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Old 14th November 2012, 02:58 AM   #1
HansMustermann
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Was Jesus just caught in someone else's miracle?

Now before I start, you know I don't actually believe any of the nonsense in the Bible, but just for the sake of taking the piss, let's assume that the resurrection is absolutely real and historical.

Let me start with a preamble to illustrate the problem with it. Assume that one day, for whatever miraculous reason, all cats in town said "hello" to their owners. Would you think that it's caused specifically by Hans's cat, because she also say "hello"? Or does Hans's cat just get to be one of the mass of cats who did that weird stuff?

Or if there's an Earthquake and lots of houses collapse, would anyone sane think it was caused by Hans's house collapsing? Isn't it more likely that it's the earthquake that caused all the houses to fall down, including Hans's, rather than the other way around?

Now to get back to Jesus, brothers and sisters, let us open the good book to the gospel of St Matthew, chapter 27, verses 52 to 53:
52. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.

53. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
So we have a day where great cosmic events happen. Earthquakes, the sun turning dark, etc. Some extraordinary circumstances are at work, clearly. And, more importantly, a whole LOT of people come back to life, including a newly executed Jesus. He's not the only one coming back to life on that weekend. He's one of literally hundreds or maybe thousands who wake right back up during those cosmic events.

Heck, he even goes to meet people on the same Sunday when all the other walking corpses walk into town and show themselves to people.

Just like in the earthquake example, what reason is there to assume that it's dead Jesus who caused all those cosmic events and resurrections, instead of the other way around? If we take the story literally, isn't it more believable that he's just yet another hapless guy who just had the good fortune to be caught in the blast radius of that event that raised the dead all around Jerusalem? Maybe if he were executed two days later, he'd have stayed dead.

The only argument for Jesus I can think of is basically an argument from ignorance, i.e., "what else could have caused that?"

I don't know. Maybe Yog Sothoth had a bad hair day. (After all, He is said to be the gate, the key and the guardian of the gate, and we know He can grant a resurrection.) Maybe some great old one was trying to break through and those guys slipped through the crack. Maybe someone was trying to raise a zombie army. Who knows? But there still is no reason to assume that when a few thousand wake up, you can know specifically which of them did it.
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Old 14th November 2012, 07:04 AM   #2
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Here we go again, trying to apply logic to religion.

There are dozens of difficulties with this story, and HansMustermann's analysis is one more difficulty. It seems to me that the point is a good one, in that the story itself (even if taken at face value, and even if all of the other difficulties are set aside) has a big causation-based non sequitur in it.
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Old 14th November 2012, 09:54 AM   #3
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I've wondered why that event... all those zombies walking around.. got NO media coverage!
And just where does one get a new veil at the Temple?
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Old 14th November 2012, 10:14 AM   #4
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Just shows that the zombie invasion fears are overblown, I guess. Thousands of zombies rising all around Jerusalem, and by next day even Luke's Acts finds nothing to mention about those still being around. Pilate's cohort on scene must have taken care of them, and not even had enough casualties to ask for reinforcements. Imagine what a modern army regiment could do
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Old 14th November 2012, 10:23 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by I Ratant View Post
I've wondered why that event... all those zombies walking around.. got NO media coverage!
And just where does one get a new veil at the Temple?
Well, if memory serves, the event got no coverage, even in the Bible itself, except for this single account. But that is not unusual. The resurrection of Lazarus, one of the main stories in the book of John (arguably the most significant plot point in the entire composition), is deemed not worthy of mention by any of the other gospels. Indeed, the only "miracle" mentioned in all the gospels is the feeding of the multitudes, and that might not have actually been a miracle at all.

So yeah, someone reports that a bunch of dead people rolled out of their tombs and began walking around ... and it got no attention from anyone else. In other words, something totally extraordinary occurred, and only one person recorded the fantastic occurrence (and even then, only in passing). Of course, the author of the book of Matthew was not a first-hand witness of the events described, and so whoever it was either heard the zombie story from someone else (a hearsay account, now lost), or he simply invented it presumably to "authenticate" the divinity of Jesus.
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Old 14th November 2012, 11:55 AM   #6
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As embalming was not a feature then in that culture, I would imagine the odor of all those dead guys and gals would have been worthy of note.. as would be the amount of decay/disarticulation of the musculature/skeleton, which set a lower limit on possible motion.
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Old 15th November 2012, 07:52 AM   #7
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Smell nothing, can you imagine all the kvetching? I can imagine a couple hundred stereotypical Jewish grandmas being resurrected and hanging around going,

"Oy vey! Have you seen the cheap tombstone my good-for-nothing son-in-law bought me?"
"Oh yeah. But have you seen who my daughter married after I died? Oy gevalt! I could just die again!"

You'd think someone would write about THAT

With apologies to the Jewish people I so unfairly stereotyped in the interest of taking the piss out of the NT
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Old 15th November 2012, 09:47 AM   #8
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Lo *********** l!
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Old 15th November 2012, 06:06 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by I Ratant View Post
I've wondered why that event... all those zombies walking around.. got NO media coverage!
And just where does one get a new veil at the Temple?
I'd imagine that those who had just inherited the zombies lands and villas would be less than thrilled with the resurrection. surely some of the zombies would have been murdered so they would be looking for revenge, all in all I'd say it were better if the dead stay dead.
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:47 PM   #10
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Heard on the radio today that more people than are alive today have died. By an order of magnitude, or something like that.

Anyway, this suggests that the Zombies and their Zombie masters are biding their time, but already have a significant numerical advantage.

When the media starts covering the Zombies walking around, I suspect it will be too late.

