The times in which Jesus lived are well documented. We know a lot about the historical context of the world in which he lived. This knowledge is not a matter of personal belief but of historical fact. If a man or woman permits his personal belief to distort, alter or transform historical fact, he cannot expect others, whether or not they share his belief, to condone the process. The same principle applies if a man permits his personal belief to derange dramatically the laws of nature. I find it hard to challenge claims of Jesus divinity or that he dwells within some of you folk. However when you claim Jesus was unique in his imaculate conception, life and resurrection or that he flies a white horse with Russell, Rutherford and others at his side or that he dresses as a white bunny delivering chocolate eggs at Easter time, forgive me if my eyes begin to roll.
The story of the resurrection and ascention of Christ Jesus is related by the four Gospel narrators, and is to the effect that, after being crucified, his body was wrapped in a linen cloth, laid in a tomb, and a "great stone" rolled to the door. The tomb (sepulchre) was then made sure by "sealing the stone" and "setting a watch."
On the first day of the week some of Jesus' followers came to see the tomb, when they found that in spite of the "sealing" and the "watch," the angel of the Lord had decended from heaven, rolled back the stone from the door, and that "Jesus had risen from the dead."
The story of his ascension is told by the Mark narrator, who says "he was recieved up into heaven, and sat at the right hand of God;" by Luke who says "he was carried up into heaven;" and by the writer of Acts who says" he was taken up to heaven and a cloud recieved him out of sight." Matthew 28, Mark 16 +19, Luke 24, John 20 and Acts 1.
Funny thing about resurrections and ascensions - they were very common in ancient times, long before the world heard of Jesus the Christ, Gods were being raised and taken to heaven. In fact it was a prerequisite to Messiahship. Saviour status dictated that Jesus just had to be resurrected, Paul was fully aware of this and made it so. The following are a few examples of how the "Christian" resurrection doctrine is of pagan origin:
Crishna: Crucified Hindu Saviour, rose from the dead and ascended bodily into heaven. At that time a great light enveloped the earth and illuminated the whole expance of Heaven. Attended by celestial spirits and luminous as on that night when he was born in the house of Vasudeva, Crisna pursued, by his own light, the journey between earth and heaven, to the bright paradise from whence he had ascended. All men saw him, and exclaimed "Lo, Cristna's soul ascends its native skies!"
Buddha: When he died there were tears and much lamenting in heaven. An order rang out from the supreme being: "RISE HOLY LOVE!", the heavens echoed it back and "hells great dread and heavens eternal admiration" was restored to life. The coverings of his body unrolled themselves and the heavy lid of his coffin was lifted by supernatural powers. He then, mission acomplished on earth, ascended to the heavens. (as far as I know he's still there)
Lao-Kiun: Born of a virgin (like Cristna and Buddah) he who has existed from all eternity, when his mission of benevolence was completed on earth, ascended bodily into the paradise above. After that he was worshipped as a God and splendid temples erected to his memory. (I am thinking of making a large erection for Farkels worship but I want to see him sprout wings and fly first)
Zoroaster: Founder of the religion of the ancient Persians, who was consideredd a divine messenger sent to redeem men from their evil ways" ascended to heaven at the end of his earthly career. Ah "the immortal Zoroaster - living star."
AEsculapius: Son of God, the Saviour, after being put to death, rose from the dead.
Adonis/Tammuz: The Saviour - after being put to death, rose from the dead. These rites of Tammuz or adonis were recorded by Julius Firmicius during the reign of Constantine:
"Trust ye saints, your God restored.
Trust ye in your risen Lord;
For the pains which he endured
Our salvation have procured."
The Syrians and Egyptians celebrated the resurrection of Adonis in early spring. after laments, his resurrection was celebrated with joy and festivities. It is significant that this was a tradition at Alexandria - the cradle of Christianity - in the time of St.Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria (412AD) and at Antioch - the ancient capitol of the Greek kings of Syria - even as late as the time of Emperor Julian (361-363AD), whose arrival there during the solemnity of the festival was taken as an ill omen. Examine the evidence yourself and you'll see it is conclusive: the celebration in honour of the resurrection of Adonis came to be known as a Christian festival. The ceremonies held in Roman Catholic countries on Good Friday and Easter Sunday are nothing more than the festival of the death and resurrection of Adonis. Several of the Psalms of David were part of the liturgical service employed in the worship of Tammuz. Psalm 110 is an account of the friendly alliance of Jehovah and Adonis. Ezekial 8:14 speaks of the Israelite women bewailing the death of Tammuz in the Temple court.
Osiris: Bore the title "The Resurrected One" after being put to death and rising up from it. Professor Mahaffy, lecturer on ancient history in the University of Dublin observed that: "The resurrection and reign over an eternal kingdom, by an incarnate mediating deity born of a virgin was a theological conception which pervaded the oldest religion in Egypt"
Men preached Osiris as the resurrected saviour at least 3,000 years before that dark night the spirit of God entered into Mary.
Horus: Son of the virgin Isis. Experienced death, great mourning and resurrection after three days - just like Buddha and Osiris and many others.
Atys: Phrygian Saviour, was put to death and rose again. As Iggy says "you can't keep a good man down!" He rose of the 25th of March (just in time for easter bunny)
Mithras: Persian Saviour and mediator between God and man. Was believed by the people of Persia, Asia Minor and Armenia (and Paul?) to have been put to death and to have risen again from the dead. On March 25, during a ceremony the Mithrian priest criedd out: "Rejoice, Oh sacred Initiated, your God is risen. His death, his pains, his sufferings have worked our salvation."
Baccus: Saviour, son of the virgin Semele, usual story - put to death, rose from the dead. Having bought solace to the misfortunes of mankind he, after resurrection, ascended to heaven.
Hercules: My favorite saviour, the son of Zeus by a mortal mother was put to death but arose from his funeral bonfire and ascended into heaven in a cloud amid great clapping of thunder.
Memmon: Is put to death but rises again to life and immortality. His mother Eos weeps tears at his death - just as Mary wept for Jesus.
Amphiaraus: One of the greeks most celebrated prophets and demi-gods, believed to have raised from the dead. Like many others you can visit the place of his resurrection.
Baldur: Scandinavian Lord and Saviour, put to death by rose to immortality.
Sir Frey HALL: Another Scandinavian God. Died but sightings and rumours of his resurrection are comming in from all over the world. (unconfirmed sightings and imitations prolificate - worshipped by some, feared by others)
Quetzalcoatle: Mexican crucified Saviour - you'll never guess what happened to him! - he was put to death and ... wait for it ... he rose up from the dead.
A question for Christians: "Why, outside the Paul influenced Gospels, isn't the resurrection mentioned by those said to have met the risen Christ? We have the writings of Peter, James, John and Jude all of whom are said by the Gospel writers to have seen Jesus after he rose from the dead but they fail to make any reference or mention of it in their epistles. The fact is, many of the earliest Christian sects denied the resurrection of Christ Jesus but taught that he will rise in a general resurection. No representation of the resurrection of the Christians' Saviour has yet been found amoungst the momuments of early Christianity. The earliest is an ivory carving from the 5th century!
If someone tries to tell you that Jesus resurrection or anything else about his life as described in the bible is any way unique just shug and say "wow, when I grow up I wanna be just like you - blind faithful and fundy to the max!"
***This post is resurected at the special request of Shelby, YouKnow, Rex and several others. (i'd love to hear what 'normal' christians think, not just the jesus freaks and biblenuts who always seem to disappear when i post historical)