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"If I had faked the Resurrection..."
#1
Josh McDowell, author of apologetics such as The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, wrote an article entitled "If I Had Faked the Resurrection" for the Focus on the Family magazine in April 2000.

Before putting his faith in Jesus, he "had assumed that someone, or several someones, had invented the stories of Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead. But as I examined those accounts, I had to face the fact that any sensible mythmaker would do things much differently from the way Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did in recording the news of the Resurrection.

"...I had to admit that if I had been some first-century propagandist...I would have done a number of things differently..."

McDowell listed these 'suggestions' (here summarized):

I would wait a prudent period after the events before 'publishing' my accounts. The apostles began preaching the news of Jesus' Resurrection soon after the event; Peter's Pentecost sermon (Acts 2) occurred within 50 days after the Resurrection. Textual research indicates that the written accounts of the Resurrection, especially the creedal statement of I Cor. 15:3-8, are astoundingly early -- possibly within two years. Such early origins argue against any notion that the Resurrection accounts are legendary.

I would publish my account far from the venue where it supposedly happened. The Christian faith did not begin in some distant city, far from eyewitnesses, but in the very city in which Jesus had been publicly crucified, under the very eyes of its enemies.

I would select my 'witnesses' very carefully, avoid using any names at all in my account, and avoid citing prominent people as witnesses. But at least 16 individuals are mentioned by name as witnesses in the various accounts; as a member of the Sanhedrin, Joseph of Arimathea (the man who buried Jesus) would have been well-known. His involvement in the burial of Jesus could easily have been confirmed or refuted. And the first witnesses to the Resurrection were women, in a culture in which female testimony was usually not accepted in a court of law.

I would surround the event with impressive supernatural displays and omens. Jewish scholar Pinchas Lapide has written that "according to New Testament reports, no human eye saw the Resurrection itself...and none of the disciples asserted to have apprehended, let alone understood, its manner and nature. How easy it would have been for them or their immediate successors to supplement this scandalous hole in the concatenation of events by fanciful embellishments! But precisely because none of the evangelists dared to 'improve upon' or embellish this unseen resurrection, the total picture of the gospels also gains in trustworthiness."

I would painstakingly correlate my account with others I knew, embellishing the legend only where I could be confident of not being contradicted. The befuddling differences and apparent contradictions in the Resurrection accounts...are actually convincing evidences of their authenticity -- they display an ingenuous lack of collusion, agreeing and (apparently) diverging much as eyewitness accounts of any event do.

I would portray myself and any co-conspirators sympathetically, even heroically. Yet the Gospel writers present unflattering portraits of Jesus' followers (such as Peter and Thomas) and their often skeptical reactions (e.g. Mark 16:11, 13; Luke 24:11, 37; John 20:19, 25, 21:4). Such portrayals are very unlike the popular myths and legends of that (or any) time.

I would disguise the location of the tomb or spectacularly destroy it in my account. That would keep anyone from locating Jesus' body; but if that happened, I could claim that His Resurrection had been a 'spiritual' one. However, the Gospel accounts describe the owner of the tomb (Joseph of Arimathea) and its location (John 19:41), and they identify His Resurrection as a bodily one (John 20:27).

I would try to squelch inquiry or investigation. Yet Jesus' disciples appealed to people to confirm or discredit the nature of the evidence of the Resurrection (Acts 2:32, 3:15, 13:31; I Cor. 15:3-6). This was done within a few years after the events themselves; if the tomb were not empty or the Resurrection appearances were fiction, the early Christians' opponents would have conclusively debunked the new faith. In the citation of the resurrected Jesus appearing to more than 500 people in I Cor. 15, Paul says in effect, 'If you don't believe me, you can ask them.'

I would not preach a message of repentance in light of the Resurrection. No one in his right mind would have chosen to create a fictional message that would invite opposition from both civil and religious authorities of those days. It would have been easier and wiser to have focused on Jesus' teachings about love.

I would stop short of dying for my lie. Lee Strobel has written, "While most people can only have faith that their beliefs are true, the disciples were in a position to know without a doubt whether or not Jesus had risen from the dead. They claimed that they saw him, talked with him, and ate with him. If they weren't absolutely certain, they wouldn't have allowed themselves to be tortured to death for proclaiming that the Resurrection had happened."
#2
(06-26-2013, 05:25 AM)MAlan Wrote: I would surround the event with impressive supernatural displays and omens. Jewish scholar Pinchas Lapide has written that "according to New Testament reports, no human eye saw the Resurrection itself...and none of the disciples asserted to have apprehended, let alone understood, its manner and nature. How easy it would have been for them or their immediate successors to supplement this scandalous hole in the concatenation of events by fanciful embellishments! But precisely because none of the evangelists dared to 'improve upon' or embellish this unseen resurrection, the total picture of the gospels also gains in trustworthiness."

