Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus

The resurrection account according to Matthew’s Gospel contains an interesting interlude between appearances of the risen Christ.  Matthew 28:11-15 reads:

While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

Writing as early as the 50’s and perhaps as late as the 80’s, Matthew refers to a rival story among the Jews, one that circulated for decades after the event in question (Jesus was crucified in the 30’s).  For Matthew to refer to the circulation of such a story implies that he is drawing on fairly common knowledge among Jews in Palestine.  It would be highly unlikely that he would assert that such a rival story existed if, in fact, it had never circulated among the Jews.  In other words, if Matthew were lying here about the rival story among the Jews, his lie would have been easily detected, and his credibility would then have been ruined.

Historically speaking, then, there is strong evidence that those who opposed the early Christian movement countered the claim of Jesus’ resurrection by arguing that Jesus’ disciples stole his body from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.  What is most significant about this claim is that it acknowledges that the tomb was empty after the body of Jesus had been laid in it.  We have no record that the enemies of the early Christians ever sought to counter their claims by producing Jesus’ body.  That would have been the easiest solution to the problem if, in fact, Jesus’ body could have been easily located in the place where it was buried.  Therefore, it is reasonable to suppose that the tomb of Jesus was, in fact, empty.

It is also reasonable to suppose, based on the historical evidence, that Jesus’ disciples sincerely believed that he had been raised from the dead.  The great zeal, courage, and tenacity that they displayed in the years following the crucifixion of Jesus are the marks of true believers.  Because of their claims about Jesus, the disciples were marginalized in their communities, persecuted, imprisoned, and many of them were put to death.  Not once do we read of one of them spilling the beans as the pressure mounted in order to demonstrate that it was all a vast conspiracy.  It is highly unlikely that the disciples would have carried on with the show the way they did if they did not sincerely believe that they had seen the risen Lord.

And so we have two conclusions that we can say are solidly grounded in the historical evidence:

(1) Jesus’ tomb was empty.

(2) Jesus’ disciples sincerely believed that they had seen him alive after his crucifixion.

How can we explain these two events?  Clearly, the hypothesis that the disciples stole the body won’t work, because it violates point number 2.  So, we are left with alternate explanations.  We could say that someone else, for unknown reasons, stole the body of Jesus, thereby leading to the rumor among the Jews.  We could also say that the disciples hallucinated appearances of Jesus that led them to believe sincerely in his resurrection.  But the problem is, if we resort to this explanation, we have to explain these facts by appealing to two highly unlikely events.

First, it is highly unlikely that anyone else could have or would have stolen Jesus’ body.  What would be the motive?  And how would this person or group have pulled it off when the tomb was sealed and guarded?  Furthermore, how could this person or group of people have kept such an amazing feat a secret for very long, especially in light of the upheaval going on all around them after the event?

Second, it is highly unlikely that the disciples would have hallucinated the appearances of Jesus.  Are we to suppose that they hallucinated collectively?  Is not hallucination a phenomenon that is related to the particular psychological conditions of an individual at a given time?  Furthermore, what would have led to such a hallucination?  Just like the other adherents to other failed messianic movements of the same time period, the disciples of Jesus had given up hope after his crucifixion.  They thought the game was over and thus had no reason to expect anything further to happen.  Finally, the disciples had no theological categories for the bodily resurrection of a single individual occurring in the middle of history.  In keeping with Jewish beliefs of the first century, they would have expected the resurrection of all of the dead at the end of history.  Therefore, if they had hallucinated the appearances, they most likely would have claimed to have seen Jesus in Paradise with Abraham, not standing before them chewing on fish (Luke 24:41-43).

So we can either conclude that the best explanation for the two historical facts of the empty tomb and the appearances to the disciples is that two highly unlikely and inexplicable events happened to occur at the same time or that Jesus was in fact raised bodily from the dead and personally appeared to his disciples on several occasions, just as he had predicted.  If we are truly open to all possible explanations instead of eliminating from the start the possibility of divine intervention in history, the historical evidence clearly leads to the conclusion that God raised Jesus from the dead in fulfillment of his saving promises given in the Old Testament Scriptures.

