some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

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some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby Kemosave » January 3rd, 2005, 2:42 pm

William Lane Craig
Chapter 6 of Jesus Under Fire, Michael J. Wilkins, J. P. Moreland, Eds. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), pp. 141-176.
(All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version)

Introduction

I was more than mildly surprised last year, while reading an account of the Jesus Seminar in Time magazine, to learn that according to John Dominic Crossan, the cochairman of the Seminar, after the crucifixion Jesus’ corpse was probably laid in a shallow grave, barely covered with dirt, and subsequently eaten by wild dogs; the story of Jesus’ entombment and resurrection was the result of “wishful thinking.”1

Having carried out fairly extensive research into the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection,2 I was well aware that the wide majority of New Testament critics affirm the historicity of the Gospels’ assertion that Jesus’ corpse was interred in the tomb of a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, Joseph of Arimathea. Thus it puzzled me why a prominent scholar like Crossan would set his face against the consensus of scholarship on this question. What hitherto undetected or unappreciated evidence had he discovered, I wondered, that had escaped the notice of critical scholarship and made it probable that Jesus’ body was dispatched in the way he alleged, and how did he nullify the evidence that has led most critics to regard the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ entombment as fundamentally historically reliable?

You can imagine my sense of disappointment when, consulting Crossan’s works, I found that he had no particular evidence, much less compelling evidence, for his allegation; rather, it was just his hunch as to what happened to the body of Jesus.3 Since he does not accept the historicity of the discovery of the empty tomb (not to speak of the resurrection), Crossan merely surmises that Jesus’ corpse was laid in the graveyard reserved for executed criminals. Moreover, he does not engage the evidence that prompts most scholars to accept the historicity of Jesus’ entombment; instead, he seeks to undercut the credibility of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ burial and resurrection by means of a general analysis of the Gospel texts and traditions that is so bizarre and contrived that the overwhelming majority of New Testament critics find it wholly implausible.4 It is sobering to think that it is this sort of idiosyncratic speculation that thousands of lay readers of magazines like Time have come to believe represents the best of contemporary New Testament scholarship concerning the historical Jesus.

Testing Historical Explanations

The Nature and Assessment of Historical Explanations
What evidence is there, then, for the resurrection of Jesus, and what is the best explanation of that evidence? Before we can answer these questions, we must say something about the nature of historical explanation and the testing of historical hypotheses. In seeking the best historical explanation of the evidence concerning the resurrection of Jesus, we employ a model of inference common to all inductive reasoning, including the natural sciences, known as inference to the best explanation.5 According to this approach, we begin with the evidence available to us. Then out of a pool of live options determined by our background beliefs, we select the best of various competing explanations to give an account of why the evidence is as it is and not otherwise. For the scientist, the chosen explanation constitutes his theory; for the historian, his proposed reconstruction of the past. The scientist then tests his proposed theory by performing various experiments; the historian tests his historical reconstruction by seeing how well it elucidates the evidence.

The task of judging which historical reconstruction is the best explanation involves the historian’s craft. In his recent book, Justifying Historical Descriptions,6 C. Behan McCullagh lists the factors that historians typically weigh in testing a historical hypothesis:
1. The hypothesis, together with other true statements, must imply further statements describing present, observable data.
2. The hypothesis must have greater explanatory scope (that is, imply a greater variety of observable data) than rival hypotheses.
3. The hypothesis must have greater explanatory power (that is, make the observable data more probable) than rival hypotheses.
4. The hypothesis must be more plausible (that is, be implied by a greater variety of accepted truths, and its negation implied by fewer accepted truths) than rival hypotheses.
5. The hypothesis must be less ad hoc (that is, include fewer new suppositions about the past not already implied by existing knowledge) than rival hypotheses.
6. The hypothesis must be disconfirmed by fewer accepted beliefs (that is, when conjoined with accepted truths, imply fewer false statements) than rival hypotheses.
7. The hypothesis must so exceed its rivals in fulfilling conditions {2} through {6} that there is little chance of a rival hypothesis, after further investigation, exceeding it in meeting these conditions.
Since some reconstructions fulfill some conditions but are deficient in others, the determination of the best explanation requires skill and is often difficult. But if an explanation has great scope and power, so that it accounts for a larger number and greater variety of facts than any other competing explanation, then, advises McCullagh, it is likely true.

Historical Explanation and the Supernatural

In applying all this to the case of the resurrection of Jesus, one immediately encounters a watershed issue: will one’s explanations be limited to exclusively naturalistic explanations? Naturalism, in contrast to supernaturalism, holds that every effect in the world is brought about by causes that are themselves part of the natural order (the space-time world of matter and energy). Thus no naturalist as such can accept the historicity of the miracles of the Gospels, such as Jesus’ resurrection; he must deny either their miraculous nature or their historicity. The presupposition of naturalism will thus affect the historian’s assessment of the evidence of the Gospels. The British New Testament critic R. T. France has commented:

At the level of their literary and historical character we have good reasons to treat the gospels seriously as a source of information on the life and teaching of Jesus, and thus on the historical origins of Christianity.... Beyond that point, the decision as to how far a scholar is willing to accept the record they offer is likely to be influenced more by his openness to a “supernaturalist” world-view than by strictly historical considerations.7
We have seen, for example, that inferring to the best explanation, one chooses from a pool of live options a candidate that serves as the best explanation of the evidence. For the naturalistic New Testament critic confronted with evidence concerning the empty tomb, the hypothesis that Jesus rose from the dead would not even be a live option. And if a supernaturalist critic were to offer such an explanation of the evidence, his naturalistic colleague would no doubt find it incredible.

Here is a fundamental divide separating the Fellows of the Jesus Seminar from critics whose minds are open to a supernaturalist worldview. The implicit naturalism of the Seminar’s methodology surfaces briefly in the Introduction to The Five Gospels:

The contemporary religious controversy ... turns on whether the worldview reflected in the Bible can be carried forward into this scientific age and retained as an article of faith.... The Christ of creed and dogma ... can no longer command the assent of those who have seen the heavens through Galileo’s telescope.8
This statement expresses scientific naturalism, which holds that a supernaturalist worldview is untenable in light of the advance of modern science.
To the Jesus Seminar, the historical Jesus of Nazareth by definition must be a nonsupernatural Jesus. Tracing modern biblical criticism back through D. F. Strauss, the Introduction correctly notes:
Strauss distinguished what he called the “mythical” (defined by him as anything legendary or supernatural) in the gospels from the historical.... The choice Strauss posed in his assessment of the gospels was between the supernatural Jesus the Christ of faith and the historical Jesus.9
The Jesus Seminar Fellows have clearly aligned themselves with Strauss: “the distinction between the historical Jesus ... and the Christ of faith” is deemed the first pillar of “scholarly wisdom” and “modern biblical criticism.”10 For them, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is not a live option even to be considered as a possible explanation for the relevant data;11 a naturalistic explanation, no matter how outlandish, will always be preferred over a supernaturalist explanation (on the basis of criterion 4 above). But is such a verdict justified?

In a fascinating comment on the criteria for assessing historical hypotheses, McCullagh actually considers the Christian hypothesis of the resurrection of Jesus and observes: “This hypothesis is of greater explanatory scope and power than other hypotheses which try to account for the relevant evidence, but it is less plausible and more ad hoc than they are. That is why it is difficult to decide on the evidence whether it should be accepted or rejected.”12 A discussion of whether the resurrection hypothesis is more ad hoc than its rivals can be deferred until later, but for now we ask why this hypothesis should be considered less plausible than rival hypotheses.

Degree of plausibility is defined by McCullagh as the degree to which a hypothesis is implied by accepted knowledge, including (1) our background knowledge (that is, the whole body of knowledge that we bring to an inquiry) and (2) the specific relevant evidence for the hypothesis. With respect to our background knowledge alone, the supernaturalist agrees with the naturalist that the resurrection hypothesis has virtually zero plausibility in McCullagh’s sense, for nothing in our background information implies that Jesus’ resurrection took place.13 But by the same token, the hypotheses that the disciples stole the body or that Jesus was not really dead also have zero plausibility with respect to the background information, for nothing in that information implies that any of these events took place either. That means that the greater plausibility must derive, not from the background information, but from the specific evidence itself. But the specific evidence does not confer greater plausibility on any naturalistic hypothesis than on the resurrection hypothesis; on the contrary, these rival hypotheses are usually thought to be made implausible by the specific evidence.

Perhaps McCullagh’s claim, then, should have been that the resurrection hypothesis is more implausible than rival hypotheses. Degree of implausibility is defined as the degree to which our present knowledge implies the falsity of a hypothesis. Now, again dividing present knowledge into background information and specific evidence for the hypothesis, it cannot be that the specific evidence renders the resurrection hypothesis more implausible than its competitors, for that specific evidence in no way implies the falsity of the resurrection hypothesis. Hence, there must be something in our background knowledge that renders the resurrection hypothesis more implausible than its rivals. I suspect that the reason the naturalist finds the resurrection implausible is because included in our background knowledge of the world is the fact that dead men do not rise, which he takes to be incompatible with Jesus’ resurrection.
We may agree that our background knowledge does make the hypothesis of the natural revivification of Jesus from the dead enormously implausible, in that the causal powers of nature are insufficient to return a corpse to life; but such considerations are simply irrelevant to assessing the implausibility of the hypothesis of the resurrection of Jesus, since according to that hypothesis God raised Jesus from the dead. I should say that the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead has about zero implausibility with respect to our background knowledge. Only if the naturalist has independent reasons to think that God’s existence is implausible or his intervention in the world implausible could he justifiably regard the resurrection hypothesis as implausible.

The bottom line is that what the Jesus Seminar calls the first pillar of scholarly wisdom is nothing more than a philosophical prejudice that actually impedes a fair assessment of the evidence relevant to the resurrection of Jesus. In what follows, then, I leave open the possibility of adopting a supernatural explanation if the facts should so warrant.
Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus

What, then, is the relevant body of evidence pertinent to the alleged resurrection of Jesus? It can be conveniently grouped under three main headings: {1} Jesus’ empty tomb, {2} the postmortem appearances of Jesus, and {3} the origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection. In the following I shall concisely summarize the positive evidence concerning each one and then, because of limitations of space, interact with critical objections in the endnotes.

