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Old 03-20-2001, 10:32 AM   #51
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Hi Nomad, and thanks for the reply. I'm surprised at just how much we seem to agree on, but there are still a few points I'd like to make.

The weight of the evidence tells us that it is extremely unlikely that Joseph of Arimathea was either an invention, or that he removed the body. On that basis, we need to be very cautious before accepting the belief that he might have done this, and after elimnating it as a reasonable possibility, keep looking for other options.

I agree that it sounds unlikely. But it is not impossible. Unlikely things do happen, just not very often. I think that we can agree that something unusual did probably happen after the crucifixion. But the fact that something unusual happened does not prove a miracle.

If none of them account for what happened, then we will be left with "not knowing" being the best answer available to us.

True. My guess is that nobody will ever know for sure. But I do not think any of the naturalistic explainations so far put forward can be dismissed as impossible. Improbable maybe, but not impossible.

While this is a definite possibility, it remains unlikely that Jews would have handled the body (even of a family member) on the Sabbath. This kind of ritual uncleanliness (and remember, it is both the Sabbath and the Passover) would have made such action before the ending of the Sabbath anethama to these individuals.

Again, I agree that there are a few problems with this account. But I can believe that a family, shocked and grief-stricken by the judicial murder of a son/brother, may have broken some local customs in order to take his body home for burial.

Plus it would not have to have been on the Sabbath itself. It could have been early on the Sunday morning, just before the women arrived.

What I disagree with is the idea that the oral tradition could have been seriously corrupted in such a short period of time. Even granting that 2 or 3 generations elapsed between the death of Jesus, and the writing of the Gospels, the tradition from Paul (which closely mirrors that found in the Gospels) was handed down to the apostle within 3 years of the events in question. Further, the oral traditions within Jewish circles was very highly developed, and we have no evidence that such traditions were modified in any significant form in such a relatively short period of time (of even a few decades).

I'm not so sure about this. Even in the gospels themselves there is some evidence of elaboration over time. If we take the orthodox view that the synoptics were written in the order Mark, Matthew, Luke/Acts we see the account get more dramatic as time goes on.

In Mark, assuming we dismiss the interpolated 16:9-20, there are no accounts at all of appearances of Jesus. The women simply find an empty tomb, and a man who tells them Jesus is risen and gone to Galilee.

In Matthew we have Jesus appearing once to the women, and a single appearance to the disciples, on a mountain in Galilee. The reference to some of them doubting (28:17)pretty strongly implies that the writer didn't think the apostles had seen him before, e.g. in Jerusalem.

By the time Luke/Acts is written, the story has avanced. Rather than a single appearance on a mountain, Jesus appears many times over 40 days and "with many convincing proofs he presented himself alive" (Acts 1:3), though the author does not feel tempted to describe more than a couple. Then he ascends into heaven.

I think this is reasonably strong evidence that the account got more elaborate over time - evidence of distortion by oral tradition.

The other accounts are not without problems either. One of John's stories, about the miraculous catch of fish (21:1-14) is eerily similar to Luke 5:1-11, suggesting that an incident before the resurrection may have ended up being placed after it by the fourth evangelist. As for Pauls account (1 Cor 15), I thought many scholars reckon that it may well be an interpolation.

Considering the lengths both Paul and the disciples went to assure their readers that Jesus was not a ghost, they must be assumed to be very aware of this objection. Jesus makes a point of demonstrating his physicallity in the resurrection accounts.

Well, to coin a phrase, they would say that wouldn't they? If they were themselves convinced that they had seen him, and wanted to persuade others, they'd have made their accounts as convincing as possible. They were hardly likely to go around saying "well, we think we saw him, but you never know, it may just have been a trick of the light".

And as for these days being less credulous than the ancient past, I do not believe that this is actually the case. If anything, we appear to be very conditioned to accept the most bizarre accounts of things like UFO's, the supernatural, X-File type events and the like. I think credulity levels are pretty constant through the ages.