Forewarned is forearmed.
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Old 21st November 2012, 01:26 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Darth Rotor View Post
Heard on the radio today that more people than are alive today have died. By an order of magnitude, or something like that.
Yebbut.......the radio was wrong. By a very long way. Probably by about 2 orders of magnitude.

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Old 21st November 2012, 02:56 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Now before I start, you know I don't actually believe any of the nonsense in the Bible, but just for the sake of taking the piss, let's assume that the resurrection is absolutely real and historical.
OK. But as we have no other evidence that this event occurred, we have to assume that the biblical account is accurate unless we can find some logical inconsistency or other evidence in the Bible which supports a more likely explanation.

Quote:
Let me start with a preamble to illustrate the problem with it. Assume that one day, for whatever miraculous reason, all cats in town said "hello" to their owners. Would you think that it's caused specifically by Hans's cat, because she also say "hello"? Or does Hans's cat just get to be one of the mass of cats who did that weird stuff?
But this is not an analogous situation. You have cherry-picked a couple of lines out of context to make it sound like they were all affected at the same time, but in fact the Bible clearly states that Jesus died first, then the earthquake and resurrections occurred. The sequence of events as described in context strongly implies a cause and effect that starts with Jesus.

Matthew 27:
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.
52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.
53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

Now you could argue for it being mere coincidence that Jesus just happened to die immediately before an unrelated earthquake and resurrection event, but what about the many other miracles that occurred when Jesus was present - were they also just coincidences? If it can be assumed that resurrections (and presumably other miraculous events) described in the Bible are 'absolutely real and historical' then why should we reject the logical deductions of cause and effect in favor of some unfalsifiable 'random coincidence' theory?

If the Bible is really just a collection of amazing coincidences and disconnected events that were misinterpreted then you might as well read the verses at random. But that would make it useless as evidence for or against any historical theory. Obviously the authors did not intend such a perverse interpretation, so in effect you would be rejecting every part of it - but you have already assumed (for the sake of argument) that it is historically accurate!

Quote:
And, more importantly, a whole LOT of people come back to life, including a newly executed Jesus. He's not the only one coming back to life on that weekend. He's one of literally hundreds or maybe thousands who wake right back up during those cosmic events.
Perhaps. But once again you are ignoring the fact that the Bible strongly implies Jesus' death was the trigger. Subsequent events were in fact a direct result of His death and resurrection, not just something unrelated that he happened to get caught up in.

Matthew 28:
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

So an earthquake is caused by an angel in the service of Jesus, then tells witnesses that Jesus knew what would happen,

If we are to believe eye witness accounts, and that angels tell the truth, there is no doubt that Jesus was the focus of these events, not just 'yet another hapless guy who just had the good fortune to be caught in the blast radius'.

OTOH, if it's all just a fictional story designed to appeal to gullible 'believers'...
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Old 21st November 2012, 03:49 AM   #13
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Actually, it's still not that simple.

1. Even if Jesus were the first raised -- which actually isn't the case, since Matthew says those other zombies came out of the graves on Friday and just hung around the cemetery until Sunday, so underwhelmingly enough Jesus is actually the last one to raise there -- but even if he were the first raised, it still doesn't mean dick.

Imagine that you were a Roman sailor passing by Pompeii when the volcano erupted. Now being a Roman, you've never seen a volcano erupt before, and chances are you've never even heard or read any reliable sources about a mountain spewing flames all of a sudden. Clearly it's a miracle. Now imagine that you actually see that the house of distinguished centurion Naughtius Maximus is the first to go up in flames. Would it be rational to assume that the volcano erupted because of ol' Naughtius Maximus?

2. As for the resurrection account, they're all over the map. The closest to being anywhere near contemporary is Mark, and he just has one young man sitting in the tomb.

But be it as it may, I don't recall any of the four versions having an angel says that he works for Jesus. He's just saying that Jesus rose, like he said he would. He doesn't even say that Jesus actually had that power to cause that himself. You're left to connect those dots yourself, but the angel doesn't actually say it.

It's like if I told you that I'll probably just end up getting robbed when I visit New York. Let's say a month later I visit New York and do get robbed. There is no reason to assume that I caused rather than it just being a random prediction.
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Old 21st November 2012, 03:50 AM   #14
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Okay Zombies walking around Jerusalem, yet there are no stories from the Roman Legion of soldiers fighting fierce battles in the undead war. You never hear about Brutus the Corpse Slayer and his heroic tale on how he slaughtered through hordes of the undead with just his gladius.
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Old 21st November 2012, 04:03 AM   #15
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Actually, it gets even better, Warrior.

So according to Matthew, the zombie hordes rose around the time Jesus died, i.e., on a Friday afternoon (not too late, because you wouldn't notice a 3 hour eclipse after sunset), and they only go into town after his resurrection, i.e., sometime on Sunday. For two days the city's cemteries are full of zombies hanging around and catching up on chat with their old buddies.

And in this time there are several shifts of guards at Jesus's tomb, not to mention people coming to mourn their dead relatives or bury new dead ones.

And obviously none of those guards mention it or do anything about it, because the zombies are still there on Sunday. You'd have shift after shift of guards coming back from tomb guard duty, and either they don't find it worthy to remark that the cemetery has turned into a zombie nightmare, or their officers think, "nah, why bother?"

Furthermore, the reactions of other people after the resurrection are... bizarre, to say the least, if they just saw whole shambling hordes of undead marching around town. E.g., Thomas doubts that specifically Jesus rose, although he just saw everyone else from that cemetery walking around. E.g., the Jews supposedly bribe the soldiers to say that some disciples stole Jesus's body, instead of just saying, "so what, on that day everyone else rose."
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Old 21st November 2012, 05:15 AM   #16
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Also, the milling zombie horde apparently had no concerns of the flesh. There is no mention of appointed zombie couriers making runs for (one must assume) Chinese takeout. Being dead for many years would build up quite a hunger, and these poor souls had to wait another couple of days before they could hit the local sidewalk cafes. Once the delivery chariots began to make there way back to the cemeteries the whole town would be abuzz.