The Empty Tomb

We begin with ten lines of evidence that support the fact of Jesus’ empty tomb. We shall then consider briefly naturalistic explanations of that fact.
The historical fact of the empty tomb
What evidence supports the historical fact of Jesus’ empty tomb?
1. The historical credibility of the burial story supports the empty tomb. If the burial story is basically reliable, then the inference that Jesus’ tomb was found empty lies close at hand. For if the burial story is fundamentally accurate, the site of Jesus’ tomb would have been known to Jew and Christian alike. But in that case, it would have been impossible for the resurrection faith to survive in the face of a tomb containing the corpse of Jesus. The disciples could not have believed in Jesus’ resurrection; even if they had, scarcely anyone else would have believed them as they preached Jesus’ resurrection; and their Jewish opponents could have exposed the whole affair, perhaps even by displaying the body, as the medieval Jewish polemic portrays them doing (Toledot Yeshu). Hence, as Crossan recognizes, no one can affirm the historicity of the burial story and plausibly deny the historicity of the empty tomb.
But, in fact, the burial story is widely recognized as a historically credible narrative, for the following reasons:
(a) Paul’s testimony provides early evidence for the historicity of Jesus’ burial. In 1 Corinthians 15:3–5, the tradition he received and passed on refers to Jesus’ burial:
... that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
and that He was buried,
and that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. (pers. tr.)
The grammatically unnecessary fourfold “and that,” the chronological succession of the events, and particularly the remarkable concordance between this tradition and both the preaching of Acts 13 and the Gospel narratives regarding the order of events (death - burial - resurrection - appearances) shows that the tradition’s mention of the burial is not meant merely to underscore Jesus’ death,14 but refers to the laying of Jesus in the tomb, as recorded in the Gospels. This makes it difficult to deny the historicity of Jesus’ burial in the tomb, for (i) given the age of the tradition (A.D. 30–36), there was not sufficient time for legend concerning the burial to accrue; (ii) the women witnesses (see below) to the burial were known in the early Christian fellowship in which the tradition was formulated, and their testimony stands behind it; (iii) Paul himself undoubtedly knew the stories that stood behind the traditions he delivered (see, for example, 1 Cor. 11:23–26), including the story of Jesus’ burial. His two-week visit to Jerusalem in A.D. 36 (Ga1. 1:18) makes this conclusion firm.
(b) The burial story was part of the pre-Markan Passion story and is therefore very old. It is generally acknowledged that the burial account is part of Mark’s source material for the story of Jesus’ passion.15 This gives good reason to accept the burial as historical, on grounds similar to those listed above: (i) insufficient time for a legendary burial of Jesus to arise; (ii) the presence of eyewitnesses who could affirm the story; and (iii) Paul’s probable knowledge of at least the pre-Markan Passion story.
(c) The story itself is simple and in its basic elements lacks theological reflection or apologetic development. Most scholars concur with Bultmann’s judgment to this effect.16 The simple story of Joseph’s begging the body of Jesus and his laying it, wrapped in linen, in a tomb has not been significantly overlaid with theology or apologetics.
(d) Joseph of Arimathea is probably historical. Even the most skeptical scholars agree that it is unlikely that the figure of Joseph, as a member of the Sanhedrin, could have been a Christian invention.17 Raymond Brown, one of the greatest New Testament scholars of our day, explains that Joseph’s being responsible for burying Jesus is “very probable,” since a Christian fictional creation of a Jewish Sanhedrist doing what is right for Jesus is “almost inexplicable,” given the hostility toward the Jewish leaders responsible for Jesus’ death in early Christian writings.18 In particular, Mark would not have invented Joseph in view of his statements that the whole Sanhedrin voted for Jesus’ condemnation (Mark 14:55, 64; 15:1).
The Gospels’ descriptions of Joseph receive unintentional confirmation from incidental details, such as his being rich (rendered plausible by the type and location of the tomb) and his coming from Arimathea (a town of no importance and with no scriptural symbolism). His being a sympathizer of Jesus is not only independently attested by Matthew and John, but is likely in view of Mark’s description of his special treatment of Jesus’ body as opposed to those of the thieves.
(e) Joseph’s laying the body in his own tomb is probably historical. The consistent descriptions of the tomb as an acrosolia, or bench tomb, and archaeological discoveries that such tombs were used by notables during Jesus’ day makes it credible that Jesus was placed in such a tomb. The incidental details that it was new and belonged to Joseph are also probable, since Joseph could not have placed the body of a criminal in just any tomb, especially since this would defile the bodies of any family members also reposing there.
(f) Jesus was buried late on the Day of Preparation. The time of Jesus’ interment, given what we know from extrabiblical sources about Jewish regulations concerning the handling of executed criminals and burial procedures, must have been on Friday before the evening star appeared. The body could not have been allowed to remain on the cross overnight without defiling the land, and since the Sabbath was impending, the body had to be buried before nightfall. With help, Joseph should have been able to complete a simple burial prior to the beginning of the Sabbath, just as the Gospels describe.
(g) The observation of the burial by women is historical. The Gospels report women as witnesses of the crucifixion, burial, and empty tomb. Unless that was actually so, it is inexplicable why they should play this role and not the disciples themselves (see below). Moreover, their roles in the burial and empty tomb stories are mutually confirmatory, since it is unlikely that they would be involved in one event but not the other. So if any of the lists of female witnesses (Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1) is reliable, the others probably are reliable as well. It is difficult to see how the names of these women who were known in the early Christian fellowship could be associated with such events unless this was in fact the case.
(h) The graves of Jewish holy men were carefully preserved. During Jesus’ time there was an extraordinary interest in the graves of Jewish martyrs and holy men, and these were scrupulously cared for and honored. This suggests that the grave of Jesus would have also been noted. The disciples had no inkling of any resurrection prior to the general resurrection at the end of the world, and they would therefore not have allowed the burial site of the Teacher to go unnoted. This interest also makes plausible the women’s lingering to watch the burial and their subsequent intention to anoint Jesus’ body with spices and perfumes (Luke 23:55–56).
(i) No other burial tradition exists. If the burial of Jesus in the tomb by Joseph of Arimathea is legendary, then it is strange that conflicting traditions nowhere appear, even in Jewish polemic. That no remnant of the true story or even a conflicting false one should remain is hard to explain unless the Gospel account is substantially the true account.19
Taken together these nine considerations allow us to assert the historical credibility of Jesus’ burial, a fact recognized by the majority of New Testament critics. According to Wolfgang Trilling, “It appears unfounded to doubt the fact of Jesus’ honorable burial even historically considered.”20 But then the conclusion that the tomb was found empty lies close at hand. Even if the disciples left for Galilee and did not return to Jerusalem preaching the resurrection until later, the prospect of a closed tomb would have silenced them effectively.
2. Paul’s testimony implies the fact of the empty tomb. We come now to the second line of evidence that supports the historicity of the empty tomb. There is little doubt that Paul accepted not only the burial but also the empty tomb of Jesus, as is evident (a) from the sequence in 1 Corinthians 15:3–5 (death - burial - resurrection); (b) from the Jewish concept of resurrection itself; (c) from his Pharisaic background and language; (d) from the expression “on the third day”; (e) from the phrase “from the dead” in Romans 4:24; (f) from his doctrine of the resurrection and transformation of the body (1 Cor. 15:35–50); and (g) from his belief in the personal return of Christ (1 Thess. 4:14–17). All these imply a physical resurrection and therefore an empty tomb. It seems nearly certain, then, that Paul believed in the empty tomb.21
But now the question presses: how could the apostle Paul have believed in the empty tomb of Jesus if in fact the tomb were not empty? Certainly Peter, James, and the other Christians in Jerusalem with whom Paul spoke shortly after his conversion (Gal. 1:18) must also have believed that the tomb was empty and had been empty from the moment of the resurrection. Were this not so, Pauline theology would surely have taken a different route, trying to explain how resurrection could still be possible though the body remained in the grave. But neither Christian theology nor apologetics ever had to face such a problem.
Moreover, the third element in the tradition Paul preached (1 Cor. 15:3–5) corresponds to the empty tomb story in the Gospels, the phrase “that He was raised” mirroring the phrase “he is risen.” The empty tomb tradition stands behind this element, just as the burial tradition stands behind the second. Two conclusions follow. (a) The tradition that the tomb was found empty is reliable. There would not have been enough time for an empty tomb legend to accrue by the date of the drafting of the formula, and the presence of witnesses in the early Christian fellowship would have prevented it. (b) Paul no doubt knew the tradition of the empty tomb as summarized in the formula of 1 Corinthians 15 and thus lends His own testimony to its reliability. If the discovery of the empty tomb is not historical, then it is inexplicable how both Paul and the early formulators could accept it.
3. The presence of the empty tomb narrative in the pre-Markan Passion story supports its historical credibility. That the empty tomb story (Mark 16:1–8) was part of the pre-Markan Passion story is evident from the fact that (a) the empty tomb story is bound up with the immediate context of the burial account and the Passion story; (b) verbal and syntactical similarities bind the empty tomb story to the burial narrative; (c) the Passion story would not have circulated without victory at its end; and (d) the correspondence between the events of the Passion and the formula of 1 Corinthians 15:3–5 confirms the inclusion of the empty tomb account in the pre-Markan Passion story.
From the nature of the events themselves, this conclusion makes good sense. There was no continuous account of Jesus’ appearances because they were unexpected and sporadic and occurred to different people at various locations and occasions. The empty tomb story, on the other hand, related a fact that was, so to speak, “common property” of the early Christian fellowship.
According to Rudolf Pesch,22 geographical references, personal names, and the use of Galilee as a horizon all point to Jerusalem as the source of the pre-Markan Passion story. Pesch argues that Paul’s Last Supper tradition (1 Cor. 11:23–25) presupposes the pre-Markan Passion account; hence, the latter must have originated in the first years of existence of the Jerusalem fellowship. Confirmation of this is found in the fact that the pre-Markan Passion story speaks of the “high priest” without using his name (14:53, 54, 60, 61, 63). This suggests that Caiaphas was still the high priest when the pre-Markan Passion story was being told, since then there would be no need to mention his name. Since Caiaphas was high priest from A.D. 18–37, the latest possible date for the origin of the tradition is A.D. 37.23
4. The use of “the first day of the week” (Mark 16:2) instead of “on the third day” points to the primitiveness of the tradition. The tradition of the discovery of the empty tomb must be very old because it lacks altogether the “third-day” motif prominent in the earliest Christian preaching, as it is summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:3–5. If the empty tomb narrative were a late and legendary account, then, as Bode points out in his important study of the empty tomb, it could hardly have avoided being cast in the prominent, ancient, and accepted third-day motif.24 In other words, the empty tomb tradition antedates the third-day motif itself.
5. The nature of the narrative itself is theologically unadorned and nonapologetic. The resurrection is not described, and later theological motifs that a late legend might be expected to incorporate are lacking. A comparison of Mark’s account with those in later apocryphal Gospels like the Gospel of Peter underlines the simplicity of the Markan story. The Gospel of Peter inserts between Jesus’ being sealed in the tomb and the visit of Mary Magdalene early Sunday morning an account of the resurrection itself. In this account, the tomb is not only surrounded by Roman guards but also by the Jewish Pharisees and elders, as well as a multitude from the surrounding countryside. Suddenly, in the night there rings out a loud voice in heaven, and two men descend from heaven to the tomb. The stone over the door rolls back by itself, and they go into the tomb. Then three men come out of the tomb, two of them holding up the third man. The heads of the two men reach up into the clouds, but the head of the third man reaches up beyond the clouds. Then a cross comes out of the tomb, and a voice from heaven asks, “Have you preached to them that sleep?” And the cross answers, “Yes.”
This is how legends look: they are colored by theological and other developments.25 By contrast, Mark’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb is a simple, straightforward report of what happened.
6. The empty tomb was discovered by women. Given the relatively low status of women in Jewish society and their lack of qualification to serve as legal witnesses, the most plausible explanation, in light of the Gospels’ conviction that the disciples were in Jerusalem over the Easter weekend, why women and not the male disciples are described as discoverers of the empty tomb is that the women were in fact the ones who made this discovery.26 Moreover, why would the Christian church humiliate its leaders by having them hiding in cowardice in Jerusalem, while the women boldly carry out their last devotions to Jesus’ body, unless this were in fact true? Finally, the listing of the women’s names weighs against their discovery being a legend, for these persons were known in early Christian fellowship and could not be easily associated with a false account.
7. The investigation of the empty tomb by Peter and John is historically probable. Behind the fourth Gospel stands the witness of the beloved disciple (John 21:24), who is most likely John the son of Zebedee, whose reminiscences fill out the traditions employed. The visit of the disciples to the empty tomb is therefore attested both in tradition (Luke 24:12, 24; John 20:3) and by John himself. The historicity of the disciples’ visit is also made likely by the credibility of the story of Peter’s denial (Mark 14:66–72), for since he was in Jerusalem, he would certainly want to check out the women’s story of the empty tomb. The absence of any evidence for the disciples’ flight to Galilee also implies that they were in Jerusalem, which makes the visit to the tomb plausible.27
8. It would have been virtually impossible for the disciples to proclaim the resurrection in Jerusalem had the tomb not been empty. The empty tomb is a sine qua non of the resurrection. The notion that Jesus rose from the dead with a new body while his old body still lay in the grave is a modern conception. Jewish mentality would never have accepted a division of two bodies. Even if the disciples failed to check the empty tomb, the Jewish authorities could have been guilty of no such oversight. When therefore the disciples began to preach the resurrection in Jerusalem and people responded, and when the religious authorities stood helplessly by, the tomb must have been empty.28 The simple fact that the Christian fellowship, founded on belief in Jesus’ resurrection, came into existence and flourished in the very city where he was executed and buried is powerful evidence for the historicity of the empty tomb.
9. The earliest Jewish polemic presupposes the empty tomb. From information incidentally furnished by Matthew (Matt. 28:15b), we know that the Jewish opponents of Christianity did not deny that Jesus’ tomb was empty. Instead, they charged that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body. From here the controversy over the guard at the tomb sprang up. Notice the response of the earliest Jewish polemic to the disciples’ proclamation, “He has been raised from the dead” (27:64). Did the Jewish antagonists respond, “His body is still in the tomb in the garden,” or “Jesus was thrown into the criminals’ graveyard and eaten by dogs”? No. They responded, “His disciples came during the night and stole him away” (28:13). The earliest Jewish polemic was an attempt to explain away the empty tomb. This constitutes persuasive evidence that Jesus’ tomb was in fact empty.29
10. The fact that Jesus’ tomb was not venerated as a shrine indicates that the tomb was empty. We noted earlier that it was customary in Judaism for the tomb of a prophet or holy man to be preserved or venerated as a shrine. This was so because the bones of the prophet lay in the tomb and imparted to the site its religious value. If the remains were not there, then the grave would lose its significance as a shrine. Now in the case of Jesus’ tomb, we find, in Dunn’s words, “absolutely no trace” of any veneration of Jesus’ burial place.30 In light of the disciples’ reverence for Jesus, the reason for this absence of veneration for his burial place was because his grave was empty.
Taken together, these ten considerations furnish good evidence that the tomb of Jesus was found empty on Sunday morning by a small group of His women followers. As Van Daalen has remarked, it is difficult to object to the fact of the empty tomb on historical grounds; most objectors do so on the basis of theological or philosophical considerations.31 But these cannot change empirical facts. New Testament scholars seem to be increasingly recognizing this; according to Jacob Kremer, an Austrian specialist in resurrection research, “By far, most exegetes hold firmly ... to the reliability of the biblical statements about the empty tomb.”32
Explaining the historical fact of the empty tomb
But if the tomb of Jesus was found empty on the first day of the week, the question must be: How did this situation come to be? Although the empty tomb may have proved at first ambiguous and puzzling to the disciples, today we know that most alternative explanations are more incredible than the resurrection itself (for example, the disciples’ stealing the body, Jesus’ not being dead, the women’s going to the wrong tomb, etc.). The old rationalistic explanations have thoroughly failed to provide plausible historical explanations that fit the facts without bruising them.33 There is simply no plausible naturalistic explanation available today that accounts for the empty tomb of Jesus.

