I had an interesting email from a reader the other day, in which he pointed out that the “multiple attestation” for the existence of Jesus is virtually matched by the “multiple attestation” for the resurrection of Jesus. At first I thought his point was the Christian apologetic one, that therefore since the resurrection is just as well (not quite, but still pretty well) attested as the very existence of Jesus, doesn’t that show that Jesus was probably raised from the dead? When I responded to that question, it turned out that he was actually saying the opposite: since we (meaning he and I) don’t believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, but *that’s* well attested, doesn’t that call into question the very existence of Jesus, which has comparable attestation. Multiple attestation can’t “show” it, in this view.

As I think about it now, my response to *both* points (the Christian apologetic and the non-christian mythicist) is probably the same, that when dealing with the two phenomena – 1. the existence of Jesus and 2. the resurrection of Jesus – we are dealing with two *in*commensurate things, not two commensurate things, so the historical probabilities necessarily shift. More on that in a moment.


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