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11 Responses to Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus

  1. Cory says:

    Aaron,

    Thanks for the article. The above assumes the gospel account to be true as read. Were the gospels not written down, in the form we know today, decades after the crucifixion? If oral history precludes written history, and a snowballing expectation of messianic restoration was building at the time, would it be far fetched to say that perhaps the concept grew from zealots, spreading the words around like wild fire after Jesus’ crucifixion? The effort might have been to excite the nation to revolt.

  2. Cory,

    Thanks for your question. There are a number of problems with that proposal:

    (1) As I have pointed out in the article, there was no category for an individual resurrection from the dead in Jewish expectation in the first century. In all other cases where a messianic figure died, his movement ended with him.

    (2) The early Christians did not, in fact, excite the nation to revolt. Just the opposite. They proclaimed submission to the governing authorities. The early Christian message was not in line with the concerns of the zealots, and there is ample New Testament evidence to demonstrate this point.

    (3) Even though the gospel accounts themselves were written down decades after the crucifixion (although I see strong evidence for dating Matthew, Mark, and Luke well before AD 70, and Mark’s Gospel perhaps even as early as the 40’s), there is ample New Testament evidence for a very early tradition about the resurrection of Jesus that would have developed only a few years after the crucifixion. Take the tradition that Paul passes on in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. All of the essential elements are there: the crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and resurrection appearances. If this was well-established tradition by the time Paul wrote 1 Corinthians (the 50’s), then it must be a very early tradition, one that arose long before there would have been any possibility for embellishments to arise.

  3. Luke A says:

    Aaron,

    Those are some really early datings for the synoptics. It would be rather strange for the Gospels to have been written contemporaneously with (or even before some of) Paul’s letter while he seemed completely ignorant of anything but the oral traditions.

    That aside, your argument seems to suffer somewhat from confirmation bias, considering that the title of this post is “Historical Evidence” while you are in essence saying that the Matthew author wrote it, therefore it must be true. No where do I see a “historical” argument for the Resurrection. In fact, I see something completely different.

    It would be just as easy and logical to say that, by the time Matthew was written, the oral tradition of the Resurrection was well known, believed by the early Christian sect and rejected by the strictly Jewish sects.

    Whether the Jewish statements made in Matthew 28:11-15 were in fact precisely true and spoken at the time of the Resurrection is inconsequential. At the time that Matthew was written (let’s say 80-90), I have little doubt that the Jews were saying that, if the body was in fact it missing, the easy explanation is that the Disciples simply took it and made up a fanciful story.

    In fact, this makes more logical sense when you consider that an earlier source (Mark) makes no mention of the guards at the tomb. The addition of this material in a later Gospel would fit easily as a reaction to claims that the body was stolen rather than resurrected. This leads me to believe, historically speaking, that the argument was taking place in between the writing of Mark and Matthew, or some 40-50 years after Jesus’s death.

    That is hardly “historical” evidence for the Resurrection. Instead, that is evidence that there was disagreement in the first century over the Resurrection.

    Low and behold, things haven’t changed all that much in 2000 years!

  4. Cory says:

    Aaron,

    Glad you replied.

    (1) There is plenty of evidence that a theme of messianic/god/hero death and resurrection was prevalent at that time and well before that time. Baal, Melqart, Adonis, Orpheus, Osiris, Dionysus, and Odin come to mind. Isaiah and Daniel both are quoted having predicted a resurrection of the messiah. Many scholars believe the idea of death and resurrection in the Jewish culture occurred during their exile into the Persian empire. There’s also subtle indications that the ancient Jewish customs were just forms of old Phoenician and Canaanite rituals who are both known to celebrate the resurrection of their respective gods.