Unless normal zombie horde rules applied here and the group simply picked out one of their own to rip apart with zombie teeth.
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Old 21st November 2012, 03:18 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Actually, it's still not that simple.

1. Even if Jesus were the first raised
He wasn't. The chain of events was:-

1. Jesus dies and gives up His spirit
2. At that moment the temple curtain rips in half, and an earthquake occurs.
3. the earthquake breaks open the tombs of dead holy men, who are then resurrected and come out of the tombs (but do not leave!).
4. 3 days later, Jesus is resurrected and an Angel opens the tomb for him.
5. The resurrected holy men go into town after Jesus’ resurrection.

Quote:
2. As for the resurrection account, they're all over the map. The closest to being anywhere near contemporary is Mark, and he just has one young man sitting in the tomb.
We don't have any accounts that are close to contemporary, and we can only speculate as to which is 'closer' or more 'accurate'. For all we know the 'earlier' account may be less detailed or mixed up simply because the writer's memory was not as good, or his sources were not as accurate.

But this is irrelevant. You already asked us to assume that the events described in the Bible were 'absolutely real and historical', and only cause and effect are questionable. So you can't now turn around and say that your 'random coincidence' theory is more likely just because the accounts don't match in every detail. Even today, it is common for the same event to be reported with varying amounts of detail (and accuracy!) by different media outlets. Does the fact that one news story is light on detail mean that another more in-depth report is wrong?

Quote:
But be it as it may, I don't recall any of the four versions having an angel says that he works for Jesus. He's just saying that Jesus rose, like he said he would. He doesn't even say that Jesus actually had that power to cause that himself. You're left to connect those dots yourself, but the angel doesn't actually say it.
Yes, you are left to 'join the dots', but the correct order to join them is obvious. The Bible is full of accounts that simply describe events in order of occurrence, and then leave it up to the reader to determine the associations between them. This 'sticking to the facts' writing style is compact and easy to follow, whereas having to keep reading explanations that 'this happened because it was caused by x' would very quickly become tiresome.

Quote:
It's like if I told you that I'll probably just end up getting robbed when I visit New York. Let's say a month later I visit New York and do get robbed. There is no reason to assume that I caused rather than it just being a random prediction.
"Don't walk out onto the road or you will get run over". What is the cause of jaywalkers being hit and killed? Just some random car running over them, or the result of their action? If you saw an adult deliberately walk into traffic, would you consider the inevitable result to be an unfortunate coincidence, or would you think they were trying to get themselves killed?

Jesus knew that he would be killed and ascend to Heaven, long before the event occurred. He also expected to be resurrected after 3 days, and he told other people about these things before they happened. IOW, he made definite predictions which could be verified. A rational person would be looking for evidence that these extremely unlikely events actually occurred, and take existence of that evidence as support for Jesus' claims. Only a denier would come up with some 'random coincidence' rationalization to explain it all away.

OK, so as a skeptic you don't want to fall into the trap of misinterpreting random coincidences as cause and effect, and even if someone did 'accurately' predict a miraculous event, they might still have just gotten lucky. It's possible that the 'resurrection' of Jesus never happened, and his followers simply misinterpreted prosaic events as miracles because He predicted it. However, if all the events did occur as described in the Bible then it is a pretty amazing coincidence.

Considering all the other evidence of Jesus' powers and status in the Bible, it seems a bit off to suggest that in this one particular case, he was just a bit player who got caught up in an event that wasn't specifically meant for Him.
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Old 21st November 2012, 04:35 PM   #18
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If Matthew is from the Jewish side of early Xtianity as I've heard Scholars suggest, is it possible that the big Jerusalem Zombie Pride Parade was originally written as a Prophecy of what will happen on that near future date when Jesus returns, and that it was altered by subsequent Xtian scribes because: "Hey look, Mat says all this stuff will happen at the resurrection and all the other guys say Jesus has already been resurrected, so I guess we better change all this Ripped Veil/Earthquake/Zombie stuff here to past tense..."
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Old 21st November 2012, 05:36 PM   #19
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1. Considering all the other evidence of Jesus's power in the bible is actually still pretty weak as evidence that he's Son Of God. E.g., the same bible tells us that the Pharaoh's priests could do miracles too. Sure, they got out-magicked by Moses and Aaron, but they could do miracles too without being Son Of God. But more importantly they show that even if you can do magic, you can still have limits to how good you are at making miracles. After all, they did get out-magicked.

So at any rate, it seems to me like there is no reason to go presuppositionalist about Jesus's being omnipotent. He can do some things, sure, but that doesn't automatically mean he can do everything else.

Just because someone can walk on water, doesn't automatically mean he can raise himself from the dead too. Just like the fact that I can program a computer doesn't automatically mean I can repair a car too.

2. Actually I only said I'm taking the resurrection as fact, for the scope of this exercise. But ok, let's say I take the whole of all 4 gospels as fact, if it pleases you.

It still doesn't mean I don't have a choice when the gospels contradict each other. I may have constrained myself from just throwing pieces out the window for just being stupid, but that doesn't mean I constrained myself to being stupid enough to believe that mutually incompatible facts can all be true at the same time.

