Saturday, February 27, 2010

That's Him, at the Burger King in Minnasota, next to Elvis

After Christ was crucified and died, He then, after 3 days rose again. Then for forty days before he ascended into heaven what did he do? The Bible says that he walked around revealing Himself before people. I believe to prove that He was indeed alive.

But here's the part I need you to help answer for me. In that 40 day period there are 17 times where Christ made an appearance. And all 17 times the Bible mentions a Jesus sighting, the witnesses were always Believers.

Any ideas why? I have never heard anyone ever teach or preach on this subject. It just came to me as I was reading and studying this week for my Jr. High class.

I have an idea why? But I could be way off base?

Thanks, feeno


  1. Wait, wasn't Saul of Tarsus converted by the appearance/vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus, and therefore not a believer beforehand?

  2. Answered my own question - that wasn't in the first 40 days after Jesus' death, because it takes place in Acts.

    Beats me why a real resurrected Jesus would only appear to believers. It would have made a better case later on if he'd appeared to some skeptics straight away. If there wasn't a real resurrected Jesus, however, then it's easy to understand why there are only accounts of him appearing to believers.

  3. It is of my opinion that Jesus actually didn't bodily resurrect. In actuality, I think there is a big misunderstanding stemming from a confusion of Judaic two-body resurrection theology that get misinterpreted from Paul's writing and later gets added to the Gospel accounts after the legend has had a few years to spread. This would explain why there is so much variation in the tales.

    Also, it explains why Jesus would only appear to Christians, since only Christians writing for other Christians were of concern--because after the death they were trying to figure out who would lead Christianity into the future--James the Just or Peter, eventually Paul. There is a lot of layers to the political tension looming in the background of the resurrection narrative. But again, this actually makes more sense if there was no bodily resurrection.

    I have written about the original ending to the book of Mark before.

    Also see Morton Smith's work on "The Secret Gospel of Mark" covers much of the controversy quite well.

    If you want to read a great book which talks about the resurrection hypothesis issues in detail, check out the book "The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave."

    The book is written by professional historians, all skeptics, and it covers many questions regarding the confusion of the resurrection tale. Why it is so problematic. And why, on several accounts, it cannot possibly be historically true. It gives the reasons for the problems you've observed, and gives the best scholarly surmises for what could have happened historically.

    It's a great read if you want to see the point of view from the other side. It clears up many of the problems Christians have by offering plausible secular events in lieu of the supernatural ones. When viewed from this perspective a lot of the issues clear right up. Of course, it can't answer every question, but it points out some real good points about the resurrection event which Christians seem to often neglect or not even be aware of.

    The Biblical historian James D. Tabor's book "The Jesus Dynasty" also offers a non-supernatural explanation for the resurrection which seems more than plausible, and he goes into detail to explain how a resuscitation may have occurred, and if true, many people would have seen this ancient CPR as a form of miracle or sorcery. Also worth looking into.

  4. 'Sup T-Vick

    I know it's your opinion that Christ didn't bodily resurrect, that's why your an Atheist.
    I believe he did and that's why I'm a Believer.

    There have been skeptics from the very beginning. The Sanhedrin was claiming from day one that Jesus' Disciples must have stolen the body and hid it. And in order to prove that all they would of had to do was to produce Christ's body. They never could. There were several other conspiracy theories early on. things like Jesus faked His death only to disappear for ever?

    This blog is targeted toward Atheists, most except one or two who comments here are all Atheists. I know none of you believe in God, therefore they wouldn't believe in a risen Savior. Maybe I should have formed my question to you hypothetically? Why do you think that Christ only appeared to Believers?

    Nothing has changed in 2,000 years. Some believe, some don't. You choose not to believe the earliest witness accounts for what ever reasons? While I do, based some what upon the lives and deaths of those earliest witnesses.

    Later Holmes, feeno

  5. I find it fascinating how much Christians underestimate the intelligence of their own when discussing this point. If I were a disciple who had stolen the body, I'd have completely destroyed it, not hidden it. Given the nature of the event I'd have been trying to fabricate, it would be too risky to leave anything which could ever be found, for example by the Sanhedrin. Even to simple fishermen and tax collectors and so on, this would be obvious.

    As I said, according to the Bible Jesus did appear to non-believers like Saul of Tarsus, and according to others he's been appearing to various people ever since. So has the Buddha, and the ghost of Mary Queen of Scots, and Elvis.

