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The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus vs. ?

Hello,

I'm going to read The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, by Gary Habermas. Can you please tell me which book you think would be the strongest, most direct counterpoint to the Habermas book?

Thank you.
This seems quite reasonable to me. I'm curious to know what evidence Habermas presents. (Though not curious enough to read the book or even Google for more info. My To-Do list ia already very long.) My guess is that Habermas has no argument strong enough for me to seek a rebuttal, but it would be exciting if this guess proved to be wrong. After you do read the book, please bump this thread and summarize Habermas' best arguments.

Many (or perhaps most) Infidels doubt that Jesus of Nazareth even existed, so I doubt if there's much interest here in entertaining — even if just to refute — claims that that nonexistent Jesus was resurrected! :)
Hi Swammerdami, it took me two years and 34 blog posts, but I finally finished the Habermas book. You asked me to bump the thread and summarize Habermas's best arguments...but I'd rather just provide a link to the final post, which does summarize his arguments:

https://www.theformofthefourth.com/...inary-claim-backed-by-extraordinary-evidence/

Thanks again for your previous reply.

P.S.: Don't know how to bump the thread!
You did Bump it -- all that was needed was to Reply. (All that's needed on THIS message-board. Some boards discourage or disallow replying to a thread that has gone dormant for a long while.)

I am glad you took the time to study and reply. I find your comments more reasonable than those who say that Jesus was pure myth, or that, even if historic he was a "nobody" interchangeable with any other convenient crucifixee.

The main reason I do not relieve in the Resurrection will seem trite, and like specious arithmetic, but here goes:

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." I go even further and say that "VERY extraordinary claims require VERY extraordinary evidence."

Science rejects the idea of a physical Resurrection; let's simplify that rejection to say the odds are a billion-to-one against. It IS possible for people to come out of coma, but NOT if their legs are broken to force their demise yet John 19:33 tells us that the soldiers seeing "that he was dead already, they brake not his legs." (An odd detail?) They did however pierce his side with a spear. But no Christian claims that the Crucifixion left Jesus comatose but not quite dead, so we need not consider the  Swoon hypothesis.

Now suppose that the case for physical Resurrection is so strong, that all other possibilities sum to only a one-in-a-million chance. Million-to-one; billion-to-one; if we accept these numbers then probability arithmetic leads to only a one-in-a-thousand chance of an actual Resurrection. The extraordinary evidence is not extraordinary enough to make the VERY extraordinary claim.

If you are prepared to accept the Christian message, and that Jesus did other impossible things, e.g. turning water into wine, then I will not try to dissuade you. Regard this post as an explanation of why *I* do not believe.

(1)
Perhaps the most important verse in the New Testament is this:
Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:14 said:
And if Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.
...
[or, KJV]
...
And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

The earliest copies of Mark omit 16:9-20. In other words, this earliest biography of Jesus omits any mention of any specific post-Crucifixion sighting. How can this be? Are Paul and Mark even talking about the same Jesus?

Paul's Epistle and Mark's Gospel were each written very early, but there's no evidence that Mark had read Paul, or vice versa. Just the opposite in fact.

(2)
In #23, Habermas-Licona argue that Hallucination is not a plausible explanation for the post-Resurrection sightings:
  1. Why would Paul hallucinate, given he had no emotional investment in Christianity?
  2. Was the empty tomb also hallucinated?
  3. Hallucinations are individual occurrences; it’s not possible for one person to induce a hallucination in someone else
  4. Doesn’t explain why authorities did not simply produce the body and send everybody home
  5. Doesn’t explain why they sometimes had trouble recognizing Jesus (Luke 24:13-31, John 20:15, John 21:4) (this argument comes from C. S. Lewis), nor why the hallucinated Jesus did not issue the great awesome long-awaited glorious call to arms against the Roman intruders (see AD 70).
I find NONE of these arguments convincing. Rather than Hallucination, self-hypnosis or mass hypnosis might have been in play.

(3)
Finally I refer to Resurrection: Myth or Reality by the Right Reverend John Shelby Spong. Spong believes that the Resurrection was spiritual, not physical; that Simon Peter did not see a physical Jesus, but rather imagined Jesus ascending into Heaven -- that that ascent into Heaven by an eternal Jesus WAS the Resurrection. And that Peter's spiritual awakening occurred several MONTHS after the Crucifixion.

