If Christ Has Not Been Raised

Here’s a little piece I did a few years back on why I think it obvious the Resurrection really happened.  Exalted Felicitations of the Day!

I’m told the latest trend among professional atheists, who read each other but not actual New Testament scholarship except from the hothouse of court prophets for atheism like Bob Price and Bart Ehrman, is that Jesus is a “composite”.  It’s unclear what this means, but I take it that they think the authors of the New Testament dug through the Old Testament for random verses and then invented incidents in the life of Jesus in order make him fit the Old Testament prophecies.  How they know this is anybody’s guess.  Myself, I would say that what is gratuitously asserted can be gratuitously denied.  Just the other day, somebody was here offering his expert opinions on the trial of Jesus and the alleged “fact” that the Romans only crucified people in large batches, so that it’s impossible Jesus was only crucified with two thieves.  How on earth he is supposed to know this and know that all the eyewitnesses are wrong I have no knowledge, but it read like one of those agreed upon “facts” that one picks up from one’s peer group and gets repeated in order to reinforce group cohesion.

Here’s the deal: if you want to *really* understand the gospels realize two things:

First, they are (as one German scripture scholar aptly put it) “passion narratives with long introductions”.  The focus of all the gospels–the thing they each spend a quarter of their ink on–is a 72 hour period in the life of their hero.  All the other stuff in the gospels is leading up to that and it’s all focused on that like the spokes on a wheel focus on the hub.  If you don’t get that white hot focus on the events of that weekend and the fact that *this* is what the community exists to remember, you have no idea what you are talking about in discussing the gospels.  This means that confident declarations that the community is radically misremembering these events have a lot to overcome and that casual declarations that “It couldn’t have happened that way” require more than gratuitous assertions as evidence.  Particularly since…

Second, as Richard Bauckham has amply demonstrated in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, the gospels read, quite obviously, as multiply-attested eyewitness testimony, not as ingenious fabrications of a “literary composite” who never existed.  “Jesus never existed” rubbish is the 9/11 Trutherism of biblical studies.  Atheists who embrace it only demonstrate that their contempt for their subject has the inevitable effect of doing what all sin does: making you stupid.  The gospels are written as accounts by, or drawn from, eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus’s life. They obey all the literary conventions, not of myth, but of ancient historiography. And their entire point and the only reason the eyewitnesses think it worth telling that story–in four accounts that closely corroborate each other–is that this particular life ends with a death and resurrection that they themselves saw (and went on to die for).

It’s not just the big things like the corrobrations of the four evangelists who obviously believe the story they are telling.  It’s also the little things. The gospels, for instance, periodically name characters in the story who are of no particular importance to the overall tale, such as Bartimaeus the blind beggar, or Malchus, or Jairus, or Simon of Cyrene (father of Alexander and Rufus), or (as we heard at the Easter Vigil) “Mary, the mother of James”.  Why do they do this?  Because ancient word processors have no footnote function, so the convention in ancient historiography is to name the person who is the source of the tradition in the text.  In other words, Simon of Cyrene (and his sons) become members of the Christian community and they are the source of that story about the  carrying of the cross–and they are known to the Church at Rome to whom Mark is writing (you can see Paul saying “howdy” to Rufus at the end of Romans).  Likewise, “Mary, the mother of James” (that would be “James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, aka the “brother” (really cousin) of the Lord” is also named as “Mary, the wife of Clopas” (aka “Cleopas”, the disciple who meets the Risen Jesus on the Emmaus Road). In short, James of Jerusalem’s mother was an eyewitness of the Crucifixion, was present at the tomb on Easter morning, and his father Clopas had gotten the report from her before heading off to Emmaus and his own strange encounters.  These are figures who play no central role in the rest of the gospel accounts, but here they are giving us their testimony through Luke.  The whole thing reads exactly like eyewitness interviews, not like myth (though, of course, the story of Christ fulfills the deepest mythic yearnings of our race, as you would expect a real God to do.

Anyway, all that is to say, the Good News about the Good News is that it is News, not fiction.

Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised;  if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. – 1 Cor 15:1-20

  • RS

    Masterfully written, as usual. The happiest Easter to you, Mark, and thanks for all you’ve done to enrich my faith!

