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BTP47
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sparkyinclined
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Did Jesus Christ Rise From the Dead?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/7/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 10 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 942 times Debate No: 100659
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BTP47

Pro

Did Jesus rise from the dead? If so, it provides strong evidence for Christianity, and if not, then Christianity is certainly false. From a historical perspective, the best explanation of the facts is that Jesus rose from the dead. (This is my standard argument)

-I shall NOT be arguing my case through subjective conversion experience, but history alone.
-I shall NOT be presupposing biblical divine inspiration, or general reliability.
-I WILL be using the Gospels/Epistles of Paul as any historian would, as a collection of historical sources concerning the life of Jesus and the early church.

One may ask why I am 'using the Bible to prove the Bible'. To answer this, I assert that every New Testament critic on the planet uses the books from the New Testament, as they are the earliest sources for Jesus, and the early Christian community. Further, another important point to consider is that I am not trying to 'prove the Bible', but the historicity of an event from antiquity.

The collection of facts I am presenting are well evidenced so much so that they are agreed upon by the great majority of New Testament critics.

Fact 1-Jesus died by Roman Crucifixion.
1. This is multiply attested in all 4 Gospels.
2. It is very probably part of the pre-Markan passion source. Some scholars date this narrative to the late 30's! (Such as Rudolf Pesch)
3. His death is part of the 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 creed. This creed is almost unanimously accepted as Pre-Pauline material. This oral creed probably goes back to Paul's 'fact finding' journey in Galatians 1:18-21, where he gets material from some of the apostles directly.
4. It is reported by Jewish historian Josephus in Antiquities 18:3. Now many may object that this is a Christian forgery, and it most likely contains interpolation, but most Josephus scholars recognize most of it to be authentic, including the crucifixion portion.
5. It is recorded by Roman historian Tacitus in the Annals 15.44. It is most likely authentic as well, as there are no copies that do not contain it, it is normal Tacitean style, and is quite hostile towards Christians, so there is no reason for a Christian to interpolate this. Now one may object that he just simply borrowed this from things he had heard. This is contradicted by scholars who have shown that Tacitus was a very careful researcher. For example, Ronald Martin wrote-"It is clear, then, that Tacitus read widely and that the idea that he was an uncritical follower of a single source is quite untenable."
6. The idea that Christians would simply make up the idea of a crucified savior is simply ridiculous. For example, Martin Hengel wrote in his monograph crucifixion-"A crucified messiah...must have seemed a contradiction in terms to anyone, Jew, Greek, Roman or barbarian, asked to believe such a claim, and it will certainly have been thought offensive and foolish." This too fits the criterion of embarrassment.
For these and other reasons, virtually all scholars grant that Jesus died by crucifixion.

Fact 2-Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea.
1. It is multiply attested in all four Gospel accounts.
2. It is in the 1 Cor. 15 creed, that goes very early, most likely to within five years of the events ('and that he was buried').
3. Christians are unlikely to put this story on a famous Sanhedrin member. In the ancient world, claims were investigated. The Gospel accounts circulated widely in the area, and the entire Christian movement would have been disregarded if it was found out indeed that this famous person had not buried Jesus. Claiming to have connections where you really don't is not the way to start a religion!
4. The burial story is also most probably part of the Pre-Marcan passion story, as well as early oral traditions.
5. The story is very simple and lacks the later embellishment of legendary accretions. If you are going to create a legend, you surround the story with theological motifs, something we don't find in the burial account.
6. Jesus' burial was shameful for ancient standards. Scholar Byron Mccane has argued that Joseph had every reason to bury Jesus, as Dt. 21 says you must bury one hung on a tree by sunset, so as a Sanhedrin member, he would have carried it out. Jesus' burial by Joseph instead of a family tomb is a dishonorable and shameful. Finally, the lack of women mourners was very shameful, and wouldn't be invented by Christians.

For these reasons, and others, most scholars would grant that Jesus was buried.

Fact 3-Jesus' tomb was empty
There are MANY (I have over 2 dozen) arguments for the empty tomb, but I will just limit myself to 4.
1. The reliability of Jesus' burial scene lends credibility to the empty tomb, as then the location of the body was known.
2. Christians would never pin a false story here on women discovering the tomb, as they were not as valued. It wasn't just a peculiarity, but a stereotype that people held very strongly. David DeSilva, a cultural scholar shows that women were only to speak to their husbands, and through them. Their place in the culture was in the home, not as eyewitnesses to the greatest miracle in history! Violating this honor code was a BIG deal in an honor-shame culture.
3. It is multiply attested in the Gospel traditions.
4. This one is called the Jerusalem Factor. The principle is-how could these followers of Jesus preach his resurrection in Jerusalem if the body was still in the tomb? It would defy the sense of the time.
For these and many more reasons an impressive majority of scholars would grant the empty tomb.


Fact 4-The disciples of Jesus had experience that they believed were appearances of the risen Jesus.


1. This is recorded in 3 of the four Gospels, so it is multiply and independently attested.
2. It is reported in the 1 Cor. 15:3-8 creed. One of the leading historical Jesus scholars on the planet James DG Dunn is so impressed with this creed that he dates it to within MONTHS of the events, and it almost certainly goes back to eyewitnesses, where Paul most plausibly got the information from. This creed almost guarantees they occurred.
3. Certain appearances have good historical probability. For example, the appearance to the women is historically probable, because of the above stereotypes, with the criterion of embarrassment.
4. The early sermon summaries in Acts probably goes back to eyewitnesses.
For these and a few other reasons virtually all scholars grant that these experiences occurred.

Fact 5-Paul, an enemy of the early church was converted because of an experience he believed was of the risen Jesus.

1. We have Paul's own testimony in many places in his own letters.
2. His life was completely transformed, and he was killed for this belief, so an appearance seems to be the only thing that would change him from a confident and zealous Pharisee to a member of this extremely shameful movement.
3. We have accounts of his experience in Acts, which goes back to eyewitness testimony (Luke, the author) that Paul had this life change and claimed experience.

These and a few other evidences are why virtually all scholars grant an experience to Paul.

Fact 6-The Origin of the Christian faith/Disciples' Belief in the Resurrection Despite Every Predisposition to the Contrary. This was outlined well by William Lane Craig in a debate with Bart Ehrman.

"Think of the situation the disciples faced following Jesus" crucifixion:

1. Their leader was dead.

And Jewish Messianic expectations had no idea of a Messiah who, instead of triumphing over Israel"s enemies, would be shamefully executed by them as a criminal.

2. Jewish beliefs about the afterlife precluded anyone"s rising from the dead to glory and immortality before the general resurrection of the dead at the end of the world.

Nevertheless, the original disciples suddenly came to believe so strongly that God had raised Jesus from the dead that they were willing to die for the truth of that belief. But then the obvious question arises: What in the world caused them to believe such an un-Jewish and outlandish thing? Luke Johnson, a New Testament scholar at Emory University, muses, "Some sort of powerful, transformative experience is required to generate the sort of movement earliest Christianity was." And N. T. Wright, an eminent British scholar, concludes, "That is why, as an historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.""

