Thursday, September 10, 2015

Dead and buried, raised to life


Some village atheists left comments on Jason's post:


I will respond to them here.

Jon Sorensen:

"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, they went into the holy city and appeared to many."
An no historian wrote once-in-a-history mass resurrection event? How is this even vaguely possible?

i) Suppose Josephus wrote about it–or Tacitus. Would you believe it? No. You'd dismiss that as a superstitious legend. You'd just take that as proof positive that ancient historians were credulous and uncritical.

ii) Suppose you had a modern-day report of a "mass resurrection event" in Africa, Asia or Latin America. Suppose you had multiple eyewitnesses. Would you believe it? No. You'd say what's more plausible: that it's a hoax or that something like that really happened? 

iii) It also depends on how you visualize this unique "mass resurrection" event. The account doesn't describe observers watching the graves open. Rather, it only talks about the result.

Depending on when they died, they'd generally be unrecognizable. Only living friends or relatives would know who they were. Most folks wouldn't know these people ever died in the first place. 

For that matter, if they died when they were old, but were rejuvenated, then even people who knew them might not recognize them right away. 

A God walked couple of years in Judea and Galilee, and nobody wrote about it. Is it more likely that he did not exist at that period?

i) Jesus didn't appear to be a God.

ii) So you fall for the mythicist view that he didn't even exist?

iii) In fact, many people wrote about it. It's in a collection of writings called the NT.


Faith Slayer:

The earliest Resurrection “encounters” were based on “visions” of Jesus instead of actually seeing him in the flesh.

Classic false dichotomy, as if "visions" of Jesus are necessarily opposed to actually seeing him in the flesh.

"In the earliest reference (c. 50 CE) to the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15.3-8, we read…"

That's in a chapter which repeatedly stresses the physicality of the resurrected body. 

Paul includes himself in his list of those to whom the risen Jesus “appeared”. He makes no distinction, but in fact equates, the appearance of Jesus to him and the appearances to others. The Greek verb Paul uses for all these appearances he mentions is the same one – φθη (Greek – ōphthē) meaning “appeared, was seen” – in each case.
“The choice of this word is significant because it does not necessarily imply the actual appearance of a person, but may only indicate an unusual phenomena…the use of the word φθη in enumerating other visions in the Pauline lists…excludes such details as prolonged conversations, meals and resumption of ordinary life, on which the gospels dwell.” – Charles Guignebert, “Jesus” pg. 523
The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (vol. V, p. 358) points out that in this type of context the word is a technical term for being “in the presence of revelation as such, without reference to the nature of its perception.” In other words, the “seeing” may not refer to actual sensory or mental perception. “The dominant thought is that the appearances are revelations, an encounter with the risen Lord who reveals himself…they experienced his presence.”

i) An exercise in misdirection, since the NT witness to the bodily resurrection doesn't turn on the meaning of one verb. In context, Paul emphatically discusses the physicality of the resurrected body.

ii) You artificially isolate the verb from what comes before. Paul says Jesus "died" and was "buried" (3-4). That accentuates the physical death of Christ. He then says Jesus was "raised." That stands in contrast to physical death. Hence, that implies restoration to physical life. 

There are many instances where it’s used of spiritual “visions”.

For example: Acts 16:9-10 “And a vision appeared (ōphthē) to Paul in the night; there stood a man of Macedonia…And after he had seen the vision (horama), immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia.” Is there anyone who thinks the Macedonian man’s physical body was actually standing in front of Paul when he “appeared” to him?
Same thing in Mark 9:4/Matthew 17:1-3, Moses and Elijah “appeared” (ōphthē) to Peter. Matthew 17:9 calls the experience a "vision". Did their physical bodies actually appear?
The word is used in the LXX (Greek translation of the OT) to describe how the Lord God appeared to the patriarchs (e.g., to Jacob in a dream, in Gen 31:13). In the LXX stories that use this word, the emphasis is more on the presence of God and on its power to reveal than on the “reality” of the experience.

i) That reiterates the same confusion, as if the sense of one word is determinative. 

ii) In addition, night visions (Acts 16:9-10; Gen 31) typically refer to revelatory dreams. That's hardly parallel to the resurrection appearances of Christ.

iii) You're deriving your conclusion in Mt 17:9, not from the meaning of the word, but from the presumption that these are ghosts. 

“When Paul classifies the Damascus appearance with the other in 1 Cor 15:5 this is not merely because he regards it as equivalent….It is also because he regards this appearance similar in kind. In all the appearances the presence of the risen Lord is a presence in transfigured corporeality, 1 Cor 15:42. It is the presence of the exalted Lord from heaven. This presence is in non-visionary reality; no category of human seeing is wholly adequate for it. On this ground, the appearances are to be described in the sense of revelation rather than making visible.“ – Theological Dictionary of the New Testament Vol. 5 pg. 359.

To begin with, that's just one scholar's interpretation. And even then, he says it is a corporeal presence. 

We know from the book of Acts, Paul’s description of his encounter on the Damascus road makes it clear that this was a vision – a light from heaven and a disembodied voice – not an encounter with a physically-revived former corpse returned to life.

That's another false dichotomy. Luminosity isn't opposed to physicality. The same author, in his Gospel (Lk 9), records the luminosity of Christ at the Transfiguration. Likewise, Paul refers to the luminosity of Moses when he encountered God (2 Cor 3:13).  

We also know that the companions of Paul did not see or hear the vision/voice properly. This indicates that the experience was, at least in some sense, subjective to Paul. If Jesus' physical body was present then it would have been seen by the companions.

Another erroneous inference. One again, the same author, in his Gospel (Lk 24), records a physical appearance of Christ to disciples on the Emmaus road. Yet their recognition was initially inhibited by divine agency. And that's in a Gospel which, as you yourself admit, accentuates the physicality of the Resurrection.

As far as the appearances go Paul makes no distinction, but in fact equates, the appearance of Jesus to him and the appearances to others in 1 Cor 15. So if we’re to take the accounts in Acts 9:3-8, 22:6-11, 26:13-18 as historical then the appearances mentioned in 1 Cor 15 were originally understood to be spiritual "visions" instead of actually seeing a physically resuscitated corpse. This comes as no surprise considering Paul himself admits to having "visions" and "revelations" of the Lord (2 Cor 12:1). By Paul's own admission, he was "seeing things."

That actually proves the opposite. Precisely because the Bible describes subjective visions, people in Bible times knew the difference between subjective and objective visions. Do you suppose Paul is suggesting in 1 Cor 15 that 500 observers were in a simultaneous trance state? 

Paul indicates no knowledge of an empty tomb…

He had no firsthand knowledge. So what?

...nor does he refer to any of the physical/bodily details that end up in the later gospel accounts.

Since the appearance of Christ on the Damascus road was blindly bright, Paul would be unable to make out physical details. 

Acts also records Peter as having “visions” in Acts 10.10-16. At the beginning, Luke says that ‘a trance came upon him’, and afterwards that he was perplexed at ‘what the vision which he had seen might be’ (Acts 10.17). Later, Peter begins to explain it, saying ‘I saw a vision in a trance’ (Acts 11.5). This makes Peter a particularly suitable candidate for ‘he [Jesus] appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve’ (1 Cor. 15.5).
So we have evidence that two of the eyewitnesses mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:5-8 were susceptible to having “visions”.

A non sequitur. The witnesses to the Resurrection (e.g. Lk 24; Jn 20-21) didn't see Jesus when they were in a trance state. They were wide awake and interacting with their physical environment.

In the earliest manuscripts of Mark (c. 70 CE) there are no resurrection appearances. 

i) That's equivocal. Although doesn't narrate resurrection appearances, he does refer to them. 

ii) I date Mark to the 40s-50s. 

In Matthew (c. 80 CE), only Jesus’ feet are mentioned

i) You think it refers to detached feet? Are you even trying to be serious?

ii) I date Matthew prior to 70 AD. 

...and he appears on a mountaintop but “some doubted” (Matthew 28:17). 

A mark of authenticity. Not the kind of detail you'd expect Matthew to invent.

The exact "nature" of the appearances in Matthew is questionable.

The fact that they "And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him" (v9) is clearly physical. Cf. Mk 5:22; 7:25; Lk 17:16. 

In Luke 24:39-43 (c. 85 CE) we find the first explicit reference to Jesus' physically resurrected body and John (90-120 CE) gives us the Doubting Thomas story. 

i) I date Luke prior to 70 AD. And I'm inclined to date John prior to 70 AD. I think the "postscript" (Jn 21) is based explained by the Peter's recent demise.

ii) John records Doubting Thomas as a foil. That's how it begins, not how it ends.  

Also in John, the deity of Jesus is stressed which is nowhere mentioned in the synoptics. How could they have failed to mention the obviously important detail that Jesus was God? This seems to be clear evidence of a legend growing in the telling with the earliest beliefs being that of “visions” then to bodily encounters all the way up to Jesus being God in the flesh in John. If this story were true we would expect a lot more consistency than we actually get from the documents.

i) That evinces your ignorance of Synoptic Christology. Cf. Sigurd Grindheim, Christology in the Synoptic Gospels

ii) Mark was written by a native of Jerusalem (Acts 12:12) who may well have had some direct knowledge of the historical Jesus. He was a younger contemporary of Jesus. And Jesus made trips to Jerusalem. Matthew was written by a disciple who spent 3 years with Jesus, so we'd expect him to be more detailed than Mark.

Luke explicitly says he's supplementing prior accounts, so we'd expect him to be more detailed than Mark. Moreover, he draws on a multiplicity of informants.

John was written by a member of Jesus' inner circle. So we'd expect his account to have the most insider information. Indeed, John may well have been a childhood friend of Jesus if, as J. A. T. Robinson has argued, they were cousins.  

59 comments:

  1. Quadratus, to Emperor Hadrian about 125 AD:

    "The deeds of our Saviour were always before you, for they were true miracles; those that were healed, those that were raised from the dead, who were seen, not only when healed and when raised, but were always present. They remained living a long time, not only whilst our Lord was on earth, but likewise when He had left the earth. So that some of them have also lived to our own times."

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  2. So much could be said in response to Faith Slayer. His argument is terrible. Steve has already made a lot of good points, and I'll add several more points among many others that could be mentioned.

    Faith Slayer was reposting an argument he's posted at other sites. And he made no effort to interact with my thread, even though he was posting there. In that thread, I linked a series of articles on hostile corroboration of Christianity. One of the articles is on early non-Christian corroboration of the empty tomb, for example, which supports a physical resurrection. I also linked my material on the Shroud of Turin, which likewise supports a resurrection that was physical.

    Faith Slayer doesn't make a case for his ordering or dating of the gospels, even though his argument depends on both. How does he allegedly know that Matthew was written before Luke? And see here for some early, independent lines of evidence that Luke's gospel was written in the mid 60s at the latest, probably earlier. If Luke used Mark as a source, then Mark would have to be dated earlier yet. (Notice, also, that my article on the early dating of Luke discusses Paul's citation of Luke as scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18. Even if Faith Slayer wants to deny that Paul wrote 1 Timothy, the document's high view of Luke makes more sense if Paul and his associates held the same view or a similar one.)

    Faith Slayer refers to an alleged lack of mention of a physical resurrection in the gospels of Mark and Matthew, yet he says nothing about the empty tomb accounts in both gospels. An empty tomb implies a physical resurrection.

    He misrepresents some of the New Testament's terminology to make it seem that a non-physical resurrection is being referred to, but he ignores the traditional resurrection language used in other passages.

    We have many posts in our archives arguing that Paul's resurrection experience was objective and involved a physically resurrected Christ. See, for example, here, here, here, here, and here. One of the things those posts do is document that belief in a physical resurrection was widespread early on, including in Pauline churches of the late first and early second centuries. That early, widespread acceptance of a physical resurrection makes more sense if Paul and the other leaders of earliest Christianity held that view.

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    2. I've given 9 arguments against the empty tomb here: 9 arguments

      The Shroud of Turin is bogus: Fake Shroud

      Why does Jesus' hair look like he's in a standing up position? Wouldn't he have been laying down when the shroud was put on thereby making his hair fall back? Same with the blood. Why is it "flowing" downwards and not off to the sides as it would with a person who was laying down? Oh and real blood doesn't flow ON hair as it looks in the Turin Shroud.

      According the Mark's chronology , and that of Matthew and Luke, the purchase of the linen shroud occurs on the first day of Passover. Leviticus 23:6-7 and Nehemiah 10:31 forbid purchasing goods on a holy day (festival day). Nonetheless, Mark 15:43 reports that Joseph, a member of the council, purchased linen on a holy day in direct violation of the law in full public view. Moreover, no Jew would have been selling linen because it was a holy day. Consequently, Joseph would have had to purchase linen from a non-Jewish merchant in which he would still be violating Jewish law.

      "Faith Slayer doesn't make a case for his ordering or dating of the gospels, even though his argument depends on both."

      I stick to scholarly consensus dating. Is that ok? Let me know when the evangelicals overturn that.

      "Faith Slayer refers to an alleged lack of mention of a physical resurrection in the gospels of Mark and Matthew, yet he says nothing about the empty tomb accounts in both gospels. An empty tomb implies a physical resurrection."

      And where is this empty tomb mentioned in our earliest source Paul?

      "He misrepresents some of the New Testament's terminology to make it seem that a non-physical resurrection is being referred to, but he ignores the traditional resurrection language used in other passages."

      How exactly? It seems you don't like the fact that ōphthē was used for spiritual visions in both the Septuagint and New Testament. Don't blame me for just pointing out the truth.

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    3. I stick to scholarly consensus dating. Is that ok? Let me know when the evangelicals overturn that.


      That's not a principled position. Scholarly consensus is useful for setting the direction of a discussion, but it can hardly be your end point. And it's not as if no scholars have argued for earlier dates. You may think Evangelical scholars don't count as part of the consensus, but that's just a rhetorical strategy designed to exclude scholars who disagree with your preferred conclusions.

      How exactly? It seems you don't like the fact that ōphthē was used for spiritual visions in both the Septuagint and New Testament. Don't blame me for just pointing out the truth.

      Just because a word can be used in one sense in one passage doesn't automatically mean it must be used in that sense in another passage. You don't seem to account for the use of ὤφθη to refer to physical sight/perception of physical events. For example, Luke 23:49 cannot be understood as a "vision."

      And see Pannenberg's treatment, which Thiselton says changed the scholarly consensus--if you care for such things.

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    5. That's not a principled position. Scholarly consensus is useful for setting the direction of a discussion, but it can hardly be your end point. And it's not as if no scholars have argued for earlier dates. You may think Evangelical scholars don't count as part of the consensus, but that's just a rhetorical strategy designed to exclude scholars who disagree with your preferred conclusions.

      Regardless, the dates I used are the standard ones in which modern critical scholars give. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? I see no reason here to distrust the scholarly consensus view.

      Just because a word can be used in one sense in one passage doesn't automatically mean it must be used in that sense in another passage. You don't seem to account for the use of ὤφθη to refer to physical sight/perception of physical events. For example, Luke 23:49 cannot be understood as a "vision."

      Since Paul makes no distinction between his own vision, but in fact equates all the appearances with ōphthē, you can't claim the other "appearances" were any more physical than that. Just try me.

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    6. "Regardless, the dates I used are the standard ones in which modern critical scholars give. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? I see no reason here to distrust the scholarly consensus view."

      1. It's not necessarily the "standard" or "consensus" though. It's only a "standard" or "consensus" among a certain subset(s) of scholars.

      2. Besides, it wouldn't matter even if there were a consensus if the textual, literary, historical, archaeological, and other evidence actually point to earlier dates. Obviously facts aren't decided by committee, consensus, sheer numbers, etc.

      3. What's more, both conservative as well as liberal scholars have come to their dates based on certain presumptions which are in turn quite debatable.

      4. In any case, we'd have to look at the specific arguments and evidence for this or that date.

      "Since Paul makes no distinction between his own vision, but in fact equates all the appearances with ōphthē, you can't claim the other 'appearances' were any more physical than that."

      1. Actually, even if (ad arguendo) we grant your premises, your conclusion doesn't follow. At the very least you need a connecting argument between the two.

      2. It sounds like you're committing a root word fallacy.

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    7. Regardless, the dates I used are the standard ones in which modern critical scholars give. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? I see no reason here to distrust the scholarly consensus view.

      Your phrasing ("regardless") implies what I said was tangential to your point about scholarly consensus. Yet here you are trying to claim the same rhetorical power of a scholarly consensus without explaining why we should believe: (a) that the consensus should exclude evangelical (or other scholars) who provide earlier dates, and (b) scholarly consensus should decide these matters.

      I am not surprised that you "see no reason" to reject your view of the evidence. What's unclear is why that should be persuasive to anyone who doesn't already agree with your position on dating.

      Since Paul makes no distinction between his own vision, but in fact equates all the appearances with ōphthē, you can't claim the other "appearances" were any more physical than that.

      I just gave you an example of how ὤφθη is used to refer to a physical event.

      You assume Paul's use of ὤφθη in 1 Corinthians 15 is non-physical, and so all the other appearances must be as well, yet that's the very point in contention. Even if Paul used ὤφθη to refer to a non-physical vision in his own case, the list in 1 Corinthians 15 could use ὤφθη to refer to different kinds of appearances, including physical ones. It is arbitrary to assume Paul's experience must be the same as all the others he lists.

      Have you read Thiselton or Pannenberg? Other than a metaphysical commitment to naturalism, what reasons--preferrably grammatical or textual--are there to think Paul is using ὤφθη to refer to a non-physical vision?

      Just try me.

      That sort of approach might intimidate random commentators on a YouTube thread, but it will not get you very far here.

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    8. It's also important to note that Evangelical scholars actually read, interact with and address liberal scholarship and interpretations. That's usually not true the other way around. Liberal scholarship usually dismisses and ignores the Evangelical counterarguments.

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    9. It's interesting that Faith Slayer seems to want to use ὤφθη in only one way, but ἀνάστασις (resurrection) in more than one way. Even though it's clear that the former word has more than one established and standard meaning. While the latter word hasn't been shown to have any standard meaning that excludes a bodily ἀνάστασις.

      That's an inconsistency that seems to be warped by bias.

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    10. rockingwithhawking

      1. It's not necessarily the "standard" or "consensus" though. It's only a "standard" or "consensus" among a certain subset(s) of scholars.

      No it's pretty much the standard view amongst both Christian and non-Christian scholars. A simple Google search will quickly demonstrate that this is the consensus view.

      2. Besides, it wouldn't matter even if there were a consensus if the textual, literary, historical, archaeological, and other evidence actually point to earlier dates. Obviously facts aren't decided by committee, consensus, sheer numbers, etc.

      True. But it didn't become the consensus view without good reason, evidence, arguments and in depth scrutiny. That's how consensus views are arrived at.

      3. What's more, both conservative as well as liberal scholars have come to their dates based on certain presumptions which are in turn quite debatable.

      Judging by the amount of midrash in the Gospels it's quite clear that the "prophecies" of Jesus were the post factum work of the evangelists. Mark sees Isaiah 53:9 as a prediction of Jesus' burial - "And they (Sanhedrin) made his grave with the wicked (Sanhedrin/criminal burial/crucified between two criminals) and with the rich (Joseph of Arimathea) in his death." Matthew sees two donkeys in Zech. 9 then "fulfills" this prophecy in Mt. 21:5; John 19.23-24 (cf. Psalm 22.18: two different treatments of clothing versus garments!); and Acts 4.25-27 (cf. Psalm 1: two different rulers!). So what it really comes down to is what's more likely? Adam Winn in The Purpose of Mark's Gospel applies 5 criteria (Specificity, Reasonableness, Similarity, Motivation, Risk-Reward) to the destruction of the Temple prediction in Mark and comes to a post 70 conclusion. Other scholarly views can be found here.

      4. In any case, we'd have to look at the specific arguments and evidence for this or that date.

      I agree but if you argue for a pre 65-70 date for Mark then you are going against consensus dating. But if you have good arguments for that then go right ahead and convince the 90+% of critics who argue otherwise.

