2011-03-13

What do biblical scholars make of the resurrection?

by Neil Godfrey
Jesus Appearing to the Magdalene by Fra Angeli...

Image via Wikipedia

Or more specifically, what was the state of play around five years ago when Research Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University, Gary R. Habermas, had a chapter published in The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright in Dialogue? Habermas outlines four broad positions found among contemporary scholars and identifies a trend in which a strong majority of scholars do favour the idea that Jesus really was raised from the dead “in some sense”. I find his findings noteworthy for another reason that I will save for the end of this post. The link above is to the Wikipedia article on Habermas where he is described as an evangelical Christian apologist. Still, I was interested enough to know what the general state of biblical scholarship appears to be on the question, so I included his chapter in my reading.

“One of the indisputable facts of history”

Habermas writes (my emphasis throughout):

As firmly as ever, most contemporary scholars agree that, after Jesus’ death, his early followers had experiences that they at least believed were appearances of their risen Lord. Further, this conviction was the chief motivation behind the early proclamation of the Christian gospel.

These basics are rarely questioned, even by more radical scholars. They are among the most widely established details from the entire New Testament. (p. 79)

He quotes Reginald Fuller claiming some years earlier that “one of the indisputable facts of history” is that the disciples of Jesus believed he had been raised from the dead. Both believer and unbeliever, Fuller said, can agree on “the fact” that the early disciples experienced what they believed were resurrection appearances of Jesus.

He also quotes D. G. Dunn:

It is almost impossible to dispute that at the historical roots of Christianity lie some visionary experiences of the first Christians, who understood them as appearances of Jesus, raised by God from the dead. . . . They clearly meant that something had happened to Jesus, God had raised him, not merely reassured them.”

And also “more skeptical scholars” who make the same point. Thus Norman Perrin:

The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based.

And Helmut Koester:

We are on much firmer ground with respect to the appearances of the risen Jesus and their effect. . . . That Jesus also appeared to others (Peter, Mary Magdalene, James) cannot very well be questioned. (p. 80)

Habermas writes that therefore

The crux of the issue, then, is not whether there were real experiences, but how we explain the nature of these early experiences. What best accounts for the early Christian belief that Jesus had appeared after his death?

Peter Carnley:

There is no doubt that the first disciples interpreted the Easter visions or appearances as signs of the heavenly presence of Christ. . . (p. 81)

Bart Ehrman:

Historians, of course, have no difficulty whatsoever speaking about the belief in Jesus’ resurrection, since this is a matter of public record. For it is a historical fact that some of Jesus’ followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead soon after his execution. (p. 81)

Given the weight of such “unquestionable” conviction among biblical intellectuals, the only question to be raised is how to account for this belief of the disciples. Habermas maps four basic theories that fall into natural and supernatural options.

Habermas writes that biblical scholars who hold naturalistic hypotheses to account for the “undoubted fact” of Jesus’ followers believing he had been resurrected are in “a decidedly minority position among the total number of commentators”, although there had been at the time of his writing a slight increase in their ratio. (I don’t know if any biblical scholars would go so far as declaring that lay people should have enough respect for the intellectual authority of the majority of their peers and likewise embrace the belief that Jesus rose from the dead “in some sense”.)

Natural Internal Theories

These explain the belief in the resurrection of Jesus in terms of subjective inner states of the early disciples. One such theory (William Marxsen) is that Peter was convinced Jesus was alive and that it was his contagious enthusiasm that persuaded others of this belief, too.

Gerd Ludemann likewise explains the belief as a result of visions brought on by “religious intoxication” and “enthusiasm” among the disciples.

Essentially this position is that visions were entirely subjective experiences, even hallucinations.

Habermas also includes here something he calls an illumination thesis, such as that of Robert Pesch. This is the view that the disciples were so impressed by Jesus’ authority and teaching while he was alive that not even his crucifixion shook their faith. Habermas remarks that Pesch has modified this earlier view of his and now recognizes that appearances of Jesus can be established by “careful research”. (I would like to follow up Pesch’s arguments for this.)

