Were the so-called “five-hundred brethren” (1 Cor 15) publicly maintaining that Jesus visited them after his crucifixion?

  • Question

    Paul writes, “After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;” (1 Cor 15:6)

    Did such a group of purported witnesses exist, and were they themselves affirming that they saw Jesus appear to them?

“Yes, after all…
  • 1st church: “Jesus visited the 500!”

    Since c. AD 30, the Jerusalem church was circulating the message of 1 Corinthians 15:6, that Jesus appeared to “the 500 brethren.”

    A full article will analyze these two arguments

    • 1 Cor 15 creed was circulated by 1st church.
    • 1 Cor 15:6 “to 500” is primitive-creedal.

    This is relevant because the 1st church's testimony on such things matched that of relevant witnesses. (Note: This is different from the evidence above.)1

    1. Why is it different? Because, even if the church was not actually relaying testimony, we can know that it matched the testimony. For example, perhaps a poor fellow came to believe and say Jesus appeared to 500 witnesses as a result of being bumped in the head. The fact that his proclamation was circulated in the 1st church meant it was accidentally true--matching witness testiony--even if not relayed from witnesses itself.
  • “The 500” are the Galilee witnesses (Mt 28)

    “The 500 brethren” in fact are the witnesses who saw Jesus appear to them on the mountain at Galilee, as described in Mt 28:16-20.

    A full page on this will analyze this evidence:

    • They highly resemble each other.

    This is relevant given the Gospel of Mt relays witness testimony (i.e., given that it relays what the relevant witnesses were themselves saying).

“No, after all…
  • It would clearly have been mentioned in Lk, Mt, Jn.

    If there actually was an appearance (or an ostensible one) of Jesus to “the 500 brethren,” then it is clear that it both was not mentioned in the other gospels and yet would’ve been.

    But no, plausibly... (All forthcoming)

    • Arguments from silence must be careful.
    • E.g. It’s not clear Lk would’ve mentioned it.
    • E.g. It’s not clear Mt would’ve mentioned it.
    • E.g. It’s not clear Jn would’ve mentioned it.

    But so what? Plausibly…

    • Mt hints at a crowd visit in Galilee (see: It was the Galilean Mt. appearance)
    • Lk hints at additional visits, of which the 500 would fit well. 1
    1. Acts 1:3To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days.
      Acts 1:21-23Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 23 So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias.