THE VARIOUS THEORIES BROUGHT TO DENY THE HISTORIC CHARACTER OF THE RESURRECTION AND THEIR REFUTATION
Translation from French to English made
by Marie M. Buchanan, M.Psy.
Copyright © 2008
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THE VARIOUS THEORIES BROUGHT TO DENY THE HISTORIC CHARACTER OF THE RESURRECTION:
JESUS’ RESURRECTION – INTRODUCTION:
A BRIEF HISTORY:
In the beliefs of the antiquity, there was the myths of the Resurrection linked to the cycle of the seasons. On the other hand, one does not find nothing comparable to the proclamation of the apostles and writing according to which a man, Jesus of Nazareth was dead and overcame the death while coming back to life to reign eternally on a new creation get rid of sin, sufferings and death. The New Testament, filled with a hope based on the Resurrection of Christ and of his faith in our own Resurrection, contrast sharply with general despair facing the death that characterized the beliefs in this era. The Greeks believed in immortality seen as the delivery of the impede that constitutes the physical body; the Jews expected to return world of the deaths in their same body. While Christian hope was the one of a transformed body able to express personal life in the age to come.
THE RESURRECTION: BASIC DOCTRINE OF CHRISTIANITY:
One confuses often today the Resurrection with the maintenance of the personal existence after the death. While the Resurrection hears the maintenance of the existence (the soul) after the death, it implies for the person the recuperation of a body. To be raised from the death, is to receive again a body, this is to be reintroduced by God in the concrete world, in the material world. Once resurrected, we do not know the death anymore. According to the Bible, we have only one life to live in this body marked by the sin and the death. Therefore, we die only once. Now, this life that passes under the assessment of God about the good or the evil that one will have done being in this body determines our eternity.
For Christianity, the physical Resurrection of Christ is extremely important. (1 Cor. 15, 12-19) The Whole Christian Faith depends on it. The apostle Paul, in his epistles, showed that all is based on the bodily Resurrection of Christ. If there is no Resurrection he says, the apostles are false witnesses, the predication of the Christians is vain, their faith also and they are without hope for the future. For the Christian, the Resurrection testifies the deity of Jesus-Christ, it is the sign by excellence of His divinity. It gives all the meaning of his life and to his message. It validates His affirmations of incarnate God, Savior of the humanity and as coming judge of the world. According to Paul, the Resurrection of Jesus removed the power of the death and to the tomb his ultimate victory on life. In His death-Resurrection event, Jesus constitutes the first example of this that which will become reality for all the believers.
VARIOUS THEORIES BROUGHT TO DENY THE HISTORIC CHARACTER OF THE RESURRECTION: 1ST THEORY: “THE HALLUCINATION”:
The theory of the hallucination suggests that all the apparitions of Christ after the Resurrection were only hallucinatory deceptions. The people who have claimed to see Christ are seen as having hallucinations. This theory supposes that the grave always were occupied enters in contradiction with certain conditions (principles) that must be met to allow a hallucination to produce itself:
1st weakness of the theory: theory that indisputably the first principle that says that usually, uniquely certain persons have hallucinations – usually paranoiacs and (especially) schizophrenics. Now, in the New Testament, there is all kinds of persons having had different experiences, a different education and being in different dispositions.
2nd weakness of the theory: the second principle enunciates that the hallucinations are linked to the subconscious of a person and to its previous experiences. It is not very likely that two persons, or more, can have the same hallucination at the same time.
Christ appeared to a lot of persons and the descriptions of these apparitions contain a lot of details that the psychologists consider, determined by the reality. The supporters of this theory seem to forget that a hallucination is a private event, a subjective experience empties of all external references, empties of all objects. Thus, if two persons cannot create or keep the same vision without any object external reference, that is impossible that 500 persons, hallucinate the same thing and at the same time (Christ appeared simultaneously to 500 persons stipulates Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians).