Natural External Theories

Of these Habermas lists:

  1. the swoon or apparent death theory, that Jesus revived once in the tomb (e.g. Margaret and Trevor Lloyd Davies)
  2. questioning of the burial and empty tomb stories (e.g. John Crossan)
  3. gospels are fabrications and the story of the resurrection appearances was a gradually emerging legend (e.g. G. A. Wells)
  4. comparing the gospel story to ancient mystery religions and Near Eastern mythical figures such as Isis, Osiris, Adonis, Tammuz (e.g. Evan Fales)
  5. illusions of the kind that lead to people believing they have seen UFOs, witches, Bigfoot (e.g. Michael Martin)

Unfortunately this list is a warning that Habermas is losing the thread of his argument. #2 above has no bearing on why the disciples believed Jesus was resurrected. Habermas is sounding like he is beginning to lash out at anyone who disagrees with the gospel account, period. # 3 and #4 have no bearing on the question, either, since they do not allow for any original disciples to believe in the resurrection in the first place.

Status of the Naturalistic Theories

Habermas turns to making claims about the resurrection itself, thus declaring his own belief that the reason the disciples of Jesus believed Jesus had been resurrected was because he really was literally resurrected.

In the twentieth century, critical scholarship has largely rejected wholesale the naturalistic approaches to the resurrection. For example . . . Raymond Brown calls the attempts “gratuitous charges” and points out that they are at odds with the information we have on these subjects. N. T. Wright treats a number of what he terms “false trails” and concludes that the problem with each attempt is that it runs up against “first-century history.” Similarly, James D. G. Dunn asserts that “alternative interpretations of the data fail to provide a more satisfactory explanation” than the New Testament message that God raised Jesus from the dead.” (p. 86)

Habermas even finds a couple of philosophers to support his belief in the resurrection of Jesus (not in the mere “fact” that it was the early disciples who believed in the resurrection), Steven T. Davis and Richard Swinburne. (If he has so little confidence in his own discipline, why not choose to quote an entertainment or sports celebrity?) Here Habermas sounds like he is slipping into polemic to convert any doubting readers:

All the alternative hypotheses with which I am familiar are historically weak. . . . The alternative theories that have been proposed are not only weaker but far weaker at explaining the available historical evidence.” (Davis)

Alternative hypotheses have always seemed to me to give far less satisfactory accounts of the historical evidence thatn does the traditional account. (Swinburne)

Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens. (Britney Spears)

So Habermas consigns naturalistic explanations for early Christian belief in the resurrection to something that sounds like a fringe within biblical studies:

Exhibiting an amazing amount of consensus, most researchers across a very wide conceptual spectrum have rejected naturalistic approaches as explanations for the earliest Christians’ belief in the resurrection of Jesus. . . . Accordingly, the path of natural alternative theories is definitely a minority approach. (p. 86)

One might as well simply state bluntly that biblical studies generally has no time for post-Enlightenment intellectual values. One is reminded of Niels Peter Lemche’s point that critical scholarship should not even be engaged in professional discussion with such academics.

Still, I’m curious to know what explanations do dominate the field, so here are the supernatural “theories” as mapped by Habermas.

Supernatural Subjective Theories

The “theory” maintains that the early Christians experienced visions of light that were accompanied “with meaning”. Habermas sums up these theories as involving “nonbodily visions”, “most likely from heaven”, through which the risen Jesus communicated messages.

Exponents Habermas mentions are Theodor Keim, Hans Grass, Reginald H. Fuller and “many major scholars” (Pannenberg, Moltmann, Jeremias, Kummel, O’Collins and Wilckens).

While Jesus was actually raised as an act of God, it was usually said that this event cannot be historically demonstrated, although there may well be some decent arguments in its favour. (p.88)

This view, Habernas informs us, was more popular up to the middle of the last century. Since then it has been largely replaced by a “supernatural objective theory”.

Supernatural Objective Theories

These theories claim that Jesus appeared as far more than a body or vision of light, and even that historical evidence can confirm the objective reality of a resurrected Jesus.

