CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

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" Resurrection" by Giotto

 
In his excellent inaugural post our newest contributor, Elliot Swattridge, tells us that Mark did mention the resurrection .I thought it might complement if I told us how he didn't make it up. At lest the empty tomb was already part of the Christian tradition when Mark wrote.
 
 
 
The crux of the Easter faith is the empty tomb. Atheists and sketics believe they have proved that Mark made up the empty tomb.Peter Kirby once defended the idea, claiming a huge number of scholars agreed with that. I'm not sure if he still holds to that or not. The paper is still up and the argument was made so I will  refute it. Peter Kirby once wrote:
Several schoalrs doubt the historicity of the empty tomb. I intend to set out the reasons for disbelieving the empty tomb story. I will argue that the empty tomb narrative is the invention of the author Mark. This conclusion will be supported by showing that all the reports of the empty tomb are dependent upon Mark, that there are signs of fictional creation in the empty tomb narrative, that the empty tomb story as told by Mark contains improbabilities, and that traditions of the burial and appearances support a reconstruction of the events that excludes the discovery of the empty tomb.[1]
 In response I am to focus just one aspect, the idea that the empty tomb is the invention of Mark. I will demonstrate that the empty tomb existed in Christian preaching before Mark was written.

 We know there was more than one version of Mark. The Version we have today is not the original version. There are at least three we know of by the end of the first century. The concept of the Ur Mark, a pre-Mark version of Mark that was latter corrected and verged into two versions, one used by Matthew and one by Luke. Neil points out that the study for an "UrMark" the Gospel behind Mark, is really very old, stretching back into the 19th century.[2] But Helmut Koster traces the actual textual criticism to show that there is clearly a Gospel behind the Gospel of Mark. This primary material is much older than the version of Mark as we know it, and there is good reason to believe that it is of great historical significance.

The Gospel of Mark as we know it, draws upon many sources. One such source already mentioned is the Passion Narrative which all the Canonical and the Gospel of Peter draw upon. But Koseter also shows that there was another whole version of Mark that was apparently not known to Matthew and Luke. Whether or not this is the same source as that of the passion narrative we cannot say. In addition to this other version, there are several other sources which can be seen in the Gospel. These may be sources used by the original or they may be those drawn upon by the redactor who put the work into the form in which we know it.

"External evidence for two different versions of Mark circulating at an early date can be derived only from the observation that Luke does not reproduce the section Mark 6:45-8:26. Luke 19: 19= Mark 8:27 follows directly upon Luke 9:17= Mark 6:44. Luke may have used a copy of Mark that had accidentally lost a few pages. However there are some special features which differentiate this particular from the rest of Mark's Gospel. It begins with Jesus going to Bethsaida (Mark 6:45) and ends with the healing of a blind man from Bethsaida (Mark 8:22). Thereafter Jesus goes to Cesaria Philippi and the town of Bethsaida never occurs again the Gospel. This section is also of a number of other doublets of Markan pericopes. 6:44-54 the walking on the water is a variant of the stilling of the tempest (Mark 4:35-41). 8:1-10 the feeding of the 4000 is a secondary elaboration of the feeding of the 5000 (Mark 6:30-44)...The cumulative evidence of these peculiarities may allow the conclusion that an earlier version of Mark, which was used by Luke did not yet contain the Besiada section (Mark 6:45-8:26) whereas Matthew knew the expanded version which must have come into existence very soon after the original composition of the original gospel."[3]


Koester doesn't' argue for a complete UrMarkus ..as a more permeative version of the Gospel, but this evidence does suggest different versions of the same Gospel. While we can't find an UrMarkus, we can see clearly that the redactor who first formed the Gospel used several sources. The passion narrative has been mentioned, moreover, a miracle story source that is compatible with John, two written documents of saying sources are also recognizable. These include a collection of parables and one of apocalyptic material. (p.287)

But does this mean that Mark [the primary redactor] is merely a "cut and paste" which destorts previous sources and collects rumors and legends with no historical value? Where the skeptic sees this aspect, Koester does not. What Koester sees is a faithful copyist who has collected materials known to be of value to the community, and forged them into a certain order for the purposes of edification to the community.
"Mark [the primary redactor] is primarily a faithful collector. In so far as he is also an author he has created an overriding general framework for the incorporation of traditional material but he has still left most of his material intact.His Gospel is therefore a most important witness for an early stage for the formative development of the traditions about Jesus. The world which these traditions describe rarely goes beyond Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem, which is not the world of the author [primary redactor] or the readers for whom the book was intended. Mark's information about Palestine and its people is fairly accurate whenever he leaves his sources intact. But from his redaction of the sources it is clear that the author is not a Jewish Chrstistian and that he does not live in Palestine."[4]