  • Benjamin

    We do agree on one thing–those that say Jesus of Nazareth never existed are crackpots and can safely be ignored. Jesus was a charismatic First Century Jewish leader of a sect who was crucified in Jerusalem near passover after some sort of incident in or around the temple. Later, some of his followers proclaimed he rose from the dead. Disputing those facts, or saying it is a reconstituted pagan myth when the story is so very Jewish shades off into a kind of Jesus Trutherism that I have zero time for.

    But that doesn’t mean there weren’t liberties taken with the basic story, or legend mixed in. People do this all the time with historical figures. Think of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree. Why is it so ridiculous to believe that kind of thing could have happened to Jesus? Ever heard of Midrash, Mark?

    Anyway, happy Easter to those who celebrate it.

    • dan

      Thank you for the Happy Easter greetings!

    • Mark Shea

      What is gratuitously asserted can be gratuitously denied. If you think the account of the resurrection is like the legend of George Washington’s cherry tree, you simply have no grasp of how to read the gospels. Get rid of the cherry legend and the story of Washington is still coherent. Get rid of the resurrection and the gospels have no news to proclaim. The resurrection is at the absolute core of the apostolic message. Without it, there *is* no apostolic message.

      • Benjamin

        I would not deny that the followers of Jesus proclaimed, and really did believe, that he had risen from the dead. They did believe in a resurrection, or had some type of deep mystical experience that much is true. That doesn’t mean it actually happened, though, and it also doesn’t mean that the accounts of what they experienced weren’t later embellished and dramatized.

        Anyway I’m talking less about the resurrection with my cherry tree analogy and more of stuff in the gospels like the trial, like the dialogue with the criminals on the cross, the saints rising from their graves in Matthew and the tearing of the temple curtain, that sort of thing. Again, this happens all the time with real historical people. Another example: Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the wall of the Wittenberg Church. It never happened, it was a fiction, a dramatic embellishment. But the legend was started, and it has legs to this very day even among educated people.

        • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

          Did not know that about the 95 Theses. Thanks for a really neat factoid!

          • Mark Shea

            I’m not so sure it’s an accurate factoid. From what I gather, posting stuff on the Wittenberg Church doors was the standard way of announcing an academic dispute. It’s true that it get turned into a Mythic Challenge to the Church by Protestent mythmakers, as though Luther were unique in doing it. It’s probably not true that it never happened, from what I’ve read.

    • Dustin

      Happy Easter, everyone, especially our esteemed and indulgent host.

      It strikes me that the mythicists, though they claim to be upholding standards of skepticism and rigor common to historical studies, have such high demands for proving Jesus’ existence that no historical figure before the invention of photography could possibly live up to them. This doesn’t, of course, mean that those who acknowledge a historical core to the gospel narratives must treat every line of testimony with uncritical acceptance. For instance, the NAB footnote to Rom. 16:13 says that “[t]his Rufus cannot be identified to any degree of certainty with the Rufus of Mk 15:21.”

      I feel that the twenty-something year gap between the life of Jesus and 1 Th. leaves a lot of room for the circulation of traditions that, while not contrary to the kerygma of Jesus, are not meant to be read as journalistic accounts or transcripts. Fundamentalism, I fear, has deeply harmed scriptural studies, leaving those who don’t otherwise believe in Jesus’ divinity to reject even those events and sayings we really can verify. I blame fundamentalism and literalism for the rise of the new mythicists.

      • Benjamin

        Yes, Christ Mythers almost always come from fundamentalist backgrounds, or at least had a fundamentalist phase at some point. It is fundamentalism’s flip side, and just as stupidly anti-intellectual and impervious to evidence.

