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or. “Defending the Resurrection”. Presented by. Eternal Answers Ministry www.EternalAnswersMinistry.org.

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slide1

or

“Defending the Resurrection”

Presented by

Eternal Answers Ministry

www.EternalAnswersMinistry.org

slide2

The Minimal Facts Approach to the Resurrection was developed by Dr. Gary Habermas of Liberty University & is an excellent approach to dealing with the skeptic because it does not:

  • - Rely upon proving the Bible is the inspired word of God
  • - Rely upon the Gospel accounts in any way
  • - In fact, require that the New Testament be exceptionally reliable historically

- Utilize historical material that is considered controversial

slide3

In the last 30 years, this argument has been instrumental in turning the heads of those in the academy from the likes of the skeptics of the early 20th century such as Rudolph Bultman, who dominated the field for nearly half a century with analysis of the Resurrection as myth & legend, to the point where the traditional orthodox Christian view of the Resurrection is seriously considered as at least possible by most modern scholars.

slide4

In recent years, the double standard that has been applied to the Biblical text since the anti-Christian Enlightenment has been lifting in the professional historical community:

  • - Historians do not recognize “inspired cannon”
  • - However, they have come to recognize some
  • New Testament documents as authentic
  • - 6 or 7 of the 13 letters ascribed to Paul are agreed to have been written by Paul

- These letters are agreed to be mostly if not wholly authentic & early (c. AD50-55)

slide5

In recent years, the double standard that has been applied to the Biblical text since the anti-Christian Enlightenment has been lifting in the professional historical community:

  • - There is consensus on the following books:
  • ◦ Romans

◦ Philippians

  • ◦ I Corinthians

◦ I Thessalonians

◦ II Corinthians

◦ Philemon

◦ Galatians

slide6

In recent years, the double standard that has been applied to the Biblical text since the anti-Christian Enlightenment has been lifting in the professional historical community:

  • - Bart Ehrman, author of Misquoting Jesus & the leading populist agnostic/atheist NT scholar in the field today agrees that these books constitute the authentic Pauline corpus of writings
  • - Does this mean everything Paul wrote was true? NO

- Does this mean these historians believe Paul was inspired? NO

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In recent years, the double standard that has been applied to the Biblical text since the anti-Christian Enlightenment has been lifting in the professional historical community:

  • - It means they agree Paul was in a position to know in a scholarly sense the changes that were occurring in the ancient world as a result of the Jesus movement &, perhaps more importantly, he knew the other movers & shakers in that movement
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Leading atheist philosopher Antony Flew used to say “Read Romans & you can tell Paul is a first rate philosophical mind; read the Sermon on the Mount & you can tell that Jesus is a first rate ethicist.” *

  • *Habermas, The Resurrection Argument that Changed a Generation…, 11:54; Veritas Forum, 2012
slide9

- What’s more, we can verify dates for Paul:

  • ◦ The NT mentions certaincity leaders for the city-state of Corinth
  • ◦ City leaders in Corinth served 1-year terms

◦ We have dug up inscriptions for these specific city leaders

◦ These particular city leaders served between AD 50 – 52

◦ That nails the time of Paul’s writings to this time

slide10

- For our case we only need a very small portion of these writings

  • - We need the first 20 verses of I Corinthians 15 & the end of Galatians 1 into Galatians 2… THAT’S IT!

1 Corinthians 15

1] Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

  • - In these first two verses, Paul reminds the Corinthians that when he was there he preached the Gospel & that they are saved by how they responded to it, yea or nay.
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3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

- This is perhaps the most important verse in the passage, for here Paul declares that the Gospel he preached to them is the Gospel he was given

- This raises questions, “Who gave this Gospel to him? Where did he get it from and, VERY importantly, WHEN?”

- This was a huge part of the Jewish Pharisaical culture in which Paul was trained ie passing on rabbinical teaching reliably, word for word in an oral cultural tradition

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4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5] And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6] After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7] After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8] And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

- Left, right, liberal, conservative, virtually all scholars agree that this section is an extremely early creed/confession of the early church

- This “And that…And that…After that…After that…etc” formula is very typical particularly of Aramaic creedal forms

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- Most scholars agree that this is a Greek translation of an earlier Aramaic creed dating to within one year of Christ’s crucifixion!

9] For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10] But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11] Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

Paul is acknowledging his role in persecuting the church & his unworthiness to be an apostle, BUT emphasizes the pre-eminence of the Gospel such that whether the Corinthians learned it from Peter or from James or from him (or from me or from YOU! for that matter), that fact is & the important thing is that they learned it & believed it

slide14

But how important is this whole resurrection thing anyway?

12] Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13] But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14] And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15] Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16] For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17] And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18] Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19] If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20] But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

slide15

But how important is this whole resurrection thing anyway?

- Without a risen Christ, there is no Christianity!

- Let us re-examine Paul’s timeline more closely, just to make sure we’ve got it down:

◦ Paul is writing in AD52 reminding the Corinthians of what he said he taught them in AD50

◦ He says this teaching is what he got from eyewitnesses after he was converted (v3)

◦ Now, Christ was crucified in or around AD32

slide16

But how important is this whole resurrection thing anyway?

- Without a risen Christ, there is no Christianity!

- Let us re-examine Paul’s timeline more closely, just to make sure we’ve got it down:

◦ Paul was converted a year or two later as told several times in the NT by Luke in Acts & by Paul himself

◦ So, when between his conversion c.AD34 & his teaching the Corinthians in AD50 did Paul get this resurrection story from “eyewitnesses” & who exactly were these “eyewitnesses?”

slide17

But how important is this whole resurrection thing anyway?

- It is the consensus position amongst scholars (historians & NT) that Paul received this information / creed c.AD 36-37 & he got it from none other than Peter & James!

- What brings them to this conclusion?

slide18

Galatians 1

11] But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12] For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13] For ye have heard of my conversation... 16] To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17] Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18] Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 19] But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.

slide19

- So Paul is telling us that 3 years after his conversion, he went to Jerusalem to get the whole Gospel story from those who knew the living Jesus

◦ He tells us he spent 15 days speaking to two other apostles (Peter & James)

◦ What’s more he tells us he went there to learn from them

  • ▪ The Greek word translated in KJV as “to see”(v18) is histiori, the Greek root from which we get our word history
  • ▪ It more accurately, means “to learn from”

{Interlinear Bible, 2nd Ed.; Jay P. Green, Sr.; Hendrickson Publishers, 1984, 2006 printing}

slide20

- So Paul is telling us that 3 years after his conversion, he went to Jerusalem to get the whole Gospel story from those who knew the living Jesus

◦ So he is telling the Galatians that he spent this time discussing/learning what would be the theme about which he was writing the Galatians

◦ The theme about which he is writing in Galatians is the nature of the Gospel

◦ It is safe to assume, then, that the nature of his discussions with Peter & James was the Gospel

◦ In I Corinthians 15, Paul clearly defines that Gospel, placing the Resurrection as the centerpiece, saying this is the Gospel he received from, presumably, Peter & James

slide21

- That gives us the following timeline, going forward:

  • ▪ AD32 The Crucifixion & Resurrection of Christ
  • ▪ AD 34 Paul’s Conversion
  • ▪ AD 34-37 Paul’s 3-years of wandering in Arabia
  • ▪ AD 37 Paul’s receiving of the Gospel from Peter & James in Jerusalem

- That puts the Resurrection story, fully formed, at the very beginning (within 5 years!) of Christianity in the very city, Jerusalem, where the events were said to take place

slide22

- Further, Paul went back 14 years later to verify that he was preaching the right Gospel:

Galatians 2

1] Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. 2] And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain . . . 6] But...they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:

slide23

- Further, Paul went back 14 years later to verify that he was preaching the right Gospel:

  • ▪ This means that the Resurrection is not a later legendary addition as some critics have claimed
  • ▪ This means that the Resurrection was not an addition from Greek/Egyptian mythologies from outside Judaism; rather it originated in & was first propagated in the city where other living eyewitnesses could easily have invalidated it
  • ▪ All this from the facts that CRITICAL scholars give us
  • ▪ BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
slide24

We can actually demonstrate from these same minimal facts that not only was the Resurrection a part of early Christianity, but that a real, bodily Resurrection is the only single explanation for the content of these verses!

James J.G. Dunn, Richard Bawkum of Cambridge University, Larry Hertato of Edinborough University (ret), Hans van Kampenhausen, University of Leipzig, and many more all agree that within 6-12 months of the crucifixion 4 doctrines had to be in place for there to be any sort of Christianity:

1. The Deity of Christ

2. The Death of Christ

  • 3. The Resurrection of Christ
  • 4. Faith in Christ

Why? This is the Gospel Paul outlines in I Cor 15! It is early, it is creedal & it authoritatively from eyewitnesses

slide25

So, what minimal historical facts will the scholars/historians/critics give us that we can work with?