    And as we've established, Feeno, you don't believe the Gospels based on the stories of the apostles, like Lee Strobel says. Your lifelong ingrained convictions led you back to the church, and then you learned this stuff.

  6. LX

    So these scared little Apostles whose whole lives were crashing down around them, found the courage to break Christs body out of the side of a mountain. Although it was probably being heavily guarded by those who would literally lose their life for dereliction of duty. Knowing full well about the claims of Christ rising from the dead in 3 days. Then quietly disposed of His body where no one would ever find it. Then pretended to remained scared and have doubts. Then later they got together and said "OK we all know Christ is dead, but let's pretend he's still alive, let's act all bold now so we can be ridiculed, ostracized and even executed. Who's with me?

    So they were smart enough to dispose of Christs body, but not smart enough to tell whatever Disciple had this great idea to go jump in a lake?

    Also I never claimed I didn't believe the Gospels based upon the stories of the Apostles, I claimed I didn't know about any of that stuff, or cared really.

    But you might be right about my "ingrained" convictions? I really don't know what it was? I wasn't really ever that ingrained(?) Who knows? I'm just glad it did happen.

    Later Holmes, feeno

  7. - We're only assuming hypothetically that the apostles had anything to do with it. There were many more Christians besides, and it would explain why the apostles seemed fearful until later if they were fooled as well.

    - The tomb couldn't have been that heavily or diligently guarded on Saturday night or Sunday morning if nobody knew the stone had been moved until Mary Magdalene strolled right up to it. If so, it would have taken less courage than manpower (and perhaps either stealth or a bribe).

    - Because of the three-day claim, Jesus had to be out of that tomb at the three-day mark or everything was for naught. Arranging for him to eventually reappear would be difficult, but disposing of the corpse was a necessary first step so they couldn't be discredited. Perhaps they managed that much and then retreated to figure the rest out, and that's why they waited.

    - Better to be ridiculed, ostracised and eventually executed (the first one after eleven whole years) while leading a small but growing group of volatile but devout followers than to disappoint and disillusion those followers and be promptly lynched. Maintaining the pretense is one way cult leaders protect themselves from the outside and the inside while holding onto their assets for as long as possible.

    - You said, "I do [believe the earliest witness accounts, i.e. the Gospels] based somewhat upon the lives and deaths of those earliest witnesses." I was responding to that.

    - Your "ingrained convictions" are what you described in your piece on my site: "I did however always sense God in my life." I can't see inside your head, but I'd be more surprised about that if you weren't brought up in a community that decided you needed to be Saved(tm) at age 9-10.

  8. Feeno,

    The difficulty here is that you already accept claims such as the tomb being guarded. This is only mentioned in Matthew, and is generally regarded by scholars as false. But of course, if you already accept the authority of the gospels about these issues, then obviously when the gospels say "Jesus rose from the dead", you're going to believe that too. There's no need to "prove" that Jesus rose from the dead if you already assume that the gospel accounts are accurate.

    Of course, once you allow yourself to accept that scholars who have devoted their life's work to studying first century history may have something to say about the reliability of the gospels, then perhaps the debate changes. It's still your prerogative whether to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, of course; I'm just saying that assuming the gospel accounts to be true ends the debate before it begins.

    Anyway, with all that said, my explanation for why Jesus only appeared to that unbelievers weren't likely to have hallucinations/visions/dreams about him. Certainly there might be some exceptions to this, like say Saul of Tarsus, but I don't think it's at all a stretch of the imagination to say that believers were more likely to be stricken with grief over the death of their leader, and thus more likely to believe that they were somehow still in communication with him.

  9. I dunno... why didn't the lollipop kids realize the Wizard was just a guy behind a curtain?

  10. Geenks

    I don't believe in the Wizard of Oz and even if I did I would hate him because he's a jerk. He scared people for no reason and was mean. I'd rather be in Kansas then to live in Emerald City with him. Besides I don't think he actually ever really lived. There have been several studies from very educated people who verify that Wizard was simply made up from 4 of the Munchkins. But their stories don't even really jive. All the other Munchkins believed it only because they were brainwashed and indoctrinated. Besides it would have been impossible to travel in a tornado because the barometric pressure couldn't created enough g forces to land Dorothy and Toto into another dimension. And if it could have then why wasn't Dorothy's hair messed up? Based upon fossil records I believe in Winged Monkees but the rest is just fairy tales and wishful thinking for weak minded people that hope they can have a wish granted by the Wizard,
    dumb ass.

