Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Was the resurrection story legend?

This is the fifth in a series of posts dealing with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In their desire to cast doubt on eyewitness testimony to the resurrection of Jesus, one of the things that anti-theists run up against are details in the account that simply wouldn’t be there if the accounts were invented, made-up, or flat out lies.

If you can find anywhere in history where a legend has developed in only one month, in the presence of witnesses who were still living in the exact location of the event itself, then maybe an atheist could do something with their attempt to discredit this account of Jesus’ life. I would state categorically that not only hasn’t it EVER happened anywhere in the world but it did not happen in the case of Jesus either.

Something that critics seem to forget is that the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life as well as Acts of the Apostles and the other letters that are included in the New Testament weren’t written FOR inclusion into the Bible. What are now part of the Bible were once independent documents circulating throughout the Christian and non Christian community. These guys weren’t journalists working for something like, “Bible Magazine.” The documents that were compiled into what we know today as the New Testament were separate ancient documents, written by people who were interested in the life of Jesus. Some had been followers of or students of Jesus. Others, like Dr. Luke were historians. These people had no idea that what they’d written would one day become part of the biggest and most important movement in history. They were not interested in creating a legend. What's the proof?

First of all, the early Church was spreading a Creed that proclaimed Jesus’ resurrection within a month of Jesus’ death.

Second - Everyone one concerned knew where Jesus was buried. If the tomb was not empty it would have been pointed out to everyone pronto and the Christian movement would have ended right then and there.

Third - Mark’s account was probably written within two years of Jesus’ death and there is good evidence that he got much of his information from someone else which would have put that information even earlier. Remember from an earlier post, when it comes to accuracy, early is good. These accounts were written within months when a decent legend takes decades or several decades to develop.

Fourth - There is nothing extra in Mark’s account. It contains just the facts - no embellishments of any kind.

Fifth - The use of women as witness testimony would have never made it into a legend. The use of Joseph of Arimathea would have never made it into a legend. The story of the guards falling asleep would have never made it into a legend.

Sixth - Nobody, not even enemies of the Church past or present claim that the tomb wasn’t empty.

Finally, here is what legend sounds like. It’s from the Gospel of Peter which was written hundreds of years after the resurrection of Jesus. In this Gospel Jesus is described as triumphantly emerging from the tomb as a gigantic figure whose head reached up into the clouds. He was supported by giant angels and followed by a “talking cross.” This emergence was sounded by a voice from heaven and witnessed by the Roman guard, the Jewish leaders and a multitude of spectators.

That is the look of a legend!

Sceptics would have you believe that the Gospel accounts were written by New York Times best selling authors who wrote a fiction so refined and so diabolical that billions of people have been duped.

Reality is, the writers were not refined or gifted authors. They would have never thought of some of the things that I’m describing in this series of posts if they hadn’t taken place.

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