    However, I don’t believe the Jews (in most sects) considered or would consider a messiah as God though. Hence a possible explanation for the division between Jesus’ brother James and Paul and consequently between Judaism and what became Christianity. And coincidentally enough, Paul might have been heavily influenced by this god-resurrection concept from his background at Tarsus.

    (2) Early Christians? The early followers of Jesus were Jews looking to reestablish the Temple.

    (3) Despite the number games here, there is plenty of room for editing to form the canon which we see today.

  5. Luke,

    (1) Regarding the dating of the Gospels, there are two lines of evidence that convince me that they were written early:

    First, Paul does in fact quote from Luke 10:7 in 1 Timothy 5:17. Of course, one has to accept the Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy for this to work, but there is plenty of evidence that Paul did, in fact, write it.

    Second, the book of Acts was likely written before Paul’s martyrdom, which took place in the mid 60’s. Luke leaves off with Paul awaiting appeal in Rome, which is likely indicative of the time at which he published his second volume. That, in turn, would push back the Gospel of Luke to the early 60’s or before, which, in turn, pushes Mark back even further.

    (2) Regarding historical evidence for the resurrection, I see the evidence of a debate about the resurrection in the first century in which the opponents of the resurrection grant that the tomb of Jesus is empty is in fact good evidence that the tomb was empty. So then I went on to ask what is the best explanation for the tomb being empty. The theory that the disciples stole the body and then persevered to their deaths with a message they knew to be false is quite implausible. Ergo, I find the debate itself to be historical evidence for the resurrection.

    Cory,

    There is no evidence that first century Jews or the early Christians (yes, I will continue to use that term, see Acts 11:26) were indebted to these pagan influences, and quite strong evidence to the contrary. The resurrection of Jesus is not a recurring, ahistorical, mythological event like the dying and rising gods of the pagan world. It is a historical event that marks the inbreaking of the new age.

    Yes, the Old Testament does point to the death and resurrection of the Messiah. Jesus himself taught his disciples that truth (Luke 24). However, it was something that Jesus’ disciples only came to recognize after the fact, when Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. The prevailing Jewish expectation was that all of the dead would be raised at the end of history.

    For a much stronger case than I have presented here, I would refer both of you to N. T. Wright’s book “The Resurrection of the Son of God.” It is without question the definitive study on this subject.

  6. Cory says:

    “There is no evidence that first century Jews or the early Christians were indebted to these pagan influences, and quite strong evidence to the contrary.”

    You sure about that? Heck, even our Christian holidays pays tribute to pagan ideas as old or older than Jewish cultures.

    “The resurrection of Jesus is not a recurring, ahistorical, mythological event like the dying and rising gods of the pagan world. ”

    But yet it is “like.”

    “It is a historical event that marks the inbreaking of the new age. ”

    Which is essentially what other resurrection stories look towards.

  7. Luke A says:

    Aaron,

    I understand your point; I’m just saying it’s not a convincing one. What you’ve shown is that it is likely that there was an argument, 50 years after the fact, over something that had already become a legend (if you will). Simply acknowledging that a legend exists of the Resurrection– and taking on the legend instead of denying– is far from confirming it.

    I understand why you would like to date the Synoptics earlier. It would certainly give more “historical” heft to this and other arguments based on Scripture. I don’t pretend to be a New Testament scholar, but I find the traditional datings to be fine. BTW, while I do not reject Timothy as scripture, I am highly doubtful of Pauline authorship. I also would not date Acts to such an early date as you do.

    On a side note, how are Joni and the kiddos? Kristi and I just had our first beginning of April. Her name is Rebecca Grace.

  8. Luke,

    Congratulations on the baby! I had not heard a thing about that. I hope to be able to meet her sometime.

    Here is why my argument works:

    (1) Even apart from Matthew, there is abundant evidence that the early Christians proclaimed Jesus as risen from the dead shortly after his crucifixion (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 reflects a very early tradition).

    (2) It is well-established, apart from Matthew, that the early Christians were opposed by Jewish leaders in this proclamation.

