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"The alleged bodily resurrection of Jesus, if true, was very consequential concerning mankind's most fearful and important questions."
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»  Resurrection Reasoning
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Chapter 7:
The Unrivaled Resurrection
What do some of the world's greatest lawyers say about the event that changed history from BC to AD?

Chapter Introduction

Dr. Simon Greenleaf was a key founder of Harvard’s School of Law. He is regarded as one of the principal figures responsible for Harvard’s eminent position among law schools in the United States,[1] and he produced possibly the greatest single authority on evidence in the entire literature of legal procedure.[2]

After a challenge by one of his students to disprove the claims of Jesus and the Bible, Greenleaf was certain that a careful examination of the internal witness of the Gospels would dispel all the myths at the heart of Christianity. He determined, once and for all, to expose the myth of the resurrection of Jesus. After thoroughly examining the evidence, however, he came to an extraordinary conclusion.

With a lawyer’s skill, Greenleaf put his principles to work as he examined the historical evidence surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ as recorded in the ancient writings of the biblical text. After careful study, he wrote The Testimony of the Evangelists, in which he stated that it was “impossible that the Apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus Christ actually risen from the dead.”

What caused Greenleaf, as one of the most prestigious lawyers of all time, to come to such a dramatic conclusion? In spite of the sensationalist nature of such a suggestion, this chapter briefly examines some of the arguments both for and against the idea that Jesus Christ could have actually risen from the dead two millennia ago.

   “The alleged bodily resurrection of Jesus, if true, was very consequential concerning mankind’s most fearful and important questions. By publicly preaching the Resurrection message in the first century, the Apostles strived to adjust the opinions of mankind upon subjects in which people are not only deeply concerned, but usually stubborn and closedminded, despite reason or persuasion. Men could not be utterly careless in such a case as this. (As evidenced in ancient writings, two thousand years ago religion and tradition generally played a much more significant role than in today’s Western society.) Thus, whoever entertained the account of Jesus, whether Jew or non-Jew, could not have avoided the following reflection: “If these things be true, I must give up the opinions and principles in which I have been brought up, the religion in which my forefathers lived and died.” It is not likely that one would do this upon any idle report or trivial account, or indeed without being fully convinced of the truth of that which he or she believed in. But it did not stop at opinions. Those who believed Christianity acted upon it. Many made it the express business of their lives to publicize their new faith. It was required of them to change forthwith their conduct; to take up a different course of life and begin a new set of rules and system of behavior; in doing so they encountered opposition, danger, and persecution.”[3]

— William Paley, 1794

The first few hundred years of Christianity were characterized by some of the worst persecution in history.[4] Right from the beginning, the Christian founders were persecuted and eventually put to death for the message they preached: that they had seen Jesus physically risen from the dead.

What, in fact, is it that caused the first followers of Jesus to be willing to die for such a message?


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