This is an email exchange between myself and a atheist that I consider a good friend. I had been answering his questions in email form for some time. He gave me the opportunity to reverse the process and ask him something and this is how it went. It was an email exchange that I will try to put in the form of a post and comments.
I don’t understand how people explain away the empty tomb and the gospel stories. I’ll try to keep this short.
Obviously the tomb was empty or the Jews and Romans would have simply produced the body of Jesus and Christianity dies immediately. So then you have to think the apostles stole the body and made everything else up, but that doesn’t work at all. I’m certain the gospel writers believed what they wrote for the following reasons:
1. Women are treated with prominence in all the gospels and in that society at that time no one constructing a lie would have done that. Women at the time weren’t allowed to testify in court, couldn’t own property etc. etc. But in the Gospels Mary, Mary Magdelon, and others are credited with serving Jesus faithfully, being among the first to believe, the first to receive the Holy Spirit and the first that the risen Jesus appeared to. No novel writer at the time who wanted others to believe and respect him would have made that up.
2. I’m sure you’ve heard this, but the writers died for what they wrote, as did most of the other apostles. They could be wrong, but not lying. People die for false things they believe are true, but people don’t die for what they know is false.
3. The 4 gospels have discrepancies (not contradictions). Most scholars think the writers all had access to Mark’s writings. Liars would have been careful to keep their stories exactly straight, especially if they knew what the other person had already wrote. That isn’t the case with these four. They readily write things that appear to tell stories differently. They obviously were more concerned about writing the truth as they knew it, not keeping the lie going.
I actually think it is far easier to believe in a tea pot orbiting the earth than to believe the gospel writers were lying. They could be mistaken, but they fervently believed what they wrote.
So if the tomb was empty, and gospel writers at least believed what they wrote, how they heck do you explain the situation other than the resurrection?