That would explain that frightened, reverenced, alarming rushed quality that one gets reading those passages. The mysterious men in white (angles?) and the lack of sightings. Not becuase there were none but perhaps becasue they didn't know which group to believe. If James was claiming to be the first to see him,[5] (scholarly consensus holds that this is a very early creed)[6] then the claim is made about the women there may have been confusion about which group had primacy. You have two groups of women, the women who stayed at the tomb and Mary Madeline who apparently left early to get John and Peter then came back after then and had one of the sightings.[7] That would explain the confusion about naming which women went to the tomb.[8] My argument is that v8 could well be the proper ending, but this is not proof that Mark made up the tomb, a better reason for the brevity of the chapter is the copy that ends there reflects the Ur Mark which did end there. The longer version may have started with one of the other two versions that are quoted in the synoptic.

The major arguments for Mark inventing the empty tomb, are the brevity of his ending, and it's lack of presence in other sources, both Gospels (except for those dependent upon Mark--Matt and Luke) and it's absence from Paul's work.[9]Paul's lack of mention I exlpain in a similar way to Mark's lack of attention to post resurrection sightings, which offer above (this is my own original argument): there were two different factions, or maybe even more than two, one of them associated with James as the first witness to risen Jesus, and the other being the communities that produced Mark, Matthew, and John. Paul spent time in the James community when he was in Jerusalem following the three years he spent in Asia after his stay in Damascus when he was first converted.

I'm not saying that these different communities disagreed about James and the women. I'm not saying the community that produced Matthew said "no James did not see him." Nor am I contending that James said "Mary didn't see him." But each community lauded the witness of it's members. So the community with Mary in it emphasized that Mary was in on the discovery of the empty tomb. while the James community focused upon James's experience of seeing his risen brother, presumably first. After all this was two decades before the Gospels began to be made known to people in written form. Without having a Bible to read it in, the James followers probalby just said "some women saw him too, I don't know who they were just women, but James saw him!" The community with the women in it probably said "Hey our women saw him, and btw James saw him too!"
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Helmutt Koester

The key question is, is there a literary tradition that is not dependent upon Mark that includes the empty tomb? Yes, there is one. It's not only independent of Mark but it existed before the Gospel of Mark was written.The Gospel of Peter was discovered in Egypt at Oxryranchus in the 19th century. It was probably written around 200 AD and contains some Gnostic elements, but is basically Orthodox. There are certain basic differences between Gospel of Peter (GPet) and the canonically, but mainly the two are in agreement.

Gpet follows the OT as a means of describing the passion narrative, rather than following Matthew. Jurgen Denker uses this observation to argue that GPet is independent and is based upon an independent source. In addition to Denker, Koester, Raymond Brown, and John Dominick Crossan also agree.[10] It is upon this basis that Crossan constructs his "cross Gospel" which he dates in the middle of the first century, meaning, an independent source upon which all the canonical and GPet draw,(also see my article dating the tomb story in the passion narrative). But the independence of GPet from all of these sources is also guaranteed by its failure to follow any one of them. Raymond Brown, who built his early reputation on study of GPet, follows the sequence of narrative in GPet and compares it in very close reading with that of the canonical Gospels. He finds that GPet is not dependent upon the canonical, although it is closer in the order of events to Matt/Mark rather than to Luke and John. Many Christian apologists think it’s their duty to show that GPet is dependent upon the canonical gospels, but it is basically a proved fact that it’s not. Such apologists are misguided in understanding the true apologetic gold mine in this fact. The fact that GPet is not dependent enables it to prove common ancestry with the canonicals and that establishes the early date of the circulation of the empty tomb as a part of the Jesus narrative. GPet is neither a copy of the canonical, nor are they a copy of GPet, but both use a common source in the Passion narrative which dates to AD 50 according to Crosson and Koester. Brown follows the flow of the narrative closely and presents a 23 point list in a huge table that illustrates the point just made above. I cannot reproduce the entire table, but just to give a few examples.[11]

