The assertion of divinity the resurrection and the development of Christology
* J. P. Holding, in The Assertion of Godhood, writes:
Craig [Craig.ApIn, 160] reports:
Studies by New Testament scholars such as Martin Hengel of Tubingen University, C. F. D. Moule of Cambridge, and others have proved that within twenty years of the crucifixion a full-blown Christology proclaiming Jesus as God incarnate existed.
How does one explain this worship by monotheistic Jews of one of their countrymen as God incarnate, apart from the claims of Jesus himself?
The oldest liturgical prayer recorded, in 1 Corinthians 16:22, is dated at around 55 A.D. It refers to Jesus as Lord. So does the earliest sermon and the earliest account of martyrdom. The authors of the NT epistles, including and especially Paul, even in his undisputed letters, use the language of divine Wisdom with reference to Jesus.
The earliest pagan report of the church's activities indicates that Jesus was worshipped as Lord. Paul's letters, written between 49 and 65 A.D., exhibit the same fully-evolved Christology; logically, he must have gotten it from sometime earlier than 49 A.D.
Paul cites creeds, hymns and sayings of Jesus that must have come from earlier (Rom. 1:3-4; 1 Cor. 11:23; Col. 1:15-16; Phil. 2:6-11; 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:8); these items translate easily into Aramaic and show features of Hebrew poetry and thought-forms, which allows us to trace their origins to Jesus' first followers in Judea, between 33 and 48 A.D. [More.ScCy, 161-5]
[T]he concept of Jesus as divine quite definitely existed within, at the very least, a decade of the crucifixion, and therefore, was likely to have been asserted before His death by Jesus Himself, as is recorded in the Gospels. Similarly, O'Collins observes [OColl.Ch, 24-5]:
The oldest Christian document shows us Paul repeatedly calling Jesus 'Christ' in a way that suggests that, within twenty years of Jesus' death and resurrection, this comprehensive title for Jesus' identity and powers was simply taken for granted by Paul and his readers, had practically lost its original significance, and was almost his second (personal) name (1 Thess. 1:1, 3; 5:23, 28).
In a notable pre-Pauline formulation, which also goes back to the earliest years of Christianity, 'Christ' seems already to have lost much of its titular significance (or messianic expectations) and to be functioning largely as an alternative name for Jesus (1 Cor. 15:3). In his letters Paul uses 'Christ' 270 times but never considers it necessary to argue explicitly that Jesus is 'the Christ' whom Israel expected.
Moreover, as Charlesworth notes, if the church had invented Jesus' claims to divinity, they certainly "would have been more explicit" than they are in their present form. [Wilk.JUF, 26]
Such a reaction begs a historical explanation, and thus we have every reason to believe that Jesus did claim something very unique about Himself and His relationship to God, to the point of identifying Himself with divinity ...
A parallel movement, that acclaimed Jesus as merely a good teacher, would have emerged alongside Christianity. To be sure, there are those such as Burton L. Mack, author of The Lost Gospel, who would have us believe that a such a movement did exist; but conveniently enough, he tells us, it came and went too quickly to leave behind any concrete physical evidence for us to know what happened to them!
As it is, there are no extant texts from the first century, or even from the century thereafter, that represent Jesus as claiming to be only human or only a prophet--He is always portrayed as making exalted claims to a super-human status.
Later heresies of the church, such as Gnosticism, involved paganistic and/or mystical additions upon what Jesus meant in the Gospels when He claimed to be God; they never denied that He made any special claims about Himself
The earliest known pagan critic of Christianity to address the issue, Celsus, argued that Jesus did apply the title "Son of God" to Himself, but wrongly [Wilk.ChrRom, 109]; only much later did those critics deny that Jesus made such claims.
Brow.JesGM Brown, Raymond E. Jesus: God and Man. New York: Macmillan, 1967.
Bruc.JLS Bruce, F. F. Jesus, Lord and Savior. Downers Grove: IVP, 1986.
Case.SOM Casey, Maurice. Son of Man: The Interpretation and Influence of Daniel 7. London: SPCK, 1979.
Chars.DSS Charlesworth, James H. Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Chars.JesJud Charlesworth, James H. Jesus Within Judaism. New York: Doubleday, 1988.