There are certainly a number of people who will believe practically anything they're told, and this is probably fairly constant. But what I meant was that educated, rational people would have been more willing to accept supernatural explainations as fact in an ang when many thngs could not be explained by natural causes. Remember that many "respectable" ancient historians (eg Plutarch, Tacitus) report miracles uncritically. That is what I meant by a more credulous age.

Few accounts of anything in history are water tight or invincible to counter arguments Iain. At most, we can only hope to account for the events we do know, and come up with the most plausible explanation that best explains them.

True. None of the explainations are perfect. But I still think that Joseph putting himself in danger, Roman soldiers getting sloppy and taking down an unconscious man and a family moving a body on the Sabbath as more plausible than a miracle.

I agree, and interestingly, so did almost everyone that lived at the time of Jesus. Remember that people have been scoffing at this story for 2000 years now, and its durability is quite remarkable, even if you do not believe it.

Durability is not evidence for truthfulness. All the witnesses have been dead for many centuries now, so believers do not have access to any more evidence than non-believers. We are as well placed to answer the question now as the people in the late Roman Empire were.

Just a suggestion here Iain, and while Gibbons work is a classic, it is seriously out of date, and contains a good many flaws. You may want to look up some more current histories (there are plenty out there from scpetics and atheists like Gibbons).

I know. Maybe I should have stuck a smiley after that point. I'm reading it more as a literary classic than a cutting edge piece of history.

Well, if the Resurrection is true, it has a dramatic bearing on everything we are talking about, but it is not the subject I wanted to address in this thread in any event.

This is a hint at the arguament that the spread of Christianity must have involved divine intervention, I guess. As a layman, if the claims the early church made for itself are true, if all over the Roman Empire the dead were raised, the blind saw, the crippled walked, deadly poisons were drunk with no ill effects and the laws of nature were generally suspended for the aid of the church, my first question would not be "why did the religion spread so quickly" but rather "why did it take 300 years to convert the empire?" I would not have to witness many such events here and now to believe.

On the other hand, if there were no divine intervention, the actual truth or falsehood of the resurrection would not be important. The skills of the missonaries in making people believe that it was true would be what mattered.

While I agree that the conviction of the followers is critical to being believed, I do have a basic faith in human nature that we test the truth over time, and each individual and generation comes to an approximation of the truth that makes it possible for them to know what it is.

How can something like the resurrection be tested over time? The evidence comes from secone hand reports of alleged eyewitness accounts. The alleged witnesses are all dead and so cannot be cross examined. The amount of evidence has not increased or diminished since the days of the early church. All that can change is our interpretation of it.

I too have faith in human nature, but I think all too often human frailties and fallability gets in the way of it. So I cannot regard something as true just because others have believed in it. Everyone must make up his or her mind on the basis of the evidence available to them.

All the best


Old 03-20-2001, 10:40 AM   #52
Posts: n/a

[Nomad:]What I disagree with is the idea that the oral tradition could have been seriously corrupted in such a short period of time.

[LP:]There is an abundance of counterevidence to that proposition ...

Two things, we have already covered off the reliability of the oral tradition amongst ancient and semi-literate civilizations. It is well known that record keepers could and did keep extremely long oral stories going from generation to generation.

This ignores the possibility of politically-motivated rewriting of history, which can easily happen in the absence of written records. And there is good reason to believe that that had happened in the early Christian communities; the textual inconsistencies of the account of JC's resurrection suggest that the accounts of that event had been independently or semi-independently invented.

Second, motive does not equate to crime LP. If you want to accuse the disciples, aposltes and evangelists and other early Christians of embellishing stories and the like, I want to see more than your paranoid ravings. Offer us some proof of your claims, then tell us why it is important.

I'm not sure what Nomad would consider proof, short of going back in time in a time machine. If there was such a thing, it would be very interesting to see what JC had really been like -- if he had existed at all. And if he could be caught rising from the dead, then that would certainly be an interesting sight to see. Of course, if that had happened, the next question would be where the gross errors in that event's Gospel accounts had come from.

We already know that there were more than one resurrection account, and this multiple attestation coupled with independent sources demonstrates its reliability. ...

