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Con (against)
The Contender
Pro (for)

The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ Historically Occurred

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/4/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 420 times Debate No: 98685
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
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First Round is acceptance, treating first round as anything but acceptance is a forfeit

This debate is over whether Jesus, a Judean individual in the first century, rose from the dead historically as recorded in the canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

This is not a spiritual resurrection or one of a new body, but instead one in which Jesus' body which he died in physically was resurrected as depicted in Luke 24:39 and John 20:27, complete with the wounds in his hands and feet.

This is centered around historical evidence. I will not say nonsense like "people don't just rise from the dead; it's scientifically impossible" if my opponent doesn't resort to "God did it."

This is also separate from a question of God. Jesus rising from the dead may have been a miracle from God, or it may have been a physiological abnormality.

Undisputed Pauline Epistles are the only sources to be used as by the hand of Paul himself.

Round Specifications
Round 1 is for acceptance
Round 2 is for opening arguments only
Round 3 is for rebuttals
Round 4 is for counter rebuttals and conclusions only. (i.e. Counter rebuttals cannot address material brought up in Round 4, only material from 3)

Debate Specifications

1) I expect a high level of education in my opponent on this subject. This includes knowledge of:

-Disputed Pauline Epistles (Does not need to accept that they were not written by Paul)

-The Synoptic Problem and Acceptance of the Two-Source Theory OR Farrer Hypothesis (Including Q and Markian Priority). I will be operating under Two Source assumptions but will change if my opponent is more accepting of Farrer.

-Dispute over traditional authorship of the Gospels (Does not need to accept they were not written by the traditional authors)

-Textual Criticism (Needs no stance on specific texts)

2) Only undisputed Pauline epistles are to be used as written by Paul

3) Use Proper Sources - This is up to the discretion of the debaters, but they should be well-respected, peer-reviewed authors, professors, and researchers with a PhD

4) Comment in the Debate before acceptance to discuss the rules and any ambiguities. This includes affirming the rules and clarifying whether Farrer or Two-Source is to be used. Acceptance without commenting is an automatic forfeit



I accept this challenge. Good luck to my fellow debater, and let the debate begin.
Debate Round No. 1


First off, I think it's fair to say that my opponent has an uphill battle. This is quite a substantial claim. Jesus was flogged, crucified, and stabbed actually rose from the grave bodily after death? That really just doesn't happen in the world we see. Now, that's not saying it CAN'T happen, nor does it mean it should be disregarded immediately. It's a huge claim, but I can't just say "people don't rise from the grave" and call it a day.

Further, as with most spectacular historical claims, it is much more difficult to prove this event did not happen than that it did. Am I to also prove the collapse of the unicorn meat market was not the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire? I will provide evidence against the resurrection, but it will be up to my opponent to provide the evidence for the resurrection. This will be the main place of discussion.

Content to come
My arguments against the bodily resurrection of Jesus are 2-fold, and they are powerful, connected, and in-depth.

1) The Spiritual Nature of The Resurrection in Earliest Traditions

2) The "Visions of Gabriel" Stone

Spiritual Nature of the Resurrection in Earliest Christian Traditions

In passages such as Luke 24:39 and John 20:27, the resurrection is a physical event. The very scars on Jesus' hands and feet are still there. In Luke 24:39 in particular, Jesus says "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." Clearly, Jesus is not a spirit and is instead made of flesh and bone. These two traditions come around 100 CE, about 70 years after Jesus was alive. That is plenty of time for embellishments to take place.

The earliest material, which we will look at, has something very, very different to say.

The Apostle Paul Believed the Resurrection was Spiritual and Percieved through Visions
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul discusses what the resurrected body is like. He specifically says "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body." (v. 44)

He also says "I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." (v. 50) If your body isn't the new spirit body, you won't get into the Kingdom of God! A "natural" flesh and bone body is replaced by a spiritual one at the resurrection.