Chars.JDSS Charlesworth, James H. John and the Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: Crossroad, 1991.
Crai.ApIn Craig, William Lane. Apologetics: An Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press, 1984.
Cross.MedP Crossan, John D. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. San Francisco: Harper, 1991.
Cross.RevB Crossan, John D. Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. San Francisco: Harper, 1994.
Cull.CNT Cullmann, Oscar. The Christology of the New Testament. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1959.
deJ.CC de Jonge, Marinus. Christology in Context. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1988.
Dunn.CM Dunn, James G. D. Christology in the Making. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989.
Fluss.JS Flusser, David. Jewish Sources in Early Christianity. New York: Adama, 1987.
Fred.GI Fredriksen, Paula. From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of New Testament Images of Jesus. New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1988.
Full.FNC Fuller, Reginald. The Foundations of New Testament Christology. New York: Charles Scribners' Sons, 1965.
Hare.SOM Hare, Douglas R. A. The Son of Man Tradition. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990.
Harr.3Cruc Harris, Murray. 3 Crucial Questions About Jesus. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994.
Hick.MyG Hick, John, ed. The Myth of God Incarnate. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1977.
Jerem.NTT Jeremias, Joachim. New Testament Theology. New York: Charles Scribners' Sons, 1971.
Kasp.JC Kaspar, Walter. Jesus the Christ. New York: Paulist Press, 1976.
Lind.SOM Lindars, Barnabas. Jesus Son of Man. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983.
Mack.Q Mack, Burton L. The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q. San Francisco: Harper, 1993.
JPM.ScCy Moreland, J. P. Scaling the Secular City. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987.
Moul.OC Moule, C.F.D. The Origins of Christology. Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press, 1977.
OColl.Ch O'Collins, Gerald. Christology. Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 1995.
Oni.WhoD O'Neill, J. C. Who Did Jesus Think He Was? London: E. J. Brill, 1995.
Sand.HistF Sanders, E.P. The Historical Figure of Jesus. New York: Penguin Press, 1993.
San.JesJud Sanders, E.P. Jesus and Judaism. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985.
Schnack.BC Schnackenburg, Rudolf. Jesus in the Gospels: A Biblical Christology. Louisville: Westminster, 1995.
Schoe.PP Schonfield, Hugh. The Passover Plot. Shaftesbury: Element, 1965.
Todt.SOM Todt, H. E. The Son of Man in the Synoptic Tradition. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1965.
Verm.JJ Vermes, Geza. Jesus the Jew. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1973.
Rom Wilken, Robert. The Christians as the Romans Saw Them. New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1984.
Wilk.JUF Wilkins, Michael and J. P. Moreland, eds. Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.
With.JQ Witherington, Ben. The Jesus Quest. Downers Grove: IVP, 1995.
Youn.JesJT Young, Brad H. Jesus the Jewish Theologian. Peabody, MA; Hendrickson Publishers, 1995.
Early Christians asserting divinity
Marcellino D’Ambrosio, in The Divinity of Christ, lists assertions of claims for the divinity of Christ by ante-Nicene figures:
Ignatius of Antioch, (ca. 115 AD), on the Divinity of Christ, calls Jesus God 16x in 7 letters (ca. 110 [AD1]. “Jesus Christ our God” Eph inscr, Eph 15:3, Eph 18:2, Tral 7, Ro inscr 2x, Ro 3:3, Smyr 10:1.
1. He speaks of Christ’s blood as “God's blood” Eph 1:1
2. He calls Jesus “God incarnate” Eph7:2
3. In Jesus “God was revealing himself as a man” Eph 19:3
He exhorts the Christians at Magnesia to stand firm "in faith and love, in Son, Father, and Spirit." (Mag 13)
Note: Ignatius was a disciple of John the Apostle. He wrote letters to many churches, and died either 107 or 116 A.D. under Emperor Trajan.
Epistle to Diognetus (ca. 125 AD), speaking of God the Father, he says:
1. Diognetus 7:2 "he sent the Designer and Maker of the universe himself, by whom he created the heavens and confined the sea within its own bounds" (ca. 125 AD)
2. Diognetus 7:4 “He sent him as God; he sent him as man to men."
Melito of Sardis on Christ's Divinity (d. ca. 190), On the Pasch (Peri Pascha).
