What We Know About Jesus and the Resurrection

The following points are almost universally agreed upon by New Testament historians regardless of belief in miracles or their position on the resurrection itself:

  • The gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are dated between 60-90 AD; Mark is sometimes considered the earliest, dated between 60 and 70.  John is generally considered the latest at 90 AD.
  • Paul’s letters are dated 40-55 AD, Acts is dated 65-80 AD
  • Belief in the divinity of Christ is found in the earliest known Christian creeds
  • Classical historical references to Jesus outside the New Testament: Thallos, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Tacitus, Mara Bar Serapion, Lucian of Samosata, Celcus; general report is that Jesus was a “troublemaker”
  • Jewish references to Jesus outside the New Testament: Josephus, rabbinic tradition, Toledot Yeshu; general report is that Jesus was a “cult leader” and a “magician.”
  • All of these sources treat Jesus as a real historical person; none assert that he was fictitious
  • The four gospels differ too much in their details of the resurrection to have been deliberately harmonized; they represent four sources which are at least partially independent and two which are almost completely independent (synoptics vs. John)
  • All four gospels tell the same essential story
  • All four gospels explicitly speak of an empty tomb
  • Nobody ever produced Jesus’ body

Virtually all historical scholars who write about the resurrection agree on the following six points:

  1. First century Jews expected a Messiah but did not expect a dying / rising Messiah.
  2. Jesus died and was buried.
  3. After this happened, the disciples were discouraged and dejected.
  4. Soon after Jesus’ burial, the tomb was claimed to be empty and some disciples had experiences they took to be encounters with a risen Jesus.
  5. These experiences caused them to believe Jesus rose from the dead.
  6. They started a massive worldwide movement based on the idea that Jesus rose from the dead.

No one who rejects the resurrection offers a convincing alternative explanation of what happened. Theories abound, but no single “2nd theory” has achieved any real consensus; alternative theories all have significant problems and leave major questions unanswered.

Even a prominent skeptic admits: If God exists, belief in the resurrection is philosophically rational and historically reasonable. “Atheists are quick to ridicule the resurrection because of its miraculous nature; Christian apologists are quick to point out that an a priori rejection of the miraculous is unwarranted.

“Both sides are correct within their worldview. But they have failed to argue outside of their worldview. Atheists should not be so quick to ridicule the miraculous and use a Humean attack on miracles to refute the resurrection. Unless atheists can demonstrate that theism is irrational or that the historical evidence for a material resurrection is lacking, they are unlikely to convince many theists to reject the resurrection. Similarly, Christian apologists need to recognize that, until atheists are shown that theism is plausible, atheists will continue to regard the resurrection as a highly implausible event.

“I think it is rational to both accept and reject the resurrection. I think there are strong historical arguments for the resurrection (a lá William Lane Craig), but I also think there are good reasons to reject such arguments. I realize this may sound like a cop-out to some, but I think it is quite reasonable, especially when the issue of prior probability is taken into consideration.” -Jeffrey Jay Lowder, The Historicity of Jesus’ Resurrection, 1995 (Infidels.org)

The question is: What interpretation of these historical facts best explains the sudden origin of early Christianity, belief in a risen Christ, and the explosive growth of the church, even in the face of severe persecution?

Bestselling author & former atheist Anne Rice describes her return to Christianity, based on extensive Biblical scholarship

©2006 Coffee House Theology

95 Responses to “What We Know About Jesus and the Resurrection”

  1. Laurence Smith says:

    How would you explain the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Jesus’s disciples and many other Chritian believers shortly after the resurrection?
    It is well documentated in modern Christianity today that people who accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and are “born again”, are often immediately or shortly after their Conversion filled with the Holy Spirit which manifests itself in them “speaking in tongues”. A God given Heavenly language they never possessed before.
    This is is exactly what happened to the Disciples and other early believers.
    Please explain your understanding of this manifestation of having received the Holy Spirit as a gift from God and an acceptance by Him that you are truly “Born Again”?
    Kind regards
    Laurence

    • solomon david says:

      how is it often you see people who are born again filled with holy spirit NEVER are found changed in thier basic charachter they were born with???
      they only speak in so called tongues in prayer that too essentialy in a congregation.

      David

  2. Mchenge Zulu says:

    Is it not possible that Jesus may have been in spirit when he rose up instead of flesh and blood? Did he not bleed out on the cross? If he was in spirit, does the universal and cross cultural story of the existence of ghosts have anything to do with this?

    • Gary Estes says:

      I don’t know anything about a spiritual body. The earthly body has to have oxygen and blood flow to function. I’ve never seen a spirit that I am aware off. I don’t believe in ghost.

    • Margaret Taylor-Hill says:

      When Jesus rose from the dead he was not a spirit. At first the disciples thought they were seeing a spirit so he told them to touch him, to feel that he had flesh and bones because a spirit does not have flesh and bones. He also ate fish with them on the shores of Galilee. A spirit would not be able to eat.

  3. Sudhir Jagtap says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    i request you to read this book, Jesus in heaven on earth and decide for yourself.
    http://www.muslim.org/bookspdf/jihoe/conts.htm

  4. Ken Anderson says:

    Based on Scientific (1st Witness) evidence, Jesus can only have been a Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. (of course, from C.S. Lewis).

    • Martin Lagerwey says:

      Lunatic implies mental illness and nobody would be likely to accuse Jesus of that. If the implication is that he was self deluded, there are plenty of people who are plainly, genuinely and sincerely wrong without being lunatics. CS Lewis is a great story teller but if you run out of “L”’s there are still other possibilities.

    • Caleb Neff says:

      It would take a good deal of delusion to have someone think they were God, despite how they couldn’t do miracles. If Jesus was a liar (this is more consistent with the miracles thing, because He may have decieved His followers), then how He became so good a moral teacher is something of a stretch. I am not trying to eliminate these possibilities, I am simply pointing out that these are the only ones that can oppose the idea that Jesus is Lord.

    • James Griffith says:

      Well, I believe that Jesus is the son of God and that he was resurrected, but I also believe this is a false trichotomy (or false trilemma, or whatever else you want to call it). What does it have to be Jesus who was deluded, deceitful, or deity? (Did you what I did there?) Isn’t it possible (not to say probable or plausible, i’ll leave it to someone else to make that case) that his followers, facing disillusionment at the execution of the one they believed was their deliverer, began to exaggerate and embellish their stories to avoid the cognitive dissonance they might otherwise face?

  5. Hello chaps this is Richard Dawkins,

    I’m a Darwinian scientist! The thought of the complexity of the eye ball sends cold chills down me as well, but I still became a well known scientist searching for truth, and although ive found it, i have to still agree with 1850s British science and cutting edge miscropes of that erra as I see tiny organisms as blobs, therefore i think i should agree with my fellow brit and deny God in every way bc I can’t get anywhere.. My Darwinian (not scientific) techniques have ran me in circles asking the same scary questions Darwin did, (like what if He does exist…Ewh chills) and I can’t prove much of anything in regards to science but speculate and smile evilly while asking others, what about homo erectus and such fossils, and all the trans-species that have still not been found…’. I debate people well with these statements, i’m so clever. Therefore, being simple and ignorant got me to where I am today, miserable. But pretty soon my hair-line will be exactly the same as Darwin in his late photos as u can already observe scientifically and I’ll look just as hidious as he. I, being an ignorant non imperical scientist like Darwin should get far and make a respectable legend for myself, right….

