Jesus According to the Gospels

Jesus broke the law!

I think that Jesus should be put on trial and tried with a crime against the natural order of things. Mother Nature charges that Jesus has violated the certainty that is inherent in death and taxes – well death anyway [1]. If Jesus was resurrected, if Jesus literally rose from the dead, from a state of death, thus living to tell the tale of being dead, that really violates the natural order of things and that’s a no-no crime according to Mother Nature. According to atheist Matt Dillahunty from “The Atheist Experience” TV show, at least when Elvis died for our sins, he stayed dead!

Now some problems are going to come to the fore and arise in bringing Jesus to trial and asked to “please explain” your transgression. Firstly, the accused is nowhere to be found. Secondly we have no idea who most of the witnesses [2] even were – they are unnamed / anonymous. Even when we do there is no way to actually verify their historicity. Thirdly, well point two is irrelevant since all of the alleged witnesses are irreversibly dead (no resurrection for them) and one cannot travel back in time to interview them, get their statements officially recorded and be cross-examined on the witness stand. Bummer. That doesn’t leave us a great deal to work with.

So let’s start with the premise that Jesus existed but wasn’t supernatural. Jesus was just one of thousands of delusional individuals – up through and including the present day – who have claimed some form of divine status. Just because Jesus was a more-likely-as-not historical figure, does that mean of necessity that all of the supernatural events associated with Jesus are equally historical? You need to take into consideration the relative unreliability of human witness testimony, the tendency for humans to exaggerate especially when witnessing the relatively uncommon, the tendency for humans to actually lie, and oh, especially the tendency for the human species to tell tall stories.

So why reject the supernatural Jesus out of hand? Because there is no independent (i.e. – non-Biblical) original to that era source(s) that I can verify by myself for myself that attests to the actual existence of a supernatural and super-worldly Jesus. You just have to take whatever the Bible says on faith but as we all realise, faith in and of itself is not a pathway to the truth. The supernatural can also be ruled out on the grounds that there is no possible or even plausible explanation that theists can offer up for Jesus having supernatural powers, including being able to rise from the dead, other than God done it which in itself is not an actual explanation, just an attempt to explain one mystery by resorting to an even bigger mystery.

Natural Explanation

Now apparently Jesus died on the cross abnormally early, way before the other two common criminals that were being executed alongside of Jesus. Although declared dead by the Roman soldiers, what if Jesus was only clinically dead and not irreversibly dead? Jesus was placed in the tomb belonging to and by Joseph of Arimathea pretty quick-smart after the death of Jesus, and Joseph with some apparent super-strength rolled a huge rock [3] over the tomb’s entrance thus sealing the apparently Jesus in. Alas, three days later there was no Jesus in the tomb.

So, explanation one is that the story is only a story and never happened (see below). Explanation two is that Jesus was supernaturally resurrected from a state of being dead which I’ve rejected (see above). Explanation three is that Jesus wasn’t really irreversibly dead, just clinically dead. In other words, Jesus just had a Near Death Experience (NDE).

What if Jesus just woke up in the tomb and somehow rolled back the huge stone or otherwise managed to flee the scene. If I were Jesus who awoke from a state of clinical deadness at the hands of the Romans I’d of wanted to get out of Dodge really fast. The upshot is that coming back to life is not supernatural as thousands of NDE people can testify – along with their medical practitioners.

The NDE in and of itself might have given Jesus the impression that he had actually risen from the dead and therefore that he was really dead. Back in those days NDE’s would have been extremely uncommon and not the everyday term / phenomena we’re acquainted with today is resuscitation back from a clinically dead state is no longer rare.

That aside, post-NDE sightings of Jesus were actually of an alive Jesus but it would have been in his own best interests to perpetuate the myth that he was actually dead and people were just viewing his spirit or ghost.

Mythological Explanation

Okay, what if the whole Jesus story was just pure human invention. I said above that you just have to take the Bible on faith, but the Bible was written over hundreds of years by unknown authors, chapters included and excluded according to the whims of later church officials, the product of numerous copies of copies of copies and all manner of translations (subject always to human error) and obtainable in dozens upon dozens of versions to which no actual originals exist. You’re really going to put your faith in such texts, especially when such texts detail events which are about as actually impossible as the word impossible allows for.