I would take it even further, and say that using social sciences, Christianity had every reason NOT to succeed as a religion unless it had reliable evidence for its claims

Now, we have these six facts that are well evidenced and agreed upon by the vast majority of New Testament critics. We must ask what the best explanation of the facts is. I assert that the resurrection hypothesis is the best explanation of the facts, as it passes the classic criterion of historicity laid out by professional historians. Any alternative hypothesis must also pass these criterion that I shall now lay out.

Explanatory Scope-It explains all 5 facts easily. It accounts for the death of Jesus, his burial, why his tomb was empty, and why all of these people had experiences that believed were Jesus risen from the dead.

Explanatory Power-It explains all 5 facts without forcing them to fit. It directly explains why the tomb was empty, and why all these people had these detailed experiences that utterly transformed them.

Plausibility-Given the context of Jesus' predictions of his own death and resurrection, along with his divine signs and claims, it is thus plausible.

Less Ad Hoc-It does not include any non-evidenced assumptions, thus passing this category.

Hence, I have built a strong cumulative case that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead in vindication of his divine claims, and shameful death.

sparkyinclined

Con

Hi, I thank my opponent for creating this debate.

Some brief remarks.

If Jesus rose from the dead, that would not necessarily mean Christianity was correct, nor does it mean that you would be rewarded for believing in it.

"From a historical perspective, the best explanation of the facts is that Jesus rose from the dead"
That would imply secular historians are blind to the facts as they are not Christians yet? Anyway.

The propositions -
- no subjective conversion experience, and no presupposing biblical divine inspiration. I would expect nothing less as the bare minimum for a debate
- using the gospels as historical literature. I agree on this, though probably not in the sense you mean. There are hundreds of historical gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas, epistles from the Apostles, and end time documents. Shall we agree on usage of the Q source and gospel of Mark, excluding the final chapter which was added later? I would note the resurrection of Jesus doesn't appear there.

Constraining the gospels to the 4 traditional, begs the question why?

Your other arguments are based on this, so I'll wait until I've heard your remarks concerning the above.

To shorten this, I'll focus on the Gospels - the Pauline epistles are based on them so I think its easier to simply prove/disprove these. Like the gospels, there are many others which are claimed to be written by Paul. The NT uses a small subset of the available sources.
Debate Round No. 1
BTP47

Pro

I would really like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate, and for a thoughtful opening statement! Hopefully we can gain some ground and understanding of our opposing viewpoints. I think I have 5 main points of disagreement, or just clarification.

1. Secular historians and the resurrection of Jesus
2. Noncanonical Gospels
3. Q, Mark, and Interpolations
4. Pauline Epistles
5. Gospel Reliability (IF I have enough space to get to it)

1. Secular historians and the resurrection of Jesus

A.
First, I'd like to mention that MANY historians are indeed Christians, such as CB McCullagh, Mike Licona, John Meier, and Craig Keener.

B. Most historians directly out of the field of the historical Jesus simply haven't studied the issue as their interests lie elsewhere.

C. Many that do, including even some Christians, have said they are barred from investigating miracles as a historian. These neo-Humean views however, have been refuted by non-theistic and theistic scholars alike [1][2]
D. When I talk about scholars agreeing on things, I mean the 7 facts I presented. They don't necessarily agree with the conclusion that this means Jesus rose from the dead, but they agree on the facts such as the empty tomb, and appearances.

2. Noncanonical gospels

A. None of these books were ever considered canonical. This is because most are written centuries later, such as the Gospel of Thomas[3], and the Gospel of Judas[4], and are certainly forgeries, as Judas didn't live for centuries!
B. These works are not historical in any sense. Not only are they forgeries, but many clearly use the canonical Gospels for all of their historical information, and the rest, is.....well.... bizarre, as they are full of hilarious legendary embellishments. I recommend everyone to read them, not for historical information on Jesus, but for a good laugh.
C. Even skeptical scholars such as Bart Ehrman would say that if you want to know about the historical Jesus, the place to go is not these late heretical works, but the 4 canonical gospels[5], as they at least have some basis in eyewitness tradition, as I would argue.
D. If you can provide one noncanonical Gospel with historical value to the topic, I would gladly look at it. (Hint: I am confident there are none)

3. Q, Mark, and Interpolations

A. I absolutely grant that Mark 16:9-20 is a later addition, and is why I did not use it in my argument.
B. I am agnostic on Q. It is certainly possible that Q exists, but there are many arguments against Q put forth by scholars. I haven't made up my mind yet. However, apart from increasing intrinsic probability of the resurrection through the Son of Man sayings (Where I woud argue Jesus predicted his imminent death and vindication. We can get into that more later if you like), it isn't of much value, as it is a "sayings" source, not including things starting at the crucifixion (IF Q even existed).
C. I would certainly disagree that the resurrection of Jesus is absent in Mark, it is just that the appearances are not found in the Gospel, either because we have lost the original ending, or that Mark decided to end his Gospel in suspense. Mark 16:1-8 clearly shows Jesus is risen, especially verse 7. Not only should we use Mark, but also the other 3 Gospels as well, as they also have historical value, as they are connected to eyewitness tradition, and are of a genre communicating history.[6]

4. Pauline Epistles

A. To avoid controversy, I am ONLY using the epistles that are coined "the 7 authentic letters of Paul", as they are agreed upon by virtually every scholar on the planet to be written by Paul himself. They include Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, Philippians, Galatians and Philemon, so no worries about forgeries here.
B. You claim the epistles are based on the Gospels. This is very strange, as the Gospels were written AFTER the epistles. (Using common liberal dates that I will accept for the sake of argument. Mark at 65ish, Matthew and Luke coming at 75-85, and John around 90-95). The epistles were written in the mid first century, with 1 Corinthians coming at 54 AD. The creed I have used heavily, however (1 Cor. 15:3-8), is unanimously dated to within 5 years of the events of the crucifixion, and most would grant it goes back to eyewitnesses. The creed contains Aramaisms found in the Jerusalem church area, and the creed was most likely given to Paul by James or Peter on his fact finding journey presented in Galatians 1-2. This is relatively uncontroversial.
C. Back to the canon thing, you seem to have the common idea that the church uncritically chose which books they wanted randomly centuries later, when in reality, the canon was a critical process that had been going on for centuries, starting in the early apostolic period. It was based on authorship, use in the early church, and authority. Many books have been written on this topic.[7]

5. Gospel Reliability

First off I'd like to emphasize that I do not need to establish eyewitness testimony of the Gospels for my case to be valid, because as I explained above, my case is a bottom up one, treating the documents as any historian would, gleaning pieces of historical information using criterions of authenticity from sources not necessarily reliable. This is a standard practice of ancient history, and one I used in supporting my 7 facts. However, I DO think the Gospels are reliable, and while an enormous topic that can't be fully covered in a lifetime much less one small written debate, I will defend it a bit here. The Gospel of Matthew has traditionally been ascribed to the apostle Matthew. When asked to defend this view, here's what I will usually say... [8]
If Matthew wrote his Gospel, then we do in fact have eyewitness reports of his crucifixion, burial, and appearances, and origin of the disciple's belief in the resurrection.