  6. Eve Miner says:

    I love it how no one mentions that other followers’ books that portrayed Jesus anything less than a god were hunted down and destroyed. This whole topic is corrupt due to manipulation and the destruction of evidence.
    Jesus never wished for anyone to worship him, therefore the very foundation of the religion goes against the very wishes of Jesus.

    • Caleb Neff says:

      Actually, Eve, these books were destoryed because they failed to match up with history, or even each other! This demonstrates that they are merely works of fiction, and shouldn’t be part of the Bible. Is this one of those played-out Muhammedan legends or something?

      • Russ Schow says:

        Caleb, actually the Bible has that isn’t sound history in itself. It has many discrepancies and contradictions. While I’ll admit the Bible is probably one of the most historical books ever written from ancient times it is also not always accurate and has directly contradicted archeologists anthropologists and historians. I read 2 books written by Issac Asimov. “Guide to the Old Testament”and the “Guide to the New Testament”. What about 2nd Samuel 24, Verse 1 and 1st Chronicles 21? All theologians agree David took one census. Samuel says God made him do it. 1st Chronicles says the devil influenced him to do it. Does this make this fiction? Please understand I mean no disrespect.

        • Caleb Neff says:

          I see no implication of disrespect. In return, allow me to give as polite an answer as I can muster:
          I do in fact acknowledge that there are discrepancies. If you prefer, I can rewrite the statement: “These texts (from the New Testament) were discarded because they didn’t match up with history or each other.”
          That clarifies the question of the New Testament, so I must now explain the Old Testament: “The Old Testament already had an established canon.”
          This was based on a view I held at the time, which is overly simplistic. One could ignore it, and I wouldn’t notice.

          As for resolving these contradictions (for I care about them so much!), from the contexts, we have nothing to work from. We will have to look to extra-biblical and theological data to resolve the issue this time. It will first be noted that in the time of the story, one could only count what belonged to you in a census, so that David was sinning by numbering what belonged to God as being his own, rather than God’s. It will next be noted that the Christian view of God says that God can carry out His judgement through external agents. So if the contradiction can be resolved, it is because 2 Samuel places God as the ultimate cause, and 1 Chronicles places Satan as the instrument. Maybe this is a stretch, but oh well.

        • Tobias Lepke says:

          I’m not an expert on the text, but I would like to offer a suggestion to the mentioned “discrepancy”. I do recall the Lord commanding Israel to make an offering when they conduct a census. David failed to make the offering. So David’s sin was failing to follow God’s rule for the census, not the census itself. God commands the census. The devil influenced him to do it his own what in disobedience to God.

  7. Adeesha Jayanath says:

    Adeesha

    All the questions that face by the modern science about the universe has been solved by a great person called Buddha,lived in India,2600 years ago.His vision called Buddhism is the one and only one religion(actually not a religion it is a perfect vision that suitable for people that like to think without boundaries)that look in to the universe,life(In Buddhism,all the animals(that means all the living things) has same rights to live) and all the non living things in scientific way.There are no barriers to any one who believe any religion to study about Buddhism and see the beauty of the universe.

  8. aril rangcapan says:

    i slightly don’t believe in religion..’coz i don’t really know what religion is true…some are after for moneyand others for their own good…what religion am i suppose to belive?

    • David Contreras says:

      Aril’s concern is 100% sincere. The scriptures oppose preaching for gain, it’s in there, but since the church that Jesus established with his priesthood became corrupted after his ascension and the murder of his apostles, jesus’ followers still had the gospel taught by them, but no longer was the priesthood authority or constant revelation on earth to keep the doctrines and ordinances pure. Ephesians in the bible clearly states that christ’s church must have a foundation of prophets,apostles, teachers, etc, so in other words, the true church of christ is one, and needs to be organized the same way, meaning, twelve “living” apostles, and there has to be “one” living prophet that receives constant revelation to guide the church. God, the father, does not change, he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The church of Jesus Christ, if it’s on earth, needs to be a church that was restored by Christ with the foundation of 12 apostles, a prophet, and most importantly, the priesthood of god by the laying on of hands by those who have the authority.

      • Margaret Taylor-Hill says:

        Such a church does exist David. I am a member of it.

      • James Griffith says:

        How do you know Aril’s concern is sincere? It may be, but you are in no position to know. This is an oft repeated concern by many people who are sincere, but to know that any one person’s expression of the concern is sincere, you would have to know something more about the person than the fact that they voiced (or wrote) such a concern.

        Aril’s concern _is_ a _legitimate_ one, sincere or not. Your reply however, is an obvious and erroneous plug for Mormonism or a similar offshoot. The Bible does not support that God guided his people through “one” prophet. Frequently, there were multiple prophets “receiving constant revelation”. There were not twelve apostles until the time of Christ, and this number lasted for less than a generation. Yes, the other apostles replaced Judas, but then there is no mention of the replacing of the other apostles as they were martyred. Also, if we take seriously Paul’s title as “apostle” to the nations, then there were thirteen for a short time.

        In addition, there is little reason to believe that the gift of prophecy would necessarily continue. Paul’s writings make clear that all of the gifts of the spirit (including prophecy, speaking in tongues, miracle healings, etc.) would cease to be _except_ love.

        Finally, to what do you refer with the term “priesthood”? If you mean teachers or preachers, that ceased to exist with the establishment of Christ’s new covenant. All Christians were preachers and most, if not all, were teachers. If you mean leaders of the church, these were simply referred to as “older men” or something similarly translated. As for laying on of hands, this is also nonsense. Who laid hands on the first member of the priesthood? No mention of laying on of hands is mentioned in the account of Pentecost in 33 C.E.. What _is_ mentioned is God’s holy spirit, which requires no hands and can be given to anyone by God at whatever time God chooses. The only clear evidence we are given (that I know of) to judge of such possession of spirit is recorded in Galatians 5, the fruits of the spirit.

  9. Tony Bigelow says:

    This whole discussion strikes me as absurd. Even if we accept the idea of life after death and the concept of “heaven” (which I don’t), what use would Jesus have for his crucified, destroyed body?
    We all know that bodies of the dead decay, they are of no use in “heaven”. If heaven exists at all, it must either be populated with body-less “spirits”, or everyone gets a nice new body (how old is this body I wonder?) There is no need, or use for your old physical, Earthly body.
    The bottom line is: Why would Jesus need to re-cycle his old body, when everyone else gets a nice new one??
    If….If Jesus’s body “disappeared” from the tomb, clearly someone moved it! No doubt to further the miraculous nature of the event. A dead body for all to see would kind of take away the magic from the moment, would it not? People would learn that despite all that was said, in the end his body was as dead as any other corpse, and with it would die all thought that he was any different from anyone else. Clearly not the messiah after all! Not good for publicity!

    • perrymarshall says:

      Jesus got a “nice new one”:

      28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

      30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

      33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

      He was able to walk through walls, yet still eat fish.

      • Tony Bigelow says:

        Would you really believe any of this if it (allegedly) happened today? We have Indian mystics carrying out all sorts of supposed “miracles” today, yet no one in the West takes them seriously.
        However you are quite prepared to believe, devoutly, miraculous writings from thousands of years ago. These texts were written by people, who, by today’s standards, were ignorant peasants. Tell me, what did Jesus tell mankind, that the people of his time did not already know? How many lives would have been saved if he had told people about germs, and advised them to wash their hands before eating?
        The “son of God” would know about germs. Jesus obviously did not, or he would have preached something truly useful to mankind. Jesus was (if he existed at all) a man, a charismatic preacher perhaps, but human, not supernatural and hence no resurrection. You have to surrender your critical faculties to take any of this seriously.

