Review of Tom Jump vs Jonathan Sheffield

What did I think of this debate? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Someone recommended I look into the work of Tom Jump. I have heard a lot about him. Something interesting is that I saw that he said he has Aspergers which means he and I have a similarity. I saw him debate Gil Sanders on the existence of God with Thomism and think Gil was the one who knew most what he was talking about in that debate.

Some of you might cry bias, but realize I try to be as objective as I can in debates. I can think the atheist is wrong with his conclusion, but I can think he presented the better argument. When my father-in-law does a debate and I watch it, I give an honest feedback and if I don’t think it was a great debate on his part, I tell him.

My main area is the historical Jesus so I decided to see what Tom Jump had to say about the resurrection. I only found one such debate thus far and that was against Jonathan Sheffield. Right off, Sheffield’s argument for the resurrection I found quite unusual and was one I had never heard before. Those interested in the whole debate can go here.

Sheffield argues that many claimants of various religions were investigated by the Roman Empire and dealt with. Nothing was ever found about Christianity and a forged statement arguing that an investigation had been done was made. Sheffield argues that if Christianity was false, it would have been easy to shut it down at the time.

This is not the argument I would use, but it was interesting. I’m more interested in Jump’s response. Jump gave sadly the usual responses we see such as ECREE and of course, there had to be an appeal to Richard Carrier in there. At one point, he did reference the work of Mike Licona, but I wonder if he read it himself or just got it secondhand.

I would have liked to have seen more information on the historical data itself. I would have especially liked to have seen more on the burial. Jump goes with the position that Jesus was likely thrown in a common grave which is a position that was held by Crossan at one point at least and is held by Ehrman today.

I really don’t know after watching the debate where Jump stands on many issues aside from he doesn’t believe Jesus rose from the dead. Does he believe Jesus even existed? (If he likes Carrier, there’s reason to think he doesn’t.) When does he think the Gospels were written and who wrote them? What does he think of Paul?

I naturally don’t find ECREE convincing at all as an argument. Extraordinary is never defined and what is extraordinary for one person isn’t for another and how do you recognize extraordinary evidence. Does it glow in the dark? A young-earth creationist finds evolution and atheism an extraordinary claim. An atheist finds theism and young-earth creationism an extraordinary claim. If you went to a third world country and told them we landed on the moon (Assuming they had never heard of such an event), they would find that claim extraordinary.

At any rate, while I would not use the argument Sheffield used, though it was interesting and if he has success with it, wonderful, I found Jump’s response was less than adequate. I wouldn’t mind seeing what else he might say in debate on the resurrection, but so far I haven’t seen anything that calls it into question.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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