I will not try to summarize Spong's ideas, but in the Gospel accounts the Triumphal Entry (Palm Sunday), Cleansing of the Temple, Story of the Fig Tree, Last Supper, Betrayal, Crucifixion, Resurrection are all condensed into an 8-day period. In Spong's view there were at least TWO separate visits to Jerusalem by the earliest Christians. The Crucifixion took place near Passover, but Palm Sunday and some of the other events took place several months later during the Feast of Tabernacles. He provides a large number of parallels between that Feast and the events of Palm Sunday, etc. Rather than immediately seeing a Resurrected Jesus, Simon Peter returned to Galilee, grieving for his dead Messiah; finally understands the spiritual Resurrection; and shares this good news with the other disciples. Throughout the book, Spong emphasizes that the Gospels were written with the midrash technique, where chronologies can be rearranged.

I don't know what to make of Spong's theory but there do seem to be strong circumstantial links between the Palm Sunday of the Gospels and the Feast of Tabernacles. (For starters, the peculiar parable of the out-of-season fig tree might make more sense.)

In the New Testament, the Feast of Tabernacles seems to be mentioned only once: in John beginning with Chapter 7; and Spong connects that part of John to his theory. As I say, I will NOT attempt to summarize Spong, but he does mention the John:7:5 "For neither did his brethren believe in him" that Habermas-Licona cite in #20 as evidence that James the Just became a Christian only after witnessing the Resurrected Jesus. According to Spong, the "brethren" here are the early Christians generally, during the several months between the Crucifixion and Simon Peter's good news
 
Science rejects the idea of a physical Resurrection; let's simplify that rejection to say the odds are a billion-to-one against.
If the odds were that good we need to consider all the human deaths that have happened in human history and ask why more people haven't spontaneously come back to life. The odds are much, much less, lets say one in a googleplex.

But that's actually a minor issue. The larger issue is what happens to this guy after he allegedly pops back from death. Did he also fly away into the sky like Superman? Lots of follow up questions for sane, rational, observant people cursed with more mature prefontal cortices.
 
Hello,

I'm going to read The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, by Gary Habermas. Can you please tell me which book you think would be the strongest, most direct counterpoint to the Habermas book?

Thank you.


I recommend the OT. It shows that a resurrection is not an attribute of the Messiah, rendering Jesus a fraud.
 
But that's actually a minor issue. The larger issue is what happens to this guy after he allegedly pops back from death. Did he also fly away into the sky like Superman? Lots of follow up questions for sane, rational, observant people cursed with more mature prefontal cortices.
And why didn't He take a break in His 40 day whirlwind tour of appearances to do the one thing expected from a Messiah? Save God's Chosen People from foreign (pagan) oppression.

Can't you picture Him getting back to heaven and Heavenly Father looks at Him hard and says, "I gave you ONE job!"

Tom
 
Hello,

I'm going to read The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, by Gary Habermas. Can you please tell me which book you think would be the strongest, most direct counterpoint to the Habermas book?

Thank you.


I recommend the OT. It shows that a resurrection is not an attribute of the Messiah, rendering Jesus a fraud.
The resurrection doesn't need to be mentioned in the OT. Why should it? According to who?

The Messiah i.e. Jesus being the very example of the 'resurrection' is aptly the one who's announcing it.
 
Dear Swammerdami,

Thanks for your reply.
Science rejects the idea of a physical Resurrection; let's simplify that rejection to say the odds are a billion-to-one against.
...
Now suppose that the case for physical Resurrection is so strong, that all other possibilities sum to only a one-in-a-million chance. Million-to-one; billion-to-one; if we accept these numbers then probability arithmetic leads to only a one-in-a-thousand chance of an actual Resurrection. The extraordinary evidence is not extraordinary enough to make the VERY extraordinary claim.
You are using the perspective of natural science to analyze the prospects of Jesus's resurrection. But are Christians claiming that Jesus rose again through natural processes?

Regarding hallucination theory, you quoted some of my arguments against it, and then said:
I find NONE of these arguments convincing. Rather than Hallucination, self-hypnosis or mass hypnosis might have been in play.
As I said on that blog post, I couldn't find any psychologists/psychiatrist promoting the disciples-hallucinated theory. Do you know of any psychologists/psychologists promoting the disciples-experienced-mass-hypnosis theory?

I'll have to respond later to your other points later.

Thanks,

GWAQ
 
Hello,

I'm going to read The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, by Gary Habermas. Can you please tell me which book you think would be the strongest, most direct counterpoint to the Habermas book?

Thank you.


I recommend the OT. It shows that a resurrection is not an attribute of the Messiah, rendering Jesus a fraud.
The resurrection doesn't need to be mentioned in the OT. Why should it? According to who?

