Simon Greenleaf, a Harvard Law Professor wrote:

"All that Christianity asks of men?is, that they would be consistent with themselves,
that they would treat its evidences as they treat the evidence of other things;
and that they would try and judge its actors and witnesses, as they deal with
their fellow men, when testifying to human affairs and actions, in human tribunals.
Let the witnesses be compared with themselves, with each other, and with surrounding
facts and circumstances; and let their testimony be sifted, as if it were given
in a court of justice, on the side of the adverse party, the witness being subjected
to rigorous cross-examination. The result, it is confidently believed, will
be an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability, and truth."1

Much debate has occurred over the person of Jesus of Nazareth. His life has
been seen as commendable at the least, and the message, that has been attributed
to him, has changed the lives of millions of people throughout time. Philip
Schaff wrote:

"The Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than
Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, He
shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars
combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke such words of life as were
never spoken before or since, and produced effects with lie beyond the reach
of orator or poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion,
and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works
of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and
modern times."2

Indeed his message has had a profound impact. However, since his death, debates
have occurred from the city of Jerusalem to the academic halls concerning his
resurrection. Evangelical apologists see the resurrection as the center of the
Christian faith, and if proven false, they believe Christianity can then be deemed
false. Others see no significance in an empty tomb at all, and claim that the
authentic message of Christianity is found in reconstructed versions of the
canonical Gospels, combined with non-canonical sources. Both cannot be right. This
paper will present the evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ,
and it?s centrality to the Christian message. I will divide the research into
three sections: First, I will look at the impact of a worldview when a person
studies Jesus? resurrection. Second, I will look at the evidence for the bodily
resurrection of Jesus. And third, I will look at the relevancy of the resurrection,
which, if proven false, deems Christianity nothing more than a fairy tale in
which no rational person should believe in.

Section 1: Worldview Consideration

The worldview to which a scholar subscribes will affect his/her research when
studying the resurrection of Jesus. Marcus Borg, who is one of the leading critical
scholars, writes that he used to have a traditional view of Jesus when he was
"pre-critical na?ve." However, his beliefs shifted as he moved closer to being
an agnostic/atheist. Borg admits, "Uncertainty about God affected the focus
of research on Jesus."3 After some mystical experience, God for him was reduced
to the common religious experiences of men and women.4 Borg and many of his colleagues
claim they have produced the credible view of God, which is interestingly enough
the politically correct version of God for the 21 st century. Borg and his colleagues
view seems to end up having more to do with his personal view of God rather
than any historical approach of reviewing the evidence for God. Personal views
obviously affect any study on the resurrection of Jesus.

While this paper is not going to go into depth defending one worldview or another,
it is important to note that whatever the conclusion to which a person comes,
automatically affect his/her research. For example, with a naturalistic worldview,
one is limited to exclusive naturalistic explanation. The worldview of John Crossan
and Marcus Borg, leaders of the Jesus Seminar, can be found in their first book,
The Five Gospels. They state:

"The Christ of creed and dogma?can no longer command the assent of those who
have seen the heavens through Galileo?s telescope. The old deities and demons
were swept from the skies by the remarkable glass. Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo
have dismantled the mythological abodes of the gods and Satan, and bequeathed us secular

At best they have a deistic worldview, but most likely it would fall under that
category of agnostics. With this worldview they have applied their system of
beliefs to the Christian canon. "As for the other miracles? No loaves and fishes,
no water into wine, no raising of Lazarus. And certainly no resurrection."6

Automatically, the Jesus Seminar and critical scholars like Borg and Crossan
conclude that the bodily resurrection is false, and therefore have to come up
with other options, which fit their naturalistic framework.7 They reject miracles
a priori, due to their worldview, not the evidence. Hank Hannegraff writes:

?"Thus, in the face of compelling evidence, they interpret history in accordance
with naturalistic assumptions. They stereotypically regard those who disagree
as intellectually retarded and reduce them to residing in the Dark Ages. Under
the guise of credible historical scholarship, this team of so-called experts was
given the platform to dismiss well-established facts of history in favor of
subjective story telling."8

The role of miracles is unique in Christianity. Peter Kreeft writes:

The clinching argument for the importance of miracles is that God thought they
were important enough to use to found and perpetuate His Church. In fact, all
the essential and distinctive elements of Christianity are miracles: creation,
revelation?.the Resurrection?Subtract miracles from Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism,
or Taoism, and you have essentially the same religion left. Subtract miracles
from Christianity, and you have nothing but the clich?s and platitudes most
American Christians get weekly from their pulpits. Nothing distinctive, no reason
to be Christian rather than something else.9

