The evidence that Jesus was not resurrected is circumstantial.
The evidence that Jesus was resurrected is also circumstantial.
As will be shown, the evidence that Jesus was not resurrected overwhelms the evidence that Jesus was resurrected.
Evidence For Resurrection
- The only “evidence” for resurrection comes from Matthew, Luke and John who tell the story of Jesus’ resurrection. EXPLANATION
Evidence Against Resurrection
- The resurrection story is told by only three people. EXPLANATION
- None of the three storytellers even saw the “resurrected” Jesus. EXPLANATION.
- The Gospels report fewer than 20 who actually saw the resurrected Jesus.EXPLANATION
- None of the 20 thought it worthy of writing about even though the salvation of all future mankind depends on every man believing that Jesus was resurrected. Speaks for itself – no EXPLANATION needed.
- Paul did not “see” the resurrected Jesus, neither did the 500. EXPLANATION
- Contradictory stories prove resurrection story is false. EXPLANATION.
- There is not a single mention of Jesus’ resurrection outside of the bible. EXPLANATION
- Not even Jesus requires belief in his resurrection as a condition of salvation. EXPLANATION
- Resurrection was commonplace during Jesus’ era; did not imply divinity. EXPLANATION
- The resurrection story depends on the least likely explanation; a miracle. EXPLANATION
- People of the 1st century believed many events were “miracles”. EXPLANATION
- Unlikely scenarios combine to prove impossibility of Resurrection. EXPLANATION
- Four different stories about how long Jesus was on earth after crucifixion. EXPLANATION
- The method God chose to deliver the story can’t be from a loving God. EXPLANATION
- “Scripture Fulfilled” is motivating theme. EXPLANATION
- Most “Miracles” are easily explained EXPLANATION
- YET – Salvation of everyman from 33 A.D. until the end depends on hearing and believing that Jesus was resurrected. EXPLANATION
Story Told By Only Three People
Only three people in the entire world (Matthew, Luke, John) even bothered to write about the resurrection of Jesus. Every thing we know about the resurrection and Ascension we learn from only these three writers who wrote long after the fact and who did not actually see the resurrected Jesus.
Mark Did NOT write about the resurrection.
The after-death appearances of Jesus mentioned in Mark were added long after the original Mark was completed. (1). The ending of Mark varies substantially between ancient manuscripts, and scholars are in near universal agreement that the final portion of the traditional ending, in which all Mark’s resurrection appearances occur, is a later addition not present in the original version of Mark’s gospel.
The Gospels report fewer than 20 who actually saw the resurrected Jesus.
Let’s have a look at which gospels report eye-witnesses of the resurrected Jesus.
1. To Cleopas and his companion (24, 13-31).
2. To Simon (Peter) (34).
3. To the eleven and others (36).
1. To Mary Magdalene (20, 14-18).
2. To ten (?) disciples (19-24).
3. To the eleven (26-29).
4. To Peter, John and others (21).
These Gospel writers can only cite 15-20 individuals (10, 11 or 12 disciples, 2 Marys, Cleopas & Companion) who allegedly saw the resurrected Jesus. Amazingly, none of those who allegedly SAW the resurrected Jesus bother to let the rest of the world know. Because they were the ONLY persons to see the reincarnated Jesus, and because the salvation of all future mankind depended on believing Jesus was resurrected, it was imperative that they make every effort to spread the word. Why didn’t they? Surly they knew the importance of their role in mankind’s eternity.
So where did these writers of the Gospels get their information? From someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone….. etc.
T-E-L-E-P-H-0-N-E . Pretty weak “evidence”!
What About Paul?
Paul did not write about the resurrection. Paul knew about a resurrected Christ but he did not write about the resurrection event itself. However Paul has a unique claim: Paul is the last to have “seen” the resurrected Christ but the first and ONLY “eyewitnesses” to write about it. But Paul did not actually “see” Jesus; he heard a voice or saw a light. That does not count as being an eyewitness. Not only does Paul never actually “see” Jesus, there are three different stories told in Acts about Paul’s encounter with Jesus. Contradictions of this magnitude undercut the whole story.
Paul Says Jesus Seen By 500
Paul, who concocted his story before Matthew, Luke and John concocted theirs, had no idea how different their stories would be. Paul says that Jesus was seen by 500 after he was resurrected 1 Corinthians 15:16. Paul wrote at least 20 years after the resurrection. Paul was not a follower of Jesus at the time of Jesus’ death. Paul was not among the 500 that he says saw the resurrected Jesus. Thus Paul’s statement is merely hearsay as he readily admits. The story about the 500 was in transit for at least 20 years before Paul heard it. Why did none of the 500 write about it, tell their friends who could have written about it? Word would have spread like wildfire that a man crucified by the Romans had come back from the dead! But nothing from them or anyone they talked to.
How did the 500 know it was Jesus anyway? Could have been an imposter planted to perpetuate the myth. And why didn’t these 500 become apostles? If a dead man appeared in front of you and claimed to be God, you would have to believe him and become his disciple. No?
Surly Matthew, Mark, Luke and John would have included this in their lists of who say the resurrected Jesus. If it happened, they would have written about it. If they could quote, verbatim, a prayer of Jesus that no one heard, they would surely have known and written about Jesus being seen by 500. Why is there no mention of this monumental, outstanding proof of the resurrection anywhere else?
What About the Romans?
The Romans didn’t pick up on this? If Jesus had appeared to 500 after his crucifixion, the Romans would have heard about it. How could they have ignored the fact that someone they thought dead by crucifixion was still alive? 500 people saying they saw the resurrected “King of the Jews” would certainly have been of interest to the Roman leadership. They thought they had killed him and here he is, back in their midst!
If the resurrection actually happened, and five hundred people saw the resurrected person, it would have drawn such monumental attention that Pilate and the other Roman officials would have noted it, along with the Roman historians at the time! And almost everyone around would have been converted! However, we DON’T even have ONE historical document other than the New Testament, which itself was completed almost a century after Christ’s existence, that validates the Resurrection! None of the Roman writers of the day knew about this remarkable event? None wrote about it? Not likely if it really happened.
What Paul Does Not Say…
What Paul does not say speaks louder than what Paul says. Paul’s silence on the discovered empty tomb and all the alleged sightings by the Marys, the apostles, etc. strongly suggests that the discovered tomb et. al. tradition did not yet exist. It is hard to understand why Paul did not mention ANYTHING that we later hear from Matthew, Luke and John. Silence! Silence from Paul on points that would have bolstered his story.
There is no evidence, other than Paul’s statement, that the resurrected Jesus was seen by 500. We know that Paul often says things that are not true. See Paul is So Wrong About So Much, Why Do You Believe Him? There is ample evidence presented above that supports the conclusion that the resurrected Jesus was not seen by 500.
It is common knowledge among all biblical scholars* that none of the Gospels were written by the men whose names are attributed to them. See Gospels Not Written By Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Prior to 200 A.D. there were no names attributed to the writings that now have the names Matthew, Mark, Luke and John associated with them. Church leaders of that time, in an attempt to lend credibility to the writings, attached the apostles’ names to the various writings. Any reading done outside Christian bookstores will confirm this statement.
Note that in John 21: 7 and 20 there is a reference to “the disciple who Jesus loved” being in the presence of the resurrected Jesus. Everyone assumes that is John. The fact is that if it were John he would refer to himself as “me”, not some abstract reference to “the disciple who Jesus loved”. Therefore, there is no evidence that John saw the resurrected Christ. Even if the “disciple who Jesus loved” is actually John, the fact is, the disciple John did not write the Book of John.
The statement that none of the storytellers actually saw the resurrected Jesus is not refuted by reference to John 21:7 or John 21:20.
* No Christian can ever be called a “biblical scholar”. The word “scholar” means someone who researches a topic without a preconceived expectation of the results of the research. Christians approach any biblical research with the bias that it is essentially true. Therefore a Christian cannot be referred to as a Biblical scholar.
There is not a single mention of Jesus’ resurrection outside of the bible.
There are NO independent, corroborated, disinterested or contemporary accounts of the “resurrection” of Jesus Christ. What passes for “historical testimony” comes from the Bible. All we have are later descriptions of Jesus’ life events by non-eyewitnesses, most of whom are obviously biased.
Little can be gleaned from the few non-Biblical and non-Christian sources, with only Roman scholar Josephus and historian Tacitus having any reasonable claim to be writing about Jesus within 100 years of his life. Christians point to the Testimonium Flavianum inserted into Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews as evidence of contemporary writers knowing about Jesus. The Testimonium Flavianum has been totally debunked. Josephus’ work only makes two small references to Jesus and what he says, he admits is hearsay.
Silence From Contemporaries
What is most persuasive is the silence of those who would have, could have, should have been writing about the most amazing thing that ever happened in the history of mankind; a dead man returning to life, and even more than that, the dead man had been crucified by the Romans. No one had ever survived being crucified by the Romans so it would have stirred up a lot of people.
The Romans Are Silent
The Romans would surely have been alerted to someone who they executed being found alive! Think of it . Someone who they crucified was not dead? The entirety of the Roman army would have been searching for him.
The resurrection of Jesus would have been a momentous event that would have shaken the ancient world. The Romans wrote extensively. An event this colossal would surely have been written about by one of the many writers of the day. Yet there is no contemporary record of the resurrection outside the Bible.
Philo of Alexandria was a contemporary who sought to document everything of interest to the Jewish world, yet he never mentioned this amazing event.
Pontius Pilate could be expected to have reported such an event to the emperor, who would have been anxious to discover more about an event with possible consequences for the empire, but no Roman records exist to show that either man knew anything.
Alas then, we have nothing from the Romans. A Roman silence about something this miraculous adds significant weight to the probability that the resurrection story is false. The chart below shows authors who were living during the time of Jesus (between the two red lines) and authors who wrote shortly after Jesus crucifixion. None of them have anything to say about Jesus. Of course, they have nothing to say about the Crucifixion/Resurrection story either.
John E. Remsberg has put together a list of writers who lived and wrote during the time, or within a century after the time, that Christ is said to have lived and performed his wonderful works, including returning from the dead. Here is the list he compiled. Many, of course are in the chart above.
While not all of the names on the list may be authors, Mr Remsberg gives the history, writings and context of the three most quoted by Christians.See his excellent presentation HERE
Everybody who was alive and had an opportunity to see the risen Jesus had an opportunity to say something. .
Not Even Jesus Requires Belief In His Resurrection
John 3:16, is the source for the belief that whoever believes in Jesus’ resurrection will have everlasting life. As can be seen from the passage below, this is not what Jesus says:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24
“... believeth on him that sent me…“, that would be his Father, i.e. God. Jesus entirely repudiates the notion that belief in his resurrection is necessary for salvation.
