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 You are in / Foolish Faith / Read Book Online / Chapter 7 / Resurrection Reasoning - Part 1
"The alleged bodily resurrection of Jesus, if true, was very consequential concerning mankind's most fearful and important questions."
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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?

Resurrection Reasoning - Part 1

Without a doubt, the most unbelievable aspect of Christianity is in the life of Jesus himself. In His alleged resurrection from the dead, Jesus stands out more remarkably in history than any other human being. It is for this reason that the New Testament, perhaps more than any other book in history, has been subjected to some of the most rigorous historical and literary criticism.

Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, contemporary scholarship has shown that the New Testament firmly stands as the most historically attested work of the ancient world.

All New Testament scholars agree that the Gospels (biographies of Jesus) were written and circulated within Jesus’ generation, during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses. In fact, many scholars argue persuasively that some of the Gospels were written as early as the 50s A.D. (within about 30 years of Jesus’ death). This is significant because legends and myths usually take root in foreign lands, or centuries after an event. The legend of Santa Claus, for instance, developed centuries after the historical Saint Nicholas lived.[5] Thus, respected Oxford Professor Sherwin-White states that for the Gospels to be myths or legends, the rate of legendary accumulation would have to be “unbelievable” — more generations are needed. He maintains that it would have been without precedent anywhere in history for a myth to have grown up that fast.[6]

In establishing the truthfulness of the New Testament writers as eyewitnesses to the events of their time, several points must be considered.

First, if the writers fabricated the New Testament Gospels, one would expect them to have construed the story in such a way that would have been most advantageous to their cause, rather than include embarrassing details which could defeat their purpose. However, there are plenty such features in the Gospel accounts which could have proved fatal had the narratives been false.[7]

One significant example is the fact that the Gospel writers record women as the first witnesses to Jesus’ empty tomb, and then to the resurrected Jesus himself. The significance of this cannot be understated. Women were on a very low rung of the social ladder in first-century Palestine,[8] and their testimony was regarded as so worthless that they were not even allowed to serve as legal witnesses in a Jewish court of law.

In that light, it’s remarkable that the Gospel writers would record women as the chief witnesses to the empty tomb of Jesus and then also to the risen Jesus himself. Any fabricated story or later legendary account, in order to gain more credibility, would certainly have portrayed male disciples (perhaps Peter or John) as the first to discover the tomb and see the risen Jesus. The fact that women, rather than men, are recorded as the first witnesses to the empty tomb is most plausibly explained by the reality that they were, in fact, the discoverers of the tomb.

It is these types of literary characteristics found throughout the New Testament writings that many scholars believe indicate its historical authenticity. Historian Will Durant explains, “Despite the prejudices and theological preconceptions of the [Gospel writers], they record many incidents that mere inventors would have concealed. . . . That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic, and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels.”[9]

The well-known literary genius C.S. Lewis, former literary professor at Cambridge University and fellow of Oxford University, realized that his in-depth knowledge of literature forced him to treat the Gospel record as a trustworthy account: “I was by now too experienced in literary criticism to regard the Gospels as myth.”[10]


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