Thursday, April 12, 2007

Minimal Facts Approach - Testing Hypotheses

This post is a continuation of a series of posts by Mary Jo on the Minimal Facts Approach.

Various Hypotheses Concerning the Resurrection

After establishing the four minimal facts surrounding the event of resurrection, I will now put to the test a few of the numerous hypotheses given as an explanation for these facts. The answer at the end of each fact demonstrates whether or not the theory in question can account for that particular fact.*

Swoon TheoryJesus did not die on the cross; he fainted or swooned, and was eventually revived

Fact 1: Jesus died by Roman Crucifixion – NO
Fact 2: Jesus appeared to the disciples – NO
Fact 3: Jesus appeared to foes – NO
Fact 4: Jesus’ tomb was empty – NO

X This hypothesis does not account for all of the facts.

Hallucination TheoryThe disciples had grief-induced or other type hallucinations, which explain the appearances of Jesus.

Fact 1: Jesus died by Roman Crucifixion – YES
Fact 2: Jesus appeared to the disciples – NO
Fact 3: Jesus appeared to foes – NO
Fact 4: Jesus’ tomb was empty – YES/STRAIN

X This hypothesis does not account for all of the facts.

Legend TheoryJesus was most likely a man who led a small religious cult in first century Palestine, but legend about him developed over the years after his death in an effort to convert people to Christianity.

Fact 1: Jesus died by Roman Crucifixion – NO/STRAIN
Fact 2: Jesus appeared to the disciples – NO
Fact 3: Jesus appeared to foes – NO
Fact 4: Jesus’ tomb was empty – NO

X This hypothesis does not account for all of the facts.

Myth TheoryThe story of Jesus Christ is a myth that developed much like the myths of other ancient near east religions.

Fact 1: Jesus died by Roman Crucifixion – NO
Fact 2: Jesus appeared to the disciples – NO
Fact 3: Jesus appeared to foes – NO
Fact 4: Jesus’ tomb was empty – NO

X This hypothesis does not account for all of the facts.

Jesus was resurrected – Jesus died by Roman crucifixion, was buried, and subsequently appeared to his disciples and others in bodily form.

Fact 1: Jesus died by Roman Crucifixion – YES
Fact 2: Jesus appeared to the disciples – YES
Fact 3: Jesus appeared to foes – YES
Fact 4: Jesus’ tomb was empty – YES

This hypothesis accounts for all of the facts.

The inference suggested by historically exploring the evidence around the events of Jesus’ life is that a resurrected Jesus is the best explanation for the historical facts. What are the implications of a resurrected Jesus?

Mary Jo

Main Sources:

Habermas, Gary. Mike Licona. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Grand Rapids, Kregel: 2004.

*Licona, Mike. Resurrection of Jesus. Lecture. McLean Bible Church Apologetics Conference, “Loving God With All Your Mind.” November, 2006. Format for checking hypotheses from Licona’s lecture.

For further reading:

Explaining Away Jesus' Resurrection: The Recent Revival of Hallucination Theories - Gary Habermas

The Late Twentieth-Century Resurgence of Naturalistic Responses to Jesus' Resurrection - Gary Habermas

Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ - William Lane Craig

Did Jesus Really Exist? - Paul L. Maier
© Mary Jo Sharp 2007


matt said...

what? this makes no sense. Well, I can see how it makes sense to someone who believes in the bible as 100% fact, in spite of contradictions etc etc (to spare the arguments I"m sure you've heard before). The myth theory actually works pretty well - a god in human form dies for the sake of humanity and/or its adherents and is resurrected. But yes, as it is written in the bible, the myth theory fails.
You're also forgetting the Islam theory: Jesus was a lesser profit, had a twin or stunt double take the hit because jesus needed a few extra days to stick around, and then went away. I don't remember the exact specifics, but as I recall that's pretty close.

Two Chix Apologetics said...

Hello, Matt!

As I was building the Minimal Facts Approach over the other four posts, I was only using the material from the Bible (such as 1 Corinthians 15) that those who study the New Testament, whether they be atheist, conservative, or liberal agree on as historically probable. The Bible being 100% fact has nothing to do with this argument.

If you would like me to go into contradictions, we can, but it sounds like maybe not. We're good either way.

The myth theory fails because it does not reasonably satisfy the four facts. It sounds like maybe you may have heard other resurrection myths from the ancient near east, and the only written account of those to predate the Christian resurrection story is the story of Osiris from Eyptian culture. Osiris was unwillingly killed and cut into 14 pieces, 13 of which were recovered and he was reassembled and assigned to god of the underworld. This is quite a different story.

The man Jesus claimed to be God (the monotheistic God of Israel) and was subsequently crucified, buried, and seen alive in bodily form.

The myth theory fails, because it cannot account for the four facts. It cannot even satisfy that Jesus was crucified, which was recorded in sources outside of Christianity. His crucifixion is one of the well-attested events in ancient history. (Minimal Facts post on Fact #1)

Thanks for posting!


Steven Carr said...

The minimal facts are that early converts to Jesus-worship scoffed at the idea of God raising corpses, and Paul tells them that Jesus became a spirit, implying that all Christians will be resurrected in the same manner, and become spirits.

I am currently having two debates on the resurrection at and"

Anybody can register and try to help these Christians out.

Two Chix Apologetics said...


If you would like to discuss Paul's use of pneumatikos, "spiritual," and soma, "body," in 1 Corinthians 15 as it relates to the resurrected body, we can do that here. We can also discuss early Christianity's view of bodily resurrection in the writings of the early church fathers; the ones who immediately followed the apostles, having been under their teaching.


Duke of Earl said...

As usual Steve Carr pulls facts out of his backside.

Jewish believers expected an end of days bodily resurrection of the dead. Martha said as much to Jesus.

A resurrection without a body would have meant nothing at all to a Jew because from the beginning a living man was a body with breath in it; that from Genesis.

Paul assured believers that they too would be resurrected as Jesus had been; that Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection.

Further reading... well N. T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God is pretty good.

Steven Carr said...

It would be better to discuss Paul's use of calling Jesus a 'pneuma' (spirit), and his calling people idiots for thinking that resurrection involves a body returning on the forum where you would have a lot of sceptics reading your apologetics.

No offence, but blogs do sometimes disappear, and the forum is more permanent.

Steven Carr said...

Jewish believers expected an end of days bodily resurrection of the dead.

Many Christians were not Jews.

Paul described his former Jewish beliefs as 'garbage' (which means he rejected some of them)

And many Jews taught that you would pass over into new bodies, which is what Paul taught.

that it will besaved? Does he say that corpses will rise?

When Paul said in Romans 6:6 'For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin' , Paul meant that our physical body would be done away with, because it was a body of sin.

I wonder why he said 'done away with' and not 'saved'.

Of course, the answer is easy. Paul never preached that corpses rise from the grave.

When Pail said in 2 Cor. 5 'We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.' , he meant that you will be away from the physical body that you have now, not that you return at the resurrection to the physical body that was buried.

