Thursday Thirteen #26: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ


You get a double thirteen today. 🙂 With Easter, or Resurrection Day, coming up, first are quotes, mostly from scholars, about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; then there is a list of people who saw Him after His resurrection.

The following quotes are all taken from chapter 20, “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ” of the book A Ready Defense by Josh McDowell.

1. “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”– Thomas Arnold, author of History of Rome and chair of modern history at Oxford

2. “If all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy or archaeology that would disprove this statement.”

— Dr. Paul L. Maier, professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University

3. “My faith began with and was grounded on what I thought was revealed in the Bible. When, particularly, I came to the New Testament, the Gospels and other writings of the men who had been friends of Jesus Christ seemed to me to make an overwhelming case, merely as a matter of strict evidence, for the fact therein stated … The same approach to the cardinal test of the claims of Jesus Christ, namely, His resurrection, has led me, as often as I have tried to examine the evidence, to believe it as fact beyond dispute.”

— Lord Caldecote, Lord Chief Justice of England

4. Dr. Simon Greenleaf, Royall Professor of Law at Harvard University and author of A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, examined the value of the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ to ascertain the truth. He applied the principles contained in his three-volume treatise on evidence. His findings were recorded in his book, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. Greenleaf came to the conclusion that, according to the laws of legal evidence used in courts of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history.

5. Dr. Frank Morrison, a lawyer who had been brought up in a rationalistic environment, had come to the opinion that the resurrection was nothing but a fairy-tale happy ending which spoiled the matchless story of Jesus. He felt that he owed it to himself, and to others, to write a book that would present the truth about Jesus and dispel the myth of the resurrection. Upon studying the facts, however, he, too, came to a different conclusion. The sheer weight of the evidence compelled him to conclude that Jesus actually did rise from the dead. Morrison wrote his book-but not the one he had planned. It is titled, Who Moved the Stone? The first chapter, very significantly, is called, “The Book That Refused to Be Written.”

6. “What does the critical historian do when his evidence points very strongly to the reality of an event, which contradicts his expectations and goes against the naturalistic view of reality? I submit that he must follow his critically analyzed sources. It is unscientific to begin with the philosophical presupposition that miracles cannot occur. Unless we avoid such one-sided presuppositions, historical interpretation becomes mere propaganda. We have a right to demand good evidence for an alleged event, which we have not experienced, but we dare not judge reality by our limited experience. And I would suggest that we have good evidence for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.”

— Historian Ronald Sider

7. “If the stone were simply rolled to one side of the tomb, as would be necessary to enter it, then they might be justified in accusing the men of sleeping at their posts, and in punishing them severely. If the men protested that the earthquake broke the seal and that the stone rolled back under the vibration, they would still be liable to punishment for behavior, which might be labeled cowardice. But these responsibilities do not meet the case. There was some undeniable evidence, which made it impossible for the chief priests to bring any charge against the guard. The Jewish authorities must have visited the scene, examined the stone, and recognized its position as making it humanly impossible for their men to have permitted its removal. No twist of human ingenuity could provide an adequate answer or scapegoat and so they were forced to bribe the guard and seek to hush things up.”

— Dr. Bill White

8. “What gives a special authority to the list [of witnesses] as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, ‘If you do not believe me, you can ask them.'”

— Dr. Ewin M. Yamauchi, associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

9. “It is noteworthy that these appearances are not stereotyped. No two of them are exactly alike. The appearance to Mary Magdalene occurred in early morning; that to the travelers to Emmaus in the afternoon; and to the apostles in the evening, probably after dark. He appeared to Mary in the open air. Mary was alone when she saw Him; the disciples were together in a group; and Paul records that on one occasion He appeared to more than five hundred at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6).

“The reactions also were varied. Mary was overwhelmed with emotion; the disciples were frightened; Thomas was obstinately incredulous when told of the Lord’s resurrection, but worshiped Him when He manifested Himself. Each occasion had its own peculiar atmosphere and characteristics, and revealed some different quality of the risen Lord.”

— Professor Merrill C. Tenney of Wheaton College

10. Dr. Maier accurately observes that since the testimony of a woman was deemed unreliable, the “initial reaction of the Eleven was understandably one of suspicion and disbelief. Again, if the resurrection accounts had been manufactured … women would never have been included in the story, at least, not as first witnesses.”

11. “A third factor very crucial to interpreting Christ’s appearance is that He also appeared to those who were hostile or unconvinced. Over and over again I have read or heard people comment that Jesus was seen alive after His death and burial only by His friends and followers. Using this argument, they attempt to water down the overwhelming impact of the eyewitness accounts -but this line of reasoning is so pathetic it hardly deserves comment.