1. Translation in Lucien Deiss, ed., Springtime of the Liturgy College-Peri Pascha was only discovered in 1940 and published in 1960.
He says Christ "rises from the dead as God, being by nature both God and man" (p. 100 in Deiss, physei Theos n kai anthropos). He also has an anti-Gnostic insistence on Christ's true humanity.
Justin Martyr on the Divinity of Christ (c. 155 AD)
1. says that Christians adore and worship the Son as well as the Father. 1st Apology 6.
2. says Christ, the Word incarnate, is divine 1 Apol 10 & 63
Note: Justin Martyr was a Greek philosopher who was born either 110 or 114 A.D. He converted between around 138 to 150 A.D.. He wrote a defense of Christianity and a Dialogue with Trypho the Jew where he talks of Jesus being God. The Chronicon Paschale tells us he was martyred for his faith in 165 A.D.
Polycarp was a Christian martyr and disciple of Ignatius who spoke of Christ. He died c.163 A.D.
Theophilus, bishop of Antioch was the first writer we know of to use the term "Trinity". He wrote between 168 and 181/188 A.D.
Irenaeus on Christ's Divinity (ca. 185) in his work Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies)
1. Of Jesus he says "He is the holy Lord, the Wonderful, the Counselor, the Beautiful in appearance, and the Mighty God, coming on the clouds as the Judge of all men; --all these things did the Scriptures prophesy of Him." AH III.19.2 (Ante Nicene Fathers 1: 449).
2. "He, therefore who was known, was not a different being from Him who declared, 'No man knoweth the Father,'but one and the same, the Father making all things subject to Him; while He received testimony from all that He was very [true] man, and that He was very [true] God, from the Father, from the Spirit, from angels, from the creation itself, from men, from apostate spirits and demons, from the enemy, and last of all, from death itself." AH, IV, 6,7 (ANF, 469).
Note: Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon (in France), was a disciple of Polycarp, and a martyr who lived from 120/140-202 A.D. He wrote a long work against heresies of this time. The Didache (or Constitutions of the Holy Apostles) was an anonymous church manual, written about 150 A.D., though it could be as early as 120 A.D.
Tertullian on the Divinity of Christ (ca. 200)
1. The first use of the Latin word trinitas with reference to God is in Adversus Praxean and De pudicitia. The first to use the term persona in a Trinitarian & christological context asserting in Adv. Praxean 12 that the Logos is distinct from the Father as person and that the HS is the "third person" in the Trinity."
2. Adv. Praxean 27 states that there are two natures, one human and one divine, which are joined in the one person Jesus Christ.
3. In his Apology 21, speaking of the Word, he says, “we have been taught that he proceeds forth from God, and in that procession He is generated; so that He is the Son of God, and is called God from unity of substance with God. . . . Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled. . . . That which has come forth out of God is at once God and the Son of God, and the two are one. In this way also, as He is Spirit of Spirit and God of God, He is make a second in manner of existence--in position, not in nature. . . .in His birth God and man united.”
4. In On the Flesh of Christ 5, he asks, “Was not God really crucified?”
Clement of Alexandria on Christ's Divinity (ca. 210 AD)
1. Exhortation to the Heathen, 1: “This Word, then, the Christ, the cause of both our being at first (for He was in God) ad of our well-being, this very Word has now appeared as man, He alone being both, both God and man--that Author of all blessings to us. . . . This is the New Song, the manifestation of the Word that was in the beginning, and before the beginning.”
Didache (ca. 125 AD)
"then baptize in running water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Early Christian Fathers, p. 7)
Pope Dionysius to Dionysius of Alexandria, [262 AD]
He uses the term Trinity and describes the unity of the three persons to prove that they are not three gods. Neunier-Dupuis, The Christian Faith, #301-303.
Origen (ca 230 AD), On First Principles 1.6.2
“For in the Trinity alone, which is the author of all things, does goodness exist in virtue of essential being; while others possess it as an accidental and perishable quality, and only then enjoy blessedness, when they participate in holiness and wisdom, and in divinity itself.”
