Resurrection harmony

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The purpose of this argument is merely to establish that the events described in the four canonical Gospel resurrection accounts can be construed as a coherent event. Atheists are always harping on the many differences in the accounts. They seem to feel that these amount to insurmountable contradictions, marking a totally contradictory story. But I will argue that we can pull together the events described in all four Gospels to create a unified harmony which shows that there was a single coherent event taking place.This may not mean that call differences vanish away, but most of them can be explained by the process of eye witness testimony and story telling based upon the accounts of eye witnesses. There may be a couple of loose ends, but I will argue that these are not important when one considers the over all agreement and ensuing harmony,(for harmony table click here)*

my model:

(1) women go to tomb find stone moved, immediately  they suspect the Romans or Sanhedrin moved the body.
(2) Mary M. leaves right then without looking in the tomb goes to get Apostles. 
(3) The other women go in the tomb,see what they see (men in white) they go to find Peter and the others. 
(4) Meanwhile Mary finds Peter and John, brings them back. They run ahead of her  
(5) Peter and John have their encounter with Jesus, they go off and then Mary comes and has her encounter.



My theory is that the Gospel evangelists each spoke with different groups of witnesses at different times. I believe that the witnesses fanned out into the different communities which produced the Gospels. Scholars no longer think of a single author producing a single gospel, but see each work as the product of a whole process that centered around a community. Each Gospel is the product of a community. Matt for example is the work of a "Matthew community." These communities would have been much like schools or communities. It is my contention that the witnesses broke up and fanned about among these communities, and each Gospel bears the unique perspective of that communities band of witnesses. This explains why John focuses on Mary Madeline, she was probably one of the most illustrious witnesses who went to live in the Johaninne community. That is crucial to my theory, because it means that John followed the exploits of that eye witness,and as John shows Mary departing at the fist sign of the stone being rolled away, that backs the theory I argue for. These groups create a jumbled picture when one looks at all four accounts because the accounts are coming from different perspectives. Some accounts, such as Mark and Matthew indicate that the original event was a confusing a frightening event. Nevertheless, it was a real event and as such most of the "contradictions" can be harmonized.

I will pull together material from all four gospels to make a coherent story. I will only concern myself withe events that happen around the actual discovery of the empty tomb. I will not concern myself with the matters pertianing to epiphanies or sittings of the risen Chrsit after the women leave the tomb area. The reasons for this are as follows: (1)Koseter says that all four Gospels and GPete follow a single ealry pre-markan source up to and including the mepty tomb, but after that the ephinanies are compilled form different sources. That being the case, we can expect some contradiction in those sources.

(2)atheist claims of contradiction as to where Jesus was and whom he appeared to after that point are unimportant. Jesus was God and he could be in two places at once, what difference does it make if he appeared to two guys on a road somewhere and then to the 11 in an upper room at the same time?

My senerio is this:

An undisclosed group of women (we can only be sure that Mary Madeline was one of them, maybe Mary of Nazareth, Joanna,and Salome, maybe others, we can't be sure) came to the tomb early on Sunday morning. They saw the stone moved, Mary Madeline felt certain that the body had been moved, probably to desecrate it. She immediately ran back to tell the others, while the rest of the women ventured into the tomb, where they encountered angels telling them that Jesus had risen. On their way out of the tomb they saw Jesus himself. Meanwhile, Mary arrived at the place where the disciples waited. She brought back with her Peter and John. While Peter and John went inside and examined the empty tomb, Jesus appeared to Mary outside; while the other women were at this time arriving back at the place where the disciples were waiting.

This senerio hendges upon one assumption about a verse that is not stated explicitly in the text. One must assume that the angle and the earthquake and the rolling of the stone in Matt.28:2-4 are a "flash back" or sorts, an exlaiation of what happened the night before, and that the women did not see this event. For this reason, when the angels begins to speak to the women in v5 this is after a gap of undiscloed time, and it could be either before or after they went into the tomb. The text does no specify where the angle was in realtion to the women or the tomb when he begins to speak.

The reason this is important is because if Mary was with the women and if then had seen the angel roll the stone away and the risen Christ leave the tomb, then it makes no sense of Mary M. to run back to John and say "they've taken away the lord and we don't know where they have laid him!" That is a significant problem and it can only be resolved if Mary didn't see the angel roll back the stone.

The senerio described and the interpritation of Matt 28:2-4 as a flashback is justified based upon several facts:

(1) The most important is the Greek verb for "come down" in the v2 phrase "an angel of the Lord had come down." This verb is Katabas from the base from Kantabino which means to come down. The form it is in here is the inflected tense aroist. That tense is a description of past time, but it is different form the rebular past tense. The past tense in Greek is usually formed by the imperfect tense, which is continuous action in past time. "She was going to the store." But the Aorist is completed action in past time, "she went to the store." So the imperfect is like a film of the past, while aroist is like a snapshot of the past. Since this snap shot is place d in the middel of the "film" of the women's experince, it is clear that the angel had already come down, alredy moved the stone; this is an explaition of what happened the night before. Some English translations hint at this: NAS says "an angel of the Lord had come down" in other words, this has already happened.

Reasons supporting MM's Early Departure 

(1)The Greek Text of Matt.28:2-4 supports "Flashback."

The Greek term Katabas (which means "an angel had come down") is aorist tense. This is completed action in past time. The angel had come, had rolled away the stone, there had been an earthquake, the guards had fallen like dead men. All of these events had already occurred when the women got there. Here is an inflection of the verb katabas.

Katabas from Katabaino , Tense is Aorist, its a verb, active, participle, nominative,singular,Masculine.

(2) All other accounts, including Peter, say that the stone was had been moved already when the women got there.

Mark 16:4

4 "Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away."

Luke 24:2

2 "And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb..."

Peter 13:55

55 "And they went and found the sepulchre open."
(see John 20:1-2 below).


(3) John says that Mary departed as soon as she saw the stone had been moved.

John 20:

1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark,and saw the stone already taken away from they tomb. 2 So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved,and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."


(4) "We" don't know in John 20:2 indicates Mary was not alone.

One major apparent contradiction is that Mary seems to go alone in John, and with several different people in the other accounts.But what she says in John indiates that she was with other people, but John just chooses to focuss on her alone, for reasons explained below. Moreover, that is also added reason to assume the flashback-departure theory, since the text of John validates the idea that Mary left the others as soon as she saw that the stone had been moved.


(5) The focuss of John upon just the actions of Mary is expalined by the ancient legeond that says Mary Magdeline helped John care for Jesus' mother and that she was associated with his ministry after the asscention.


New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia


"The Greek Church maintains that the saint retired to Ephesus with the Blessed Virgin and there died, that her relics were transferred to Constantinople in 886 and are there preserved. Gregory of Tours (De miraculis, I, xxx) supports the statement that she went to Ephesus."


This actually does link her with the John community, see my Gospel of John page to find out how.


Thus, there is reason to believe that the tradition of John preserves a nuance of the original event not covered by the others. The "flashback" idea harmonizes the chronological sequence of the stone being moved with the other sources, and Mary's early departure explains why she went to John and said "we don't know where they laid him." Because even if the women had seen the angel and the rolling back of the stone, Mary didn't, she was already gone. I further content that The other women didn't see it either, it had happened the night before. After Mary left, the other women went inside the tomb where they saw the angel, or angels.

There is a charge of contradiction between the Matt account where the angels begins speaking in v5 and is sitting on top of the stone. That necessitates that the women saw him outside the tomb before going in, which contradicts all other accounts. But this assumes that the events of v2-4 are immediate and that the women this action. If the flash back idea is right, there is an undisclosed gap of time between v4 and 5, the span of which we are not told. So the angel begins talking to the women in v5 we are not told if they had already gone in the tomb or if this is outside the tomb.




*Table laying out all four canonical versions plus two apocryphal versions for comparision of contradictions.


Next=>Part 2



read more page 2

Comments

Jason Pratt said…
Another way to solve for the ranges (as I suggest in the appropriate chapters of The King of Stories here on the Cadre somewhere {g}), is that Magdalene and "the other Mary" arrive first, find the stone rolled back (already done as per the Greek in GosMatt), and both go to find Peter and "the beloved disciple" wherever they're staying (e.g. at the house of John Mark's mother, which Peter is linked to in Acts, and traditionally regarded as the caravansarai where the Last Supper was held.) Peter and the BD race out, do their things in GosJohn, Peter leaves, the BD is still there working things out when the other women arrive (possibly with MaryMag again, but probably not, the accounts conflating the details for simplicity's sake). The BD, excited about his inferences, gives the speech of the "young man" in GosMark; what he doesn't realize is that the women can see and here an angel who is telling them something else at the same time. This confusing situation gets reported various ways in the Synoptics later, as might naturally be expected: GosMark just reports the young man saying X. GosLuke reports two shining men, saying something quite different (but not contradictory), Z. GosMatt splits the difference and has a shining angel sitting on the stone (where the women saw and heard him), but saying the young man's X not Z.

MaryMag, returning after everyone has left from this point, goes into the tomb, sees what Peter and the BD saw, sees two faint figures sitting there, but hears nothing from them, mistaking Jesus' question as coming from them originally -- then realizing that it came from behind her (which is why she doesn't even bother trying to answer them and basically kind of ignores them!), turns around, sees Jesus, and has her first meeting with Jesus. The other women were supposed to go tell, they hadn't yet, Jesus arrives to enhearten them as reported in GosMatt's version. MaryMag may or may not be there, but her meeting reported in GosJohn fits why she, not the other women, is why she's afterward regarded as the first watcher (which might explain her surname Magdalene) and the apostle to the apostles. (Even by sceptics mocking her as having been previously insane, and yet the first eyewitness, most famously Celsus.)

JRP
Joe Hinman said…
my view explains why only Mary in John.
Jason Pratt said…
True, but not exclusively to other solutions. It's a good argument, though. Your explanation for the flashback grammar in GosMatt was also especially clear.

JRP
Joe Hinman said…
hey thanks man
im-skeptical said…
You guys should take a step back and listen to yourselves.

If you have to contrive a possible explanation that could "harmonize" the disparate accounts in the bible, doesn't that tell you that something is wrong with those accounts? The simple fact is that the stories told in the gospels aren't the same.

Here's what it sounds like to an observer.
Story A: Three plus four is six.
Story B: Three plus four is three.
Story A harmonized: Three plus four is indeed six, and there is one more that simply wasn't mentioned in story A, so there is nothing wrong the story.
Story B harmonized: Three plus four still includes the original three, which is the important point of the story.

Therefore, story A and story B are in perfect agreement.
Jason Pratt said…
Reading any historical analysis at all must be highly frustrating to you then, skep, since historians regularly test disparate accounts this way.

Perhaps you should step back and spend twenty or thirty years studying military campaign histories (to give only one example) which sort through various sources purporting to recount the same events.

JRP
Gary said…
I believe that Joe's hypothesis is certainly plausible, but I believe that there is an even more plausible hypothesis. Most scholars believe that the Gospels were written as Greco-Roman biographies. Scholars state that in this genre of literature as long as the core details about the central character were kept intact, artistic license was permitted allowing the author to invent fictional details in order to "add color" or "flesh-out" the story.

New Testament scholar NT Wright gives an example of this literary technique in his masterwork "The Resurrection of the Son of God". In the Book of Acts, Wright points to the apparent discrepancy between one passage which has the traveling companions of Paul seeing something and hearing nothing on the Damascus Road, and another passage about the same event in which the same traveling companions see nothing but hear something. Wright suggests that this "discrepancy" is intentional. It was a literary device, used by the author of Acts, to stimulate reader attention.

So scholars suggest that this is also the case in the Gospels. As long as all four Gospels maintain that Jesus was crucified, buried, and shortly thereafter he appeared to his disciples as the risen Christ, THAT is all that is necessary to maintain a correct Greco-Roman biography of Jesus. The remainder of the story can be ad-libbed. First century readers would have known this.
Joe Hinman said…
ou guys should take a step back and listen to yourselves.

If you have to contrive a possible explanation that could "harmonize" the disparate accounts in the bible, doesn't that tell you that something is wrong with those accounts? The simple fact is that the stories told in the gospels aren't the same.

Here's what it sounds like to an observer.
Story A: Three plus four is six.
Story B: Three plus four is three.
Story A harmonized: Three plus four is indeed six, and there is one more that simply wasn't mentioned in story A, so there is nothing wrong the story.
Story B harmonized: Three plus four still includes the original three, which is the important point of the story.


It tells me that there are different people with different perspectives. law enforcement says when eye witnesses differ its normal when they are in total agreement they know it's collusion. It's way too simple minded to write it all off because they differ. That's to be expected.

Youare not actaully following the accounts as I harmonized them. you have no argument as to why it doesn't work,
Joe Hinman said…
I believe that Joe's hypothesis is certainly plausible,

O thank you


but I believe that there is an even more plausible hypothesis. Most scholars believe that the Gospels were written as Greco-Roman biographies.


no they don;t, that idea spread around on atheist message boards most real scholars don't.

Scholars state that in this genre of literature as long as the core details about the central character were kept intact, artistic license was permitted allowing the author to invent fictional details in order to "add color" or "flesh-out" the story.

that's a plausible answer but too much copying to e artistic licence,
they obviously cared about an original tmepalte of how the story had to go,


New Testament scholar NT Wright gives an example of this literary technique in his masterwork "The Resurrection of the Son of God". In the Book of Acts, Wright points to the apparent discrepancy between one passage which has the traveling companions of Paul seeing something and hearing nothing on the Damascus Road, and another passage about the same event in which the same traveling companions see nothing but hear something. Wright suggests that this "discrepancy" is intentional. It was a literary device, used by the author of Acts, to stimulate reader attention.

So scholars suggest that this is also the case in the Gospels. As long as all four Gospels maintain that Jesus was crucified, buried, and shortly thereafter he appeared to his disciples as the risen Christ, THAT is all that is necessary to maintain a correct Greco-Roman biography of Jesus. The remainder of the story can be ad-libbed. First century readers would have known this.

interesting. you may have something there.
Gary said…
"that's a plausible answer but too much copying to e artistic licence,
they obviously cared about an original tmepalte of how the story had to go"

It wasn't as if the four Gospels were written at the exact same time. We know that the authors of Matthew and Luke were familiar with the story of Mark, a book written sometime prior to the writing of their books. And since the Gospel of John was written many decades after the first gospel, it is possible that the author of John too was familiar not only with "Mark's" version of the Jesus story but also with "Matthew" and "Luke's" versions. Therefore, it is possible that in circa 65-75 CE: Mark added a fictional Empty Tomb pericope to the core historical Jesus story as told in the Early Creed; Matthew and Luke then added detailed appearance stories to Mark's Empty Tomb pericope, loosely based on the historical appearance claims found in the Early Creed. Matthew located his appearances to the male disciples in Galilee. Luke located all his appearances in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. John simply added additional details to both stories, having appearances in Jerusalem and Galilee, along with the new stories of Thomas not being present the first time in the Upper Room, and of Jesus cooking breakfast on the shores of the Sea of Tiberius.

