from the historical record because they were not continuously copied and recopied. Failure of preservation was what normally happened. So the proper question is not why we don't have them, but why we should have expected to have them.

          • Mike

            simply bc we know of many other heresy disputes and this one would have been the biggest.

          • Doug Shaver

            this one would have been the biggest.

            I don't think that's a safe assumption. To begin with, it presupposes that the controversy would still have been going on when the heresiologists that we know about were active. But that was well into the second century, and by that time the dispute over allegory vs history could already have been mostly over and done with.

          • Mike

            maybe, who knows.
            anyway I've enjoyed talking to you Doug.

          • Doug Shaver

            My pleasure as well, Mike.

          • Doug Shaver

            there is lots of evidence for heresies . . . . no one tried to destroy that evidence.

            I'm not suggesting that anybody tried to destroy anything. No one had to. It was the preservation, not destruction, of ancient documents that required deliberate effort. With rare exceptions such as at Qumran and Nag Hamadi, the only texts we have from Christianity's formative years had to be copied and recopied over and over again, by hand, for more than a thousand years, at least up to the time of Gutenberg. That's why we don't have anything the heretics themselves wrote. All we have are responses to the heretics by orthodox authorities.

          • Mike

            so why aren't there references to this allegorical Christ rising?

          • Doug Shaver

            Who would have preserved them? And why would they have done so?

          • Mike

            the same ppl who preserved all historical docs related to arianism etc.

          • Doug Shaver

            Did they just copy everything they could get their hands on? Probably not. It's reasonable to assume they had to make some choices about which documents they would copy. What do you think we know about the bases on which they made those choices?

      • Doug Shaver

        What did Mormons have to gain in a nation dominated by orthodox Christians by pushing a revelation by an angel to Joseph Smith?

        • Mike

          well did he claim to reject the God of those ortho christians? no, his God was the same, he even included Jesus. he just claimed that that God had given him new revelations. so he wasn't overturning anything but 'advancing' it in his view i suspect.

          the early christians were directly going against rome and greece whereas he was piggy backing onto the existing dominant religion. i think it would be comparable if Jesus said he was the son of Jupiter etc.

          • Doug Shaver

            he [Joseph Smith] just claimed that that God had given him new revelations.

            As did Paul.

            the early christians were directly going against rome and greece

            They were going against some orthodoxies of Roman and Greek religions. Mormons are so unorthodox, lots of people deny that they are Christians.

            i think it would be comparable if Jesus said he was the son of Jupiter etc.

            Does it matter which particular god he claimed to be the son of? According to conservative apologists, he said he was Yahweh's son. I don't believe he actually said anything of the sort, but if we're to believe Paul, Christians were saying it from Day One.

          • Mike

            "against some orthodoxies of Roman and Greek religions"

            only some? come on.

          • Doug Shaver

            only some?

            That is my impression. However, I have not studied those religions in any detail. If you have, you might be able to bring me up to speed on the differences between them and Christianity that you think are significantly greater than those between Mormonism and orthodox Christianity.

          • Mike

            well for one they believed in many gods whereas Christ and Judaism vehemently denied that. mormonism was almost entirely like traditional christianity it seems to me.

          • Doug Shaver

            mormonism was almost entirely like traditional christianity it seems to me.

            It's easy to get that impression if all you know about Mormonism is what Mormons say in public. People who used to be Mormons but no longer are tell a different story.

    • ClayJames

      Danger should not be presupposed.

      Who is simply presupposing danger? Are you trying to say that the apostles and are early followers of Christ were not in danger?

      • Depends when you are speaking of, but around 70 AD I do not think there is any reason to think Christians would be particularly endangered by setting a narrative like the gospels down in writing. Or, really for the next century or so at least.

        Even by 269 AD. Christians held positions or authority in the Roman Empire, when Valerian ordered Christian senators and other high ranking officials to lose their rank and property. It makes little sense to think that they were so scared that they needed to hide their writings two hundred years earlier. It was when Christians became prominent and refused to sacrifice to the imperial cult that they began getting seriously persecuted.

      • Doug Shaver

        Are you trying to say that the apostles and are early followers of Christ were not in danger?