The siblings of Jesus [just for interest’s sake]
"Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?" [Matthew 13:55]
"Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children." [Matthew 27:56]
"Is not this the carpenter, the Son of Mary, the Brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him." [Mark 6:3]
"There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;" [Mark 15:40]
"And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the Mother of James, and Salome, had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him." [Mark 16:1]
"Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
And knew her not Until she had brought forth her firstborn Son: and he called His name, Jesus!" [Matthew 1:24-25]
The brothers names were, James, Joses, Simon and Judas, and one of the sister's names was Salome. We are unaware of the name of the other.
Arguments about the death and Resurrection
Details of the death and resurrection of Jesus are described in the following Gospel passages, presented here, not as evidence but as a navigation tool for quick reference:
Mark 15:33 to 16:8 (Verses 16:9 to 16:20 are possibly a later forgery inserted by an unknown author long after the original book was written)
Matthew 27:52 to 28:20
Luke 23:44 to 24:12
John 19:29 to 20:18
1. This is the cornerstone of Christianity and the only sure affirmation of the correctness of faith in the second and third persons of the trinity.
In this article, the analogy is used that you cannot see the proof until you ‘first buy the ticket’. The analogy can be extended to include a carnival sideshow – you’re not going to see the half man/half woman until you ‘pays yer money’ and go inside.
The vast majority reading this have either not bought the ticket or have paid only lip service and are therefore not on the inside. I am on the inside by virtue of my commitment. The whole of this series of articles is therefore rendered pointless, if we are not arguing from the same set of premises ... as indeed most of us are not.
Many will strongly dislike such a smug, elitist, patronizing attitude but it is largely irrelevant, in the context of this issue, what either you or I like or dislike. It doesn’t provide proof one way or the other.
There are similarities in arguing whether Macintoshes are good computers or not. Mac users say one thing, PC users say another. Mac users were probably PC users before but few PC devotees were Mac users before. PC users are arguing from their intuition, talking of flexibility and add-ons while the Mac user speaks of elegance and the sheer joy of the operating system.
In short, as before, there is no viable argument – they are at cross-purposes.
If you demand that I show ‘proof’ that the resurrection was true, I can do just that for you, no problems – buy the ticket, be fully committed, nothing lacking and the proof shall be given. There are any number of sites around which will show you how to make that purchase.
Not wishing to do this, the naturalist rationalist refuses to accept these terms and yet again demands ‘scientific proof’.
The Christian turns round and asks for the rationalist to explain the human spirit, in scientific terms.
The rationalsit responds with talk of synapses and so on but confuses the route with the substance and flatly refuses to concede that the metaphysical can be a proof, which brings us right back to Hume et al.
The Christian then turns round and asks the naturalist rationalist to disprove the resurrection, according to his ‘scientific methodology’. If the NR is educated, he calls on the gnostics, the Kabbalah or whatever and begs the question or else he tries to turn it back on the Christian again with demand for scientific proof.
The Christian answers that he can give the proof – here ‘tis. Just buy the ticket and voila.
And so on and so on.
Left in this impasse, the naturalist rationalist has no choice but to resort to the historical record, which I’ve presented in this series of articles, already knowing it provides evidence, lots of it but not final proof per se. However, added to the confirmation after buying the ticket, it passes the most stringent of tests.
It’s far more cogent than the agnostic ‘well, I just don’t believe it until you prove it’. This is the same argument as the Scottish anti-gun blogger who recently decided to ignore the available evidence and go with his intuition instead.
The Christian, either from intuition, from the historical record or both, finds faith, this faith leads to his commitment and the commitment automatically provides the confirmation he seeks. Any committed Christian knows this and the longer he goes on, the more daily occurrences which take place, until eventually, the sheer weight of occurrences defies remaining scepticism.
By the way, beware of anyone who writes, in the comment section, ‘I’m a Christian but …’ If he has not received the confirmation, then he’s not a Christian, he hasn’t yet bought the ticket, with its stringent requirements for entry.
Having said all that, N2 below here gives a different take on this theme and then some of the common arguments are presented below that.
2. "The Resurrection of our Saviour is not properly a fact of the historical order, but a fact of the purely supernatural order neither proved nor provable, which Christian consciousness has little by little inferred from other facts."
