23 Nov 2014

“The Historical Case for the Resurrection of Christ”

Religious 31 Comments

One of my (online) students sent me this essay from his brother, Ashby Camp. Besides the content of the essay, I appreciated its very nature, which Camp describes in the opening:

When I say “the historical case for Jesus’ resurrection,” I mean I am going to approach the question without relying on the inspiration or inerrancy of the Bible. Though I certainly believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, I think it is important to see that one need not start from that position to conclude that Jesus was resurrected. Even if one treats the New Testament documents as one would treat any other ancient documents, there are very good reasons for believing that Jesus rose from the grave.

I say this because I actually heard a Christian (I think it was on the radio) say something like, “Sometimes people ask me how can I know the Bible is true? Well it says in Psalm such-and-such…” I almost drove off the road.

Camp advances several independent arguments in his essay, but one of the central points is that either the early Christians truly believed Jesus had come back from the dead, or they were deliberately inventing falsehoods to try to give credibility to their (dead) Teacher’s message. But the problem with that second option (Camp shows) is that there are several obvious stumbling blocks in the gospel accounts–for example, the original eyewitness testimony being from women, who were not considered credible witnesses in that culture. If the story were a complete fabrication after the fact, it is odd that Jesus’ disciples would have included awkward details such as this.

I also enjoyed Camp’s dwelling on the fact that even those who believed Jesus to be the Messiah weren’t expecting Him to be crucified (and then resurrected); this was inconceivable to them, since the promised Messiah was supposed to deliver them from their oppressors.

The fact the disciples were not expecting Jesus to be resurrected within history, despite what he had told them, is confirmed by their reaction to his death. None of them said, “Don’t worry; he’ll be back in a few days.” Rather, their hopes were crushed; they went into hiding. You can feel the despair in the disciple Cleopas’s statement in Lk. 24:21. He said to the unrecognized Jesus on the road to Emmaus that they “had hoped
that [Jesus] was the one to redeem Israel,” the implication being “but they crucified him so he could not have been.”

Even when the women reported to the apostles and the others that the tomb was empty and that angels had announced Jesus’ resurrection, they did not believe them (Lk. 24:1-11). Thomas had everybody telling him that the Lord had risen, and he said he would not believe it unless he could see that the allegedly resurrected Jesus had distinguishing marks of crucifixion and could feel those marks and the solidity of Jesus’ body (Jn. 20:24-25).

Anyway, let me know what you guys think in the comments.

31 Responses to ““The Historical Case for the Resurrection of Christ””

  1. LK says:

    ” but one of the central points is that either the early Christians truly believed Jesus had come back from the dead, or they were deliberately inventing falsehoods to try to give credibility to their (dead) Teacher’s message”

    And a very strong skeptical case can be made that the early disciples of Jesus thought he had been resurrected, but they were deluded and wrong.

    “But the problem with that second option (Camp shows) is that there are several obvious stumbling blocks in the gospel accounts–for example, the original eyewitness testimony being from women, who were not considered credible witnesses in that culture. If the story were a complete fabrication after the fact, it is odd that Jesus’ disciples would have included awkward details such as this.”

    Actuality, this is just a Christian apologetic myth. Of course, as in many societies there were bigots who might have though this, or other disparaging things about women, but women in general in both Graeco-Roman and Jewish culture were not deemed “unreliable” nor were they banned form giving testimony in court:

    “Pharisees did not regard the testimony of women as inherently untrustworthy–to the contrary, even under their stuffy law a woman’s testimony could carry the same force as a man’s. Rather, just as for the Romans, it was courtroom propriety most Jews were concerned with. All statements against women appearing in court were based on perceptions of how a woman ought to behave, and on the need to separate male and female social spheres–it was not based on disdain for their competence to testify. In fact, Torah Law contains no prohibition against women even appearing in court (and most Jewish sects rejected all law but Torah), while Mishnah Law specifically did not include women in its list of those unqualified to testify (Mishnah, Sanhedrin 3:3). Even under Talmudic interpretation “women are admitted as competent witnesses in matters within their particular knowledge,” especially “for purposes of identification” and “in matters outside the realm of strict law.”[16] In fact, since we find no blanket distrust of female testimony in pre-Talmudic legal sources, what we find in the much-later Talmudic record may not have been common in the 1st century.”