First century readers, who were very accustomed to seeing invented details in their historical biographies, would not have been bothered by these "discrepancies" as long as they all were consistent in the core facts: Jesus was crucified; buried; and then a short time later his disciples claimed he appeared to them.

The only people who should have a problem with the plausibility of this theory are fundamentalist Christians and atheists who are former fundamentalist Christians.
Joe Hinman said…
that's a plausible answer but too much copying to e artistic licence,
they obviously cared about an original tmepalte of how the story had to go"

It wasn't as if the four Gospels were written at the exact same time. We know that the authors of Matthew and Luke were familiar with the story of Mark, a book written sometime prior to the writing of their books. And since the Gospel of John was written many decades after the first gospel, it is possible that the author of John too was familiar not only with "Mark's" version of the Jesus story but also with "Matthew" and "Luke's" versions.

that's my point when I say too much copying. Luke used Matt and Mark, Matt used Mark and Q, Marl used Ur Mark and PMPN. It's all coming from PMPN. So they didn't just make up a new sorry and that implies certain events did happen because they had to copy then and keep them straight.


Therefore, it is possible that in circa 65-75 CE: Mark added a fictional Empty Tomb pericope to the core historical Jesus story as told in the Early Creed;


No it's not. Consensus in the field agree with Koester who says empty tomb was part of the PMPN apparition around mid century in gritting, it came fro oral tradition so it was circulation before that.


Matthew and Luke then added detailed appearance stories to Mark's Empty Tomb pericope, loosely based on the historical appearance claims found in the Early Creed.



Matthew located his appearances to the male disciples in Galilee. Luke located all his appearances in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. John simply added additional details to both stories, having appearances in Jerusalem and Galilee, along with the new stories of Thomas not being present the first time in the Upper Room, and of Jesus cooking breakfast on the shores of the Sea of Tiberius.

there may be a point there because Luke was not there and he was working from a pastiche of collected sources, We don't what all of them were. ut the main problem here is your failure to distinguish between the empty tomb and the Epiphanies,Koeter thought that the story stops as far as the PMPN goes with the empty tomb. The sightings come from a variety of other sources. We can deckle which sightings are more reliable than others.

First century readers, who were very accustomed to seeing invented details in their historical biographies, would not have been bothered by these "discrepancies" as long as they all were consistent in the core facts: Jesus was crucified; buried; and then a short time later his disciples claimed he appeared to them.

which readers? Is that Roman audience? would that apply to Palestine? that doesn't make sense because the Gospels are written for Palestinian Jews living in communal settings in Palestine and probably taking the sorties of the group as literal history. Since the resurrection formed the basis upon which the group existed I doubt they would have tolerated making it up as poetic licences,

The only people who should have a problem with the plausibility of this theory are fundamentalist Christians and atheists who are former fundamentalist Christians.

No I;ve already pointed out that there liberal who bleievein the Resurrectiom
Gary said…
Most scholars believe that Gospels were written by Gentile Christians, in far away Gentile lands, for Gentile Christian audiences (in particular, the Gospel of John).

You misread my last point. I never said that liberal Christians don't believe in the Resurrection.

Let's take a closer look at the four Resurrection stories, in chronological order, and see if my theory holds any water:

In Mark, the women come to the tomb; find it empty; encounter someone who tells them that Jesus has risen from the dead; the same someone tells them to tell the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee. The women flee the tomb in fear and tell no one.

Matthew starts out with the same basic story: Women come to the tomb; find it empty; encounter someone who tells them Jesus has risen from the dead and who also tells them to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee. But Matthew has added some new twists to the core story. There is an earthquake and the "someone" is identified as an angel, not simply a "young man" as in Mark, but the core story is basically the same as told by Mark. Matthew even has the women running away from the tomb in fear, just as Mark did! But then Matthew adds a stunning, new scene! Fleeing from the tomb in fear...the women run into none other than...Jesus! Wow! What a great way to pick up the story right where Mark had left off a decade or so earlier:

"So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The author of Matthew then tells the story of the Roman guards going to report to the Sanhedrin and then...the plot switches to Galilee There are zero appearances by Jesus in Jerusalem to male disciples in the Gospel of Matthew!

(cont'd)

Gary said…
(cont'd from above)

Now let's look at Luke's story:

The women arrive at the tomb; find it empty; someone (plural) tells them that Jesus has risen (but no mention of Jesus' instruction for the disciples to meet him in Galilee); the women run and tell the disciples. From there, the story is COMPLETELY different from Matthew!!!

Therefore, to me, it is entirely possible that Matthew and Luke used Mark's Empty Tomb pericope as a template to create two completely different sets of appearance stories!

What about the story in the Gospel of John?:

As is true with practically everything else in the Gospel of John compared to the Synoptics, the Resurrection story is VERY different. However, there is still the core Empty Tomb pericope. But in John's version, only Mary Magdelene comes to the tomb, finds it empty, and then runs to tell the disciples. Notice something different right away from the other three accounts? No one tells "the women (or woman, in this case)" that Jesus has risen from the dead. After Peter and the Beloved Disciple have come to the tomb, inspected it, and left, Mary runs into Jesus. This "run in" with Jesus is similar to the story in Matthew, but unlike Matthew yet like Luke, Jesus says nothing to her about telling the disciples to meet him in Galilee. Jesus then appears in the Upper Room as in Luke, but unlike Luke, he only appears to Ten; Thomas is not present. Then John tells us of an appearance in the same Upper Room one week later and the dramatic story of Doubting Thomas. Notice there are no appearances in Galilee and no mention of Jesus instructing the disciples to meet him in Galilee.

However...THAT was John chapter 20. Our Bibles do not end at John chapter 20, however. John chapter 21 has all kinds of interesting appearances in Galilee! It is as if someone noticed, after the fact, that Matthew's story looked out of place and felt they needed to tie up the loose ends. (Many scholars doubt the authenticity of the 21st chapter of John...but that's another story.)

Therefore, I believe it is entirely possible that until the writing of the Gospel of Mark, the Resurrection story looked like what we see in the Early Creed found in First Corinthians 15. Very bare-boned. Not a lot of detail. Then a skilled writer,("Mark"), writing in circa 70 CE, "fleshed out" the story. This was perfectly acceptable in the genre of literature in which he was writing, Greco-Roman biography. Then over the next several decades, three other writers added more "flesh" to the story, which again was perfectly acceptable in that genre of writing. If this is the case, no first century reader would have been surprised or offended by reading four Resurrection stories with so many "discrepancies". They would have known that "discrepancies" were what made for a good story!

Neil said…
Your theory is reliant on the stories being eye-witness accounts, but there is no evidence they are or even that they are based on reports by eye-witnesses. Scholars speak of 'sources' for all elements of the gospels (Q, M & L for example); these were almost certainly pre-existing written and oral traditions that existed before the gospels' creation.

This really is problematic (for your theory), because if the gospels were eye-witness accounts, then why would they need to rely so heavily on other traditions? If the gospel communities were in some sort of immediate contact with the fanned-out eye-witnesses as you conjecture, then they would have no need to use sources and traditions from elsewhere. Yet they do; Matthew and Luke, for example, borrow extensively from Mark. The scenario you propose is akin to you interviewing witnesses to John Kennedy's assassination (and we're talking of a similar time-scale for some of the gospels) and then, before publication, replacing what they tell you with elements from the movie 'JFK'. It would not make sense to do so.

It is far more likely that the resurrection accounts are based on the scant mentions of the mystical, risen Christ we find in Paul's letters and in Acts, filtered, primarily, through Mark. As such, they are a (literal) fleshing out of hearsay reports of a limited number of visions that, by the time the gospels came to be written, had embedded themselves in the traditions of the early church.
Joe Hinman said…

Blogger Gary said...
Most scholars believe that Gospels were written by Gentile Christians, in far away Gentile lands, for Gentile Christian audiences (in particular, the Gospel of John).


No they don/t. that was a 19th century idea but it was really kicked in the head after the discovery of the dead sea scrolls. Since the 1960s the consensus has been that John is a very Jewish gospel.you need to stop getting your info from atheist sites and read real scholars,


You misread my last point. I never said that liberal Christians don't believe in the Resurrection.

you intimated that belief in Res is fuindie

Let's take a closer look at the four Resurrection stories, in chronological order, and see if my theory holds any water:

In Mark, the women come to the tomb; find it empty; encounter someone who tells them that Jesus has risen from the dead; the same someone tells them to tell the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee. The women flee the tomb in fear and tell no one.

Matthew starts out with the same basic story: Women come to the tomb; find it empty; encounter someone who tells them Jesus has risen from the dead and who also tells them to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee. But Matthew has added some new twists to the core story. There is an earthquake and the "someone" is identified as an angel, not simply a "young man" as in Mark, but the core story is basically the same as told by Mark. Matthew even has the women running away from the tomb in fear, just as Mark did! But then Matthew adds a stunning, new scene! Fleeing from the tomb in fear...the women run into none other than...Jesus! Wow! What a great way to pick up the story right where Mark had left off a decade or so earlier:

you didn't even read my scenario, i accounted for the differences by having different groups of the women go into different communities. That explains everything it's not just an evolution it's based upon the different clumps of witness.

"So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The author of Matthew then tells the story of the Roman guards going to report to the Sanhedrin and then...the plot switches to Galilee There are zero appearances by Jesus in Jerusalem to male disciples in the Gospel of Matthew!


The one's who observed that went into the Matthew community, Mary went to John's community so she wasn't thee when nthose things happened and John primarily followed her accont, so on,

I also proved by Greek exegesis that the stone was rolled away before the women got there talking about it in Matt was a falshback.
Joe Hinman said…
Gary said...
(cont'd from above)

Now let's look at Luke's story:

The women arrive at the tomb; find it empty; someone (plural) tells them that Jesus has risen (but no mention of Jesus' instruction for the disciples to meet him in Galilee); the women run and tell the disciples. From there, the story is COMPLETELY different from Matthew!!!

Therefore, to me, it is entirely possible that Matthew and Luke used Mark's Empty Tomb pericope as a template to create two completely different sets of appearance stories!

no doubt ut each also had additional material.

What about the story in the Gospel of John?:

As is true with practically everything else in the Gospel of John compared to the Synoptics, the Resurrection story is VERY different. However, there is still the core Empty Tomb pericope. But in John's version, only Mary Magdelene comes to the tomb, finds it empty, and then runs to tell the disciples.

I account for that y showing Mary went onto John's community he followed her account. But in John Mary says "we don't know where they laid him." implies that there were others with her at first, so that's party of what is meant by harmonizing, i pull this all together to understand the totally of the events.




Notice something different right away from the other three accounts? No one tells "the women (or woman, in this case)" that Jesus has risen from the dead. After Peter and the Beloved Disciple have come to the tomb, inspected it, and left, Mary runs into Jesus. This "run in" with Jesus is similar to the story in Matthew, but unlike Matthew yet like Luke, Jesus says nothing to her about telling the disciples to meet him in Galilee.

because she wasn't there when he said it she had gone to tell the apostles.

you mention nothing that I didn't account for, you really think I haven't thought of this stuff,so foolish, 40 years ago,(when I first got saved) I sweated over this stuff for weeks,I made charts.

i compared pared kerosene I charted out every move in every account, spent weeks "if mary went here and pete went there and Salome went over to the other place" it was nerve warning but I accounted for everything.

You did not read my post,did you? go read it I took everything into account,
Joe Hinman said…
Neil said...

Your theory is reliant on the stories being eye-witness accounts, but there is no evidence they are or even that they are based on reports by eye-witnesses. Scholars speak of 'sources' for all elements of the gospels (Q, M & L for example); these were almost certainly pre-existing written and oral traditions that existed before the gospels' creation.

It's clear if you read my thing that I assume there are pre existing accounts it is true that I do not assume the author of Matthew was there,You totally misunderstood. I made it clear I assume each 'gospel was produced by a community not by one guy,named Matthew but a community of Matthew people. They are all the result of a long process of redaction that starts with oral tradition. They used various sources, the sources from each community. That starts with the witnesses themselves.

It should be apparent that I made this assumption because I used Gospel of Peter, if you read my thing you would know that.


This really is problematic (for your theory), because if the gospels were eye-witness accounts, then why would they need to rely so heavily on other traditions?

pretty obvious, because the versions we have are the products of a process of redaction. that starts with the witnesses in a community and gores through mysteriousness of being processed for the edification of the community then re-told by it's members and into writing probably as witnesses started to die in order to preserve it.

If the gospel communities were in some sort of immediate contact with the fanned-out eye-witnesses as you conjecture, then they would have no need to use sources and traditions from elsewhere.

sure they would as they became aware that some witnesses lived in other communities, as they grew and spread out they took the gospel to place where they had no witness they needed written accounts, the witnesses died they wanted to remember their words.
The story was oral from 33 to 55, then they began to produce writings, there were still witnesses alive at that point. Oral tradition and writing both exist side by side until the early second century, then writing replaces oral history. Papias famous statement about how he prefers the human voice to words on paper is probably a last snap shot of the dying oral tradition.circa 110?



(cont)
Joe Hinman said…
Neil cont)

Yet they do; Matthew and Luke, for example, borrow extensively from Mark.

Luke wasn't there. He was from Paul's circle he had no connection, he was working totally from pre-existing accounts on paper. Matthew is a group a community, some of them were probably eye witnesses to some of Jesus' life.The redactors pit it together in about AD 80, probably most of the witnesses were gone by then.It's distilling the fruit of a process that;s been going since 33.


The scenario you propose is akin to you interviewing witnesses to John Kennedy's assassination (and we're talking of a similar time-scale for some of the gospels) and then, before publication, replacing what they tell you with elements from the movie 'JFK'. It would not make sense to do so.

Not analogous because you have no reason to assume they used any source that were not backed by eye witness. You are assuming only one source could be eye witness that is illogical especially with multiple communities.At this time in 2017 you are in contact with someone who knew witnesses to JFK's assassination in 1963--me.I am from Dallas IO knw peole who where there.

It is far more likely that the resurrection accounts are based on the scant mentions of the mystical, risen Christ we find in Paul's letters and in Acts, filtered, primarily, through Mark.

I don't see mark as having any connection to Paul. if he did there would be no need for Luke to write a Gospel.Mark is said to have used Peter as his source. Peter the man not the Gospel.