    (3) There is no record whatsoever of the opponents of the early Christians being able to end the debate by producing Jesus’ body. Therefore, even before we come to Matthew, we can establish implicitly that the opponents of the early Christians granted that the tomb of Jesus was empty.

    (4) Matthew’s Gospel speaks to a debate that was occurring around the time that Matthew wrote (again, I maintain it was late 50’s or early 60’s, see below). Significantly, Matthew says this story (of Jesus’ body being stolen) has been circulating among the Jews “to this day,” a phrase that is indicative of a substantive amount of time. Matthew is neither inventing a controversy, nor is he commenting on something that had only recently come about at the time of his writing. He is explaining something that is well-known to go back to the beginning.

    (Interestingly, I think it is likely that Matthew mentions the guards at the tomb because he is writing for a Jewish audience, an audience that would have been familiar with the story. Mark, writing for a Roman audience, probably decided to omit the reference to the guards because his readers were unaware of the Jewish alternative story anyway, and it wasn’t necessary for him to address that subject).

    If 1 Timothy 5:17 quotes from Luke 10:7, then the crux of dating the Gospels lies with the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral epistles. Here are the reasons I accept Pauline authorship of these letters:

    (1) These letters claim to have been written by Paul.

    (2) There is abundant evidence from the early church that the practice of pseudonymity was considered deceptive and immoral. The church never knowingly accepted a pseudonymous writing into the New Testament canon, indicating that there must have been a solid consensus in the early church for the Pauline authorship of the Pastorals.

    (3) The letters themselves are full of warnings against false teaching. Are we to suppose that a pious Paulinist would have packed three letters full of warnings against false teachers while himself fulfilling the role of a false teacher? Are we, further, to suppose that the Holy Spirit so guided this process of forgery, deception, and hypocrisy in such a way that would make these documents holy Scripture for us?

    (4) The letters contain personal details that make no sense if Paul did not write them. For example, why would a forger add a request for Timothy to bring the cloak that Paul had left at Troas (2 Timothy 4:13)?

    (5) None of the arguments against Pauline authorship are convincing. The argument concerning vocabulary is subjective to begin with. In addition, it is not surprising that Paul’s vocabulary in one context (a letter written to a church) would vary somewhat from a more personal letter written to an individual such as Timothy. If you compared my vocabulary in my dissertation to my vocabulary in many of the papers I wrote only a few years ago at ETBU, you would find, I would suppose, a dramatic difference. Does that prove that I didn’t really write my dissertation?

    In addition, the argument that the Pastoral epistles reflect an emerging catholicism, in contrast to the more dynamic, charismatic flavor of the undisputed Pauline letters is one that presupposes that these two elements are incompatible with one another. But not only is this presupposition unwarranted, it also fails to note how Paul might change the shape of his exhortations as he neared the end of his life, knowing that the church was going to transition to second generation leaders. His concerns in the Pastoral epistles are much different from his concerns in, say, 1 Corinthians, so he will necessarily address different theological and ecclesiological issues.

    Furthermore, any objection to Pauline authorship of the Pastorals is equally an objection against pseudonymity, because if we are able to come up with a contrast between the Pastorals and the undisputed Pauline epistles that strains our ability to believe that one man could have written both things, then we are necessarily committing ourselves to the position that the author of the Pastorals, consciously seeking to imitate Paul, was too dumb to see how blatantly he was screwing things up. In other words, if we are convinced enough that the contrast is too great for Paul, on what basis can we suppose that it is not too great for the real author of the Pastorals?

    There is solid evidence for Pauline authorship of the Pastoral epistles. Denying Paul’s authorship creates a number of problems, both historically and theologically. We should accept the claims that the authors of the letters make for themselves unless there is abundantly convincing evidence not to. In this case, there is no such evidence.

  9. Luke A says:

    Aaron,

    First set of numbers:

    (1) This is not “historical” evidence for the Resurrection.

    (2) Agreed.

