From: Brian Holtz []
Sent: Friday, April 16, 2004 11:50 PM
To: Kris Key
Cc: G. Z. Jordan
Subject: RE: resurrection rebutal

You wrote:

This is my critique of your view on the resurrection.
I have been having difficulty with my computer, this
is why it took me so long.

I am not looking to get into a debate, I simply
believe it is fair that you get a chance to defend
yourself. I am probably going to post this at either
or both Jordan and Holdings sites. If you choose to
respond I will request them to post a link to your

I replied: 
In my last message alone you've left about 25-30 of my comments and questions unanswered, which is about how many Jordan was facing when he retired. Similarly, your new paper's every substantive criticism of my writings will be rebutted, but I make no promises how soon I will get around to doing so.

Below is my rebuttal. In any of your criticisms of my writings, I invite you to link to, which will always contain an up-to-date index of my answers to your criticisms (and links to your criticisms if available). 

BH: The most likely explanation is as follows. First, out of zeal for the cause and ministry of their charismatic and righteous martyr, some disciple(s) of Jesus arranged to have his body stolen, as in the rumor reported in Mt 28. Possible conspirators were Joseph of Arimathea and Mary Magdalene, a longtime disciple [Lk 8:2] "out of whom [Jesus] had driven seven demons" [Mk 16:9, Lk 8:2] and who (unlike any apostle) attended both the crucifixion and entombment. She was the first to visit the tomb on Easter [Mt 28:1, Jn 20:1], and the possibility of removal [Jn 20:2,14,15] was not unimaginable to her. She weepingly and suspiciously lingered [Jn 20:11] after the apostles left the empty tomb, and thereupon was the first [Mk 16:9, Mt 28:9, Jn 20:14] to claim seeing an appearance. Mary or some other (possibly non-conspiring) disciple could have exaggerated a feeling or vision of a morally triumphant and spiritually resurrected Jesus, a vision which other core disciples soon unconsciously induced in themselves (and elaborated on).

KK: I found your view to be interesting; it was a fascinating blend of Ludemann’s view and that of the conspiracy theory. I will first confess that it does have three strengths.

      1. It does make the corpse disappear.
      2. It does not need to postulate all of the followers of Jesus being involved in the theft, which is extremely unlikely, only Joseph of Arimathea or Mary Magdalene
      1. It does attempt to explain why the apostles were sincere in their conversions; they were simply deceived.

I'm surprised that my thesis is new to you and that you apparently think it's original. In your time as an allegedly well-read atheist, did you think that any conspiracy thesis required that all apostles and NT authors were in on the scheme, and that no early Christians experienced any kind of ecstatic epiphany or manifestation that they misinterpreted as a triumphant Jesus?

KK: But your theories strengths are few, and the weaknesses are vast. One of the key weaknesses in your theory is your treatment of the historical text in question. I will examine below each of the verses you use and show how they suffer from one of three fallacies: your use of the text is unjustifiably skeptical. At best it is a forced reading and most importantly less forced and skeptical readings are better explanations of the authors intent.

Thank you for admitting that your alternative reading is less skeptical, as it indeed involves credulously accepting the gospel authors' thesis. You apparently miss my point that the gospel authors themselves were probably dupes of any empty-tomb conspiracy.

Luke 8:2- as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out

KK: To suggest Mary would have become a thief on bases of this is simply ludicrous.

My suggestion is not that Mary "became a thief". My suggestion is that the body could have been stolen by an extremely zealous and somewhat unstable disciple, and that being possessed by "seven demons" is prima facie evidence of Mary having been unbalanced. The only thing "ludicrous" here is your distortion of my thesis into the notion that being cured of demonic possession led Mary to become a habitual criminal.

KK: I wonder how many courts would consider this to be evidence for her becoming a thief.

This is the tired apologetic tactic of invoking a ludicrously inappropriate standard of proof.  Do you dare claim there is any court at all that would assert that the truth of Christianity can be established on the basis of the available evidence? In her trial should Andrea Yates have tried to establish in court the truth of Christianity in order to justify her contention that drowning her children decreased their chances of ending up in Hell?

KK: The verse simply states Mary was cured from a demonic possession , nothing more.