When studying the resurrection of Jesus, one must ask if miracles happen.10
The problem of miracles, if it is a problem, must be solved in the realm of
historical investigation, not in the realm of philosophical speculation. So
what is the proper approach to historical investigation? C. Behan McCullagh lists facts
that historians will weigh in testing historical hypothesis:11
??????????????? 1.? ????????? The hypothesis, together with other true statements, must
imply? further statements describing present, observable data.
??????????????? 2.? ????????? ?The hypothesis must have greater explanatory scope than
rival? hypotheses.
??????????????? 3.? ????????? ?The hypothesis must have greater explanatory power than
rival? hypotheses.
??????????????? 4.? ????????? ?The hypothesis must be more plausible than rival hypotheses.
??????????????? 5.? ????????? ?The hypothesis must be less ad hoc that rival hypotheses.
??????????????? 6.? ????????? ?The hypothesis must be disconfirmed by fewer accepted beliefs?
than rival hypotheses.
??????????????? 7.? ????????? ?The hypothesis must so exceed its rival in fulfilling?
conditions 2 through 6 that there is littl
er chance of rival hypotheses,? after
further investigation, exceeding it in meeting these conditions. Instead? of
rejecting miracles and the resurrection a priori, I will look to the? evidence, and make
a conclusion. Using the framework of testing historical? hypotheses above, I
will show that the bodily resurrection of Jesus of? Nazareth is plausible.

Section 2: The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus

"The meaning of the resurrection is a theological matter, but the fact of the
resurrection is a historical matter; the nature of the resurrected body of Jesus
may be a mystery, but the fact that the body disappeared from the tomb is a
matter to be decided upon by historical evidence."12

To tackle the issue of the resurrection, two questions need to be answered:
??????????????? 1.? ????????? Was the tomb that Jesus was laid in empty?
??????????????? 2.? ????????? ?Where did the belief of the disciples come from?

There are four lines of evidence that prove the historicity of an empty tomb:
??????????????? 1.? ????????? The presence of the empty tomb pericope in the pre-Markan?
passion story supports its historicity.
??????????????? 2.? ????????? ?The use of ‘the first day of the week’ instead of ‘on the
third? day’ points to early tradition.
??????????????? 3.? ????????? ?The discovery of the tomb by women validates the authenticity?
of the empty tomb.
??????????????? 4.? ????????? ?The Jewish polemic presupposes the empty tomb.

The presence of the empty tomb pericope in the pre-Markan passion story supports
its historicity. The empty tomb story was perhaps at the close of the pre-Markan
passion story. Paul?s Last Supper tradition from I Cor. 11:23-25 presupposes
the pre-Markan passion account. The passion story speaks of a ?high priest?
without using the person?s name. Caiaphas was still the high priest when the
pre-Markan story was being told, which would explain why there is no need to
write his name. Caiaphas was the high priest from 18-37 AD. Given the age of the
pre-Markan passion story, an attempt to believe the empty tomb account as legend

?The use of ‘the first day of the week’ instead of ‘on the third day’ points
to early tradition. In I Corinthians 15:4, Paul mentions "the first day of the
week." Lacking the third day motif, which was created later, the tradition of
the empty tomb must be primitive. If the empty tomb account were older, it would
have accepted the third day motif. The proximity of the tradition then makes
it hard to believe the empty tomb account as legendary.

The discovery of the tomb by women validates the authenticity that it was empty.
Lee Strobel writes:

"When you understand the role of women in first-century Jewish society, what?s
really extraordinary is that the empty tomb story should feature females as
the discovers of the empty tomb?the fact that women are the first witnesses
to the empty tomb is most plausibly explained by the reality that- like it or
not- the were the discovers of the empty tomb"13

There is no reason for the evangelist to write that women found the tomb first.
If the writer of the gospel wanted to solidify his case that the tomb was empty,
he would have written that Peter or John found the tomb. There is also no reason
that the Christian church would humiliate their leaders by having them hiding in
fear, while women discovered the empty tomb.

The Jewish polemic presupposes the empty tomb. Jewish opponents did not deny
the empty tomb of Jesus. In Matthew?s story we find guards at the tomb. This
was written to refute allegations that the disciples had stolen Jesus? body.
The Jewish leaders did not respond to the preaching of the resurrection by exhibiting
Jesus? body. The enemies of Christianity acknowledged the empty tomb. The Jewish
leaders could not deny an empty tomb, so they came up with their disciples stole
the body hypothesis. This provides strong evidence that the tomb was in fact empty.It
should also be noted that the disciples began to preach the resurrection inJerusalem.
If the tomb were not empty, then the last place the disciples would want to
start proclaiming an empty tomb would be the location of the tomb. This leads me
to my next contention.