    Broad is road that leads to destruction, but the yellow brick road is.... OK, enough already, I really need a brain. feeno

  11. If you get a chance, check out this 4 minute video of William Lane Craig entitled What Do Scholars Believe About the Resurrection of Jesus?. I would be interested in anybody's thoughts on this segment from a debate he had with Bishop John Shelby Spong.

  12. Point by point as I go through it, JD:

    - Neither man's appeal to majority is worth much, but both Spong and Craig can be right about the consensus or lack thereof, and probably are right: most scholars don't see the Gospels as historical, but most New Testament scholars do. However, given one's likely reasons for studying the New Testament in the first place, would you disagree that most self-identifying "New Testament scholars" are in fact Christian apologists or at least believing Christians? (He mentions Graham Stanton, the Reverend Richard Burridge, Donald Guthrie and of course Gary Habermas.) If this is the case, no wonder most of them accept the historicity of the major events of the Gospels. They did before they started studying. Only very occasionally do you get one like Michael Goulder who goes against his own work, abandoning his faith in the process.

    - The existence of multiple independent sources as a criterion for historicity gets iffy if those multiple sources have met or corresponded, are sharing their sources at least partially and especially have a common agenda regarding their intended audience. In short, in what ways they're "independent" (as opposed to deliberately in concert and perfectly aware of the virtues of multiple sources) becomes an issue.

    - What if, for an extreme example, the lost sources supposedly from within a decade of the crucifixion don't mention the resurrection or even the empty tomb? You can't project every statement in the documents you have back into the ones you don't.

    - I'd like to find A.N.Sherwin-White's piece on how long it takes to make a legend. It seems like it would be easier than he thinks to lose track of the details of one Messiah among the bucketloads of them, especially with about 3% literacy and no noticeable change to daily life unless you already believed.

    Finally, talking to Feeno just now I assumed hypothetically that there was an empty tomb anyway. It didn't seem to help matters.

  13. Saying that most New Testament historians accept the historicity of the empty tomb and post resurrection as historical is like me saying that there are some astrophysicists and astronomers (Hugh Ross for example) who are avowed Creationists.

    It doesn't mean that all astronomers, physicists, or cosmologists subscribe to the same such views. New Testament critics have often pointed out the fact that the MAJORITY of historians, of ancient culture and antiquity, do not support Jesus Christ's story and classify it as myth and legend. That's because they are trained in the critical method, and the distinct lack of evidence only necessitates further skepticism. Craig knows this.

    So once again, it appears, Craig only gives you the facts he wants to, leaving out important details, simply to misinform in audience in such a way as to convince them of his argument. Like I've always said, Craig is a brilliant rhetorician, but he merely has special pleading, logic fallacies, and anecdotal allegories to stake his main argument on. I'm just saying, genuine empirical evidence would be better than simple say so and the obvious fact that a lot of Christians agree with Craig, who also happens to be a Christian. But one has to wonder, how many genuine skeptics has Craig convinced with his rhetoric? That's something I'd like to know.

    Clearly Craig always sticks mainly to NT historians and Biblical historians he knows are already Christian...and that's a bias. I guess it works to win a debate or two, but it does nothing to prove or disprove theories.

    If Craig would consider the skeptical arguments and quotes historians critical of his theory, or at least try to show that he understands the oppositions argument, that would at least be more objective. But debates are rarely about being objective... they are about winning your case, or at least winning the popular opinion that you have the better case (even if it is completely unfounded). This doesn't change the fact that I always find Craig's content lacking, his facts in contention with the majority view of real historians outside of his field of expertise, the favoritism he bestows on those who agree is always geared to those who already adhere to the same devotional tracts as he, and his conclusions often seem premature--or rather, they are.

    I can see why Dawkins refuses to debate him. Craig mostly aims to win arguments, even when he knows full well that the resurrection isn't historically verifiable. It's absurd really, and frankly, a tad on the hypocritical side. If he would go on record as saying that the resurrection is not a foregone conclusion, then at least I'd have some respect for the man. He may say that he believes it, even though the verdict is still out, but that's not what he does. He says fact, fact, fact. But as it turns out, the one thing he lacks are the facts. Sometimes I find myself wondering how someone so smart can be so stupid.