Post Author: Bill Pratt
In a previous post we laid out the requirements for successfully pulling off a conspiracy:
- small number of conspirators
- thorough and immediate communication
- short time span
- significant relational connections
- little or no pressure.
Former cold case detective J. Warner Wallace, after sharing these requirements, investigates whether the disciples of Jesus could have conspired to lie about his death and resurrection and never be found out. Here is Wallace, from his book Cold-Case Christianity:
The number of conspirators required to successfully accomplish the Christian conspiracy would have been staggering. The book of Acts tells us that there were as many as 120 eyewitnesses in the upper room following Jesus’s ascension (Acts 1: 15). Let’s assume for a minute that this number is a gross exaggeration; let’s work with a much smaller number to illustrate our point. Let’s limit our discussion to the twelve apostles (adding Matthias as Judas’s replacement). This number is already prohibitively large from a conspiratorial perspective, because none of the other characteristics of successful conspiracies existed for the twelve apostles.
The apostles had little or no effective way to communicate with one another in a quick or thorough manner. Following their dispersion from Jerusalem, the twelve disciples were scattered across the Roman Empire and, according to the most ancient accounts, were ultimately interrogated and martyred far from one another. Methods of communication in the first century were painfully slow . . . .
From Peter in Rome, to James in Jerusalem, to Thomas in Mylapore, the apostles appear to have been ultimately interrogated in locations that prevented them from communicating with one another in a timely manner. They had no idea if any of their co-conspirators had already “given up the lie” and saved themselves by simply confessing that Jesus was never resurrected. While skeptics sometimes claim that these recorded locations of martyrdom are unreliable because they are part of a biased Christian account, there isn’t a single non-Christian record that contradicts the claims of martyrdom offered by the local communities and historians.
We will continue with Wallace’s analysis in part 2.