Thom Waters’ A-F Sequence of Events

This post is an answer to Thom Waters’ request here, to react to his posting of this A-F list here.

A–Jesus was crucified.

Agreed.

B–His tomb was discovered empty of his body.

Agreed.

C–Resurrection became an explanation for the tomb being empty.

Here you go astray.  While your chronological sequence is correct, you are implying a logical sequence that is not required.  Note, for example, that the believers to whom Jesus appeared on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 knew about the empty tomb, but did not conclude that this implied Jesus’ resurrection.  Only when He identified Himself to them and declared His resurrection did they begin to think in those terms.  Thus Jesus’ resurrection appearances chronologically followed discovery of the empty tomb but were not caused by it.

D–There were no claims to any appearances of the Risen Jesus prior to the tomb’s discovery.

Why would there be?  Jesus rose from the tomb on the third day.  The women went to the tomb at sunrise on the third day.  For Jesus to have appeared before then would have him appearing before the third day rather than on the third day.

E–One person, Peter, began to claim to others that Jesus had appeared to him.

That’s not what we read in Luke 24.

F–Stories about other appearances began to circulate, although we don’t have much first hand evidence as to what others actually claimed about these appearances. They are simply anecdotal in nature.

We know that they claimed He was alive.  And that is the central point.

Thus your A-F sequence is a combination of some facts and some innuendo, arranged to imply your thesis: that Peter made up the resurrection story and convinced enough others that the entire Christian movement originated from this deception, and that Jesus was not raised at all.  Taken together, it’s insufficiently factual and insufficiently plausible.

And you still haven’t told me why you think the Bible is reliable when, for example, it says that the tomb was empty but not reliable when it says Jesus appeared to the disciples.

20 Replies to “Thom Waters’ A-F Sequence of Events”

  1. Thom’s posted his answer here.  My response to his response follows:

    I want to thank both of you for elevating the nature of the discourse. Boxing gloves should be made available to both of you. Ah, yes, violence to resolve a dispute that appears to be unresolvable through any other means.

    You are offering a reasoned, if flawed, argument against the resurrection.  Arkenaten is offering an unreasoned argument against it.  I can’t help the difference in interaction that creates.

    Somewhat disappointed also, Mike, in your last post that seems to include the first suggestion to a personal attack. Naive?

    I do not understand to what you are referring.  I have no interest in personal attack.  It is no slight to Arkenaten, nor to anyone else, to suggest Jesus has withstood more scrutiny than we could imagine or bear.

    I noticed that you did not respond to my invitation to list those facts that I omitted from my A-F listing of “facts”.

    It’s an arbitrary list.  No one would know what was “missing” except the one who composed it.  That is, you’ve composed a list based on the narrative arc you see.  I don’t see the story in that way.

    I suppose that “the rest of the scenario” to which you refer would be that others came to believe that Jesus was resurrected. Okay, I will add it to the list as G. The factual list, not to be disputed it appears, now reads:

    I do not see how you could have read my response and come away with the idea that I disputed nothing on your list.

    A–Jesus was crucified. (Did he die? For the sake of argument, I will concede the point).

    B–His tomb was discovered empty of his body.

    C–Resurrection became an explanation for the tomb being empty.

    D–There were no claims to any appearances of the Risen Jesus prior to the tomb’s discovery.

    E–One person, Peter, began to claim to others that Jesus had appeared to him.

    F–Stories about other appearances began to circulate although we don’t have much first hand evidence as to what others actually claimed about these appearances. They are simply anecdotal in nature.

    G–People came to believe that Jesus was, in fact, resurrected from the dead.

    I suppose that covers it. Since you began down this road, I will suggest that I would have imagined you would have been more wise in your ability to distinguish between a simple rendering of “facts” and a “theory” to which you attach me. Where’s the theory in these facts?

    As I wrote above, you are apparently theorizing that Jesus did not appear to anyone and that everyone believed because Peter believed.  Since that is not what the Scriptures report, it is a theory about how the Scripture are wrong.

