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WAS EARLIEST RESURRECTION ACCOUNT TAMPERED WITH?

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians we have the earliest Christian record of the resurrection appearances and because it is the first it is the first in significance.

“I passed on to you first of all what I also had received that Christ died for our sins in accordance with [what] the scriptures (foretold), that he was buried, that he arose on the third day as the scriptures foretold, and [also] that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve. Then later he showed himself to more than five hundred brethren at one time, the majority of whom are still alive, but some have fallen asleep [in death]. Afterward he was seen by James, then by all the apostles (the special messengers), and last of all he appeared to me” (15:1-8).

I would argue that when the text says that the scriptures foretold that Jesus would rise on day three it shows that the text is different from what was originally written and a forger has been at work. Paul would not have written that in a million years for he knew the three days was never prophesied so somebody who knew little of the Old Testament had been interfering and because of the error the entire early Church came to accept the three day prophecy. Since Paul was trying to combat heretics in Corinth who felt that Jesus had not risen he could not take the risk of seeming to have lied or to have been dense. He knew they would try every word he wrote to breaking point. Another reason day three is dubious is because it is probable that the resurrections of pagan gods Osiris, Attis and Adonis all transpired on the third day (page 40, The Resurrection of Jesus). Paul would not have left himself open to being accused of stealing the story from the heathens.

We do know for a fact that somebody was clumsily adding to and altering what was originally there in this part of Paul’s letter. The original formula ended with Jesus having appeared but no detail was given. On the basis that the vocabulary is not Pauline many believe the passage has been tampered with (page 98, The Resurrection of Jesus). The text contains phrases that were never used by Paul. The language tells against him being the author (Earliest Christianity, G A Wells, Internet Infidels).

Some maintain that Paul would not have written that this information was transmitted to him and include the vision he had for it could not have been a part of it. There might be a grammatical mistake but not necessarily an interference. But we are not sure so we still cannot trust this passage. Fr Raymond Brown’s book, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection, page 82 says this was a blunder and an indication of interference. It probably is when Paul later contends that the resurrection is true for we would all be lost if it never happened which proves he is stuck for evidence. If Paul wrote about the appearances he would have written more for he was using them as support for his gospel. Perhaps he could not use them as evidence except by simply alluding to them for they were unconvincing but still he could have said more and would have for there is no point in using bad arguments for the resurrection when the only way a resurrection could be known to have taken place is if appearances of the risen one have been made.

The gospels do not record the appearances to Peter, James or to the 500+. Let us assume Paul really did record them and it was not a forger at work. Then it is strange for books that were composed to convince people that Jesus had risen to leave the appearances out. Paul’s letters were not confidential. Paul would have said similar things wherever he went for he was obsessed with Jesus’ demise and his startling return from the dead. The first record, Paul’s, comes first so the Gospels were the ones doing the lying. It is also strange that though people could have been familiar with what the apostles were saying about the resurrection, that nothing more is said about the 500+ who they couldn’t have been familiar with. If they had been there would have been little bother getting the people of Corinth to believe in the resurrection which they denied. Paul made it perfectly clear he had no good arguments for the resurrection which says either than the 500+ were fruitcakes and not to be relied on very much or that they were not mentioned in the original letter. The latter is more likely.

If Paul mentioned a vision to Peter as evidence then there is a serious problem for Peter was an uneducated and overemotional man who lied about his relation to Jesus the night Jesus was on trial three times though all he had to do was lie once and then leave the company who accused him of being Jesus’ follower. In fact, he should not have been with those people in the first place when he was afraid they would realise he had been Jesus’ friend. It is strange that when Jesus was supposed to be so popular in Jerusalem that the company did not recognise Peter sooner and took him to be a disciple only because of his accent – reason says Peter was not a close follower of Jesus at all. Paul would not have dared present this man as evidence when the Corinthian Christians who had come to scoff the resurrection of Jesus would have had a field day with it.

The brevity with which Paul spells out the evidence for the resurrection shows that he could not do any more to refute the heretics. He made no attempt to prove that the witnesses had not hallucinated the visions or that they were not lying about what they saw even though the critics would have been accusing them of one of these. The brevity indicates that if Paul wrote the record then the evidence for the resurrection was appalling and that if he didn’t then the brevity proves that he was not the author for the real Paul would have written more. If it is not real then it indicates that what was there originally was known to be lies and had to be removed or if nothing was removed then the evidences listed were shorter than the evidences in the current version which makes it look completely feeble. Christians say that Corinth was too familiar with the evidence to need details spelled out. This is pure speculation. It contradicts the fact that Paul was desperate to convince them. Speculation is no good and then as now the vast majority of Christians would have made no effort to learn all they could about what God has said.