Calling them totally independent is hooey. I think that the various Gospel writers "knew" from Paul that JC had to have risen from the dead, so they simply filled in the blanks. And filled them in differently.

I'm sure that Nomad believes that the accounts of Apollonius of Tyana's miracles and resurrection are pure fiction; in fact,he often seems to presuppose that miracles cannot occuroutside of the Bible, and uses that presupposition to judge the historicity of A of T's supposed miracles.

Miracles did and do occur outside of the Bible.

Which ones?

Now stop with the red herrings and don't go and try changing the subject again. I want to know what happened after Jesus died, and I want you to do it by assuming that the Resurrection is a fraud.

I wouldn't call it a fraud -- more likely, the result of overworked imaginations.

[LP mentioning Earl Doherty...]

LOL! Look, just because you can find one author who happens to agree with you doesn't amount to any proof. ...

IMO, Mr. Doherty does make a good case, and I've been willing to summarize it.

[Iain Simpson on rising from the dead being very unlikely...]

I agree, and interestingly, so did almost everyone that lived at the time of Jesus. Remember that people have been scoffing at this story for 2000 years now, and its durability is quite remarkable, even if you do not believe it.

[LP:]Scoffing? Which scoffing?

Hold on. Are you saying that people back in the days of the disciples and apostles did not scoff at the story of Jesus rising from the dead? Perhaps you can explain to me why most of the Jews rejected this story then. Or why Paul got run out of town in more than one city. ...
[a lot of New Testament self-pity deleted...]

The NT is not the whole of the last 2000 years.

You know what? I'm going to stop now. I am sick and tired of being the one that provides proof after proof of my claims only to see more baseless assertions from sceptics like you. ...

Anything you say, buster.

Like the way that Nomad scoffs at the miracles of Apollonius of Tyana? Not to mention just about every other miracle outside of the Bible?

Point out where I scoffed at Apollonius' miracles, then explain to me why you have brought this up in this thread. The topic is What happened after Jesus died. If you don't know, then you don't know. Just stop wasting my time here.

Nomad, your whole attitude toward miracles outside the Bible seems suspiciously close to scoffing. And yes, A of T is relevant here, because he also had been described from rising from the dead. So why reject A of T's resurrection out of hand while complaining about those who find JC's resurrection less-than-convincing?

And I'd be hard-pressed to call the story "durable" when its official advocates had been known to burn people at the state for minute doctrinal differences for much of the last 2000 years.

And this is a lie, and I know you know it is a lie, because I have proven it to you in the past. ...

What are you claiming? That it's a "lie" because they had usually preferred other means of execution at other times? That may well be the case, but that does not make the numerous Christian vs. Christian persecutions any less real.

I'm not sure what Nomad calls the homoousia-homoiousia controversy; that was a controversy over whether the Father and the Son have the same or similar essences. Now those willing to fight vicious fights over such theological details are not likely to be interested in careful examinations of the question of whether JC had really risen from the dead.

Is this on topic for this thread? Nope.

Simply demonstrating that critical examination of such questions as JC's resurrection had not been in the style of the Christian Churches for most of the last 2000 years.

Does it tell us what you think happened after Jesus died? Nope again. Stay on topic.

Nomad, you are the one who had claimed that the story has stood up well over the last 2000 years. And I was providing counterevidence to the proposition that it had been critically examined over this time. As I've pointed out, the official position had been that it's The Truth, and that's that, and if you don't believe it, we'll give you a quick sendoff to Hell.

While I agree that the conviction of the followers is critical to being believed, I do have a basic faith in human nature that we test the truth over time, and each individual and generation comes to an approximation of the truth that makes it possible for them to know what it is.

That does not seem very much like being willing to burn people at the stake for minute theological differences, as had happened for much of Christianity's history.

You are a liar LP. Offer proofs for your slanders, or withdraw them. I am tired of having to listen to your baseless accusations, so I am going to call you on each and every one of them until you offer some evidence.

What's your point? That they preferred other forms of execution?
Old 03-20-2001, 11:03 AM   #53
Posts: n/a

This is not answering any one person's post, but this thread was done in honor of Nomad just a few weeks ago on the EoG board.