        • Caleb Neff says:

          Actually, you are very much wrong here, Tony. In the Book of the Law, Torah, whatever you want to call it, God gives several rules about being `clean`. Washing their hands back then is only possible if we have soap, which is not that old an invention. Mostly just water and perfume (which doesn’t kill anything!).

          Further, can you explain how “in order to be first, you must be last” is a teaching older than Jesus’ walk abouts on the Earth? Yes, a lot of what He taught was `old`, that was part of the point of the Old Testament. Either way, please consider what I told you when you tried to rebut the proof of the resurection.

          • Tony Bigelow says:

            From a quick web search:
            Early historyThe earliest recorded evidence of the production of soap-like materials dates back to around 2800 BC in Ancient Babylon.[5] In the reign of Nabonidus (556–539 BCE) a recipe for soap consisted of uḥulu [ashes], cypress [oil] and sesame [seed oil] “for washing the stones for the servant girls”.[6] A formula for soap consisting of water, alkali, and cassia oil was written on a Babylonian clay tablet around 2200 BC.

            The Ebers papyrus (Egypt, 1550 BC) indicates that ancient Egyptians bathed regularly and combined animal and vegetable oils with alkaline salts to create a soap-like substance. Egyptian documents mention that a soap-like substance was used in the preparation of wool for weaving.

            So clearly, Had Jesus done something useful, such as explain germ theory. Millions of people could have benefited from it.

            • Esrard Ree says:

              Amen, brother. A truly rational and well executed point.

            • Beth Potter says:

              Tony,
              What Yeoshua/Jesus taught was for spiritual ‘food’. You are willing to base your belief system upon tangibles, even, microscopic tangibles. The distance you are willing to go to accuse Him of teaching nothing useful is telling and trite. A demonstration of how much work it takes to deny Him. Germs? .. Really?
              To placate your argument I offer you this:
              Why do you suppose it was the custom of a host to wash the feet of guests as they entered into his house?
              He did not waste His time teaching them how to wipe their butts, do their dishes, or any other of the physical attendances they surely practiced. Should you not condemned Him for that as well?

        • James Griffith says:

          How often do physicists walk into elementary schools to teach string theory? Just because Jesus knew about germs and microorganisms doesn’t mean that the people he was teaching would understand (the science wasn’t there yet). In fact, Jesus is recorded as having said something very much like this (John 16:12), though we usually assume that the statement is referring to prophecy and other spiritual truths.

          Further, it shouldn’t have been necessary for Jesus to teach them “string theory”. They had already been instructed how to avoid such infections in the book of the law. There were very strict rules about washing, about human waste being kept outside “the camp” (something not practiced by others, btw), and “quarantines” for “unclean” persons. Those following those instructions could possibly better avoid germs than people who completely understand what germs are. Today, we understand germs, and still we pass infections from person to person incessantly. Many of the lethal infections have been stopped not by extraordinary attention to germ avoidance (though that certainly helps), but to vaccinations, antibiotics, and other wonders of modern medicine.

        • Tobias Lepke says:

          Tony. Jesus wasn’t afraid of natural death, and he wasn’t afraid of people dying of natural death. Jesus’ concern was with their spiritual death which would lead to eternal death and torture. So Jesus came to speak about eternal life, much more profound than germs.

          I can’t speak for all Christians, but myself. I believe in the resurrection because I have experienced it myself. Once I gave Jesus control of my life, He resurrected it, transformed it. I am not the only one. Countless Christians can tell you how Jesus transformed their lives as well.

          An to take it even further, Jesus speaks to me. He is alive not dead. I do not go to church to feel better or read the scriptures for hope. I seek God because He is the only one who satisfies. The Beetles were right when they sang about all one needs is love. However, they failed to know that God is love, so all we need is God.

      • Tony Bigelow says:

        By saying “He did get a new one”, you make my point for me.
        If the provision of new, healthy bodies is possible, what possible use or point is there in making his old, dead useless body disappear? When a Pope dies, his body does not disappear, it stays in its grave. It does not matter how holy a person is, their physical body is not required for re-use in heaven. Why does Jesus need to trade in his old body, before he gets his new one, when all other believers get one by default? It would have been a far more impressive miracle if he re-appeared to his followers, while his corpse was still in its tomb, now that would have been impressive.
        How can we take seriously accounts of an event that is only witnessed by primitive people, and not recorded or reported until decades later? Do we not think that stories get exaggerated and embellished in the telling? Why is this story immune from any human interference, and taken as if it is literally true?

        • perrymarshall says:

          You seem to think “primitive” people were more gullible than we are with regards to things like people rising from the dead.

          Why do you think that?

          Do you think that just because you have a microwave oven and they didn’t, that they’re primitive?

          Bodily resurrection is an essential tenet of the Christian faith. Everyone gets raised in their original body, that’s why his hands had nail scars.

          I suggest you read scholarly works that consider the details of the resurrection because they address these questions. I’m not sure you’re considering how hard it is to convince anyone that someone has been raised from the dead. Especially after they’ve been crucified.

          Had his body still been in the tomb then that wouldn’t be a resurrection, that would be a doppelganger.

          • Tony Bigelow says:

            In the absence of a modern education, clearly one would expect “primitive” people to be more superstitious, fearful, and ready to believe whatever explanations people could offer to make sense of the world around them.
            The remarkable thing is that, even with a modern education, people are still inclined to take the selectively edited, repeatedly translated, teachings of “primitive” people as being factually accurate and a basis on which to build their lives.
            Furthermore: It would appear to be remarkable easy to convince millions of people that resurrection is possible, despite the accounts being hearsay, with not a shred of verifiable evidence being available.
            If people can believe it today, why would they be harder to convince back then, 40 years after the event is supposed to have occurred?

            • Rosangela says:

              Laurence AndersonDear Marcus, I am a folelw “Cobber”. I was first introduced with “the Heart of Christianity”, have read most books since. I would like to add a “6th interpretation”; that Jesus is present in our suffering, personal and corporate, and interprets that suffering, and I use that as a notation in my reading. What do you think of Jesus (and prayer) as a verb? I have a standard that I only “canonize” authors who haven’t written for 50 years, I make an exception for you, Kathleen Norris, Gerhardt Frost, and limited others. Thanks for your work. Loved the First Christmas, I use the second coming metaphor often. LA

            • Keith Beveridge says:

              I don’t buy your premise that modern “educated” people would be any more or less gullible, unless you define gullible as a secular person taught that supernatural things are impossible.

              What if in present day, the same number of people somehow witnessed a curicifiction. Let’s say they were on an Island somewhere and that all the elements of the life and death of Jesus Christ, as it was set forth in the Bible were told to us by these 11 people.

              But let’s say that elements of the story, including the miracles or walking on water and the crucification itself, and the resurrection sightings were captured on a few of the Apostle’s smartphones on video.

              Let’s also say that these folks brought back the message of Christ to modern-day United States…

              I posit to you that there would be educated skeptics who would try and try to uncover a reason whereby the true events could be disproved, and some would not believe even though every event could be verified by actual witnesses and the video footage.

              The simple truth is that some will believe, and some will not…and the time frame of the occurrence and even the evidence presented is not the deciding factor.

