Peace of Christ, Mr. Minton, I hope that you are in good health. As I traverse the internet, I notice that copy paste comments are prevalent. Sadly, this is also found in christian apologetics channels and websites. This is especially prevalent when the article/video is concerning the Resurrection. Two individuals in particular are notorious for this, “Countering Christainity” and “Resurrection Expert”. What I am presenting to you today is what I believe to be an alternate account of “Countering Christainity” under the name Sandra Banks. I believe this because the comment links to the same Reddit threads as the ones made by “Countering Christainity”. Because of the prevalence of this copy paster, I thought it necessary to submit it to you for refutation. Final Note, I understand that Holy Week for Protestants such as yourself has already passed. However, the orthodox one will be beginning soon. So in advance, Christos Anesti, Mr.Minton!
This is the comment from Sandra Banks. It was found under a video that I don’t recall the name of. If needed, you can find the video at “To Be Sure . . . God Loves You” under the article called “Resurrection of Jesus- Resources for Study” under the video section of the intermediate portion of the article.
- The origin of the belief of the disciples can be explained by Jesus predicting his own death and resurrection (if historical). This would prime his followers to believe and declare such a thing happened after his death without evidence even if they didn’t understand the prediction at first. In Mt. 16:21-22 cf. Mark 8:31-33, Peter actually seems to understand the prediction (it only takes one catalyst to get a belief started) and in Mt. 27:62-64 the chief priests and Pharisees certainly understand the prediction. In Mark 10:32-34 Jesus gives an exact play by play prediction of what’s to happen where no confusion is expressed. So obviously, if your religious leader whom you are committed to makes a prediction more than once and makes it a central tenet of his teaching then the natural conclusion is that you would be biased towards believing it would occur or had occurred after some time reflecting upon it (even without confirming evidence). For further research lookup “cognitive dissonance theory and Christian origins.”
Moreover, Mark 6:14-16 relays an interesting tradition that Herod and some others were saying John the Baptist had been “raised from the dead” which, if historical, proves the concept of a single dying and rising prophet figure existed in Jesus’ time. This is interesting because John and Jesus were both apocalyptic preachers who preached a similar message to the same groups of people and both had been unjustly executed. There is also some evidence that some thought John might be the Messiah and that his sect continued on after his death. It seems the idea of a single figure dying and rising from the dead may have its origin in apocalyptic Judaism. If people were applying the concept to John then it’s no surprise that the same circle of people would apply the concept to Jesus after his death. This provides a perfectly plausible natural explanation for the origin of belief in the resurrection that doesn’t actually entail God raising Jesus from the dead. https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAChristian/comments/8gs86v/the_origin_of_belief_in_jesus_resurrection_can_be/
- The original view of Jesus’ resurrection/exaltation was that he went to heaven simultaneously with the resurrection or immediately afterwards leaving no room for physical earthly encounters. Phil 2:8-9, Rom. 8:34, Eph. 1:20, Heb. 1:3, 10:12-13, 12:2 can all be plausibly interpreted as a simple one-step resurrection/exaltation to heaven without any intermediate earthly physical appearances. The physical resurrection to the earth and Ascension stories were later developments (see below). This means the “appearances” mentioned in 1 Cor 15:5-8 were necessarily spiritual encounters of the exalted Lord from heaven and the gospel depictions are necessarily false. If apologists want to claim that the original view was that Jesus’ resurrected corpse actually walked the earth then they need to provide evidence from Paul (the earliest source) which indicates that. The problem is, Paul doesn’t give any evidence for this which means they are necessarily reading that assumption into the text. So since the earliest data can be equally interpreted to mean a simultaneous or immediate exaltation to heaven then the apologist has the burden of proof to show Paul believed otherwise.
- Second Temple Judaism was a superstitious visionary culture that claimed to have “visions” of God and angels all the time. This provides a cultural background context which raises the prior probability that the “appearances” of Jesus were originally thought of as “visions” or spiritual revelations from heaven. https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAChristian/comments/8iq6k9/the_cultural_background_of_judaism_supports_the/
- Empty tombs and “missing body” stories were an established literary theme in antiquity. It was a marker used to convey apotheosis/translation of a hero or important person. Therefore, it’s just as likely that the gospels would be employing the theme as it is that they are reporting a historical fact. Thus, the story by itself cannot serve as evidence for its historicity.