    (3) This is a stretch. Why would they care to produce the body? What would they have done, carried it around Judea, subjecting every law abiding Jew to tumah? Were I a 1st century Jew, being told “he was not resurrected. Even if the body is missing, it was simply physically removed” would have seemed convincing enough? I’m doubtful whether an attempt was even made.

    (4) See my comments on your early dating below.

    Like I said, I’m not a scholar. While I have great interest in the subject and have read quite a bit on the matter, I am still an “arm chair” scholar at best. I’ll lean on research and arguments made by others which I find convincing.

    (1) Is not a valid reason to accept Pauline authorship.

    (2) First, I would be interested in hearing these arguments. What I have generally read and understood is that, in ancient times, pseudepigraphy was not looked down upon as morally corrupt and was generally accepted in practice. Second, there is abundant evidence that the Pastoral Epistles, especially I and II Timothy, were completely unknown to the early church for some time and were debated as part of accepted “canon” for centuries. Marcion seemed ignorant of them when making his canon (130s), Origen seemed to question the letters to Timothy by omitting them from his commentary (while using Titus), and they’re missing from the earliest collection of Paul’s letters (P46). In most early canon lists, Timothy I and II are listed in the appendix, not as part of the proposed canon. All of this leads to questions about the authenticity of Pauline authorship for these letters. If Pauline authorship was unquestioned and the letters had been written during his life, they would have been well known and generally accepted, even at this time.

    (3) You are absolutely correct, but based on the topics and the situations they apply to (heresy, church order, etc.), a 2nd century writing fits better than a 1st.

    (4) They also contain personal writings of Paul which do not make sense or which conflict with the “authentic” letters. A prime example is how Timothy is described in I Tim 4:12, II Tim 2:3-6, and I Tim 5:2, II Tim 2:22. Contrast these to I Cor 4:17 and Phil. 2:19-24. I have little doubt that the Pastoral Epistles were written by those who knew Paul’s teachings quite well, but I am still doubtful that they were written by Paul himself.

    (5) This isn’t a fair comparison. You’re comparing your vocabulary from a time just after high school to a time after you have devoted years to higher education. This would not be anywhere near the same as Paul’s developmental change from the start of the Aegean mission to the supposed writing of Timothy. If you want to argue that it was not his exact words anyways, he used a scribe (as we know he often did), it is a better argument, albeit still not entirely convincing.

    There are other smaller arguments. However, all-in-all, while I have little doubt that the Pastoral epistles were written by those in the Pauline School at a very early date, I’m more convinced that they were written after Paul’s death to address concerns in the second century church.

    If we date Timothy 60 years after Paul’s death, then it is impossible to use this letter as evidence for an earlier dating of the Gospels (as you mentioned). Without an early date, I find it more plausible that your argument shows the debate happening after the Resurrection did occur, but it in no way “historically” shows that it in fact took place. It only shows that the story had taken place.

  10. First set of numbers:

    (1) My argument is that, as part of the totality of the historical evidence available to us, this is a key component. I’m not saying this can stand on its own, but that it fits into a bigger picture.

    (2) I’m glad you agree. I agree with your agreement.

    (3) It is impossible that the early Christians could have sustained their proclamation if the tomb of Jesus were not empty. I’m not suggesting that the Jews would have carried Jesus’ body around Jerusalem. But at any moment they could have opened the tomb to reveal a rotting corpse or a burial box with bones in it. The fact that no one else had ever been laid in Joseph’s tomb before is important, for it indicates that no other burial boxes would have been present (Luke 23:53). It would not have been difficult to squelch the early Christian movement if Jesus’ body were accessible. In addition, merely viewing a dead body does not cause ritual impurity.

    (4) Even if you date Matthew in the 70’s or 80’s, I don’t see how that changes much with regard to my point. Matthew is still representing a debate that has been around for a long time. An extra ten or twenty years does not provide enough window of opportunity for this magnitude of legendary material to develop. Too many eyewitnesses of the event were still around who would have been able to suppress this kind of legend if, indeed, it was a false one.