The Postmortem Appearances

Turning to the second category of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, namely, His postmortem appearances, we now ask what evidence there is that Jesus appeared alive after His death to His disciples. Again we shall look first at the evidence for the historicity of the appearances and then examine briefly naturalistic explanations of them.
The historical fact of the appearances
There are four lines of evidence for the historicity of Jesus’ appearances.
1. The testimony of Paul shows that the disciples saw appearances of Jesus. Paul’s citation of the traditional formula in 1 Corinthians 15:3–5 includes references to appearances to Peter and the Twelve. He then goes on to say in verses 6–8:
After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
The early date for the traditions in 1 Corinthians 15, which reach back to within the first five years after the crucifixion, precludes the hypothesis that the appearances in this list are legendary.34 Also important is Paul’s own early, personal contact with Peter and James and his acquaintance with some of the five hundred fellow believers. It is nothing short of amazing that we have here information from a man who spoke with both Jesus' younger brother and His chief disciple, each of whom claimed to have seen Jesus alive from the dead and who went to his death because of that conviction.
The appearance to the five hundred believers, which in itself sounds unbelievable because of the number involved, possibly harks back to a historical incident, not only because of Paul’s personal acquaintance with them, but also because most of them were still alive and could be questioned. And, of course, the appearance to Paul himself, which changed his whole life to the point that he also went to his death for faith in the risen Jesus, is historically certain. We may try to explain these appearances as hallucinations if we choose, but we cannot deny that they occurred. As Norman Perrin remarks, “The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based.”35 Paul’s list makes it clear that on separate occasions different individuals and groups saw appearances of Jesus alive from the dead.
2. The Gospel accounts of the resurrection appearances are fundamentally reliable historically. Though it may be impossible to prove any single appearance narrative as historically accurate, there are good grounds for holding to the historicity of the Gospels in general and of the appearance stories in particular, given their breadth of tradition in the Gospel records. Trilling explains:
From the list in 1 Cor. 15 the particular reports of the gospels are now to be interpreted. Here may be of help what we said about Jesus’ miracles. It is impossible to “prove” historically a particular miracle. But the totality of the miracle reports permit no reasonable doubt that Jesus in fact performed “miracles.” That holds analogously for the appearance reports. It is not possible to secure historically the particular event. But the totality of the appearance reports permits no reasonable doubt that Jesus in fact bore witness to Himself in such a way.36
Indeed, the evidence for the historicity of the Gospels in general is strong enough that we may affirm that appearance traditions they contain, far from being basically legendary, are substantially credible from a historical standpoint. At least three basic considerations support this conclusion.
(a) There was not enough time for legends to accrue significantly. Ever since D. F. Strauss broached his theory that the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and resurrection are the products of legendary and mythical development, the unanswered difficulty for this viewpoint has been that the temporal and geographical distance between the events and the accounts is insufficient to allow for such extensive development.
Roman historian A. N. Sherwin-White remarks that in classical historiography the sources are usually biased and removed at least one or two generations or even centuries from the events they narrate, but historians still reconstruct with confidence what happened.37 In the Gospels, by contrast, the tempo is “unbelievable” for the accrual of legend; more generations are needed.38 The writings of Herodotus enable us to test the tempo of myth-making, and the tests suggest that even two generations are too short a span to allow the mythical tendency to prevail over the hard historic core of oral tradition.39 Such a gap with regard to the Gospel traditions would land us in the second century, precisely when the apocryphal Gospels began to originate.
(b) The controlling presence of living eyewitnesses would retard significant accrual of legend. Related to the first consideration is the controlling presence of living eyewitnesses who knew what did and did not happen. The eminent Markan commentator Vincent Taylor has twitted skeptical New Testament scholars for their neglect of this factor, observing that if these critics were right, then the disciples “must have all been translated into heaven immediately after the Resurrection.”40 The witnesses listed in 1 Corinthians 15 continued to live and move in the early community and would exercise a control over the appearance traditions. Similarly, if persons like Mary Magdalene and the women did not see Jesus, it is difficult to see how the early tradition could arise and continue in opposition to the better knowledge of first generation believers.
(c) The authoritative control of the apostles would have helped to keep legendary tendencies in check. Since the apostles were the guardians of the Jesus tradition and directed the Christian community, it would have been difficult for fictitious appearance stories incompatible with the apostles’ own experience to arise and flourish so long as they were alive.41 Discrepancies in secondary details could exist, and the theology of the Evangelists could affect the traditions, but the basic traditions themselves could not have been legendary. The substantially unhistorical accounts of Jesus did not arise until the second century, and even then they were universally rejected by the church.
These three considerations ensure that the central traditions underlying the Gospel narratives are not unhistorical legends. Therefore, the appearance stories of the Gospels, which play such an important role in the Gospels, are substantially accurate accounts of what took place.
3. Particular resurrection appearances have historical credibility. In addition to the general consideration above, several of the resurrection appearances have in themselves marks of historical credibility. By way of summary:
(a) The appearance to the women. The fact that women and not male disciples were chosen for the first appearance lends credibility to this incident. It would seem purposeless to make unqualified women the first witnesses of the risen Jesus, were this not the case. Indeed, Paul’s formula probably omitted them because of their lack of legal status. So why have such a story at all recorded in the Gospels? Any conceivable purpose for such an appearance would have been better served by, say, an appearance to Peter at the tomb.
(b) The appearance to Peter. Although we have no Gospel narrative of this appearance, its historicity is granted by nearly all New Testament scholars. It is attested in the early tradition quoted by Paul and in another early tradition cited by Luke (Luke 24:34). Moreover, Paul had personal contact with Peter during his visit in A.D. 36, and in citing the formula he vouchsafes its accuracy in this regard.
(c) The appearance to the Twelve. The reference to this appearance in the pre-Pauline tradition, as well as Paul’s personal contact with the disciples, prevents it from being a late legend. Both Luke and John hand on independent traditions of this event. Behind the Johannine account stands the witness of the Beloved Disciple, one of the Twelve, which serves as a guarantee of the fundamental accuracy of that tradition. In light of Luke and John’s agreement, this appearance probably occurred in Jerusalem on the first Sunday after the crucifixion.
(d) The Lake of Tiberias appearance. The disciples’ fishing (John 21) soon after Christ’s resurrection and commissioning of them is unusual and bespeaks an early and probably accurate tradition of an appearance by the Lake of Tiberias. Moreover, the witness of the Beloved Disciple also stands behind this appearance and vouches for the traditions contained therein.
(e) The appearance in Galilee. An appearance of Jesus to the disciples in Galilee is referred to in the pre-Markan Passion story through Jesus’ and the angel’s predictions. Since Mark’s source arose so early in the Christian fellowship, it probably preserves the memory of an actual incident.
(f) The appearance to the five hundred believers. As in the case of (b), we have no narrative in the Gospels of this event, but it must have taken place, for Paul had firsthand contact with some of these people and appeals to them as eyewitnesses for Jesus’ resurrection. The appearance probably occurred in Galilee under open air, prior to the disciples’ return to Jerusalem.
(g) The appearance to James. Given James’ antipathy to Jesus during his lifetime (Mark 3:21, 31–32; John 7:1–5) and his leadership of the church thereafter (Acts 15:13ff.; Gal. 1:19; 2:9), his turnabout was most likely due to a resurrection appearance of Jesus to him. Paul’s personal contact with James in Jerusalem in A.D. 36 and his naming James among the list of witnesses make this a firm conclusion.
(h) The appearance to Paul. We have in Paul’s letters firsthand information concerning the appearance of Jesus to him, an event that revolutionized the life of this learned Pharisee. No one can doubt that this event occurred, and most scholars are willing to recognize the fundamental historical credibility of the account of this incident in Acts 9:1–9.
Hence, wholly apart from the support springing from the general historical credibility of the Gospel appearances stories, these individual incidents have in themselves positive marks of historical credibility. From these we may conclude that the disciples witnessed appearances of Jesus first in Jerusalem and then in Galilee, that these appearances were witnessed by both groups and individuals, and that they occurred under varying conditions. The nature of these appearances is considered more closely in the fourth and final point.
4. The resurrection appearances were physical, bodily appearances. There is a widespread consensus among New Testament critics that the disciples did see “appearances of Jesus” after His death, and a considerable number interpret these appearances in terms of the bodily resurrection and appearances of Jesus. But at the same time, a great many critics hold that because the body was “spiritual,” the appearances of the risen Christ were heavenly visions involving no physical reality. For example, McDonald asserts, “Taken by themselves, experiences of ‘seeing the risen Christ’ would probably represent psychic phenomena of significance to the experiencing subject but otherwise of direct moment only to the psychical researcher.”42 Sometimes the appearances are described as “objective visions” in order to differentiate them from mere hallucinations (or subjective visions). Hence, according to this widespread viewpoint, the physical resurrection appearance stories are historically unreliable.
There are, however, two good reasons for affirming the truth of physical resurrection appearances of Jesus:
(a) Paul implies that the appearances were physical events. Those who take the appearances to be merely visionary in nature typically propose a sharp division between Paul and the Evangelists concerning the nature of Christ’s resurrection body. Seeking to align themselves with what they perceive to be Paul’s position, they reason that since Paul teaches that our future resurrection bodies will be modeled after Jesus’ resurrection body and our future resurrection bodies will be spiritual (1 Cor. 15:42–49), it follows that Jesus’ resurrection body was a spiritual body (that is to say, his body was immaterial, intangible, unextended, invisible, etc.).
But while it is true that Paul teaches that our resurrection bodies will be modeled after Jesus’ body and that they will be spiritual, it does not follow that these bodies will be nonphysical. Such an interpretation is not supported by an exegesis of Paul’s teaching. If by soma pneumatikon (“spiritual body”) one understands a body that is intangible, unextended, or immaterial, then it is false to assert that Paul taught that we shall have that kind of resurrection body. New Testament commentators agree that pneumatikos means “spiritual” in the sense of orientation, not substance (cf. 1 Cor. 2:15; 10:4). The transformation of the earthly body to a soma pneumatikon accordingly does not rescue it from materiality, but from mortality.43
A soma (“body”) that is unextended and intangible would have been a contradiction in terms for the apostle. The resurrection body will be an immortal, powerful, glorious, Spirit-directed body, suitable for inhabiting a renewed creation. All commentators agree that Paul did not teach the immortality of the soul alone; but his affirmation of the resurrection of the body becomes vacuous and indistinguishable from such a doctrine unless it means the tangible, physical resurrection.44 The exegetical evidence does not, therefore, support a bifurcation between Paul and the Evangelists with regard to the nature of the resurrection body.
More than that, however, there are positive grounds to believe that Paul implies physical appearances of Jesus. (i) Paul, along with the whole New Testament, makes a conceptual (if not a linguistic) distinction between an appearance and a vision of Jesus. While visions continued in the church, the resurrection appearances were unrepeatable and confined to a brief initial period. A vision, whether “subjective” (nonveridical) or “objective” (veridical), was wholly in the mind, while a resurrection appearance involved something happening in the external world. If this is the case, then Paul, in listing the resurrection appearances in 1 Corinthians 15, implies that they were extramental events, not visions. Because Paul’s own Damascus Road experience, though semivisionary in character, included extramental phenomena (audible speech and a bright light; cf. Acts 9:7; 22:9; 26:13–14), he can add himself to the list in good conscience. Moreover, since Paul evidently believed in a physical resurrection body, then in stating that Jesus “was raised” and “appeared” (1 Cor. 15:4–5), he meant appeared physically and bodily, just as he was raised physically and bodily. Thus to Paul, Jesus’ appearances were physical, bodily appearances.
(ii) We see a second indication of Paul’s belief in this regard when we consider the reverse side of the coin. If originally there were no physical, bodily appearances of Jesus but only visions, then the development of Paul’s teaching on the resurrection becomes difficult to explain. He could not have taught that we will have resurrection bodies patterned after Christ’s, for Christ apparently had no resurrection soma. Indeed, as we shall see, it is doubtful that such visionary experiences would have led Paul to speak of resurrection at all. In other words, mere visions of Jesus after his death are not sufficient to explain the direction and development of Paul’s doctrine of the resurrection body.
(b) The Gospels confirm that the appearances were physical and bodily. Although the Gospels’ discussion of Jesus’ physical appearances is often alleged to be an antidocetic apologetic, the grounds for this assertion are weak, and there are positive considerations mitigating against it.45 Indeed, Paul’s doctrine shows an early belief in a physical resurrection body of Christ that cannot be written off to an antidocetic apologetic, since that would have been counterproductive against his Corinthian opponents, who seemed repulsed by the notion of a physical resurrection.
In addition, there are positive reasons to affirm the historical credibility of the Gospel narratives in this regard. (i) Every resurrection appearance narrated in the Gospels is a physical, bodily appearance. The unanimity of the Gospels on this score is impressive when one remembers that the appearance accounts were originally more or less separate, independent stories, which the different Evangelists collected and arranged. All the separate traditions agree that Jesus appeared physically and bodily alive to the various witnesses. There is no trace of nonphysical visions in the traditions, a remarkable fact if all the appearances were really visionary. A series of heavenly visions could not have become so thoroughly corrupted or recast as to produce a uniform tradition of physical appearances.
(ii) The decisive point is, as we have already seen, that the Gospel resurrection narratives are fundamentally historically reliable. The physicalism of the appearance stories is so prominent, though often inadvertent, a feature of these narratives that it could not fall through the net of this general consideration. It is inexplicable how a sequence of visions could be so thoroughly materialized into the unanimous physicalism of the Gospel appearance stories in so short a time, in the very presence of the witnesses to those appearances themselves, and under the eyes of the apostles responsible for preventing such corruption.
Hence, the evidence of the Gospels confirms Paul’s perspective. Incredible as it may seem, the evidence for the physical, bodily appearances cannot be plausibly rejected on historical grounds.
Explaining the historical fact of the resurrection appearances
In sum, the evidence shows that the disciples witnessed physical, bodily appearances of Jesus after his death. What is the best explanation for this remarkable fact? Although some scholars regard the appearances as mere subjective visions or hallucinations, such a hypothesis faces insuperable difficulties. {1} The hypothesis is undermined by points 2, 3, and 4 just discussed. {2} The number and various circumstances of the appearances attested to by Paul alone make the subjective vision hypothesis unlikely. {3} Subjective visions would have led at most to the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ translation and exaltation, not in His resurrection, since the latter belief did not fit Jewish conceptions of resurrection (see below). {4} The hypothesis fails to account for the full scope of the evidence in that it provides no explanation of the empty tomb.
Having examined the evidence concerning the empty tomb and the post-mortem appearances of Jesus, we turn now to the final category of evidence for the resurrection.

