Remember my post on Dan Barker’s Easter Challenge last month? Well, a few things have happened since then.
Let me fill in the gaps.
In that post I pointed out that even after a few days of research I came up with only two Christian responses to Barker’s challenge.
One by James Patrick Holding. Another by a small-town [pop. 350] Idaho pastor named Stephen Kingsley.
This post is about Kingsley.
See, Kingsley wrote a small book called The Easter Answer…a book, he claims succeeds in answering Barker’s sophisticated challenge.
However, in my original post I complained that Kingley’s book wasn’t on Amazon. Or available anywhere except on his website. Meaning, no reviews. Nothing to objectively gauge his claims.
To make a long story short, Kingsley heard my complaint and was kind enough to send me the book on the promise I’d review it.
I’m cashing in on that promise now.
Why the Resurrection Accounts Seem Irreconcilable
First off, it’s obvious Kingsley did his homework. He super impressed me with the authorities he approached–including the Lockman Foundation–skeptics he engaged and the time he spent working this challenge out.
And let me note that the issue at hand is not whether the resurrection really happened. The issue at hand is the consistency of the different narratives. That’s all.
If anything, as Kingsley points out, “The accounts prove one another incomplete, not contradictory.”
Kingsley suggests that one of the reasons the accounts may seemed difficult to reconcile is because of our assumption that the writers were writing about the identical trip at the same time. Looking closely, he says, may prove otherwise.
Thus, he spends the remainder of the book proving that the accounts are similar and supplemental rather than identical and contradictory.
One Major Roadblock to Success
Kingsley’s approach is unique in that he isolates all 165 verses Barker demands must be used…and then systematically weaves the story.
Sounds easy, right? But there’s a hitch. Kingsley first has to overcome the very problematic Matthew 28:1.
The essence of the Matthew 28:1 problem lies in the translation of the Greek word opse. Does it mean “after?” Or does it mean “late?”
Kingsley demonstrates that it must mean “late”–in spite of the current and popular translation as “after”– and with that piece of the puzzle in place, he seamlessly assembles the rest of the story.
Explanation for Her Psychological State Is a Stretch
There is one snag in his theory, though.
He goes into great lengths to explain Mary Magdalene’s psychological state during her second trip to the empty tomb, this time with the women.
What’s at stake is explaining why she behaves as if she doesn’t know the tomb is empty. I mean, she’s already been there. Why not clue the gals in on her little secret?
Kingsley’s explanation is a stretch. But it’s certainly possible. So are a dozen others. Therefore, if critics attack Kingley’s book, this will be one of the places.
However, we have to remember that when dealing with historical evidence, historians, text critics and social anthropologists always have to create a scenario out of the evidence. Otherwise, all you have is a story with people moving from one place to another.
Most unlike life.
In the end, the book proves to be a great commentary on the 165 verses in question. And in addition, I do think that Kingsley’s answer is satisfactory and he does indeed answer Barker’s challenge. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have remaining questions.
My Lingering Questions
I wonder if Kingsley’s offered his solution to the scrutiny of Christian scholars yet? I know he’s sent Barker the book who, to date, hasn’t read it. Barker did promise Kingsley he would get around to it.
Second, I wonder how many atheists have actually taken this challenge? Seeing that Barker’s Easter Challenge is the atheist meme par excellence, you’d think mabye someone would have taken to it. I don’t know of any. Do you?
Finally, why are we really even debating this?
Perhaps what’s important is not that the texts can stand up to this kind of scrutiny…but it’s there if we need it.
And by the way, you can decide for yourself if Kingsley’s done the impossible. Go vote.