Historicity of the bodily resurrection of jesus
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HISTORICITY OF THE BODILY RESURRECTION OF JESUS. CANONICITY : We must first prove that the NT documents are historically reliable. In fact the NEW TESTAMENT is the BEST ATTESTED DOCUMENT OF ANCIENT HISTORY. .

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HISTORICITY OF THE BODILY RESURRECTION OF JESUS

CANONICITY:

We must first prove that the NT documents are historically reliable. In fact the NEW TESTAMENT is the BEST ATTESTED DOCUMENT OF ANCIENT HISTORY.


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Since the historian cannot perform experiments like a scientist, how can he test the truth of his theories?

The scientist uses the HYPOTHETICO‑DEDUCTIVE MODEL.

  • The scientist invents a hypothesis to provide a systematically consistent explanation of the facts, and then

  • he deduces from the hypothesis specific conditions that would either confirm or disprove his hypothesis.

  • Then he performs certain experiments to see which conditions obtain.


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The historian can follow the same procedure. scientist, how can he test the truth of his theories?

  • He reconstructs a picture of the past. This is his hypothesis.

  • Then he deduces certain conditions from it that will confirm or disprove his hypothesis.

  • He then checks to see which conditions exist. He does this not by experiments, as the scientist does, but by historical evidence.


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Alternatively, one may employ the more recently developed model of inference to the best explanation.

  • According to this approach, we begin with the evidence available to us and

  • then infer what would, if true, provide the best explanation of that evidence. Out of a pool of live options determined by our background beliefs, we select the best of various competing potential explanations to give a causal account of why the evidence is as it is rather than otherwise. The scientist can test his proposed explanation by performing experiments; the historian will test his by seeing how well it elucidates the historical evidence.


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In his recent book model of inference to the best explanation. Justifying Historical Descriptions, C. Behan McCullagh lists the factors which historians typically weigh in testing historical hypothesis:

  • The hypothesis, together with other true statements, must imply further statements describing present, observable data.

  • The hypothesis must have greater explanatory scope (that is, imply a greater variety of observable data) than rival hypotheses.

  • The hypothesis must have greater explanatory power (that is, make the observable data more probable) than rival hypotheses.


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  • The hypothesis must be model of inference to the best explanation. more plausible (that is, be implied by a greater variety of accepted truths, and its negation implied by fewer accepted truths) than rival hypotheses.

  • 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.

  • The hypothesis must be disconfirmed by fewer accepted beliefs (that is, when conjoined with accepted truths, imply fewer false state­ments) than rival hypotheses.

  • The hypothesis must so exceed its rivals in fulfilling conditions (2)‑(6) that there is little chance of a rival hypothesis, after further investigation, exceeding it in meeting these conditions.


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If the strength and scope of any explanation are great, so that it explains a large number and variety of facts, many more than any other competing explanation, then, advises McCullagh, it is likely to be true.

One final point needs to be made. The goal of historical knowledge is to obtain probability, not mathematical certainty.

This is the situation with all of our inductive knowledge: we accept what has sufficient evidence to render it probable.

Similarly, in a court of law, the verdict is awarded to the case that is made most probable by the evidence. The jury is asked to decide if the accused is guilty‑not beyond all doubt, which is impossible‑but beyond all reasonable doubt. It is exactly the same in history: we should accept the hypothesis that provides the most probable explanation of the evidence.


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Criteria for the Best Explanation and the Resurrection Hypothesis

  • Explanatory scope

  • Explanatory power

  • Plausibility

  • Less ad hoc

  • Compatibility with accepted beliefs

  • Outstrips rival hypothesis


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EXPLANATION Hypothesis

  • Inductive arguments of “facts” that need to be explained

  • 12 facts are acknowledged by most NT critics

  • Best explanation is that Jesus rose from the dead

  • Don’t need to disprove rival hypotheses – just that it is more likely than others (comparative exercise)

  • Assess according to standard criteria


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FALSIFIABILITY CRITERIA: Hypothesis

  • The Veracity of Christianity hangs on an EVIDENTIAL thread-the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ.

  • In 1 Cor 15:12ff Paul sets the entire STRUCTURE of Christianity on a TRUTH QUESTION by which Christianity could be proven FALSE if you can muster enough evidence.

  • The RESURRECTION is the crucial element, and this is unlike any other religion in that it is thus feasible using RATIONALITY, REASON AND EVIDENCE to prove Christianity false.

