The Rejection of Pascal's Wager
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The Two Thieves

All four gospels agree that Jesus was not crucified alone (Mark 15:27; Matthew 27:38; Luke 23:32; John 19:18). John said nothing more than that Jesus was crucified between the other two. The synoptic gospels added more details than this. Both Mark and Matthew says that these two convicted criminals joined the crowds in hurling insults at Jesus:

Mark 15:27,32
They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left..Those crucified with him also hurled insults at him.

Matthew 27:38,44
Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left...In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also hurled insults at him.

Luke, however, contradicts this account by inserting an edifying tale about one of the robbers who was received by the crucified Jesus into heaven:

Luke 23:32-33, 39-43
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place of the skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals-one on the right, the other on his left...One of the criminals who was hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuke him. "Don't you fear God?," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

It is glaringly obvious that Luke's tale cannot be reconciled with the accounts in Mark and Matthew that had both the robbers hurling insults at him. Luke's story does not have any claims to historicity and, in fact, sounds more like a parable than a historical episode. [1]

In fact we have good reason to think that the origin of the tradition that Jesus was crucified between two thieves was not a historical event, but again, an Old Testament passage: [2]

Isaiah 53:12
he...was numbered among the transgressors

Another episode in the crucifixion account shows itself to be of dubious historicity.

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1.Craveri, The Life of Jesus: p398-399
Guignebert, Jesus: p484-485
2.Craveri, The Life of Jesus: p398

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