            • Shuhei says:

              Gah Adam.C’mon now.I’m only lnauhigg because I don’t believe that you believe this.So a little grain of me is giggling like a school girl.The rest of me is offended.Congrats. Now I must go find that post where we were all allowed to tell you what an ass you are……

            • Beth Potter says:

              Tony He was not the only one resurrected on that day. There were many others. They were resurrected to give irrefutable evidence that something quite unusual had happened. The sole purpose was to give testimony to the resurrection of the Messiah. The resurrection event was undeniable and therefore, extremely effective in gaining converts of Jews, Romans, and anyone else who saw their dead relatives walking around giving testimony to the deity of Yeoshua/Jesus.
              Please consider reading the scriptures.
              To simply deny what you do not understand is a juvenile approach – even primitive.

    • Caleb Neff says:

      Your idea that the body was moved is far from plausible: the Roman soldiers would have been put to death if they let the disciples steal the body. Thus, they would have to answer that they fell asleep, but then how would they know that the /disciples/ stole the body?!? “They have motive”? Sure! but they also have motive NOT to lie, and if they stole the body, then why would they lie, and martyr for what they knew to be false? This makes no sense. Now, His old body must have been destroyed somehow, so that we can explain the empty tomb, while still having a new body for Jesus to inhabt. The part that fails to make any sense, look in Luke and John, is that the linen cloth was folded up in the tomb. Why in the world would grave-robbers of any sort do that while Roman gaurds (a total of ten, mind you) were outside, likely to wake up?

      • Tony Bigelow says:

        Your argument only works if you seriously believe that the Romans cared enough to place 10 guards on the tomb. Why would they bother? You seriously think that your version of events is actually more likely?? Why would his body go to “heaven” what use is it? Your whole premise is nonsense.
        The simplest explanation is the most likely.. bodies magically beamed up to the sky might be believable to children, but adults should not be so gullible. Find a rational explanation.

        • Caleb Neff says:

          Actually, they must have cared. Jesus was a HUGE political rival amoung both the Romans and the Pharasees. Making sure He STAYED dead would be an IMMENSE advantage to them. Stomp down their enemies. Really, that only a single unit is present, and the Romans measured things in groups of ten, I’d say that I have had my point confirmed.

          • Tony Bigelow says:

            I think you overstate Jesus’s significance at the time. Where is all the Roman documentation of this hugely troubling character? Why did it take another 40 years before Mark bothered to write his gospel? It seems to me that his passing at the time was pretty uneventful, and has only in later time been elevated to a state of great significance. How long do you think the Romans would have continued to provide a security guard to ensure he “stayed dead”? As the Romans did not regard him as their saviour, why would they think it likely the he would rise from the dead and cause them further trouble?

            • perrymarshall says:

              Classical historical references to Jesus (including Roman) outside the New Testament include: Thallos, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Tacitus, Mara Bar Serapion, Lucian of Samosata, and Celcus. Jewish references to Jesus outside the New Testament: Josephus, rabbinic tradition, Toledot Yeshu, and they describe Jesus as a cult leader and a magician.
              All early sources treat Jesus as a real historical person. There’s not one single ancient document that says that Jesus was some kind of myth, not one.

              I think you are partly right, his significance mushroomed. Prior to that he held no office or particular social standing. The question is WHY and HOW did this man become the most influential person in history? How could this even be possible if he didn’t even rise from the dead? Especially considering he discouraged his followers from picking up weapons and starting a revolution?

              This in itself is a large piece of evidence for the resurrection. The explosive growth of the early church itself testifies to something amazing happening.

              I don’t think it took 40 years and I don’t think Mark was first. I think Matthew was first and it was written in the 50’s. Great book: “Why Four Gospels” – also see the Anne Rice article, she addresses this very well. http://www.coffeehousetheology.com/anne-rice-atheist-christ/

              • Tony Bigelow says:

                Sadly, I think Mohamed is well on the way to being the most influential person in history, if he is not already.
                “This is in itself a large piece of evidence for the resurrection. The explosive growth of the early church itself testifies to something amazing happening”
                This is in NO WAY evidence for a resurrection at all. Nobody documented it until years after the event is alleged to have occurred, therefore this can ONLY be, evidence for the persuasive power of a good story, and the fact that people then, as now, will believe what they like to believe. E.g. People follow Mormonism and scientology when they are clearly absolute nonsense, fantastically unbelievable nonsense, but popular nonsense none the less.
                People’s willingness to believe a story does not offer any evidence that the story is true.
                The fact that this particular religion was less hung up about what its followers ate, and did not require them to mutilate their children might help explain its “explosive growth”.

              • Tony Bigelow says:

                Dear Mr Perry. I see you have chosen to delete my replies. Shame, obviously they did not suit you.
                What a pity that this site does not therefore live up to its premise of “Tough questions, real answers”. I have posed questions you can’t answer, so you choose not to show them. I am not surprised, as this is how religion works, i.e. cherry pick the bits you like, ignore everything to the contrary. Its puerile, but typical.
                You might find this interesting, it is from Jerry Coynes, “Why Evolution is true”
                Thanks to Steve Smith for posting this:
                1. All known archaeological and historical evidence contradicts the entirety of the Bible’s history, before Genesis 11 and after, including the New Testament. The Jews were never in Egypt, there was never an Exodus, no Jewish conquest of the land of Israel, and no Davidic or Solomonic empire or kingdom. In fact, the Jews were still polytheists after the Ten Commandments was supposed to have been delivered. Tel Aviv U. archaeologist Ze’ev Herzog on these facts: “the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom. And it will come as an unpleasant shock to many that the God of Israel, Jehovah, had a female consort and that the early Israelite religion adopted monotheism only in the waning period of the monarchy and not at Mount Sinai. … The archaeology of the Land of Israel is completing a process that amounts to a scientific revolution in its field. It is ready to confront the findings of biblical scholarship and of ancient history. But at the same time, we are witnessing a fascinating phenomenon in which all this is simply ignored by the Israeli public. Many of the findings mentioned here have been known for decades. … These symbolic elements constitute such a critical component of the construction of the Israeli identity that any attempt to call their veracity into question encounters hostility or silence. It is of some interest that such tendencies within the Israeli secular society go hand-in-hand with the outlook among educated Christian groups. I have found a similar hostility in reaction to lectures I have delivered abroad to groups of Christian bible lovers, though what upset them was the challenge to the foundations of their fundamentalist religious belief.”

          • Caleb Neff says:

            Oh, I forgot to bring this up last post: the Pharasees also payed for the gaurds (this is implied, when they mention the third day and the gaurds). If the Bible is generally reliable, then why disregard this? Such is an inconsistency.

            • Tony Bigelow says:

              I would not consider the bible to be generally reliable at all. It is contradictory and factually inaccurate, reflecting the knowledge of the people who wrote it. It is horrifically violent, homophobic, and misogynistic. If it were the work of an all knowing god, I would expect to see something a lot more impressive. We have learned a great deal more about the world by studying the world, than by reading the bible. In what way is it “reliable”?

              • Dalibor Sver says:

                Dear Tony,
                there are many statements here and I’m jumping in late in the discussion, but I’ll try to address just a few issues that you raised in last few replies:

                “People follow Mormonism and scientology when they are clearly absolute nonsense…” – Those movements are not worldwide. Even if they are, it is much much easier for something to be a “worldwide” in globalistic society today than in 1st century. More important: would vast majority of say Scientologists be ready to die or give up their wealth for their ideology? Early Christians did.