Even before the publication of N. T. Wright’s monumental volume The Resurrection of the Son of God in 2003, the tide had begun to turn toward the view that Jesus not only was raised miraculously from the dead but also appeared in a spiritual body. (p. 88)

Here Habermas appears to object to scholars (e.g. Ludemann, Crossan) acknowledge that the biblical characters believed this while not believing it themselves.

Habermas considers one milestone in the widespread scholarly acceptance of this view to be the 2002 publication of Resurrection edited by Ted Peters, Robert John Russell, and Michael Welker.

The eighteen contributors argue repeatedly that the resurrection of both Jesus and believers will be embodied, with most all holding some form of reconstitutionalism. (p. 89)

Habermas applauds N. T. Wright’s contribution:

N. T. Wright furthered the argument yet another step. For more than five hundred pages in his recent volume, he argues very persuasively that, among both pagans and Jews in the ancient Mediterranean world up until the second century C.E., the term anastasis and its cognates . . . along with related words . . . almost without exception referred to bodily resurrection. Even the ancients who rejected the doctrine still used the relevant terms in this manner. Conversely, if they spoke about the soul or spirit being glorified or otherwise living after death, they used terms other than resurrection. Moreover, even Paul, who is most often said to have taught otherwise, held strongly to Jesus’ bodily resurrection, as did the rest of the New Testament authors. (p. 89)

Habermas notes that Crossan has also said that he has been moving closer to Wright’s position on the meaning of bodily resurrection in a Jewish-Christian context.

So,

the view that Jesus was raised bodily is currently the dominant position, if judged in terms of scholarly support. Moreover, some scholars who reject this view still hold that it was at least the New Testament position, including Paul’s own teaching. This is a marked change from recent decades when Paul’s view was often interpreted far differently. (p. 90)

Conclusion

Habermas observes that of the most influential scholars in the Third Quest for the historical Jesus not one subscribes to a naturalistic explanation as above.

Of 2000 scholarly publications from about 2000 to 2005 that dealt with the resurrection Habermas estimates that less than one quarter of the scholars embraced a naturalistic explanation as an historical explanation. Almost all the others adhere to the view that Jesus was raised from the dead “in some sense”. I would have liked Habermas to have clarified exactly how he defined “scholarly publications” in this context, and to have been a little more clear as to whether he was counting publications or different authors. Even a citation measure to help readers assess the impact of each of the different views would have been more helpful.

Thus, according to Habermas, was the scholarly climate around 2006 when Habermas’s chapter was published.

I suppose Christian believers might be heartened by such a state of the game. But surely if this really is the way it is, surely it ought to raise questions about the place of such studies in publicly funded secular institutions. I wonder what Habermas would think if he uncovered similar results among the higher educational institutions in a predominantly Muslim nation, perhaps in relation to Muhammad’s ascent to heaven.

What hope is there in such a climate of applying normal secular-historical analysis to the Gospels? Is this climate reflective of the general upsurge (swansong?) of fundamentalism in America in particular at this time?

What if the Gospels really are very much more like ancient Jewish novels, let’s say, than historiography or biography? What if the real question is not why the characters in a narrative believed something, but why was the narrative written at all? What was behind it? Was it really historical memory? Habermas began by noting that certain views are in effect beyond question. Maybe that’s the problem.

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  • 2011-03-13 22:06:05 UTC - 22:06 | Permalink

    Fantastic post.

  • 2011-03-13 22:15:14 UTC - 22:15 | Permalink

    I see everyone has left out “they were lying.” Puts me in mind of a story that a friend of mine who works in a land documents office here told me. A wealthy old codger, a widower, had taken a second wife, a young Vietnamese woman he had essentially purchased — common enough here. He died and left everything to her. The children by the first wife were incensed, and one of the daughters took to her bed and announced that Mom had appeared to her in a dream to denounce this apportionment of the estate. Not to be outdone, the Vietnamese bride took to her bed and announced that Mom had appeared to her and said that the husband had done the right thing. It is hard to imagine that both weren’t lying.

