15 More Reasons SJ can’t do History

I’ve made several blog posts refuting SJ “Twitter Apologist” blogs. Most of them were mainly regarding history because SJ has no qualifications in History whereas I have a BA in History. So when I see a lot of errors and sloppy work done in my field, like a doctor coming across another blog claiming vaccines cause autism (spoiler alert: they don’t, they’re safe), I feel strongly compelled to write a response. And after I saw she made a blog response to Richard Carrier, I just could not let slide.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  – John 8:32

The following blog is in response to a rebuttal of one of my blogs by an historian called Richard Carrier. The blog is entitled “Resolving controversies surrounding Joseph of Arimathea and the women who discovered Jesus’ empty tomb.” While reading Carrier’s rebuttal, I came upon a number of assertions, which I have numbered and italicized in bold print in the following list. After each of his assertions, I have offered a response. Carrier’s blog can be accessed here: https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12786

Assertions? After reading Carriers blogs and books, I know his style and know that he provides mounds of research and references to back up his points. Whereas from what I’ve seen in every blog by SJ I’ve written a response to, 99% of her blogs are assertions. She asserts things like “not one of the earliest Christians recanted when tortured and killed,” and every time I ask “where’s your evidence? How do you know that” I get crickets.

I’ve included ALL of SJ’s words in this response to her, lets see how many assertions she and her favorite apologists make.

1. Paul does not mention the empty tomb, Jesus’ burial, or a missing body.

Paul does not need to mention the empty tomb, Jesus’ burial, or a missing body for his account of his encounter with the risen Jesus to be true. As examples, a mother does not need to detail a hospital room in order to prove she gave birth to a baby; a widow does not need to detail the burial site to prove her husband died and was buried; a lunch date does not need to detail the house she left to prove she left her house when meeting for lunch. These are parts of the account of Jesus’ resurrection, which is valid with or without their inclusion.

Mothers and widows can provide empirical proof that their children and husbands are real. A lunch date can at least tell the location of the lunch spot.

Paul may not need certain thing for his hallucination/encounter to be real, but Paul was running around making an extraordinary claim that a magic man beat death and ascended to Heaven. And as the saying goes, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” It’s not just that Paul does not provide any extraordinary evidence, it’s that he does not provide even adequate evidence. Why? Because Paul, and every church leader since the 1st century, has preached faith as the most important thing ever. Cuz who needs facts and evidence when you have faith?

Jesus’ resurrection itself is of the utmost importance to Christianity. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul quotes a Creed that the earliest Christians memorized. “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me, as to one abnormally born.”

We know what is central to Christianity, what would be nice is some evidence.

We have no evidence that there was five hundred eyewitnesses to begin with! All we have is Paul’s say-so. Ask yourself, who were these 500 people, and doesn’t it seem like an odd number? Why didn’t Paul name them; or tell us where they came from; or record their age; or where they’re from and where they went; or tell us anything of value. Either this is a great example of piss-poor journalism, or – and this is most likely – it’s a fake number used to bolster the mystery cult’s ranks, to give them more credibility on their mission to convert.

When I was in college working toward my BA in History, I used to volunteer at the Museum of Tolerance twice a week. Half the time I would provide tours for the public, the other half working in the Library and Archives with Holocaust survivors. Before permitting anyone to provide tours, the Museum always dedicates about 3 to 4 months making sure we knew European history as well as how to engage people, essentially prepping us to be sure we knew how to answer as many questions presented to us by the public. During the lectures addressing the commonly asked question on “how did the Nazi party” gain momentum to win control of Germany, there are a lot of reasons on how this happened, but I recall a very interesting story. The Nazis were a fringe group of racist radicals, but they were small and insignificant. So what did the Nazis do to be taken more seriously? They boosted their own membership ranks by 500, and when new recruits signed up to join, they were given a number. Example, if Hanz signed up and was Member #576, in reality he was the 76th guy to join. Why do this? Because a group of at least 500 members is taken more seriously then a small group with a dozen members.

SJ in other blogs has argued, “We have no evidence anyone said that there were not five hundred eyewitnesses”…. okay first of all, the burden of proof is on the one making the positive claim. No one has to disprove something that hasn’t been proved to begin with. Besides, how can the Corinthians verify Paul’s statement if he didn’t name any of them? Paul didn’t even name the time and place where these 500 witnesses were. Paul must have known it would be virtually impossible to disprove such a claim, considering the primitive means of communication of the age.

Also consider, why is an incident of this magnitude not mentioned in any Gospel or the book of Acts? And how could there be five hundred men at this appearance when the book of Acts (1:15) tells us that there were only around 120 believers total at the time of Jesus’ ascension? Either Paul or Luke (or both) is wrong about these figures, but they can’t both be right.

In 1 Corinthians 15:20, Paul states “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” In other words, Paul stated that he witnessed the risen Jesus, as did the early Christians he referenced in his letter to the Corinthians.

Is that what he said? Regarding Paul himself seeing Jesus, the book of Acts gives us a hint of what Paul saw (or didn’t). Paul’s claim in 1 Corinthians that Jesus lastly appeared to him… but Paul doesn’t say exactly what he saw. So some decades after 1 Corinthians, the author of Acts tells us that Paul saw a light that blinded him and heard a voice (Acts 9:3-7, 22:6-9, 26:13-15) whereas in Acts 9:7 the men with Paul are said to hear the voice, but see no one: “And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.” In Acts 22:9 the claim is made that those accompanying Paul “saw the light, but did not hear the voice.” In Acts 26:13-14 Paul is quoted as saying that all those present saw the light, but mentions that he alone heard a voice. The light, it is claimed, blinds Paul. However, no one else but he is said to have been effected by the light. So what we have here is a contradiction among other witnesses, and a man (Paul) who had a seizure and heard a voice, but saw no form because he was blinded.

In 1 Corinthians 12:5-8, the verb ophthe simply expresses Paul’s claim that Jesus “appeared” too them. The use of ophthe within the context of Paul’s statement is significant. Paul’s use of ophthe in expressing both his own visionary experience and those allegedly seen by the disciples is significant because his supposed encounters with the risen Jesus are never with a tangible form. In claiming the same experience for himself as experienced by the disciples, Paul is relating that “what was seen” by the disciples is also a visionary experience devoid of any physical component.

In Acts 22:17-18 it is said that Paul “saw” (idein) Jesus while in a “trance” (ekstasei) in the Temple. The word ekstasei is a combination of stasis, “standing,” and ek, “out.” It suggests the idea of standing out of oneself, that is, the nature of a trance. In this description, Paul uses a different verb for seeing the apparition then he uses when describing the experiences of the disciples.

For his and the disciples’ experience, Paul used the word ophthe (“appeared to“). Yet, when he described his vision while in a trance in the Temple he used the word idein (“saw“). “Have I not seen [heoraka] Jesus our Lord?” Paul asks rhetorically in 1 Corinthians 9:1.

In summary, according to Paul, both his experience and that of the disciples were respectively not with a material bodily form. So according to Paul himself, did Jesus really rise from the dead? Or, as Richard Carrier noted here, perhaps Paul and the disciples believed that Jesus was not a historical person but a celestial being like an archangel.

2. The Gospels name no authors. Instead they use the word “kata,” which “never meant author” but only meant “source.”

The Greek word kata precedes the names of the Gospels and translates as “according to.” In other words, the Gospel of Mark is the Gospel according to Mark. This is consistent with my assertions that the Gospels are attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, regardless of whether four men with those names wrote the Gospels themselves or used scribes, which was a common practice in their time. Bart Ehrman advanced the position that if the Gospels were not authored by the four traditionally accepted authors than they must not be valid, yet it is not authorship that determines validity of historical documents. Content determines validity.

This is consistent with my assertions that the Gospels are attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John“…. being attributed to a person does not mean that said person wrote the piece in question. The point of the matter is this whether the gospels are reliable sources, and reliable sources are primary eye-witness sources. But the gospels are not that, the titles “gospel according to X” gives the illusion that the gospels are reliable but the truth is they are all hearsay accounts (and more specifically, legends).

SJ brought up Bart Ehrman, here is what he had to say about the authorship of the gospels:

“A further reality is that all the Gospels were written anonymously, and none of the writers claims to be an eyewitness. Names are attached to the titles of the Gospels (“the Gospel according to Matthew”), but these titles are later additions to the Gospels, provided by editors and scribes to inform readers who the editors thought were the authorities behind the different versions. That the titles are not original to the Gospels themselves should be clear upon some simple reflection. Whoever wrote Matthew did not call it “The Gospel according to Matthew.” The persons who gave it that title are telling you who, in their opinion, wrote it. Authors never title their books “according to.”” — Ehrman, Bart D.. Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them) (pp. 103-104).

As for SJ’s second point, content is important but not as important as the source itself! Content from a hearsay account is not as important from content from a direct account. That;s why authorship matters, that’s what helps us determine if a source is a primary or secondary account, or even a third account. It also helps us determine if a source is a forgery or not.