Jesus does predict his resurrection but always in the context of fulfilling prophecy and he never says that belief in his resurrection is required for salvation. However, Jesus does give numerous ways that one can achieve salvation (See “How To Be Saved“). Basically, Jesus says works (as in sell all you have…) are necessary. John is the only disciple who repeats Paul’s invention, i.e. that faith in the resurrection of Jesus is necessary and sufficient. The inescapable fact is that Jesus’ teachings (as presented in Matthew, Mark and Luke) are diametrically opposite those of Paul and John.
What Jesus DOES NOT SAY (in Mark, Matthew or Luke) is that:
“I will be crucified and will be resurrected three days later and anyone who believes the story will have life everlasting.”
Jesus Last Words Prove He Is Not the Son of God
The last words of Jesus, according to Mark and Matthew, acknowledge that Jesus finally realizes that he is just another prophet. Mark, writing some 40 years after the crucifixion, recalls that Jesus, crying with a loud voice, says My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Jesus apparently had no idea that he would actually die. He finally recognizes that he is not the Son of God. When it came time to show his godliness, he couldn’t do it because he wasn’t.
In time ,the early Christian community realized that the last words of Jesus were not exactly God-like so John, some 20 years later, and 60 years after the crucifixion changes the last words of Jesus to a godly “It is finished”.
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. John 19:3
Resurrections were commonplace in Jesus era
Other Biblical Resurrections
The idea of a dead person coming back to life was not outrageous to the illiterate, superstitious, ignorant peasants of early centuries. The Old Testament has multiple resurrections and of course so does the New Testament.
1. 1 Kings 17: 17 -24 Elijah resurrects widows son.
2. 2 Kings 4: 32-37 Elisha resurrects Shunammite woman’s son.
3. 2 Kings 13:20, 21 Man resurrected by touching Elisha’s bones.
4. Matt. 28: 5-7 God resurrects Jesus
5. Luke 7: 11-17 Jesus resurrects the widow of Nain’s son.
6. Luke 8:40-46 Jesus resurrects Jarirus’s daughter.
7. Luke 9:30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias – which means that both Moses and Elias were resurrected.
8. Acts 9: 36-42 Peter resurrects Tabitha.
9. Acts 20: 7-12 Paul resurrects Eutychus.
10. John 11:43-44 The raising of Lazarus.
11. Acts 14: 19-20 The raising of Paul after stoning.
12. Acts 20:9-12 The raising of Eutychus.
13. Luke 7:11-17 Widow’s son raised during funeral
If you are going to believe the Bible about Jesus’ resurrection, then you have to believe all of these. And since it is the resurrection that Christians point to as proof the Jesus was the Son of God, or God himself, or the Holy Spirit, or all three combined, then Christians have to believe that the significance of these resurrections were of equal import.
Multiple Simultaneous Resurrections
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Matt 27:52-53
The most ridiculous claim of all. “…and appeared to many“.
Surely that would have generated some reaction from someone? the Romans perhaps? So now the saints, along with Moses and Elias are also the Sons of God
And yet not a peep out of any one of the many who saw ghosts roaming the holy city just as Jesus is executed. Only Matthew reports this extra extraordinary miracle of miracles. Why would Mark, Luke and John fail to report it?
Paul should have been the first one to report this extraordinary event. After all, Paul was the first (and only) writer to tell us that 500+ saw the resurrected Jesus. Reporting on the resurrected saints would have given Paul additional credibility. But, alas, Paul didn’t know that the author(s) of “Matthew” were going to make up 20 years later.
Previously dead Jews – come back to life and roaming the streets! Why do the Romans not report it? Why is there no mention of this ANYWHERE other than one sentence in Matthew? Why don’t the contemporaneous writers of the day report it? Surely it is noteworthy.
How did Matthew learn of this amazing “fact”? He wasn’t there. “And they all forsook him, and fled.” Mark 14:50 So how did Matthew learn of this? If someone told him then surely others “…and appeared to many” would have known and written. But they didn’t.
Non Biblical Resurrections
If you want to use the fact that being resurrected makes you the Son of God, then these are also Sons of God.
Every culture, Sumerian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, had entities that died and were resurrected. Beginning in the 19th century, a number of gods who would fit these motifs were identified. Some examples include the ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Norse deities Baal, Melqart Adonis, Eshmun, Tammuz, Ra the Sun god with its fusion with Osiris/Orion, Jesus, and Dionysus. Female examples include Inanna/Ishtar, Persephone, and Bari.
Other Resurrected Saviors
In order to be taken seriously as a deity, it was necessary to come back from death. Thus, it was necessary for the Christian movement to have its savior come back from the dead too. John admits as much “ for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” John 20:9. He “must” rise from the dead” and by God he did .. so says John.
