If the Resurrection is actual history then why do the narratives look so much like a legend evolving? Pay attention to how “experiencing” the Risen Jesus evolves in chronological order. Scholarly consensus dating places the documents as follows:
Paul c. 50 CE - is the only firsthand report. He says the Risen Jesus “appeared” ὤφθη (1 Cor 15:5-8) and was experienced through “visions” and “revelations” - 2 Cor 12:1. The appearance to Paul was a vision/revelation from heaven - Gal. 1:12-16, Acts 26:19 (not a physical encounter with a revived corpse) and he makes no distinction between what he “saw” and what the others “saw” in 1 Cor 15:5-8 nor does he mention an intervening ascension between the appearances. This shows that early Christians accepted claims of “visions” (experiences that don’t necessarily have anything to do with reality) as “Resurrection appearances.” Paul nowhere gives any evidence of the Risen Christ being experienced in a more “physical” way which means you have to necessarily read in the assumption that the appearances were physical, from a later source that Paul nowhere corroborates. What Paul says in Phillipians 2:8-9, Rom. 8:34, and the sequential tradition preserved in Eph. 1:20 is consistent with the belief that Jesus went straight to heaven after the resurrection leaving no room for any physical earthly appearances. If this was the earliest belief then it follows that all of the “appearances” were believed to have been of the Exalted Christ in heaven and not physical earthly interactions with a revived corpse. He had a chance to mention the empty tomb in 1 Cor 15 when it would have greatly helped his argument but doesn’t. Paul’s order of appearances: Peter, the twelve, the 500, James, all the apostles, Paul. No location is mentioned.
Mark c. 70 CE - introduces the empty tomb but has no appearance report. Predicts Jesus will be “seen” in Galilee. The original ends at 16:8 where the women leave and tell no one. Mark’s order of appearances: Not applicable.
Matthew c. 80 CE - has the women tell the disciples, contradicting Mark’s ending, has some women grab Jesus’ feet, then has an appearance in Galilee which “some doubt” - Mt. 28:17. Matthew also adds a descending angel, great earthquake, and a zombie apocalypse to spice things up. If these things actually happened then it’s hard to believe the other gospel authors left them out, let alone any other contemporary source from the time period. Matthew’s order of appearances: Two women, eleven disciples. The appearance to the women takes place near the tomb in Jerusalem while the appearance to the disciples happens on a mountain in Galilee.
Luke 85-95 CE - has the women immediately tell the disciples, contradicting Mark. Jesus appears in Jerusalem, not Galilee, contradicting Matthew’s depiction and Mark’s prediction. He appears to two people on the Emmaus Road who don’t recognize him at first. Jesus then vanishes and suddenly appears to the disciples. This time Jesus is “not a spirit” but a “flesh and bone” body that gets inspected, eats fish, then floats to heaven while all the disciples watch - conspicuously missing from all the earlier reports. Luke omits any appearance to the women. Acts 1:3 adds the otherwise unattested claim that Jesus appeared over a period of 40 days and says Jesus provided “many convincing proofs he was alive” which shows the stories were apologetically motivated. Luke’s order of appearances: Two on the Emmaus Road, Peter, rest of the eleven disciples. All appearances happen in Jerusalem.
John 90-110 CE - Jesus can now teleport through locked doors and we get the Doubting Thomas story where Jesus invites Thomas to poke him. This story has the apologetic purpose that if you just “believe without seeing” then you will be blessed. Jesus is also basically God in this gospel which represents another astonishing development. John’s order of appearances: Mary Magdalene, eleven disciples, the disciples again plus Thomas, then to seven disciples. In John 20 the appearances happen in Jerusalem and in John 21 they happen near the Sea of Galilee on a fishing trip.
As you can see, these reports are inconsistent with one another and represent growth that’s better explained as legendary accretion rather than actual history. If these were actual historical reports that were based on eyewitness testimony then we would expect more consistency than we actually get. None of the resurrection reports in the gospels even match Paul’s appearance chronology in 1 Cor 15:5-8 and the later sources have amazing stories that are drastically different from and nowhere even mentioned in the earliest reports. The story evolves from Paul’s spiritual/mystical Christ all the way up to literally touching a resurrected corpse that flies to heaven! Moreover, in Luke and John the stories have obvious apologetic motivations. So upon critically examining the evidence we can see the clear linear development that Christianity started with spiritual visionary experiences and evolved to the ever-changing physical encounters in the gospels (which are not firsthand reports).
So what other event from history that we have multiple eyewitness reports of, actually looks and grows like this story does? Is it reasonable for someone who is not of the Christian faith, who objectively looks at this data and comes to the conclusion that it’s just a legend evolving like any other?
If apologists want to claim this data is consistent with reliable eyewitness testimony then they need to provide other examples about the same event from history that grow in fantastic detail like the gospels do, yet are still regarded to be reliable historical documents. I maintain that this cannot be done. If attempted, they will immediately realize any other historical documents that grow like the gospels do will be legends.