An extremely interesting example is the Greek novel Callirhoe by Chariton which may date to before 62 CE due to a possible mention by Persius “To them I recommend the morning’s play-bill and after lunch Callirhoe” – (1,134). Just as in the gospels, in Chariton’s story, there is the sequence of dawn, visit to the grave, finding the stone removed, fear, inspection of the empty grave, disbelief, and again visit to the grave. https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAChristian/comments/ajftnd/empty_tombs_and_missing_body_stories_were_an/
- The Resurrection story evolves over time which is consistent with legendary growth. It starts with “spiritual visions” of Jesus from heaven in the earliest firsthand material then gradually evolves to a more physical resurrection over time in the sources which are not firsthand. In order to refute this argument one would have to show it to be implausible and replace it with a better historical hypothesis.
Christos Anesti to you, too! And now for the response. I am going to address these in the same order in which you listed them.
1: The Argument That The Disciples Were In Anticipation Of The Resurrection After All.
Based on how this section is worded, I think this person is most properly responding to The Minimal Facts case for the resurrection which is the methodology I employ which I learned from the notable New Testament scholars Michael Licona and Gary Habermas. William Lane Craig uses it as well.
What’s unusual about this critique is that most skeptical scholars don’t think Jesus DID predict His death and resurrection. Now, I think Michael Licona makes a good case from the criteria of authenticity that Jesus did indeed predict His death and resurrection in His book “The Resurrection Of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach”, and obviously as an Evangelical committed to biblical inerrancy, I wouldn’t jettison the gospels portrayal of Jesus predicting his death just to strengthen my apologetic for the resurrection. But it is odd that something so hotly contested among critics as Jesus’ prediction of his death is used an argument Jesus’ resurrection. It’s odd on two accounts (1) The premise on which the argument rests concedes something most scholarly skeptics of the resurrection won’t allow, and (2) in the aforementioned book, Dr. Mike Licona actually uses this as additional evidence for the a posteriori probability of the resurrection, not against.
But I can why Sandra would appeal to this argument. Basically, she thinks she’s giving the evangelical enough rope to hang himself. She may not think Jesus did actually predict his death and resurrection and would side with most critics on this. By the way, the naturalistic theory Sandra is defending here is what I call “The GroupThink Theory”.
There are several problems with this response.
Problem 1: It doesn’t account for the conversion Of Paul.
In part 5 of my YouTube series on the resurrection of Jesus, I argue that the postmortem appearance to Paul is one of the historical facts in need of explanation. Paul was a persecutor of the church (known from multiple attestion of this being written in the book of Acts and in Paul’s own letters). The Principle of Embarrassment also makes it highly likely that he was indeed a persecutor. People don’t make up horrible things about themselves, and usually, don’t admit them even if they’re true. Yet in 3 different epistles, Paul says that he was a harsh persecutor of Christians before his conversion (see 1 Corinthians 15:9, Galatians 1:13, 1 Timothy 1:13). Sometime after became a devoted follower of Jesus who built churches and eventually was killed for His Christian faith. We know this on the basis of the criterion of Multiple Attestation. Paul attests to his own suffering for the sake of the gospel in his epistles (2 Corinthians 11:16-33). The book of Acts also records Paul’s sufferings (Acts 20-28). The early church fathers, Polycarp, Tertullian, Clement of Rome, and several others record the account of Paul’s martyrdom under the emperor Nero.
As I argued in the video, in my book My Redeemer Lives, and in other places I talked about this, I argue that the best explanation for why Paul went from being a Christian destroyer to being a Christian maker is that Paul really believed He saw Jesus appear to Him alive. This is the reason Paul gives in his writings, and I think it’s the only way you can explain how someone who, in his own words, tried to destroy the church (Galatians 1:13).
Now, here’s the thing: Even if Paul had heard Jesus predict his death (which he didn’t – most everyone realizes Paul didn’t know Jesus during Jesus’ earthly ministry), he obviously didn’t believe it. He was skeptic! He was hostile to the Christian movement! He went around terrorizing people who preached in Jesus’ name! For Paul, Jesus was not a “religious leader whom he was committed to.” and therefore would not “be biased toward believing it would occur or had occurred after some time reflecting upon it (even without confirming evidence).”