The listing of reasons of why Christianity survived (other than 'it was true!) that we came up with follows.

I thought I would share them in case they had been missed. (I may have to edit this for formatting)


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">First: It was not centered on a 'local god', a god predominate in the region only.

Second: It was not a national religion, bound to one country, destined to die when the country did.

Third: It appealed to the government because of its 'accept this life, you will be rewarded in the next' message, which made it an ideal religion for slaves and the oppressed. (It was promoted in ancient Rome for this very reason--- but only for women and slaves. Men and soldiers were expected to have 'real' religions.)

Fourth: It recieved protection under the 'its a sect of Judaism' while it incubated. (not by the Jews, but by the surrounding nations)

Fifth: Lax marriage laws, compared to the countries the Christians lived in, attracted members, and thus the children of these unions.

Sixth: Rationality among the educated and those in power led to the investigation of accusations of Christian cannibalism and infanticide, leading to the exposure of these myths, instead of imprisonment of Christians.

Seventh: The religion was deliberatly altered to appeal to those in charge at the time, as well as those easily converted from their own religion.

Eighth: Pagan tolerance of others' gods lowered their guard against the monotheism of Christians.

Ninth: As the religion attracted slaves, and some slaves were concubines of officials, it did not take long for the religion to start infiltration the upper classes.

Tenth: The cult of the martyrs and theology of martyrdom allowed believers to die for their religion, while pagans generally converted when threatened with death (this does not demonstrate a lack of truth in their belief--- merely a lack of demand by the god/s).

Eleventh: Public outcry against the killing of pacifists ended what little pagan persecution there had been by 157 AD. (Persecution again started in 250 AD, and ended agian in 251. This was a result of scapegoating. Persecution began again in 303 AD))

Twelth: Christians then, as now, were incredibly stubborn. Most other religions advise flexibility.

Thirteenth: The orders to proselytise in the Christian Bible.

Fourteenth: The Apologetics.

Fifteenth: Little Church in fighting in the first few centuries.

Sixteenth: Appealed to both the simple and unlearned (mythology and ultimate judgement/reward) and the intellectuals/atheists (one god was better than many/much in common with Greek thought)

Seventeeth: After the conversion of Constantine, it was where the power was. If you wanted political power, you had to be a Christian.

Eighteenth: Ease of fleecing the believers by selling relics. (Con artist support)

Nineteenth: Forced 'conversions'

Twentieth: Ease of conversion for those wanting to convert. (Try becomming a Zoroasterian... who have been martyered, BTW, up to this century. And I mean this century)

21: Christianity helps maintain control over the populace by teaching humility as a virtue. Instead of constantly fighting to take over the position of leadership- people would except their roles in society with "humility and grace". Thus appealing to the leaders.

22: What better way to make the populace believe in your benevolence than to appear to fear the wrath of God if you misuse your power? Again, appealing to the leaders.

23: 785-Charlemagne decreed that any conquered Saxons who refused to be baptized or insulted Christianity by going against a belief (for example: by eating meat on lent) were to be put to death.

24: The tendency of children to believe the same things as their parents. Racists parents raise racist children, republicans raise republicans, and christians raise christians.

25: It had a formal organizational sturcture while most polytheistc and pagan religions were less structured, allowing individuals almost the same spiritual power as priests. The dependancy of Christians on the priesthood kept them around.

26: It mutated to accept what the people wanted later on, by adding local gods as saints and elevating Mary.

27: It was made mandatory by Theodosius the Great (346-395) over the whole Roman Empire.

28: Targeting the powerful, once a King was converted, many followed out of loyalty to the king.

29: Those who resisted were "converted"
[This message has been edited by jess (edited March 20, 2001).]
Old 03-20-2001, 11:47 AM   #54
Posts: n/a

I see the point of this thread, but I disagree with this:

We do not have to assume that any of the supernatural things in the Bible actually happened in order to believe that Jesus was born, lived, died on a cross, was buried in a tomb, the tomb was found empty and his followers said he was physically risen from the dead within days of his burial.