Now, couldn't he just be talking about other believers, not Jesus? Well, he goes even further "the last Adam became a life-giving spirit." (v. 45) Jesus himself (The "Last Adam" in Scripture) in fact himself became a spirit! This is the same Greek word πνεQ66;μα (in a different grammatical form) found in Luke 24:39! (1) So how can Jesus be a "spirit" without flesh and blood in Paul's literature, but he is definitely not a spirit and of flesh and bones in Luke?

Simple. Luke is later legend and myth, not what the earliest believers actually thought.

Further, it is very notable that the empty tomb never appears in the authentic epistles of Paul. That would be odd, as it is the lynch-pin for all 4 Gospels. Why wouldn't Paul mention it? It simply was not important to him! The Jesus resurrected was spiritual. not flesh and blood!

So, how then did Jesus "appear" to the apostles as also in 1 Corinthians 15? The Greek word used here is P01;ρ^0;ω. It indicates a spiritual, visionary experience. (2) NOT a flesh and blood man being seen by your eyes alone, which would be the Greek word βλ^1;πω. (3) After all, when Jesus "appeared" to Paul in Acts, was it not a visionary experience, not one in which the physical fleshly Jesus was seen.

Putting this all together, Paul believed Jesus was spiritually risen (not in human flesh), appeared in visions to the disciples, and did not seem to know anything about the empty tomb. Are visionary experiences in one's mind the same as someone bodily rising from the dead? No. No it is not. It is more likely a mass religious hallucination, an event which occurs in many different religions.

Q and the Lack of the Resurrection
This one is going to be a little shorter, less to say on the matter. Q was the earliest Gospel written, around the same time or before 1 Corinthians was written, (4) and it comprises material copied, often verbatim, by Matthew and Luke. Q is a well-documented fact that my opponent has widely chosen to accept.

Q is often mischaracterized as a "sayings Gospel." But that's not the case. It has a narrative, starting at baptism, leading through events and sermons, and ending with an apocalyptic pronouncement of judgment. (5) Oddly, the resurrection is never mentioned at all! Now, the crucifixion is alluded to, but not described either. Why? Q focuses on the sayings of Jesus, but there's one place where it implies Jesus was simply "taken." The resurrection, to the Q community, was not important. Moreover, it was a resurrection of assumption, as all spirits do after they die. (6)

The Gospel of Thomas and the Lack of the Resurrection

We have texts outside of proto-Orthodox Christianity which are called "Gnostic" texts. The most famous of these is the "Gospel of Thomas." The Gospel of Thomas is also the oldest Gnostic text, reaching back as far as 70 CE in its final form and as old as Q (40-60 CE) in its sources. (7) It is a true "sayings" Gospel, starting off its passages with "Jesus spoke" more often than not, and it has no narrative. In this early Gospel, like Q, there is no explicit mention of the resurrection.

Putting this together, the lack of resurrection material makes sense. Jesus' death was an embarrassing event they were unsure of how to deal with. The Q and Thomas communities sought mostly to just ignore it and focus on the teachings of Jesus passed down to them. Why no visions? They were separated from the Jerusalem church and its visions geographically. (8) They did not inherit those teachings. They, instead, had their own Christianity based on the teachings of Jesus. You'd think if Jesus was actually out and about, this is something they would talk about. But no. They do not. This backs up the "visions" view of the resurrection.

The "Visions of Gabriel" Stone

(I want to make it perfectly clear I don't make connections between "dying and rising Gods" in Greco-Roman society like Carrier, Price, and their lot claim. That I want to be clear before I start.)

The Revelation of Gabriel is a rare ink-on-stone record relates a prophecy that may be of great impact to the debate of Christianity. It was written in the 1st century BCE and describes an apocalyptic event at the end of days. This has similarities with Christianity, but the biggest is later on in the stone.

Lines 80-81 describe something especially interesting

"In the third day, I command you to live, Prince of Princes!"