    It also puts me in mind of the Taipings, the mock-Christian rebels of southern China who were led by the “brother of Christ”, the younger brother in this case. Often during political struggles they would emerge saying that they’d had a communication in a vision telling them what they must do. Their actions were thus legitimated by their having had a vision.

    To come the long way round, it is easy to see how that sort of legitimation-through-direct-contact must have functioned in early Christianity. “have i not seen Christ?” says Paul. They were all lying, of course, deploying competing visions against each other.

    • 2011-03-17 14:06:15 UTC - 14:06 | Permalink

      I am also puzzled by the lack of attention to the possibility of lying or delusion. It seems to me that when someone claims to have visions of supernatural beings and revelations from God, the possibility that these are products of his imagination has to be seriously considered. If Joseph Smith could convince substantial numbers of literate people in the 19th century that he and others had encountered a supernatural being, why should there be anything surprising about Paul convincing illiterate peasants in the first century of the same thing? Why is Paul’s honesty and sincerity taken for granted?

      • 2011-03-17 15:15:52 UTC - 15:15 | Permalink

        One of the more depressing things one encounters in some scholarly works is the positive affirmation of the pious integrity of the authors of the NT texts. (And it’s not just Christian scholars, either, who take this default view of the texts — not mentioning any “independent scholars” by name.) What is conveyed is the suggestion that any suspicion that the authors are not devoutly seeking to convey their honest feelings/views/knowledge/understanding of Jesus will be tantamount to evidence of a hostile anti-Christian agenda. You’re with us or against us, is the message. Again, where is the neutral historical approach one would expect of any other historical inquiry?

        • Steven Carr
          2011-03-17 17:49:11 UTC - 17:49 | Permalink

          I don’t believe Christian texts are regarded with ‘pious integrity’.

          Such things as the Gospel of Peter are routinely dismissed as fabrications.

          Craig Evans ‘The Gospel of Peter, which describes a talking cross, is late and incredible.’

          • 2011-03-17 17:56:58 UTC - 17:56 | Permalink

            I stand corrected. Only the texts deemed worthy of our canon are the products of pious honesty. All others are damned liars.

          • 2011-03-17 23:52:10 UTC - 23:52 | Permalink

            Does Evans explain why Peter would make it up? Surely such an embarrassing story must be true.

            Oh, BTW, did you catch Goodacre’s new take on the talking cross problem?

            http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/walking-talking-cross-or-walking.html

            • 2011-03-18 00:22:00 UTC - 00:22 | Permalink

              Is it my imagination or are there different standards depending on whether the textual critic is approaching a canonical writing or an apocryphal writing or perhaps depending on whether a more or less orthodox interpretation is being suggested? If a historical Jesus skeptic attempted to deal with a troublesome passage in Paul with such an argument, I cannot help but think that the response would be unmitigated derision.

  • 2011-03-13 23:09:08 UTC - 23:09 | Permalink

    Seems pretty stupid to even give a kook like Habermas the time of day.

    Cheers! RichGriese@gmail.com

  • Evan
    2011-03-14 01:50:39 UTC - 01:50 | Permalink

    It seems that in the case of the authorship of the NT the majority of mainstream scholarship can also be mistaken. In his review of Ehrman’s new book, Dr. McGrath stated:

    “While Ehrman’s book will probably change few minds about the authenticity of a work if they have already looked into the matter in detail, regarding the question whether those which are pseudepigraphal were likely written with the intention to deceive, and whether the readers taken in by the claim to authorship would have resented being duped in this way, Ehrman’s answer in the affirmative is convincing, and I expect that this will mark the beginning of a sea change in the scholarly realm on this point.”

    In other words, ancient authors were deceiving modern scholars for primarily apologetical reasons for centuries and nobody noticed until now.

  • 2011-03-14 06:06:46 UTC - 06:06 | Permalink

    I am not clear on the rules of the game. If these scholars reject post-Enlightenment intellectual values, then by what set of criteria do we evaluate historical claims? If we allow supernatural explanations to have equal footing with naturalistic (aka real) explanations, then where does that leave us?

