Adventures in Theology Blog

Chase A. Thompson: Author, Pastor, Vigilante.

Was Jesus White? Excerpt from New Book: The Bible and Racism.

The following excerpt is from my just released book: The Bible and Racism, which is available on Amazon and free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. I’d be honored if you’d check it out!   The focus of the excerpt is answering the question: Is Jesus white? 
 

Was Jesus White?  

No.

What…just a simple one word answer isn’t good enough for you? The truth of it is that Jesus wasn’t exactly white, nor was He precisely black either. He was, most likely, in the middle, and that’s not just me hedging bets. Ultimately, the question of “whiteness” is a difficult and awkward question to ask and answer for anybody, much less a historical figure from a disputed part of the world, but it is possible to drill down and get a good answer to the question. 

In the past, the United States largely considered Middle Easterners as non-white, but things changed, at least on an official level, as the result of a court case in 1909. Sadly, the case was ignited and surrounded by a substantial amount of racism, particularly on the part of the federal government. 

Officer George Shishim was a Lebanese-American police officer in Los Angeles County in the early twentieth century. In 1909, he arrested the white son of a prominent L.A. attorney for disturbing the peace. That a ‘yellow-skinned’ foreigner had arrested his son didn’t sit well with this attorney, and he sued the county, claiming that, as officer Shishim was Lebanese, that meant he was not white, but Chinese-Mongolian, and thus ineligible for citizenship in America. How a white attorney at the time came to characterize a Lebanese man as “Chinese-Mongolian” has a little bit to do with the conquerings of Genghis Khan, and a whole lot to do with plain old ignorant racism. The case would appear before Los Angeles Country Judge Hutton, and the federal government argued against the potential citizenship of Shishim, declaring that as a Middle-Easterner, he was not white, and thus not eligible for citizenship.

Shishim’s defense, however, was an absolute stroke of genius. He argued to the court, who largely identified as Christian, that, “If I am a Mongolian, then so was Jesus, because we came from the same land.” This proved to be a persuasive argument to Judge Hutton, who announced his decision the following day:

This is an application by one George Shishim, a Syrian, to be admitted to citizenship. The federal government, acting through the department of justice, objects to his admission, basing its objection on the sole ground that he is not a member of the white race in contemplation of section 2169 of the revised statutes of the United States. (Source: http://www.arabamericanhistory.org/archives/dept-of-justice-affirms-arab-race-in-1909/ )

And thus it was that Middle-Easterners, including Israelis, came to be considered “white.” by the United States government, largely against its will. Interestingly, there is a movement underway to overturn this designation, and it is likely that by the next census, ‘MENA’ will be a new designation, standing for “Middle East or North Africa.”

Just last week I posted a mock up of the cover for this book on my Facebook page. I included a two word description of the picture that said “current project,” and nothing else. That post has become one of the most controversial posts I’ve ever made on Facebook. It generated lots of likes and nearly 150 comments, which is a fairly high number for one of my posts. The reason for that many comments is that within about 15 minutes of posting the picture, one of my Facebook ‘friends,’ I lady I’ve never met before and actually don’t even know in real life, posted an excerpt from the book of Deuteronomy in response to my picture.

I read the excerpt with some degree of curiosity trying to discern what her comment meant, it had no context other than the verse itself, Deuteronomy 7:3, which is a prohibition that was aimed at the Israelites commanding them to not marry foreign wives in the promised land. For years, racists and people who have utterly misunderstood the Bible, have used that passage (and others like it) to decry interracial marriage, interracial relationships and those sorts of things.

Reading Deuteronomy 7 as a current prohibition against Christians marrying somebody of a different nationality or skin color is a tragic misunderstanding of Scripture that completely disregards who the Old Testament was written to and the context of those commandments in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 7:3-6 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 because they will turn your sons away from Me to worship other gods. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and He will swiftly destroy you. 5 Instead, this is what you are to do to them: tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, cut down their Asherah poles, and burn up their carved images. 6 For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.

The Jews were not allowed to intermarry with foreigners, not because of the color of their skin, but very clearly because of their religion. By this command, God sought to keep the hearts of the Israelites pure and their worship focused solely on Him, in keeping with the first commandment, “Do not have other gods besides Me.” It had nothing to do with keeping their blood pure.

Suspicious of the post, and wondering why she chose to post that particular Scripture, I went to check out my ‘friend’s’ Facebook page and discovered a trove of highly racist memes, racist comments and claims, and other highly offensive and inaccurate material including the picture you see below, which alleges that the Bible is only about white people , that Adam was a white person and that any attempt to describe the Bible as a book about mixed races is completely false.

Racist claptrap.

I was incensed, disgusted and deeply troubled at the level of false teaching she was promulgating and therefore I challenged her comment on my Facebook page with some degree of firmness. This, as you might imagine, ignited one of those comment wars that are becoming more and more common on social media, as she apparently tagged in several of her white nationalist racist friends and, without any effort on my part, several of my friends joined in and for a while it was a free-for-all.

Her primary henchman, and I think that is an appropriate word for the situation, was a German Nazi white supremacist that claimed to love the Jews. (Yes, it was a very strange conversation.) In fact the first commenter herself claimed to be a Jewish person despite the fact that she was quite clearly a southern American. This was a new flavor of racism for me and upon a little bit of research I discovered that there was quite a few people who make the claim that the Israelites were white, Adam was white, Jesus was white, and that the only race that is eligible for salvation is the white race. According to these white supremacists’ abominable teachings, no other race is eligible for salvation. The Bible is about white people and was only written to white people. Thus, according to my ‘friend’s’ henchman, racism is actually a kindness and displays love, because it’s communicating the will of God.

What a disgusting and horrific idea! But it does at least raise an interesting question: what color was Jesus? Many people have in their mind a view of Jesus as a lithe white man with long hair. The trouble with this picture of Jesus is that it comes from the Italian Renaissance, where the Italian painters initially depicted Jesus as somebody very similar to them, with long hair (as was the fashion in that day), slightly tanned skin, and a white robe. The only part of that depiction that has some basis in reality is the robe. The fact is, we have no surviving pictures of Jesus from His time. The earliest surviving picture we have that depicts Jesus is copied below, dates from the 200s, and obviously doesn’t show details about the race of Jesus or much about His appearance or anything like that. One of the other earliest depictions of Jesus dates from the 300s AD, and is a picture with quite a bit more detail present in the facial area. Surprisingly, this second picture does appear to show Jesus as a dark-skinned man.