3rd weakness of the theory: ordinarily, the hallucinations can take place whenever or wherever. In the New Testament, the circumstances of a hallucination are lacking. The mentioned apparitions are a lot more than only simple momentary visions, the time there plays a role: 15 different apparitions – of which to more than 500 persons. Besides, these apparitions present themselves under a big variety of time and places.
4th weakness of the theory: the hallucinations required of the subjects an expectative spirit or of hope that does their desires generate certain thoughts. Now, the last thing that the disciples awaited was a Resurrection: they thought that Christ had been crucified, buried and that all was finished. Mary Magdala, while going to the tomb the first Sunday to carry the spices that she had prepared to embalm with fragrance the body of Jesus, evidently did not expect to discover Him risen from the death. When at last the Lord appeared to His disciples, they had fear and believed to see a ghost.
5th weakness of the theory: the hallucinations habitually takes place during a long period and on a regularly basis. In the New Testament, the apparitions stopped abruptly. They stopped themselves all at the same moment.
2ND THEORY: “BODY STOLEN BY THE DISCIPLES”
This theory supports that the disciples would have invented a Resurrection by stealing the body of Jesus and that they accepted dying martyrs for a lie.
Here a theory that would not hold in front of a justice court. One supposes that the disciples would have come to steal the body of Jesus while the roman guard slept. Now, if the roman guard really had slept, how could he have known that the disciples had stolen the body? The defense lawyer would have liked to undergo a cross-examination to the captain of the guard.
It is impossible that the soldiers slept. The fear of the punishment caused them to be very careful with their orders, especially in the night. The Roman security unit was a war machine; if the disciples had attempted something, there would have been a fight of six seconds (just one soldier easily could have mastered the whole group of the disciples). It is necessary to remember that when Jesus was stopped in the Garden! of Gethsemane, all the disciples abandoned him and fled. In the New Testament, these are described not as intrigues, but as knocked out men, discouraged, that hid fearing themselves for their life.
And then, there is the question of the huge rock of about two tons that closed the entry of the tomb. The position of this last one – rolled to a certain distance of the sepulcher – makes the idea difficult since the soldiers would have slept despite of all this noise. Over all, this hypothesis does not agree to the lesser of the world, with that we know of the character of the apostles. These people were too honest to commit such trickery. This action would contrast with all is written about them (these men of high morality and of honor). According to the doctor J. N. D. Anderson, Leading Juridical Expert in Great Britain, the theory does not give explanation to the touching transformation that operated itself in them and that changed from to being depressed and discouraged in witnesses that nothing could stop.
That did not resemble any of them to imagine a blow of this kind, or to have enough shrewdness and of rapidity decision to execute it without anybody noticing it. Even if such had been the case, the history of Christianity would have taken a different turn. Sooner or later, one or the other of the eleven men having taken part in the abduction of the body would have, by clumsiness or otherwise, revealed the secret. More, a moral structure of the breadth of the primitive church established, as this church was, on long persecutions and of unspeakable sufferings, could not have established its doctrine on a lie.
In the last analysis, why the disciples would have wanted to give the impression that Christ was risen from the dead while they did not expect his Resurrection? Also, who could believe that these men were confronted to later persecutions, while knowing their faith was based on a deception?
3RD THEORY: “BODY STOLEN BY AUTHORITIES”
Here, Roman authorities and Jews would have taken the body and would have deposited the body in a safe place, in order to prevent whoever to claim that there had been Resurrection.
Face has such an hypothesis, one cannot do otherwise than to ask the following question: Why would authorities have done the only thing that could create problems to them? The disciples had returned in the middle of the city of Jerusalem and preached Christ rose from the death. If what they proclaimed was false, it would have sufficed to show the body to contradict them. Where was the official denial? Why authorities did not say: “This is an absurdity. We gave the order to move the body”.
