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The Legend of Five Hundred Witnesses

 By Abdullah Kareem

Christians prefer to read the epistles of Paul, the Evangelists who preach the falsehood of Christianity quote Paul and not Jesus. A very popular verse quoted by the sexual sinners is 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 where Paul says five-hundred people saw Jesus after his resurrection.

And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. (The King James Version)

Yet the Gospels never record the legend. Paul, the earliest Christian writer, never mentions the ‘empty tomb’. How do you explain that? Christianity is based on the crucifixion of Jesus, which never occurred. [1]

“…Then Paul went on to refer to an appearance by Jesus to five hundred brethren at once, adding his comment that "most are still alive, though some have fallen asleep." Who were the five hundred brethren? What happened to this tradition? It was not picked up and described in any recognizable form in any of the later Gospels. There have been attempts to identify Luke's story of Pentecost with this Pauline reference, but no consensus has been reached. It is possible that there was a common link between this note of an appearance to five hundred and Pentecost, though a considerable journey must be made before an event that has a risen body form can be identified with one that has a Holy Spirit form. It is enough now to acknowledge that Paul's reference to Jesus' appearance to five hundred people at once is found nowhere in the Gospel tradition. (John Shelby Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality? p. 52)

The earliest documents of the New Testament are the epistles of Paul.  

The first thing we need to force into our minds is that when Paul wrote these words, there were no such things as written Gospels.  This means that the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection so familiar to us, as told by these Gospel writers, were by and large unknown to Paul and to Paul’s readers (Resurrection: Myth or Reality?, p. 48)  

There are many conflicting versions of the crucifixion!   

“The Christians have dozens of different versions, rather than one universally agreed view, regarding the crucifixion of the Messiah. This in itself is an eloquent testimony that the Christians were doubtful about the actual event. Some of them held the view that the one who was crucified was someone other than Jesus and that Jesus himself in fact remained standing somewhere nearby, laughing at their folly… Had the truth been fully known and well-established so many divergent views could not have gained currency”. (Abul Ala Mawdudi, Towards Understanding the Quran, Vol 2, p. 108) 

“Actually, the fact that we have four gospels lies at the very heart of our problem. Because we read particular parables or sayings or stories in several different versions, we can't miss the disagreements between them" (John Dominic Crossan, Who is Jesus, p. 3) 

If Paul is the first writer, he must be relaying the earliest tradition, yet the Gospels, written many decades later, record an entirely different story! 

The most striking feature of the early documents is that they do not set Jesus’ life in a specific historical situation. There is no Galilean ministry, and there are no parables, no miracles, no Passion in Jerusalem, no indication of time, place of attendant circumstances at all. The words Calvary, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Galilee never appear in the early epistles, and the word Jerusalem is never used there in connection with Jesus (Doherty, pp. 68, 73). Instead, Jesus figures as a basically supernatural personage who took the “likeness” of man, “emptied” then of his supernatural powers Phil 2:7. (G.A. Wells, Can We Trust the New Testament? p. 3)  

The gospels included in the New Testament (NT) are widely agreed to have been written between A.D. 70 and 100. In these four gospels, it is claimed that Jesus taught in Galilee in the opening decades of the first century, worked miracles there, or what at an y rate were taken for miracles, and died in Jerusalem at the behest of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. And yet, as I have reiterated in The Jesus Legend (1996) and The Jesus Myth (1999), none of these things are claimed, or even mentioned, in the earliest surviving Christian documents. In other words, none of these supposed historical events are touched upon in extant Christian documents which are either earlier than the gospels or early enough to have been written independently of them (that is, before those gospels or the traditions underlying them had become generally known in Christian circles). (ibid, p. 1) 

Paul says Jesus was crucified, yet later confesses that Jesus was not real:

In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ. Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. (Ephesians 3:4) 

Jesus was a spiritual conception, not a real person:

Paul’s reasoning had two major consequences. It not only resulted in further changes being made to what Jesus had taught, but also prepared the way for completely changing people’s ideas of who Jesus was. He was being transformed from a man to a conception in people’s minds. (Muhammad Ataur-Raheem, Jesus Prophet of Islam, p. 70)

The Pauline Christology has only minimally to do with the actual historical Jesus. Hence, the faith in Christ as held by primitive preaching led by Paul was something new in comparison with the preaching of Jesus, it was a new type of religion based god-man of Pagan Religion. (Al Haj A.D. Ajijola, The Hijacking of Christianity, p. 4) 

The apostles did not believe Jesus was resurrected:

When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.  (Mark 16:11-14)

Jesus never foretold his crucifixion that is why the apostles did not believe.  