The Good Shepherd fresco, from the St. Callisto Catacomb in Rome, circa 200s AD.
Detail from “Christ Between Peter and Paul,” a painting found in a Roman cemetery that dates to the 300s AD. Note the dark skin of Jesus!

The pictures above are not definitive, however what we do know is that Jesus was in Israel and the Bible never describes Him in a way that would particularly distinguish Him from the rest of His people. For instance, Jesus is never described as being particularly tall, fat, balding, redheaded, etc., Therefore it is quite reasonable to conclude that Jesus probably looked much like the other Israelite men of His day. 

So, what did the Israelites look like? Are Israelites white? The fact of the matter is that the Israelites are a Middle-Eastern people with a great amount of variety within their borders just like Americans, Asians and Africans have a great amount of variety among their peoples. If you were asked to describe a typical American, that might be somewhat difficult, given the wide variety of people in America. Nevertheless, it is possible to engage in some small amount of description of the average first-century Israelite, and therefore to give a pretty good facsimile representation of what Jesus probably looked like. In recent times, Scientists have actually done this through skeletal remains, and reconstructed a picture and description of what the average Israelite, and therefore Jesus, could have looked like. That reconstruction depicts Jesus as a man with olive/brown skin, black and short hair, and a heavy black beard. It isn’t exactly a picture of the historical Jesus, but it is a scientific representation of what the average Israelite person would look like.

Some might be surprised that Jesus didn’t have long hair, but the only Jewish men who had long hair in first century Israel were those who had taken a Nazirite vow. We know that Jesus probably didn’t have long hair because the apostle Paul wrote that it was shameful for men to have long hair, and, as Paul saw Jesus on the Damascus Road, it is highly unlikely that Jesus had the sort of long hair that is depicted of him in most pictures. Further, if the scientific reconstruction of first century Israelites is accurate, then Jesus would be neither black nor white, but somewhere in between.

What difference does it make? The problem with this discussion is that “whiteness” is a relative term and it’s not a very helpful one. People don’t genuinely have white skin – an actual white-skinned person would be awfully strange looking. People that are Caucasian generally have a peach/pinkish tone to their skin, and I’m not really sure how that came to be referred to as white, but as we’ve seen in earlier chapters, true white skin is considered diseased skin. The funny thing about “whiteness” is the fact that most people in the white community generally consider paleness to be a less than attractive feature. In fact, in the United States of America, many people pay good money to lie in coffin-like light booths, so that ultraviolet lamps might turn their skin a few shades darker, because in their mind, darker skin on a white person looks more attractive. What a strange set of circumstances!

If you would like to read more about this topic, please allow me to encourage you to read The Bible and Racism, available on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Bible-Racism-What-REALLY-about-ebook/dp/B075846YB8/

 
 
 

NEW BOOK: Adventures of Sherlock Holmes! BONUS: VIDEO Interview with Arthur Conan Doyle on the Origin and Inspiration of Sherlock Holmes

I’m happy to announce that my third book, The Wisdom of Sherlock Holmes, has JUST BEEN RELEASED! I would be honored if you would click the link below and go look at it. I would be grateful beyond words if you would take the time to read the book and offer up a charitable review on Amazon or Goodreads. As an independent author, I can tell you that one review on Amazon is worth its weight in gold! In the book, I discuss the faith of Sherlock Holmes and prove with his own words that he was undoubtedly a believer in God, and even had some very solid orthodox and biblical views. It is surprising to many (who are only familiar with modern depictions) that Sherlock Holmes is demonstrably not an atheist, but talks about God in over a dozen of his adventures. My book includes every Holmesian reference to God that I could find, and much more, including his famous relationship with John Watson, the fact that Sherlock would often carry a gun into his adventures, the origins of his deerstalker hat and cape (never worn in the books) and much more. It also includes a full chapter on Holmes’ detective and deduction techniques, as well as a chapter that looks at the weaknesses of the great detective (perhaps sexism and racism?) I would be honored if you’d click the picture below and read the book. It is dirt cheap and FREE on Kindle Unlimited. Be sure to also scroll down and watch (and read the transcript of) the ONLY surviving video interview of Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle. The last half of the interview is about Conan Doyle’s silly spiritualism/psychic views, but the first part is all about the creation and origin of Sherlock Holmes. Very interesting!! 

The Wisdom of Sherlock Holmes

 

TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW WITH ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE:  (Note that Conan Doyle credits Dr. Joseph Bell as being his inspiration for Sherlock Holmes. My book, The Wisdom of Sherlock Holmes, discusses this in detail, and includes a chapter on Dr. Bell’s real life adventures as a doctor and consulting medical detective!)  This interview was conducted in 1927 and came out several months BEFORE the first major talking movie, The Jazz Singer. It is really quite remarkable to have a preserved video interview of Conan Doyle, considering that we have no surviving video of C.S. Lewis, a British author who died 30 years after him, C.S. Lewis. 

NOTE Several points of interest in this interview: 

  • Arthur Conan Doyle somehow, someway, does not believe that Sherlock Holmes is real. Perhaps this is because Conan Doyle is older, and his faculties are fading. Tut, tut, Mr. Doyle. 
  • Part of his impetus for inventing Holmes was the habit of previous mystery writers to leave out the steps of solving a crime. 
  • He refers to Watson as, “stupid.” How dare he!? 
  • He considers his research into psychic phenomena (much of which turned out to be a hoax) as much more important than Sherlock Holmes. A very daft attitude! 

There are two things that people always want to ask me. One of them is how I ever came to write the Sherlock Holmes stories, and the other is about how I came to have psychic experiences and to take so much interest in that question.

First of all, about the Sherlock Holmes stories. They came about in this way: I was quite a young doctor at the time and I had, of course, scientific training, and I used to occasionally read detective stories. It often annoyed me how in the old-fashioned detective story the detective always seemed to get at his results either by some sort of lucky chance or fluke or else it was quite unexplained how he got there. He got there but he never gave an explanation how. Now that didn’t seem to me quite playing the game. It seemed to me that he’s bound to give his reasons why he came to his conclusions.