The appearance to Paul still needs to be explained.
Problem 2: It Doesn’t Account For The Conversion of James.
Like Paul, James was a skeptic of Christianity. He didn’t believe Jesus was the messiah during His lifetime, and Jesus getting Himself crucified would have only solidified this in James’ mind because The Old Testament said that anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse (Deuteronomy 21:23). Since crosses were made out of wood, they were technically trees. As a result, Jews in the second temple period considered this verse to apply to those crucified.
How do we know James was a skeptic prior to His conversion? First, the criteria of embarrassment confirms this. To have James and Jesus’ other brothers skeptical of Jesus casts Jesus in a bad light. As J.P Moreland points out in his interview with Lee Strobel in The Case For Christ, there was a stigma back then of any Rabbi whose family opposed his teaching.1 It was embarrassing for a rabbi’s family to disown said rabbi’s teaching. What kind of rabbi can’t even get his own family to follow him? Secondly, it casts James in a bad light, especially in John 7. Why? Because in John 7, James and Jesus’ other brothers are trying to goad Him into a death trap by showing himself publicly at a feast when they were well aware that the Jewish authorities were seeking to kill Him. Why would John paint James and Jesus’ other brothers in such a bad light if this is not what actually happened?
Secondly, we know James was a skeptic on the basis of the criterion of multiple attestation. Not only does Mark mention it (chapter 3), but John mentions it as well (chapter 7). Mark and John are independent sources and therefore, James’ skepticism is multiply attested. So, we’ve established that James was a skeptic.
However, just as short time after Jesus’ death, James came to believe that His brother was the risen messiah. Even though James was a skeptic, we know that later in the early church, James emerges as one of the pillars of the New Testament church, and one of the leaders of the church. Moreover, he was eventually martyred.
Multiple Attestation – This is mentioned in both the book of Acts (21:17-20) as well as by Paul in his letter to the Galatians (2:9). Again, Paul and Luke are independently reporting this. Thus, we know this on the principle of multiple attestations.
*James Was Martyred For His Christian Faith
Multiple Attestation – We have the testimony of Flavius Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement Of Alexandria2 that James was martyred for his belief in his brother as the risen Christ. James’ martyrdom is multiply attested in these three sources.
New Testament critic Reginald H. Fuller says “Even if there were not an appearance to James mentioned by Paul, we should have to invent one to explain the transformation that occurred in James between the time of his unbelieving days when Jesus was alive and his time of leadership in the early church”3
That’s exactly the argument I’m making here. 1 Corinthians 15:7 aside, we have historically established that James was (1) a skeptic prior to Jesus’ death, (2) became a Christian shortly after Jesus’ death, and was willing to die for his Christian faith. How can we explain James’ overnight transformation if not that James at least believed that he saw Jesus appear to him after death?
Now, like with Paul, James was not expecting Jesus to return. He probably wasn’t there to hear any of the times he predicted it, but even if he were, he would probably have shrugged it off as just “one more crazy thing my deluded brother spouts.” Sandra Banks’ suggestion doesn’t account for James’ conversion.
Problem 3: Sandra Bank’s Proposal Doesn’t Account For The Empty Tomb.
Michael Licona and Gary Habermas usually omit the empty tomb in their minimal facts approach because they only want to use data that fall under two criteria; (1) facts that have a lot of different good arguments in their favor, and (2) are nearly universally accepted by all scholars who study the historical Jesus, even the skeptical non-Christian scholars. Gary Habermas’ survey shows that only around 75% of scholars believe the empty tomb is a historical fact, and Habermas prefers to use facts that “are in the 90s” percentage-wise. In my opinion, 75% is a large enough majority. And in any case, I think it’s just as well attested as the other minimal facts that need to be accounted for. In my article “Evidence For The Resurrection of Jesus – Part 4: The Empty Tomb” and in part 3 of my video series on the resurrection of Jesus, I give around 10 different arguments for the historicity of the empty tomb.
I’ll leave it to you and others who are interested to check those out to see the historical evidence. But, anyway, a psychological explanation like what Sandra Banks is proposing just doesn’t explain where Jesus’ body went?