Origin of the Disciples’ Belief in Jesus’ Resurrection

The fact of belief in the resurrection
Whatever they may think of the historical resurrection, even the most skeptical scholars admit that at least the belief that Jesus rose from the dead lay at the very heart of the earliest Christian faith. In fact, the earliest believers pinned nearly everything on it. The resurrection was the sine qua non for their belief in Jesus as Messiah and in His death as the basis for forgiveness of sins.
It is difficult to exaggerate what a devastating effect the crucifixion must have had on the disciples. They had no conception of a dying, much less a rising, Messiah, for the Messiah would reign forever (cf. John 12:34). Without prior belief in the resurrection, belief in Jesus as Messiah would have been impossible in light of His death. The resurrection turned catastrophe into victory. Because God raised Jesus from the dead, he could be proclaimed as Messiah after all (Acts 2:32, 36). Similarly for the significance of the cross—it was His resurrection that enabled Jesus’ shameful death to be interpreted in salvific terms. Without it, Jesus’ death would have meant only humiliation and accursedness by God; but in view of the resurrection it could be seen to be the event by which forgiveness of sins was obtained. Without the resurrection, the Christian Way could never have come into being. Even if the disciples had continued to remember Jesus as their beloved teacher, they could not have believed in Him as Messiah, much less deity.46
Explaining the belief in the resurrection
The question now becomes: What caused that belief? Though Bultmann protests against any further historical probing behind the faith of the first disciples, even the most skeptical critic must posit some mysterious X to get the movement going.47 But what was that X?
If one denies that the historical event of the resurrection was that mysterious X, then one must find something in antecedent Judaism to account for the origin of the disciples’ belief and proclamation that Jesus was risen from the dead.48 The Jewish doctrine of resurrection is attested at least three times in the Old Testament (Isa. 26:19; Ezek. 37; Dan. 12:2) and flowered during the intertestamental period. During Jesus’ day belief in bodily resurrection had become a widespread hope, being championed by the Pharisees, with whom Jesus sided on this score against the Sadducees (Matt. 22:23–33). Thus, the concept of bodily resurrection from the dead was part of Jewish religious mentality.
But the Jewish conception of resurrection differed from the belief in Jesus’ resurrection in two fundamental respects:
(1) Jewish belief always concerned a resurrection at the end of the world, not a resurrection in the middle of history. There were, to be sure, instances in the Old Testament of revivifications of the dead; but these dealt with a return to the earthly life, and those so resuscitated would eventually die again. The resurrection to glory and immortality did not occur until after God had terminated world history. This traditional Jewish conception was the prepossession of Jesus’ own disciples (Mark 9:9–13; John 11:24). The notion of a genuine resurrection occurring prior to God’s bringing about the world’s end would have been foreign to them. Confronted therefore with Jesus’ crucifixion and death, the disciples would at most have looked forward to the resurrection at the final day and carefully honored their Master’s tomb as a shrine, where his bones could rest until the resurrection. It is most unlikely that they would have come to believe that He was already raised.
(2) Jewish belief always concerned a general resurrection of the people, not the resurrection of an isolated individual. Whether it was the righteous, or all of Israel, or the entire human race, the resurrection in Jewish thinking always referred to the general resurrection of the dead. Moreover, no one believed that the people’s resurrection in some way hinged on the Messiah’s prior resurrection. In this respect, the Jewish conception contrasts sharply with the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection. Once again, in light of Jewish religious mentality, the disciples after the burial of Jesus would have waited with longing for that day when Jesus, along with all the righteous of Israel, would be raised by God to glory.
The disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection cannot, therefore, be explained in terms of the beliefs of antecedent Judaism. According to C. F. D. Moule of Cambridge University, the disciples’ belief in the resurrection of Jesus cannot be accounted for in terms of previous historical factors.49 “The birth and rapid rise of the Christian Church ... remain an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the only explanation offered by the Church itself.”50 The resurrection of Jesus is therefore the most plausible explanation of the origin of the Christian Way.
But, it might be argued, perhaps the disciples were led to that conclusion by certain events following Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. Some scholars have suggested, for example, that the disciples experienced visions of the eschatological Son of Man, which they interpreted in terms of the Jewish anticipation of the resurrection of the dead, and that the story of the empty tomb is a legend that arose as a consequence of their belief that Jesus had been raised. Such a scenario contradicts the evidence; but putting that aside, could such experiences have caused the disciples’ belief in the resurrection?
In order to answer this question, we need to take up again the issue of hallucinations. As projections of the mind, hallucinations can contain nothing that is not already in the mind. So if the disciples were to experience visions, they would have projected them on the Jewish model of the afterlife. But we have just noted that Jesus’ resurrection involved at least two aspects not part of the Jewish frame of thought: it was a resurrection within history, and it was the resurrection of an isolated individual. What this seems to imply, therefore, is that even if the disciples projected hallucinatory visions of Jesus, they would not have projected Him as literally risen from the grave. Rather, given first-century Judaism’s beliefs concerning immortality, they would have projected visions of Him in glory—that is, in Paradise or in Abraham’s bosom. That is where the souls of the righteous dead went to await the final resurrection.
But in that case, it needs to be seriously questioned whether the disciples would have arrived at the doctrine of Jesus’ resurrection.51 Even given the prior discovery of the empty tomb, they would most likely have inferred that Jesus had been translated directly into heaven on the model of Enoch and Elijah (Gen. 5:24; 2 Kings 2:11–18). Testament of Job 40 shows that translation was a category applicable to recently deceased persons as well as to the living. For Jewish mentality a translation and a resurrection were different phenomena. A translation is the assumption of an individual out of this world into heaven, while a resurrection is the raising up of a dead person in the spatio-temporal world to eternal life. Therefore, even if the disciples saw hallucinatory visions of Jesus in glory after finding His tomb empty, it is unlikely that they would have concluded that He had been raised from the dead; rather, they would have concluded that God had translated Him into heaven, from where He appeared to them.
It is intriguing to observe that some scholars, perhaps feeling the weight of these considerations, have actually argued that the death-exaltation model was in fact primitive and that the death-resurrection model developed from it. The empty tomb story is thus interpreted as a translation story and the appearances are understood as visions of Christ in heavenly glory. But this hypothesis of last resort cannot be sustained. Had a death-translation scheme been primitive, then the development of the disciples’ belief in and proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection becomes unintelligible. Besides, there is no evidence that a death-exaltation model that did not include a literal resurrection was primitive. Gerald O’Collins, a specialist in resurrection studies, writes:
The resurrection claim was not derived from the less specific assertion that God has exalted Jesus in His death.... we fail to find that death-exaltation texts occur early in the NT, while the pattern of death-resurrection (or death-resurrection-exaltation) surfaces only later. In fact, if a pattern does exist, it is rather the opposite.52
The fact that the disciples proclaimed, not the translation of Jesus (in accord with a common Jewish category suited to explain their experience), but His resurrection (contrary to the mode of Jewish thinking) strongly suggests that the origin of their belief in Jesus’ resurrection cannot be derived from an experience of visions of Christ. According to the strictest use of the dissimilarity criterion, the only reasonable explanation for the disciples’ faith is the historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection, for that belief cannot be explained from the side of Judaism nor from the side of the church.