But when I began thinking about this I began to think of turning scientific methods, as it were, onto the work of detection. And I used, as a student to have an old professor, his name was Bell, who was extraordinarily quick at deductive work. He would look at the patient, he would hardly allow the patient to open his mouth but he would make his diagnosis of the disease, also very often of the patient’s nationality and occupation and other points, entirely by his power of observation. So naturally, I thought to myself, “well if a scientific man like Bell was to come into the detective business, he wouldn’t do these things by chance, he’d get the thing by building it up scientifically.”

So, having once conceived that line of thought, you can well imagine that I had as it were, a new idea of the detective and one which it interested me to work out. I thought of a hundred little dodges, as you may say, a hundred little touches by which he could build up his conclusions and then I began to write stories on those lines. At first I think they attracted very little attention, but after a time when I began the short adventures, one after the other, coming out month after month in the Strand magazine, people began to recognize that it was different from the old detective, that there was something there which was new, they began to buy the magazine and uh, it uh prospered and so I may say did I, we both came along together. And from that time Sherlock Holmes fairly took root. I’ve written a good deal more about him than I ever intended to do but my hand has been forced by kind friends who continually wanted to know more, and so it is that this monstrous growth has come out of what was really a comparatively small seed.

But the curious thing is how many people around the world are perfectly convinced that he is a living human being. I get letters addressed to him, I get letters asking for his autograph, I get letters addressed to his rather stupid friend, Watson, I’ve even had ladies writing to say that they’d be very glad to act as his housekeeper. One of them, when she’d heard that he’d turned to the occupation of keeping bees, wrote saying that she was an expert at segregating the queen, whatever that may mean, and that she was evidently pre-destined to be the housekeeper of Sherlock Holmes.
I don’t know that there’s anything more that I can say with advantage, about him, but on the other point which is to me, of course, a very much more serious one, on the question of my taking up this psychic matter. Curiously enough my first experiences in that direction were just about the time when Sherlock Holmes was being built up in my mind. That would be about the year 1886 and 1887. So nobody can say that I’ve formed my opinions on psychic matters very hastily, it was just 41 years now since I wrote a signed article upon the subject which appeared in a magazine called Light so that I put myself on record.

[Warning: Nonsense below:] 

During these 41 years I never lost any opportunity of reading and studying and of experimenting on this matter. People ask me will I write any more Sherlock Holmes stories, I certainly don’t think it’s at all probable. [Editor’s Note: HE NEVER DID, SADLY, AS HIS LAST TWO STORES APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED DIRECTLY BEFORE THIS INTERVIEW]  As I grow older the psychic subject always grows in intensity and one becomes more earnest upon it. And I should think that my few remaining years will probably be devoted much more in that direction than in the direction of literature. None the less, of course, I haven’t abandoned writing, one has to earn one’s living, but my principal thoughts are that I should extend if I can that knowledge which I have on psychic matters and spread it as far as I can to those who have been less fortunate.

Don’t for one moment suppose that I am taking it upon myself to say that I am the inventor of spiritualism, or that I am even the principal exponent of it. There are many great mediums, many great psychical researchers, investigators of all sorts, all that I can do is to be a gramophone on the subject. To go about, to meet people face to face, to try and make them understand that this thing is not the foolish thing which is so often represented but that it really is the great philosophy and as I think the basis of all religious improvement in the future of the human race. I suppose I’ve sat with more mediums good, and bad, and indifferent than perhaps any living being. Anyhow, a larger variety because I’ve traveled so much all over the world and wherever I’ve gone, either in Australia, America, or South Africa, the best and the worst that can be had in that direction was put at my disposal. Therefore when people come along and contradict me, who’ve had no experience at all, read little and perhaps never been to a seance you can imagine that I don’t take their opposition very seriously. When I talk on this subject I’m not talking about what I believe, I’m not talking about what I think, I’m talking about what I know. There’s an enormous difference, believe me, between believing a thing and knowing a thing, and talking about things that I’ve handled, that I’ve seen, that I’ve heard with my own ears. And always mind you in the presence of witnesses, I never risk hallucinations. I usually in most of my experiments have had six, eight or ten witnesses, all of whom have seen and heard the same things that I have done.

Gradually I became more and more convinced on the matter as I studied year in, year out, but it was only at the time of the War, when all these splendid young fellows were disappearing from our view, when the whole world was saying, “what’s become of them, where are they, what are they doing now? Have they dissipated into nothing, or are they still the grand fellas that we used to know?” It was only at that time that I realized the overpowering importance to the human race of knowing more about this matter.
Then it was that I flung myself more earnestly into it and that I felt the highest purpose that I could possibly devote the remainder of my life to, was trying to bring across to other people, something of that knowledge and assurance which I had acquired myself. Certainly, the results have justified me. I am quite sure I could fill a room of my house with the letters that I have received from people, telling me of the consolation which my writings on this subject, and my lectures on this subject, have given to them. How they have once more heard the sound of a vanished voice and felt the touch of the vanished hand. Well, goodbye.

#1: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #1 The Empty Tomb

Editor’s Note: I am currently blogging through my book Easter: Fact or Fiction, 20 Reasons to Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead. That book is available on Amazon by clicking the picture or link below. Please check it out!  (Scroll down for links to the other parts to this post)  (CLICK HERE FOR THE AMAZON LINK) 

“If my words fail to convince you, the empty tomb may”[1]
– St. Jerome, 300s A.D.

