Are there historical facts related to the biblical account of Jesus’ resurrection that are accepted by even critical scholars
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|A debate over the case for Christianity. What historical facts about Jesus’ life, agreed to by virtually all critical scholars, lead to the conclusion that Jesus actually rose from the dead? Did the disciples have hallucinations of Jesus rather than actually see Him? Was Jesus’ resurrection body merely a spiritual body (a ghost-like, wispy, see-through, non-material body) or a real physical body? Did Jesus claim to be God? What factual evidence today inclines us to believe miracles (like the resurrection) are possible?
Copyright: 2000, Number of Programs: 7, Cat. No. DJRD
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Keywords: , Resurrection, Jesus, Historical Jesus, ,
- Ankerberg: Dr. Habermas, I think the people that are watching right now, we’re talking about did Jesus rise from the dead, and they’re saying, “Come on! I mean, you’re saying there’s evidence, there’s facts in history?” When you see magazines like Newsweek and Time that come out every six or eight months it seems, here’s another one on “Visions of Jesus”; you’ve got all kinds of stuff in these magazines, but they keep on saying, “There’s very little evidence.” Now, you come along and you write this little book called The Historical Jesus, and you talk about the fact that when you were at Michigan State working on your Ph.D., you were a skeptic yourself. And the fact is, the facts brought you to a belief in Jesus. And you have said there are at least 12 historical facts that are virtually agreed by all critical scholars today. I’d like you to let us know what the case is. Start us off tonight.
- Dr. Gary Habermas: Well, John, just to name some of those highlights. Virtually everybody today thinks that Jesus died due to crucifixion. I mean, John Crossan and others from the Jesus Seminar say it’s the most widely known fact in the ancient world. He was buried. Of course, this event inspired some despair in the disciples. Now, the fact that the tomb was empty is admitted by most scholars but not as widely admitted as the rest in this list. Probably the single most important fact is that the disciples had experiences that they believed were appearances of the risen Jesus. They were transformed as a result. The resurrection was their central message. They preached in Jerusalem. The Church was born. We have some individuals like James and Paul, two former skeptics – one a family skeptic, one an outsider who persecuted Christians – and they also came to Christ by experiences that they believed were appearances of the risen Jesus.
- By the way, there are a lot of other scholars today on the historical Jesus movement way far to the left of me who also start with lists of facts just like this as sort of a common ground from which we can deal with our data.
- Ankerberg: Now, Tony, what do you think about Habermas’ facts there?
- Dr. Antony Flew: Well, I don’t dispute those facts but I want to say, yes, but the evidential situation is in many ways very unsatisfactory. For a start, no one knows in what year the crucial event of the crucifixion and consequently the other events occurred. And this is a very remarkable thing that no one knows the birth date… well, there are a great many birth dates of important people that are not known. The other lack is, all our evidence is based on documents written by believing Christians, none of whom was himself an eyewitness, and we have absolutely nothing from the rest of the population of Jerusalem to tell us why it was they weren’t converted and whether the earthquakes and other alleged miracles actually occurred or not.
- Ankerberg: What do you think about that, Gary?
- Habermas: Well, now, when you say none of these early Christian authors were eyewitnesses, of course I think from your writings you exempt Paul, right?
- Flew: Oh, gosh, yes. I was thinking of the Gospel writers.
- Habermas: Right. But with Paul we have an authentic eyewitness.
- Flew: Absolutely.
- Habermas: You would grant the number of authentic Pauline books.
- Flew: Oh, yes. But he wasn’t in Jerusalem, of course, at that time.
- Habermas: Well, shortly afterwards, of course, he was there when Stephen was stoned.
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