Kersey Graves identified 16 “saviors” from ancient times in his book, “The Worlds Crucified Saviors“, 1875. In it he gives chapter and verse of these people, who at their time, were recognized as deities and were killed and allegedly came back from the dead. You have no more reason to doubt their resurrection than you do to “believe in” the resurrection of Jesus. What is your reason for disbelieve in the following 16 resurrected saviors? (all dates are BC)
Thulis of Egypt 1700
Chrishna of India 1200
Crite of Chaldea 1200
Atys of Phrygia 1170
Thammuz of Syria 1160
Hesus of the Celtic Druids 834
Indra of Tibet 725
Bali of Orissa 725
Iao of Nepaul 622
Alcestor of Euripides 600
Hindoo Sakia 600
Mithra of Persia 600
Quexalcote of Mexico 587
Wittoba of the Telingonese 552
Aeschylus Prometheus 547
Quirinus of Rome 506
Non “Savior” Resurrections
Ancient Greek Resurrections
Getting closer to the time of Christ, in the ancient Greek religion, a number of men and women were made physically immortal as they were resurrected from the dead. Asclepius, was killed by Zeus only to be resurrected and transformed into a major deity. Achilles, after being killed, was snatched from his funeral pyre by his divine mother Thetis and resurrected, brought to an immortal existence. Memnon , who was killed by Achilles, seems to have a received a similar fate. Alcmene, Castor, Heracles, and Melicertes, were also among the figures sometimes considered to have been resurrected to physical immortality.
According to Herodotus‘s Histories, the seventh century BC sage Aristeas of Proconnesus was first found dead, after which his body disappeared from a locked room. Later he found not only to have been resurrected but to have gained immortality. (Editorial comment: Wow… we bet that NO one ever thought that would happen again)
Here are some details of three well known resurrections from Egypt, Greece, Persia
Born on Dec 25th
Born of a virgin
Star in the east
Teacher at 12
Baptized ministry at 30, had 12 disciples
Born of a virgin on Dec 25th
Dead 3 days and resurrected.
Born of a virgin on Dec 25th
12 disciples, performed miracles
Dead 3 days then resurrected
The authors of the Gospels never missed a chance to point out that the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus fulfilled prophecy. the problem is the prophecy referred to is usually non-existent or unrelated or misinterpreted.
Most often though, it is spun to make it look like prophecy once an event has occurred. That is, an event occurs… now go back and find something that looks like it predicts the event.
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God’s Choice of Media
The Resurrection of Christ is the greatest event in the history of mankind. Everyone who believes that Jesus died on the cross for our sins will have life everlasting in Heaven with God and Jesus and all their loved ones. Those that have heard the story and don’t believe it and even those who have not heard the story are going to Hell.
With everymans’ soul resting on believing this incredible, natural-law defying event, why would the omniscient, omnipotent, loving, merciful God trust just three ordinary ancient ignorant, superstitious people to make sure that everyone in the world from then until eternity, has a chance to hear and evaluate the story?
What is especially disturbing is that God knew that they would not be successful and that most of those earthlings that he professes to love so much, were going to burn in hell. Can anyone give a reason for that other than “God works in mysterious ways”?
Why does God not give us any more evidence than 2000 year old writings from three people? Why aren’t isn’t the story of Jesus Resurrection and Crucifixion any different than other would be Gods of those times. You would think “the real thing” would have a little bit more evidence than say Osiris.
Miracle: An event inexplicable by the laws of nature; by definition, the least likely explanation of an event.
If Jesus was resurrected, it would fall into the category of a miracle. Miracles never happen but in times and countries in which they are believed, and before persons disposed to believe them. No miracle ever occurred in the presence of men capable of testing its miraculous character.
There are numerous explanations for the empty tomb / resurrection story. Some of these alternative explanations will be a scattered throughout the rest of this treatise. All of them have a higher probability of actually having occurred than an event that defies natural law; i.e. that Jesus (or anyone else) should come back from the dead.
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How To Account For A “Miracle”
Paul is the ONLY one of the four writers who claims to have “seen” (only a “vision” however) the resurrected Jesus. Well then, how to explain his vision?
Below is a list of possible explanations for “miracles” (resurrection, space aliens, Lourdes, faith healing, etc.) that any critical thinker knows can’t be true.
- Hallucinations (see Power of Hallucinations)
- Mental Illness (mental institutions are filled with people who have visions)
- Wishful thinking begets a white lie that grows
- Intentional lie to attract attention
- Intentional lie to protect self
- Intentional lie to promote a cause, garner support
- Outright falsification that “justifies” the end (See Paul’s statement about willingness to lie)
- Epileptic seizure
- Staring at the sun
- Comas and Brain Damage
- Extreme exhaustion
- Sleep Deprivation
- Lack of oxygen to the brain for whatever reason (apnea, Near Death Experience)
- Fugue state
- Dissociative identity disorder
- Bi Polar
- Space Aliens came down and impersonated Jesus
- Other – you name it.
Inexplicable contradictions debunk the entire story of the resurrection.
Two Irreconcilable Stories From Luke
The story of the most important event in Christendom, the resurrection and subsequent ascendency of Jesus has at least two different endings that cannot be reconciled.
Luke, who is the alleged author of the Book of Luke and the Book of Acts, can’t get his act together. In the gospel under his name, Luke, he writes that Jesus ascended on the first day (Luke 24:1-51).
luke 24:1 Now upon the first day of the week,
Luke 24:51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
Mark says the same thing (Mark 16:9-19)
In the Book of Acts, which all agree was written by Luke, he says he was seen forty days and then ascended Acts 1:2-3, 9.
Acts 1:3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days,
Acts 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight
Two different versions of a foundational event. How can this be possible? Two different stories from the same author whose writings were subjected to edit by the Editor-of-editors, the Holy Spirit? How could the Holy Spirit allow such a monumental error slip through into the inerrant Holy Bible? Anyone? Anyone?
By the way, why didn’t Luke give us just one of the “..many infallible proofs“? It would have changed history. An infallible proof of Jesus’ resurrection! If Luke had given just one, all of the world would have been of the same religion. Wouldn’t that have been wonderful.