So just from a lack of explanatory scope, Sandra’s proposal fails. Even if we conceded everything she said, it just doesn’t account for all of the facts that are in need of explanation.
Problem 4: I Think Sandra Gives The Disciples Too Much Credit
Yes, Jesus did predict His death and resurrection. But would that have inclined The Twelve disciples to believe it? Sandra says Peter understood the prediction. I don’t know which gospel she’s getting that out of, but Matthew 16:21-23 reads “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” 4
On the basis of the criterion of embarrassment, this conversation probably took place. Why would Matthew dishonor Peter who was at least as important as to be the apostle to the Jews (Galatians 2:8) and one of Jesus’ inner three even if he wasn’t the first pope? Can you imagine Matthew or whoever wrote this gospel thinking “This narrative I’m totally making up is getting kind of dull. I need to spice things up! Hey, I know! When Jesus predicts his death, I’ll have Jesus rebuke Peter and make him call Peter Satan! That’ll get a shock out of my readers!” No! Mark 8:31-33 makes the embarrassment criterion even more powerful if one believes, as I do, that Mark was writing as Peter’s secretary. In this case we have Peter making this unflattering detail up about himself!
Matthew 17:22–23 says “As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.’ And they were greatly distressed.” (emphasis mine)
Mark 9:30–32 says “They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.’ But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.” (emphasis mine)
Again, the criterion of embarrassment applies. Moreover, despite being dedicated followers of Jesus, they evidently didn’t know what to make of it when he said he would die and rise again. They either (1) Didn’t believe him, or (2) Thought that maybe he was referring to the resurrection every faithful Jew would undergo at the eschaton. But had they in mind the resurrection on the third day that we know of and the reason for which we celebrate Easter, I wouldn’t know to explain Matthew saying they “were greatly distressed”. Why be distressed if you think he’s going to come back to life within a mere matter of days?
When you put this on top of the fact that no one was expecting a dying and rising messiah prior to Christianity, and we have documented cases of would-be messiahs getting crucified and their movements disbanding afterwards, one has to wonder why this didn’t happen with Jesus’ followers. I talk about this in some detail in my video “The Case For The Resurrection Of Jesus – Fact 6: The Disciples Came To Believe In Jesus’ Resurrection Despite Dispositions To The Contrary”.
Problem 5: The Appearances Of Jesus Weren’t Like John’s Alleged Resurrection
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, the early creed that Paul got likely during his fact-checking mission that he recounts in Galatians 1, we have multiple group appearances to (to the disciples on more than one occasion, to 500 individuals at once, to James, and then Paul). Having someone appear directly TO you is not the same as speculating whether some living breathing person may be someone you recently just killed. What we have in the John The Baptist case is some rumors going around and hearsay. But we can trace the claims that Jesus rose from the dead and actually appeared to the twelve disciples to their very lips.
I could go on, but I think that what I’ve said is enough. What I’ve already said is enough to demonstrate that Sandra Banks’ attempts to justify The GroupThink Theory doesn’t work.
2: The Spiritual Resurrection View
This is just the old “It wasn’t a physical resurrection, it was a spiritual resurrection” view. I refuted this in my video “The Case For The Resurrection Of Jesus: Bodily Or Spiritual Resurrection?” The fact is that Paul does teach a physical, bodily resurrection. I suggest watching the video for a longer refutation, but here’s just a short rehashing of what I said:
Problem 1: Paul Says Jesus “Was Buried” and “Was Raised”
In the pre-Pauline creed that Paul cites in 1 Corinthians 15, we have a strong indication of a physical resurrection. “…Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures”. Whoa! Stop right there! Christ “was buried” and “was raised”? If Paul had a ghostly non-physical resurrection in mind, and if those whom he got this creed from had that in mind, what is the importance of mentioning the burial? Creeds had to be short in order to contribute to easy memorization, so the odds that they put Jesus’ burial in there, if the burial were an unimportant detail are not good. It had to have been important.
Jesus “died”, “was buried”, “was raised”. The creed contra-juxtaposes Jesus’ burial with His resurrection. This contra-juxtaposition implies that the thing that went down in burial came up in resurrection. The body of Jesus was buried, but then it got up and walked out of the tomb. Died → Buried → Raised. I think this heavily implies that a physical resurrection was in view.
