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Author Topic:   Interrogation of an Apostle
Jon
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Message 16 of 48 (604390)
02-11-2011 5:43 PM


The Material at Hand
In any case of texts this old reporting on traditions that were likely oral before being written down, it is impossible to know whether the author is an eyewitness or just a transcriber/copier of reports available to him. Even when the author claims to have witnessed the event himself, we cannot be sure he actually did, or that his claim of witnessing is not just the result of a direct copy from another text.

Ultimately, we must look at the content of the text when judging itauthorship will only tell us so much (eyewitnesses, afterall, can lie as easily as anyone). And this is all the better since we'll never know the source, and worrying about it endlessly just gets us nowhere. In addition an account needn't be witnessed first hand to be true; non-primary sources may not be as accurate on the details, but providing they have attempted to remain faithful to the original (which we determine by looking at the text), then their accounts will be about as good as anyotherwise we couldn't say we know something after we read the newspaper!

Finally, no matter the source, all we've got to work with is the text itself; so despite any reservations about relying on second-hand sources, there is nothing we can do about it.

Jon


Check out Apollo's Temple!
Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

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Theodoric
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Message 17 of 48 (604411)
02-11-2011 7:08 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Jon
02-11-2011 5:43 PM


Re: The Material at Hand
In any case of texts this old reporting on traditions that were likely oral before being written down, it is impossible to know whether the author is an eyewitness or just a transcriber/copier of reports available to him. Even when the author claims to have witnessed the event himself, we cannot be sure he actually did, or that his claim of witnessing is not just the result of a direct copy from another text.

Or he just made it all up himself.


Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts
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Modulous
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Message 18 of 48 (604412)
02-11-2011 7:09 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Jon
02-11-2011 5:43 PM


Re: The Material at Hand
The main problem, I think, is that there is no eyewitness accounts of the Resurrection itself. We only have witnesses that Jesus was walking and talking at a time after his reported death. We do not have multiple witnesses discussing the same appearance of Jesus and instead appear to have several different appearances described by different witnesses.

There is an unusual commonality in the confusion his appearance caused in each case. Not just the typical confusion of a dead man walking around but a certain initial lack of recognition or belief that the person walking around is in fact Jesus.

Why would people that know Jesus have difficulty recognising him? The text suggests divine intervention in that their eyes were kept from knowing him or some such. But if we suppose the accounts are real witness accounts of a real event we might conclude that somebody masquerading as Jesus was seen, and managed to persuade witnesses that he was Jesus of Nazerath. I'm sure, if Jesus had gained the local notoriety the stories suggest and could draw a crowd as suggested - that there were unscrupulous conmen who at least considered capitalising on people inclined to follow.

I'm guessing that if police were investigating these reports that's the kind of hypothesis they'd start with, possibly ruling it out as unlikely if the witnesses only reported it during one week but then stopped completely. In the end though, I don't think we have the kind of material that lends itself easily to historical analysis through such things as multiple attestation. At best we can say that the doubt/confusion is an interesting issue, it would be interesting to see if there are any ideas as to why that was mentioned. (I forget which is which, I think in Matthew they mostly praise him with a few doubters, and with John we have a woman that doesn't initially recognize him and finally calls him 'Teacher' or something like that? I think Luke has the supernaturally blinded followers not recognizing him at first. I'm too lazy to check right now even though the links are in the OP).


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Jon
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Posts: 4330
From: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Joined: 12-29-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 19 of 48 (604431)
02-11-2011 11:35 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Modulous
02-11-2011 7:09 PM


Re: The Material at Hand
There is an unusual commonality in the confusion his appearance caused in each case.

Do you suppose this is good reason to think that people who reported seeing Jesus did not at first 'recognize' him? Perhaps even support the notion that they at least saw something?

I don't think we have the kind of material that lends itself easily to historical analysis through such things as multiple attestation.

Our sources are slim indeed; but we use the same number of sources for drawing other conclusions which are probably not far off, for example, the issues Ehrman points out (from OP).

I'm sure, if Jesus had gained the local notoriety the stories suggest and could draw a crowd as suggested - that there were unscrupulous conmen who at least considered capitalising on people inclined to follow.

We'd almost think such popularity might make it less likely that folk wouldn't recognize him wherever he wentespecially men who had previously spent nearly every second of their lives with him!

At best we can say that the doubt/confusion is an interesting issue, it would be interesting to see if there are any ideas as to why that was mentioned.