But wait! God, in His infinite wisdom knew that all we needed was one infallible proof yet not even He wants to help us.
Given that the Bible is so wrong about this foundational event, there is no reason to believe anything related to the Resurrection/Ascension.
See The Bible Is Wrong About Jesus’ Ascension to learn about two additional indeterminate endings.
Other Contradictory stories prove resurrection story is false.
Matthew VS John
Because of its importance to the Christian faith, one would expect that God would make sure that the resurrection was accurately described for the ages to follow. There should be no reason for misinterpretation of the most important story ever. The truth is there are conflicting accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, even among the two alleged “eye-witnesses”, Matthew and John. They are not eye witnesses to what they describe however. How did they know what to write some 50 – 70 years after the event?
Matthew and John tell two totally different stories about the event that defines Christianity. Again, for such an important story, one would expect that the two apostles would have similar if not identical stories. Other than starting at the tomb, they don’t even come close. Read the two accounts of Jesus’ resurrection side by side below.
(1)After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
(1) Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.
(2) And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
(2) So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
(3) His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
(3) Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb.
(4) For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.
(4) The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
(5) But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.
(5) He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.
(6)He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
(6) Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there
(7) Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”
(7) and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.
(8) So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
(8) Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;
(9) Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.
(9) for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
(10) Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
(10) Then the disciples returned to their homes.
The rest of the resurrection story, that which has become “gospel”, is recounted only by John. It is significantly embellished over Matthew’s rather simple story.
(11) But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look 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? For whom are you looking?” 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.”
(16) Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).
(17) Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”
(18) Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Summary – in case you are confused:
Matthew – Mary Magdaline and the” other Mary” go to the tomb, great earthquake, ONE angel rolls back the tombstone,Jesus is gone, headed for Galilee but encounters Mary & Mary on the road, they recognize him
John – ONLY Mary Magdaline encounters an empty tomb with the stone already rolled back, runs, encounters Simon Peter and the “other disciple”, all head back to the tomb, find only “linen wrappings”, then the disciples returned to their homes, ONLY the weeping Mary Magdaline sees TWO angels, Jesus appears but Mary Magdaline doesn’t even recognize him,. After recognition, Mary reports to the disciples
These “minor” discrepancies could be excused if they weren’t the infallible, inerrant word of God supervised by the editor in chief, the Holy Spirit. Christians view the Bible as the infallible, inerrant word of God but one of these descriptions is obviously NOT the infallible, inerrant word of God. It is also most likely that neither of these stories is the word of God.
Problems With the Tomb Stories
None Of The Disciples Have The Same Story
|HOW many women at the tomb?|
Four + ?
“It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.”
“And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.“
“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.”
“The first day of the week came Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, to the sepulchre, and saw the stone taken away from the sepulchre.“
1 Corinthians 15.4,8:
“He rose again the third day according to the scriptures. And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve. After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me.”
Note that once again, none of the “testimony” above is from one who “saw and gave witness”. Neither Mark, Luke, Matthew, John or Paul were there at the empty tomb. It is all hearsay.
Contradictions exist in almost every detail between the four gospels’ accounts of the events surrounding the discovery of the empty tomb: they could not agree on who actually witnessed the empty tomb, nor how many witnesses there were; they could not agree if the tomb was guarded or not; they could not agree how many angels (or were they merely men?) the women saw; they could not agree whether it was the angels or Jesus himself who announced his resurrection; they could not agree on the content of the message of the angels to the women or whether the message was carried out; and they could not agree whether Peter was a witness to the empty tomb. In fact, the only statement the gospels have in common is this: the tomb in which Jesus was allegedly laid on the night of his death was found empty on Sunday morning. All the other details contradict each other so blatantly that we have no reason whatsoever to believe any of them to be historically true.
Shouldn’t there be an identical story from God/Holy Spirit/Jesus, Mark, Luke, Matthew, John, Paul? Yes, there would be if it really happened. But since it didn’t really happen, there is no consistent story.
Salvation Depends On Hearing and Believing Jesus Was Resurrected.
John 3:16 tells Christians that the only way for one’s soul to be saved is to believe that Christ died for your sins and was resurrected. This applies to every man born since it was written and will apply to every man from now until life as we know it ends. Yet, according to the Bible, God left it up to only three individuals to be responsible for the spread of the knowledge of how to save one’s soul?
Couldn’t God have given us just a little more evidence that his religion is the one and only true religion? As will be shown below, having Jesus crucified and resurrected does not distinguish Christianity from many of the other religions that preceded it.
Here’s What God Asks All Of Mankind To Know and Believe
4000 years after Adam and Eve (give the creationists what they claim is true) God decides that he so loves the world, that he should kill his only begotten Son, so that whosoever believeth in him (who is “him”? God or Jesus) should not perish, but have everlasting life. But he leaves it up to 12, no make that 11, disciples to spread the word to the rest of humanity for ever more. The fate of the rest of the world forever, depends on those 11 disciples getting the word out in a way that all people, from then on, would believe a story that requires the believer to ignore all the other resurrection stories and abandon reason and truth in order to believe that this one resurrection was true.
Given the number of religions today and the number of sects within Christianity, it is apparent that God has failed to adequately and clearly describe what mankind needs to do in order to ensure his eternal salvation. Because of God’s failure, billions of people are condemned to Hell. Think of it. 2/3rds of all people alive today and most of those to come in the next 10,000 years are going to Hell because God chose to make it very difficult to learn about and believe an unbelievable story.