Helmutt Koester argues for the “Ur Gospel” and passion narrative that ends with the empty tomb. He sees GPet as indicative of this ancient source. Again, the argument is not that GPet is older than the Canonicals but that they all five share common ancestry with the Ur source. There is much secondary material in Gpet, meaning, additions that crept in and are not part of the Ur Gospel material; the anti-Jewish propaganda is intensified, for example Hared condemns Jesus rather than Pilate.
Gospel of Peter (GPet) follows the OT as a means of describing the passion narrative, rather following Matthew. Jurgden Denker uses this observation to argue that GPet is independent is based upon an independent source. In addition to Denker, Koester, Borwn, and the very popular Charles Dominik Corssan also agree[12]

One might be tempted to argue that it's just one source, but Mark takes it form the Passion Narrative so it's still just one source. Not so, Raymond Brown proved there are two independent sources. The Passion narrative does not follow the synoptics are John, they all share a common ancestor, but Mark and Passion narrative are copied as idepndent sources. Neither depends upon the other. Mark is original and Passion narratives follows patterns from the OT. We are talking about reading that are preserved in latter documents. So while the form in which we have Gospel of Peter is latter than Mark the readings that survive in it or of a form that show they are older than Mark. They are not just copying the OT they are telling the story in the from of certain OT renditions.
       
Brown, who built his early reputation on study of GPet, follows the sequence of narrative in GPet and compares it in very close reading with that of the canonical Gospels. He finds that GPet is not dependent upon the canonical, although it is closer in the order of events to Matt/Mark rather than to Luke and John.
GPet follow the classical flow from trail through crucifixion to burial to tomb presumably with post resurrection appearances to follow. The GPet sequence of individual episodes, however, is not the same as that of any canonical Gospel...When one looks at the overall sequence in the 23 items I listed in table 10, it would take very great imagination to picture the author of GPet studying Matthew carefully, deliberately shifting episodes around and copying in episodes form Luke and John to produce the present sequence.[13]

Brown follows the flow of the narrative closely and presents a 23 point list in a huge table wich illustrates the point just made above. I cannot reproduce the enire table, but just to give a few examples:
In the Canonical Gospel's Passion Narrative we have an example of Matt. working conservatively and Luke working more freely with the Marcan outline and of each adding material: but neither produced an end product so radically diverse from Mark as GPet is from Matt." [14]
Koester demonstrates agreement with many scholars as he puts the date for the Passion narrative mid first century. However, "there are other traces in the Gospel of Peter which demonstrate an old and independent tradition." The way the suffering of Jesus is described by the use of passages from the old Testament without quotation formulae is, in terms of the tradition, older than the explicit scriptural proof; it represents the oldest form of the passion of Jesus.Philipp Vielhauer, Jurgen Denker argues that the Gospel of Peter shares this tradition of OT quotation with the Canonicals but is not dependent upon them. [15] Koester writes, "John Dominic Crosson has gone further [than Denker]...he argues that this activity results in the composition of a literary document at a very early date i.e. in the middle of the First century CE" (Ibid). Said another way, the interpretation of Scripture as the formation of the passion narrative became an independent document, a ur-Gospel, as early as the middle of the first century! This means the source for the Passion narrative is much older than our version of Mark, it's only 18 years after original events. It constitutes two independent sources testifying to the empty tomb early on, Mark (Ur Mark) and Pre Mark passion narrative. Even if we want to say it's just one source which stands behind all of these different Gospels it removes the onus that Mark invented the tomb and it places the tomb well witin living memory of eye witnesses.




 [1] Peter Kirby, The Case Against the Empty Tomb, fall 2002. 176 Online materiel pdf  http://depts.drew.edu/jhc/kirby_tombcase.pdf
accessed 4/12/14

[2] Stephen Neil, The Interpretation of the New Testament 1861-1961, Oxford: Oxford University Press. see UR Marcus.

[3] Koester, 285

[4] Ibid.Koester p.289

[5] 1 Corinthians 15:5.

[6] Peter May, quoting Gary Habermas, "the Resurrection of Jesus and the Witness of Paul." Be Thinking blog. on line
May is a retired GP who held layman's rank of leadership in the Church of England.Peter May served on the General Synod of the Church of England from 1985 to 2010 and was Chair of the UCCF Trust Board from  2003 to 2010. He is a retired GP.He cites  C.H. Dodd The Founder of Christianity Fontana 1971, and Gary R. Habermas The Risen Jesus & Future Hope Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield 2003, Chapter 1.