"Nothing more" makes you sound somewhat credulous. To anyone not so credulous, a personal history of (seven-time?) demonic possession is prima facie evidence for a susceptibility to irrationality, delusion, or outright psychosis.

Matt 28:1- After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

KK: This verse is simply reporting that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. The most natural and commonsense reading of this verse is for them to mourn, nothing else.

My point, obviously, is that as an alleged witness of the entombment and the first visitor to the tomb, Mary Magdalene was in a position to have taken part in any removal of the body. You here do not address my point at all, and instead merely parrot what the gospel authors obviously want you to believe.

John 20:1-2 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to  the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him .

KK: There is no reason to read into this text an assumption that Mary Magdalene was a thief,

Two distortions in one sentence: you name-call my hypothesis "an assumption", and you make it sound like my hypothesis is that Mary Magdalene was some kind of shoplifter. There are obvious reasons to hypothesize that Mary may have taken part in a body theft: she had the motive, opportunity, and probably the means as well.

KK: she came to a natural reaction when first she saw the tomb to be empty, which was robbery

Amusingly, you here tacitly concede the reasonableness of my basic body-theft thesis. Mary was a long-time disciple who (unlike any apostle) attended both the crucifixion and entombment; she would have known of Jesus allegedly predicting at least four times [Mk 8:31, 10:34; Mat 16:21, 17:23, 20:19; Lk 9:22, 18:33, 24:7, 24:46] that he would "rise from the dead" or be "raised to life" "on the third day". You elsewhere claim that a tomb-emptying physical resurrection was the only kind of resurrection that Jesus' followers could have believed in.  Despite all this, you say that concluding grave robbery would have been a "natural reaction". Thank you.

John 20:11 - But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb.
KK: A superior explanation is that Mary stayed by the tomb to mourn, first the death of her beloved teacher and now the apparent theft of his body. Your assumption about this verse is simply unwarranted.

Another instance of name-calling ("assumption"), and another failure to answer my point: by lingering outside the tomb, Mary was uniquely positioned to experience the first manifestation.

John 20:14-15. When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away

KK: Again I am simply puzzled by your assumption here; it would be perfectly natural that Mary Magdalene would first see Jesus. The apostles had left.

That's my point -- she apparently waited until they had left. If she hadn't been the last one there, or hadn't been the first to experience a triumphant Jesus, the gospel narrative would undercut my accusation. But it doesn't.

Also, we here see that her first experience of the triumphant Jesus might have just been a case of mistaken identity, in which she imagined the spirit of Jesus alive in some other person (as John the Baptist was believed to be risen in Jesus; see below).

KK: Also to read this as evidence of Mary being a thief again is a forced reading.

She was first to the scene of the possible crime, lingered there until everyone else had left, and then was the first to have the experience of the crime's intended alibi: a trimuphant Jesus surviving death in some sense. This reading is hardly "forced".

KK: Your use of the verses above is simply irrational. It rends them completely out of context.

Insubstantive name-calling.

KK: It also play scholarly pick and choose. It ignores other verses which would clearly refute that reading of them.

Which "other verses"? Do you mean the ones that assert that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead? Below you talk about the stone and the burial linen, as if every detail recorded (or invented) decades later by the disciples should be given equal credence. If there had been an empty tomb conspiracy, its existence of course would not be consistent with every embellishment that later developed in the gospel traditions. Scholars agree that by default more credence can be given to story elements that seem embarrassing or contrary to the evangelists' apologetic purposes. You can call it “pick and choose”, but doing so just identifies you as unfamiliar with standard exegetical practice.

Do you think that if there had indeed been a successful secret plot to steal the body, then the duped gospel authors writing decades later could not possibly have written anything that would point away from a stolen body and toward an actual resurrection?  Your position seems to be one of naive credulousness.

KK: There was no belief among the Jews about the idea of a spiritual resurrection.

You seem confused about my thesis. My thesis is not that 1) on Easter the disciples instantly believed that Jesus was resurrected as a spirit that one could see and converse with and 2) the gospel tradition later decided that what they were seeing and talking to was his resurrected and tangible corpse.