    Competing versions of Christianity had other supernatural explanations for the apparent resurrection. Perhaps Jesus was a ghost who left no footprints. Perhaps the spirit that entered Jesus at the baptism left him at the crucifixion. Or are the only permitted supernatural explanations those that are presented in the canonical gospels? Wouldn’t that be “extra-special” pleading?

    And how do we get from the claim that the apostles believed Jesus had been resurrected to the declaration that he really was raised from the dead “in some sense”? I don’t mean that as a rhetorical question. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the requisite training in medieval philosophy, but I’m simply at a loss here.

    Is it just a matter of lobbing a barrage of assertions (a la N.T. Wright’s 500-page filibuster lovingly recounted above) intended to convince other believers that you have a “good argument”? Am I supposed to believe this tripe because it’s a good argument that I can’t understand or because a majority of “scholarly” believers embrace it?

  • Daryl
    2011-03-14 07:08:44 UTC - 07:08 | Permalink

    I loving all this talk about “widely attested facts”, all from secondary, anonymous, theologically tendentious texts of unknown provenance…

    “I wonder what Habermas would think if he uncovered similar results among the higher educational institutions in a predominantly Muslim nation, perhaps in relation to Muhammad’s ascent to heaven.”

    This to me is the crux of the matter. Do not evangelical scholars see that their arguments for the resurrection and supernaturalism in general can be used by other religions? Are they so insulated from reality that they don’t see their arguments are nothing but the worst form of special pleading? Oh, I suppose the Holy Spirit confirms the truth of Christianity and states that all other religions as the work of Satan (cf Justin Martyr)? Oh yes, that’s the ticket.

    What other field of study has a Habermas and his ilk? Are Egyptologists castigated for not believing in the miraculous power of Amon Ra? Do people heap scorn on Homeric scholars for doubting that Greek gods played a part in the Trojan War?

    I have to say, I sometimes wonder why I interest myself in a subject where intellectual honesty is so often lacking from often VERY intelligent people. By all means believe and defend the Christian faith as you see fit, but please don’t pretend you’re doing history as practiced in other fields of study. (Yes, I think I might need a new hobby. Hand gliding? Powerwalking? Roadkill erotica?)

    This hardly needs pointing out, but saying that 70% of Christian scholars believe in Jesus’ resurrection is about as remarkable as finding out that 70% of scholars of the Koran believe that it couldn’t have been written by a human being. It truly means less than nothing. That a Phd holding professor can think it does is really quite worrying. Such is the power of religion to cloud the mind, I suppose.

    • 2011-03-14 07:51:23 UTC - 07:51 | Permalink

      “Are Egyptologists castigated for not believing in the miraculous power of Amon Ra?”

      If they don’t accept the truth and the holy, mysterious power of the Aten, then they’re miserable outcasts.

      Seriously, though, isn’t it about time for real scholars of history to stand up and defend the Enlightenment? Where are heroes who would admit publicly that rejecting superstition is a virtue?

      • Daryl
        2011-03-15 07:49:31 UTC - 07:49 | Permalink

        Tim, Enlightenment values are fine when applied to secular history. And other people’s religions. When it comes to early Christianity, Ernst Troeltsch’s eminently sensible views on how to do history can generally go to hell. But of course you know this.

        I always find it dispiriting that someone like Robert Price is considered a fringe scholar who supposedly holds outdated views when he seems to understand the study of history in general better than most other historical Jesus academics. Perhaps he’s the nearest to a proper historian in HJ studies, and therefore a hero? That might be overdoing it, but there needs to be a few more like him, a few more Baurs, Bauers and Van Manens don’t you think? Even when wrong, those guys showed more originality and bravery than many today. Whatever.

  • Bob Carlson
    2011-03-14 07:19:28 UTC - 07:19 | Permalink

    Of 2000 scholarly publications from about 2000 to 2005 that dealt with the resurrection Habermas estimates that less than one quarter of the scholars embraced a naturalistic explanation as an historical explanation.

