How Did the Apostles Die?

“Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.”

—Matthew 10:2-4 (see also Mark 3:14-19)

Lately I’ve been thinking about the twelve apostles of Christianity. According to Mark and Matthew, their names are as given above, although puzzlingly, the parallel list in Luke 6 omits Lebbaeus Thaddaeus and replaces him with James’ brother Judas, or Jude (apologetic tradition claims that the two are the same person). After Judas Iscariot’s death, Acts 1 informs us that Matthias was chosen to replace him.

An oft-heard Christian apologetic asks, “why would the apostles die for a lie?” Save for John, tradition holds, all of the original apostles eventually died martyr’s deaths – yet if the resurrection of Jesus was an invented story, they must have known that, and why would anyone go willingly to their death for a claim they knew to be untrue?

I’ll get into this claim in a moment, but first, an observation. One of the things I think any Christian should find strange is how little space the Bible gives to the twelve apostles. A few prominent ones such as Peter and John get more attention, but most of them vanish completely out of history after being named, with readers never being told anything else about them or anything they did. It is remarkable how unimportant most of the apostles seem to be in the Bible.

Of all the apostles, the Bible records the death of only two: Judas Iscariot, who either hanged himself or fell and burst open (depending on which contradictory gospel account one believes), and James, son of Zebedee and brother of John, whom Herod killed “with the sword” (Acts 12:2). The Bible has Jesus imply, in John 21:18-19, that Simon Peter will die by crucifixion, but such an event is not recorded in the text.

The question is, how did the other apostles die? More importantly, how does anyone know? Where textual evidence is lacking, tradition has obliged, and a wide variety of local legends sprang up in medieval times about the apostles’ journeys and eventual deaths. But most of these traditions are late, invented hundreds of years after the fact, and lack any basis in earlier evidence. They are simply stories, tall tales. Such popular myths provide no support whatsoever for modern Christian claims that the apostles were willingly martyred.

Below is a brief survey of what history has to say about the apostles, and what sources our traditions draw from:

Judas Iscariot: According to the Bible, either committed suicide by hanging (Matthew 27:5) or fell down and exploded (Acts 1:18). Not considered a martyr.

John: Not said to have been martyred. Reportedly died of old age.

James, son of Zebedee: Killed by Herod (Acts 12:2). The Bible gives no further information about his death, including whether it was willing. The fourth-century church historian Eusebius quoted an earlier, lost work by Clement of Alexandria which allegedly claims that James’ calm demeanor at trial sufficiently impressed one of his accusers to convert him (source).

Simon Peter: Crucifixion, as implied by Jesus in John 21:18-19. Tradition usually holds that this occurred in Rome, as mentioned by second-century sources such as Tertullian and the apocryphal Acts of Peter. The Acts of Peter also claims that Peter accepted crucifixion willingly, making him one of the few apostles for which the claim of willing martyrdom is at all plausible. Eusebius dismissed this book as spurious and heretical (source).

Andrew: Reportedly martyred by crucifixion on an X-shaped cross (“St. Andrew’s cross”). According to legend, he taught a gathered crowd while on the cross and refused their offer to take him down. This information comes from the apocryphal, probably second-century Acts of Andrew. Eusebius dismissed this book as spurious and heretical (source).

Philip: According to the apocryphal and probably fourth-century Acts of Philip, died after being hung upside-down with iron hooks through his ankles by the proconsul of Hierapolis. According to this book, before dying Philip cursed his enemies, causing seven thousand people to be suddenly swallowed up by an abyss. In return, Jesus appeared and rebuked Philip for “returning evil for evil”, and told him that he would be admitted to Heaven, but only after being tortured outside its gates for forty days as punishment. Like Andrew, Philip allegedly refused a crowd’s offer of rescue. The New Advent Catholic encyclopedia calls this work “purely legendary and a tissue of fables” (source).

Bartholomew: According to the third-century schismatic bishop Hippolytus, he was crucified in Armenia (source). A different tradition claims he was beheaded in India on the orders of King Astreges, who belonged to a demon-worshipping cult (source). Some traditions add that he was flayed alive before, or instead of, suffering either of these two fates. The New Advent encyclopedia says the manner of his death is “uncertain” (source), and adds that other than his name, “Nothing further is known of him”.

Thomas: Tradition holds that he was sent to India to preach, where he was killed by being stabbed with a spear. This claim is made by local Indian Christians and an apocryphal gospel called the Acts of Thomas, which Eusebius dismissed as spurious and heretical (source). The New Advent encyclopedia says that “Little is recorded” of Thomas’ life, and that “it is difficult to discover any adequate support” for the tradition of his death in India. It also notes that the Acts of Thomas presents Thomas as the twin brother of Jesus, which is not accepted by Christians today or in the past and seems to be a Christian/Gnostic-themed variation of a pagan salvation cult that followed twin gods called the Dioscuri.

Matthew: Conflicting traditions. Catholic.org says, “Nothing definite is known about his later life”, and it is even “uncertain whether he died a natural death or received the crown of martyrdom”. The Christian History Institute says, “We have nothing but legend about Matthew’s death.” Even among those who do believe he was martyred, there is no evidence as to where. Another source says there is conflicting information about whether he was martyred in Egypt or in Persia. The manner of his death is unknown, and some churches even say he died a natural death (source).

James, son of Alphaeus: Conflicting traditions. There are several people named “James” in the New Testament and early Christian history, and it is uncertain which, if any, should be identified with this apostle. He is often identified with the “James the Less” mentioned in Mark 15:40 as the son of Mary and Clopas, which is fairly uncontroversial. However, the Catholic church also identifies him with James, the brother of Jesus, which is not widely accepted by Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches. If this identification is correct, the Jewish historian Josephus says that James was stoned by the Pharisees. This is seconded by Hippolytus. However, other sources (example) say that James son of Alphaeus was martyred by crucifixion in Egypt.

Jude/Lebbaeus Thaddaeus: Conflicting traditions. It is often said that he went with Simon to preach in Armenia, though New Advent says this legend is a late development not mentioned by contemporary historians of that region. The Catholic Patron Saints Index says he was clubbed to death; however, the apocryphal Acts of Thaddeus says he died naturally. Still another account says he was crucified (source). No reliable written sources seem to exist to corroborate any of this.

Simon the Zealot: Conflicting traditions. According to Catholic.org, Western traditions hold that he was martyred in Persia with Jude, usually by crucifixion, while Eastern tradition says he died naturally in Edessa. Other sources, according to New Advent, variously give his place of death as Samaria (Israel), or Iberia (Spain), or Colchis (Georgia), or even Britain. Some sources dispute the crucifixion account and claim he was instead sawn in half.

Matthias: According to the 14th-century historian Nicephorus, died by crucifixion in Colchis, in the modern nation of Georgia. Alternatively, the 17th-century historian Louis-Sébastien Le Nain de Tillemont says that he was stoned and then beheaded in Jerusalem. According to the New Advent Catholic encyclopedia, “all… information concerning the life and death of Matthias is vague and contradictory” (source). Many apocryphal sources confuse Matthias and Matthew.

