People have made many attempts to show that the church has corrupted the early texts in order to play up Jesus as a phony Messiah. There are several problems with this approach.
1. Surely the early church would have portrayed its adherents more heroic in the gospel accounts. Instead, we have Jesus’ followers misunderstanding him, doubting him, even fleeing from him when he was taken to court.
2. We have a male-centric community made into a laughing-stock as Christ appears to Mary before his disciples. Also, the women believed in Jesus more readily than the apostles did!
3. We have the foolish words of Jesus’ disciples intact. Peter’s denial if Jesus is there. Why would the early church want to preserve his story? We have the disciples words for when they wanted to rain fire down on a city. We have disciples who proudly argued among themselves who would be greatest in the kingdom. Why are these words still there?
4. If Jesus did not indeed die on the cross and rise again, why did the disciples not produce the body to escape death? Eleven of the disciples died cruel deaths (crucified upside down; limbs tied to separate horses and pulled apart; beheaded; tied up to the back of a horse and dragged to death on the streets). All of this could have been avoided if they had recanted and told the torturers where they hid the body. Not even Jesus’ enemies could produce the body. But the body was nowhere to be found. Jesus had risen from the dead and will give eternal life and an inheritance untold to those who would persist in faith to the end.
What Do You Think?
a. If your aim in an autobiography was to elevate yourself through the inclusion of untrue accounts, how would you deal with the people who knew you and who could expose your stories as fabrications?
b. How would you change the Bible accounts to make Jesus more heroic than before? Would you keep the OT in place? Why was the Bible written the way it was?
c. Doesn’t the inclusion of imperfect people in the gospel accounts lend an element of truth to the stories?