“No one in Jerusalem would have believed the preaching for a minute if the tomb was not empty. Skeptics could have easily produced Jesus’ rotted corpse. Also, Paul could not be telling people in a public document that there were scores of eyewitnesses alive if there were not.”
[2]
– Tim Keller

A strong majority of scholars grant that the tomb of Jesus was found empty after his resurrection. Not all of those scholars actually believe that it was empty because of the resurrection, but they do grant its emptiness. Writing “a strong majority,” here is not an unsubstantiated claim, nor an exaggeration. Dr. Gary Habermas, one of the world’s foremost experts on the resurrection of Jesus (and my apologetics professor during seminary), has surveyed 3,400 scholars in this field, and he finds that upwards of 75 percent of them agree that the tomb of Jesus was empty.[1] Even very skeptical scholars like Dr. Bart Ehrman, an agnostic at best, grants that it is almost certain that Jesus’ tomb was found empty three days after His burial, “We can conclude with some certainty that Jesus was in fact buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb and that three days later the tomb was found empty.”[2]

As a historical fact, the empty tomb is difficult to dispute. Consider how quickly the movement to worship Jesus began in Jerusalem, particularly after Pentecost when thousands joined the Jerusalem disciples. It is clear from both biblical accounts and other history that the Jewish authorities opposed this new “cult” that was following Jesus. Given that, why didn’t the authorities, utilizing their temple guard, go to the tomb of Jesus, roll the stone away, and produce the corpse of Jesus? Yes, His body might have been decomposed after a few weeks, but Jerusalem is in an arid area, and it would likely be dry enough inside the burial cave that the body of Jesus would have been quite recognizable. Except, there is literally not a single ancient account of such a thing happening, not even from the enemies and critics of nascent Christianity.

Perhaps you are familiar with the phrase, “a skeleton in the closet.” This metaphor refers to a situation where there is something hidden in one’s life that could be the undoing of that person. The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allen Poe, is perhaps the most famous fictional representation of the skeleton in the closet trope. In that Poe classic, one man murders another, and hides his body under the floorboards of his house. Police officers arrive the next day to investigate the scream of the murdered man as he died, but they see no evidence of foul play, and have a very casual discussion with the narrator of the story, who is the murderer. As the officers converse with the unnamed narrator, his guilt manifests so that he hears the heartbeat of the man he murdered, and that heartbeat gets louder and louder. Finally, just before the officers proceed to exit without suspicion, the guilty man breaks down, confesses his deed, and tells the officers where the body is hidden. Thus, the metaphorical skeleton in the closet is revealed to be an actual corpse hidden in the floor beams.

If skeptics of the resurrection of Jesus are correct, then the disciples in the first two decades after the death of Jesus also had a sort of skeleton in their closet. If the tomb of Jesus wasn’t TRULY and FACTUALLY empty, then the Jewish officials could have easily opened the tomb and demonstrated to all that Christianity had a great hidden secret: namely, that it’s founder did, in fact, die, and stayed dead as well. And yet, there is absolutely no historical record that demonstrates that anything like this happened. Indeed, in Matthew 28:15, it is recorded that, at the time of the publication of Matthew (2-4 decades after the resurrection of Jesus), the Jews were saying that the disciples stole Jesus away. There would be no reason whatsoever to make such a claim if the tomb of Jesus had been anything but empty.

Wouldn’t it have been far easier, if it were possible, to have produced the body of Jesus and just been done with it? That probably wouldn’t have turned away every ardent Christ-follower, but it sure would have done so for most of them. However, the presentation of Jesus’ body to His followers never happened, because there was certainly no body to produce. Even if a skeptic went along with the explanation of the Jewish Sanhedrin, that Jesus’ body was stolen by His disciples, that skeptic still must grapple with the reality that the disciples almost all died horrible deaths, refusing to recant their allegiance to Christ. That would be an absurd thing to do if they were the ones that propagated a false story regarding the resurrection of Jesus. The stolen body theory defies logic, and has no ancient historical evidence.

This hoax theory, (That the disciples perpetrated a scam by stealing the body of Jesus and acting like He rose from the dead) not only does not account for the extreme suffering/martyrdom endured by those who would have enacted the scheme, but also doesn’t propose a good reason FOR performing the hoax in the first place. What could their motive possibly have been? I have not read a good skeptical theory that proposed anything worthwhile that the disciples of Jesus could have gained by perpetuating a myth that He rose from the dead. While some unscrupulous pastors and teachers have, in modern times, grown wealthy by exploiting their followers, Jesus clearly didn’t engage in that behavior; He was largely homeless, and it seems that none of His followers ever became very wealthy, comfortable, or materially blessed due to their proximity to Jesus!

Philosopher William Paley, writing in the 1700s, asked a series of questions that would seem to provide some logical prima facie evidence that the resurrection was not a hoax by the followers of Jesus: “Would men in such circumstances pretend to have seen what they never saw; assert facts which they had no knowledge of; go about lying to teach virtue; and though not only convinced of Christ’s being an imposter… bring upon themselves, for nothing, and with full knowledge of the consequences, enmity and hatred, danger and death?”[3]  It is highly unlikely that the disciples of Jesus would stick by their story of the resurrection unto their own deaths, unless they were thoroughly convinced that it actually happened beyond a shadow of a doubt.  (Chapter continued in the book) 

(Note: This is a partial preview of my book, you can continue reading FREE on Amazon via Kindle Unlimited, or you can purchase the book for a few pennies, OR you can find a friend reading it and take it when he isn’t looking!) 

Links to the other 20 posts in this series (20 Reasons To Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead

#1: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #1 The Empty Tomb

#2: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #2 Hysterical Women?

#3: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #3 The Crucifixion Stigma

#4: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #4 The Marinovich Argument

#5: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #5 The Lithuanian Argument

#6: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #6 The 500(!) Eyewitnesses

#7: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #7 The Uncracked Conspiracy

#8: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #8 The Brother Factor

#9: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #9 The Conversion of Saul

#10: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #10 Show Me The Power!

#11: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #11 Bible Accounts are Too Detailed to Contain Mythic Information

#12: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #12 Bible Accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection are Too Early to be Mythical

#13: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #13 Textual Variants Demonstrate Biblical Reliability

#14: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #14 An Embarrassing Principle?

#15: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #15 Jesus Strikes Back?

#16: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #16 Skeptical Ancients, or Slack-Jawed Yokels?

#17: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #17 Minimal Facts Argument (Gary Habermas)

#18: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #18 – A Sabbath Switcheroo

#19: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #19 The Sign of Jonah

#20: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #20: My Personal Testimony

## 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – Conclusion

[1] Gary R. Habermas and Mike Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, ©2004), 30.

[2] Bart Ehrman, “From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity,” Lecture 4: “Oral and Written Traditions about Jesus” (The Teaching Company, 2003)

[3] William Paley, The Works of William Paley: Archdeacon of Carlisle: with a Life of Author Volume 1 (Palala Press, 2015), 1

[1] Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Matthew, ed. John Henry Newman, vol. 1 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841), 979.