Why would He make it so difficult to learn about and believe the story?
Mark, The First Gospel, Introduces the “Open Tomb”
The “Empty Tomb – Rolled Stone” – a theatrical flourish
Although the gospels tell us that the resurrected Jesus appeared and disappeared at will, popping up and vanishing “in the midst of them“, it was still necessary to “move the stone” for him to exit the tomb.
“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” – John 20.19.
A god that materializes in a closed room in Jerusalem, on the shore of Lake Tiberias, or on a mountain in Galilee, most certainly needed no stone moved to allow him to leave a tomb. Why didn’t Jesus go out of the tomb leaving the stone in place? Now that would have been even more impressive!
The anomaly betrays the fabricated nature of the post-mortem appearances of Jesus. A god would not have needed to move the stone but the storyteller did! With the stone still in place who would have known something miraculous had happened? But the narrator of a sacred play needed the “moved stone” as a theatrical flourish, in order that female visitors to the tomb (and the audience) could see “the body … gone!”
We are talking theater, not history. How do we even know Jesus’ body was ever placed in the tomb? Just askin.
Mark’s original writing* ended with nothing more than an “open tomb”. The three visitors receive an explanation from the conveniently waiting angel (a “man in white”) – “It was a resurrection!”
“And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were afraid.” – Mark 16.5
This “young man” verbalizes the sacred message; Jesus is not here, but is risen, and will be seen again in Galilee. Thus the first “witness” to the resurrection is neither man nor woman but angel. Do you believe in visual talking angels? The bewildered women flee the tomb, having received the angel’s assurance that a resurrection has occurred.
And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid. Mark 16:8
If they said nothing to any man, how is it that we have Mark’s story of the empty tomb? Because later writers, Matthew, Luke and John realizing the mistake Mark has made, make up the different stories that conclude with contradiction after contradiction.
But Mark is NOT Even an “Eyewitness”
Whoever “Mark” was, he was not an eye-witness to either the life or death of Jesus. Church tradition maintains that “Mark” went to Rome and wrote down the testimony of Peter. But, on Mark’s own evidence, Peter himself was NOT a witness to many of the events described in his own gospel, including the baptism of Jesus, the temptation of Jesus, the healing of the Phoenician woman’s daughter, Jesus’ prayers in the garden of Gethsemane (all possible witnesses were asleep!) and the crucifixion itself.
“They all forsook him and fled.” – Mark 14:50.
As for the resurrection appearances, Peter could only rely on information from Mary Magdalen, or perhaps the other Mary or Salome. And yet the women themselves relied on the testimony of an angel – and said nothing!
“neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid” And yet, if the women told no one, how could Mark , Matthew, Luke or John be telling his story?!
The naivety – and brevity – of this foundational “event” is breathtaking. Later, Matthew and Luke will embellish this “eye-witness testimony” and provide responses to the obvious objections.
Matthew and Luke copied from Mark, who heard from Peter, who heard from Mary, who heard from an angel; that’s how it went.
So, we have the interesting paradox of a non-eye witness describing events he didn’t witness being copied, often word for word, by those (Matthew and Luke) one of whom is alleged to be an eye-witnesse. Believers… doesn’t that bother you?
Embellishments by Matthew
It is a fact that 55% of Matthew is copied directly from Mark.
The author of Matthew adds drama to the minimalistic yarn inherited from Mark, notably a “first appearance” of the resurrected Jesus.
Matthew begins by introducing tomb guards – unknown to Mark, or anyone else for that matter. The guards, in fact, will get more attention than the resurrection itself!
Matthew also introduces a “dramatic touch” – one that he has also used in his description of the crucifixion – an earthquake:
“There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.” – Matthew 28.2.
Notice that Matthew solves one riddle left by Mark by having the angel move the stone. In Matthew’s draft the female visitors are still “frightened yet filled with joy“, so now they are able to tell the disciples the good news (28.8). Matthew thus removes the anomaly left by Mark of how the story could be known.
Matthew wants something more compelling than the testimony of an angel, so he intrudes an appearance of Jesus himself into the path of the running women. But Matthew has no new dialogue; his Jesus merely repeats words already spoken by the angel in Mark. The women say nothing but “clasp the feet” of the risen saviour:
“Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him.“
Now that Jesus gives “evidence” of his own resurrection, and the same instruction to “go to Galilee”, the role of the angel has become redundant and the text reads oddly!
While these dramatic events are in progress the enigmatic guards, more seriously frightened than the women (!) “shake and become like dead men.” Matthew turns his attention back to these traumatized wimps, using them as a ploy to start a so-called “rumor” that Christian’s have found useful ever since – the “stolen body” straw man:
“While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.” – Matthew 28.11-15.
This entire episode is directed at the objection that if the body wasn’t in the tomb then an obvious explanation would be that somebody had removed it. The guards and the “sealing of the sepulchre” are intended to silence this objection.
Why did the guards have to be made “as dead men”? Surely extra witnesses to the momentous event would have been useful? Precisely because the story is a fabrication. If it had really happened the testimony of a squad of temple guards, not followers of Jesus, would have started a chain of events that just did not happen.
As a “real event” the passage is beset with problems. How on earth did the comatose guards know “everything that had happened”? How could they admit to being asleep yet be certain that the disciples had stolen the body? Even more difficult to explain is how the author of Matthew could himself possibly know of the dastardly plan hatched by the chief priests and elders, which he anticipates as early as 27.64 with a meeting between priests, Pharisees and Pilate! So unrealistic is that suggestion that Matthew had to use the circumlocution “The day after the day of Preparation” rather than admit such a meeting would have disgraced the Sabbath!