        • http://blog.pukeko.net.nz Chris

          Um Benjamin,
          Sorry, but that is incorrect. This Calvinist (using the term correctly) agrees with almost everything our esteemed host says (I’m not sure if Mary the Mother of James was also the wife of Cleopas). The term “fundamentalist” has a technical meaning. It refers to a series of pamphlets called “the fundamentals” which were an attempt by a bunch of Presbyterians to defend the faith against the attacks of liberal theology in the 1920s.
          At the time, they failed. The church rejected their ideas, and they left to form the Bible Presbyterian Church. As such, they were mocked as anti intellectual — ‘fundamentalists’.
          —–
          The mythists, on the other hand, are, as Mark said, truly stupid. They sift through the gnostic and neoplatonic literature, both ancient and fictional, to find any idea that will allow them to disavow the Christ. As such, they are antiChrists (see the letter of James) and we should ignore them.

        • Claude

          Fr. Thomas L. Brodie has diversified the mythicist faction! I don’t think Richard Carrier was ever a fundamentalist, though; not sure about Earl Doherty (for some reason I think he was raised Catholic).

          But you’re right, the internet mythicist cult is full of ex-fundies.

      • Benjamin

        It’s also very telling that Christ Mythicism first gained currency in the late 19th Century–the same time fundamentalism and wooden biblical literalism appeared on the scene, at least in the Untied States.

        • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

          The fundamentalism of the late 19th century was an attempt to sort out what was expendable, and what was essential. And that was because of the growing theological liberalism and critical scholarship associated with such famous movements as the legendary ‘quest for the Historical Jesus.’ The separation of the ‘Jesus of History’ from the ‘Christ of Faith’, still found in certain progressive traditions today, was developed out of European, and later American, intellectual circles. From there, we had that fundamentalist rebellion, that itself would develop and change over the following decades.

      • ivan_the_mad

        “no historical figure before the invention of photography could possibly live up to them” Ha! I’m stealing that.

        Of course, based on the usual ignorance of the methods by which the veracity of classical persons and events is established, it’s a lot of fun to ask if Socrates existed. Here we have a teacher who, found troublesome by the state, was put to death, and is known to us only through accounts of his contemporaries and students, which sometimes differ on some details of his life …

  • red45

    How can one believe in Christ’s resurrection and not that God specifically created Adam and Eve out of dust? I remember an Opus Dei priest who mocked me, “You don’t really believe that Samson killed 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey?”

    Which miracle is bigger? Someone dying and coming back to life or a God creating life out of dust? Is it harder to make a super strong man who kills 1,000 men or to part the sea for Moses? At what point is it safe to trust the miracles of tradition? Is it some sort of sinusoidal curve where the first miracles were just “myth”, then next set are “true”, then back to “myth”, back to true again – oh, Christ’s resurrection! – then back to myth?

    It is absurd, frankly.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      How can one believe in Christ’s resurrection and not that God specifically created Adam and Eve out of dust?

      When you go to Barnes & Noble, there are little subject signs all over the place. Do you read the books in the “History” section the same way that you read the ones in the “Science Fiction & Fantasy” section? Of course not. Different books have different ways of telling truths. Just because you have not personally determined which books are history and which are telling truths using figurative language does not make the whole thing a wash.

  • SouthCoast

    “…they think the authors of the New Testament dug through the Old Testament for random verses and then invented incidents in the life of Jesus in order make him fit the Old Testament prophecies….” This being the current methodology of most politically correct scholarshop, it is the only method that makes sense to them!

    “…the convention in ancient historiography is to name the person who is the source of the tradition in the text…” There would also seem to be, by inference from narrative, eyewitness sources who are not named. It seems to me eminently reasonable that one or more of the Roman soldiers complicit in the events before and during the Crucifixion became (possibly secret) converts who provided their own testimony to the writers of the Gospels. (I know that St. Longinus is supposed to be the Roman whose spear pierced Christ’s side, but it seems to me that there were others at the scourging, etc. who saw and later believed.)

  • Ryan

    There was a time (and it still exists for many believers) when all the myths of the bible were taken literally, and that was seen as proper. Since then, official teaching has changed at some point(s) and certain pieces of the bible are said to be myth, and certain pieces historically accurate. Interestingly, which parts survive this test and which get scrapped seems to have something to do with the dominant cultural and intellectual movements of the day (or, more accurately, the day before), and perhaps just a little to do with political agendas as well. If God is infallible and omniscient, why does his “word” change according to human inclinations? If he’s speaking through humans, which are fallible, how are we to trust the current iteration of what we interpret his word to mean, knowing full well – if history has anything to teach us – that it will change again in the next 10, 100, 1000 years as our collective conscious continues to evolve?