[2] Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Dutton, ©2008), 203,

#2: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #2 Hysterical Women?

Editor’s Note: I am currently blogging through my book Easter: Fact or Fiction, 20 Reasons to Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead. That book is available on Amazon by clicking the picture or link below. Please check it out!  (Scroll down for links to the other parts to this post)  (CLICK HERE FOR THE AMAZON LINK) 

But let not a single witness be credited; but three, or two at the least, and those such whose testimony is confirmed by their good lives. But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex, nor let servants be admitted to give testimony on account of the ignobility of their soul; since it is probable that they may not speak truth[1]
– Jewish/Roman historian Josephus, pointing out the belief that women of his day should not testify in court

In dealing with a crowd of women at least, or with any promiscuous mob, a philosopher cannot influence them by reason or exhort them to reverence, piety and faith; nay, there is need of religious fear also, and this cannot be aroused without myths and marvels[2]  
– Strabo, a first century philosopher sharing a quite common view of women at the time: that they were immune to reason and comparable to a “promiscuous mob.”

Please don’t blame me. I don’t make the news, I only report it. In this case, the news is that the ancient world often had attitudes towards women that would be considered incredibly backwards, at best, in our current western culture. The quotes above, by Strabo and Josephus, are only the tip of the iceberg. Some more examples: In the Babylonian Talmud, the second century Rabbi Judah The Prince (who was not a wrestler, despite his WWE sounding name), said that male adherents of Judaism, “must recite three blessings every day: ‘Praised are you, O Lord, who has not made me a gentile,’ ‘Praised are you, O Lord, who did not make me a boor,’ and ‘Praised are you, O Lord, who did not make me a woman’[1] Lest you think Judah the Prince was an obscure figure in Judaism, I should point out that he was the chief editor of the Mishnah (oral Jewish law, in written form) and he was a primary leader of the Jewish community during the second century, where it was noted that he was a direct descendent of King David.

Speaking of the Misnah, one of the Rabbis found within testifies that, due to their menstrual issues, “women are not competent witnesses to be relied on…they are not halakhically admissible as reliable witnesses.”[2] Similarly, witness this excerpt from the Jewish Women’s Archive Encyclopedia, “A particularly painful issue of difference between males and females (in the first century) is that of reliability in testimony. Women are not considered reliable witnesses when two kosher witnesses are needed, for example on monetary issues, capital crimes and sexual crimes… To some extent this is based on her reliability in counting her days of niddah (menstrual) impurity.”[3]

I imagine some of you are mad right now, so let me just sneak in one other somewhat infuriating quote written by our backwards ‘friends’ from antiquity. Celsus was a Greek philosopher and an adamant opponent of Christianity who lived in the second century. Of the resurrection, and the fact that a woman was the first witness of the risen Jesus, Celsus opined:

“But we must examine this question whether anyone who really died ever rose again with the same body. Or do you think that the stories of these others really are the legends which they appear to be, and yet that the ending of your tragedy is to be regarded as noble and convincing—his cry from the cross when he expired, and the earthquake and the darkness? While he was alive he did not help himself, but after death he rose again and showed the marks of his punishment and how his hands had been pierced. But who saw this? A hysterical female, as you say, and perhaps some other one of those who were deluded by the same sorcery, who either dreamt in a certain state of mind and through wishful thinking had a hallucination due to some mistaken notion, or, which is more likely, wanted to impress the others by telling this fantastic tale, and so by this cock-and-bull story to provide a chance for other beggars.” [4]

As you can see here, Celsus’ major attack on the validity of the resurrection account is that it was first witnessed and propagated by a hysterical woman (Mary Magdalene) and, another “one of those,” who was “deluded by the same sorcery.” On behalf of women everywhere, I am offended for you! Be reminded that, though this backwards attitude towards women was staggeringly rampant in the first century, that was not the case with Jesus, the apostles, nor the early church. Perhaps you’ve imagined that the “Jesus Team” consisted of Jesus and the twelve disciples, and those thirteen went around from city to city healing the sick and sharing the good news. You’d be partly right, but the Jesus team was actually quite a bit larger than that, as there were a number (the Bible says “many) of women that also travelled with Jesus and had a critical role on the team, paying for lodging and expenses, etc. Jesus Himself was radical in the way He treated women, having multiple deep individual encounters with them at a time when it would be scandalously inappropriate for a Rabbi to have a one on one conversation with a female. Compare the New Testament to any other document of antiquity, and you will find that it was radically forward thinking in its ethos of women.

To be sure, in many cases, women were treated quite poorly in the earliest centuries, and were viewed in a way that does not comport with modern reality. I could add many other quotes to demonstrate this historical fact, but that is not necessary to make the primary and pertinent point here: having a female witness to something monumental in the first century might be a little bit…inconvenient, to say the least.

 As Josephus notes above, there were many cultures in antiquity where a woman was not allowed to testify in court. In other ancient cultures, they might have been allowed to testify, but their testimony would not have carried as much weight as the testimony of a man.  In some of those situations, where women were actually allowed to testify, it would take the testimony of two women to override the testimony of one man. Why is such a cultural issue critical in discussing the resurrection of Jesus? Because, according to Matthew 28, the first two witnesses to the risen Jesus were women, Mary Magdalene and “The other Mary.” Luke adds that Joanna was there, as well as “other women,” and seems to indicate that “the other” Mary, was Mary the mother of James.

 All four gospels, written down by different men, in different places and at different time periods ALL feature a female (Mary Magdalene) as the first witness of the resurrection of Jesus. That some gospels also mention the presence of other women is far from contradictory, but is the very essence of differing eyewitness testimony. Some details will be included by some authors, and omitted by others. The bottom line is this: women, several of them, were the first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. Additionally, Mary Magdalene, perhaps the foremost of these female witnesses, had what might be considered a sketchy past: Jesus had driven not one, but SEVEN demons out of her at one point.[5] All of this leads to an incredibly important question: If, in the first century, the testimony of women was not considered as reliable by any culture, why does the Bible clearly, and in great detail, portray women as being the first and primary witnesses to the risen Jesus? That question also begets another important question: How is it, given the assumed unreliability of women, that so many thousands of people eagerly believed the account of the resurrection of Jesus – many at the cost of their own lives?

