Reasons for the Resurrection
This is the second of two webpages of additional quotes and resources relating to Speak Hope Podcast 7: Know WHY you believe.
TOP RECOMMENDED RESOURCE
For any truth-seeker who wants to explore the historical evidence for Christianity (or any Christian who wants to be better informed), our top recommendation is Lee Strobel’s brilliant book, The Case for Christ. This is such a helpful book because it presents scholarly expertise in a format that is really accessible to the average person. We highly recommend that any hope-speaker has their own copy of this book, and points others to it regularly.
THE NATURE OF THE INQUIRY
When you are discussing the evidence for Jesus and His resurrection, it is usually helpful to remind people that this is a HISTORICAL inquiry, which therefore needs to be explored with the methods and tools of the historian (rather than the scientist). People can often get very muddled in their thinking about “being scientific” and “proving things”.
For more on this, see the section on “What about proof?” here.
On the Quality of the Evidence
“The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It is outstandingly different in quality and quantity.” (Antony Flew, philosopher)
On the Existence of Jesus
“For those of you not paying attention, the New Atheism has a new postulate: Not only does God not exist but Jesus didn’t exist either. It is a theory that zips past Planet America every fifty years or so, like a comet, then fades away until a new generation of nutters tries to resuscitate it... Only in the age of instant misinformation and net-attack is this kind of idiocy possible. Only in the atheist universe where the major premise– “religion is a lie so the study of religion is a study of lying”—infects everything is this kind of lunacy possible. Unfortunately, we have Richard Dawkins to thank for the original formulation of that premise.” (R.J. Hoffman, atheist historian)
“Jesus existed, and those vocal persons who deny it do so not because they have considered the evidence with the dispassionate eye of the historian, but because they have some other agenda that this denial serves. From a dispassionate point of view, there was a Jesus of Nazareth.” (Bart Ehrman, skeptical historian)
On the Centrality of Jesus’ Resurrection
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins… If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19)
On the Resurrection Appearances
“I know in their own terms what they saw was the raised Jesus. That’s what they say and then all the historical evidence we have afterwards attests to their conviction that that’s what they saw. I wasn’t there. I don’t know what they saw. But I do know that as a historian that they must have seen something.” (Paula Frederickson, agnostic historian)
“It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus did appear to them as the risen Christ.” (Gerd Ludemann, skeptical scholar)
“I accept the resurrection of Easter Sunday not as an invention of the community of disciples, but as an historical event.” (Pinchas Lapide, Jewish theologian)
“If the coming into existence of the Nazarenes, a phenomenon undeniably attested by the New Testament, rips a great hole in history, a hole the size and shape of the Resurrection, what does the secular historian propose to stop it up with?… The birth and rapid rise of the Christian Church… remain an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the only explanation offered by the Church itself.” (C.F.D. Moule, biblical scholar)
On the Miracles of Jesus
“The basic divide among interpreters of the gospels is not between those who are or are not open to the results of historical investigation so much as between those whose philosophical/ theological viewpoint allows them to accept the testimony of the gospels, together with the factuality of those records in which it is enshrined, and those, for whom no amount of historical testimony could be allowed to substantiate what is antecedently labelled as a 'mythical' account of events.” (R.T. France, biblical scholar, The Evidence for Jesus)
On the Gospel Manuscripts
“In the variety and fullness of the evidence on which it rests, the text of the New Testament stands absolutely and unapproachably alone amongst ancient prose writings.” (F.J.A. Hort, textual critic)
“Any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed.” (F.G. Kenyon, classical scholar)
On the Reliability of the Gospels
“When we consider how Jesus keeps saying [the] wrong thing, it becomes ever clearer that he must have been real: if Jesus had been a hoax, the Church could have invented somebody so much more convenient.” (Matthew Parris, atheist journalist)
“Now, as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends. From an imaginative point of view they are clumsy, they don’t work up to things properly. Most of the life of Jesus is totally unknown to us, as is the life of anyone else who lived at that time, and no people building up a legend would allow that to be so. Apart from bits of the Platonic dialogues, there are no conversations that I know of in ancient literature like [John’s] Gospel. There is nothing, even in modern literature, until about a hundred years ago when the realistic novel came into existence. In the story of the woman taken in adultery we are told Christ bent down and scribbled in the dust with His finger. Nothing comes of this. No one has ever based any doctrine on it. And the art of inventing little irrelevant details to make an imaginary scene more convincing is a purely modern art. Surely the only explanation of this passage is that the thing really happened? The author put it in simply because he had seen it.” (C.S. Lewis, apologist and professor of literature)
“The eyewitnesses who remembered the events of the history of Jesus were remembering inherently very memorable events, unusual events that would have impressed themselves on the memory, events of key significance for those who remembered them, landmark or life-changing events for them in many cases, and their memories would have been reinforced and stabilized by frequent rehearsal, beginning soon after the event… The central features of the memory, those that constituted its meaning for those who witnessed and attested it, are likely to have been preserved reliably. We may conclude that the memories of eyewitnesses of the history of Jesus score highly by the criteria for likely reliability that have been established by the psychological study of recollective memory.” (Richard Bauckham, biblical scholar, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses)
“There is enough of a discrepancy to show that there could have been no previous concert among [the Gospel writers] and at the same time such substantial agreement as to show that they were all independent narrators of the same great transaction.” (Simon Greenleaf, legal expert, The Testimony of the Evangelists)
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