Historical Evidence for the Resurrection
· Note: Both historical and legal systems depend upon consistent application of methodologies. Both systems attempt to establish what in fact happened.
· The verification of Christianity: its truth or falsity depends on certain historical facts.
· Standard protocol gives us results based on ordinary methods, not on opinion or emotional bias.
· Any event that happened in History we can verify using normal procedures. If these methods are useful in establishing truth, then they’re helpful for any event. It is important to commit yourself to what is true.
How do you determine that a document is historically sound? 3 tests.
Bibliographic test. Has the document reached us in original condition? How accurate was the copying?
a. Time between event and witness.
b. Time between original document and extant text.
c. Availability of manuscripts. Translations allow for cross references the meaning of a word or phrase. (Greek, Syriac and Latin.
d. Textual Chain from complete catalog in 300s to whole books around AD 200, to lectionary readings, quotations and fragments that close the gap to a few decades. From the writing of John’s Gospel to the actual fragments that are in fact on display in museums there is a space of mere decades.
e. Fredric Kenyon. Excess of evidence. P. 26-27 of History, Law and Christianity by John Warwick Montgomery.
· Matthew Mark and Luke were written within 50 years of death of Jesus, John within 65 years. These are the latest accepted dates. Many scholars believe them to have been written earlier. However there are reasons for dating them earlier
· For instance, Papias, writing in the 2nd century, states that Peter narrated the words and events of Jesus to Mark; thus, if Papias’ testimony can be trusted, the Gospel of Mark must predate the death of Peter (c. mid. 60s AD). 1st clement chapter 5 tells us Peter and Paul were both martyred.
· Eusebius of Caesarea, states that Paul was beheaded in the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. This event has been dated either to the year 64, when Rome was devastated by a fire, or a few years later, to 67. This is event not contested. The available information tells us that Peter and Paul died in the Neronian persecution. Acts Is largely a biography of Paul, and death tends to bring biographies to a close. So, Acts was probably written before AD 67 because Luke does not mention Paul’s death. Acts is part II of Luke, so part I was probably written even earlier. Jesus was crucified around 30 and Acts was written by 67. at most a few decades separate the Gospels from the events they are reporting. Most Scholars believe that Luke depends on mark. Matthew is tied to Mark and Luke. So the books of the NT were written within a generation of the life of Jesus.
· No mention of the fall of Jerusalem in these materials. You would think that this would an important point for Jews to mention.
a. Eyewitnesses or close associates. What do texts claim? Are the documents Trustworthy? Primary sources. It is important to determine whether or not the people who wrote the Gospels were there. Did they actually witness the events that took place?
b. Luke 1:1 - “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”
c. John 19:35 - “He who saw it has borne witness--his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth--that you also may believe.”
d. John 20:31 - “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
e. 1 John1:1 - “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.”
f. 1Corinthians 15:3 - “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
g. Aristotle says that one must listen to the claims of the document under analysis, and not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualifies himself by contradictions or known factual errors.
a. Is there evidence that these texts were written by their claimed authors? Papias was a student of John writing in AD 130 and John told him that he wrote his own Gospel, Mark wrote Peter’s Gospel, Matthew wrote his own Gospel and Luke the physician and companion of Paul wrote his Gospel.
b. Is there external evidence that Jesus lived, was crucified died, was worshiped as God, performed supernatural feats…
i. Thallus AD 52: the sun was darkened during the crucifixion.
· Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.
· Mark 15:33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. Luke 23:44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
ii. Pliny the younger AD 112: Christ was worshiped as God.
· John 20:28Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
· Mark 2:6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7"Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?"
iii. Mara Bar-Serapion circa AD 73: The Jews killed their king.
· Matthew 20:18 "See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death.
iv. Cornelius Tacitus Born Circa AD 54:
a) Christians were named after Christus. Acts 11:26 In Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
b) This Christus was executed by Pontius Pilate. Matthew 27:2 And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.
c) This happened when Tiberius was emperor. Luke 3:1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar.
d) This Religion began in Judea. Luke 3:1 Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea.
v. Suetonius AD 120: Jews made constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus. Matthew 27:24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves."
vi. Josephus Jewish antiquities 20:9.1 speaks of James being wrongly killed for the faith. Acts 12:1About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. 2He killed James the brother of John with the sword, 3and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter alvii. Rabbi Akiba began the task of arranging Jewish case law known as the Mishna. Akiba died in AD 135. The codification of the Mishna was completed in AD 200. The commentaries on case law are called Gemaras. The Mishna and Gemaras together are called the Talmud. The Jerusalem Talmud was completed around AD 300. the Babylonian Talmud was completed around AD 500. According to the earlier Rabbis.
a) Jesus was from Nazareth.
· Matthew 2:23 - “And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: "He shall be called a Nazarene."
b) Jesus was a transgressor in Israel.
· Luke 22:37 - For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors.' For what is written about me has its fulfillment."
c) He practiced magic.
· Matthew 14:1At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, 2and he said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him."
· Matthew 4:24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.
· Matthew 9:34 But the Pharisees said, "He casts out demons by the prince of demons."
d) He scorned the words of the wise.
· Matthew 12:2 - But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, "Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath."
· Matthew 15:12 - Then the disciples came and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?"
· Matthew 22:34 - But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.
e) He led the people astray.
· Luke 23:13 - Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people.”
f) Jesus said that he had not come to destroy the law but to add to it.
· Matthew 5:17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
· Matthew 5:21"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' 22But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.
g) He was hanged on Passover eve.
· Matthew 26:2 - "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified."
· John 18:39 - But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?"
h) The charge against him was heresy.
· Matthew 26:63-65 - But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." 64Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven." 65Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy.
i) His disciples healed in his name.
· Acts 3:6 But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!"
· Luke 10:1,9After this the Lord appointed seventy-two…he said to them, "… Heal the sick…”
j) The Mishna also knew the names of 5 disciples.
a. We are confident about original content of NT documents
b. Authors were interested in speaking the truth, specifically concerning the resurrection.
c. And they were able to do so through access to early testimony.
d. Nothing in the early witnesses either hostile or friendly that contradicts the NT. But, external witnesses do corroborate NT presentation of Jesus with general details (by hostile witnesses) and with particular details relating to the resurrection (with Christian witnesses).