Post Appearance Story
Three primary points suggesting Jesus
did appear live after the crucifixion:
is documented in two independent sources: the New Testament and
The Antiquities of the Jews
by Flavius Josephus. Josephus wrote, “And when Pilate, at the
suggestion of the principal men among us [the Jewish elders and chief
priests], had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at first did
not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day.”
The event is
very likely the primary reason why Christianity persisted. If Jesus
had died upon crucifixion, the movement probably would have died with him.
documented story of Jesus’ post-appearance after the crucifixion in Luke
24:36-43 is realistic, granting it credibility:
As they were
saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. But they were startled and
frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are
you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my
feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and
bones as you see that I have.” And while they still disbelieved for joy, and
wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a
piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.
Again, why is there no mention of nail
wounds? Jesus asks his disciples to “see” exposed parts of his body
(i.e., parts not covered by clothing, like his hands and feet) and to
physically handle other parts of his body to prove he is flesh and blood,
and not spirit. Jesus is doing this to calm their fears by proving he
is not a ghost.
One very simple and logical explanation
of why there is no mention of nails in the written accounts of the
crucifixion, and there is no mention of nail wounds in the post-appearance
story is nails were not used and Jesus was supported in the more common
fashion using ropes.
As shocking as the next statement may
appear, it is a relatively simple statement with complete viability. This
statement is not only simple, but also exceedingly logical if one tries to
throw off the intense cultural emotion placed upon it:
appeared live after the crucifixion, then this necessarily means he
did not die on the cross. If Jesus survived a Roman execution then this in
turn strongly suggests Pontius Pilate allowed Jesus to live. The strong
possibility that nails were not used in Jesus’ crucifixion and his
relatively short time on the cross, fits well with a Roman design (discussed
in the following pages) to protect Jesus from a death demanded by a Jewish
When did the word-of-mouth version using
nails become part of Christian folklore?
It is possible
first-hand written accounts may have existed. But there is no record of
such an account and the written accounts that do exist do not support this.
word-of-mouth version had to have started after the first three Gospels were
written, but within a few decades when the Gospel of John was written.
The Gospel of
John has a modified version of the post-appearance story called the
account has the flavor of a story adjusted over time. The basis for this
conclusion is the nature of the much earlier version in Luke, which makes no
mention of nail wounds.
word-of-mouth version dominated over the next few centuries given the
prevalence in religious art work (sculptures and paintings).