      1. Actually, even if (ad arguendo) we grant your premises, your conclusion doesn't follow. At the very least you need a connecting argument between the two.

      2. It sounds like you're committing a root word fallacy.


      1. Paul says he "appeared to me" (1 Cor 15:8).
      2. Acts says this appearance was a "vision" (Acts 26:19), which corroborates Paul's own admission (2 Cor 12:1; Gal. 1:12, 1:16).
      3. Paul makes no distinction between the appearances nor does he indicate knowledge of a physical body leaving a tomb and interacting with the disciples.
      3. Therefore, based on the textual evidence in the earliest and only firsthand source (Paul), you cannot claim the appearances were originally understood to be any more "physical" than visionary experiences.

      Is that logically valid enough for you?

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    11. Matthew Schultz

      Your phrasing ("regardless") implies what I said was tangential to your point about scholarly consensus.

      No it doesn't Mr. Dunning-Kruger . If you disagree with the dates I gave then you disagree with 90+% of all modern scholars, be that Christian or non-Christian. That's quite a precarious position.

      Yet here you are trying to claim the same rhetorical power of a scholarly consensus without explaining why we should believe: (a) that the consensus should exclude evangelical (or other scholars) who provide earlier dates, and (b) scholarly consensus should decide these matters.

      I'm not here to debate the dates of the Gospels. You can research that for yourself. What's important here is that the dates I gave reflect the consensus view. Do you deny this? Citing the consensus is relevant and should be acknowledged in any historical debate. Will you be honest and admit that these are the consensus dates and that you just disagree with them? Or will such an admission be damaging to your case? I will not be bullied into justifying the consensus position on such matters. After all, it is the "consensus" view and it didn't just magically become that way without good reason and the utmost scrutiny. It is you who has the burden of proof to show why the opinion of a fringe minority of scholars should overturn the consensus.

      I am not surprised that you "see no reason" to reject your view of the evidence. What's unclear is why that should be persuasive to anyone who doesn't already agree with your position on dating.

      Anyone who disagrees with the dates should realize that they're going against 90+% of modern commentators. When historians reach a consensus, that view must be acknowledged as such. For those that are interested just look up both sides of the issue yourselves. I don't have the space here to give a lecture on consensus dating. All the information can be found online and in libraries.

      I just gave you an example of how ὤφθη is used to refer to a physical event.

      Uh huh and how does picking a random place in the New Testament tell us anything about what is meant in 1 Cor 15? From the context of 1 Cor 15 and the rest of Paul's letters, there is no indication that these appearances were any more physical. You would have to show us something from Paul's letters instead of appealing to an irrelevant place where the word is used in an entirely different context. By the way, Luke 23:49 contains the phrase "horosai tauta" which is not used in 1 Cor 15:5-8. Oops...

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    12. Matthew Schultz pt. 2

      You assume Paul's use of ὤφθη in 1 Corinthians 15 is non-physical, and so all the other appearances must be as well, yet that's the very point in contention. Even if Paul used ὤφθη to refer to a non-physical vision in his own case, the list in 1 Corinthians 15 could use ὤφθη to refer to different kinds of appearances, including physical ones. It is arbitrary to assume Paul's experience must be the same as all the others he lists.

      And where does Paul himself indicate a difference in the appearances? If he doesn't make a distinction then aren't you just assuming they were different? You can't rule out the good chance that he was equating them if no distinction is provided. He does not say "the appearance to me was a vision only whereas he appeared to the others as a resuscitated corpse that walked around for 40 days then flew to heaven." That distinction is never made. The Acts vision reports are corroborated by Paul's own admission of "visions" and "revelations" of the Lord (2 Cor 12:1; Gal. 1:12, 1:16). Luke/John depicting the Risen Jesus eating with the disciples and letting them touch his wounds is nowhere corroborated by Paul's letters, or Mark, or Matthew. So I can just flip this around on you and ask, since Paul indicates no difference and the "physical" details are completely absent from his letters, on what grounds can you claim that the appearances were any different? Are you sure you're not letting the later developed gospels color your reading of Paul? This is what historians call an anachronism fallacy.

      Have you read Thiselton or Pannenberg?

      I've read enough to realize that they don't represent the consensus view. It seems both of them are more concerned with their theology rather than objectively investigating history. If you think I'm being hasty in my judgement just provide their best arguments and settle the issue already!

      Other than a metaphysical commitment to naturalism, what reasons--preferrably grammatical or textual--are there to think Paul is using ὤφθη to refer to a non-physical vision?

      Do you agree that Paul's appearance in 1 Cor 15:8 is his Damascus road vision? If so, there's your answer. If not, just tell me where else in the NT Paul claims to see the Risen Jesus in a way that was not a vision. I base my exegesis on an objective reading of the documents in order based on consensus dating. The context of 1 Cor 15 alone, without prematurely reading in the later empty tomb narrative, demands this conclusion. Paul does not indicate that Jesus was "risen" to earth and interacted physically with the disciples. Also, I would assume that if someone today came up to you and said "I had a vision of a dead man that came back to life," you'd be quite skeptical of their claim right? But in Jesus' case, we should just accept, without question, the testimony of an admitted visionary from 2,000 years ago? Get real! Just imagine trying to convince a judge and jury of that today.

      That sort of approach might intimidate random commentators on a YouTube thread, but it will not get you very far here.

      The argument still stands and that's all I need. Have fun with that.

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    13. It's interesting that Faith Slayer seems to want to use ὤφθη in only one way, but ἀνάστασις (resurrection) in more than one way. Even though it's clear that the former word has more than one established and standard meaning. While the latter word hasn't been shown to have any standard meaning that excludes a bodily ἀνάστασις.

      Debates Over the Resurrection of the Dead

      “It is not certain that each time the word anastasis (or the like) appears in the text, a bodily resurrection is intended.” – pg. 26

      And concludes upon her investigation of the sources:

      “All this shows that there is no certainty that whenever we encounter the word anastasis in early Christian sources, it means bodily resurrection.” – pg. 40

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    14. He does not say "the appearance to me was a vision only whereas he appeared to the others as a resuscitated corpse that walked around for 40 days then flew to heaven." That distinction is never made.

      But 1 Cor. 15 doesn't preclude that possibility. If President Obama said he spoke to members of congress and we know for certain that some of the talks were conducted via telephone, that doesn't preclude the possibility that some of the discussion was done in person.

      Even granting that all the encounters Paul had with Christ recorded in the canon were visionary, doesn't mean:

      1. all encounters Paul had of Christ are recorded
      2. all encounters were visionary. Maybe some were visionary, and others were physical.

      Paul may have had many extended visitations of Christ where Christ taught him the details of his (Paul's) gospel message not recorded in Scripture. That's implied in many passages. Some of those may have been bodily.

      Though, I'm not dogmatic, I personally lean toward all of Paul's encounters of the post-resurrected Christ being non-bodily. That would be in better keeping with his view of Christ's physical 2nd Coming. But even if all were only visionary, that doesn't necessitate that Paul also believed the original apostles' (and Matthias') encounters were also all visionary as well. That's a logical leap based on two distinct and separate issues. And as I've argued below in my previous posts, the natural conceptual reading of the word "resurrection" would include a body.

      We know that Paul states his calling to be an apostle was unique (1 Cor. 15:8-9). It's in keeping with Paul's unique calling for Paul to have had a unique and different type of encounter with the post-resurrected Christ. So, that while the rest of the apostles encountered Christ bodily, Paul may have only encountered Him spiritually and/or in vision.

      Also, in 1 Cor. 15 Paul states Jesus appeared to his brother James who was an unbeliever. Regardless of the nature of the appearance (bodily vs. spiritual), the fact that Paul states Jesus appeared to an unbelieving James would better comport with this appearance not being merely a subjective and psychological experience based on prior expectation but a real objective encounter with the real Jesus.

      Also, I would assume that if someone today came up to you and said "I had a vision of a dead man that came back to life," you'd be quite skeptical of their claim right? But in Jesus' case, we should just accept, without question, the testimony of an admitted visionary from 2,000 years ago? Get real! Just imagine trying to convince a judge and jury of that today.

      Why then use the term "resurrection" at all? Paul's use of the word resurrection would end up confusing many of his readers since the term usually connotes being raised bodily. It's not like the Jews had no concept or language for a merely spiritual or visionary experience (say of God in a theophany or of angels). Again, you're interpretation of the word "resurrection" goes contrary to general usage of the term.

      “It is not certain that each time the word anastasis (or the like) appears in the text, a bodily resurrection is intended.” – pg. 26

      And concludes upon her investigation of the sources:

      “All this shows that there is no certainty that whenever we encounter the word anastasis in early Christian sources, it means bodily resurrection.” – pg. 40


      Yet, the burden of proof is on you to show that the word anastasis could or ever had been used in a way that clearly excluded the body.

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    15. If you disagree with the dates I gave then you disagree with 90+% of all modern scholars, be that Christian or non-Christian. That's quite a precarious position.

      You’re still not explaining why it’s precarious.

      And what survey supports your percentages?

      I'm not here to debate the dates of the Gospels.

      Then why make assertions about their dates and arguments based on late dating? Are you just bluffing?

      You can research that for yourself.

      I had to sit through courses that routinely discussed the relevant issues, both for my undergraduate (NYU) and masters (RTS) degrees. Don’t presume that because someone disagrees with you that they haven’t researched the subject.

      I will not be bullied into justifying the consensus position on such matters.

      As if asking you to justify your position is bullying!

      After all, it is the "consensus" view and it didn't just magically become that way without good reason and the utmost scrutiny. It is you who has the burden of proof to show why the opinion of a fringe minority of scholars should overturn the consensus.

      Frankly, that’s naïve. It discounts both sociological forces and the philosophical assumptions that drive academic scholarship. It betrays an unfamiliarity with religious studies and seminary departments.

      And it’s still unreliable. The “consensus” is always (even if slowly) shifting.

      Uh huh and how does picking a random place in the New Testament tell us anything about what is meant in 1 Cor 15?

      I was demonstrating that the semantic range of the word isn’t as limited as you implied it was. There’s nothing “random” in pointing out how ὤφθη is used in related contexts.

