RE: Essay about errancy

From: Gough, Joshua <>
Date: Mon Feb 02 2004 - 16:07:36 EST

Hey Dick,

Thank you for the response. Your points about Luke and other things have
been noted. Thank you.


Still, however:


Matthew was written after Mark and Mark does not mention many saints
rising from the dead and being seen by many. He also does not mention an
earthquake at the tomb. Also, Paul was not at the empty tomb, but he
still talks about Jesus, so your argument fails there. Why does he not
talk about many other people who came back from the dead after the
resurrection to bolster his account? If his goal is to persuade others
to believe as he does, then certainly he would use such evidence, or the
Holy Spirit would reveal it to him, would it not? Applying the same
standard of evidence to these accounts, one would logically conclude
that the stories were embellished without any other presuppositions
(such as the Bible being a reliable witness to the divinity of Christ)


As an example, suppose in 30 years someone writes an account of the WTC
atrocity and they say jets full of terrorists flew into them and took
them down. A few days later, it is claimed that a prominent CEO who was
seen dead has come back from the dead to rally his comrades.


Now, suppose some years go by, and another account (almost word for
word) is written about the towers crumbling, but this one says that at
the moment the towers crumbled, many CEOs rose out of the rubble and
then after the prominent CEO rose, they walked around Manhattan and were
seen by many people.


50 days after the prominent CEO ascends to heaven, one of his comrades
gives a speech to give hope and bring people together under this CEO's
name, but he does not mention many CEOs being raised from the dead and
being seen by many people in Manhattan.


By applying a standard of evidence that we would all apply in any field
of reasoning, including evaluating the claims of other religions and
claims of fantastic nature, what is the reasonable thing to conclude? I
would say it is more reasonable to conclude that the writer of the
secondary account has embellished his account to make it sound more


If you would not reach this conclusion, please explain why and how, and
point me to solid reasoning and historical evidence of an incredible
event involving many dead people coming back from the dead in ancient


A variation on the question could be, why does word of these many risen
saints not reach a writer until after the first account is written? Can
it really take decades for news of many risen saints walking around
Jerusalem to make it around town? Also, why does word of the earthquake
at the tomb not reach anyone until after the first account is written.
We're talking about two earthquakes here. It's possible that one might
go unnoticed (at least there was no remembrance of it for many years
after it happens) that shook open one tomb to reveal it empty, but how
reasonable is it to assert that another earthquake that shook open many
tombs out of which came many dead saints who waited around for a while,
and then proceeded to stroll around Jerusalem and be seen by many?
Thomas Paine addressed these things as well in The Age of Reason,


Here's a quote from Ed Babinski's article on the Secular Web:


In this case, many saints were raised and appeared to many. Unlike the
accounts of Jesus raising Lazarus or the synagogue ruler's daughter or
Jesus himself being raised, this depicts saints dead for way over "three
days" being raised. And, from the phrase, "they entered the holy city
and appeared to many," it is possible to infer that these many raised
saints showed themselves to many who were not believers! Yet Josephus,
who wrote a history of Jerusalem both prior to and after her fall, i.e.,
forty years after the death of Jesus, knew of Jesus but nothing of this
raising of many and appearing to many. Of this greatest of all miracles,
not a rumor appears in the works of Josephus or of any other ancient
author. Surely at least one of the many raised out of those many emptied
tombs was still alive just prior to Josephus's time, amazing many. Or at
least many who had seen those many saints were still repeating the tale.
Although people may have doubted that Jesus raised a few people while he
was still alive and although "some doubted" Jesus' own resurrection
(Matt. 28:17 <> ), who could
fail to have been impressed by many risen saints appearing to many? How
also could Peter have neglected to mention them in his Jerusalem speech
a mere fifty days after they "appeared to many in the holy city"? Surely
their appearance must have been foremost on everyone's mind. So why
didn't Paul mention such a thing in his letters, our earliest sources?
Why did the women who visited the "empty tomb" on Sunday morning not
take notice that many other tombs were likewise open? Why didn't the
visitors to Jesus' tomb mention that they had met or seen many raised
saints in that vicinity, meeting them on the way to Jesus' tomb or on
the way back to town? Why did the apostles disbelieve the first reports
of Jesus' resurrection when a mass exit from the tombs had accompanied
his resurrection? Why didn't Matthew know how many raised saints there
were? Why couldn't he name a single one or a single person to whom they
had appeared? How did Matthew know that these saints had come out of
their tombs? That would be more than anyone had seen in the case of
Jesus' resurrection.