According to William Lane Craig (2014), the following criteria, which are met by the Gospels, help to establish their validity:

Oh yeah, don’t cite the historian, cite the philosopher with no credentials in history.

(1) Historical congruence: The message fits in with known historical facts concerning the context in which the message is said to have occurred.

There is so much in the gospels that fails to meet this. There was no Roman census during the supposed birth of Christ; there was no earthquake; there was no sudden black out of the sky for several hours; there temple curtain was not torn; there were no dead rising after the crucifixion; the Sanhedrin and laws in the Mishnah contradict how a trial should take place and operate; there is no independent contemporary sources to validate there was a trial or Jesus was arrested then killed by the Romans; there is no mention of the town of Nazareth during the time of Jesus; etc.

Pretty much every major event in the Jesus story is not supported by history. Several other people are supported by history (John the Baptist, Pontias Pilate, Caiaphas, etc) but when it comes to Jesus Christ himself, zilch.

(2) Independent, early attestation: The message appears in multiple sources which are near to the time at which the message is alleged to have occurred and which depend neither upon one another nor upon a common source.

A) Matthew, Luke and John copied from Mark — that’s disqualifies 3 Gospels as independent sources.

B) The earliest gospel is estimated to have been written by an anonymous source 45 years after Jesus supposedly died, all of which is based on hearsay. 45 years is not “contemporary” or “written during the time of X.”

(3) Embarrassment: The message is awkward or counter-productive for the persons who serve as the source of information for same.

I’ve looked at the examples of “embarrassing” stories… stories that any bullshit detective can spot are deliberately crafted to be appealing stories. In other blogs, SJ has noted several so-called “embarrassing” stories, which include: Mary thought Jesus had gone mad, Jesus’ brother was a skeptic, a lowly woman washed Jesus feet, and Peter doubted Jesus.

Going in order: Think about this for a second, somehow Mary thought her son had gone mad but totally forgot that she was a virgin that gave birth to a kid AND an angel visited her and Joseph? Or the Magi and shepherds? I mean what in the actual Hell? Did Mary and Joseph suffer from short-term memory loss?

Highly unlikely that Mary forgot about a miraculous birth, was visited by an angel and eventually thought her son was mad. No, I think the Gospel authors are making these up as they go. So why say that Mary thought her son was mad? What’s the catch? Seems cleverly simple. Saying that Jesus’ followers and family thought he was “mad” and called “possessed” (Mark 3:22, John 7:20) makes it sound like people have already expressed their doubts and skepticism, yet still became believers anyway. These stories imply that people were already cautious and put some thought before they converted. The Gospel authors knew what they were doing, they’re clever religious hustlers. The Gospel author’s scheme is this to the local Jews and Gentiles: if other people have already applied their skepticism and still came to accepting Jesus, why should you bother applying your skepticism? Someone already did it for you. So lower your guards and believe. The Gospel authors are essentially saying, “it’s okay, no need to think about it, go and jump in, embrace the Savior before you’re doomed!”

Even if we skip all that, I must ask: how are the above that embarrassing? Students do not always get the message or lesson right off hand. The Disciples were merely human, and humans make mistakes which makes all the more reason for the authors to include such things to make Jesus appear better and more relatable. This is a common tactic comic book authors do with side-kicks; make a few embarrassing moments for the side-kicks to make the superhero look better. However, this does not mean these superheros existed in reality.

(4) Dissimilarity: The message is unlike antecedent Jewish thought-forms and/or unlike subsequent Christian thought-forms.

So many elements in the Jesus story is inexcusably similar to Jewish thoughts. After all, Jesus was supposedly a Jew and the fact is Christianity is a spin-off of Judaism. Of course there will be bits and pieces that don’t align with Jewish thought, such as the claim Jesus was the Messiah, but both Judaism and Christianity believe in a Messiah and there are requirements that need to be met to qualify as the Messiah.

A close inspection reveals that many parts of the story of Jesus was taken directly from the Old Testament, because Christianity as a mystery cult was constructing the tales of Jesus, so they turned to a source to fill in each part (and often misinterpreting the OT as they went). This makes sense because this mystery cult’s mission was to evangelize and convert the Jews as well we the gentiles.

(5) Semitisms: Traces in the narrative of Aramaic or Hebraic linguistic forms.

Rather traces of attempted translations of Aramaic is what we have.

If there was a Jesus, like the local Jews of his time, he would have spoken Aramaic. Paul was born outside of Palestine and his native language was Greek. The Gospels give us zero indication that Jesus followers could read or write, in fact Acts 4:13 says Peter and John were “unlettered” (ancient word for illiterate). So we have Jesus and his small band of Galilean men, if any of them knew Greek it would have been very poor, especially considering they spent their whole lives with other fellow low-class illiterate Aramaic-speaking peasants.

But the Gospel writers on the other hand, though they were written anonymously, close inspection of the gospels reveal that the authors were highly educated, Greek-speaking Christians who probably lived outside Palestine — the exact opposite of what we ought to expect from Jesus and his followers.

So the “traces of Aramaic or Hebraic” words and lines are simply attempts to translated them into Greek. Highly educated authors with an agenda to be apart of a new religion would familiarize themselves with Judaism and the local languages of Palestine to make their gospels much more presentable and believable.

(6) Coherence: The message is consistent with already established facts about Jesus.

He didn’t say “established facts about Pilate or Caiaphas or Israel” he said Jesus. What facts do we know of Jesus? We don’t have any facts about Jesus other than stories based on hearsay. That is literally all we have. Ergo, we have no facts of Jesus to operate with, just myths and legends and the speculations brewed up from those.

Based on these sources, we find that (Turek, 2014, pp. 207):

1) Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar.

2) He lived a virtuous life.

3) He worked miracles.

Allegedly, according to the legend. Where is the proof that he did even a single miracle?

4) He had a brother named James.

5) He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

Allegedly crucified under Pontius Pilate.

6) He was acclaimed to be the Messiah.

And failed to meet all the requirements to be the Messiah.

All the criteria must be fulfilled, emphasis on the All, to become the Jewish Messiah.

1) In Gathering the Jewish Exiles: The Messiah will reign as the Jewish King of Israel and gather all the Jews around the world to Israel. (Duet. 30:3; Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 30:3, 30:27; Ezekiel 11:17, 36:24) But Jesus never reigned as King, nor did he bring all the Jews to Israel.

2) Rebuilding the Holy Temple in Jerusalem:(Isaiah 2:2-3, 56:5-7, 60:7, 66:20; Ezekiel 37:26-27; Malachi 3:4; Zechariah 14:20-21) The Temple was sill standing in Jesus’ day, and destroyed 38 years after his alleged) death by crucifixion, and the temple has not yet been rebuilt.

3) Worldwide Reign of Peace and end of all war (Micah 4:1-4; Hosea 2:20; Isaiah 2:1-4, 60:18) yet since the creation of Christianity, wars have increased. Some fought in the name of Jesus.

4) Embracing of Torah Observance by all Jews: the Messiah will reign as King at a time when all the Jewish people will embrace the Torah and observe God’s commandments. (Ezekiel 37:24; Deuteronomy 30:8, 10; Jeremiah 31:32; Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:26-27) But not all Jews follow the Torah or the Commandments.

5) Universal Knowledge of God: The Messiah will rule during a time when all the people of the world will come to knowledge and serve the “one true God” of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Zechariah 3:9, 8:23, 14:9,16; Isaiah 45:23, 66:23; Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 38:23; Psalm 86:9; Zephaniah 3:9) This has not taken place.

6) From the Tribe of Judah and a Direct Descendant of King David and Solomon: (Genesis 49:10; 2 Samuel 7:12-14; 1 Chronicles 22:9-10). Genealogy in the Bible is only passed down from father to son (Numbers 1:1-18) and there is no evidence that Jesus had this pedigree. The Christian New Testament actually claims that Jesus did not have a birth father (Matthew 1:18-20) from the Tribe of Judah descending from David and Solomon.

All this criteria are found in numerous places in the Jewish Bible. Anyone can claim to be the Messiah, or any group of people can claim that a person is the Messiah. However, if that person fails to meet all the criteria found in the Torah, then he simply cannot be the Messiah. Missionaries and apologists argue that Jesus will fulfill these requirements when Jesus returns during the Second Coming in the future. It is important to understand that this doctrine of a Second Coming is an admission that Jesus did not fulfill the Messianic criteria. This rationalization for his failure provides no reason for accepting him as the Messiah today. Furthermore, the Torah does not have a Messianic installment plan where the Messiah comes, fails in his mission, and then returns thousands of years later to finally succeed.

Missionaries and apologists will claim that Jesus’ performed miracles which indicate that he was the son of God and therefore the Messiah. However we have no real evidence that Jesus performed any miracle. More significantly, even if Jesus did perform miracles, they would not prove that he was the Messiah. The Torah does not say that the Messiah will be recognized for performing miracles, the Torah actually teaches (Duet. 13:2-6) that false prophets can have the ability to perform supernatural miracles.

7) An eclipse and an earthquake occurred when He died.

There was no eclipse during the time of Jesus.