        The evidence for original persecution is the same as the evidence for the resurrection. If I'm justified in doubting the resurrection because the evidence seems unreliable, then I'm just as justified in doubting original persecution. Both claims are just part and parcel of Christian dogma.

  • I'm not going to defend any conspiracy theory. However, it seems to me that there is a false dichotomy between "the account is a lie" versus "it is true." It is also possible to be delusional, mistaken, and so on. For Paul and most early Christians, they were in no position to know whether the Resurrection happened exactly as the accounts say by simply reason of not having witnessed it. As for what could be gained, not everyone has the same desires. If the Resurrection was true and believers in it were promised eternal life, that seems like a huge incentive to believe. Blaise Pascal famously argued belief was a better option than disbelief for just such a reason. Whether or not one accepts the idea, clearly some people do. So to start with, most believers were not "lying" in their beliefs-they had nothing to lie about-plus they had much potential gain promised. Many believers in all sorts of religions have willingly died for them without there being any sign they were lying.

    As to the female witnesses, I am told women commonly prepared the dead for burial in Judea at the time. Therefore it would not be surprising for women to be the first that witnessed the Resurrection, and like Josephus going with what was available. In any case, many men are also listed as witnesses so I'm not sure why them being first is a problem. Assuming they were the only witnesses, then maybe so, but that is not the case in the Gospels. In any case, most Jews did not become Christians.

    • Mike

      i agree to me the possibility of new life and ultimate justice is extremely appealing emotionally. and if i am wrong? so what i won't know it. but if i am right i'll be happy. it's a fools bargain not to want to belive as you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain. granted a cynical approach but against the prospect of bleak atheism it looks positively marvelous.

      • The problem with Pascal's Wager is it's a false dichotomy. There are quite a few options aside from those he lays out. So you might also be wrong in your choice, just as an atheist could be. Regardless, most atheists don't find atheism bleak. Even if they do, many feel that self-delusion isn't the way to go.

        • Mike

          all the wager does is show that NOT placing a bet is the worst possible thing to do. and i agree.

          atheism is by definition bleak and hopeless but if it is correct then self-delusion is no big deal as nothing in atheism per se says self-delusion is a sin or "wrong".

          • No, the wager offers us just two false options: Christianity and atheism. It therefore excludes the vast number of possibilities besides that.

            By definition huh? How do you support that statement? In any case self-delusion would not lead you to the truth, so your self-delusion is just as likely to be false and thus (per Pascal) lead to disaster. This would make it a very bad idea and thus wrong in that sense.

          • Mike

            no the wager is just that you should wager your life on SOME religion. it proposes christianity if you've decided btw the 2 (christ and atheism) but NOT if you haven't. if you aren't sure about any it's better to try your luck and go in for any than sit on the side lines and lose for sure.

            well atheism is just the theory that this, whatever this is, is all there is. but human beings by defn by their nature 'thirst' for justice, love, meaning etc. so atheism to me is a direct nullification of those most human things. imho.

            again if atheism is true then what will it matter if i've spent my life self deluding myself into believing Jesus rose from the dead etc.? it really won't matter at all as nothing ultimately matters if there's no God or any kind of transcendence or supernatural realm.

          • David

            again if atheism is true then what will it matter if i've spent my life self deluding myself into believing Jesus rose from the dead etc.?

            It will matter because you will have wasted some portion of your little time on ridiculous nonsense.

          • Mike

            but you're making an unwarranted assumption imho that what YOU do is somehow NOT a waste of time. you assume that your pursuit of "truth" is somehow more worthwhile than my delusion (mind you i don't know it's a delusion yet).

            but why should 'matter and energy' a meaningless universe care that you are pursuing truth in the first place? i suspect what you really mean is that YOU give your pursuit meaning you impose it onto your pursuit. but in that case you are just as delusional as i am as there isn't any meaning there in the first place as you had to impose it.

          • Doug Shaver

            but why should 'matter and energy' a meaningless universe care that you are pursuing truth in the first place?

            They don't care, but so what? I exist, and I care, and I don't need my caring to be validated by the universe itself.