    • Mark Shea

      Loose talk about the “myths” of the Bible is typically a way of trying to pretend that any miracle narrative is of exactly the same category as the obviously mythic language of the story of the Creation and the Fall. In short, it’s a patronizing way of saying “Christians who believe that Jesus Christ actually worked miracles and rose from the dead are childish ninnies who believe fairy tales, whereas I am way too adult for that.” People who wish to say that should just come out and say it. It’s much clearer, albeit a mere gratuitous assertion that may be gratuitously denied.

  • Sally

    Mark, thanks for this reflection.
    Incidentally, it has been suggested, I think plausibly, that the two disciples on the Emmaus Road might well have been Cleophas and his wife, Mary. This would make the conversation on the Emmaus Road one between one of the women, with their incredible story, and her incredulous husband, trying to make her see reason. An interesting possibility.

  • joetexx

    Good article, Mark.

    I am reminded of the essay by the late lawyer and student of the philosophy of history, John J. Reilly; called “If Jesus Had Never Been Born…”

    Reilly was a Catholic and a fan of what is called alternative history.

    Mr Reilly died in May 2012, and his personal website is tragically extinct, but the essay may be found on Wayback.

    He skewers some of the notions you discuss.

    “The other impediment to understanding the results of Jesus’ life is the theory which arose in the late nineteenth century that Jesus is not responsible for Christianity. The idea was that the Gospels were “very late and very Greek,” that is, written at least sixty years after the events they purport to describe by people of Greek culture who did not understand the Jewish Jesus and his environment. This approach to the New Testament seems to be ineradicable from seminaries, though in fact scholars in the classical languages no longer take it seriously. (Neither has it held up very well to archeology, but that’s another story.) The Oxford scholar in Classics, Robin Lane Fox, author of “Pagans and Christians” and “The Unauthorized Version,” is at best agnostic about Christianity, but he has no patience with the notion that Jesus was just a typical Palestinian hill-preacher who paid a rather severe penalty for preaching without a permit. As Paul Johnson remarked in his “History of Christianity,” a Jesus who did not say and do extraordinary things does not explain Christianity. If you want a real lip-smacking anti-Christian diatribe, you should read “Jesus the Magician” by the Columbia University classicist, Morton Smith. He argues that of course Jesus claimed to be the Messiah and to be a god and that his immediate followers believed within days of his execution that he had literally risen from the dead. Thus, Dr. Smith triumphantly concludes, all these people were crackers. Well, maybe they were. But if so, it was their lunacy that gave all later history a unique twist, one that would never have happened without Jesus and his idiosyncratic ways.

    So let us imagine an alternative Christmas night about 2000 years ago. Rumors of the end of the age, of a miracle child, spread among shepherds of Judea. They gather on a cold, clear night to watch the stars, expectant of wonders. One by one, they all fall asleep, and the night passes without incident. A few weeks later, some Persian astrologers pass through the area and pay a courtesy call on King Herod. They assure him, inaccurately, that his reign will be long and glorious. They continue on to Egypt, to the Library of Alexandria, where they host several well-attended colloquia on Indian mathematics. History continues undeflected…”

    The archived essay is here:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20120205025618/http://www.johnreilly.info/ijhnbb.htm

  • Vijay

    Ryan, you are making the mistake of confusing the interpretation of certain texts of Scripture with faith in miracles, doctrine and as Mark points out above, the solid eye witness testimony regarding the life, events, death and resurrection of Jesus. There is a huge difference! The church has never declared any fundamental doctrine or teaching of the church a myth. The usual scenario people bring up is the creation story. In the light of evolution, it is insisted that the church teaches that Genesis 1-3 are a myth. However the church nowhere says this. That God created the heavens and the earth and humans is a cardinal doctrine of our faith and one we profess every week. What the church leaves open is that the literary structure of Genesis 1-3 is open to interpretation and thus the events in this chapter may be interpreted in different ways. This is not something new by the way. St. Augustine himself struggled with the days of Genesis 1 and the many interpretations.