Some questions are left unanswered still however:

1. Do demons heal people? (From the false religions)

2. If God uses the Holy Spirit to guide, and truly wants all
mankind to come to redemption through his Son, why does the Holy Spirit
take so long to reveal miraculous account information to human authors?

3. Simply put, is the resurrection of many dead saints seen by many
not a more spectacular event than the resurrection of one man seen by a
dozen or more? (Or, to strip any ties to the story of Christ, suppose a
long lost ancestor came back from the dead and met you at your door.
Now, suppose an entire cemetery rose up and came to meet not just you,
but your whole neighborhood. Which is more spectacular?)

4. Lastly, why is credibility given to the supernatural accounts of
one particular group of people who lived in a time of rampant
superstition over other groups, and why is credibility not given to
groups of today? Indeed, why are supernatural claims made today scoffed
at and ridiculed? If the answer is "the evidence", then, I ask, where is
the evidence for many saints rising from the dead outside of Matthew's
account and if no such evidence exists and such an account is
fallacious, even deliberately deceitful, then why is credibility given
to the rest of his account that differs from its parental Mark source?


I hold by my statements in the original essay:


"Something is just not right there. I assert that it is the very
traditions of men that Jesus himself criticized in the gospel accounts.
As a people, we are unwilling to critically examine our own belief
structures to the point that our examination might ultimately lay waste
to such structures."




-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Dick Fischer
Sent: Monday, February 02, 2004 2:06 PM
Subject: Re: Essay about errancy


Josh Gough wrote:

First, some definitions are in order. Biblical inerrancy is the belief
that the Bible is the inspired word of God. This means that espousers of
Biblical inerrancy believe that the Bible and all of its words in its
original languages were inspired directly by the will of God, the
creator of the universe and sustainer of all life. They hold that this
God worked through the hands and minds of human beings to produce a
document that in its final 66- book canon is without a single error.

A variation is that the original manuscripts were inerrant in the
autographs, but it is acceptable to acknowledge that scribal errors and
errors in translation have occurred over the course of many years.
These errors are well-documented and could be used to refute any claims
of inerrancy that try to go beyond that. An inerrant King James
Version, for example, which is implied by the word "final" is a mistaken
idea that can be easily disproved.

Included in this belief is that the four canonical gospels, Matthew,
Mark, Luke, and John are historical eye-witness accounts that portray
the miraculous birth, earthly mission, crucifixion and atoning death,
resurrection, and heavenly ascension of Jesus of Nazareth. One cannot
escape the pervasive influence of this belief upon the entire western
world in particular, and by extension to the rest of the earth. This
inerrant belief in the gospel accounts means that while each gospel
tells different details about Jesus, that all of these details can be
harmonized into a cohesive and logically flawless document. Again, I
will not attempt to argue whether or not Jesus of Nazareth actually came
back from the dead, but I will call into serious question the
proposition that these four documents are as claimed inerrant historical

Luke was a physician who traveled with Paul. Read the 2nd verse of
Luke, and you will see that he did not claim eyewitness status.


According to Biblical scholars, the book of Mark was written first 1.
Notice how similar the account is in both books. Notice that in Matthew,
there is a line about tombs opening and many saints coming out of these
tombs after Christ's resurrection and then being seen by many in
Jerusalem. After seeing these miracles, the centurion cries out that
this was the Son of God. However, look at Mark's earlier account. It
says that when the centurion saw his cry and saw how he died he said he
was the Son of God. There is no mention of him being terrified. The
words are changed a little bit as well.


Now, first of all, we are told that these accounts are without error and
are completely in harmony with one another. But, the words are not the

And no two manuscripts in existence today, all copies and copies of
copies, are the same.
Received on Mon Feb 2 16:08:48 2004

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