Paul told the Corinthians who did not believe in the resurrection that the testimony that Jesus rose must be true for the dead are lost if he did not. This weak argument says that the testimony was unconvincing so there was no evidence. He said also that he used no clever arguments for his gospel which suggests there were none. Despite what evangelical apologists say, Paul never says or indicates that he mentioned the five hundred for the sake of anybody who wished to check them out. People say X, Y and Z saw this and that all the time and wouldn’t like you going to see them and interrogate them.

Paul uses the word opthe for appeared in 1 Corinthians 15:3-9 in reference to the appearances of Jesus. This is the same word used for the tongues of fire that appeared in Acts 2:3 showing that the visions might not have been of a material Jesus. Opthe even refers to the man appearing to Paul in a dream (Acts 16:9).
  
In 1 Corinthians 9 he says that he saw Jesus the Lord and that if he is not an apostle to others he is to them for they are the good fruits of his ministry. He is saying then that the evidence that he was telling the truth about Jesus was in the converts God gave him. He believed that the Holy Spirit not him was the one that made people respond to his message. He then argued that his reluctance to live off his ministry proved his sincerity. All false prophets have argued that the good fruits that followed them prove they are God’s men – and considering that Paul did not combat slavery and told married men to live as if they had no wives the good fruits would not have been very impressive. What about the bad fruits we are not told about? The good fruits of the Mormon Church are to be plainly seen but still they were founded by a false and untruthful though good-natured prophet. Plus Paul shows he did not know that Jesus said that the man who hides his good works and is found out by accident is the real good man not the one that broadcasts his virtues. Paul is trying to centre his religion on his own merits which shows there was nothing else to base it on. There was nothing only visions and the testimony of the witnesses to these visions and the merits of the witnesses to go on. The other apostles regarded Paul as a fake for he could have said they were real prophets and testified that he was a true prophet too. That would have been better than trying to come across as bleached Boy Scout. He said that he loved the Corinthians and would never take anything from them and was happy to milk money out of other Churches and boasted that he gave the Corinthians the gospel without cost (2 Corinthians 11:5, 7-12). Not much to boast about after all! He said he boasted that he did not take money from the Corinthians to show up the rival apostles who charged. He was cheating. He offered a fabrication as evidence for having seen the risen Jesus! And an obvious one at that! It is no wonder that we read in 2 Timothy 1:15 that everybody in Asia turned away from him and then we find that they turned away from him but not Jesus for the author of the Revelation wrote a nice letter blessing the Christians in Asia. As with the rest of the apostles (Acts 5), it is plain that there was money to be made from the Jesus story. It was easier for them all to preach and live by it than to work as fishermen and tentmakers so they had a reason to lie about Jesus rising. Like all Christian leaders, when the apostles asked for money they were saying, “Give us money because Jesus rose from the dead so that the message will be known.” I have no hesitation in accusing them then of religious theft for there are millions of evidences that they have no right to centre in on the resurrection of Jesus. One would need immeasurable knowledge of the world and its other gods and miracles to be able to say that this one was the credible sign from God. The dishonesty is disturbing and even seeing Jesus risen cannot do one thing to alleviate it.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul lies through his teeth and proves that his evidence for the resurrection and his reporting of other people’s evidence cannot be trusted. First he says he will boast about a man who had many visions and revelations fourteen years before but he will not boast about himself. Then he indicates that he is the man that had these experiences so he totally contradicts himself. Then he boasts again that he will not boast and then he says that if he boasted about his visions it would not be folly for he would only be speaking the truth! In other words, he boasted. That is a boast. He was trying to unduly impress the naïve with his alleged humility to get them to trust him and his alleged revelations – this was the man who had the nerve to take money from them which makes him no better than a thief! He was a shady character. Paul boasted of his weaknesses one of which was being persecuted - that is an example of the very type of boasting he stated was morally wrong and which he condemned rival apostles for. He also claimed that the Lord had succeeded in preventing him being too proud about the revelations he got by sending him an angel of Satan to persecute him. Didn’t know that Satan and Jesus were such great pals! Satan would soon give up if he saw he was doing Paul and God a favour unless is Paul is hinting that the Lord Jesus and Paul and co were all into the black arts. Worse Paul said that the Lord Jesus told him in a vision that the demonic angel was helping him which means that his visions of Jesus were not reliable for they gave false information. Then the weirdo crowns the whole farcical piece of writing by stating again that he boasts in his weaknesses for they make him so holy and close to God! If that boasting is not wrong then no boasting is wrong. He had little concern as well for children who were being sexually abused by Christian ministers when he stated that the law God gave Moses was still to be kept which stated that at least two independent witnesses are needed to establish a judicial fact (2 Corinthians 13:1). Of necessity, cases like that can’t have two witnesses who can testify legally and validly. Would you trust the vision stories of a man like that who taught crap? The apostles were no better for they were happy enough with his mission as a missionary. So all their visions were unreliable. Their visions then have nothing to do with helping us believe that Jesus rose for that is totally out of their element.