Problem 2: Paul Says Jesus’ Resurrection Is A Model Preceding Our Own
Paul taught that when God raises us from the dead, we will be raised in the same way that Jesus was raised. If our resurrection will be bodily, then that means Paul saw Jesus’ resurrection as bodily as well. In Romans 8:11, Paul says “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (emphasis mine). Paul explicitly says that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will likewise give life to our mortal bodies. He specifically uses the word “bodies”. Now, lest you think this is a mistranslation or a quirk of English, let’s look at the original Greek. The word translated as “bodies” in this verse is Soma. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, “σῶμα, σώματος, τό (apparently from σῶς ‘entire’ (but cf. Curtius, § 570; others from the root, ska, sko, ‘to cover’, cf. Vanicek, p. 1055; Curtius, p. 696)), the Sept. for ב ָּשר, ג ִו ָּיהָּ , etc.; נ ֵב ָּלה (a corpse), also for Chaldean ג ֶּשםֶּ ; a body; and: 1. the body both of men and of animals (on the distinction between it and σάρξ see σάρξ, especially 2 at the beginning;(cf.Dickson,St.Paul’suseof’Flesh’and’Spirit’,p.247ff));”5 Elsewhere in The New Testament where this word is used, it undoubtedly refers to a physical body. For example, in Matthew 26, we read that Martha’s sister Mary was anointing Jesus with perfume. In verse 12, Jesus says “When she poured this perfume on my body [soma], she did it to prepare me for burial.” The Greek there is “ἐπὶ τοῦ σώματός μου πρὸς” The author clearly doesn’t intend for us to think Mary was pouring perfume on a ghost!
The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to our mortal bodies/soma. Paul clearly envisions our resurrection as bodily. That means he saw Jesus’ resurrection as bodily as well.
Paul writes that when Christ returns, he “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body“ (Philippians 3:21, emphasis mine). Again, the Greek word Paul uses is “soma” and everywhere in the New Testament (not to mention other Greek works) where soma is used, it refers to a physical body. The apostle could easily have said we would be like Jesus’ glorious spirit (Greek → Neuma). But instead, he used the word body (soma).
Problem 3: The Empty Tomb Must Still Be Explained
Any theory must explain all of the facts. If they fail to explain ANY of the facts, then it must be rejected on the basis of inadequate explanatory scope. The spiritual resurrection view doesn’t make sense of the empty tomb. Sandra Banks may not think Jesus’ empty tomb is a historical fact and ergo doesn’t think it needs explaining, but if that is true, then she most show why the 10 arguments I give in my article “Evidence For The Resurrection of Jesus – Part 4: The Empty Tomb” and my video “The Case For The Resurrection Of Jesus – Fact 2: the Empty Tomb” are not successful arguments.
3: Jesus Ascended Immediately?
She wrote \\“Phil 2:8-9, Rom. 8:34, Eph. 1:20, Heb. 1:3, 10:12-13, 12:2 can all be plausibly interpreted as a simple one-step resurrection/exaltation to heaven without any intermediate earthly physical appearances.“\\ — One could, but such an interpretation would be unwarranted. For one thing, as we have already seen, we have good evidence that the disciples, Paul, and James claimed to have seen and interacted with Jesus prior to His ascension. This is very clear in the early 1 Corinthians 15 creed alone, nevermind the gospel narratives. But moreover, notice that all of the verses Banks cites are found in the epistles, not the gospels or the book of Acts. The epistles are in an entirely different genre than the gospels and acts. They are not written in narrative structure. So the fact that most of these go from talking about the death and resurrection of Jesus to immediately His exhalation says nothing unless one comes to the text presupposing that Jesus did not, spend some time with the disciples before leaving. Contra the gospels, and the 1 Corinthians 15 creed that Paul got directly from the apostles Peter and James just 5 years after the cross.