To wit: Was it one guy, one angel or two angels, or nobody but Jesus? All four can't be true at the same time. So it seems to me like there is plenty of room for a version where no angel is present at all. Literally half the canonical gospels make no mention of any angel. Not only nobody told Mark about an angel, but nobody told John about an angel either.

3. Correlation still doesn't necessarily mean causation. Just because the temple curtain ripped in an earthquake after Jesus died, doesn't mean Jesus did it. I mean, it also ripped in an earthquake after some guy's donkey crapped in the middle of the street (by sheer number of people and donkeys in the area), but nobody sane would say the donkey caused the earthquake.

4. In comparing it to a case of a guy who walked deliberately into traffic, you are already assuming that he was the cause of it. That actually remains to be established.

5. If we are presuming that magic is real anyway, there is more than one kind of magic. One could predict a resurrection by being clairvoyant for example, rather than being the cause of it.

Just like if I predict I'll need an umbrella tomorrow, and it does rain, it doesn't mean I CAUSED the rain. It just means I can point the browser at a weather forecast site.

Even if I'm to believe that a magical Jesus correctly predicted his own resurrection, it still doesn't mean much. He could have just predicted the day the stars align just right over Jerusalem instead of R'lyeh and timed his capture and execution based on that.

And that still doesn't take into consideration the possibility to be "right" by sheer random chance. If you have enough guys getting crucified because they think God is on their side and would protect them -- which actually seemed like a rather common delusion at the time -- and some cosmic event happens that raises the dead, you have a good probability that one of them might be "right" by sheer chance and no personal merit.

Same as if you have enough guys playing the lottery and believing they have some system that works, SOMEONE will win the jackpot and think his system does work and caused it.

Sure, you don't hear about the ones who guessed wrong, but it doesn't mean the one-off win actually validates that guy's system.

Basically I still don't see how even such a prediction (and actually Jesus made no such clear prediction IIRC) warrants assuming that it's more believable that a dead guy caused a cosmic event, than that he's just yet another guy caught in the blast radius of said cosmic event.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 04:28 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Just because someone can walk on water, doesn't automatically mean he can raise himself from the dead too. Just like the fact that I can program a computer doesn't automatically mean I can repair a car too.
But Jesus did (according to the Bible anyway) perform resurrections of other people, so the proper analogy would be "just because I can repair someone else's car doesn't mean I can repair my own car". Is that what you are arguing?

I'm not sure this is relevant anyway. Most other Biblical resurrections were invoked by prayer, so it was God who actually brought the dead to life, and the person performing the resurrection was simply calling on His power. So Jesus did not resurrect himself, that was God's doing. This is evidenced by the fact that shortly before dying, Jesus cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Obviously he was asking (a bit impatiently perhaps?) for God to perform a miracle on him. And He did.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps it was all just a coincidence. Jesus just happened to get crucified and die at the exact same time as a spontaneous 'mass resurrection'. The only problems with this theory are:-

1. No evidence of 'mass resurrections' occurring at any other time, let alone being common enough to make the coincidence likely.

2. Documented cases of other singular resurrections being performed by invoking the power of God, including by Jesus Himself. Thus a causative factor for resurrections has already been established, and we should expect the same in this case.

3. The fact that Jesus was able to perform numerous impressive miracles, and delegate this ability to His disciples, suggests that He had more of the 'Power of God' in Him. Therefore it makes sense that the 'blast wave' of His death might touch others nearby. The corollary - that some other (unspecified) miracle intended for others touched Him - seems much less likely.

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2. Actually I only said I'm taking the resurrection as fact, for the scope of this exercise. But ok, let's say I take the whole of all 4 gospels as fact,
That's good, because cherry picking a single miracle and asserting that this one alone is fact, but all the others (and presumably anything else in the Bible that doesn't support your argument) are fiction, might be considered a bit disingenuous.

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that doesn't mean I constrained myself to being stupid enough to believe that mutually incompatible facts can all be true at the same time.
Fair enough, and if you can show that the 'facts' are incompatible then that may give support to your 'random coincidence' theory. Can you?

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To wit: Was it one guy, one angel or two angels, or nobody but Jesus? All four can't be true at the same time. So it seems to me like there is plenty of room for a version where no angel is present at all. Literally half the canonical gospels make no mention of any angel. Not only nobody told Mark about an angel, but nobody told John about an angel either.
As I said before, just because some reports are more detailed than others, doesn't mean that they are contradictory. But even if there are some differences that appear to be incompatible, that still doesn't justify asserting that the barest account is likely the most accurate.

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3. Correlation still doesn't necessarily mean causation. Just because the temple curtain ripped in an earthquake after Jesus died, doesn't mean Jesus did it.
For sure, and this is the crux of your argument. But how close does a correlation have to be, and how often must it occur, before you are willing to accept that it is more than mere coincidence?

So perhaps an earthquake was about to rip the curtain anyway, and Jesus' death had nothing to with it. Perhaps the resurrection of dead holy men was another project that God just happened to be working on at the time, and He didn't even notice that another one had just snuffed it.

And if we can believe that, then...

When the One Ring fell into the cracks of Mount Doom and was destroyed, it didn't really cause the volcano to erupt. That was going to happen anyway, and Frodo and Sam were just unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Lee Harvey Oswald was at the book depository in Dealey Plaza on that fateful day in 1963, and he did fire a few rounds from his rifle, but he didn't kill the president. No, he was just a patsy who happened to be there at the same time as a CIA/Mafia/Alien assassination team!

Flying an airliner into a skyscraper at high speed can certainly cause a lot of damage, but not enough to destroy the building. If it falls down then someone must have planted thermite bombs inside it, and the plane crash was just a coincidence!