* * *

As we can see, information regarding the life and death of the apostles is extremely dubious and fragmentary. This fatally undermines the Christian claim that the apostles were martyred for their faith; there is simply no good evidence that would support such a claim. The gaping void in the historical record when it comes to these twelve men is certainly strange and unexpected under the assumptions of orthodoxy – how could the original twelve Christians, handpicked by Jesus himself, vanish so completely out of history so quickly? However, it does support the mythicist theory that early Christianity arose from a tissue of legends, not from the exploits of actual historical figures. Jesus, the central figure of this myth, became better fleshed out over time, but this process never proceeded so far as to be applied to the apostles.

There is another important point here: for the modern apologists’ claims to be proven, we must have evidence not only that the apostles died as martyrs, but that they died in a situation where recanting would have saved them. This requires specific and strong evidence, but then again, it is a very specific claim.

There is no biblical evidence that, for example, James could have saved himself by recanting Christianity. Herod might have been determined to kill him no matter what he said. The same goes for Peter’s eventual presumed crucifixion. And these are the best attested of all the apostles’ deaths (though that is a relative term). For the majority of the apostles, we have no good evidence even of how they died, much less that they could have saved themselves by recanting. Most of the sources we do have are late, contradictory, and dismissed as unfounded even by early Christian historians. The next time a Christian challenges you to explain why the apostles would have died for a lie, I suggest this response: “How do you know how the apostles died?” Judging by the cases I have seen, they will be unable to come up with an answer.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Polly

    This was one of the main ways I “reasoned” myself into assurance that Xianity was true. Of course, I always assumed that all the apostles died as martyrs. No one ever denied this or even hinted otherwise. So, I was flabbergasted to find out that the evidence for martyrdom of eye-witnesses was decidedly underwhelming, i.e. nonexistent.
    Xianity really is built on a pack of lies; from OT pseudo-history to 21st century creationism, the whole thing is just one giant deception.

  • Ric

    Even if they had all died Martyr’s deaths, that wouldn’t convince me that Xianity was true. People have a knack for fooling themselves, as modern day death cults like Heaven’s Gate attest.

  • OMGF

    People have been willing to die for their beliefs probably as long as humans have held beliefs. Xians seem to think that their religion is somehow true because their “martyrs” were special or something. Many of them simply can’t understand that people of other religions think the same about those religions.

  • Polly

    It’s one thing to die for a belief, it really is quite another to die for a known lie. I would say that no one would do so, let alone a dozen or more people.
    The evidence, I think, would’ve at least been worth considering had all the supposed eye-witnesses who testified to seeing JC’s miracles, his resurrection, and ascension really did so on pain of death. Certainly, in a court, even a couple of eye-witnesses giving corroborating testimony, without such contravening disincentives, make for a strong case, though NOT ironclad.
    But, in the case of Xianity, none of the martyrs were in a position to know they’d been hoodwinked, so it’s really a moot point. And I shan’t defend the evidentiary usefulness of a hypothetical scenario any further.

  • Jeff T.

    I agree with Ric. We see people blowing themselves up all the time these days. There is nothing in this universe that will convince me that they are dying for anything other than for someone else’s personal profit. Their own beliefs notwithstanding, they are manipulated and die a macabre death—often with many victims.

    I don’t believe that the Apostles were any more real than the made up Jesus. The number 12 was probably somehow important in that superstitious era— so the story tellers crossed that ‘T’ and continued with the story—hence so little information.

  • http://spaninquis.wordpress.com/ John P

    I suggest this response: “How do you know how the apostles died?”

    I would suggest the response: “How do you know the apostles lived?” Don’t we have to presume they existed in the first place before we start speculating on how they died?

  • http://www.agnosticatheism.wordpress.com HeIsSailing

    Terrific article.
    One of the most frequent apologetic arguments out there is asking, if Jesus had not risen from the dead, how could the apostles have willingly died such horrible deaths for their beliefs? Either Jesus rose, or the apostles all knowingly conspired to ‘die for a lie’.

    I once heard a cassette sermon on this topic by Chuch Smith of Calvary Chapel fame. He specifically mentioned Peter, who died crucified upside down for his beliefs. It is amazing that Smith never cites his sources for this event, and the laity, including myself at the time, never questioned him.

    I have been going through the apocryphal NT on my own time, and recently finished the Acts of Peter where this tradition came from. Smith never mentions several things:

    The Acts of Peter was one of the earliest of the apocryphal Acts, but was still written in the mid 2nd century – roughly 90 years after Nero’s persecutions.

    In the story, Peter did not die for his beliefs in the resurrection of Jesus, rather he was sentenced by Agrippa for ‘godlessness’

    Just before his crucifixion, Jesus descends from heaven to visit Peter and to tell him of his fate. Peter returns to Rome rejoicing that he is to die a martyr’s death.

    There is one story, the ‘martyrdom’ of Peter, from Acts of Peter that Smith and his ilk will pass to the congregation as fact. They never mention that the story came from an apocryphal book. They never mention that this book contains all sorts of events that discredit it as reliable history. The main theme is a showdown of miraculous powers, or a contest between Peter and the magician Simon Magus. Both Simon Magus and Peter are depicted as flying over Rome, in a scene much like the battling wizards in the Lord of the Rings movie. Peter makes a baby talk and prophecy. Peter makes a dog talk. The dog is said to hunt down the magician Simon Magus and prophecy to him. Peter makes a smoked fish alive to swim again. I counted I think 3 times that Jesus descended from Heaven to talk personally to Peter.

    In other words, The Acts of Peter is not reliable history.

    Christians, next time you hear your church pastor make this claim about the martyrdom of the apostles, at least ask them to do what freshman level writer is taught to do, and cite their sources.

  • lpetrich

    And if they did get executed, was it for believing in Jesus Christ? Unlikely, since the Roman authorities generally did not care what people believed as long as they worshipped their official gods and were otherwise good citizens.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Ebonmuse,

    Since you deny the historicity of the apostles, do you attribute all the references the apostles in early Christian correspondence to interpolations and fabrication?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    What references would those be, Matt?

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Ebonmuse,

    Well, the first group are the epistles found in the canon itself.

    A specific example is in Galatians 2:11-13. Here Paul is recounting to the Galatians an encounter between himself and Peter.

    Also, in extra-Biblical writing, Clement, 3rd Bishop of Rome referenced “the Apostles” when writing to the Corinthians. This letter is generally dated in the late first/early second century. The reference is from chapter 44. It can be accessed at this link:

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ii.ii.xliv.html

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    I don’t think the references to Peter and James in the Pauline epistles are interpolations. Those probably were the names of important people in the early church. The question is whether they were apostles: that is to say, disciples personally chosen and appointed by Jesus. There’s not much evidence of that, and I think whatever historical truth may lie at the root of those stories has been so thoroughly mythologized that I doubt it would be possible to tell at this late date what is genuine.

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    So you do not think that Peter and the other 11 were fictitious characters, just that their story is different than the one portrayed in Christian literature and tradition?