I find it plain silly to think that one can pick and choose what in the Bible - considering this is about the only source for Jesus in the first place - one can assume and not assume. According to the Bible, believing the above is to believe in the supernatural.

I think for this thread what would've been be a whole lot better is to ask a hypothetical like this:

"a guy named Frank was born, lived, died on a cross, was buried in a tomb, the tomb was found empty and his followers said he was physically risen from the dead within days of his burial.

Now ask for an explanation.

O, one other thing: be reminded of the fallacy of ignoratio elenchi: just (for the sake of argument) because no one on this list can produce for you a 'naturalistic' explanation does not make it valid for you to conclude that there is none or that the 'naturalistic' view is false.

Personally, I believe that a Jesus who was not supernatural is not the Biblical Jesus at all. I certainly believe the Bible teaches that Jesus was resurrected supernaturally (and I believe it as well).

Thank you.
Old 03-20-2001, 02:37 PM   #55
Posts: n/a

Taking your assumption that the resurrection never took place, here is what happened.

The apostles and women had followed Jesus for 3 years. They had staked their lives on Him being the Messiah. They really believed that he would bring the kingdom immediately.
In other words they were deeply emotionally invested in him being their savior. They were in shock and deep sorrow at his unexpected death. They were psychologically ripe for any hope that he might be alive.
When the rumor of his resurrection started, they grabbed onto it like a drowning person would cling to a lifeline. Around this time, good old impetuous but impressive Peter took the reins of leadership. He couldn't stand the thought of Jesus not being his deliverer and he still felt guilty about betraying him. Later Paul came along. They were very good salesman and effective, persuasive leaders although they didn't always get along. The teachings started spreading like Amway-using house to house meetings. Thus momentum was built and cont'd until the big boost came and Constantine decided it would be politically expedient for him to nationalize Christianity.
The fact that these people would be willing to die for their beliefs is not surprising and not unusual. Also, Christianity filled a need for purpose and fellowship that made them feel good. People were tired of the Romans and tired of the Jewish leaders so they felt good about following a new savior who promised pain for the Romans and pleasure for them eternally. As the Romans persecuted them, they clung tightly together and loved one another and gave each other hope.
Christianity spread nicely through Europe but unfortunately over time, it failed until today when Europe and the Middle East has few Christian pockets and most of the so-called Chritsianity bears little resemblance to Biblical Christianity. Christianity has in general been unable to maintain momentum over extended periods of time and grows by spreading to new places like Korea or Africa or S. America even as it is declining in places like America. F Schaeffer and Josh McD have referred to the U.S. as a post Chritsian country.
So, assuming the resurrection did not happen, that is my proposal for what did.
Old 03-20-2001, 03:20 PM   #56
Posts: n/a

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by doc58:
The apostles and women had followed Jesus for 3 years. They had staked their lives on Him being the Messiah. They really believed that he would bring the kingdom immediately.
In other words they were deeply emotionally invested in him being their savior. They were in shock and deep sorrow at his unexpected death. They were psychologically ripe for any hope that he might be alive.
When the rumor of his resurrection started, they grabbed onto it like a drowning person would cling to a lifeline. Around this time, good old impetuous but impressive Peter took the reins of leadership. He couldn't stand the thought of Jesus not being his deliverer and he still felt guilty about betraying him. Later Paul came along. They were very good salesman and effective, persuasive leaders although they didn't always get along. The teachings started spreading like Amway-using house to house meetings.
You've put a lot of thought into this. Nomad can certainly respond to this, too. I have a lot of similar beliefs to Nomad so I'm curious to hear your response.

You seem to think the gospels give some fairly reliable information based on your belief in his 3 year ministry, the fact he had followers (specifically Peter), and other items. You also seem to believe that Jesus probably made some sort of claim to be the Messiah in order to lead his followers to believe such a thing. I would agree with you on all of these things.

I'm curious to know what you think about the accounts of Jesus' burial. Do you think he was buried in a tomb ? I think he probably was, but I know a lot of people disagree. I also agree with you about rumors of Jesus' resurrection. Who do you think started these rumors and why did they start them?

