Response to a Question I Received on Quora

This is a detailed response to someone who responded to my article What evidence exists for the resurrection of Jesus? on Quora.com.  The comment can be seen in its original context here (though I have no control over whether and how long Quora might maintain that comment exchange).

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

A first-century Mediterranean-wide social movement led by Jews and involving thousands of people defying and surviving both Jewish and Greco-Roman customs would seem to be extraordinary by anyone’s standards.

There has been a large corpus of psychological studies done on cult mentality…

What is the point you think this makes?

…and historical research that the gospels change in time…

If the gospels are supposed to have changed so much over time why are New Testaments today so similar?

…with the accounts of the resurrection becoming increasingly dramatized…

I don’t see evidence that they were “increasingly dramatized.”  Scholars are not unanimous about the order in which the four gospels were written.  How therefore could there be “increasing dramatization?”

…(not to mention the numerous contradictions).

Well, actually you did mention that, now didn’t you?  What contradictions appear can be reconciled with a little study and thought, and even then apply only to details – not to the major issues.  The New Testament documents are striking in the consistency of their testimony about Jesus Christ.

Certainly, we see modern-day cults literally putting their lives on the line and throwing everything away simply to espouse beliefs that we see as ridiculous. There exist a large number of people who believed that the world would end in 2012, threw their lives away, and devoted their remaining time to warning people about the oncoming apocalypse! Yet surely one would not take that as evidence for an apocalyptic fate soon to befall the world.

Most modern-day messiahs receive wealth and power from the followers they accumulate.  And typically they may put their followers at risk but not themselves.  Therefore, be more specific.  That is, where is the modern-day cult that you think matches earliest Christianity?

How can one so easily discount the fact that the written accounts of the resurrection and of Christ’s life were simply composed in a very… “liberal” manner so as to satisfy the prophecies of the Old Testament?

What “fact” has been proven in this regard?

How does one also justify calling upon the prophecies for support when the story of Christ only fulfills part of the prophecies or when fulfillment of the prophecies involves hyper-literal interpretation of specific verses of some psalm and an extremely loose interpretation of other verses in the same psalm?”

Again, you are making broad generalizations.  Be more specific if you want your objection to be taken seriously.

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