Proof for the Resurrection

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by Neil Godfrey

My my, here it is …. bona fide scholars in the field of biblical studies can actually post arguments like the one found at The Bible and Culture:

The parts of the New Testament that really prove the resurrection are not Mt. 28, Mk. 16, Lk. 24, and John 20.21. These are the stories of the first Easter. . . . But taken in themselves and on their own, . . .  they could be deliberate fiction, invented to bolster up a case.

I like the word “deliberate” in there. If the resurrection accounts are indeed fiction they must of course be “deliberate fiction” — such diabolical cunning!

So what is the “proof” for the resurrection? (Actually the title header for the post did not speak of “proof” but of “evidence”. Can’t appear to be too dogmatic to the general reader. But read on if you are of a like mind and you will not find that word “evidence” repeated anywhere. Only the word “prove” (twice).)

The proof is the gospel narratives themselves, from chapters 1 right through. No room to even contemplate the possibility of fiction if we look at them whole. (After all, “fiction” can only be born of devilish malice.) The “proof” of the resurrection, says Ben Witherington, is found in this:

If nothing had happened at the first Easter, if Jesus had simply stayed dead in the grave, he should never have had these stories of his life and teachings. . .  It is because Jesus rose from the dead that we have the Gospel records. In other words, the risen Christ is the historical Jesus and there is no other.

What sort of academic field tolerates the inclusion of such utter nonsense in its ranks?

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22 thoughts on “Proof for the Resurrection”

  1. I was a little disappointed from the headline “Proof of the Resurrection.” I thought there was some new fantastic proof that nobody has ever thought of in 1800 years. I was all set to get out my shovel and start digging into the bedrock again.
    Accepting this proof, I will also have to accept that Dracula rose from the dead and Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer really did have a shiny nose. Why would somebody have written it those things if they weren’t true. Dorothy really did liquidate that witch, Abbott and Costello did meet Frankenstein, and Captain Kirk did kill his friend Gary Mitchell after he turned into a superpowerful maniac in “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” I am so happy, these things are all true.

  2. Come on Neil. You know as well as I do that “mainstream” scholars are always able to filter out apologetics, so that skeptics like us have no cause to suspect that the mainstream consensus might be influenced in any way by ideological biases. Just yesterday, our favorite religion prof linked to a scholar who chided “ideologically naive people” for “assuming NT studies is (sic) corrupted by Christian practitioners.” Among that scholars heroes are NT Wright and William Lane Craig.

  3. Better still, there`s forensic proof of the resurrection–the nails from the cross——-all 270 of them, scattered across the churches in Europe——-

  4. Hello Neil:

    The best proof that no resurrection occurred is that there is no record in the NT that anyone witnessed the purported event. The NT merely reports post-mortem appearances that are contradictory and demonstrate an evolving oral tradition. I would recommend several books that refute the claimed event [the last one, by myself is a 912 page text/80 page bibliography].

    The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Graves [edited by Price and Lower 2005]
    The Resurrection Fantasy: Reinventing Jesus [Gerald Sigal 2012]
    The Resurrection of Jesus Considered [Annet 1744]
    The First Coming How the Kingdom of God Became Christianity [Sheehan 2000]
    Can Christians Prove the Resurrection A Reply to the Apologist Sandoval 2010]
    What Really Happened to Jesus A historical approach to the resurrection [Ludemann 1995]
    The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry [Alter]

    Michael J. Alter

  5. what makes no sense to me is that the religious jewish authorities pay off guards to spread a lie ,even though an angel of the lord who floored the guards earlier on could appear anytime.
    matthew put this story together without even thinking. if angel of the lord could appear anytime, why are they paying off guards to spread a lie? why did the guards story win and become widely known?

    1. Also, would it make sense for guards to invent a story where they would actually admit that they were negligent and fell asleep on duty? Not sure what the Roman penalty was for falling asleep on the job, but the idea that you’d accept money from a third party to admit to a military offense (for which you could be punished harshly by your superiors) makes no sense to me.