Rather, my thesis is that some disciples began having epiphanies, perhaps involving the occasional dream, ecstatic vision, encounter with a stranger, case of mistaken identity, or outright hallucination (or fabrication). The disciples in their desperation and zeal initially interpreted these experiences as manifestations of a triumphant and vindicated (but not necessarily reanimated) Jesus, who had apparently predicted that he would in some sense return or at least that his ministry would require but survive his death. If a tomb had in fact been found empty, that doesn't necessarily imply that these early manifestations were initially interpreted as experiences of a physically reanimated corpse. The disciples might have just believed that Yahweh had “raised” Jesus' body to heaven so as to not “abandon [it] to the grave” and to “decay” [Ps 16:10, cited in Acts 13:35-37]. An empty tomb belief would greatly have helped the early ephiphanic experiences be misinterpreted, exaggerated, and embellished over the subsequent half century into the reanimated corpse stories that appear only in the two oldest gospels (Luke and John).

The gospels themselves give precedent for the idea of a dead person being “raised from the dead” [Mk 16:14] by inhabiting the body of some other person currently living. When some [Mk 6:14, Mk 8:28, Mt 16:14, Lk 9:19] -- including Herod [Mk 6:16, Mt 14:2] -- thought  that John the Baptist had been "raised from the dead", at least a few of these people would have known that Jesus' body had been in use before the Baptist's death. There is no record that anyone ever considered checking the Baptist's body (the grave of which was known his disciples [Mk 6:29, Mt 14:13]), and there is no record that anyone wondered why Jesus' neck did not show signs of John's earlier beheading.

KK: For example read the following verses
Daniel 12:2-3
Ezekiel 37:1-12
Is. 26:19
4 Ezra 7:32
1 Enoch 51:1
Sib. Or. IV
2 Baruch 50:2ff
Pseudo-Phocylides 103-4

None of these non-gospel verses can remove from your holy gospels my examples above of the Baptist being considered “raised from the dead” in another person's body and being so considered simply because of the words and deeds of that other person. (The gospels are once again my best ally in arguing against the strained Old Testament exegeses of Christian apologists.)

KK: These verses easily demonstrate the Jewish view of resurrection from the dead. It was always a physical occurrence. The Pharisees even debated as to whether the resurected dead would still wear their burial cloths, thus there are no good historical reasons to believe that the apostles or Paul (who was a Pharisee) would have believed in a spiritual resurrection.

Instead of all your Old Testament quotes, you might have considered quoting what Paul himself actually wrote concerning the resurrection body. Here are those verses:

1 Cor 15:35-54: But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" [..] There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. [..] So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a lifegiving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. [..] the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

Here Paul himself distinguishes the “natural body” from the “spiritual body” no less than thirteen times.

Also, you here completely ignore the point that in 1 Cor 15 Paul includes his own merely auditory epiphanic experience as an “appearance” of the resurrected Jesus. If merely hearing a voice counts for Paul as an appearance of the resurrected Jesus, then he obviously does not think that such appearances necessarily involve a reanimated physical corpse.

KK: I shall begin with Corinthians. The spiritual body that is being discussed is the resurrected body. The resurrected body is a physical body

This is your statement, not Paul's. I quote Paul thirteen times distinguishing the resurrected body from physical bodies. You cannot once quote Paul saying “the resurrected body is a physical body”, so you just baldly assert it.

KK: Verse 47 discusses Adam, which is clearly a physical creation.

Your citation is laughable. 1 Cor 15:47 is: “The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.” Paul here is obviously implying that the “second man” -- the resurrected one – is not composed “of the dust of the earth”. Now, which of Paul's twelve other physical/spiritual distinctions do you want to cite as a physical/physical non-distinction?

KK: Verse 20 "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died." This verse discusses the idea that Christ had been bodily resurrected from the dead

"Bodily" is your word, not Paul's.

KK: This is clearly referring to the Jewish view of resurrection, a good example of this can be found in John 11:23-24 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

A better example is the actual (not merely hoped for and eschatological) resurrection asserted above by many Jews about John the Baptist.

KK: Verse 15:22 of 1st Corinthian –"for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ." It refers to the death of Adam, which was clearly a physical event .