      By the way, Luke 23:49 contains the phrase "horosai tauta" which is not used in 1 Cor 15:5-8. Oops...

      Meaning what, exactly? I’m not going to respond to a vague argument that merely gestures at technical proficiency.

      You can't rule out the good chance that he was equating them if no distinction is provided.

      I was answering your argument on your own terms. You seemed to deny the possibility that Paul could be referring to a vision in his own case while referring to physical appearances for the other witnesses listed. But if you are open to that possibility, then you need to demonstrate, given the semantic range of ὤφθη in similar contexts, that Paul views the other witnesses’ experiences as non-physical visions.

      I've read enough to realize that they don't represent the consensus view. It seems both of them are more concerned with their theology rather than objectively investigating history. If you think I'm being hasty in my judgement just provide their best arguments and settle the issue already!

      If by “enough” you mean Googled their names within the last 24 hours, I cannot take that seriously. You've given me no reason to think it would be profitable to summarize their approach, not the least because you already dismiss them as driven by theology as opposed to history (as if these were necessarily in conflict).

      Also, I would assume that if someone today came up to you and said "I had a vision of a dead man that came back to life," you'd be quite skeptical of their claim right? But in Jesus' case, we should just accept, without question, the testimony of an admitted visionary from 2,000 years ago? Get real!

      I would certainly take it seriously (not “accept, without question”) if many eye-witnesses made that claim, and did so at great personal cost. Your analogy could be better, and suggests you are either unfamiliar with the arguments in favor of the resurrection or feel no shame in ruthlessly caricaturing them.

      Just imagine trying to convince a judge and jury of that today.

      Why in the world would that be our evidentiary standard for historical inquiry?

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    16. Faith Slayer wrote:

      "I've given 9 arguments against the empty tomb here"

      Which is a different subject than the one you're responding to. I cited hostile corroboration of the empty tomb.

      You write:

      "The Shroud of Turin is bogus"

      You then cite an article that's lacking in documentation, which repeats common objections without interacting with the counterarguments that have been circulating for many years, and which ignores the best arguments for the Shroud's authenticity. Much of what the article brings up has been addressed in the material I linked above (e.g., the length of Jesus' hair, the 1988 carbon dating).

      You write:

      "Why does Jesus' hair look like he's in a standing up position? Wouldn't he have been laying down when the shroud was put on thereby making his hair fall back? Same with the blood. Why is it 'flowing' downwards and not off to the sides as it would with a person who was laying down? Oh and real blood doesn't flow ON hair as it looks in the Turin Shroud."

      Since the Shroud is a highly complicated object consisting of many lines of evidence, involving many fields of study (chemistry, physics, history, etc.), we could reasonably affirm its authenticity even if we didn't have convincing answers for objections like what you're raising above. The preponderance of evidence could still favor authenticity. Similarly, scientists, lawyers, and others addressing complicated subjects often argue from a preponderance of evidence, even if they can't tie up every loose end with their current understanding of the data.

      There's a lot we don't know about Jesus' posture on the cross when he died, the precise manner in which he was removed from the cross, to just what extent his body was prepared for burial, the precise way in which his body was transported to the tomb, how the body was positioned within the tomb, etc. We have to allow for a range of possibilities. And, in some ways, we have nothing to compare the Shroud to. We don't have any comparable imprint of a body, much less a body of a crucifixion victim in particular. If the image is of a paranormal nature, as I believe it is, then that's a further complicating factor. Accordingly, we have to be careful in making claims about what supposedly would happen to a body under those circumstances and what sort of image a body should leave on a cloth.

      For some discussion of the possibilities with regard to the positioning of the hair and the blood around it, see the thread here. See, for example, the 8:24 A.M. post by Max Patrick Hamon, the 12:08 P.M. post by Kelly Kearse, and the 2:52 P.M. post by Hugh Farey on 2/10/14. Kearse, by the way, has a doctorate in microbiology and immunology and has done a lot of research on the blood on the Shroud, so his comments are especially significant. Farey is a highly knowledgeable critic of the Shroud. See, also, the thread here, specifically the 5:18 A.M. post on 10/18/14 by latendre.

      (continued below)

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    17. (continued from above)

      You write:

      "Nonetheless, Mark 15:43 reports that Joseph, a member of the council, purchased linen on a holy day in direct violation of the law in full public view. Moreover, no Jew would have been selling linen because it was a holy day. Consequently, Joseph would have had to purchase linen from a non-Jewish merchant in which he would still be violating Jewish law."

      That's more an issue of Biblical historicity or inerrancy, for example, than an issue of the Shroud's authenticity. Even if the Biblical accounts are wrong about the history behind the Shroud before it went over Jesus' body, the Shroud could still be authentic.

      But you're assuming more than you can prove about Mark 15:46, as J.P. Holding notes:

      "Could not the purchase have been made prior to the Sabbath, with Mark simply reporting it as a matter of fact rather than a matter of chronology, in line with the occassional practice of reporting matters topically? Could not Joseph have had a Gentile servant buy the cloth? Could Joseph have perhaps been a progressive sort who figured that it was better to obey the spirit of the law and honor a deceased holy man of God and not worried about the letter of the law which (according to the then-current paradigm, at least) forbade buying things on the Sabbath?"

      Craig Keener writes, "If Jesus died by 3 p.m., Joseph must have bought the linen quickly, just before sundown (about 6 p.m.) when the Sabbath began." (The IVP Bible Background Commentary [Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2014], 174) Contrary to what you've claimed, the Biblical accounts don't tell us that the Sabbath had already started. See Matthew 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, and John 19:42.

      You write:

      "I stick to scholarly consensus dating. Is that ok? Let me know when the evangelicals overturn that."

      I've provided evidence against your dating of the gospels. It would be better to interact with that evidence instead of dismissing it with an undocumented appeal to scholarly consensus. What most or all scholars agree about often changes over time. Why should we think that the latest consensus, if the consensus you refer to exists, is more reliable than contrary ones? And why don't you document a scholarly consensus that Matthew predates Luke, for example, since you keep using arguments that depend on that ordering of the gospels?

      You make a lot of dismissive references to Evangelicals, but many non-Evangelicals hold similar views or the same ones (e.g., conservative Roman Catholics, conservative Eastern Orthodox, conservative Mormons, etc. on Biblical issues; scholars who don't even profess to be Christian on Shroud issues; etc.). For example, in one of your responses to Steve below, you make a derogatory comment about Evangelicals when commenting on scholarship concerning the alleged anonymity of the gospels. But some liberals, like James McGrath, have raised doubts about the anonymity of the gospels. We find an atheist like Robin Lane Fox or a moderate Christian like Martin Hengel (who wrote extensively on whether the gospels were anonymous) reaching conclusions the same as or similar to those of Evangelicals on some of the relevant issues.

      (continued below)

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    18. (continued from above)

      Furthermore, I doubt that you always agree with the consensus of scholarship. Consider, for example, issues surrounding Jesus' resurrection. Michael Licona has specialized in research on the resurrection, and he just completed his doctorate in a related field within the last several years. The following examples are taken from his magnum opus on the resurrection, based on his doctoral dissertation, The Resurrection Of Jesus (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2010). He refers to "somewhat of a consensus" among modern scholars that the gospels belong to the genre of Greco-Roman biography (34). He mentions that "Perhaps one half or more of modern English-speaking commentators on Acts maintain that Luke was a traveling companion of Paul." (382) He points out that a majority of commentators today take 1 Corinthians 15:50 as a figure of speech and don't think Paul is denying the physicality of the resurrection there (417). He notes that "Aside from Painter, only a few scholars have defended the position that James was a believer during Jesus' ministry." (451; cf. 454) He cites Gary Habermas' conclusion that "the majority of critical scholars writing on the subject" believe that James became a Christian at the time when he thought he saw the risen Jesus, and Licona adds the names of some other scholars to Habermas' list (460-1). He refers to a similar majority among scholars who comment on the empty tomb, a majority affirming its historicity (461-2). He cites M.M.W. Waterman's assessment that a majority affirms the empty tomb (n. 606 on 461). Do you agree with all of those majorities?

      You write:

      "And where is this empty tomb mentioned in our earliest source Paul?"

      You're the one who brought up Mark and Matthew. Why don't you respond to what I said about those gospels rather than changing the subject?

      And Steve has already explained how 1 Corinthians 15 implies Paul's belief in an empty tomb. I've explained how 1 Timothy 5 implies it.

      You write:

      "How exactly? It seems you don't like the fact that ōphthē was used for spiritual visions in both the Septuagint and New Testament. Don't blame me for just pointing out the truth."

      The term you're citing can be used, and often is used, for something other than "spiritual visions". And you need to address other Greek terms used in association with Jesus' resurrection, like "body", "give life to your mortal bodies", and "the resurrection from the dead". There's a lot of physical terminology that Paul applies to Jesus' resurrection directly and indirectly (indirectly by, for instance, paralleling Jesus' resurrection with the resurrection of believers). See, for example, here.

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    19. Faith Slayer writes:

      "You would have to show us something from Paul's letters instead of appealing to an irrelevant place where the word is used in an entirely different context."

      That's not the only relevant evidence. If there's widespread belief in a physical resurrection among Paul's associates, Pauline churches considering the issue just after Paul's lifetime, etc., then that sort of evidence adds weight to the conclusion that Paul held that view. As I've documented in some of my articles linked earlier in this thread, there is such evidence in the early sources. Similarly, the dominance of belief in physical resurrection among ancient Jews and the Pharisees in particular (Paul was a Pharisee) is relevant. Chris Price discusses such issues in his article I linked earlier.

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    22. Sorry can't get the formatting right....

      Hi Jason Engwer,

      I'm getting ganged up on here and won't have time to respond to everything so let's take it one point at a time shall we?

      "Which is a different subject than the one you're responding to. I cited hostile corroboration of the empty tomb."

      But how do we know that the Jews were responding to an actual empty tomb vs the Markan story of an empty tomb?