As such, they are a (literal) fleshing out of hearsay reports of a limited number of visions that, by the time the gospels came to be written, had embedded themselves in the traditions of the early church.

no offense man but your assumptions are too fundamentalist. you need to read Koester's ancient Christian Gospels.
Joe Hinman said…
My brother and I were eye witnesses to Rubey shooting Oswald.

were we there? no it was on tv (;-)
Joe Hinman said…
(continue Gary's last comment above)

No one tells "the women (or woman, in this case)" that Jesus has risen from the dead. After Peter and the Beloved Disciple have come to the tomb, inspected it, and left, Mary runs into Jesus. This "run in" with Jesus is similar to the story in Matthew, but unlike Matthew yet like Luke, Jesus says nothing to her about telling the disciples to meet him in Galilee. Jesus then appears in the Upper Room as in Luke, but unlike Luke, he only appears to Ten; Thomas is not present. Then John tells us of an appearance in the same Upper Room one week later and the dramatic story of Doubting Thomas. Notice there are no appearances in Galilee and no mention of Jesus instructing the disciples to meet him in Galilee.

there is a sea of Galilee tradition,the scene of then there is the one where he;s fishing and he gives them breakfast of fish. these are from different documents a d are interspersed with the PMPN. It's a fundi assumption to think that every statement has to be accounted for, my point is only to harmonize the PMN sittings, if there are contradictions among the epiphanies that's no big deal. But the statement about meeting him im Galilee was narrowed from the epiphinial sources,. He could have met them imn Galilee during the month or so between resurrection and asscention,


However...THAT was John chapter 20. Our Bibles do not end at John chapter 20, however. John chapter 21 has all kinds of interesting appearances in Galilee! It is as if someone noticed, after the fact, that Matthew's story looked out of place and felt they needed to tie up the loose ends. (Many scholars doubt the authenticity of the 21st chapter of John...but that's another story.)

Koester makes the argumet those are bright from various sources but the PMPN ends with empty tomb.That;s the important thing, because it's dated mid cemetery so it puts the empty tmob contemporary with Paul's early writing and indicates it was part of the first strata of the story,

Therefore, I believe it is entirely possible that until the writing of the Gospel of Mark, the Resurrection story looked like what we see in the Early Creed found in First Corinthians 15. Very bare-boned. Not a lot of detail. Then a skilled writer,("Mark"), writing in circa 70 CE, "fleshed out" the story. This was perfectly acceptable in the genre of literature in which he was writing, Greco-Roman biography. Then over the next several decades, three other writers added more "flesh" to the story, which again was perfectly acceptable in that genre of writing. If this is the case, no first century reader would have been surprised or offended by reading four Resurrection stories with so many "discrepancies". They would have known that "discrepancies" were what made for a good story!

PMPN is consensus in filed. I named 8 major textual critics such as Jurgen Danker, Ray Brown, plus guys like Koester and Cousin who support it, That means empty tomb was part of the early preaching,


4/12/2017 10:24:00 PM Delete
Gary said…
Once again, I am not saying that my hypothetical scenario is what happened, just that it is plausible, and I believe, much more plausible than your very complicated hypothesis.

The Empty Tomb is not a consensus position, only a majority opinion.

I can create multiple other natural alternative explanations which include the Empty Tomb pericope which are much more probable to explain all the evidence than the Christian supernatural explanation. Christians cannot see this because they presume the existence of their miracle-producing deity, Yahweh, in the discussion.
Joe Hinman said…
the pre mark passion narrative its date and the inclusion of empty tomb is consensus.

you are right I am not married to my Res harmony i could even wind up saying there were no women. I think it;s clear there was an empty tom, But the detials of who found it and when is slot to history. It doesn't matter. What does matte I will post about on Eastern Sunday.
im-skeptical said…
Joe,

It tells me that there are different people with different perspectives. law enforcement says when eye witnesses differ its normal when they are in total agreement they know it's collusion. It's way too simple minded to write it all off because they differ. That's to be expected.

When eye witnesses differ in some of the details but agree in the general outline of the story, that's to be expected. When they flat-out disagree about what happened, at least one of them is lying. The oldest gospel of the NT, Mark, didn't even mention a resurrection (until that section of text was added centuries later). That's a pretty important part of the story.
Joe Hinman said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Hinman said…
When eye witnesses differ in some of the details but agree in the general outline of the story, that's to be expected. When they flat-out disagree about what happened, at least one of them is lying. The oldest gospel of the NT, Mark, didn't even mention a resurrection (until that section of text was added centuries later). That's a pretty important part of the story.

no that is totally wrong, this is where not reading the material hurts, if you read it you would know.it's something atheists say but they are wrong it's there, look at it: this is before the last ending.


Mark 16:1-8

16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.[a]
Anonymous said…
What Mark says is that Jesus would first see the disciples in Galilee. What the other gospels sayu is that Jesus was first seen in Jerusalem. That is a big contradiction, not something that is merely how different witnesses saw or remembered it.

Pix
Gary said…
Some scholars believe that the original Resurrection belief originated in Galilee. The author of Mark was simply filling in the story to bridge between Jesus' death in Jerusalem and the appearance sightings which began in Galilee. I believe that the author of Matthew "fleshed out" this Galilean theme. The author of Luke, on the other hand, added sightings in Jerusalem to the story. The author of John stuck with the Jerusalem sightings, and then sometime later, whoever wrote chapter 21 of John added a Galilean scene.

I believe the detailed appearance stories in the Gospels are clearly literary inventions, one author adding onto the previous author's story and adding his own new details for literary purposes: to make a good story.
Gary said…
“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”

Mark 16:6-7

Why does the author of the Gospel of Luke omit this command of Jesus, spoken by the young man (angel?) to the women at the Empty Tomb? It is not as if the author of Luke was unfamiliar with this story. After all, scholars say that he borrowed (plagiarized?) 60% of the Gospel of Mark in his book. So why would he never mention this command? Why would he never mention any appearances in Galilee?

Answer: He knew that “Mark” had made it up! Luke knew that Mark had created a fictional account of a young man in the tomb telling the women to tell the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee. Therefore, Luke felt completely free to ignore this detail…and create his own fictional account…but this time with two angels, not one young man, and with appearances in Jerusalem, not Galilee!

And then there’s this: The author of Luke says that “many” authors had already written about Jesus. Was he referring to Matthew in this “many”? We don’t know. But we do know that scholars believe that in addition to Mark’s Gospel, Luke and Matthew borrowed from another source, Q. Did Q include this command of Jesus for the disciples to meet him in Galilee? We don’t know, but it seems odd that if Q had the same appearance claims in Jerusalem that Luke has, that Matthew would completely omit these Jerusalem appearances.

So here is an even bigger question: Did Luke know that the Resurrection accounts in Mark, Q, and Matthew were ALL fictional and that is why he felt free to write a completely new fictional account of appearances in Jerusalem, ignoring Jesus’ command for the disciples to meet him in Galilee?
Gary said…
Joe said above that the majority of scholars do not believe that the Gospels are Greco-Roman biographies and that this is just something floating around on atheist blogs. However, Evangelical Christian scholar Mike Licona seems to disagree. He makes the following statement in one of his books, entitled: "Why are there differences in the Gospels?"

"...a growing MAJORITY of scholars regard the Gospels as Greco-Roman biography."

I'd be curious about the opinions of author authors on this blog regarding this subject. If the Gospels are Greco-Roman biographies as Mike Licona agrees with me that they are, that would resolve the "discrepancy problem" because discrepancies in non-essential details and even the addition of minor embellishments were perfectly acceptable in that genre of writing.
Joe Hinman said…
Joe said above that the majority of scholars do not believe that the Gospels are Greco-Roman biographies and that this is just something floating around on atheist blogs. However, Evangelical Christian scholar Mike Licona seems to disagree. He makes the following statement in one of his books, entitled: "Why are there differences in the Gospels?"

"...a growing MAJORITY of scholars regard the Gospels as Greco-Roman biography."


I might be out of date but I'm not an Evangelical so I'm not impressed with that guy just because he is one.

I'd be curious about the opinions of author authors on this blog regarding this subject. If the Gospels are Greco-Roman biographies as Mike Licona agrees with me that they are, that would resolve the "discrepancy problem" because discrepancies in non-essential details and even the addition of minor embellishments were perfectly acceptable in that genre of writing.

I already said your approach is plausible I am not rigidly committed to my harmony

Joe Hinman said…
https://www.amazon.com/What-Are-Gospels-Comparison-Graeco-Roman/dp/0802809715

What are the Gospels

by a guy named Burridge. looks like a real helpful book on the issue, It says the idea of Gospels as Greek bio was 19th century denied for most of 20th and is commingle back, it;s resurgence not exactly the same the 19th century view.

I went to seminary in late 80s early 90s s0 in my day that idea was preposterous,
Gary said…
I'm really pleased to hear that you believe that my naturalistic explanation for the early Christian resurrection belief is plausible. Many Christians are unwilling to admit that.

This is what many skeptics want to hear: Christians admit that there ARE plausible, naturalistic explanations for the early Christian Resurrection belief. Christians simply believe that the Christian supernatural/mystical/miraculous explanation is MORE plausible.
Joe Hinman said…
sorry to disappoint you. I didn't say that,I said the bio is a plausible answer for the differences in they accounts how many women who saw the tomb first ect, not that it explians the whole Resurrection idea.
Gary said…
So you don't believe that there are any possible, plausible naturalistic explanations for the entire Resurrection belief? May I present you with one and let you tell me why it is not plausible?
Joe Hinman said…
of course there is theoretically but the evidence suggests something more.
Gary said…
Theoretically space aliens could have taken the body, if we allow for all possibilities. But I am limiting the possibilities to what is PLAUSIBLE; what would be reasonable to the average educated person. Most educated people would not believe that space alien abduction is a plausible explanation for the early Christian belief in Jesus' resurrection.

But I believe that I can present to you an alternative, naturalistic explanation that explains all the non-contested facts (Habermas' Minimal Facts) related to the early Christian Resurrection belief. You may believe that the bodily resurrection BETTER explains the facts, but my explanation still explains all the facts. My point is this: If we skeptics can present alternative, naturalistic explanations for the early Christian resurrection belief that explains all the minimal facts, doesn't this demonstrate that the debate over the Resurrection really isn't about evidence for the Resurrection itself, it is about the existence of your miracle-producing deity, Yahweh?

May I present my plausible, naturalistic explanation?
Jason Pratt said…
I'm not personally a big fan of Habermas' Minimal Fact list, but I think it's a legitimate set of goal posts to shoot for clearing, since it's now commonly appealed to: i.e., if even only the Minimal Fact list is accepted, only a Christian Resurrection scenario provides a plausible explanation.

It can be a good counter-test (at least in principle, maybe even in practice) to challenge for an alternate plausible explanation, although there's always going to be variances in what counts as plausible: no one committed to atheism philosophically (whether naturalistically or supernaturalistically) will ever think it's plausible for an ultimate deity to have done it, for example, and so by that standard a lesser deity (in effect space aliens) would always be relatively more plausible (even if not as plausible as some other natural explanation); whereas an agnostic might have no means of gauging the relative plausibility of an ultimate deity doing the deed and so be in much the same boat despite being philosophically open to the possibility. (There are variations for other non-atheistic philosophies, too: a dedicated nominal deist would think space aliens more relatively plausible since the ultimate deity wouldn't be expected to act in Nature; a consistent cosmological dualist might think the ultimate deity acting in Nature is impossible for various reasons depending on what the other independent fact is supposed to be in opposition; a dedicated Jew might regard the resurrection as implausible or impossible due to beliefs about YHWH; and any of them might consider a non-exotic explanation more plausible than an exotic one like aliens or whatever less than God Most High.)

There are also varying levels of non-exotic plausibility, which could be affected for a person by having only an average education. Legendary accretion of Gospel details from Paul's kergyma of appearances can sound plausible to the average person, until they take the time to notice that none of the appearance stories either separately or in any harmonization follow at all cleanly as elaborations on that list. And yet scholars who professionally know the details there, still try to sell that line of approach as being plausible for an explanation of the story details.

But anyway: that's not to diss the exercise, it's still worth doing, as long as there are realistic expectations about what a success would involve. The full case isn't a minimal case, so a plausible non-exotic minimal fact explanation might run into implausibility trouble beyond the minimally accepted details (and even the minimally accepted details might have sub-details or implications not readily considered by an average educated person.) And that could be true even apart from the philosophical issues: a rank atheist might still run into trouble on an otherwise plausible minimal explanation, on further examination of the minimally accepted fact list or on further examination of details beyond the minimally accepted fact list.

Qualifications kept thus in mind, sure, present the naturalistic explanation for the minimal accepted facts list that you personally find plausible.

JRP
Jason Pratt said…
For example, since you already presented what you consider a plausible, naturalistic explanation upthread:

Gary: {{Therefore, it is possible that in circa 65-75 CE: Mark added a fictional Empty Tomb pericope to the core historical Jesus story as told in the Early Creed}}

While that may sound plausible to people of average education, who are unfamiliar with the details; as I pointed out in detail last September, that isn't a plausible claim when more details are considered or even historically possible (in the sense that had he done so there would have been results along the line of set A or B, but instead there were results along the line of set Z). Nothing I argued in that series (or its predecessor) required anything beyond atheism to be true either -- even as an atheist, I wouldn't believe Mark invented the empty tomb, neither plausibly nor as a historical possibility (although I could grant the metaphysical possibility in the sense that it isn't a self-contradictory or nonsense claim.)

It also, by the way, doesn't count for the list popularly used by Habermas and Craig: one of the minimal facts (they claim) accepted by the vast majority of historians across the ideological board is that Jesus' tomb was found empty. So be sure not to use this concept in your theory -- replacing one of the minimal fact list claims with a totally different claim, doesn't count as plausibly explaining the minimal fact per se.

JRP
Jason Pratt said…
Incidentally, as one of the blog authors, and one who has actually read all of Licona's book (I don't know if he's evangelical per se but his scholarship averages quite high, and I'd hand it to anyone on any side of the aisle), he does claim (principally on pages 202-204) that in the past 50 years there has been a massive surge among scholars toward the Gospels being a subset of bioi, although modern disputants of that conclusion still often regard the genre as being some other historically relevant form. (Witherington being the cited example in favor of historiography, allowing that the two genres overlapped a lot.)

A biographical genre form isn't necessarily accurate in its historical claims to various degrees and for various reasons, as Licona acknowledges; but just as claims of non-historical genre forms are deployed to signal the intentions of the authors, so does a conclusion of a historical genre form involve evaluating the intentions of the authors: they're intending to present details as history to some relevant degree, not as verisimilitude for a work otherwise intended to be read as fiction (edifying or entertaining as the fiction might be intended to be). Licona is cautious about how far he deploys any of his points, including this one.