    A secondary point here is that the women were made witnesses to the empty tomb in Mark, because Mark invented the idea of the empty tomb, and this is precisely what one would expect if the author of this gospel invented the tale of the empty tomb, and needed an explanation of why no one had heard this story before.

    Women are made to be eyewitnesses to the tomb because the earliest tradition appears to have been that the disciples fled back to Galilee after Jesus’s resurrection, and the author of the gospel of Mark felt bound to respect that.

    Imagine you are a Christian reading or hearing the ending of Mark’s gospel. You say: “why the hell haven’t I heard this empty tomb thing before?” Mark has an answer ready: “the women told nobody”. And by implication: “And you know what women are like, right?”

    So in fact, while women in general in Jewish and Roman society are not inherently regarded as unreliable, it is the author of Mark who is trying to appeal to the bigoted male view that women can be unreliable to explain why they did not tell anyone.

  2. Grane Peer says:

    Where did the body go? No flesh and blood in the kingdom of heaven, corpse should still be here

    • Brian says:

      Where do you get the idea of “no flesh and blood in the kingdom of heaven.” The New Testament teaches that we will get a new, glorified body in the eternal state.

      • Delphin says:

        Where does he get that idea? From the New Testament.

        “Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption”

  3. anon says:

    One of the reasons I believe that the Gospels were later narratives is that Paul doesn’t seem to know anything about the events written in them. The Pauline account of God’s resurrection of Jesus (also an important point often lost on Christians–Paul has God resurrecting Jesus rather than Jesus just rising) is much more mystical, his argument being that just as a seed must be sown for a plant to develop, so the natural body must die that a “spiritual body” can grow. It’s difficult for us to know what that’s supposed to mean–of course every theologian knows what Paul really meant–but it indicates that the idea that Jesus’s body died and then came back to life like Lazarus is likely not something Paul would’ve signed off on. His understanding of the spiritual body seems very distinct from the account where Thomas touches Jesus’s actual wounds.

    If it’s the case that the Gospels were written after Paul’s time, then we have skipped forward at least one full generation from Jesus’s death and are now dealing with stories being passed around by later members of the small Christian movement, which then evolve from Mark to Matthew/Luke to John, growing ever more miraculous with each retelling in a different community. These aren’t lies, but parables, as each of them squeezes the Jesus story to become applicable to that community’s particular needs (ex: Matthew’s Jesus is particularly bellicose compared to the other Jesuses, possibly indicating that it was written shortly after 70 AD when the destruction of the Temple was still a fresh wound).

    Putting together the pieces, we have Jesus as a charismatic, rural religious leader who was murdered by the state, at which point his followers were horrified & befuddled. At least some began considering him risen (we can only speculate about what first-generation Christians experienced), after which Paul converts and leaves us his account and theology before he’s also executed by the state. Then come the Gospels, developing more detailed and legendary accounts of the Jesus narrative as they go, to the point where John’s Jesus is shouting his Messianic Secret from the rooftops. Apostolic doubt looks like anticipatory apologetics to me: “These weren’t naive men, but followers who were skeptical of Jesus’s promise of resurrection. They wound up being convinced by what they saw, so shouldn’t you follow as well?”

    He’s a naive liberation theologian, but Marcus Borg has several good popular books on this understanding of the Jesus story as a developing myth (distinct from a lie or legend in the Perennialist view). Putting the message in one sentence, there are plenty of reasons to think that the resurrection account didn’t literally occur, but that doesn’t mean that we need to throw Christian practice away and become monomaterialist brights.