Concluding Assessment

Evidence for the Resurrection and Criteria of Authenticity
We have summarized the evidence for the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection. As one reflects on this evidence, it is striking how successfully the historical material undergirding the physical resurrection of Jesus passes the received tests of authenticity employed by the Fellows of the Jesus Seminar. Evans has recently argued that the same criteria used to establish the authenticity of the sayings of Jesus can also be used to establish the miraculous deeds of Jesus.53 What is intriguing is that a glance at the evidence for the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection reveals that much of it is based on an implicit application of precisely the same criteria. For example:
1. Multiple attestation. The resurrection appearances enjoy multiple attestation from Pauline and Gospel traditions, and the latter themselves attest to appearances in various traditions (both Synoptic and Johannine). And, of course, the fact that the first disciples came to believe in Jesus’ resurrection is attested throughout the New Testament.
2. Dissimilarity. The origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection is a clear example of the application of this criterion, for their belief cannot be explained either as the result of antecedent Jewish influences or as a retrojection of Christian theology.
3. Embarrassment. The force of the argument based on the discovery of the empty tomb by women derives in large part from this criterion, for their role in the story was useless, not to say counterproductive, for the early church and would have been much better served by men.
4. Context and expectation. Again, the disciples’ faith cannot be explained as an outgrowth from any expectation in Judaism of a dying, much less rising, Messiah, for there was no such belief.
5. Effect. According to this criterion, an adequate cause must be posited for some established effect. The conversion of James and Paul, the earliest Jewish polemic concerning the disciples’ alleged theft of the body, and the disciples’ transformation after the crucifixion all constitute effects that point to the resurrection appearances, the empty tomb, and the disciples’ coming to believe that Jesus was risen as their sufficient causes.
6. Principles of embellishment. The Markan account of the empty tomb, in contrast to the apologetically and theologically embellished account in the Gospel of Peter, should not be regarded as a legend, precisely on the basis of this criterion.
7. Coherence. The three independently established facts pointing to the resurrection of Jesus—namely, the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief that He was raised—cohere together and form a powerful argument for the historicity of the resurrection. Moreover, there is also coherence between Paul’s teaching on the nature of the resurrection body, Jesus’ physical postmortem appearances, and the empty tomb.
Thus, the complex of facts that we have examined in support of the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection passes the same tests for authenticity employed by the Jesus Seminar to establish the authentic sayings of Jesus. It therefore deserves to be accorded no less degree of credibility than those utterances.
Assessing the Resurrection as the Best Historical Explanation
But is the resurrection of Jesus the best explanation of this body of evidence? We cannot automatically assume that just because all naturalistic explanations are implausible, therefore the resurrection hypothesis is, by default, the best exp

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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby Kemosave » January 3rd, 2005, 2:45 pm