I think I agree with most of your ideas about Christianity after Constantine. Forced church attendance has a way of increasing a religion's numbers.

So my two big questions to you are whether or not you think Jesus was buried AND your explanation of how the rumor of his resurrection started.


Old 03-20-2001, 06:38 PM   #57
Posts: n/a

Thank you for your reply.
My goal in my post was to answer the challenge of Nomad. As requested in his original post I accepted his 4 premises and his assumption that the resurrection did not occur. I believe I gave a sound explanation.
There are other explanations also.
He has requested that we limit our comments to his scenario so, out of respect to him and the thread he started, at this point I will resist interjecting my personal beliefs. They may or may not coincide with what I wrote but as far as fulfilling his question, that is irrelevant. If he wants to know more where I am coming from I will oblige.

Old 03-20-2001, 06:46 PM   #58
Posts: n/a

Jesus was cool, but Jesus died. How can the cool die--especially by crucifixion? Hey, this is not like our prophets of old getting stoned or run out of town....

Maybe we can find reasons in our own Hebrew Bible. And if they don't fit, we'll MAKE them fit! Because this Jesus was cool.

And those women! They're supposed to bring the coffee, but they got so upset when Jesus died a couple of them started having grief hallucinations (that's what Thomas called them, anyway). Peter thinks differently, though, and after mending his nets and going back to the fishing business in Galilee began to experience Jesus' coolness in a whole new way.

The man and woman on their way to Emmaus.... they heard the rumor: "They got him in Jerusalem!" Well, this is before CNN and they heard the bad news two weeks after the tragic event actually happened--yet they were still truckin' around with their sandals and little knapsacks, enacting the Kingdom of God in the hamlets as Jesus had instructed them. The healings were still taking place, the householders were inviting them in to share the food, the demons were still being exorcised. How did this still happen if Jesus was killed two weeks ago?

And Paul--what a guy! You know how those "new in the Spirit" are the most "conversion crazy." And those letters he kept writing! He made it so simple, too: forget about the Kingdom of God, the aphorisms, the parables, the healings, the humor, the exorcisms, the foot-washing and all that.... Just focus on that Greek idea of a saving and rising god who demands a blood atonement.

Then came Nicea and politics and Fallwell and politics and televangelism and fantasy.
Next stop, Disneyworld!

Any room left for the itinerant Gallilean?
Old 03-21-2001, 01:23 AM   #59
Posts: n/a

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I really do appreciate the time and effort you are putting into this nat. I hope you do not mind that I am not giving much quarter here.</font>
Thanks. Let me take a break for a day or two and then, hopefully, I'll try to rebut your objections (hopefully with your own words ). This will give you a chance to catch up with your other threads and me a chance to relax a little. I appreciate this chance to exercise my mind.

[This message has been edited by not a theist (edited March 21, 2001).]
Old 03-21-2001, 10:08 AM   #60
Posts: n/a

Following the example of some others, I came up with a 'naturalistic' explanation that may resolve the issue - and still remain sort of close to the text (I certainly don't believe what I am about to write).

The story of the Gardener and the Centurions:

Poor Bryan had to get up very early that morning after the Sabbath, the day after the most incredible spectacle he'd seen in a while. Bryan was the tomb gardener and today he was to tend the garden near the new tomb owned by J of A. Bryan arrived early (it was still dusk); he had a headeache from all the wine he'd drunk the night before, and was preparing to do his job when he noticed the centurions.
"Hey what are you guys doing here?"
"F@@k off."
"C'mon -you guys guarding a tomb?"
"Yeah your King is inside reigning supreme Haw haw..."
Bryan knew at once what they were talking about. "Oh this is where Jesus is buried - cool!" Turning to the centurions, he said " What, are the leaders worried that someone's gonna steal the mutilated body of that poor wretch? They'd need a body bag after the way you Romans lashed and gouged him!"
"Well you sot, he IS in a body bag, ole J of A wrapped him up nice and tight and now we gotta watch over the bloody remains. Why you want to steal his body?"

