Roman Influence on the Birth of Christianity

Post Appearance Story

  • Three primary points suggesting Jesus did appear live after the crucifixion:

    • The event is documented in two independent sources: the New Testament and The Antiquities of the Jews by Flavius Josephus. Josephus wrote, “And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us [the Jewish elders and chief priests], had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day.”

    • The event is likely the primary reason Christianity persisted. If Jesus had died upon crucifixion, the movement probably would have died with him.

    • The documented story of Jesus’ post-appearance after the crucifixion in Luke 24:36-43 is realistic, granting it credibility:

As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit.  And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts?  See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

  • Again, why is there no mention of nail wounds? Jesus asks his disciples to “see” exposed parts of his body (i.e., parts not covered by clothing, like his hands and feet) and to physically handle other parts of his body to prove he is flesh and blood, and not spirit. Jesus is doing this to calm their fears by proving he is not a ghost.

  • One very simple and logical explanation of why there is no mention of nails in the written accounts of the crucifixion, and there is no mention of nail wounds in the post-appearance story is nails were not used and Jesus was supported in the more common fashion using ropes.

  • As shocking as the next statement may appear, it is a relatively simple statement with complete viability. This statement is not only simple, but also exceedingly logical if one tries to throw off the intense cultural emotion placed upon it:

    • If Jesus appeared live after the crucifixion, then this necessarily means he did not die on the cross. If Jesus survived a Roman execution then this in turn strongly suggests Pontius Pilate allowed Jesus to live. The strong possibility that nails were not used in Jesus’ crucifixion and his relatively short time on the cross, fits well with a Roman design (discussed in the following pages) to protect Jesus from a death demanded by a Jewish mob.

    • When did the word-of-mouth version using nails become part of Christian folklore?

    • It is possible first-hand written accounts may have existed.  But there is no record of such an account and the written accounts that do exist do not support this.

    • The word-of-mouth version had to have started after the first three Gospels were written, but within a few decades when the Gospel of John was written.

    • The Gospel of John has a modified version of the post-appearance story called the “doubting Thomas.”[1]

    • This modified account has the flavor of a story adjusted over time.  The basis for this conclusion is the nature of the much earlier version in Luke, which makes no mention of nail wounds.

    • The word-of-mouth version dominated over the next few centuries given the prevalence in religious art work (sculptures and paintings).

[1] John 20:19-29


Historical Discussion
In Depth

Historical Context

Dating the Gospels

I Was a Sunday-School Spy

The Crucifixion (animation)


Who Did Jesus Curse-Praise

Taxes to Rome

Submissiveness to Oppression

John the Baptist

Admirable and Amazing Works

The Term Gospel

Jewish Judgment

Pilate's Defense (animation)

Roman Soldiers at the Tomb

Migration of Christianity to Rome

Irony of Faith

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