Now, did Matthew the disciple write the Gospel attributed to him?

The external attestation is very strong. It is attested to by Papias, Eusebius, Irenaeus, Origen, and many others. The internal evidence is strong, and is very consistent with a tax collector who is Jewish, and knows his Old Testament well. (This is exactly who Matthew is!)

Some indicators:

-Matthew uses a lot of advanced monetary references not found in Syntopic parallels, evidence of Matthew the tax collector being the author.
-Matthew's name is Levi, indicating he came from the priestly tribe of Levi, which would indicate he would have extensive knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures, and this is what we find in Matthew: the most Messianic, Jewish Gospel.
-Matthew, as a tax collector was a hellenized Jew, meaning he was influenced by Greek style in society, fitting perfectly in with his Gospel on a cultural level.
Thus, I think we have pretty strong evidence Matthew, the disciple wrote Matthew. More arguments can be found in works by Holding[9], Engwer[10], and Keener[11].

Therefore, we can say with relative confidence that Matthew was written by an eyewitness, giving it credibility. It adds on to our case for the support of facts 1-4, and also 7.

In his rebuttal, I would kindly like to ask my opponent to reference which facts he agrees and disagrees with from my opening, and to offer an alternative explanation of the facts that fits the data, and passes the tests that are laid out for historical hypotheses (Scope, power, plausibility, and less ad hocs). Unless and until he undermines my case for the resurrection by coming up with a better explanation of the facts than the resurrection, I think we are more than justified in saying the resurrection is a high quality explanation of what happened on that first Easter morn. Thank you



[1] Earman, John. Hume's Abject Failure: The Argument against Miracles. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000.
[2] Licona, Mike. The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010.
[3] Pagels, Elaine H. The Gnostic Gospels. London: Phoenix, 2006.
[4] https://danielbwallace.com...;
[5] Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. New York: Oxford UP, 2016
[6] Burridge, Richard A. What Are the Gospels?: A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 2004
[7] A good introductory work would be Metzger, Bruce M. The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance. Oxford: Clarendon, 2009
[8] I've used this section in past debates before, and I quite like it, so I use it again!
[9] Holding, James Patrick. Trusting the New Testament: Is the Bible Reliable? Longwood, FL: Xulon, 2009
[10] http://triablogue.blogspot.com...;
[11] Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2009
sparkyinclined

Con

I thank my opponent for the opportunity to discuss this, like him I am passionate about this subject, and will seek to provide an enjoyable debate for us both.


My original rebuttal ran over 3x the acccepted word count, as such out of necessity I've had
to remove some points which I can add back in later if needed.

1.
Secular historians

I of course did not seek to imply that if one is a Christian, it immediately disqualifies one from studying this subject – rather that claiming the facts fit the resurrection is, at best a remarkable thing to claim.

2.
Non canonical gospels, as with point 2 I'll be referencing for the canonization process. I politely disagree with you on this, and will discuss below

3.
Mark and Q, more in my rebuttal, I'll be using these mostly to refer to the canonization process and of course relevance to Matthew, Luke and John.

4. We more or less agree on the timelines - my argument is not that the Pauline epistles are irrelevant, but rather that the crux of the issue is usage of historical documents to prove the supernatural. If this cannot be proven through the gospels, specifically Mark, then its improbable the Pauline epistles will either.

5.
Gospel reliability

I note you have not included Luke, John, or Mark in this discussion of who wrote what, do I take you do not disagree they were not the original authors of those respective Gospels?

I also agree with the content of your arguments on the author of Matthew, but we must part on the conclusion. Eusibius, Irenaeus, Origen, and Papias, your citations, claim Matthew wrote his gospel in Hebrew, which is not the case ( Ehrman 1999, p. 43 ), and is why scholars contend they were referring another non canon gospel. The term 'According to Matthew' only appeared in this particular document in the 2nd century ( Harrington 1991, p8, Nolland 2005, p16 ). But its not a huge issue to the debate. What matters is whether Matthew can considered an independent source outside of Mark, see below.



For the sake of the reader, I'd also like to provide some background on the current research on the life Jesus and how it is researched.

1. Jesus is considered be a real figure, based on his existence is mentioned by the roman historian Tacticus, as well as Josephus, in addition to the gospel of Mark. Its because his existence is mentioned by independent sources other than Mark that his existence is considered a fact.

2. The crucifixion of Jesus is considered a fact as its mentioned by Tacticus the roman historian in 116 CE

3. The gospels. My opponent seems to agree that Matthew, John and Luke have strong similarities to Mark ( or not? Please feel free to correct me if this is a point of contention ). We also agree that Mark is the earliest gospel, with much of the NT being written between about 50 -120 CE.

Historical usage of documents with supernatural claims

Historians have no problem in using documents with supernatural events in order to extrapolate data or to help confirm other sources. All historical documents, including the non canon gospels can be useful to historians if they provide this.

Few events within the gospels are universally accepted or considered authoritative ( Allan Powell, Jesus as a Figure in History.. p181 ). Like any other source, they need to be treated with care and skepticism.


Why use documents with supernatural events, aren't they considered unreliable?

Not at all. If we ignore documents with supernatural events, we would have to ignore any historical document that failed to pass muster, which would be most of them.

Historians don't focus on sources, but rather on individual claims within sources. If multiple independent sources make the same claim, then it be considered a fact.

Do the gospels count as independent sources?

They do not, for the simple reason that Luke, John, and Matthew seem to have copied Mark extensively. As such how can any scholar use them to support Mark?

A good test is whether it would pass modern day plagiarism tests. If I were to enter an exam on the life of Jesus, and submitted the book of Matthew for example, it would be failed for having plagiarized from Mark, where 600 of the 661 verses that appear in the original Mark are reused in some fashion ( Turner 2008, p 6-7 ).

For this reason, Matthew, Luke, and John cannot be used to support the gospel of Mark, as they do not exist independently of that work.

The consequences of ignoring the above

I believe my opponent will agree with the assertion, that if all historical documents were permitted to be used as evidence for the supernatural, chaos would ensue. Zeus would be real, Hercules would exist, Muhammed would have risen to heaven on a white horse, of course Christ would have risen from the dead.

If we treat the gospels as independent sources, even when its generally accepted they plagiarized Mark/Q and are not true originals, then in theory the non canon gospels which copied the canon should also be used as 'independent sources'.


For my rebuttal, lets visit the claimed supporting reasons.

Spread of Christianity

The claim is that its impossible that the early followers of Christianity would have laid down their lives with such vigor, if Jesus had died and had not been seen to rise from the dead.

We as a species sacrifice our lives for non rational causes daily. Watching followers of Islam in the past decade only reinforces this – humans will live and die for religion if it promises peace after death, regardless of whether it makes sense.

The fact that Christians laid down their lives for the promise of heaven, seems no different than what followers of other religions like Islam do today or have done in the past. It is not evidence of the supernatural.


The process of Biblical Canonization

The claim is that the biblican canonization process was exact and careful, proving the NT has special origins.


I'd like to return to my earlier point, noting the abundance of other gospels and scripture.