JRP
Gary said…
Ok, I will present what I believe to be a possible, plausible, naturalistic explanation for the early Christian Resurrection belief. A couple of caveats. First, I am not trying to prove WHAT happened. To do that, I would need to provide evidence for every statement in my scenario. That is not my objective. I am simply providing a possible, plausible scenario that explains all the non-disputed facts (Habermas'Minimal Facts), similar to what a police detective would do when he (or she) first begins to investigate a crime. He thinks of each plausible scenario that incorporates all the available evidence, starting with the most plausible, and rules them out one by one. Second, I am NOT ruling out the possibility or the plausibility of a supernatural explanation or the existence of a Creator God. However, I am asking that we exclude, for this discussion, the assumption of the existence of the miracle-producing deity, Yahweh. If one assumes the existence of the miracle-producing deity Yahweh, and assumes that Yahweh has predicted in Scripture that he will raise Jesus from the dead, then of course, a resurrection is the most probable explanation, and in fact, it is the only plausible explanation. So here is my scenario:

Jesus is crucified and buried in Arimathea’s tomb. Sometime between the placement of the body in the tomb late Friday afternoon and early Sunday morning, someone moves the body. The women come to the tomb and find it empty. They tell the disciples. The disciples believe that the tomb is empty because Jesus has risen from the dead, just as he had promised. One of the disciples, probably Simon Peter, has an hallucination. In it, Jesus appears to him in the flesh and tells him to spread the Gospel to the world. Peter tells the others. The entire group is overcome with joy bordering on hysteria. Soon other individuals are having vivid dreams, false sightings, and maybe even their own hallucinations of the risen Jesus. Groups of believers begin to claim seeing Jesus, similar to groups of people today claiming to see the Virgin Mary.

Jesus' brother James, at one time a skeptic, had converted prior to the crucifixion. He was therefore caught up in the hysteria regarding Peter’s hallucination as a believer. He subsequently had his own experience of "seeing" Jesus, similar to the disciples. Several years later, Paul had an experience in which he “saw” the dead Jesus and thereafter believed that he received numerous, private transmissions (revelations) directly from God. Paul suffered from a "thorn in the flesh": mental illness.

And the resurrection belief spread far and wide. The once timid, fearful disciples were emboldened by their “resurrection appearance” experiences and were willing to face terrible persecution and even death for their beliefs.

Now, I know Christians will refuse to believe this is what happened. But I am not trying to prove that this is what happened. I am only trying to demonstrate that there are multiple plausible, naturalistic explanations for this ancient belief, and I believe that based on cumulative human experience, these explanations are much more probable than a never heard of before or since resurrection/reanimation of a dead corpse.
Jason Pratt said…
Gary,

I appreciate the incorporation of the minimal broadly (though of course not universally) accepted facts. (A different strategy worth trying would be to challenge the minimal fact set, as you've also done occasionally. I'm not against the attempt in principle, but I appreciate precision about what different strategies involve.)

Without presumption of exotic factors, allow me to consider points of problematic plausibility -- not apparently that you find them problematic, of course (I'll take you seriously when you say you think these are plausible), but I personally would still find them implausible as an atheist.

(1) Someone moves the body. This is presented as being sufficiently plausible, simply as a statement in itself. But even without consideration of the second half of the tomb guard story (and I would conclude the body of Jesus went missing this early based on that polemic artifact, as in my Curious Key series several years ago -- I'll be providing a link set for convenience Wed morning), I don't find this historically plausible as a normal operation. The body wouldn't normally be moved for a year; there is no reason given to plausibly move it before then; no plausible explanation is given why an otherwise unexplained normal movement of the body wouldn't be quickly explained by whoever moved it; no plausible explanation is given for an abnormal movement of the body which would be kept secret afterward.

(breaking up in parts for posting character limits)
Jason Pratt said…
(2) The women tell the disciples the body is gone, and the disciples believe this means Jesus has risen from the dead as he promised. That sounds plausible on the face of it, but it does not plausibly lead to several extant data characteristics: in all early narrative accounts (even the longer, late ending of GosMark), the authoritative disciples are not the first (human) allies to believe Jesus has risen (except for the "beloved disciple" in GosJohn and he keeps his belief private until later, so his belief doesn't fit the theory either), but the women are -- whom the disciples then reject. (The late verse in GosLuke about Peter leaving to go see the tomb cannot be counted against this point for several reasons.) As I pointed out in a series back in September (links again for convenience on Wed morning), the empty tomb is, for all practical purposes, disassociated in the eventual shape of the data from the authoritative witness and belief of the disciples. A proposal that does not plausibly lead to the generation of data which is quite the opposite of the proposal, is not a proposal I myself can plausibly accept.

On the other hand, let me acknowledge that the proposal as stated does not exactly equate to explaining hallucinations by appeal to a prior expectation of resurrection; which would also run implausibly foul to arrive at the eventual data, for related reasons. As stated your proposal allows for the missing body to encourage a change of beliefs to such an expectation from which then hallucinations follow.

Also, if the young man in GosMark is the same young man as the beloved disciple in GosJohn (which I think is quite likely though not certain, by the way), then his belief in the resurrection of Jesus would in fact have some public effect. But it still wouldn't be the authorities who first believe it and so who as authorities create further expectation, which is what your theory requires, and which still doesn't lead to the eventual shape of the data: John Mark being mistaken for an angel by some of the women (not by Mary Mag apparently), still dead-ends with the women coming back and being rejected in a resurrection belief by the authorities in the eventual data set.
Jason Pratt said…
(3) One of the authoritative disciples, probably Simon Peter, has the first vision of Christ. While that sounds plausible on the face of it, and would fit the 1 Cor 15 kerygma, it does not lead plausibly (including, perhaps especially, via the 1 Cor 15 kerygma) to the shape of the narrative data where one or more women, or some unimportant disciples (in GosLuke, possibly including Mary Clopas with her husband), are the first to see the risen Christ. This even becomes a major stumbling block for early sceptics like Celsus: so the crazy woman in the group is the first person to see the risen Jesus, hm?


(4) Groups of people begin to claim seeing Jesus, similar to groups of people today claiming to see the Virgin Mary. This rather begs the question against groups of people seeing the Virgin; but more to the point while the science of mass delusion has advanced in recent decades, mass visual delusions (assuming delusion is the correct explanation) so far focus on static locations even when persons are hallucinated, not on persons actually doing things. I would consider a relatively more plausible non-exotic explanation here to be invention of mass encounters; although there might be subsequent plausibility problems with this depending on timing and details. (If early, inventions could be checked by authorities supposedly present or by their appointed successors, unless a conspiracy of invention by the authorities is proposed. If later beyond the point of correction, other details might prove problematic for fitting.) I might revise the implausibility of mass hallucination of singular personal activity upward later, however, depending on advances in psychological science; and I acknowledge that however plausible such a mass hallucination could be, it's relatively more plausible later in your account where you've put it than earlier, so I appreciate that point.
Jason Pratt said…
(5) Paul suffered from mental illness. I personally find this implausible based on the texts generally acknowledged from him even by most sceptics, compared to my experience around mental illness severe enough to account for Paul's visionary switch. I acknowledge however that this difference in plausibility may arise partly out of my estimation of the competency of the author of Acts at reporting mundane details, combined with his evident signals of being part of Paul's group for an extended period of time. And I'll acknowledge the same material does feature at least one opponent accusing Paul of having been driven mad by overstudy. The question is how plausible that estimate is, based on a general accuracy of the Acts author at reporting facts and behaviors about Paul, combined with how Paul thinks in even the several generally accepted epistles. To this I will add, perhaps parenthetically, that I would still not be impressed with late authorship arguments for the other canonical Pauline epistles as an atheist.

But I allow that my estimations on this aren't your estimations; I am only pointing out that I am keeping a large set of data relevant to the question of Paul's sanity in view: does a mental illness severe enough to create visions of Jesus, lead plausibly to the eventual shape of that data? I think not, you think so.
Jason Pratt said…
(6) And the resurrection belief spread far and wide. I might agree with the plausibility of this on some other non-exotic theories, but not really on the grounds of the theory you've given. A bunch of hysteric enthusiasts and mentally ill people, trying to convince Jews and Gentiles to follow a crucified Jew as lord of their lives in a cultural context where both Romans and Jews are willing and able to come down harshly on that attempt? -- because the crucified man's body went missing? -- a body that went missing for no plausible reason in your theory yet, and so which could show up or otherwise be authoritatively accounted for to scotch this movement at any early time, in a cultural context where most everyone will want to stop it? I can't consider that a plausible path, yet, to the resurrection belief spreading far and wide.


Gary: {{Now, I know Christians will refuse to believe this is what happened.}} I'd normally refuse to believe this particular theory as an atheist, too. I might not know what to believe about what happened yet (other than within my philosophical constraints), but I would feel pretty desperate for an explanation if I thought I had to accept this one. I wouldn't regard it as plausible; and I wouldn't regard accepting an implausible explanation as a normally plausible explanation. If I absolutely had to accept it, I would instead something like, yeah this implausible explanation is the best I can figure out to believe, so in lieu of anything better I guess I'll go with this -- because an implausible explanation is better than an impossible explanation!

But unless I was deductively forced to accept an implausible explanation, I'd rather just be agnostic about it.

JRP
Gary said…
Hi Jason,

Thank you for your extensive review of my scenario. First, however, I must remind you that I am not trying to prove what happened. I am only suggesting a possible explanation of what MIGHT have happened. This is analogous to a police detective gathering all the evidence in a case and then considering all possible scenarios that incorporate the evidence. He or she would then begin eliminating each possible scenario, starting with the most plausible scenario.

In this "crime" the police detective has a missing dead body and an empty tomb. He is aware of the burial customs of the culture and he is aware that guards were posted at some time period after the body was placed in the tomb. However, he is also aware of these known facts: 1. Some people do violate cultural customs in some situations. 2. The guards were not stationed at the tomb for the entire period of time. 3. Even the best of soldiers can sleep on the job or go AWOL. 4. Weird things happen. 5. People rob graves. 6. People steal dead bodies for weird purposes.

Bottom line: It is plausible that someone moved the body. If it were not plausible, Matthew would not have the Sanhedrin spreading the story that the disciples moved the body.
Gary said…
I suggest that before I address your other points, we resolve this first issue. I certainly understand if you believe that it is "unlikely" that someone moved the body, but to say that it is "implausible" that someone moved the body means that it is "not a reasonable explanation". In order for you to say this I believe you would need to prove that no graves in first century Palestine were ever robbed and bodies stolen. Even if there was ONE instance of a grave being robbed and the body stolen, "someone moving/stealing" the body would then be a reasonable explanation (although, I agree, unlikely explanation, since it is so rare). And I would contend that probability suggests that more than one grave was robbed in first century Palestine.

Do you see my point? That someone moved the body of Jesus may be very, very unlikely, but it is still a plausible (reasonable) explanation regardless of how unlikely it might be. What do you think?
Gary said…
And here are some interesting statistics to look at:

It is estimated that 108 billion people have existed on planet earth. There are approximately 7 billion people alive today. If we subtract the number of living people today from the total number who have ever existed, we arrive at the number of people who have ever died: 101 billion people.

Allowing, as we should, for the existence of the supernatural and for the existence of a Creator God, even Christians will admit that there has only been ONE resurrected dead body in all of human history (if at all). Therefore the maximum probability of a resurrection is 1 in 101,000,000,000.

We must then ask these questions: Did the Sanhedrin ever move dead bodies, for whatever reason, shortly after burying them in the first century? Even if they did so only TWICE, then the moving of a dead body by the Sanhedrin is more probable than a resurrection. What about the Romans? Did Pilate or any other Roman governor, for whatever reason, ever order the removal of a Jewish body shortly after it had been buried during the first century? Even if they did so only twice, then the moving of a dead body is more probable than a resurrection. What about grave robbers? Did grave robbers ever rob first century graves and steal bodies in and around Jerusalem in the first century? Even if they did so only twice, then the moving of the body by grave robbers is more probable than a resurrection. And we can repeat the same logic by substituting in the following people: a minority faction of the disciples; the wealthy Mary Magdalene and her servants; family members of Jesus; collectors of holy relics (the bones of holy men); etc., etc..

I realize that Christians can present numerous reasons why these groups of people would not have AS A GENERAL RULE moved the body, but the point is: Christians cannot rule out that SOMEONE, for whatever reason, moved the body, and the moving of the body by any one of these groups is much more probable than a never heard of before or since resurrection even allowing for the existence of the supernatural and a Creator God.
Jason Pratt said…
Before I continue, let me take a moment to fairly allow that if all we had was the minimal accepted list of four facts, sitting in an otherwise vacuum of data, I would find your theory somewhat more plausible by proportion to the further lack of data, although the final point (of madmen and hysterics steadily growing a Res belief in the face of the cultural problems endemic for doing so) would still be implausible by proportion to the mental infirmities involved.

This brings us to the question of improbable implausibilities.

Gary: {{That someone moved the body of Jesus may be very, very unlikely, but it is still a plausible (reasonable) explanation regardless of how unlikely it might be. What do you think? }}

I think one of us thinks implausibilities are unlikely and that plausibilities are likely, and that there is no use in talking as though highly unlikely scenarios are plausible; while the other of us thinks plausibility means something more like logically valid so that likelihood and unlikelihood are not necessarily relevant to plausibility.

If we are talking at such radical differences in meaning about what plausibility and implausibility entails, it's going to be difficult to have a meaningful conversation about plausibilities. But perhaps some of this difference can be set aside, as my differences in estimation concern various kinds of incoherency with data generation.

For what it's worth, I actually pointed out that I might decide an implausible explanation was nevertheless a reasonable and even correct explanation, which is entirely consonant with implausibilities being unlikely: sometimes we must conclude that unlikely explanations are the true ones, even when nominally more likely explanations are available.

Gary: {{I must remind you that I am not trying to prove what happened.}}

So you said, and I didn't evaluate the proposal that way.

Gary: {{I am only suggesting a possible explanation of what MIGHT have happened.}}

You were supposed to be suggesting a plausible explanation of what might have happened. Not merely a logically possible one.

But this may get back to our difference on whether plausible means only logically coherent or not. "The personal ultimate ground of all existence raised Jesus from the dead" is a technically valid explanation for what might have happened, in the sense that it isn't a nonsense statement or self-contradictory; but I know I wouldn't consider it a plausible explanation as an agnostic about God's existence who is provisionally willing to allow it to be possible, much less as an atheist. I wouldn't consider it a plausible explanation as a devout non-Christian Jew either, or several other kinds of theist. I don't get the impression you acknowledge that as a plausible explanation either, much less as equally plausible with some number of other explanations you otherwise prefer despite allowing them equal plausibility.

If I've somehow misunderstood you and you do regard God raising Jesus from the dead as a plausible explanation (or even moreso, as an equally plausible explanation among alternatives you otherwise prefer despite equal plausibility with this proposal), I suppose I could try to understand that.