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    23. Faith Slayer wrote:

      "But how do we know that the Jews were responding to an actual empty tomb vs the Markan story of an empty tomb? " I address that issue to some extent in the post I linked earlier, as well as here. And here's a series I wrote on the suffering and martyrdom of the apostles (and other early Christians to some extent). That sort of persecution of the early Christians wouldn't have occurred if their enemies were geographically distant or apathetic. Matthew 28:11-5 refers to how Jewish/Christian arguments over the empty tomb started just after Jesus' death and had been continuing for a long time. The empty tomb claim and its corroboration existed early on. They weren't later developments. We don't begin with a default assumption that non-Christian Jews would uncritically accept Christian claims that were against their (non-Christian Jews') interests. My post on the empty tomb linked earlier in this thread discusses how the Jewish response to the empty tomb developed over time. Some Jews apparently saw a need to offer a different explanation of how the tomb became empty, but they apparently didn't think they could plausibly deny that there was an empty tomb. The best explanation for Jewish corroboration of the empty tomb is that the tomb was empty.

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  3. You know you have won an argument when the opposition starts with ad hominem.

    Re "saints raised"
    your points i) and ii) don't address the my question why nobody wrote about it
    your point iii) is incoherent as the point was these Jewish holy men were know "saints", not generally unknown people.
    so I guess that was a non-answer

    Re "nobody wrote about Jesus"
    ii) doesn't address the my question why nobody wrote about it
    i) you claim that Jesus didn't appear to be a God and iii) you claim that in NT writings about him he appears to be God. Good work!
    Additionally NT claims truck load of miracles including raising of dead. It doesn't sound like human job to me.
    so I guess that was worse than a non-answer.

    Like Gandhi said: “First they ignore you, then..."

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    Replies
    1. "You know you have won an argument when the opposition starts with ad hominem."

      No, not really.

      Delete
    2. "your points i) and ii) don't address the my question why nobody wrote about it."

      Self-refuting. If no one wrote about it, you wouldn't know about it. It's because someone wrote about it (Matthew) that you can even comment on it in the first place.

      Many historical events are reported by just one person. For that matter, most historical events go unreported.

      "your point iii) is incoherent as the point was these Jewish holy men were know "saints", not generally unknown people."

      Logic isn't your strong suit. They were known to acquaintances. That wouldn't include Josephus, Tacitus, &c.

      "you claim that Jesus didn't appear to be a God and iii) you claim that in NT writings about him he appears to be God. Good work!"

      You really aren't smart enough to carry on this debate. God has no appearance. God is naturally invisible.

      Jesus can be God without *appearing* to be God. Divinity is not a sensory property.

      I don't claim that Jesus "appears" to be God in the NT. I claim that he *is* God. That's not a difficult distinction to grasp.

      Batman doesn't appear to be Bruce Wayne, but he is.

      "Additionally NT claims truck load of miracles including raising of dead. It doesn't sound like human job to me."

      And how is that supposed to refute anything I said?

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    3. Nice to see more ad hominem, but you really need to raise the quality of your insults.

      So we don't know who these "saints" roaming in Jerusalem were, but Steve knows that "They were known to acquaintances". Well it must be true "because someone wrote about it" (Steve) that we "can even comment on" that they were only know to acquaintances in the first place. OK.

      It's because someone wrote about Golden Plates (Joe) that you can even comment on it in the first place. The plates were known to acquaintances. That wouldn't include Steve. Yep, plates probably existed.

      Steve said "God has no appearance. God is naturally invisible." Do you have any evidence of this or did you just made this up? BTW I like your Jesus and Batman analogy. You are on your way to become a radical critic. It's a gateway drug to mythisism.

      Anyways you still did not really address my original question. If "They were known to acquaintances" speculation without evidence is the best you can come up then ok. Thanks for giving your best.

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    4. "Nice to see more ad hominem, but you really need to raise the quality of your insults."

      Why waste good material? I save my best retorts for worthy interlocutors.

      "So we don't know who these 'saints' roaming in Jerusalem were…"

      Naturally "we" don't since we didn't live in that time and place.

      "Well it must be true 'because someone wrote about it.'"

      You're not bright enough to follow your own argument. I was merely responding to you on your own terms. The question at issue, as you yourself framed it, is not whether it's true, but why no one allegedly wrote about it.

      But obviously someone did write about it, otherwise you couldn't even comment on the incident. Try to keep track of your own pitiful argument.

      "It's because someone wrote about Golden Plates (Joe) that you can even comment on it in the first place. The plates were known to acquaintances. That wouldn't include Steve. Yep, plates probably existed."

      So that's your feeble attempt to be clever, by laboring to construct a parallel example. Fails miserably, because you fails to distinguish between knowledge of the account and whether it's true. That's an elementary distinction.

      As a matter fact, I wouldn't know about Joseph Smith's claim unless he or someone else wrote it down. So your comparison backfires. Try not to be more clever than you are.

      As to whether an account is true, that's a separate question. If that's what you were angling at, all along you should learn to how ask questions that express your actual concerns.

      "Do you have any evidence of this or did you just made this up?"

      It's not my job to tutor you in philosophical theology and apologetics.

      "Anyways you still did not really address my original question."

      Actually, I did. But you're too confused to know how to ask the question you intend.

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    5. Jon Sorensen wrote:
      Steve said "God has no appearance. God is naturally invisible." Do you have any evidence of this or did you just made this up? BTW I like your Jesus and Batman analogy. You are on your way to become a radical critic. It's a gateway drug to mythisism.

      It's basic Christian theology that God (as to His nature) is immaterial, non-corporeal and invisible. Many passages in the Bible teach this. For example:

      To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.- 1 Tim. 1:17

      "....who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see...."- 1 Tim. 6:16b
      God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."- John 4:24

      For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.- Rom. 1:20

      See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."- Luke 24:39

      Jon Sorensen wrote in another blog
      A God walked couple of years in Judea and Galilee, and nobody wrote about it. Is it more likely that he did not exist at that period?

      I addressed this basic objection HERE.

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    6. I get that it is your theology and it is written in a book long time ago. I was asking if you have any evidence that this matches the reality. What convinced you about this bit of theology?

      You said:
      "We have no reason to expect somebody like Philo of Alexandria, living in Egypt, to mention somebody like Jesus"
      Why not? He wrote about religious sects in Judea and Galilee at Jesus time. If there was a big Jesus movement we would expect him to mention it.

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    7. Jon Sorenson wrote:

      "He wrote about religious sects in Judea and Galilee at Jesus time."

      That's far too vague. You need to get more specific about Philo's text and context.

      I've sometimes "written about religious sects in America" without mentioning Mormons, Eastern Orthodox, and other groups. So what?

      I've sometimes "written about religious sects in the world" without mentioning every religion. Sometimes I'll discuss Islam and Hinduism without discussing Buddhism or Judaism, for example. So what?

      You're replying to something I wrote in another thread without interacting with the large majority of what I said there. Does that prove that the large majority of what I said doesn't exist?

      Delete
  4. "Classic false dichotomy, as if "visions" of Jesus are necessarily opposed to actually seeing him in the flesh."

    There's no question that the "heavenly vision" Paul experienced is entirely different than the interaction Luke depicts in Luke 24:39-43 where he has the disciples talking and eating with Jesus' resuscitated corpse. If the earliest belief in the Risen Christ was more of a spiritual "visionary" concept (there's nothing in the entire Pauline corpus that indicates otherwise), while the later beliefs (Luke/John) were more "physical," then this is an important distinction to be made.

    "That's in a chapter which repeatedly stresses the physicality of the resurrected body."

    Correction. The exact "physicality" of a "spiritual body" is unclear from 1 Cor 15. It's this "spiritual body" that is contrasted with the "natural body". Paul thought that the spiritual body was made of "material" but there is no indication that he believed the "spiritual body" had anything to do with the former earthly body. Scholars still disagree over exactly what Paul meant but you can't claim that Paul envisioned Jesus' corpse rising out of a grave. The only way you reach that conclusion is by prematurely reading in the later empty tomb narrative. Jewish beliefs in the resurrection and afterlife were quite diverse in the Second Temple period. Paul was a Hellenized Jew and influences of Stoicism and other Greek thought can be found in his letters.

    "i) An exercise in misdirection, since the NT witness to the bodily resurrection doesn't turn on the meaning of one verb. In context, Paul emphatically discusses the physicality of the resurrected body."

    The physicality of a resuscitated corpse that walks around talking and eating with the disciples then later floats to heaven? Ok. Where exactly does Paul "emphatically discuss" that?

    "ii) You artificially isolate the verb from what comes before. Paul says Jesus "died" and was "buried" (3-4). That accentuates the physical death of Christ. He then says Jesus was "raised." That stands in contrast to physical death. Hence, that implies restoration to physical life."

    Ok, let's look at the wide range of meaning that the Greek word for raised (egēgertai) has:

    1) to arouse, cause to rise
    1a) to arouse from sleep, to awake
    1b) to arouse from the sleep of death, to recall the dead to life
    1c) to cause to rise from a seat or bed etc.
    1d) to raise up, produce, cause to appear
    1d1) to cause to appear, bring before the public
    1d2) to raise up, stir up, against one
    1d3) to raise up i.e. cause to be born
    1d4) of buildings, to raise up, construct, erect

    With such a wide range of meaning you can't claim that the earliest composers of the creed or Paul believed that a physical body literally "rose" out of a grave. Just show me one verse from Paul where he explicitly indicates Jesus first rose to earth then only later rose to heaven. I bet you can't do it. Based on the wide range of meaning for egēgertai, all you can say from the context of 1 Cor 15 is that Jesus was brought back to life "in some sense."

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    1. "i) That reiterates the same confusion, as if the sense of one word is determinative.

      ii) In addition, night visions (Acts 16:9-10; Gen 31) typically refer to revelatory dreams. That's hardly parallel to the resurrection appearances of Christ.

      iii) You're deriving your conclusion in Mt 17:9, not from the meaning of the word, but from the presumption that these are ghosts."


      If the word ōphthē can be used for spiritual "visions", as in the cases I cited, you can't rule out that possibility for the appearances in 1 Cor 15:5-8. There is nothing in the context that rules this out as the appearances are not described here. However, Paul is quick to align his own personal vision with that of the other "appearances" without making a distinction. Therefore, you can't claim they were any more "physical" than that.

