Argument Against the Resurrection of Jesus – Part 10

A key claim made by Christian apologists who defend the resurrection goes like this:

(JAW) Jesus of Nazareth was alive and walking around unassisted on the first Easter Sunday.

We are considering the implications of the following supposition:

4. (JAW) is false.

On this supposition, there are three logical possibilities:

A. Jesus was not alive on the first Easter Sunday.
B. Jesus was alive on the first Easter Sunday but did not walk at all that day.
C. Jesus was alive on the first Easter Sunday but was walking only with assistance from others.


In Part 8 of this series, I argued that (C) supports a skeptical view of the resurrection. In Part 9, I argued that (B) also supports a skeptical view of the resurrection.

Now lets consider supposition (A). The most obvious way that (A) would be true, would be for Jesus to have been dead on the first Easter Sunday. Since (JAW) implies that Jesus was alive for at least a portion of the first Easter Sunday, Jesus being dead for only a portion of Sunday would not contradict (JAW). In order for Jesus being dead to contradict (JAW), he must be dead for all of Easter Sunday. This obviously seriously damages the case for the resurrection, and provides significant support for a skeptical view of the resurrection.

One could make the alternative chronological proposal that the resurrection did not take place until Monday or Tuesday following the crucifixion on Friday. That way, Jesus would be dead all day on the first Easter, but he could still rise from the dead on a later day. This would allow for (A) to be correct and for it also to be the case that Jesus rose from the dead.

But as with previously discussed chronology changes, this move would undermine the historical reliabilty of the details of the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion, burial, and initial post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus. The disciples would not make such a mistake about the day of the week that Jesus rose from the dead, so either the Gospel accounts don’t have a basis in testimony of Jesus’s disciples, or else whatever transmission processes took place between their testimony and the composition of the Gospels significantly distorted the details of their testimony.

This alternative chronolgy thus requires one to give up on the historical reliability of the details of the Gospel accounts, and that would seriously damage the case for the resurrection and would provide support for a skeptical viewpoint, making skepticism about the resurrection more reasonable and more probable than belief in the resurrection.

One could also accept supposition (A) and yet avoid the implication that Jesus was dead on the first Easter by proposing a radical alternative chronology. If Jesus was not born until sometime after the first Easter Sunday (i.e. sometime after Passover in 30 CE), then Jesus would not have been dead on the first Easter Sunday, but he also would not have been alive, because he wasn’t yet born. Jesus could then grow up, have a ministry, be crucified, and rise from the dead, sometime around 60 CE.

However, this radical alternative chronology has even greater skeptical implications than the more minor chronological changes previously considered. Changing the day of week or the particular week of the crucifixion would, as I have argued, require that one sacrifice the historical reliability of the details about those events in the Gospels. But making the radical chronological change of moving Jesus’ birth to after the first Easter Sunday (in about 30 CE), would require tossing out almost all of the historicity of the Gospel accounts. Pilate, for example, would not have been in power in Jerusalem in the year 60 CE. So, the Roman trial recorded in all four Gospels would be fundamentally a work of fiction. Such a radical alternative chronology would completely undermine the historical reliability of the Gospels, and remove all hope of constructing a good case for the resurrection of Jesus. So, this way of trying to escape the skeptical implications of (A) fails.

Thus, supposition (A) supports a skeptical view of the resurrection, and makes such a view more reasonable and more probable than the view that Jesus rose from the dead.

No matter how you slice the pie, if we suppose (4) to be true, then a skeptical view of the resurrection is more reasonable and more probable than the Christian view. But this should be no great surprise, because (JAW) is a key claim made by Christian apologists who defend the resurrection of Jesus. So, it is reasonable to expect that the supposition that this key claim is false would significantly damage the case for the resurrection and provide significant support for a skeptical view of the alleged resurrection of Jesus. I have merely shown, in some detail, that this reasonable expectation is in fact correct.

I can see the rock rolling and bouncing on its way down the hill now.


INDEX of Argument Against the Resurrection of Jesus posts:

About Bradley Bowen
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12132821431322748921 LadyAtheist

    Elvis was also witnessed to be walking around after his supposed "death" and yet Christians do not worship him.

    I propose an alternative to your list: The gospels are accurate but the "witnesses" were in error, either honestly or deceptively.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    LadyAtheist said…

    I propose an alternative to your list: The gospels are accurate but the "witnesses" were in error, either honestly or deceptively.
    =================
    Response:

    Could you say a bit more about this alternative?

    Is the proposed alternative that the basic events of crucifixion, burial, and post-crucifixion appearances reported in the Gospels took place, but that the witnesses incorrectly interpreted these events as a 'resurrection' when something else actually took place?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16901780479265480819 seedster

    It seems to me that what is being communicated is that by simply positing supposition 4, the argument for a resurrected Lord is discredited. This seems illogical to me. If it is the attempt of a person to enter into an argument, and disprove it on its own grounds, it is a futile one. First, to consider that the historical reliability of the details of the Gospel accounts to be true, yet also to try to subvert them by saying that the written accounts of those events were falsified just seem cluttered with fallacy. How, is it conspicuously logical to deny the truth of the Gospel account yet also to verify the historical reliability of the Gospels? Perhaps I’m just not seeing clearly here, but wouldn’t you either have to completely discredit the Gospels altogether? If what we are trying to do is to establish the Gospels, yet to deny their truth claims, aren’t we shooting ourselves in the foot? Would the correct stance not to be one that says either accept what the Gospels say is true about Jesus Christ, along with their historical reliability, or throw them out altogether and consider them boondoggle? I’m just saying that the argument seems to be fairly inconsistent and weak. What do you think?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    If A is true then the ADT is not true. Since the Gospel accounts and historical records agree that Jesus was crucified we know that Jesus was subjected to a life threatening situation. This means that Jesus would have to survive scourging, crucifixion and very likely a spear thrust to the side that pierced his heart. We know that Suetonius, Josephus, Cicero and Livy all documented cases where people died during or shortly after scourging, and that scourging of non-Roman citizens was common before crucifixions. We also know that the Romans executed thousands of people via crucifixion, and so were very good at it. This means that Jesus would have to survive two life threatening events.

    Jesus was also very likely received a spear thrust to the side. John 19:32-34 says, “So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” This accords with what the South African Medical Journal wrote in "The history and pathology of crucifixion." They wrote, "The attending Roman guards could only leave the site after the victim had died, and were known to precipitate death by means of deliberate fracturing of the tibia and/or fibula, spear stab wounds into the heart, sharp blows to the front of the chest, or a smoking fire built at the foot of the cross to asphyxiate the victim." So, it seems likely that Jesus would have to survive a spear thrust to the side as well.

    Even if Jesus was somehow alive after sustaining a massive amount of trauma, he would have to survive three days in critical or serious condition in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb without the medical care he would desperately needed. Even if someone made it past the Roman guards and rescued Jesus he would have to go sometime without medical care and the care who would have eventually received would be very primitive by today’s standards.