  4. Enopoletus Harding says:

    Also, there was some precedent for Jewish expectations of a slain Messiah:

    • Enopoletus Harding says:

      Also, Paul makes no distinction in 1 Cor 15 between the way Jesus revealed himself to him and the way he revealed himself to the Twelve. His use of “according to the Scriptures” may imply that the idea of Christ dying for our sins, being buried, and being raised on the third day is entirely derived from the study of religious texts. Paul also does not mention any ascension as distinct from the resurrection.

  5. Thomas L. Knapp says:

    Quoth LK:

    “And a very strong skeptical case can be made that the early disciples of Jesus thought he had been resurrected, but they were deluded and wrong.”

    The question would be how did they become so deluded?

    One theory, which I happen to consider very reasonable, is that Jesus had a double. Perhaps a stunt double who stood in for him at the crucifixion, or perhaps just a double who posed as him afterward.

    There’s a character in the New Testament who is referred to as “the twin” — “Thomas called Didymos,” “Thomas” being Hebrew for “twin” and “Didymos” being Greek for “twin.”

    It never mentions whose twin he is, but it seems to me that if the descendants of David had been looking for someone to be a Messiah, having twins for the role would lend itself to all kinds of “proof by miracle,” up to and including faking a resurrection.

    • LK says:

      Paul’s letters are the earliest writings in the New Testament. The Gospels came much later. Paul says nothing about any empty tomb or any fleshy, bodily resurrection of Jesus. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11.

      This is probably the oldest text we have about the resurrection — though some suspect that verse 6 (the appearance to 500) is nothing but a later interpolation too and simply an embellishment of the Pentecost story in Acts 2:1-13.

      Anyway, In the Greek, the word for “was seen” is ophthe which is in the passive voice with the dative. This Greek verb and idiom is regularly used of visions in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) and since Paul puts his own “appearance” in the same terms as the others, what we have here is most probably strong evidence that Paul (and the early Christians) thought the “appearances” were nothing more than visionary experiences: what we would rightly call dreams or aural and visual hallucinations. There is not one shred of direct evidence in 1 Corinthians 15:3–6 for the view that the disciples saw a walking, talking corpse: rather, their “appearances” appear to be in the same category as Paul’s: delusions, dreams, and hallucinations of their dead leader. And note how Paul says nothing about any women seeing Jesus or an empty tomb.

      Moreover, when you go on to read 1 Corinthians 15.35–53 you see that Paul says that Jesus had a “pneumatic body” (in soma pneumatikos in Koine Greek) when he was resurrected.

      1 Corinthians 15.35–53 makes it clear that Jesus’s new “pneumatic body” was separate from his dead body of flesh and blood. Paul says “what you sow is not the body that is to be” (1 Corinthians 15.37) – that is, what is buried (a body of flesh and blood) is not the resurrected pneumatic body. Paul says flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of god (1 Corinthians 15.50) – so the “pneumatic body” will not be one of flesh and blood nor have flesh or blood (but be of some heavenly substance). Paul and the earliest Christians most probably thought Jesus had been resurrected and taken directly to heaven from the grave.

      That is why the Paul and the earliest Christians as described in Paul’s letters show no interest in an empty tomb: they knew of no such empty tomb and never saw any solid, flesh and blood “bodily” resurrected Jesus. The “proof” of Jesus’s resurrection for them was nothing but dreams and oral and visual hallucinations.

      As for the empty tomb, this was the invention of the author of the gospel of Mark some 40 years after Jesus’s death for literary and theological purposes. The bodily flesh and blood resurrection is an invention of still later Christian writers like the author of the gospel of Luke.

      When Jesus died, the disciples fled back to Galilee. They had no idea where Jesus was buried.

      Both Mark and Matthew require that the first resurrection “appearances” to the disciples happened in Galilee. This is probably the earliest and correct historical tradition. It was in Galillee that disciples had their dreams and aural and visual hallucinations of Jesus which they thought were visions of the their “resurrected” leader. They were convinced that he had really been resurrected — but they were deluded and mistaken. It does not matter in the least that some of them died under this mistaken belief, or were willing to die for it.