But they are the least of the difficulties. Was it a case that the Jewish priests understood clearly Jesus’ prediction of his resurrection in three days but the disciples remained clueless? Are we to suppose that the Jewish leaders actually believed the “angel/resurrection” story told to them by the guards but chose to cover it up – and offered large sums of money to do so?!
Matthew closes his tale with the eleven on a mountain in Galilee and the promised appearance of Jesus. Even now some doubt but he commissions them anyway to “go make disciples of all nations“.
We can conclude a few things based on our study above. It is apparent that neither Luke nor Matthew had access to any new source apart from the Markan account. The changes they made were necessary from their point of view to correct the inconsistency in their common source – namely describing the whole Sanhedrin as condemning Jesus and then having Joseph as a member of that council. John’s account expressly contradicts the account in Mark by having Joseph anoint Jesus’ corpse.
Contradiction of Jewish Law
The presence of chief priests and scribes at the scene of the crucifixion on the first day of Passover is neigh on impossible. Jews did not violate “The Law”. Remember that Jesus died on a Friday, so the “next day” is Saturday – the Jewish Sabbath. We are asked to believe that devout Jews would be holding their meeting with Pilate on a Sabbath day – an impossible proposition from the Jewish Law standpoint.
Contradiction of Jewish/Roman Relationship
Not only is the account of the guard at the tomb incompatible with that of the other gospels, the story itself is ludicrous. In Matthew 27:62-66 the chief priests and Pharisees tell Pilate about Jesus’ promise to rise again after three days. In the synoptic gospels, Jesus’ own disciples were portrayed as not comprehending his words predicting his resurrection on the third day. Yet, we are asked to believe that the chief priests and the Pharisees were not just aware of these sayings of Jesus but completely understood what he meant! How is it that Pilate, himself no friend of the Jews, could so readily agree with even meeting with the Jewish contingent, let alone do what they asked; i.e. posting a guard at the tomb?
There is another impossibility in this story…
Now while they were going, behold, some of the guards came into the city, and told the chief priests all the things that had happened ( Matthew 28:11-15
How did they know what had happened? They had “become as dead men” (Matthew 28:4) Why would they come and tell the chief priests? They were sent by Pilate. Their allegience was to Pilate. He would kill them if he learned they were not telling the truth. But the stupidity doesn’t end with this impossibility. Here’s the finale:
And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. Matthew 28:14
Think about this. The Jewish priests and Pharisees are going to meet with the governor of Rome and persuade him that the lie his guards are telling is really the truth!
How could the chief priests convince the Roman guards of their ability to get them off the hook with the Roman governor? So when is the Roman governor even going to give a Jew an audience? NEVER.
Words Written But Not Heard
Jesus’ Unheard Prayer Is In The Bible
Here are the alleged words of Jesus just before going onto the cross:
And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. Luke 22:41-42
A stones throw is pretty far. Why go a “stone’s cast away? To get privacy! Jesus advocated private and quiet prayer… as in a closet (Matthew 6:5). Since no one was around to hear Jesus say those words, how does Luke know that those words were spoken? How did Luke know to write those words if he, nor anyone else, was not a witness to them? He made them up! If we have this obvious lie right here in the middle of the most important event in Christianity, how can we trust anything Luke says?
Fellow Criminal’s Last Words
Luke 23:39-43 is a transcript of a conversation between a fellow criminal and Jesus:
But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Think about it. The three are high on the cross, the “multitudes are crying out for Jesus’ blood (Why? just a chapter ago, they were giving out with the Hosannas), Jesus and the other criminal are chatting it up while in agony. Who heard this conversation? How could it possibly have been heard above the noise of the multitudes? Who so precisely recorded the conversation? This tall tale was finally recorded some 50 years after it allegedly happened. If you want to claim that the Holy Spirit was in charge of getting this accurately recorded, then you have to explain why Matthew and Mark have different stories. Each story, by the way, suffering from the same problem as this one.. Who heard what was said?
Additional Proofs That Resurrection Did Not Happen
Entire Story Fabricated “that Scripture Might Be Fulfilled”.
The breaking of the legs and the piercing of Jesus’ side with the lance clearly fulfills Old Testament prophesies, as John himself admits:
John 19:36-37 For these things happened, that the Scripture might be fulfilled
“A bone of him will not be broken.” [Exodus 12:46]
“They will look on him whom they pierced.” [Zechariah 12:10]
THAT’S the scripture that had to be fulfilled? Preposterous!
Darkness Over All The Earth
As an example of the need to make their “savior” stand out from the crowd, Luke and Matthew inadvertently give us more proof of the “make it up as you go” nature of the crucifixion story with the following embellishment.
And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
There was darkness over all the earth? That is surely something that would have been recorded by the Romans, the Egyptians and others. Yet, there is no mention of this most unusual event any where else in the world even though “there was darkness over all the land“. Only the Bible records this distinguishing event. . And even in the Bible it only appears in two out of four descriptions of the crucifixion story.
An Eclipse Perhaps? The ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Babylonians were predicting eclipses long before the death of Jesus. This three hour total eclipse would have appeared as an anomaly, a deviation from expected behavior and would have been recorded and discussed by all those who were eclipse predictors. In China, failure to get the prediction right, in at least one recorded instance in 2300 BC resulted in the beheading of two astrologers.