    Most NT scholars agree that Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Even the agnostic scholar Bart Ehrman wrote, “The earliest accounts we have are unanimous in saying that Jesus was in fact buried by his fellow, Joseph of Arimathea, and so it’s relatively reliable that’s what happened.” This means that since the highly experienced and disciplined soldiers that crucified really believed that he was dead. 1 Peter 1:3, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 and the Gospel accounts all indicate that Jesus followers also believed that Jesus died on the cross. So, everyone around Jesus believed that he really died on the cross. It also means that if Jesus’ body never made it out of the tomb then it would be obvious to everyone involved that Jesus was dead and not resurrected.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Roman historians also validate the Biblical accounts. Tacitus wrote:

    Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.

    Tacitus confirms that Jesus was executed by Pontius Pilate.

    The Gospel accounts also accord with what Josephus’ history He wrote, “At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die.” Again, it is confirmed that Jesus was crucified by Pilate.

    So, taken all together there is a lot of evidence that suggests that Jesus died after being scourged, crucified and speared. This is why physician C. Truman Davis writes, “Apparently, to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. John 19:34 states, ‘And immediately there came out blood and water.’ Thus there was an escape of watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart and the blood of the interior of the heart. This is rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that Jesus died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.”

    This is why I think that the ADT is probably not true. Jesus would have to have to survive an extraordinary amount of trauma and three events that could likely kill him. However, Jesus’ empty tomb and post mortem appearances greatly lower the chances that A is true. All four Gospel accounts, Acts 1, Acts 13:28-32, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 and 1 Peter 1:3-4 all claim that Jesus rose from the dead.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    As William Lane Craig likes to point out, it is significant that the Gospel accounts mention that Jesus’ tomb was found empty by two women, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, because the testimony of women was not highly regarded in Jewish culture. Women’s testimony was not even accepted in legal proceedings. If the Gospel accounts were made up then it doesn’t make sense to have women be the first people to see the empty tomb. It would have made much more sense to have men be the first to see the empty tomb if the Gospels were faked. Agnostic NT scholar Bart Ehrman believes that there is solid evidence that women found Jesus’ tomb empty. He writes, “We also have solid traditions that indicate that women found this [Jesus’ tomb] empty three days later.

    After Jesus’ tomb was discovered empty hundreds of people claimed to have witnessed him walking around at different times. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:5 says that Peter witnessed the resurrection of Jesus and then in 1 Peter 1:3-4 Peter claims that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Even the skeptical NT critic Gert Lüdemann say, "It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’s death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ."

    Paul also claims that hundreds witnessed Jesus walking around. Paul would have had a chance to talk to many if not all of these brothers during his wide ranging travels. It would be incredibly unlikely that hundreds of followers of Jesus could simultaneously hallucinate and mistakenly think that they are seeing his resurrected body.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    In 1 Corinthians 15:7 Paul says that James the bother of Jesus witnessed Jesus walking around after his death. As the brother of Jesus James would have a great reason to be skeptical about the extraordinary claims surrounding his brother. While the two were growing up James would have likely seen Jesus as an ordinary older brother. Yet James says in the opening of his epistle, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ (James 1:1).” James was so sure that Jesus was the resurrected Christ that he was will die by stoning for continuing to proclaim the Gospel. In Antiquities of the Jews Josephus writes, “The brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" met his death after the death of the procurator Porcius Festus, yet before Lucceius Albinus took office — which has thus been dated to 62. The High Priest Ananus ben Ananus took advantage of this lack of imperial oversight to assemble a Sanhedrin who condemned James "on the charge of breaking the law."

    The Biblical accounts also correspond to historical records of Tacitus. He wrote, “Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea.” It makes sense that Jesus’ followers would momentarily give up the movement after Jesus was crucified, and then pick it up again after the post mortem appearances. This is what we see in the Gospels; the followers of Jesus are disappointed after the crucifixion and then are jubilant after the tomb is discovered empty and they see him walking around.

    The Biblical accounts also accords with the history of Josephus. He wrote, “At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.” According to Josephus Jesus disciples really believed that Jesus appeared to them after he was crucified by Pilate.

    Since multiple witnesses testify to seeing Jesus’ resurrection we can say that A is unlikely. When one is not bound by the presuppositions of naturalism then the simple explanation for the death and post mortem appearances of Jesus is the God raised Jesus from the dead. This hypothesis becomes all the more likely when the Kalam cosmological argument; the Leibnizian cosmological argument; the fine tuning argument; the moral argument; and ontological arguments for God’s existence are taken together. All these arguments raise the likelihood that God exists. If God exists then it is likely that God performed a physically impossible, yet logically possible act when he temporally suspended natural order to resurrect Jesus from the dead.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    I think that B and C are also not true because there are problems with both possibilities and there is no evidence that shows that Jesus did not walk on Easter Sunday following his crucifixion or that he needed help to get around. A major problem with B and C is explaining how Jesus had survived the all the trauma of a scourging, crucifixion and likely spearing. He would have to survive a significant amount of time in serious or critical condition (assuming that he was somehow still alive after being taken down from the cross) without medical care while he was in the tomb. Even if he did receive medical care after his crucifixion, medical care at that time would have been so primitive that it probably wouldn’t have be able to save someone.
    Another problem with B and C is that one must explain how Jesus could have escaped from his sealed and guarded tomb if he was not capable of walking. If Jesus was not capable of walking then I think we can say with 100% certainty that he was not capable of escaping the tomb on his own. It would be a feat that is nearly impossible for a strong, healthy man as there are no hand holds on the stone and there is no way to push the stone from the left or right from inside the tomb. For a man in serious or critical condition, that was not capable of walking, this would be impossible.
    A hypothesis could be given that Jesus’ followers bribed the Roman guards; rolled the stone; and carried Jesus out, but this hypothesis is ad hoc and implausible. First of all, it must be assumed that Jesus survived scourging, crucifixion and having his heart lanced which is quite unlikely. Secondly, it must be assumed that Jesus’ followers would be willing to rescue Jesus’ body. This seems implausible because the Jewish conception of a Messiah was of a military conqueror not someone who would get crucified, so it seems more likely that Jesus’ followers would have just given up on him. Thirdly, it must be assumed that the guards would be willing to risk possible capital punishment in order to take a bribe. This explanation is much more ad hoc and implausible then God resurrecting Jesus.
    There is also no Biblical or historical evidence that shows that Jesus couldn’t walk on Easter Sunday or that he needed help getting around. Matthew 28 says that Jesus was not only walking around but capable of going up a small mountain. Mark 16 says that Jesus walked away from his tomb and then was seen at various places. Luke 24 reports that Jesus was walking alongside the disciples. John 20 reports that Jesus appeared to the disciples and was able to stand.
    In conclusion I think it is unlikely that either A, B or C is true. I think the best explanation for the empty tomb and post mortem appearance of Jesus following his crucifixion is that God performed a physically impossible, yet logically possible event when he raised Jesus from the dead. All other explanations are implausible and ad hoc.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith Rozumalski said…

    If A is true then the ADT is not true.
    ============
    Response:

    I'm not trying to prove that ADT is true.