  6. Nathaniel Smith says:

    Grane – why do you suppose there will be no flesh and blood in the kingdom? The New Testament makes clear an expectation of resurrection. Those resurrected bodies will be changed, but no doubt bodies.

    The twin theory is interesting, but my question is who volunteered to be the twin crucified so the other could reign? If this did indeed happen wouldn’t the resurrected twin want to lead? Why would he just take off 10 days later?

    I also find the thesis that Paul’s ignorance of the Gospels proves they are not accurately dated to be thought provoking. One response might be that Paul was not taught by Peter and the other Apostles, or perhaps that he did not have access to the Gospels. On another note, if one accepts Paul as a historical figure one must deal with his conversion. Why did the Pharisee of Pharisees leave his exulted position to join the rejected sect? Why did he break the most hard core Jewish beliefs and start eating with Gentiles?

    Anyway it is challenging to hear the responses to the arguments for Christ’s resurrection. I believe the strongest case for resurrection comes from transformed lives like the Apostles, Saul/Paul, and many Saints alive and well today. It isn’t historical, nor is it scientific, but those changed lives changed the world.

    • knoxharrington says:

      Paul was clearly not taught by Peter. Paul specifically claims that he received his teaching through revelation. Acts creates a harmonization between the Petrine and Pauline “Christianities” in that Peter was preaching to the Jews and advocating for the law and Paul was preaching to the Gentiles and against the law hence the mind-numbing disquisition on circumcision one finds in Paul’s letters.

      Paul wrote Corinthians around 55 and Mark was not written until 10-15 years after that. That is the scholarly consensus which seems to be backed up by the evidence. A great critical source on Paul is Robert M. Price’s The Amazing Colossal Apostle – he gives a very detailed account of the Pauline corpus, what is real and fake (Paul didn’t write many of the letters), and so on.

    • anon says:

      Re: Saul’s dramatic conversion into Paul, why does anyone do such things? Why did the early LDS attest to the miracles of Joseph Smith? The psychologist’s answer is anxiety, and though that’s correct–Saul was almost certainly not the sort of guy to take glee in torturing Christians–there’s always more to the story, in particular the cosmology of someone living in the ancient world.

      We take for granted that the post-Enlightenment mind, which is fundamentally critical and anti-magical, is THE human mind, but that’s clearly not true when you look at the history of the world and in particular the history of religion. People who take seriously (or matter-of-factly) the potential for insight or supernatural revelation are much more likely to attest to its existence. Whether they fully understand their experience outside of their particular culture or whether they can ever hope to do so is an open question, though I suspect not given the very different accounts of mystics in each religious tradition. A Christian who has a unity experience is likely to conclude that he’s the second coming of Christ, whereas a Buddhist or neoplatonist would report a distinctly different conclusion.

      It does seem counterproductive to me for Christianity to insist on literalizing a story that can never be strongly supported, regardless of how many millions of pages of argument we write about it, or to insist that Christianity is fundamentally about believing in things that are very difficult to believe. The rational-assent model lost many of us when we were just kids, and the gains of contemplative disciplines in the west indicate that people want a practice without having their arms twisted to believe in firmaments, seventh heavens, or risen beings ascending into them.

      There’s a strong core of practice in Christianity, but no one talks about it much because most Christian scholars, true to their Enlightenment roots, spend their days constructing elaborate arguments regarding unknowable historical events.