“No author or informed individual would regard Saul of Tarsus to have been a follower of Christ. The facts show the exact opposite. He despised Christ and persecuted Christ’s followers (Acts 8:1; 9:1,2; Philippians 3:5,6). For Paul it was a life-shattering experience when Christ appeared to him (Acts 9:3-6). Although Paul was not at the time a disciple, he later became one of the greatest witnesses for the truth of the resurrection.”

— Josh McDowell

12. There was the skeptical family of Jesus (John 7:1-5). His brothers did not believe in Him. They were embarrassed to hear their brother say to the people, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by Me,” and “I am the vine, you are the branches,” and “I’m the shepherd, you are the sheep” (John 14:6; 15:5; 10:11). What would you do if your brother did that?

There was James, His brother. He was found in the company of the Pharisees. James and his brothers mocked Jesus. However, after Jesus went to that degrading death on the cross, disgracing the family, and was buried, where do we find those hardest to convince -His own family?

We find them in the upper room with the disciples waiting for the Holy Spirit to be sent (Acts 1:13,14). Now, since they mocked Him while He was alive, what happened in a matter of a few days to turn their lives upside down?

James became a leader in the early church and wrote an epistle stating, “I James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ [his brother]. . ” (James 1). Eventually, for the cause of Christ, James died a martyr’s death -he was stoned.

What happened?

The best explanation I know is recorded by Paul: “Then He appeared to James” (I Corinthians 15:7).

— Josh McDowell

13. “It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact. The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of the like heroic constancy, patience, and unflinching courage. They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths they asserted.”

— Harvard law professor Simon Greenleaf

Bonus from Evidence for the Resurrection by Josh McDowell:

“I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . . .”

— E. M. Blaiklock, Professor of Classics, Auckland University

Witnesses of the resurrected Christ

Between 518 and 641 people are recorded to have seen the risen Christ.

1. Mary Magdalene—John 20:14, Mark 16:9
2. Women returning from the tomb—Matthew 28:9-10
3. Peter—Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5
4. Two disciples (not the 11 Apostles) on the road to Emmaus—Luke 24:13:33
5. Ten Apostles without Thomas—Luke 24:36-43, John 20:19-24
6. Eleven Apostles with Thomas present—John 20:26-29
7. Seven disciples by the Lake of Tiberias — John 21:1-23
8. A multitude of more than 500 on a Gallilean mountain—1 Corinthians 15:6
9. James—1 Corinthians 15:7
10. The eleven Apostles—Matthew 28:16-20
11. 120 (?) at the Ascension—Acts 1:3-12
12. Paul—Acts 9:3-6, 1 Corinthians 15:8
13. Stephen—Acts 7:55
14. Paul in the temple—Acts 22:17: 23:11
15. John on the Isle of Patmos—Revelation 1:10-19

Compiled by The Thinking Christian

 I Corinthians 15: 3-4:  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures…

Happy Easter!

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20 thoughts on “Thursday Thirteen #26: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

  1. #9 and 11 are important and along with it, just the shear number of second class citizens who gave testimony at the time (all the women and such) and were a part of the story. if you were trying to make it up, you surely wouldn’t rely on some chick’s testimony, you know?
    great list! and happy TT

  2. Thanks for sharing this! Indonesia is has the biggest Muslim population in the world, but Good Friday is celebrated here as public holiday 🙂 And we’re celebrating it tomorrow!

    He’s risen!

  3. I am getting out late tonight, thank you for stopping by. You put a lot of work into your post,
    based on evidence, how can one doubt?
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  4. Interesting perspectives, all. I suspect there is much more about the life of Jesus the Christ than we will ever know in our lifetime. Yet, what we do know shows us a way of living in love and peace with all those around us. Thank you for taking the time to suss out the different views and post them.

    Easter blessings to you and your loved ones.

    (Thanks for bopping by Snarkypants! Yes, we are on different sides of the fence politically but we can still be friends! Some of my most beloved family members are republicans! (We just don’t discuss matters political and it works out fine!)) 🙂

  5. Great TT Barbara! My post for tomorrow is going to be the kids version about Jesus rising from the dead! I’m going to link to this post too!

    Thanks for visiting my Easter TT!

    Agreed, chocolate and peanut butter ~ too yummy! 😉

  6. Pingback: Easter Reading « Stray Thoughts

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