Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Real Hope or Hopeless Illusion?
Something happened… • Definite change in disciples’ behavior • Disciples’ claims of appearances of Jesus • The absolute fact of the Empty Tomb
What happened? 5 Theories: • Christianity (Jesus died & truly rose) • Hallucination (Jesus didn’t rise; apostles were deceived) • Myth (Apostles were sincere myth-makers) • Conspiracy (Apostles were deceivers) • Coma (Jesus didn’t die)
Responses: “Coma” Theory • Jesus could not have survived Roman crucifixion • No breaking of legs> = already dead • Apostles’ respond to a risen and not a barely alive Jesus • Roman guards overpowered by a faint, half-dead man? • Stone moved by same?
Responses: “Coma” Theory • If simply still alive, where did he go?... How did he remain unnoticed? • Coma theory turns into conspiracy or hallucination theory, since disciples claim he was truly risen.
Responses: Conspiracy Theory • Apostles died for this belief that they had seen, touched & experienced the Risen Jesus • Apostles not that clever, creative or intelligent • Apostles’ character—shown in words & deeds– makes it highly improbable • No motive to lie; no selfish gain
Responses: Conspiracy Theory • If a lie, where was the body? Stolen? How, with guards & stone? (highly improbable!) • Body still in tomb? Preaching of Resurrection in Jerusalem impossible • Apostles could never have outwitted all the Jewish & Roman authorities
Responses: Hallucination Theory • Too many witnesses! • Witnesses are sane, moral, honest & simple • 500 saw Risen Christ at once! • Hallucinations last minutes/hours… not 40 days • Hallucinations happen only once except to the insane • Appearances not only unexpected, but not believed at first by apostles themselves
Responses: Hallucination Theory • Hallucinations do not eat… Jesus did, on more than one occasion • Disciples touched Him • Disciples (sane) had extended conversations with Risen Jesus, several times • Disciples could never even have believed an hallucination w/out empty tomb
Responses: Hallucination Theory • If disciples spread this story, J’s body would have been presented; if they stole it, we’re back to conspiracy theory • H theory only explains appearances… not empty tomb, rolled away stone and no corpse of Jesus
Responses: “Myth” Theory • Literary style of Gospels is not myth • Not enough time for myth to develop; eyewitnesses can dispute it • Myth theory has 2 layers: Historical Jesus, then mythical Jesus of Gospels; problem: no evidence for first • “Inconvenient truth” of women as 1st witnesses
Responses: “Myth” Theory • New Testament stress that it is not myth! • By internal & external evidence, we know the gospels to be written by the Apostles & companions & not by later “myth-makers”