Here are a few questions that need to be answered: Why is there a need for four individual gospels when the four could have been easily rolled into just one, one Biblical ‘book’ incorporating all of the bits and pieces inherent in each while eliminating thousands of words of duplication? Something is screwy somewhere!

If you read the relevant sections of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that deal with the death, burial, resurrection and post death appearances of Jesus, you’ll note the inconsistencies. Were there guards posted or not? Was there one ‘angel’ or two? Were they inside the tomb or outside of the tomb? Who actually went into the tomb and how did Joseph of Arimathea roll the huge stone over such that it covered the tomb’s entrance? And a question that can’t be answered by Biblical passages yet is of critical importance, who was the scribe (an additional witness) who wrote down all of the tomb-related event conversations [4]? It’s time for a closer look.

What about that state of darkness during the crucifixion? Apparently the Sun went on vacation from high noon (or the 6th hour) to 3 p.m. (or the 9th hour) during the crucifixion.
- This dark tale is related in Matthew 27: 45; Mark 15: 33; and Luke 23: 44. John probably didn’t feel this was overly important, or else he was being kept in the dark. We do note here that the Bible doesn’t associate this darkness with it being cloudy or overcast and given the duration, a solar eclipse is null and void. My take on this impossible event is that it adds a nice dramatic touch to the unfolding events. Score: 75% for darkness; 25% no darkness mentioned.

Apparently there was an earthquake to add to the crucifixion drama!
- This great shake was mentioned in Matthew 27: 51 & 54. Unfortunately, none of the other gospels mention this earth-shattering event. If the earthquake really happened then it was worthy of at least one line. Score: 25% for; 75% against.

Did a spear probe the dead Jesus to ensure he was really dead?
- The spear is only mentioned once, in John 19: 34. Score: 25% for the spear; 75% for no spear.

Were there zombies / the undead walking around at the time?
- The walking dead are only mentioned once, in Matthew 27: 52-53. Maybe Mark, Luke and John weren’t horror fans. Score: 25%.

How many first-hand original witnesses to empty tomb?
- There were two women in Matthew 28: 1; 3 persons according to Mark 16: 1-2; lots of women according to Luke 23: 55-56 & 24: 10; and just one individual according to John 20: 1. Score: 0% since no two accounts agree.

How many ‘angels’ were present at the empty tomb?
- There was one lone ‘angel’ according to Matthew 28: 2; also just one as stated in Mark 16: 5; two ‘angels’ were present according to Luke 24: 4; and according to John 20:12, also two ‘angels’. Score: 50% for one ‘angel’; 50% for two ‘angels’.

Were they inside or outside the empty tomb?
- Matthew 28: 2 says outside; Mark 16: 5 says inside; Luke 24: 3 also says inside and finally John 20: 1 goes with outside. Score: 50% for inside; 50% for outside.

Who actually rolled the huge stone back revealing the empty tomb?
- Matthew 28: 2 testifies that it was the lone ‘angel’, all the other gospels say the rock had already been rolled back before-the-fact by a person or persons or ‘angels’ unknown. Score: 25% for the ‘angel’; 75% for who knows?

Were their guards posted at the tomb?
- The only text that actually mentions guards being posted outside the tomb is in Matthew 27: 65-66. Score: 25% for guards; 75% for no guards reported.

Not really a very consistent picture now, is it? None of the four gospels agree 100% on the above aspects involving the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

What about some of those other miracles associated with Jesus? Miracles are pretty extraordinary events and therefore you’d should be expected read about said miracles in all four of the gospels. For starters, I’ll exclude the alleged virgin birth on the grounds that Jesus had no say-so over that.

What about that Star of Bethlehem so artistically rendered in millions of Christmas images?
- The only text that mentions this is in Matthew 2. And as an aside, there is no mention of the actual number of wise men that are associated with this Star of Bethlehem event. It’s just assumed to be three. Score: 25%.

Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights (and lived to tell the dietary tale).
- I only spotted this in Matthew 4: 2 which itself is suspicious. Mark, Luke and John apparently don’t find this remarkable. I find it all a bit suss since that number “forty” just crops up in the Bible a few times too often. Further, if Jesus was flesh-and-blood, there’s no way you can go completely without nourishment for that length of time. Score: 25%.

Jesus stills the storm.
- This is referenced in Matthew 8: 23-27; Mark 4: 35-41; and Luke 8: 22-25. There’s no mention in John that I can find. Now wouldn’t it be neat to just snap your fingers and control the weather? Score: 75%.