If you don't regard that as a plausible explanation, I can easily understand that! -- but then we would both seem not to be using plausibility to mean mere logical possibility or formal validity, but instead a meaning more directly connected to likelihood. (Except I'm being more consistent about that meaning.)
Jason Pratt said…
Gary: {{[The officer] would then begin eliminating each possible scenario, starting with the most plausible scenario.}}

So you aren't actually talking about mere logical possibility when talking about relative levels of plausibility: something is logically possible or it isn't, and the logically impossible would have already been eliminated.

Also, what you just described is part of a method of proving what happened, by elimination of what didn't happen, after having already established options as relatively plausible both absolutely and compared to each other. Which is not itself the process of establishing plausibility.

{{He is aware of the burial customs of the culture and he is aware that guards were posted at some time period after the body was placed in the tomb.}}

He should be aware that simply proposing "someone moved the body" makes no sense in that situation, then. He should have been trying something more specific.

I will note here that you acknowledge guards for the body, which makes a relatively plausible body theft (by someone looking for magical reagents from a holy and/or notorious and/or magical an) somewhat more implausible again. This might be adjusted further down or back up depending on whether the purpose for the guards can be established.

To continue: your original proposal was only that someone moved the body, and what I said was that you gave no plausible reason to move it before its normal and entirely expected and explicable movement a year later (although I acknowledge I'm appealing here to historical cultural details which might be regarded as outside the minimal four facts list -- as I said, I am not a big fan of Habermas and Craig's rhetorical tactic there). Consequently, "I don't find this [bare proposal] historically plausible as a normal operation."

If you wish to adjust this proposal to a normal operation of grave robbery, I will reply that so far as it goes I am willing to agree that grave robbery of someone holy and/or notorious for various typical reasons, is a plausible explanation for the body going missing, so long as we are only considering the bare four facts in an otherwise historical vacuum.

I will then, however, consider it proportionately implausible that a plausible explanation which makes proportionately plausible sense in that time and place, would lead so strongly to an exotic, counter-cultural belief instead -- an increasingly popular belief culturally dangerous for these powerless people to be holding and spreading.

Subsequent proposals about the expectation of the disciples strengthening a misunderstanding of what would normally be regarded as the case (i.e. someone has moved the body for some reason, "and we don't know where they have taken it" as MaryMag tells Peter and the Beloved Disciple in GosJohn), might seem plausible on a bare four facts restriction; but then I would disagree (as I did) that proposals of disciple expectation about a resurrection plausibly lead to the shape of the resultant data as I mentioned before: where even after the women report back from the tomb, claiming to have angelic visions, the disciples reportedly dismiss them.
Jason Pratt said…
Still, grave robbery by random grave robbers is better than a mere claim of someone moving the body: at least it's a claim with a plausibility that can be gauged. "Someone moved the body" is rather null for plausiblity evaluation outside a context.

Grave robbery in the cultural situation noted seems to be more plausible later after deterioration has helped break down the body, and less plausible earlier. Also, grave robbery in the cultural situation seems less plausible for the whole body and more plausible for a few parts. (Allowing that we're talking about the general motive for going after the body itself instead of after things buried with the body; the latter of which would be more plausibly normal, but we're talking about a blaspheming magician and/or holy man which could be expected to attract people interested in body parts.) Also, as previously noted, the presence of guards makes any kind of grave (but particularly full body) robbing intrinsically less plausible without more proposed details. And historically acknowledged details such as the motive of the guards might push body robbery plausibility lower still.


{{However, he is also aware of these known facts: 1. Some people do violate cultural customs in some situations.}}

Less plausibly when there's less chance of them getting away with it. Such as robbing a whole body soon after death with guards around, rather than waiting a few months and robbing a few important parts which are now more easily able to be separated from the corpse, and always more easy to transport and hide, with no guards around.

{{2. The guards were not stationed at the tomb for the entire period of time.}}

Which he knows if he has acknowledged the story of the assignment of the guards as historical; in which case he has no grounds (and rather the opposite) to dismiss or ignore the purpose of the guards, which was to ascertain that the body had not been stolen yet before setting up on station. This factor thus is irrelevant: the testimony of the guards which GosMatt and his Jewish opponents are disputing about, isn't that they got there too late and the body was already gone.

{{3. Even the best of soldiers can sleep on the job or go AWOL.}}

Less plausibly all at once on a job which they have motivation to perform correctly. This leads to why GosMatt's opponents are willing to accept a weak story of guard testimony that the disciples stole the body while the guards were all asleep: evidently the story was originally backed, at some time in the past, by major authority which the Jewish group was willing to accept despite the story's weakness. It isn't too hard to figure out what that authority would be. Nor is it hard to figure out why that authority (i.e. the Sanhedrin) would quietly drop backing that testimony after a panicked first response: because it's stupidly weak, and only seems to make sense during a panicked first response to try to get ahead of public rumor and scotch the expected tactic by the disciples.

{{5. People rob graves.}}

Basically a repeat of (1), already factored as very implausible under the acknowledged circumstances.

{{ 6. People steal dead bodies for weird purposes.}}

Basically a repeat of (1) etc.

So, actually three things the officer is aware of to gauge the plausibility of the guarded body being stolen, one of which is totally irrelevant; so actually two things, plus two repeats to make one of the two seem more plausible by repetition. Not a good sign!

Oh, and {{4. Weird things happen.}} True, but not specifically very helpful. Weird things are, as weird things do, after all, and I suspect there are levels of weird things you are not prepared to regard as plausible.
Jason Pratt said…
{{Bottom line: It is plausible that someone moved the body. If it were not plausible, Matthew would not have the Sanhedrin spreading the story that the disciples moved the body.}}

Bottom line: body stealing (not merely "someone moved the body") sounds plausible at first, until fridge logic sets in on further consideration of the guards' testimony, which is why Matthew's opponents are talking about the disciples stealing the body with a ludicrous explanation (all the guards fell asleep and never woke up as the stone was being rolled away and the body exhumed) that wouldn't be accepted or even worth seriously replying to unless the Sanhedrin had backed that explanation. Which Matthew and his opponents are both aware of, but which backing seems to have dropped very quickly (possibly even long before the tail end of polemic GosMatt is responding to), because no one else even bothers to talk about it.

On this theory Matthew might have invented the explanation of the Sanhedrin bribing the guards to testify publicly they all dishonorably failed their duty in a highly implausible way; but considering it isn't plausible that the guards would voluntarily ruin themselves like this, a promise of payment and protection from formal governing prosecution is at least not a bad guess.

The adventure of the guards (even only the second half of that story, involving their testimony) leads to a significant number of other historical inferences, too. But that's another discussion.

Let me acknowledge, though, that I don't think implausibilities in the grave robbing part of the discussion so far, impinge directly on elements of your plausibility theory past (1); but those have their own problems. (I wouldn't say all your elements do, just the ones I marked as implausible -- to me anyway.)

JRP
Jason Pratt said…
Gary: {{Allowing, as we should, for the existence of the supernatural and for the existence of a Creator God, even Christians will admit that there has only been ONE resurrected dead body in all of human history (if at all). Therefore the maximum probability of a resurrection is 1 in 101,000,000,000.}}

Leaving aside as irrelevant there are other raisings from the dead we acknowledge, since statistically that would make no significant difference and besides there's a qualitative difference we accept between resurrection and merely raising someone from the dead so in that sense we're back to one so far... {inhale}

...there's a category error here. Probability of the sort you're talking about is random automatic behavior of a system; but you're applying it to a claim not like someone rolling a total of two pips on two six-sided dice but like someone flipping both sides to six and then adding a third die with one pip showing for a total of thirteen.

You are welcome to try making a historically plausible case for each or any of the various parties you suggested; but the historical plausibility of the actions of persons within a historical context of various acknowledged facts, is not the same as a mathematic probability calculation of expected repeats of a random system fluctuation.

I suspect you realize that you don't know of a plausible case for the body being moved, though, or you wouldn't be disassociating plausibility from likelihood and trying to appeal to this category error to make an unlikely explanation seem plausible. The attempt is even more pointless since I'm evaluating plausibility of theories as an atheist; I'm not even comparing a question of plausibility to whether an ultimate God did it. You'll have to make your plausibility case without appeal to God comparatively.

Although, since you mention it, don't you regard it as a little weird that earlier yesterday when we started this, you were willing to allow that "If one assumes the existence of the miracle-producing deity Yahweh, and assumes that Yahweh has predicted in Scripture that he will raise Jesus from the dead, then of course, a resurrection is the most probable explanation, and in fact, it is the only plausible explanation," and yet recently you're back to God being maximally improbable as the explanation regardless of how unlikely any other explanation is, even if a supernatural Creator God's existence is true?

I mean, I appreciate the allowance earlier, but... that looks awfully inconsistent??! I can't fathom changing my mind that radically on any topic of such complexity (or any complexity really) that quickly on apparently no basis. (I'm not even sure I, the hyper-orthodox Christian theologian, would so blithely clip off that if such and such is true then God raising Jesus must be the only plausible explanation.)

JRP
Gary said…
Again, thank you for your detailed response, Jason.

First, I do not understand your point regarding my position on Yahweh and a Creator God. My position is that if one assumes the existence of Yahweh and the existence and accuracy of Yahweh's OT prophecies regarding Jesus and his death and resurrection, the Resurrection is the only plausible explanation for the evidence. However, if we do NOT assume the existence of Yahweh, but DO assume the existence of a miracle-producing Creator God, the evidence suggests that the Creator God does not perform resurrections! Could he (or she, or they, or it) is all-powerful? Sure. But it seems he has chosen not to. That is my point. I am not making any judgment as to the evidence for a Creator in this discussion.
Gary said…
I believe that we are making our discussion regarding "plausibility" much more complicated than is necessary. May we attempt to agree on a definition? How about this:

a plausible explanation: an explanation which most educated Americans would find reasonable to explain a particular event, even if that explanation has a low likelihood to be the correct explanation.

Example: My keys are missing this morning.

1. Very plausible explanation: I misplaced them.
2. Very plausible explanation: My wife moved them.
3. Plausible, but much less likely explanation: Someone broke into my house last night and stole them.
4. Maybe possible, but implausible explanation: Aliens from the planet Neptune landed on my roof last night and beamed my keys into their spacecraft through my solid roof.

So to me a "plausible explanation" is an explanation that is believable to most educated people, even if it has a low probability of being the correct explanation. An implausible explanation is an explanation that most people are not going to believe under any circumstances.

I would suggest that the overwhelming majority of non-Christians (religious and non-religious) will NOT agree with you that my scenario that someone could have moved (includes stealing) the body of Jesus is implausible, using my definition above. Unlikely, maybe. Implausible, no.

Can we agree on this definition of "plausible"?

Gary said…
Ok, so maybe that is just a bridge too far for you.

You said this: "If you wish to adjust this proposal to a normal operation of grave robbery, I will reply that so far as it goes I am willing to agree that grave robbery of someone holy and/or notorious for various typical reasons, is a plausible explanation for the body going missing, so long as we are only considering the bare four facts in an otherwise historical vacuum."

Ok, so we agree that it is plausible, when only considering the bare four facts in an otherwise historical vacuum, that the Empty Tomb can be explained by theft of the body.

Very good.

So sometime between the placing of Jesus' body in the tomb late Friday afternoon and the arrival of the women early Sunday morning, grave robbers steal the body of the notorious, Jesus of Nazareth.

We agree that this is a plausible scenario.

Sunday morning, the women arrive and find an Empty Tomb. They run and tell the disciples. Some of the disciples, including Peter and the "Beloved Disciple" run to the tomb. Mary Magdalene returns to the tomb. Mary believes that someone has moved the body. The Beloved Disciple sees the Empty Tomb as evidence of the Resurrection. Peter is unsure of what to make of the Empty Tomb and goes to home to ponder the events of the day.

That night, the Beloved Disciple cannot sleep. He stays up all night. Due to a lack of sleep and intense emotions, he experiences an hallucination. In his hallucination, Jesus appears to him in the flesh and tells him to tell the other disciples that he is risen; that he is the first fruits of the Resurrection; the general resurrection of all the righteous is soon to follow---the Kingdom of God is at hand!

This news creates great excitement among the disciples, bordering on hysteria. Soon other disciples are "seeing" Jesus in vivid dreams, false sightings, illusions, and some even experience their own hallucinations. Groups of disciples "see" Jesus similar to groups of people today "seeing" the Virgin Mary. These group sightings of Jesus are NOT the detailed stories of Jesus walking, talking, and eating that we find in the Gospels---these stories are Greco-Roman literary embellishments. The real group appearances were sightings of a static image.

Can we agree that this step is plausible?
Jason Pratt said…
Gary: {{Ok, so maybe that is just a bridge too far for you.}}

Or maybe I've been busy at work. Done with that now, so...

Gary: {{I believe that we are making our discussion regarding "plausibility" much more complicated than is necessary.}}

I've been treating plausibility consistently, as being a normal expectation of acceptable likelihood in a proposed situation. I've allowed that this means different people can regard the same propositions as plausible or implausible. Nothing in my usage has invited convenient confusion in favor of my beliefs or disbeliefs.

And in fact, despite your attempt at disassociating likelihood and plausibility again, your example ends up connecting them: the lower plausibility of theft is much less likely, and you don't bother qualifying how much lower in plausibility compared to "very plausible" for more likely scenarios. The highly unlikely scenario is rated as implausible -- but you just skip calling it highly unlikely (or unlikely at all). Which you can get away with doing, because people generally understand that implausible things are unlikely and plausible things are likely.


Gary: {{a plausible explanation: an explanation which most educated Americans would find reasonable to explain a particular event, even if that explanation has a low likelihood to be the correct explanation.}}

So, since most educated Americans still believe God raised Jesus from the dead, we can now say you accept this as a more plausible explanation than a nominally naturalistic explanation of aliens from the planet Neptune landing on the rock and beaming Jesus' body to their spacecraft through the solid rock? Unless you're not American? Or not educated? Or not an educated American? Or you have a specific notion of education unstated, which you can refine down until you get a specific class of education which would allow you to redefine the plausibility levels?

In any case I remain highly suspicious of your attempts at disassociating plausibility from likelihood. Your prior occasional attempts at making plausibility equal mere logical possibility regardless of likelihood, don't fit your definition (Neptunians = possible perhaps BUT IMPLAUSIBLE), but do share the disassociation with likelihood.


Gary: {{Can we agree on this definition of "plausible"?}}

No -- if only because I am highly aware that specialists familiar with data are going to have different estimates of plausibilities than even otherwise highly educated unspecialists unfamiliar with data (regardless of their nationality).