    And this idea of paying “homage to someone”. What in the world are you talking about? That part of the discussion to which you must refer was a simple discussion of leadership and how movements or beliefs at their core get started.

    I agreed with you that leadership is essential in such a context, and simultaneously pointed out that Jesus is the only person that could have logically filled that role.  I know you say that Peter did, but I gave you some reasons why he’s not a plausible candidate for that role.

    Back to the passion and prejudice of “belief”. I suggest , and it appears to be correct from the documents that “Peter began to claim to others that Jesus had appeared to him.” He was the first to do so. I believe this to be much more intellectually and historically honest than your position which is, if I am correct, that “Peter was the first to whom Jesus appeared.” That, Mike, is more a statement of “belief” on your part. If you are unwilling to acknowledge this difference then so be it.

    It’s as simple as this: When you and I read the Scriptures, we both believe them when they tell us that there was an empty tomb; however, when they go on to say that Jesus appeared to His disciples, you cease to believe them while I continue to believe them.

  2. Mike,

    You are either unwilling or unable to differentiate between the approach I am employing and your own which interjects “belief” into historical research.

    1–The tomb was empty. That appears to be historically correct and verifiable.

    2–Peter began to claim that the Risen Jesus had appeared to him. He was the first to do so. This appears to be historically correct and verifiable. It involves nothing in the way of “belief” on my part.

    3–At what point do the appearances or so-called appearances become historically correct and verifiable? It happens at the time you believe them to be such. You cannot remove “belief” from them at this point. Did they actually happen? Neither believing that they did or not believing that they did determines their actual realness or not. If I choose not to believe them it does not change whether they happened or not. In like manner believing that they happened does not change whether they happened or not. Belief is your jumping off point. The only question becomes, “Why do you choose to either believe that they happened or did not happen?” I am suggesting that based on certain historical “facts”, facts with which you agree, it becomes a reasonalbe conclusion to believe that they most likely did not happen. Again, this conclusion is historically based. That I accept the empty tomb as one part of the story does not by any means suggest an inconsistency on my part if I choose not to believe that part of the story that requires belief. If you can’t understand that, there is nothing I can say or do to assist you. It would be much easier for me to believe if the “facts” were not as we find them.

    Always the best,

    Thom

  3. The source for the information in 1 and 2 is the same source we have for the information in 3. Therefore, I don’t understand why you think accepting the information in 3 involves belief that accepting 1 and 2 doesn’t.

    To put it another way, what is it that makes 1 and 2 historically reliable to you that is not present in 3?

    1. Good point,Mike.
      If one is going to accept the bulldust of 1 & 2 it hardly seems fair to kick out number 3 on a mere technicality.
      Yes, William Lane Craig would be proud of you. Man down and pinned to the canvass.
      1….2….

  4. Mike,

    Incorrect. And the agreement from Arkenaten doesn’t help your argument. To follow your logic to its ultimate conclusion we must proceed to the entire Jesus story. If I accept from the documents that one Jesus was a historical person (because that’s what the story says) you are demanding through your logic that I must believe that he was raised from the dead. That is patently absurd on its face. Your logic does explain, however, the position that “The bible says it, so I believe it.” At least, now, I understand your actual position and how you come to believe what you do. That’s fine. Your choice.

    To invoke, as Arkenaten does, the name of William Craig doesn’t help too much. He has said, and I can give you the actual quote if you would like, that if the entirety of the historical records we have were demonstrated to be false, he would still believe because of the witness of the Holy Spirit. That is to reduce the entire dialogue to a mere “shell game” and a waste of time. And, while I do consider Craig to be a brilliant mind, these kinds of statements leave me only scratching my head.

    Two final things:

    1–I do find it intriguing that this group of early believers only “believed” after they were granted “appearances” of the Risen Jesus, except, of course, for at least one believer who believed on the witness of the empty tomb alone. Now this appears only in the Gospel of John so perhaps it should be excluded. I have no problem with that, because it doesn’t affect my position. However, at the same time we will exclude the guard story, the spear story, the appearance to Thomas, the appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and, well, I just don’t have the time.