    It would seem to imply that over 75% of biblical scholars are either unscholarly wishful thinkers or liars. As I recall, Spong believes that Jesus was such an ideal human that he became divine and that this involved something like a flash of light which was observed by the disciples. Given the fine person that Spong is, I presume he really believes this and cannot imagine that he would simply lie about it. It seems to me to be the same sort of wishful thinking he employs in rejecting all the parts of the Bible that are purely tribalistic and accepting the few parts that aren’t as indicative of the true loving God of the Bible.

  • Steven Carr
    2011-03-14 08:33:04 UTC - 08:33 | Permalink

    One of the few facts about 1st century Christian beliefs is that Christian converts in Corinth appear to have been openly scoffing at the idea that their god would choose to raise corpses.

    Paul also claimed to have gone to the third Heaven.Was he lying? How can we explain his visit to the third Heaven naturalistically? Did he have a space-ship?

    Until we have a natural explanation of all claims to have gone to Heaven, we have to accept every single account of going to Heaven. That is Habermas’s logic.

    Until sceptics can produce a natural explanation of how the resurrected Jesus flew into the sky on his way to Heaven (possibly one involving jet-packs, but that runs straight into the fact that jet-packs did not even exist in the first century AD), then they have to accept that Jesus flew into Heaven and disappeared into a cloud en route.

    • 2011-03-14 17:44:10 UTC - 17:44 | Permalink

      It’s a bit like the way creationists sieze on any gap in understanding of the mechanics of the evolutionary process to justify an argument for Intelligent Design, yes? ;-)

  • Chris W
    2011-03-14 15:28:38 UTC - 15:28 | Permalink

    Neil, have you read Dale Allison’s ‘Resurrecting Jesus’? It’s the best treatment of the naturalistic visions hypothesis I know of, even though Allison himself believes in bodily resurrection. In fact, he pretty much admits that he only prefers the supernatural explanation because he want to believe in a God that would raise Jesus from the dead and provide eschatological justice. I’d be very interested to see you blog your way through that book.

    • 2011-03-14 17:42:15 UTC - 17:42 | Permalink

      No, I haven’t Chris. There’s a lot more I’d like to understand about visionary experiences and the practicesa and related literature of the time, and may pick up this book next time I try to dig into this topic in another wave of interest, so thanks for the reference. In meantime, feel free to raise specific points of interest here if you like.

  • 2011-03-14 21:46:38 UTC - 21:46 | Permalink

    While I believed in the historical Jesus Christ, I found the explanation for the apparent resurrection in Matthew 28:13. Some disciples stole Jesus’ body at night, while the guards were sleeping.

    The mistake that most people make is to assume that a rather large group of guards was posted right next to the tomb in order to ostentatiously prevent any tampering of the tomb.

    Instead, people should suppose that a couple (two) of guards were assigned to hide some distance from the tomb in order to secretly observe and subsequntly report any tampering of the tomb. With this supposition, Matthew’s explanation is quite reasonable. The two guards fell asleep at night. The disciples were not aware that the two guards were even posted to watch the tomb. By mere coincidence, the disciples happened to come and take the body from the tomb while the two guards happened to be asleep.

  • 2011-03-15 04:44:32 UTC - 04:44 | Permalink

    This post might be seen as a compliment to Hector Avalos’ book The End of Biblical Studies and his many articles about the subject. If Habermas is correct, and naturalistic explanations of early Christianity are “fringe”, then NT scholarship really is just a religionist enterprise.

  • don
    2013-04-01 14:14:34 UTC - 14:14 | Permalink

    The historicity of the accounts, the sheer weight of Biblical documents available in Greek, the extraBiblical verification, the archeological evidence that has come to light, the early dates for I Corinthians (see Ch. 15) which attests a confident and fixed creed of the resurrection, not to mention the internal improvements in using established criteria for scholarly research to biblical studies, and a knowledge of 1st century established traditions of transmission of important historical events, point to the reliability of the Gospel accounts.

    But nothing said here is anything new; such theories, discussions, and arguments have resurfaced through centuries, been exploded, but keep re-appearing. Nothing but truth enlightening the mind and seizing the inner person, aided by the Spirit of the One being ‘deliberated’ here, is sufficient to enable anyone to receive the gospel and the Person of Jesus Christ, as God and man, Lord and Savior. Our very canon predicts just the debates, and problems that occur.

    Our minds are finite and little compared to even the immensity and wonder of the solar system, much less the vast expanse, and strange marvels of other suns and exoplanets, of black holes and quasars. How much more the evidence in us of sleepless mind, the existence of consciousness, the inner voice of innate morality and unquenchable sense and daily experience and use of love, beauty, harmony, joy and justice (and injustice). Academia elevates discussions and offers alternative theories or denies the existence of such things a child or common laborer knows by nature. How much less can our little minds, great with abilities as they are, have the pride to say, “We know all and only through scientific reason”, when your spouse, parents, and children at home do not operate by these when their hearts beat faster to greet you coming in the door?

    Cease debate. much study will not alone resolve the matter for any individuals. Receive the Son through faith, know His Life and love as well as release of all guilt and His renewal. I have the witness of those who grasped the hand of one who came before them, stretching back 2000 years now, a vital and simple connection to those who (have been proven to have lived) saw Him alive, and paid with their lives, instantly upturning centuries of tradition, flying in the face of established religion, risking and paying with their lives for the simple testimony that they saw, held, heard, and believed Him.

    I have experienced the Son of God, His cleansing and renewing, through faith. Before life is gone and the truth confronts with such awful clarity and weight that there will be no time to make a change of mind and heart.

    If not, present your credentials, your educational attainments, your readings, and your peer-reviewed writing and research comparable to Habermas’, and Wrights, and scores of others who have been awarded by their peers the credentials of scholarly achievements, before you sit in judgment.

    • 2013-04-01 14:37:35 UTC - 14:37 | Permalink

      The historicity of the accounts,

      Which ones?

      the sheer weight of Biblical documents available in Greek,

      Have you checked to see if it outweighs the sheer weight of eyewitness accounts for alien abductions or documents proving the prophecies of Nostradumus? I’ve never heard of the poundage of documents being used to confirm an argument before.

      the extraBiblical verification,

      verification of what?

      the archeological evidence that has come to light,

      Archaeologists have found much to enlighten us about the narrative settings in ancient novels, too.

      the early dates for I Corinthians (see Ch. 15) which attests a confident and fixed creed of the resurrection,

      Ah yes, evangelicals do seem to rely more on confidence than scholarly caution as a criterion of validity of an argument.

      not to mention the internal improvements in using established criteria for scholarly research to biblical studies,

      It’s good you don’t mention these now that those criteria are being exposed more and more as logically fallacious shams.

      and a knowledge of 1st century established traditions of transmission of important historical events,

      You mean conjectures. Last time I studied the oral history specialists I found they contradicted the claims of HJ scholars.

      point to the reliability of the Gospel accounts.

      It’s good to know you belong to the only true religion.

      But nothing said here is anything new; such theories, discussions, and arguments have resurfaced through centuries, been exploded, but keep re-appearing. Nothing but truth enlightening the mind and seizing the inner person, aided by the Spirit of the One being ‘deliberated’ here, is sufficient to enable anyone to receive the gospel and the Person of Jesus Christ, as God and man, Lord and Savior. Our very canon predicts just the debates, and problems that occur.

      It’s even easier if you don’t have to use your intellect. Just believe. Rational inquiry is of the devil unless it is used to serve the cause of faith, right?

      Cease debate

      Spoken like a voice from the Dark Ages.

      If not, present your credentials, your educational attainments, your readings, and your peer-reviewed writing and research comparable to Habermas’, and Wrights, and scores of others who have been awarded by their peers the credentials of scholarly achievements, before you sit in judgment.

      Good for Wright and Habermas. All their peers who disagree with them should be sacked or relegated to early retirement, right? Only read the books by the right authors, never debate them, and thou shalt go to thy grave believing a fantasy.

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