The epistles were never meant to give exaustive details of events. Therefore, bloggers like this err when they say things like “Notice how this passage goes straight from Jesus’ death on the cross to his exaltation in heaven. There is no mention of the resurrection nor is there even a distinction made between resurrection and exaltation. This hymn [Phil 2:8-9] is very early and can be interpreted as a simultaneous resurrection/exaltation to heaven. Notice how even in the later tradition found in Acts 2:33-34 and 5:31 the exaltation happens when Jesus goes to heaven.”5
It’s the same bad logic skeptics use to say Paul didn’t believe Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene because she isn’t mentioned in the 1 Cor 15 creed or when skeptics say Paul didn’t believe in the empty tomb because it isn’t mentioned in the 1 Cor 15 creed. It’s an argument from silence, and arguments from silence are fallacious.
4: Second Temple Jews Were Superstitious and Saw Visions All The Time
She wrote \\“Second Temple Judaism was a superstitious visionary culture that claimed to have ‘visions’ of God and angels all the time. This provides a cultural background context which raises the prior probability that the ‘appearances’ of Jesus were originally thought of as “visions” or spiritual revelations from heaven.”\\ —
This is what William Lane Craig calls “The Visionary Hypothesis”. The Visionary Hypothesis can fall under two categories; objective visions or subjective visions. If the former is what’s being advocated for, then this is just the non-material resurrection view and I’ve already addressed the problems with that and linked you to a resource for more information. If it’s the latter, then this is just The Hallucination Hypothesis dressed up in religious language. And I have shown the issues with the hallcucination hypothesis in every place where I deal with naturalistic theories including my video series “The Case For The Resurrection If Jesus” which can be watched by clicking here.
But I want to ask something; isn’t it interesting that all of the cases of true visions in The Bible are CALLED visions by the people having them? Unlike what Sandra lets on in this section of her comment, ancient peoples were not stupid. They knew the difference between a vision and something that was objectively in the world. Acts 12:1-8 records an angel breaking Peter out of prison, and in Acts 12:9 we read that he didn’t know that what was happening to him was really happening to him until after he escaped! He thought the whole thing was occurring in a vision.
But whether these are just visions in their heads (hallucinations) or objective visions (i.e a projected image of the spirit of Jesus really being there), neither of these views are tenable.
5: Empty Tomb Stories Were An Established Literary Theme In Antiquity.
She wrote \\“Empty tombs and “missing body” stories were an established literary theme in antiquity. It was a marker used to convey apotheosis/translation of a hero or important person. Therefore, it’s just as likely that the gospels would be employing the theme as it is that they are reporting a historical fact. Thus, the story by itself cannot serve as evidence for its historicity.”\\ — This doesn’t do anything to interact with the arguments for the empty tomb’s historicity. Various different criteria of authenticity can be applied to the empty tomb account. That’s why I give around 10 different arguments in my video, my blog, and my book on the resurrection. These arguments lead 75% of scholars to accept the empty tomb as a historical fact.
It is illegitimate for Sandra to say “Well, there were a lot of missing body stories in antiquity” and think she’s shown the empty tomb of Jesus to be on dubious historical grounds. She’s got to interact with the arguments for the empty tomb which employ the criteria of authenticity.
I’m skeptical that Sandra even understand how apologists argue for the historicity of the resurrection, as both she and Reddit article she links to talks about “The story itself being evidence”. Well, yeah, all narratives are evidence the events they narrate occur. We use the criteria of authenticity to judge whether it’s more likely than not that the author is telling the truth of not. With the Empty Tomb, we have various different criteria being employed. Yes, including multiple attestation. Contrary to what that blogger Sandra linked to claimed, we do have independent testimony to the empty tomb. See the YouTube video on the Cerebral Faith YouTube channel to see why I think we have multiple attestation to the empty tomb.
Whew! That was a lot of ground to cover! I haven’t written an article this lengthy in a long time! I hope that you find my answers to Sandra Banks or Countering Christianity to be satisfying.
1: See J.P Moreland’s Interview with Lee Strobel in “The Case For Christ”, Zondervan, page 248
2: Josephus, Antiquities Book 20, Chapter 9, Hegesippus as cited in “Eusebius. Church History Book II Chapter 23. The Martyrdom of James, who was called the Brother of the Lord”, Clement Of Alexandria, also cited by Eusebius in ibid.
3: Reginald H. Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives (New York: Macmillan, 1980), 10.