The source she provides to prove the sun going dark for hours…. is a source written 300-400 years after the event. Well, by that logic, I can claim that George Washington and his army crossed the Delaware River under the cover of darkness not because it was  night time but because the darkness was caused by a solar eclipse, and thus beat the British forces. (I know the Delaware crossing wasn’t 300 years ago, but still, making a bold claim about something that happened a long time ago – a phenomenon no one else noted or recorded – and taking that claim seriously is just stupid).

We have second and third hand passages that report to record statements made by non-Christians regarding a darkening of the sun and earthquakes. The first of these comes to us from a 9th century monk who quotes the 3rd century Christian chronicler Julius Africanus, who comments on statements attributed to Thallus and Phlegon. None of the quoted works by Thallus or Phlegon remain, nor does the work by Julius Africanus that presumably makes these references.

Oh, and btw, total solar eclipses can only last a little bit past 7 minutes but no longer then 8 minutes. Thus it is impossible for a solar eclipse to last 3 hours. The gospel claiming that there was a total solar eclipse for 3 hours breaks the laws of physics just as much as the Old Testament claiming that the sun stopped in the sky at noon for several hours (If that happened, Earth’s rotation would come to a halt and the suddenness would literally launch mountains into the sky and we would all be flat as pancakes). Since total solar eclipses can’t last longer 8 minutes, that means Mark 15:33’s claim that there was a 3 hour solar total eclipse is wrong by a margin of 99.96%.

(Source: Mark Littman; Fred Espenak; Ken Wilcox (2008). “A Quest to Understand”. Totality: Eclipses of the Sun. (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press Inc. ISBN 0-19-953209-5. “Eclipse expert Jean Meeus calculates the maximum possible eclipse duration of totality in a solar eclipse is currently 7 minutes 32 seconds.”)

That’s what physics proves, what does history prove? Well, there was a total solar eclipse in the 1st century Israel…. except it happened 4 years BEFORE Jesus was supposedly crucified.

https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEhistory/SEplot/SE0029Nov24T.pdf

8) He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.

Which wouldn’t happen.

Here are rules of the Sanhedrin that were in place at the time according to the Jewish Mishnah:

  1. No criminal session was allowed at night.
  2. No Sanhedrin trial could be heard at any place other than the Temple precincts.
  3. No capital crime could be tried in a one-day sitting. (Mishnah law required that a capital sentence be voted on the day after the trial, so the judges could think on it before taking a life. See the Mishnah, Sanhedrin 5.5).
  4. No criminal trial could be held on the eve of a Sabbath or festival.
  5. No one could be found guilty on his own confession.
  6. No blasphemy charge could be sustained unless the accused pronounced the name of God in front of witnesses.
  7. The Sanhedrin were allowed to execute people on their own and did not need the Romans to do so for them.

The trial of Jesus according to the Gospels violated all of these rules.

That it was illegal even for Romans to perform executions on Jewish holy days in Judea at that time: Carrier, ‘Burial of Jesus’, in Empty Tomb (ed. Price and Lowder), p. 373-75, 377-78, 382-85 (with Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4.1k-l and 5.5a). See also Carrier, Proving History, pp. 139-41, 154, and 317.

More information on the laws of the Sanhedrin can be found here: The Sanhedrin

http://www.lesiecleavenir.fr/pdf/Twelve%20Reasons%20Why%20Jesus%20Trial%20Was%20Illegal.pdf

https://rcg.org/pillar/0902pp-trjtwi.html

The crucifixion scenes in the Gospels are so utterly symbolic and based on the scriptures that as history they are unbelievable. The events of the arrest, trial, and execution defy our knowledge of Jewish law of the time. On the eve of, or during, Passover these are things that they simply did not do. There is also considerable doubt that the Jews would have had any reason to go to the Romans to carry out the execution, or that they would have had him crucified, since the law required death by stoning for blasphemy, which is what Jesus was supposedly charged with. However, “Christ crucified” was already a theme in the teachings of Paul. Crucifixion was a means of execution that was performed by authorities, while stoning was performed by the public. In the apocalyptic and messianic stories of the time where leading figures were executed, the leading figures were executed by authorities, typical heavenly authorities.

9) His disciples believed He rose from the dead.

Again, allegedly.

In Gal. 1.11-12, Paul says he learned the gospel only from a hallucinated encounter with Jesus (a ‘revelation’) whom he experienced ‘within’ himself (Gal. 1.16). He confirms this in Rom. 16.25-26, where Paul says, “My gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ is according to a revelation.”

And Paul was not the only one having visions, he lists many believers hallucinating in Acts.

  1. Acts 7, Stephen hallucinated Jesus floating up in the sky, but no one else there sees it.
  2. Acts 9, Paul hallucinates a booming voice and a beaming light from heaven (and suffers hysterical blindness as a result)
  3. Ananias hallucinates an entire conversation with God.
  4. Acts 10, Cornelius hallucinates a conversation with an angel, and Peter falls into a trance and hallucinates an entire cosmic dinner scene in the sky.
  5. Acts 27, Paul hallucinates a conversation with an angel.

Many Christians receive spirit communications (‘ prophesy’), as indicated in Acts 19.6 and 21.9-10. Paul says (meaning the apostles), ‘God revealed [the secrets of the gospel] through the Spirit’ (1 Cor. 2.10). Likewise, in Rom. 12.6, Paul says Christians in all congregations ‘have gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us; if it be prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith’ (and Paul indicates that these prophets were communicating with spirits, which were under the prophet’s control: 1 Cor. 14.19-32).

So what we have is the word of a guy, his mates, and whole congregations that all engage in hallucinations and visions… and Christian apologists would have us believe they are reliable and trustworthy sources.

10) His disciples were willing to die for their belief.

Do we have any proof they did die?

The only martyrdoms recorded in the New Testament are, first, the stoning of Stephen in the Book of Acts. But Stephen was not a witness. He was a later convert. So if he died for anything, he died for hearsay alone. But even in Acts the story has it that he was not killed for what he believed, but for some trumped up false charge, and by a mob, whom he could not have escaped even if he had recanted. So his death does not prove anything in that respect. Moreover, in his last breaths, we are told, he says nothing about dying for any belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus, but mentions only his belief that Jesus was the messiah, and was at that moment in heaven. And then he sees Jesus–yet no one else does, so this was clearly a vision, not a physical appearance, and there is no good reason to believe earlier appearances were any different.

The second and only other “martyr” recorded in Acts is the execution of the Apostle James, but we are not told anything about why he was killed or whether recanting would have saved him, or what he thought he died for. In fact, we have one independent account in the Jewish history of Josephus, of the stoning of a certain “James the brother of Jesus” in 62 A.D., possibly but not necessarily the very same James, and in that account he is stoned for breaking the Jewish law, which recanting would not escape.

So James may have been arrested for breaking a Jewish law, but other than that we have no idea. So how do we know James or Stephen were arrested for their beliefs? How do we know they were tortured? And if they were tortured, how do we know that maybe they did recant, only to have the anonymous gospel authors 50-60 years later write stories that “re-wrote” history by asserting that they all “kept the faith” while being tortured?

Paul is believed to have been killed sometime before the end of Nero’s reign in 68 CE. Dionysius’s letter mentioning Peter and Paul’s martyrdom was written about 100 years after the end of Nero’s reign. Tertillian’s source was written in 200 CE.

See the problem here? Even if we agree that Paul and Peter were executed, how can we know they were martyred for their faith? How do we know they never broke faith? For all we know, all of the so-called martyrs dropped their faiths in prison, only for Christian followers generations later re-write history and hype-up the deaths of the first believers.

Given the above shows how little we know, how we don’t have enough proof, to claim the disciples were martyrs as a historical “fact” is dishonest.

11) Christianity spread rapidly in Rome.

And Islam spread rapidly around the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Africa. Mormonism spread rapidly in America. What does that prove?

The reason why Christianity spread rapidly in Rome is because the Christians converted the right people, primarily Emperor Constantine and his successor, who both basically made Christianity the law of the land of Europe’s largest Empire of the Age and outlawed the other pagan religions. This is what cemented Christianity into Europe, even after the fall of the Roman Empire. The Empire may have crumbled, but the populace across most of Europe were already converted, and the Church still maintained huge power, and the Church fought to keep that power. So much power that new Kings and Queens had to be anointed by a Pope or Archbishop to be legitament, making the rising kingdoms codependent with the Church, thus cementing the church’s existence.

In shortest terms: Christianity didn’t spread because it’s true, it spread by the happenstance of geopolitics.

12) His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshipped Jesus as God.

So what? ALL the Jews who lived in 1st century Palestine denied the Roman gods, and they denied the new “Christ god.”

Ten authors mention Tiberius Caesar, who was the Roman emperor who reigned during Jesus’ ministry, within 150 years of Jesus’ resurrection: Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Seneca, Paterculus, Plutarch, Pliny the Elder, Strabo, Valerius Maximum, and Luke (Habermas & Licona, 2004).