We're talking about whether resurrection is physical, not whether death is physical. OK, that's 2 of 13. Which of Paul's eleven other physical/spiritual distinctions do you want to cite as a physical/physical non-distinction?

KK: In verse 44 Paul use of the word soma twice, proving that he intended for the Corinthians to understand the resurrected body to be physical.

1 Cor 15:44 is “it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” It's hilarious that you consider these two distinctions to support your case. You seem to think Paul wrote “it is sown a natural body, it is also raised a natural body. If there is a natural body, the spiritual body is similarly natural.” OK, that's 4 of 13. Which of Paul's nine other physical/spiritual distinctions do you want to cite as a physical/physical non-distinction?

KK: The word simply has no other meaning ( Soma in Biblical Theology by Robert Gundry) [.. Paul's] word soma has no meaning besides that of physical. The best view of what Paul is trying to say is this " The resurrected body will be physical, but have spiritual aspects."

Actually, the key to Paul's point (whatever it is) lies not in his use of soma, but in his distinction between soma psychikon and soma pneumatikon. Paul does not cite any physical aspect of Jesus' resurrected existence. Paul distinguishes thirteen times between earthly and heavenly existence, and not once cites any physical aspects of the heavenly or spiritual soma.

Ist Peter 3:18 –19 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison

KK: The author of 1st Peter is clearly familiar with the Jewish concept of bodily resurrection, he mentions it twice in his epistles [1 Pet 1:3, 1 Pet 3:21].

Neither of these verses mention a specifically “bodily” resurrection. They mention resurrection (anastasis), and you claim it necessarily connotes “physicality”. In fact, none of the alleged (and almost certainly pseudepigraphic) letters of Peter, James, Jude, and John mention an empty tomb or a specifically physical resurrection, even in contexts [1 Pet 3:18, 1 Pet 5:1, 2 Pet 1:16] where one might expect them to.

KK: Paul, as seen by his use of the word "soma" in 1st Corinthians 15:44, clearly believes in a bodily resurrection.

LOL. In 1 Cor 15, Paul does not cite any physical aspect of Jesus' resurrected existence. Paul distinguishes thirteen times between earthly and heavenly existence, and not once cites any physical aspects of the heavenly or spiritual soma.

KK: Standing before the Sanhedrin in Acts 23:6 he used the word ‘anastasis" to describe this event: “I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead.”

Nothing in this verse implies a belief by Paul that the manifestations reported in 1 Cor 15 were of a physically reanimated Jesus.

KK: Now that it is clear that the author of 1st Peter believed in a bodily resurrection by his use of the word "anastasis"

It is clear that you're confusing your beliefs with those of the author of 1 Peter.

KK: the rest of his statements should clearly be understood within the light of Jewish norms of its days. Verses 3:19-20 clearly refer to the spiritual state of existence, which would have occurred after the crucifixion and until the resurrection on Easter Sunday. While in this spiritual form, Jesus preached to the spirits ( what he preached is not stated) This preaching ended when Jesus bodily rose from the dead.

“Bodily” is your word, not that of the author of 1 Peter.

KK: If Paul (and Peter) were preaching a spiritual resurection to the Pagans, why did Christianity later adopt the physical view, which Pagans would have found to be disgusting?

Doctrine wasn't necessarily determined by a cynical calculation of popular appeal, and only a tiny fraction of pagans indeed initally adopted Christianity. However, a doctrine of physical resurrection would hardly render Christianity irretrievably  un-adoptable to all pagans. Richard Carrier writes that there were many precedents

for a pagan belief in a physical resurrection. Take Castor and Pollux (or Polydeuces). These two brothers, called the Dioscuri, won a special deal from the gods: though both had died, only one of them had to actually sit in Hades, while the other got to live again on earth, and they exchanged places either every six months or every other day. Massively popular as savior deities and protectors, often "seen" physically appearing and acting in battles and other crises, there is no way anyone, especially anyone who spoke much less wrote Greek, would not have heard of these gods and their myth. This is an indisputable case of an idea of physical resurrection on Earth, and one that was ubiquitous in the time of Christ.

One can easily imagine how factors like

combined over a half century to produce the reanimated corpse stories that appear only in the two oldest gospels (Luke and John).

