Anyone at the Time Could have Easily Disproved the Gospels if they were Mistaken…

In my lengthy blog post about the massive amounts of evidence against the case for Christ, there was one argument that I didn’t include, because it never even crossed my mind, and wouldn’t cross the mind of someone who researched the material thoroughly. It was this idea that the gospel writers were walking around, parading their book to everyone, and that if only one person at the time would have seen a mistake, they would have exposed Christianity as a fraudulent religion, and everyone would have stopped believing in it.

This statement contains so much misunderstanding, and lack of knowledge that it needs an extremely lengthily explanation to break down. I will provide that explanation now.

Literacy rate in the ancient world was extremely low, the vast majority of people could not read, the vast majority of people could not write their own name. The world where people thoroughly read books, and traced the claims down to their roots to disprove them is imaginary. This statement also implies that the growth of Christianity was instant. Mark, the most recent book, was written 30 years (at least, and possibly 40 years) after the death of Jesus. So for the first 30 years of the growth of Christianity, nobody had this book to even disprove.

There is an additional problem with this statement once you understand that the gospels were written in Greek, not Aramaic, which is the language spoken by Jesus and those around him at the time. This means anyone seeking to disprove this book must first understand Greek and then Aramaic, then go to all these places to confirm this is true, and then somehow communicate to the entire population of Christians after 30 years of growth that the book was incorrect, and have them all believe that. It was incredibly rare for anyone to be able to read one language, nevermind speak two!

To make this even harder, the lifespan of people in the ancient world was incredibly short, meaning that many people who lived at around the time, and could have confirmed or denied if this book was true would have been dead.

This statement also carries the assumption that the gospel of Mark was an instant hit, and took off straight away, and became massively popular at around the same time as when people would have been able to confirm it was true.

The earliest copy of the book of Mark is from between the 2nd and third century, indicating that it was only at around this time that the book began being copied more frequently, meaning by the time the gospel entered the public consciousness, it was far too late.

So in conclusion, no, it is just ridiculous to suggest that “anyone at the time could have easily disproved the gospels if they were mistaken” – you are welcome to dispute this with me, I’m always happy to give more information. Sources can be found here, and most of the sources are Christian sources.

Now I have a strong feeling that those who are reading this may have conceded this idea for the gospels, but not for the word of mouth tales spread by believers in Christ in the 30 years (and more) that Christianity did indeed spread via word of mouth.

I don’t like to provide guesses into what actually happened, mainly because if I do people will assume that this is what I believed happened. To think this is to give more credit to the gospels than it deserves, as they are fundamentally entrenched with a large volume of uncertainty, so picking a story you feel is correct is not really possible. But if we take the original statement to be true; that someone really could disprove the resurrection by talking to people, let’s see what this conversation would actually look like:

A: “I believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead”

B: “Oh actually, I used to be a guard watching over roman crucifixion tombs. I was assigned to watch over the tomb of Jesus. During the night the disciples attacked me, opened the tomb, and stole the body. Yeah they hurt me pretty bad, but I definitely saw that he was still dead, and that they were going to pretend he had risen from the dead.”

A: “Of course that’s what a Roman guard would say, I bet you were bribed to say that. I don’t believe you.”

The problem is obvious. Just as easily as someone can reject the miraculous story of Christ, someone could reject the story of someone who has information which disproves the miraculous story of Christ. Testimonies are not reliable, and people knew this. The reason why I chose this example in particular is because it’s actually included in the bible in Matthew 28 verse 11 to 15. This is provided below, using English Standard Version, because nobody gives it enough credit, and I just like it:

11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

How could the gospels writers possibly have known that this is what happened? The answer is that they could not, and did not know. But what did they know? They seemed to know that guards were going around telling people that the body was stolen.

The very people who could have disproved the resurrection, as described in the gospel, were going around telling people that it was mistaken, and people didn’t believe them. What was the original statement “anyone at the time could have easily disproved the gospels if they were mistaken” – we have examples here demonstrating that this was not the case. The guards watching over the tomb did have the evidence that would have disproved the claims against Christ, and still, nobody believed them. We know that this idea is incorrect because the gospels show that it is incorrect.

There is a reason why scholars don’t use this argument, and there is a reason why this argument is only used by those who believe in the resurrection yet know nothing about it. I hope I have made it clear why.

I’m sure more information will be be added to this post as I enjoy researching this topic. I’m currently researching the spread of Christianity and how it grew, so I don’t doubt that adjustments, additions and potentially subtractions will be made. This post was made using the pool of sources and resources used in my original post here, as this was quite easy to write having already written this. To find the sources, just scroll down to the bottom of the article.

Thank you very much for reading. I hope this has helped you. If you have questions or want to discuss this topic further, I’d really enjoy that a lot!

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