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Need A Resource Regarding The Resurrection


mick
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I went through the OT attrocities with a Christian friend from college and he is already rejecting that the OT is from a god.

 

He is asking for good reading on why the resurrection could be legendary or even the words attributed to Christ in the gospels. He is hung up on the Josh McDowell defense of the resurrection stuff. I told him legend is the most likely explanantion. he is open, but wants to read something about it. ANy ideas or links?

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Mick,

 

Josh McDowell is not a good resource for investigating the NT. He's a professional apologist, I read his "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" back in the 1970's, it was garbage then, and it still is. For a good resource on the resurrection, try Dr. Mike Magee's www.askwhy.co.uk and for a comparison with other godmen of the ancient world who were "crucified" and resurrected, try Acharya S

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There's a lot of different ways to approach it. Usually christians try to make the case that the gospels contain eyewitness testimonies of Jesus risen. They also would cite Paul in 1st corinthians concerning the eyewitnesses of the resurrection as early evidence that many people saw him risen. Perhaps one question for him is whether he's willing to believe any testimonies concerning a miracle provided that people claim to have seen it and it's been written down within a hundred years. If he considers that proof enough then I guess he's got enough proof to believe in the resurrection. He also has enough evidence to believe in UFOs, Bigfoot, Area 51, Alien abductions, and huge volumes of other myths.

The truth is that people are good at generating stories - all kinds, religious stories, farfetched scary ghostlike stories, assumptions about past lives and fortelling the future and so on. You don't need to explain it all away to know that it's pretty much not true. The gospels clearly were written with theological agendas that led them to contradict one another in various places, and while there may have been a historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth, much of what they present as stories seem to be creative tales to serve their agenda rather than history. Paul's supposed encounter with Jesus risen account (written much earlier than the gospels) is much more vague, - apparently more like a vision than an encounter. But even if there were some historical precedent (e.g. certain people who did claim to see Jesus risen) that was sufficiently familiar to early christian communities that the gospel accounts could draw from them, at the most that just means a bunch of people claimed to see Jesus risen. That doesn't prove anything. It's almost certain that Jesus was buried in an anonymous grave. Of course christians like to claim that if Jesus was still in the grave the jews could've proven it by presenting the body. Even if his tomb was known, and even if the jews did show people Jesus' decaying corpse as proof that he wasn't risen (which of course they wouldn't since it would make them unclean, but supposing somehow they got past that and did) people could still persist in believing the resurrection simply because only very few people would've actually been on location to see the corpse. Back then it wasn't like they had CNN to show EVERYONE the corpse of Jesus so even if they did prove that he wasn't risen to a few, they'd try to tell people "I've seen the corpse" but they'd be up against others saying "but we've seen him alive!" And again the experiences of seeing Jesus alive may have been visions like Pauls (perhaps his was the only one?) Then stories snowball.

Truth told, most of this should be regarded as unecessary spinning of yarn. The prophecies in the OT obviously are not about what the NT claims they are. The resurrection accounts hopelessly contradict themselves which dismisses any sense in which scripture should be considered an authority.

Even this is yarn.

It's simply, just cuz a bunch of people say they saw a guy come back from the dead, that don't prove it happened. The burden of proof isn't even upon you! I'd say if he wants to be logically consistent he needs to believe everything else claimed out there with the same level of insufficient proof as what's offered for the resurrection - area 51, studio 54, Space 1999 ;) Ok but you get the idea, big foot, loch ness, etc.

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I'd say the biggest clue that Jesus is legendary is the fact that there isn't much solid historical evidence for his existence in the first place, outside of early Christian writings, which have an obvious bias. As for non-Christian sources - Josephus' comments about Jesus may have been a forgery, while Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, and Suetonius all mention "Christus" or "Chrestus", but do not refer to Jesus himself by name - "Christus" is a title or descriptor meaning "anointed one", derived from Greek, and while it references an individual, there is no connecting this individual to a particular identity.

 

Biblical scholars seem to accept the canonical gospels as being good historical records of Christ's existence and his life, but I'm personally skeptical. I'm currently reading Elaine Pagels' "Beyond Belief" about the gospel of Thomas, and she makes the argument that the gospel of John was actually a polemic written by John and/or his followers as a diatribe against Thomas and his followers. What this reminds me of is that there is a history behind why they picked the gospels they did, and it may have had less to do with actually trying to record what Jesus actually said or did, but with the politics of one group trying to gain religious dominance over another. Which isn't particularly conducive to the truth of the matter, really.

 

Here's a place to start though: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

 

I'd take a peek there, look at some of the links, and ask stuff like, how were the canonical gospels chosen? Are they reliable or not? If so, why? If not, why not? Get all analytical and see what comes up.

 

Good luck.

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As skepticjoe says, Internet Infidels is a good resource. There is a wealth of good information (and some not-so-good) on the internet.

 

Here is another pretty good article: Louis W. Cable Click on "Are the Gospels True?"..

 

A very good book for helping to understand the bible as a strictly human construct is "The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man" by Robert Price

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