    Matt

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Peter, James and John probably were real people (they’re the best attested historically). I have my doubts about the others.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    I understand.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Jim Baerg

    BTW I’ve read your Choking on the Camel http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/camel.html
    & skimmed over quite a bit of The Jesus Puzzle http://pages.ca.inter.net/~oblio/home.htm
    & both mention that it is generally accepted that the Gospels were written after most of the rest of the New Testament, but I don’t see any links to a discussion of how that is known or surmised. Can you point me to such a discussion?

  • goyo

    One of the most repeated stories that I have heard told from the pulpit is in reference to either James or Stephen, I forget which, who was supposedly a brother of Jesus, that spent so much time praying that his knees looked like camel’s knees.
    I have heard this repeated many times, in different churches, obviously trying to encourage modern day believers to waste time in prayer, but it always came back to early church history. At the time, I simply believed every word the preacher told, so I always thought that no matter what, I couldn’t pray enough to get a pair of camel knees. I felt inadequate.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Jim,

    If I recall rightly, Doherty’s The Jesus Puzzle does discuss this topic a bit. I’ve also heard good things about Burton Mack’s Who Wrote the New Testament?

    There’s a decent overview of the topic over at the Straight Dope, also.

  • Kendel

    I guess my confusion with this entire topic, what does it have to do with the faith of Christianity? Protestant Christians do not dieify the apostles nor is there open discussion and teachings in most sects over their martyrdom. The Christian religion is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and his recorded word. Whether you choose to believe the faith is purely your judgement, but you’re hardly proving the faith wrong by showing there is no evidence how the original leaders of the first church died.

  • Polly

    @Kendel: As Ebon showed it has EVERYTHING to do with the Christian faith.

    An oft-heard Christian apologetic asks, “why would the apostles die for a lie?”

    The reasoning goes that nobody suffers and gives up their life for a lie, so their testimony of a risen savior must be true.
    It is exactly this idea that keeps many thinking there’s good reason to trust the gospel accounts that proclaim Jesus resurrected. But, there’s no evidence that the apostles suffered and died for their testimony. There’s really no evidence that any eyewitnesses even wrote the gospels. Nothing says that Mathew and John were the real writers of the Gospels named for them except tradition.
    The apostle Paul’s ordeals are recorded extensively in the NT but he only seems to have seen a vision which he interpreted as the risen Jesus Christ. Even those with him don’t seem to have thought it was any particular person. It’s telling that no mention is made of Paul’s companions on the road to Damascus getting on their knees and confessing, “Jesus is lord.”
    All we know about the “savior” Jesus personally and his physical resurrection is presented to us primarily in the gospels. All of the Church rests on these 4 books as a foundation.

  • MJJP

    Outside of the bible or other Christian works I don’t believe there is any independent biographical evidence for any of the apostles. As to following Christianity for its supposed evidence of martyrdom as proof of the truth all one has to do is look at the martyrs that died on 9/11 attacking the World Trade Center.

  • Polly

    The difference between the 9/11 terrorists and the apostles would be that they would not be taking it “on faith” had they actually witnessed JC rise from the dead. The 9/11 terrorists are deranged, the apostles would have to be liars – so the argument goes. That’s why it’s important to dispel this particular historical misapprehension.

  • MJJP

    Again outside of the bible we have no historical evidence for the reality of the apostles or for Jesus himself.Outside of the bible there is not one shred of testimony to the life of Jesus written when Jesus was supposedly alive.Outside the bible no one records the slaughter of the innocents not even from the victims. During the crucifixion no one records the earthquake, the eclipse, or the saints rising from their graves. It seems unlikely that the saints would not appear to non believers as this is who they would have sought to convert. More importantly this would seem to be an even bigger miracle than the resurection. So you cannot look at the bible as being unbiased. In order to corroborate a claim more than one independent source needs to be used and the source needs to be considered trustworthy.

  • MJJP

    “The difference between the 9/11 terrorists and the apostles would be that they would not be taking it “on faith” had they actually witnessed JC rise from the dead. The 9/11 terrorists are deranged, the apostles would have to be liars – so the argument goes. That’s why it’s important to dispel this particular historical misapprehension. ”

    Comment by: Polly
    =============
    Let me use another analogy as to why your conclusion is faulty. Lets say you were accused of a crime and were in court. The prosecution presents its witnesses on the stand and all they offer is here say evidence of what was told them by people they trusted. If we follow your logic then you could be convicted on the testimony told to the witnesses(people on the witness stand) from people who were never met by you nor present at the court nor their credentials confirmed. It is nothing more than heresay. (not heresy) As Thomas Paine so brillianly and plainly put it
    “But admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and, consequently, they are not obliged to believe it.”

    http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/thomas_paine/age_of_reason/part1.html#1

  • Polly

    So you cannot look at the bible as being unbiased. In order to corroborate a claim more than one independent source needs to be used and the source needs to be considered trustworthy.

    I agree completely. But, believers are taught that everything in the Bible is well corroborated by secular history – it’s a rare bird that actually looks into the matter for themselves.

  • Polly

    Hello, MJJP

    We seem to be cross posting. I didn’t see your 2nd comment earlier. Um, I suspect, and correct me if I’m wrong, that you might be under a misapprehension yourself about where I’m coming from?

  • MJJP

    Polly
    You may be correct and that would mean you are not a believer. That would certainly be a disappointment for me as I was almost giddy at the thought of debating you.

  • Polly

    MJJP,
    LMAO!! It took me until the IIDB link to GET it. Up until then, I thought we were debating tactics.

    My only point was that I think it’s important to start at the outset with how flawed a record of the supposed eyewitnesses to the resurrection, the Bible is especially because many xians really think it’s ironclad, backed up by extra-biblical evidence, blah blah. I think it’s the number one best way to get through (mainly because it worked on me)

    Naturally, I agree 100% with your analysis, and I think we should take every opportunity to clearly state the strong case against trusting the gospel record – as you did.

    Njoy

  • Polly

    Oh and just to make it 100% clear :)

    I am a strong atheist with regard to Abrahamic religions or any religion that claims god loves (or hates) me; and a weak atheist with regard to generic, emotionally-indifferent universe-makers.

  • truth seeker

    The points brought up on this topic are good. I did come across one document that seems to demonstrate that early Christians were persecuted and killed for their faith. However, there doesn’t seem to be any “non-Christian” source whether the Apostles did or not.

