The story of Jesus being crucified and dying and rising again leaving an empty tomb and appearing to his friends could be a legend.  Religion tries to turn it into a story of hope where this man now has a saved and eternal body and is complete and perfect and calling us to rise like him one day.  None of that is emphasised in the gospels at all.  The risen Jesus is purely about being seen and saying he is fulfilling ancient prophecies that he would rise.  Remarkably he does no healings now that he is supposedly risen.

Trimmed of the theology that is forced into the story the signs of legend making are clearly seen.  The emphasis is too much on showing Jesus to have been right after all despite his rejection as a heretic by the Jewish scholarship and his death as a criminal.  The removal of the religious accessories show that the story is less special than you would be led to think. 

Christians say the gospels were written in the seventh decade of the first century which was too soon for legends of that proportion to develop. They reject accounts written sooner after the alleged miraculous events – like the Bell Witch and the Blair Witch story. They are showing undue prejudice. Faith never depended on charity despite the Church linking the two as two sides of the one coin. The Christians say that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the most stupendous miracle ever. The apostles agreed for they heralded the resurrection as the one miracle Satan or nature could not fake and the crown of God’s miraculous achievements and the credential that established that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. Christians neglect their duty to make sure it is all that before they believe in it. Now if the resurrection is all that then it puts the miracles of the god-man Apollonius to shame in comparison even though this character also appeared after his death, had miraculous escapes and fought with vampires and demons. Yet Christians say the accounts of Apollonius are fabricated for they are full of miracles! But surely if the greatness of the miracle indicates fabrication then the resurrection cannot be true? Apollonius’s miracles though many would be more believable than the resurrection if this is the case for as a whole even then they cannot compete with it. This repetitive perversion of logic and facts that takes place in Christian circles is really tiresome and distressing for unbelievers.

Robert Price in Beyond Born Again reminds us that when the false Jewish Messiah Sabbatai Zevi was alive and despite him and his disciples saying there would be no miracles there were still miracle stories about him. He was said to have walked into a fire and emerged unscathed. After his death he was alleged to have appeared to many. His cult eventually died out from the blow he struck it when he converted to Islam but still despite the evidence that he was not God’s chosen the legends appeared.

The cult-founder William Branham was believed by many to be virgin born though he said in his autobiography that he was anything but.

Kimbangu was made a god against his will when he was alive. If his followers had left writings about him and this was the first century these writings would be edited and the embarrassing stuff removed and burnt and presto we would have him instead of Jesus.

The best foundation for the legend theory is that there is no evidence that the gospels were available to the generation that knew Jesus or their immediate offspring.  The gospel writers were working in secret and their works were kept hidden or heavily censored versions were given out and so they were able to invent all the legends they wished. There was no need for a long process of legend making. If the gospels were published at all before the middle of the second century then it was to a carefully chosen few who would have been too bloody-minded to believe other than what the Church was saying. That means the gospels could be out and out novels presented as true stories. If Justin Martyr and Tatian are the indisputable first people to show knowledge of the gospels as many believe then the problem is that these two were hellbent on promoting Christianity at any cost even telling huge porkies. The first quoted from non-existent books and twisted everything while the second, his close friend, rewrote the Gospels to deceive the Church into accepting his peculiar prejudices.

Robert Price says that the resurrection legend could have started easily because many people believed that Jesus was John the Baptist physically raised from the dead (Mark 6:14). Their evidence was that Jesus was doing miracles but John never did any so if the people wanted to believe something they were not going to let the evidence stop them.

Any good man could die and seem to have come back and sometimes evidence for something can itself be a mistake. For example, a man is murdered in a house. John’s belt buckle is found beside the body and John goes to jail for the murder. But what if John lost it and the dead man had found it and was holding it when the killer struck? So evidence might indicate that a man rose though he did not. Unless we can get the legal reports about the crucifixion and the tomb and the appearances we are entitled to keep an open mind but we certainly are not entitled to believe.

There is not a single eyewitness testimony to the appearances of Jesus following his death. There have been attempts to make the gospels seem to be such accounts but they fail for the gospels do not make that claim. This supports the legend idea.

Jesus at his trial, refused to speak up for himself when accused falsely. According to John, he didn’t want to be asked about what he taught and said to go and ask what his hearers had to say about what he taught. People were brought in who said that he said that he would raze the Temple and in three days raise a new Temple not built by human hands. The gospels are keen though to claim that this was false testimony even though it could be taken as referring to the Temple of his body. Why do they feel this one is the one worth quoting and attacking? Even he had razed the Temple and built a new one not by human hands that wouldn’t be blasphemy if he had the power of God in him as the gospels claim. The answer is that the resurrection was invented and was condemned by the first believers. Even Christians who cannot admit this and that there were legends about Jesus, must admit that there were legends about Jesus even when he was supposedly alive. The people were so sure of them that they testified to them in court. If true, then we have legal statements then to that effect and all we have for the gospels is hearsay and gossip. So it is wiser to believe those testimonies than the gospels.

But nevertheless expressions like that used in court could have led to the idea that Jesus intended to rise again.

The resurrection implies that God protects his own. This suggests the malicious doctrine that God doesn’t not protect sinners and so if people suffer its their own fault. No matter how much good the belief can cause that evil doctrine is behind it. It is it’s very essence.

It is odd how the oldest gospel, Mark, states that Jesus could do no miracle among people because of their great unbelief. If that was the case, then how could he have risen when at that time the people had turned against him and ceased to believe and the disciples had abandoned him? In fairness, the gospel ends without saying there was any real evidence for the resurrection.


Legends do get mass conversions.   But if a legend fails to get them that is a good but not foolproof sign that it is a legend.  It makes legend-making plausible and even probable.

Christianity was not as successful in getting converts as today's Church would have you believe.   All the generation that existed when the apostles supposedly died did was worry about heretics who had gone as far as turning Jesus into a legendary bringer of magical knowledge.  There were as many varieties of Jesus as there were heretics.  If that is a good conversion record then Jesus was actually the man on the moon.

“Only in the 3rd century does material evidence of a Christian presence, anywhere in the Empire, begin to match even that of minor pagan cults” Richard Carrier, Not the Impossible Faith.  Pliny the Younger said he never was at a Christian trial or knew how to punish them. 


We can reason that there were triggers for the resurrection story starting off as hearsay and evolving into the stuff of legend.  The time scale fits the theory. 


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