That brings up another criterion often used in determining 'witness' reliability, which is the Criterion of Dissimilarity:

quote:
Ehrman in The New Testament (2004):

... sometimes a saying or deed attributed to Jesus does not appear to support a Christian cause. A tradition of this kind would likely not have been made up by a Christian. Why then would it be preserved in the tradition? Perhaps because it really happened that way. Dissimilar traditions, that is, those that do not support a clear Christian agenda, are difficult to explain unless they are authentic; they are therefore more likely to be historical. (p. 220)


So, might it be that the sightings of 'Jesus' really took place?

Jon
__________
Ehrman, B. (2004) The New Testament: a Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 3rd ed. New York: Oxford UP.


Check out Apollo's Temple!
Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

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Modulous
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From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
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Message 20 of 48 (604453)
02-12-2011 10:42 AM
Reply to: Message 19 by Jon
02-11-2011 11:35 PM


Re: The Material at Hand
Do you suppose this is good reason to think that people who reported seeing Jesus did not at first 'recognize' him? Perhaps even support the notion that they at least saw something?

As I said, I think it tells us at least that there was doubt about early reports of his resurrection.

Our sources are slim indeed; but we use the same number of sources for drawing other conclusions which are probably not far off, for example, the issues Ehrman points out (from OP).

I don't think the evidence regarding the resurrection is as good as the evidence for Jesus teaching the coming of the kingdom of God. But that's probably because of Q.

We'd almost think such popularity might make it less likely that folk wouldn't recognize him wherever he wentespecially men who had previously spent nearly every second of their lives with him!

Notoriety and recognizability were not the same thing necessarily 2,000 years ago. We have no multiply attested witnessing that anyone that knew Jesus well saw him post resurrection.

So, might it be that the sightings of 'Jesus' really took place?

The Criterion of dissimilarity only gets us to conclude that Jesus was executed, I think. Given he died - it is naturally in support of Christianity that a resurrection occurred. In this case we might say that sightings occurred, but this tells us as much about the post-death activities of the King of the Jews as the sightings of Elvis tell us about the King of Rock n Roll.

If you have access to any NT Wright's work - I think he's probably the best source of pro-resurrection history (at least I've seen his name cited relatively often), do you have any idea how he supports the notion?


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Phat
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Joined: 12-30-2003
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Message 21 of 48 (604456)
02-12-2011 11:02 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Jon
02-09-2011 9:05 PM


Re: Applying the Art of Lie-detecting to the Resurrection Accounts
Jon writes:

When we interrogate the apostles, do we find them lying or telling the truth?

Im not much of a detective, but allow me to ask some questions as we discuss this matter.

1) Why were the Gospel Accounts written? Was it to simply provide a written record of events that were considered important? These events were chiefly that a man lived who inspired inner passion in a small yet growing group of followers and that they believed him to be the Messiah or the originator of a Messianic Era...a time where life would be better for everyone...not necessarily on earth, but for eternity. Were the Gospels written as a testimony of the changed inner passions of these men? Were they written only as propaganda to persuade others to support the movement? Could the movement have started out as pure and noble and then itself become used by others to gain power or influence?


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jar
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Posts: 25132
From: Texas!!
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Message 22 of 48 (604457)
02-12-2011 11:10 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by Phat
02-12-2011 11:02 AM


Re: Applying the Art of Lie-detecting to the Resurrection Accounts
Phat writes:

Jon writes:

When we interrogate the apostles, do we find them lying or telling the truth?

Im not much of a detective, but allow me to ask some questions as we discuss this matter.

1) Why were the Gospel Accounts written? Was it to simply provide a written record of events that were considered important? These events were chiefly that a man lived who inspired inner passion in a small yet growing group of followers and that they believed him to be the Messiah or the originator of a Messianic Era...a time where life would be better for everyone...not necessarily on earth, but for eternity. Were the Gospels written as a testimony of the changed inner passions of these men? Were they written only as propaganda to persuade others to support the movement? Could the movement have started out as pure and noble and then itself become used by others to gain power or influence?

Actually, the Jewish Messianic beliefs most definitely looked to changes here on earth and not in some future eternity.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
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Phat
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From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 23 of 48 (604459)
02-12-2011 11:15 AM
Reply to: Message 22 by jar
02-12-2011 11:10 AM


Re: Applying the Art of Lie-detecting to the Resurrection Accounts
jar writes:

Phat writes:

Jon writes:

When we interrogate the apostles, do we find them lying or telling the truth?