    Second set of numbers:

    (1) Surely this shifts the burden of proof to those who would oppose Pauline authorship. We should give ancient documents the benefit of the doubt unless overwhelming evidence convinces us otherwise. Otherwise, why accept any New Testament letter as the work of Paul?

    (2) Several things to note here. First, there is evidence in the New Testament itself that the early church did not accept the practice of pseudonymity. Paul warned the Thessalonians against giving any credence to “a letter seeming to be from us” (2 Thess. 2:2), and he had an identifying mark that authenticated his letters as his own work (2 Thess. 3:17). Second, while the reference in 2 Thessalonians indicates that the practice of pseudonymous letters was not completely unknown, the evidence suggests it was rare. Carson, Moo, and Morris write, “As far as our knowledge goes, there is not one such letter emanating from the Christians from anywhere near the New Testament period, and precious few even from later times.” Third, in the patristic period it is clear that pseudonymity was not regarded with favor. The apocryphal “Acts of Paul” contained a letter claiming to be from Paul to the Corinthians, but it was ultimately rejected because of its pseudonymous character. Another example would be the spurious “Epistle to the Laodiceans.” If these represent two examples of spurious works that were rejected because their authors misrepresented themselves as Paul, what accounts for the difference when it comes to the Pastoral Epistles? It appears we have three choices:

    a. The Pastoral Epistles are likewise pseudonymous and were known to be such, but for some inexplicable reason they were allowed in while other works were excluded because they were pseudonymous.
    b. The Pastoral Epistles are likewise pseudonymous, but they somehow snuck in under the radar because the early church was convinced that Paul wrote them. This makes a mockery of the doctrine of inspiration and has the Holy Spirit promoting a falsehood. This option entails blasphemy against the truthfulness of God.
    c. The Pastoral Epistles were indeed written by Paul.

    I like the third option the best.

    The burden of proof is on those who would argue that pseudonymity was an accepted practice, meaning that the readers of pseudonymous works knew that what they were reading was pseudonymous and had no problem with it. Where is the evidence for this claim?

    As for your counterargument, Marcion omitted a number of New Testament writings from his canon, so there is little we can conclude from that fact alone. It has been proposed that he disliked the Pastorals because of their high regard for the Old Testament. The Chester Beatty Papyrus is known to be incomplete, for it also omits the letter to Philemon. The Pastorals are quoted by Polycarp and Irenaeus, and they are found in the Muratorian canon. This is strong evidence for their early recognition of canonicity.

    (3) You did not really respond to my argument. My argument is that a deceiver would not write letters warning against deceivers, and if he did, that certainly would not be the method by which the Holy Spirit spoke to the church through Scripture. It would compromise the truthfulness of the word of God.

    On the contrary, none of the false teachings mentioned in the Pastorals are exclusive to the second century and beyond. And the references to the offices in the church are documented in undisputed Pauline epistles (see Philippians 1:1 and the reference to the two offices). Furthermore, we have Luke’s record that Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in all of the churches that they founded (Acts 14:23).

    Unlike a second-century setting, the Pastorals give no evidence for the idea of a monarchical bishop. The “episkopoi” (overseers/bishops) that are mentioned are equivalent to the “presbuteroi” (elders) indicating an early period in ecclesiastical organization (note how the two terms are used interchangeably in Titus 1:5, 7).

    (4) I have no clue what you are arguing here. When I compare the passages you cite, I do not see the slightest hint of a different portrayal of Timothy among them. In fact, the description of Timothy in 1 Cor. 4:17 and Phil. 2:19-24 fits perfectly with the claim that Paul would leave Timothy in charge in Ephesus and write personal letters to him. Timothy was his son in the faith. The undisputed letters only further confirm that Paul and Timothy had the kind of relationship that made the writing of the Pastoral epistles likely.

    I also need to point out here that you provided no response to my claim about Paul’s cloak. Why would a forger make a reference like that, especially if he expected his audience to know that he was a forger?