When Paul said in 2 Cor. 5 'For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.', he meant the things done during the time you were in the physical body that was buried, and obviously at judgement, you will no longer be in the physical body that was buried.

Paul is pretty clear. The physical body that was buried will be destroyed, done away with, we will be away from it, and we will have to account for what we did during the time that we were in it.

Anonymous said...


Mary Jo is at a workshop until Thursday, May 3rd. She is not able to receive email or check her blog. I'll let her know of your posts and I'm sure she'll be happy to respond when she returns.

Psalm 150,

Roger Sharp

Steven Carr said...

There is a section on the Richard Dawkins website for responding to my debate on the resurrection.

Debate thread

I wonder how confident people are of defending the resurrection against sceptics.

I do wonder why it never occurred to Paul to use any of Habermas's arguments when Paul was defending the resurrection against early Christian converts who scoffed at the idea of God choosing to raise a corpse.

Perhaps Paul was not as clever as Habermas, or perhaps Paul just didn't know Habermas's facts about an empty tomb etc.

Or perhaps Paul taught that the resurrected Jesus had become a spirit, leaving his 'body of death' behind.

Anonymous said...

(Taken entirely from a post on facebook from a student at Cambridge):

Just to take one example of a gleaming error in the website (Confident Christianity). It claims the swoon theory does not take into account the empty tomb when it most definitely does. Likewise it says it does not take into account his reappearances whereas it does (because he did not die, he was alive and appeared to certain persons or people). Regarding Roman crucifixions and their effecient executing methods, there are known records of where crucified victims have survived in 1st century Palestine. Add to this the fact Jesus was on the corss/pole/tree for only a little more than a few hours, the swoon theory is probably the historian's best bet.

Also Basilides who claimed to follow St Peter and formed the early Gnostic sect "Basiledians" said it was Simon of Cyrene who was put on the cross not Jesus himself ( Likewise the Gnostic Apocolypse of Peter (early manuscript available from the 2nd century - Nag Hammadi texts) claimed Jesus stood laughing as the one on the cross suffered - i.e. he was saved as prophesised in Hebrews 5:7 ( Therefore it could have simply been that Jesus had lived - he was not put on the cross and consequently did not die; this would explain the reappearnces. Another alternative hypothesis to the resurrection theory.

The resurrection appearances of Jesus from the gospel accounts are vey confusing and contradictory, therefore unreliable. See: Also follow links from:

Recall that the resurrection is the most important belief in Christianity, without which your teaching will be vain as Paul himself said, such a belief requires credibility - credibility to fit the strength of the belief. Since so many alternatives are hypothesised/theorised and certainly possible, is it wise to base your life on the flimsy unsubstantiated wishful idea that Jesus was resurrected?

Finally, I would like to ask again how Christians explain the clear irrefutable evidence of pagan ideas being borrowed and introduced in Christianity. I think this is important to acknowledge as it shows the whole Christian scheme of sin, atonement, saviour, Jesus is but a "mythification" of a real Jesus who came for a very different purpose.

Anonymous said...

As a disclaimer: the previous post by the student from Cambridge was posted by his permission.

Two Chix Apologetics said...


I understand about the stability of the debate forum. I cannot guarantee steady participation, due to priorities of family, church, school, and work. But I will certainly visit the site and check out what you have already debated.

The main issue you bring up appears to be Paul’s teaching on the resurrection. So far I have seen an argument in your comments stating that Paul believed Jesus was spiritually resurrected from the dead. What I am wondering is if you then take that argument to show that Paul was not credible or that his belief in the resurrection was not credible? Perhaps that is in your debate on Dawkins’ site.

Paul uses the term “soma pneumatikos” in 1 Corinthians 15 to describe the new body, which is “spiritual body.” In the English, this could sound like a ghost or spirit or free-floating vaporous entity of sorts, but in the Greek definition there are two parts:

1) pneumatikos – referent to soul, rational soul, spirit, God

2) soma – always referent to a physical body

What does Paul mean when he combines the two? Why not use just pneumatikos? Or perhaps Paul could use a different term for body, which could mean vapor or spirit to clarify the “spiritness” of the new body.

The Romans 6 passage is dealing with the believer and sin; not with a believer and resurrection. This can be shown by reading the beginning of Romans 6 – “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Paul continues to talk about sin right up to verse 6 and thereafter (even when Paul mentions Christ’s death and resurrection, these are not the subject; sin is). Why all this talk about sin, if Paul really is talking about resurrection? Also, the phrase “done away with” has been translated, “be rendered powerless,” as well.

If Paul is discussing that we will be freed from the physical body in 2 Corinthians 5, then he has written quite a scatter-brained passage, in which he all of a sudden throws in statements like “If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you,” and “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come,” and “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” What new has come? Isn’t his audience still wrapped in the flesh? Why did Christ have to die in the flesh, if we are all going to be resurrected in spirit? He accomplished nothing. Paul must be out of his mind. Or is he developing a theme?

Paul went to meet with James and Peter twice in his ministry to discuss their teachings on Jesus (Acts 15, Gal. 2). The agreement between these three leaders should be looked at, as well, when discussing Paul’s view of resurrection.

Thank you,

Steven Carr said...

Paul said Jesus became a spirit - pneuma.

'Why did Christ have to die in the flesh, if we are all going to be resurrected in spirit?'

You mean Paul's beliefs were nonsensical?

They could well be so. After all, why did God create Adam when he knew Adam would sin? Why did God flood the world , when that did not get rid of sin? That accomplished nothing.

There are lots of contradictions in the Bible.

Paul is pretty clear.

'The first man Adam became a created being, the last Adam became a life-giving spirit'

The typology is pretty clear. The Jesus-worshippers in Corinth Christianity who scoffed at the idea of God choosing to raise a corpse) , they had shared in the nature of the first Adam, and would share in the nature of the second Adam and become life-giving spirits.

Of course, we have not one word by Peter or James proclaiming a corpse of flesh and bone has risen.

If it comes to that, the author of 1 Peter 1:24 says 'All flesh is grass'.

Perhaps he was not teaching that flesh would be saved.

I like your idea that Paul taught that the corpse of Jesus was 'rendered powerless' at the resurrection.

I still prefer the translation which says that our present bodies will be 'destroyed', but 'rendered powerless' is not very helpul for you, is it?

Perhaps this is why Paul pleads in Romans 7 'Who will rescue me from this body of death?'

Paul knew what happened to corpses and he wanted OUT

Landon said...

I'm curious now about the minimal facts approach in regards to the swoon theory. Although I don't necessarily buy into it (the swoon theory), it seems that Mary Jo's (?) statement about it might be entirely incorrect. I think one reader in this topic thread has already posted the problem, but I'll repeat it here.

