Who Were the Apostles: Part II- Fools?

In the second part of this series we will look at the question of whether the apostles were fools and had been duped into believing a lie that Jesus had risen from the dead when he really hadn’t. This takes the form of two basic positions- either they were fooled  by an imposter claiming to be Jesus but who actually was a different person altogether, or Jesus “swooned” (fainted so as to appear dead) on the cross and later revived naturally. All of these arguments will assume the honesty of the apostles (they were not purposely lying and constructing false histories), since my previous post has already put to rest the idea that they were liars/conspirators.

-Imposter-

Argument 1:

1) People are overwhelmingly less likely to be fooled by an imposter if they knew the individual closely

2) No one knew Jesus more intimately than his inner circle of apostles

3) Therefore, no one would be less likely to be fooled by an imposter than the apostles themselves, especially the highly skeptical Thomas

Result: The apostles were not fooled by an imposter.

Argument 2:

1) An imposter would be a deliberate liar, and liars have motives

2) No conceivable motive exists for why a strange man would pretend to be Jesus and present himself to the grieving apostles as if he had risen from the dead, and then whisk himself away, never to be seen or heard from again

Result: The apostles were not fooled by an imposter.

Argument 3:

1) A Jesus imposter would have to be in league with other people who conspired to remove the real Jesus’ body from the tomb and hide it; this creates yet another conspiracy scenario, yet this time the conspirators are outsiders, not the apostles themselves

2) No conceivable explanation exists for who this shadowy group of outsiders might have been and why they would have conspired to attempt to fool the apostles into thinking that Jesus had risen, nor is there any actual evidence for this claim

Result: The apostles were not fooled by an imposter.

-Swoon Theory

Argument 4:

1) Roman soldiers were professionals at killing and crucifixion, and would have been held personally responsible and likely killed if they failed to kill the condemned man

2) Jesus was executed by Roman soldiers

Result: The apostles were not fooled by the fact that Jesus survived the execution.

Argument 5:

1) The apostles’ lives were radically changed by their belief that Jesus had risen and conquered death itself

2) Had Jesus miraculously managed to survive the crucifixion, he would have been in critical condition and a very unimpressive sight

3) Such a battered and beaten Jesus would not have had the radicalizing, life-changing effect on the apostles’ lives that they testify to

Result: The apostles were not fooled by the fact that Jesus survived the execution.

Argument 6:

1) Jesus, after the crucifixion, was laid in a tomb with a heavy boulder rolled over the entrance, sealing it

2) It would have been impossible for Jesus to escape this tomb from the inside even in good health, let alone after just having been crucified

Result: The apostles were not fooled by the fact that Jesus survived the execution.

Argument 7:

1) If Jesus had somehow survived the execution, he would not have lied about the reasons for this and claimed to have “conquered death” and “risen from the grave”

2) The apostles would have followed Jesus teachings just as they had before; there is no reason to suggest that they would have suddenly made a radical departure from Jesus’ own teachings just because he survived an execution attempt; if anything, this would only cause them to be even more loyal to him than before

3) These facts make no sense of why the Gospels are full of accounts of miracles, including Jesus’ miraculous resurrection and even ascension into heaven

Result: The apostles were not fooled by the fact that Jesus survived the execution.

Argument 8:

1) If Jesus had survived the crucifixion, he would have continued to live on in the area for years afterward

2) No historical accounts exist which would suggest he continued to live after the crucifixion

Result: The apostles were not fooled by the fact that Jesus survived the execution.

Argument 9:

1) If Jesus had survived the crucifixion, he would have continued to live on in the area for years afterward

2) Christianity as a religion began in Israel, where Jesus lived his whole life

3) One of the central teachings of Christianity is that Jesus is no longer on earth but has ascended to heaven to be at the Father’s right hand, but will one day come again

4) It would have been impossible for Christianity to get its start in the very place where Jesus continued to live as a regular man

Result: The apostles were not fooled by the fact that Jesus survived the execution.

Argument 10:

1) Saul/Paul was a highly religious, observant Pharisee who actively persecuted Christians prior to having a radical transformation, claiming to have seen the risen Christ personally

2) Neither the Swoon Theory nor the Imposter Theory explain why a radical opponent of Christianity would have a personal transformation after the fact and switch sides, being willing to suffer to the point of death for Jesus

Result: The apostles were not fools.

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