Where did the beliefs of the disciples come from? The second supporting evidence
for the resurrection is the origin of Christianity itself. The origin of Christianity
hinges on the belief of the earliest disciples that Jesus had risen from the
dead. Even David Strauss, a skeptic wrote: "The historian must acknowledge that
the disciples firmly believed that Jesus was risen."14 The question now inevitably
arises: How does one explain the origin of that belief? Four responses can be
given to where the disciple?s belief came from:
??????????????? 1.? ????????? Jewish History influence
??????????????? 2.? ????????? ?Jesus did not actually die
??????????????? 3.? ????????? ?The appearances of Jesus were hallucination
??????????????? 4.? ????????? ?Jesus rose from the dead

Could the belief by the disciples in Jesus? resurrection rise from Jewish influence?
From the Hebrew Bible, Jewish people believed in the resurrection of the dead
on the day of judgment (Ezek 37, Isaiah 26, Daniel 12). The idea of resurrection
was nothing new. Jewish theology holds that the resurrection always occurred after
the end of the world, and that it concerned all people. This is not at all what
Jesus resurrection was: within history and by an individual person. Jewish belief
holds that at the end of history, God would raise the righteous dead. For example,
in John 11:24 Martha says to Jesus: "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection
at the last day" (John 11.24). Similarly, when Jesus tells his disciples he
will rise from the dead, they think he means at the end of the world (Mark 9.9-13).
The idea that a true resurrection could occur prior to God’s bringing the Kingdom
of Heaven at the end of the world was utterly foreign to them. When Jesus died,
the disciples then would have tried to keep Jesus bones and remains in one piece
so that he would be resurrected at the end of the world. They would not have
come up with the idea that he was already raised. The Jewish idea of resurrection
was a general resurrection, not an individual. In Jesus? resurrection, God raised
one person. The disciple?s belief in the resurrection did not come from Jewish
influences. There is no framework to believe that Jesus alone would be raised
from the dead. Following their Jewish framework, the disciples would have waited
for Jesus to be raised by God at the end of the world.

Some have raised the idea that Jesus never really died on the cross. H.E.G.
Paul championed this idea, in his book The Life of Jesus. The Swoon theory,
as it is called, was needed to refute the resurrection because some scholars
realized that it was impossible to ignore the firm belief of the apostles that Jesus
had risen. Credible scholars do not take the Swoon theory seriously, both liberal
and evangelical. Even David Strauss, a naturalist wrote:

"It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulcher,
who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging,
strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to his sufferings,
could have given to his disciples the impression that he was a Conqueror over
death and the grave, the Prince of Life, and impression which lay at the bottom
of their future ministr

This leads to the theory that the disciples had hallucination of Jesus after
his death. What this theory boils down to is that if there had been a good psychologist
for the disciples, the Christian church would not have been founded. This hypothesis
does not hold up for two reasons:
??????????????? 1.? ????????? The zeal of the apostles
??????????????? 2.? ????????? ?Everything known about hallucinations is violated.16

Visions were not what the disciples experienced. "Men who are subject to hallucinations
never become moral heroes. The effect of the resurrection of Jesus transformed
lives was continuous, and most of these early witnesses went to their deaths
for proclaiming this truth."17 These disciples firmly believed that they had seen a
risen Jesus. Not many people will die for a vision. It is hard to imagine that
every apostle had the same vision, right after Christ death, and then began
proclaiming his resurrection. "They (hallucinations) have never stimulated people to undertake
a work of enormous magnitude? suffering."18 A stronger blow however is that
with the hallucination hypothesis, everything know about hallucinations is violated.
To start, the type of people who have hallucinations can be described as people
who are high-strung, and very nervous.19 The people who encountered a risen
Jesus were in many different moods; weeping, remorseful, astonished, and afraid.
Hallucinations are also linked to an individuals past experiences.20 This argument
is the crushing blow to the hallucination theory. As stated before, the disciples
had no framework of a suffering servant dieing on a cross as a Savior, and then
rising again. The disciples? hallucinations would have been a risen, conquering
Jesus, who had come to judge Israel. It is hard to conclude, that the disciples
were all self-deceived by a hallucination that was directly against their framework
of belief.