Myths include real locations and real rulers to make them more believable, but the existence of kings or emperors doesn’t mean that the mythical character is real. Does the existence of King Richard the Lionheart, Prince John, and the existence of the town Nottingham and by extension the Sheriff of Nottingham all prove the existence of Robin Hood? Of course not.

Think about it, if you wanted people to believe a story, you would include real places and even real people in your tale. Ghost stories typically utilize both. And for all those who have heard ghost stories when you were young (hopefully they were as good as the ones I heard), congratz you already know the basics of what makes a myth become believable story. If you want to graduate from telling ghost stories to starting a mystery cult, you just need to add a few more things but the basics still remain: use real locations and mention real people. Christianity is, in a way, a ghost story (Lazarus, Jesus, and then many people rising from the grave and walking into Jerusalem) mixed with some supernatural, philosophical and ethical teachings then viola! you have a religion.

3. The Gospels all copy Mark and Matthew copies Mark “verbatim, and adds and alters freely.

Many Gospel scholars believe that the authors of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) either built their materials from a shared Q document or Matthew and Luke built their Gospels from Mark’s Gospel (Green, McKnight & Marshall, 1992). John’s Gospel, however, is different. The book of John gives an outline of Jesus’ life, yet he reports five miracles not reported by the other authors. Only two miracles reported in the other Gospels are reported in John and the book contains no parables. John emphasizes the miracles that prove that Christ is God, yet shows that He is human through his emotions and physical needs (tired, sad, hungry, and thirsty).

Even if we had only one Gospel account of Jesus’ life – the Mark account – we would still have enough extra-biblical support for His virtue, miracles, disciples’ beliefs, and resurrection. The fact we have three additional Gospels, and one (John) is unique, gives us the ability to establish a strong case for Jesus.

There are no “extra-biblical” supports to prove anything, especially a miraculous resurrection.

Now concedes my point that the Synoptics are just redactions of each other and not independent sources. Then tries to salvage her position by lying about the Gospel of John being independent of the Synoptics. All specialists will tell you: it’s not.

4. The women who went to the empty tomb “never” told anyone as per Mark 16:8.

At the end of the Gospel of Mark 16:8, Carrier indicates that the women who went to the empty tomb and were told by a young man wearing a white robe that “He is risen” never said anything to anyone. Yet the Gospel does not say never. The Gospel says “They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid” at the point in time in which they had left the empty tomb. That’s where the Gospel ended. Yet the other three Gospels picked up where Mark left off. They tell us that the women encountered Jesus and they shared news of their encounter with the apostles. The other Gospels complete the account.

Here SJ doesn’t even bother to address Richard Carriers point (shocker), she just makes up a new argument. Pretends stories made up after Mark, tell us what Mark reported, which is false and illogical. That’s not how stories work.

5. Tacitus reported that Nero had people killed “for a specific act of arson,” not because they were Christians. Additionally, “hardly anyone is ever even threatened with death.” Stephen and James were martyred, but Christians only faced “random acts of violence.”

Yet in Tacitus’ Annals, Tacitus details the great fire which consumed Rome before stating the following:

“But neither human help, nor imperial munificence, nor all the modes of placating Heaven, could stifle scandal or dispel the belief that the fire had taken place by order. Therefore, to scotch the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians. Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus, and the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judaea, the home of the disease, but in the capital itself, where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and find a vogue. First, then, the confessed members of the sect were arrested; next, on their disclosures, vast numbers were convicted, not so much on the count of arson as for hatred of the human race. And derision accompanied their end: they were covered with wild beasts’ skins and torn to death by dogs; or they were fastened on crosses, and, when daylight failed were burned to serve as lamps by night. Nero had offered his Gardens for the spectacle, and gave an exhibition in his Circus, mixing with the crowd in the habit of a charioteer, or mounted on his car. Hence, in spite of a guilt which had earned the most exemplary punishment, there arose a sentiment of pity, due to the impression that they were being sacrificed not for the welfare of the state but to the ferocity of a single man.”

Here is the full quote by Carrier: “Christian Apologist makes a lot of dubious assertions in her rambling about this that aren’t particularly on point. For example, she mistakenly thinks the account in Tacitus (which is probably fake anyway) describes the punishments for being a Christian, when in fact Tacitus explicitly says they were the punishments for a specific act of arson, by an emperor whose bizarre treatment of those victims was condemned by everyone. Real scholars now know, Christian tales of martyrdom are wildly exaggerated or outright false (see Christian scholar Candida Moss, The Myth of Persecution, which agrees with most mainstream peer reviewed literature on the subject now). In reality, the Christians faced very little actual persecution, and escaped most of it easily.

Even the book of Acts depicts this, and that was Christianity’s own propaganda! Despite covering nearly thirty years of Christian history from day one until just before the event Tacitus would have been speaking of, hardly anyone is ever even threatened with death, much less killed. In Judea, only Stephen is killed—and not by having been convicted of anything, but by in effect a rioting mob. Then James the Pillar—who gets beheaded over a decade later; yet we are never told why. Everyone else, including Peter himself, safely continues running their whole church in the middle of Jerusalem for decades with hardly any interference. They get chased out eventually, but still unharmed. Beyond, only scattered random acts of violence occur, which the Roman authorities always rescue them from. So Christian Apologist’s picture of Christian “danger” is simply bogus. It’s not supported even by her own Bible.

SJ makes it appear that Carrier only said violence against Christians were random. But if you re-read the quote by Tacitus (which is probably fake, keep in mind), the Christians were targeted for being troublemakers and scapegoated by a psychopathic ruler.

Also, quoting Tacitus again after being told that the passage by Tacitus is probably fake is not an argument. Rather, it’s a sign of being slow. If I pointed out the 1997 JFK documents were hoaxes (which they were), they don’t magically become non-hoaxes just by repeating what they said. SJ argues like a child.

Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 15:30, Paul states “And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour. I face death every day – yes, as surely as I boast to you in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In 2 Corinthians 11:23-26, Paul says “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and have been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.”

Paul in 1 Corinthians isn’t talking about facing death as in facing persecution, he’s talking about facing DEATH as a mortal. The line right before verse 30 says, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, If the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (Btw, this is the verse that the Mormons use to justify their belief in the baptism of the dead.) Here are the next two verses after verse 30, “I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our LORD, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.”

The authors of many of the books in the New Testament met gory fates. Peter was crucified upside down, James was killed by Herod Agrippa (Acts 12: 1-2), and Paul was beheaded by Nero in Rome. These were confirmed by the Eusebius, the first church historian, in his book “Ecclesiastical History.” The martyrdoms of Peter and Paul were also documented by Dionysius of Corinth, Tertillian and Origen. The martyrdom of James was also documented by Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement of Alexandria (Habermas & Licona, 2004).

Was Eusebius a valid eyewitness to these executions, or is all his reports based on Hearsay?

Furthermore, here’s the $64 question: did Jesus’ buddies really die gory deaths? How do we know, where’s the proof?

Was Peter crucified down? The first mention of this is recorded nearly 200 years after Peter was allegedly crucified. Was James, son of Zebedee, killed by Herod Agrippa? It’s only mentioned in Acts 12. And Paul, who said that he was beheaded and who can confirm that? The New Testament does not say when or how Paul died.

“Clement does not say why Paul was killed, only that it was a result of some sort of envy and its resulting betrayal. He mentions Peter having been martyred for the same reason, but not where or when. He then mentions other recent Christian martyrs in general (naming no one in particular). Notably absent is any mention of James having been martyred— despite that supposedly happening around the same time as Peter and Paul, and despite his supposedly being the very brother of Jesus (and in later legend a major leader of the church). In fact, Clement does not appear to have any knowledge of Jesus having had brothers.” (On the Historicity of Jesus, Chapter 8, Element 5, Richard Carrier)

In summary, the martyrdoms and persecution of early Christians were well-documented historically and extra-biblically. These were not merely “random acts of violence.”

Re-read the above, every example of these “Christian martyrs” were either targeted for other reasons (some of which the act of recanting would not have saved them anyway) or the accounts are based on hearsay or fake.

6. “Plenty of religions are begun with visions.”

Yes, plenty of religions are begun with visions, but they’re begun with the visions of a single man. Christianity, in contrast, was begun with the testimonials and visions of dozens of men and women who proclaimed that they had witnessed the risen Jesus. People may have visions, but people do not have shared visions of a man whom God resurrected from the dead.

Again, SJ entirely ignores Carriers argument about the natural causes and cultural ubiquity of visions. Says nothing logically coherent or relevant on that point.