      "To begin with, that's just one scholar's interpretation. And even then, he says it is a corporeal presence."

      But the "body" or form is nowhere mentioned in the Acts vision report. The "spiritual body" may not resemble the earthly body just like the plant does not resemble the seed that it sprouts from (1 Cor 15:36-37). All that's clear from the text is that Paul saw a blinding light and heard a voice. The companions saw no one. Surely, if a physical body were present then it would have been seen.

      "That's another false dichotomy. Luminosity isn't opposed to physicality. The same author, in his Gospel (Lk 9), records the luminosity of Christ at the Transfiguration. Likewise, Paul refers to the luminosity of Moses when he encountered God (2 Cor 3:13)."

      How does this irrelevant response somehow overthrow the fact that the reports don't mention a physical body was seen? Paul saw a vision involving a blinding light and a disembodied voice from heaven. Although, these are "physical" details where was the body? The companions "saw no one" remember.

      "Another erroneous inference. One again, the same author, in his Gospel (Lk 24), records a physical appearance of Christ to disciples on the Emmaus road. Yet their recognition was initially inhibited by divine agency. And that's in a Gospel which, as you yourself admit, accentuates the physicality of the Resurrection."

      Why did you suddenly switch the topic from Paul's vision to the Emmaus road appearance? I will ignore this red herring until you give a proper response to my point about the subjectivity of the vision to Paul.

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    2. "That actually proves the opposite. Precisely because the Bible describes subjective visions, people in Bible times knew the difference between subjective and objective visions. Do you suppose Paul is suggesting in 1 Cor 15 that 500 observers were in a simultaneous trance state?"

      Paul indicates no distinction between the appearances and we know that the Damascus road "vision" was subjective to Paul because he's the only one that was blinded and understood the voice. As for the 500, where are the actual reports from these supposed 500 eyewitnesses? Why don't any of the gospel authors mention this amazing occurrence? They must have not found it very worthy of reporting huh? Were the thousands of people that saw the Virgin Mary in Zeitoun, Egypt in a simultaneous trance state? How about the thousands that witnessed the "Miracle of the Sun" in Portugal?

      "He had no firsthand knowledge. So what?"

      If Paul indicates no knowledge of the empty tomb nor of the Risen Jesus in resuscitated corpse form interacting with the disciples on earth, then the empty tomb/bodily resurrection could be a later development. Arguments from silence can be valid under certain circumstances and this one is quite strong considering the lack of mention of Luke's amazing details from Paul, Mark and Matthew (authors who were in the position to know of such details if they had really occurred). I'm talking about the stuff like discarded grave cloths, people touching Jesus, Jesus eating and his physical form flying up into heaven. Why don't the earliest sources mention these amazing details?

      "Since the appearance of Christ on the Damascus road was blindly bright, Paul would be unable to make out physical details."

      So Paul couldn't see anything because he was blinded and the companions "saw no one". That pretty much rules out that a physical body was present.

      "A non sequitur. The witnesses to the Resurrection (e.g. Lk 24; Jn 20-21) didn't see Jesus when they were in a trance state. They were wide awake and interacting with their physical environment."

      Irrelevant. Paul and Peter are two of the earliest witnesses according to 1 Cor 15. The only firsthand material we have is from Paul and he indicates no knowledge of the disciples interacting physically with the Risen Jesus on earth. He also admits to having "visions" and "revelations" and evidently Peter was having "visions" as well. You may consider people from 2,000 years ago having "visions" as reliable testimony but I, like any rational person, don't. I'd like to see you present your case before a judge and jury explaining why we should accept testimony from people who were susceptible to having "visions" 2,000 years ago. Do you think they would take you seriously?

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    3. "i) That's equivocal. Although doesn't narrate resurrection appearances, he does refer to them."

      But we can't claim to know how Mark thought they would be. Moreover, if he knew of the appearances why fail to report such stupendous details? Did he just think his audience wouldn't care?

      "ii) I date Mark to the 40s-50s."

      Then you would fall into the fringe minority as opposed to the scholarly consensus which dates it to around 70. That doesn't mean that they are right but it does say something when it's the consensus view. You would have to have really good arguments for dating it that early and if they're so good why haven't they convinced more than just the evangelicals?

      "i) You think it refers to detached feet? Are you even trying to be serious?"

      Did I say that? Touching someone's feet in the ancient world was a sign of subservience to the person. The verse may have been intended to be taken metaphorically. Dale Allison discusses the various ways this passage can be interpreted in chapter 5 of his Studies in Matthew: Interpretation Past and Present. In any case, even if this were a physical reference it still comes after Paul and Mark indicating a story growing in the telling.

      "ii) I date Matthew prior to 70 AD."

      Fringe position. Please divulge to us your amazing arguments and discoveries that overturn scholarly consensus dating!

      "A mark of authenticity. Not the kind of detail you'd expect Matthew to invent."

      Exactly. Some must have doubted that Jesus was actually resurrected. This doesn't speak well to the possibility that it actually happened though. Why would some doubt it? From reading the other reports in the NT we'd have no reason to believe "some doubted." Matthew obviously meant what he said here.

      "The fact that they "And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him" (v9) is clearly physical. Cf. Mk 5:22; 7:25; Lk 17:16."

      Not exactly. Read the Allison reference above. There's a free Google preview of some of it online. Not sure why you'd quote other verses where this occurs before the resurrection. Anyway, it doesn't matter if this is a physical reference or not as it comes after Paul and Mark so don't get too excited.

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    4. "i) I date Luke prior to 70 AD. And I'm inclined to date John prior to 70 AD. I think the "postscript" (Jn 21) is based explained by the Peter's recent demise."

      Yes, it's quite clear you ignore critical scholarly consensus dating.

      "ii) John records Doubting Thomas as a foil. That's how it begins, not how it ends."

      Quite an amazing story to go unmentioned by Paul and all three of the synoptic authors don't you think?

      "i) That evinces your ignorance of Synoptic Christology. Cf. Sigurd Grindheim, Christology in the Synoptic Gospels."

      I see zero evidence for the view that Jesus was God in the synoptics. I don't have time to read a whole book right now but perhaps you could give a few of your best shots. I'll be happy to take a look at them and respond.

      "ii) Mark was written by a native of Jerusalem (Acts 12:12) who may well have had some direct knowledge of the historical Jesus. He was a younger contemporary of Jesus. And Jesus made trips to Jerusalem. Matthew was written by a disciple who spent 3 years with Jesus, so we'd expect him to be more detailed than Mark."

      This is not a scholarly position outside the evangelical circle. The gospel authors are anonymous. "We do not know who wrote the Gospels" - E.P. Sanders.

      "Luke explicitly says he's supplementing prior accounts, so we'd expect him to be more detailed than Mark. Moreover, he draws on a multiplicity of informants."

      Luke also deliberately alters the appearance tradition to occurring in Jerusalem. Mark predicts, and Matthew has the appearances in Galilee. Luke leaves no room for any appearances in Galilee (Lk. 24:46-49; Acts 1:4). He also gets the dates of Theudas and Judas the Galilean mixed up as well as invents details about the census of Quirinius that are not historical.

      "John was written by a member of Jesus' inner circle. So we'd expect his account to have the most insider information. Indeed, John may well have been a childhood friend of Jesus if, as J. A. T. Robinson has argued, they were cousins."

      Another extreme fringe position among scholars. What do any of your last three points have to do with Paul's vision and the earliest beliefs in the Risen Jesus?

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    5. Faith Slayer wrote:

      "All that's clear from the text is that Paul saw a blinding light and heard a voice….Paul saw a vision involving a blinding light and a disembodied voice from heaven."

      No, we're also told that Paul saw Jesus (Acts 9:27, 22:14, 1 Corinthians 9:1).

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  6. Reading Paul, it seems he believed Jesus' return would be a physical one. If that's true, then it makes sense that Paul also believed Jesus' resurrection was physical as well. Moreover, Paul's theology teaches that the resurrection bodies of Christians will be of the same kind as Christ's glorified body. Paul (a former Jewish Pharisee) believed in the physical resurrection of believers and non-believers of the true God (as many Jewish sects did [excepting sects like the Sadducees]). Therefore it makes most sense that Paul also believed Jesus' resurrection was bodily. In fact, bodily resurrection that was the standard view of resurrection among Jews before, during and after Christ's time (i.e. surrounding the 1st century). Some Jews believed in ghosts (Matt. 14:26; 6:49; Luke 24:39). So, there already was a category of seeing a disembodied deceased person that was distinct from a resurrection. What was unique in the Christian claim (contrary to Jewish thought) was the claim that Jesus' resurrection occurred before the general resurrection at the end of the world.

    This is also why Paul discusses the Lord's Supper and says Christians observe it in order to remember the Lord and await His [physical] return. The physicality of the elements of bread and wine are (among other things) to remind us of the physical resurrection of Christ and His current physical absence.

    For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.- 1 Cor. 11:26

    Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul AND BODY be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.- 1 Thess. 5:23

    Paul's Christianity isn't a Gnostic or Platonic religion that devalues the body and actions performed in the body. It affirms its goodness and the importance of the things done in the body.

    Paul's theology is that Christ's death not only redeemed our spirits, but our bodies as well.

    19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.- 1 Cor. 6:19-20

    I'll only mention in passing the argument others have made how Paul's theology of baptism makes most sense if he also believed both believers AND Christ's resurrection is a bodily one.

    I also recommend the debate between William Lane Craig and Richard Carrier. Craig does a good job showing why Jesus' resurrection was bodily and not spiritual.

    The debate is on YouTube HERE

    Question and Answers from the audience HERE

    Craig's Post-Debate Thoughts HERE

    BTW, Carrier admits he lost the debate on his old blog HERE

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    Replies
    1. I don't have to fully expound on this right now but to sum up, Jewish beliefs in resurrection and the afterlife were quite diverse in the Second Temple period. This was a time of Hellenization which can be seen in Paul's anthropology in 1 Cor 15. Read pages 31-35 Debates Over the Resurrection of the Dead

      Paul fused the idea of the future eschatological resurrection with Jesus' heavenly martyrological vindication/resurrection. The two concepts originally stemmed from separate traditions.