    2–You continue to suggest that I have a theory about what happened. Wrong, again. I have no theory. What I do have and what I do use are the “facts” that are presented in my A-G outline. And based on these and other “facts” I think it reasonable to conclude that the Resurrection Story did not happen as believed. That is not a theory. That is a position. That one of the disciples, Peter, was apparently going around telling others that Jesus had appeared to him is not a theory. It appears to be the case. That it took an empty tomb to get the story going appears to be the case. That there were no appearances of Jesus prior to the discovery of the empty tomb appears to be the case. That Jesus was raised from the dead appears to be what some people came to believe. Belief, like hope, is a good thing, as long as it does no harm to others. At one level I can certainly understand Belief. You not only believe it, you want to believe it. After all, who doesn’t or wouldn’t want to believe in Resurrection and life everlasting? Consider your Belief, a gift. Prize it dearly. It is a good thing, as I see it.

  5. Thom,

    This was my last comment to you:

    The source for the information in 1 and 2 is the same source we have for the information in 3. Therefore, I don’t understand why you think accepting the information in 3 involves belief that accepting 1 and 2 doesn’t.

    To put it another way, what is it that makes 1 and 2 historically reliable to you that is not present in 3?

    Do you realize that you did not answer my question?  If you’re willing to answer it, I’m interested in hearing.  If, however, you simply don’t want to answer, please tell me so I can stop asking.

    1. Ah, I can help out here. And Thom DID answer, you just weren’t saying attention…again.
      According to you lot, us atheists must accept the historicity of Jesus – based on the flimsiest of non-biblical evidence, I might add. Tacitus and Suetonius..oh Puleeze.
      Anyhow, we’ll give you this.
      But then you can’t figure how we are unable to the make the oh-so-logical leap from ordinary human to man-god, and appear to be genuinely baffled.

      The consensus recognizes that the end of Mark’s gospel was a later addition, obviously to satisfy a theological and political need. This is really all the evidence one needs to the fallacious nature of the Christian argument.

      Not Craig, but then he would recognize truth if it bit him in the arse.

      You have to do a lot better than this , Mike.
      Faith alone is not going to cut it round here, I’m afraid.
      Evidence, MIke. Evidence. How many times must you be told?

    2. Mike,

      I wish I had a dollar for every time you have not answered one of my points or questions. I would certainly have more money than I have now. However, I can certainly understand your inclination not to do so. With regard to this particular question, I am happy to elucidate an answer. I would have thought you could have figured out the distinction.

      Points 1 and 2 do not require any “belief” in something out of the ordinary or in something that one might describe as supernatural. 1– A source suggests that a tomb was found empty. An empty tomb can happen. It is not out of the ordinary, that is, something that could not happen for natural reasons. Is there something about it that I should question? Not necessarily. An empty tomb, especially one that people could walk in and out of is something that might happen for a variety of reasons. 2– A person can claim anything. People do it all the time. People say and claim things as a matter of course in their daily lives. That someone should claim something is not, by and in itself, suspicious in nature or requires the element of “belief”. 3–However, the actual thing claimed might be suspicious especially if it involves something that might be considered out of the natural order of events or supernatural, if you prefer. You must in this case prove the validity of your claim. Lacking any compelling proof to convince me of your claim, I can choose to dismiss it. There is nothing out of the ordinary in points 1 and 2 as we find them. The only thing out of the ordinary is the thing claimed, that someone was raised from the dead. This is something that requires the element of Belief that the others do not. This is especially more true when the “basis” for the claim ( that is, a so-called “appearance”) is said to be no longer available to others. You are asking me to “believe” on the basis of what you tell me. That’s a bit of a stretch. But if you want to believe it, go ahead. This does get us back to your flawed logic about “belief”. If you are going to insist that if I accept that Jesus was a real person, which I do, then I must “believe” the Resurrection Story, then it might be difficult to pursue things further.