            It is your Christian dogma that says my life is meaningless without some supernatural entity to give it meaning. I don't have to accept that dogma, and I don't accept it.

          • Mike

            ok but then your caring is no more 'worthwhile' than mine. you care about say science i care about say theology but both are IMPOSED and therefore BOTH are meaningless.

            we say that there is meaning WITHIN the universe as it was put there by God. but you folks IMPOSE meaning which makes no sense as in that case it is a crafty delusion only.

          • Doug Shaver

            but then your caring is no more 'worthwhile' than mine.

            In whose judgment?

          • Mike

            umm the meaningless universe's or in mine.

          • Doug Shaver

            The universe, as I perceive it, makes no judgments. As for your judgment . . . I would prefer that you think I am a caring person, but if you don't, then I'm not going to stop caring just on that account.

          • If you read Pascal's writing, he clearly speaks of Christianity, not just any religion (specifically Catholicism). Regardless, "wagering" doesn't seem like a good solution for uncertainty.

            You are assuming that without gods justice, love, meaning etc. do not exist. That is something many would dispute. It is not demonstrated.

            Per the wager, a self-delusion could be disastrous. That's why it could matter. Even if the wager is not true (as I think) things still matter. I disagree that "mattering" relies on some supernatural and transcendant (whatever those mean) aspects of existence.

          • Mike

            i am actually saying that without telos goals purposes morality can not exist and that those things require gods or God.

            if you don't buy a lotto ticket for a ticket on the last shuttle off earth before it explodes you are making a mistake.

          • Why is that? Do we need goes to have goals? So we could have this with many gods, not just God?

            If it's a lottery, why suspect any particular belief would be more likely true than the rest?

      • Doug Shaver

        it's a fools bargain not to want to belive as you really have nothing to lose

        Nothing to lose after I die, granted. But it seems to me that if a person is inclined to think that whatever they want to be true is actually true, then they have a great deal to lose in this life.

        • Mike

          not 'whatever' but the most important question there can be.

          • Doug Shaver

            but the most important question there can be.

            You mean important in terms of consequences? I should think the reverse would be true. It seems to me that the more important the question, the less we should be influenced by wishful thinking.

          • Mike

            yes but you define all hope and faith in what reason has revealed as wishful thinking. but i think that's a general symptom of atheism.

            for a human being which is almost nothing if not a thing that thirsts for justice, for love, for meaning for purpose for answers, for it not to hope to have faith even in the face of insurmountable materialist obstacles (i am not conceding they exist but just what if) is to my mind wrong. it is in our nature to want this great drama to be resolved and it is good for use to want that. belief faith is a good natural human desire.

            the atheist answer that all of that is just evolution doing it's thing is self refuting imho.

          • Doug Shaver

            you define all hope and faith in what reason has revealed as wishful thinking

            No, I don't. If I agree that reason has revealed it, then I don't consider it wishful thinking. Or at least not only wishful thinking. I'm not claiming that just because we want something to be true, we can never have good reason to believe it. All I'm saying is that wanting something to be true is not, by itself, a good reason to believe it.

          • Doug Shaver

            the atheist answer that all of that is just evolution doing it's thing is self refuting imho.

            If it's self-refuting, it implies a contradiction. Can you show me the contradiction?

          • Mike

            bc if the answer 'dissolves' this great drama into some biochemical process then even that statement itself gets dissolves and so does everything else.

            "evolution" as often wielded by atheists accounts for too much.

          • Doug Shaver

            I don't know what you mean, in this context, by dissolving. It seem to be a metaphorical way of saying something, but I'm not sure what that something is.

          • Mike

            just that if evo can 'explain' this human drama as something inherently w/o purpose then it must do the same to this and any statement.

          • Doug Shaver

            OK, but there is nothing special about evolution in that respect. Evolution is just a biological theory, and biology is just one among many other sciences. Science has never discovered an inherent purpose for anything else, so it was hardly a surprise (and certainly no contradiction) when biologists failed to discover an inherent purpose for Homo sapiens.

          • Mike

            that's fine but that 'inherent purposelessness' must apply to everything not just theism as i think atheists want it to.