    Pliny the Younger was governor of Pontus/Bithynia from 111-113 AD. We have a whole set of exchanges of his letters with the emperor Trajan on a variety of administrative political matters. These two letters are the most famous, in which P. encounters Christianity for the first time.
    Pliny, Letters 10.96-97
    Pliny to the Emperor Trajan
    It is my practice, my lord, to refer to you all matters concerning which I am in doubt. For who can better give guidance to my hesitation or inform my ignorance? I have never participated in trials of Christians. I therefore do not know what offenses it is the practice to punish or investigate, and to what extent. And I have been not a little hesitant as to whether there should be any distinction on account of age or no difference between the very young and the more mature; whether pardon is to be granted for repentance, or, if a man has once been a Christian, it does him no good to have ceased to be one; whether the name itself, even without offenses, or only the offenses associated with the name are to be punished.
    Meanwhile, in the case of those who were denounced to me as Christians, I have observed the following procedure: I interrogated these as to whether they were Christians; those who confessed I interrogated a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; those who persisted I ordered executed. For I had no doubt that, whatever the nature of their creed, stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy surely deserve to be punished. There were others possessed of the same folly; but because they were Roman citizens, I signed an order for them to be transferred to Rome.
    Soon accusations spread, as usually happens, because of the proceedings going on, and several incidents occurred. An anonymous document was published containing the names of many persons. Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ–none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do–these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshipped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.
    They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food–but ordinary and innocent food. Even this, they affirmed, they had ceased to do after my edict by which, in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations. Accordingly, I judged it all the more necessary to find out what the truth was by torturing two female slaves who were called deaconesses. But I discovered nothing else but depraved, excessive superstition.
    I therefore postponed the investigation and hastened to consult you. For the matter seemed to me to warrant consulting you, especially because of the number involved. For many persons of every age, every rank, and also of both sexes are and will be endangered. For the contagion of this superstition has spread not only to the cities but also to the villages and farms. But it seems possible to check and cure it. It is certainly quite clear that the temples, which had been almost deserted, have begun to be frequented, that the established religious rites, long neglected, are being resumed, and that from everywhere sacrificial animals are coming, for which until now very few purchasers could be found. Hence it is easy to imagine what a multitude of people can be reformed if an opportunity for repentance is afforded.
    Trajan to Pliny
    You observed proper procedure, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those who had been denounced to you as Christians. For it is not possible to lay down any general rule to serve as a kind of fixed standard. They are not to be sought out; if they are denounced and proved guilty, they are to be punished, with this reservation, that whoever denies that he is a Christian and really proves it–that is, by worshiping our gods–even though he was under suspicion in the past, shall obtain pardon through repentance. But anonymously posted accusations ought to have no place in any prosecution. For this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with the spirit of our age.

  • theistscientist

    imagine that. The 12 apostles have had a quite an impact for men that revisionist secular humanists say never existed, never were born and never died. I am reminded of the old joke about how today people name their sons mathew , mark, luke and john and they name their dogs Caesar and Nero.

  • http://www.fireblind.com jake

    imagine that. The 12 apostles have had a quite an impact for men that revisionist secular humanists say never existed, never were born and never died. I am reminded of the old joke about how today people name their sons mathew , mark, luke and john and they name their dogs Caesar and Nero.

    With the few “big” exceptions, most of the apostles can not be said to have had any influence on mankind that we’re aware of. As documented above, most of the apostles are ignored in the Bible for the most part. In addition, just because a name in an ancient book may have been cited frequently by subsequent generations does not a living human make. Do we consider most of the humans in the Greek or Roman myths to have been real people? Their actions influenced thousands and perhaps millions of people, but we consider them nothing but fictional actors in this age.

  • OMGF

    revisionist secular humanists

    Provide some documentation then that shows these people existed and that they died horrible deaths as your faith claims. Otherwise, it is not “revisionist” to explain that there is no evidence for your beliefs.

  • theistscientist

    my dear jake, with all due respect, whether you regard them as real or myths, the belief in the apostles has had a profound effect on western civilization.From the ‘symoblic’ St. LUkes’s institue in Florida, to the ‘symbolic’ St. Luke’s Hospital in Mass. etc etc etc, to thousands of hospitals,orphanges, feeding centers ,medical clinics, …I have yet to hear of the “Murray Madalyn O’hair childrens hospital” ,have you?

  • OMGF

    So, because people used the names of the apostles, they were important? I’m sorry, but this simply does not follow. The apostles are sort of forgotten in the Bible. They are really just Jesus’s entourage. Jesus is the main act for parts of the Bible, and Paul is the real head honcho of it all.

    BTW, I wonder if St. Luke’s isn’t named after the writer of the gospel instead of the apostle?

  • theistscientist

    uhh jake,OMGF?

  • OMGF

    You are making the argument that because people used the names of some of the apostles that the apostles themselves have had a profound effect on our culture. This is a non sequitor. Am I not allowed to point that out simply because you wrote your comment to Jake?

  • theistscientist

    did you ever see the film “Troy”..”no one will ever remember your name”…why does the entire world remember the names of Matthew, Mark ,Luke , and John? Why? kindly give us a viscerally satisfying reason.

  • OMGF

    I’m sorry, but Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are remembered due to the fact that the Bible stories are supposedly penned by them. Quick, who are the other 8 apostles? Of course, we know that those stories weren’t penned by the apostles.

    We also know the names of Caesar, Odysseus, Prium, Remus, Romulus, Hercules, etc. We know these names because they are in books that people read. If you wanted to say that Xianity has influenced the west, that would be undeniable. The apostles simply aren’t a big part of that though. The main culprit is Paul.

  • theistscientist

    actually, if you were really involved in significant life changing medical missionary, charitable work, which ,sadly you are not, you would know the incredible number of hospitals, charitable institutions, orphanagas, feeding center,medical clinics, and places of charity named for and after,Simon,Thaddaeus,James,Thomas,Bartholmew,Philip,John,Andrew,Peter,…although I am a law professor, operations research consultant to the military, I am also a volunteer medical missionary. We could use your help OMGF ,whether atheist or theist. But in 30 years of volunteer work, I have encountered almost no atheists. Seriously, watch “goodfellas”, what the atheists will never , ever understand, is that when Jesus said to heal the sick, feed the hungry, comfort widows and orphans and the oppressed, and when his followers did this, 24/7, to this very day, the armchair philosophical opponents of Christianity were forever marginalized.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    places of charity named for and after,Simon,Thaddaeus,James,Thomas,Bartholmew,Philip,John,Andrew,Peter…

    All of which provides precisely zero evidence that apostles by those names actually lived. You have said nothing that disputes the points raised in my post in any way whatsoever.

    I am also a volunteer medical missionary. We could use your help OMGF ,whether atheist or theist. But in 30 years of volunteer work, I have encountered almost no atheists.

    Do you think the fact that atheists don’t often volunteer for religious missionary work might have something to do with that? You might as well say that Democrats obviously don’t care about voting because you never see any of them at the Republican political conventions you attend.

  • http://www.fireblind.com jake

    my dear jake, with all due respect, whether you regard them as real or myths, the belief in the apostles has had a profound effect on western civilization.From the ‘symoblic’ St. LUkes’s institue in Florida, to the ‘symbolic’ St. Luke’s Hospital in Mass. etc etc etc, to thousands of hospitals,orphanges, feeding centers ,medical clinics, …I have yet to hear of the “Murray Madalyn O’hair childrens hospital” ,have you?

    Your original post seemed to imply that the “secular revisionist humanists” were making specious arguments against the existence of the apostles. As I understood your point, you meant more or less that because the apostles have had such a large impact on history, this implies that they were in fact real people. I’m not disagreeing that the stories about these men have had large impact, simply that a large impact is not legitimate evidence for existence. I think you would agree that just because I name a hospital “Peter Pan Memorial” doesn’t mean the individual existed, even IF millions of children believe profoundly in his existence.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Theistscientist,

    Know who else had a large effect on the world?

    The Greek Gods.