I partially agree that the 4 canon gospels are considered more reliable than many of the copies, but that's only after noting that 3 of them are likely copies themselves of Mark, and that other sources do exist that contain useful data.

Cerinthus and Thomas were written either before or just shortly after the other canon gospels. Thomas could have been written as early as 40 CE ( Valantasis, p 12 ), depending on what group of documents it is identified with. Like Mark, the resurrection doesn't transpire in its account, and
is evidence for the existence of the Q source ( Ude Schnelle, 2007 Einleitung in das Neue Testament, p 230 ). In addition as some of these books were once considered part of the official canon, its hardly prudent to disregard them ( Epiphanius's list, which if I provide here, has 'Wisdom' and 'Sirach' within the NT which was in use by early Christians ).


I also don't feel its fair to state that the Bible canon has been defined definitively between the various Christian denominations even today – the RCC uses the Apocrypha, whilst the Eastern orthodox church have their own variants of official canon. In addition, considering that there's evidence Luke, Matthew, and Mark were modified well after into the 2nd century ( my opponent agrees on Mark already ) ( on gLuke, see Perkins 2009 p250-253 ), how can this be said to be different to how other holy books have developed? It seems rather natural and human.


Lets also return to the original points of round 1 briefly.

Fact 1, Jesus died by Roman Crucifixion

This is factual, but I would note, that's not because it appears in the gospels. Rather its because the crucifixion appears in Mark, as stated our earliest source, and is then referenced by Tacitus and Joephus as you stated who serve as independent sources. This is why this and his baptism which is also mentioned by Josephus are considered facts.

Fact 2- Jesus was buried by Joseph

There are no independent sources that I'm aware of that back up this up beyond the narrative that appears in Mark, our only independent source if we accept the other gospels plagiarized him. As such its only considered plausible until confirmed.

Fact 3 – Jesus' tomb was empty

Same as Fact 2.

Fact 4 – see my argument earlier on believers doing extraordinary acts in the name of religion. I really don't feel this is something to be celebrated personally.

Fact 5 – Paul requires a separate debate in my opinion. his life and number of theories around it are well beyond the scope of this one. Again, as with my earlier points, once we start including the supernatural, we need to provide reason to treat the gospels ( or pauline epistles ) as special evidence, else any document of historical value must be given the same treatment

Fact 6 – the origin of the christian faith.

Again, the problem comes back to the usage of historical documents, and in this cases exclusively the gospels, to claim these are facts – that's simply not enough. To claim supernatural origins raises the bar far beyond what is given.


I have additional points if needed, however I'm quite out of space to continue! As such I look forward to my opponent's reply.

Debate Round No. 2
BTP47

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for that lively rebuttal! (I too will run out of characters, as there is so much to get to here)

First things first, this has turned to a debate on the reliability of the Gospels entirely. My opponent has said a few things about Paul. First he says that if Mark can't prove the resurrection, then neither can the epistles. I see no basis for this. The 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 tradition goes back to the very beginnings of the Christian movement, and provides very compelling testimony to the appearances, as well as the crucifixion & burial. Now, let's review the facts I presented in my opening:

1. Crucifixion: My opponent agrees, this is good. Most scholars would agree that this is a near indisputable fact of history.

2. Burial-I'll get to my opponent's extremely misguided and anachronistic use of the word plagiarism later, but I have a few additional points. As I explained in my opening, it IS attested in multiple sources. We have it in the 1 Cor. 15 creed. It is also sourced in the Markan passion narrative. This source is widely believed by scholars to go back to as early as the early 40s[1], one that goes back to eyewitness tradition[2]. I could also go into stylistic differences in Matthew and Luke to prove they also drew from another source independent of Mark and Q for this narrative, even if one assumes Markan priority. My opponent also has failed to address the lack of legendary embellishment, unliklihood to pin a story on a Sanhedrin member if it wasnt true, and the shameful nature of Jesus' burial[3]. All of these are also arguments in favor of the burial.

3. Empty tomb: In regards to the empty tomb, we have the sources I mentioned above, because it is rather alike, as well as John, which most scholars believe is independent of Mark. ("Careful comparison of the texts of Mark and John indicate that neither of these Gospels is dependent on the other. Yet they have a number of incidents in common: For example, . . . the burial of Jesus in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea[4]" (Jesus and the Logic of History, by Paul Barnett 1997, pp. 104-5)). The empty tomb is implied in the 1 Cor. 15:3-8 tradition. Other factors that have convinced a great majority of critics is the criterion of embarrassment, as they pin this story on women, something very unlikely if the story were completely fictional, as well as the fact that they proclaimed the empty tomb in Jerusalem. If Jesus' body were still in the tomb, the survival and growth of the Christian movement in this hostile environment would not be possible.

4. In regards to this, we see nothing to undermine this fact. He seems to think that I am saying that "Jesus' disciples died for what they believed, therefore Jesus rose from the dead". Absolutely not. NO scholar who isn'a a mythicist that I know of wouldn't grant the appearances. What I AM saying is that the disciples, notably Peter, and then the rest of the 12, had experiences in which they believed the risen Jesus appeared to them. The most martyrdom would show is that they absolutely believed this and weren't making it up. They claimed it (Gospel sources, as well as the extremely important 1 Cor. 15:3-8 creed that the vast majority of scholars would date to within 3-5 years of the events), and they believed it, as evidenced by their martyrdom (The evidence is strong in the case of Paul, James, Peter, and John), as well as the sermon summaries in Acts. Gerd Ludemann says in "What Really Happened to Jesus?" p. 81 that "we can certainly say to be historical is that there were resurrection appearances in Galilee (and in Jerusalem) soon after Jesus’s death. These appearances cannot be denied." Now, he and others would not believe this was actually Jesus appearing to them, but would find other explanations. My opponent is welcome to do this, and I will refute whatever his theory is with historical method, but he doesn't need to dispute the appearances.

5. He first says Paul is an entirely separate issue. I thoroughly disagree. This is the debate on the resurrection of Jesus, not on the historical reliability of the Gospels as a whole as my opponent has attempted to do. Paul is a verifiable eyewitness to an experience of the risen Jesus, something that the vast majority of critics would agree with[5]. He knew the other disciples, he was an ENEMY of the Christian movement before converting and passes on the vital creed I have mentioned over and over again that most probably goes back to eyewitnesses.[6] Paul is essential to any debate on Jesus' resurrection.

6. There has been nothing to dispute this. Nothing this fact has is supernatural. I don't think he would disagree with my premises regarding the origin of the Christian faith.

My explanations of my resurrection hypothesis and how it passes the historical tests such as scope, power, plausiblity, and less ad hocs was not addressed, and my 6 facts stand. I have defended my two contentions, and the overall reliability of the Gospels is secondary, as we can still use unreliable sources to gain historical truth. With my facts, I have not assumed the reliability of the Gospels, but gained pieces of historical information from them in a bottom up approach. Nevertheless, we continue to Gospel reliability and other issues.