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4. In comparing it to a case of a guy who walked deliberately into traffic, you are already assuming that he was the cause of it. That actually remains to be established.
It seems that Jesus deliberately 'walked into' a crucifixion, with the express purpose of dying so that God would then be required to resurrect him. A stupid idea with virtually no chance of success, and yet...

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5. If we are presuming that magic is real anyway, there is more than one kind of magic. One could predict a resurrection by being clairvoyant for example, rather than being the cause of it.
Sure, but in that case why did Jesus have to deliberately arrange for it to happen? Did his visions tell him that he had to get on that cross at exactly the right time to be caught up in the resurrection? If so then he was still pretty lucky, as a lot of other things had to happen to get him there on time.

Or perhaps the prediction was somehow bound to come true, but in that case if he was just a 'bit player' then why was God bothering to give him the insight? (I assume that 'magic' is limited to what's possible according to the Bible, and prophetic visions are placed into people's minds by God. Otherwise anything goes, and all bets are off).

Of course this also introduces the mystery of why Jesus would lie about his plans. He had already proven the ability to resurrect others, and his fame as a healer was so great that he actually had to avoid the crowds in order to get any peace! It doesn't seem likely that he did it to gain extra recognition and/or to convince people that He was 'special', so what was his reason for trying to crash the resurrection party?

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Just like if I predict I'll need an umbrella tomorrow, and it does rain, it doesn't mean I CAUSED the rain. It just means I can point the browser at a weather forecast site.
Bit of a false equivalence there. I don't think we can equate weather forecasting to timing to the second an event which has never occurred before, and which requires divine intervention on a massive scale. Either Jesus had access to a source of incredible predictive power (ie. direct from the mind of God) or He didn't need to worry about exact timing because he could trigger the event simply by asking God to do it (remembering that this was the established protocol for performing resurrections).

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Even if I'm to believe that a magical Jesus correctly predicted his own resurrection, it still doesn't mean much. He could have just predicted the day the stars align just right over Jerusalem instead of R'lyeh and timed his capture and execution based on that.
If He was that magical then sure (if he wanted to) but that still doesn't get around the question of why God would bother to resurrect him and give him forewarning, when he is just a 'bit player' of no importance. The only way it could make sense is if visions and resurrections are not targeted with pinpoint accuracy, and God (if He exists at all) doesn't care that much about who gets hit.

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And that still doesn't take into consideration the possibility to be "right" by sheer random chance. If you have enough guys getting crucified because they think God is on their side and would protect them -- which actually seemed like a rather common delusion at the time -- and some cosmic event happens that raises the dead, you have a good probability that one of them might be "right" by sheer chance and no personal merit.
Back to the 'random coincidence' theory. But just how many prophets have to be crucified before the odds of one of them just happening to die at the exact moment of the only mass resurrection event ever recorded become likely? Quite good if you have at least one prophet dying every minute (1 chance in 60?), but I think you would run out of prophets pretty fast. At one death per hour the odds are down to 1 in 3600, and one per day takes it down to 1 in 86400. Certainly not impossible odds, but pretty low. Now compare those odds to the likelihood that Matthew got the story right, and Mark just missed out few details.

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Same as if you have enough guys playing the lottery and believing they have some system that works, SOMEONE will win the jackpot and think his system does work and caused it.
But what if the jackpot has never been won before, and nobody even knows when (if ever) the first draw will be? You would have to be seriously deluded to buy a ticket for that lottery, when the price is your life!

So maybe Jesus was seriously deluded, but just how many others had the same delusion? Your argument doesn't hold water unless there were a lot of them. I'm sure there were a few, but to get the odds up you need thousands of Jesus wannabes all jostling to get their turn on the cross. How many would it take before the Romans got tired of crucifying all these nutters and started telling them to just stay home?

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Basically I still don't see how even such a prediction (and actually Jesus made no such clear prediction IIRC) warrants assuming that it's more believable that a dead guy caused a cosmic event, than that he's just yet another guy caught in the blast radius of said cosmic event.
A plain reading of the Bible indicates that the authors thought otherwise, ie. that Jesus was most definitely at the hub of the event in question, and that His resurrection was the primary goal. Perhaps they were wrong, and their prophet just happened to get lucky. But that still doesn't explain why a 'random' mass resurrection event occurred that didn't seem to have any higher purpose.

It was already well known that God resurrects people for specific purposes, and yet Jesus was the only one to receive much attention. Obviously people at the time did not consider the resurrection of other holy men to be of much importance, so if there was some higher purpose then it was lost on them. OTOH, the resurrection of Jesus became a central part of Christianity, which rapidly spread to become the most popular religion on the planet. If God did not intend that to occur then He should have been more careful to target only the people He wanted revived. If He did intend it then it is only logical to assume that our Jesus was His primary target.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 04:52 AM   #21
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
But Jesus did (according to the Bible anyway) perform resurrections of other people, so the proper analogy would be "just because I can repair someone else's car doesn't mean I can repair my own car". Is that what you are arguing?
No. I'm arguing a more important distinction than that. I'm arguing the distinctions of "on himself" (not just "on his own car") and "while being dead." They're much more important distinctions.

E.g., an EMT crew member can revive someone by performing artifficial respiration and a heart massage. He can not do that ON HIMSELF and while he himself is UNCONSCIOUS. In fact, even if some EMT crew member could show me a list of a thousand people he revived, I still wouldn't believe that he could also revive HIMSELF.

Even if I grant that Jesus could revive other people, there still is no rational reason to take that as proof that he could do it on himself, while being dead.

Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
I'm not sure this is relevant anyway. Most other Biblical resurrections were invoked by prayer, so it was God who actually brought the dead to life, and the person performing the resurrection was simply calling on His power. So Jesus did not resurrect himself, that was God's doing. This is evidenced by the fact that shortly before dying, Jesus cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Obviously he was asking (a bit impatiently perhaps?) for God to perform a miracle on him. And He did.
No. We can reasonably assume (for the purpose of this exercise) that Jesus was expecting to be raised by his God, but that doesn't automatically mean that that expectation was rational or within his power to ensure. People expect lots of things which are not rational expectations, nor in their power to bring forth.

E.g., all the guys expecting the end of the world on 21 December 2012, don't actually have any rational reason to expect that, nor the power to destroy the world themselves.

I see no problem with having an equally delusional Jesus, who expects something, but has no real reason to expect it.

Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
Or perhaps not. Perhaps it was all just a coincidence. Jesus just happened to get crucified and die at the exact same time as a spontaneous 'mass resurrection'. The only problems with this theory are:-

1. No evidence of 'mass resurrections' occurring at any other time, let alone being common enough to make the coincidence likely.
See my Pompeii example. Just because there is no evidence that volcanoes were erupting all the time in Italy at the time, doesn't mean you can just assume to know who caused the eruption.

Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
2. Documented cases of other singular resurrections being performed by invoking the power of God, including by Jesus Himself. Thus a causative factor for resurrections has already been established, and we should expect the same in this case.
Actually, they're invoking the power of A god, not necessarily Jesus's god. We have plenty of stories from that time where people were raised by the power of some other god.

The trivial point would be that we don't know which god did it.

The less trivial point is that especially if we assume that a lot of those other gods were false, then it follows that some people were raising dead by their own power. They may have THOUGHT they get divine help, but that god didn't exist, or so the Christians tell me.

Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
3. The fact that Jesus was able to perform numerous impressive miracles, and delegate this ability to His disciples, suggests that He had more of the 'Power of God' in Him. Therefore it makes sense that the 'blast wave' of His death might touch others nearby. The corollary - that some other (unspecified) miracle intended for others touched Him - seems much less likely.
Maybe he did have more power than other magicians, and maybe even more affinity to his god, but that still doesn't mean he could do everything. Nor that he could do it on himself while being dead.

I mean, I could move up from just EMT crews and find a doctor much more skilled than them, and clearly superior in every aspect. It still wouldn't mean he could give artificial respiration to himself and do it while being unconscious himself.

Plus, once we established that people can do miracles without being the son of God, or even really attuned to any real god, like those Egyptian priests were (the theists assure me that Ra, Isis, etc, were no real gods), then I don't see how it follows that Jesus necessarily had the ear of a god either for those miracles, much less an omnipotent one. There is no reason to assume that if he could do X and Y, he could necessarily do Z too. But more perversely, then it doesn't follow that he was the only one who could cause his own resurrection. There were lots of people who didn't need God to do all sorts of miracles, including resurrections, and for all I know, Jesus could have just paid one to raise him, or just taught his disciples enough magic to raise him.

Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
As I said before, just because some reports are more detailed than others, doesn't mean that they are contradictory. But even if there are some differences that appear to be incompatible, that still doesn't justify asserting that the barest account is likely the most accurate.
I'm not talking less complete, but direct contradictions in what happened there. And it seems to me like taking the simplest is kinda Occam conform, innit?

Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
For sure, and this is the crux of your argument. But how close does a correlation have to be, and how often must it occur, before you are willing to accept that it is more than mere coincidence?

So perhaps an earthquake was about to rip the curtain anyway, and Jesus' death had nothing to with it. Perhaps the resurrection of dead holy men was another project that God just happened to be working on at the time, and He didn't even notice that another one had just snuffed it.

And if we can believe that, then...

When the One Ring fell into the cracks of Mount Doom and was destroyed, it didn't really cause the volcano to erupt. That was going to happen anyway, and Frodo and Sam were just unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Lee Harvey Oswald was at the book depository in Dealey Plaza on that fateful day in 1963, and he did fire a few rounds from his rifle, but he didn't kill the president. No, he was just a patsy who happened to be there at the same time as a CIA/Mafia/Alien assassination team!

Flying an airliner into a skyscraper at high speed can certainly cause a lot of damage, but not enough to destroy the building. If it falls down then someone must have planted thermite bombs inside it, and the plane crash was just a coincidence!
That all is disingenuous, because you're building an analogy between events where we know what happened and how it happened, to something that not only lacks similar evidence, but has no reason to be assumed to happen in a particular way. We're not told anything about how Jesus did it, or what happened in that tomb, or anything that would make a causal case pointing at Jesus, like we have for those muslim suicide bombers at 9/11.

On the contrary, there is no reason to just assume that Jesus even could do that while being dead.

Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
A plain reading of the Bible indicates that the authors thought otherwise, ie. that Jesus was most definitely at the hub of the event in question, and that His resurrection was the primary goal. Perhaps they were wrong, and their prophet just happened to get lucky. But that still doesn't explain why a 'random' mass resurrection event occurred that didn't seem to have any higher purpose.
Well, what the authors believed is less clear, but let's say they did believe that. So what?

Even if I accept their statements about physical facts and events, I don't have to accept their opinions about an explanation.

E.g., I know someone who thought that a window slamming was caused by ghosts trying to tell her something. I can accept that she's telling the truth that a window slammed shut. I don't have to accept her ghost explanation for it.

And as you probably noticed, that is my whole point in this thread. Even if I'm to accept miracles as fact, I still don't have to accept the prescribed explanation for them.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 05:07 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
.........It was already well known that God resurrects people for specific purposes, ..............
Just picking one of your extra-ordinary unsupported assertions at random......How about a bit of evidence for this? Any chance you could say who already knew well that this occurred, and maybe provide some evidence from independant third party eye witnesses. A bit of evidence for the existence of god would be good, too, if I could trouble you.