It is ridiculous of Mary Jo to have these four facts that need to be accounted for in her approach. Fact number one states that whatever theory we accept, it must show that Jesus died from the crucifixion. Why? The contention made with the swoon theory is that Jesus did in fact survive the crucifixion, so why would that be a necessary criterion for this particular theory? If Mary Jo is actually trying to argue what it seems like she's trying to argue, then here's the essential conversation taking place:

Swoon Theorist: "Jesus did not die on the cross."
Mary Jo: "Let's check that theory with the known facts and see if it satisfies these facts. Fact number one, Jesus died on the cross. Oops... looks like your theory already fails."

Can you see how this is question begging? The swoon theory is challenging the truth of the first criterion, so that criterion cannot be used to check the truth/falsity of the theory. I sincerely hope she amends her argument, because right now that seems to make it look pretty silly.

Then, with the swoon theory (that is, if Jesus did not actually die), we can eliminate the first criterion and see if it meets the other three. If he didn't die, why couldn't he have appeared to people? In fact, he almost surely would have appeared to people. And if he was placed in a tomb and was revived, then there would have been an empty tomb. Moreover, if people simply *thought* he was put in a tomb, but instead he was revived earlier, then there would still be an empty tomb. Now, I don't subscribe to the swoon theory, but it doesn't seem as if Mary Jo is giving a fair analysis of the evidence here.

Upon further reading, I can see that Mary Jo is pulling the same nonsense trick in regards to the hallucination theory. This theory states: "The disciples had grief-induced or other type hallucinations, which explain the appearances of Jesus." That is, the disciples actually *did* have appearances of some sort that they attributed to Jesus. Why, then, does Mary Jo tell us that this doesn't account for the criterion that Jesus appeared to the disciples? I'm guessing it's because she's not thinking it through entirely. Let me explain.

I'm betting that Mary Jo is having, as a criterion, the need for a *real* resurrected Jesus appearing to the disciples. That is, she is taking her own interpretation of the gospels (that Jesus bodily rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples) and she is making that a criterion that any theory must account for. However, the criterion can't be that Jesus literally rose from the dead and appeared in body to the disciples, because that's entirely question begging. The criterion, instead, only necessitates that the disciples had an appearance of some sort--and a hallucination is an appearance.

While I'm exposing how question begging Mary Jo's entire article is, why not take a look at the "four facts" that need to be accounted for and you'll see exactly why she is begging the question at every turn:

1) Jesus died by the crucifixion
2) Jesus appeared to the disciples
3) Jesus appeared to foes
4) Jesus' tomb was empty

These "facts" necessitate that Jesus actually died (which begs the question in regards to the swoon theory), that Jesus appeared to the disciples in bodily form after his death (according to Mary Jo's warped interpretation of the actual criterion, which is that the disciples had appearances of some sort), that Jesus appeared to other people, and that his tomb was empty. What does this mean for Mary Jo's theory? It means that any theory which does not account for Jesus actually dying and coming back to life isn't adequate--but that begs the question entirely because this is precisely the sort of unlikely story that Mary Jo needs to prove in the first place.

The Legend Theory does not necessarily mean that Jesus did not die on the cross or appear to people afterwards in some form (hallucination or not). Yet Mary Jo has simply stated that it doesn't fit her criteria (nothing will, of course, except a divine Jesus Christ who actually was resurrected--but what do you expect from an apologist?).

In regards to the Myth theory, I suggest you look into the work of Earl Doherty. As I understand it, he has written two great books which argue for a mythical Jesus. His main book, "The Jesus Puzzle," has even convinced Richard Carrier (a longtime skeptic when it comes to Jesus myth theories). I plan to read it sometime this year. His other book is called "Challenging the Verdict" which is a cross-examination of Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ." I have both of these and plan to read them this summer (Strobel's and Doherty's). If you're interested in getting two sides of the story (not just the unlikely one), then I suggest you look into this author.

As far as a mythical Jesus goes, the criteria that Mary Jo has given it would need to be re-examined anyway if Jesus was a myth. I'm pretty sure "The Jesus Puzzle" is known to account for most (if not all) of the major criteria.

At the end of her article, Mary Jo writes: "a resurrected Jesus is the best explanation for the historical facts." Yes, only if the historical facts you're using for your criteria are question-begging.

Steven Carr said...

And Mary Jo has to account for people converting to Christianity and still scoffing at the idea that God would choose to raise a corpse.

That at least is an undoubted fact.

Even Habermas has to concede that one quarter of New Testment scholars do not accept that there was an empty tomb.

How then can it be an undisputed fact?

If , by some strange chance, fully one quarter of professional biologists claimed Darwin's theory of natural selection was not true, would we point to the other three quarters and claim that the theory was undisputed?

kai said...

I'm curious; What evidence is there for Jesus surviving a routine crucifixion?

Are we to believe the Romans forgot how to administer their masterpiece of a death sentence that day?

Come on; I've heard some great conspiracy theories, but to suppose that Jesus didn't die when even his enemies (Josepheus) recorded that he did is simply silly.

Then again, I'd love to hear any credible evidence (as opposed to groundless theories) you may have on the subject.

Otherwise, why don't we come up with something a little more creative involving bigfoot, elvis, and a jelly doughnut?

Anonymous said...

...and, if the Roman physicians determined that, in fact, Jesus was dead, and somehow he 'swooned,' then those very physicians would take on Jesus' death sentence. Pretty good motivation going on.

jphold said...

Dear Stevie Weevie,

So what's the deal now? You've been humiliated on this subject on TWeb time and time again, and now you want to pose your idiocies on individual blogs in the hopes that you can get away with it with someone who hasn't seen it yet? :D

Mary Jo has already beaten you, though, so you've already lost. I already told her how you were so dumb you didn't think ancient people knew how to build a dam, so believe this, she's laughing at you as she types. :D Maybe I'll tell her about the "sun dog" fiasco next.

It's not for no reason you've earned the name Sir Stevie Stoopid a Lot:

As for you, landon, I've emasculated Earl Doherty and hung him out to dry for years now.

Steven Carr said...

Holding resorts to insults and not arguments....

What a surprise!

Please feel free to report how people of 2,000 years genuinely believed there were two suns because of an optical illusion.

Perhaps it will reassure Mary Jo that people 2,000 years ago were very gullible.

When Paul asked 'Who will rescue me from this body of death?', he genuinely believed that he would be rescued from his body.

Steven Carr said...

Fascinating that Holding thinks I was 'humiliated' on Tweb, but cannot give a link to let people see what happened.

I think Holding ended up claiming Jesus was wearing one body on top of another, like a set of Russian dolls....

Steven Carr said...

And Holding still lives in a fantasy-world where people of 2,500 years ago had enough engineering knowledge to build a dam across the Euphrates and the Tigris, the two biggest rivers of Southwest Asia.....

Steven Carr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It would be good for you to go back and review all of MJ's posts on the 'Minimal Facts' approach. She didn't just arbitrarily call these 'facts'; in her previous blog entries she provides ample historical accounts, both biblical and extrabiblical, to sufficiently support each of these criteria.

Landon said...

