Since tomorrow is "Good" Friday, I figured I would start a thread for discussion of the crucifixion, empty tomb, and resurrection appearances of Jesus. I always find it funny that Christians refer to the day their claimed savior died as "Good Friday". I know why they call it that, but I still find it funny. Anyway, I had a similar thread in the "Sacred Texts" section a few months ago, but hardly anyone posts in that section and I wanted to broaden the topic of discussion. For the sake of this argument, let's assume that a historical Jesus actually existed.
In all four of the canonical gospels, Joseph of Arimathea goes to Pontius Pilate after the death of Jesus and asks if he can take the body. According to Matthew, Mark, and John, it was late in the day on the Jewish day of Preparation (Friday). The sabbath (Saturday) begins at dusk. Presumably not wanting to leave Jesus on the cross during the sabbath, Joseph takes the body to his own tomb (which he had just built, according to Matthew). The two Marys (Magdalene and "The Virgin") witness this and then return home. One would presume that they didn't return until Sunday morning, when they discovered the empty tomb.
According to Matthew, on the next day (the sabbath), the Pharisees go to Pilate and tell him that Jesus had said he would rise after three days, so they want to put a guard at the tomb in case anyone should try to steal the body and say he was raised. The text doesn't say what time they asked for a guard. The tomb had already been unguarded for at least 12 hours and likely more. There was already ample time for someone to steal or relocate the body. Furthermore, most historians do not find the placement of the guards to be historical, since only Matthew mentions it and since it is unlikely the other writers would have left out this pertinent part of the story.
If there were no guards, then it is very possible that Joseph returned after the sabbath had ended and re-buried the body, as this tomb was not meant to be a permanent resting place for Jesus. I asked Biblical scholar Robert M. Price about the possibility that Joseph moved the body and that the tomb was not meant to be permanent and he concurred. He also pointed out that, in the gospel of John, when Mary Magdelene finds the tomb empty, she asks Jesus (who she thinks is the gardener) if he has moved the body. She presumes that the body has been moved and doesn't even consider that he might have been resurrected!
Then we get on to the resurrection appearances. For starters, there are several occasions in which the disciples don't recognize Jesus. In John 20:14, Mary Magdalene "saw Jesus standing, but did not know it was Jesus". Why not? In John 21:4, some of the disciples were fishing and Jesus was standing on the shore, but they did not recognize him. In Luke 24:15-16, Jesus is walking and talking with two of the disciples and they don't know it is him because "their eyes were kept from recognizing him". In Luke 24:36-45, Jesus appears to the disciples and they "supposed that they saw a spirit" and even after they touched Jesus, they still disbelieved that it was him until he "opened their minds to understand the scriptures". In Mark 16:12 (which was not in the earliest manuscripts), Jesus appears to two people "in another form". Matthew 28:16 has Jesus appearing to the 11 disciples (Judas had been kicked out) and "they worshipped him; but some doubted".
In the gospels, almost all of the resurrection appearances of Jesus involve either the disciples not recognizing Jesus or at least some of them doubting that it is him.
Then there is Paul's claim that Jesus appeared to 500 people. He is the only person that mentions this and doesn't give any names or any details about where to find these people. Why should anyone believe this? I could say "1000 people saw me jump 20 feet into the air and if you don't believe me, you can ask anyone that was there". Would anyone really believe that?
It is also worth noting that Paul never met Jesus before Jesus died, so he would have had no idea what Jesus supposedly looked like. A couple of Jesus' appearances to Paul occur when Paul is blinded and Paul only hear's the supposed voice of Jesus.
As you can see, this is all irrefutable proof that Jesus was crucified and resurrected. If you are so inclined, I recommend celebrating by enjoying a steak on this Good Friday. By the way, are Catholics allowed to take communion on Fridays during Lent or would that count as eating meat?
Have you heard of Dr. Paul Pappas' book Jesus' Tomb in India: The Debate on His Death and Resurrection? http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Tomb-India-Debate-Resurrection/dp/08958...
Dr. Pappas was my Russian history teacher at the West Virginia University Institute of Technology. I believe he has died since I graduated. I do not know what his religious beliefs were, although, he loved talking about his book especially if there were any Xians around, because it infuriated the crap out of them. He maintained the whole story of the virgin birth was just a story, Jesus spent his childhood in India where he learned deep meditation which allowed him to go into a trance and survive crucifixion. He later left the middle east for India where he later died of old age. I understand that Muslims also believe that Jesus went into a trance and was saved from death by his followers, then spirited out of the country for India where he died of old age.
I have never read Dr. Pappas' book, but even the mention of it to Xians sends them into a tailspin of fury. He also said there was supposedly a tomb for Jesus in Japan and possibly South America. I thought he was hilarious, but Xians couldn't speak his name without spitting in fury.
No, I haven't read that book or heard of Dr. Pappas. I have heard the hypothesis about Jesus travelling to India before, but even radical Biblical scholar Robert M. Price has said that he doesn't find any compelling evidence for that. That's not to say it couldn't have happened, but what is possible and what is able to be demonstrated are two different things.
That's another thing...apologists like Craig always claim that women discovering them empty tomb is a big deal because a woman's testimony was regarded as unreliable. This is completely false, as Richard Carrier explained in this article: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/improbable/w... .
I'm struggling with the relevance of any of it. Thinking about this stuff reminds me of the time I wasted in church and Sunday school. It take my breat away to see so many paragraphs of writing on the subject. It suffocates me, as it should you.