[7] Joseph Hinman, "Resurrection Harmony Page 1," The Religious A prori, no date given. on line:
http://religiousapriorijesus-bible.blogspot.com/2010/05/resurrection-harmony-page-1.html  accessed 4/13/2014

Please read my page on The Religious a priori and follow my sense of harmony of the events. we see Mary leave when they first see the tomb stone is ajar. She goes to get Peter and John, returning after them, and seeing Jesus.

[8] Peter Kirby, Op cit. 176.

[9] Helmutt Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels, Their History and Development. Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990, 208.

[10] Ibid, 217

[11] Ibid. 218

[12] Raymond Brown, Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave, A commentary on the Passionnarratives in the Four Gospels. Volume 2. New York: Doubleday 1994, 1322


[13] Ibid., 1325

[14]  Koester, Op cit, 218

[15] Ibid

28 comments:

Very interesting, Joe! I'll have to credit you with being the first I've heard to use the Gospel of Peter, let alone the phrase "common ancestry," to support an argument for a very early, independent narrative source confirming the empty tomb. This should be enough to spur Kirby and other empty tomb skeptics to pursue further research at the very least.

Thanks Don. I wou8ldn't expect Kirby to be honest enough to even consider that, He chased me off his site because I bested him in argument, he did it in a most unique way, he moved my posts to archives for good reason., he didn't ban me he moved my posts. I lost all respect for him at that point

This comment has been removed by the author.

Dangit, I must be doing something wrong with the html tags for creating links.

Anyway, I meant to say that I was intrigued years ago by Kirby's "Historicity of the Empty Tomb" at the Secular Web:
http://infidels.org/library/modern/peter_kirby/tomb/.

I seriously thought about writing an extended critique and maybe submitting it to the Secular Web, but never made the time for it.

It's too bad he sent you off to the archives. But didn't he convert to Christianity at some point?

pretend these are < and >

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Are our pastors telling us the truth?

Are Christian pastors honest with their congregations regarding the evidence for the Resurrection? Is there really a "mountain of evidence" for the Resurrection as our pastors claim or is the belief in the Resurrection based on nothing more than assumptions, second century hearsay, superstitions, and giant leaps of faith?

Check out this Christian pastor's defense of the Resurrection and a review by one of his former parishioners, a man who lost his faith and is now a nonbeliever primarily due to the lack of good evidence for the Resurrection:

http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2016/06/a-review-of-lcms-pastor-john-bombaros.html

Many Christian apologists believe that Gary Habermas' research found that 75% of scholars believe that the Empty Tomb is an historical fact. This is a false claim.

If you read Habermas' research the truth is that his 75% claim is based on a literature search of articles in which scholars state an opinion on the historicity of the Empty Tomb. That's it.

Let me ask you this: Which group of scholars is going to be more motivated to write articles on the Empty Tomb? I would bet good money that the answer is: evangelical scholars. Why? Because without the Empty Tomb, the evidence for a BODILY resurrection of Jesus is significantly weakened. Appearance claims by a small group of mostly uneducated, superstitious Galilean peasants is NOT strong evidence upon which to base your claims of the veracity of the foundational belief of the conservative/traditional Christian faith: that a three-day-dead corpse walked out of his sealed grave, spent forty days with his friends, and then levitated into outer space.

Check out this critical review of Habermas' research:

http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2016/07/a-review-of-gary-habermas-claim-that-75.html

Gary, your last two comments seem to be violation of our comments policy. Specifically, it you read the policy (set forth on the right column immediately below our list of Blogs of Interest) it says: This blog is open to comments by anyone interested provided: (1) the comments are civil, (2) they are on point, and (3) they do not represent efforts by the comment authors to steer readers to long posts on other websites. You seem to be violating the third part. I will leave these, but you really need to not do this -- especially since all you are doing appears to be directing people to your own writings which you can abbreviate for the comments here.

But I will answer your main question: "Which group of scholars is going to be more motivated to write articles on the Empty Tomb? I would bet good money that the answer is: evangelical scholars. Why? Because without the Empty Tomb, the evidence for a BODILY resurrection of Jesus is significantly weakened." Yes, without an empty tomb, the case for Christ's resurrection is weakened. However, isn't it also in the interest of skeptics to the resurrection to focus on the empty tomb if their desire is to discredit Christianity? Seems to me that both sides are equally motivated.