The only theory left than is that Jesus actually rose from the dead. From the
evidence, and rational person can conclude by using the same historical criteria
used for other historical facts that Jesus had risen from the dead.
??????????????? 1.? ????????? The hypothesis, together with other true statements, must
imply? further statements describing present, observable data. The resurrection,?
if true, explains events of Easter, and well as the existence and the? growth
of the Christian faith.
??????????????? 2.? ????????? ?The hypothesis must have greater explanatory scope than
rival? hypotheses. The hypotheses that try to refute the resurrection are not?
greater than the explanation of the resurrection. I have soundly proven? that
given the evidence of the empty tomb, and the belief of the? disciples, that the
resurrection is the best explanation for the events? that occurred on Easter.
??????????????? 3.? ????????? ?The hypothesis must have greater explanatory power than
rival? hypotheses. The facts of the empty tomb and the existence of the? disciples?
belief are facts that are more probable than? counter-explanations. Using the
Swoon Theory, or the hallucination theory,? one cannot explain the facts of the empty
tomb and the belief of the? disciples.
??????????????? 4.? ????????? ?The hypothesis must be more plausible than rival hypotheses.?
Without a biased against the supernatural, the resurrection is more? plausible
than any rival theory. With a bias, one is forced to conclude? against the strong
evidence for the resurrection.
??????????????? 5.? ????????? ?The hypothesis must be less ad hoc that rival hypotheses.
The? only supposition is that God exists. The rival hypotheses need more? supposition.
??????????????? 6.? ????????? ?The hypothesis must be disconfirmed by few accepted beliefs?
than rival hypotheses."Rival theories are disconfirmed by accepted? beliefs
about, for example, the instability of conspiracies, the? likelihood of death
as a result of crucifixion, the psychological? characteristics of hallucinatory
experiences, ect."21
??????????????? 7.? ????????? ?The hypothesis must so exceed its rival in fulfilling?
conditions 2 through 6 that there is littler chance of rival hypotheses,? after
further investigation, exceeding it in meeting these condition.

?After reviewing the evidence I find it hard not to conclude the same way William
Lane Craig does when he writes: "Therefore, it seems to me that the sort of
skepticism expressed by members of the Jesus Seminar like Crossan with respect
to the resurrection of Jesus not only fails to represent the consensus of scholarship,
but is quite unjustified."22

Section 3: Importance and Centrality of the Resurrection

All of the evidence for the resurrection than culminates to this question: So
what? Many liberal scholars have now taken the approach that whether the tomb
was empty or not does not determine whether Christianity is true. Marcus Borg
has written "? it seems to me that whether something happened to the corpse of
Jesus is irrelevant to the truth of Easter."23

For Borg, and many other critical scholars, Easter has taken on a new meaning,
to where these scholars have redefined Christianity, and call themselves Christians.
This begins with a view that the Jesus of History is different the Jesus of
Faith. The Jesus of History is the Jesus liberal scholars believe is the Jesus associated
with facts. The Jesus of History did not perform miracles, claim to be God,
or rise from the dead. The Jesus of Faith however, which they attribute to the
apostle Paul, is associated with miracles, being God, and rising from the dead. The
Jesus of Faith then, is not based on facts, but on faith. So Easter for the
Jesus Seminar has a new meaning. The Jesus of History factually never rose from
the dead, but his teachings lived on. The Jesus of Faith (who did rise from the
dead if you want Him to) for liberal scholars then is not a factual reality,
but an interpretation of Jesus. Borg for example writes that: "For me, the truth
of Easter is very simple: the followers of Jesus both then and now, continue to
experience Jesus as a living reality after his death. The post-Easter Jesus
is an experiential reality."24

Crossan writes along the same lines when he says the "To say that Jesus in Divine?
means for me that I see Jesus as a manifestation of God."25 This is wrong for
one main reason: It makes no rational sense. If the historical Jesus is not
factually divine, then worship of Jesus is self-delusion, and irrational. Crossan,
Borg and others now have a dilemma of where the constraints should be put on
this Jesus of Faith.26 The Jesus of Faith can be any Jesus who lends support
to whatever you need him to. This is probably the reason many reconstructions
have occurred when liberal scholars study Jesus. This has lead to a Hitler-Jesus
of Faith, a Gandhi-Jesus of Faith, a feminist-Jesus of Faith, and many others.
The problem is that without any factual data for the person of faith, there
is no constraint to who this person could be, and worshiping a person like this
would only be self-deceiving. No one should want to worship anything that is
separated from fact. From this paper I have concluded that what liberal schola
rs call the Jesus of Faith, really is the Jesus of the History. If he is not,
Jesus should be given little consideration. If He is, then Jesus deserves our