  • If you want to invent a religion don’t be like Paul unless you can pull it off & prove it’s true. Don’t hinge your religion on something that can be TESTED OBJECTIVELY! Other religion cannot make such a case.


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TWELVE UNDENIABLE KNOWN BEDROCK AUTHENTIC HISTORICAL FACTS CONCERNING THE RESURRECTION EVENTS AND THAT ALL CRITICS AGREE ON:Even Anthony Flew agreed on these 12 facts in his debate with Gary Habermas on the resurrection.

  • Jesus DIED due to the rigors of crucifixion.

  • Jesus was BURIED.

  • His disciples DOUBTED AND DESPAIRED because Jesus' death challenged their hopes.

  • The tomb in which Jesus had been buried was discovered to be EMPTY just a few days later.

  • The disciples had REAL EXPERIENCES that they BELIEVED were ACTUAL APPEARANCES of the risen Jesus.


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  • The disciples were TRANSFORMED and were even willing to DIE for the truth of these events.

  • This GOSPEL message was the very CENTER of preaching in the early church.

  • The GOSPEL was even proclaimed in JERUSALEM, the city where Jesus had died.

  • The Christian CHURCH was firmly established by these disciples.

  • The primary day of worship was SUNDAY‑the day Jesus was reported to have risen.

  • JAMES, Jesus' previously SKEPTICAL brother, was converted when he believed he saw the resurrected Jesus.

  • PAUL a leader in the persecution of the churches was also converted by a REAL EXPERIENCE that he BELIEVED to be the risen Jesus.


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There are a FINITE number of THEORIES, which could account for these facts! A good scientific theory accounts for the facts and there is a perfect fit of theory with facts/data.

The Tomb of Jesus was either

  • Occupied or

  • empty


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If it was occupied: for these facts! A good scientific theory accounts for the facts and there is a perfect fit of theory with facts/data.

  • The tomb was unknown to the apostles. This does not account for facts #4-12.

  • The women came to the wrong tomb. This does not account for facts #5-12.

  • It was a legend i.e. the resurrection was a fabrication. This is the worst theory yet the most prevalent for it does not account for any of the facts # 1-12

  • Jesus had a twin. Best theory so far but it does not account for facts #4 & 11. The tomb could have been checked and how do you explain James’ conversion?


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  • Hallucination theory. This accounts for the life transformation of the apostles but not for facts #5,11 & 12. Also hallucinations are an individual phenomena and never a mass hallucination (Jesus appeared to 500 at one time). In addition even on an individual basis it was not in the expectations of the apostles to project a risen Jesus. The only resurrection they expected was the eschatological one at the end of the ages. In addition the resurrection claims could easily have been checked out by skeptics because the apostles were making objectives claims- that something objective had occurred, something that could be publicly verified. Furthermore the hostile Jewish enemies could point to the occupied tomb.


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If the Tomb was Empty: in my heart and he lives in my heart.

Then it can be explained:

  • Naturally or

  • Supernaturally


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NATURAL Explanations of the empty tomb : in my heart and he lives in my heart.

  • The disciples stole the body. This does not explain facts # 5,6,11 & 12.

  • The authorities hid the Body.But why would they do this? This does not explain facts # 5-12.

  • The Swoon Theory – Jesus almost died but resuscitated. But this kind of Jesus couldn’t transform the disciples’ lives. It does not explain facts #1 & 6.


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  • Passover Plot. in my heart and he lives in my heart. But this does not explain facts # 5,6,11,12.

  • Jesus was an alien. All the data fits this theory.


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Supernatural Explanations of the Empty Tomb: in my heart and he lives in my heart.

  • Bodily Resurrection of Jesus.All the data fits.


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TEN STRANDS OF EVIDENCE in my heart and he lives in my heart. (BEYOND DEATH, Gary R. Habermas & J.P. Moreland pp127-128).

  • The strongest evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is provided by the DISCIPLES' EXPERIENCES. They BELIEVED they had seen ACTUAL APPEARANCES of the risen Jesus. This is especially noteworthy since the reports of these early EYEWITNESSES cannot be explained by NATURALISTIC THEORIES and because the EVIDENCE points to ACTUAL APPEARANCES.


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  • Further, these appearances were reported in my heart and he lives in my heart. EARLY. It didn't take a generation for the witnesses to proclaim this message, as we will see in the next section below.