  7. knoxharrington says:


    1. Disciples sincerely believed Jesus had been resurrected
    a. Disciples claimed Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them
    b. Facts and circumstances confirm the sincerity of this belief
    c. Virtually all scholars acknowledge the sincerity of this belief

    How do we know the disciples sincerely believed Jesus had been resurrected? The Bible. How do we know that the disciples claimed Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them? The Bible. What are the “facts” and circumstances that confirm the sincerity of this belief? The Bible. Do virtually all scholars acknowledge the sincerity of this belief? Appeal to the majority and the consensus would only confirm that the Biblical accounts back up the sincerity of the beliefs but it says nothing about whether or not the Biblical account is true. Peter Parker loves Mary Jane Watson and the consensus of scholars is that this is true. Does that mean Peter Parker works at the Daily Bugle and that Spider-Man is real? Hardly.

    2. Therefore disciples believed the tomb was empty and that Jesus had appeared to
    them bodily

    How can we confirm this? That’s right – only the Bible.

    3. Evidence of how disciples came to believe those two things

    The Bible.

    4. No theory other than resurrection explains disciples’ beliefs

    There are multiple theories that can account for the disciples mistaken beliefs not the least of which is that the disciples’ actual beliefs are unknown. All we have is later writings (not by them) which attribute beliefs to them.

    • Delphin says:

      Right. If you assume everything in the Bible is true, except the resurrection, you leave that question open, then you can show that the resurrection is an explanation for all those things. It’s like saying if I believe in everything in Superman is true except I don’t assume Superman can fly, I leave that question open, then I can explain a lot of what goes on if Superman can fly.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        You guys are so obnoxious and you think you are clever. In my post itself I brought up the possibility that the gospel accounts were complete fabrications, and then said if that were true, it would be weird that they would have women being the eyewitnesses.

        Maybe I’m wrong but treating me like I’m 5 doesn’t really earn your claim of being the rational lovers of science.

        • Delphin says:

          Firstly, there’s lots of ways to be false besides being a novel. Fables and stories get combined and changed over time.
          Second this is a common argument for the story being part of what later generations inherited, because it’s supposed to be embarassing or dissimilar from the doctrine. It never seemed a clear example though, because so much in the gospels is “the last shall be first”. Meek inherit the earth, last shall be first, least shall be exalted. Women as the bearers of the good news fits that paradoxical pattern. It is not inconsistent with the doctrines at all. it’s only inconsistent with a contemporaneous attitude the early Jesus cult probably did not share and which you foist on them just to bolster your argument.
          Now Jesus saying he doesn’t want people to know the truth, let’s make sure they stay deceived, that is an embarrassing tidbit. It is in Mark too.
          As an aside, tell me, if the women never told anyone, how does Mark know what they saw? That makes perfect sense as a detail that was added later, right?

        • knoxharrington says:


          The criterion of “embarrassment” is useless. Apologists want to treat the “women as witnesses” line as a sort of statement against interests akin to a criminal admitting wrongdoing while testifying against someone else. “We know he is being truthful because he is saying something damaging to himself.” The problem is that women were allowed to be witnesses – particularly with regard to the treatment of the dead. Women were the mourners in chief and their testimony would have been allowed as testimony was allowed from women in areas of their expertise.

          How many women saw the risen Lord? What were there names? Did they see the risen Lord, an angel or both? Was the stone rolled away before they got there, when they got there or afterward? Who did they tell? Were they told not to tell and disobeyed? If women weren’t allowed as witnesses, a claim I deny, why would the gospel writer rely on their supposed testimony? I’ll answer that one – because it is a fake statement against interest. You can answer these questions a variety of ways – just compare gospels and it will become clear they are contradictory on the answers.

          You can call me obnoxious if you want Bob – that’s ok. I’m still waiting for your non-Biblical contemporaneous accounts of the miracles attested to in the Bible. I guess I’ll just keep asking.

          Happy Thanksgiving.

  8. knoxharrington says:

    “When I say “the historical case for Jesus’ resurrection,” I mean I am going to approach the question without relying on the inspiration or inerrancy of the Bible.”

    All he cites is the Bible and fundamentalist scholars commenting on the Bible. He relies on NOTHING but the Bible. His short section on the Jesus Myth theory ignores new scholarship by Robert M. Price, Earl Doherty and others. Was this thing peer-reviewed?

    • anon says:

      He uses NT Wright quite a bit, which is a pretty good idea for smart conservative Christians. Wright isn’t a fundamentalist, though I believe he does identify as a conservative and a literalist insofar as the resurrection of Christ is concerned.

      • knoxharrington says:

        Exactly. NT Wright is a “maximal conservative” in that he will always opt for the most conservative, evangelical, literalist interpretation. If NT Wright is the most critical scholar cited you are engaged in mere apologetics and not actual scholarship. The article is the equivalent of reading anything by Lee Strobel which I have and I don’t recommend.

        • anon says:

          To think that Wright is the most conservative critic of materialism is to misunderstand the debate entirely. Wright is a mainstream conservative Christian. No one with any sort of education would mistake him for a fundamentalist or think that he’s the sine qua non of conservative Christianity.

          I disagree with RPM, but you’re unfit to participate in this debate.

          • knoxharrington says:

            Did I even mention materialism? Wright opts for the most conservative interpretation that he can justify. That was my point. As for fitness to participate I guess I would just point to your complete strawman “attack” on my position. I never mentioned materialism nor did I say Wright was a fundamentalist. If you measure unfitness by the degree to which you honestly represent the other person’s position I suggest you turn the mirror on yourself. You characterized Wright as a conservative and a literalist. I did too. I never even used the term “fundamentalist” to describe him. As they say in West Virginia – “you don’t read good.”

  9. Brian says:


    Not entirely on topic of this particular post, but curious if you have read or seen any of the work on “The Bethlehem Star.” I’m not entirely convinced, but it’s an interesting perspective on the astronomical phenomena recorded in the Bible.

    I think you would find it to be very complementary to your ideas about miracles. The project attempts to show how the astronomical events recorded in the Bible were actually naturally occurring events. It’s no less miraculous because it would mean that God set these things in motion at the creation of the universe, timed perfectly to occur at precise times in history. But it’s different than a traditional understanding of these miraculous events in they don’t represent a pause in natural events in order for a supernatural event to intervene.

  10. Ivan Jankovic says:

    The “discovery” of the “empty tomb” by women is not at all embarrassing for Christians, On the contrary, by making women discover the resurrection, Mark wanted exactly to make a very important Christian theological point: “the last shall be first”. Women discovering the empty tomb is just one among the series of similar theologically crucial elements of the Mark’s story: Gentiles discovering the divinity of Christ, a foreigner Simon carrying the cross instead of Peter or some other Jewish apostle, Sanhedrist burying Jesus and so on,

    As for the alleged general untrustworthiness of women, this is easily refuted by Gospel of John: 4:39″

    “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him [Jesus] because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did” “.

    • Delphin says:

      Exactly the point I was making above. Thanks for the extra detail and the link.

  11. Ivan Jankovic says:


    a very good explanation of why women discovering the empty tomb are not at all embarrassing for Christians.

  12. Ivan Jankovic says:

    “there is another reason to suspect the women are an invention: their names. Salomê is the feminine of Solomon, an obvious symbol of supreme wisdom and kingship (and the builder of the Temple), and wisdom was often portrayed as a feminine being (Sophia). Mariam (Mary) is the sister of Moses and Aaron (Micah 6:4, 1 Chronicles 6:3, Numbers 26:59) who led the Hebrew women in song after their deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 15:20-21), which represented the Land of the Dead in Jewish symbolism. Magdala is a variant Hellenization of “tower,” the same exact word transcribed as Magdôlon in the Septuagint–in other words the biblical Migdol, representing the borders of Egypt (and hence of Death). The Hebrews camp near Migdol to lure the Pharaoh’s army to their doom (Exodus 13:1-4), after which “they passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness three days” (Numbers 33:7-8) on their way to the “twelve springs and seventy palm trees” of Elim (33:9). “Mariam the mother of Jacob” is an obvious reference to the Jacob, better known as (you guessed it) Israel. So the two Marys represent Egypt and Israel, and (on the one side) the borders of the Promised Land and the defeat of death needed to get across, and (on the other side) the founding of a new nation, a New Israel–both linked as sisters of Moses (the first savior) and Aaron (the first High Priest), and mediated by Wisdom, manifested here as a symbol of supreme kingship and the building of the Temple.[28]

    This seems a highly improbable coincidence, there being exactly three women, with exactly these names, which evoke exactly those scriptures, and triangulate in exactly this way, to convey an incredibly convenient message about the Gospel and the status of Christ as Messiah and miraculous victor over the Land of the Dead. What are the odds? Maybe you are not as impressed by all these coincidences as I am. But you don’t have to agree with my theory here. The only thing that matters is that it cannot be ruled out–there is evidence for it (Mark expressly approves of concealing deep symbolic meanings behind narratives, and the names and events of his narrative fit the deeper meaning of the Gospel with surprising convenience), and no evidence against it. It therefore provides an available motive to invent a visit to the tomb by women, especially these particular women, which forbids us from assuming the Christians would instead have invented a visit by men first. We cannot demonstrate that they would. For inventing a visit by women carried even more meaningful symbolism, and was even more in accordance with the Gospel message itself.”

  13. Sean says:

    Bob, you’d appreciate the book “Reasonable Faith” by William Lane Craig. It covers a version of this and similar topics (existence of God, etc) in great detail.

  14. Nicholas Gausling says:

    Gary Habermas and Mike Licona wrote a book specifically on this subject a number of years ago. It is also addressed well in Timothy Keller’s “The Reason for God.” Habermas, Licona and Keller are all scholars, and their respective works on this topic are oriented towards laymen with a logical or scholarly bend. Probably the magnum opus on this subject comes from NT Wright’s “The Resurrection of the Son of God.” Wright’s systematic theology is problematic at times, though as a New Testament scholar few can compare.

    Apologetic schools are often divided in such a way that the point is typically missed. A pure presuppositionalist may use the Bible to prove the Bible, which is circular. On the other hand, a pure evidentialist may try to prove that God exists, which is also fallacious because it assumes a logical foundation that is higher than God Himself. The correct approach is something between the two. The presuppositionalist is correct that God is axiomatic, and the proper apologetic for ‘proving’ God is rather one of disproving atheism by demonstrating its logical inconsistency (the use of Socratic questioning is often helpful in this regard). However, once the atheist realizes that self-evidently God must exist, that does not prove that the Bible is true or that Christ is God, and this is where evidentiary apologetics must take over. This median approach can be seen in the Bible itself: it is assumed that God exists, though when the apostles set out to preach the Gospel and the work of Christ they often appeal to reason and known facts (particularly to Gentiles).

  15. gary says:

    Jesus’ Tomb was not Guarded or Sealed the entire First Night!

    Holy Grave Robbers!

    I had never heard of this until today: How many Christians are aware that Jesus’ grave was unguarded AND unsecured the entire first night after his crucifixion??? Isn’t that a huge hole in the Christian explanation for the empty tomb?? Notice in this quote from Matthew chapter 27 below that the Pharisees do not ask Pilate for guards to guard the tomb until the next day after Jesus’ crucifixion, and, even though Joseph of Arimethea had rolled a great stone in front of the tomb’s door, he had not SEALED it shut!

    Anyone could have stolen the body during those 12 hours!

    The empty tomb “evidence” for the supernatural reanimation/resurrection of Jesus by Yahweh has a HUGE hole in it!

    “When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

    The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard[a] of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”[b] 66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.”

    —Matthew 27

    So when did the guards show up to the tomb? Early the next morning or late in the afternoon? If late in the afternoon, the tomb of Jesus had been unguarded and unsealed for almost TWENTY FOUR hours!

    The empty tomb is NOT good evidence for the resurrection claim. The most plausible explanation, based on the Bible itself, is that someone stole or moved the body!

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