Im not much of a detective, but allow me to ask some questions as we discuss this matter.

1) Why were the Gospel Accounts written? Was it to simply provide a written record of events that were considered important? These events were chiefly that a man lived who inspired inner passion in a small yet growing group of followers and that they believed him to be the Messiah or the originator of a Messianic Era...a time where life would be better for everyone...not necessarily on earth, but for eternity. Were the Gospels written as a testimony of the changed inner passions of these men? Were they written only as propaganda to persuade others to support the movement? Could the movement have started out as pure and noble and then itself become used by others to gain power or influence?

Actually, the Jewish Messianic beliefs most definitely looked to changes here on earth and not in some future eternity.


Perhaps changing csociety was next to impossible. Perhaps these folks pinned their hopes on a man and/or the legend of such a man to bring about the change they wanted.

Its similar today. People seek a different candidate every four years to make changes for them or favorable to them. Personally, I believe that the Apostles were sincere. I believe they were honest. Keep in mind, however, that I want to believe these things.

When does a story become literally untruthful?


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Jon
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Posts: 4330
From: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Joined: 12-29-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 24 of 48 (604461)
02-12-2011 11:45 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by Modulous
02-12-2011 10:42 AM


Re: The Material at Hand
The Criterion of dissimilarity only gets us to conclude that Jesus was executed, I think. Given he died - it is naturally in support of Christianity that a resurrection occurred. In this case we might say that sightings occurred, but this tells us as much about the post-death activities of the King of the Jews as the sightings of Elvis tell us about the King of Rock n Roll.

Oh of course. I do not mean to suggest that Jesus was actually walking around after being resurrected; the texts don't seem the best support for that at all. However, what I think the sources definitely seem to point to is that there was a man (men?) going around claiming to be Jesus, and whom the apostles of the pre-death Jesus could not really recognize as Jesus.

Strangely, even back then the reports were very difficult to believe, and many folk seemed to have trouble swallowing the claim that Jesus was actually resurrected. Perhaps this should tell us just how little evidence and few sightings there may have actually been!

If you have access to any NT Wright's work - I think he's probably the best source of pro-resurrection history (at least I've seen his name cited relatively often), do you have any idea how he supports the notion?

Unfortunately I don't. But I'll be checking the libraries here to see what I can come up with!

Jon


Check out Apollo's Temple!
Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

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Jon
Member
Posts: 4330
From: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Joined: 12-29-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 25 of 48 (604463)
02-12-2011 11:48 AM
Reply to: Message 23 by Phat
02-12-2011 11:15 AM


Re: Applying the Art of Lie-detecting to the Resurrection Accounts
Personally, I believe that the Apostles were sincere. I believe they were honest.

One can be sincere and honest, and still flat-out wrong. We cannot know until we examine what they've said.

Jon


Check out Apollo's Temple!
Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

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jar
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Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 26 of 48 (604464)
02-12-2011 11:55 AM
Reply to: Message 23 by Phat
02-12-2011 11:15 AM


Re: Applying the Art of Lie-detecting to the Resurrection Accounts
Phat writes:

jar writes:

Phat writes:

Im not much of a detective, but allow me to ask some questions as we discuss this matter.

1) Why were the Gospel Accounts written? Was it to simply provide a written record of events that were considered important? These events were chiefly that a man lived who inspired inner passion in a small yet growing group of followers and that they believed him to be the Messiah or the originator of a Messianic Era...a time where life would be better for everyone...not necessarily on earth, but for eternity. Were the Gospels written as a testimony of the changed inner passions of these men? Were they written only as propaganda to persuade others to support the movement? Could the movement have started out as pure and noble and then itself become used by others to gain power or influence?

Actually, the Jewish Messianic beliefs most definitely looked to changes here on earth and not in some future eternity.


Perhaps changing csociety was next to impossible. Perhaps these folks pinned their hopes on a man and/or the legend of such a man to bring about the change they wanted.

Its similar today. People seek a different candidate every four years to make changes for them or favorable to them. Personally, I believe that the Apostles were sincere. I believe they were honest. Keep in mind, however, that I want to believe these things.

When does a story become literally untruthful?

I'm not sure what truth has to do with the Gospels.

What change did they want?


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
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thewordofgod 
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Message 27 of 48 (604471)
02-12-2011 2:02 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Jon
02-09-2011 9:05 PM


Re: Applying the Art of Lie-detecting to the Resurrection Accounts
Jon writes:

What practices are used by investigators who must sift through numerous eyewitness accounts of an event to sort out what happened and did not based on consistencies/inconsistencies in the accounts given? When considering whether or not a particular aspect of the incident did or did not occur, what value might consistent accounts add to support the incident's happening? What effect might inconsistent accounts have on the believability of the account?

