An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

He is risen!

Happy Easter all!

Evidences for Jesus’ Resurrection

It is difficult to maintain that Jesus rising from the dead is a myth, legend or an invention. The evidence contradicts this: the gospels were written within a generation of his death and there are (admittedly disputed) non-Christian sources.

Some have suggested that it was not Jesus that died on the cross but someone else – if this were the case then why didn’t anyone spot it? How could the Roman and Jewish leaders be fooled? And then why not produce the body of the supposed Jesus to prove their case?

There are two main problems for those who want to suggest that Jesus did not rise from the dead: the empty tomb and the actual appearances of Jesus.

I THE EMPTY TOMB

1. His body was stolen

There are, at least, three problems with this hypothesis:
i. The character of the disciples, they were too scared to do anything at the time and such actions would be inconsistent with their subsequent high moral teachings
ii. Then they were prepared to die - and some did die - for a lie.
iii. Guards at the tomb – how did the disciples overcome them and persuade them not to say anything?
iv. The way the grave clothes were in the tomb suggests the body came through them. If the body was stolen why would they leave the grave clothes?

1.2 The Jews or Romans stole it
Why then did they not produce the body and stop the disciples preaching that Jesus had risen from the dead?

1.3 Grave robbers
Why go to a guarded tomb? They were only interested in money – why steal a body?

2. The wrong tomb

This implies that the Romans were guarding the wrong tomb – they weren’t so incompetent!
Why not then go to the right tomb and produce the dead body?

3. Jesus didn’t die – the swoon theory

The Romans were crucifixion experts; they did it regularly and so would know from experience when someone was dead or not.
When a spear was put into his side, water and blood came out – which suggests his lungs had collapsed and had died. The soldiers didn’t break Jesus’ legs which suggest that they knew he was already dead.
Jesus had been tortured before he was hung on the cross, he had had little or no food and water for a few days, he was placed in a cold tomb and yet he must have been able to remove the large stone in front of his tomb get past the guards, walking on wounded feet and then convince everyone that he had risen from the dead and had victory over death! Almost as great a miracle as rising from the dead!!

II. JESUS’ APPEARANCES

It has been suggested that Jesus’ appearances were hallucinations, pathological or psychic experiences. There are a number of problems with this.

1. These types of experiences seem only to happen to certain types of people and yet he appeared to 500 people at once, according to the apostle Paul.

2. Hallucinations tend to be individual, it is unusual for two experiences to be the same and yet it appears that the 500 saw the same thing.

3. Psychic experiences seem to occur in suitable times and places and yet Jesus appeared at all different times and places.

4. Hallucinations increase or decrease in occurrences and yet Jesus appearances occurred for forty days and then suddenly ceased.

5. Jesus after his resurrection broke bread and ate with people, he had physical marks on his hands and feet and could be touched. Things which are very difficult for an apparition or ghost to do! His appearance even convinced ‘doubting’ Thomas.

6. Even if they were hallucinations, why didn’t the authorities produce the dead body of Jesus?


III. OTHER

There are other evidences that suggest that Jesus did rise from the dead. These include:

1. The change in the disciples.

The disciples changed from a group that were cowering, hiding and scared to a group who were prepared to die for the message that Jesus raised from the dead.

2. Jesus first appeared to women

The fact that the Gospels recorded that Jesus first appeared to women rather than men is evidence that the Gospels are reliable and not fabrications as contemporary views of women were that they not regarded as credible witnesses

3. The change in a day of rest from the Sabbath to a Sunday

The resurrection of Jesus on a Sunday is one explanation of the change of day.

4. Church history

Without the resurrection there would be no church. The church grew out of a belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Many early Christians were prepared to die for their faith in the resurrected Jesus; for example: Polycarp, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus.

5. Personal experiences

The resurrected Jesus has changed and transformed many Christian’s lives; including the sceptic Saul and he certainly has changed mine. There is also the experience of lawyer Frank Morison who originally started to write a book disproving the resurrection and found himself converted as a result (Morison, 1930).

The apostles were either deceived or deceivers. Either supposition has difficulties; for it is not possible to mistake a man raised from the dead...‑‑While Jesus Christ was with them, He could sustain them. But, after that, if He did not appear to them, who inspired them to act?
Pascal Pensees (Section XII)


FURTHER READING

Pro

Contra

Debates

12 comments:

Steven Carr said...