    Those gods got into all sorts of arts, and people can give you clear describtions of what they looked like, what they did, and how they came into existance (unlike some other people I could mention).
    Now you don’t accept that they exist I’m sure, so tell me, what is the difference in your reasoning between acceptance of one and not the other?

    Just remember, believing something doesn’t make it so.

  • nfpendleton

    I totally agree, Mrnaglfar. But don’t forget Hercules, Odysseus, Achilles, Santa Claus, Superman, Bugs Bunny…the list goes on. theistscientist’s argument dies a painful, humiliating (yet quick) death.

  • Adam

    Ok…you guys who have left comments about this are just silly. The whole history of the Church is well documented. In fact the Church’s first Pope, St. Peter, and the current Pope can be historically linked to one another, each pope in sucession. Just look in the front of a Catholic Bible.

    Please do not tell yourself that the only reason you stopped believing in Christianity was become of the disputes about the deaths of the apostles. Read a Church history book, don’t just bank on a blog for all your facts.

    Or you can find some great church history at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/index.html

    just seach a question like: Martyr

  • Adam

    List of Popes. All of these man have made an impact in the world. many killed because they were Christian

    St. Peter (32-67)
    St. Linus (67-76)
    St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88)

    [long, irrelevant list of popes deleted —Ebonmuse]

    John Paul II (1978-2005)
    Benedict XVI (2005—)

  • Mrnaglfar

    Adam,

    Popes are not apostles, but good try.

  • Dutch

    Adam, you are on very weak ground

    Answer this, where is The Garden of Eden with it’s Tree of Life?”
    If you put Jesus Christ on this plane, then naturally Eden must be here also. Nobody lately has mentioned Eden; nothing in the news. If you’re going to prove something, use the Bible.

    looking forward to your reply, Dutch

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    That’s really a change of subject, Adam. This post is about claims about the apostles who supposedly knew Jesus, not about later Popes who might be considered apostles by some technicality of definition. If it’s true that Popes are in some way apostles, then that’s interesting in the same way that it’s interesting that tomatoes are technically a fruit, but it doesn’t really apply to the argument at hand.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    This post is about the original twelve apostles as they are listed in the Bible. The actions of subsequent believers are not relevant. Please keep your comments on-topic.

  • Adam

    You’re right. Back on topic. 12 Apostles.

    I will only list 2 of the apostles for sake on length. This information can be found at: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/index.html

    Much more history of the Christianity can be found there.

    St. James, the Greater (Apostle)

    On the last journey to Jerusalem, their mother Salome came to the Lord and said to Him: “Say that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom” (Matthew 20:21). And the two brothers, still ignorant of the spiritual nature of the Messianic Kingdom, joined with their mother in this eager ambition (Mark 10:37). And on their assertion that they are willing to drink the chalice that He drinks of, and to be baptized with the baptism of His sufferings, Jesus assured them that they will share His sufferings (Mark 5:38-39).

    James won the crown of martyrdom fourteen years after this prophecy, A.D. 44. Herod Agrippa I, son of Aristobulus and grandson of Herod the Great, reigned at that time as “king” over a wider dominion than that of his grandfather. His great object was to please the Jews in every way, and he showed great regard for the Mosaic Law and Jewish customs. In pursuance of this policy, on the occasion of the Passover of A.D. 44, he perpetrated cruelties upon the Church, whose rapid growth incensed the Jews. The zealous temper of James and his leading part in the Jewish Christian communities probably led Agrippa to choose him as the first victim. “He killed James, the brother of John, with the sword.” (Acts 12:1-2). According to a tradition, which, as we learn from Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., II, ix, 2, 3), was received from Clement of Alexandria (in the seventh book of his lost “Hypotyposes”), the accuser who led the Apostle to judgment, moved by his confession, became himself a Christian, and they were beheaded together. As Clement testifies expressly that the account was given him “by those who were before him,” this tradition has a better foundation than many other traditions and legends respecting the Apostolic labours and death of St. James, which are related in the Latin “Passio Jacobi Majoris”, the Ethiopic “Acts of James”, and so on.

    St. Andrew

    When the Apostles went forth to preach to the Nations, Andrew seems to have taken an important part, but unfortunately we have no certainty as to the extent or place of his labours. Eusebius (H.E. III:1), relying, apparently, upon Origen, assigns Scythia as his mission field: Andras de [eilechen] ten Skythian; while St. Gregory of Nazianzus (Or. 33) mentions Epirus; St. Jerome (Ep. ad Marcell.) Achaia; and Theodoret (on Ps. cxvi) Hellas. Probably these various accounts are correct, for Nicephorus (H.E. II:39), relying upon early writers, states that Andrew preached in Cappadocia, Galatia, and Bithynia, then in the land of the anthropophagi and the Scythian deserts, afterwards in Byzantium itself, where he appointed St. Stachys as its first bishop, and finally in Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, and Achaia. It is generally agreed that he was crucified by order of the Roman Governor, Aegeas or Aegeates, at Patrae in Achaia, and that he was bound, not nailed, to the cross, in order to prolong his sufferings. The cross on which he suffered is commonly held to have been the decussate cross, now known as St. Andrew’s, though the evidence for this view seems to be no older than the fourteenth century. His martyrdom took place during the reign of Nero, on 30 November, A.D. 60)

    There is much to learn and say about each of the apostles deaths. Why doesn’t the bible cover it all? Because it is not a history book.

    The Church though has kept her history. The Church existed 2000 years ago, which is wild to think about and have kept these facts alive through tradition and martyrdom. Not everything about Christianity is found in the bible, because Christianity does not stop with the bible. It continues through the apostles. I guess that is why I listed each Pope. These popes who ordained other bishops to pass on the faith, were ordained by privious popes and so on…all the way back to St.Peter who was ordained by Jesus. Pretty wild to think about. That there is an actually list.

    Each one of these original 12 apostles could have recanted their faith to save themselves, but they chose death. Death for the sake of Truth. This truth lead to the death of many other Christians as well.

    But of course, some might say that the Chruch probably made the whole thing up…like it doesn’t have anything better to do.

    Or that these men all died because of some other reason, un-related to the faith…this goes against all reason…and is not historical anyway.

  • OMGF

    Adam,
    If you had read the OP, you would know that Ebon already covered your comment here.

    Each one of these original 12 apostles could have recanted their faith to save themselves, but they chose death. Death for the sake of Truth. This truth lead to the death of many other Christians as well.

    But of course, some might say that the Chruch probably made the whole thing up…like it doesn’t have anything better to do.

    Or that these men all died because of some other reason, un-related to the faith…this goes against all reason…and is not historical anyway.

    There are many problems with your logic. It very well could all be made up. If you don’t think this is possible, then I suppose that you have to believe in all religions then, right? Obviously you think other religions are made up, so why not yours as well?

    Also, how do you know that they died for truth and not simply for their beliefs (if we grant that they actually died for their beliefs)? Muslim suicide bombers are dying for their beliefs, so it must be true right? Or else they wouldn’t do it right? The sad fact is that people do die for their beliefs, but it doesn’t necessarily make their beliefs true.

  • lpetrich

    The Roman authorities had objected to Xianity because it involved denying the official gods of the Empire, including the Emperor himself. So for them, Xianity was treason. Jews had also done that, but Judaism was an ancient tradition, and the Roman authorities respected ancient traditions. But Xianity was not exactly ancient.

    Consider what Apuleius had thought of early Xianity, judging from one of the characters in his novel The Golden Ass:

    The baker who had bought me was a decent enough fellow, but was unhappily married. His wife was the wickedest woman I met in all my travels and treated him so badly that I used often to groan in secret pity for him. There was no single vice which she did not possess: her heart a regular cesspool into which every sort of filthy sewer empties. she was malicious, cruel, spiteful, lecherous, drunken, selfish, obstinate, as mean in her petty thefts as she was wasteful in her grand orgies, and an enemy of all that was honest and clean. She also professed perfect scorn for the Immortals and rejected all true religion in favor of a fantastic and blasphemous cult of an ‘Only God.’ In his honor she practised various absurd ceremonies which gave her the excuse of getting drunk quite early in the day and playing the whore at all hours; most people, including her husband, were quite deceived by her.

    Other pagan Romans also thought that Xianity was a stupid cult.

    The cartoonist who drew the Alexamenos graffito certainly thought so; he depicted someone worshipping a crucified man with a donkey’s head and captioned it “Alexamenos worships god”.

    And Marcus Cornelius Fronto claimed that early Xians worshipped a donkey’s head and their priests’ sex organs (virilia), would sacrifice and eat babies, etc.

    Athenagoras of Athens, in A Plea for the Christians, rebutted charges of “atheism, Thyestean feasts [cannibalism], Oedipodean intercourse [incest].”

    And Lucian of Samosata, in his biography of pagan religious charlatan Alexander of Abonutichus, noted that A of A would call for the expulsion from his ceremonies of atheists like Epicureans and Xians.

  • Adam

    OMGF,

    I will try and respond in two weeks, I will be gone to Ethiopia until then

  • G. Gallawa

    Why would you base your primary argument against the martyrdom of the apostles on the fact that they are not spelled out in a book I’m sure you consider nothing but a collection of overbearing rules and fairytales? If the Bible did give a play by play on the deaths of the apostles would you believe the accounts to be true? If the apostles were responsible for writing their own accounts of their experiences with Christ and their ministry after his return to glory, do you really think they would take the time or be allowed the time to tell of their own demise, especially when those who persecuted them were trying to wipe their new “religion” of the face of the Earth? What you are forgetting here is that these 11 men, who were previously fishermen, carpenters and tax collectors, suddenly became Earth shakers. This group of nobodies were somehow able to convince thousands upon thousands that there is one true God and that his son Jesus came so that we may know the one who created this Earth and everything on it, in it, above and below it, on a personal level. What evidence do you need to see the impact these men had on our Earth? You are also missing the point that it isn’t the person who delivered the message that mattered, it is the message itself that takes top priority. I don’t care how the apostles died. I don’t care if they had a chance to deny Christ in the end. There is only one crucifixion that matters. I know that Christ did not take the opportunity to renounce his claims. I know that he willingly offered himself in my place and that He paid the price that I owed. You and I both must have faith to believe what we do, the difference is my faith leads to hope, peace, acceptance, grace, love and a happy ending. Where does your “faith” leave you at your end?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    What you are forgetting here is that these 11 men, who were previously fishermen, carpenters and tax collectors, suddenly became Earth shakers.

    I’m not “forgetting” it, but rather pointing out that you have zero evidence for such a statement. If the apostles were, as you say, “Earth shakers”, then why isn’t there any reliable record of where they lived, what they did, or how they died?

  • OMGF

    G. Gallawa,

    You and I both must have faith to believe what we do, the difference is my faith leads to hope, peace, acceptance, grace, love and a happy ending.

    What faith is necessary in pointing out that you have not proven your claim that god exists? How does faith in god lead you to hope, peace, acceptance, grace, love, and a happy ending? Further, if you truly believed in the happy ending, you would wish for death.

    Where does your “faith” leave you at your end?

    My non-faith leaves me where it leaves everyone. We all die. It’s what we do with our lives while we have them that matters. Should I live my life always with an eye to an afterlife – one with absolutely no evidence – or should I live my life in the here and now?

    Also, I suggest that you check out Ebon’s latest post on heaven.

  • G. Gallawa

    Ebonmuse,

    Does the fact that this topic has a multitude of similar web pages dedicated to it mean nothing? Does the fact that you feel as strongly as you do about the topic mean nothing and that they do not exist. Tell me what ever happened to the first apostles of Siddhartha Gautama? Did they not exist? How and where did they die? Did they or did they not spread the message of the Buddha? As I stated before, the proof that the apostles of Christ existed are undeniable. Simply because we don’t know where their P.O. Box was or how they died is not important. The fact that millions of people throughout history became Christians show that they existed and what “they did”.

    OMGF,

    I don’t long for death, but neither do I fear it. I live for Christ. I experience his presence now; I don’t need to die to know who he is. That is what gives me the aforementioned. The relationship with Christ is what being a Christian is about. Faith is very important but too often people think that Faith is blind belief and that is all you’ve got as a Christian. Faith is absolutely believing the unseen, I don’t debate that, but I know what Christ has done in my life. I know that the longing and emptiness I used to try to fill up with money, possessions, sex, food, knowledge and whatever else I could is gone. I have been filled up with something that this world couldn’t even come close to doing. I don’t worry about tomorrow or the afterlife, mine is secure. I rejoice in the time I have to spend with my family and friends here and now. My joy is doubled because I know that my time is not limited to the 70+ years I have on Earth.

    I am sure that you all have heard this before and nothing I would say would convince you to believe as I do. What I will say is that everyone has a built in desire to know where he or she came from, why he or she are here, and what they are supposed to be doing. I would like to tell you that there is an answer.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Tell me what ever happened to the first apostles of Siddhartha Gautama? Did they not exist? How and where did they die?

    I have no idea. It’s not a question I’ve looked into. The question of the apostles’ fate is, however, and I’ve found no documentation of whether they existed or how they died. If you have found such evidence, please present it to us.

    As I stated before, the proof that the apostles of Christ existed are undeniable.

    Yes, you keep saying that, but somehow you never get around to telling us what the proof actually is. What is that proof? How do you know what the apostles achieved?

  • OMGF

    G. Gallawa,

    As I stated before, the proof that the apostles of Christ existed are undeniable.

    Really? We don’t even have undeniable proof that Jesus existed.

    I don’t long for death, but neither do I fear it.

    Well, you should, because your religion tells you that it will be glorious and better than what you have now by so much that you can’t even imagine it. Most people, however fear death, so they make up stories about how death isn’t the end so that they can calm their fears.

    I live for Christ. I experience his presence now…

    How?

    Faith is very important but too often people think that Faith is blind belief and that is all you’ve got as a Christian.

    Considering the distinct lack of evidence for your god, I would say that your faith in him is a blind belief.

    I know that the longing and emptiness I used to try to fill up with money, possessions, sex, food, knowledge and whatever else I could is gone. I have been filled up with something that this world couldn’t even come close to doing.

