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kcrady



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There are many who witnessed the Resurrection, and three who documented it. It is found in Corinthians, I realize none of you care,

Don't tell me what I do or don't care about.  You realize that the attitude you're exhibiting here is in disobedience of Scripture, don't you?

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but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

--1 Peter 3:15

The passage you're referring to is this:

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For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

--1 Corinthians 15:3-8, NASB

A few things to note about this passage:

1) We do not have the testimony of these 500 people to the resurrection.  We have a claim by Paul that there are 500 people who saw it.  If I told you, "I saw the Goddess Isis along with 500 other people last September at the Temple of Luxor," you are not compelled to say, "Whelp, there were 500 eyewitnesses to the Goddess Isis, so She must exist."  All you've got is my word.  In this passage in Corinthians, all we've got is Paul's word and, as Screwtape has pointed out, good reason to doubt his credibility.  We do not have any mention of these 500 people even in other relevant Christian writings, such as the Gospels or Acts or other Epistles, even when those other documents are trying to argue for the resurrection.

2) Notice how Paul includes his own experience of Christ in this list, using the same Greek word for "appeared" as the others.  Now, all Christian sources agree that Paul never met any historical Jesus from Nazareth.  His experience, as reported in the Book of Acts, was a mystical vision that other people with him could not see.  It was not the sort of tangible appearance that could have been caught on camera.  Since Paul is including his own experience as being in the same category as the others, their experiences may also have been mystical visions of the same type. 

3) Even if the existence of these 500 alleged experiencers of Christ was indisputable (it's not--it's just an unsubstantiated claim by Paul), this does not prove the resurrection really happened.  In modern times we have comparable phenomena in accounts of alien abduction and apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Lourdes, Fatima, etc.).  If you're a Protestant, you probably doubt or disbelieve the validity of the latter, not to mention the former.  Whatever arguments you might make against "eyewitness" accounts of UFO's, Sasquatch sightings, alien abductions, apparitions of the BVM, etc. apply with equal force against Paul's 500 "eyewitnesses."

4) Notice how Paul repeatedly uses the formula "according to the Scriptures" when he refers to Christ dying, being buried, and raised on the third day.  These events come to him not as factual accounts of events in the environs of Jerusalem, but as Scriptural revelations.

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and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.

--1 Corinthians 15:14-15

So Paul is saying that if we doubt the resurrection, we are not doubting historical facts on Earth or eyewitness testimony of people, we are "testifying against God."  In other words, Paul's resurrection is an esoteric revelation by God, of events found in Scripture--in Paul's day, what we now call the "Old Testament," rather than a claim about "historical fact."  The resurrection is a "testimony of God" "according to the Scriptures," experienced by Paul and others in the form of mystic visions of a risen Christ.

So, we are far from anything approaching ironclad proof of the resurrection of a dead human body.

Postscript:

Would you, or the next Christian who wanders in here wanting to argue for Jesus' resurrection be willing to join me in a formal debate on the subject?  I think that, given the importance of this topic to both sides, it would be good to have a more concise and focused (a few pages in length) version of this debate.  I would like to debate a Christian who can actually do a good job of representing the Christian side, i.e., someone who is conversant with the best Christian arguments in favor of the resurrection of Jesus.  Bonus points if you have at least a basic familiarity with mainstream New Testament scholarship (that is, scholarship outside the bubble of Protestant fundamentalist apologetics).
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lotanddaughters Killer. July 11, 2012, 09:50:21 PM
Mr. Blackwell Tired of swatting flies? July 11, 2012, 09:43:49 PM