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View Full Version : Resurrection of Jesus: how strong is Mark's testimony?



B&H
03-29-2015, 09:37 PM
I dismiss Mark's gospel as a serious source for resurrection evidence since the only part of Mark that mentions anybody seeing the resurrected Jesus, is the "long ending" of Mark 16, which most scholars dismiss as not being original to Mark.

May I assume you agree with the majority scholarly opinion that the long-ending of Mark isn't original, so i can move on to Luke?

Not only are the scholars agreed, but the apologists agree against it too. I've read reams of apologetics books, and none of them so much as quote this disputed portion of Mark in the effort to establish the resurrection of Jesus. Indeed, it is not the best evidence, and a rule of historiography is that you use only the best evidence available. Why would you introduce a new member of your church to the biblical support for the deity of Jesus by using the New World Translation? You wouldn't. You have far better evidence to make your case (the modern translations), so you skip the debatable and poor evidence and immediately use the best and most uncontested evidence.

You should do the same in the case of Mark and his alleged testimony to the resurrection of Jesus.

But lets turn the tables. If you agree with the scholars that Mark originally ended at 16:8, now you've got the gospel that scholars say was the first one to be written, not saying anything about people seeing the resurrected Jesus.

!?

If the resurrection is a 'central' part of the 'gospel', how do you explain the earliest gospel refusing to provide resurrection testimony from human beings? Could it be that the original gospel knew nothing of human eyewitnesses to a resurrected Jesus?

Nah, that couldn't be the case, for if it was, that would require the later gospel testimony to humans seeing the resurrected Jesus to be just embellishment, since it is highly unlikely author Mark would not have known about such witnesses if they truly existed. You've been a Christian far too long, in your world, needing to preserve your currently chosen religion is always a sufficient motive to reject a plausible historical hypothesis, right?

Should Mark's silence on these witnesses be interpreted in light of apostle Paul's listing of witnesses in 1st Corinthians 15? Or should apostle Paul's list of witnesses in 1st Corinthians 15 be interpreted in light of Mark's failure to mention any such witnesses?

How do you know which biblical position controls the other? Do you have any reason that is more objective that the need to maintain biblical inerrancy?

Is this the part where you suddenly discover that Mark wasn't the earliest written gospel? You know, just arbitrarily take whatever scholarly position that disturbs your faith the least?

Ok, if we assume Mark wasn't the gospel composed the earliest, then his willingness to repeat much from the earlier gospel (whether Matthew or Luke, it doesn't matter which) (synoptic problem), despite the lack of "need" to repeat what was already known, argues that he would also have been willing to repeat what they said about the resurrection, raising alarm bells as to why he didn't. In short, Mark's resurrection testimony and issues of the original ending disqualify him and his gospel from the category of "best evidence" that historians typically try to confine themselves to when making their historical case for something.

The Pixie
03-30-2015, 12:30 AM
I dismiss Mark's gospel as a serious source for resurrection evidence since the only part of Mark that mentions anybody seeing the resurrected Jesus, is the "long ending" of Mark 16, which most scholars dismiss as not being original to Mark.
Actually Mark does allude to the resurrection, as the man in the tomb says that Jesus will appear in Galilee.

It would be quite bizarre if Mark did not believe in the resurrection at all; it was fundamental to Christianity, as the Pauline letters, written years earlier make clear. I think we can be sure Mark believed in the resurrection, though it is odd that Mark's gospel makes no more of it than that brief reference (but it is possible another ending was lost).

B&H
03-31-2015, 04:17 PM
Actually Mark does allude to the resurrection, as the man in the tomb says that Jesus will appear in Galilee.

I never said he didn't say that.

I said Mark does not provide any indication that human beings interacted with the allegedly risen Jesus, if he the long-ending is a corruption.


It would be quite bizarre if Mark did not believe in the resurrection at all;

No it wouldn't. Jesus preached the gospel throughout his earthly three year ministry and never once said individual salvation was conditioned upon belief in it.


it was fundamental to Christianity, as the Pauline letters, written years earlier make clear.