      While we’re at it, and I won’t press you to respond to every point I’ve made or question I’ve asked that you haven’t answered, but I would like to ask you one thing. Do you think that someone could have taken the body from the tomb? Forgetting motive for the moment, do you think it could have happened in a physical sense?

  6. Thom,

    I wish I had a dollar for every time you have not answered one of my points or questions.

    To the best of my knowledge, I have answered every straightforward question you’ve asked me.  Only when you’ve asked me loaded or teasing questions (e.g. “Who’s the individual most responsible for spreading the resurrection story?”  or “What’s the missing element in my A-F sequence?”) have I declined.  If you’ll stick to straightforward questions, the ratio of my answers to your questions will approach one.

    I am happy to say that I now understand you why you believe 1 and 2 but not 3.  I just wish you’d been more straightforward about this in the beginning of our conversation. (Not that we were talking about 1-3 at the beginning, but I have been trying to understand how you view the evidence for the resurrection since the beginning.)  At the first, I thought your view unusual, even idiosyncratic.  Now, however, I realize that you fall into that category of people who simply reject supernatural explanations.  That is, you are prepared to believe the natural claims made in the New Testament but not the supernatural ones.  Therefore, you take a position that can, given the unacceptability of supermundane explanations, best fit the remaining evidence.  There’s nothing unusual about that.  Neither, however, is there anything commendable about it.

    You’re simply engaged in a circular reasoning process:  1) Resurrection doesn’t happen, 2) the New Testament (NT) says it did, 3) therefore the New Testament can’t be true on this point.  At least Arkenaten is consistent.  That is, he follows your logic, considers the NT thus tainted, and looks to it no more.  Strangely, you (and some of the other folks belonging to your category) press on and try to construct from what’s left of the NT claims an explanation for how the belief in resurrection came to be.  Even if the resurrection did happen, your reasoning process will never let you discover it because you have already ruled it out.

    Some in your category will say that they’ll remove the stipulation if Jesus will just appear before them right now.  I can’t help you there, however. I just look at life differently than you do.  I know, for example, that every year spring comes out of winter.  I’ve even planted potato eyes and had them come up potatoes.  And I know that you and I are on the side of a ball that is spinning 1,000 mph while it revolves around the sun at 66,000 mph, both hurtling through the Milky Way at 432,000 mph – and yet we are not falling off the ball, or even getting chapped lips.  Therefore, I am accustomed to wonder.  So, can resurrection happen?  Sure.  Anything can happen.

    Do you think that someone could have taken the body from the tomb? Forgetting motive for the moment, do you think it could have happened in a physical sense?

    Matthew’s account would not seem to allow it.  However, leaving that aside, could someone have physically removed the body?  Sure.  Anything can happen.

    We have the NT documents.  We can ignore them but we can’t make them go away.  If we want to honestly deal with them, we have to make a decision about their veracity.  Unlike you, I am unwilling to believe them just because they say something mundane.  I want to be just as judicious about believing their mundane claims as I am their supernatural claims.  They are claiming a lot in these documents.  On the whole, I find these people credible – unusually credible – witnesses.  Therefore, I accept their testimony.  Having done so, I don’t want to waste my time nitpicking what they’ve reported.  If you choose not to believe them, that’s your business.

    I must say, however, that for your alternative position (theory) to give you comfort it should be plausible.  And you don’t seem to have made any attempt to make it so or demonstrate it so.  As I understand your view, it’s only necessary for you to show that some alternative explanation to resurrection is possible – not that it’s probable.  That, I think, is an error in judgment.  You’d be better off really working through the particulars of your position to see how it can fit with the Scriptures.  Otherwise, you merely exchanged an unlikely explanation for one that is even more unlikely.

    1. Mike,

      Your apparent “blind allegiance” to every story and account we find in the New Testament has not gone unnoticed. Whereas you passion is to be commended, your prejudice can be wearisome and overbearing, and might prove to be a stumbling block to actual intellectual curiosity and historical research with valid conclusions. The only consistency you seem to have demonstrated is the often referred to position, “If it’s in the Bible, I believe it.” Not much to recommend it in the way of scholarship.