Corpses Walking the Streets?
When Jesus was crucified, there was three hours of complete darkness “over all the land.” And when he died, there was a great earthquake with many corpses walking the streets of Jerusalem. It is strange that there is no record of any of these extraordinary events outside of the gospels. Surely the walking dead corpses walking through the streets of Jerusalem would have been noted and reported on.
The idea that Jesus (in the form of the Holy Spirit) had sex with his own mother to give birth to himself and then He sacrificed Himself to Himself to save us from Himself., is about the most ridiculous concept in all of human history. Just how does the fact that the Romans crucified another criminal bent on sedition (in their eyes) wash away original sin? What would the world look like if Jesus had not “died for our sins”? Are we all initially absolved of our sins until we fail to believe this nonsense. Then, all of a sudden we are not absolved of our sin and we go to hell? Just how does this process work?
What about the 2/3s of the world that doesn’t know or believe this nonsense? What about all those who came before God decided to pull off this sin-cleansing thingy? Are they all in Hell? Hell no. There is no Hell and there was no resurrection.
Nothing Re Resurrection Story is Corroborated.
It’s very suspicious that after Jesus rose from the dead, the gospels have him appearing only to those who had faith that he was the messiah. He did not to any of the non-believers: i.e. Romans, the Jewish leaders, or people who had no interest invested in his ministry.
However, we DON’T even have ONE historical document other than the New Testament, which itself was completed almost a century after Christ’s existence, that validates the Resurrection!
The burden of proof is on the one who makes a claim. We would be happy to examine any proof that Jesus was resurrected. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.
Wait There’s More
Kenneth Humphrey’s has done an excellent job of analyzing the story of the resurrection and comes to the conclusion that the resurrection never happened. Check it out HERE
Wait, There’s Even More
* Mark’s Original Writing Has Been Augmented
The earliest extant gospel manuscripts – whether Greek, Latin, Syriac, Coptic, or Armenian – make it obvious that the original version of Mark (upon which the other three evangelists built their own stories) finished with this verse ,
And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid. Mark 16.8:
Verses 16:9-20, the “appearance” verses, are not found in the earlier manuscripts and are therefore considered later additions. The original gospel of Mark ended without anyone seeing the resurrected Jesus or any of the “advice” about snake handling, drinking poison, or healing the sick and most importantly, any reference to the Resurrection i.e. “received up into heaven”.
The proofs are as follows: (From The Rejection of Pascal’s Wager by Paul Tobin, page 549)
1 The style, content and whole character of the last twelve verses are clearly non-Markan. In fact the style, vocabulary and verses are completely different from the rest of Mark. As Nineham pointed out:
Even a cursory reading will make clear that the passage is not composed of traditional pericopaes such as we have encountered in the gospel proper but of brief resumes of stories and sayings already reported more fully in other written gospels particularly Luke and Acts.
2 The early church fathers such as Clement of Alexandria (c150-c215), Origen (c185-254) and Tertullian (c160-c225) never quoted any verses from Mark after the eighth verse of chapter 16.
3 In the 4th century the Christian historian, Eusebius (c264-340), in his work Ad Marinum 1 stated that “in the accurate manuscripts Mark ended with the words ‘for they were afraid’ [Mark 16:8].” This opinion is also shared by the famous fourth century theologian St. Jerome (c340-420).
4 In all the important and earliest extant manuscripts of the Bible – the Codex Vaticanus, the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Syriacus – the last twelve verses of Mark are conspicuously missing. All these manuscripts end at Mark 16:8.
5 Some later manuscripts that do have this ending, add asterisks to these last twelve verses. Some even have notes stating that these verses do not appear in older copies.
6 Both Matthew and Luke used the Markan gospel extensively (see chapter 6 for proof of this), both sticking to the basic narrative in that gospel. Yet both Matthew and Luke have completely different accounts of the appearances of Jesus. This also strongly suggests that the copies of Mark used by these evangelists ended at verse eight of chapter sixteen.
Better Proof Than I Have Presented
There are numerous authors who share my knowledge but they present it in more detail.
See The Resurrection Of Christ by John Remsberg – a complete proof that there was no resurrection.
Proof of earlier assertions are found here in this “supporting detail” section.
Three Different Stories In Acts
Discrepancy Summary (In case you missed it)
Heard the voice/did not hear the voice; saw the light/did not see the light.
Acts 9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
Acts 22:9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.
Stood speechless, all fell to the earth
9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
26:14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me,
Had sight restored on road/had sight restored in Damascus
9:8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
22:11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.
Paul Says That Jesus Will Return Within His Lifetime
- “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” — 1 Thessalonians 4:17“
- I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:23
- But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none.” — 1 Corinthians 7:29“
- That ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.Philippians 1:10
- For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?– 1 Thessalonians 2:19
- I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23
- Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…. Hebrews 1:2
- But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 9:26 Paul believed that Jesus’ resurrection marked the beginning of the end.
- For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Hebrews 10:37
- The Lord is at hand. Philippians 4:5
Didn’t happen did it. We now have proof that Paul didn’t know what he was talking about. Everything he said is discredited including everything he said about seeing a resurrected Jesus.This by itself, is sufficient to reject anything Paul says.
As further evidence that we should ignore what Paul says, there is the fact that Paul contradicts every thing that Jesus taught. Thus we really can’t put much faith in anything Paul says.