Outlining the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth

by Max Andrews

Historicity of the Resurrection and Jesus[1]

1. The Five Facts

  • Jesus’ Death by Crucifixion
  • Disciples’ Beliefs that Jesus Appeared
  • Conversion of the Church Persecutor Paul
  • Conversion of Skeptic James
  • Empty Tomb

2. Jesus died due to crucifixion

  • Josephus
  • Tacitus
  • Lucian
  • Mara Bar-Serapion
  • Talmud

3. Jesus’ disciples sincerely believed Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them

  • They claimed it
    • Paul
    • Oral tradition
      • Creeds (i.e. 1 Cor. 15.3-7)
      • Sermon summaries (i.e. Acts 2
    • Written tradition
      • Gospels
        • Matthew
        • Mark
        • Luke-Acts
        • John
      • Apostolic Fathers
        • Clement
        • Polycarp
  • They believed it
    • Willingness to suffer
      • Acts
      • Clement of Rome
      • Polycarp
      • Ignatius
      • Dionysius of Corinth
      • Tertullian
      • Origen

4. Empty Tomb

  • Jerusalem Factor (Everyone could go see it)
  • Enemy attested
  • Testimony of women

5. Fraud Claims of the Resurrection

  • Fraud 1 (Disciples lied/stole the body)
    • Disciples really believed resurrection
    • Conversion of the church persecutor Paul based on appearance
    • Conversion of the skeptic James based on appearance
  • Fraud 2 (Someone else stole the body)
    •  Conversion of the church persecutor Paul based on appearance
    • Conversion of the skeptic James based on appearance
    • Beliefs of the disciples based on appearance
    • At best, only questions cause of empty tomb

6. Wrong Tomb

  • Does not account for appearances to disciples
  • Followers not convinced by empty tomb, but by appearances
  • Paul not convinced by empty tomb, but appearance
  • James not convinced by empty tomb, but by appearance
  • No sources suggest the wrong tomb
  • Burial by Joseph indicates tomb’s known location

7. Apparent Death Theory

  • Crucifixion was death by asphyxiation
  • Spear wound
  • Paul experienced a “glorious” appearance

8. Hallucinations

  • Not group occurrences
  • Empty tomb
  • Conversion of the church persecutor Paul
  • Conversion of the skeptic James
  •  Too many personal variances

9. Delusions

  • Conversion of the Church persecutor Paul
  • Conversion of the skeptic James
  • Empty tomb

10. Visions

  • Visions is a vague term
    •  If vision is objective then risen Christ
    • If vision is subjective then hallucination/delusion
  • Empty tomb
  • Bodily nature of appearances

11. Combination theories

  • Combinations generally lead to higher improbabilities
  • Many of the same problems still exist when considered individually
  • Number of additional explanations needed appears ad hoc
  • Must show other explanations are true

12. Discrepancies in the Gospels concerning Resurrection

  • At most, calls inerrancy into question, not resurrection
  • Historical conclusions are not made this way
  • Differences may indicate Gospels are independent accounts of resurrection and, therefore, provide multiple attestation
  • Many, if not all, tensions in accounts can be answered

13. Biased testimony

  • Paul unbiased
  • James unbiased
  • Eliminates virtually all history
  • Bias does not require distortion
  • Genetic fallacy
  • Ad hominem fallacy

14. Something happened, but don’t know what

  • Rejects conclusion not evidence
  • What we know counts heavily
    • Evidence points to resurrection
    • Opposing theories fail
  • Religio-Historical context increases likelihood of resurrection
    • Jesus claimed divinity
    • Jesus performed miraculous deeds
    • There is other evidence for God’s existence

[1] Material gathered from sections throughout the book:  The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2004) by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona.

7 Responses to “Outlining the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth”

  1. so excellent. Thanks for sharing, Max!

  2. What about Jesus’ burial in a tomb by the Jewish Sanhedrist Joseph of Arimathea? That’s a pretty important fact! Can you list the places where his burial is mentioned?

  3. Pish-posh, that don’t mean nothing. I needz the proofs! HAHA!

    Good blog, dude.

  4. Paul never claims to have been an eyewitness to the Resurrection. His claim of seeing “the Christ” was based on a “heavenly vision”, as he describes it, in Acts chapter 26, in which he briefly sees a bright light that speaks to him on the Road to Damascus.

    Therefore, it seems that most of your “eye-witness” evidence is based on the writings of the authors of the Gospels.

    Who wrote the Gospels?

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