      With regard to my question about the body and could it have been stolen you write,

      “Matthew’s account would not seem to allow it. However, leaving that aside, could someone have physically removed the body? Sure. Anything can happen. We have the N.T. documents. We can ignore them, but we can’t make them go away. If we want to honestly deal with them, we have to make a decision about their veracity. Unlike you, I am unwilling to believe them just because they say something mundane. I want to be just as judicious about believing their mundane claims as I am their supernatural claims. They are claiming a lot in these documents. On the whole, I find these people credible–unusually credible–witnesses. Therefore, I accept their testimony. Having done so, I don’t want to waste my time nitpicking what they’ve reported. If you choose not to believe them, that’s your business.”

      1–I accept your rejection of even the smallest inclination towards a low-level detective investigation of the documents. While unfortunate, it is your position.

      2–Again, what is your position regarding the account in Matthew about the guard? On what basis do you accept this account as historical? I have tried to be consistent regarding my approach to these documents, stressing the importance of multiple attestation in our attempt ” . . . to make a decision about their veracity.” You see, I’m trying to figure out, beyond the position that it’s in the Bible so it must be true, what methodology you employ to reach these decisions you make about a story’s veracity. I’m only seeking some clarification about your approach. I think it valid, in the tradition of Habermas, Craig, and others, to stick with only those “facts” or accounts that are multiply-attested to in order to reach some level of acceptance. I am happy to eliminate anything that does not have multiple attestation along with it. Therefore, the answer to the question concerning the body and could someone have taken it, is a simple “yes”. We have nothing that can be relied upon to suggest otherwise. Your answer is only an equivocation.

      3–Now, which appearances of the Risen Jesus do you accept as historical? And, why?

      4–Again, you have misspoken regarding my position. I will allow that you have simply forgotten it. I have no problem philosophically or theologically with the concept of resurrection. In fact, I embrace the notion in the tradition of Ray Bradbury. It is simply with this particular story that I take exception and find difficult to accept or believe. The facts listed in my A-G listing, along with a few others not mentioned intentionally, become the basis for my disbelief.
      5–Referring to the New Testament documents when you write, “If we want to honestly deal with them we must make a decision about their veracity.” I consider my approach every bit as honest as your own, and perhaps more so.

      5

  7. Thom,

    Your apparent “blind allegiance” to every story and account we find in the New Testament has not gone unnoticed.

    I don’t think pejorative language helps.

    The only consistency you seem to have demonstrated is the often referred to position, “If it’s in the Bible, I believe it.” Not much to recommend it in the way of scholarship.

    More pejorative language.

    Therefore, the answer to the question concerning the body and could someone have taken it, is a simple “yes”. We have nothing that can be relied upon to suggest otherwise. Your answer is only an equivocation.

    Yet more pejorative language.

    1.  I’m fine with a reasonable scrutiny of the documents.  My only point has been: please state some standards by which you’re deciding what to believe and what to disbelieve.  I thought I finally had it figured out that you were ruling out resurrection a priori, but now you say you are not so I am back to square one, scratching my head when you accept one part of the narrative but reject another without explanation about how you’re making the distinction.

    2. Matthew’s account of a Roman guard would not make removal of the body impossible, but it would make it less likely.  To me, however, this is an entirely moot point as long as you are unwilling to provide motive, means, and opportunity for someone to have done so.

    Your approach seems to view the four gospels as four depositions, each testifying to the resurrection, submitted for our judgment.  That’s not what the documents are.  These four writings, along with the other 23 of the New Testament, are internal documents of a first-century Jewish-led social movement.  I think our first question should be, “Are these legitimate artifacts of that movement?”  More specifically, “Are they what they purport to be and appear to be?”  Once we’ve concluded that, we can begin to examine the documents, including what points any of the 27 documents have in common, and how their ideas do or don’t cohere.  In that process, we are likely to discover points which will lead us either toward, or away from, trusting the claims that are being made by writers and recipients.  That last point is important.  That is, when a New Testament writer appeals to commonly-held beliefs with the letter’s recipients, we are getting multiple attestation.  And since all these documents, save a few, were written to groups and not individuals, the attestations mount up quickly on the major points.

