Jesus' Twin Brother and the Truth About Easter

By Robin Schumacher

Over two thousand years ago, a Jewish carpenter found himself on the short end of the stick with both the Jewish teaching elite and Roman government, was put to death by crucifixion, and then placed in a tomb. His followers were crushed and fearful that the same thing would happen to them, and so for the next few days they did their best to stay out of the way of anyone who might link them with their now dead rabbi.

But something happened that changed everything.

Without warning, the Jewish carpenter's unknown twin brother appeared on the scene, stole and then disposed of his dead sibling's body. With the tomb now empty, the twin claimed to be his dead brother resurrected from the dead. So convincing was the twin that he was able to win over his dead brother's disciples and even some others who thought his brother was a fake. These individuals immediately began to publicly proclaim that their teacher had been raised from the dead by God and started a religious movement that continues to this day.

This is the true story and history behind Easter.

At least it is according to Dr. Robert Greg Cavin who holds a Master's in theology from Fuller and Ph.D. from U.C. Irvine. His doctoral dissertation entitled, "Miracles, Probability, and the Resurrection of Jesus" [1] spells out his arguments and his "Twin Theory" for the first Easter. [2]

Just the Facts Ma'am

As many historians — both Christian and secular — have pointed out numerous times, there are a number of undeniable facts concerning the resurrection account of Jesus. While a person may deny one or all of these facts, they do so only out of a lack of formal education on the subject.

The facts are these:

1. Jesus of Nazareth was murdered by crucifixion and buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
2. Three days afterward, His body went missing.
3. There were reported appearances of Jesus over the course of many days to various people, including both believers and skeptics.
4. Christ's reported appearances transformed both His followers and some skeptics into becoming bold proclaimers of his teaching and resurrection.

Again, no one who has studied the subject of Jesus' resurrection disputes these facts. What is disputed, however, is the best explanation for the data.

By far, the most-used hypothesis by skeptics and atheists to explain Christ's resurrection has been the hallucination theory. [3] For example, atheist Richard Carrier writes, "I believe the best explanation, consistent with both scientific findings and the surviving that the first Christians experienced hallucinations of the risen Christ, of one form or another. [4]

Other lesser used skeptical arguments put forward to explain the resurrection facts include the legend/myth, theft, wrong tomb, apparent death, and spiritual-only hypotheses.

But a twin brother of Jesus that suddenly appears out of nowhere and pulls off the biggest deception in human history? How is such an explanation even remotely possible?

What Are The Odds?

Cavin's nearly 400-page doctoral dissertation defends the twin theory of the resurrection primarily by asserting that the probability of Jesus having a twin brother who set all the resurrection events into motion is higher than that of God raising Jesus from the dead. Cavin, who says he believes in God and the supernatural, dismisses the hallucination hypothesis as not being credible and instead argues that for every element of his twin brother theory that seems implausible, the supernatural act of God raising Jesus from the dead contains a corresponding element that is more improbable. [5]

This line of reasoning is somewhat akin to the Scottish skeptic David Hume who wrote, "When anyone tells me, that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable, that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact, which he relates, should really have happened. I weigh the one miracle against the other; and according to the superiority, which I discover, I pronounce my decision, and always reject the greater miracle."[6]

Although Cavin may say he is not a naturalist thinker like Hume, his reasoning against God raising Jesus from the dead traverses down much the same path as the Scottish philosopher.

Why Not a Resurrection?

Since Cavin says he believes in God, why rule out a supernatural event like the resurrection of Jesus? As C. S. Lewis said decades ago: "But if we admit God, must we admit Miracle? Indeed, indeed, you have no security against it. That is the bargain." [7]

What Cavin and skeptics/atheists miss about the incredible nature of Christ's resurrection is this: That's the whole point of the event!

Think about it. A carpenter from a nowhere town begins to make some pretty spectacular claims about himself. While his teaching is weighty and meaningful, and some eyewitnesses claim he performed miracles, the things he said concerning himself are still very out of the ordinary.

He puts himself on par with God (John 8:58), forgives sins (Mark 2:5), accepts worship (Luke 24:52), says he is not just a teacher of truth but truth itself (John 14:6), claims that those who believe in him will never die (John 11:25), and much more. How do you verify/falsify such claims?

Paul tells us in the opening chapter of Romans. He says that Jesus "was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:4). Jesus had said the same thing years earlier when His detractors asked for a sign. He would give them the sign of all signs, which was the sign of Jonah (His resurrection, see Matt. 16:4).

The resurrection is the single event in history that validates everything Jesus said and His identity. It alone bridges the gap between the historical Jesus that both Christians and non-Christians accept and the God-Man Jesus. It is what brings together philosopher Immanuel Kant's noumenal (certainty) and phenomenal (experience/faith) worlds, which he claimed could not be joined.

But it does even more than that.

The Victories of the Resurrection

Without the resurrection of Jesus, as Paul says, our faith would be in vain (1 Cor. 15:14). Despite what skeptics say about there being nothing that could prove to a Christian that his/her faith was invalid, finding the body of that Jewish carpenter is all that's needed to put Christianity down for the count.

It's the resurrection of Jesus that is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and the single event in human history that provides all of the following victories to Jesus and those who put their trust in Him:

1. Victory of Christ's person — He is who He claimed to be (Rom. 1:4).
2. Victory of Christ's word — Everything He said was true (Matt. 12:38-40; John 2:18-22).
3. Victory over death — Christ's resurrection proves life beyond the grave (1 Cor. 15:20-26).
4. Victory over Satan — Jesus' resurrection robs Satan of his power (1 John 3:8; Heb. 2:14).
5. Victory over sin — Jesus' work breaks the bondage we have to sin (Rom. 6:8-10).
6. Victory of eternity — Christ's resurrection assures us of everlasting life (John 6:39-40).

If Dr. Cavin is right about the resurrection of Jesus being nothing more than a scam pulled off by some unknown twin brother of Jesus, then none of the above are true and every person who has put their trust in Jesus actually has no hope for today or the future.

However because God exists, and because He is more than able to intervene in His creation and bring about true miracles, "Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep" (1 Cor. 15:20).

I hope you will join me today in thanking and praising God that this is the "true truth" behind Easter.

1. Robert Greg Cavin. "Miracles, Probability, and the Resurrection of Jesus". Ph.D dissertation. (University of California-Irvine, 1993), 389 pages.
2. Beyond Cavin's arguments are those who reference the Gnostic writing "The Book of Thomas the Contender" where Jesus calls Thomas his twin: "Now, since it has been said that you are my twin and true Companionů" See: "The Book of Thomas the Contender".
3. For my short rebuttal against this theory, see: "The Resurrection of Jesus — A Miracle in One of Three Ways".
4. The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave, pg. 184.
5. See statements from Cavin in this collection of email exchanges.
6. David Hume; "Of Miracles".
7. C. S. Lewis, Miracles, Harper Collins, 1974, pg. 169

Published 4-18-14