Paul declared that his rivals in religion, the false apostles, were like the devil in disguising themselves as ministers of God (1 Corinthians 11:14-15). He says their end will match their deeds. He means here that their true colours will not be seen except in the way they will die. They probably said the same about him. He wanted people to take his word for it that he was telling the truth which was hardly a fair approach. All the Corinthians could do was hear all the sides and make up their own minds which Paul was set against. His action was not about Jesus but about power.

If these rivals were the Jerusalem apostles as some surmise, then Paul probably did not mention the appearances to Peter and James at all as evidence for the existence of Jesus. It would mean a forger did.

The earliest attempt to convince people the resurrection happened, namely what is in 1 Corinthians 15, was a desperate one. Yet it never employed the allegedly empty tomb as evidence. It would have had the tomb had anything to do with proving the resurrection. This silence proves that there was no tomb found empty or at least it makes it extremely probable that Jesus’ tomb was not found deprived of his body.

The Book of Acts hints that faith in the resurrection of Jesus was entirely based on mystical experiences and not on historical events. Paul was on trial for his faith for the resurrection of Jesus and other “facts” concerning him before King Agrippa, Festus and Felix and never told these men that the records they had could prove that Jesus really did rise from the dead. By drawing attention to the records he could have saved himself. None of the apostles were there either to help him testify for himself. The reason was there was no point. But luckily for Paul he managed to get off but without convincing them that Jesus rose.

Lapide is a Jew who believes Jesus was a Jewish saint who really rose from the dead. As a Jew, he does not believe Jesus was the Messiah or claimed to be. Christians like to mention his book on the resurrection. The details of the book are, The Resurrection of Jesus, Pinchas Lapide, SPCK, London, 1984. They say it shows that even objective unbelievers in Christianity can find the evidence for the resurrection persuasive!

The book says on page 38 to 40 that the empty tomb of Jesus made it harder for some people to believe that he rose and that even those who saw the visions of Jesus risen had problems believing in the resurrection. This is bizarre logic. A body disappearing and transforming into an immortal and supernatural body would help you believe. If it doesn't the problem is in you. If you think the body vanishing makes it harder for you to believe the truth is that the problem is in you and nothing else. An empty tomb can never be to blame.
Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 gives a brief overview of how Jesus rose on the third day and appeared to Peter and then to the twelve and to five hundred plus and then finally to Paul. The Christians argue that this appeared quite quickly after the event and so indicates that the resurrection was not legend for there wasn't enough time for such a big legend to develop.

In the Lapide book page 98 to 99, we read evidence that the account of the Resurrection appearances in 1 Corinthians 15 is not authentically the work of Paul,

# Vocabulary sentence structure, and diction are clearly un-Pauline.
# The parallelism of the three individual statements is biblically formulated.
# The threefold “and that” characterises the Aramaic and Mishanic Hebrew way of narration.
# The “diuvien passive” of “being raised” paraphrases God’s action of salvation in order not to mention God, in accordance with the Jewish fear of the name.
# The Aramaic form of the name “Cephas”, not Simon, as Luke gives it in the parallel passage 24.34 sounds more original.
# The double reference “in accordance with the scriptures” supports twice in three lines both the death and the resurrection of Jesus- as it probably corresponds with the faithfulness of the early church to the Hebrew Bible.
# “The twelve” as a closed group of the first witnesses includes also Judas - this both agrees with the consciousness Jesus had that his men were to be all of Israel - and it consists of twelve tribes - and contradicts the supposed suicide of the apostate apostle Judas (Matt. 27.5).
# Finally, the statement, which in its basic features is repeated almost in all later reports of the resurrection, narrates the course of four events which were understood as salvation bearing: He died for our sins … was buried … was raised … and appeared …”

On page 100, Lapide remarks that nowhere in the earliest accounts is the resurrection event designated as a miracle. He says this “testifies to an honesty which makes the exaggerated miraculous of the post-canonical authors even more questionable”. That is nonsense. Lots of accounts of miracles only encourage us to see the supernatural at work in them but do not explicitly mention the supernatural. For example, in the Lourdes apparition accounts we don't expect to read of Bernadette say, "I experienced the miraculous vision." She just tells us stuff that is interpreted as supernatural.

On page 113 Lapide states that when we read that Jesus was to appear in Galilee in the Mark gospel that this was possibly a mistranslation. He thinks that the words for region or environs which are Galil and Galilah were mistranslated Galilee. The only grounds for belief in a mistake is that no other account says Jesus appeared or was to appear in Galilee. Mark fits the other gospels better if we have Jesus appearing in Galilia meaning the environs of Jerusalem.

Mark would fit the gospels anyway. They do not deny anything in the Mark gospel.

There is evidence then that Christians cannot use the account given by Paul as evidence that the resurrection details appeared early and were perhaps known from the start. And the reason is that the details may not be authentically Pauline.