Even granting Jesus predicted his own resurrection, he never sets it forth as being any more fundamental than his other teachings. He allegedly said, after rising from the dead, that ALL of his teachings were to be obeyed by future Gentile followers, Matthew 28:20.

Paul was a heretic and a liar, a subject deserving its own separate threads. For now, I don't think fundies seriously appreciate all that can be safely implied from Paul's own closest ministry partners abandoning his views of table fellowship (Gal. 2:12-13), or of Paul's admission that his churches in Galaia were largely abandoning him for the Judaizer gospel (Gal. 1:6), or that Paul cannot possibly have pretended to be under the Law when in Jewish company without giving an affirmative misrepresentation of himself to others (1st Cor. 9:20-21). Obviously first century Christians, including those in Paul's own churches didn't presuppose Paul's inerrancy, and yet today's inerrantists act as if there is simply no denying Paul's theological accuracy and integrity.


I think we can be sure Mark believed in the resurrection, though it is odd that Mark's gospel makes no more of it than that brief reference (but it is possible another ending was lost).

And since Mark's gospel raises more questions than it answers regarding the resurrection eyewitnesses, it does not qualify as serious material for establishing the resurrection of Jesus.

The Pixie
04-01-2015, 01:11 AM
I never said he didn't say that.

I said Mark does not provide any indication that human beings interacted with the allegedly risen Jesus, if he the long-ending is a corruption.
I disagree. I think the gospel indicates that Mark believed humans interacted with (or at least saw a vision of) the risen Jesus when he alluded to the disciples seeing Jesus in Galilee.

No it wouldn't. Jesus preached the gospel throughout his earthly three year ministry and never once said individual salvation was conditioned upon belief in it.
That is not what my argument is based on. I see Christianity as something that started after Jesus died, based on the belief that Jesus was resurrected. Without that belief, Christianity was dead in the water. There were plenty of other preachers predicting doom at that time (John the Baptist for one). What set Christianity apart was the belief in the resurrection. Why would Mark write about a preacher who died forty years earlier? Why would Mark allude to Jesus being seen after death in Galilee if he did not believe Jesus was seen after death in Galilee?

Even granting Jesus predicted his own resurrection, he never sets it forth as being any more fundamental than his other teachings. He allegedly said, after rising from the dead, that ALL of his teachings were to be obeyed by future Gentile followers, Matthew 28:20.
I mean it was fundamental to the Christianity that appeared after Jesus died, not to what Jesus preached.

Paul was a heretic and a liar, a subject deserving its own separate threads. For now, I don't think fundies seriously appreciate all that can be safely implied from Paul's own closest ministry partners abandoning his views of table fellowship (Gal. 2:12-13), or of Paul's admission that his churches in Galaia were largely abandoning him for the Judaizer gospel (Gal. 1:6), or that Paul cannot possibly have pretended to be under the Law when in Jewish company without giving an affirmative misrepresentation of himself to others (1st Cor. 9:20-21). Obviously first century Christians, including those in Paul's own churches didn't presuppose Paul's inerrancy, and yet today's inerrantists act as if there is simply no denying Paul's theological accuracy and integrity.
Paul had his own view of Christianity that was at odds with the main church, so I will give you heretic. On what base do you believe he was a liar?

My position is that the Pauline letters give us good evidence that Jesus' resurrection - in some form - was accepted by the early church by say AD 50. I do not see anything here to make me think otherwise.

And since Mark's gospel raises more questions than it answers regarding the resurrection eyewitnesses, it does not qualify as serious material for establishing the resurrection of Jesus.
What it tells us is that Mark believed Jesus was seen by disciples in Galilee. However, it gives no indicate in what form Jesus appeared (bright light or physical body complete with crucifixion wounds or whatever); it gives no indication to what extent Jesus interacted with the disciples (a mere sighting or an in-depth conversation). It does indicate Jesus was not seen in Jerusalem, though...

Cornelius
04-14-2015, 02:32 AM
Even granting Jesus predicted his own resurrection, he never sets it forth as being any more fundamental than his other teachings. He allegedly said, after rising from the dead, that ALL of his teachings were to be obeyed by future Gentile followers, Matthew 28:20.

