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Two Burial Stories in the Gospel of John


First Story – The Roman soldiers disposed of the bodies of the three crucified men. How and where? The text does not say.

Second story – Joseph of Arimathea put the body of Jesus in a tomb that was hewn in the rock.

My study shows that the second story goes back to the Gospel of Mark and was derived from the first one. It has all the features of a pious forgery. Consequently, the empty-tomb story is also pious fiction. The empty-tomb story is important because it shows that the resurrection experience of the disciples was not strictly spiritual but affected the dead body of Jesus.

The resurrection experience of the disciples was real and had a formidable influence on them. But, if it did not affect the dead body of Jesus, it must have been purely subjective. The immediate consequence of this fact is that the Christian faith in the bodily resurrection of Jesus is unsustainable.

There is another passage in the Gospel of John which confirms the fact that the resurrection experience of the disciples was strictly spiritual. This shows that the mystical experience is to itself its own proof and is enough to justify faith. No tangible proofs are needed. This point is confirmed by the study of the mystical experience that was conducted by Michel de Certeau in a book entitled The Mystic Fable.


You can upload a PDF copy of that paper. Just go to the page PDF Files.

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Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment?

As historians, gospel scholars are brainwashed into believing that a story that is attested by all four gospels must be historical. Two stories fall in this category. Jesus’ burial by Joseph of Arimathea and the discovery of the empty tomb. But I have just shown in my paper, Two Burial Stories in the Gospel of John, that those two stories are pious forgeries. Consequently, I can re-open the debate between William Lane Craig and Gerd Lüdemann that had taken place in Boston College, on September 18, 1997. Craig won the debate. He made two points to which Lüdemann had no answers. He argued that the burial story by Joseph of Arimathea is attested by all four gospels, and that there is not another burial story that can be proposed instead. Lüdemann had to agree with Craig that the story of Joseph of Arimathea must be historical. Oddly enough, however, he did not know that there is another burial story in the Gospel of John.

A similar scenario seems to have repeated itself on another occasion that is reported by Lee Strobel in his book, The Case for Christ, Zondervan, 2016, 223-244. He writes,

I had an unusual perspective the first time I saw Bill Craig in action. I was seated behind him as he defended Christianity before a crowd of nearly eight thousand people, with countless others listening on more than one hundred radio stations across the country.

As moderator of a debate between Craig and an atheist selected by the national spokesman for American Atheists, Inc., I marvelled as Craig politely but powerfully built the case for Christianity while simultaneously dismanteling the arguments for atheism. From where I was sitting, I could watch the faces of people as they discovered—many for the first time—that Christianity can stand up to rational analysis and rugged scrutiny.[…] (224-225)

So when I flew down to Atlanta to interview him for this book, I was anxious to see how he’d respond to the challenges concerning the empty tomb of Jesus. (225)

As can be expected, Strobel knew nothing about my paper that was published in 2018. So, he had no way of refuting Craig’s assumptions that there was no other burial story and showing that the burial story by Joseph of Arimathea was forged. On the other hand, most atheists know nothing about the gospel. But I cannot blame them for that. Even gospel scholars such as Gerd Lüdemann don’t know some elementary things about the gospel.

Craig is a good theologian. He knows how to defend his faith. He has two thousand years of knowhow behind him. Unfortunately for him, the Christian faith is based on a naive reading of the gospel. A more advanced reading produces different results.