    Regarding the solid eye witness accounts of the life and events of Jesus, the church is even more certain. Every one of the events recorded in the Gospels including the miracles historically occurred and are to be believed by the faithful. The church has never been ambivalent about this. Rather it is heretics and the Jesus Seminar types who have sought to spiritualize the events and miracles of the life of Jesus in an attempt to strip them of their authenticity and historicity.

    Thus there is no contradiction. Nothing is going to change 10, 1000 and 10000 years later unless Jesus comes. The church cannot invent the gospel. Her only job description and mission is to witness to it and her Savior all over the world.

  • Vijay

    Benjamin, it is hard to believe that the Apostles mustered the courage to go all over the world and preach Jesus, especially after what happened to Jesus, if the resurrection did not really happen. It is even harder to believe that these devout Jewish men would be willing to accept Jesus as a god man (would have sounded pagan to them), as Messiah ( a crucified Christ whom the Romans had defeated) and be able to convert many Jews, including Jewish leaders such as Nicodemus if the resurrection had not happened! It is hard to imagine the conversion of Saul of Tarsus or that of Cornelius. Many of these groups would not even tolerate each other ( the Gentiles were considered dogs by the Jews of the day), let alone call each other brothers and sisters and come up with a single, fictitious conspiracy regarding the resurrection of Jesus. I’d much sooner believe Republican Christians hailing Obama as America’s Savior. The fact that everyone of the Apostles except John were martyred for what They KNOW to be a lie is incomprehensible. The other alternatives don’t make sense: they all had a mystical experience? Group hallucinations? Cultism? Again you are not talking about a sheltered cult in Oklahoma, but radical Jewish folk who saw their Messiah crucified (hopes dashed?) and were familiar with the every day violence and brutality on the streets of Jerusalem. It was no laughing matter to be slaughtered by the Romans or much worse, sin against God, by hailing a man as the Son of God! If the crucifixion of Jesus did not convince them that The punishment for blasphemy was severe and would be met by God’s judgment and disfavor, only the Resurrection would give the Apostles, their followers and men like Paul to be convicted that Jesus was truly the Messiah, the Son of God and therefore the fulfillment of the prophecies, thus meeting God’s favor. Like Paul himself insists: if only in this life we have faith in Christ, we are give pitied among all people. If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. I passed on to you what I received of utmost importance, on the third day Christ was raised according to the Scriptures. Last of all, He appeared to me….(1 Corinthians 15)

  • Scratchy

    One that that mystifies even the most ardent atheist: How did Christian beliefs spread so far, and gain acceptance in so many widespread places (Judea, Canaan, Egypt, Nubia, India, Rome, Spain) in only 20 years after Jesus’ death. WIth no force of arms. No bribery. No trickery of magics. Stories of someone who died as was raised up to Heaven, spreading so far and so fast, with no profit for the believer, no threat to acquiesce to, no force to make you believe, no knife at your throat. No profit, no gain. Yet people far and wide came to believe in the Lord and the stories of Jesus, and what it meant to live as families, caring, no murder, no infanticide. Reject what they knew as regular, knew to be ‘true’, rich and poor, indifferent and in charge, conquerer and conquered. To follow a Messiah who never lead an army, never overthrew the oppressor, never stood like a wizard. I’ve never met an atheist or agnostic who can explain why the teachings of Jesus spread and were accepted so far and wide, with no impetus beyond the truthfulness of Jesus’ life and resurrection and teaching.

    • Guest

      It was more than just the truth of Jesus being preached by eyewitnesses. Because it makes no sense that people would have believed the resurrection story – they would have liked the message but figured the messengers were crackpots. It was The Holy Spirit working through the apostles, preaching to those who were willing to open their hearts to the Truth that brought about the conversions.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodandtruth Coleman Glenn

    Excellent article. A minor point: Bart Ehrman is popular when he questions the reliability of the extant NT text, but I suspect a lot of his fans abandoned him when he published “Did Jesus Exist?”, since his answer is emphatically, “Yes!”

  • Mark G.

    “but I take it that they think the authors of the New Testament dug through the Old Testament for random verses and then invented incidents in the life of Jesus in order make him fit the Old Testament prophecies.”