The Messiah i.e. Jesus being the very example of the 'resurrection' is aptly the one who's announcing it.
And yet Christianity falls all over itself insisting that a resurrection of the Messiah is prophesied in the OT. Why is that? :unsure:
 
Dear Swammerdami,

Thanks for your reply.

You are using the perspective of natural science to analyze the prospects of Jesus's resurrection. But are Christians claiming that Jesus rose again through natural processes?

The key paragraph in my post was
Swammerdami said:
If you are prepared to accept the Christian message, and that Jesus did other impossible things, e.g. turning water into wine, then I will not try to dissuade you. Regard this post as an explanation of why *I* do not believe.

Regarding hallucination theory, you quoted some of my arguments against it, and then said:
I find NONE of these arguments convincing. Rather than Hallucination, self-hypnosis or mass hypnosis might have been in play.
As I said on that blog post, I couldn't find any psychologists/psychiatrist promoting the disciples-hallucinated theory. Do you know of any psychologists/psychologists promoting the disciples-experienced-mass-hypnosis theory?

No. But what does "mass hypnosis" even mean? Today we have charismatic preachers who are able to induce some of their followers to "speak in tongues." Similar charismatic preaching can induce followers to perceive a spiritual Jesus. Is this not akin to "mass hypnosis"?

I fall back on Bishop Spong's book to explain the "Resurrection." I am NOT saying his speculation is certainly correct -- it's just one book I happened to buy by chance -- but it seems worth considering BECAUSE it is the speculation of a devout Christian who believes in Everlasting Life and who has studied relevant documents. In the book he mentions several other Christian scholars who do not believe in a physical Resurrection.

In Spong's reconstruction, the Gospels' depiction of the last week of Jesus' life is almost all fiction; what is left is mostly in distorted chronology. There was no Judas. The only truthful detail between arrest and burial (excepting the fact of crucifixion by Pontius Pilate) was "And they all forsook him and fled." He was dumped in a mass grave, and his particular body never identified. If the "Empty Tomb" has any reality, it is just Mary Magdalene's dismay at finding how the corpses of Pilate's victims had been treated.

Simon (probably not yet "Peter") crossed the Jordan for safety and returned via desert to Galilee, where he grieved for months. He worked as a fisherman and brooded. How could the man he worshiped as a Messiah have died hung from a tree? How could the Jewish religious authorities have been wrong about him? One day after a particularly good catch of fish, he saw in a flash that Jesus WAS the Messiah, and that he would live on if the disciples followed his teachings and preached his methods. Simon Peter organized the Triumphal ("Palm Sunday") entry to Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles. Plenty of scriptural (midrash) evidence can be found for this chronology.

You might be right to dismiss this speculation if it were from an atheist. In fact it comes from a devout Christian Bishop.
 
I met Spong in 2015 and he was wonderful.
 
You might be right to dismiss this speculation if it were from an atheist. In fact it comes from a devout Christian Bishop.
In fairness, though John Shelby Spong was a bishop, he also considered himself an atheist, and his proposed reforms to the church were so considerable in scope that I'm not sure the resulting permutation of Anglicanism would have been considered Christian by most other followers of the faith. I miss his voice in our contemporary debates on the church, though... he was a good egg for sure. It is also true that had his vision won out, I would still be a Christian. But that is not the Age we find ourselves in.
 
in the final chapter of Resurrection: Myth or Reality, he writes
Bishop Spong said:
'... if someone were to ask me Job's ancient and searching question, "If a man (or woman) dies will he (she) live again?" my answer would be "Yes." That is my conviction. That is what I believe.
If we take him at his word, he had not abandoned all faith, at least when he wrote that book.

My intent was just to lay out his views about a Physical Resurrection. One point he makes that I forgot to mention is that Paul never speaks of such a Resurrection. In Christian dogma, the "Resurrection" and the "Ascension" into heaven 40 days later were two separate events: the Ascension even has its own feast day. Yet Paul never distinguishes the two events.

Although I'd never heard of Bishop Spong, I was aware that some Episcopalian Bishops were not overly dogmatic. Once upon a time, even though already an atheist, I was a very young Episcopalian acolyte; I was "confirmed" by the "heretical" Bishop James A. Pike in Grace Cathedral!

(Call me a hypocrite if you wish. But I do not think my father would have been pleased if I told him I was an atheist!)
 