In contrast, spurious later writings such The Gospel of Peter (a.k.a. The Lost Gospel According to Peter) contain embellishments such as these:

"When therefore those soldiers saw [that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb and that two heavenly men had entered], they awakened the centurion and the elders; for they too were hard by keeping guard.

"And as they declared what things they had seen, again they see three men come forth from the tomb, and two of them supporting one, and a cross following them: and of the two the head reached unto the heaven, but the head of him who was led by them overpassed the heavens.

"And they heard a voice from the heavens saying, 'Thou has preached to them that sleep.' And a response was heard from the cross, 'Yea.'" -- The Gospel of Peter: 10.

A cross that walks and talks, and a Jesus as tall as the sky.

That's the sort of yarn one might have spun about the manmade gods of Greece, Rome and Egypt -- people expected such impressive tales.

The fact that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did not take the opportunity to add "gee whiz" embellishments in order to attract converts lends credence to their accounts.

They simply told the truth.

John Warwick Montgomery, quoted in Josh McDowell's The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict:

"Note that when the disciples of Jesus proclaimed the resurrection, they did so as eyewitnesses and they did so while people were still alive who had contact with the events they spoke of. In 56 A.D. Paul wrote that over 500 people had seen the risen Jesus and that most of them were still alive (I Cor. 15:6 ff.). It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might easily have refuted it simply by producing the body of Jesus."
#3
(06-27-2013, 05:30 AM)MAlan Wrote: They simply told the truth.

There is also an author, reporting on more spectacular events:
Joseph ben Matityahu who witnessed the sack of Jerusalem.
I don't think he was a Christian-Jew but he gives report of things that very much substantiate and confirm the reports of NT writers.
For example:

"Besides these [signs], a few days after that feast, on the one- and-twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, "Let us remove hence"

This was reported not long before the destruction of the temple.
Doesn't it fit the Prophecy of our Lord according to Luke:

There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. ?
#4
The first witnesses to the Resurrection were women, in a culture in which female testimony was usually not accepted in a court of law.

Mary Magdalene was the first woman who sow Yeshua was resurected .
She wend to Messiah his brothers to tell them that Yeshua was rissen.

Also :
The Samaritan woman was a foreigner from a despised religious group. Nevertheless
She entered into debate with Yeshua about issues and questions that interested her .
Yeshua did not send her away ,and she learnt from His answers and came to believe in Messiah.
And she 'went and told' others about Him so that they too became believers.
John4:27Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
28Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

The people who heard her words also came to believe in Yeshua.
John4:24 They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."

It did not matter that she was a woman and a Samaritan.
Gender and nationality are not important. Gal3:26-29
No one was excluded from the Body of Christ.

ShalomShy
#5
It would seem many of the suggestions McDowell offered for how he would have done things differently were, in fact, employed in the selling of the resurrection story:

I would wait a prudent period after the events before 'publishing' my accounts
There was a wait of “possibly two years” for the account in I Cor 15 (written by a man who certainly did not witness the event), and about 30 years for the accounts in Acts or the gospels.

I would publish my account far from the venue where it supposedly happened
Only according to Lk and Jn did he appear in Jerusalem (Jn saying it happened behind locked doors), and everyone but Mk says he appeared in Galilee, several miles north.

Even if we were to say proximity of place wasn’t an issue (since these all happened in Israel), then proximity of time is still problematic, as mentioned above.

I would select my 'witnesses' very carefully
They were:
1 Cor 15 says he appeared to the “twelve,” to the disciples, to James, Peter, and Paul, and “over 500” unnamed, unidentified people, but some of them died by the time Paul got to writing his story, making it harder to find them for verification.
Mt 28 says he appeared to the two women and eleven disciples.
Mk 16 says he appeared to Mary, the eleven disciples, and two others.
Lk 24 says he appeared to Cleopas, Simon, one or two more people, and the disciples.
John 20 and 21 says he appeared only to Mary and the disciples.

Everyone mentioned by name was in on the story, and the “500” had no identifying marks, such as location or age group. While McDowell mentions Joseph of Arimathea, he is not recorded as having seen Jesus after the resurrection, only the empty tomb.
#6
I would surround the event with impressive supernatural displays and omens
There doesn’t have to be miracles in a made-up story. Still, the first gospel couldn’t resist: “many holy people who had died were raised to life…and went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Mt 27:52-53).