They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. (Mark 9:30-32)  

Leaving there, they went through Galilee. He didn't want anyone to know their whereabouts, for he wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, "The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive." They didn't know what he was talking about, but were afraid to ask him about it. (The Message Bible

Jesus never prophesied his resurrection: 

Jesus could not have foreseen his rejection, death, and resurrection, as the idea of a suffering, dying, and rising Messiah or son of Man was unknown to Judaism. (Israel Knohl, The Messiah before Jesus, The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 2) 

“…The Gospels, however, were religious dramas used for worship and as a form of evangelism. They were meant not to impart history but to buttress and convey belief. The editor of John’s Gospel (the least historical of them all) boldly and honestly states his aims in the text itself when he says, “But these things are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah”. The goal is to establish the faithful and to create new converts, not to create an authentic biography. (Tom Harper, The Pagan Christ, p. 126)  

As a Christian literary genre, a gospel is a brief, popular writing in the language of the common people that probably arose outside Palestine in Gentile regions. Its purpose was as propaganda for the early Christian movement. Gospels contain reminiscences of Jesus and his ministry; but their use was to be evangelistic, and their interest was religious, not strictly historical or biographical in the modern sense of those terms. The aim of gospels, as John 20:31 asserts, is to evoke and strengthen faith in Jesus the Christ: “these are written as that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name”. Certainly the center of a gospel is Jesus of Nazareth, but its primary concern is not facts about him but faith in him.  

The gospels were written by people more interested in a living Lord present in their midst than in Jesus the historical man from Nazareth. Many scholars now hold that much of what is placed on the lips of Jesus in the Gospels was put there by Gospel writers (just as the writers of Hellenistic history placed speeches on the lips of famous persons). It is really the understanding that Gospels are faith documents that has led to what is called the “quest for the historical Jesus”. (Bonnie Thurston, Women in the New Testament, p. 63) 

The New Testament contains unreliable surmises…Let me cite one fairly typical and significant example, from the opening page of the first chapter of Norman Perrin’s important and influential book, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus. Perrin gives his reasons why teaching ascribed to Jesus is likely to be rather a teaching that stems from the early Church, not from Jesus himself. I quote the first three reasons, “The early Church made no attempt to distinguish between the words the earthly Jesus had spoken and those spoken by the risen Lord through a prophet in the community…” “The early Church absolutely and completely identified the risen Lord of her experience with the earthly Jesus of Nazareth…” “Further, the gospel form was created to serve the purposes of the early Church, but historical reminiscence was not one of those purposes”. (John C. Meagher, The Five Gospels, 1989, p. 9)  

The sayings of Jesus are not authentic.

Only 16% of all events whereby Jesus was the principal actor are historically accurate and only 18% of the Jesus sayings—primarily parables and aphorisms- are historically accurate [1]  

Some of the events in the early mission of Jesus] were not strictly true but were added to the story of Jesus by the early Christians to express their faith in him as a Messiah."  [London Daily Mail, page 12, 15/July/1984]  

“It is difficult to know whether the words or sayings attributed to Jesus are written exactly as he spoke them.  (St. Joseph Medium Size Edition, p.23) 

The Gospels say Jesus was not ‘resurrected’.  

It is of interest to note that when the tomb was visited on Sunday morning each of the gospels describes Jesus as ‘risen’, which is hardly surprising given the fact that cold rock slabs, unlike warm, wave suppressed waterbeds, don’t exactly invite a person to sleep in. What is missing from the Bible, however, is the statement that Jesus was resurrected. Jesus is reported to have said, “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father” (John 16:28). But where does Jesus say he would die and be resurrected in the process? The word ‘resurrected’ is nowhere to be found. ‘Risen from the dead’ is mentioned a handful of times, but never from the lips of Jesus himself. (Lawrence Brown, The First and Final Commandment, p. 211) 

Jesus is recorded to have said:  

"Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." (Mark 1:38)  

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. (John 17:3-5) 

Why did Jesus say “I have completed my mission” before he was even arrested? Why didn’t he say these words after the crucifixion? This means the crucifixion was not his purpose (Luke 19:10, Matthew 18:11). 

 Here is what scholar Mack Burton says:

There is no reference to Jesus’ death as a crucifixion in the pre-Markan Jesus material (Who Wrote the New Testament? p. 87)  

The Gospel of Mark was written very late, the crucifixion story did not exist before its composition. 

"The Four Gospels were unknown to the early Christian Fathers. Justin Martyr, the most eminent of the early Fathers, wrote about the middle of the second century. His writings in proof of the divinity of Christ demanded the use of these Gospels had they existed in his time. He makes more than 300 quotations from the books of the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from the Apocryphal books of the New Testament; but none from the four Gospels. (Tim C. Leedom, The Book Your Church Doesn’t Want You to Read) [1]

 The first substantial physical evidence for the four Gospels comes from near the end of the second century CE, about 170 years after Jesus’ demise.” (Tom Harper, The Pagan Christ, p. 139)





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