Thank you for the advice, anonymous. I believe you completely--I'm sure Mary Jo has posted evidence for every single one of the facts. In fact, I've briefly reviewed the information already. Thanks for your concern.

The problem, however, is that it doesn't do her argument any good. If Mary Jo wants to argue that it is a fact that Jesus died on the cross, she can do so with actual evidence. But she cannot defeat the swoon theory by submitting it to a test like this when one of the criteria begs the question--because fact #1 is precisely what the swoon theory is challenging in the first place.

Likewise, she cannot take facts #2-3 (that there were appearances after his death) and only count actual bodily appearances of a dead person--because that begs the question as well. Ask yourself, why do we even need to use the minimal facts approach if Mary Jo is only going to consider theories that account for Jesus dying (which is disputed), Jesus appearing in good health a few days later (in his body!), and Jesus' tomb being empty? She can argue for these criteria with actual evidence, but then submitting it to the minimal facts approach is silly because all it does is begs the question and doesn't prove anything.

jphold said...

Yeah, Stevie, it takes a LOT of "engineering" knowledge to dam a river don't it....what college did your pet beaver get his doctorate from? :D Or where did the Persians get theirs when they blocked the river into Babylon?

Takes even more knowledge to toss some manure or dead horses in that same river and make it unfit to drink. Or maybe that WOULD be too much for you, anyway... :D But I thought that you were well-trained in throwing manure (your arguments) already....?

For example: Paul asked to be rescued from his "body *of death*" -- not "his body, period." Resurrection would be considered a rescue from a body of DEATH.

To see Stevie gyrate some more, go to and look for the thread titled "N.T. Wright explains why there are 2 bodies" where I and some other folks kick him to sleep on this subject. You won't find the "Russian dolls" bit, but that's Stevie for you -- he remembers winning every debate, even the ones where he was stomped like a partridge under a tractor-trailer.

Stevie also insisted that anyone who saw three suns in the "sun dog" phenomenon was "self-deceiving", even after being given multiple testimonies by people who described the phenomenon in that exact manner.

Poor must hurt to lose all the time like this. :D

jphold said...


In case you didn't notice, I stuffed Doherty and put him on my mantle years ago. :D

Steven Carr said...

I have a debate on the resurrection at


After 10 posts here is the best Bible Defender can do to prove the Gospels right when they say that the body which went into the ground came out of the ground and lived forever (and prove Paul wrong when he said 'You do not plant the body that will be...'.)

Here is what BD says
' Here, Paul describes the earthly body as a "tent" (i.e., temporary living structure) and the new body as something that is a "building" built by God, something that one is "clothed" with (the verb in question has the connotation of "pulling one garment on over another one" - Craig.ANTE, 151),


A *temporary* living structure.

BD is supposed to be defending the resurrection of Jesus as in the Gospels, and he has to concede that the corpse of Jesus was a temporary structure and so did not have eternal life.

Paul taught that our bodies were temporary, according to Bible Defender.

How then can temporary things have an eternal existence?

Paul's view is clear. We discard our present clothing, leave our present building, and are then naked, and are clothed in something made by God.

This totally contradicts an empty tomb, which would have contained the 'temporary living structure'.....

Comments are welcome at

Anonymous said...


Why are you making this about Mary Jo? A blog discusses the issues not the person.

Steven Carr said...

I think anonymous is confusing me with JP (No Link) Holding.

Anonymous said...

There are two anonomous' (at-least)... maybe I should sign up for a blogger account for posting comments.

I think I'm getting what you are saying; essentially MJ should deal with each theory when she is arguing her position for each fact becuase arguing each fact then making a 'test' out of them could potentially create logical fallacies? Then the only appropriate thing would be to summarize rather than 'test'. Is that what you are saying?

BTW, thanks for the gracious manner in which you responded. Sometimes these debates degenerate into flame wars -- even among the pro's.


Anonymous said...

Oy, vey did I create a run-on sentance or what!


Landon said...

JPHOLD WROTE: "In case you didn't notice, I stuffed Doherty and put him on my mantle years ago."

I don't even know who you are, so no, I didn't notice that you 'stuffed' Doherty. It seems by your posts in this blog that you are *the* JP Holding--I can tell by your obnoxious attitude and your arrogant ad hominem attacks. Pleasure to meet you.

RICHARD WROTE: "Then the only appropriate thing would be to summarize rather than 'test'. Is that what you are saying?"

Yes, Richard, that's what I'm saying. It doesn't add anything to test the theories with the minimal facts approach, and instead it merely adds to the confusion. If MJ wants to argue against the swoon theory, she should simply put forth the argument that Jesus most likely died on the cross. Summarizing her efforts in an argument like the one above simply makes it look as if she's begging the question.

I don't doubt that MJ can put forth such an argument, either. Swoon theorists, as I understand it, don't have very good arguments. I haven't looked into the issue enough to make a final decision, but my point is not to argue for the swoon theory, it is to point out where the above argument begs the question when set up as a 'test' of the evidence. The hallucination theory is much more likely to be true anyway.

Two Chix Apologetics said...

Landon - Though I understand what you are trying to say about my hypothesis test with regards to the possibility of circular reasoning,I do not see how my overall series was circular reasoning. I am not building a formal argument in the "testing hypothesis" post. That has been done throughout the other posts.

I have four facts that have been established by sources and evidence (as shown in the other posts - Now whether or not you think they were established can be argued)and have suggested the best explanation for all four of these is a resurrection. Then, I have taken well-known theories in combination with the four facts to see if each theory can account for the individual facts. Swoon theory cannot account for Fact #1, because it posits that Jesus did not die. I am being very basic here. This is a very skeletal check of each theory's explanatory power for that particular fact. Plus, I only presented a few theories.

In your original post, you had very much wanted to establish that I was begging the question. This logical fallacy entails that I:
1)Offered no support for any of the arguments
2)My conclusion was the same as my premise
3)A chain of reasoning was used in which not a single link in the chain was attempted to be proved independently of the others
4)I have shifted the argument to a secondary issue that is only relevant when the primary issue is settled

It seems to me that you are saying (actually, Steven said this) that because not all people agree on the facts (95%agreement of scholarship on three, 75% agreement of scholarship on empty tomb)[1] that the testing of the hypotheses is unmerited. This idea appears to relate to item #4 above, but I do not think it does. I stayed on the course of four well-established facts needing to be explained.

I may, therefore, consider posting on these theories, if that is what you are asking to see. You mentioned hallucination theory, and I have written a review of Jack Kent's book "The Psychological Origins of the Resurrection Myth." So maybe you would like to discuss hallucination theory?

Back to the original theme:
My premise was that there are four facts that nearly all scholarship (atheist, skeptic, liberal, conservative) agree on as historically probable as we can expect from ancient history. If you disagree with this, then we need to argue on posts #1-4, first. The conclusion was that the best explanation involves a resurrected person.