Christianity, in contrast, was begun with the testimonials and visions of dozens of men and women“….. SJ didn’t say that Christianity is the ONLY religion that begun with testimonials and visions of multiple persons. George Harrison, the guitarist for the Beatles was a Bhaki Hindu. He believed in a personal god, and he said that if one chants the mantras with devotion, Lord Krishna would visibly appear and speak to him in an audible voice. Many pagans are similarly convinced of having met their deities too. Norse mythology/Asatru had multiple accounts of visions, from seeing Odin the Wanderer to hearing Thor during a lightning storm. Plus it makes it easy to have visions of multiple beings when you take mushrooms. The study of the role of mushrooms in religion is called ethnomycology, and it is quite fascinating. (Well it’s a fun subject to learn on the side after researching into the neurosciences that explain which tests of brain stimuli have produced strong religious experiences)

Michael Harner, an anthropologist who lived among the Jivaro Indians of the Ecuadoran Amazon, described his experience with ayahuasca as follows: “For several hours after drinking the brew, I found myself although awake, in a world literally beyond my wildest dreams. I met bird-like people, as well as a dragon-like creature who explained they were the true Gods of this world. I enlisted the services of other spirit helpers in attempting to fly through the far reaches of the Galaxy. Transported into a trance where the supernatural seemed natural, I realized that anthropologists, including myself, had profoundly underestimated the importance of the drug in affecting native ideology.” Multiple bizarre people, even dragons… if mushrooms can stimulate this kind of vision, imagine multiple people taking these mushrooms and starting a new faith around it.

This is why I’m glad I don’t partake in hallucinogenic drugs. *[take a sip of a Guinness]

Anyway, I sidetracked, circling back. The point is there are religions that have started with visions of a single person/entity and religions started with visions of multiple persons/entities, does one become more real than the other? And if so, why? Or perhaps, neither. Even though the visions can be explained by many possible natural causes (temporal lobe epilepsy, fugue states, DMT, etc.), but for the sake of argument let’s say that the visions had a supernatural cause, how can we determine which of them is genuine or which ones were natural? And if we determine one or several of these spiritual experiences were caused by supernatural beings, how do we know that these beings are what they say they are? What I mean by that, think of it like this: Is the giant Head of Oz really the great and powerful wizard Oz, or is there someone/something else hiding behind the curtain masquerading as Oz? Is the “angel of light” really an angel, or is it Satan disguised as a angel of light as mentioned in Revelations? Is Harbard really just a human ferryman looking after Hildolfr’s boat, or is Harbard really the god Odin disguised as a ferryman?

Whenever I encounter theists who claim to have had certain experiences encountering God and feeling his “presence” or hearing his voice, every time I ask “how do you know it wasn’t a trickster?” I call this the Wizard of Oz argument… and to this day, 5 years since I first used it, not a single one of them has provided an answer. Not one of them has shown they have “looked behind the curtain” to verify the validity of the source they believe it came from. Instead of offering any inkling of verification in order to take their story seriously, all they provide is repeated bold-faced assertions along the lines of “I know what I know what I know” without ever explaining HOW they know. In the end, they always admit that they just end up relying on faith to credit their God as the source of their spiritual experience — which “faith” basically means “pretending to know things you do not know” and “wishful thinking.”

Early Christians such as Peter, Paul, and James refused to recant their testimonials, as they preferred to die gory deaths to proclaim what they knew to be the truth.

…I’m going to need another Guinness.

How do we know that they didn’t recant? Where is the independent contemporary sources that verify anything? Each of the deaths of these men were all written by non-contemporary sources basing their whole thing on hearsay. For all we know one of them or even all of them recanted, but the church leaders that succeeded the vacant positions we’re like “nah-ah” and told “alternative facts” so much so that eventually their congregations believed it and the “they never recanted” became the tradition we have today. (If it works with Trump followers, how hard is it to convince a bunch of superstitious people who embrace that make-believe is more important than facts?)

Here’s the $64 question: did Jesus’ buddies really die gory deaths? How do we know, where’s the proof?

Was Peter crucified down? The first mention of this is recorded nearly 200 years after Peter was allegedly crucified. Was James, son of Zebedee, killed by Herod Agrippa? It’s only mentioned in Acts 12. And Paul, who said that he was beheaded and who can confirm that? The New Testament does not say when or how Paul died.

Of the major religions in the world (and aside from Judaism), only one is based on a collection of books penned by multiple (at least thirty-three) authors: the Christian Bible. Hindu’s Bhagavad Gita is attributed to the Sage Vyasa, who said its message came from the Supreme Being, Sri Krsna, or Lord Krishna. Legends indicate that Vyasa was the son of the ascetic Parashara and an aboriginal princess named Satyavati. Islam’s Quran was inspired by Muhammed, who stated that the angel Gabriel appeared to him. Muhammed was a caravan merchant of the powerful Hashemite clan of the Quraysh tribe. The Quraysh tribe controlled Mecca, but Muhammed was unable to convince people in Mecca on the authenticity of Islam, so he moved to Medina where he wielded considerable political, legal, and religious power and authority (Wawro, 2008). Confucianism is a set of beliefs developed by a wise man called Confucius. Confucius was a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher. Another Chinese philosopher named Lao-tzu inspired Taoism. Finally, Gautama Siddhartha, who was trained as a prince, inspired Buddhism.

….good grief, I need a stiffer drink. Maybe add Jameson to my Guinness and make a Drunk Leprechaun.

Seriously how the hell can you make an argument about multiple authors, say Christianity is the ONLY one while citing an exception, and yet completely ignore that the Quran was written by multiple scribes close to Mohammad, and then finalized by Uthman the Caliphate who gave us the Quran as we know it. Siddhartha may have inspired Buddhism just as Jesus did with Christianity, but Jesus never wrote anything his followers did. Take a look at the list of texts of Buddhism, holy crap it’s a long list and thus a long list of authors.

SJ mentioned the Bhagavad Gita, but left out the oldest scriptures in Hinduism, the Vedas. There are 4 Vedas and each has 4 major texts, which are believed to have been recorded by ancient sages (Rishis). Here’s a kicker, some of these Rishis were women. The Rig Veda mentions Romasha, Lopamudra, Apala, Kadru, Visvavara, Ghosha, Juhu, Vagambhrini, Paulomi, Yami, Indrani, Savitri, and Devayani. The Sama Veda adds Nodha, Akrishtabhasha, Sikatanivavari and Gaupayana. That’s just the women from two Vedas, we haven’t added the men. But considering that SJ’s number of 33 authors is including both the OT and NT, if we just consider the authors the NT since we’re addressing Christianity, the female rishis alone outnumber the NT authors by approx. by 7. However if we factor in the anonymous forgers who wrote epistles using Paul’s name, they could tie. But by now we know the number of authors of the Vedas is higher when we remind ourselves there are many male authors and two more Vedas full of authors, so we know the winner!

While that was fun disproving apologists at their own game, the bottom line is that none of it matters, truth and validity of scriptures is not a numbers game. Evidence is all that matters. And for once I’d like to see some in an apologist’s blog.

Furthermore, the Bible differs from other religious texts due to the martyrdoms of many of its authors. In addition to the aforementioned martyrdoms in the New Testament, these include prophets in the Old Testament such as Zechariah, Habakkuk and Jeremiah, who were killed by stoning (e.g., 2 Chronicles 24), Amos, who was tortured and murdered by the priest of Bethel and Isaiah who was sawn in half under the orders of Manasseh (Epiphanius; 2 Kings 21; Hebrews 11:37; Babylonian Talmud; Jewish Talmud; Williams, 1995). Zechariah, the son of Berachiah, was murdered by Joash the king and his blood was sprinkled between the steps and horns of an altar (Bar Bahlul).

…I’m going to drink myself to death getting through this.

the Bible differs from other religious texts due to the martyrdoms of many of its authors“… so what? Does martyrdom immediately mean certain faiths are true?

And what exactly is the number? SJ says “aforementioned martyrdoms in the New Testament” but we already went over those martyrs… of all of them, if we assume the traditions as they are told are true, it all adds up to ONE AUTHOR, PAUL! Paul, despite never meeting Jesus on Earth, is the only author we know of that was an author and later believed to have been martyred. The rest of the authors of the gospels are anonymous, and thus we have no way of identifying them to determine if they were martyrs or not.

Even if we add Paul to the list of martyrs of the Old Testament, that totals 7. Well done, that is 2 fewer martyrs than the most notable martyrs in Sikhism. Even if Christianity had 700 martyrs, why are we supposed to be impressed or persuaded by that? People die for errors and lies and beliefs all the time. As Richard Carrier suggested in his blog, see Christian scholar Candida Moss, The Myth of Persecution.

Unlike the authors of some other religions, particularly those rooted in land acquisition and power, most of the biblical authors lived modest lives, reaping no financial or tangible rewards for their message or (in some cases) their bravery. Their treasures awaited them in heaven.

A) Re-read the Bible, Judaism is a big religion in land acquisition and power. Just ask the Canaanites.

B) Even if they all lived modest lives, that doesn’t by fiat logically exclude them for being martyrs for a false faith.

7. “Luke, meanwhile, never says he witnessed anything.”

Luke begins the book of Acts by speaking in the third person, yet in the sixteenth chapter, he starts to refer to himself in the first person as he accompanied Paul on his trips. Acts 16:11 says, “From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. Acts 21:1 says “After we had town ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Kos. Acts 27:1-2 states, “When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea.” Though Luke likely did not see the risen Jesus, he certainly embraced His message by painstakingly documenting Jesus’ life and the apostles’ early experiences in the book of Luke and Acts. In other words, Luke had first-hand contact with eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life and ministry.