This statement agrees with, and is further explained by the words of Loisy ("Autour d'un petit livre", p. viii, 120-121, 169; "L'Evangile et l'Eglise", pp. 74-78; 120-121; 171).
According to Loisy, firstly, the entrance into life immortal of one risen from the dead is not subject to observation; it is a supernatural, hyper-historical fact, not capable of historical proof. The proofs alleged for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ are inadequate; the empty sepulchre is only an indirect argument, while the apparitions of the risen Christ are open to suspicion on a priori grounds, being sensible impressions of a supernatural reality; and they are doubtful evidence from a critical point of view, on account of the discrepancies in the various Scriptural narratives and the mixed character of the detail connected with the apparitions.
Secondly, if one prescinds from the faith of the Apostles, the testimony of the New Testament does not furnish a certain argument for the fact of the Resurrection.
This faith of the Apostles is concerned not so much with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as with His immortal life; being based on the apparitions, which are unsatisfactory evidence from an historical point of view, its force is appreciated only by faith itself; being a development of the idea of an immortal Messias, it is an evolution of Christian consciousness, though it is at the same time a corrective of the scandal of the Cross.
The burial argument
Dr. William Lane Craig, the Alexander von Humboldt researcher on the Resurrection, summarizes recognized observations about Mark's account of the burial of Jesus when he states:
It is generally acknowledged that the burial account is part of Mark's source material for the story of Jesus' passion. This gives good reason to accept the burial as historical, on [these] grounds:
1. insufficient time for a legendary burial of Jesus to arise;
2. the presence of eyewitnesses who could affirm the story;
3. Paul's probable knowledge of at least the pre-Markan Passion story.
There is an absence of a competing burial account. It seems that no Jewish polemic or critic of the Resurrection in the first century has ever contested the burial account. Theologian Wolfgang Trilling observes that "It appears unfounded to doubt the fact of Jesus' honorable burial - even historically considered."
German New Testament critic and nineteenth century liberal scholar Rudolf Bultmann agrees that the pre-Markan account of the burial by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb wrapped in linen is not significantly embellished but, rather, a seemingly straightforward account of the burial of Jesus.
A comparison with any of the apocryphal gospels would show that such legendary development had not been incorporated into the earlier Gospels. These later fabrications speak of events that are theologically pregnant with garnished sayings that clearly mark the account with legendary fiction.
By contrast, the pre-Markan passion narrative does not contain any legendary material which bespeaks a simple account of the discovery of the empty tomb.
The Jewish authorities would have gladly exhumed the body and paraded it through the streets of Jerusalem for all to see. This would have capped the empty tomb myth forever.
Belief and fervour
The disciples of Jesus believed that he had risen from the dead. The impact that the death of Jesus had on the disciples was tremendous since in the minds of the disciples it demonstrated that Jesus was really not the Messiah but a man cursed under the law of God (cf. Deuteronomy 21:23).
Because of Jesus' death there was utter despair in the community of the disciples who followed their beloved teacher and master. But when the women's report about Jesus' Resurrection surfaced and the disciples themselves verified it, their despair turned into victory.
Pre-existent awareness of resurrection as a phenomenon
There were accounts of bodily resurrections of individuals by ancient Jewish prophets (cf. 1 Kings 17:20-24; 2 Kings 4:32-37; 13:21) as well as by Jesus himself (cf. Mark 5:41-43; John 11:41-45). So a resurrection from the dead in a Jewish context would be of no surprise.
The impossibility of surviving the crucifixion
Journalist Lee Strobel interviewed physician Alexander Metherell on the extent and impact of the crucifixion on Jesus. Although no reputable scholar is willing to sacrifice his integrity and suppose that Jesus may have survived the crucifixion, this naturalistic alternative has been entertained in contemporary popular literature on the subject.
It is gratifying to see that virtually no known scholar supports the apparent death theory. The extent of the damage to Jesus' body brought on by the crucifixion and previous flogging make it almost impossible to think that Jesus could have eventually survived his asphyxiation or piercing of the pericardium of the heart by a Roman lance.
See this article for a more extensive analysis of the crucifixion from a medical perspective.