Steven - why does “best explanation” = “indisputable”? I never argued that. Quote me from my minimal facts posts as saying that somewhere and I will go check it out. Here is a quote of mine:

“What I am not saying is that these facts prove the resurrection of Jesus historically. What I am saying is that the best explanation of these facts, when combined, is a resurrection of Jesus.”


[1] These statistics are from the research of Gary Habermas. I have included a few of the resources for this information here:

Habermas, Gary. The Risen Jesus and Future Hope. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. 2003.

Habermas, Gary. article: Resurrection Research from 1975 to the Present: What are Critical Scholars Saying?

________. Recent Perspectives on the Reliability of the Gospels.>

________. Experiences of the Risen Jesus: The Foundational Historical Issue in the Early Proclamation of the Resurrection.

Two Chix Apologetics said...

Anonymous (the Facebook post from early on),

I agree that there is much speculation concerning the events surrounding the cross. I am not saying that other hypotheses do not exist. I am saying that in order to account for all of the facts, resurrection is the best explanation. In using the minimal facts, I have included four facts surrounding the end of Jesus’ earthly life that need to be taken into consideration. I am addressing just those events that have substantial evidence as to be cited as historically probable. I do agree with Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:14-15 where he says that without resurrection our faith is useless and without resurrection Christians are false witnesses about God. So this is an important matter.

The Roman crucifixion of Jesus that led to his death was recorded by:
1) Jesus' crucifixion was recorded in all four Gospel accounts
2) Jesus' crucifixion was recorded in non-Christian sources
a. Josephus, Jewish Historian, Antiquities 18, chapter 3
b. Tacitus, Roman Historian Annals 15.44
c. Lucian of Samsota, Greek Satirist
The Works of Lucian, Vol. IV "The Death of Peregrin" (scroll down to 11)
d. Mara Bar-Serapion, Syrian prisoner
A Letter of Mara, Son of Serapion
(scroll down to just after footnote 19)
e. The Jewish Talmud

Though this is not an exhaustive list, it is a good start. Why are all of these sources cumulatively untrustworthy? If these sources are untrustworthy for establishing Jesus’ death on the cross, would they also be untrustworthy for the other information they relay? If these are not enough sources to document Jesus’ death, can I then apply that same criteria to all of ancient history and see how much history we cannot know due to lack of sources?

The Nag Hammadi texts (2nd century) are later than the New Testament gospel narratives (1st century). I am not sure why I should take them to be closer to the truth when they are further in time from the source.

In regards to Basilides:
“Basilides claimed to have been taught his doctrines by Glaucus, a disciple of St Peter.”[1] I looked up Glaucus, but found no resources on him other than mythological ones; none of which refer to Peter.

The early church father, Irenaeus, wrote on Basilides concerning numerable problems with his doctrines and including a testimony about his Gnostic beliefs:

Against Heresies, Book I, Chapter 24, sections 6. “They declare that they are no longer Jews, and that they are not yet Christians; and that it is not at all fitting to speak openly of their mysteries, but right to keep them secret by preserving silence.”

Irenaeus also makes numerous accusations concerning this man including:

1) Basilides introduced a belief in 365 heavens in accordance with days of the year

2) Basilides introduced promiscuous intercourse and plurality of wives into the faith

3) Basilides has “fallen away from truth”

Irenaeus also addresses much more including Simon of Cyrene. All of the above material and more from Irenaeus’ work on Basilides can be read at Early Christian Writings

The Gospel of Peter has issues with embellishment and lateness, among other things. The Akhmîm fragment (the Gospel of Peter) contains a gospel narrative including angels whose heads reached the clouds and a Jesus whose head was higher than the clouds. It also includes a talking cross. The gospel stories of the New Testament read rather crudely in comparison, nothing like the grandeur included in the Akhmîm narrative. All of this is to say that I am not going to trust an embellished later version of the gospel narratives over the earlier narratives. You can read the Gospel of Peter at Gospel of Peter.

There is a whole load of information to consider on the sites you sent me to for resurrection. Could you perhaps address a specific one to two points of contradiction? It would be most helpful (for both of us), if you are truly seeking some answers, to chew these issues in smaller, more focused bites of information.

Finally, the argument that Christianity borrowed pagan ideas will have to be supported with actual texts and dates. What I am looking for is an argument like: “this belief in resurrection of the person at the end of times to live in a restored creation as the direct result of belief in a fully man/fully God sacrificial atonement is directly linked to the ___________ text of the ____________ people from the time __________B.C. or A.D. [With a link to the primary source document for me to read if you can find one.] This idea was no doubt acceptable to the Jews because of their cultural practices during the time of Jesus’ life according to these texts: ____________________ which demonstrate these cultural practices or acceptance of foreign religious practices.” From reading the texts of Josephus and the stories of the revolt of the Maccabeans [2], I find it hard to accept a general Jewish populace who were open to all sorts of foreign cultural/religious influence at the time of Jesus’ life. Old Testament texts of the Bible suggest this to be so at various points in Jewish history, but is this kind of culture predominant in Jesus’ time?



[2] The Maccabees (Hebrew: מכבים or מקבים, Makabim) were a Jewish national liberation movement that fought for and won independence from Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Hellenistic Seleucid dynasty, who was succeeded by his infant son Antiochus V Eupator. The Maccabees founded the Hasmonean royal dynasty and established Jewish independence in the Land of Israel for about one hundred years, from 165 BC to 63 BC.
In 167 BC, after Antiochus issued decrees in Judea forbidding Jewish religious practice, a rural Jewish priest from Modiin, Mattathias the Hasmonean, sparked the revolt against the Seleucid empire by refusing to worship the Greek gods.

Two Chix Apologetics said...


The criteria listed for question begging in a previous post of mine should read with "
" inbetween each one.

In your original post, you had very much wanted to establish that I was begging the question. This logical fallacy entails that I:

1)Offered no support for any of the arguments or

2)My conclusion was the same as my premise or

3)A chain of reasoning was used in which not a single link in the chain was attempted to be proved independently of the othersor

4)I have shifted the argument to a secondary issue that is only relevant when the primary issue is settled


Steven Carr said...

I see Mary Jo fails to answer my point that even Habermas concedes that fully one quarter of NT scholars doubt the historicity of the empty tomb.

Now if one quarter of professional biologists doubted the theory of natural selection, would she crow that natural selection was an accepted fact?

Nor is her 'best explanation' thesis any more than ad hoc pleading. There are many other criteria,

The 'best eplanation' for Mr A.B of Sacremento, CA winning the state lottery one month and Mr. C.D of San Diego winning the lottery the next month is that a genie wanted Mr. A.B. to win and then wanted Mr. C.D. to win.

Alternative theories cannot explain why , in particular, Mr. A.B. was chosen and then Mr. C.D. was singled out. All they can say is that somebody will win, and can never say why any one particular person won.

But the genie theory explains all the facts (after all the theory states explicitly that the genies wanted Mr A.B. to win and then Mr C.D.)

So explanatory power is only one criterion, or else we would all believe that the lottery was fixed by a genie.