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Old 22nd November 2012, 05:23 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
If Matthew is from the Jewish side of early Xtianity as I've heard Scholars suggest, is it possible that the big Jerusalem Zombie Pride Parade was originally written as a Prophecy of what will happen on that near future date when Jesus returns, and that it was altered by subsequent Xtian scribes because: "Hey look, Mat says all this stuff will happen at the resurrection and all the other guys say Jesus has already been resurrected, so I guess we better change all this Ripped Veil/Earthquake/Zombie stuff here to past tense..."

That actually sounds like what might have happened.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 05:34 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Just picking one of your extra-ordinary unsupported assertions at random......How about a bit of evidence for this?
I could quote passages from the Bible, but I doubt that would satisfy you. Apart from that I got nothing.

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Any chance you could say who already knew well that this occurred, and maybe provide some evidence from independent third party eye witnesses.
Nope.

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A bit of evidence for the existence of god would be good, too, if I could trouble you.
It's no trouble, but unfortunately I don't have any evidence at all. Sorry!
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Old 22nd November 2012, 05:37 AM   #25
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Quote:
... actually Jesus made no such clear prediction IIRC ...
Well, we can untangle iyrc easily enough. Jesus is reported to have predicted his resurrection in Matthew, at 27: 63, where opponents give Pilate their interpretation, clear enough to them, of remarks Jesus made, like those said to opponents at 12: 40, which are in line with other remarks Jesus made at 17: 22-23 and 20: 17-19, and also in line with the author's own interpretation of Jesus' beliefs at 16: 21. Maybe you were thinking of Mark.

Turning to the incident itself, and its treatment in Matthew: Assuming that there was an earthquake, then it is not unusual that ghost stories would become more prevalent in the aftermath. Here's a contemporary example, which includes a complementary analysis of why earthquakes drive ghost stories, quoted from a JREF-appropriate, sceptical observer:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/oddstuff/4318...ter-earthquake

My guess is that these stories about revenants after that Passover were in circulation, were independent from the Christian story in their origin, and typically included the detail that the ghosts appeared to city dwellers strictly but soon after the earthquake itself.

Since the Passion Narrative, as a stand-alone composition, is exactly a ghost story, the existence of these other ghost stories, set in precisely the same time and place, would be rebuttal to the truth or significance of the Christian story. Compare the tomb guards, also unique in the canon to Matthew, and what they were bribed to say. Those details, too, I think, were included as surrebuttal to a more obvious objection to the underlying Passion Narrative.

To fit the earthquake-spawned ghosts into the Passion Narrative does require a shoehorn, since the earthquake marks (no pun intended) the death of Jesus, not his resurrection. That's too bad; what a difference a day makes. Anyway, if tombs damaged by the earthquake are part of the ghost stories, then the revival of those saints had already happened before Jesus reappears in Jeursalem, along with and at the same time as these other ghosts.

But assuming that the shoe has been made to fit (and obviously some people think or thought that it has), then all that's left is a stroke of the pen to make the whole affair one big miracle. What was formerly rebuttal is now corroboration. Speaking of magic.

Since no competing ghost story from that earthquake survives, nor is there any reason to think such a story would survive to reach us, the above is entrerly conjectural. The evaluation of its credibility is therefore prioristic, as cannot be helped in the absence of any direct evidence either way.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 05:47 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
I could quote passages from the Bible, but I doubt that would satisfy you. Apart from that I got nothing.

Nope.

It's no trouble, but unfortunately I don't have any evidence at all. Sorry!
An exemplary and extremely honest answer, for which I thank you.

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Old 22nd November 2012, 06:37 AM   #27
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Well, in all fairness, the whole premise of this exercise was: let's pretend we're crazy and terminally gullible, and that we believe the miracles in the gospels are true. Bringing sanity into it kinda ruins the fun
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Old 22nd November 2012, 07:25 AM   #28
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I've always been curious about the curtain in the temple ripping at the same moment as Jesus's death. Am I the only person in 2000+ years to ask how anyone in that period could possibly know that?
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Old 22nd November 2012, 07:42 AM   #29
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That's actually an EXCELLENT question.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 08:21 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Actually, it gets even better, Warrior.

So according to Matthew, the zombie hordes rose around the time Jesus died, i.e., on a Friday afternoon (not too late, because you wouldn't notice a 3 hour eclipse after sunset), and they only go into town after his resurrection, i.e., sometime on Sunday. For two days the city's cemteries are full of zombies hanging around and catching up on chat with their old buddies.

And in this time there are several shifts of guards at Jesus's tomb, not to mention people coming to mourn their dead relatives or bury new dead ones.

And obviously none of those guards mention it or do anything about it, because the zombies are still there on Sunday. You'd have shift after shift of guards coming back from tomb guard duty, and either they don't find it worthy to remark that the cemetery has turned into a zombie nightmare, or their officers think, "nah, why bother?"

Furthermore, the reactions of other people after the resurrection are... bizarre, to say the least, if they just saw whole shambling hordes of undead marching around town. E.g., Thomas doubts that specifically Jesus rose, although he just saw everyone else from that cemetery walking around. E.g., the Jews supposedly bribe the soldiers to say that some disciples stole Jesus's body, instead of just saying, "so what, on that day everyone else rose."
Jesus dies friday afternoon, and was burried before the sun went down, so the Sabbath could be kept.
Jesus had the courtesy and obedience to keep the Sabbath himself by laying still in the tomb.
Next we hear that some women go to the tomb on early sunday morning, only to find it empty. So it would seem Jesus rose within 12 hours after the end of Sabbath, assuming he really did keep the Sabbath. That would make him dead at least 27, and at most 39 hours. That's less than 2 days. And in fact, if they closed the tomb juuuust (minutes) before Sabbath started, he may have been entombed for just over 24 hours.