Gospel Reliability

You ask why I have not provided evidence for the authorship of the other 3. This is purely due to space constraints, as well as the fact that the authorship of the Gospels is secondary, and I can still build the case for the resurrection and even the reliability of the Gospels without it.
In regards to Matthew, I am confused. You say you agree with my arguments for the authorship, but my arguments (especially internal content) were for THE Gospel of Matthew (not a different one). In regards to why Papias says it was written in Hebrew, is because Matthew originally wrote a Gospel in Aramaic for the earliest Christians, and fell out of favor later due to the fact that the church became increasingly more Gentile, as well as there were less Aramaic scribes, and that Greek edition that was later composed that is based off the original is the finished product we see today. The author is still more or less Matthew, so we still retain the eyewitness testimony.

Sake of the Reader: It is interesting that Bart Ehrman in "Did Jesus Exist" does not mainly go the route of Tacitus and Mark, but mostly the direction of Paul. His first instinct when challenged by a mythicist was to go to Paul, and talk about how he knew Jesus' closest disciples.

3. I agree that Matthew Mark and Luke have undeniable similarities, but John is not of the "Synoptics"

Historical Usage if Documents section: I concur. Your statement that "If multiple independent sources make the same claim, then it be considered a fact", can be added on to. I think if a single source passes other criterion of authenticity it can be considered probable as well, including embarrassing, early and eyewitness testimony.

Markan Priority/Synoptic Problem

My opponent seems to have taken off with the common view that Matthew and Luke "used" Mark, and ran with it further than most scholars would, using derogatory words like "COPY" and "Plagiarize". John doesn't fit in here, as it is MUCH different than the Synoptics. Even Bart Ehrman would agree that John is a completely separate source. This whole "redactionary" view of the Gospels is completely anachronistic, and I will explain why. The New Testament culture was a VERY oral one. That Matthew or Luke would be sitting down and copying Mark is purely anachronistic [7]. We can extend this to the post-Gutenburg usage of "plagiarism". Mark was most likely an oral document, one to be read aloud. As Graham Stanton notes, the "gospel" did not refer to written documents but the "oral proclamation of the significance of the death and the resurrection of Jesus". For more on this, pages 350-362 of The Jesus Legend by Boyd and Eddy will do. (I would like nothing more than to detail how the Gospels, especially Mark is an oral document, but I am quickly running out of space!). Back to the anachronistic nature to tackling the Synoptic Problem, Pieter Botha writes: "The issue of [written] tradition and redaction simply disappears. It is not possible to think in those terms within an oral poetic". To paraphrase Eddy and Boyd on this anachronism, what appears to be purposefully motivated borrowing in the case of Matthew and Luke, in this culture, can be explained effortlessly by an unconscious paraphrase of the known, wider tradition. The oral nature of the NT culture simply allowed for more liberties than today's era in terms of use of other sources[8].

Canon: I would like to emphasize that since we are evaluating the reliability of the documents that have something to do with the resurrection, the overall canon is truly an issue for another debate. If one wants to go deeper into the issue, I recommend Michael Kruger's books on canon as well as Metzger and Bruce.

Thomas: I would love to get into more, but this quote summarizing some of the evidence for a late dating given by C.A. Evans will have to do-"(1) the association of the Gospel of Thomas with Judas Thomas. (2) the arrangement and order of the sayings explained by hundreds of Syriac catchwords that link the sayings and (3) the coherence of the readings in Thomas which differ from the GNT Gospels with the readings in the Diatessaron or other Christian Syriac works"

I have refuted my opponent's case against the reliability of the Gospels, and also more importantly addressed all of his objections to the resurrection. My case still stands, until my opponent can give a case against the resurrection by coming up with a better historical explanation that passes the historical tests in my opening. Thank you.

My footnotes are in the comment section of this essay, due to space constraints. I see no reason to see this as unfair in the debate, as I am just citing my sources. If my opponent disagrees, I apologize

sparkyinclined

Con


With respect to my opponent, I feel my arguments will more or less stand peer review, in spite of his claims to the contrary. My sources are hardly suspect, and the arguments I've made are common arguments that I invite the reader to verify personally, including that Mark is almost certainly the basis for the other gospels ( not the only source obviously, but again, if the original gospel authors were just copying from Mark, Q, and M, with a few embellishments as John and even Luke seem to have added, its pretty clear there's no supernatural origins ).

The advantage here is that any reader can test the evidence for themselves, including my claim that the other gospels like Matthew would fail a plagiarism test on Mark, if our hypothesis that Mark is the earlist gospel is correct. Allow me to demonstrate below ( this is actually from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org... :

Matthew:

And behold,
a leper came

and worships

him, saying:
Lord, if you wish,
I can be cleansed.

And he stretched out his
hand and touched him,
saying:
I wish it; be cleansed.
And immediately
his leprosy

was cleansed.

Mark:

And, calling out to him,
there comes to him a leper

and kneeling and

saying to him:
If you wish,
I can be cleansed.
And, moved with compassion,
he stretched out his
hand and touched him
and says to him:
I wish it; be cleansed.
And immediately
the leprosy
left him,
and he was cleansed.

Luke:

And behold,
a man full of leprosy.
But, upon seeing Jesus,
he fell upon his face
and requested
him, saying:
Lord, if you wish,
I can be cleansed.

And he stretched out his
hand and touched him,
saying:
I wish it; be cleansed.
And immediately
the leprosy
left him.






To further demonstrate that this is plagiarism, please see an official sample on what that constitutes: https://www.princeton.edu...

Text example 1

Almost all of Shakespeare’s Hamlet can be understood as a play about acting and the theater. For example, there is Hamlet’s pretense of madness, the “antic disposition” that he puts on to protect himself and prevent his antagonists from plucking out the heart of his mystery. When Hamlet enters his mother’s room, he holds up, side by side, the pictures of the two kings, Old Hamlet and Claudius, and proceeds to describe for her the true nature of the choice she has made, presenting truth by means of a show. Similarly, when he leaps into the open grave at Ophelia’s funeral, ranting in high heroic terms, he is acting out for Laertes, and perhaps for himself as well, the folly of excessive, melodramatic expressions of grief.

Original source

From time to time this submerged or latent theater in Hamlet becomes almost overt. It is close to the surface in Hamlet’s pretense of madness, the “antic disposition” he puts on to protect himself and prevent his antagonists from plucking out the heart of his mystery. It is even closer to the surface when Hamlet enters his mother’s room and holds up, side by side, the pictures of the two kings, Old Hamlet and Claudius, and proceeds to describe for her the true nature of the choice she has made, presenting truth by means of a show. Similarly, when he leaps into the open grave at Ophelia’s funeral, ranting in high heroic terms, he is acting out for Laertes, and perhaps for himself as well, the folly of excessive, melodramatic expressions of grief.





Do I need say more?


I also note my opponent, perhaps non surprisingly, has withdrawn to claiming a single source is sufficient evidence to prove a historical theory. "Your statement that 'If multiple independent sources make the same claim, then it be considered a fact', can be added on to. I think if a single source passes other criterion of authenticity it can be considered probable as well, including embarrassing, early and eyewitness testimony".