    I'm only trying to show that IF A were true, THEN belief in the resurrection of Jesus would be less probable and less reasonable than rejection of the belief in the resurrection of Jesus.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith Rozumalski said…

    Since multiple witnesses testify to seeing Jesus’ resurrection we can say that A is unlikely.

    [and also]

    I think that B and C are also not true because there are problems with both possibilities
    =============
    Response:

    Keith, I'm not sure you understand what I'm doing here.

    I'm not arguing that A is true. I'm not arguing that B is true. I'm not arguing that C is true.

    I'm propsing a dilemma, and exploring the implications of both lemmas.

    The first lemma is the denial or negation of (JAW), and the second lemma is the assertion or acceptance of (JAW).

    If one denies (JAW), then one must accept that either Jesus is a legend, or else (A) or (B) or (C) is the case.

    Parts 8,9, and 10 are my exploration of the implications of the denial of (JAW).

    In future posts I will explore the implications of the acceptance of (JAW).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    seedster said…

    It seems to me that what is being communicated is that by simply positing supposition 4, the argument for a resurrected Lord is discredited. This seems illogical to me.
    ========
    Response:

    See my above response to Keith.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Bradley Bowen said: I'm not arguing that A is true. I'm not arguing that B is true. I'm not arguing that C is true.

    I'm propsing a dilemma, and exploring the implications of both lemmas.

    The first lemma is the denial or negation of (JAW), and the second lemma is the assertion or acceptance of (JAW).

    If one denies (JAW), then one must accept that either Jesus is a legend, or else (A) or (B) or (C) is the case.

    Parts 8,9, and 10 are my exploration of the implications of the denial of (JAW).

    In future posts I will explore the implications of the acceptance of (JAW).

    R: OK, since Jesus isn’t a legend and A, B and C have been refuted it is false that JAW is false. Since Jesus almost certainly died on the cross it seems like we are left with the Christian claim that God resurrected Jesus or the traditional arguments of Hume that witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection should be doubted.

    I’ll be interested to see your next posts.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith said…

    OK, since Jesus isn’t a legend and A, B and C have been refuted it is false that JAW is false. Since Jesus almost certainly died on the cross it seems like we are left with the Christian claim that God resurrected Jesus or the traditional arguments of Hume that witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection should be doubted.
    ===========
    Response:

    It is not certain that Jesus was an historical person. It is not certain that Jesus died on the cross. It is not certain that Jesus was walking around unassisted on the first Easter Sunday. None of this is certain.

    At most you can argue that it is very probable that Jesus was an historical person, that Jesus died on the cross, and that Jesus was alive and walking around on the first Easter Sunday.

    In my view, there is a significant chance that there was no historical Jesus, even though the evidence is in favor of there being an historical Jesus.

    In my view, there is a significant chance that there was an historical Jesus who was not crucified.

    In my view, there is a significant chance that there was an historical Jesus who was crucified, but who was still alive when removed from the cross.

    If the probability that Jesus was historical is .9, and the probability that Jesus was crucified, given that he was historical was .9, and if the probability that Jesus was dead when removed from the cross, given that he was crucified was .9, then the probability that Jesus was historical, crucified, and dead when removed from the cross would be .9 x .9 x .9 = .81 x .9 = .729 or .73

    Given these probability assumptions there would be a probability of about .3 that either Jesus was not historical, was not crucified, or was crucified but still alive when removed from the cross.

    If you bump up the probability of Jesus being historical to .95, and being crucified, given that he was historical to .95, and being dead when removed from the cross, given that he was crucified to .95, then the probability that Jesus was historical, crucified, and dead when removed from the cross will be .95 x .95 x .95 = .857 or .86

    That would still mean that there was a probability of over .1 that Jesus either was not historical, or not crucified, or not dead when removed from the cross.

    Given the poor quality of the evidence that we have about Jesus, there is nothing that is certain about him, not even that he existed. We have only probabilities, no certainties.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    More on the uncertainty of claims about Jesus…

    Some important questions to answer on this subject:

    1. Which is more certain/reliable?

    a. eyewitness testimony about Jesus
    b. second-hand hearsay about Jesus
    c. third-hand hearsay about Jesus
    d. written accounts based on various oral and written traditions of unknown origins

    2. Whic is more certain/reliable?

    a. historical accounts of Jesus composed less than one year after the alleged events
    b. historical accounts of Jesus composed one decade after the alleged events
    c. historical accounts of Jesus composed two decades after the alleged events
    d. historical accounts of Jesus composed three decades after the alleged events
    e. historical accounts of Jesus composed four decades after the alleged events (e.g. Mark)
    f. historical accounts composed five decades after the alleged events (e.g. Luke & Matthew)
    g. historical accounts composed six decades after the alleged events (e.g. John)

    3. Which is more certain/reliable?

    a. skeptical non-christian accounts of an alleged miracle by Jesus
    b. non-skeptical non-christian accounts of an alleged miracle by Jesus
    c. non-skeptical christian accounts of an alleged miracle by Jesus
    d. non-skeptical christian accounts by a believer devoted to spreading the Christian faith of an alleged miracle by Jesus (e.g. the Gospel accounts)

    4. Which is more certain/realiable?

    a. accounts of Jesus' ministry written by a person of Jewish heritage in Palesine in the main language that Jesus spoke.
    b. accounts of Jesus' ministry written in Palestine by a person of Jewish heritage in a language other than the main language Jesus spoke (e.g. Greek)
    c. accounts of Jesus' ministry written outside of Palestine by a person of Jewish heritage in the main language Jesus spoke.
    d. accounts of Jesus' ministry written outside of Palestine by a person NOT of Jewish heritage in the main language Jesus spoke.
    e. accounts of Jesus' ministry written outside of Palestine by a person NOT of Jewish heritage in a language other than the main language Jesus spoke (e.g. Greek).

    If the Gospels were eyewitness testimony composed in Palestine in the main language Jesus spoke just one decade after the alleged events by skeptical non-Christians, then we would have prima facie strong evidence for the historicity of Jesus, and the crucifixion, and for (JAW).

    But, the Gospels are none of those things. They are based on oral and written traditions of unknown origins; they were composed between four and seven decades after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus, and they were written by authors who were non-skeptical Christian believers who were devoted to spreading the Christian faith.

    Therefore, because what we know about Jesus is based primarily on the Gospel accounts, no claims about Jesus, even his existence as an actual historical person, are certain. All claims about Jesus are uncertain.