                “It is horrifically violent…” Yes it is. And it’s shocking to everyone, especially to those who love God. And there are reasons for that, way beyond this scope, but it teaches us something about being obedient to God. In short: Caananites are evil. God says Moses after crossing Red Sea that God will do all the job of driving out Caananites to give their beautiful land to Israelites (Exodus 23:20). Israelites hesitate and fear of tall men. God changes his order: now Israelites will have
                to kill and drive out all of them – including innocent children – because they didn’t put their faith in him.

                “We have learned a great deal more about the world by studying the world, than by reading the bible.” True, we’re supposed to learn more about how to treat each other from the Bible than to learn about world. Somebody said “Bible says how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go”. But then again, there are books written about how Bible authors knew some scientific facts several thousands years ago. You don’t need to look for books, there are plenty of websites available.

                As for logical arguments why resurrection must be true, I’ll shortly post some of them:
                Even if they could, why would Christians stole the body, when there’s no gain – only persecution. Afterwards, if they were in it for the gain, and were dissapionted when they met persecution, why didn’t they give up and admit they lied? You might say, maybe they were delusional or crazy. Maybe one of them, or two or ten. But hundreds? And later so many, all the way in the known world of that time? Bear in mind – their faith is not just an opinion what color they prefer. It’s a way of living, and willing to do anything, even die for the faith.
                Furthermore, as Perry Marshall put, there are numerous extra-biblical Roman, Greek and Jewish writers that admit Jesus existed. So how come his opponents (such as Jews for example) never produced body?

                One interesting page that I came across today is “Did the apostles make it all up?” (http://knowitstrue.com/?p=904)

                Wish you well,
                Dalibor

  10. Caleb Neff says:

    “Both sides are correct within their worldview. But they have failed to argue outside of their worldview. Atheists should not be so quick to ridicule the miraculous and use a Humean attack on miracles to refute the resurrection. Unless atheists can demonstrate that theism is irrational or that the historical evidence for a material resurrection is lacking, they are unlikely to convince many theists to reject the resurrection. |Similarly, Christian apologists need to recognize that, until atheists are shown that theism is plausible, atheists will continue to regard the resurrection as a highly implausible event.|” Allow me to focus on the last portion. Actually, the good author Jeffery Lowder should realize that theism is rational: without it, we have no reason to believe that the laws of physics will behave in a consistent manor, nor do we a reason to believe that logic is worth using. Atheism also fails to account for abstract entities. So atheism really has no reason to argue. I, as respectfully as I can, disagree.

    • Tony Bigelow says:

      “Both sides are correct within their world view” Is that not a monumental “cop-out”? Talk about sitting on the fence! They can’t both be right, either a miracle happened, or it did not. “Worldview” is utterly meaningless. Did it happen or not?
      Miraculous claims require miraculous proof. There is no proof whatsoever to back up this story. You can choose to believe it, but that does not make it factual. You can believe there are fairies in your garden if you wish. That is correct within a certain “worldview” if you like. Seriously, why would Jesus’s physical body need to disappear? What use would it be, it was dead and useless. Can you name any reason at all why there is a need for a resurrection, other than as a claim to impress the gullible followers?

      • perrymarshall says:

        Stop your insulting “believe in fairies” put-downs or I will ban you from this forum immediately.

        When you are ready to behave respectfully I will be happy to continue this conversation.

        • Tony Bigelow says:

          I appologise if my tone came across as a little too harsh. It is not my intention to upset anyone.I will tread a little more carefully in future.

      • perrymarshall says:

        Tony, think your question is worded in a disrespectful way. (”Gullible followers” etc.)

        I also think my previous response was too harsh.

        It’s hard to have a constructive conversation with someone who laces their questions with insults. I question the wisdom of answering such questions. But you do ask a great question here.

        The reason that Lowder makes the admission he makes is that he recognizes a bias. The bias being his own belief that miracles cannot possibly exist.

        I don’t know how one could become certain that miracles cannot possibly exist. You certainly can’t prove a negative. And contrary to the opinion of most atheists, there is a considerable catalog of medically documented miracles in peer reviewed literature. I cite several at http://www.coffeehousetheology.com/miracles/. Look up these references and see for yourself.

        Lowder’s observations are important because what he is saying is:

        If you allow for the possibility that miracles might exist, then the historical evidence regarding Jesus is that he really did rise from the dead. Or to put it another way, if you’re unsure whether miracles are real or not, historical evidence offers a distinct possibility that the resurrection was real.

        If you read any of William Lane Craig’s books or debates – or if you read the scholarship of N.T. Wright on this subject – you will see that the evidence in favor of the resurrection is quite substantial. Substantial enough to have ignited the largest social movement in the history of mankind. Jesus is the most loved, most hated, most argued about figure in human history.

        I don’t know anybody who’s arguing for fairies in their gardens. I know a whole lot of atheists who’ve been obsessing over Jesus for decades.

        Doesn’t that alone tell you something?

        There is no alternative theory regarding Jesus that has gained wide acceptance among historical scholars, secular or otherwise. Alternative theories are fragmented and all make major assumptions for which we have no evidence.

        • Tony Bigelow says:

          William Lane Craig does a wonderful job of speaking in hugely impressive riddles that actually say nothing at all. His is the verbal equivalent of multiplying together a long string of numbers, one of which is zero. The answer is still zero, no matter how large the other numbers. You say the evidence for a resurrection is substantial, I would contend that there is not the slightest evidence at all. All we have is a collection of stories written many years after the event by people who liked, and wanted to believe the stories. It is just Human nature. These stories have been told and re-told / re-hashed and translated many times. We know Marks last 12 chapters are an add-on!
          The result is a compound error, with a conclusion that is probably a million miles away from what actually took place.
          Nobody, not even the earliest writers can possibly have known the reality, as they did not witness the event because it happened many decades earlier.
          How can you say that rival explanations require major assumptions for which there is no evidence, when you unable to provide any evidence for your own, highly unlikely (miraculous) account?
          If what you assert actually happened it would have been well documented at the time, rather than overlooked for decades. It is far more likely that his dead body was unceremoniously dumped in a mass grave with the other “criminals”, as was Roman custom. This is realistic. This would be shocking for his disciples, necessitating the creation of a resurrection story to save face, if for no other reason.
          This is a realistic scenario, to believe anything else requires massive evidence, and there is none.

          • perrymarshall says:

            It was well documented, not only in four gospels but also by Paul. You are rejecting out of hand the best evidence and then asking for more.

            And you are not explaining how the world’s largest mass movement started, based on the assumption that someone rose from the dead.

            Tony, name ONE other time in human history when an alleged resurrection has started a mass movement.

            • Tony Bigelow says:

              I am rejecting the evidence out of hand, because there is no evidence. Paul’s stories from long after the event, and the later still gospels, are just that, stories. Not evidence.
              So sure, we have stories, but no “evidence” whatsoever.
              The fact that there is no “evidence” does not make the stories themself into evidence, just because we have nothing better to work on.
              Could you solve a crime this way? Imagine it..We have no evidence, but we have some good stories, so in the absence of anything else we will use the stories to get a conviction!
              Paul does not mention the vast majority of material, that later appears in the gospels. Why?
              The fact that one particular story was appealing, and taken up by many, does not make it factual, it makes it successful as a story, not necessarily factually accurate at all.
              Please detail what evidence there is, not stories or conjecture, but evidence. I am not aware of any.
              What record did the Romans provide for this momentous event? It would of course be the most earth shattering and amazing thing that had happened in the lives of the people alive at the time. Where is the documentation that it actually happened?