If the only evidence for the existence of the supernatural is text analysis of dependent sources of one another ( which means one independent source, Mark ), then I feel we can safely say, from a historical perspective, the resurrection of Jesus has not been proven. I invite my opponent to submit other independent sources if he feels may exist. Otherwise we must conclude, the baptism and cruxificion of Christ Jesus remain the only proven facts on the life of Jesus, being based on Tactictus, and Josephus's accounts who are independent sources. Anything further remains speculation at this point.


I have a lot of space left, I will add a few additional points as such.


1. Proving the supernatural. So far I and my opponent been acting as if the supernatural is not a part of this debate - I've tried to be fair to my opponent's worldview by treating the supernatural as a serious subject which can be proven by 2 or more independent sources.

This is for the sake of the debate though, if a single ( or even multiple independent ) sources can be used to prove the existence of the supernatural, other accounts of divinities would need to be taken with seriousness as my opponent is no doubt aware.


2. My own position on this. I do not feel that its possible to prove or disprove the resurrection of Jesus, any more than we could prove or disprove the Horus wasn't a true Egyption god who rose from the dead. My position is simply that the evidence is not sufficient to move beyond the agnostic phase ( again, ignoring one's position on the supernatural ), and equally, I do not feel its prudent for historians, secular or Christian, to claim that we have unlocked the life of Jesus. I feel this is an honest position, and I feel I've well demonstrated the reasons why this is a good position too. On that, I will conclude


3. Usage of Pauline epistles


This is a difficult subject, my opponent is free to start a second debate on the usage of the Pauline epistles if he wishes.

I will raise some points on below ( very briefly ).

Paul can be used to support the narrative if one believes god blinded the Jews to the obvious. However, I think the Pauline epistles ( the ones written by Paul at least ) tend to confirm the narrative that its made up, considering the skeptisim that the Christians faced with their claims. The Jews probably didn't believe the claims going around that Jesus had healed the sick ( I do not assert Jesus made those claims himself ), or that he had risen from the dead because there was no reason to believe them.

The 'stumbling block' that Paul claims god had made for them, could just as easily have been natural, human, doubt. Considering that they were very superstitious, it should be have easier than it was to convince them that Jesus truly did rise from the dead.

Additionally, the early Christians claim in the gospels that Jesus fed 5000 people, as well as raising numerous people from the dead - how would that not have convinced them?

Finally, considering that the apostles claim they were able to heal the sick ( not unlike some christians today ), why were they not able to when the Jews asked for evidence? If a doctor has medicine to heal his/her patients, why would you lock it away claiming one needs faith, rather than just demonstrating it works?

If any doctor told me that the medicine failed because I didn't believe it would work, I would fire the doctor. You certainly don't blame your patients for your own inability to heal them.

That doesn't excuse the way the Jews treated the early Christians, its clear they saw them as heretics, and really they should have found a way to accept the fact that people were treating their traditions differently.

However I think it also demonstrates that Paul's accounts show the enormous sceptism the church faced, and quite justifiablely from their accounts.




I look forward to my opponent's reply, and thank him for this enjoyable debate.

Debate Round No. 3
BTP47

Pro

Thanks to my opponent for this debate. It's been a good one! I will review my facts, draw together some conclusions, and then respond to what my opponent said for the remainder.

In regards to the crucifixion, my opponent grants this fact.
In regards to the burial, and empty tomb, my opponent has once again resorted to the anachronistic redaction criticism. He claims I am saying I only have a single source to show my claims here. In my last rebuttal, I showed MULTIPLE sources, including 1 Cor. 15:3-8, a creed that virtually the broad scope of New Testament critics would grant goes back to the eyewitnesses in the Jerusalem church, who gave it to Paul when he visited them in his fact finding journey detailed in Galatians. It confirms the burial, and implies the empty tomb. Another source I used was the Pre-Markan passion narrative that many scholars would date to the early 40s. Other sources can include M (unique Matthean material), L (Same for Luke), and John which is distinct from the synoptics. I gave evidence based on historical criterion of authenticity, detailing the criterion of embarrassment, in regards to the women, and the shameful nature of the burial. Even IF my opponent's "plagiarism" theory is proven true, I still have sufficient evidence for these facts.

In regards to the appearances, the ancient Corinthian creed as well as the multiple Gospel sources (the unique material in each Gospel, such as the Emmaus appearance in Luke), have not even been touched. We have details such as that Jesus appeared to groups, and individuals in different settings, something that cannot be plausibly explained by a hallucination or similar phenomena, due to the situations I just mentioned. This is why virtually every critic will grant the appearances, even extremely liberal skeptical ones such as Ehrman and Ludemann. Even the mythicist Carrier grants the appearances, and he is the one credentialed historian who doesn't even believe Jesus EXISTED!

In regards to the appearance to Paul, my opponent doesn't even recognize this is the cause of his conversion to Christianity. It doesn't even need to be a supernatural one, as one could try to explain it as a hallucination, but that doesn't work when analyzed either, as Paul wasn't in the mindset to hallucinate this!

Then to the rise of the Christian movement, my opponent says more. He asked why Jesus' miracles were not more widely believed by Jews. I hate to inform you, but they WERE. No one in the decades/century that followed Christianity denied that Jesus did supernatural works, but critics like Celsus and the Talmud resorted to explaining these things by calling Jesus a sorcerer. Another thing to consider was the shameful aspects of Christianity. While today Christianity may seem like a "positive", or "mass appealing" movement, to the ancients, it was repugnant. I could give dozens of examples, but just one is that Jesus was crucified. Being crucified was the most humiliating death of the time. To the pagans, it meant Jesus was powerless, and he failed, and to the Jews, he couldn't be the Messiah because this meant he was accursed by God. It took the complete revearsal of expectations in the resurrection for even his disciples to gain hope. The only reason it succeeded at ALL can only be explained by the fact that the disciples had the evidence of eyewitness testimony, and an empty tomb to point to.

Therefore, we see that my 6 facts that I have built my case stand even stronger than they did initially. As I have shown in my opening statement, the resurrection hypothesis also has great explanatory scope, explanatory power, plausibility, and less ad hocs than rival hypotheses. My case for the resurrection stands, and my opponent has not provided adequate reason to dispute these facts, or disregard the resurrection hypothesis.

Now, turning to the other things. First I will go to Paul, and then to the Gospels. In the case of the Gospels, I will emphasize again that their general reliability is not necessary for my case, as I have already used many sources without them, as well as many sources, such as the Pre-Markan passion source, within them. This is just an "added bonus" to my already strong case. With that said, onto the more important manner in Paul.

My opponent says that Paul can be used if "God blinded the Jews". I already explained why Paul is used for these discussions. Paul was an enemy of the Christian movement who was converted when he had an experience that he claimed was an appearance of the bodily raised Jesus. He is a direct eyewitness to this, and he knew other eyewitnesses such as Peter and James. This eyewitness testimony of Paul's appearance is corroborated by the creed he passes on in 1 Cor 15:3-8, a creed that renowned historian on Jesus, James Dunn, dates to within MONTHS of the crucifixion. My opponent once again asks why the other Jews didn't believe. First, I would like to say that many did. However, the many social factors from the honor shame society impeded them from doing so. Joining Christianity was not only a potential death sentences, but it was severely dishonorable, and they would not only be ostracized by family and friends, but they would be betraying their pure Judaism. These factors are detailed in "The Impossible Faith" by Holding, as well as in social science authors. He says skepticism proves it was made up. I disagree. People are skeptical of things that happen all the time, and if my opponent is consistent, then he will agree with this.