    The best we can reasonably hope for is to discover a small number of claims about Jesus that are very likely, and a small number of claims that are more probable than not, and a larger number of claims that are less than probable but have a significant chance of being true.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    What if, instead of the highly dubious Gospel accounts of Jesus's crucifixion, we could go back in time and have a court hearing, with people who claimed to be EYEWITNESSES to the crucifixion of Jesus who would be sworn in and testify, where there would be the threat of imprisonment for perjury, and a skeptical lawyer could cross-examine these witnesses, and Jesus himself present in the court, so the alleged eyewitnesses could point to Jesus as testify that they saw 'that man over there' suffering and bleeding on the cross?

    What if a jury of unbiased people could be persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt, in such a hearing, that Jesus had in fact been crucified?

    Of course, the Gospels give us nothing anywhere close to the strength of this kind of evidence. This is a Christian apologetic FANTASY that we are imagining. No such powerful proof exists for the crucifixion or death of Jesus.

    But it is crucial to note, that even with such amazingly solid evidence, we still could not be certain of the crucifixion or death of Jesus. Not even with this apologetic fantasy.

    From 2000 to 2007, 501 people were executed in the USA. During that same period, an average of five people on death row were exonerated per year. Usually, to get a murder conviction where the death penalty is at stake, eyewitness testimony is necessary, and an unbiased jury must be persuaded by facts and testimony that the accused is guilty 'beyond a reasonable doubt'.

    Yet while an average of 63 people are executed each year, five people are determined to be innocent, although previously convicted and sentenced to death. That means that we determine that such convictions are wrong almost 10% of the time (.07). I sincerely doubt that all of the 501people executed from 2000-2007 were guilty of the crime of which they were convicted. So, the actual extent of false convictions in capital cases might well be 20%.

    Therefore, in view of the weak and dubious evidence that we have in the Gospels for the crucifixion of Jesus, which has nowhere near the credibility and reliability of testimony and evidence available in capital cases in the USA in the 21st century where a jury convicts the accused, it is not at all unreasonable to place the probability of the crucifixion of Jesus at about .8.

    In fact, that seems a bit generous, since that is likely the probabilty of the correctness of a conviction in a capital case in the USA in the 21st century.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11030669424412573308 Chris

    It might be redundant to your first list, but you could possibly add something about the state of biblical manuscripts, since the originals are long lost, the copies often differ from each other and show signs of theological tampering (which can produce huge changes in meaning), and introduce new story elements, such as 'the woman taken in adultery,' not found in •any• manuscripts before the late 4th/early 5th century BCE (though the story is apparently referred to in other earlier, non-biblical Christian texts).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Chris said…

    It might be redundant to your first list, but you could possibly add something about the state of biblical manuscripts, since the originals are long lost, the copies often differ from each other and show signs of theological tampering…
    ===============
    Response: good points.

    I think the manuscript evidence is very good for the NT, so the reconstructed text is fairly reliable. However, there is clear evidence of theological tampering as well as scribal errors, and for specific passages (such as 'the woman taken in adultery'), there are serious textual issues.

    So, there is both a general problem here that adds a small degree of uncertainty (the reconstructed text in a particular verse is probably correct at least 9 times out of 10), and more specific textual problems that cast serious doubt on the authenticity (and thus historical reliability) of specific passages.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    A question inspired by Chris's comments:

    5. Which is more certain/reliable?

    a. a manuscript account of Jesus's ministry hand-written by the author of that account

    b. a copy of a manuscript of the type (a) produced by a professional scribe
    c. a copy of a manuscript of type (a) produced by a literate person who was not a professional scribe
    d. a copy of a manuscript of type (a) produced by an illeterate person who could copy letters and words but was not a professional scribe

    e. a copy of a copy of type (b) produced by a professional scribe
    f. a copy of a copy of type (b) produced by literate person who was not a professional scribe
    g. a copy of a copy of type (b) produced by an illiterate person who could copy letters and words but was not a professional scribe

    h. a copy of a copy of type (c) produced by a professional scribe
    i. a copy of a copy of type (c) produced by a literate person who was not a professional scribe
    j. a copy of a copy of type (c) produced by an illiterate person who could copy letters and words but who was not a professional scribe

    k. a copy of a copy of type (d) produced by a professional scribe
    l. a copy of a copy of type (d) produced by a literate person who was not a professional scribe
    m. a copy of a copy of type (d) produced by an illiterate person who could copy letters and words but who was not a professional scribe.

    Then we get into a copy of a copy of a copy…

    We don't have any autographs of the Gospels. Given the dates of the manuscripts we have, we probably don't have any copies made directly from an autograph.

    At best we might have a copy of a copy of an autograph.

    I'm not familiar with the judgments of textual scholars on the quality of the copying work in the earliest manuscripts that we have for the Gospels, but I understand that the early Church did not rely exclusively on professional scribes, and the Gospels were not always considered to be holy scripture in the first and second centuries, so they may not have been copied with the same care as the Jewish scriptures.

    Some of the early copying of Gospel texts may have been done by literate non-professionals and some of the copying may have been done by illiterate persons who were able to copy letters and words but were not able to read.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Bradley Bowen said: It is not certain that Jesus was an historical person. It is not certain that Jesus died on the cross. It is not certain that Jesus was walking around unassisted on the first Easter Sunday. None of this is certain.

    At most you can argue that it is very probable that Jesus was an historical person, that Jesus died on the cross, and that Jesus was alive and walking around on the first Easter Sunday.

    R: There’s a chance that Socrates never existed. There’s a chance that the Apollo 11 spacecraft didn’t land on the moon on July 20, 1969. There’s a chance that Barack Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii. There’s a chance that US SEAL’s didn’t shoot and kill Osama Bin Laden, as there was no photographic evidence presented to the public. There’s even a chance that there is no world outside of my mind, and you any everyone I think I interact with are just lies fed to me by an evil genius. The only thing that I can be absolutely certain about is that since I am thinking I exist.

    Now, if you look at the statement of mine that you quoted, I qualified my statement by saying that, “Jesus ALMOST certainly died on the cross.” I didn’t say that there is absolute certainty. My confidence that Jesus died on the cross is based on historical evidence and Biblical passages. We know from historical sources that crucifixion was a common Roman punishment for dissidents in Jesus’ day. We know from historical sources that scourging was common before crucifixion, and that scourging alone could kill someone. We also know that Roman soldiers sometimes hurried deaths along by stabbing victims in the heart. So, not only do the Gospel passion accounts mention known historical people like Pilate, but the punishment of Jesus fits with known practices during that period. Since Josephus and the Gospel accounts say that Jesus was crucified I think we can say that Jesus was crucified, especially since Tacitus wrote that, “Christus suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius.” If Jesus was scourged, crucified and speared I just don’t see how he could survive such extreme trauma, especially since he wouldn’t have access to modern medical care if he was somehow was alive after being taken down from the cross. That’s three different events that could kill him. I also don’t think that it’s plausible that the Roman guards would botch Jesus’ execution, as they were very proficient and experienced. Also, I don’t think it is likely that the Roman guards would risk capital punishment to take a bribe. What good is money to a dead man?

