I call the Easter story the greatest myth ever told, well, because it is. The story is great because of the impact it has had on this world, for better or worse. I call it a myth because, as I detail below, this story is inconceivable.
I am certain that this blog entry will not be palatable to any Christian who reads it. To be perfectly frank, that is not my issue, even if you happen to be one of my many Christian friends. Ascertaining truth in this world is of utmost importance to me [and I hope you understand that], which is why such stories need to be classified and recognized for the untruths they are.
Although Christian apologists would claim that there is ample historical evidence proving Jesus’ resurrection, historicity has another tale to tell. When performing historical analysis, we look for the historical evidence to corroborate or negate its veracity. Unlike other historical events, we have no evidence whatsoever of a resurrection, not even a single eyewitness testimony! The only sources we have around that time period documenting this event are sacred scriptures of a pro-Christian bent. So, in terms of historical veracity, the evidence we have is of the least objective kind—nothing more than the word of a bunch of biased, unscholarly devotees of Jesus who would have said anything because their devotion to Jesus had been set in stone long before his death. Even if we were to believe Paul when he said that there were over five hundred witnesses to the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:6), we run into a problem. Why didn’t Paul tell us who these witnesses were or where they lived? Why is there no eyewitness testimony from them? Hypothetically, I can claim that five hundred people saw me make a five-story building disappear. Aside from the initial ridiculousness of the claim, wouldn’t it be all the more embarrassing if I couldn’t produce any eyewitness testimony to my supposed miracle?
If I were an objective historian, I would not use Christian scriptures as my sole basis for proving anything since one can hardly consider such a text to be unbiased. Since Christian scriptures are the only “evidence” for such an event, one would also have to consider that other scenarios were just as plausible. This is precisely what Yisroel Blumenthal does--create reasonable doubt. One scenario is that Jesus’ followers were in a hurry to bury Jesus [since it was almost the Sabbath], and because they were in a rush, they could have forgotten the location of the burial site. Another possibility is that the disciples, in their zealousness, removed the body themselves and lied to the masses in order to perpetuate the worship of Jesus the man. A third possibility is that Jesus’ body was indeed exhumed by the governing authorities to be put on display to prove that Jesus was never resurrected, but what makes you think that such evidence would have survived centuries of the Catholic Church’s censorship?
But let us put aside notions about eyewitness testimony, reasonable doubt, and corroborating evidence for a moment. After all, Christians tell us we should believe because the Bible tells us so. Just for the record, they’ll also have you believe that the Bible is true because the Bible is true—you have to love that circular argumentation! For argument’s sake, what I will do is temporarily suspend my disbelief by taking Christian scriptures at face value and presume that they were written by well-intentioned men whose goal was to genially “bring the [true] word of Christ to the world.”
When looking at what Christian scriptures has to say about the alleged event, even an unbiased reader has to question the veracity of such a source due to multiple textual issues and inconsistencies. Just to name a few:
1) On which day was Jesus crucified? Some sources say the day before Passover (John 13:1, 29, 18:28, 19:14), whereas others say the first day of Passover (Mark 14:17-25, Luke 22:14-23, Matthew 26:20-30). This causes an even more complicated discrepancy since right before Jesus’ death, he had a Passover seder. There is no way that the seder would have occurred before Passover began, which means that his death could not have either.
2) What were Jesus’ last words? Luke 23:46 says they were “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” John 19:30 says “It is finished.” Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46 both say that they were “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, which is translated ‘My G-d, My G-d, why have you forsaken me?’” The latter is perturbing since those last words sound more like a man who questions why G-d has abandoned him more than anything else.
3) How many days was Jesus in his tomb? Jesus prophesized (Matthew 12:40) that it would be three days and three nights, the same time that Jonah was in the belly of the whale. John 20:1 said it was two days and two nights, whereas Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, and Matthew 28:1 say it was three days and two nights. Aside from the contradictions between the Gospels, what is even more glaring is that in either case, his stay in the earth did not last for three days and three nights, thereby making him a false prophet.