Feeding the 5000 with a few loaves and fishes.
- This foodie tale is related in Matthew 14: 13-21; Mark 6: 30-44; Luke 9: 10-17; and finally in John 6: 1-15. Maybe Jesus should have opened up a restaurant. Score: 100%.

Feeding the 4000 with a few more loaves and fishes.
- This instant replay is noted and logged in Matthew 15: 32-39; and Mark 8: 1-10. I gather this event didn’t rate a mention with Luke or John, maybe it was just too much of a good thing. Score: 50%.

Jesus walks on water (and it wasn’t below freezing either).
- Jesus defies the laws of physics in Matthew 14: 22-33; Mark 6: 45-52; and John 6: 16-21. Luke apparently found this a bit too much to swallow or thought he was probably too much in over his head relating such a tall tale. Score: 75%.

Jesus turns water into wine (which he then doesn’t walk on).
- This feat of chemical alchemy was related in John 2: 1-10 and John 4: 46. Perhaps Matthew, Mark and Luke were teetotallers, having sworn off the booze. Score: 25%.

Jesus curses the fig tree for not having figs!
- Now this is just downright dumb! Only a pure idiot would curse a tree barren of fruit when it was out of season for said tree to have fruit! Dumb, dumb, dumb! Nevertheless, this idiotic tale is related in Matthew 21: 18-20; and Mark 11: 12-14. Maybe Luke and John just didn’t relate this absurd tale in order to save Jesus further embarrassment. Score: 50%.

Jesus rises people from the dead.
- Okay, we all know about Jesus, M.D. or Jesus, G.P. but isn’t it amazing that Jesus rose various people from the dead yet those fortunate few give no insights or revelations into what it was actually like being dead. That applies to that dead state that Jesus himself was in. You’d think that would also be interesting! Not revealing that state of being while being dead was a major oversight IMHO. Still, all four gospels do relate stories of Jesus practising medicine without a license. Score: 100%. However, that said, nearly all of those patients of Jesus, M.D. were not actually named and thus there is no way to historically actually verify their existence or whether or not their afflictions were as stated. Modern faith healers could (and do) claim as good a healing record as Jesus yet we know that they resort to all manner of sleight-of-hand fakery. Faith healing has been demonstrated to be pure bunkum and fakery of the highest order.

So the only real miracles consistently reported in the gospels and by all four of the gospels, apart from Jesus practising medicine without a license, and his alleged rising from the dead [5], is the feeding of the 5000 with multiplying loaves and fishes. Even the death, burial and alleged resurrection part of the Jesus story isn’t consistent.

Believing in the actual supernatural miracles associated with Jesus and especially the resurrection of Jesus is 100% based on faith and in trust that the four gospel texts in one and only one extremely ancient tomb written by unknown authors [6] decades after-the-fact is IMHO not an overly rational belief, especially when there are enough witness inconsistencies that trial lawyers would have a field day exploiting.

Notes:
[1] Of course Mother Nature could easily add to that on the unnatural grounds that Jesus alleged walked on water, raised the dead, turned water into wine, etc. (See above)

[2] As any trial lawyer or psychologist will tell you, eyewitness reliability is somewhat less than 100% reliable. Even Paul just had a vision of post-death Jesus (oft quoted as evidence for the resurrection of Jesus) but as we know there are dozens of medical / physiological and mental / psychological reasons why people have visions or hallucinations.

[3] “[G]reat stone” (Matthew 27: 60); or “the stone was rolled away: for it was very great” (Mark 16: 4).

[4] Speaking of scribes, I want to know who was recording the conversation between Jesus and Satan as related in Matthew 4: 1-11. That meeting is also noted in Mark 1: 12-13 but there are no quotations associated with either party.

[5] The empty tomb isn’t in and of itself evidence that Jesus actually rose from being in a state of terminal deadness. An empty glass of water isn’t evidence that someone drank the water – the water could have evaporated or the glass may have had a nearly invisible crack at the bottom or maybe the water in the glass was just an optical illusion – a trick of the light (with maybe some wishful thinking).

[6] Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are fictitious names tacked on to the gospels by the church and there is nothing in the gospels that would imply that the people who wrote the gospels existed contemporaneously with Jesus. Evidence that for example Matthew was written after-the-fact is found in Matthew 28: 11-15.