  • Another strong evidence includes the TRANSFORMATION of the disciples into bold witnesses who were even willing to die for their faith in Jesus' resurrection.


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  • The historical facts support the in my heart and he lives in my heart. EMPTY TOMB, as just mentioned above. Further, this says something about Jesus' body, in that it was no longer present in the grave.

  • The RESURRECTION is the very CENTER of the apostolic message. The Resurrection wasn't only believed, but it was also the disciples' pivotal affirmation. This would seem to require more introspection and assurance for the factual claims themselves. Further, the disciples proclaimed this message precisely in the city of Jesus' death, JERUSALEM itself, and in repeated confrontations with the authorities.


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  • The in my heart and he lives in my heart. JEWISH LEADERS (Hostile eyewitnesses) were not able to disprove the disciples' message, in spite of having both the motive and the means to do so if it was possible.

  • The very existence of the Christian CHURCH, and,

  • featuring SUNDAY as the primary fixed day of worship instead of the Hebrew Sabbath, need historical causes as well. The earliest believers were Jews. Accepting such monumental changes in their pattern of worship would have been taboo without sound warrant. Additionally, the astounding spread of the Christian faith around the Mediterranean region is without cause if Jesus had not come back to life.


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  • Two SKEPTICS, in my heart and he lives in my heart. JAMES, the brother of Jesus, and,

  • PAUL, became believers after personally EXPERIENCING what they BELIEVED were ACTUAL APPEARANCES of the risen Jesus‑two additional and very powerful facts. New Testament scholar Reginald Fuller goes as far as to conclude that even if Jesus' appearance to James was not recorded by Paul (1 Cor.15:7), such an incident would have to be postulated anyway in order to account for James's conversion from SKEPTICISM and his subsequent promotion to a high position of authority in the early church. The same could be said even more emphatically concerning Paul, the early Christian persecutor."


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CONCLUSION in my heart and he lives in my heart.

  • When we combine these ten evidences with the failure of the NATURALISTIC THEORIES to adequately explain the data, they provide a strong case for the HISTORICITY of Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Even critical scholars who do not accept the inspiration of Scripture recognize the minimal factual basis behind these evidences, which further indicates the strength of our case.


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  • So when the early and eyewitness experiences of the disciples, James, and Paul are weighed in conjunction with their corresponding transformations and the centrality of their message, the historical Resurrection is shown to be the BEST EXPLANATION FOR THE FACTS, particularly in light of the failure of the NATURALISTIC THEORIES. (This is without even considering other strong evidences such as the empty tomb or the 500 persons who reportedly saw Jesus at one time -1 Cor 15:6).

  • Therefore, we conclude that the Resurrection is a HISTORICAL EVENT. As former Oxford University church historian William Wand has said about the empty tomb alone: "All the strictly historical evidence we have is in favor of it, and those scholars who reject it ought to recognize that they do so on some other ground than that of SCIENTIFIC HISTORY.


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David Hume on Miracles: disciples, James, and Paul are weighed in conjunction with their corresponding transformations and the centrality of their message, the historical Resurrection is shown to be the BEST EXPLANATION FOR THE FACTS, particularly in light of the failure of the NATURALISTIC THEORIES. (This is without even considering other strong evidences such as the empty tomb or the 500 persons who reportedly saw Jesus at one time -1 Cor 15:6).The classic statement against miracles comes from the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume in his book Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.(The language has been updated slightly.)

A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and because a firm and unalterable experience has established these law, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as complete as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined…


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It is no miracle that a man, seemingly in good health, should die suddenly; because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle that a dead man should come back to life; because that has never been observed in any age or country. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not deserve to be called a miracle. And because a uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a direct and full proof, from the nature of the fact, against the existence of any miracle.


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So a general maxim worthy of our attention is this: should die suddenly; because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle that a dead man should come back to life; because that has never been observed in any age or country. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not deserve to be called a miracle. And because a uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a direct and full proof, from the nature of the fact, against the existence of any miracle.no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the falsehood of the testimony would be more miraculouys than the fact that it attempts to establish… When anyone tells me that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider whether it be more probable that this person should deceive or be deceived, or that the fact which he relates, really happened…If the falsehood of the testimony would be more miraculous, than the event which he relates; then and only then, will he command my belief.


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