Original Disciples and Lying

So lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the Gospels, Apologetics, and related topics and one thing sprang to mind that I thought I’d throw out and see what sticks - if anything.

Let’s suppose that Jesus existed. He had a core group of followers and a moderate group of believers. He dies and his followers are shaken. They start to disband. People are looking to Peter for answers, “where’s the resurrection?”. Peter sees an opportunity starts to dig the attention and sees the opportunity to get some notoriety. All he has to do is lie.

So he does.

He says he saw Jesus. He starts essentially building the church around the teachings of his dead friend. Things pick up, other people have visions and a few years later Paul does as well. Paul spreads Christianity and the rest is history.


This scenario seems unlikely and has no direct evidence for it. I would say that it is more likely even if you accept miracles though, since miracles are even rarer.

The other issue is the apologetic “the disciples wouldn’t have died for a lie”.

This seems to make sense on the face of it, but a little scratching under the surface reveals issues.

  1. There’s no evidence that they were sent to their deaths for their beliefs - that’s a later church tradition.
  2. Even if they were, it’s completely unclear that admitting to lying would have done anything to prevent their death. Further, as with the case of Sabbitai Savi (sp?) even if they were shouting from the roof tops that they’d made it up it’s not a given that the true believers would have believed them (or known about their recanting).
    Thoughts? Yes, this scenario seems unlikely, I admit.

I’ve posted my pet theory before: imagine that, after the execution, the disciples gather to ritually eat broad flat mushroom caps that (a) look rather like pita bread, and (b) can induce euphoria and suggestibility and even hallucinations; grind 'em up and you get a fine powder that can turn water into something that (a) starts off kinda like wine, and (b) as the dosage increases, gets similar results.

Under the guidance of a psychotherapist-slash-authority-figure-slash-hypnotist, either can bring on a relaxed trance state conducive to having psychosomatic symptoms get forgiven away; in his absence, dosing yourself with both in some kind of sacramental wine-and-bread ritual – while like-minded believers around you all do the same – can bring on whatever experience you deeply crave.

In which case they’re not so much dying for a lie; they honestly believe they saw that He Is Risen, and set to spreading the word…


The pet theory I have is that a lie was involved on Peter becoming the sole leader or the one that counted in the end. Even Jesus chastised the disciples for expecting royal positions like the ones from earthly kingdoms.

(I think Peter got the wrong message from a game of charades that Jesus had with the disciples.) :slight_smile:

A big to do was made with the effort to make sure to elect a new 12th disciple right after Judas died, and then after all that effort we got a single Pope :dubious: . I still wounder why it was that followers did not complain. Even though I do not follow them, it is among several protestant churches that having 12 leaders is still the written way of doing “business”.

I remember a take on the scenario that Meatros mentioned being discussed in the 1948 book “Raintree County”, with the added twist that some of the Apostles broke into the tomb and stole the body of Christ themselves.
I doubt Ross Lockridge Jr, Author of Raintee County, was the first to come up with it…

See MATTHEW 28, for starters.

Commoner: Well, men are only men. That’s why they lie. They can’t tell the truth, even to themselves.
Priest: That may be true. Because men are weak, they lie to deceive themselves.
Commoner: Not another sermon! I don’t mind a lie if it’s interesting.