&lt;P O P&gt;

Bryan gets a flash - umm steal his body?

Now Bryan was a semi-agnostic. He sort of beleived in God, but didn't like the Religious leaders or the clamp down teachings. Although he had heard Jesus, he took him pretty much with a grain of salt, but appreciated the way Jesus defended the prostitutes. Especially that babe called Mary Magdalene- wow what a looker! But, on the other hand he wasn't too pleased that Jesus had snatched her up for himself and by all accounts turned her into a prude. But he really didn't care at all that much about it...there were other prostitutes...

"Hey Romulus and Remus - how'd you like to get filthy rich - off the Jews no less?"
"What the hell you talking about?"
"I'm serious - well, ok, at least listen - unless you got something better to do?"
Hmmmm mumble mumble
"Heh he heh. You know that's not bad Jew - I'm game. How bout you Remus?" "why not?"
"But you centurions better hurry - it's a custom around here to anoint the bodies - anyone could arrive at any moment"

The centurions removed the stone and took the body to where Bryan (the gardener) told them to hide it. Bryan cleaned up inside the tomb, then went out to tend the gardens around the way.....

Shortly thereafter Bryan noticed the women. And there was Mary M. One of the centurions had come back and purposely laid down in such a position as if he was struck. In no time the crying women were in hysterics. After they left, the centurion got up came over to Brian and said "Working like a charm!! Don't worry 'bout the body - we'll take care of it - meet me at the market tommorrow - it seems like this just might be our lucky day." With a hearty laugh the centurion left.
Meanwhile Bryan got back to work, but then from a small distance noticed that some men had come to the tomb, and there was Mary M again! She looked so good - Bryan saw her tears and was touched. The men ran off, and Mary M was alone.

&lt;POP&gt; another flash

It turns out Bryan who was about the same age of Jesus, also bore a resemblance to Jesus - at least more so than most - he had been told that many times by some of his own friends and some of the prostitutes he frequented who'd gone to hear Jesus preach.
This was going to be risky - but to get close to her it would be worth it -
Bryans stripped down to his linens, ditched the tools, straightened his hair and walked around and slowly approached Mary, being sure to have the sun at his back (morning had arrived).

Well, Mary saw him and went to him and bent down and pleaded with him to show her where they had lain the body of her Lord.
"Lucky sot" thought Bryan, but then seeing Mary look up at him with the tears, glistening in the sun, those eyes, those lips...
"Mary" Bryan said in a soft breathy tone...
Suddenly Mary looked up, her eyes glazed over yet peering into Bryan's, whispered "Raboni". And she grasped Him -tenderly.
Bryan was stunned - for a moment - but as she touched him, he realized something else was arising that morning.....Quickly, but smoothly, coming to his senses, Bryan said "do not continue to touch I have not yet umm ascended to my father, my God and your God."
Mary, with a tearfule smile eased away.
Bryan getting more embarrassed (it seemed doubtful to him that the real Jesus would have a boner) told Mary to "go now arise tell the others..." She got up and with joy ran to tell the others.

As soon as she was gone, Bryan recovered himself, and left the gardens.

Well the next day, Bryan met ole Remus and was handed a nice sum of money
"You deserve it. There.....the Jews were so rattled by our story that they paid us a great deal of money to hush hush"
"What about the body?"
"Disposed of - we Romans are not merely professional torturers you know...wink, wink"

Bryan never saw the centurions again. Bryan
never became religious, but he never really cared. As Christianity grew over the next decade, he thought, despite the obvious, that it was a good alternative to the ole stale religion, plus Mary M was so happy -anything for the memory of that touch - 'Lucky sot" he thought to himself... and smiled.

Well, Bryan died nearly 10 years to the day after the escapade: he had developed a serious heart condition (inherited from his father's side of the family), and it is said that he died in the arms of a certain young prostitute who looked amazingly like Mary M did on that morning so many years ago - as a matter of fact he made her squeal the name Raboni with each and every thrust. It was too much for him, though they say he died with a smile.

Have a great day.

Ps dedicated to Milan Kundera......

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