Another is credibility.

Paul claims to have gone to Heaven in a trance.

Such a person can easily have visions of people (The New Testament claims he did)

And Paul speaks as though corpses are destroyed, not saved.

'Who will rescue me from this body of death?', writes Paul in Romans 7:24.

Paul knew perfectly well what happened to corpses and he wanted OUT.

The converts to Jesus-worship in Corinth scoffed openly at the idea of God choosing to raise a corpse.

The converts to Jesus-worship in Thessalonika were worried about their fallen Christian brethren , who were now corpses.....

Early Christian converts just did not believe in corpses rising.

kai said...


After reading your comments I am forced to ask; What evidence would suffice for you?

In your previous post, you accuse MJ of ad hoc pleading through the conclusions she draws based on the evidence available and the principle of Occam's Razor.

I've asked before what conclusions you draw and through your writings you seem to support a number of different theories all at the same time. However, when someone provides a sound argument against one of them, you seem to shift to another theory.

What exactly do you believe happened to Jesus and are you willing to stand on it or is your position that no one can know definitively what happened to him or if he even existed? Other than getting a rise out of people, what is your objective of these debates if it is not an intellectually honest search for reasonable answers?

It's hard to answer someone when they are, themselves, unsure of the question they are asking.

You are right about one thing; Early Christian converts, and even Christian converts today, don't believe in corpses rising.

Anonymous said...

>You are right about one thing; Early Christian converts, and even Christian converts today, don't believe in corpses rising.<

I'm so glad you found that inaccuracy too! I was about to point it out.

jphold said...

Boy, landon, you sure know how to contradict yourself. :D You don't know who I am, but you know I am "the" JPH?

No wonder Doherty has you fooled. Would you care to step to the plate and defend him from the beating I gave him? He won't touch it -- he's too scared.

Maybe YOU can explain things like high context away, or defend 2 Thess. 2:14-16 as an interpolation, or get past the circularity he employs to explain away 1 Cor. 11:23-26, or....

...or maybe, like Stevie, you know you can't, so you run. :D

Like I said at DCW to several people...these guys are paper tigers.

Steven Carr said...

Kai asks a good question. What evidence can there be for early Christian beliefs that would be satisfactory for me?

Paul claims he went to the third Heaven in a trance.

How can evidence be found for that?

Paul said Jesus became a spirit, and did not have an earthly body, being made of Heaven.

1 Corinthians 15 'The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.'

What evidence could there be for the belief that the resurrected Jesus was not made from the dust of the earth, like a corpse is made from the dust of the earth?

Paul taught that corpses were destroyed, not saved.

2 Corinthians 5 'Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.'

What evidence could there ever be for the view that Jesus was now in a 'building' that had been created in heaven, rather than the earthly tent which had been destroyed?

I can't really answer Kai's question.

Even my opponent in the resurrection debate had to concede that Paul taught that Jesus gained the power to make people alive at the resurrection, and that his earthly body had been 'temporary', and Jesus was now in a new body.

So who can answer Kai's question of what evidence there could be for the beliefs of the very earliest Christians (the ones who converted to Christianity and scoffed at the idea of God choosing to raise a corpse)

We have no evidence of what convinced people in Corinth to worship Jesus.

Landon said...

No Holding, I'm not going to debate you about scriptural interpretation or the historicity of the gospels. I simply do not know enough about them yet to do so. Besides, you're too arrogant, and it gives the impression that you won't debate fairly or with an open mind. It would be enough for me, for the time being, to read what you have written and to read Richard Carrier's response to it (he has a thorough response on the Secular Web, as I'm sure you know). Also, I might look into the other articles about you.

By the way, when I stated that I don't know you, I honestly meant it. I've never read anything of yours (except your silly posts on this blog). I thought the name was familiar, so I did a search of you and found a number of articles which argue against your assertions and which point out your many fallacies. Some of the quotes of you in these articles sounded very much like you talk here--that is, with a disgustingly non-academic attitude.

In regards to the discussion about the minimal facts approach begging the question, it appears now that I may have misunderstood MJ's post the first time I read it. I first read the post on a different website, and this minimal facts thing was presented as an argument there. I responded to the argument there, and then copied and pasted my response to this site.

It seems that this minimal facts test is not really a test or argument at all, which is what I thought MJ was using it for. Instead, she's just using it to point out what theories are in trouble given that the information in the previous posts is sufficient. This seems to deal effectively with the swoon theory problem, but still not with the hallucination problem (to my knowledge). Why must the appearances of Jesus have been appearances in bodily form? Why couldn't they have been hallucinations or some other type of ambiguous appearances? Once again, I have not yet read into this issue enough on either side to be able to make a qualified judgment on the matter.

Finally, in regards to the conversation you guys are having about which body would be resurrected, I found it helpful to listen to a debate between Carrier and Frank Turek on the Infidel Guy radio show which deals with this very issue. If you're interested in listening (it's well worth it), here's the link:

jphold said...

Gee, landon sure sounded brave when pumping for Doherty....but when called down on it, all of a sudden he doesn't know enough to debate... :D

But hey, any excuse will do when your faith is being assaulted, right? That's the essence of "fundamentalism" like landon's.

Your bicycle sounds nice when you pedal it backwards.

Landon said...

My plug for Doherty was an attempt to make it known that not all scholars agree that Jesus was an historical human being. I haven't even had the chance to read Doherty's books yet, but I thought it would be worthwhile for MJ to perhaps read some of the literature coming from the other side of the debate (that is, if she doesn't already).

I definitely have not studied the scriptures in enough detail yet to be able to debate somebody who has dedicated years to doing so, so I don't feel bad admitting it and moving on. Insulting me doesn't push me to debate something I'm not experienced enough to debate. I'm not entirely sure what you're talking about when you refer to my "faith" and my "fundamentalism," Holding. What do you mean by that? Search through my posts and show me where I've been at all dogmatic. All you've done is sling mud ad hominem style the entire time you've been here. Bravo.

Wes Widner said...

>We have no evidence of what convinced people in Corinth to worship Jesus.<

I guess this coupled with this question:
>Why must the appearances of Jesus have been appearances in bodily form?<

..could be why the gospel writers include the story of "skeptic" Thomas and his demand for physical proof that Jesus's body was indeed the same one that was crucified.

If Jesus was merely a spirit being (as in the Gnostic dualistic view), then why include the story of a lone heretic that couldn't believe the same hallucination as everyone else (pass the shrooms, please)?

Ultimately, the question of belief in Jesus doesn't merely rest upon reason (alone) or faith (alone). It is determined by where you choose to place your hope in the future.

If you approach the subject of Jesus's demise and ultimate dissappearing act as someone concretely set (yes, open-mindedness goes both ways) against Jesus actually being who He claimed to be, then how can any arguement, evidence, or rational discourse ever be enough?