- There is generally a list of about 12 historical facts regarding Jesus of Nazareth upon which there is consensus in the academic community

- We do not need 12; we will make do with half that number:

1. Jesus of Nazareth died of crucifixion by the Romans under Pontius Pilate

2. According to Paul, Jesus was buried; according to all four Gospels, probably, in a tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea

  • 3. That tomb was found to be empty by a group of women followers 3 days after Jesus was placed inside it
slide26

So, what minimal historical facts will the scholars/historians/critics give us that we can work with?

- There are generally a list of about 12 historical facts regarding Jesus of Nazareth upon which there is consensus in the academic community

- We do not need 12; we will make do with half that number:

4. The disciples subsequently had experiences which they believed to be literal physical appearances of the risen Jesus

5. The disciples were willing to suffer lifelong persecution & martyrdom to a man without a single one recanting their belief in what they were in a position to know to be a lie or not, giving rise to the spread of the central message of early Christianity ie eternal life through faith in the death & Resurrection of Jesus Christ starting in Jerusalem where these central events were claimed to have taken place.

slide27

So, what minimal historical facts will the scholars/historians/critics give us that we can work with?

- There are generally a list of about 12 historical facts regarding Jesus of Nazareth upon which there is consensus in the academic community

- We do not need 12; we will make do with half that number:

6. This faith converted even skeptics who were otherwise not disposed emotionally or culturally to conversion; skeptics who, in fact, were downright hostile, such as James, the brother of Jesus (who considered his brother slightly insane according to the Gospel of Mark Ch 3) & Saul of Tarsus (who, by his own admission, persecuted the church with zeal, for hatred of that for which it stood).

slide28

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

1. Jesus of Nazareth died of crucifixion by the Romans under Pontius Pilate

  • a.The Crucifixion

1) Scholars of ancient history look for two independent sources for an event as verification of its authenticity

2) Critical agnostic scholar/poster child Bart Ehrman in his book Did Jesus Exist? {which he addresses to other wingnut critics who say He didn’t!} lists 11 sources for the crucifixion of Jesus

slide29

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

1. Jesus of Nazareth died of crucifixion by the Romans under Pontius Pilate

  • b.Did Jesus Die? (The Swoon Theory – Islam)

1) History tells of only one person surviving crucifixion

a) He was taken down with 2 others after only 3 hours (Christ endured 6)

b) All three received the best medical care available

c) The other two died within a day; he survived with severe physical disability for the rest of his life

slide30

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

1. Jesus of Nazareth died of crucifixion by the Romans under Pontius Pilate

  • b.Did Jesus Die? (The Swoon Theory – Islam)

2) Modern medical tests demonstrate “faking” death by slumping down on the cross would actually ensure death by asphyxiation within minutes

3) Roman records indicate that “tests” such as the spear thrust (2 other cases outside the NT), a blow to the head, or the breaking of legs or ankles was a common way to ensure death was achieved; the Romans knew their job

slide31

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

1. Jesus of Nazareth died of crucifixion by the Romans under Pontius Pilate

  • b.Did Jesus Die? (The Swoon Theory – Islam)

4) Some charge that there was some sort of swap or mistaken identity & someone else was crucified in Jesus’ place

-“Holy men” who allow others to be crucified in their stead would not get much in the way of a following in 1st century Jewish culture; this kind of “cleverness” might be admired in some other cultures, but it would be outright despised in this one

slide32

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

1. Jesus of Nazareth died of crucifixion by the Romans under Pontius Pilate

  • b.Did Jesus Die? (The Swoon Theory – Islam)

4) Some charge that there was some sort of swap or mistaken identity & someone else was crucified in Jesus’ place

-Jesus might not be turned in for such a trick, but he most definitely would not have a following afterwards

slide33

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

2. Jesus was buried.

  • a.Early, post NT writers, including the Jewish Talmud, attested to Jesus’ burial
  • b.Paul attests that Jesus was buried
slide34

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

3. The tomb in which Jesus was understood to be buried was found to be empty by a group of women followers 3 days after Jesus was placed inside it

  • a.One of the best indicators as to the veracity of the empty tomb story is the fact that women find the tomb
  • 1) At this time, in this culture, women’s testimony was allowed to stand on its own in only two matters:
  • a) As to their virginity when they were married, and
  • b) In matters concerning their divorce
slide35

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

3. The tomb in which Jesus was understood to be buried was found to be empty by a group of women followers 3 days after Jesus was placed inside it

  • a.One of the best indicators as to the veracity of the empty tomb story is the fact that women find the tomb
  • 2) Women were otherwise considered hysterical & unreliable & their word could not stand without corroboration of a male relative
  • 3) This being the case, if you were making up a story about the grandest event in all of history, the Resurrection of the Son of God from the dead, why would your first witnesses to this event be three women?
slide36