And most of that time was Sabbath. When people don't talk walks to the cemetary, and don't work shifts. Or do they?

So plenty of time for the zombies to relax till sunday unobserved (if it hadn't been for the brief period between Jesus's death and 6pm.)
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Old 22nd November 2012, 08:56 AM   #31
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Most people didn't work shifts back then, but I was talking about guards, and guards do use shifts. No army ever expected on man to be able to stand guard for 28 hours in a row and still be in any condition to pay attention or deter an intruder. If you've been in the Bundeswehr, you've probably noticed that kind of thing.

Plus, for Matthew's miracle, he needs guards at the tomb at all times between burial and revealing the empty tomb. Guards are meaningless if the previous night the tomb was unguarded and anyone could have stolen the body, instead of having a miracle.

So, you know, they must have changed guards at some point or another. In a cemetery teeming with undead. I dunno, you'd think someone would take notice.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 11:20 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
Thanks for the link. The comments on the story were fascinating.


Originally Posted by DallasDad View Post
I've always been curious about the curtain in the temple ripping at the same moment as Jesus's death. Am I the only person in 2000+ years to ask how anyone in that period could possibly know that?
What makes you think there's any truth to that story?
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Old 22nd November 2012, 12:34 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by pakeha View Post
What makes you think there's any truth to that story?
Absolutely nothing. I don't believe it a bit. My question was why others don't stop reading at that point and roll their eyes. There's no way they could have syncrhonized observations enough to know if the events happened together. That little detail, instead of adding veracity, acts like a tipoff that the whole thing's made up for effect.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 02:01 PM   #34
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Presumably the same thing that lets people read what Jesus said on Gethsemane, when there was nobody around and the apostles were sleeping, and still not go "how the heck would he know?" And it's not even the only time that Jesus is alone and yet the author knows what he's been up to.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 03:28 PM   #35
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Can't recall references now, but I remember several stories where something was revealed in a dream but the dreamer didn't tell anyone. Big gaping plot hole, that. These things are all the hallmarks of badly written (or group written) fiction. I'm somewhat surprised that the various councils that picked and chose manuscripts didn't do continuity editing.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 03:39 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by DallasDad View Post
Can't recall references now, but I remember several stories where something was revealed in a dream but the dreamer didn't tell anyone. Big gaping plot hole, that. These things are all the hallmarks of badly written (or group written) fiction. I'm somewhat surprised that the various councils that picked and chose manuscripts didn't do continuity editing.
They did but it was continuity of faith they were looking for, not facts.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 03:40 PM   #37
HansMustermann
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Well, I'll disagree that it's always bad for fiction. Sometimes you have to explain what the characters are doing, even if they're alone or are having a dream or what they're thinking and so on. The author is allowed to be basically clairvoyant in the story he's narrating.

Mind you, there are ways to make WTH moments out of it in fiction too, but I don't think it's always bad.

The only problem is when something is supposed to be a documentary of what actually happened in some historical moment. Then using the author's clairvoyance is basically a tip-off that said author is actually writing fiction, or at least isn't above just confabulating what happened between moment A and moment B. Once the author put the character into some situation where there can't be witnesses or evidence to base that account on, well, he just told you he's invented that part.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 06:55 AM   #38
eight bits
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Plus, for Matthew's miracle, he needs guards at the tomb at all times between burial and revealing the empty tomb. Guards are meaningless if the previous night the tomb was unguarded and anyone could have stolen the body, instead of having a miracle.
There are some problems with that exegesis. First, Matthew itself tells us that the guards weren't posted the first night (27: 62, "The next day" is the earliest that anybody talks about placing a guard). And, of course, the other canonical Gospels have no guards at all.

The bribery of the guards to say the disciples stole the body (28: 11-15) adequately explains the appearance of guards in the tale, to rebut the disciples-stole-him story which "has circulated among the Jews to the present." To rebut, the guards only have to have been there one night. Matthew's message is that the Jews are wrong, not that cemetery security was tight.

No canonical Gospel offers rebuttal to the more general proposition "Somebody stole the body sometime." The reason why the author knows the body wasn't stolen, according to any of the Gospels, is that the body showed up walking around. (That's implicit in Mark, and part of the narrative elsewhere).

If someone is making diffuse objections to all that on the basis of possibilities, then "You're making the whole thing up" covers the base. Making a rebuttal to that is futile. On the other hand, if you're defending against "My uncle Isaac heard a guard say..." something specific that both rebuts the fact claim and impeaches witnesses to the later walking around, then you need to impeach the guards. Your choice: there were no guards, or else there were guards who lied.

And as you point out, there's nothing to be gained having guards who hang around with zombies one night, and then go back for a second round. If they aren't liars, then they're fools. Either way, they're lousy security.

Last edited by eight bits; 23rd November 2012 at 07:02 AM.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 07:20 AM   #39
HansMustermann
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Well, even next day works just fine for what I was trying to say. In fact anything longer than 2-3 hours would have involved at least one change of guards, in the middle of a cemetery where hundreds of undead are roaming around.

That said, yeah, I won't disagree with you much there. I don't think they'd actually put guards at the tomb of some nobody they just executed.
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Last edited by HansMustermann; 23rd November 2012 at 07:22 AM.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 04:45 PM   #40
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Reading all of this is HURTING ME IN MY COMMON SENSE. This just shows me that the greatest story ever told is also one of the WORST WRITTEN.
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