No, there is a lot of evidence for the empty tomb when you consider the setting, the characters involved and the way history was recorded at the time. You can doubt - certainly, it isn't beyond a reasonable doubt - but there is clear and convincing evidence of the empty tomb, and Joe does a good job of pointing this out in several places.

Since the Apostle Paul never once mentions an empty rock-hewn tomb, isn't it possible that the author of the first gospel, Mark, simply made this up?

To answer your specific question: anything's possible regardless of how remote. Still, the question isn't whether it's possible, but whether it is likely or whether it is the best explanation. Read Paul's letters and what they address. Paul does not spend a lot of time retelling the Gospel story because that was not what he was called to do. His letters largely explain who Jesus was, what happened as the result of Jesus' ministry and how the new Christians are called upon to live. If he wrote a letter that tried to defend the resurrection accounts and did not mention the empty tomb, you may have a point. But he didn't write such a letter. So, is the fact that he didn't talk about the empty tomb best explained by a hypothesis that he had not heard of the empty tomb? That does not seem to be the most likely (even a remotely likely) explanation.

Paul mentions the doctrine of the Resurrection quite frequently and sometimes in great detail. Imagine a Christian clergyman today preaching on the Resurrection and not once mentioning anything about the Empty Tomb.

Yes, it is possible that Paul knew about Joseph of Arimathea's empty rock tomb but didn't feel the need to mention it. But would you agree that it is also possible that Paul had never heard of such a claim?

You said, "But Helmut Koster traces the actual textual criticism to show that there is clearly a Gospel behind the Gospel of Mark."

You make this statement as if it is the scholarly consensus. I challenge you to prove that the scholarly consensus, or even a majority of NT scholars, believe that the Gospel of Mark is based on an earlier gospel. Finding a couple of fringe NT scholars who share your view on this issue does not translate into historical fact.

You said, "The Gospel of Mark as we know it, draws upon many sources. One such source already mentioned is the Passion Narrative which all the Canonical and the Gospel of Peter draw upon."

Please provide a source which states that a majority of NT scholars believes that a Passion Narrative existed prior to the Gospel of Mark and that all four canonical gospels and the Gospel of Peter are drawn upon this one narrative.

You cannot.

Were there (probably multiple)circulating oral traditions about Jesus prior to the writing of the Gospel of Mark? Most scholars would say yes. But to state or insinuate that a document existed prior to the writing of Mark upon which all the canonical gospels and the Gospel of Peter is based is FRINGE scholarship.

You quoted this statement, ""Mark [the primary redactor] is primarily a faithful collector. In so far as he is also an author he has created an overriding general framework for the incorporation of traditional material but he has still left most of his material intact.His Gospel is therefore a most important witness for an early stage for the formative development of the traditions about Jesus. The world which these traditions describe rarely goes beyond Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem, which is not the world of the author [primary redactor] or the readers for whom the book was intended. Mark's information about Palestine and its people is fairly accurate whenever he leaves his sources intact. But from his redaction of the sources it is clear that the author is not a Jewish Chrstistian and that he does not live in Palestine."[4]"

Please provide copies of the "Passion Narrative" and the other documents which you and your scholar allege the author of "Mark" FAITHFULLY redacted so that we can cofirm just how "faithful" his redaction really was.

You can't do that, you say? You can't provide these documents because no extant copy exist? Then how, pray tell, can you be so certain that the anonymous author of Mark "faithfully" redacted them?

You said, "The major arguments for Mark inventing the empty tomb, are the brevity of his ending, and it's lack of presence in other sources, both Gospels (except for those dependent upon Mark--Matt and Luke) and it's absence from Paul's work.[9]Paul's lack of mention I exlpain in a similar way to Mark's lack of attention to post resurrection sightings, which offer above (this is my own original argument): there were two different factions, or maybe even more than two, one of them associated with James as the first witness to risen Jesus, and the other being the communities that produced Mark, Matthew, and John. Paul spent time in the James community when he was in Jerusalem following the three years he spent in Asia after his stay in Damascus when he was first converted."

My goodness. Now you have resorted to inventing events out of thin air.

The facts are:

---Paul never mentions the Empty Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
---Paul never mentions any details about the post-resurrection appearances other than to repeat an Early Creed which he had "received" from unnamed sources, which gives a list of eyewitnesses which is inconsistent with the lists in the Gospels, and, the claim of which male disciple first saw Jesus is different from the gospels which never state that Cephas was the first male disciple to receive an appearance.
---As far as scholars are aware, the Gospel of Mark, which most scholars believe was written circa 70 AD, was the first written document to mention the Empty Tomb Story.