KK: Your use of visual hallucinations is fatally flawed. The most obvious difficulty with it lies that there simply is not enough evidence to know if the apostles had any mental illness at all, much less were so mentally ill that they had both auditory and visually based hallucinations.

In the explanation of mine to which you're responding, I mentioned “visions” not “hallucinations”. You exhibit the fallacy of the excluded middle to assume that the disciples must either have been 1) “mentally ill” or 2) always completely lucid and never subject to visions induced by religious ecstasy.

KK: The hallucinations of the sort you suggest are rare in one person, obviously postulating it occurred within all of Jesus’s closest followers is extremely difficult

“All” is your word, not mine. I didn't say all of Jesus' closest followers had “hallucinations”; I didn't even say they “all” had visions .I say some disciples began having epiphanies, perhaps involving the occasional dream, ecstatic vision, encounter with a stranger, case of mistaken identity, or outright hallucination (or fabrication).

KK: It is not enough to state people hallucinate, it needs to be demonstrated that it is probable for Jesus’s closest followers to have done this in order for this explanation to be taken seriously.

Which is more probable: visions and epiphanies that were misinterpreted and exaggerated, or that the creator of 100 billion galaxies would concern himself with the fertility problems of a Mesopotamian nomad, commit unspeakable crimes against that nomad's tribal enemies, and then incarnate himself as a secretive unpublished family-resenting bastard carpenter in the rural outback of a peripheral province of a regional empire that had no significant communication with the majority of the human race?

KK: why didn’t one apostle hallucinate an assumption and another a spiritual resurrection? There is no compelling reason to believe that the apostles should have had uniform hallucinations experiences.

I don't say they did. I haven't even said that there were necessarily any hallucinations at all.

KK: The conversion of James is not properly explained in your theory. To be exact, it is ignored.

On the contrary, I've elsewhere written that "Jesus' family are the best possible witnesses to testify about the validity of his ministry, and their verdict was unanimous that his ministry was not authentic. Only after the trauma of Jesus' execution did they decide to step in front of the parade that Jesus had been leading.” Jesus seems to have been illegitmate, and to have been known to be such in his community [Mt 1:18-24]. His only recorded words before his ministry concern his disobedience [Lk 2:48,51] at age 12 to his mother and stepfather, whom he denied by calling the Temple "my Father's house". He spurned his stepfather's trade of carpentry to take up a ministry proclaiming himself the son not of Joseph but of God. Despite alleged angelic revelations [Lk 1:32, Mt 1:20, Mt 2:13, Mt 2:20] to Mary and Joseph, they (and Jesus' siblings) did not believe in him [Jn 7:5, Mt 13:57] and thought him "out of his mind" [Mk 3:21], leading Jesus to repeatedly stress [Mk 10:29, Mt 19:29, Lk 11:27-28, Lk 14:26, Mt 10:37, Mk 3:33, Mt 12:48] that one should choose God over one's biological family. Only on the day of his death do the gospels record a single friendly word [Jn 19:26] from Jesus to his family.

KK: He was not interested in his brothers ministry during Jesus’s lifetime ( John 7:1-9 and Mk 3:31-35) These verses are certainly historical because they have no apologetic value and would seem to cast Jesus in a negative light.

Earlier you said I “pick and choose” verses, but you here admit that we can have more historical confidence in verses with no apologetic value or that cast Jesus in a negative light.

KK: He was never a follower of Jesus so why should he have guilt based hallucinations?

I've never said James had any kind of hallucinations. James was probably traumatized and chagrined by his brother's death.

KK: Why should he get himself involved with a movement which was being persecuted, for a brother he thought insane ( Mk 3:31) and who had just died the most shameful death possible

It's hardly surprising that James would rethink his beliefs upon his brother's death, or that he would feel pressure (or see an opportunity) to lead his brother's movement.

KK: [your thesis] also requires none of the apostles to even consider the possibility of theft even after seeing Jesus’s burial linen laying in the tomb (John 20:5).

(I don't know why seeing the linen would make theft seem more likely.) I don't require that no apostle considered the possibility of theft; I merely require that none of them reached and held theft as a conclusion.