    Um… And they did this why??? These people that argue this completely forget about the human element in this story. These people not only were demonized and ostracized by their people, but were criminalized, imprisoned and executed by the Roman authorities. The eggheads that argue this type of thing to deny the truth of the Gospel, forget that the authors gave everything, including their lives to proclaim this Good News.

    • Claude

      The authors of the Gospels were anonymous.

      • Mark Shea

        Only if you pay not attention to the tradition of the Church. Has it never occurred to you to wonder why, say, Luke’s gospel is attributed to a figure of otherwise no importance whatsoever in the circle of early disciples? If I was going to fiction up a gospel anonymously and put it in the mouth of somebody, I’d make it a gospel according to Peter or Paul, not according to some minor nobody mentioned in passing in one of Paul’s letters.

        • Claude

          Yes, I’ve wondered. My comment was in response to the assertion that “the authors gave everything, including their lives, to proclaim the Good News.” That could be true, but in fact we don’t know who the authors were, or what happened to them. Scholars (“the eggheads”) strongly dispute that the author of Luke-Acts is the same Luke as Paul’s companion.

          “but I take it that [scholars] think the authors of the New Testament dug through the Old Testament for random verses and then invented incidents in the life of Jesus in order make him fit the Old Testament prophecies.”

          The authors obviously did draw heavily on the Jewish scriptures to fashion their portraits of Jesus. Where scholars disagree is the extent to which the Gospels are “midrash.” Robert Price and Fr. Brodie are at the extreme end in thinking the Gospels are fiction derived from the OT. At the other end are Evangelical scholars like William Lane Craig who believe every line is true. There’s a lot of painstaking theorizing in between.

          • Mark Shea

            Some scholars dispute Lukan authorship. But there is no particularly good reason to do so. Again, why would the tradition of the Church unanimously attribute the gospel to this otherwise obscure and unimportant figure? I think the obvious and reasonable answer is, “Because he wrote it.” Likewise, the reasonable account of the traditions surrounding the authorship of he other gospels is that the authorship attributed to them is due to the fact that they wrote their gospels. Of *course* the gospels draw heavily on the OT in framing their understanding of Jesus. That’s because Jesus himself tells them that he is the fulfilment of the law and the prophets and his mind is steeped in OT paradigms, thoughts and imagery. This is why the whole “pagan Christ” thing is such a losing proposition. Both the authors and subject of the NT see themselves through overwhelmingly Jewish and OT glasses. Paganism, on the rare occasion it is mentioned, is entirely incidental to their thought. Their approach is very much, “Hey! Even the stupid pagans get it right now and then.” It is, for us postmoderns, a surprisingly insular and monocultural approach to a revelation that is, paradoxically, intended for a universal audience.”

            When I speak, by the way, of the “authors” of the New Testament, I don’t mean merely the evangelists, but particularly the Twelve, who each of the Evangelists go out of their way to make clear are Authorities who stand behind what is being written. That’s why the synoptics all carefully list their names. The point, as Bauckham abundantly demonstrates in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, is that the apostolic tradition doesn’t just get initially proclaimed by the Twelve and then reworked into highly fictionalized accounts which the Evangelists then write down (after adding their own layers of fiction, since the apostles are now retired). Rather, it’s that the accounts being written down are done so in order to reflect what the Twelve have handed down. Sure there are difference of emphases for different communities (Matthew is addressing Jews, Mark is writing to Romans, Luke to a broad Gentile audience, John to the Church at Ephesus and Asia Minor). But the point is that they are giving us the testimony of eyewitnesses. It’s not photo-journalism. But neither is it myth or legend. It is written according to the canons of ancient historiography. And it is immensely theologically sophisticated and nothing like the crude cartoon that many moderns take it for. Here’s just a taste of what I mean by that: http://www.mark-shea.com/deviltalk.html

  • Bro AJK
  • Mike

    Atheists simply don’t WANT it to be true and so pile on. We on the other hand do WANT it to be true and so search and look and analyze and think about it and believe it.

    Not even God himself in the flesh will persuade someone who simply doesn’t want it to be true.


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