The argument for ‘best explanation’
JH: I feel this argument, often put by apologists, is flawed but I offer it in the spirit of a more complete analysis:
Premise 1: The Resurrection hypothesis has a non-negligible prior probability.
Premise 2: If the Resurrection hypothesis is true, then the historical facts are true.
Premise 3: The historical facts are true. Therefore, any observed facts about the events following Jesus' public execution are best explained by the Resurrection hypothesis.
As I say, I’m not arguing this at all but include it for the hell of it.
This is included only for a bit of fun.
An article in The New York Times of May 11, 2002, written by Emily Eakin, reviewed a conference on ethics and belief at Yale University in April, 2002.
Eakin said Richard Swinburne, a Greek Orthodox professor of philosophy from Oxford University, used a probability formula known as Bayes's theorem to assign values to factors like the probability that there is a God, the nature of Jesus' behavior during his lifetime, and the quality of witness testimony after his death.
In plain English, Professor Swinburne's calculations allegedly show that the probability that the Resurrection really happened is a staggeringly high 97 per cent.
Objections to the resurrection
The disciples, it is said, stole the body of Jesus from the grave, and then proclaimed to men that their Lord had risen.
This theory was anticipated by the Jews who "gave a great sum of money to the soldiers, saying: Say you, His disciples came by night, and stole him away when we were asleep" (Matt., xxviii, 12 sq.).
The same was urged by Celsus (Orig., "Contra Cels.", II, 56) with some difference of detail.
But to assume that the Apostles, with a burden of this kind upon their consciences could have preached a kingdom of truth and righteousness as the one great effort of their lives, and that for the sake of that kingdom they could have suffered even unto death, is to assume one of those moral impossibilities which may pass for a moment in the heat of controversy, but must be dismissed without delay in the hour of good reflection.
1. Had the body been stolen by his followers, all that would be needed to disprove the disciples' claim would be to produce the body. No body has ever been produced.
2. There were Roman guards at the site of the tomb. How, then could any of Jesus' followers have stolen his body? But there is One who, if you accept His claims, could have disappeared quite easily.
3. There was a giant stone covering the tomb, which would have taken several people to move. The guards could not have overlooked such an operation, unless the One who moved it dot dot dot
4. Historically, we know that the early followers of Y'shua were persecuted for their belief. They were offered two options: renounce their belief in the resurrection or die, it seems unlikely that, were the disciples to have stolen the body, they would have all been ready to die rather than confess their deeds.
It is true that people die everyday for beliefs which are not true but these are fabrications which they fully believe to be true. How often do people die for what they patently know to be a fabrication? For what purpose?
5. Whatever else can be said about the original followers of Y'shua, they themselves certainly believed that Y'shua rose from the dead.
The 'Swoon Theory' and 'One of Many Resurrections' theory have been largely abandoned by historians but are still maintained by skeptic sites around the web. They need no further treatment here.
[A] detractor of the Resurrection [who] posits contradictions in the story of Judas Iscariot's suicide to the conclusion that the gospels are not trustworthy seems to be assuming that textual conflict implies the invalidation of the manuscript containing it.
This is a leap of logic and an improper view of historical inquiry. This would mean that any document of antiquity, if it contained any internal errors whatsoever, would have to be ruled out completely.
[D]ocuments may contain errors of specific instances but can still be useful in the panoply of information that is provided as well as the core information that can be properly extracted. Instead, any discrepancies present would simply be confirmation that plagiarism was not a factor.
Pilate’s removal of the body
Some of this literature includes Hugh Schonfield, The Passover Plot (New York: Bantam, 1965) and Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, Holy Blood, Holy Grail (New York: Delacorte, 1982).
This latter work envisages a premature removal of Jesus' body from the cross prior to death. The authors suggest that Pontius Pilate may have been bribed to do so.
The glaring problem here is that this account fails to embrace the narrative in its entirety and lacks any important follow-ups that would have surely resulted.
For example, if Pilate was bribed to remove Jesus from the cross then any Christian movement occurring in Jerusalem would have been silenced by the procurator's confession. Any Christian proclamation that Jesus had risen from the dead would have been countered with confessions of Pilate's grace for the dying Jesus.