A messianic figure called the "Prince of Princes" who was said to be raised on the third day? This is a post-event prophecy. These things had already symbolically occurred. The followers of this figure wrote this out as a "prophecy" of the events. The followers of this man believed he was to usher in God and was raised from the dead. However, this resurrection event too came from visions. This shows precedence for an apocalyptic preacher like Jesus being said to have been risen on the third day, specifically in a vision. (9)

Josephus and Acts 5:36-37 relate many other Messianic claimants who met with death. Is this one of them? Or another? And is this the only other one before Jesus said to be raised to life on the third day? These questions will be very important as the sands of Israel reveal more of their secrets.


What do we learn here then?

1) The earliest traditions of the resurrection with Paul show visionary experiences and a spiritual resurrection, even to the extent that the empty tomb is not mentioned.

2) Other early materials like Thomas and Q do not mention the resurrection at all, or speak of it in a natural sense of ascending to heaven as a spirit

3) If Jesus was up and around, we would expect Thomas and Q to record this material. They do not. This shows their separation from the vision centered Jerusalem church.

4) Other texts pre-dating Jesus show a messianic figure being raised on the third day in a vision

I hope this gives a good overview of what the earliest Christians believed about the resurrection. It was the later Gospel traditions and Epistle traditions that changed Jesus to being physically and bodily. Early material showed no resurrection or a spiritual one experienced in visions.

I await my opponent's response.


4) Marcus Borg, "The Lost Gospel Q: The Original Sayings of Jesus," pg. 13
5) John S. Kloppenberg, "Q: The Earliest Gospel," pg. 123-144
6) Ibid., 80-84
7) Marvin Meyer (ed), "The Nag Hammadi Scriptures," pg. 136-137 --- Robert J Miller (ed), "The Complete Gospels," pg. 280-281
8)"Q: The Earliest Gospel," 65-69
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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by FollowerofChrist1955 1 year ago
True believers never " used to be" Matthew 13 was quite specific. You no doubt are many things but you were never a believer of any kind. The parable of the seeds makes it quite clear when read by even the most incompetent of people. WERE you the " Good soil" you would STILL be in Christ service. You were clearly the seed that fell in the thorns.
Posted by divergent_ambon 1 year ago
Chill, works with me. No problems here then as long as there's no rules that are issues for you
Posted by marquettelddebate 1 year ago
And I will use Two-Source theory.
Posted by marquettelddebate 1 year ago
I'm sorry, opponent. I am going to be defending the position that the bodily resurrection of Christ Jesus Occurred.
Posted by divergent_ambon 1 year ago
How reformed of you. It nicely insulates your beliefs from any criticism or discussion when only the "in" crowd can understand it. And what then about me? I used to be a fundamentalist like yourself until I continued to read the Scriptures and found myself to be wrong. Did the holy spirit just mess that one up for me?

Further, do you have any Scripture to back up this insulation from criticism?
Posted by FollowerofChrist1955 1 year ago
The problem is quite simple when viewed from a completely sold out to Christ soul with only the biblical narratives. Man cannot form a correct postulation based on Human process or processes of mans failed and fallen intellect. One simply cannot derive to ANY conclusions of a text which at onset made plain its requirement of spiritual discernment. It is just as impossible to achieve as asking a toddler to decipher the complexities of quantum physics WITHOUT the instructor. In this case that would be the Holy Spirit.

Indeed scripture made plain man is not to interpret scripture, only scripture can interpret scripture with the leading of the Holy Spirit. Sadly just as fire burns whether a person believes it or not .... so too is the soul devoid of Christ destined to eternal separation from God and appointed to eternal suffering. It is for this cause believers must not hate the sinners, for what greater punishment exist than eternal separation from God.
Posted by divergent_ambon 1 year ago
My opponent broke the rules which I specific quite well by accepting this debate before commenting here.

I am giving him 24-hours from his acceptance to fix this, if he is able, by agreeing to the conditions and specifying his view on the Synoptic Problem.
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