Personal Perspective

I almost feel like I get to write the section because every scholar I have r
has taken time to write one. After reading evangelical, moderate, and liberal
scholars, I have come to this conclusion. In liberal scholars search to try
to update or destroy (these are the words of the scholars) Christianity, they
have taken whatever route they need to get there. It is interesting that Jesus
for them fits exactly how they need him to?. a feminist Jesus, a homosexual
Jesus, a revolutionary Jesus. Jesus becomes politically correct. Evangelical scholars
claim, and prove quite well the Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ of Faith. The
liberal scholars divorce these as two different persons, and the Christ of Faith
doesn?t even exist accept in a state of imagination. Faith in the evangelical claim is
much easier. The resurrection, if proven true is the one event that separates
Christianity from all other religions. Mohammed is dead. Joseph Smith is dead.
Confucius is dead. The claim that Jesus is not dead separates Christianity from
all other religions. Ravi Zacharias wrote: ""Do you want to see God?" ask the
writers. Look at the face of Christ. That face beckons you not to a smorgasbord
of fleeting tastes but to a life of eternal joy."27 Jesus did rise from the
dead. The uniqueness and the scandal of the Christian religion rests on the mediation
of revelation through historical events. Christianity is not just a code for
living or philosophy of religion. It is rooted in real events of history. To
some people this is scandalous because it means the truth of Christianity is
inexplicably bound up with the truth of certain historical facts. And if those
facts should be disproved, Christianity would be false. This, however, is what
makes Christianity unique, because, unlike other world religions, modern man has
a means of actually verifying Christianity?s truth by historical evidence.28

1 Greenleaf, Simon. The Testimony of the Evangelist, Examined by the Rules of
Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans
Publishing Company , 1977. p 46.
2 Philip Schaff, The Person of Christ (n.p: American Tract Society, 1913.)
?3 Borg, Marcus. Meeting Jesus Again. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994.
p 6.
4 Ibid., 13.
5 R.W. Funk, R.W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels: What Did
Jesus Really Say? (New York: Macmillan, 1993) pp. ix-x, xiii.
6 John Dominic Crossan, Who Killed Jesus? San Francisco: Harper, 1995, 217.
7 John Crossan, one of the leaders of critical scholarship argues that Jesus
was never really buried, but left on a cross, and his body was eaten by wild
dogs. High Schonfield argues that Jesus never really died on the cross at all.
Jewish people through the centuries argued Jesus? disciples stole the body.
9 Kreeft, Peter. Christianity for Modern Pagans. Pascals Pensees edited, outlined
and explained. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988. p 273.
10 A miracle is defined as anything that interrupts the natural order of life.
11 C. Behan McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1984, 19. William Lane Craig also uses this list in his article
"Did Jesus Rise from the Dead."
12 Smith, Wilbur M. Therefore Stand: Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker
Book House, 1945. P 386.
13 Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House,
1998. p 217
14 Strauss, David. A New Life of Jesus, London: Williams and Norgate, 1879.
15 Strauss, David. A New Life of Jesus, London: Williams and Norgate, 1879.
p. 1.412.
16 There is not enough space to develop this argument fully. For a more in depth
reading see J. Anderson? article "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ." and Paul
Peru?s article "Outline of Psychiatric Case-Study."
17 Hillyer H. Straton, I Believe: Our Lord?s Resurrection. Christianity Today.
4. March 31, 1968.
18 Thomas Thorburg, The Resurrection Narratives and Modern Criticism, 136.
19 J. N. D Anderson, The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christianity Today, 4-9.
April 1968.
20 Ibid.
21 Craig, William Lane. Did Jesus Rise From the Dead, Jesus Under Fire. Grand
Rapids: Zondervan Press: 1995.
22 Ibid.
23 Borg, Marcus. The Irrelevancy of the Empty Tomb. Will the Real Jesus Please
Stand Up. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1998.
24 ibid
25 John Dominic Crossan, Who Killed Jesus? (San Francisco: Harper, 1995), 217.
26 The key point is that Crossan and Borg both deny any objectivity to belief
in God and Jesus as the Savior. Without any objectivity, there is no constraint.
27 Copyright (c) 1999 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). Reprinted
with permission. "A Slice of Infinity" is a radio ministry of Ravi Zacharias
International Ministries
28 William Buckley quoting George E. Ladd. Will the Real Jesus Please Stand
Up. p 24.


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