Though it is not part of the Bible, and not considered Scripture, there is an apocryphal document called the Epistula Apostolorum, which dates to roughly 120 A.D. It is supposedly an eyewitness account of the apostles, and covers issues like the resurrection of Jesus, some of His parables, and several prophecies. This document contains a depiction of the resurrection, and contains extended dialog between Jesus and the women at the tomb. It is interesting, for the purposes of our discussion here, because it depicts what would have likely been the attitude of men in the first century to the proclamation of women that Jesus rose from the dead; specifically, it portrays the 11 remaining disciples utterly refusing to believe the testimony of the women until they actually see Jesus. I’m not posting this below because I am certain that this is a reliable record, written by the apostles, of what happened on the first Easter Sunday, but because it is a good example of how first century men would have viewed the testimony of women:

Concerning whom we testify that the Lord is he who was crucified by Pontius Pilate and Archelaus between the two thieves and was buried in a place which is called the place of a skull (Kranion). And thither went three women, Mary, she that was kin to Martha, and Mary Magdalene and took ointments to pour upon the body, weeping and mourning over that which was come to pass. And when they drew near to the sepulchre, they looked in and found not the body

10 And as they mourned and wept, the Lord showed himself unto them and said to them: For whom weep ye? weep no more. I am he whom ye seek. But let one of you go to your brethren and say: Come ye, the Master is risen from the dead.

 Martha came and told us. We said unto her: What have we to do with thee, woman? He that is dead and buried, is it possible that he should live? And we believed her not that the Saviour was risen from the dead. Then she returned unto the Lord and said unto him: None of them hath believed me, that thou livest. He said: Let another of you go unto them and tell them again. Mary came and told us again, and we believed her not; and she returned unto the Lord and she also told him.

11 Then said the Lord unto Mary and her sisters: Let us go unto them. And he came and found us within and called us out; but we thought that it was a phantom and believed not that it was the Lord. Then said he unto us: Come, fear ye not. I am your master, even he, O Peter, whom thou didst deny thrice; and dost thou now deny again? And we came unto him, doubting in our hearts whether it were he. Then said he unto us: Wherefore doubt ye still, and are unbelieving? I am he that spake unto you of my flesh and my death and my resurrection. But that ye may know that I am he, do thou, Peter, put thy finger into the print of the nails in mine hands, and thou also, Thomas, put thy finger into the wound of the spear in my side; but thou, Andrew, look on my feet and see whether they press the earth; for it is written in the prophet: A phantom of a devil maketh no footprint on the earth. 12 And we touched him, that we might learn of a truth whether he were risen in the flesh; and we fell on our faces (and worshipped him) confessing our sin, that we had been unbelieving. [1]

 What a fascinating passage, and almost humorous in its depictions of the disciples utterly refusing to listen to the female witnesses! The only possible rational reason that the Bible depicts women as the first witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus (and prominent witnesses at His crucifixion) is that it factually happened. The depiction of these women as witnesses to what should be considered the most monumental event in the history of the world, makes no sense whatsoever if the biblical accounts of Jesus’ resurrection are invented or even embellished.  

 Here’s why: There are perhaps five main theories about who Jesus was which can be summed up with the five “M’s” used by Southern Evangelical Seminary President Alex Mcfarland. Was Jesus merely a MYTH? That is, was he a legendary sort of character that was invented whole cloth by the lower class culture of Jerusalem who were seeking a hero to look up to? Or, was Jesus a MAN, simply a great teacher, who lived a great life and had a great influence on people, but nothing more than a special, and mortal, human being. In this view, either the followers of Jesus held Him in much higher esteem than they should have, or Jesus Himself had the most remarkable delusions of grandeur in history.

A third option is that Jesus was a MYSTIC, that is to say that perhaps He did possess some form of esoteric knowledge and power that elevated Him over the rest of humanity. Perhaps He was something more than merely a man, perhaps a first century alchemist of sorts, or even something like a mutant from comic book fame. Under this theory, Jesus wasn’t God, nor was He immortal; and He certainly wasn’t able to save humanity, but He was something more than an average person. A fourth possibility is that Jesus was/is a MISREPRESENTATION. This theory, popularized by writers like Dan “Da Vinci Code” Brown, posits that the church (or some other body) deified Jesus long after His death, and magnified Him and His accomplishments, in some sort of bid to gain power and control people. In this view, Jesus was merely a teacher that got heavily promoted after His lifetime into something more.

 MESSIAH or MASTER is the final possibility of who Jesus was and is. That is, that Jesus is everything the Bible claims Him to be – He is the son of God, the King of Kings, and the savior of Israel and all of humanity. Really, aside from ridiculous theories (Jesus was an alien, etc.) those are the five options as to who Jesus was. If He literally and historically rose from the dead, then several of those possibilities are eliminated outright.[2]

In light of those potential identities of Jesus, ponder this question: Why invent and insert women as the first witnesses on Easter morning if the resurrection was a myth, or intentional deception? There is no plausible reason for the women to be portrayed as witnesses of this event, except for the simplest reason of all: it really happened that way. If the early church was simply inventing the story of Jesus’ resurrection, wouldn’t it have made far more sense to utilize a prominent and well respected witness? Perhaps somebody like Joseph of Arimathea, or even Simon the Pharisee, or Nicodemus, a Pharisee AND member of the ruling council – any of these (and dozens of others) would make for more believable and impacting witnesses, if one wants to allege that the disciples, or some other group fabricated the story of Jesus resurrection.

 In N.T. Wright’s epic book on the resurrection of Jesus, he states this case quite brilliantly. Consider well his questions, and the implications of their answers:

Even if we suppose that Mark made up most of his material, and did so some time in the late 60s at the earliest, it will not do to have him, or anyone else at that stage, making up a would-be apologetic legend about an empty tomb and having women be the ones who find it. The point has been repeated over and over in scholarship, but its full impact has not always been felt: women were simply not acceptable as legal witnesses. We may regret it, but this is how the Jewish world (and most others) worked. The debate between Origen and Celsus shows that critics of Christianity could seize on the story of the women in order to scoff at the whole tale; were the legend-writers really so ignorant of the likely reaction? If they could have invented stories of fine, upstanding, reliable male witnesses being first at the tomb, they would have done it. That they did not tells us either that everyone in the early church knew that the women, led by Mary Magdalene, were in fact the first on the scene, or that the early church was not so inventive as critics have routinely imagined, or both. Would the other evangelists have been so slavishly foolish as to copy the story unless they were convinced that, despite being an apologetic liability, it was historically trustworthy?[3]

Links to the other 20 posts in this series (20 Reasons To Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead

#1: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #1 The Empty Tomb

#2: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #2 Hysterical Women?