    Equally important, the New Testament documents, while interacting with each other, hardly ever appeal to each other, but they do often – very often – appeal to the Old Testament documents as corroboration for the things they are believing.  This is an element that seems entirely absent from your analysis.

    I don’t suggest that your approach is dishonest, but I do think it is inappropriate to the kind of evidence we have before us. I’ll say it another way:  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were not called upon to submit depositions on the resurrection to be stored in a time capsule and presented to 21-century “low-level detectives.”  I know that Habermas, Craig, and others have their ways of coming to a conclusion about the resurrection.  I admire their work and I think it has value, but I don’t feel bound to look at the issue precisely as they do.

    3. All of them, because I think the documents are what they claim to be, and that the people who wrote and received them are credible.  Now, which appearances do you believe, and why?

    4. Sorry, but I still don’t get it.  You’ve accepted certain facts from the New Testament documents but rejected others – but, since you say you are not prejudiced against supernatural claims, I’m back in the dark about how you decide what to believe and what to disbelieve.

    5.  Please explain why you feel you are being “more honest” with the texts than I am.

    1. Mike,

      If observations I make about some of your positions, answers, or attitudes will simply be regarded as “pejorative” in nature, then I feel you might be operating with feelings that are far too sensitive. As well, I commended your passion, but, apparently, you were okay with that compliment.
      I think that one of the weaknesses to your approach, whether you are willing to acknowledge it or not, is that you read and come to the documents with a position that you are already trying to defend. You are already looking for reasons to accept the entirety of the documents. The reason you do so should be obvious. The minute you eliminate or question one story, one appearance, one saying of Jesus, or anything else, you open a door that you prefer to remain shut. I don’t blame you. This makes sense. You are simply protecting your turf. You accept all the appearances as historical. Why? Because it is incumbent upon you to do so. Despite your efforts to convince me otherwise, I think this to be the case.

      As I have said on more than one occasion, short-term memory loss perhaps on your part, my approach is to question anything that is not multiply attested to by different sources. I question or suspect it based on this approach. Is this fool-proof? Hardly. It does, however, allow for and acknowledge the prospect and possibility that some, if not much, of what we find is not to be regarded as historical. We know, for example, that these authors, whoever they are, borrowed and copied from one another. So even multiple attestation doesn’t guarantee us of anything. Conversely, an account found only in one document might, if fact, be historical. It is a slow, time consuming, and. often, unrewarding process with no guarantees. It is, however, as I have said, at least as honest as your own approach which seems well-armed with a tendenz already attached.

      As well, because I believe your approach to be significantly swayed and colored by already held beliefs, it causes you to make statements and reach conclusions that are, at the very least, surprising and difficult to defend. For example, in defending your approach you say, “I find these people credible–unusually credible–witnesses. Therefore, I accept their testimony.” You say this about people we virtually know nothing about. For the most part, we know almost nothing about who wrote the gospels. There is conjecture, and, yet, the information we possess is spotty at best. However, from the documents themselves we do come to learn something about some of the most significant figures in the story. Peter, the first one who claims an appearance of the Risen Jesus, was a known liar. We have that from the documents themselves. Am I here saying that he simply lied? Not at all. I am simply pointing out the somewhat questionable nature of your conclusion regarding these “credible witnesses.” It might be that he was, in addition to being a liar, simply an emotional and mental whack job. What do we really know? That is my point. But for you he is an “unusually credible” witness. Please don’t here mention that he was willing to die for his belief. That simply evades the larger point, especially if what he “saw” he simply “imagined” he saw. Please don’t bother to bring into the discussion what the other disciples saw, either, because we have no record about what they claim they “saw”. We have stories about appearances to them.