One of the methods used by scholars who look through the New Testament in search of the 'historical Jesus' is what Robert Stein calls the Criterion of Multiple Attestation:

quote:
Stein in The Synoptic Problem (1987):

We still must ask how our knowledge of the relationship between the synoptic Gospels assists us in historical criticism. One way is by means of the "Criterion of Multiple Attestation." Essentially this criterion works as follows: Assuming that the Markan, the Q, and the unique Matthean (M), Lukan (L), and Johannine material come from different sources, if a teaching or activity of Jesus is witnessed to in a number of these sources rather than just one (e.g., John or M), the probability of its historicity or authenticity is much greater. In other words, each source of the Gospels acts as a witness before the judgment seat of history, and the more independent witnesses (i.e., sources) that can give testimony, the stronger the case. An example of how this works is as follows. Did Jesus teach that the kingdom of God had actually come in some way in his ministry? ... We find support for this view in the Markan material (Mark 2:2122), the Q material (Luke 11:20/Matt. 12:28), the M material (Matt. 5:17), the L material (Luke 17:2021), and in John 12:31. With this kind of multiple support from a fivefold tradition, certainly any burden of proof should then lie with those scholars who would deny that Jesus taught that in his coming the kingdom of God had arrived in some unique way. (p. 142)


quote:
Ehrman in The New Testament (2004):

In any court trial, it is better to have a number of witnesses who can provide consistent testimony than to have only one, especially if we can show the witnesses did not confer with one another to get their story straight. A strong case will be supported by several witnesses who independently agree on a point at issue. So too with history. An event mentioned in several independent documents is more likely to be historical than an event mentioned in only one. This principle does not deny that individual documents can provide reliable historical information, but without corroborating evidence it is often impossible to know if an individual source has made up an account, or perhaps provided a skewed version of it. (p. 218)


Ehrman gives the examples of John the Baptist encountering Jesus, Jesus' brothers, and Jesus' teaching in parablesthings multiply attested, and so more likely to be true.

For this thread, I'd like to examine some of the techniques used in detecting false accounts given multiple different tellings, and then apply those techniques to the post-resurrection appearance accounts in the gospels and try to determine whether the gospel accounts are trustworthy evidence of a resurrection or not. For this purpose, I think we can ignore the 'empty tomb' story, and just stick to the appearances, which occur in Matt. 28:1620, Luke 24:1353, and John 20:1121.1

When we apply whatever lie-detecting tools we might have to the accounts of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances, what can we conclude about the veracity of the claims? And, if the claims are likely true, does this validate the resurrection account? If the claims are likely false, does this invalidate it?

When we interrogate the apostles, do we find them lying or telling the truth?

Jon
__________
1 Perhaps to this list we could also add the short and long endings of Mark, even though they don't appear to be original to his gospel.
__________
Ehrman, B. (2004) The New Testament: a Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 3rd ed. New York: Oxford UP.
Stein, R. (1987) The Synoptic Problem: an Introduction. Michigan: Baker Books

Why would you use lies of other people to mix with your own lies to find the truth in a book that's impossible to find it in?

God is the only one with the truth and if you're one of his chosen ones, he'll reveal his knowledge in you while you write and speak the inspired words he gives you. He's the only one who can interpret the scriptures so your effort of searching for the truth is worthless. God gives the truth to his chosen ones and no one else.

OFF TOPIC - Please Do Not Respond to this message by continuing in this vein.
AdminPD

Edited by thewordofgod, : No reason given.

Edited by AdminPD, : Warning


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Message 28 of 48 (604571)
02-13-2011 7:52 AM
Reply to: Message 27 by thewordofgod
02-12-2011 2:02 PM


Abide By The Rules
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Please read the Forum Guidelines and abide by the rules.