I mean it was fundamental to the Christianity that appeared after Jesus died, not to what Jesus preached.

Highly unlikely that Jesus put no emphasis on it and his followers did - the whole problem you refer to with Christianity being dead in the water resurfaces.



Paul was a heretic and a liar, a subject deserving its own separate threads.

Paul had his own view of Christianity that was at odds with the main church, so I will give you heretic. On what base do you believe he was a liar?

My position is that the Pauline letters give us good evidence that Jesus' resurrection - in some form - was accepted by the early church by say AD 50. I do not see anything here to make me think otherwise.

There is no scholar today who considers this seriously and has much force behind his arguments, mainly because of Galatians. In Galatians 1-2 you see a Paul who is in complete harmony with the Apostles and at odds with the so-called "Judaizers" who merely impose unnecessary restrictions on Paul's "gospel of freedom". The last serious attempt to play this "Paul vs the Nascent Christianity" card was Walter Bauer and he had to reject the 7 undisputed Pauline epistles exactly for this (and similar) reasons. Everyone else who repeats this, like Ehrman, merely ignores the evidence. In addition, the Jerusalem church was obviously not restricted to Judea and Paul's base of operations at the time was Antioch where the Judaizers apparently came without much of a problem (also in Galatia which is the whole source of his problem). If Paul was at such odds with the "original Church", he would have quickly become a Cerinthus, a Valentinus, and a Marcion. Not only that, but he had close ties with Barnabas who had even closer ties with the Apostles. We know from 1 Corinthians 1:12 that Peter, and without doubt other Palestinian Christians of authority frequently traveled to Asia Minor, Paul's then-current base of operations, and so hardly would 1 Corinthians 1 (and his other letters) deal with divided parties and other such minor issues had Paul preached an entirely different Christianity from the Apostles.


For now, I don't think fundies seriously appreciate all that can be safely implied from Paul's own closest ministry partners abandoning his views of table fellowship (Gal. 2:12-13), or of Paul's admission that his churches in Galaia were largely abandoning him for the Judaizer gospel (Gal. 1:6), or that Paul cannot possibly have pretended to be under the Law when in Jewish company without giving an affirmative misrepresentation of himself to others (1st Cor. 9:20-21). Obviously first century Christians, including those in Paul's own churches didn't presuppose Paul's inerrancy, and yet today's inerrantists act as if there is simply no denying Paul's theological accuracy and integrity.

Ironically it is exactly those parts of Paul's letters that refute your assertions: Paul expressly notes that the original apostles completely agreed with him (Gal. 2:1ff), anticipating arguments such as yours. He notes that the men "sent from James" were acting on their own principles of mixing Jewish customs with theology and the fact that Peter and Barnabas turn to these customs upon the men's visit to Antioch, shows that they never followed it to begin with and that the peer-pressure can get to even an Apostle. Jews were a large proportion of the Christians and could easily succumb to this due to a weak conscience (Romans 14), especially if the Gentile Galatians can! After all, all the Judaizers had to do was point to the Torah and the sections dealing with converts. As for Paul "losing his Galatian church", he obviously didn't lose anyone or we wouldn't have Galatians preserved by them at all.

The Pixie
04-14-2015, 03:39 AM
Highly unlikely that Jesus put no emphasis on it and his followers did - the whole problem you refer to with Christianity being dead in the water resurfaces.
That depends.

Suppose Jesus was not God incarnate, but just a man preaching about God, who was crucified, and whose followers later mistakenly thought they saw alive again. Such a Jesus would have nothing to say about his own resurrection, as he would have no reason to suppose his followers would think it had happened.

However, even if Jesus was God incarnate, and he did emphasis his own resurrection, that would only reinforce my original point that the resurrection "was fundamental to Christianity".