    (5) If my previous example was not a fair comparison, then let me offer you this one: compare my dissertation to the corpus of sermons I preached at Corn Creek Baptist Church in Milton, KY, from the years 2003 to 2009 (I finished my dissertation in 2010, so these years coincide with the last stage of my education). You will find very different vocabulary. And this difference in vocabulary cannot be explained because of the different media (written vs. spoken communication), because I always write out my sermons in a full manuscript form, even though I don’t end up delivering the manuscript word-for-word. The point is that different situations will lead to different vocabulary. In addition, Carson, Moo, and Morris have noted that the vocabulary differences between the Pastorals and the undisputed letters are about the same as the differences between the Pastoral epistles themselves. In other words, when you compare 1 Timothy to 2 Timothy to Titus, if you applied the same criteria for different authorship, you would come to the conclusion that the Pastorals were written by three different authors.

    The bottom line is that the evidence for pseudonymity has to be really strong to overturn the claim to authorship made in the letters themselves and the universal acceptance of these letters as Pauline in the church. The burden of proof simply has not been met.

  11. Luke A says:

    Aaron,

    These posts are getting long. Instead of point by point, let me just say a few things.

    About your original post:

    First, anytime we’re looking at ancient works such as Paul’s letters, it’s a challenge. The best we can do is look at them in their historical perspective and piece everything together like a puzzle. Some of his letters piece together nicely in relation to secondary sources (such as Acts). Others do not.

    I’ve also stated that I do not outright reject Pauline authorship; I simply find it doubtful as many New Testament scholars do. But for me, and my view of scripture, it does not matter. But as we both know, you and I have different views about scripture.

    A later dating of Matthew isn’t a dagger in the heart of your argument. However, for me it is cutting the legs out from under it. Again, someone acknowledging that a debate was taking place 50 years after the fact (even if the debate had started earlier) is not the same thing as saying that what was being debated ever happened. I’m not saying it’s completely invalid, simply that it’s not convincing. I freely admit that the nearer the author’s writing to the actual event, the more convincing it becomes.

    I don’t find the fact that Jesus’s body was never produced to be an overwhelming argument. I’m still not convinced that, at the time, those in the Jewish community cared enough to even try. Even if the body was unproducable, that doesn’t mean that it was Resurrected (I’m not saying that it was not). So again, it’s not historical evidence in favor of the Resurrection.

    I can see where if I were looking for evidence (going all the way back to my original response on confirmation bias), I might find it convincing. But from a purely logical standpoint, it is interesting but not evidence.

    About the Pastoral Epistles

    We can nit pick this to death, but going with some of your points:

    I would not expect a falsly attributed work to be devoid of warnings against falsly attributed works and deceptions. In fact, I might expect something on the contrary. As regarding Marcion, those works he rejected were ones he saw as too “Jewish”, as you state. I can hardly imagine these Epistles would be seen as too “Jewish”. The purpose of bringing these points up was not to show that these letters were rejected in the early church, but to simply show that they were debated (as they are now).

    As regards the cloak, I have no idea. Do you think the author could get busted on something so trivial? The answer could be as simple as the author knew that Paul had left his cloak at Troas. Again, I’ve stated before that even if these letters were not written by Paul, they were most certainly written by those close to him (even if a generation or two later).

    Regarding Timothy, in the recommendations of 1 Corinthians and Philemon, Timothy is treated as a mature, strong, trustworthy person to represent Paul. Meanwhile in the Pastoral Epistles he’s spoken of more as an immature, weak person needing encouragement. They don’t sound like the same person to me. Or at least, it doesn’t seem like the author(s) have the same opinion of him.

    Anyways, like I mentioned earlier, I’ve never claimed that there is ample evidence to completely overturn Pauline authorship (if I did, it was unintentional). I’ve simply claimed that there is sufficient evidence to cast doubt on it.

    That’s probably enough on the topic. Our respective biasses are the reasons for our different conclusions, not the arguments.

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