#3: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #3 The Crucifixion Stigma

#4: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #4 The Marinovich Argument

#5: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #5 The Lithuanian Argument

#6: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #6 The 500(!) Eyewitnesses

#7: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #7 The Uncracked Conspiracy

#8: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #8 The Brother Factor

#9: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #9 The Conversion of Saul

#10: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #10 Show Me The Power!

#11: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #11 Bible Accounts are Too Detailed to Contain Mythic Information

#12: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #12 Bible Accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection are Too Early to be Mythical

#13: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #13 Textual Variants Demonstrate Biblical Reliability

#14: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #14 An Embarrassing Principle?

#15: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #15 Jesus Strikes Back?

#16: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #16 Skeptical Ancients, or Slack-Jawed Yokels?

#17: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #17 Minimal Facts Argument (Gary Habermas)

#18: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #18 – A Sabbath Switcheroo

#19: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #19 The Sign of Jonah

#20: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #20: My Personal Testimony

## 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – Conclusion

[1] Montague Rhode James in The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1924), pp. 485-503

[2] Alex McFarland, The 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, ©2007), 111-14.

[3] N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2003), 607–608.

[1] Jacob Neusner, The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary, vol. 19 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2011), 230.

[2] Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert, Menstrual Purity: Rabbinic and Christian Reconstructions of Biblical Gender, Contraversions (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, ©2000), 275.

[3] https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/legal-religious-status-of-jewish-female

[4] James Stevenson, A New Eusebius: Documents Illustrating the History of the Church to AD 337 (London: SPCK, 1987), 133.

[5] This is mentioned in Luke 8:2. The idea that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute is not actually found in the Bible. It was possibly Pope Gregory the Great, in a sermon from 591 A.D., that first put forward the idea that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.

[1] Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 117.

[2] Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, ©2002), 270

(Note: This is a partial preview of my book, you can continue reading FREE on Amazon via Kindle Unlimited, or you can purchase the book for a few pennies, OR you can find a friend reading it and take it when he isn’t looking!) 

#3: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #3 The Crucifixion Stigma

Editor’s Note: I am currently blogging through my book Easter: Fact or Fiction, 20 Reasons to Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead. That book is available on Amazon by clicking the picture or link below. Please check it out!  (Scroll down for links to the other parts to this post)  (CLICK HERE FOR THE AMAZON LINK) 

The Alexamenos graffito from roughly 200ad. One of the earliest surviving depictions of Jesus is a bit of graffiti scratched on a wall in Rome! The Greek inscription reads, “Alexamenos worships his God,” and is likely meant to both make fun of Jesus, and to make fun of people who were crucified. The donkey head is part of the reviling, and reveals what the Romans thought of crucifixion.

 

The shameful embarrassment of Jesus’ crucifixion and the horror of his death are now surmounted as light banishes darkness at the dawn of this new day, the first day of the new era of salvation[1]” – Augustine

Can you name ONE person, other than Jesus, that was crucified? I suppose some might think of Peter, the apostle and disciple of Jesus. Per numerous early historical reports, including the apocryphal Acts of Peter (180 A.D.?), Peter was indeed crucified. He was possibly crucified upside down, but likely NOT because he didn’t consider himself worthy of being crucified like Jesus.[1] According to church history, Other than him, I suspect that the vast majority of people don’t know anybody that was crucified other than Jesus. Because of that, many readers might be quite surprised to find out that Jesus was not the only person crucified in antiquity; the practice was surprisingly common. The ancient Jewish historian Josephus records multiple incidences in which hundreds, even thousands of people were crucified on the same day, and not just by the Romans! At least six civilizations in antiquity were known to execute criminals by crucifixion, including the Jewish people themselves. In fact, Hasmonean Jewish king and high priest Alexander Jannaeus, the son of high priest/king John Hyrcanus, had hundreds of his own people butchered for opposing him during the Judean Civil War of the 90s B.C. Josephus describes the aftermath of that war here

“The Jews fought against Alexander, and being beaten were slain in great numbers in the several battles which they had, (380) and when he had shut up the most powerful of them in the city Bethome, he besieged them therein; and when he had taken the city, and gotten the men into his power, he brought them to Jerusalem, and did one of the most barbarous actions in the world to them; for as he was feasting with his concubines, in the sight of all the city, he ordered about eight hundred of them to be crucified; and while they were living, he ordered the throats of their children and wives to be cut before their eyes”[2]

Years later, almost 40 years after the death of Jesus, The Roman general Titus launched a severe siege against Jerusalem. During that campaign, all who attempted to leave Jerusalem were caught and crucified by the Roman army – sometimes as many as 500 PER DAY, according to Josephus, who was present at the destruction of Jerusalem. Crucifixion was common during ancient times, it was dreaded, and it was anything but a glorious way to do. The worst criminals and the most hated enemies were crucified

 In the United States, we have a constitutional provision that bars utilizing “cruel and unusual” punishment on people. Being crucified on a cross is without question a form of cruel and unusual punishment. It is not the nails that kill, but ultimately, a form of suffocation. Crucifixion is designed to last a very long time – sometimes days – and involves the one being crucified slowly losing his ability to breathe as his arms and legs become too exhausted to push up and draw in air. You and I don’t think about breathing very much – it is a function of our autonomic nervous system, and thus happens without conscious thought. On the cross, however, one is aware of every breath, and each one is agony filled. One must push up on both arms and legs, extending out just enough to get in a breath, and then relax. It is agonizing to do so when tied to a cross; it is painful beyond enduring to do so when nailed to a cross.

The horrors of the cross have been largely sanitized in the church today. Even though most have seen a dozen or more dramatizations of Jesus dying, most have been toned down, and don’t really show all that Jesus likely suffered. Seneca the younger, a Roman statesman who lived during the time of Jesus, described crucifixion this way in his work Of Consolation: To Marcia.