But is the resurrection of Jesus the best explanation of this body of evidence? We cannot automatically assume that just because all naturalistic explanations are implausible, therefore the resurrection hypothesis is, by default, the best explanation. In order to answer this question, let us return to McCullagh’s seven criteria for testing a historical hypothesis and apply them to the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead.
1. The hypothesis, together with other true statements, must imply further statements describing present, observable data. The present, observable data is chiefly the historical texts in the New Testament that form the basis of the historian’s reconstruction of the events of Easter. Moreover, there exists the Christian faith itself, whose origin must be accounted for. The resurrection hypothesis, if true, explains all of this.
2. The hypothesis must have greater explanatory scope than rival hypotheses. The resurrection hypothesis exceeds counterexplanations like hallucinations or the women’s visiting the wrong tomb precisely by explaining all three of the facts at issue (the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection), whereas these rival hypotheses explain only one or two.
3. The hypothesis must have greater explanatory power than rival hypotheses. This is perhaps the greatest strength of the resurrection hypothesis. The conspiracy theory or the apparent death theory just do not convincingly account for the three facts at issue. On these theories, established facts such as the transformation in the disciples, the conversion of James, and the physicality of the resurrection appearances become improbable. By contrast, on the hypothesis of the resurrection the established facts are probable.
4. The hypothesis must be more plausible than rival hypotheses. We have already seen that once one abandons the philosophical prejudice against the miraculous, the resurrection is just as plausible as its rivals.
5. The hypothesis must be less ad hoc than rival hypotheses. Recall that while McCullagh thought that the resurrection hypothesis possessed great explanatory scope and power, he nevertheless felt that it was ad hoc, which he defines in terms of the number of new suppositions made by a hypothesis that are not already implied by existing knowledge. So defined, however, it is difficult to see why the resurrection hypothesis is extraordinarily ad hoc. It requires only one new supposition: that God exists. Surely the rival hypotheses require this many new suppositions. For example, the conspiracy theory requires us to suppose that the moral character of the disciples was defective, which is not implied by existing knowledge. The apparent death theory requires the supposition that the soldier’s lance thrust into Jesus’ side was just a superficial poke or is unhistorical, which again goes beyond existing knowledge. The hallucination theory requires us to suppose some sort of emotional preparation of the disciples that predisposed them to project visions of Jesus alive, which is not implied by our existing knowledge. Such examples could be multiplied. Moreover, for the person who is already a theist, the resurrection hypothesis does not even introduce the new supposition of God’s existence, since that is already implied by his existing knowledge. So the resurrection hypothesis cannot be said to be ad hoc simply by virtue of the number of new suppositions it introduces. Scientific hypotheses regularly include the supposition of new, often unobservable entities, such as quarks, strings, gravitons, black holes, and the like, without those theories being characterized as ad hoc. Why should the supposition of God’s existence be any different? Philosophers of science have found it notoriously difficult to explain exactly what makes a hypothesis ad hoc. There is a certain air of artificiality about a hypothesis deemed to be ad hoc that can be sensed, if not defined, by seasoned practitioners of the relevant science. Many persons, including theists, feel a certain discomfort about appealing to God as part of an explanatory hypothesis for some phenomenon in the world precisely because doing so has this air of artificiality. It just seems too easy when confronted with some unexplained phenomenon to throw up one’s hands and say, “God did it!” The universal disapprobation of the so-called “God of the gaps” and the impulse toward methodological naturalism in science and history spring from the sense of illegitimacy attending such appeals to God. Is the hypothesis that “God raised Jesus from the dead” ad hoc in this sense? I think not. One of the most important contributions of the traditional defenders of the Gospel miracles was their drawing attention to the religio-historical context in which a purported miracle occurs. A supernatural explanation of the facts of the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection is not ad hoc because those events took place in the context of and as the climax to Jesus’ own unparalleled life, ministry, and personal claims, in which a supernatural hypothesis readily fits.54 It is also precisely because of this historical context that the resurrection hypothesis does not seem ad hoc when compared to miraculous explanations of other sorts: for example, that a “psychological miracle” occurred, causing normal men and women to become conspirators and liars who would be willingly martyred for their subterfuge; or that a “biological miracle” occurred, which prevented Jesus’ expiring on the cross or His dying of exposure in the tomb. It is these miraculous hypotheses that strike us as artificial and contrived, not the resurrection hypothesis, which makes abundantly good sense in the context of Jesus’ entire ministry and radical personal claims.
6. The hypothesis must be disconfirmed by fewer accepted beliefs than rival hypotheses. I cannot think of any accepted beliefs that disconfirm the resurrection hypothesis—unless one thinks that “Dead men do not rise” is disconfirmatory. But then we are just back to the problem of miracles again. This belief would disconfirm a naturalistic revivification hypothesis, but it does nothing to disconfirm the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead. By contrast, rival theories are disconfirmed by accepted beliefs about, for example, the instability of conspiracies, the likelihood of death as a result of crucifixion, the psychological characteristics of hallucinatory experiences, etc.
7. The hypothesis must so exceed its rivals in fulfilling conditions (2)-(6) that there is little chance of a rival hypothesis exceeding it in meeting these conditions. There is certainly little chance of any of the extant rival hypotheses exceeding the resurrection hypothesis in fulfilling the above conditions. The stupefaction of contemporary scholarship when confronted with the facts of the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection suggests that no better rival is anywhere on the horizon. It is hard to deny that the resurrection is the best explanation of the facts.
Therefore, it seems to me that the sort of skepticism expressed by members of the Jesus Seminar like Crossan with respect to the resurrection of Jesus not only fails to represent the consensus of scholarship, but is quite unjustified.
Concluding Remarks
“There ain’t gonna be no Easter this year,” a high school friend once remarked to me.
“Why not?” I asked incredulously.
“They found the body.”
Despite his irreverent sense of humor, my friend displayed a measure of insight that is apparently not shared by the Fellows of the Jesus Seminar. They seem perfectly willing to maintain that although Jesus died and rotted away, the resurrection still has value as a symbol of Christ’s “continuing presence” with us, so that Christianity can go on quite nicely as if nothing were changed. My friend’s joke, on the other hand, implied that without a literal resurrection, the Christian faith is worthless.
The earliest Christians would have agreed with my friend (1 Cor. 15:14, 17, 19). Without the historical resurrection, Jesus would have been at best just another prophet who met the same unfortunate fate as others before Him, and faith in Him as Messiah, Lord, or Son of God would have been stupid. It would be no use trying to save the situation by interpreting the resurrection as a symbol. The cold, hard facts would remain: Jesus was dead, and that’s it.
I suspect that the average layperson today also has too much common sense to be impressed by theological salvage operations like that advocated by the Jesus Seminar. After all, why should I let a Christian myth about a dead man be determinative for the meaning of my life today? Why not a non-Christian myth? Why follow myths at all?
Fortunately, the Christian faith does not call for us to put our minds on the shelf, to fly in the face of common sense and history, or to make a leap of faith into the dark. The rational person, fully apprised of the evidence, can confidently believe that on that first Easter morning a divine miracle took place.
Notes
1. Richard N. Ostling, “Jesus Christ, Plain and Simple,” Time, 10 January 1994, 32–33.
2. From 1978 to 1980, I had the privilege of spending two years as a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, studying the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus with Wolfhart Pannenberg at the University of Munich. I continued my research into the 1980s, which led to the publication of two companion volumes, The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus, Texts and Studies in Religion 23 (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen, 1985); and Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus, Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity 16 (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen, 1989). Detailed discussion and documentation of the issues summarized in this article may be found there. A popularization for laypeople is my book, The Son Rises (Chicago: Moody Press, 1981).
3. John Dominic Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (San Francisco: Harper SanFrancisco, 1994), ch. 6; idem, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (Edinburgh: Clark, 1991), 392–93; idem, The Cross That Spoke: The Origins of the Passion Narrative (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 21, 235–40; idem, Four Other Gospels (Minneapolis: Winston Press, 1985), 153–64.
4. For this reason it is difficult to engage Crossan in a conversation concerning the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, since the presuppositions from which he works are so at odds with the consensus of New Testament criticism concerning the development of the Gospels in general. Unless these more fundamental issues are resolved first, a discussion of specific points of evidence is all but impossible.
5. Crossan’s theory of the Gospels’ formation is that the second-century apocryphal Gospel of Peter, which is largely a compilation of elements from the four canonical Gospels, has embedded within it the most primitive Gospel of all, which he dubs the Cross Gospel—the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, entombment, and resurrection. The author of the Gospel of Mark had no other source for Jesus’ passion and resurrection than the Cross Gospel, but he invented additional details of the passion and burial, based on Old Testament passages, which Crossan calls “historicized prophecy.” For the resurrection narratives, virtually nothing was available from the Old Testament, but out of his theological conviction that Jesus’ passion was to be followed immediately by His coming again in glory, without any intermediate manifestation of the resurrection, Mark retrojected the Cross Gospel’s resurrection appearance back into his Gospel in the form of Jesus’ transfiguration. But canonical Mark was not the original form of this Gospel. Crossan accepts Morton Smith’s claim that canonical Mark is based on an earlier “Secret Gospel of Mark,” which Crossan believes ended with the centurion’s confession in 15:39 (itself a retrojection of the guard at the guard’s confession in the Cross Gospel). Canonical Mark, in addition to cleaning up the potentially offensive texts in Secret Mark, also created 15:40–16:8. The other canonical Gospels are based on both the Cross Gospel and canonical Mark. On the basis of this reconstruction, Crossan identifies several strata of tradition and, in reconstructing the historical Jesus, adopts the methodological principle of refusing to allow as authentic any passage not attested by multiple, independent sources, even if that passage is found in the first stratum of tradition. This ensures agnosticism concerning Jesus’ burial and resurrection since, on Crossan’s view, we lack multiple independent accounts of the exact sequence of what happened at the end of Jesus’ life.
6. Given this idiosyncratic approach to the Gospels, it is small wonder Crossan comes to conclusions so radically diverse from the majority of critics, who deny the existence of the hypothesized “Cross Gospel,” reject any dependence of canonical Mark on a Secret Mark, hold that the Gospel traditions concerning the burial and empty tomb of Jesus are rooted in history rather than the Old Testament, regard the Gospel of Peter, even if it contains some independent tradition, as a composition basically compiled from the canonical Gospels, and maintain that multiple attestation is not a necessary condition of judging a passage to be authentic. It would be a hopeless undertaking to provide in the limited space of this article a critical analysis of Crossan’s presuppositions, but I think it is salutary at least to mention them because (1) it exposes the pretension of the Fellows of the Jesus Seminar to represent the mainstream of New Testament scholarship, and (2) it shows that Crossan’s skepticism vis-à-vis the resurrection of Jesus is predicated on presuppositions that most critics regard as dubious. The extremity of Crossan’s skepticism is perhaps best illustrated by his remark that he firmly believes that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate because his crucifixion is attested by Josephus (A.D. 93–94) and Tacitus (A.D. 110/120), two “early and independent non-Christian witnesses” (Historical Jesus, 372)! This is quite amazing. We have on the one hand a New Testament chock full of early and independent references to Jesus’ crucifixion, including Paul’s citation of the early tradition in 1 Cor. 15:3, and on the other hand a doctored reference a half century later in Josephus and a reference no doubt dependent on Christian tradition by Tacitus; yet Crossan accepts the crucifixion on the basis of the latter! This evinces a prejudice against the New Testament documents that can only be described as historically irresponsible.
7. On the purported Secret Mark as a pastiche of elements drawn from the canonical Gospels, see F. F. Bruce, The “Secret”Gospel of Mark (London: Athlone Press, 1974); for a critique of Crossan’s hypothesis that canonical Mark revises Secret Mark, see Robert H. Gundry, Mark: A Commentary on His Apology for the Cross (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 613–23; on the Gospel of Peter’s being a late compilation containing no primitive “Cross Gospel,” see Raymond E. Brown, “The Gospel of Peter and Canonical Gospel Priority,” NTS 33 (1987): 321–43, which is expanded in Appendix 1, “The Gospel of Peter—A Noncanonical Passion Narrative,” of Brown’s magisterial The Death of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives in the Four Gospels, 2 vols., ABRL (New York: Doubleday, 1994).
8. For a discussion, see Peter Lipton, Inference to the Best Explanation (London: Routledge, 1991).
9. C. Behan McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 19.
10. R. T. France, “The Gospels as Historical Sources for Jesus, the Founder of Christianity,” Truth 1 (1985): 86.
11. R. W. Funk, R. W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say? (New York: Macmillan, 1993), 2.
12. Ibid., 3.
13. Ibid., 2–3.
14. This fact becomes explicit when the Seminar comes to words of the risen Jesus: “By definition, words ascribed to Jesus after his death are not subject to historical verification” (ibid., 398). But since words spoken during Jesus’ life are sometimes transferred to the resurrected state, “the Jesus Seminar decided in some instances to evaluate such words as though they were spoken by a historical figure” (ibid., my emphasis). It could not be plainer that the Seminar rules out the risen Jesus as a historical figure and that it does so not on the basis of the evidence, but by definition.
15. McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions, 21.
16. For the sake of argument, I am leaving out of account Christians’ experience of the presence of the risen Lord. The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard maintained that it was precisely this experience that frees believers from the tyranny of the historical method and makes every generation in effect contemporaneous with the disciples.
17. As the Archbishop of Perth, Peter Carnley, proposed in his The Structure of Resurrection Belief (Oxford: Clarendon, 1987), 52. J. C. O’Neill, professor of New Testament at Cambridge University, points out that Paul would have said merely “He was buried and on the third day appeared to Cephas,” if no empty tomb were contemplated and the burial only served to underscore the death (J. C. O’Neill, “On the Resurrection as an Historical Question,” Christ, Faith and History, Cambridge Studies in Christology, ed. S. W. Sykes and J. P. Clayton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972), 208.
18. Even Crossan’s imagined Cross Gospel includes Jesus’ being sealed in a tomb, not buried in the criminals’ graveyard (Gosp. Pet. 8:30–33). Apart from his methodological requirement of multiple attestation, Crossan provides no reason why this presumed pre-Markan source is not to be trusted in this regard.
19. Rudolf Bultmann, The History of the Synoptic Tradition, 2d ed., trans. John Marsh (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1900), 274. Crossan, on the other hand, thinks that the burial story is a fictitious account manufactured out of Deut. 21:22–23 and Josh. 10:26–27. This hypothesis, however, is rendered awkward by the fact that the supposed Cross Gospel contains no burial story at all, since Crossan attributes Gosp. Pet. 6:23–24 (Joseph’s entombment of Jesus) to a later stratum based on the canonical Gospels. So is Mark’s account supposed to be manufactured out of these Old Testament texts plus the Cross Gospel? Wholly apart from the question of whether the early Christians felt free just to invent incidents without any historical basis, two problems with Crossan’s hypothesis arise: {1} Such an approach to the Gospels is in danger of repeating with Jewish texts the same error committed by the old History of Religions movement with pagan texts. That nineteenth-century movement sought to find parallels to Christian beliefs in pagan religions, and some scholars sought to explain Christian beliefs as the product of pagan influences. The movement collapsed, however, largely because no genealogical link could be shown between pagan beliefs and Christian beliefs. Crossan’s Jewish parallels are similarly devoid of significance unless a causal connection to incidents narrated in the Gospels can be shown. In the case at issue, it is doubtful that this can be done, since one only notices the parallels if one reads the relevant texts in the light of and with full knowledge of the Gospel narratives. The parallels are too distant to think that a first-century Christian with knowledge only that Jesus was crucified would find such texts relevant to Jesus’ fate. {2} The dissimilarities between the burial story and Josh. 10:26–27 suggest that Mark’s account is not based on the latter. Joshua speaks of a cave, whereas Mark makes a point of the man-made, rock-hewn sepulcher in which Jesus was laid (cf. Isa. 11:16); Joshua has a guard at the cave, whereas Mark has no guard; Mark’s reference to Joseph of Arimathea, the scene with Pilate, and the linen shroud have no parallel in Joshua. Details like the stone over the entrance and burial before nightfall are features that belong to the attested historical Jewish milieu and so provide no genealogical clue. Crossan thinks that the Cross Gospel simply took it for granted that the Jews buried Jesus, but that the Joshua passage provided the buried body, the great rolled stone, and the posted guards for the Cross Gospel’s guard at the tomb story. But surely the buried body is already provided by the fact of the crucifixion and Jewish customs with respect to burial of the dead; the stone is an archaeologically confirmed feature of tombs of notable persons in first-century Palestine; and the guard is more plausibly derived from Matthew than Joshua, particularly in light of the Gospel of Peter’s heightening of the guard story by identifying it clearly as a Roman guard (complete with the name of the commander), having it posted on Friday rather than on Saturday so that the tomb is never left unguarded, and emphasizing that the soldiers did not fall asleep but were constantly on watch.
20. Again, Crossan disagrees, asserting that Mark invented Joseph of Arimathea to take Jesus’ burial from His enemies to His friends. Unfortunately, Crossan gives no evidence for this assertion. Against it stands the fact that neither the Cross Gospel nor Mark say clearly that Jesus was buried by His enemies or that Joseph was a friend of Jesus. Even more simply, if Mark was so inventive, why would he create a figure like Joseph rather than just have the disciples bury Jesus? If he wanted more historical verisimilitude, he could have had Jesus buried by His enemies or His family.
21. Brown, Death of the Messiah, 2:1240.
22. Crossan attempts to find other burial traditions in the Epistula Apostolorum 9.20 (a Coptic document from the second century) and Lactantius’s Divine Institutes 4.19 (from the early fourth century). That Crossan thinks that these late, derivative, and sometimes fanciful sources are more trustworthy purveyors of historical tradition than the New Testament documents is a comment on his methodology. In any case, these sources do not offer alternatives to the Gospel account. The Epistula Apostolorum speaks of Jesus’ body being taken down from the cross along with those of the thieves, but then singles Him out as being buried in a place called “skull,” where Sarah, Martha, and Mary Magdalene went to anoint Him. The summary nature of the passage no more excludes burial by Joseph of Arimathea than does the Apostles’ Creed. The same is true of Lactantius’ summary, in which he says in reference to the Jews, “They took His body down from the cross, and enclosing it safely in a tomb, they surrounded it with a military guard.” The desire to polemicize against the Jews leads Lactantius to include Joseph under the general rubric “the Jews.” The same motive governs Acts 13:27–29, to which Crossan also appeals. Finally John 19:31 has to do only with a request, not with actual burial. That Crossan has to appeal to passages such as the above only serves to underline how desperate is the attempt to find other burial traditions.
23. Wolfgang Trilling, Fragen zur Geschichtlichkeit Jesu (Düsseldorf: Patmos Verlag, 1966), 157. See also Raymond E. Brown, “The Burial of Jesus (Mark 15:42–47),” CBQ 50 (1988): 233–45.
24. Carnley denies this, arguing: {1} 1 Cor. 15:4 is meant only to underscore the reality of Jesus’ death; {2} 2 Cor. 5:1 shows that Paul conceivably did not hold to a reanimation of the body in the resurrection; {3} 1 Cor. 15:51 precludes an empty tomb since the resurrection body is not composed of “flesh and blood”; and {4} Baruch 49–51 shows that the restoration of flesh and bones was not part of the current Jewish concept of the resurrection (Carnley, Structure of Resurrection Belief, 52–53). I have already dealt with {1}. Concerning {2}, the present tense verb “have” in 2 Cor. 5:1 does not imply that the resurrection body is already waiting in heaven for us; rather it expresses certainty of future possession, as when one says that he has an inheritance in heaven. The notion of an unanimated resurrection body, stored up in the closets of heaven, is a contradiction in terms, since as a spiritual body (cf. 1 Cor. 15:44), it is imbued with life. As Paul goes on to intimate in 2 Cor. 5:4, the earthly body will be transformed into the resurrection body (cf. 1 Cor. 15:54). Both {3} and {4} are beside the point, since even if the resurrection body were immaterial, in both the passages cited it is the product of the transformation of the earthly body, so that an empty grave would be left in its wake. On the materiality of the resurrection body, see below.
25. Rudolf Pesch, Das Markusevangelium, 2 vols., HTKNT 2 (Freiburg: Herder, 1977), 2:21; cf. 2:364–77.
26. If this is the case, it is futile to construe the empty tomb account as an unhistorical legend. It seems astounding that Pesch himself (ibid., 2:522–36) tries to convince us that the pre-Markan empty tomb story is an unhistorical fusion of three literary forms from the history of religions: door-opening miracles, epiphany stories, and stories of seeking but not finding persons who have been translated to heaven. He considers the account of the stone’s being rolled away to be the product of door-opening miracle stories. When it is pointed out that no such door opening is narrated in Mark, Pesch gives away his case by asserting that it is a “latent” door-opening miracle! The angelic appearance he attributes to epiphany stories, though without showing the parallels. Finally he appeals to a story-form of seeking but not finding someone for the search for Jesus’ body, adducing several largely irrelevant texts (e.g., 2 Kings 2:16–18; Ps. 37:36; Ezek. 26:21) plus a spate of post-Christian or Christian-influenced sources (Gospel of Nicodemus 16:6; Testament of Job 39–40) and even question-begging texts from the New Testament itself. He does not come to grips with his own early dating of the tradition and does not show how legend could develop in so short a span in the presence of those who knew better.
27. Edward Lynn Bode, The First Easter Morning (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1970), 161. Brown agrees: “The basic time indication of the finding of the tomb was fixed in Christian memory before the possible symbolism in the three-day reckoning had yet been perceived” (Raymond C. Brown, The Gospel According to John, ABRL 29A [Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1970], 980). The fact that “on the first day of the week” is probably a Semitism also points to the early origin of the phrase.
28. Crossan agrees that this account in the Cross Gospel (=Gosp. Pet. 9:35–10:42) is theologically determined, but he thinks that Mark’s account is too. Mark’s linking of Jesus’ passion and return in glory leads Mark to suppress the Cross Gospel’s colorful account of the resurrection and the guard, so that his simple narrative results. For Mark, “the resurrection was simply the departure of Jesus pending a now imminent return in glory” (Crossan, Historical Jesus, 296). The retrojected appearance from the Cross Gospel became the Transfiguration, which functions as a foretaste of Jesus’ glorious return, not His resurrection. Crossan’s hypothesis hinges crucially on the widely rejected idea that Mark implies no resurrection appearances, but only Jesus’ appearance at His return (Mark 13:26; 14:62). Clearly, Jesus’ predictions of His glorious return do not preclude resurrection appearances after He rises from the dead, also predicted (Mark 8:31; 9:9, 31; 10:34). And in 14:28; 16:7, Mark suggests clearly that such resurrection appearances will take place. Jesus’ going before the disciples to Galilee and the restricted circle of the witnesses make it clear that Mark is not envisioning Jesus’ second coming in Galilee (not to mention the problem that Mark knows that such did not occur). Crossan cannot retreat to the position that these verses were not part of the original Secret Mark, for the issue is the simplicity of Mark 16:1–8, which was supposedly added by canonical Mark. But if canonical Mark contemplates resurrection appearances, then no reason remains for him not to have given a resurrection narrative akin to that of the Gospel of Peter. As for the Transfiguration, most critics regard this narrative as so firmly embedded in its context that it cannot be considered to be a retrojected resurrection narrative. Crossan confesses that the parallels between Mark’s Transfiguration narrative and the Gospel of Peter’s resurrection story (e.g., the height of the heads reaching to heaven becomes the high mountain) are “not very persuasive” in themselves, but he blames this on Mark’s having “completely recast” the narrative (Crossan, Four Other Gospels, 173). In any case, Mark 16:1–8 lacks any theological reflection on Jesus’ glorious return or other theological motifs, like his descent into hell and victory over his enemies, which in turn bespeaks its primitiveness.
29. At this point Crossan’s speculations go off the rails. To him, Secret Mark lent itself to an erotic interpretation that the author of canonical Mark wished to avoid. Rather than simply remove the offending text, Mark dismembered it and scattered its parts throughout his Gospel. For example, the angelic figure of the young man in the tomb (Mark 16:5) derives from the young man in Secret Mark who comes to Jesus for instruction in the mystery of the kingdom of God. More relevant to the point, the three women who discover the empty tomb (Mark 16:1) are the dismembered residue of Secret Mark 2r 14–16, which followed canonical Mark 10:46a and reads: “And the sister of the young man whom Jesus loved and his mother and Salome were there, and Jesus did not receive them.” Why, one might ask, would Mark scatter these various figures and motifs throughout his Gospel, rather than just delete them if he found them potentially offensive? Crossan’s ingenious answer is that Mark did this so that if someone should come upon a copy of Secret Mark with the offending passages, orthodox Christians could claim that the passages were just a pastiche assembled from disparate elements in the Gospel of Mark! This answer is just scholarly silliness. Not only does it ascribe to Mark prescience of redaction criticism, but, more importantly, it tends to render Crossan’s hypothesis unfalsifiable, since evidence that does not confirm his theory is reinterpreted in terms of the theory to be actually confirmatory—cf. Freudian psychology, which takes someone’s claim not to have experienced Oedipal desires as evidence that that person is, in line with the theory, suppressing such experiences. That is, to critics who assert that the Secret Mark passages are not primitive but look like amalgamations drawn from other Gospel stories, Crossan would say, “Aha! that’s just what Mark wanted you to think!” In any case, the answer will not work because some elements of the pastiche are drawn from John’s Gospel (the beloved disciple, the raising of Lazarus), which Secret Mark is supposed to antedate. With respect to the women at the tomb, the hypothesis still fails to explain why Mark would insert them here rather than elsewhere in the Gospel, when he could have made male disciples (perhaps even the young man!) discover the empty tomb. For a critique of Crossan’s claim that the supposedly dismembered elements intrude unnaturally in canonical Mark, see Gundry, Mark, 613–21.
30. Crossan embraces without argument the hypothesis of the flight of the disciples, who knew nothing more than the fact of the crucifixion, a hypothesis most scholars today would regard, in von Campenhausen’s words, as “a fiction of the critics” (Hans F. von Campenhausen, Der Ablauf der Osterereignisse und das leere Grab, 3d ed. [Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1966], 44–49). Intriguingly, the Jesus Seminar also endorses this hypothesis (Funk, Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels, 468). Carnley is reduced to adopting the flight to Galilee hypothesis to explain why women are made the discoverers of the empty tomb (Carnley, Structure of Resurrection Belief, 60). His claim that their presence at the crucifixion and burial drew them into the empty tomb story is unconvincing, not merely because it arbitrarily selects which roles of the women are historical, but even more because if Mark felt free to invent the denials of Peter despite the historical flight to Galilee, he would have been free to make Peter or another male disciple discover the empty tomb. Crossan says that Peter’s visit to the tomb is Luke’s creation (from which he presumably infers nonhistoricity). For a critique of Lukan creation, see William Lane Craig, “The Disciples’ Inspection of the Empty Tomb (Luke 24,12. 24; John 20,2–10,” in John and the Synoptics, BETL 101 (Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, 1992), 614–19.
31. Carnley objects that this argument assumes that the proclamation of the resurrection was soon enough after the burial to allow Jesus’ tomb to be identified; but perhaps this was not so (Carnley, Structure of Resurrection Belief, 55). If one grants the reliability of the burial tradition, however, as Carnley apparently does, this objection cannot even get off the ground, since the burial site was known. In any case, it is not evident that Jesus’ grave could not be identified. Carnley thinks that one may infer from Matt. 27:61; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55 that the Jewish response to the disciples’ proclamation was that the women had gone to the wrong tomb. But these verses show no trace of polemical context (cf. Matt. 27:63; 28:15), serving rather to prepare for the women’s visit to anoint the body; furthermore, appealing to the worthless testimony of women (point 6 above) would be counterproductive as a response to such a Jewish allegation. Besides, the authorities’ alleging that the women had gone to the wrong tomb does not show that the real site was unknown, for even if the site of the corpse were known, the authorities could say that the women visited the wrong tomb. Indeed, this allegation would be most effective only if one could point to the actual (occupied) tomb. And Carnley admits that the Jewish authorities could not do that. This militates against the view that they made any such allegation, since alone it would not be maximally effective.
32. Again, Carnley tries to explain the Jewish polemic by the hypothesis that the location of the tomb was unknown or forgotten (Structure of Resurrection Belief, 55–56). What this fails to appreciate is that the allegation of body snatching made by the polemic actually implies (not merely fails to deny) the empty tomb. Contrary to Carnley, the polemic did not assert that “the emptiness of a grave ... would not prove anything more than that the body had been stolen”; rather, it asserted that as a matter of fact the body had been stolen, which implies the factuality of the empty tomb.
33. James D. G. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit (London: SCM, 1975), 120.
34. D. H. Van Daalen, The Real Resurrection (London: Collins, 1970), 41.
35. Jacob Kremer, Die Osterevangelien: Geschichten um Geschichte (Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1977), 49–50. Perhaps most remarkable of all, two Jewish scholars, Vermes and Lapide, are convinced on the basis of the historical evidence that Jesus’ tomb was found empty.
36. Craig, Historical Argument for the Resurrection, 321–50, 522–24.
37. Crossan himself states that it would take five to ten years just to discover the Old Testament motifs necessary to invent the Passion story alone (Crossan, Jesus, 145); yet the tradition delivered by Paul antedates even the lower limit assigned by Crossan and already includes, not only the Old Testament warrant for the Passion, but also the resurrection with its scriptural warrant. Incredibly, Crossan scarcely touches on 1 Cor. 15:1–11 (see Historical Jesus, 397–98), and he adopts the old interpretation of von Harnack that the list of witnesses reflects rival factions looking to Cephas and James as their respective leaders. It is noteworthy that the Jesus Seminar adopts Crossan’s interpretation to explain away the denials of Peter tradition (Funk, Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, Five Gospels, 119). Of the resurrection appearances, Crossan says, “None ... was an illusion, hallucination, vision, or apparition. Each was a symbolic assertion of Jesus’ continued presence to the general community, to leadership groups, or to specific and even competing individual leaders” (Historical Jesus, 507). The interpretation of the list as reflecting competitive leadership has been rejected by virtually all contemporary commentators, not only because there is no evidence of first-generation factions centered on Peter and James, but also because the chronological ordering of the list as well as the great age of the tradition Paul hands on precludes such an interpretation. Virtually every contemporary New Testament scholar agrees that the original disciples had apparitional experiences of Jesus alive after his death. On the resurrection as a symbolic assertion, see below on the origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection.
38. Norman Perrin, The Resurrection According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977), 80.
39. Trilling, Geschichtlichkeit Jesu, 153. According to Trilling, the fact that miracles in general belong to the historical Jesus is widely recognized and no longer disputed. He refers here not to the interpretation of miracles as a supernatural event, but to the historical factuality of the Gospel miracles attributed to Jesus.
40. A. N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1963), 188–91.
41. Ibid., 189. This consideration becomes especially forceful if one follows critics such as Guthrie, Reicke, and Robinson in a pre–70 dating of Luke-Acts (Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, 3d ed., rev. [London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1970], 340–45; Bo Reicke, “Synoptic Prophecies on the Destruction of Jerusalem,” in Studies in New Testament and Early Christian Literature, ed. D. E. Aune [Leiden: Brill, 1972], 121–34; John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament [London: SCM, 1976], 13–30, 66–117).
42. Sherwin-White, Roman Society, 190.
43. Vincent Taylor, The Formation of the Gospel Tradition, 2d ed. (London: Macmillan, 1935), 41.
44. See Walther Künneth, The Theology of the Resurrection, trans. J. Leitch (London: SCM, 1965), 92–93.
45. J. I. H. McDonald, The Resurrection: Narrative and Belief (London: SPCK, 1989), 29.
46. Crossan tries to play off Paul’s assertion that “flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50) against a physical resurrection (Crossan, Historical Jesus, 404–5). But such an opposition is spurious. “Flesh and blood” is a typical Semitic word-pair connoting frail, mortal human nature (cf. Gal. 1:16; Eph. 6:12), so that the second half of verse 51 expresses in parallel form the same idea: “nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” Paul is not talking about anatomy.
47. McDonald thus errs in appealing to Hellenistic Judaism’s belief in the immortality of the soul in order to deny a material resurrection body; he also confuses resurrection with translation (see below; McDonald, Resurrection, 141). McDonald believes that “the corporeal aspect of the risen Jesus finds expression in the concept of ‘the body of Christ’ in which believers participate, rather than in the notion of a reanimated corpse” (ibid.). Here his reduction of the resurrection to the immortality of Jesus’ soul seems unavoidable. For to state that we are literally Christ’s body makes no sense of Paul’s description of that body in 1 Corinthians 15 and implies a sort of modalism that denies our individual personhood. But if believers are only metaphorically the body of Christ, which is doubtless Paul’s intent, then it follows on McDonald’s view that Christ literally has no resurrection body, which contradicts Paul.
48. For example, Carnley writes off Luke and John’s “materializing tendencies” as due to “apologetic developments,” but provides no evidence for this assertion (Carnley, Structure of Resurrection Belief, 68). Contrary considerations include: {1} Docetism was the theological reaction to the physicalism of the Gospels, not vice versa. {2} Docetism denied the physical incarnation, not the physical resurrection. {3} The Gospel traditions antedate the rise of Docetism. {4} The appearance stories do not evince the rigor of an apologetic against Docetism. {5} Had visionary experiences been original, then Docetism would not have presented any threat vis-à-vis the appearances.
49. Crossan’s position on this issue is ambiguous. On the one hand he seems to agree with the undeniable fact that the earliest disciples proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus and that that doctrine was crucial to the origin of the Christian faith. On the other hand, he reinterprets the belief in Jesus’ resurrection to be the symbolic assertion of Jesus’ continued presence. He writes, “That is the resurrection, the continuing presence in a continuing community of the past Jesus in a radically new and transcendental [sic] mode of present and future existence” (Crossan, Historical Jesus, 404); the problem the disciples faced was “how to express that phenomenon.” Crossan thinks that in order to express their sense of Jesus’ ongoing invisible presence with them, Christians appropriated the language of resurrection from the dead. He explains:
50. Those who had originally experienced divine power through His vision and example still continued to do so after His death. Jesus’ followers, who initially fled from the danger of the crucifixion, talked eventually of not just continued affection, but of resurrection. They tried to express what they meant by telling, e.g., of the journey to Emmaus. They were disappointed and in dejected sorrow. Jesus joined them unrecognized and explained that Hebrew scripture “should have prepared them for His fate.” Later they recognize him by the meal, as of old. Then they go back to Jerusalem in high spirits. The symbolism is obvious, as is the metaphoric condensation of the first years of Christian thought and practice into one parabolic afternoon (ibid., xii).
51. Thus, on Crossan’s view, in a literal sense the first disciples did not really believe in the resurrection of Jesus.
52. Crossan’s view raises two questions: {1} When the earliest Christians said Jesus was raised from the dead, did they mean it literally or not? {2} Can the origin of their belief be explained as a result of their reflection on Hebrew Scripture? With respect to {1}, there can be no doubt that the earliest Christians asserted a literal resurrection of Jesus. Paul’s earnest declarations in 1 Cor. 15:12–23, 29–32 about the essentiality of Jesus’ being raised from the dead and especially his linking it with our own resurrection from the dead (which cannot be interpreted in terms of continuing presence) show how literally and seriously this event was taken. So do Paul’s disquisitions about the nature of the resurrection body in answer to the questions “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” (1 Cor. 15:35). The sermons in the book of Acts also present Jesus’s resurrection as a literal event, which could only present gratuitous obstacles to their hearers if no such event were being asserted (e.g., Acts 17:31–32). Moreover, the empty tomb tradition would be superfluous and pointless were not a literal event in view, since mere continuing spiritual presence does not require an empty tomb. Furthermore, early Christians were perfectly capable of expressing the idea of Jesus’ spiritual presence with them without recourse to the language of resurrection from the dead (cf. 1 Cor. 5:3; Col. 2:5). Indeed, in the notion of the Holy Spirit of Christ the Christians had the perfect vehicle for expressing in a theologically rich way the idea of Jesus’ continuing, numinous presence with and in them (e.g., Rom. 8:9–11). But they were not content merely to assert the presence of Christ through the Spirit with them; they also believed in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, the harbinger of their own resurrection (Rom. 8:11, 23).
53. As for {2}, it is now widely agreed that the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection cannot be explained as the result of their reflection on the Old Testament. As Crossan himself admits (Crossan, Four Other Gospels, 174), the Old Testament furnishes little that could be construed in terms of Christ’s resurrection, much less prompt such a belief in the absence of any experiences of appearances or an empty tomb. When Crossan says the Hebrew Scripture should have prepared the disciples for Jesus’ fate, what that refers to is His death; but there is almost nothing there to prepare them for His resurrection. Most critics concur that Old Testament proof texts of the resurrection could be found only after the fact of the disciples’ coming to believe that Jesus was risen, not before.

