A key claim made by Christian apologists who defend the resurrection goes like this:
(JAW) Jesus of Nazareth was alive and walking around unassisted on the first Easter Sunday.
We are considering the implications of the following supposition:
4. (JAW) is false.On this supposition, there are three logical possibilities:
A. Jesus was not alive on the first Easter Sunday.
B. Jesus was alive on the first Easter Sunday but did not walk at all that day.
C. Jesus was alive on the first Easter Sunday but was walking only with assistance from others.
In Part 8 of this series, I argued that (C) supports a skeptical view of the resurrection.
Now let’s consider possibility (B).
As with (C), the first thing that comes to mind here is the Apparent Death Theory (ADT). According to (ADT) Jesus was alive on the first Easter Sunday, but still had a normal physical human body, and thus, assuming that he had been scourged and/or crucified just a few days prior, on Friday of Passover week, he might well be too weak or too injured or in too much pain to be able to walk around at all on the first Easter Sunday. He might have had to be carried from the tomb to a safer place where he could heal up over a period of days or weeks.
But if Jesus had a new eternal ‘glorified body’ on Easter Sunday, there is no reason why he would not walk away from the tomb and into Jerusalem and/or into Emmaus to meet up with his disciples. So, (B), like (C) appears to provide significant support for (ADT) while providing evidence against the traditional Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus.
One tricky way to try to preserve belief in the resurrection while assuming supposition (B) to be correct, would be to suppose that instead of walking Jesus ran everywhere he went on the first Easter Sunday. If Jesus had a new eternal ‘glorified body’ then he would have been able to run everywhere without experiencing any pain or weakness or difficulty.
There are a couple of problems with this idea, though. First, it is a implausible that Jesus, the newly risen Son of God, and King of Kings, and Savior of all mankind would run everywhere he went for an entire day, like some hyperactive teenager. This also does not seem in keeping with Jesus’s rather mellow and mature personality. So, this suggestion is possible but improbable.
Second, I don’t think it would effect my skeptical argument to expand the scope of (JAW) a bit so that the term ‘walking’ was replaced by a more general concept, like ‘getting around by means of using one’s legs and feet for locomotion, as in walking, jogging, running, skipping, hopping, dancing, etc.’ So, it appears that this clever attempt to get around the implications of (B) can be easily circumvented by a minor adjustment to (JAW).
Another way to try to preserve belief in the resurrection while assuming the correctness of (B) would be to advocate an alternative chronology of the crucifixion, burial, and the initial post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus (for example, by having Jesus be crucified on some day after the first Easter Sunday). But as I argued in Part 8, if one alters the chronology of the crucifixion, burial, and initial post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus, then one must sacrifice the historical reliability of the details of the Gospel accounts of these events, and doing so would clearly undermine any case for the resurrection of Jesus, making a skeptical view of these events the more reasonable of the alternatives.
In summary, if we suppose (B) to be the case, then that favors a skeptical view of the alleged resurrection of Jesus. If (B) is the case, then the denial of the resurrection is more reasonable and more probable than the affirmation of the resurrection.
The boulder is starting to move. Better stand back, it will go tumbling down the hill soon…
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