4: If anything, this shows Satan understood that the death and resurrection had to happen, and Satan was trying to avert Jesus through Peter to try to avoid that, given that the cross would be how Jesus would triumph over him and the 70 fallen sons of god who enslaved the nations at the Babel event. This poses a theological problem that I’ve put on the back burner and would like to investigate. 1 Corinthians 2:8 says “No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” This is why I agree with Dr. Michael Heiser who argues in his book The Unseen Realm: Recovering The Supernatural Worldview Of The Bible that the messianic profile was largely criptic. And why I agree with critics who argue that Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 would not have been interpreted as predicting Jesus’ death before it actually happened. We should be glad it wasn’t, because if it was, Jesus never would have been killed as 1 Corinthians 2:7-8 says! We’d have no atonement for our sins because the evil forces of darkness would know better than to work through the hearts and minds of the Jewish Sanhedrin, Judas, Pilate, etc. But here’s the thing; if Satan was aware that Jesus had to die, and that’s why he was speaking through Peter to try to avert it, doesn’t that contradict 1 Corinthians 2? I don’t know how to answer this presently.
5: See → https://biblehub.com/greek/4983.htm
6: “Jesus’ Resurrection Was Immediately Understood As A Straight Exhaltation To Heaven” –> https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAChristian/comments/839xt6/jesus_resurrection_was_originally_understood_as/
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Peace of Christ, Mr. Minton. Much thanks for responding to this lengthier comment. I am grateful for your response and found it very helpful.
As of today, I have officially read every blog post you have ever made (I think). Ever since the publication of your response to my question “turning the dollar to a million” I have read your blog posts at a rate of approximately nine a day. Thank you very much for all the effort you have put into your blog. I feel as if I have a sturdier foundation of knowledge in which to grow in faith and apologetics. It is like I leveled up every stat I have on my apologetic avatar.
Since, I am done with your blog I will move to your podcasts and YouTube videos. After that, reading every transcript of WLC’s Defenders class to date. Next, I will be sending you a brief email looking for more material to read; most likely in a specific field. Again, much thanks and may the Peace of Christ be with you.
Wow! ALL of them!? That’s awesome! I’m glad you’ve been availing yourself of the written content on this site and that it’s given you a sturdier foundation in your faith. Excellent! You just made my day. God bless you. 😀
//”For one thing, as we have already seen, we have good evidence that the disciples, Paul, and James claimed to have seen and interacted with Jesus prior to His ascension.”//
Evidence for this claim please? Where does Paul explicitly state that he or any of the other apostles saw or interacted with Jesus *before* he went to heaven? Moreover, doesn’t this contradict Acts which has the appearance to Paul post-ascension?
Paul’s appearance was certainly post-ascension, but why think that’s the case with the other apostles? As I point out in the latter part of my YouTube video “The Case For The Resurrection Of Jesus: Fact 3 – The Postmortem Appearances To The Disciples” and also in my blog post “The Evidence For Jesus’ Resurrection – Part 5: Fact (3) – The Postmortem Appearances To The Disciples”, we have good evidence from the gospels for the postmortem appearances to the disciples. Two arguments from the criterion of embarrassment can be applied to John’s account of the resurrection, and the mere bodily resurrection itself is independently attested in Mark and John. I don’t know of any scholar who thinks John was drawing from Mark. John is so vastly different from Mark. John is, so to speak, off doing his own thing. So, we have a multiple attestation argument. Now, this not only means the disciples believed the saw Jesus after His death, but it also means they believed they saw him before His ascension, since that is the context of these narratives with awkward features.
Now, I realize that you probably don’t think the gospels were written by the people whose names are attached to these documents. Nevertheless, everyone agrees that the 4 gospels are first century documents. The debates concerning when they were written only have to do with the decade, not the century. And as Michael Licona has pointed out in episode 116 of The Cerebral Faith Podcast, more and more scholars are coming to believe that these accounts do go back to eyewitness testimony even if those eyewitnesses were not men named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. So I see no reason why we must be restricted to the Pauline epistles for our information about what happened on that first Easter morning. Why not take the gospels, even treating them as non-inspired documents, non-inerrant documents, even non-reliable documents, and apply the criteria of authenticity to them? Criteria which historians apply to any other document that claims to tell us historical events.