I believe the appropriate question is more than that of evidence, it is a question of whether or not your heart is open to entertain the notion that the claim of Jesus's sacrifice for us actually matter to us in this present day or if we are merely squabbaling over the porported death of the son of a mere Jewish carpenter.

Afterall, there must be some reason so much ink (or in our case, electrons) are spilt over this issue.

jphold said...

Don't break your bicycle peadling backwards, landon. All that skilled rationalization tends to make the chain rust.

Saying you have not even read Doherty, even as you so strongly recommended his work, speaks for your uncritical nature.

Landon said...

Holding, you make me laugh. Your intellect towers over everybody else, yet I haven't heard anything intelligent or interesting come out of your keyboard yet.

Just to let you know, I'm a university student, not a seasoned Biblical scholar. I'll feel free to recommend books as I please. I can tell from your website that the only books you actually read with an open mind are those which argue for the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. Anything else is attacked and given thumbs down (as are, apparently, the people who recommend these books). Hmmm... sure doesn't make you look like the scholar you make yourself out to be.

Two Chix Apologetics said...

Landon - I appreciate your candor.

Steven - Define what you mean when you say "corpses rising," since this appears to be a main issue for you. Are you refering to dead, decayed, zombie-like bodies rising in their current form?


Landon said...

MJ, Richard Carrier has written an article on the Secular Web titled "Why I Don't Buy the Resurrection Story": If you'll read the Main Argument (you can find it in the "Table of Chapters" at the page I linked to), then I'll read an article of your choosing of similar length. This way we can both be immersed in both sides of the conversation. Carrier's essay delves into the issues you and Steven are discussing here, I think, so it might be beneficial for the present conversation as well.

Two Chix Apologetics said...

Hey Landon,

I have had the occasion to hear Richard Carrier two times. Once was the debate with Mike Licona at UCLA and the other was on "The Debate Hour" with Reggie Finley, Gary Habermas, and Mike Licona. I am familiar with him from these. I will read his article, but I've got to get a few papers written first. So you may have to give me a few days or so. But I do like to read/hear arguments that show me an different view (I especially love debates :-). That's a way of being truly honest with yourself about what you believe. I'll see about finding you something that I think is scholarly as well.


Steven Carr said...

'Corpses rising' -

I was using the definition as in the Gospels (which contradicts Paul's view that our soma of sin will be done away with)

As in the Gospels with Jesus or Lazarus, or the resurrected saints of Matthew's Gospel.

Jesus's corpse was (allegedly) resurrected with wounds and with flesh and bones, which could not pass through walls without a miracle occuring.

The disciples thought the body they saw in front of them was made of a material which by its very nature could pass through walls (a ghostly soma can do that), but Jesus quickly proves to them that this belief was false.

Steven Carr said...

How does Habermas's '75%' of scholars who believe in an empty tomb compare with the percentage of biologists who believe Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection?

When does a fact become a fact?

Caveat - I cannot check Habermas's figure.

Wes Widner said...

I think a better question would be whether a fact ever "becomes" or whether it is merely discovered.

In regards to Jesus passing through walls. I'm curious to know why you are so quick to dismiss the possibility of a miracle having occurred or even being able to occur.

Do you expect to find a purely physical answer or are you asserting that the metaphysical and the physical have no effects on eachother?

jphold said...

I see landon's lips move, but all I hear is blah...blah...blah....

Oh well. Another one who can't put his money where his mouth is.

Steven Carr said...

Did a miracle occur when Jesus passed through walls or was it a property of the material Jesus was made of that it could pass through walls, in which case it was no more a miracle than a neutrino pass through a wall.

Of course, the Gospel of Luke portrays this as a miracle, just as portrayed it as miracle when Philip disappeared and appeared on the road to Azotus.

Both bodies were made of flesh and bone, and both needed miracles to accomplish those feats.

Luke portrays the body coming out of the ground as the body which went into the ground, in contrast to Paul who says 'You do not plant the body that will be...'

Landon said...

What do you mean "can't put his money where his mouth is"? Where is my mouth? I haven't claimed to be able to debate Biblical history, so my mouth certainly isn't there. If anything, my mouth has just been pointing out that you haven't added anything worthwhile to the conversation.

Wes Widner said...

Do you think that a few verses before your partial quote of 1 Corinthians 15:37 Paul meant by his statement of "I die daily" that he experiences a regular physical resurrection or do you think he could have been referring to the spiritual death and cross we are tasked to bear in order to become like Christ?

Your apprehension towards the metaphysical slays me. ;-)

Two Chix Apologetics said...

Steven - this is a long post. :-)

I have been upfront about the 75% issue on the empty tomb. It is the most disputed fact about the resurrection, and understandably so. If you really desire to know if the 75% is correct, you can email Habermas (contact info on his site at I asked to see his documentation and he directed me to the endnotes of Chapter 2 and 3 in “Risen Jesus and Future Hope.” I think Habermas has a lot to lose by making unsupported claims in his scholarly work; integrity would be the first thing, but also the respect of other scholars and possibly the loss of a career. Or have I misread you and you are not suggesting that his integrity is in question?

Ad hoc pleading – I have never come across this combo before. Sounds like the combination of ad hoc explanation/rationalization with special pleading. I actually have not committed either of these fallacies or a combination thereof. Perhaps you mean to suggest that I have committed argumentum ad ignorantiam, which is where an argument is trying to be advanced in the absence of knowledge or evidence. I provided evidence, but you do not agree with that evidence as being a substantial basis for my conclusion. This is not the same as not providing evidence.

And Paul speaks as though corpses are destroyed, not saved. Romans 7:24 – “who will rescue me from this body of death?” and Paul said Jesus became a spirit, and did not have an earthly body, being made of Heaven.

Romans 7:25 follows verse 24 with “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” That’s an interesting finish if he is discussing freedom from the fleshly body. A few verses later, in Romans 8: 9-11, Paul says:

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”

Paul states, “give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit,” just about 12 verses later than Romans 7:24. How am I to take this? Plus, he says our current body is dead. What does that mean?

Here is some more of 1 Corinthians 15 – “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (verses 20-26)

How is death destroyed by raising the spirit? To conquer physical death (for since death came through one man), you must defeat physical death (the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man). Both occurrences of “man” are the Greek word “anthropos.” (Strong’s number 444, if you wish to look it up in a Greek Lexicon) This is a term used to differentiate man from other forms such as animals, God, or angels. Paul is not discussing a spirit being, but resurrection of a physical man.

We have no evidence of what convinced people in Corinth to worship Jesus.

This assessment of no evidence is excluding the works of Paul, correct? Or are you asking for a formula of what exactly happened to the Corinthians physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally? Something along the lines of a Corinthian writing down this experience? How would that be any different from the Damascus road experience of Paul and why would it matter for you if you do not accept this kind of evidence anyway?


Landon said...

MJ WROTE: "How is death destroyed by raising the spirit? To conquer physical death (for since death came through one man), you must defeat physical death (the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man)."

