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No, Five Hundred People Didn’t See Jesus After His Alleged Resurrection

resurrection of jesus

When Evangelical apologists are asked for evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, they will often quote I Corinthians 15:3-8:

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

See, Bruce, see! Over 500 people saw Jesus after he resurrected from the dead. The Bible says so! End of discussion.

The book of 1 Corinthians was written by the Apostle Paul and Sosthenes circa 53-55 CE, two decades after the death of Jesus. What we have, then, in I Corinthians 15:3-8, is one man’s claim that more than 500 people saw Jesus after he resurrected from the dead. We have no written evidence for this claim outside of what Paul wrote in I Corinthians. That’s it. You would think that if an executed criminal came back to life and walked the streets of Jerusalem and the surrounding area for forty days, a secular author would have written that down. The same goes for the claim found in Matthew 27:50-53

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

After Jesus drew his last breath on the cross, graves were opened, and many dead saints came back to life, exited their graves, and walked to Jerusalem — appearing to many. Once-dead people coming back to life! Once dead people walking the streets of Jerusalem, appearing to other people! What an astounding event. Yet, no one bothered to write one word about it apart from a verse in the Bible written fifty years after the death of Jesus.

There is no historical record of either of these events apart from the claims of an anonymous Jew and the Apostle Paul. One man’s claim does not evidence make. There is little to no extra-Biblical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Even if we grant the Biblical accounts historical status, there is no corroborating evidence. None. Thus, believing more than 500 people saw Jesus after his death requires faith. The same goes for the zombie apocalypse recorded in Matthew 27.

Thus, I remain convinced that the apocalyptic Jewish preacher named Jesus lived for around thirty-three years, ran afoul of Roman law, was executed on a cross, and was buried in an unmarked grave — never to be seen again. If Evangelical apologists want me to believe otherwise, all I ask is that they provide evidence that is more than Bible proof texts.

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Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    When I was an evangelical that accepted the Bible as a trustworthy historical record, I never thought to question whether other sources mentioned Jesus or any of the miracle claims. Now, I look at things with a more critical eye. There should be some sort of actual record of something as major as a resurrection from the dead.

    • Avatar
      Yulya Sevelova

      Good call, Melvin !! I get so TIRED of seeing Jesus portrayed as either a Brit, or an American Anglo type- it’s gotten so old ! Jesus looked like the locals, he was brown 🤎. That said, I wondered about that passage about Old Testament believers up and walking around Jerusalem, as well as the whole Levant. Rome was in charge of that region, so I wondered if they sent in soldiers to seize all written accounts of those events. At any rate, that had to be a shocking sight, if known dead people WERE seen. And where the heck did they go after that ? The story stopped there,which stupid. Why no follow up on their activities once they exited those tombs ?!

    • Avatar
      Yulya Sevelova

      A problem with Internet and data at the moment – this thing with showing Jesus as British or an American Anglo is irritating and tiresome! Jesus was brown, like the locals of that time were,and mostly still are . He wasn’t blond,either. ” They” just can’t bring themselves to be accurate,these conservatives who hijacked Jesus and Christianity, can they ?!

  2. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Why don’t folks with tracts knock on doors in Mafia neighborhoods?

    Because they “don’ want no witnesses!”

    Seriously, you have to wonder why the events in the Bible, which surely had witnesses, weren’t recorded in real time, or not long after they occurred.

  3. Avatar
    Neil Rickert

    At around age 11, I knew that I could not evaluate the resurrection. So I would need to come back to it later.

    At around age 17, I came back to it. And the account in Matthew was not believable. If what was described there actually happened, then word of it would have spread far and wide. But it didn’t. That’s when I started to have serious questions about Christianity.

  4. Avatar

    Reminds me of an idiot on Twitter who said, “How can anyone believe the Big Bang happened, when their were no cameras to prove it?” When someone asked him why their were no photographs of Jesus, he blocked the person.
    When I grew up, I always wondered why history books didn’t mention Biblical events. Now I know. They didn’t happen. I watched a show on the Science Channel called Hot Rocks: The Geology of Civilization. It told of real geological events (back by decades of research) that may have led to the myths in the Bible and other holy books, and also religions from ancient times, like Egypt. I highly recommend it. The show isn’t on anymore, but I think there is a DVD for sale.

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