    However, I did say I thought that we can say with 100% certainty that Jesus wouldn’t have been able to escape from his tomb on his own while he was in serious or critical condition and not able to walk. Can we agree that this physically impossible? I don’t see how it’s possible.

    Bradley Bowen said: In my view, there is a significant chance that there was no historical Jesus, even though the evidence is in favor of there being an historical Jesus.

    R: You, I and most NT scholars (including non-believers like Bart Ehrman) agree that we can be quite confident that Jesus was a real historical person because there is significant historical evidence thathe existed. It seems quite implausible that the entire New Testament, Josephus and Tacitus could be referring to a fictitious character. It also seems implausible that a worldwide movement could come from a character no more real than Sherlock Holmes—that Christians would be willing to die for proclaiming that a fictitious character died and rose again.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Your skeptical view of Jesus’ resurrection is extremely dependent on your claim that parts of the Gospel passion accounts are false. Have you considered William Lane Craig’s arguments in his paper entitled "Rediscovering the Historical Jesus: The Evidence for Jesus"? In it he gives five reasons why the Gospels should be reliable until proven wrong. Craig writes:

    1. There was insufficient time for legendary influences to expunge the historical facts. The interval of time between the events themselves and recording of them in the gospels is too short to have allowed the memory of what had or had not actually happened to be erased.

    2. The gospels are not analogous to folk tales or contemporary "urban legends." Tales like those of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill or contemporary urban legends like the "vanishing hitchhiker" rarely concern actual historical individuals and are thus not analogous to the gospel narratives.

    3. The Jewish transmission of sacred traditions was highly developed and reliable. In an oral culture like that of first century Palestine the ability to memorize and retain large tracts of oral tradition was a highly prized and highly developed skill. From the earliest age children in the home, elementary school, and the synagogue were taught to memorize faithfully sacred tradition. The disciples would have exercised similar care with the teachings of Jesus.

    4. There were significant restraints on the embellishment of traditions about Jesus, such as the presence of eyewitnesses and the apostles’ supervision. Since those who had seen and heard Jesus continued to live and the tradition about Jesus remained under the supervision of the apostles, these factors would act as a natural check on tendencies to elaborate the facts in a direction contrary to that preserved by those who had known Jesus.

    5. The Gospel writers have a proven track record of historical reliability.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11030669424412573308 Chris

    "5. The Gospel writers have a proven track record of historical reliability."

    Do they now? So, did the graves open and the saints wander around Jerusalem that day? Did the sky darken and an earthquake occur that day? Was Pontius Pilate's character really as it was described in the Gospels, that of a reluctant executioner? Are the two conflicting genealogies for Jesus both somehow correct? Was there a Roman census during that time? Was there a star seen in the East that we have historical records for – for example from the Chinese? Did Herod slaughter the innocents? Etc.

    (Hint: The answer to all these questions, to our best historical knowledge, is 'no.')

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Bradley Bowen said: But, the Gospels are none of those things. They are based on oral and written traditions of unknown origins; they were composed between four and seven decades after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus, and they were written by authors who were non-skeptical Christian believers who were devoted to spreading the Christian faith.

    R: On the contrary the commentator Rudolf Pesch dates Mark’s source material within seven years after Jesus’ crucifixion. There is evidence that Mark was Peter’s writer and that the source material is based on Peter’s eyewitness testimony. The ESV Study Bible introduction to The Gospel According to Mark says:

    Widespread evidence from the early church fathers affirms that Peter passed on reports of the words and deeds of Jesus to his attendant and writer, John Mark. Of particular significance in this regard are the brief statements by Papias (Bishop of Hierapolis; c. a.d. 120), preserved by Eusebius of Caesarea (260–340). Papias states that he received oral tradition from John the elder and apostle, and he passes on the following regarding Mark: (1) he was the writer for Peter; (2) he wrote down accurately as much as he could remember of Peter’s words, which the latter had adapted to the needs of the moment; (3) he was not an eyewitness of Jesus, nor a disciple [although, since Mark’s Gospel is the only once that includes the incident in Mark 14:52 about the young man running away naked it is possible that the young man be the writer] (4) it was his desire not to omit or misrepresent anything. Papias concluded that the Gospel of Mark gains its apostolic and reliable character from its Petrine origin (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 2.15.1–2; 3.39.14–16).

    Internal evidence also supports the Patristic testimony that Peter stands behind Mark’s Gospel. Mark’s account is especially vivid when recounting incidents involving Peter. It presents the weaknesses of Peter, as well as the disciples as a whole, and omits praiseworthy or noticeable references to Peter reported in Matthew and Luke. It has also been observed that there exists a certain structural proximity between Peter’s Caesarea speech (Acts 10:34–43) and the Gospel of Mark.

    Although Matthew was written around the late 50’s A.D. or early 60’s A.D. and John between the 70’s A.D. and 100 A.D. there is good evidence to show that both were apostles of Jesus. This is a significant time after Jesus’ death, but the essential details of Jesus’ life should have been remembered. Major events like the crucifixion, burial and then resurrection of your friend and teacher, with whom you spent numerous hours with, wouldn’t likely be forgotten for the duration of their lifetimes.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Bradley Bowen said: What if, instead of the highly dubious Gospel accounts of Jesus's crucifixion, we could go back in time and have a court hearing, with people who claimed to be EYEWITNESSES to the crucifixion of Jesus who would be sworn in and testify, where there would be the threat of imprisonment for perjury, and a skeptical lawyer could cross-examine these witnesses, and Jesus himself present in the court, so the alleged eyewitnesses could point to Jesus as testify that they saw 'that man over there' suffering and bleeding on the cross?

    R: Although, the trial scenario you are talking about will never happen a trial that could produce results as good or even better occurred—the persecution of the apostles. Peter claims to have witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion. In 1 Peter 5:1 Peter writes, “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ…” Later on Peter would be crucified for proclaiming the Gospel. I would say that the threat of being crucified is much, much worse than imprisonment for perjury, and yet Peter didn’t relent in his belief in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Peter’s belief in the Gospel was so strong that he was willing to die for it. It’s the ultimate test of Peter’s conviction because if he didn’t really believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus then he would have recanted it to try to save his life. As one of the early Apostles Peter would have definitely been able to correctly identify Jesus on the cross and on Easter Sunday, so I think we can rule out mistaken identity. I think we can say with strong confidence that Peter truly believed in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

    Peter wasn’t the only Apostle to die violently because of persecution; all of the Apostles, but John (who died in prison of natural causes) were executed. The early church faced a tremendous amount of pressure from the Roman Empire and from the Jewish religious establishment. The Romans found inventive and horrific ways to persecute the church. Tacitus wrote, “Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.” The early church should have given up once their leader was crucified, but the church persevered under extraordinary pressure. The only way to explain this is that they truly believed in the resurrection of Jesus.

    Bradley Bowen said: Yet while an average of 63 people are executed each year, five people are determined to be innocent, although previously convicted and sentenced to death. That means that we determine that such convictions are wrong almost 10% of the time (.07). I sincerely doubt that all of the 501people executed from 2000-2007 were guilty of the crime of which they were convicted. So, the actual extent of false convictions in capital cases might well be 20%.