But also because you're setting up unlikely plausibilities you know are historically unlikely and yet you want them to be accepted as legitimate historical explanations, which aren't really trying to explain anything historically or otherwise, based on your feeling that non-explanatory unlikely plausibilities are relevant to historical explanations somehow; and even that such non-explanatory unlikely plausible explanations should be accepted because they parallel attempts by detectives to figure out what did and did not really historically happen which you emphatically claim you are NOT trying to do in order to head off levels of criticism of your plausibilities being of no real use in doing that but still they should be accepted as being on par with doing just that...

...and that's a bunch of gibberishy convenience.
Jason Pratt said…
Gary: {{Now, I know Christians will refuse to believe [that] what I believe to be a possible, plausible, naturalistic explanation for the early Christian Resurrection belief [...] is what happened.}}

Since you are "not trying to prove WHAT happened", you are also refusing to believe that what you believe to be a possible, plausible, naturalistic explanation for the early Christian Resurrection belief is what happened. If you steadily undermine any point to your proposed plausibilities, there is proportionately no reason for anyone else, Christian or otherwise, to respect them as plausibilities.

Gary: {{My point is this: If we skeptics can present alternative, naturalistic explanations for the early Christian resurrection belief that explains all the minimal facts, doesn't this demonstrate that the debate over the Resurrection really isn't about evidence for the Resurrection itself, it is about the existence of your miracle-producing deity, Yahweh?}}

Nope, if you present pointlessly "plausible" naturalistic explanations for the early Christian resurrection belief, which worthlessly (due to their historical unlikelihood and your repeated deferrals to trying to use them to really explain anything in order to minimize criticisms about their historical unlikelihood) non-explain any number of facts (much less only the minimal four, which frankly are a dippy rhetorical tactic by Habermas and WLC, which they themselves go beyond the moment the minimal list becomes inconvenient -- which in my experience is always); then your feelings about those explanations being "plausible" do not, even by wish fulfillment, suddenly demonstrate that the debate over the Resurrection is really about the existence of their miracle-producing deity.

Even if the debate often _is_ really about that (because a lot of them do tend to put it that way, the Res being evidence their miracle producing deity exists), worthlessly "plausible" alternate naturalistic non-explanatory explanations don't demonstrate it.

Your procedure also, by the way, does not prepare you for running into the occasional believer in their miracle producing deity who doesn't appeal to the Resurrection as evidence for his or her belief in that deity. I think some might be found on this blog, so be aware.



But I can propose a way around our differences there: we can skip talking about plausibility altogether and talk about likelihood and probability. In which case I'll still be talking about historical plausibilities and implausibilities in relation to the data; and you can go straight to appealing to mathematic estimates of random system fluctuation as grounds to reject the idea that someone set three dice to a particular number instead of rolling two of them. Because that category error appears to you to excuse you from problems of having no plausible COUGH I MEAN _LIKELY_ missing body explanation. {g}

JRP
Jason Pratt said…
Going back to the weird Creator-God-would-be-the-most-and-only-plausible-explanation-but-so-maximally-improbable-that-the-most-improbable-natural-explanation-should-be-preferred-despite-its-maximal-plausibility...

Gary: {{However, if we do NOT assume the existence of Yahweh, but DO assume the existence of a miracle-producing Creator God...}}

Okay, my problem with your position is: (1) I don't understand from your two statements what you regard as the relevant distinction (since YHWH is "a miracle producing" creator God); and (2) I don't understand why you wouldn't apply your "evidence suggests that the Creator God does not perform resurrections" to "the miracle-producing deity Yahweh" in which case (leaving aside my objection to category error) your allowance of plausibility means less than nothing: so why bother stating it at all?

Even when you add "the existence and accuracy of Yahweh's OT prophecies regarding Jesus and his death and resurrection", your appeal to maximum-improbability would still apply (if it could apply at all): your ground for applying it had nothing to do with _those_ characteristics, only with the characteristics shared by the supernatural Creator God Who does miracles, and YHWH the supernatural Creator God Who does miracles.

In effect, you're proposing a situation where, per hypothesis, the only and maximally plausible result is so maximally improbable that even the most improbable natural explanations should be regarded as more plausible and thus acceptable for their plausibility instead, despite their improbability and despite any level of plausibility being worthless on maximum improbability since even maximally plausible results should be rejected when minimally probable. And that's self-refuting nonsense.

But I suppose it doesn't matter; the category error you're implementing dooms the whole attempt at escape-hatching outright anyway.

It does however fit your feelings about your feelings about non-explanatory historically unlikely explanations being so historically plausible anyway that if they aren't accepted by someone as what historically happened even though you aren't trying to use them to prove anything historical and so aren't accepting them for what historically happened either, that can only be because they must surely feel threatened by a loss of belief in a creator deity although apparently that isn't the reason you aren't accepting them for what historically happened and would rather other people not regard them as claims of that sort either so that if they're historically improbable that won't be so important as a criticism. About them.

Which, yeaaahhh, that's a bridge too far for me to accept. About plausibilities I mean. I'll just stick with plausibilities being normally likely and implausibilities being normally unlikely, even if that causes me problems or helps my opponents. It's a lot simpler. People won't accuse me of blaming them for not accepting something I'd rather they not accept to protect myself from criticism that way. Also, non-Americans can relate to my kind of plausibility, too, educated people, non-educated, atheists, theists, modern day people, ancient people, a much wider scope. If they find something implausible that I find plausible, that's fine, my notion of plausibility allows them that dignity of doing the best they can from where they are. I don't want non-Americans to be left out of being able to accept my kind of plausibility. We have enough trouble with Trump right now.

JRP
Jason Pratt said…
Gary: {{So sometime between the placing of Jesus' body in the tomb late Friday afternoon and the arrival of the women early Sunday morning, grave robbers steal the body of the notorious, Jesus of Nazareth.

We agree that this is a plausible scenario [when only considering the bare four facts in an otherwise historical vacuum].}}



I have a feeling you may have missed my repeated statements that I'm not a big fan of Habermas and WLC's four minimal facts in a historical vacuum, and so that my agreement should be understood in that manner as a formal challenge to their dippy rhetorical strategy. (Also I'm very doubtful at this point that any agreement between us on historical plausibility means anything useful at all, since I'm not working with a notion of historical plausibility where I'd prefer people not to even consider accepting my proposals as what actually happened so that I can protect my proposals from historical evaluation and also so that if my opponents don't accept them they must be scared about their beliefs being challenged which aren't even about the historical plausibility at all. But whatever.)


Gary: {{Sunday morning, the women arrive and find an Empty Tomb. They run and tell the disciples. Some of the disciples, including Peter and the "Beloved Disciple" run to the tomb. Mary Magdalene returns to the tomb. Mary believes that someone has moved the body. The Beloved Disciple sees the Empty Tomb as evidence of the Resurrection. Peter is unsure of what to make of the Empty Tomb and goes to home to ponder the events of the day.}}

I'd have no problem with that being historically plausible as an atheist. (Or as a Christian.)

Gary: {{That night, the Beloved Disciple cannot sleep. He stays up all night. Due to a lack of sleep and intense emotions, he experiences an hallucination. In his hallucination, Jesus appears to him in the flesh and tells him to tell the other disciples that he is risen; that he is the first fruits of the Resurrection; the general resurrection of all the righteous is soon to follow---the Kingdom of God is at hand!}}

Since this doesn't lead plausibly to the shape of the actual data, I'd have to regard this as historically implausible, even as an atheist. Ditto for the missing body which seems on this plan to have been merely grave robbed? Historically plausible in a vacuum; not in relation to the shape of the actual data, which includes a tomb guard polemic exchange between opponents who are agreeing about the historical existence of tomb guards shaming themselves publicly with a weak-ass explanation for the disciples, not merely grave robbers, stealing the body.

If we ignore the shape of the actual data and go back to the historical vacuum, sure that sounds historically plausible. Historical vacuums are so convenient! (I'd agree it sounds historically plausible as far as it goes in a historical vacuum, as a Christian, too. Fair is fair!)

I'm pretty sure this still meets Haber/Craig's dippy rhetorical strategy challenge, too. So, good job there so far!
Jason Pratt said…
Gary: {{This news creates great excitement among the disciples, bordering on hysteria. Soon other disciples are "seeing" Jesus in vivid dreams, false sightings, illusions, and some even experience their own hallucinations. Groups of disciples "see" Jesus similar to groups of people today "seeing" the Virgin Mary.}}

Their manic hysteria then lasts maybe a generation before dying out, quite understandably and plausibly, because clearly crazy people trying to convince other people to sign up to be dangerously rejected as blasphemous traitors of both Judaism and the Greco-Roman military state, are a losing proposition. But quite against the shape of the actual data. Historical vacuums are so convenient! (Still pretty sure this meets Haber/Craig's challenge, though.)


Gary: {{These group sightings of Jesus are NOT the detailed stories of Jesus walking, talking, and eating that we find in the Gospels---these stories are Greco-Roman literary embellishments.}}

Which also completely fail to get the most important order of events right, the events convincing people that Jesus rose bodily from the grave whom the BD was the first witness of, his importance being so great before then that on his own authority he was able to convince everyone else that Jesus really had been talking about a bodily resurrection without everyone being bodily resurrected immediately, which makes no sense in Jewish expectations up to that time, and not simply that someone robbed the grave of the whole body instead of only a few parts or the valuables. Hereafter the plausible course would be that this important pre-resurrection authority would have his name removed and now be known humbly as THE BELOVED DISCIPLE in all the chief authoritative variations of the story passed down (rather like the Teacher of Righteousness for the Qumran group).

I mean, this story of the importance of the authorities for the authoritative rise of their belief would be important for the hysteric, mentally unbalanced people who have convinced enough sane people to join their self-destructive cultural movement to be able to flesh out their mystical ravings with historically plausible details -- details that the original authorities and their authoritative heirs (heirs chosen by the original authorities for having the mystical raving qualities the mystical ravers cared about) won't have cared about, especially since a significant number of those details are huuuggeellly embarrassing and even highly insulting to the original authorities, but which will make the whole thing seem more historically plausible to subsequent people who won't know the true story but who will still be fooled thereby into joining a self-destructive cult.

Or was I not supposed to look too hard at that lest I lose my faith? Because I'd still regard that proposition as historically implausible as an atheist -- because it still doesn't plausibly arrive at the shape of the actual, not theoretical or hypothetical, data. Taking things that sound plausible and flinging them up on the window like pickle slices to see if they hang together, might work eventually I suppose.

I _think_ it still meets the Haber/Craig minimum strategy challenge of being historically plausible in a near historical vacuum, though! Which amuses me greatly! I am not even being slightly quippy about that either, or saying it against you at all: I think that's hilarious! I've been sitting here grinning for several minutes in pure appreciation of it. (...I'm pretty sure I'm not being charitable enough to them on this. I know they think they're trying to help. They just choose such head-desking ways to try sometimes. Don't get me started on WLC borrowing Swineburn's Bayesian argument -- I saw that reference go by again on an internet buzzclick bait over Easter again the other day, and {headdesk}{gnashing teeth}.)

JRP
Gary said…
I and my former pastor have been communicating lately regarding the evidence for the Resurrection. He recently asked me if I believed if we could agree on "plausible explanations" for the evidence surrounding the Resurrection belief. I was skeptical. I told him that what is plausible for a Christian is very different from what is plausible for a non-believer. My current discussion with you confirms my skepticism regarding such an endeavor. I believe that Christians and skeptics should probably stick with simply attempting to agree on "possibilities", as wide ranging and probably useless as that category may be.

So the following explanations are all possible:
---aliens beamed the body of Jesus out of his tomb into their spaceship.
---someone human moved/stole his body.
---Yahweh performed a miracle and resurrected him.

Deciding which of these three possibilities is more probable, will depend on your personal beliefs and biases.
Gary said…
So going back to the first stage of my naturalistic scenario:

"So sometime between the placing of Jesus' body in the tomb late Friday afternoon and the arrival of the women early Sunday morning, someone moved or stole the body of Jesus."

Is this scenario possible? Yes. The answer is yes because there is no way that you can be 100% certain that someone did not move or steal the body. Only if you could do that could you say that this is impossible. It may be a very unlikely possibility, but it is still a possibility. The question is: Which possibility is more probable: Someone moved the body or Yahweh resurrected the body? The problem is that Christians and non-Christians will never agree on the answer to that question. I assert the reason that they will never agree is because Christians assume the existence of Yahweh and the existence of prophecies in the OT regarding this event. I assert that without the assumption of the existence of Yahweh and the assumption of the existence of prophecies predicting this event, the evidence would indicate, even to Christians, that it is more probable that someone moved the body. I know you will disagree, but challenge you to ask 20 non-Christians at random and I will bet the overwhelming majority will agree with me.

Next stage: The Empty Tomb causes one disciple to believe that the Resurrection of Jesus had occurred. We know that this is a possible first century belief because this is exactly what the author of the Gospel of John says happened when the Beloved Disciple (BD) came to the Empty Tomb. Therefore this scenario is possible and I believe very plausible.

Next stage: This one disciple who believes due to the Empty Tomb has an hallucination. Healthy, non-mentally ill people can have hallucinations during times of extreme emotional stress, sleep deprivation, illness, high fever, and other causes. Therefore if the Empty Tomb triggered the belief that Jesus had been Resurrected as the Gospel of John infers, then this disciple could have had an hallucination in which the resurrected Jesus appeared to him, spoke to him, etc. Key point to remember: People who have hallucinations remember them as real events. They do not "wake up" from them and realize they were dreams, etc..

Next stage: The one disciple who had an hallucination of a resurrected Jesus convinces the other disciples that Jesus has been resurrected. This is the stage you probable find the most difficult. However, I remind you that this would be no different than what Paul reports occurred several years later in Asia Minor. He reported his appearance claim of a resurrection Jesus to the devout (educated/literate) Jews in Asia Minor and these Jews believed based on Paul's testimony and by searching the Scriptures. They did not demand to have an appearance themselves before believing. Therefore it is completely possible that Jews in Palestine believed BD's report of seeing a resurrected Jesus, just as Jews in Asia Minor would believe Paul's report of seeing a resurrected Jesus.

Gary said…
But what about the appearance claims in the Early Creed quoted by Paul in First Corinthians 15? If only one disciple had an appearance experience in an hallucination, how do I explain these other appearance claims?

Collective human experience demonstrates that when one person in a small, religious sect reports a dramatic, mystical, religious experience, others in the group very often soon have similar experiences. I believe that this is probably what happened in early Christianity. What these experiences were exactly is anyone's guess. It is possible that other disciples had their own hallucinations, but more likely the majority experienced vivid dreams, misperceptions of reality (illusions), or false sightings. But what about the group claims? Notice that the Early Creed gives very little detail about any of the appearances. The most sensational claim is that Jesus appeared to five hundred believers at the same time and place but no mention of when, where, who,or how this occurred. What is odd is that this event is never mentioned in the Gospels nor in any other book in the New Testament, including the Book of Acts. We should remember, this Creed was something that Paul had "received" from others, so we have no proof that Paul verified any of the claims in the Creed. The total silence of later authors regarding what would be the strongest evidence for the Resurrection suggests its historical credibility may have been weak.