The article is all the same apologetics, swallowing everything in the Gospels. If they say there is a guard (Only Matthew says so) then there must have been a guard.

How do you explain away the Koran, starting from the presupposition that everyhing in the Koran is true?

In reality, the Gospels are anoynmous works, bad even by the lax standards of ancient history.

For example, Luke says Emmaus was 7 miles from Jerusalem.


If you want contras, I have a debate on the resurrection of Jesus yesterday at Premier Christian Radio

http://www.knightslayer.dsl.pipex.com/resurrection.mp3 has a recording of the show.

More thoughts are at http://stevencarrwork.blogspot.com/

None of the earliest Christian creeds in Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 15 or Philippians 3 have a resurrected Jesus walking the earth.

It just was not an early Christian belief.

Indeed, in 1 Cor. 5:5 Paul makes clear that the flesh and the spirit will have different fates. They will not both be saved, while the Gospels insist both must be saved together.

In 2 Cor. 5, Paul is clear that his earthly body will be destroyed and he will get a new body.

In Romans 7, Paul wants to be rescued from his body of death. He does not think his body will be saved.

Presumably he had seen what had happened to Jesus corpse, saw what was going to happen to his corpse, and thought 'I want out of here', 'I want to be rescued from this body'.

Paul goes so far as to call us 'clay pots' using exactly the words from Leviticus for objects that God decrees must be destroyed after use.

Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:5 ' so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.'

The word for swallowed up is 'katapino' - to gulpd down, consume to the last drop.


Can anybody really say that when Jesus was resurrected with flesh and bones and wounds, that what had previously been mortal about Jesus had been consumed to the last drop, so that none of it existed any more?

'The last Adam became a life-giving spirit' wrote Paul, implying that we too will become life-giving spirits.

Steven Carr said...

The earliest Christians were persecuted on the issue of circumcision, not resurrection (see Galatians 6).

And they certainly died for a lie, unless it was true that they set fire to Rome.

Steven Carr said...

'The fact that the Gospels recorded that Jesus first appeared to women rather than men is evidence that the Gospels are reliable and not fabrications as contemporary views of women were that they not regarded as credible witnesses.'

John 4:39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did."

Another mistake in the Bible, for we are told that women were not regarded as credible witnesses.

Steve Bishop said...

Hi Steven,

Thnaks for taking the time to comment. I read them with interest. Thanks for posting the link to the debate - when I get time I'll have a listen to it.

Suffice to say that I don't agree with your revisionist reading of Paul. How would you explain what Paul writes in 1 Cor 15:4ff '...he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures ...'?

I'm not sure what point you are making in your last comment - women weren't regarded as being too reliable and yet despite a woman's testimony they did believe, they must have thought it was pretty credible to believe it.

Cheers,
Steve

Steven Carr said...

I don't understand your point.

The Corinthians and Paul all agreed Jesus was resurrected, they just didn't believe that his corpse had risen.

I'm sure you won't agree with Paul, when he writes that the body and the spirit will share different fates, or that the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

Perhaps you might find the fake Paul of 3 Corinthians more congenial for your tastest. He is very clear that the resurrection is a resurrection of the dead, mortal body.

Steven Carr said...

You say they were convinced?

Matthew 28:17 'They doubted'

Clearly spin designed to get around the fact that nobody had heard much of these disciples.

In the real world, they would not have doubted, just as modern Christians do not doubt.

And, of course, the very fact that the very earliest Christians denied the bodily resurrection is a killing blow.

Why had they converted to Christianity?

Steve Bishop said...

Steven,

When I said ' they were convinced' I was refering to the context of John 4 not the resurrection.

Cheers,

Steve

Steve Bishop said...

Steven,
the historian and bishop Tom Wright (whose work I know you are familiar with) has shown from surveys of Old Testament teaching, Jewish and Greco-Roman thought in the intertestamental period that bodily resurrection is the dominant hope. There is no reason why the eraly Christians - most of whom were Jews - would deviate from this hope.

Cheers,

Steve

Steven Carr said...

That is not an argument.

There is an amusing footnote in Wright's book were he complains that Jews are not using the word 'resurrection' in the approved way.

Meanings change.

Jews, of course, never believed that God could take on human form.