      It’s like paying a US Marine to lie that he went AWOL when he actually didn’t. Too much downside for the soldiers when the truth – though outlandish – admits no transgressions on their part.

      1. It isn’t clear whether or not the guards were Romans or Jewish Temple guards.

        In Mat 27:65 Pilate says “you have a guard” (ἔχετε κουστωδίαν), which may be interpreted as “you don’t need Roman soldiers. Use the guards you have got”.

        And why would Roman guards go to the priests to report?

        If they were Temple guards, they would be easier to influence.

        On the other hand, the priests say they will protect the guards from the governor. (Mat 28:14) Why would Temple guards need protection from the Roman governor?

        1. —–“On the other hand, the priests say they will protect the guards from the governor. (Mat 28:14) Why would Temple guards need protection from the Roman governor?”—-

          Right. This is why I (and others) presume the guards were Romans. Jewish temple guards who fell asleep on duty wouldn’t be punished by Pilate. They wouldn’t have been under his direct authority.

          I think Pilate saying “you have a guard” means “I’ll supply you with a guard.” The chief priests wouldn’t need to ask Pilate’s permission to have Jewish temple guards at the tomb. They could have just done it.

          1. “The chief priests wouldn’t need to ask Pilate’s permission to have Jewish temple guards at the tomb. They could have just done it.”

            Were they allowed to use the Temple guards outside the Temple? I really don’t know. it looks as though Temple guards were sent to arrest Jesus, so maybe it was allowed.

            Very difficult to make sense of cack-handed fiction.

  6. Matthew’s invention of the Jewish leadership bribing the guard to lie defies logic. According to the Gospels the guards must have experienced the following events:

    1. an earthquake,
    2. witnessed an angel descending from heaven, with a countenance like lightning (Mt 28:3),
    3. presumable watch an angel roll back the stone blocking the tomb’s entrance. It is estimated that this stone weighed well over one ton, and
    4. almost two days earlier the guard experienced an earthquake and saw that the whole earth turned dark at midday during Jesus’s crucifixion.

    Does it really seem believable that these terrified [pagan] soldiers who saw all of these purported wonders would now lie for a sum of money? Didn’t they contemplate the possibility that the angel of the Lord might seek punish them for this lie? Remember, this is a supernatural being with supernatural powers… Mind-boggling…

    Matthew’s guard was an invention [ca. 80 CE) that served an apologetic rationale.

    Michael J. Alter

    1. And yet the guards do not actually serve any apologetic purpose. They were not set until the day after Jesus was entombed (Mat 27:62). There was plenty of time during the night to take Jesus out of the tomb, into Joseph’s house, and get the doctors to work on reviving him.

      (I’m not saying that happened. Just that it fits the story.)

      1. Hello RoHa:

        Thank you for your contribution to the discussion.

        Numerous Christian commentators openly acknowledge that this episode served apologetic rationales. For example Grant R. Osborne [Matthew, 2010, 1084) pens, “This narrative is undoubtedly based on an early Jerusalem tradition intended to form an apologetic answer to the Jewish claims that the body was stolen from the tomb and to provide a contrast whereby the resurrection vindication could predicate total victory over opponents at the Gospel…”

        This episode also serves as an ad hominem attack against the Jewish leadership:1) refusing to listen to the soldiers’ report, 2) creating a false explanation for the empty tomb, and 3) bribing the soldiers to present a false report. (see The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry, 2015, 336-349] Of course, this episode is the pure invention of its author.

        Michael J. Alter

  7. And we should remember that, from the time of the crucifixion to the time of the resurrection, the graveyards were haunted by zombies sitting in their tombs (Mat 27:52) and making sarcastic remarks to passers-by. After the resurrection they then went into the city to hunt for brains. (Mat 27:53) It seems likely they would have kept the guards awake.

  8. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. Commenters are carrying on like they have the autographs sitting before them. How about doing a provenance search for a start before quoting as if the writings are—-um—gospel?

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