So for all we know, these group appearance claims were based on events such as a group of believers passing by a hillside and all "seeing" Jesus in the features of a rock formation at sunset. Based on the information in the Early Creed, we cannot be sure what they saw. Many Christians assume that the appearances in the Early Creed were of a walking/talking/broiled fish eating Jesus, but this is simply speculation. The four stories in the Gospels and in Acts are so divergent that they appear to be literary/theological embellishments. Maybe their purpose was to "flesh-out" the bare-bones Early Creed appearance claims. They were never meant to be taken literally. To me and many skeptics, this is a much more plausible explanation for the many, many differences in the five Resurrection accounts than the very convoluted "harmonizations" that Christians have devised over the two thousand years.
Joe Hinman said…
So the following explanations are all possible:
---aliens beamed the body of Jesus out of his tomb into their spaceship.
---someone human moved/stole his body.
---Yahweh performed a miracle and resurrected him.

Deciding which of these three possibilities is more probable, will depend on your personal beliefs and biases.

that's really an excise to pretend you don't see the reason, Because "possibilities" are not probabilities ridiculous possibilities are not serious challenges.


(1) can't assess because we don't know tyihe relaityof aliens so we don;tknow probabloity

(2) Not possible, guards could not be thwarted..

(3) Most likely b ecause there is no reasonwhy it could not be the answer.
Joe Hinman said…
Is this scenario possible? Yes. The answer is yes because there is no way that you can be 100% certain that someone did not move or steal the body. Only if you could do that could you say that this is impossible. It may be a very unlikely possibility, but it is still a possibility. The question is: Which possibility is more probable: Someone moved the body or Yahweh resurrected the body? The problem is that Christians and non-Christians will never agree on the answer to that question. I assert the reason that they will never agree is because Christians assume the existence of Yahweh and the existence of prophecies in the OT regarding this event. I assert that without the assumption of the existence of Yahweh and the assumption of the existence of prophecies predicting this event, the evidence would indicate, even to Christians, that it is more probable that someone moved the body. I know you will disagree, but challenge you to ask 20 non-Christians at random and I will bet the overwhelming majority will agree with me.

This is not impressive for two simple reasons. James Tabor thought of it about 10 years ago. It didn't impress me then because I thought of it back when I first got saved and I wrote my resurrection harmony thing. The guards were assigned simultaneously with Joseph of A offering his tomb so there would be no opportunity to take the body.
Joe Hinman said…
But what about the appearance claims in the Early Creed quoted by Paul in First Corinthians 15? If only one disciple had an appearance experience in an hallucination, how do I explain these other appearance claims?

Jesus could have appeared to James before he appeared to the women,He could have done it any time Sunday before the women got to the tomb. Then to the women,In fact saying he appeared first to James implies he appeared to others.

The appearances are from different documents according to Crosson, the empty tomb is in the passion narrative that;s all we need to establish the Resurrection, the epiphanies are not inamorata.
Gary said…
Hi Joe,

You said: 1) can't assess because we don't know tyihe relaityof aliens so we don;tknow probabloity

(2) Not possible, guards could not be thwarted..

(3) Most likely b ecause there is no reasonwhy it could not be the answer.

Gary: This is the disconnect between Christians and non-believers. Even if there were guards, and even if the guards were stationed at the tomb from the very moment Jesus' body was placed in the tomb (which not even what "Matthew" claims), the majority of non-believers would still see it more probable that the guards were derelict in their duties than that a three-day-brain-dead corpse came back to life by the powers of an ancient Hebrew deity. It is shocking to us that Christians cannot see this. Even the most professional of soldiers can and do make mistakes; fall asleep on the job; go AWOL, etc. But the fact is that even if we accept all the details in Matthew as historical fact, there was a time period when the tomb was unguarded and the stone was unsealed, giving someone an opportunity to move/steal the body. As very unlikely as it might have been for someone in first century Jewish culture to have moved a recently buried body, to us non-believers, this possibility is much, much more probable than an never heard of before or since resurrection. Even if a miracle-producing Creator exists, there is no evidence he had ever performed a resurrection (not a resuscitation) before. Therefore, based on prior probability, it is more probable, based on past human experience, that someone moved the body than that a one time resurrection occurred. I know that you still won't accept this. I know that you will still argue that if an all-powerful Creator god exists, all probability calculations are irrelevant. But if that is true, we humans can never calculate any probability for insurance purposes or any other purpose because someone can always say that "the Creator can defy prior probability".

Bottom line: Christians and non-Christians will NEVER agree on the issue of probability regarding explanations for the Resurrections. Christians want to assume the existence of a miracle producing deities in the calculation and skeptics want to exclude them.
Gary said…
Joe said: “This is not impressive for two simple reasons. James Tabor thought of it about 10 years ago. It didn't impress me then because I thought of it back when I first got saved and I wrote my resurrection harmony thing. The guards were assigned simultaneously with Joseph of A offering his tomb so there would be no opportunity to take the body.”

Gospel of Matthew, chapter 27:

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.


62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard[t] of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”[u] 66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

Gary said…
Joe: "The appearances are from different documents according to Crosson, the empty tomb is in the passion narrative that;s all we need to establish the Resurrection, the epiphanies are not inamorata."

I'm not sure I understand. So you are saying that the Empty Tomb is sufficient evidence to establish the resurrection---the reanimation of a three-day-brain-dead-corpse by the ancient Hebrew deity, Yahweh? Maybe it is to you, Joe, but to most non-Christians, there are many, much more probable explanations for an empty grave.
Gary said…
I have been going along with accepting Matthew's Guards at the Tomb pericope as historical for the purpose of demonstrating that even if skeptics accept this detail, there are still many much more probable, natural explanations to explain the empty tomb than the Christian supernatural explanation. However, the truth is this: If Christians are going to demand that skeptics accept the Empty Tomb as historical fact based on majority scholarly opinion (even Habermas claims it is only 75%; it is not unanimous), then Christians must accept that the overwhelming majority of scholars do NOT accept Matthew's Guards at the Tomb as historical. Here is a quote from evangelical NT scholar William Lane Craig on this point:

"[T]his is a question that I think is probably best left out of the program because the vast majority of New Testament scholars would regard Matthew’s guard story as unhistorical. I can hardly think of anybody who would defend the historicity of the guard at the tomb story, and the main reasons for that are two. One is because it's only found in Matthew and it seems very odd that if there were a Roman guard or even a Jewish guard at the tomb that Mark wouldn't know about it nor would there be any mention of it. The other reason is nobody seemed to understand Jesus's resurrection predictions. The disciples who heard it most often had not an inkling of what he meant and yet somehow the Jewish authorities were supposed to have heard of these predictions and understood them so well but they were able to set a guard around the tomb. And again that doesn't seem to make sense so most scholars regard the guard at the tomb story as a legendary Matthean invention that isn't really historical."
Gary said…
Source for Craig's above comment: A 2001 interview by John Ankerberg. The video was available on Ankerberg's website but has subsequently been removed.
Joe Hinman said…
Gary said...
Hi Joe,

You said: 1) can't assess because we don't know tyihe relaityof aliens so we don;tknow probabloity

(2) Not possible, guards could not be thwarted..

(3) Most likely b ecause there is no reasonwhy it could not be the answer.

Gary: This is the disconnect between Christians and non-believers. Even if there were guards, and even if the guards were stationed at the tomb from the very moment Jesus' body was placed in the tomb (which not even what "Matthew" claims), the majority of non-believers would still see it more probable that the guards were derelict in their duties than that a three-day-brain-dead corpse came back to life by the powers of an ancient Hebrew deity.

It's true the assumption we make determine how we see it. I don't it's a very smart assumption to suppose that the conquering army that took over the world world would be derelict. That's only because you wan to beg the question and deny the possibility of Resurrection without any sense of allowing the evidence to speak



It is shocking to us that Christians cannot see this.

sure I bet. regardless of how fallible anyone is it's cheating to pretend that the mere possibility which you cannot prove is the finish of it,and just give the excuse you need to ignore it,


Bottom line: Christians and non-Christians will NEVER agree on the issue of probability regarding explanations for the Resurrections. Christians want to assume the existence of a miracle producing deities in the calculation and skeptics want to exclude them.

true as long as you are in hate with God and seeking to excise yourself and pretending it cam';t be true. you re only hurting yourself.



Joe Hinman said…
Mark 15:

46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.


Luke 15

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.[g] 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.


where's the gap?

who would steal it? the aposoltes didn't, the women didn't,
Joe Hinman said…
[25] Then the Jews and the elders and the priests, having come to know how much wrong they had done themselves, began to beat themselves and say: 'Woe to our sins. The judgment has approached and the end of Jerusalem.' [26] But I with the companions was sorrowful; and having been wounded in spirit, we were in hiding, for we were sought after by them as wrongdoers and as wishing to set fire to the sanctuary. [27] In addition to all these things we were fasting; and we were sitting mourning and weeping night and day until the Sabbath.

[28] But the scribes and Pharisees and elders, having gathered together with one another, having heard that all the people were murmuring and beating their breasts, saying that 'If at his death these very great signs happened, behold how just he was,' [29] feared (especially the elders) and came before Pilate, begging him and saying, [30] 'Give over soldiers to us in order that we may safeguard his burial place for three days, lest, having come, his disciples steal him, and the people accept that he is risen from the death, and they do us wrong.' [31] But Pilate gave over to them Petronius the centurion with soldiers to safeguard the sepulcher. And with these the elders and scribes came to the burial place. [32] And having rolled a large stone, all who were there, together with the centurion and the soldiers, placed it against the door of the burial place. [33] And they marked it with seven wax seals; and having pitched a tent there, they safeguarded it. [34] But early when the Sabbath was dawning, a crowd came from Jerusalem and the surrounding area in order that they might see the sealed tomb.

[35] But in the night in which the Lord's day dawned, when the soldiers were safeguarding it two by two in every watch, there was a loud voice in heaven; [36] and they saw that the heavens were opened and that two males who had much radiance had come down from there and come near the sepulcher. [37] But that stone which had been thrust against the door, having rolled by itself, went a distance off the side; and the sepulcher opened, and both the young men entered. [38] And so those soldiers, having seen, awakened the centurion and the elders (for they too were present, safeguarding). [39] And while they were relating what they had seen, again they see three males who have come out from they sepulcher, with the two supporting the other one, and a cross following them, [40] and the head of the two reaching unto heaven, but that of the one being led out by a hand by them going beyond the heavens. [41] And they were hearing a voice from the heavens saying, 'Have you made proclamation to the fallen-asleep?' [42] And an obeisance was heard from the cross, 'Yes.' [43]


GPete
Joe Hinman said…
I have been going along with accepting Matthew's Guards at the Tomb pericope as historical for the purpose of demonstrating that even if skeptics accept this detail, there are still many much more probable, natural explanations to explain the empty tomb than the Christian supernatural explanation. However, the truth is this: If Christians are going to demand that skeptics accept the Empty Tomb as historical fact based on majority scholarly opinion (even Habermas claims it is only 75%; it is not unanimous), then Christians must accept that the overwhelming majority of scholars do NOT accept Matthew's Guards at the Tomb as historical. Here is a quote from evangelical NT scholar William Lane Craig on this point:

that's an opinion it's not a survey, there two sources on the guards, the other is Alighieri than matt and independent of the sympotic tradition,It's passion narrative in Gpete
Joe Hinman said…
I don't about the climate of opinion that is not a means of discovering truth.I had profs at Perkins who denied stuff that was in the Fathers they were just plain wrong about it be in there and they refused to admit it.
Gary said…
You are certainly welcome to disagree with the majority scholarly opinion, Joe, but what you cannot do, and pretend to be logical, is insist that skeptics abide by majority scholarly opinion on one issue, but dismiss majority scholarly opinion on another issue just because you happen to disagree with it. And trying to say that there is a difference between a majority scholarly opinion and a majority scholarly survey is down right silly.

What you are doing is setting up a new, final authority on these issues, and that new final authority is none other than...YOU. That may seem logical to you, Joes, but to most other educated people it is ridiculous. That is not how the world operates. Educated people accept consensus expert opinion on issues in which they are not experts. Unless I am mistaken, you are not considered a NT scholar, but even if you were, on this issue, you would be considered the "radical fringe" if even William Lane Craig will go so far as to say that "hardly anyone he knows" would defend the historicity of the guards at Tomb pericope.

You are out on a limb, here, Joe. Believe it if you want, but stop pushing it as historical fact.

I will accept the historicity of the Empty Tomb because that it the position of the scholarly majority, but I will not accept your fringe position on the guards.
Jason Pratt said…
With a death in my brother's family this morning, which for various reasons will also make the family business more busy for me specifically (and the spring construction schedule seems to be picking up as well, so magnifying that), I probably won't have time or energy to post for some days or even a few weeks.

Guests and fellow Cadrists are welcome to continue in the comments as you think best, of course. I have appreciated the recent discussions so far, and once things calm down I may catch up on them again (although by then I may not try to restart any conversations).

JRP
Gary said…
Joe said:

Mark 15:

46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.


Luke 15

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.[g] 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.


where's the gap?

who would steal it? the aposoltes didn't, the women didn't,

Gary: Grave robbers on the Sabbath. Anyone else on Saturday night after sunset (the end of the Passover). Remember, in Luke and Mark...THERE ARE NO GUARDS!

As William Lane Craig suggests, the Guards are most likely Matthew's literary invention. I am not interested in debating the "guards" issue further. It is not a contested issue among scholars. Please address the rest of my scenario. So far, both you and Jason have failed to prove my scenario impossible (and implausible to non-believers).
Gary said…
Hi Jason,

I'm very sorry to hear about the death in your family. My deepest sympathies.
Gary said…
"And an obeisance was heard from the cross, 'Yes.' "

You want me to take seriously a text which talks about a talking wooden CROSS??? Get serious, Joe. :)
Gary said…
Gary: Bottom line: Christians and non-Christians will NEVER agree on the issue of probability regarding explanations for the Resurrections. Christians want to assume the existence of a miracle producing deities in the calculation and skeptics want to exclude them.

Joe: true as long as you are in hate with God and seeking to excise yourself and pretending it cam';t be true. you re only hurting yourself.