I would painstakingly correlate my account with others I knew, embellishing the legend only where I could be confident of not being contradicted
We would expect differences of views from witnesses, but they would have to match each other's testimony. The fact that the gospels have differences is not an issue; the concern is where the differences are mutually exclusive so this answer will not work:

According to Mt 28, the stone was in place when the two women arrived, but an angel descended, rolled it away, and told them that he is not there, but they should go tell the disciples that he will appear to them in Galilee.

According to Jn 20, only Mary arrived and saw the stone was already rolled away. She told two of the disciples, who came and saw that while the body was missing, the linens were there. When they left, Mary peeked into the tomb and saw two angels. Turning around, she saw Jesus, who she thought to be a gardener. When he says her name, she realizes it was Jesus, and he tells her to tell the disciples that he will ascend to the Father, making no mention of a Galilee appearance.

Are these telling the same story from different perspectives, or telling different stories with the same characters?

I would disguise the location of the tomb or spectacularly destroy it in my account
Why does McDowell think that hiding the location of the tomb after Jesus was already resurrected would prevent people from showing the body? Further, if the only description of the location is Jn 19:41, how would that have helped people reading the newly-printed accounts over 30 years later?

I would try to squelch inquiry or investigation
The only witnesses identified were those who were in on the story, as well as “over 500” people (some of whom died) who were not identified in any way. Those who were in on it were going around selling their story, but there is no record of anybody else confirming their claims. All the disciples had going for them was an empty tomb, which does not prove a resurrection: since the guards were set up the day after his death, there was an entire night for anybody to snatch the body under cover of darkness.

I would stop short of dying for my lie
Wouldn’t it be solid proof if only one religion had adherents who died for their beliefs? I don't think the disciples swiped the body, for it seems they genuinely believed he was raised. If in truth they knew the story was bogus, why would they go to their deaths for it? “In pretense or in truth, [Jesus] is preached.”
#7
Even if it is proven to you as fact, it would still not have meaning unless you meet Y'shua today.
#8
(09-11-2013, 01:46 PM)A. Bird Wrote: Even if it is proven to you as fact, it would still not have meaning unless you meet Y'shua today.

He said he'd be back soon with his kingdom, yet the entire generation passed on in their wait. He promised his resurrection as a sign to his generation, yet there were no witnesses nor did he appear to those to whom he said the sign would be given. Appearing to more than just his loved ones would be a pretty good way to verify the story, don't you think?
#9
(09-10-2013, 01:32 PM)benyosef Wrote: I would select my 'witnesses' very carefully
They were:
1 Cor 15 says he appeared to the “twelve,” to the disciples, to James, Peter, and Paul, and “over 500” unnamed, unidentified people, but some of them died by the time Paul got to writing his story, making it harder to find them for verification.
Mt 28 says he appeared to the two women and eleven disciples.
Mk 16 says he appeared to Mary, the eleven disciples, and two others.
Lk 24 says he appeared to Cleopas, Simon, one or two more people, and the disciples.
John 20 and 21 says he appeared only to Mary and the disciples.

Everyone mentioned by name was in on the story, and the “500” had no identifying marks, such as location or age group. While McDowell mentions Joseph of Arimathea, he is not recorded as having seen Jesus after the resurrection, only the empty tomb.
I agree with you 100%. We see that during the actual resurrection event, there are no witnesses. Wouldn't it have been spectacular to have had a mass witness account of JC rolling the stone away, lights flashing, voices from heaven, and millions of people seeing the event?

Instead we are told of individual encounters after the fact. This is sort of like Paul's claim that he met JC in a vision and was called to witness to Jews on the road to Damascus, even though those around him heard nothing.
#10
(09-12-2013, 01:06 PM)benyosef Wrote:
(09-11-2013, 01:46 PM)A. Bird Wrote: Even if it is proven to you as fact, it would still not have meaning unless you meet Y'shua today.

He said he'd be back soon with his kingdom, yet the entire generation passed on in their wait. He promised his resurrection as a sign to his generation, yet there were no witnesses nor did he appear to those to whom he said the sign would be given. Appearing to more than just his loved ones would be a pretty good way to verify the story, don't you think?

Like I said, you can meet Y'shua today if you want to.
And if you meet Him today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart... you'll understand. Shy

These historical "debates" aren't really my thing, it's rather boring. There is nothing we can add to what the historians have said, all you can do is insist on not believing their testimonies.
My testimony, however, is today because Y'shua is alive and I know Him, all things have been handed over to Him by His Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to Him, all who labor and are heavy laden, and He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you, and learn from Him, for He is gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.


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