              • James Griffith says:

                You sound pretty angry, Tony. Simmer down. For the most part, you make some salient points throughout your comments, but here you are definitely off the mark. Stories _are_ evidence, and are used all the time to make cases for funding, to build cases for conviction, etc. The quality of the evidence is a separate issue, and perhaps a case you can make better, but even there you would have a tough time making a case that some evidence is weaker than other simply because it is a story.

                Eyewitness testimony is quite damning (or liberating) evidence in a courtroom (though whether it should be is questionable). What is eyewitness testimony other than someone’s story? Sometimes scientific theory is simply the best story we can tell with the evidence available. History, the reason we believe a man named Jesus of Nazareth lived, and the evidence you ask for (Roman records), even has the word built in: hiSTORY. Why should the Roman records carry more weight than that of the writers of the gospels? Because the gospel writers were biased? That’s a reasonable point. But you yourself make the case that the Romans would have good reason to be biased (most earth shattering thing) and perhaps not record history accurately.

                I won’t go into it any further. The primary point here was to call to question your definition of “evidence.” Incidentally, what evidence do you believe is better than stories? Most forms of evidence have potentials for weakness that result specifically from the kind of evidence they are.

              • Beth Potter says:

                Tony His body was tortured. His beard ripped out, deep lashes, gaping hole in his side, shoulders out of sockets, holes in his wrists and feet, skull showing from the crown of thorns. Might you at least consider that wisdom superior to your’s was employed in deposing of a body He clearly no longer needed and, in fact, would have done absolutely nothing to further the message of why He went through all He endured? People would have focused on the body and that is clearly not what God wanted to see happen. The message would have been lost to necromancy. They’d have prayed to it, worshiped it. There was a clear purpose in the Divine removal of the dead body.

              • Tobias Lepke says:

                I’m surprised that no one has brought up the fact that Jesus traveled and spoke to hundreds of people for 50 days after the resurrection. It’s not like Jesus went to heaven the next day and only a few people saw him. HUNDREDS saw him. The whole book of Luke was an educated man interviewing eye witness to the event. Luke interviewed those who were eye witnesses and saw Jesus in his resurrection body. Luke wrote his book while most of those eye witnesses were still alive. If his book was full of lies it would have been dismissed.

                As for more evidence. People are still being raised from the dead by Jesus today!! Look into Heidi Baker’s ministry in Mozambique and David Hogan in Mexico. They have seen hundred’s of people raised from the dead. In the movie “Finger of God” they interviewed a man that was beaten to death and then raised from the dead. After coming back to life he went to jail and forgave his murderer. The murderer then becomes a pastor. But I’m sure you’ll think that is made up too.

                Tony, there is plenty of evidence. But you refuse to believe it. However, there is a great promise that Jesus made to us. If you seek Him with all your heart, He will be found by you. So I encourage you to honestly seek Him. You will find Him. He will speak to you as well.

        • Tony Bigelow says:

          In response to your comments regarding so called “miracles”. When you consider the hundreds / thousands of millions of prayers that have been offered to “god”, and the innumerable times people have suffered and died horribly throughout history, yet in response to this tirade of pleas to a merciful god for help, you can provide a dozen or so “miracles”. Does this not strike you as utterly pathetic? Just what percentage of prayers made results in a “miracle “granted? It is such an infinitesimally small proportion that it counts as non-existent. What is a miracle is that we do not see more “miracles” just purely based on the statistical likelihood of anomalies occurring in such a massive sample. I am sorry; this just does not count as evidence of anything at all. If anything it is a very good case for atheism, because this god does so very little to confirm his existence. Sometimes strange things happen, and the reasons may not be immediately obvious. This does not make them miraculous, and certainly does not support the case for divine intervention.

          • solomon david says:

            tony you”ve been making very good points in this site but as long as gullible mass exist in large numbers it is a difficult task to make sense to them.Even then try,so as to provoke good,sicere,reasonable thoughts in all including my self.

      • Caleb Neff says:

        Actually Tony, we have to consider that no scholar believes that Jesus was pure myth. At least His existence was real, and even Josephus admits that Jesus performed miracles (you should know Josephus, the Jewish historian from ancient times). Further, consider that all possible explanations for the resurection are all just as silly to believe as the resurection itself. Couple this with how the Bible is a very accurate account for history, and we have an air-tight, bullet-proof case.

        • Tony Bigelow says:

          “very accurate account for history” Have you actually read it? Floods?? creation?? You cannot be serious.

          • Caleb Neff says:

            First off, the flood was local, so this criticism fails. Second, I would say that the existence of our universe is an immense testament to creation. Afterall, atheism lacks a cause that works. Further, in order to minimize the reply space, can you explain where there are contradictions? So far, they have all been refuted somewhere, such as Demolishing 40 Bible Contradictions (which handles the major ones). Sure, Mohammed is more influential it would seem, but you are forgetting something: Mohammed was inspired, according to my History and Geography book, by what he thought was an angel, who was supposed to be God’s angel. Given that God and Jesus are one and the same…. I think I have answered all your important objections.

            • Beth Potter says:

              Caleb the flood was not local. There is no scriptural support for the local flood hypothesis. There is abundant worldwide geological evidence to support what scripture actually does say about the flood. It covered the earth. I have seen the argument re the Hebrew word used. It doesn’t hold up.

              • Caleb Nedd says:

                See the webpages “http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/localflood.html”, “http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/psalm104.html”, and “http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/floodtrans.html” for information. No, I am not a uniformitarian, not in the way most of them are labelled. I simply argue for multiple catastrophies. We have greater evidence for this, and it fits the various pieces of information on why the Local Genesis Flood Model is more consistent. “There is no scriptural support for the local flood hypothesis. There is abundant worldwide geological evidence to support what scripture actually does say about the flood. It covered the earth. I have seen the argument re the Hebrew word used. It doesn’t hold up.” Answers in Genesis (I only mention them because they come to mind)…. I stopped listening after seeing several logical fallacies (they used a double-standard to “refute” William Dembski, took Exodus out-of-context to “prove” that it teaches Young Earth Creationism [by ignoring the Sabatical Year, and the principle of one-in-seven], claiming that God has to actively sustain the laws of physics [contradicted by Jeremiah 31:35–36, which states that God set the laws to operate by themselves], and reduced God’s wisdom and omnipotence by making it that He didn’t see Adam and Eve’s sin a mile away to explain the existence of evil [requires a change of the laws of physics, the sudden introduction of natural evil to the universe, and fails to realize that God would design the universe with the conquering of evil in mind in the beginning], and that is just to _start_!), claiming that I worship a different God because I disagree on two insignificant points, and trying to produce evidence for something that we would have found evidence for. As evidence that the Flood has no scientific backing, “what caused it”? They deny global warming (which we have confirmed, by the way); radio isotopes show no sign of decaying faster at any time when humans were around to produce the energy; a collision with a larger object (a proposed explanation for the asteroid belt) would _not_ raise the sea-level very much; the water-vapor canopy theory is false for assorted scientific and Biblical reasons, so cannot provide a source of water. As further evidence, they only produce evidence of catastrophic events that are isolated from each other by a lot of space, with zero evidence between, or anything to imply they are related. Your claim is thoroughly empty. If you still aren’t convinced, please try reading the article “Refuting Young Earth Creationism”, which is also found at godandscience.org

