6-Minute Case for the Resurrection

Street Theologian
7 min readMar 30, 2024
Shroud of Turin. All images from Wikimedia Commons unless mentioned otherwise

A conversational format case

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Today we look at evidence for the resurrection in a conversational format. For a longer, more detailed case read here:

Did Jesus REALLY Rise from the Dead? Your Comprehensive Guide

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. — Paul the Apostle, 1 Cor 15:14

Jesus never existed or died and was likely a copy of dying and rising pagan gods.

Famous skeptic of Christianity Bart Ehrman claims, “Jesus did exist, whether we like it or not.”

We have 42 sources on Jesus within 150 years of his life including from multiple non-Christian sources. We have over a dozen early sources which refer to Christ’s death. Non-Christian NT professor, Gerd Lüdemann contends, “Jesus’ death as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable.”

Historians such as Jonathan Z Smith, in his 600-page dissertation at Yale, have debunked the dying and rising gods myth. Smith contends the idea of dying and rising pagan gods, “have been largely a misnomer based on imaginative reconstructions and exceedingly late or highly ambiguous texts” and there “is no unambiguous instance in the history of religions of a dying and rising deity.”

3rd century mosaic claiming Jesus is God

How do you explain the resurrection from a historical perspective?

We assess a historical hypothesis based on criteria such as explanatory power and explanatory scope in explaining key historical facts.

We determine key historical facts using criteria such as dissimilarity, embarrassment, multiple attestation, enemy attestation and historical congruence.

Applying these historical criteria we can determine Jesus is ALIVE

A Appearances to his followers (1 Cor 15, Mt 28, Lk 24, Jn 20–21, Acts 1, Josephus etc). Multiple attestation, early attestation within 5 years in 1 Cor 15:3–8, embarrassment in female witnesses.

L Low status of women in first century Judaism (embarrassment; Mt 28, Mk 16, Lk 24, Jn 20)

I Immediate proclamation of the resurrection in Jerusalem (Acts 2; Galatians 1 you would go elsewhere or wait some time if starting a lie). Multiple attestation.

V Voluntary sufferings undergone by the first witnesses (Acts, Josephus, Tacitus, Polycarp, Tertullian etc). Enemy attestation, multiple attestation.

E Empty tomb (Mt 28, Mk 16, Lk 24, Jn 20, 1 Cor 15 etc). Early and multiple attestation, embarrassment in female witnesses.

The resurrection hypothesis in the context of God’s existence and Jesus having a divine self-understanding (Mark 14:60–64 called Son of Man who comes in the clouds; only God comes in the clouds in the Old Testament and the Son of Man has divine traits in Daniel 7:13–14- as a result Jesus is charged with blasphemy) explains all these facts.

Short Conversations: Did Jesus think he is God?

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Is Jesus GOD in Matthew, Mark and Luke? 20 Key Considerations

No other explanation can adequately explain these facts.

A creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3–8 that supports Jesus rising from the dead and appearing to over 500 followers, including enemies of Christianity, is dated to within 2–3 years of Jesus death by non-Christian scholars such as Funk and Lüdemann, with Goulder also having a similar view.

First century crucified heel bone

What about alternative explanations?

Swoon theory does not explain these facts as Romans were skilled executioners and it is impossible a broken and beaten Jesus would appear to be a glorified man to the disciples.

The idea the disciples stole the body makes no sense in that they lost everything for their belief in Jesus including their lives and immediately proclaimed the Gospel in Jerusalem near where Jesus died and the disciples hated.

If the Romans took the body and gave it to dogs they would have made a scene of it rather than claim the disciples stole it. Moreover, this contradicts a key historical fact that Joseph of Arimathea (embarrassing fact as a Sanhedrin member) was involved in the burial.

What about hallucinations or a spiritual resurrection?

Hallucinations can’t explain the empty tomb. Moreover, hallucinations tend to be individualistic experiences. The appearances of Jesus were often group appearances to people who had no hope or expectation of Jesus coming back to life.

A spiritual resurrection as further debunked by NT Wright in The Resurrection of the Son of God does not explain the empty tomb, and makes no sense in light of the Jewish expectation of a resurrection involving a physical change to the body which Paul also echoed in 1 Cor 15:51–53 where he spoke of a perishable body being changed to an imperishable body. There is a physical change and continuity from a Jewish perspective.

Goodreads

Dying for something doesn’t prove it’s true.

Of course, it doesn’t in and of itself. Many have died for lies on opposite sides of history.

However, being prepared to die for something and forgoing all worldly benefits indicates sincerity of belief even if the underlying belief might be false.

This means the disciples could not have been intentionally deceiving but must have either been deceived or been speaking the truth. The case for the resurrection is a cumulative case that can explain all the key facts while no other hypothesis can. As such, being deceived is also ruled out.

Miracles can’t happen no matter what.

This is a case of circular reasoning. The conclusion is assumed before any evidence is assessed. There are several unique highly improbable events reported only once in history yet historians don’t doubt them.

The resurrection hypothesis in the light of God’s existence and Jesus’ divine self-understanding is the only hypothesis that explains the key facts.

Saying miracles can’t happen no matter what is linked to a self-refuting materialist worldview. “Everything is just particles and chemical reactions” but for that statement to be true it would need to be more than a particle or chemical reaction. Instead being a reference to a necessary truth that is universal, immaterial, and unchanging, binding on all the seemingly random humans fizzing away to chemical reactions in the world.

The Virgin Births of Secularism: 10 Impossible Things You Assume Everyday

Theodore Gericault

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

You don’t need any more evidence to prove you won a lottery ticket than to prove that you didn’t win it although winning the lottery is an extraordinary event. The question is which hypothesis best explains the available facts.

Moreover, sceptics must define an extraordinary claim and extraordinary evidence. Jesus has been the most influential figure in history which is quite extraordinary for a plain carpenter from Palestine. Does this mean he never existed? Where is the extraordinary evidence to support the hallucination theory which contradicts what is known about hallucinations or the theory the disciples stole the body yet were prepared to die for it?

Is it extraordinary to claim under atheism that everything we now know came from nothing at the beginning of time? Or that logic, mathematics and morals must be accepted as brute facts of a universe that ultimately came from nothing?

Do extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?

Texas Lotto

What about contradictions?

The alleged contradictions do not impact any of the key historical facts we have covered which need to be explained, provide evidence we have independent sources on Jesus which agree on key facts, most if not all contradictions (real v apparent contradictions) can be reconciled or resolved and this view fails to consider undesigned coincidences and historical precision in the Gospels.

La Mélancolie

Do I need to know how to argue through all this to be a Christian or can I connect with God through other means?

Relational wounds are healed relationally. We are called to defend our faith (1 Peter 3:15) and Jesus and Paul would regularly debate people, but you don’t need to know the historical arguments in and out to be a Christian. God can be directly known and experienced and you can seek Jesus where you are today.

If Jesus did rise from the dead, you can access God’s Spirit here and now to connect you with God as you are forgiven from sin, crossing from death to life.

Did Jesus REALLY Rise from the Dead? Your Comprehensive Guide

Why Did Jesus Come Into The World? Our articles on the Gospels, Jesus’ divinity, death and resurrection

Are the Gospels based on eyewitness accounts? 10 key considerations

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Street Theologian

Theology and apologetics for those who want to get their hands dirty