          • Doug Shaver

            I don't know what other atheists want it to apply to, and I don't care. There are three possibilities: (1) Everything has an inherent purpose, (2) nothing has an inherent purpose, or (3) at least one thing has an inherent purpose and at least one thing has no inherent purpose. I know of no scientific principle that says (3) is impossible.

          • Mike

            where did it get its inherent purpose?

          • Doug Shaver

            I'm not saying it has one.

          • Sample1

            Dennet has described evolution by natural selection as an acid that cannot be contained in any vessel, seeping into more and more disciplines.

            Medicine, economics, some social sciences. So far he seems to be correct. Where do you think it's being "wielded by atheists" incorrectly?

            Mike
            Edit, removed last question. Spelling.

          • Mike

            in defense of some abstraction called "atheism".

          • Lazarus

            Are you not defining yourself to victory here?
            If Catholicism is not true then indeed, wishful thinking it is. If it is the closest we can get to truth while in this life, then it is the furthest you can be from wishful thinking. We do not know who holds the key, so it's back to square one.

            Can it not also be said, with equal force, that atheism is wishful thinking? That all came to be by sheer chance, by impersonal forces, that we do not need to know, that we can wait until all the evidence is in? That by way of this wish we stand unaccountable to our Creator, self-proclaimed masters of ourselves, that when we die there will be no retribution. That, to me, sounds like a long list of very popular wishes.

          • David Nickol

            Can it not also be said, with equal force, that atheism is wishful thinking?

            It seems to me you can't have wishful thinking without thinkers. And it also seems to me you can't generalize about how those thinkers actually think. There certainly must be atheists who find their own views bleak and wish they could believe in God. And it would seem to me that from the Catholic point of view, any "mortal sinners" would be happy to be convinced there was no God.

            So maybe atheism is wishful thinking for some atheists, but for others it is facing what they honestly believe to be cold, hard facts. And maybe theism is wishful thinking for some believers, but for others it is something they would prefer to believe was not so, if only they could.

            I would have to say that we sometimes see "wishful-thinking apologetics" here from believers, but I can't remember seeing it from atheists. By "wishful-thinking apologetics" I mean arguments such as, "But if there's no afterlife with reward and punishment, bad people who prosper during their lifetimes just get away with it! There would be no justice!" That is a pretty naked appeal to wishful thinking.

          • Doug Shaver

            Are you not defining yourself to victory here?

            I don't think so. If I'm committing any fallacy, it's probably begging the question. To call something wishful thinking is to presuppose that it isn't true.

            If Catholicism is not true then indeed, wishful thinking it is. If it is the closest we can get to truth while in this life, then it is the furthest you can be from wishful thinking.

            Any belief, assuming that it's true, gets farther from wishful thinking the more you actually wish it were not true. An example of something very far from wishful thinking is my belief that the Holocaust really happened.

          • Sample1

            The Holocaust example is an interesting way to explain wishful thinking. Thanks.

            Mike

          • Doug Shaver

            Can it not also be said, with equal force, that atheism is wishful thinking?

            Only if you say that nobody in his right mind would want to be a theist.
            [Edited for typo.]

  • Doug Shaver

    I stopped believing in the resurrection over 50 years ago, but I have never, since that time, given any credence to the notion that the stories were the product of a conspiracy. And in my experience, the proportion of skeptics who do think there was a conspiracy is minuscule. One of the things that skeptics tend to be skeptical about is conspiracy theories.

    • Lazarus

      "I stopped believing in the resurrection over 50 years ago,"

      And yet here you are, still fascinated by it.

      • David Nickol

        That's not the point I would have chosen to make about Doug Saver's comment.

        I think the important point he makes, made by just about every doubter, agnostic, atheist, or non-Christian who has bothered to comment is that this rather awkwardly named OP (Why the Resurrection Was Not a Conspiracy) is of little interest to the "opposition" here on Strange Notions, because virtually nobody here believes in The Passover Plot or any of a number of other hypotheses that explain the resurrection as a hoax perpetrated by some early Christians.