You said, "The key question is, is there a literary tradition that is not dependent upon Mark that includes the empty tomb? Yes, there is one."

False! You are grasping at straws. You are appealing to fringe scholarship to support your fringe claim.

Your summary statement: "This means the source for the Passion narrative is much older than our version of Mark, it's only 18 years after original events. It constitutes two independent sources testifying to the empty tomb early on, Mark (Ur Mark) and Pre Mark passion narrative. Even if we want to say it's just one source which stands behind all of these different Gospels it removes the onus that Mark invented the tomb and it places the tomb well witin living memory of eye witnesses."

Please provide a source which states that the majority of scholars agree with your claims in this summation.

Thank you for allowing me to interact with you,

Gary

Gary, apparently I wasn't sufficiently clear in my last comment. When I said, "anything's possible regardless of how remote," I meant that it is possible that a new species of web-footed, pigeon-toed, feathered rhinoceros will spontaneously generate in my kitchen sink at 3:26 pm this afternoon. Yes, it's possible, but it isn't the least bit likely. So, when you now ask, "But would you agree that it is also possible that Paul had never heard of such a claim?" my response is that it is about as likely as having that new species of web-footed, pigeon-toed, feathered rhinoceros spontaneously generating in my kitchen sink at 3:26 pm this afternoon.

When you say that Paul mentions the resurrection quite a bit and in great detail, you seem to assume that in speaking about the resurrection he would necessarily be required to talk about the empty tomb. I don't see that as necessary at all. The empty tomb was described by the authors of the Gospels because they were giving a narrative of what they observed (or what the people who they learned the account from observed). Paul isn't giving a narrative. As you acknowledge, Paul knows Jesus resurrected from the dead, and he is not trying to detail the reasons to believe that Jesus resurrected. And if he is preaching Christ resurrected, isn't it obvious that he also believes that Jesus died? Does he need to give the details? I don't think so.

Moreover, you seem to believe that because he didn't talk about the empty tomb that he somehow didn't know about it. I may be mistaken, but I believe I have written well over 200 posts on this blog. In all of that time, I have never mentioned the evidence that Amenhotep II is identified by some as the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Does that mean that I don't know it? I mean, I have reason to raise it because this is an apologetics blog that defends the truth of the whole Bible (Old and New Testament). I would argue that I have more reason to raise it than Paul had to speak about the empty tomb given the direction of his ministry. So, I don't believe that you are even remotely correct in your belief that Paul's decision to focus on the resurrection and not the tomb somehow means he didn't know about the tomb.

I could respond to several of the other comments you have made that appear to be directed at Joe, but I don't think there is much point to it. This is a small blog and few people read the comments anyway. If you want to have a conversation (as you suggest at the end of your final post), I am willing to talk about one or two things at a time. I don't have the time or the desire to spend hours responding to 50 questions.

Instead of looking at the evidence and letting the "chips fall where they may", you are hunting for evidence from fringe sources to support your world view.

Bottom line: It is possible that Mark invented the Empty Tomb Story and it is possible that he did not. We will never know for sure. But based on cumulative human history, the chances that a three-day-brain-dead first century corpse came back to life, exited his sealed rock tomb, hung out with his former fishing buddies for forty days, and then flew off into outer space where he sits today on a golden throne at the edge of the universe, ruling as King of the Cosmos, is just as likely to be true as that a web-footed, pigeon-toed, feathered rhinocerus will spontaneous generate in your kitchen sink at 3:26 PM this afternoon.

Ah yes, here it comes. Obviously, contrary to your claim in your answer to Joe, you're not really interested in conversation. You just want to throw out the usual atheist shtick designed to belittle the Christian account. That's fine, I'm grown quite accustomed to it.

If we exist in a closed causal universe, you're right. Such a thing can't happen and is totally unbelievable. But if God exists (and He does) then the one who created the universe from nothing bringing all things that are living to life, then such a God can raise a living creature from the dead, too.

Your argument is vapid and shallow. It amounts to this:

Premise 1: If Paul did not mention the empty tomb, he didn't know about it.
Premise 2: Paul did not mention the empty tomb.
Conclusion 1: Therefore, Paul did not know about the empty tomb.
Premise 3: If Paul did not know about the empty tomb, then Mark is the first to mention it.
Conclusion 2: Therefore, Mark is the first to mention the empty tomb.
Premise 4: If Paul did not mention the empty tomb and Mark was the first to mention the empty tomb, it must be that Mark made it up.
Conclusion 3: Therefore, Mark made up the empty tomb.

