First, a few words from Thomas Paine:
I lay it down as a position which cannot be controverted, first, that the agreement of all the parts of a story does not prove that story to be true, because the parts may agree and the whole may be false; secondly, that the disagreement of the parts of a story proves the whole cannot be true.The challenge is to take all five accounts of the events following the supposed crucifixion of Jesus and, starting on Easter morning and, omitting none of the details given in the five biblical accounts, construct a logical sequence of events.
Thomas Paine. The Age Of Reason. 1776
I make no claim of authorship of this challenge which appears in Dan Barker's book 'Godless: How An Evangelical Preacher Became One Of America's Leading Atheists'.
The relevant chapters and/or verses of the Bible are:
- Matthew 28
- Mark 16
- Luke 24
- John 20-21
- Acts 1:3-12
- 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
It might help if, as you read the 165 verses, you attempt to answer these questions and to reconcile and harmonise the differing accounts:
|Question||The Bible's Answers|
|1. What time did the women visit the tomb?|
|2. Who were the women?|
|3. What was their purpose?|
|4. Was the tomb open when they arrived?||
|5. Who was at the tomb when they arrived?|
|6. Where were these messengers situated?|
|7. What did the messenger(s) say?|
|8. Did the women tell what happened?|
|9. When Mary returned from the tomb, did she know Jesus had been resurrected?|
|10. When did Mary first see Jesus?|
|11. Could Jesus be touched after the resurrection?|
|12. After the women, to whom did Jesus first appear?|
|13. Where did Jesus first appear to the disciples?|
|14. Did the disciples believe the two men?|
|15. What happened at that first appearance?|
|16. Did Jesus stay on earth for more than a day?|
|17. Where did the ascension take place?||
Barker, Dan (2009-05-01). Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists (p. 289). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.
Personally, for a story so central to the Christian faith and upon which the entire religion rests, I'd be astounded if this exercise is not a regular feature of Bible study, Sunday School and church services so it shouldn't be a problem at all for true believers. So, you have all the material you need, and links to an on-line edition of the Bible to check that everything stated above is a true and accurate account of all the known accounts of the supposed resurrection of Jesus, just in case you don't have your own Bible.
All you have to do is produce a logical sequence of events from Easter morning to Jesus' claimed ascension bodily into Heaven which includes all the facts stated and following the sequence of events given in the Bible.
Otherwise, please explain why Thomas Paine was wrong to conclude that the whole story cannot be true and why the myth of Jesus should not be consigned to the dustbin of history along with the myth of the goddess Eastre (aka Ishtar aka Astarte) after whom the pagan festival of Easter was named before it was plagiarised by Christianity for the Jesus myth.