Who do you think I think you are?

Why the imposter theory doesn't work...

By Jeff Laird

Single Page/Printer Friendly
Continued from Page One

This is why con artists are dependent on ignorance. In order to successfully fool someone, you have to know more about the subject matter than they do. Or, stick to a subject the victim knows literally nothing about. The more you know, the longer you can keep up the façade. Bluster and bravado only go so far, and so deep. The scam is balanced on the knife edge, always at risk of running into one person asking one question that can't be answered.

The impostor concept is a staple of fiction, including books and movies such as The Man In The Iron Mask and Dave. Suspension of disbelief is usually the biggest criticism of these plots. People instinctively find it ridiculous to think a similar-looking stranger could really fool the people closest to the one being replaced. We know full well that even identical twins aren't that identical. Give a fictional impostor shape-shifting powers, such as Mystique from the X-Men series, and the ruse is still spoiled as soon as it's necessary to know what only the original person knows.

A modern-day example of a "spurious Alexander" — maybe — is the infamous con artist Frank Abagnale, dramatized in book and film versions of Catch Me If You Can. Not surprisingly, Abagnale pulled off his impersonations by carefully ducking the tests of knowledge mentioned above. He avoided personal relationships, usually only needed to fool people for a few moments, and skipped town when victims asked questions. And Abagnale wasn't pretending to be specific people, just feigning credentials. Not surprisingly, even his claims to con artistry have been disputed. It's just hard to believe, in any realistic sense, that so many people could be that gullible; even when the circumstances don't involve a close friend or family member!

Josephus recorded his tale of the false Alexander precisely because it was noteworthy; the charade went on far longer than such things typically do. A person impersonating Jesus would have to duplicate His appearance, voice, and mannerisms with absolute perfection in order to fool people who knew Him so well. He'd also have to be privy to information that, in many cases, only Jesus and a few other people knew (Mark 5:37, Luke 8:51). All of this deception would need to be sustained over the 40 days during which He appeared.

The balloon burst for the false Alexander as soon as he was questioned by a knowledgeable source. Mystique's comic book cover is blown as soon as she's forced to think like her victim. Abagnale did backflips to avoid actually having to do those things his counterfeit personalities could do. Jesus was immediately, closely questioned by those who knew Him best (Luke 24:36-44, John 20:24-28), and He appeared to them over a long period of time. If that was a counterfeit, he was simultaneously the greatest spy, thespian, magician, psychologist, and makeup artist in human history. That scam would make Catch Me If You Can look like an elementary school play.

And, of course, even that wouldn't explain the empty tomb, or the ascension into heaven, as witnessed by the same people (Luke 24:51). Josephus' Alexander didn't even claim anything miraculous, or face the level of scrutiny Christ did after His crucifixion.

In short, the impostor theory cannot be taken seriously as an explanation of early belief in the resurrection. The tale of the "spurious Alexander" is just a vivid example of why.

Even so, there are critics who persist in perpetuating the impostor theory. Most who believe it haven't thought much about it. If you've read this, and are still convinced that those who knew Jesus intimately, including family members, who had walked and talked with Him for more than three years, and had seen Him three days prior, could be so hoodwinked by a fraud that they'd willingly suffering torture and death in order to proclaim Him risen from the dead…

…please contact me as soon as possible. I'm your long-lost cousin, and you owe me money.

Image Credit: Microsoft Clipart

TagsBiblical-Truth  |  History-Apologetics  |  Jesus-Christ

comments powered by Disqus
Published 8-20-2014