Two billion Christians believe Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. They believe this because the Gospels say he was resurrected, and because they believe the existence of these Gospels actually proves Jesus was resurrected. However, the existence of these Gospels does not actually prove Jesus was resurrected, because their existence can readily be explained without assuming Jesus was resurrected,
The following argument compares two very similar scenarios. The first scenario is the current orthodox scenario advocated by most biblical scholars. The second scenario is an almost identical scenario advocated by yours truly. Both scenarios produce exactly the same final outcome, but the two slight variations I introduce in my scenario have enormous implications.
C 30 AD Jesus resurrected in Jerusalem
C 36 AD Peter tells Paul about the resurrection [their first meeting]
C 40-65 AD Paul propagates Peter’s claims [1 Corinthians 15: 3-9]
C 70-90 AD Gospel authors immortalise Peter’s claims in their gospels
C 30 AD Jesus not resurrected in Jerusalem
C 36 AD Peter lies to Paul about an alleged resurrection in Jerusalem
C 40-65 AD Paul unknowingly propagates Peter’s lies
C 70-90 AD Gospel authors unknowingly immortalise Peter’s lies in their gospels
So either Jesus was resurrected & Peter didn’t lie to Paul [orthodox scenario] or Jesus wasn’t resurrected & Peter did lie to Paul [alternative scenario]. Both scenarios produce exactly the same final outcome, namely Gospels portraying a resurrection in Jerusalem. In the orthodox scenario the resurrection accounts are based on Peter’s original claims, and in the alternative scenario they are based on Peter’s lies. Because both scenarios produce exactly the same final outcome, and because we have no other information to go on, we cannot now differentiate between these two possible scenarios.
To validate the orthodox scenario &/or to reject the alternative scenario you must either prove Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem or prove Peter didn’t lie to Paul.
Since both scenarios result in exactly the same Gospels, depicting exactly the same resurrection in Jerusalem, the existence of these Gospels does not prove Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem, nor does the existence of these Gospels prove Peter didn’t lie to Paul.
There is no other reliable evidence available to corroborate Peter’s claims. Nor is there any means of substantiating these claims. Therefore the orthodox scenario cannot be validated and the alternative scenario cannot be rejected.
Therefore you cannot prove Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. QED
So now the million dollar question is “Did Peter tell the truth about the Jerusalem resurrection when he & Paul first met?” Unfortunately, we will never know for certain, because the only evidence available is the so called Gospel evidence, & this Gospel evidence is now called into question. Some Christians try to assert that Paul actually validates the resurrection in 1-Corinthians 15: 3-9, but actually, in this citation, Paul is just reiterating what he learned from Peter.
Personally, I’d like my chosen world view to be based on something a little more substantive, than uncorroborated & unsubstantiated claims made 2000 years ago, by an illiterate peasant fisherman from Galilee. In my opinion, given the two possibilities outlined above, it’s far more likely that Peter just lied to Paul about the resurrection in Jerusalem, & Paul then propagated these lies unknowingly. I can’t prove Peter lied of course, anymore than Christians can prove he didn’t lie, but I can think of very plausible reasons why he probably did lie. These reasons are outlined in The Christianity Myth, a very short book explaining how Christianity really started. Click here to read this book free of charge.