If we take him at his word, he had not abandoned all faith, at least when he wrote that book.
Definitely not. His views were very radical, but no less faithful. He described himself once as "God-obsessed, but skeptical of this character God that is so loosely based on a truth that words can't reach". Spong's God was a bit like the Tao of Lao Tse, inexpressible without corruption even in mental concept.
 
are Christians claiming that Jesus rose again through natural processes?

They ARE claiming that dead Jesus physically rose and exited a cave. That doesn’t sound natural to me.
It also doesn’t sound like something that actually happened.

Maybe stretching credulity is something that the religion does to normalize the abandonment of reason, so that subjects will submit to the unreasonable?

I’m no theologian (and neither is anyone else IMHO) but that seems like the simple explanation.
 
Bishop James A. Pike
You were fortunate to meet him during his relatively brief tenure in the role. He passed long before my own time, alas, though when I was studying at the Graduate Theological Union, there were many there who remembered him well and fondly.
 
I barely had contact with Bishop Pike, but -- in addition to whatever incantation he made when he "confirmed" me -- he did speak to me once. Frail little Swammi was lifting and (barely) holding a cross in Grace Cathedral. As he walked up the aisle and passed me, he advised me I could set the cross down.

Decades later I Googled him and read about the unusual circumstances of his death.
 
Christian arguments on the forum have been:

1. The gospels are eyewitness accounts with multiple sightings.
2. A lot of peole for 2000 years beleve it is true, therefore it must be true.
 
The earliest copies of Mark omit 16:9-20. In other words, this earliest biography of Jesus omits any mention of any specific post-Crucifixion sighting. How can this be? Are Paul and Mark even talking about the same Jesus?

Paul's Epistle and Mark's Gospel were each written very early, but there's no evidence that Mark had read Paul, or vice versa. Just the opposite in fact.
Hi Swammerdami, I'm going at a snail's pace here, but haven't forgotten this thread. I'm glad you brought up Mark 16:9-20, because it does seem like scholars generally doubt its authenticity, so it's worth looking into. When you mention "the earliest copies", could you provide some examples? As in, Codex Vaticanus? Sinaiticus? Other?
 
The earliest copies of Mark omit 16:9-20. In other words, this earliest biography of Jesus omits any mention of any specific post-Crucifixion sighting. How can this be? Are Paul and Mark even talking about the same Jesus?

Paul's Epistle and Mark's Gospel were each written very early, but there's no evidence that Mark had read Paul, or vice versa. Just the opposite in fact.
Hi Swammerdami, I'm going at a snail's pace here, but haven't forgotten this thread. I'm glad you brought up Mark 16:9-20, because it does seem like scholars generally doubt its authenticity, so it's worth looking into. When you mention "the earliest copies", could you provide some examples? As in, Codex Vaticanus? Sinaiticus? Other?

Search shows me 83 posts by Swammerdami containing the word "Nazareth." I've probably contributed all I'm qualified to contribute and MORE, and MULTIPLE times.

Here's one prior post, marked-up, which makes some relevant points:
First: I am NOT a Biblical scholar. ...

It may be good to emphasize that with a larger font:
First: I am NOT a Biblical scholar. ...

The omission of Resurrection mentions in Mark is NOT just an oversight in some of the earliest copies:

The earliest extant complete manuscripts of Mark, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, two 4th-century manuscripts, do not contain the last twelve verses, 16:9–20

Here are the final four verses in the 4th-century version of Mark:
KJV said:
And entering into the sepulchre, they [two Marys] saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

[As mentioned, the earliest complete manuscripts end here. A 3rd-century copy adds the following:]
But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this, Jesus himself (appeared to them and) sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.
So there were at least THREE endings of Mark floating around as late as the 4th-century.

Curiously, Matthew mentions a "Resurrection" while Jesus is still on the cross:
... At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection

Much of the discussion in Matthew and Luke is about disbelief that there was a physical Resurrection. Spong doubts the Empty Tomb story because he thinks the whole Joseph of Arimathea story is invention -- crucifixees would have been dumped in a common grave.

We have a few historians here at IIDB who may be able to shed further light. Wikipedia and Google have much more to contribute than I do.

But do be aware that some posters here at IIDB understand these matters even less well than I !

Christian arguments on the forum have been:
We may have one or two Christians here, but they play only a very limited role in the relevant discussions.
1. The gospels are eyewitness accounts with multiple sightings.
None of the relevant debaters has argued that.
2. A lot of peole for 2000 years beleve it is true, therefore it must be true.
None of the relevant debaters has argued that.
 
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