    R: There are known problems with witness testimony particularly surrounding police lineups, especially when the officer running the lineup is biased. However, I don’t think this applies to the followers of Jesus because they knew him so well. The followers of Jesus, particularly the Apostles, spent numerous hours talking with him, so this not a situation where they are trying to pick someone out of a lineup that they don’t know or barely know. There is no biased officer coaxing the witness into selecting a suspect. No, this is just a follower of Jesus recognizing a friend.

    Due to the strong evidence for the crucifixion of Jesus I would put the probably at .95.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Chris said: "5. The Gospel writers have a proven track record of historical reliability."

    Do they now?

    R: The example that Craig gave was of Luke, the careful historian, being the author of Luke and Acts. Craig writes:

    Now who was this author we call Luke? He was clearly not an eyewitness to Jesus’s life. But we discover an important fact about him from the book of Acts. Beginning in the sixteenth chapter of Acts, when Paul reaches Troas in modern-day Turkey, the author suddenly starts using the first-person plural: "we set sail from Troas to Samothrace," "we remained in Philippi some days," "as we were going to the place of prayer," etc. The most obvious explanation is that the author had joined Paul on his evangelistic tour of the Mediterranean cities. In chapter 21 he accompanies Paul back to Palestine and finally to Jerusalem. What this means is that the author of Luke-Acts was in fact in first hand contact with the eyewitnesses of Jesus’s life and ministry in Jerusalem… Was the author reliable in getting the facts straight? The book of Acts enables us to answer that question decisively. The book of Acts overlaps significantly with secular history of the ancient world, and the historical accuracy of Acts is indisputable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Chris said: So, did the graves open and the saints wander around Jerusalem that day?

    R: Do you actually know whether they did or not? Could the claim that they didn’t just be based on the presuppositions of naturalism?

    Chris said: Did the sky darken and an earthquake occur that day?

    R: Actually there is some evidence that it may have happened. Gary Habermas wrote:

    In speaking of Jesus’ crucifixion and the darkness that covered the land during this event, Africanus found a reference in the writings of Thallus that dealt with this cosmic report. Africanus asserts:
    On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.

    Julius Africanus objected to Thallus’ rationalization concerning the darkness that fell on the land at the time of the crucifixion because an eclipse could not take place during the time of the full moon, as was the case during the Jewish Passover season. But Wells raises a fair question about this testimony. Africanus only implies that Thallus linked the darkness to Jesus' crucifixion, but we are not specifically told if Jesus is mentioned in Thallus' original history at all.

    Chris said: Was Pontius Pilate's character really as it was described in the Gospels, that of a reluctant executioner?

    R: I’m not sure how we would know if this is true or not.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Chris said: Are the two conflicting genealogies for Jesus both somehow correct?

    R: Commentators explain that Matthew traces the line of royal succession moving from David to Soloman while Luke traces Joseph’s physical descent moving from David to Nathan, and both lines converge at Joseph.

    Chris said: Was there a Roman census during that time?

    R: Commentators have said:
    According to Josephus, Quirinius was governor of Syria a.d. 6–7 and conducted a census in a.d. 6 (which Luke is aware of and mentions in Acts 5:37). But this cannot be the census Luke is referencing here, since it occurred after the death of Herod the Great in 4 b.c., and it is known that Jesus was born during Herod’s reign (cf. Matt. 2:1; Luke 1:5). Various plausible solutions have been proposed. Some interpreters believe that because “governor” (participle of Gk.hēgemoneuō) was a very general term for “ruler,” it may be that Quirinius was theadministrator of the census, but not the governor proper. Another solution is to translate the verse, “This was the registration before Quirinius was governor of Syria” (see ESVfootnote), which is grammatically possible (taking Gk. prōtos as “before” rather than “first”; the Greek construction is somewhat unusual on any reading). This would make sense because Luke would then be clarifying that this was before the well-known, troublesome census of a.d. 6 (Acts 5:37). (One additional proposal is that Quirinius was governor for two separate terms, though this lacks confirming historical evidence.) Though the year cannot be determined with complete certainty, there are several reasonable possibilities which correspond well to Luke’s carefully researched investigation (Luke 1:3–4) and to the historical and geographical accuracy evidenced throughout Luke and Acts. The most reasonable date is late in the year of 6 b.c. or early 5. See further The Date of Jesus’ Crucifixion.

    Chris said: Was there a star seen in the East that we have historical records for – for example from the Chinese?

    R: Commentators have said, “Bethlehem was only 6 miles (9.7 km) from Jerusalem, almost directly south, so this implies very specific, localized guidance from the traveling star, which came to rest over the young Jesus’ specific location… The movement of the star (Matt. 2:9) suggests that it is not a natural phenomenon (e.g., a comet, supernova, or conjunction of planets) but was supernatural, perhaps a guiding angel that appeared as a star, or perhaps some specially created heavenly phenomenon that had the brightness of a star.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11030669424412573308 Chris

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Response to Keith Rozumalski…

    I see you have made several comments on this post recently. Thank you for your continued interest and thoughts.

    Over the next couple of weeks I will try to respond (here) to a number of your points.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith said…

    This accords with what the South African Medical Journal wrote in "The history and pathology of crucifixion." They wrote, "The attending Roman guards could only leave the site after the victim had died, and were known to precipitate death by means of deliberate fracturing of the tibia and/or fibula, spear stab wounds into the heart, sharp blows to the front of the chest, or a smoking fire built at the foot of the cross to asphyxiate the victim." So, it seems likely that Jesus would have to survive a spear thrust to the side as well.

    ===========
    Response:

    I don't think that the 'South African Medical Journal' is a reliable source for analysis of questions of ancient history, but even a Christian medical doctor might (once in a blue moon) get something right about ancient history.

    What is important here is not the statements and conclusions of a South African medical doctor about ancient history, a subject that he/she may be completely unqualied to write on, but the actual historical data that was used as the basis for the historical claims and conclusions (if any actual historical data was given).

    So, please provide specific references for the article that you cite. What was the year and volume of the 'South African Medical Journal' that this article appeared in?

    As a skeptic, I would be falling down on the job to simply accept the historical claims and conclusions of some unkonwn South African medical doctor. I don't give a hoot about his/her conclusions. Just give me the facts and data.

    All too often when I seek the actual historical data behind these sorts of historical claims, it turns out that the data is irrelevant, or open to other reasonable interpretations, or is of questionable authenticity, or is of dubious reliability, or the data simply does not exist.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    I found the issue of the South African Medical Journal with that article: Vol 93, No 12 (2003)

    History of Medicine: "The history and pathology of crucifixion"
    F P Retief, L Cilliers p.938-?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Bradley Bowen said: I found the issue of the South African Medical Journal with that article: Vol 93, No 12 (2003)

    History of Medicine: "The history and pathology of crucifixion"
    F P Retief, L Cilliers p.938-?

