Would Jesus' disciples preach a lie?

Lets for argument sake, say that Jesus was crucified by the Romans. Now, unless Jesus was God there is a good chance he would not have resurrected from the grave. What would be the motivation of his disciples to preach that Jesus resurrected if they knew it to be a lie?

Posted: July 19th 2011

Mike the Infidel www

Most of the apostles never met Jesus, and only heard about the resurrection from others who never saw it happen. They didn’t have to lie. They just had to repeat a story that evolved as it was passed from person to person. Maybe the disciples took the body from the tomb, and as the story of an empty tomb went around, people made up their own elements of the story (such as that Jesus was resurrected rather than just removed). Stories like that tend to take on a life of their own, and this sort of explanation is much more in line with the reality we observe than the idea of a god-man resurrecting himself.

Posted: July 30th 2011

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Philip www

There was a common Jewish practice called Midrash – the definition of which “...is a way of interpreting biblical stories that goes beyond simple distillation of religious, legal or moral teachings. It fills in many gaps left in the biblical narrative regarding events and personalities that are only hinted at”.

With this in mind, yes, if there had been such things as Jesus and Jesus’s disciples, there is a very strong chance they would have lied about a lot of things, including Jesus’s ressurection.

Worse still, it is plainly evident that the stories you read in the Bible are wildly contradictory and have been messed around with, especially about the ressurection – read each Gospel side by side, check and compare the events being described and then I think you will see what I am getting at. They are all different accounts, some attempting to be more outlandish than others and these are the books that made it to the supposedly cannonised book.

For example, read the Gospel according to Philip, a book that never made it – the author(s) claim Jesus was not born of one virgin, but two!

The motivation always was to get more believers and for rulers to be able to control people, especially in the boiling religious cauldron that was Jerusalem and the surrounding areas from the 1st Century onwards. They would make up anything to ensure belief – it is still common even in the 21st Century for goodness sake!

Posted: July 29th 2011

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Ophelia Benson www

I’ll take your question literally, rather than as an attempt at arguing that it’s likely that Jesus was resurrected. What would the motivation be? Surely that’s obvious. It’s a striking claim; striking claims get attention. There are people around right now, today, who make striking claims in order to get attention, even if they know the claims are not true. That’s not unusual.

Posted: July 23rd 2011

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In 1997 39 people committed suicide so that they could reach the alien spacecraft that was following comet Hale-Bopp.

They clearly believed this strong enough to sacrifice their lives, but one cannot judge the truth of something based upon devotion people have towards that belief.

Posted: July 22nd 2011

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Blaise www

We don’t even have to allow for your hypotheses (Jesus existed; Jesus was crucified) to have some great reasons why someone would preach his story. They could have been trying to start a religion, either for personal gain, power, or more altruistic reasons. They could have been insane or lying. They could even have made the whole thing up as a metaphor or parable.

Posted: July 20th 2011

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SmartLX www

There are three broad scenarios in which the Resurrection did not happen and yet it is recorded that the apostles preached the opposite. To be clear, each of the following is a suggestion, not a statement of what I or any given person actually thinks happened.

1. The apostles did not know it was a lie. They were deceived by a group of their followers, or one of their own, or Jesus himself, or an outside party. Therefore they preached the Resurrection with complete sincerity, and gladly gave their lives for Jesus when the time came.

2. The apostles decided that the lie was worth preaching. If the self-proclaimed Messiah was easily scooped up by the Romans and executed without any discernible effect on the plight of the Jews, Jesus’ teachings would die with him and all their work was for nothing. So they dealt with the body somehow (Matthew 28 says an earthquake moved the stone from the tomb, and some of the guards left) and preached that Jesus was alive and had saved us all invisibly through his sacrifice.

Also, without something to show for their devotion, Jesus’ followers might well have turned on the apostles when Jesus proved powerless, providing another motive to preach his triumphant resurrection and snatch divine victory from the jaws of defeat. Lifelong persecution beats murder by disgruntled followers, and there were more followers each day the lie persisted.

3. The original apostles didn’t actually preach the lie. They preached the greatness of Jesus’ life and teachings, his martyrdom and perhaps even his divinity, but in the decades between the “actual” (assumed for argument’s sake) events and the writing of the Gospels (most likely by other people) the exaggerations of later preachers were incorporated into their stories.

Christians always speak up and fight me hard whenever I bring up these alternative explanations. The credibility of the Resurrection story is often regarded as an absolute bulwark, a reassuring position of strength to fall back on when all other apologetic has proved useless, so when it’s threatened Christians take it personally (immediately before insisting that it’s not threatened).

My position is that any of the three scenarios could have happened in so many different ways that it’s practically impossible to rule them out. Following on from this, as long as any of them is so much as a possibility it must be compared with the probability of divine intervention – and if you’re trying to use the Resurrection to establish the existence of God, you can’t assume the existence of God when determining the probability of the Resurrection. That leaves very poor mathematical support for it and, in my view, no good reason to believe.

Posted: July 20th 2011

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Steve Zara www

What would be the motivation? How about that they really, really, really wanted it to be true?

The philosopher David Hume suggested we consider the following question: what would be the lesser miracle – that a miracle actually happened or that someone who reported the miracle was either lying, mistaken or deluded?

There is also what you might think of as the Harry Potter factor here. What answer would you give to the following question – did Harry really defeat Volemort, or were his friends lying?

Remember that the stories of the life of Christ were only written some time after he supposedly existed. Why do we assume that they were truer than any other myth?

Posted: July 20th 2011

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bitbutter www

If Christian mythology were true, there would be many spirits and demons actively trying to lead humanity astray. Judging from the many accounts of non-christian miracles and resurrections from around the period, these evil forces were especially active during the time Jesus is claimed to have lived.

For a demon with supernatural powers, bent on confusing people (people who are already stunningly gullible and ignorant, by modern standards), pretending to be the son of God and resurrecting yourself might be a good move.

Actual resurrection might even be overkill, you could instead plant a false memory among key witnesses instead—mere mortals can already create false memories in others. This kind of thing would be many times easier for a powerful demon.

The Christian narrative which includes powerful evil spirits, taken seriously, undermines the trustworthiness of most claims to knowledge, but especially any claims that relate to God, such as the Jesus narrative.

For more on this question see Richard Carrier’s Why I don’t buy the resurrection story.

Posted: July 19th 2011

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