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

3. The tomb in which Jesus was understood to be buried was found to be empty by a group of women followers 3 days after Jesus was placed inside it

  • a.One of the best indicators as to the veracity of the empty tomb story is the fact that women find the tomb
  • 4) Most scholars (though many do not believe in any supernatural events attendant to the empty tomb) believe that this story is, at its core, ie three women followers found an empty tomb they thought belonged to Jesus three days after his burial, to be true because the early church, given the cultural norms of the time, would not make up a story in this fashion.
slide37

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

3. The tomb in which Jesus was understood to be buried was found to be empty by a group of women followers 3 days after Jesus was placed inside it

  • b.Hostile testimony
  • 1) The earliest Jewish polemic was that the disciples stole the body
  • 2) This defense tacitly admits that there was an empty tomb and is, in itself, an attempt to explain it
  • c.Further, the area, Jerusalem, in which this was proclaimed is too proximate to the location of the supposed tomb ie it would be subject to verification & falsification too easily for decades to be sustainable unless it were in some way true.
slide38

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

4. The disciples subsequently had experiences which they believed to be literal physical appearances of the risen Jesus

  • a.The most common naturalistic explanation for these appearances is the hallucination theory
  • 1) This does not quite work as
  • a) Hallucinations are unique phenomena particular to the individual mind having them ie people do not see hallucinations in groups
  • (1) Many confuse illusions such as seeing water in the distance in a desert with hallucinations; these are completely different phenomena; there is not objective referent for hallucination
slide39

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

4. The disciples subsequently had experiences which they believed to be literal physical appearances of the risen Jesus

  • a.The most common naturalistic explanation for these appearances is the hallucination theory
  • 1) This does not quite work as
  • b) Hallucination does not explain the nature of the appearances (the missing fish & honeycomb, for instance, that Jesus eats in one appearance in Acts)
slide40

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

4. The disciples subsequently had experiences which they believed to be literal physical appearances of the risen Jesus

  • b.There are those that claim they are the product of the grief process, but this does not explain the conversion of hostile converts such as Paul who were not in a grief stricken state
  • c.Hallucination also does not explain the empty tomb
slide41

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

5. The disciples martyrdom for what they knew to be a lie or not & the rise of early Christianity starting in Jerusalem.

  • a.Many claim that lots of people, for better or ill, die for their beliefs & this is true
  • b.But, that is not the case here
  • c.With hallucination, there would be no empty tomb; if the disciples stole the body, they would have known the empty tomb was a lie
  • d.The point is, the empty tomb & the appearances for them was not a matter of belief but rather a matter of DIRECT KNOWLEDGE
slide42

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

5. The disciples martyrdom for what they knew to be a lie or not & the rise of early Christianity starting in Jerusalem.

  • e.This being the case, how do you get 11 guys willing to go to torturous deaths for what they KNOW to be a lie
  • f.For instance, the 9-11 hijackers died for their belief that they were going to get a bunch of virgins for running those planes into those buildings; now, what if they were able to pull back that veil and see that those virgins were not there; given that KNOWLEDGE, could you convince all of them to go through with it? One, maybe two or three, yes, but all 19? For a lie? A KNOWN fraud?
slide43

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

6. The conversion of James & Paul.

  • a.The conversion of James is hard to explain outside a genuine Resurrection because we know he was not a believer while Jesus was alive (understandable, after all, what would you say if your brother claimed to be the Son of God? Think about it!). What could possibly happen after His death that would convince him otherwise as extra- Biblical history shows James became not just a believer but a solid leader in the Jerusalem church, but, crucially, NOT an inheritor to Jesus’ position or titles. In fact, in his epistle, he calls himself a servant or slave to Jesus.
slide44

Briefly, in support of each of these facts, ie why secular historians agree these facts attach themselves to the Jesus narrative:

6. The conversion of James & Paul.

  • b.The church persecutor Saul’s conversion to the church missionary Paul is hard to explain since he certainly was not a sympathizer or griever with the disciples meaning he was not in a frame of mind nor disposed to see visions of the type he claims to have seen.
  • c.Further, Paul, a Jewish scholar trained in the best Pharisaical schools of the time, gave up some of the most important pillars of that training such as a belief in a general resurrection at the end of time in favor of a particular Resurrection of God incarnate as man in his own time. What could bring about such a sudden turnabout against a lifetime of training & belief?
slide45

However, here’s the main obstacle to any naturalistic theory…

Any theory explains only one, at most two attendant facts of the case.

No one theory explains all the facts

slide48

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slide49

Eternal Answers Ministry

http://www.EternalAnswersMinistry.org

questions@EternalAnswersMinistry.org