    R: Yes, That’s p. 938-41. The full article is a bit hard to find, but I was able to download the PDF from the University of Washington library.

    Bradley Bowen said: I don't think that the 'South African Medical Journal' is a reliable source for analysis of questions of ancient history, but even a Christian medical doctor might (once in a blue moon) get something right about ancient history.

    What is important here is not the statements and conclusions of a South African medical doctor about ancient history, a subject that he/she may be completely unqualied to write on, but the actual historical data that was used as the basis for the historical claims and conclusions (if any actual historical data was given).

    R: Actually, the team that wrote this seems academically legitimate. F P Rtief, MB ChB, DPhil, FRCP. L Cilliers, D Litt et Phill. I assume that Cilliers did the historical research while Rtief gave input on the medical information. The article says that they are part of the Department of English and Classical Culture, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    A quick glance at the article on crucifixion from the South African Medical Journal indicates that it suffers from the same sort of problems that I have seen over and over again in these sorts of articles.

    Consider the following paragraph:

    ========

    The cross
    In Persian times crucifixion was originally performed on trees or simple pole structures rather than a formal cross.12 The Romans still crucified on trees (infelix lignum) or post (crux simplex)from time to time, but now a variety of crosses came into regular use,viz. an X-shaped cross (crux decussata), but in the majority of cases the well-known Latin cross(✝) (crux immissa) or Tau cross(T) (crux commissa) were used. These crosses could be tall (crux sublimis), but were more commonly
    low (crux humilis), and consisted of an upright post (stipes) and crossbar (patibulum). The commonly used low cross was 1.8 – 2.4 m tall and the patibulum 1.5 – 1.8 m long and it weighed well over 130kg, with the patibulum alone weighing up to 57kg. The stipes was usually implanted ahead of the crucifixion event, and the patibulum attached after the victim had been nailed or tied to it. The inscription (titulus) was nailed to the stipes above the victim. Sometimes a wooden support for the buttocks (sedile, sedicula) was attached to the stipes, and rather rarely a footrest (suppedaneum).

    =======

    This paragraph asserts well over a dozen different historical claims about crucifixion, yet gives ZERO historical evidence in support of those claims. This is a fact-free paragraph.

    Only the first sentence of the paragraph has a footnote, and the footnote is NOT to historical data, but to another medical journal article on crucifixion.

    In terms of historical analysis, this paragraph is a hot steaming pile of CRAP, like most articles of this sort that I have previously read.

    Historians provide historical facts and data to support their claims. They do not just dictate the truth to us lowly non-historians.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Here is another quote from the article:

    "In Roman law a person condemned to death (including crucifixion) had to be scourged beforehand,with the exception of women, Roman senators or soldiers (but not in cases of desertion)."

    The Roman law is not quoted, and no specific source or reference is given for this alleged Roman law. The authors don't even provide a secondary source. We are just supposed to accept their pronouncement on this, with no historical facts or details given.

    The Roman Empire lasted more than just a few years. So, when was this Roman Law enacted? What exactly did the Roman law state? Do we have reliable ancient copies or sources for this Roman law? Do we have the original written Roman law, or a copy of it, or a copy of a copy? or do we just have a literary reference to this Roman law, which does not provide the actual words of the law?

    These are all significant historical questions concerning this alleged Roman law, but the authors of this article see no need to even touch upon such basic historical issues.

    Perhaps they are correct. I don't know. But I'm certainly not betting on it, given that they show such disregard for the need to provide historical facts and data to support historical claims and conclusions.

    Perhaps they just heard this in some lecture on the crucifixion. When no historical facts are given, we should not naively believe such historical claims.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith Rozumalski said…

    R: Yes, That’s p. 938-41. The full article is a bit hard to find, but I was able to download the PDF from the University of Washington library.

    ===========
    The University of Washington?
    Do you live near Seattle? I live in Kirkland, and sometimes go to the UW library to do research.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Another key passage from the SAMJ article on crucifixion:

    "Scourging was a particularly brutal procedure, performed with wooden staves or a short whip (flagellum, flagrum) with several leather thongs into which small balls or sharp sheep bone fragments were tied. The person was stripped naked, tied to an upright post and then flogged across the back, buttocks and legs by one or two soldiers (lictores). Primrose suggests that scourging was applied to the front of the body as well.[8] In Roman law there was no limit to the extent of flogging, but in Jewish law it was limited to 40 blows. The extent of the scourging therefore depended largely on the inclination of the lictores, was intended to weaken the victim significantly, and invariably resulted in deep wounding, severe pain and bleeding. Frequently the victim fainted during the procedure and sudden death was not uncommon.[12]"

    Again there are over one dozen historical claims made in this paragraph, and yet there is ZERO historical evidence given! The two footnotes do not refer to historical data or primary sources, they point to other journal articles, including another medical journal article.

    So, once again, this crucial paragraph filled with historical claims and conclusions about the nature, purpose, and details of ancient Roman scourging is a FACT-FREE paragraph. One more hot steaming pile of crap.

    I have seen this sort of writing about the crucifixion over and over again, and it is absolutely pathetic that so many alleged scholars write such drivel, and it is disgusting that this sort of crap gets published in any academic journal or book.

    Keith, let me give you a bit of advice, words of wisdom from William Lane Craig:

    “Far from being easy, historical apologetics, if done right, is every bit as difficult as philosophical apologetics. The only reason most people think historical apologetics to be easier is because they do it superficially…if we are to do a credible job in our apologetics, we need to do the hard thinking and the hard work required, or at least to rely on those who have.” (Reasonable Faith, p.253)

    I can see that you are serious about Christian apologetics, and that you have the potential to be a worthy opponent.

    However, the SAMJ article is, at least concerning the ancient Roman practice of scourging, a pile of steaming crap, and you ought to know better than to throw such garbage at me as if it were real scholarship. It ain’t, and it is obvious that it ain’t.

    You can do better than this, I’m sure. Please don’t waste any more of my time with such FACT-FREE pseudo scholarship. If you want to argue an historical point, be prepared to deliver actual historical facts and data.

    Because I’m confident that you are serious about Christian apologetics, and have the brains to do it right (unlike most people), I will not accept anything less from you. I’m setting the bar higher for you, so I will not tolerate any more historical claims from you unless you back them up with historical facts (i.e. primary historical documents or historical artifacts).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    One more thing…

    Craig advises that an apologist should "at least…rely on those who have" done the hard thinking and hard work required for historical apologetics.

    That would be good advice if there were such thinkers or scholars to lean on, but I have done a lot of reading of Christian apologetics, and I'm not aware of anyone that fits the bill.

    So, you are on your own, as far as I can see, if you want to do historical apologetics the right way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith Rozumalski said…

    Since the Gospel accounts and historical records agree that Jesus was crucified we know that Jesus was subjected to a life threatening situation. This means that Jesus would have to survive scourging, crucifixion and very likely a spear thrust to the side that pierced his heart.