KK: Nor does it offer an explanation for the conversion of the other women besides Mary Magdelane, because they like wise would have no reason to have guilt based hallucinations

I never said “guilt-based hallucinations” were the cause of anyone's “conversion”. At any rate, Mary's alleged companions at the tomb already were converts.

KK: Lastly, it does not deal with the psychological data at all, which would suggest the apostles would have come to their senses. (Brandt 209)

If “Brandt” has evidence that rebuts my actual thesis (and not just your misrepresentation of it), then feel free to actually describe or quote that evidence.

KK: The explanation given for the conversion of Paul is that of guilt + seizure = conversion. [..] What is the evidence for Paul feeling guilty?

1 Cor 15:9 “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

KK: Another difficulty with this view is that guilt did not exist in ancient societies as it does in modern societies.

Guilt, shame, embarrassment, chagrin, contrition, remorse – it would be ludicrous to claim that these phenomena were inoperative in ancient societies.

KK: social science scholar Richard Rohrbaugh (coauthor, along with Bruce Malina of various social commentaries on the New Testament), had this to say: [..] All known agrarian societies have been honor-shame societies and it is only individualistic societies in which guilt comes to the fore. The issue is therefore not the modern versus the ancient, but the collectivist versus the individualistic.

Rohrbaugh's alleged distinctions between shame/guilt and collective/individual are of course no guarantee that a religion's persecutor could never develop enough sympathy/shame/contrition/remorse to help explain a change of heart about that persecution. I defy you to quote such a guarantee asserted in any peer-reviewed social science publication.

KK: why should this guilt have created hallucinations?

I didn't say it “created hallucinations”.

KK: what is the direct evidence for seizures?

(I said “seizure”, not “seizures”.) What is the direct evidence for a supernatural theophany to Paul from a Hebrew tribal deity incarnated as a secretive unpublished family-resenting bastard carpenter from Galilee? Of these two possible explanations, one is obviously more parsimonious.  As Richard Carrier writes, "this particular encounter in Acts has all the earmarks of something like a seizure-induced hallucination: Paul alone sees a flash of light, and he hears voices and goes blind for a short period."

KK: To accept this theory one would have to accept that Paul suffered from four distinct, rare forms of mental illness: conversion disorder, auditory hallucinations, visual hallucinations

Only if you take at face value the multiple and conflicting accounts of Paul's conversion, written well after the event and for evangelical purposes. I merely need claim that Paul misinterpreted and exaggerated some kind of seizure or hallucination or ecstatic epiphany.

KK: and a messianic disorder (because he had a belief that he had been commisioned by God).

I need not claim that anyone who feels a calling to the ministry must necessarily have a "messianic disorder".

KK: John 20:1 records that the stone had already been moved and no body was present, thus from this verse alone Mary Magdalane [sic] could not be a thief, the body was gone by the time she arrived.

Your reasoning here is inexcusably credulous. First, John does not say what Mary was doing before her alleged visit to the alleged tomb on Easter morning. Second, Jn 20:1 implies that she went alone and in the predawn darkness, so even for this visit the gospel author would only have Mary's word for what she did or didn't do.

KK: Reading four verse down in John 20:5 we find that the burial linen of Jesus was left behind. Why would a thief steal the body , but leave that behind, which would be clear evidence of theft?

Again, I don't see how the linen constitutes “clear evidence” for (or against) theft.

KK: Why did the notion of theft never occur to the apostles, even after this?

Unless the apostles had their fingers in their ears, the possibility of theft was brought to their attention by Mary Magdalene in Jn 20:2: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!”

KK: The early evangelist, who stressed the importance of witness, never thought to investigate this idea?

We of course don't know what investigations were made of any empty tomb(s) that Jesus was alleged to have occupied. All we know is that enough investigation was done that even Matthew had to admit (in the gospel most written for a Jewish audience) that the conclusion of a stolen body was “widely circulated among the Jews even to this day”.

KK: there is no reason for Joseph to have robbed the tomb. This theory also offers an inconstinency: the idea that followers of the high moral teachings of Jesus would be so craven as to rob his tomb, then allow this farce to continue.