It has been my understanding, when having conversations with other Christians, that "physical death" did not come through Adam, but "spiritual death" did. When God spoke to Adam, he said "you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." Well, it turns out that when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of that tree, they did not die. Some have pointed out that God lied to Adam and that the serpent told the truth, but apologists often point out that this is the introduction of "spiritual death," not "physical death."

Therefore, when Jesus died for the sins of the world and defeated death, it is possible that he was defeating the spiritual death that Adam had introduced into the world. However, I can't be sure of this. What I can be sure of is the fact that you're walking on thin ice in claiming that Jesus defeated physical death because death was introduced into the world through Adam--since Adam's death was a spiritual death.

Wes Widner said...

Both forms of death were introduced when Adam and Eve sinned since Jesus's death provided a way for both to be overcome.

And since God never stipulated when they would die, we have no justification for calling God a liar.

I know many evolutionists or "day-age" theorists will have trouble believing that Adam and Eve were created to live forever, but the question is; Why would God create something he deemed 'good' that would enivitably die?

For that reason, How would a purely spiritual resurrection of Jesus account for the rise of Christianity when the whole hope offered rests upon Christ's victory over death?

Landon said...

WES WROTE: "Both forms of death were introduced when Adam and Eve sinned since Jesus's death provided a way for both to be overcome."

Explain to the rest of us how we human beings can overcome the physical death of our corpse. I'm willing to bet that we're all in agreement that our physical bodies are very mortal, and that the death of our bodies is certain. However, according to the Bible, we can accept Jesus Christ as the Lord and overcome eternal spiritual death that is waiting for us (recall that "the wages of sin is death"). Are you arguing that we can overcome the physical death of our corpse?

WES WROTE: "And since God never stipulated when they would die, we have no justification for calling God a liar."

Actually, Genesis 2:17 makes it quite clear: "you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." The emphasis here should be placed on the phrase "when you do." It does not say "if you do," it says "when you do." The word "when" entails a time--and in this context, the time should have been when the fruit was eaten.

As an analogy, imagine that your mom tells you that she will make you dinner when she gets home. You would expect that, once she arrives, your dinner will be coming shortly. If you end up waiting another eight hundred years before she makes you dinner, then you can be confident that she lied. Likewise, when Adam and Eve were told that, when they ate the fruit, they would die, they would be safe to assume that God either lied to them or that he meant something else (i.e. "spiritual death").

WES WROTE: "Why would God create something he deemed 'good' that would enivitably die?"

After God finished creating the world, the Bible says: "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." He deemed the world good, but the physical world is bound to die due to the second law of thermodynamics, correct? Are you suggesting that the second law of thermodynamics came into the world with original sin?

Also, it's not entirely clear to me what your conception of God is. If he is an omniscient being, then he would have known that mankind would eventually die in the flesh, so why would he create us in the first place? One solution might be that we will die in the flesh, but we will not die in the spirit. In this case, God created these temporary bodies for us (for whatever reason) so that, once it dies, we receive the more important life in the spirit. Yet this seems to shed some doubt on the existence of hell, because hell symbolizes spiritual death, and you already asked the key question: "Why would God create something if he already knew that it was going to die?"

WES WROTE: "How would a purely spiritual resurrection of Jesus account for the rise of Christianity when the whole hope offered rests upon Christ's victory over death?"

Nobody expected that they would have victory over the physical death of their corpse, they expected that they would have victory over the spiritual death of their souls which was a result of Adam and Eve's original sin. Do you think that the earliest Christians actually believed they would be able to conquer their physical death?

Ben said...

I am more interested in Van Tillian Apologetics. Have you read "Every Thought Captive" by Richard Pratt? I woud highly reccommend it, if not.

It seems to me that arguing from a logical standpoint makes logic your final lauthority, as opposed to Scripture. While I agree that the facts do support the Christian position, I would never expect a non-believer to agree on the facts, because he/she has a radical commitment to autonomy, and we have a radical commitment to the Bible.

Just my thoughts.

Wes Widner said...

If spiritual death were all that were meant by the fall and subsequent resurrection; Why did Jesus, Peter and Elijah perform miracles that consisted of raising people physically from the dead?

If God entire design for the universe were to simply provide for a spiritual reunification with him, why go to such great lengths to demonstrate the physical overcoming of death? Why go to such great lengths to demonstrate that sins, which originate out of the metaphysical spirit (or will, or soul) lead to physical death?

Yes, God knew (through omniscience) that Adam and Even (and us as well) would choose to disobey him. Does it nessicarially follow that he intended for death to be a part of his perfect creation?

Let me rephrase my original question in order to get to the heart of the matter. Did God create death, or did he merely give us the freedom to choose to accept and love him and therefore regain what we willingly threw away? I don't see how we can claim that an omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent God would or could create something that were less than perfect.

Allow me to answer your question about the overcoming of death with this; Do you think that God abandoned his original design for creation?

Anonymous said...

My wife rox!


Steven Carr said...

Paul is not discussing a spirit being, but resurrection of a physical man.

Yes. Jesus was dead, but is now alive, according to Paul.

He had become a spirit, according to Paul.

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

Pardon a very late comment:

Actually, the events as described in the NT -- primary, eyewitness lifetime sources -- precisely contradict the currently popularised skeptical claim that Paul was discussing a spirit not a body ["a spirit hath not flesh and bones such as I have"] that was indeed spiritually transformed (i.e. resurrection not mere resuscitation as happened with Lazarus etc] but very much the same one that had been crucified [Thomas, put in your fingers and hands in the holes . . . ] capable of walking, eating, hugging/being hugged, making a roast fish breakfast, etc etc.

Cf Lk 24, noting the strong authentication of Lk-Ac as a habitually accurate C1 historical source:


>>LK 24:36 While they were still talking about this [Jesus' walk to Emmaus and partaking of the beginnings of a meal with two disciples, who then ran back to Jerusalem], Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. [where obvious wounds were to be seen] It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost [pneuma, πνευμα -- G4151 πνεῦμα pneuma (pnyoo`-mah) n. 1. a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze 2. (by analogy or figuratively) a spirit]does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence. [consider the level of multi-person hallucination that his would imply, then compare the psychology of hallucinations . . . ]

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” [In short, he was standing in the OT hebraic, monotheistic covenantal God prophetic tradition, and claimed to fulfill its messianic hopes, e.g Is 52:13 - 53:12. That the circle of 500 believed this is the only credible basis for their bold testimony and its impact on history]>>

So, on this arguably AD 60 source and other similar materials, I find the C1 Christians definitely had it in mind that the very same body of Jesus that was crucified -- and yet bearing those fearsome wounds, was present and alive among them, but spiritually transformed so that neither wounds nor illness due to loss of blood and general cruel abuse could return it to death.

In short the main objection that seems to have been pushed above is a selectively hyperskeptical strawman dismissal based on cherry-picking texts and testimony. It is unable to credibly account for the relevant recorded facts from the eyewitnesses [cf Lk 1:1 - 4].