1. 1. In his more recent Jesus, 163, 165, Crossan takes an even more radical line: the primitive Christians did not express their sense of Jesus’ continuing presence in terms of His resurrection, but held simply to belief in Jesus’ passion and second coming. “Where, then did all the emphasis on resurrection come from? In a word, from Paul.... For Paul ... bodily resurrection is the only way that Jesus’ continuing presence can be expressed.” But in light of the early tradition received and delivered by Paul in 1 Cor. 15:3–5 alone, this view is incredible, as is the claim that Paul was at a loss to express the notion of Jesus’ continuing presence other than through the language of resurrection.
2. See Reginald H. Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives (London: SPCK, 1972), 2.
3. The only other alternatives would seem to be Greek or Christian influences. But it is now widely recognized that belief in Jesus’ resurrection cannot be traced to pagan factors (see Künneth, Theology of the Resurrection, 50–63), nor can it be ascribed to the influence of the church, since the resurrection is itself the cause of the church’s coming into being.
4. C. F. D. Moule and Don Cupitt, “The Resurrection: A Disagreement,” Theology 75 (1972): 507–19.
5. C. F. D. Moule, The Phenomenon of the New Testament, SBT 2d ser., 1 (London: SCM, 1967), 13.
6. Crossan’s insistence that the Jewish mind had to express Jesus’ victory over death by resurrection language is simply inaccurate, for we know of several other models current in Judaism that might have been employed. On the contrary, since there was no expectation of an isolated resurrection within history, the choice of the category of resurrection must be explained (Raymond E. Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus [London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1973], 76). Cf. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit, 132.
7. Gerald O’Collins, The Easter Jesus, 2d ed. (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1980), 50–51.
8. Craig A. Evans, “Life-of-Jesus Research and the Eclipse of Mythology,” TS 54 (1993): 21–33.
See Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus—God and Man, trans. L. L. Wilkens and D. A. Priebe (London: SCM, 1968), 67; idem, “Jesu Geschichte und unsere Geschichte,” Glaube und Wirklichkeit (München: Chr. Kaiser, 1975), 92.