There is no scholar today who considers this seriously and has much force behind his arguments, mainly because of Galatians. In Galatians 1-2 you see a Paul who is in complete harmony with the Apostles and at odds with the so-called "Judaizers" who merely impose unnecessary restrictions on Paul's "gospel of freedom". The last serious attempt to play this "Paul vs the Nascent Christianity" card was Walter Bauer and he had to reject the 7 undisputed Pauline epistles exactly for this (and similar) reasons. Everyone else who repeats this, like Ehrman, merely ignores the evidence. In addition, the Jerusalem church was obviously not restricted to Judea and Paul's base of operations at the time was Antioch where the Judaizers apparently came without much of a problem (also in Galatia which is the whole source of his problem). If Paul was at such odds with the "original Church", he would have quickly become a Cerinthus, a Valentinus, and a Marcion. Not only that, but he had close ties with Barnabas who had even closer ties with the Apostles. We know from 1 Corinthians 1:12 that Peter, and without doubt other Palestinian Christians of authority frequently traveled to Asia Minor, Paul's then-current base of operations, and so hardly would 1 Corinthians 1 (and his other letters) deal with divided parties and other such minor issues had Paul preached an entirely different Christianity from the Apostles.
We know from Acts that Christianity split into two paths, with disagreements between them. Paul led one way, with the gentiles, the apostles in Jerusalem went another way. Paul's way was not declared a heresy like Marcion because Paul won, partly because the Jewish rebellion impacted so much on Jewish Christians. Paul's heresies became the orthodoxy.

Chrawnus
04-14-2015, 03:53 AM
We know from Acts that Christianity split into two paths, with disagreements between them. Paul led one way, with the gentiles, the apostles in Jerusalem went another way. Paul's way was not declared a heresy like Marcion because Paul won, partly because the Jewish rebellion impacted so much on Jewish Christians. Paul's heresies became the orthodoxy.

No, we do not know that at all. This is simply conjecture made by liberal scholars with no direct support in the text itself. What the text itself tells us is that Paul and the apostles were in agreement, against the judaizers.

Cornelius
04-14-2015, 05:00 AM
That depends.

Suppose Jesus was not God incarnate, but just a man preaching about God, who was crucified, and whose followers later mistakenly thought they saw alive again. Such a Jesus would have nothing to say about his own resurrection, as he would have no reason to suppose his followers would think it had happened.

However, even if Jesus was God incarnate, and he did emphasis his own resurrection, that would only reinforce my original point that the resurrection "was fundamental to Christianity".

I completely agree with your original statement that the Resurrection was fundamental to Christianity one way or another. But, you were implying a distinction between what Jesus taught and what was fundamental to Christianity. For Jesus' disciples to mistakenly believe that he was somehow metaphysically risen - spiritually, celestially, etc - via the Greek incubation visions or the like, is a bit of a stretch in my opinion. Usually these types of claims are made if something/someone is successful, such as the divine vision's attack on Heliodorus in 2 Maccabees, where the author is writing after Judea's triumph, or the divinely appointed death of Antiochus IV, etc.

As we know from Josephus, dead, defeated and even missing (the Egyptian prophet) religious leaders equals without fail dispersed followers. This is the main reasoning behind Gamaliel's speech in Acts 5: nobody needs to worry - false prophets fail and do so quickly. The only religious/political philosophies that survived were the ones that physically succeeded - e.g. the Pharisees and Sadducees with their political control, the Essenes who had their own community, the Zealots who had their emphasis on physical power, the Sicarii, bandits that succeeded for some time (Judas of 4 BC after Herod's death), and so on. Movements that had none of these were quickly designated as heresies, minim, and the Talmud counts at least 22 such around that time. We would have never known of Banus and his eccentric ascetic practices were it not for Josephus who was his pupil for 3 years. Individual prophets/doomsdayers were quickly shunned and forgotten (e.g. another Jesus (ben Ananias) who predicts the Temple's destruction per Josephus). This is why the Jews in John 6 are so interested in making Jesus king - a situation that fits his day fairly well. When Democritus promised his followers that he'd come back after jumping into a volcano, they didn't reinvent some kind of cult around him. And when a Jew claiming to be God (I forgot his name) asked to be beheaded by the Ottomans, claiming he'd return as proof - nothing happened.

