Feb 3, 2011

12 Did a crowd of five hundred see the risen Jesus

Believer asks: How can one realistically discount the testimony of over five hundred witnesses to a living Jesus following his crucifixion? 

Skeptic answers: Well, there were no five hundred witnesses if the writer exaggerated or made it up. He might have misunderstood a report or rumor, but a supposed big crowd hadn't actually seen the risen Jesus. 

Consider the ancient Greek tale of Perseus who turned Phineus into stone during a tussle with him. The story claims that a wedding reception witnessed the astounding incident, but it’s merely a claim. That is, just because the story says the wedding reception witnessed everything, that doesn't guarantee it's true. 

There isn't a way to tell if Paul's report is fact or fantasy, either.

Source for ancient tale of Perseus:

Further, Paul says he wasn't there himself but only heard about the five hundred witnesses to whom the risen Jesus appeared.

1 Corinthians 15:3 I passed on to you what I received, which is of the greatest importance: that Christ died for our sins, as written in the Scriptures; 4 that he was buried and that he was raised to life three days later, as written in the Scriptures; 5 that he appeared to Peter and then to all twelve apostles. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred of his followers at once, most of whom are still alive, although some have died. 

Paul repeats the story he received from other Christians, so he passes along hear-say, second-hand information. He doesn't say where sighting was supposed to have taken place. And he neglects to say the women were the first ones to see the risen Jesus. 

Recap: Other New Testament books don't say anything about a crowd of five hundred witnesses. Only Paul's letter does and it was something he heard. Even the book of Acts, the book that takes up Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, doesn't mention the crowd of five hundred witnesses. It sounds as if unsubstantiated rumors were circulating and Paul heard one of them.

Related post on my other blog:
Didn't Luke know the women saw the risen Jesus

1 comment:

  1. There are numerous reports by Apostles that the 500 saw him not just Paul...This is totally biased and Greek is mythology no historical background as the bible is...

    The Jewish historian Josephus (AD 37-100 Aprox.) talks briefly but matter-of-factly about Jesus. Josephus lived a few years after Christ, he was a Pharisee who went over to the Roman camp and wrote a history of his people. In his history he briefly mentions Jesus Christ.

    "About this time appeared Jesus, a wise man (if indeed it is right to call Him man; for He was a worker of astonishing deeds, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with joy), and He drew to Himself many Jews (many also of Greeks. This was the Christ.) And when Pilate, at the denunciation of those that are foremost among us, had condemned Him to the cross, those who had first loved Him did not abandon Him (for He appeared to them alive again on the third day, the holy prophets having foretold this and countless other marvels about Him.) The tribe of Christians named after Him did not cease to this day." (Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 §63 )