Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead? A Historian, an Atheist, a Skeptic, a Theologian, and an Ex-Con Weigh In
It's that time of year again—the time when Christians come together to celebrate the pinnacle of our faith, the resurrection of Jesus. It's also the time when news outlets like Time, the Discovery Channel, and Newsweek unleash their skepticism about Christianity, the Bible, and the resurrection. It can be confusing to wade through the various historical evidences, personal beliefs, and opinions floating around in scholarship and the blogosphere. Here are quotes from several sources who all have unique qualifications and an interesting take on the evidence:
1. The Historian
Gary Habermas is an American historian, and the Distinguished Research Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy at Liberty University. He is considered to be one of the foremost scholars on the resurrection of Jesus. While researching the resurrection, he combed through the works of both secular and Christian scholars. He wrote:
2. The Atheist
Gerd Ludemann is a German New Testament scholar, historian, and atheist. He was once a professing Christian, but walked away from his faith when he became convinced that very little of what is contained in the New Testament is historically reliable. Even so, he wrote:
3. The Skeptic
Bart Ehrman is the Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is one of the most respected scholars in the field of New Testament studies—and he is agnostic. About the resurrection of Jesus, he wrote:
In a recent blog post he wrote:
4. The Theologian
The type of historical evidence above caused leading New Testament scholar, historian, and theologian N.T. Wright to conclude:
5. The Ex-con
Charles Colson, who once served as Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon, famously went to prison for his involvement in the Watergate scandal in the early 70's. He became a Christian in 1973, largely due to the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. One detail regarding Watergate was similar to the resurrection: in both cases, 12 men claimed something that would affect world history. In the case of Watergate, it only took two weeks for them to crack under pressure:
Even the atheists and skeptics confirm that Jesus' disciples claimed and believed that they had seen Jesus risen from the dead. History tells us that they were willing to suffer and die for that belief. It's reasonable to confidently agree with what the church has affirmed over the centuries—"Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!"
Please subscribe to have my weekly blog posts delivered directly to your inbox, and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!
(1) Gary R. Habermas & Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2004) p. 60 (Emphasis mine)
(2) Ibid., p. 49
(3) Gerd Lüdemann, What Really Happened to Jesus?, trans. John Bowden (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995) p. 80
(4) Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford, 2004) p. 234 (Emphasis mine)
(5) Bart Ehrman, "Questions on the Resurrection and My Personal Spiritual Experiences: Readers' Mailbag" www.ehrmanblog.org, March 24, 2017, accessed April 6, 2017
(6) N.T. Wright, "The New Unimproved Jesus," Christianity Today (September 13, 1993), p. 26 (Cited by William Lane Craig, "The Resurrection of Jesus" www.reasonablefaith.org, accessed April 6, 2017)
(7) Charles Colson, "An Unholy Hoax?" www.epm.org, March 29, 2002, accessed April 6, 2017.
(8) John 11:25-26