      There were 3 major differences:

      1. Jesus had been raised as an individual, whereas the eschatological resurrection was viewed as something in which a group of people would share.
      2. It was believed that Jesus had been raised immediately or soon after after his death, but the eschatological resurrection would take place at the end of time.
      3. Jesus’ resurrection was regarded as a resurrection into heaven, whereas the eschatological resurrection was believed to take place on earth.
      Resurrection and Parousia

      If you disagree with number 3 above then just show me where Paul explicitly states in his letters that Jesus was "raised" to earth. You can't just appeal to the future resurrection because that ultimately ends up being a circular argument.

      BTW, Luedemann's debate with Craig was much better and you can learn a lot more from that one.

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    2. Yes, there was diversity among 2nd temple Judaism regarding the afterlife, the intermediate state, and the resurrection. As I understand it (rightly or wrongly), some believed there was no afterlife. Some believed in an intermediate state before the final afterlife. Others denied an intermediate state but affirmed an afterlife. Others believed the all the wicked will be annihilated. Others believed all the wicked will endure eternal punishment. Others believed that only some of the wicked will be annihilated while the extremely wicked will endure everlasting punishment. Others believed at least some of the wicked will be punished for a certain period of time and then join the righteous in the afterlife. There are other permutations but there's no point in mentioning them.

      It seems to me, the important issue is whether there was a concept of resurrection, that used the word "resurrection" (and its various forms) in a way that clearly and unambiguously denied or excluded a *bodily* resurrection. I said 'that use[s] the word "resurrection" ' because while it might be true that some Jews affirmed an afterlife without a body, that's not equivalent to saying those same Jews believed in a resurrection without a body. Terms, after a while, have certain connotations. I'm assuming that by the time of the writing of the NT the word "resurrection" necessarily (or nearly so) included the idea of a corporeal body. In the pages (31-35) you recommended I read the author sorts the various Jewish writings into 3 categories. In his summary, all three seemed to involved bodies. When the author does address non-bodily "resurrection" he does so (AFAIK) from his own interpretation of the Jewish texts rather than relaying what ancient Jews actually and clearly taught about a non-bodily "resurrection"; or of how ancient Jews interpreted their Scriptures to interpret a non-bodily "resurrection."

      The author (in footnote 54) wrote:
      QUOTE Wright does not deny the diversity of Jewish ideas concerning the afterlife as such but he insists that whenever the future hope was envisioned as resurrection, it would mean a new embodied life: "There was, in any case, no indication in Judaism either before or after Paul that 'resurrection' could mean anything other than 'bodily.' " Resurrection, 314. [bold added by me AP] END QUOTE

      CONT.

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    3. Faith Slayer wrote: If you disagree with number 3 above then just show me where Paul explicitly states in his letters that Jesus was "raised" to earth.

      It seems to me that the burden of proof is on you to show that there were 2nd Temple Jews who explicitly taught/believed that the resurrection would be non-bodily. And even if you did, that wouldn't erase the evidence that the majority view among those who did believe in a resurrection (using the term resurrection) affirmed it was bodily. In which case, unless we have good exegetical reason, we should interpret Paul's use of the word "resurrection" to naturally include a body. Both in regards to his theology regarding the general eschatological resurrection AND OF CHRIST'S resurrection from the dead. To do so is not begging the question. The burden of proof is on those who would argue that (contrary to general and accepted usage) Paul taught and believed Jesus was "resurrected" in a non-bodily way. Also, arguing that Paul used visionary language doesn't prove that it was merely/only visionary. It seems to me (logically speaking) something could be both visionary and physical. For example, even assuming the Transfiguration didn't happen, the Synoptic Gospels' descriptions would imply Jesus was there bodily even though his appearance was seemingly supernatural or "visionary" or extraordinary in some sort of way.

      You can't just appeal to the future resurrection because that ultimately ends up being a circular argument.

      How did I appeal to the future resurrection? I said that Paul taught a physical eschatological resurrection (at least for the righteous in the undisputed [or less disputed] Pauline corpus). That Paul connected the resurrection bodies of the saints with the resurrection body of Jesus. Ergo, the natural (though admittedly not necessary) reading of Paul is that he believed Jesus was physically/bodily resurrected from the dead.

      20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.- Phil. 3:20-21

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    4. "The author (in footnote 54) wrote:
      QUOTE Wright does not deny the diversity of Jewish ideas concerning the afterlife as such but he insists that whenever the future hope was envisioned as resurrection, it would mean a new embodied life: "There was, in any case, no indication in Judaism either before or after Paul that 'resurrection' could mean anything other than 'bodily.' " Resurrection, 314. [bold added by me AP] END QUOTE"


      That's Wright's opinion and she disagrees with it. See
      page 26.

      It seems to me that the burden of proof is on you to show that there were 2nd Temple Jews who explicitly taught/believed that the resurrection would be non-bodily.

      I never said it was "non-bodily," I just don't think the earliest Christians envisioned that Jesus' corpse walked out of a tomb. I, along with many other scholars, think the view was that Jesus received a new body in heaven. This new "spiritual body" had nothing to do with the formal physical body back on earth.

      And even if you did, that wouldn't erase the evidence that the majority view among those who did believe in a resurrection (using the term resurrection) affirmed it was bodily...

      Paul says it's raised a "spiritual body" (soma pneumatikon) and exactly what he means by that is unclear. He does contrast it with the natural or psyche/soulish body. Josephus records that the Pharisees believed in the continuation of the soul and that they received a new body in heaven.

      “It is their belief that souls have power to survive death, and under the earth there are rewards and punishments for those who have led lives of virtue or wickedness. Some receive eternal imprisonment, while others pass easily to live again.” – Josephus on the Pharisees (Ant. XVIII, 14)

      “Do not you know that those who depart out of this life, according to the law of nature, and pay that debt which was received from God, when he that lent it us is pleased to require it back again, enjoy eternal fame? that their houses and their posterity are sure, that their souls are pure and obedient, and obtain a most holy place in heaven, from whence, in the revolution of ages, they are again sent into pure bodies – Josephus, (Jewish War 3. 374)

      “But then as to the two other orders at first mentioned, the Pharisees are those who are esteemed most skillful in the exact explication of their laws, and introduce the first sect. These ascribe all to fate [or providence], and to God, and yet allow, that to act what is right, or the contrary, is principally in the power of men, although fate does co-operate in every action. They say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies – Josephus, (Jewish War 2.162)

      How did I appeal to the future resurrection?

      You mentioned the "general resurrection at the end of the world."

      I said that Paul taught a physical eschatological resurrection (at least for the righteous in the undisputed [or less disputed] Pauline corpus). That Paul connected the resurrection bodies of the saints with the resurrection body of Jesus. Ergo, the natural (though admittedly not necessary) reading of Paul is that he believed Jesus was physically/bodily resurrected from the dead.

      And I provided a link to a scholar who convincingly argues that Paul fused the idea of the future eschatological resurrection with Jesus' heavenly martyrological vindication/resurrection. The two concepts originally stemmed from separate traditions. Paul and the earliest Christians believed that Jesus received a new "spiritual body" in heaven.

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    5. At most all you can show is that the less disputed Pauline corpus does not explicitly and unambiguously teach Jesus walked out of the tomb bodily. Nor have you shown or demonstrated that Paul (much less the rest of the Apostles) believed Jesus did not walk out of the tomb. Everything Paul wrote is consistent with Jesus walking out of the tomb (using interpretations that aren't far fetched or reduce to eisegesis rather than exegesis). Do you deny this?

      In my (admittedly) subjective opinion, using abductive reasoning (inference to the best explanation), when we consider all of the evidence, the best hypothesis that has the greatest explanatory power and explanatory scope is that the earliest disciples believed Jesus walked out of the tomb. Your view seems more speculative and ad hoc. More motivated on theological grounds so as to be able to justify the rejection Christianity. Christianity might still be true EVEN IF Jesus' didn't walk out of the tomb. But by positing a resurrection of Christ whereby he didn't walk out of the tomb, you can dismiss the Christian position as originating from merely subjective and psychological origin. Even though, the early church, the present modern church and church history in between then and now testify to miraculous signs and wonders. Such claims (assuming they're true) would count against Christianity originating by merely natural means. Rather, such miracles would better comport with the genuine supernatural nature of Christianity. Though, admittedly that in itself wouldn't prove the truth of Christianity since there are other alleged supernatural experiences in other religions (some of which Christianity acknowledges being genuinely supernatural; though from the "dark side").

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    6. Let's say for the sake of argument that all the other New Testament books outside the (usually) Undisputed Pauline books exhibit theological development that contradicts or adds to what the earliest Christians believed, why assume the bodily resurrection of Christ is one of those issues? One would think that the "hellenization" of the Christian message as it spread outside of Jerusalem and the originally Jewish disciples toward the (already Hellenized) gentile peoples and nations that it would develop towards a non-bodily resurrection of Christ rather than the reverse. Yet we find the Gospels, which were written later than the undisputed Pauline letters, to teach a bodily resurrection (including John). One would expect the opposite. That is, the Pauline letters teaching Christ's bodily resurrection and the Gospels teaching a "spiritual resurrection." Why is that? Isn't it possible that it's because both affirm Christ's bodily resurrection and that the Gospels were written based on testimony and oral history earlier than Paul's letters?

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    7. Everything Paul wrote is consistent with Jesus walking out of the tomb (using interpretations that aren't far fetched or reduce to eisegesis rather than exegesis). Do you deny this?

      First of all, there are many reasons to doubt the empty tomb.

      Second of all, the Greek word for "raised" has a wide range of meaning and need not refer to the literal "raising of a physical body."

      Thirdly, Jewish resurrection beliefs were quite diverse and Paul's "spiritual body" language isn't found in any other Jewish source (that I know of) referring to a physical resurrection. If Paul envisioned Jesus receiving a new body in heaven, as I've argued, then he would have no reason to be concerned with Jesus' earthly body.