If that had been insufficient, why would they not have called as witnesses those that had moved the body? Or why would they not have put the body of Christ on a cart and displayed it all over Jerusalem? This spectacle would have killed the Christianity before its beginning. The only possible answer to this question is that the authorities were not able to produce the body. They had absolutely no clue to allow them to have the knowledge of where the body was.
Yes, when the apostles began to preach the Resurrection, it would have sufficed for the authorities to show the body to refute the Christian proclamation, but they did not do it…
4th THEORY: “THE FAINTING” (OR THEORY OF INTENSIVE CARE)
According to this theory, Jesus was not really dead on the cross. It is true that he was nailed to it and suffered shock, pains and bleeding, but instead of dying he fainted of exhaustion. Thinking that he was dead his disciples buried him alive. The medical knowledge of the era was not very well developed; it was easy for them to be mistaken. The cold of the tomb where Christ was placed woke him up from the coma. His disciples were so ignorant that they could not believe of a simple intensive care; that is why they supported that it was a matter of a Resurrection.
This theory forgets certain facts:
1. Jesus undergoes six legal proceedings – three Roman and three Jewish proceedings.
2. It was inflicted on him the torture of the Roman flagellation.
3. He was so weak that he did not have the strength to carry his “patibulum” – i.e. the transversal bar of the cross.
4. They nailed him in the hands (or wrists) and feet to crucify him.
5. The Roman pierced his side from a blow of a spear and the witnesses said: “It came out water and blood”, which is a death sign.
6. Four butchers confirmed his death. The Roman teams in charge of the crucifixion knew their job. They had enough practice on others.
7. More than 100 pounds of spices and of sticky substances were placed all over his body. (could he have breathed through that?)
8. He was placed in a cold and humid grave.
9. A big rock was rolled in front of the entry.
10. A Roman guard was placed in front of the grave.
According to this theory, an unbelievable thing happened: the cold and humid air of the grave would have reanimated Christ instead of killing him (by pneumonia alone). He tore his shroud, pushed the rock in the entry, pushed back the guards and little time after, appeared to his disciples as Lord of life.
Indeed, this theory does not hold any account of the mortal character of the inflicted wound to Jesus, frightful mutilation of the hands (or wrists) and feet, the exhaustion due to heavy bleeding, of absence of any human assistance during the most critical moments where they would have been essential, firmly tight shroud around the body, and the heavy rock that closed the entry of the tomb. It suffices to represent a human body, bleeding from five open wounds lying on the cold rock of a tomb, without human relief of any type, to understand to which extent this assumption is not reasonable.
Less than twenty years following the death and Resurrection of Christ, the word of the fishermen of Galilee shook even in deeper more seated temple of Judaism and its echoes resounded all alongside the Eastern Coast of the Mediterranean. Then, it began to become a serious threat for the Roman Empire. The Christian Church recruited the mass of its first adherents not among the foreigners that came to pass some days or some weeks in Jerusalem for a holiday, but in the permanent population of the city. The enemies of the faith were paralysed. Several high persons would have certainly sacrificed a part of their fortune to annihilate this movement if it had been possible.
By a strange whim of luck, the disciples were brought to begin their campaign that was scarcely a 15 minute of walk to the place of, if their pretensions were not to have been founded, the remains of their Master was buried in a easily accessible cave. The question could be solved immediately and by testimonies of a limited number of people. Besides, it is necessary to take in consideration that when the disciples of Jesus proclaimed the Resurrection, they did it as eyewitnesses while the people that had been in communication with the events of which they spoke were alive yet. In 56 A.D., the apostle Paul wrote that more than 500 persons at the same time saw the Resurrected One, and that most of them were still alive. (1 Corinthians 15) That the first Christians were able to invent such a fable and to preach it among those who could so easily have contradicted them, while producing the body of Jesus surpasses in my opinion the boundaries of the credibility. An author said one day: “If Jesus would remain in the tomb, the history of his life and death would have remained with him”.