    Yet, it’s this world that brought you to this state. You might want to study some psychology, because it might shed some light on how you can convince yourself to feel the way you do. Many other people feel the same feelings (reportedly) that you do and for many different reasons including love of another, taking up a non-religious passion, meditation, even in other religions or shaking off the shackles of the religion one is in. This is not a distinctly religious or Xian experience, nor does it prove anything, and if you think it does prove something to you, you might want to ask yourself how others can experience the same thing without your belief and how you might be causing it yourself (placebo effect).

    I rejoice in the time I have to spend with my family and friends here and now.

    Yet, you could be with god. This is one of the more illogical things about Xianity. Xians are supposed to be happy about being on Earth, yet being on Earth is substandard to what it will be like with god. So, god – who supposedly loves you -holds you away from him at arm’s length, and you are supposed to be happy about it?

    What I will say is that everyone has a built in desire to know where he or she came from, why he or she are here, and what they are supposed to be doing. I would like to tell you that there is an answer.

    And yet, it’s really not an answer at all if you think about it. god created me? Well, that just pushes back the questions one level without answering any of them, and raises a bunch of new questions.

  • http://nesoo.wordpress.com/ Nes

    I am sure that you all have heard this before…

    Almost word for word…

  • Adam

    To all,

    A fine book on what happened to the Apostles after they died can be read in

    The Twelve: The Lives of the Apostles After Calvary (Paperback)
    by Bernard Ruffin (Author)

    OMGF,
    On JAN. 18TH, you wrote:

    Also, how do you know that they died for truth and not simply for their beliefs (if we grant that they actually died for their beliefs)? Muslim suicide bombers are dying for their beliefs, so it must be true right? Or else they wouldn’t do it right? The sad fact is that people do die for their beliefs, but it doesn’t necessarily make their beliefs true.

    The Apostles were martyred. Radical muslims murder. There is a big difference between the beliefs.

    Truthfully I think this topic is kind of silly. To believe the apostles did not die because they were christians is 100% false. Nero used to crucify christians them, then burn them for fire light in his gardens. They died because they were Christians, just like the first apostles.

    Here is an account of one of the Apostles. Traditions says that The first Pope, Peter, was killed by crucifiction upside down. To get take him off the cross the Romans cut his hands off. Tradition said that The early christians buried him and build a church on top of his grave. Over the centuries this church became bigger, finally becoming St. Peters Bacilica in Rome that is standing today, the biggest church in the world.

    This Tradition was proven factual in the 1930′s. When a Pope dies the Church buries him under St. Peters. In the 1930′s there was excivation happening below the bacilica, to make room for another Pope, when they can across a grave marked with a sign that said “Here lies Peter” (something like that). When the grave was opened is proved to be a diversion, the actually grave was buried close by (found later!)

    How did they know it was him? Carbon dating of the bones proved to be a a heavy set man who died in his 60′s and lived in the first century…who had his hands chopped off.

    With a little research in books (not just the internet) one can find all the answers he could ever want about Christianity.

    PS. It is true though that there are some apostles that we don’t really know what happened to them. We only know through Tradition what happened to some. In the case of St. Peter we have his bones to prove it.

  • spaceman spif

    Adam,

    First of all, link, please, to your source of info?

    Second, you say this topic is silly, yet the argument that the Apostles would not have gone through torture and death for something they knew was a lie is one of the most common arguments *for* believing. This page is a response to that common argument that is presented to skeptics on behalf of believers. If you (believers) are going to present us with compelling arguments, but have no proof, and expect us to accept that argument, then why shouldn’t we believe what any religion says?

  • OMGF

    Adam,

    The Apostles were martyred. Radical muslims murder. There is a big difference between the beliefs.

    Whatever the difference in their beliefs, if one dies for one’s beliefs it does not make those beliefs true. You previously asserted that they died for truth, but that is simply not necessarily true. They died for their beliefs, and simply because they died for their beliefs doesn’t make it any more true than when a Muslim dies for her beliefs or a Jew or a Hindu, etc etc etc.

    Truthfully I think this topic is kind of silly. To believe the apostles did not die because they were christians is 100% false.

    Why should I believe without evidence? If you wish me to believe that it is 100% false, then you have to provide evidence that they all died simply because they were Xians and they were persecuted. The whole point of the OP is that people like you say that they were killed for being Xian (100% certainty according to you) but the historical records are actually very spotty.

    Traditions says that The first Pope, Peter, was killed by crucifiction upside down.

    If you had read the OP, you’d notice that Adam already talked about Simon Peter and allowed that it was possible. How do you know that the grave was really his and not someone else’s? The grave that was labeled as his didn’t have his hands cut off. Finding another grave with the hands cut off doesn’t prove that that grave was actually Peter’s. Nor does carbon dating, which only shows the time period, not the identity of the person.

    PS. It is true though that there are some apostles that we don’t really know what happened to them. We only know through Tradition what happened to some.

    And, that’s the whole point, isn’t it? You only have stories and tradition to draw on, not facts. Yet, there’s this whole school of thought in apologetics that Xianity must be true because the apostles would not have died for a lie (William Lane Craig is a prominent proponent of this idea). Yet, how can you make that argument if you can’t prove that they did die for being Xian or that they died for truth?

    PS I hope your trip to Ethiopia was fun and rewarding.

  • goyo

    Adam: Did you just say that carbon dating was valid?
    How old do you believe the Earth is?

  • spaceman spif

    Adam,

    Your response inspired me to do a little research of my own. It seems that (surprise!) there’s a bit of twisting and stretching one must do to accept your story on the bones of Peter.

    First of all, are you referring to the bones that Pope Pius XII claimed in 1950 were the bones of St. Peter? Or are you referring to the other set of bones that Pope Paul VI claimed in 1968 were the bones of St. Peter?

    Second, you claimed the skeleton was missing it’s hands. Which is interesting because Catholic tradition states Peter was removed from the cross by having his feet severed. Which is it?

    Third, which skull really belongs to Peter? One of the ones dug up from under the Vatican, or the one that has been in St. John’s Lateran since the 9th century?

    Also, how do you respond to other research and evidence that shows Peter was actually buried in Jerusalem? Have you ever heard of the ossuary found in Jerusalem that bears St. Peters name?

  • Adam

    Sorry, I meant that is was Peter’s feet that were cut off.

  • Adam

    I have no idea how old the earth is, why?

  • Adam

    All,

    You can look around this website for more info on St. Peter

    http://www.saintpetersbasilica.org/Necropolis/JW/TheBonesofStPeter-1.htm

    spaceman spif,

    As for your other comments, many churches are named St. Peter’s. I found the website you were looking at and I am not surprised to see something that tries to contradict what was found under St. Peter’s in Rome. I would have to say that it is false, but I am no expert.

    But it’s not why one should believe in Christianity, it’s silly to talk about this. If you do not believe that the apostles died for their faith, then you must believe that they, and every Christian there after who have died have died for a lie. This goes against all reason. 2000 years of brain washing is unreasonable and impossible. The Church is standing today because it is founding on the Truth of life. How else can you explain an institution like the Church who is run by Sinners, some of the greatest and more notorious sinners the world has seen, yet her message, her teachings, have never waivered, thats unbelieveable and impossible, yet it’s fact.

    it’s why I believe in God. When I look at it’s teachings it made me a believer.

