Resurrection Debate – Question #3 From Tim With Vocab’s Response

Q3. You have been quite emphatic about your claim that the resurrection story happens in a sort of idea vacuum; that it is inconceivable that any of the Gospel writers could have had any cultural outside influence while writing the Gospels. Yet, you point out correctly that the Jews were waiting for a God-man to save them, and indeed, there were many contenders to the throne at the time. Also, ancient texts are notorious for their fictionalizing to create a compelling narrative structure. The intellectually honest thing to do – and the default position of historians – on any text from this time, secular or religious, is therefore to analyse it critically with regards to these problems. You have claimed repeatedly that it is too much of a stretch to do so.

What actual evidence (not mere armchair speculation) do you have for your positive claim that the Gospels are literally trustworthy in form and content in such a landscape, and that they should therefore be exempt from such critical scrutiny? And why would texts such as the Illiad, the Quran or the book of Mormon NOT be exempt for the same reasons?

A3. I never said the resurrection story arose in an idea vacuum. It most certainly arose within a certain cultural framework and plausibility structure; that of first century Palestinian Judaism. The problem is Tim keeps on wanting to posit the wrong context over Christian resurrection belief so as to make his case ‘work’. I am not saying it is simply a ‘stretch’ for him to do this, I am saying it is wholly incorrect and completely amiss for him to do this. It has been easily demonstrated by current mainstream scholarship that this is the case and I think it has also been demonstrated in this particular debate.

Please note, I never said the Gospels should be exempt from critical scrutiny. In fact, one way we know how incredibly accurate they are is because they have been exposed to so much critical scrutiny. I think it would be accurate to say that no other ancient work has received so much critical scrutiny as the Gospels. The amazing thing is they have come out vindicated time and time again.

Lastly, for Tim to put the Gospels in the same league as The Quran or the Book of Mormon serves as a reminder to all of us reading this that Tim is unfamiliar with modern archaeology and historiography. Either that, or he is unfamiliar with these other works, especially the Book of Mormon (my understanding is that even The Illiad fares better, as it seems to have some actual history and geography in it).

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About Kazz

My name is Shawn Esplin and I am an advocate of Free Thought and general good sense and thought in general. To that end, I encourage people to seriously question the things that they have been taught, especially as children, because many of these things - religious and secular - are taken on faith until we actively choose to seriously examine them for ourselves.

3 thoughts on “Resurrection Debate – Question #3 From Tim With Vocab’s Response

  1. The gospels have come out vindicated time and time again? I agree that much of their geography and at least some of their history is accurate, but not all of them are correct, they contradict each other on some things, and most of the stories it tells are completely unverifiable!

    I can’t blame you for bashing the Book of Mormon for its many flaws, but why don’t you tell us where Emmaus is?

    It may be a little unfair to ask that since that entire story may have been tacked on by a less well informed author at a later time, but I don’t think you believe that’s true, and you think that the gospels have their facts down perfectly, so where is it?

    Yes the gospels have been subjected to much scrutiny, and some things they say have been verified, but the vast majority of the stories have no evidence supporting them, or even have evidence against them, and apologists have been working for nearly 2,000 years now to come up with excuses for the things that are clearly wrong with the gospels, so please don’t act like they’re some kind of unassailable, unquestionably perfect documents.

    Maybe that’s not fair to ask either though, because that may be exactly what you believe them to be…in that case though, I think you should study them and what skeptics have to say about them again with an open mind, because they are most definitely not perfect.

  2. So if I can tell you where Emmaus is, then you’ll think the Gospels are historically valid, right? Even though I know this is not the case, I guess I should at least give it a shot…

    This, from The Catholic Encyclopedia Online: Josephus (Ant. Jud., VII, vi, 6) mentions at sixty stadia from Jerusalem a village called Ammaus, where Vespasian and Titus stationed 800 veterans. This is evidently the Emmaus of the Gospel. But it must have been destroyed at the time of the revolt of Bar-Cocheba (A.D. 132 35) under Hadrian, and its site was unknown as early as the third century. Origen and his friends merely placed the Gospel Emmaus at Nicopolis, the only Emmaus known at their time.

    I don’t see why you think this point is so strong, anyway. Even if we couldn’t identify the exact location of some ancient Palestinian village mentioned in Luke, how would that disprove the account itself, or the Gospel of Luke as a whole?


  3. I don’t think that it is all that important, it was just a random example of a (possibly) inaccurate geographical reference in Luke, whose geographical references you seem to trust a lot (unlike those in other religions’ scriptures). If it exists, that’s fine, and you’re right that it doesn’t mean a whole lot.

    If it didn’t exist though, or even if it was just located a different distance from Jerusalem, then it would mean something very important. It would mean that the Bible does in fact contain errors or false information, in which case people who maintain that it is infallible would be wrong.

    Of course I can’t prove conclusively that it never existed, but with all of the archaeology done in the area over the last 2,000 years, it is hard to believe that it existed at the correct distance from Jerusalem, and that no trace of it has ever been found…

    The way it appears to me is that someone made a mistake here, and there is evidence of tampering with manuscripts of both Luke and Josephus to cover it up.

    Not only do manuscripts of Luke give distances of as much as 160 and as little as 7 stadia, with 60 being the most common I believe, but the manuscripts of Josephus have both 30 (which no copies of Luke use) and 60. Maybe they both originally said 60 and then people copying the books messed both of them up, but it seems much more likely that there were intentional changes made to get these books to agree with each other.

    Additionally, the place Josephus talks about actually seems to exist (as Kolonieh), and is approximately 30 stadia from Jerusalem. So perhaps the author of Luke was wrong?

    This guy seems to think he has it figured out, but really once he rules out the more popular possible sites, he just seems to say “Well, the Bible must be right, and this place is at about the right distance, so that must be it!”

    Another apparent believer also talks about the different manuscripts of Josephus.

    I doubt that this will prove anything to you, but I hope that it at least helps you understand some of the reasons I find these documents so questionable, especially when they are presented as being inerrant, and that it gives you a little more reason to question things.

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