The Supernatural-My opponent says that one historical source is not enough to establish a supernatural. To my delight, he has not coined the philosophically bankrupt "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" phrase. I would respond to my opponent's actual statement by saying it depends how good the evidence is. We have the creed, which goes back to the heart of the movement, something we don't have for any other historical "miracle" claim. We have also got Gospel sources, such as the Pre-Markan passion source, and M (Unique Matthean material), two of the many indepedent sources of Mark. We have seen a ton of sources, but my opponent has only mentioned Mark. In regards to his statement that the crucifixion and baptism are the only proven events of Jesus' life, I regret to inform him that the vast, vast majority of New Testament critics, including the ones that he has quoted, would disagree with him on this. The appearances are granted by every scholar to my knowledge, except for one, who doesn't believe Jesus existed. Ehrman has said we have 11 sources for the crucifixion, many of which are Gospel ones, so that refutes the statement that historians believe this only because of the non-Christian sources.

The Gospels: To my disappointment, my opponent has continued to argue the point on redaction criticism. He gives examples of parallels in the Gospels, and then compares that to modern day plagiarism. Once again, he does not recognize that the 1st century was an oral culture, with only a 5-10% literacy rate. Though I said this in my last rebuttal, I will repeat it. The idea that Matthew and Luke were simply looking at Mark and copying what he said like a high school student copies Wikipedia is simply anachronistic. To quote Mark Amodio,

"Our status as homo legens and our habit of imposing contemporary interpretive strategies upon the written remains of the past has led many myopically to assume that medieval habits of mind and procedure parallel our own literate ones .... We have habitually judged all texts against the standard of our tradition's idiosyncratic, literate poetics, no matter how impertinent that poetics may be to the texts at hand" (M.C. Amodio, Writing the Oral Tradition (University of Notre Dame Press)

Boyd and Eddy note a very important point in The Jesus Legend p. 401-"While contemporary scholars can easily scan back and forth over a document on a desk, meticulously inspecting how its author uses words, concepts, and traditional material, ancient authors could not. Consquently, ancient "redactors" would have relied much more on their memory to access written material rather than on an inspection of a text in front of them."

One fact to note that adds to this is that it hadn't yet occurred to ancient authors to use a table to write, so they used things such as knees or the walls to write on. It would indeed be hard to "copy" Mark like this. It can much more easily be explained by the fact that both Matthew and Mark were drawing upon the same pool of oral tradition, as well as eyewitnesses such as Peter, rather than the modern redactional theory. This has been defended in books like "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses" by Richard Bauckham, and The Historical Jesus of the Gospels by Craig Keener. I would encourage all readers to give them a look.

Another thing to consider is that oral texts such as Mark, were usually utilized for memorization tools, and included pithy sayings and narratives, MEANT to be copied for future oral use and performance. (W.H. Kelber, The Oral and the Written Gospel)

The second to last thing to consider is the fact that Matthew and John were likely written by eyewitnesses (I argued for Matthew. For John see my recommendations in the comments section), and Mark is traditionally to be known as largely the testimony of Peter. This also heavily weakens the idea that there is just plain regurgitation and embellishment of sources.

Finally, we must recognize that my opponent has not argued for Markan priority, but simply assumed Mark came first. The arguments FOR this hypothesis have been either long refuted, or are based in the anachronisms I detailed above. This paradigm is finally being challenged in academic circles.

With that, I bring my arguments to a close. Not only has my case for the resurrection stood, but also has the general reliability of the Gospels. Thanks to all who read, and I encourage all to look into this matter further with sources I or my opponent recommend.
sparkyinclined

Con

Great, I thiank my opponent for his concluding remarks. I've attempted to keep mine as neutral as possible.


The debate has consisted exclusively on proving the resurrection of Jesus using historical documents, which I have attempted to adhere to.


The arguments presented for sought to prove this supernatural event by using the following


- the four gospels


- Pauls martydom, life, and testimony


- rise of Christianity


I rebutted these by


- showing the gospels should be considered 1 source, not 4, based on their similarities failing to pass a standard plagiarism test. There's also no need to take my word for it, as I also posted the styles for any reader to examine personally. Its well accepted they are dependent sources, regardless of 'which came first', which sources were used, or whether it was oral tradition, etc, the point is they're not independent sources which is what we need to prove a historical fact


- Pauls martydom. No different to other religions even today. People are irrational human beings, they don't need a rational cause to sacrifice everything for.


- rise of Christianity. Carrot-and-stick, heaven or hell, if you doubt you will burn forever and ever, if you believe you will receive eternal life. If Christianity's rise was unique,


1. There would not be so many different versions on what books of the Bible should be used ( the Roman Catholic Church wants the Aproytha, the Orthodox Church has a totally different canon, and Protestants of course claim both are nonsense )


2. it would not be so similar to other religions such as Islam



Recap


1. The gospels, Luke, John, and Matthew were presented as evidence ( and I would add the gospel of Thomas should be on this list even if it isn't accepted by Christians - in the same the Apocrytha is so I'm hardly doing something unusual ). However I think I"ve shown they are too similar to Mark to escape the conclusion they are drawing from him, the same source, or more likely, both. If we assume Mark is the earliest gospel. as it doesn't have the resurrection of Jesus, virgin birth, or genealogy of Jesus back to David. My opponent claims verse 7 is sufficient to prove that Jesus did rise from the dead in Mark ( a man claims he believes Jesus is risen. That's up to the reader, but I think its very interesting that Jesus never appears after his death in the earliest account.


2. Even if we somehow ignore this quite interesting fact, the only other indepedent evidence we have beyond Mark, that Jesus even existed, is Josephus and Tacticus. Their accounts only mention his baptism, and crucifixion. Everything else my opponent claims, the tomb, even the disciples, everything relies on Mark being considered sufficient evidence, which, as I've several times – 1 source is considered plausible, but certainly not fact. We can consider the empty tomb plausible based on Marks account, but not verified.


3. The Corinthian creed and epistles were submitted as evidence that Paul corrobates Jesus rising from the dead. However, Paul doesn't mention the virgin birth, or other stories mentioned in Mark ( or other gospels including Thomas ), as such we're relying on Paul to confirm the resurrection of Jesus exclusively. 1 Cor is also the only evidence we have of the creed, so I would argue its merely plausible that it existed.



My opponent disagrees, that the Jews had and still doubt the resurrection and miracles of Jesus, but it is actually well documented in the New Testament 'He asked why Jesus' miracles were not more widely believed by Jews. I hate to inform you, but they WERE'.


I can back this up though in 1 Cor 1:23, 1 Peter 2:8, 1 Cor 1:18-21, John 10:24, Acts 13:46, Acts 14:2.