        For the most part, "the opposition" here on Strange Notions agrees with the vast majority of contemporary New Testament scholars (both believers and nonbelievers) that the Gospel stories about Jesus circulated as oral tradition before being committed to writing. Believers hold that this process resulted in a story that was historically accurate as regards a real, physical resurrection, while nonbelievers hold that the resurrection story evolved from something different than a real, physical resurrection.

        • Mike

          so why evolve in this direction: metaphorical resurrection to bodily and not bodily to metaphorical?

          it would seem to me that convincing ppl LATER that the resurrection was bodily would be harder if earlier on most ppl believed it was a metaphor. why make that move to physical ress? why not keep it metaphorical and keep everyone happy?

          • David Nickol

            so why evolve in this direction: metaphorical resurrection to bodily and not bodily to metaphorical?

            I said only that "nonbelievers hold that the resurrection story evolved from something different than a real, physical resurrection." I have no idea (and I don't think anyone else does, either) whether a "metaphorical resurrection" was initially the belief that evolved into a physical resurrection. Perhaps there was some actual incident that caused the earliest followers of Jesus to believe in a physical resurrection from the outset. Perhaps the body of Jesus was never handed over for burial in the first place. Perhaps the story evolved from "no tomb" to "empty tomb." There is really no way to know.

          • Mike

            ok so not metaphorical from the start but maybe something concrete like no tomb or empty tomb bc his body was stolen or maybe even no death as i think muslims think.

            no tomb is a weak start to me as the body would prob be just outside the city.

            empty tomb so body stolen or somehow lost makes more sense. so they would of course look for it try to find it but to no avail and so the story would be that maybe something supernatural happened to it and then later that would develop into well he rose from the dead.

            but then he came back from the dead. so he didn't just 'rise' but came back!

            so why add that part? a really strange part bc there would be ppl who would say no he didn't he just rose as we've always been taught. seems like a very risky thing to add.

        • Lazarus

          I am pleasantly surprised to hear that those are the "opposition's"views. I have also expanded on that comment of mine in my reply to Luc.

      • Doug Shaver

        My loss of belief was not caused by a loss of interest.

  • neil_pogi

    the apostle Paul himself was a former skeptic, and became a firm believer of Jesus because he himself had witnessed the events of Jesus' earthly life.

    • Doug Shaver

      he himself had witnessed the events of Jesus' earthly life.

      Not according to his own testimony.

      • neil_pogi

        maybe you should read paul's conversion to christianity, or read the new testament

        • Doug Shaver

          maybe you should read paul's conversion to christianity,

          I have read it. He doesn't say what you claim he said.

          • neil_pogi

            then how come he defended christianity and Jesus?

          • Doug Shaver

            You'd know if you read him yourself.

      • SparklingMoon,

        It is worth noting that as long as Jesus lived, Paul was his sworn enemy.If Paul was indeed meant to appear as an Apostle after the Messiah, the latter should have foretold something about him. This was necessary because Paul had bitterly opposed Jesus throughout his life, and had contrived to harm him in every way. How could such a person be trusted after Jesus’ death, unless he himself made a clear prophecy that, although Paul has been my bitter enemy and has done me great harm, he will become an Apostle and a holy man after I am gone.

        • Doug Shaver

          It is worth noting that as long as Jesus lived, Paul was his sworn enemy.

          Paul himself doesn't say so. Who does?

    • Darren

      the apostle Paul himself was a former skeptic, and became a firm believer of Jesus because he himself had witnessed the events of Jesus' earthly life.

      In what world is a Pharisee who stones blasphemers a Skeptic?

      And yes, you should actually read Paul, he never claims to have met Jesus during his earthly life… There are few things more pathetic than believers who don’t bother to find out what it is they are claiming to believe.

  • Ray Boshers

    I find your article to be very well done. There are many people who question the resurrection and your article will be one that I can use to help them see the truth of the resurrection.

    • Doug Shaver

      There are many people who question the resurrection and your article will be one that I can use to help them see the truth of the resurrection.

      I wouldn't bother if I were you. Anyone who doubts the resurrection is not going to change their mind just because you can prove there was no conspiracy.