SJ just admitted that Luke was not an eyewitness. All his accounts of the event were based on hearsay.

William Lane Craig (2014) states: “Was the author reliable in getting the facts straight? The book of Acts enables us to answer that question decisively. For Acts overlaps significantly with the secular history of the ancient world, and the historical accuracy of Acts is indisputable. This has been demonstrated anew by Colin Hemer, a classical scholar who turned to New Testament studies, in his book The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1989). Hemer goes through the book of Acts with a fine-toothed comb, pulling out a wealth of historical detail, ranging from what would have been common knowledge down to details which only a local person would know. Again and again Luke’s accuracy is demonstrated: from the sailings of the Alexandrian corn fleet to the coastal terrain of the islands to the peculiar and shifting titles of local officials, Luke gets it right.”

Tries to change her position by citing lies by W.L. Craig about what long-dead historians who weren’t experts in biblical studies once incorrectly claimed about the book of Acts, all of which having been refuted by historians since.

(See my chapter on Acts in On the Historicity of Jesus for the non-obsolete scholarship on Acts. Which Craig knows about. And pretends doesn’t exist. Instead he leaps back fifty and a hundred years to find obsolete statements to quote, by non-specialists. Because no current historians or specialists in Acts support what he wants you to believe. This is how SJ is either a dupe, or duping you.)

“According to the classical historian A. N. Sherwin-White, ‘For Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd.’ The judgment of Sir William Ramsay, a world-famous archaeologist, still stands: ‘Luke is a historian of the first rank . . . . This author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.’ Given this author’s care and demonstrated reliability, as well as his contact with eyewitnesses within the first generation after the events, this man can be trusted when it comes to matters in the life of Jesus for which we do not enjoy independent confirmation.”

Sherwin-White has been known for making extreme exaggerations. He is a historian of Roman and Greek eras, but when he tries to defend the NT, he makes a series of errors by down-playing sources in his field while elevating the NT to make it look like they are on even footing when they are not. Richard Carrier has written and pointed out instances of these errors.

As for Ramsay, he did a good job at archaeology (his field of expertise), but not so much at analyzing the gospels. For instance, Ramsay concluded that ALL of the Pauline epistles were authentic… yet the scholarly consensus has overwhelming concluded most of them are in fact forgeries. In the case of Luke, his argument assumes Luke is the author but we know that is not the case: the gospel of Luke was written anonymously by a non-eyewitness who heard the story from someone who heard the story from someone. To idolize the author of Luke as a “historian of the first rank” falls apart when a historian relies only on hearsay accounts.

At the very least, Ramsay understands and admits at the end there is no independent confirmation. And that perhaps a historians worst nightmare.

8. “We have no eyewitness testimony from Peter (2 Peter is recognized by all mainstream scholars as a forgery; and 1 Peter never claims to have witnessed anything).”

Peter was one of the disciples to discover Jesus’ empty tomb and after that, he was among the disciples to whom Jesus appeared. Luke’s reports of Peter’s actions in the book of Acts make it quite clear that he believed in Jesus’ resurrection. His speech to the crowd following Jesus’ resurrection into the heavens (Acts 2:14-40) included “But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him” (Acts 2:24).

Luke reports Peter as a witness to a risen Jesus….. So what we have here is hearsay. No eyewitness testimony from Peter, exactly what Richard Carrier said!

In Acts 11:16, he says “Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. So if God gave them the same gift He gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?’”

A) What does this have to do with the lack of eyewitness testimony of a risen Jesus? How does including a snippit from Acts have any relevance to Carrier’s original point that we have no testimony from Peter?

B) Since baptism was mention, and Carrier and I are mythicists, I think it’s proper I quote Carrier on the role baptism reveals to us how Christianity formed as a mystery cult. In his book, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, Carrier lists 4 trends that were common in Hellenized mystery religions:

“Finally, cosmopolitanism was part of the same trend. Each mystery religion explicitly created a new group identity transcending all traditional borders and distinctions. Members of the cult became universal brothers and sisters regardless of their actual family ties or geographical, national, or social origins. Mystery cults were thus no longer restricted to a single city, state, or race, or even social status, but spread everywhere and accepted everyone (whether slave or free, rich or poor, citizen or foreigner; in most cases even male or female), thereby uniting all classes, races, and peoples in a new common humanity. So when Paul writes that ‘for in one spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free’ and thus we are all brothers (1 Cor. 12.12-13; cf. also Gal. 3.26-29; Rom. 12.4-5; and 1 Cor. 10.17; 12.12-25) he is echoing an ideology that had already been popularized by the Hellenistic mystery religions. Indeed he is here pulling Christianity even more into the orbit of this trend, by doing away with the requirement of initiates to first become Jews through circumcision and other rites (Rom. 10.4-9; Philippians 3; Galatians 2, 5, 6).” — Carrier, Richard. On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt (Ch. 4, Element 11). Sheffield Phoenix Press.

In 1 Peter, Peter writes a letter of encouragement to the Christians living in the Northern part of Asia Minor. In 1 Peter 1:3-4, he states “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade.” Even if we dispute the authorship of 1 or 2 Peter, we cannot discount the content of those books or Acts, which state clearly that Peter believed in Jesus. Biographies are an acceptable means of communicating messages; autobiographies are not required.

Even if we dispute the authorship of 1 or 2 Peter, we cannot discount the content of those books“…. yes, yes we can. Content is pretty much discredited when it’s coming from a forger. Forgers are not biographies.

9. “In Judea, only Stephen is killed—and not by having been convicted of anything, but by in effect a rioting mob.”

This assertion is patently false, as detailed in Acts 6:8- Acts 8. Acts 6:8-13 states, “Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called) – Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia – who began to argue with Stephen. But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke. Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, ‘We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.’ So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin.”

They testified against him in Acts 6:14, stating “For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” Acts 7 details Stephen’s response to the accusations, which infuriated the Sanhedrin.

Acts 7:54-58: “When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.”

Falsely claims Stephen is formally convicted and executed in Acts….. yet in everything SJ cited, no conviction occurs; no legal procedure is followed in his murder by a rioting mob; and nothing he says pertains to his actually seeing Jesus raised from the dead (pro tip: he didn’t). She presents no evidence otherwise.

10. “Christian Apologist wants to claim Mark and Matthew are eyewitnesses (and admits Luke is not), yet Mark and Matthew have no knowledge of Peter ever seeing an empty tomb!”

Peter and Matthew are among Jesus’ disciples. Peter was at the empty tomb (John 20:3; Luke 24:12) prior to returning to the place where the disciples were staying (John 20:10). John 20:19-29 details Jesus’ appearance to His disciples, first without Thomas’ present and second with Thomas’ present. There is no reason to believe that Peter would not have mentioned the empty tomb at some point while meeting with the other disciples with whom he was staying. The empty tomb was certainly noteworthy!

Doesn’t even respond to Carrier’s argument. Mark and Matthew were not eyewitnesses. SJ claims that Peter was a first-hand witness, but if Mark and Matthew were not there to see Peter at the tomb, that means Mark and Matthew attest to not being witnesses to verify if Peter saw squat! Ergo, no way to verify what Peter saw, if he saw anything, which proves Carriers original point: “Mark and Matthew have no knowledge of Peter ever seeing an empty tomb.” SJ offers nothing to say otherwise. Her counter-argument rests on quoting John and Luke, not Mark and Matthew.

11. In dating the Gospels, J. Warner Wallace, an ex-cop, is cited.

Rather than examine J. Warner Wallace’s message, Carrier opts for an ad hominem attack, questioning Wallace’s credentials. Interestingly, Wallace’s unique credentials offer a fresh perspective on Christian apologetics as he examines Christianity from the viewpoint of a cold-case detective. His methods are sound and his books logically formulated and well-researched. J. Warner Wallace has been a tremendous asset in Christian apologetics. His book Cold Case Christianity, as one example, received accolades from a variety of well-respected Christian apologists, such as Dr. Rick Warren, Josh McDowell, Greg Koukl, Mark Mittelberg, J.P. Morgan, Craig J. Hazen, and Sean McDowell.

Putting a person’s credentials under examination is not an ad hominem attack. Checking whether a person has the relevant qualifications to examine a field is critical. In this case, it would be nice to have someone knowledgeable or qualified in ancient history, ancient literature, ancient culture, or biblical studies. Wallace has NONE of these.

Wallace’s unique credentials offer a fresh perspective on Christian apologetics“…. maybe on Christian apologetics (the art of defending a religion), not on examining ancient history. Those are two different things. Also, “fresh perspective” is not synonymous with correct or honest.

His methods are sound and his books logically formulated and well-researched.” No, they are simply not. In all honest, Wallace’s work is abysmal, full of errors and quite shameful.

His book… received accolades from a variety of well-respected Christian apologists“….. from apologists, not historians. Apologists only care about apologetics, i.e. defending a religion. And said defense of religion doesn’t care about honesty, logic or even accurate research.