  11. ramsingh says:

    if god created adam and eve, who married their children? own brothers and sisters got married ? is that how the population increased then is it not a sin to commit incest? explain!

    explain

    • Caleb Neff says:

      You are making a flawed assumption here: in the beginning of the human race (unless Genesis is an allegory [I am open to this, but doubt it]), the gene-pool was `clean`. As time passes by, more and more of the pool was polluted. This is why rules against incest are not established beyond “son cannot marry their mother” or the like are not invented untill afterwards. If we make the evolutionary assumption, then this is a problem. If not, then don’t worry, it’s fine. B)

    • Martin Lagerwey says:

      Incest is risky because harmful recessive genetic diseases like hemophilia can become prominent if our gene pool is reduced in this way. Most societies have incest taboos in their cultures, religions and biological instincts. Many cultures predate Adam (presuming he lived 6000 years ago. Australian aboriginals are more than 50 000 years old. There were plenty of other people around for Cain to marry. Assuming he had sisters, he was not likely to be attracted to them.
      A similar question emerges with Noah’s grand children who, if the flood was global (unlikely) would have to marry each other. Yuk!

      • Caleb Neff says:

        Hi. Yes, these are big problems.
        Cain wouldn’t have any problems with his sister, assuming Genesis is literal history, for the reason I already outlined. Noah’s children already had wives, and the problem was still minimal at the time. Their children could intermarry with there uncle’s children, and so on. The problem only starts to brew after, say, the 1000th generation.

        As I maintain, it really depends on what assumptions we make that determine whether the aboriginies were before Adam or not. An example of this is that the human race, given the telescoping methods used in biblical times, we have between 60,000 and 6,000 years of human history. This is irrelevant.

        • Tony Bigelow says:

          The bible is not a scientific document, therefore the “methods used in biblical times” is an utterly meaningless statement. You should spend a little time studying molecular biology, and not just your preferred religious texts. There is so much more for you to see if you open your eyes. I do not mean to be rude, and say this only because you said earlier, that your case was “air tight and bullet proof”. This is staggeringly arrogant, and says more about you than you realise. Your mind may be closed “air tight” but your case is so wobbly it can’t stand up on its own. It requires massive assumptions, built upon other groundless assumptions. You have a popular story, and nothing else. “assuming genesis is literal history”!! you may as well stop right there.

          • Caleb Nedd says:

            Tony, I’ve pondered this for an extremely long time. If you must fall back on insults, and claim I’m being willingly ignorant, you are not going to find respect anymore.

            Assumptions, and all of them ultimately groundless? Alright then, _which_ones_??! I only made one assumption, and it is very reasonable: Genesis can be thought of as literal history. Here’s why:
            1- The parts of the Bible that are known to be history are historically accurate.
            2- Genesis might be history (as I have said before, I am open to the contrary).
            3- Therefore, Genesis can plausibly be an accurate account of man kind. It only depends on whether or not it _is_ history, rather than allegory.

            Beth Potter mentions aborigines, and given the literal history assumption (which I have already proved _is_ reasonable, contrary to your nonsense about my ‘assumptions’), they would come after Adam. This is even predicted in the local flood model, and explains how we can have numerous people groups on different patches of land across the planet in a way that is consistent with what we know. Same applies to all peoples, be they Native Americans, aborigines, or otherwise.

            In the end, I must state that this relevant argument that was made still wasn’t harmed. If you must try again, then I urge you, and down right _welcome_ it.

            Air tight and bullet-proof. Alright, you claim that this argument is wobbly. The burden is on you about how, since you are the one claiming there are weaknesses, but not giving any examples. I’ll be waiting.

        • Beth Potter says:

          If the aborigines were created before Adam they were considered animals. Adam was the first man created in the image of God.

  12. Aexei Levtchenko says:

    I’m surprised more and more about the subject of dispute. Everyone chooses a faith based on internal feelings rather than logic. Who ever before. Who later. Each will receive result under his faith. Right choice. Atheism is a belief too. Often very fanatical. Unbelievers on earth has been and never will be. I think that religion and faith are different things. Religion is a tool. Faith is a spiritual condition. We can consider the biblical texts literally. They can be regarded as a grand allegory of the spiritual condition of society in his time. What does it change? A little fantasy. If Jesus or Sakya – Mooney or, later, St. Francis of Assisi was asked about the physical or metaphysical essence of God, they just would not get the idea. Each of them felt a particle of God in itself. When in the soul is not even the tiniest particles of this type … it’s great trouble. Perhaps this is the main cause of repeated thousands of years of horrors in human history. And they end in sight. It is not excluded that it could get grim.
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xmazhs_apocalypse-to-be-or-not-be_music
    I apologize for any errors in the text. English is not my native language.

  13. olusina says:

    Hi,
    I wish to share my knowledge on Jesus and Resurrection issue. For whoever care to get facts of what really happened, I recommend this link: http://www.alislam.org/library/books/WhereDidJesusDie.pdf. Highly informative and interesting

    • Alexei says:

      olusina – You raised a difficult question (Shams Book ). But this is a very delicate subject. I can only speak of my very subjective opinion. I have no doubts about the facts surrounding the birth of Islam. But information about these events is very small. There’s only Arab sources. They are very different. For example, to me closer and clearer position of Sufism. At the same time about the events associated with Jesus is not just a lot of sources. These written records belong to many nations. Often these are not supporters of Christianity. About the Shams book? As a Muslim and member of the Ahmadiyya movement, his religious prejudices could not have allowed him to question the most important personages of Islam. All said and done, Where Did Jesus Die? is an interesting controversial book which Christians and non-Christians alike should read with open minds.
      Sincerely yours,Alexei

      • Beth Potter says:

        Islam is only 1400 years old. Their prophet thought he was possessed by an evil spirit after he suspected his encounter was certainly not with Gabriel. His words – not mine. He took one of the gods pagan Arabs worshiped and made it the only god. Polytheism to monotheism was the only real change. It became Islam only after Mohammad. This is why the Quran never explains who exactly allah is. They already knew him as their moon god, along with his wife and daughters, who had previously been given ‘gods’ status. He is NOT the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and Muslims know it. He is Baal, reinvented from Nimrod. That.. most of them might not realize because to ask questions like that would be very risky.

    • Dalibor Sver says:

      I just briefly read few pages from page 14, and I can’t help but wonder is the author serious or is he joking.
      Jesus – beaten, whipped, crucified, stabbed etc. – without medical attention somehow leaves tomb and appears to disciples? After that, he walks casually several miles to Emmaus? I think this is far more unthinkable than resurrection.

  14. Stuart Greene says:

    God has only given limited knowledge to Man to think …its for us to beilieve it or not.. Jesus did rise from the dead.. he was not buried in Kashmir ..he never did go ther..he was caught up in the clouds.. people who need an explanation on this..should accept christianity is not a religion..its a relationship we share with GOD our father…where Jesus is with him.. and the only way we can understand GOD is by accepting Jesus as our personal saviour…he is the only way to God our Father in heaven.. !!! well its a choice one has to make.. instead of arguing about what already has been created by the hands of GOD himself .. we will all only believe when we are raised from the dead on the judegement day !!