Millions of self-described Christians believe that Jesus was a mere man whose “high moral teachings” were and are nevertheless immensely important. Jesus was in fact a merely mortal prophet, and martyrdom was no "farce" but rather was a standard fate for Jewish prophets. For the Jews who would have stolen the body, Jesus' message was not at all invalidated by his martyrdom and continuing non-divinity.

KK: Lastly this theory needs to postulate possibily two people allowing themselves to be persecuted for something they knew to be a lie.

1. Joseph was at little risk, since Joseph was only “secretly” [Jn 19:38] a disciple of Jesus, and was outed as such only decades later when he was presumably dead.

2. As a longtime disciple and ex-demoniac, Mary proved her zealousness by (unlike any apostle) attending both the crucifixion and entombment. She was the first to visit the tomb on Easter, and was the first [Mk 16:9, Mt 28:9, Jn 20:14] to claim seeing an appearance. Despite all this, she is ommitted from Paul's list [1 Cor 15] of appearances, and vanishes from recorded history as soon as she talks others into having their own epiphanies. (In the apocryphal Gospel of Mary, Peter tells her "we know that the Savior loved you more than any other woman. Tell us the words of the Savior that you know but which we haven't heard." She answers "I saw the Lord in a vision" and relates the conversation she had with him.)

3. Peter and James are the only resurrection witnesses who the New Testament names (John 21:18,19, Acts 12:2) as martyrs, but there is no evidence that recanting just their alleged belief in physical resurrection could have saved them. As far as I know, no Christian was ever persecuted specifically for her belief in an empty tomb.

N.T Wright: "So far as we know, all the followers of these first-century messianic movements were fanatically committed to the cause.”

Are you admitting that there were indeed plenty of first-century messianic movements? For some Christian apologists, the alleged uniqueness of Jesus' messianism is crucial to their flimsy case that Jesus in fact claimed to be divine.

N.T. Wright: [..]in no case, right across the century before Jesus and the century after him, do we hear of any Jewish group saying that their executed leader had been raised from the dead and he really was the Messiah after all"

Perhaps the other groups had more sense. Perhaps none of the other groups had any tomb-emptying conspirators among them. We should ask why any such group would proclaim a resurrection, not why all of them wouldn't.

KK: Other cults throughout history have had its leader die (in less shameful ways), and they never proclaimed him risen, why this one?

History isn't so simplistically deterministic. In addition to the factors I just mentioned, another reason might be path dependence: after such a resurrection has been so widely proclaimed once, subsequent attempts could be dismissed as copycats.

KK: According to Deut 21:22-24 Jesus died a shameful death which left him far from being a martyr, but instead a man cursed by God.

The overwhelming majority of Jews indeed rejected Jesus, who only merited a passing mention in Josephus' detailed history of 1st Century Palestine's Jews and their various factions. Those who remained in the Jesus movement presumably accepted something like Paul's rationalization [Gal 3:13] of the curse you cited: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'"

KK: They had no further reason to follow this man, his death proclaimed him to be a false prophet, rejected by God, and that they had simply been deceived.

Are you saying there was no tradition of martyred prophets in Judaism?

KK: If they had wanted to continue his movement, even after this disaster why didn’t they simply proclaim Judas to be the Messiah, or that failing, perhaps Peter?

The Jesus movement had come to believe that Jesus was unique. Upon his death, the movement needed not to replace him and thus deny his uniqueness, but to convince itself that he was vindicated.

KK: What convinced the apostles of the idea of a dying and rising view of the Messiah, which had no foundation in the Jewish world view? (The Jewish view of the Messiah was a conquering king Micah 5:2-6).

The nature of the Messiah was hardly the only element of Judaism that Jesus (and much more so, Paul) reinterpreted or rejected.

KK: Lastly what convinced Paul and James of the validity of Christ, turning both of them into champions of the faith.

You seem to assume that Jesus preached precisely the doctrines of what later became orthodox Christianity, and that Paul and James adopted “the faith” overnight. Paul and James were indeed converted to the Jesus movement; see above for my discussion of James and Paul.

KK: Many explanations have been proposed to explain Easter Sunday naturally. None of them come near to being plausible and this theory is no different. The best explanation remains the first "he is risen indeed"!

If that is the “best explanation”, then why has the trend in Western intellectual history for the last century or two been to reject the worldview corresponding to that explanation?