I see before me crosses not all alike, but differently made by different peoples: some hang a man head downwards, some force a stick upwards through his groin, some stretch out his arms on a forked gibbet. I see cords, scourges, and instruments of torture for each limb and each joint: but I see Death also.”

 There would likely be a large and very upsetting amount of blood spilling from Jesus. The crown of thorns, with one inch or more protrusions, would make deep holes in an area that is absolutely filled with blood vessels. His back would be bleeding profusely from the lashing with the cat of nine tails. The nail wounds on Jesus’ wrists and feet would also be bleeding, as first century nails would not be quite as sharp and clean-edged as the nails we have now. And, as noted by Seneca above, it is conceivable that Jesus was stuck through with sticks. All of this blood would be highly upsetting to behold and also incredibly obvious and visible, because the majority of the time the Romans crucified their victims without any clothing whatsoever. Think of the embarrassment and agony of that situation: bleeding profusely, wracked with muscle cramps and pain beyond the ability of the toughest person to endure, having to push up on strained and shredded muscles to just simply get a single breath…and doing it all NAKED. How utterly astounding that the king of the universe would stoop so low.

And now consider, given the gut-shredding horrors of the crucifixion, how it came about that followers of Jesus glorified and worshipped Him as the son of God afterwards. If you deny the resurrection, what could you possibly propose in its place that would be strong enough to erase the memory of the crucifixion to the point that the early church worshipped Jesus?

Consider also Willie Francis. Whom, you might ask? One of the first things you will note about Willie Francis is that millions of people don’t worship him, and yet he shares a few things in common with Jesus. Willie was convicted of murder in Louisiana in 1945 for an act that he allegedly committed when he was 15. Despite the fact that he was underage; despite the fact that he was not tried by a jury of his peers (his jury was all white); despite the fact that most of the physical evidence against Willie disappeared; and despite the fact that the gun used to kill the victim actually belonged to a deputy sheriff that had threatened to kill the victim in the past – despite all of those things, Willie Francis was convicted and electrocuted in May of 1946. Only, he didn’t die. Francis was one of the few people that have ever survived a round with the electric chair, and he did so due to a drunk guard setting things up improperly. Sadly, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it wasn’t cruel and unusual to re-execute a teenager, and Francis was re-executed in May of 1947.

Aside from the multiple and disgusting racial injustices of that situation, I need to point out to you that nobody worshipped Francis during that year after his first execution attempt failed. Nobody tried to start a religion around him, or anything like that. Similarly, no religion has started around John ‘Babbacombe’ Lee, nor Joseph Samuel, despite the fact that both men survived multiple hanging attempts. Why not? Why not venerate, honor and worship people like Lee, Francis and Samuel? Because…that would be incredibly odd to worship a convicted criminal who somehow managed to escape death. Take away the resurrection, and it is unexplainably strange, to worship Jesus of Nazareth. Sure – he was a great teacher. Socrates was a great teach also, and he was also unjustly killed, but nobody is going to roll up to First Socrates Baptist church this Sunday and celebrate Easter, are they? I submit that it is very difficult to explain why so many Christians followed Jesus after His terribly bloody, painful, and embarrassing crucifixion if there was not a literal and actual resurrection that took place three days later.

If you’d like a demonstration of how odd it is that somebody would worship a man crucified on a cross, then try wearing a flashy gold electric chair necklace sometime, and when people ask you about it, tell them that you worship an executed criminal. The look on their face will tell you all you need to know about how first century Jews would have responded to claims about Jesus if He didn’t literally and truly rise from the dead.

[1]From the Acts of Peter, Chapter 38, it is apparent that Peter asked to be crucified upside down because He wanted to demonstrate that fallen humanity had been restored to order by Jesus’ death on the cross. Here is Peter’s speech from that book (which is not Scripture): “And when they had hanged him up after the manner he desired, he began again to say: Ye men unto whom it belongeth to hear, hearken to that which I shall declare unto you at this especial time as I hang here. Learn ye the mystery of all nature, and the beginning of all things, what it was. For the first man, whose race I bear in mine appearance (or, of the race of whom I bear the likeness), fell (was borne) head downwards, and showed forth a manner of birth such as was not heretofore: for it was dead, having no motion. He, then, being pulled down -who also cast his first state down upon the earth- established this whole disposition of all things, being hanged up an image of the creation (Gk. vocation) wherein he made the things of the right hand into left hand and the left hand into right hand, and changed about all the marks of their nature, so that he thought those things that were not fair to be fair, and those that were in truth evil, to be good. Concerning which the Lord saith in a mystery: Unless ye make the things of the right hand as those of the left, and those of the left as those of the right, and those that are above as those below, and those that are behind as those that are before, ye shall not have knowledge of the kingdom.”

[2] Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 361.

[1] Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 373.

(Note: This is a partial preview of my book, you can continue reading FREE on Amazon via Kindle Unlimited, or you can purchase the book for a few pennies, OR you can find a friend reading it and take it when he isn’t looking!) 

Links to the other 20 posts in this series (20 Reasons To Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead

#1: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #1 The Empty Tomb

#2: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #2 Hysterical Women?

#3: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #3 The Crucifixion Stigma

#4: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #4 The Marinovich Argument

#5: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #5 The Lithuanian Argument

#6: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #6 The 500(!) Eyewitnesses

#7: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #7 The Uncracked Conspiracy

#8: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #8 The Brother Factor

#9: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #9 The Conversion of Saul

#10: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #10 Show Me The Power!

#11: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #11 Bible Accounts are Too Detailed to Contain Mythic Information

#12: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #12 Bible Accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection are Too Early to be Mythical

#13: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #13 Textual Variants Demonstrate Biblical Reliability

#14: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #14 An Embarrassing Principle?

#15: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #15 Jesus Strikes Back?

#16: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #16 Skeptical Ancients, or Slack-Jawed Yokels?

#17: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #17 Minimal Facts Argument (Gary Habermas)

#18: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #18 – A Sabbath Switcheroo

#19: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #19 The Sign of Jonah

#20: 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – #20: My Personal Testimony

## 20 Reasons To Believe Jesus FACTUALLY Rose from the Dead – Conclusion

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