      Fourthly, it's strange that the empty tomb gets no mention in 1 Cor 15 because from the context, it seems the Corinthians are having trouble accepting a bodily resurrection. It could have really helped his argument if he had just said something along the lines of "for the Lord was raised in his physical body and left an empty tomb behind." He doesn't mention any of the details from the empty tomb narrative found in Mark. He does not reference a Joseph of Arimathea, angel, the women - nothing. That "he was buried" means he was dead. This makes the lack of mention of the empty tomb more significant, not less.

      Despite these reasons, I suppose it's still possible that Paul thought Jesus walked out of a tomb, but Paul's silence and the arguments against the empty tomb seem more convincing.

      One would think that the "hellenization" of the Christian message as it spread outside of Jerusalem and the originally Jewish disciples toward the (already Hellenized) gentile peoples and nations that it would develop towards a non-bodily resurrection of Christ rather than the reverse. Yet we find the Gospels, which were written later than the undisputed Pauline letters, to teach a bodily resurrection (including John). One would expect the opposite. That is, the Pauline letters teaching Christ's bodily resurrection and the Gospels teaching a "spiritual resurrection." Why is that? Isn't it possible that it's because both affirm Christ's bodily resurrection and that the Gospels were written based on testimony and oral history earlier than Paul's letters?

      Um, do you know anything about gnosticism and docetism? Ever heard about the Nag Hammadi library? We know that the views of the resurrection of Jesus became quite diverse early on.

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    8. Faith Slayer wrote:

      "Fourthly, it's strange that the empty tomb gets no mention in 1 Cor 15 because from the context, it seems the Corinthians are having trouble accepting a bodily resurrection. It could have really helped his argument if he had just said something along the lines of 'for the Lord was raised in his physical body and left an empty tomb behind.' He doesn't mention any of the details from the empty tomb narrative found in Mark. He does not reference a Joseph of Arimathea, angel, the women - nothing."

      The Corinthians weren't denying Jesus' resurrection, so your argument is mistaken. Some Corinthians were doubting the resurrection of believers. Paul's response assumes their acceptance of Jesus' resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus is a teaching Paul delivered to them years earlier, as he explains at the opening of 1 Corinthians 15, and he goes on to discuss how denying the resurrection of believers would undermine that teaching Paul had delivered to them about Jesus' resurrection.

      Furthermore, even if Paul was responding, primarily or secondarily, to a denial of Jesus' resurrection, it doesn't follow that he had to cite all of his evidence in that one passage. If Paul mentions hundreds of resurrection witnesses, and the Corinthians knew some of them for years, why should we think that citing something like the empty tomb or the angels at the tomb was necessary? Paul's evidence doesn't have to be exhaustive in order to be sufficient. Should we conclude that every time you post something in an online forum, like here, you're exhaustively including all of your arguments for the position you're advocating?

      Furthermore, Paul does imply the empty tomb in 1 Corinthians 15, as Steve has explained to you.

      (continued below)

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    9. (continued from above)

      You wrote:

      "Um, do you know anything about gnosticism and docetism? Ever heard about the Nag Hammadi library? We know that the views of the resurrection of Jesus became quite diverse early on."

      And there's a diversity of political parties in the United States. That doesn't prevent us from discerning that the large majority of voters cast their vote for a Democrat or Republican.

      Similarly, the evidence suggests that groups like the Gnostics and Docetists were a small minority. See, for example, here and here, as well as footnote 77 on page 70 here. When sources like Irenaeus and Tertullian describe the core beliefs agreed upon by the orthodox majority, they include Jesus' physical resurrection. Celsus attributes to Christians in general the belief that Jesus rose from the dead in the same body that was in the tomb (in Origen, Against Celsus, 3:43, 8:49). Celsus is aware of exceptions (5:14), but he seems to think that a resurrection of the body that died is the mainstream Christian view (as opposed to a non-physical resurrection or one involving an exchange of bodies rather than a transformation of the body that died).

      Furthermore, groups like the Gnostics and Docetists have less credibility than the orthodox because of the nature of their (the heretics') claims. They appealed to a tradition allegedly handed down in a largely private manner, as opposed to the more public nature of the orthodox tradition. The heretics often criticized Jesus' disciples and other early Christian leaders, like Paul. That behavior suggests that the heretics knew that the earliest teachings of Christianity, including the teachings of Jesus' closest disciples, were contrary to what they (the heretics) were teaching. See here. When one group is earlier, much larger, appealing to evidence of a more public nature, corroborated more by opponents (like Celsus), and more historically connected to Jesus and his closest disciples, it's not difficult to discern which group has more credibility.

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    10. I don't mean to "gang up" on you. Steve, Jason and the other Triabloggers are the real apologists. I won't be offended if you don't respond to my posts.

      First of all, there are many reasons to doubt the empty tomb.

      I'll have to read carefully your 9 reasons.

      Second of all, the Greek word for "raised" has a wide range of meaning and need not refer to the literal "raising of a physical body."

      I'm willing to grant that. But is the same true for the word resurrection? I haven't seen a clear cut example of a 2nd Temple Jewish text that explicitly and *intentionally* teaches a resurrection, using the word "resurrection" apart from a body. Or even with a body but not the same body that was buried or entombed. Maybe such a passage(s) exists. But even if they did, it would seem to me that the predominant usage of "resurrect/resurrection/etc." is one that involves a body. From my limited knowledge of 2nd Temple Phariseeism, Paul would have believed the general resurrection would include instances of people walking out of tombs (i.e. that kind of a resurrection). Paul's description in 1 Cor. 15 was intentionally vague enough to encompass instances when the body no longer exists (say the molecules are destroyed or scattered by a nuclear bomb or eaten by a shark that in turn is eaten by humans). But his whole agricultural metaphor or sowing implies a raising that's analogous to reaping. Which is more consistent with the type of resurrection as conceived in traditonal Christian theology. That is, where the body (if it still exists to some degree) is changed rather than exchanged. This also makes sense of the early Christian euphemism for death as "sleep" (e.g. 1 Thess. 4:13ff.). Since, if the same body is the one that walks out of a tomb, then from all physical appearances that person went to sleep and then later woke up. I'm not denying that the Jews and other cultures elaborately wrapped their dead. The point is that the sleeping and waking figure of speech comports better with the traditional Christian understanding of resurrection. Same with Paul's description of the "rapture" of LIVING Christians in 1 Thess. 4 and 1 Cor. 15. At the "rapture" the bodies of the living saints don't just collapse because their souls leave their bodies and receive different "spiritual bodies" in their place. Rather their current physical bodies are changed or transformed (1 Cor. 15:51-52).

      Fourthly, it's strange that the empty tomb gets no mention in 1 Cor 15...

      Steve already mentioned how Paul's reference to being "buried" is in contrast to being "raised." If Paul didn't believe Jesus walked out of the tomb, then Paul would have better referred to Jesus' merely dying rather than alluding to Jesus' physical burial. I also already mentioned how Paul's use of agricultural figures of speech comport with the traditional view. Also, in 1 Cor. 15 Paul refers to Jesus being "raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures." This probably alludes to various scriptures including Hos. 6:2. But IF it includes Jonah's being swallowed by a great fish, then this too lines up with the traditional view since the same body that entered the great fish exited it.

      He doesn't mention any of the details from the empty tomb narrative found in Mark.

      Why would we expect him to since he had previously explained in detail to that congregation his version of the gospel in person (i.e. when he was among). He would only need to highlight certain aspects knowing they would fill in the rest as they read his epistle.

      CONT.

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    11. That "he was buried" means he was dead. This makes the lack of mention of the empty tomb more significant, not less.

      That's reductionistic. You're reducing the reference to his burial to merely a statement about his death. That's convenient for your theory, but physicality of the burial is meant to be a contrast to the physicality of his resurrection.

      Despite these reasons, I suppose it's still possible that Paul thought Jesus walked out of a tomb, but Paul's silence and the arguments against the empty tomb seem more convincing.

      I commend you for this honest admission.

      Um, do you know anything about gnosticism and docetism? Ever heard about the Nag Hammadi library? We know that the views of the resurrection of Jesus became quite diverse early on.

      Actually, that's what I was alluding to. I recommend you listen to the James White vs. Robert Price debate. White puts Price into a bind on this issue. My point is that your view would seem to require that early on Paul taught a spiritual resurrection. Then soon afterward the gospels were written to teach a physical resurrection. Then immediately afterward it became popular again among some professing Christians to affirm a spiritual resurrection. Why the hiccup and flip flop in popularity? On your view, it would make it difficult to understand how the Gospels could gain popularity (and enduring acceptance) since they would be in competition with Paul's view which had already spread around the Roman Empire (again assuming your dating of the Gospels and your interpretation of Paul's theology of resurrection). There wouldn't be enough time to explain the flip flop. Also, an appeal to various concurrent diversities of views among Christians at the time wouldn't (IMO) be enough to explain it. The "problem" simply disappears as a problem if Paul's theology of resurrection was consonant with that of the Gospels (viz. bodily resurrection).

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    12. For those who don't know or haven't listened to it already,

      James White vs. Robert Price debate is on YouTube:

      https://youtu.be/DmA6c0yoVrQ

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  7. Steve has replied to more of Faith Slayer's posts here.

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  8. Faith Slayer wrote:
    I see zero evidence for the view that Jesus was God in the synoptics. I don't have time to read a whole book right now but perhaps you could give a few of your best shots.

    I recommend my blogpost Markan Christology

    http://trinitynotes.blogspot.com/2014/03/markan-christology.html

    Though I'm still working on it, the blogpost is 95% finished.

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  9. "Faith Slayer"? Heh...

    I'm Ironman.

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  10. How do atheists like faith slayer who believe the early Christians didn't believe in an empty tomb explain Matthew 27:62-66? You can't simply say "yeah well that's Matthew making stuff up" because Matthew included that story as a RESPONSE to a Jewish argument against the resurrection at that time, Matthew according to critical theory is written somewhere in the 70s/ 80's and he describes the story as being circulated "till this day" which would mean that the story of the disciples stealing the body would have predated Matthew by a long time. How would that argument have made sense without an empty tomb/ spiritual resurrection? Doesn't it demonstrate firstly that 1st century Jews saw the resurrection in physical terms? And if the Jews had misunderstood the Christians wouldn't they have simply corrected them that it wasn't a physical resurrection but rather something physical? Makes no sense

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