  15. Robert Burk says:

    We all have a choice. If we could absolutely prove Christianity (or anything else) choice would no longer exist. Choice betrays the treasures of our hearts, our values. The miracle of the Bible is that an atheist can find so many points to substantiate his doubt but it cannot be proved wrong. Another miraculous aspect of the Bible is that it cannot be understood without accepting its truth. You may ask well then how does anyone understand the Bible. The truth of the Bible exists outside of the Bible in how we treat our neighbour. We have to accept that God gave all things choice and that this choice is to demonstrate our love or hate for that which He created. Love is a choice that creates choice (this can be interpreted as freedom, liberty or equality). The bottom line is that we have to choose and ultimately that choice is based on the type of person we are. By our fruits we are known because how we act betrays how we think and feel. So a person’s response to the Bible has nothing to do with the Bible or God but all to do with the secret recesses of the heart.

  16. Robert Burk says:

    One writer mentions that primitive people not having access to education would be prone to superstitiion and fanciful notions .. perhaps but they did not believe in evolution or order appearing from chaos nor that a species prone to all sorts of evil are innately good so I am not sure how superstitious they could be – certainly if it was possible they would have disproved a crucified man could rise from the dead. Or alternatively prove his body was stolen by the Romans or stolen by the Disciples. The fact that those who knew him most accepted death by toture rather than recant their testimony that he rose from the dead is proof sufficient proof that people familier with dead men saw alive someone they also saw killed. A person has to have an agenda to discount eye witness testimony especially that given by people who accepted death rather than change their testimony. What would you die for rather than say what your torturers wish you to say? What would it take to make you ready to die before you change your account of what happened?

  17. Robert Burk says:

    Tony Bigolow says the Bible is not a scientific document .. in what sense? You point to mocular Biology? Sure, the observations are exact wbut what of that. I can see a moon in the sky but I might still think it is made of green cheese. Science has millions of observations. Observations are just that, observations. I am familier enough with every field of sience to know that scientists agree on very little and there are numerous camps each with its pet theory that are totally at odds with other camps and their competiting interpretations. The Bible is true therefore scientific. IF it seems to conflict with science or be obtuse it is because we as humans do not understand it. If we would accept that God has infinite power and everything He does is an act of free will choice we would understand consciousness, human behaviour and have the understanding required to create an equitable social system and just economics that would end poverty, unemployment, waste and all our other ills. Any book that can do this and trust me it is able to do this, is scientific in my eyes.

    Let me give you one example. The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. THink of crime, greed, the bubbles and robber baron mentality of so many people and tell me that it is not the love of money that is the root of these things? The Bible holds the key to an economy that does not use money and so eliminates debt and externalized costs. And the Bible is not scientific? I beg to differ. Indeed the only way the Bible could not be scientific is if God does not exist. Remember, the school system and universities were the products of Christians seeking to understand God and His creation more fully.

    • solomon david says:

      Bible is a collection of written texts from stone age which also dont agree on each other.The rationality of modern science is that it can change as and when new observations and knoweledge comes in.It is not fundamental in nature as Bible and religion is.so it is not appropriate to call the Bible as a scientific document.Evils stii persists dispite you sayig god is all powerfull.

  18. Aubrey Bryant says:

    In Heaven, God is King, which means that Heaven is a monarchy and all Christians are essentially His “subjects”.

    If Christians are to pray that God’s will is to be done “on Earth as it is in Heaven”, shouldn’t all Christians then espouse the idea of establishing nothing but monarchies on Earth.

    With this in mind, my question is: “How can a Christian also embrace the idea of and want to be involved in a ‘democracy’?”

    • Caleb Neff says:

      No, Christians should not try to produce more monarchies. God may be flawless (and thus a good king), but people are not. God’s will is not to have bad rulers in place for no good reason, and if He needs them there for something, He will put them there Himself. Predictably, we will find human rights to decline in these places (absolute power), and equality may fall as well.

      I have a logical syllogism that proves that God does not want more absolute monarchies (or are other types included?), but it assumes God exists beforehand, so may be useless to you.

      • Dalibor Sver says:

        Common, Caleb, I’d like to hear it.

        • Caleb Neff says:

          Alright, here is the syllogism, in its best form (apologies for any slop, I thought I’d have it beaten out in time):
          PART#1
          1. The world as it is, is the best of the feasible worlds for God’s purposes.
          2. This does not mean that God does not consider it lacking. He wants it to be completely good as well (it isn’t because that was not feasible).
          3. Humans are not completely good.
          PART#2
          1. God wills Himself at the top of a monarchy because He (being sovereign) deserves it.
          2. Humans do not deserve it.
          CONCLUSION
          Because humans would abuse their power in monarchies, and are undeserving of the power in the first place, we would not be fulfilling God’s will on Earth “As it is in Heaven”.

          Notice that the syllogism also argues that democracies, and other governments that place humans in power are not fulfilling God’s will. If we follow the argument consistently, a theocracy of some sort would arise. I can see problems with this, and atheist protests are not one of them. I might alter one of the premises as I bang the syllogism out more.

    • Dalibor Sver says:

      @Aubrey: This prayer is for kingdom of God on Earth to develop, so as many people as possible to enter it (become Christians) and be saved.

  19. JM says:

    Hello Perry,

    Love what you are doing, praise God! I love your CosmicFingerPrints site also, has had a huge impact on me and my faith! You answered many of my questions there. I believe my screen name was “JohnM” back then. Thanks again! Such a blessing, keep keepin on!

    Anyway, I have a friend I work with who calls himself an agnostic. I’ve asked him what kind of evidence would he accept as evidence for a God, he simply says “I don’t know.” That kind of throws me off. Usually someone wants to “see God do something” etc. Says he can’t help it, he simply cant believe something he doesn’t believe.

    We have discussed the issues back and forth for sometime now. I think he gets allot of his “information” from DM Murdoc’s website “truth be known.” I have looked into her some and it seems shes not quite a first rate historian and uses secondary sources etc., etc. Yet it seems all he and the unbeliever needs is any unsubstantiated “claim” that sounds like it refutes Jesus, Christianity and God etc., etc., and they are satisfied.

    I am interested in your thoughts about some of his claims.

    He says things like:

    1 – “Oh there where “Sun / Son Gods before Jesus”, “Gods dying and rising again”, “Jesus is a copy cat story, nothing new.” etc.

    2 – In explaining to him all the types and shadows of the OT relating to Jesus he says “the NT writers just wrote him in to fit those events and objects after the fact.”

    3 – “The NT writers wanted to make Jesus a “God” to gain power and control.”

    4 – “Says religion represses us with making things “taboo” such as sexuality and watching porn” etc. Says “countries where these things are not seen as such a bad thing that there is less rape, pregnancy” etc.

    Which brings me to another point. Can you go into more detail about the question you ask? Like some specific examples of your claims here? I agree with it, I just want to be able to show him specifically what you are referring to, the countries and their actions etc. “Name 5 protestant Christian countries that have rampant poverty, illiteracy and human rights abuses.” And: “Name 5 Buddhist countries… or 5 Hindu countries… or 5 Muslim countries… or 5 Atheist countries… that do NOT have rampant poverty, illiteracy and human rights abuses.”

    I asked him this and he said “whats an atheistic country and could I name five of them period?”

    How do you explain some of the “polls” that seem to show “atheistic countries” are better off and have lower crime, divorce rates etc?

    Thanks so much, God bless you!

  20. JM says:

    Has my previous question been responded to somewhere else? I see its been accepted for a few days now, but do not see a response. Thanks!

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