    [and also said]

    This is why I think that the ADT is probably not true. Jesus would have to have to survive an extraordinary amount of trauma and three events that could likely kill him.
    =============

    Response:

    There is common ground between us here, so this is a good place to start.

    1. Was Jesus crucified?
    2. If so, for how long was Jesus suspended from the cross?
    3. How long did it usually take a person to die by crucifixion?
    3. Were Jesus' hands and feet nailed to the cross?
    4. How deadly was crucifixion without the use of nails?
    5. How deadly was crucifixion if the victims hands and feet were nailed to the cross?
    6. Was Jesus scourged just prior to being crucified?
    7. If so, how severe was the scourging Jesus received?
    8. Was Jesus stabbed in the chest with a spear while on the cross?
    9. If Jesus was stabbed in the chest with a spear while on the cross, did the spear point go deep?
    10. If Jesus was stabbed in the chest with a spear, did blood and water flow from the wound where Jesus was stabbed?
    11. If blood and water flowed from the spear wound, was Jesus stabbed in the heart?

    If Jesus was crucified, and if Jesus' hands and feet were nailed to the cross, and if Jesus was suspended from the cross for about 8 hours, and if Jesus was severely scourged prior to being crucified, and if Jesus was stabbed with a spear that penetrated deep into his chest and pierced his heart, then it is very likely, though not certain, that Jesus died either on the cross or within the next 24 hours.

    The claims that Keith make are clearly relevant to the claim that it is very probable that Jesus either died on the cross or died within 24 hours of being removed from the cross (i.e. Jesus died before sunset on Saturday of Passover week).

    Where we differ is on the probability of the various historical assumptions Keith makes about the existence and severity of the wounds/injuries of Jesus.

    I believe there is reasonable doubt about each of the three items Keith mentions, as well as about the severity of each of the three items. Furthermore, if we suppose that (JAW) is true, this provides a strong reason for rejecting Keith's proposed scenario.

    If Jesus was alive and walking around without assistance on the first Easter Sunday, this is powerful evidence against the claim that Jesus had been nailed to the cross, that Jesus had been severely scourged on Friday, and that Jesus' heart had been pierced with a spear on Friday.

    So, if there are already reasonable doubts about the occurance and severity of Jesus' injuries, and if we then make the further assumption that (JAW) is true, the scenario that Keith paints about the injuries of Jesus becomes very improbable.

    Given the truth of (JAW), it is much more likely that Jesus had NOT been severely injured on Friday, and that he either survived the crucifixion or died only temporarily (his heart stopped beating for only a matter of minutes, not hours) and then came back to life as a result of natural causes (i.e. spontaneous resuscitation).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith said…

    This means that Jesus would have to survive scourging, crucifixion and very likely a spear thrust to the side that pierced his heart.

    =========
    Response:

    Keith –

    What is the actual historical data that shows it is 'very likely' that there was 'a spear thrust to the side' of Jesus while he was on the cross, and that the spear 'pierced his heart'?

    Also, by 'very likely' do you mean
    a probability of .7 or .8 or .9 or higher? (I would normally take 'very likely' in this context to mean 'greater than or equal to .8 but less than 1.0'.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Bradley Bowen said: "Scourging was a particularly brutal procedure, performed with wooden staves or a short whip (flagellum, flagrum) with several leather thongs into which small balls or sharp sheep bone fragments were tied…

    Again there are over one dozen historical claims made in this paragraph, and yet there is ZERO historical evidence given!

    R: Ok, maybe the journal article is light on evidence, but there is historical evidence to show that scourging was used as part of the crucifixion process and that it was brutal. As the brutality of scourging the church historian Eusebius of Caesarea wrote in Ecclesiastical History Book IV chapter 15:

    After these words, before giving the account of Polycarp, they record the events which befell the rest of the martyrs, and describe the great firmness which they exhibited in the midst of their pains. For they say that the bystanders were struck with amazement when they saw them lacerated with scourges even to the innermost veins and arteries, so that the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view; and then laid upon sea-shells and certain pointed spits, and subjected to every species of punishment and of torture, and finally thrown as food to wild beasts.

    As to the Roman’s use of scourging and crucifixion, Josephus wrote in Jewish War Chapter 11:

    they [the Jewish prisoners taken by the Romans]were first whipped, and then tormented with all sorts of tortures, before they died, and were then crucified before the wall of the city. This miserable procedure made Titus greatly to pity them, while they caught every day five hundred Jews; nay, some days they caught more: yet it did not appear to be safe for him to let those that were taken by force go their way, and to set a guard over so many he saw would be to make such as great deal them useless to him. The main reason why he did not forbid that cruelty was this, that he hoped the Jews might perhaps yield at that sight, out of fear lest they might themselves afterwards be liable to the same cruel treatment. So the soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest, when their multitude was so great, that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Bradley Bowen said: The University of Washington?

    Do you live near Seattle? I live in Kirkland, and sometimes go to the UW library to do research.

    R: Yes, I do live in Seattle and am an alumnus of the UW. Yeah, I saw a while back on your profile that you live in Kirkland. It sure is a small world. I know that David Marshall lives nearby too. I found out after reading comments on Dangerous Idea that he and I both attended the John Lennox event at UPC this summer.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Bradley Bowen said: I believe there is reasonable doubt about each of the three items Keith mentions, as well as about the severity of each of the three items. Furthermore, if we suppose that (JAW) is true, this provides a strong reason for rejecting Keith's proposed scenario.

    If Jesus was alive and walking around without assistance on the first Easter Sunday, this is powerful evidence against the claim that Jesus had been nailed to the cross, that Jesus had been severely scourged on Friday, and that Jesus' heart had been pierced with a spear on Friday.

    R: That is assuming that naturalism is true; Jesus was a mortal; and God didn’t intervene after the death of Jesus. If naturalism is true then, sure, the chances that JAW is true if Jesus had been nailed to the cross, that Jesus had been severely scourged on Friday, and that Jesus' heart had been pierced with a spear on Friday is .1 (and that’s being generous). If naturalism is true and Jesus really was walking around on Easter Sunday then most likely he wasn’t scourged and crucified.

    Our difference in opinion arise because I’m arguing that naturalism is false and that God performed a physically impossible, yet logically possible suspension of natural order when he resurrected Jesus and healed him enough to get around. This is the best explanation for the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

    Bradley Bowen said: Given the truth of (JAW), it is much more likely that Jesus had NOT been severely injured on Friday, and that he either survived the crucifixion or died only temporarily (his heart stopped beating for only a matter of minutes, not hours) and then came back to life as a result of natural causes (i.e. spontaneous resuscitation).

    R: New Testament claims and historical information show that Jesus did receive an extreme amount of trauma.

    What evidence do you have that spontaneous resuscitation is physically possible? How can a heart stop for minutes and then restart without CPR or shock paddles. A friend who is a doctor said that even in a hospital setting the chances of resuscitating someone are not great.


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