      Anyway, I feel we are rapidly approaching an end to our discussion. Again, we are agreeing to disagree it would appear. I will send one more e-mail regarding the quote from Dr. Craig. I am looking at the quote even as I write this. As a general rule when I write things down I note where they come from. This particular quotation, I remember, comes from an interview he gave in the U.K. I am looking for it, and will send it along.
      Thom

    2. Mike,

      Here is the quote given in an interview on May 4, 2012 regarding “Handling Doubt”:

      “The way in which I know Christianity is true is first and foremost on the basis of the witness of the Holy Spirit in my heart. And this gives me a self-authenticating means of knowing that Christianity is true only apart from the evidence. Therefore, if in some historically contingent circumstance the evidence that I have available to me should turn out against Christianity I don’t think that controverts the witness of the Holy Spirit.”

      Difficult to contend against this position. He suggests that there is a shifting sand element to evidence regarding time, place, person, and historical contingency and even if the evidence should turn against Christianity the witness of the Holy Spirit is true and does not change. He also suggests that the evidence in time would turn back in favor of Christianity (his opinion of course).

      thom

  8. Thom,

    In one of your comments above, you say:

    To invoke, as Arkenaten does, the name of William Craig doesn’t help too much. He has said, and I can give you the actual quote if you would like, that if the entirety of the historical records we have were demonstrated to be false, he would still believe because of the witness of the Holy Spirit. That is to reduce the entire dialogue to a mere “shell game” and a waste of time. And, while I do consider Craig to be a brilliant mind, these kinds of statements leave me only scratching my head.

    Yes, Thom, please give me the actual quote.  This does not sound reasonable to me, for if the entirety of the historical record were demonstrated to be false, the Holy Spirit could at most bear witness to the reality of a Creator.  There could be no witness to Christ since there would be no reliable record of Christ.  Granted, we’d still have the extrabiblical sources, but it’s not clear they would provide a sufficiently coherent and consistent portrayal of Christ as to sustain faith.  It’s hard to believe Craig would say this; perhaps you have misunderstood him.

  9. Thom, you said:

    As I have said on more than one occasion, short-term memory loss perhaps on your part, my approach is to question anything that is not multiply attested to by different sources.

    Yes, you have multiply attested to your affinity for multiple attestation (I like it, too: see Matthew 18:16 and Ecclesiastes 4:12).  However, this is insufficient to explain your hermeneutic, for you have practically all 27 documents in the New Testament testifying to the resurrection of Christ and yet you don’t accept it.  This is why I remain ignorant of your full rationale.  Perhaps you are unconscious of it yourself.

    1. Again,

      As I have mentioned before, multiple attestation guarantees you nothing in the way of actual reliability. It might strengthen your argument, as you perceive it, however, it still has limitations. With regard to the 27 documents attesting to the resurrection, you still have documents written largely by just a handful of people, most of whom you know virtually nothing about. It should certainly come as no surprise that a small number of people (whoever they were) should write down what they believed. Would you expect them to do otherwise? That would be silly. Do you believe that the Council of Nicea was looking for documents that contradicted proto-orthodoxy?

      I think, too, that we have actually driven away from the foundation for my argument against the resurrection which deals with “facts” of a historical nature that would argue against it. In the Minimal Facts Approach Habermas, Craig, and others only focus on those facts that they believe argue on behalf of the hypothesis. In so doing they conveniently omit, as I said many e-mails ago, those facts that form a legitimate argument against the hypothesis.

      There is much more to be said in this regard. However, I feel that we may have exhausted the avenues for further exchanges. Perhaps not, but it has that feel to it.

      Mike, I have enjoyed the exchange. You have been a gracious host, allowing me time and space on your site. I applaud your candor, openness, hospitality, and passion, especially as they relate to a name without a face on the internet. I very much suppose them to be the rule, not the exception

      Best of everything

      thom

  10. Jesus Christ is a gracious host to us all, allowing us time and space on His earth. May we all trust in His name, even if we have not seen His face.

    “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” – John 20:29

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