Gary: It isn't that we hate your god, Joe. We are simply using the same logic we would use to solve any other "crime". If a the local bank vault is empty, most people would not include in their list of possible explanations that "a god took the money". So in our thinking, why should we include "a god moved the body" in our list of possible explanations for Jesus' empty tomb when there are so many possible natural explanations...especially now that we have established that most experts don't believe that there is sufficient evidence to prove that the tomb was guarded?
Joe Hinman said…
Gary: Grave robbers on the Sabbath. Anyone else on Saturday night after sunset (the end of the Passover). Remember, in Luke and Mark...THERE ARE NO GUARDS!

really doesn't make much sense, robbers generally don't rob things which don't pay.It makes no sense to think they would steal the body in that interim period before guards are assigned because it wouldn't create the effect of a resurrection,everyone would know it was just moved. there are three arguments:

(1) I document Joe of A closed the tomb we are told the body was there

(2) GUARdS WOULD BE KILLED IF THE TOMB IS FOUND EMPTY SO THEY WOULD MAKE SURE THE BODY WAS THERE WHEN THE TOMB WAS SEALED.

(3) no one else had a motive other than the disciples and thy were schocked andhad to go see.

4 if the body turned up missing before the guards were on scene it would not impress anyone,


As William Lane Craig suggests, the Guards are most likely Matthew's literary invention. I am not interested in debating the "guards" issue further. It is not a contested issue among scholars. Please address the rest of my scenario. So far, both you and Jason have failed to prove my scenario impossible (and implausible to non-believers).


He said that before the Stuff abut Passion narrative was known, I really don't care what anyone says. It is not proof, The fact that are two sources is a good enough reason to accept the guards,
Gary said…
Let me point out again, Joe, that we are not debating your personal opinion versus my person opinion. I am simply presenting the argument that plausible naturalistic explanations exist for the Resurrection belief. The fact that you personally do not find them credible is not the point.

So far I have established these facts:

1. The overwhelming majority of NT scholars doubt the historicity of Matthew's Guards at the Tomb pericope. I never claimed that WLC believed it or not. The point is that WLC admits that the overwhelming majority of NT scholars doubt its historicity, therefore we can eliminate the guards at the tomb as an historical fact. Therefore, it is very plausible that the tomb of Jesus was unguarded.

2. The author of Matthew infers that he believed that someone moving the body was a plausible explanation for the Empty Tomb. This is inferred by the fact that the author has the Sanhedrin/guards spreading this very story as the explanation for the Empty Tomb.

3. The author of John infers that he believes that someone moving the body was a plausible explanation for the Empty Tomb. Read this passage from the 20th chapter of the Gospel of John:

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Mary's first thought regarding the Empty Tomb is not: "Where are those darned guards?" Her first thought is that someone moved the body! She presumes that the GARDENER has moved the body!!!

The evidence is OVERWHELMING that my naturalistic explanation for the Empty Tomb is possible and plausible: someone could have moved the body.

Now, please tell me how the rest of my naturalistic explanation is not plausible/possible. I suggest that there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that my entire naturalistic explanation is very plausible.
Joe Hinman said…
Let me point out again, Joe, that we are not debating your personal opinion versus my person opinion. I am simply presenting the argument that plausible naturalistic explanations exist for the Resurrection belief. The fact that you personally do not find them credible is not the point.

sure they do but you also have to weigh likelihood. It's what the evidence indicates,without begging the question, you can't use your ideological belief as a proof, that;s what we are arguing about.

So far I have established these facts:

1. The overwhelming majority of NT scholars doubt the historicity of Matthew's Guards at the Tomb pericope. I never claimed that WLC believed it or not. The point is that WLC admits that the overwhelming majority of NT scholars doubt its historicity, therefore we can eliminate the guards at the tomb as an historical fact. Therefore, it is very plausible that the tomb of Jesus was unguarded.

No you did not establish that,You quoted one guy who said something vegally like that but he was not quoting survey.That is a quantitative claim so you need quantitative proof.

2. The author of Matthew infers that he believed that someone moving the body was a plausible explanation for the Empty Tomb. This is inferred by the fact that the author has the Sanhedrin/guards spreading this very story as the explanation for the Empty Tomb.

that is a totally convoluted and twisted understanding. Nonsense,like saying the Warren commission proves it was a conspiracy because it says it wasn't. Matt.
acknowledged that the other guys were afraid of that it does not mean he thought was really the reason for the empty tomb.


3. The author of John infers that he believes that someone moving the body was a plausible explanation for the Empty Tomb. Read this passage from the 20th chapter of the Gospel of John:

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Mary's first thought regarding the Empty Tomb is not: "Where are those darned guards?" Her first thought is that someone moved the body! She presumes that the GARDENER has moved the body!!!


so?That proves only that resurrection was not realistic possibility in their minds so empty tomb equated to moved the body until they saw him.

The evidence is OVERWHELMING that my naturalistic explanation for the Empty Tomb is possible and plausible: someone could have moved the body.


That is so nuttie, you are jumping a grand canyon of logic. You are actually saying possibility = likelihood = certainty. that's so obviously ideological thinking. Way to beg the old question there dude.You have actually given no evidence of any kind, mere possibility is not evidence.

Now, please tell me how the rest of my naturalistic explanation is not plausible/possible. I suggest that there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that my entire naturalistic explanation is very plausible.

After that demonstration of ill logic I don't have to say anything no logician would credit you with anything but question begging and narrow minded refusal to think about the evidence.

You have given no thought to likelihood or to the suggestion of the evidence.
Joe Hinman said…
look man you have a hidden assumption behind all of your arguments,you assume resurrection is impossible because nothing can contradict naturalistic C/e. Therefore any naturalistic possibility is a certainty. That is merely begging the question.you are using your position in ideological naturalism as a proof that my position must e false. But that is what the argument is about so you are just reasoning in a circle.
Gary said…
Joe said: "That proves only that resurrection was not [a] realistic possibility in their minds so [the] empty tomb equated to [a] moved body until they saw him.

Exactly! MOST people saw the Empty Tomb as evidence that someone moved the body. We agree. So let's move on to the next step: an hallucination.

In my naturalistic scenario, I believe that it is plausible that a few, or even just one disciple, saw the Empty Tomb as a sign of the resurrection, and it was this one disciple who had an hallucination of a resurrected Jesus appearing to him. (The Gospel of John says that the Beloved Disciple believed in the Resurrection based on the Empty Tomb.)

So do you believe that this hallucination scenario of one disciple is plausible?
Gary said…
"look man you have a hidden assumption behind all of your arguments, you assume resurrection is impossible because nothing can contradict naturalistic C/e. Therefore any naturalistic possibility is a certainty. That is merely begging the question.you are using your position in ideological naturalism as a proof that my position must e false. But that is what the argument is about so you are just reasoning in a circle."

No, Joe. YOU are assuming that I assume that a supernatural explanation is impossible. I believe that the supernatural is possible, just not probable, as I see no good evidence for it. But that is very different than what you have accused me of believing. Once again, I am not trying to prove that a natural event occurred, only that a natural explanation for the Empty Tomb and Resurrection belief is POSSIBLE and PLAUSIBLE. That's it. It is then up to your readers to decide if my natural explanation or your supernatural is more probable.
Gary said…
What I meant above by "evidence" is evidence that...

---healthy individuals can have hallucinations.
---people who have hallucinations remember them as real events.
---if Paul was correct about Jews in Asia Minor, first century Jews would believe a resurrection claim based on someone else's report of seeing a resurrected person. They did not need to see the resurrected body themselves to believe.
---Groups of people throughout history have claimed to see dead people based on misperceptions of reality (cloud formations, shadows, rock formations, false sightings of mistaken identity, etc.). Therefore the group appearance claims in the Early Creed do not necessarily indicate that any group claimed to see a walking/talking/broiled-fishing eating resurrected corpse.
---based on the fact that the majority of NT scholars believe that the Gospels were written in the genre of Greco-Roman biography (even evangelical NT scholar Michael Licona agrees with this assessment) it is entirely possible that the detailed appearances stories in the Gospels are literary embellishments of the core historical appearance claims which are found in the Early Creed, and as I demonstrated above, these historical core appearance claims might well have been claims of a static figure, such as a shadow on a hillside.
Joe Hinman said…
you are really willing to rationalize anything, you are deeply invested in your viewpoint no evidence matters to yuo. It;s pointless discussing with someone who can only rationalize his refusal to to comedienne the other side,
Gary said…
I'm not sure what you mean. I have demonstrated with very strong evidence that it is very plausible that there were no guards guarding the tomb, and if there were no guards, it is quite plausible that someone moved or stole the body.

My strongest evidence: That one of the most conservative of Christian NT scholars agrees that the majority of experts on the subject believe that there most likely were no guards at Jesus' tomb. This does not prove that there were no guards, but it does prove that it is plausible to believe that there were no guards. You are certainly welcome to disagree, but your disagreement, regardless of its intensity, does not make my position implausible nor irrational. Quite the contrary. What is irrational is your disregard of such irrefutable evidence of the plausibility of my hypothetical explanation.

May we now move on to the plausibility of my hallucination hypothesis?
Neil said…
I did read all of your 'thing', Joe. Your counter-points here really don't refute anything I say. If anything they contradict what you yourself claim in your article.

You say: It's clear if you read my thing that I assume there are pre existing accounts
I don't dispute this. I say that if there was access to eye-witnesses then it shouldn't and wouldn't have been necessary to rely on older hearsay.

You say: it is true that I do not assume the author of Matthew was there
I don't say you did.
You say: You totally misunderstood.
No I don't. I accept the point that follows that 'each gospel was produced by a community not by one guy, named Matthew but a community of Matthew people. They are all the result of a long process of redaction that starts with oral tradition. They used various sources, the sources from each community.' Yes – but this isn't the central claim of your 'thing', which is that they 'spoke to' eye-witnesses who had fanned out into each community: 'my theory is that the Gospel evangelists each spoke with (my emphasis) different groups of witnesses at different times', remember?

You say: That (process of redaction) starts (my emphasis) with the witnesses themselves.
And here's the problem; you've already said that 'my theory is that the Gospel evangelists each spoke with different groups of witnesses at different times.' So, did witnesses 'start' the process at some point in the past, as you say here, or did the gospel communities 'speak' directly with them as you say in the article? You've now made both claims. Which is it?

You say: the versions (of the gospels) we have are the products of a process of redaction that starts (my emphasis) with the witnesses in a community and gores through mysteriousness of being processed for the edification of the community then re-told by it's (sic) members and into writing probably as witnesses started to die in order to preserve it.
While this latter comment doesn't actually make sense ('gores through mysteriousness of being processed'?) it once again brings us up against the question: were the witnesses at the start of the process as you're now saying, or were they still active, 'fanned out' as you put it, and 'speaking to' the communities that created the gospels as we know them? If the latter, my point still needs addressing: why would there be a need to plagiarise earlier traditions in order to create the gospels if first hand reports were readily available?

You say: as they (the gospel communities presumably, though you don't specify) became aware that some witnesses lived in other communities, as they grew and spread out they took the gospel to place (sic) where they had no witness they needed written accounts, the witnesses died they wanted to remember their words.
This is irrelevant both to your central thesis and to my objections. It is, moreover, pure conjecture on your part, with no supportive evidence that this is what actually happened.

continued...
Neil said…
You say: Luke wasn't there. He was from Paul's circle he had no connection, he was working totally (my emphasis) from pre-existing accounts on paper. Matthew is a group a community, some of them were probably eye witnesses to some of Jesus' life. The redactors pit (sic) it together in about AD 80, probably most of the witnesses were gone by then. It's distilling the fruit of a process that's been going since 33.
So now you introduce a difference between the construction of Matthew's gospel and Luke's. This despite your claim in the article that 'each gospel was produced by a community'. Are you now saying it's not 'each' gospel at all because this wasn't the case with Luke's? Perhaps you could have been more specific in your article where you say 'each' gospel was produced by a community 'speaking to' eye-witnesses. And are you seriously claiming the Matthew whose name is attached to the gospel of that name was one of the disciples? If so, that brings us back to why 'his' gospel would need to borrow so much from Q and from Mark.

You say: (the JFK analogy) is not analogous because you have no reason to assume they used any source that were (sic) not backed by eye witness (sic).
Whoa - so you're now making the claim that gospels were merely 'backed by' eye-witnesses? Backed by? What does this mean? “Yeah, I think that's pretty close to what happened. Yeah, lift that from Mark 'cause my recollection of it is pretty hazy.” Oh come on. Looks like my analogy is pretty sound, after all.

You say: You are assuming only one source could be eye witness for each gospel.
No, I'm not. You, on the other hand, don't make the case in your article that there were multiple eye-witnesses. In fact, you emphaise single-witnesses (such Mary Madeline(?) for John's gospel). Where is your evidence for multiple winesses?

You say: I don't see Mark as having any connection to Paul.
I agree, but this is a misreading of my point.
If he did there would be no need for Luke to write a Gospel.
There'd be no need for him to write a gospel that nonetheless relies heavily on Mark? If Luke had access to eye-witnesses himself (as you say 'each' evangelist did) then why would this have been necessary? If he didn't have access to eye-witnesses, you needed to make this clear in your article where you claim 'each' gospel was built around 'speaking to' eye-witnesses.

You say: No offense man (none taken) but your assumptions are too fundamentalist.
I'm too fundamentalist? I'm not the one attempting to harmonise contradictory accounts written to meet the needs of disparate communities of early Christians by claiming they all stem from 'speaking to' 'fanned out' eye-witnesses – while also conceding they're actually built on earlier traditions, which they wouldn't need to be if multiple eye-witnesses were available.

A for effort, Joe, E for plausibility, coherence and presentation of evidence.
Joe Hinman said…
So now you introduce a difference between the construction of Matthew's gospel and Luke's. This despite your claim in the article that 'each gospel was produced by a community'. Are you now saying it's not 'each' gospel at all because this wasn't the case with Luke's? Perhaps you could have been more specific in your article where you say 'each' gospel was produced by a community 'speaking to' eye-witnesses. And are you seriously claiming the Matthew whose name is attached to the gospel of that name was one of the disciples? If so, that brings us back to why 'his' gospel would need to borrow so much from Q and from Mark.

they are all redacted.the redactors are the community.

Whoa - so you're now making the claim that gospels were merely 'backed by' eye-witnesses? Backed by? What does this mean? “Yeah, I think that's pretty close to what happened. Yeah, lift that from Mark 'cause my recollection of it is pretty hazy.” Oh come on. Looks like my analogy is pretty sound, after all.

you are trying to play with the words to create problems where there aren't any.
Joe Hinman said…
You say: No offense man (none taken) but your assumptions are too fundamentalist.


I'm too fundamentalist? I'm not the one attempting to harmonise contradictory accounts written to meet the needs of disparate communities of early Christians by claiming they all stem from 'speaking to' 'fanned out' eye-witnesses – while also conceding they're actually built on earlier traditions, which they wouldn't need to be if multiple eye-witnesses were available.

doing a harmony does not make you a fundi but i was one when I did my harmony that was 1979 I just got saved,

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