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Jon
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Posts: 4330
From: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Joined: 12-29-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 29 of 48 (604811)
02-15-2011 3:03 AM


Gary Wills
In a book I recently acquired, scholar Gary Wills lays out the following for an interpretation of the unrecognizable Jesus:

quote:
Wills in What the Gospels Meant (2008):

...the stranger (who is Jesus) makes as if to "pass on beyond" the disciples ([Luke] 24.28)which is a sign of divine unapproachability in the Sacred Writings. When Moses asked the Lord to show him his glory, God responded:

"My face you cannot see, for no mortal man may see me and live." The Lord said, "Here is a place beside me. Take your stand on the rock and when my glory passes by, I will put you on a crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen." (Exodus 33.2023)
That was in the era of Moses, of the Promise. But in the era of Jesus, of the Promise fulfilled, the Messiah reveals himself...
...
[In Mark, a] storm comes up so severe that in the early morning hours the disciples are "tortured" at the oars, trying to keep control of their boat, and they lose confidenceas the Israelites lost trust in their God and turned to the Golden Calf while Moses was on the mountain. Jesus knows of their ordeal.
And toward the fourth watch of the night, he comes toward them, treading along on the water, and he went on to pass them by. But they, when they saw him treading along on the water, concluded he was a ghost and they shrieked, for all of them saw him and were dumbfounded. But straightway he addressed them, and he said. "Take heart. I AM."(6.4850)
We saw, in the story of the walk toward Emmaus [quoted above], how "passing by" the disciples is a sign of God's Presence. Joel Marcus cites other scriptural passages, based on this model, to show that "the verb parelthein ('to pass, to pass by') became almost a technical term for a divine epiphany" (M 426).
...
Matthew, unlike Luke and John, describes no appearance of the risen Jesus to his male followers in Jerusalem. Jesus meets the women as they are speeding away from the tomb and instructs them to tell the men that he will meet them in Galilee, on a mountaintop, presumably the one where he delivered his Sermon on the Mount in this Gospel. When he appears to them there, some are at first not sure that it is he (28.17)which fits the numinous aura of his risen appearances (see Mk 16.1114, Lk 24.1335, Jn 20.14, 21.4). It also accords with the tradition, treated earlier, by which the Lord "passes by" in the Sacred Writings and is glimpsed only indirectly. There is great psychological acuity in this matter-of-fact recording of mystery.
....
Paul, who had seen the risen Jesus, says that the risen body resembles the one that dies as little as a seed resembles a full-grown plant [I Cor. 1:15]; but there is some continuity between the spiritualized state and the past earthly life, a truth Jesus teaches in the most concrete way.
...
Mary Magdalene is back near the tomb, distraught and weeping, when she sees a person she takes to be the gardenera difficulty at recognizing the risen Jesus that is experienced by almost all the disciples. (pp. 3, 3637, 106, 150, 201)

Thus, Wills offers three different interpretations relating to the unrecognizable Jesus:

  1. In keeping Jesus' face initially hidden, it reaffirms his association with God, based on the "passing by" legends of Scripture;
  2. Jesus, like all who are resurrected, is naturally quite different from his pre-death form;
  3. The difficulty in recognition is on the disciples, and not necessarily the fault of Jesus.

Granted, these interpretations are not all strictly compatible, but I don't think they are necessarily meant to be, as each one is drawn out with relation to the message delivered in an individual gospel. However, the part that interests me, for the purpose of this thread, is whether there may be any potential truth and/or value behind the interpretations offered here by Wills, and how we might find evidence to support them.

How plausible does all this sound?

Jon
__________
Wills, G. (2008) What the Gospels Meant. New York: Penguin Group.


Check out Apollo's Temple!
Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

  
ICANT
Member
Posts: 5184
From: SSC
Joined: 03-12-2007


Message 30 of 48 (605033)
02-16-2011 3:41 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Jon
02-09-2011 9:05 PM


Re: Applying the Art of Lie-detecting to the Resurrection Accounts
Hi Jon,

Jon writes:

For this thread, I'd like to examine some of the techniques used in detecting false accounts given multiple different tellings, and then apply those techniques to the post-resurrection appearance accounts in the gospels and try to determine whether the gospel accounts are trustworthy evidence of a resurrection or not. For this purpose, I think we can ignore the 'empty tomb' story, and just stick to the appearances, which occur in Matt. 28:1620, Luke 24:1353, and John 20:1121.1

When we apply whatever lie-detecting tools we might have to the accounts of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances, what can we conclude about the veracity of the claims? And, if the claims are likely true, does this validate the resurrection account? If the claims are likely false, does this invalidate it?

When we interrogate the apostles, do we find them lying or telling the truth?

Do you have any specific lies or truths recorded in the texts you presented that you would like to discuss?

If you do please present them for discussion.

If not you guys can keep taking your pot shots in the air.

God Bless,


"John 5:39 (KJS) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
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