4) On the Sunday morning, how many people initially approached the empty tomb? This is another one of those “depends on who you ask” questions. John (20:1) says one, Mark (16:1) says three, and Luke (24:10) says four.
5) After seeing the angels, whom did Mary meet first? According to Luke (24:4-10), it was the disciples. John (20:14), Mark (16:9), and Matthew (28:9) all say that she first met Jesus.
6) Did those who were allegedly there doubt that it was Jesus? Answer: Yes! Mary thought it was the gardener (John: 20:14-15). Even some of Jesus’ disciples were unsure that it was actually Jesus (Matthew 28:17).
7) Where did Jesus' post-resurrection appearances take place? Luke (24:13-53) said they were near Jerusalem, whereas Matthew (28:7-20) said they were near the Galilee, which is in the northern part of Israel.
8) When did the apostles receive the "holy spirit?" According to John (20:22), it was on Easter Sunday, whereas Luke (Acts 1:5, 8, 2:1-4) insists that it was on Pentecost, which was fifty days later!
I can come up with about twenty other inconsistencies in no time flat, but I'll leave the rest to Rabbi Tovia Singer, who has done what any unbiased reader of the text would do. He has lined up the four versions of the resurrection story here and shows that none of the details in the four accounts are consistent with each other. In case anybody is doubting me, I did verify the citations' veracity, which means that the existence of the inconsistencies is not up for debate. If any other text, religious or secular, had such glaring inconsistencies, I wouldn’t expect Christians to ardently defend it with the [theological] acrobatics that they defend their scriptures.
To say the least, this causes many problems for Christian apologists. In the words of Asher Norman, author of 26 Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus, he ever so eloquently states, on page 274 of his book, the blatant issues with the conflicting eyewitness testimonies:
Missionaries explain these conflicts to be like differences in eyewitness testimony of an event. They assert that conflicts are expected and actually prove the veracity of the witnesses because false witnesses would rehearse their stories. There are three problems with the missionary answer. First, the Gospel writers were not eyewitnesses. None of them are reported to have witnessed the events described above. Second, many of the differences concern times, dates, and places, which cannot be explained away by differences in perspective. Third, the testimony of the authors is supposedly “the inspired word of G-d (2 Timothy 3:16).” Would G-d transmit a garbled version of the story that is the foundation of Christian faith? Since the “resurrection” of a dead body is not scientifically possible, one needs to believe in a miracle to accept the story as true. Since the contradictions prove that G-d did not inspire the text, there is no rational reason to believe in the “resurrection.” It is therefore simply a self-serving explanation to explain the death of a failed messiah.
Conclusion: I find that the inaccuracies this story epitomize my theological frustrations with Christianity, and calling them "frustrations" would be me putting it mildly. After all, this story is unquestionably the cornerstone of Christianity. Without it, there would be no Christianity. This is why an honest, thorough analysis of the text is essential.
I hope I'm not asking for too much here, but I’ll give it a go. What I ask of Christians is that the minimalist standards that you use to prove veracity are those that you would use in any other decision or analysis you make in your daily lives. The very fact that a significantly lower burden of proof is used in Christianity is regrettable, especially from my conservative Christian friends who constantly complain, and accurately so, about the political Left and their usage of double standards.
I’d also like to make another essential point. Even if this “resurrection” ever happened, I would still find it to be a moot point because, as I blogged a couple of months ago, Jesus could not have possibly died for our sins.
This is not to say that I don't think Christians have a right to practice their religion in America. If Christianity makes you feel happy and it helps you to be a contributing member of society, go for it! As long as your faith does not interfere with anybody else's right to practice their religion, I will respect your right to practice Christianity. However, I hope that for any Christian who takes their faith seriously, I hope you take my legitimate concerns just as seriously and think about these inconsistencies.