By Wright's logic, Paul could not have believed that, because Jews did not believe that.

And Jews did not think it was ever acceptable to eat non-kosher food, food sacrificed to temple Gods.

Paul thought what was unthinkable for jews.

As it happens, Jews often believed in a purely spiritual salvation.

Philo did.

And Josephus writes about how the souls of dead people would cross over into brand new bodies.

Which is pretty much what Paul taught.

Out of curiosity, what do you think 1 peter meant by 'All flesh is grass'.

Did he mean that flesh would be saved, or that all flesh would wither and die?

Wright, of course, also says that only the resurrection can explain the existence of the church - for example only a belief in a bodily resurrection can explain the existence of a church in Corinth that denied bodily resurrection.

Guess Wright has to think again.

And I guess Wright just never had enough space in his 700 plus page book on the Resurrection to ever once quote in full Paul saying 'The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.'

Wright never quotes it once in full!

And even Wright is forced to admit that the ideas proposed about 1 Corinthians 15 are perfectly reasonable. Wright is forced to concede that such views are 'no doubt right', but tries to spin them away.

'Though Moule is no doubt right that Paul can envisage here the possibility of 'exchange' (losing one body, getting another one) rather than 'addition', as in 1 Corinthians 15, we should not lose sight of the fact that even if such an 'exchange' were to take place the new body would be more than the present one. (N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 2003: p. 367)'

'No doubt right'. It sounds good, doesn't it?

Steven Carr said...

'Hallucinations increase or decrease in occurrences and yet Jesus appearances occurred for forty days and then suddenly ceased.'

Was Paul inside or outside this 40 day limit after which appearances of Jesus suddenly ceased?

Owlberto said...

This illustrates the same lame approach used by the ID crowd: logic chopping of spurious information leading to a reductio ad miraculum. Those who approach faith via inadequate reasoning are tiresome fools.

Gary said...

Matthew is the only Gospel that mentions guards at the tomb. John's Gospel says nothing about guards. If John was an eyewitness, as Christians claim, isn't that a pretty important detail to leave out of your story? The missing Roman guards in the Book of John raises an important issue. Christians often contend that it would have been impossible for anyone to have surreptitiously removed Jesus’ corpse from the tomb because there were guards posted at the tomb who would have prevented such an occurrence. Therefore, they argue, without any possibility for the body to have been quietly whisked away, the only other logical conclusion is that Jesus must have truly arisen from the dead. A stolen body hypothesis is impossible.

This argument completely collapses in John’s account, however, because according to the fourth Gospel, this is precisely what Mary thought had occurred! Mary clearly didn’t feel as though the scenario of Jesus’ body being removed was unlikely. In fact, according to John, that was her only logical conclusion. Clearly, Matthew’s guards didn’t dissuade John’s Mary from concluding that someone had taken Jesus’ body because Roman guards do not exist in John’s story.

To further compound the problem of the conflicting resurrection accounts, John’s Gospel continues to unfold with Mary returning to the tomb a second time, only to find two angels sitting inside the tomb. Mary is still unaware of any resurrection as she complains to the angels that someone had removed Jesus’ corpse. As far as John’s Mary is concerned, the only explanation for the missing body was that someone must have removed it, and she was determined to locate it.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying12 , one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

(John 20:11-13)

Although in Matthew’s account the angel emphatically tells Mary about the resurrection (Matthew 28:5-7), in John’s Gospel the angels do not mention that anyone rose from the dead. The angels only ask Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Mary responds by inquiring whether the angels removed Jesus’ body. Then, Mary turns and sees Jesus standing before her, but mistakes him for the gardener. Mary is still completely unaware of any resurrection, and therefore asks the “gardener” if he was the one who carried away Jesus’ body. It is only then that Mary realizes that she was speaking to the resurrected Jesus.

When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” which means Teacher.

(John 20:14-16)

It is at this final juncture of the narrative that the accounts of Matthew and John become hopelessly irreconcilable. The question every Christian must answer is the following: When Mary met Jesus for the first time after the resurrection, had the angel(s) already informed her that Jesus had arisen from the dead? According to Matthew, the angels did inform Mary of the resurrection, but in John’s account they did not. As we survey the divergent New Testament accounts of the resurrection, we see that we are not just looking at contradictory versions, we are reading two entirely different stories!