12. Papias said nothing about authorship of the Gospels and Eusebius is not credible.

An excellent reference for information about both Papias and Eusebius can be found here: https://taarcheia.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/papias-and-the-gospels.pdf

Support for Papias’ assertions on the authorship of the Gospels is provided, along with his relationship to and documentation by Eusebius.

SJ doesn’t really bother with this one, so neither will I. She doesn’t even respond or try to rebut Carrier’s argument nor correctly describe what he said about Papias or Eusebius.

Look at what Carrier said: We actually don’t know Papias lived in the first century, or was anything but a child then. But that’s moot. Because it’s a total howler to claim he “attributed authorship to the four traditionally accepted authors.” Nope. Papias doesn’t even mention the Gospels of Luke and John in any extant quote, everything he says about Mark and Matthew is demonstrably false (at least, about the Gospels we know under those names), and his explicitly stated methodology (believing rumors rather than records) is the worst, so untrustworthy the Christian historian Eusebius concluded he was an idiot (literally). Papias notoriously believed all kinds of absolutely ridiculous things, like that Judas swelled to the size of a wagon trail and exploded (OHJ, Chapter 8.5). Like Eusebius said, an idiot. Who had no reliable sources for anything he said, and got everything wrong.

And that thing about “the Gospels are not the only ancient documents that do not identify the author”? Um. How does that argue the Gospels weren’t anonymous? Does she now mean they were anonymous, but that’s okay, because so were the Annals of Tacitus? I can’t fathom any coherent argument here. But it’s also not even true. Making no sense aside, it is also not the case that Tacitus published the Annals anonymously. They very much indeed have his name on them. It’s the Twelve Caesars of Suetonius that are missing his name, but only because we are missing the first pages of it, not because his name wasn’t on it. Somehow Christian Apologist has fallen victim to an incompetent amateur telephone game wherein “we’ve lost the title pages of the Twelve Caesars of Suetonius” got twisted around into “Tacitus published the Annals anonymously.” Face, palm. (See my old note on Anonymous Books.)

Now re-read SJ’s response. It’s crystal clear: she is lying.

13. “But the bigger problem is that harmonizations like hers are not credible. Because that is not how any real police investigator or historian reconstructs events. All real investigators, when encountering contradictory stories, correctly assume someone has the facts wrong. They never assume every single claim made by every single witness must be true, and therefore the “whole” truth must be some contrived keystone-cops narrative that explains how they are all completely right. Because that’s extraordinarily improbable.”

The major events in the Bible are not “contradictory stories” and we have no valid reason to assume that “someone has the facts wrong.”

Sample of Contradictory stories:

Why do the gospels contradict whether Jesus was God or not?

When was Jesus crucified?

When did the curtain tear?

Why does only one gospel mention the dead rising from the grave?

Who saw Jesus rise from the empty tomb?

Sample of Historical Facts Wrong:

The census

The tomb

The trial

The hours of darkness

The dead rising from the grave

The Bible is God-inspired and its recorded events were written under His influence.

Proof?

Why would anyone come to the conclusion that the omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent Creator of the universe would have the “facts wrong?”

For one, the concept of a omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent Creator of the universe literally makes no sense.

Second of all, even if we assume for the sake of argument that such a being exists, we can come to the conclusion that said being got the facts wrong if and when they got the facts wrong. It’s that simple.

The more I read the Bible and study the works of the Lord, the more I develop an appreciation for its inerrancy. The Gospels piece together like a puzzle, each providing relevant information to fill in gaps and complete a larger picture of the truth. Witness the way noted above that Luke, Matthew, and John helped to fill in the gaps left behind at the end of Mark. The accounts of the women’s discovery of the empty tomb, when considered together, build a much more robust and complex account of what happened early that first Easter morning.

A) To think that the Bible is without error is the height of wishful thinking and living in willful ignorance.

How can a book with no error be so wrong about so many things, even with itself? (ex. 2 Kings 8:26 and 2 Chronicles 22:2) There was no census during the time of Jesus. No 3 hours of darkness. Failed prophecies. Scientific falsehoods. Evidence of mistranslations and deliberate forgeries.

B) When “considered together,” the endings of each account show a clear indication of Legend, not history. They don’t “piece together,” they add taller tales, and then add taller tales onto of that. The Gospel of Peter (which was rejected when forming the Bible) claimed that after his Resurrection and exiting the tomb, a wooden cross descended from the shining sky and literally spoke (you read that right, the gospel of Peter said a piece of wood could talk). That may sound like WAY overboard, but that line wasn’t crossed in Luke and John? The gospels after Mark were not “filling in the gaps” anymore than the Gospel of Peter.

14. Jesus would have been buried in the Sanhedrin tomb complex – “left there on one of countless shelves among hundreds of other corpses in varying states of decay.”

No single statement could be more offensive than this statement made by Carrier. Yet rather than express my disgust – and fear for his future (which is never an effective approach with atheists), I’ll direct readers to several additional reasons to support Christianity and to consider the resurrection of Jesus as valid and true.

Literally NOTHING SJ says here and elsewhere does she address the issue at hand: Jesus would not have been buried in the Sanhedrin tomb.

Not one word about this from SJ. Rather, she goes on a rant, crying that the truth hurts her poor feelings and why we ought to believe Christianity anyway even though the story does not make historical sense. This is why atheists like myself are no longer Christians, because we value truth and intellectual honesty. So when we see apologists from SJ to Ray Comfort lying their assess off to attract people to their faiths, it is despicable on many levels but it will come around to bite them in the ass once people decide to apply rationality and intellectual honesty, which will lead them to realize they have been lied to by apologists from day 1. There is a reason why atheism is the fastest growing group in America, because more and more people are abandoning the faith they have been fooled into.

Jesus and His Disciples Overcame Monumental Odds

Of all of the great kings who ever reigned or of all of the great men and women who ever lived, only one still reigns and will live and reign forever: a Jewish carpenter, Jesus Christ, who was born, raised, and lived in humble circumstances. Yet unlike all of the kings who ever reigned, Jesus had few material resources. He made friends with people of humble means, including fishermen (Andrew, Peter, brothers James and John, and possibly Thomas and Bartholomew), a tax collector (Matthew), a religious zealot (Simon the Canaanite), and tradesmen (Philip, James the son of Alphaeus, and Judas) (AllaboutJesusChrist.org). When Jesus called on His apostles to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19), His apostles turned the world upside down (c.f., Acts 17:6). The chances that men of such humble means could turn the world upside down, fueling the growth of the world’s most practiced religion seem extraordinarily low. Yet with God, nothing is impossible.

“Yet unlike all of the kings who ever reigned, Jesus had”–STOP. Jesus, if he existed, was never a king. There is no historical ruler of Israel named Jesus in the 1st century.

The chances that men of such humble means could turn the world upside down, fueling the growth of the world’s most practiced religion seem extraordinarily low“– When you convince an emperor of the largest Empire in Europe to join your religion, and the next successor makes said religion the one and only religion the religion of the land and criminalize all other religions, it is no wonder that a religion can become the world’s most practiced religion. So are the odds of this happening “extraordinary low”? Of course not, it’s all about targeting the right people.

Read Richard Carrier’s book Not the Impossible Faith for more elaborate and convincing explanations of how Christianity flourished.

Paul’s Conversion and James’ Skepticism

Furthermore, the conversion of Paul speaks volumes. Paul started out as Saul of Tarsus, who actively pursued Christians for imprisonments and deaths. He first appears in the Book of Acts as a witness of the stoning of Christianity’s first martyr, Stephen. Yet something happened to Paul on his way to Damascus: Jesus Christ appeared to him and he converted, to become one of Christianity’s greatest missionary apostles. Historians don’t dispute that Paul wrote at least six or as many as thirteen books of the New Testament. In these books, he shares his testimony and the way he willingly endured multiple beatings and imprisonments before being beheaded by Nero in Rome.

Paul never met Jesus. His entire ministry is based on the claim he had a “vision” and saw a spirit he credits as Jesus. This does not make Paul an eyewitness, no more of an eyewitness as a random bloke in New Hampshire having a vision of John Lennon even though he never met John Lennon in real life.

If we examine the claims of 1 Corinthians 15 as it stands on it’s own, we learn that the verb ophthe simply expresses Paul’s claim that Jesus “appeared” too them. The use of ophthe within the context of Paul’s statement is significant. Paul’s use of ophthe in expressing both his own visionary experience and those allegedly seen by the disciples is significant because his supposed encounters with the risen Jesus are never with a tangible form. In claiming the same experience for himself as experienced by the disciples, Paul is relating that “what was seen” by the disciples is also a visionary experience devoid of any physical component.

In Acts 22:17-18 it is said that Paul “saw” (idein) Jesus while in a “trance” (ekstasei) in the Temple. The word ekstasei is a combination of stasis, “standing,” and ek, “out.” It suggests the idea of standing out of oneself, that is, the nature of a trance. In this description, Paul uses a different verb for seeing the apparition then he uses when describing the experiences of the disciples.