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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby Mraka » January 4th, 2005, 8:05 am

did not read it !way too long!

oh i forgott the half of it.

In that time poeple used a natural drug as a painkiller. (lost"§$%")!!ALRAUN//MANDRAKE!!!!?
Some say that the sponge Jesus drank of ,at the cross,was used for that before.The sponge could have easyly been filled with enough of those painkiller substance to protect him from too much bleeding and push his lifesignals that down,that his death was assumed.

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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby Kemosave » January 4th, 2005, 11:55 am

Actually he refused the vinegar mixed with gall as in "when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink."

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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby Lonewolf » January 4th, 2005, 2:14 pm

Mraka wrote:.The sponge could have easyly been filled with enough of those painkiller substance to protect him from too much bleeding and push his lifesignals that down,that his death was assumed.
You care to take a beating, a whipping, slashing, laden & exhausted, nailed to a cross and hung up, and pierced with a lance?

What about the sentries/guards posted by those who ordered his execution to begin with?

What scientific proof do you have of the times and those around the incident, that would lead you to beleive that he was drugged like a zombie to simulate being dead?

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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby Mraka » January 4th, 2005, 6:54 pm

He pulled the cross all the way like one.He was fine till the others of the round died.Them was allowed to drink by the sponge(that holds drug) that was allong the bowl also used by medics .That could have been hygiene standard.Must not mean anybody was aware of that.
The Mandrake could have helped very much to stop the bleeding.And so he could have passed the reaction test with the speer.
Oh of course I got it from too much TV ;they were investigating the method a man could have been fixed that way,so he would not have had torn his flesh apart brought up.I think it was an american historic. He asumes that Icons or religious paintings do not show it exactly.

Visiting the country ;there are many trees by the ways that also could have been used to crucify someone then.And the Mandrakes nearby.

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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby Kemosave » January 18th, 2005, 3:46 pm

Haha he has none that can't be explained away. He just saw some assertions by materialistic philosophy believers masquarading their skepticism through bad science and very unhistoric history on television. Many of these shows are pure rubbish. They don't have their facts straight.

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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby Mraka » January 19th, 2005, 4:46 am

He save kemo,then tell me where the nail has to be nailed in, so a grown man would not fall off by rising the cross.

Oh of course my english is not so good,but have a clue on this:
http://e-forensicmedicine.net/ShroudBibliog.htm
scroll down this:
http://www.centuryone.org/crucifixion2.html
what I was looking for:
http://www.holytrinity.ok.goarch.org/In ... cture.html

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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby Kemosave » January 19th, 2005, 4:44 pm

You are asking about where the nails went I think. The Romans used spikes that were five to seven inches long and tapered to a sharp point. They were drive through the wrists (below the palms). The reason why they did this is because if they put the nails through the palms his weight would have caused the skin to tear and he would have fallen off the cross. So the nails went through the wrists although this was considered part of the hand in the language of the day. Archaeology has now established that the use of nails was historical though ropes were indeed sometimes used. One example would be in 1968, archaeologists in Jerusalem found the remains of about three dozen Jews who had died during the uprising against Rome (around AD 70). One victim, whose name was Yohanan, had been crucified. And sure enough, they found a seven inch nail still driven into his feet, with small pieces of olive wood from the cross still attached.

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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby alexalonso » December 3rd, 2012, 2:44 am

Kemosave wrote:You are asking about where the nails went I think. The Romans used spikes that were five to seven inches long and tapered to a sharp point. They were drive through the wrists (below the palms). The reason why they did this is because if they put the nails through the palms his weight would have caused the skin to tear and he would have fallen off the cross. So the nails went through the wrists although this was considered part of the hand in the language of the day. Archaeology has now established that the use of nails was historical though ropes were indeed sometimes used. One example would be in 1968, archaeologists in Jerusalem found the remains of about three dozen Jews who had died during the uprising against Rome (around AD 70). One victim, whose name was Yohanan, had been crucified. And sure enough, they found a seven inch nail still driven into his feet, with small pieces of olive wood from the cross still attached.


no too many people know that the nails went through the wrist, not the palms. But it wasnt a cross.
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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby TarHeelRED » January 17th, 2013, 3:05 am

alexalonso wrote:
Kemosave wrote:You are asking about where the nails went I think. The Romans used spikes that were five to seven inches long and tapered to a sharp point. They were drive through the wrists (below the palms). The reason why they did this is because if they put the nails through the palms his weight would have caused the skin to tear and he would have fallen off the cross. So the nails went through the wrists although this was considered part of the hand in the language of the day. Archaeology has now established that the use of nails was historical though ropes were indeed sometimes used. One example would be in 1968, archaeologists in Jerusalem found the remains of about three dozen Jews who had died during the uprising against Rome (around AD 70). One victim, whose name was Yohanan, had been crucified. And sure enough, they found a seven inch nail still driven into his feet, with small pieces of olive wood from the cross still attached.


no too many people know that the nails went through the wrist, not the palms. But it wasnt a cross.

On that day, whether it was a cross or an upright beam, Immanuel- God with us was crucified. Can't dispute that. Then 3 days later He rose BODILY from the dead. Can't dispute that either but some 'organizations' that some people call cults do. Kemosave ain't here 2 answer u. But I think he & I believe the same fundamental doctrines about the Holy Bible that u reject. And as he would often say, "Peace." Lol.

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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby alexalonso » January 28th, 2013, 1:05 pm

cant dispute that, even other non-Christian religions know Jesus was the real deal.

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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby TarHeelRED » January 29th, 2013, 4:46 pm

alexalonso wrote:cant dispute that, even other non-Christian religions know Jesus was the real deal.

We agree 2 agree.

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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby k001869 » March 22nd, 2013, 10:09 am

NO evidence he existed and but I'm willing to throw christians a bone and say some dude might have existed but they just added a bunch supernatural souce to the story and thats what we got now. To believe that this dude came back from the dead is pretty retarded.

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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby alexalonso » March 22nd, 2013, 12:19 pm

k001869 wrote:NO evidence he existed and but I'm willing to throw christians a bone and say some dude might have existed but they just added a bunch supernatural souce to the story and thats what we got now. To believe that this dude came back from the dead is pretty retarded.



no evidence?? serio?

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Re: some evidences for Christ’s resurrection

Unread postby SpiritualKnight » September 13th, 2018, 2:33 am

Russ Dizdar is a current preacher/former ohio police chaplain, who speaks about the massive satanic cult activity going on in ohio, and other states/places. (his facebook is: https://www.facebook.com/russ.dizdar). He lives in summit county, ohio - he helps people that are born into satanic cults get out, receive salvation, and provides protection to them, and also helps bring healing from a condition they often impose on members from birth, called multiple personality disorder (MPD - also known as DID, dissociative identity disorder), which they use to help keep members under control/hidden.. The satanic covens/cult groups do this through various methods of torture from birth, to bring about a 'split' in the personality through trauma - then hypnosis (and other essentially brainwashing techniques) are used on the 'split personalities', which are 'programmed' (so to speak) to be obedient and do the work. The process is known/documented as satanic ritual abuse (SRA - look it up..) - the man russ helps get salvation/healing for ALL the personalities, and can help provide means of escape/protection for those that want out of these satanic cults/secret society groups.These satanic cult groups I'm talking about are part of the anti-christ's satanic army that's spoken about in the prophetic bible verses of revelation (revelation 16:13-14, revelation 19:19), and are secretly operating inter-connected HEAVILY all over the country, and in other places world wide... They have people operating covertly at all levels of government, education, entertainment, law enforcement, and religions/religious groups (pretending to be one religion, while secretly they're a satanist), and they are VERY ORGANIZED, AND VERY ACTIVE. (*Note* also youtube search: 'cia and satanism' - ted gunderson, a former FBI member, has some really valuable/interesting information concerning this topic.. also look up 'MK-Ultra', and 'project bluebird'.... there are official government files/documents available online, concerning this stuff.) These are the last days (matthew 24), and the end of this world as we know it is not far off. These satanic cults engage in the act of casting spells/hexes on people, as well, but christians are able to combat this with the power of God them through prayer, and also deliverance for the satanic witch's can be attained. The preacher russ has powerful spiritual warfare teachings (Judges 9:57, Matthew 16:18-19, Mark 16:16-18, Luke 10:18-20, Acts 13:1-12, Acts 16:16-18, Ephesians 6:10-17) - witchcraft is real (Deuteronomy 18:10-11, Luke 10:18-20, Romans 16:10, Acts 19:18-29, 1 Timothy 4:1, Revelation 2:24), and these satanic covens/cult groups are heavily into it, doing human sacrifice and other things for demonic empowerment (2 Kings 21:6, Matthew 16:26-27, Luke 4:5-7, Acts 8:9-1, Revelation 18:23), and are involved in/tied to child kidnappings, much of the sex trafficking/sex slave stuff, serial killers (for example: charles manson, and richard ramirez -AKA the night stalker, who was from texas...), and also many people believe that some of the mass murderer's/shooters that have been arrested are potentially satanic cult coven members/victims of the satanic ritual abuse, themselves... This stuff is VERY REAL, and it is a VERY SERIOUS SITUATION - the man russ provides massive concrete evidence concerning this matter, and I have a qucik/powerful overview teaching that's posted at the top of my page, with a few links attached to it, that will help bring a strong understanding concerning the situation, while providing evidences as well. PLEASE LOOK INTO THIS MATTER, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT! (my face book is: https://www.facebook.com/kenny.jackson.5011)


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