That's it. That's your argument in a nutshell. Every premise is not only improbable, but fallacious. It is a silly, weak little thing, isn't it?

Wrong.

I never said that since Paul never mentions an Empty Tomb, that this is proof that he didn't know about one. I simply said that since Paul never mentions an empty tomb IT IS POSSIBLE that Paul did not know about one, and therefore IT IS POSSIBLE that the author of Mark invented the Empty Tomb Story as it is the very first document in which we see this story.

That's it. Look back in my comments.

Second, you are making another big Christian assumption: that evidence for a Creator God is evidence that the man Jesus was that Creator God.

Sorry. No can do.

You need the Resurrection to prove that Jesus was/is the Creator God, and as I just demonstrated, it is POSSIBLE that the early Christian belief in Jesus' resurrection was based solely on alleged appearances in vivid dreams/nightmares/visions by Jesus' grieving, emotional distraught friends and family and NOT on any physical evidence, like an empty tomb!

Let me see if I understand you correctly. Your argument is that because it is possible that Paul didn't know about the empty tomb, it is possible that Mark invented the empty tomb, and those two possibilities possibly demonstrate that Jesus isn't God? Do I have that right?

BTW, the rhinoceros didn't spontaneously generate yesterday. Oh well, it's possible it will happen today.

Is your view that a manuscript existed prior to the Gospel of Mark which contained the Empty Tomb Story held by the majority of NT scholars?

Yes or no?

Answer: I don't care. What I seem to be failing to communicate to you (or you just aren't picking up) is that this entire argument is silly. Mark was the earliest of the Gospels (according to most scholars). As such, it is the first one to set out a narrative of what happened. It was written very early in the process (I believe with other scholars that it was written before 60AD which puts it within 30 years of Jesus' death while eyewitnesses were still around). The earliest church writings agree that it was written by Mark based upon the teachings of Peter -- an eyewitness and apostle. He included the empty tomb in his account. What earlier manuscript do I need?

And for that matter, tell me specifically where in Paul's account it would be necessary for him to have mentioned the empty tomb. Titus 3? 2 Corinthians 8? Where do you believe that the non-mention of the empty tomb leaves a hole that disrupts what Paul is saying?

Third, you may not have realized it yet, what you are advocating is an incredibly silly argument because all you are doing is making a case against the empty tomb based on speculation and an argument from silence. Saying its possible, that Paul didn't know about the empty tomb and that it's possible that Mark made it up is all speculation on your part. And then you try to back it up with demanding that another document pre-dating the Gospel of Mark exists that mentions the empty tomb or that somehow makes it more likely that Mark made it up. Well, suppose that such a document did exist. Let's say there is a manuscript somewhere from some otherwise unknown person named Amos that mentions the empty tomb and that such a manuscript pre-dates Mark's Gospel. Would you then argue that Amos made up the empty tomb because there is no other document that pre-dates Amos' manuscript?

And finally you seem to claim that this entire gossamer structure you are creating somehow possibly demonstrates that "the early Christian belief in Jesus' resurrection was based solely on alleged appearances in vivid dreams/nightmares/visions by Jesus' grieving, emotional distraught friends and family and NOT on any physical evidence, like an empty tomb!" You have not come close to demonstrating such a thing. This is a bedtime story - nothing more.

Look, you can choose to believe this if you want, but anyone who hops on board of your boat is going to find that the boat will have a hard time staying afloat because most of the hull is made up of speculation and dreams. Good luck with this.

Most scholars do NOT believe that the Gospel of Mark was written before 60 AD. You are peddling fringe scholarship as if it is fact!

The real fact is that we have zero proof that any Christian knew about an Empty Tomb prior to the writing of the anonymous Gospel of Mark in circa 70 AD. It is therefore possible that this author simply made up this claim.

You can put your fingers in your ears and stomp up and down so that you can drown out what I am saying, but the facts and the majority of experts say you have no clue what you are talking about!

By the way, the creature you describe in your kitchen sink does exist. It is called the "rhinoceros hornbill". Google it.

Sorry, you are the one ignoring things in the name of a fantasy that is more satisfying to you. Thanks for providing an opportunity to emphasize the flaws in your argument. No need to for more of this since you aren't responding to anything that I say with any real depth.

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