OK, here’s another weird blog coincidence that happened 94 seconds ago. A few days ago I posted on the issue of why someone would invent a story of women finding the empty tomb (since women were “seen as unreliable”: if you invented a story, wouldn’t it be *men* who found it?). I got a lot of responses, including several that more or less openly mocked me for thinking the disciples made up the story of the resurrection. The typical line I got was something like “Yeah, right Ehrman: all those disciples died for a *lie*. Gee, you’re smart….”
So, OK, leaving smarts out of the equation, I thought today I would repost a post that I had done long ago that dealt with this question. Then I thought, Nah, don’t bother. Do something else.
But then I decided to look through old posts just for the heck of it and decided to look up the one that I had done on precisely this date, October 12, the first year of the blog, 2012. It was that very post, I kid you not.
OK, the fates have decided the matter. I have to repost it. I no longer have any say in the matter. Here it is.
Another very very popular evidence put forward for the resurrection is that “the disciples would not have died for what they knew was a lie, therefore it must have happened.” I hear this all the time. You have said that you think the disciples really believed they saw Jesus after he died so they were not lying. However, is there evidence (historical or literary) that they were killed because of their belief in Jesus’ resurrection?
Ah yes, if I had a fiver for every time I’ve heard this comment over the years, I could retire to a country home in Maine… Several other people have responded to this question on the blog by saying that we have lots of records of lots of people who have died for something that they knew, literally, not to be true. I am not in a position to argue that particular point. But I can say something about all the disciples dying for believing in the resurrection.
The way the argument (by Christian apologists) goes is this (I know this because I used to make the same argument myself when I was a Christian apologist!): all the apostles were martyred for their faith because they believed Jesus had been raised from the dead; you can see why someone might be willing to die for the truth, but no one would die for a lie, and therefore the disciples – all of them – clearly believed that Jesus was raised from the dead. And if they *all* believed it, then it almost certainly is true (since none of them thought otherwise, they must have all seen Jesus alive after his death).
The big problem with this argument is…