    Thinking the Apostles did not died for the faith is revisionist history. For example, in Rome, these same ideas are being passed on by the people who run the tour guide at the Coliseum in Rome and tell people that there is no evidence that Christians died there for sport. A complete lie.

    If we are going to talk about something, lets talk about something more substantial, like the meaning of life…something like that

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    But it’s not why one should believe in Christianity, it’s silly to talk about this.

    You were the one who insisted that the actual remains of St. Peter had been found. It seems to me that you backed off that claim rather swiftly when you heard about the multiple skeletons and other relics contending for that designation.

    If you do not believe that the apostles died for their faith, then you must believe that they, and every Christian there after who have died have died for a lie.

    Essentially, yes. Similarly, you believe that every Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Mormon who’s died for their faith has died for a lie, do you not? I doubt you find that position “unreasonable and impossible”. We atheists think the same way; we just add Christianity to the list of false religions whose sincere but misguided followers have died for incorrect beliefs.

    Thinking the Apostles did not died for the faith is revisionist history.

    Yes, it is. Our understanding of history should be revised when the evidence dictates; to do otherwise is just vain clinging to false dogma. As I pointed out, and as you have not contested, there is zero reliable textual evidence indicating how any of the apostles died, only unsourced rumors and late-invented medieval legends. Therefore, it is the inescapable conclusion that the orthodox Christian understanding of the apostles’ historicity is without foundation, and should be revised so that it is in accord with the facts.

    If we are going to talk about something, lets talk about something more substantial, like the meaning of life…something like that

    This thread is to address the issue of how the twelve apostles died, as discussed in the original post. Please keep your comments on-topic.

  • OMGF

    Adam,
    If you contend that the Earth is 6000-10000 years old, then it would be strange for you to subscribe to carbon dating as an accurate way to find the ages of things. Is the Earth young, or is it 4.5 billion years old (give or take) as the best evidence we have indicates?

    Other than that, Ebon pretty much said what I’ve been telling you. You wish to hang your hat on the idea that Xianity must be true, else people would not be willing to die for it, but people are willing to die for all kinds of ideas. This does not make those ideas true anymore than people willing to die for Xianity makes Xianity true.

  • spaceman spif

    Adam,

    First of all, I am glad to see you sticking around to defend your POV. Believe me when I say that I am not writing my posts in response to you so I can say “Ha! I’m winning!”, but rather I am doing it in the sense of “But how do you view that in light of the fact that…”

    I’m not out to “defeat” you. I want to know what you think in response to replies on here.

    You’ve mentioned “silly” a few times now. I’m glad you brought that up. Because when you hand a skeptic the Bible, and you tell him “Read all these stories! They’re all true!” the skeptic will say “Hmm…talking donkeys? Sticks into snakes? Walking on water? God is mad at me if I don’t bury my poop? Raising the dead? And you say this is true? That’s *silly*!”

    I made this point on another thread that Ebon Almighty (ha!) has since locked:

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof

    You admit you believe in the extraordinary claims of the Bible, and in regard to this thread, the Apostles. All we ask is for your proof.

  • Adam

    Ebon and spaceman spif,

    Let me clarify,

    I am not running away from the claims I made. They are not my claims, they are the claims of the Church, I am just the messenger and I stand by them.

    I absolutely believe that St. Peter is buried under St. Peter’s in Rome. It has always been the Tradition of the Church, but when he was discovered in the 1930’s, the Tradition was proven true. Rome did not make the announcement for roughly 30 more years because, I assume, they wanted to be sure.

    As for the other claim mentioned regarding St. Peter’s bones: I would rather trust the Church’s finding and its scientists then a priest who claims opposite (for what ever reason).

    Revisionist history is not a good thing when it goes against proven facts. I assume when you started this thread you took a look at other blogs and websites but didn’t reading any early Christian fathers or writers that lived at the times of the apostles, or referenced any Catholic encyclopedias.

    I say silly because if you would read these documents you could see, at the very least, that the Apostles were killed because they were Christian. I am not an expert by any means in the early Christian father’s, and I do not have time to photo copy and send you evidence of writings of the stories of all the Christian killings.

    It is true that we have no records of the lives of some of the Apostles but we know that Peter was killed by crucifixion upside down and we have his body (with no feet), St. Andrew was martyred by crucifixion on an X-shaped cross, St. James the less was thrown of the Temple, lived, was stabbed and finally beheaded; these things you know. Combined with the Traditions that say they all died (besides John) by Martyrdom, a great percentage of the early followers being killed (many in the Roman Coliseum for Sport), and the fact that the Church Jesus started through St. Peter is still standing today, 2000 years after all the violence and inexcusable behavior it has gone through, is unbelievable. It’s unreasonable to deny the early Church. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, I agree (The Church!).

    Here’s something even more amazing. I have been blessed to have visited places all throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, and now Ethiopia, and when you enter a Catholic Church, no matter where you are, no matter the language, it’s the same (there obviously is human error; which only supports the fact that this human run Church has to be divine), unbelievable and unreasonable to think possible, if not seen with your own eyes. Every Church is filled with pictures and statues of the Apostles and how they died.

    All of history leading up to day supports the Apostles. This alone should be substantial evidence. Reason says if X is taught, then Y happens.

    The Apostles were taught about God, and about morals, faith, sacrifice, love, about divisions and how to overcome divisions, and about a Church. One can expect as a result that the Church teach the same way. And it does. Look at the Catechism.

    At this time this is all I can add to the conversation. Besides pointing you in the right direction (Catholic encyclopedia, Peter’s bones, catechism), I am limited and have nothing else to add.

  • spaceman spif

    So basically what you are saying is you believe the claims of the Catholic Church are true because the Catholic Church tells you so?

    I’m going to assume you’re through with this thread, so a few final comments. There are religions older than Catholicism. Does that give them more credence?

    Also, I noticed you keep standing by the Catholic church’s claims of finding the bones of St. Peter in spite of the fact that two different Popes claimed two different sets of bones. If one of the Popes is correct, the other is wrong…which violates the Pope’s rule of infallibility, does it not?

    You see, you made the comment about revisionist history going against proven facts, yet you continue to not provide us the source of your proof, other than “Catholic tradition”.

    If you want to see how, even in today’s modern age of science and overwhelming information and data, that long-held “truths” are in fact hogwash, go browse Snopes.com for a bit. The times of Christ were filled with stories of Messianic figures performing miracles before crowds, and religions and followers were springing up all around. What’s to say that your church simply was the most successful of those new religions of that time at selling it’s story?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    I assume when you started this thread you took a look at other blogs and websites but didn’t reading any early Christian fathers or writers that lived at the times of the apostles, or referenced any Catholic encyclopedias.

    Actually, as you’d know if you had bothered to read my original post, I specifically cited the New Advent encyclopedia multiple times. I also cited several early church fathers and apocryphal gospels.

    The fact that theist commenters are objecting to my post without having read it is a good sign that it’s time to close this thread.