So I don't think the followers of Jesus would have given themselves over to persecution (as Paul tells us in Galatians 1, quite an intense one) for such an obviously (for them and everyone defeated) cause. We know from the Gospels that nobody considered the death of Jesus a positive thing, and for it to have been spun into one is fairly incredible and without precedent in the least.


We know from Acts that Christianity split into two paths, with disagreements between them. Paul led one way, with the gentiles, the apostles in Jerusalem went another way.

I find it interesting you think Acts depicts a "split into two paths" when it does exactly the opposite: Paul is actually continually in communion and even obedience to the Apostles! This is such a prevalent motif in Acts that scholars since the 1800's have used as one of their cornerstones to throw doubt on Acts' entire reliability regarding Paul. And there is absolutely no divergence from Paul's Gentile Christians and the Jewish Christians in Palestine: Chapters 1-8 present the Palestinian Christian leaders' activities and the next time we see Paul in Judea, the council of Jerusalem mentioned in Galatians has James, Peter, and Paul agree on everything!


Paul's way was not declared a heresy like Marcion because Paul won, partly because the Jewish rebellion impacted so much on Jewish Christians. Paul's heresies became the orthodoxy.

Paul could have never won just like Marcion couldn't. Moreover, all of Paul's activities occurred prior to the Jewish revolt, by which time the controversy over following the Law was resolved - none of this would have happened had Paul been preaching something completely (or even somewhat slightly) different from the Apostles on so major a topic as salvation. Paul's "heresies" would have never seen the light of day had that been true. Moreover, he would have never organized a collection for Jerusalem (Romans 15).

The Pixie
04-15-2015, 12:06 AM
I completely agree with your original statement that the Resurrection was fundamental to Christianity one way or another. But, you were implying a distinction between what Jesus taught and what was fundamental to Christianity. For Jesus' disciples to mistakenly believe that he was somehow metaphysically risen - spiritually, celestially, etc - via the Greek incubation visions or the like, is a bit of a stretch in my opinion. Usually these types of claims are made if something/someone is successful, such as the divine vision's attack on Heliodorus in 2 Maccabees, where the author is writing after Judea's triumph, or the divinely appointed death of Antiochus IV, etc.
That depends on what they saw. If they saw a bright light, as Paul did, then they would believe in a resurrection in a new, celestial body.

What you say here does, however, explain why the original resurrection stories of a bright light were later embellished into a bodily resurrection, if that was the case.

As we know from Josephus, dead, defeated and even missing (the Egyptian prophet) religious leaders equals without fail dispersed followers. ...
Put a bit strongly, but okay. I believe the apostles did see something which they took to be the risen Jesus. I am doubtful Christianity could have started (or continued if you prefer) without that, for the reasons you give.

What they saw is not clear, but I think we have good reason to suppose they saw it in Galilee, not in Jerusalem, as the earliest account in Mark indicates.

I find it interesting you think Acts depicts a "split into two paths" when it does exactly the opposite: Paul is actually continually in communion and even obedience to the Apostles! This is such a prevalent motif in Acts that scholars since the 1800's have used as one of their cornerstones to throw doubt on Acts' entire reliability regarding Paul. And there is absolutely no divergence from Paul's Gentile Christians and the Jewish Christians in Palestine: Chapters 1-8 present the Palestinian Christian leaders' activities and the next time we see Paul in Judea, the council of Jerusalem mentioned in Galatians has James, Peter, and Paul agree on everything!
See here for example:
http://paulproblem.faithweb.com/infighting_paul_james_peter.htm

Paul could have never won just like Marcion couldn't. Moreover, all of Paul's activities occurred prior to the Jewish revolt, by which time the controversy over following the Law was resolved - none of this would have happened had Paul been preaching something completely (or even somewhat slightly) different from the Apostles on so major a topic as salvation. Paul's "heresies" would have never seen the light of day had that been true.
Why could Paul not win? He had a strong influence in the gentile churches, at least as much as than the Christians in Jerusalem, and it is from these gentile churches that Christianity flourished, not from Jewish Christians.

Moreover, he would have never organized a collection for Jerusalem (Romans 15).
Why not? His disagreement was with the Jerusalem council, not the Jewish Christians in general.