We also have still hasn't addressed why the apostles were not able to prove themselves, assuming the epistles are accurate, when asked by the Jews to demonstrate that they could heal the sick.


I'm not saying the church didn't grow, and didn't have converts – its a religion, like any other. If the apostles truly had been able to heal the sick like they claimed, they wouldn't have told the Jews 'they lacked faith' when asked to provide evidence. Instead, they would have been demonstrated that the supernatural was real with pleasure, like a doctor is delighted to help his patients today.


The fact that these accounts tell of the apostles basically blaming their patients for not being healed, I feel is a good indication of the merit of these arguments.


In conclusion – Paul's accounts do document the early church, but they are quite separate to the life of Jesus. They mention his resurrection, but its quite clear that Paul is saying this as a believer and theologian, rather than an eyewitness or historian. We can draw some additional interesting conclusions about the merits of the early church from this, and I think they in turn discredit the notion, that Jesus rose from the dead.


As Paul never met Jesus before this though, we cannot use his claim to make any further statement than 'Paul believes he met Jesus on the road to Damascus'.


Its clear Paul believes in the Cor creed, but as he's citing this, I don't see how this canprovide additional evidence beyond 'Paul believed it'. He might have, many others didn't from his time didn't though, as his own epistles document quite well.



In conclusion


After examining all of the evidence, the four gospels, Paul's testimony, the conclusions are fascinating.


The gospels either copied Mark or its sources, they're too similar to disregard. There are dozens of others gospels, I believe just over 40, that exist, some with similar reliability to the 4 traditional gospels ( like Thomas ), others with a lot less. Regardelss, its important to note, its important to note. The church has different official canons, depending on which version of Christianity one believes.


Moving on. Mark is our earliest source, and we believe the final verses of Mark were added at a later date, my opponent does not dispute this. As such -


the earliest account we have of Jesus, does not have the virgin birth, genealogy of Jesus, or resurrection, instead, we just have verse 7 where a single person sitting where Jesus' body was claims 'he believes Jesus is resurrected, go tell the others'. Nothing else occurs, Jesus is not seen after that


Paul's evidence is based on his personal exposure to what he believes was Jesus, noting his companions do not corroborate this separately, his account is again, a single source, which if we apply to other religions, would be sufficient tor prove their claims as well.


As we have no archaeological evidence for the existence of Jesus, we are reduced to relying on the accounts given by Mark, Josephus, and Tacticus which provides no evidence to suggest anything more beyond stating, Jesus was a real figure, baptized, and crucified. The other claims Mark notes for sure can be considered a possibility, but nothing further.


Out of respect to this debate as an exercise on purely historical documents, I have not pointed out anything beyond that scope, on the nature of these supernatural claims.


I thank my opponent for this debate, and wish him the best in his further research.

Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by BTP47 10 months ago
BTP47
Well, I'm glad we did this! I will resist responding to anything more in the closing statement, but my opponent said the secular authors mention Jesus' baptism. This is not so, and only found in the Gospels
Posted by BTP47 10 months ago
BTP47
I once again would like to thank all who participated in this debate, especially my opponent, who kept it fun, and cordial. As promised, here are some "further reading" choices of mine for those interested. One could also include any sources I used during the debate.

(All are readable yet robust in scholarship)

Resurrection: The Resurrection of the Son of God by NT Wright
The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach by Mike Licona
Defending the Resurrection by James Patrick Holding
Resurrecting Jesus by Dale Allison
The Impossible Faith essay by JP Holding - http://www.tektonics.org...
Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus by William Lane Craig
In Defense of Miracles by Habermas & Geivett
Miracles by Craig Keener

Gospel Reliability: Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham
The Jesus Legend by Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy
Remembering Jesus by James DG Dunn
The Historical Reliability of the Gospels by Craig Blomberg
Fabricating Jesus by Craig Evans
Trusting the New Testament by JP Holding
Also this on Markan Priority, and all the sources he uses-http://www.tektonics.org...

I think that's enough :P

Have a good day everyone!
Posted by BTP47 10 months ago
BTP47
Yes, sparky, I will try not to add any new arguments, but addressing the already brought up of course is encouraged :).
Posted by sparkyinclined 10 months ago
sparkyinclined
Agreed, its a been while since I debate this subject in any serious format. Thank you for creating it! For our last remarks I'll refrain from adding any new arguments if possible :)
Posted by BTP47 10 months ago
BTP47
Wow! This has been fun so far. I've been pushed to the absolute limits of the character limit :). I used every single one of the 10,000, and I imagine I had about 20,000 more thoughts than I could fit in. I'm sure my opponent shares the same burden! Here's the footnotes

[1] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, 2006, p. 243.
[2] James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, 2003, p. 765-6.
[3] B.D. Chilton and C.A. Evans, Authenticating the Activities of Jesus (NTTS, 28.2; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1998) p. 431-452.]
[4] This would also include the empty tomb tradition
[5] Ludemann (2004), p. 34-35
[6] Licona (2010) p. 223-235
[7] J. Van Seters, The Redactor in Biblical Studies: A Nineteenth Century Anachronism,R JNSL 29/1 (2003)
[8] Boyd and Eddy (2007) p. 402
Posted by BTP47 10 months ago
BTP47
(Impartial) Oh look! Below we see another fundy atheist throw out random statements not backed by scholarship. One wonders if he has ever read a serious book in New Testament scholarship!
Posted by Impartial 10 months ago
Impartial
I find your long winded and erratic regurgitation of the new testament rather uninteresting. But this delusion of yours, that the actions of the main character in your book is somehow applicable to reality, really worries me. Why is it not enough to do what most other theists do and just believe in what you've cherry picked out of the bible?
Posted by BTP47 10 months ago
BTP47
"The Bible and the gospels"

Strange way to put it.

"are quite literally Christian propaganda,"

They are quite literally of the genre of ancient bioi.

"and their reliability as a source is questionable."

They are many books, which means many sources, from many authors. Reliability varies.

"Furthermore, in those times the literacy rate was lower than it is today."

Obviously.... And?

"There is no opposition's account, no other source of 1st century AD telling about Jesus."

Nor should we expect one.

Sorry, maybe next time bring some scholarship
Posted by megatronnus 10 months ago
megatronnus
The Bible and the gospels are quite literally Christian propaganda, and their reliability as a source is questionable. Furthermore, in those times the literacy rate was lower than it is today. There is no opposition's account, no other source of 1st century AD telling about Jesus.
Posted by FollowerofChrist1955 10 months ago
FollowerofChrist1955
Those who come to this section if the debate boards are two types, those seeking TRUTH, those who DENY TRUTH.

Atheist I believe are accursed to remain CHAINED to the Religion section as punishment for their open rejection of God. I know this because, I'm not on a mechanics section, cause I don't know nor desire too know anything about it.

Not the atheist? This creature, hates God, denies God, DEMANDS PROOF Of something he clearly hates and disagrees aggressively against ...... BUT? That's right folks, just CAN'T bring himself to LEAVE the Religion section , forever FORCED to remain on the Religion section to HEAR the Word of God ....

Matthew 13:14
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving

Well, I didn't want to disappoint them do I?
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