For his and the disciples’ experience, Paul used the word ophthe (“appeared to“). Yet, when he described his vision while in a trance in the Temple he used the word idein (“saw“). “Have I not seen [heoraka] Jesus our Lord?” Paul asks rhetorically in 1 Corinthians 9:1.

In summary, according to Paul, both his experience and that of the disciples were respectively not with a material bodily form. So according to Paul himself, did Jesus really rise from the dead? Or, as Richard Carrier noted here, perhaps Paul and the disciples believed that Jesus was not a historical person but a celestial being like an archangel.

So what caused Paul’s vision? There is some evidence that Paul had multiple seizure-like episodes comes from his letter to the church in Corinth 22 years earlier where he described multiple visions and called his illness a “thorn in the flesh” and from Satan.

“My wealth of vision might have puffed me up, so I was given a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to rack me and keep me from being puffed up; three times over I prayed to the Lord to relieve me of it, but he told me, “It is enough for you to have my grace; it is a weakness that my power is fully gel.” – 2 Corinthians 12:1-9

Interpretation of parts of the epistles of Paul suggest his facial motor and sensory disturbances were coming after ecstatic seizures and that his religious conversion recurred as a result of ecstatic visions associated with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE).

James, Jesus’ half-brother, also has an extraordinary story. James was initially skeptical of Jesus, as noted when he and his brothers and mother showed up to see Jesus preach (Mark 3:31; Luke 8:19; and Matthew 12:46). They wanted to stop Him, because they felt He was “out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). Yet something happened to James after Jesus was crucified. He witnessed the risen Jesus.

I already shared this near the start of this blog, but it bears repeating:

Think about this for a second, somehow Mary thought her son had gone mad but totally forgot that she was a virgin that gave birth to a kid AND an angel visited her and Joseph? Or the Magi and shepherds? I mean what in the actual Hell? Did Mary and Joseph suffer from short-term memory loss?

Highly unlikely that Mary forgot about a miraculous birth, was visited by an angel and eventually thought her son was mad. No, I think the Gospel authors are making these up as they go. So why say that Mary thought her son was mad? What’s the catch? Seems cleverly simple. Saying that Jesus’ followers and family thought he was “mad” and called “possessed” (Mark 3:22, John 7:20) makes it sound like people have already expressed their doubts and skepticism, yet still became believers anyway. These stories imply that people were already cautious and put some thought before they converted. The Gospel authors knew what they were doing, they’re clever religious hustlers. The Gospel author’s scheme is this to the local Jews and Gentiles: if other people have already applied their skepticism and still came to accepting Jesus, why should you bother applying your skepticism? Someone already did it for you. So lower your guards and believe. The Gospel authors are essentially saying, “it’s okay, no need to think about it, go and jump in, embrace the Savior before you’re doomed!”

Ask yourself, does it sound reasonable that a virgin would give birth, be visited by an angel of the Lord and several wise men, eventually forget that her miraculously born son was proclaimed to be a miracle worker? I for one would say Hell No. What kind of mother forgets all of that? Rather, this whole story of Mary “thinking Jesus was mad and should be stopped” sounds like a complete invention. If such a story can be invented about Jesus’ own mother, how hard is it to fathom that more stories can be invented about other members of Jesus’ family…. like James? We have ZERO first-hand account from James to verify if he was real and what he really thought about Jesus. All we have are hearsay accounts that claim that Jesus was skeptical of Jesus.

James went on to become a missionary and an author of the book of James in the New Testament. Eusebius (c. 263 – 339 A.D.), the first church historian, wrote Ecclesiastical History, in which he cited a variety of authors and described the martyrdoms of Peter, James, and Paul.

We are not told anything about why James was killed or whether recanting would have saved him, or what he thought he died for. In fact, we have one independent account in the Jewish history of Josephus, of the stoning of a certain “James the brother of Jesus” in 62 A.D., possibly but not necessarily the very same James, and in that account he is stoned for breaking the Jewish law, which recanting would not escape.

Why were the early disciples so brave?

1) Early Christian disciples saw the risen Christ.

2) They braved gory deaths to praise and worship Him illegally

3) Why?

4) See item #1

Why were the disciples so brave? Maybe the question is were the disciples insane? Or were the disciples brace because of an error?

1) Allegedly seeing a risen body. Paul tells us that he didn’t see a body. The other sources that claim to have seen a body all come from hearsay accounts.

2) All the disciples SJ thinks died gory deaths cannot be verified. What we know is that the earliest so-called “martyrs” were arrested on charges separated from believing in Jesus, so “recanting” wouldn’t have saved them anyway. Besides that, from Stephen to Peter, all we have is hearsay accounts, so for all we know, these “martyrs” recanted only to have later biased Christians with an evangelical agenda to re-write history.

3) Why?

4) See above.

Jesus Did Not Give Us the Choice to Deny His Divinity

To sum this up, C.S. Lewis (1952) says it best.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

The Liar, Lunatic, Lord argument. It ignores a fourth possibility: Legend.

See the Iron Chariots article / rebuttal C.S. Lewis’s “3 L” argument.

15. Joseph of Arimathea is “symbolic and allegorical” from a “fake town.”

William Lane Craig (n.d.) offers an interesting perspective on Joseph of Arimathea:

“As a member of the Jewish court that condemned Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea is unlikely to be a Christian invention. There was strong resentment against the Jewish leadership for their role in the condemnation of Jesus (I Thess. 2.15). It is therefore highly improbable that Christians would invent a member of the court that condemned Jesus who honors Jesus by giving him a proper burial instead of allowing him to be dispatched as a common criminal.”

“No other competing burial story exists. If the burial by Joseph were fictitious, then we would expect to find either some historical trace of what actually happened to Jesus’ corpse or at least some competing legends. But all our sources are unanimous on Jesus’ honorable interment by Joseph.”

“For these and other reasons, the majority of New Testament critics concur that Jesus was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. According to the late John A. T. Robinson of Cambridge University, the burial of Jesus in the tomb is ‘one of the earliest and best-attested facts about Jesus.’”

Ignores Carriers arguments and all his cited scholarship on Joseph of Arimathea and again quotes more unsupported lies about it by W.L. Craig (none of which rebuts anything Carrier actually said.)

It is therefore highly improbable that Christians would invent a member of the court“…. is it? Is it???

Why would a mystery cult invent Judas? Simple: he has a role to play (plus he has to symbolically personalize the Jews who betray the “Savior” esp. for greed). After the death of their savior, would it be more amazing for the Savior to rise from a grave that is guarded and has a big door (like the opening curtain to a grand opera), or from a common grave (basically a ditch piled with dozens of other bodies then buried)?

Do we have any independent sources that prove that Joseph of Arimathea existed? If so, that would put to rest the doubt that Joseph of Arimathea was a historical person.

Is it unfathomable that Christians could or would invent such a character? No. Why else does this Joseph only appear when he is needed, without explanation or introduction, and then instantly removed when his role is done, never to be heard of again (not even in Acts). He fits the role of literacy device to a T.

Furthermore, Joseph of Arimathea name likely has a symbolic meaning. “Besides the fact that euschēmōn bouleutēs (‘ a prominent council-member’) is a pun (it also means ‘one who makes good decisions’), Arimathaia is probably an invented word, meaning ‘Best Doctrine Town’ (ari– being a standard Greek prefix for ‘best’, math– being the root of ‘teaching’, ‘doctrine’, and ‘disciple’ [e.g. mathē, mathēsis, mathēma, mathētēs], and –aia being a standard suffix of place). No such town is known to have existed. Although close alternatives have been suggested (e.g. that Mark means one of the many biblical cities named Ramah [‘ Hightop’], the most famous of which also had the more elaborate name Ramathaimzophim [‘ Watchers’ Peaks’], which in 1 Sam. 1.1 is spelled in the Septuagint Armathaimsipha, which with the sipha removed is only a couple of letters away from Aramathaia), the coincidence of Mark’s exact spelling with an apposite Greek meaning is more telling (Joseph comes from the place of the ‘best doctrine’ and thus makes ‘good decisions’ and receives the Kingdom of God by honoring Jesus with the legally required burial). For a summary of the various perspectives on this Joseph’s historicity, see William John Lyons, ‘On the Life and Death of Joseph of Arimathea’, Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 2 (January 2004), pp. 29-53 (although see his updated remarks in Lyons, ‘Hermeneutics’).” — Carrier, Richard. On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt (Ch. 10, footnote 108). Sheffield Phoenix Press.

If the burial by Joseph were fictitious, then we would expect to find either some historical trace of what actually happened to Jesus’ corpse or at least some competing legends.”… what if nothing happened to Jesus’ corpse if Jesus was just a legend? You would expect that not trace would be the case if it was just a legend. We have no historical trace of King Arthur’s corpse, does that mean Sir Bedivere was real?

But all our sources are unanimous on Jesus’ honorable interment by Joseph“… and all those sources are HEARSAY sources, and we don’t even have the original manuscripts of those sources (just copies of copies of copies that are incomplete and full of errors from copying and misinterpretations in translations).

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