What Do Scholars Think Of The Resurrection Of Jesus?

The New Testament provides multiple evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus. It stresses that Jesus predicted His own resurrection (Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:34), that the Roman soldiers were guarding the tomb when Jesus arose from death (Matthew 28:11) and that Jesus appeared to many of His followers for over forty days until His ascension to heaven (Mark 16:9-18; Acts 1:3)… and that too was witnessed by many (Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9). 

But, how do Bible scholars, historians and lawyers consider the reliability of the evidence for the resurrection which is provided in the New Testament?   

Professor Thomas Arnold, author of a famous three-volume History of Rome and once chair of Modern History at Oxford, was well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts. He says: 

“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 has given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” 

Do others agree with this opinion? 

Simon Greenleaf was one of the greatest legal minds America has produced. He was the famous Royall Professor of Law at Harvard University and succeeded Justice Joseph Story as the Dane Professor of Law in the same university. While at Harvard, Greenleaf wrote a volume in which he examines the legal value of the apostles’ testimony to the resurrection of Christ. He observes that it is impossible that the apostles “could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.” Greenleaf concludes that the resurrection of Christ is one of the best-supported events in history according to the laws of legal evidence administered in courts of justice. 

British scholar Brooke Foss Westcott, who was a divinity professor at Cambridge University, says: 

“Taking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it.” 

Dr. William Lane Craig concludes that “when you . . . [use] the ordinary canons of historical assessment, the best explanation for the facts is that God raised Jesus from the dead.” 

Sir Lionel Luckhoo is considered by many to be the world’s most successful attorney after 245 consecutive murder acquittals. This brilliant lawyer analyzed the historical facts of Christ’s resurrection rigorously and finally declared, “I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.” 

Frank Morison, another British lawyer, set out to refute the evidence for the Resurrection. He thought the life of Jesus was one of the most beautiful ever lived, but when it came to the Resurrection, Morison assumed someone had come along and tacked a myth onto the story. He planned to write an account of the last few days of Jesus, disregarding the Resurrection. The lawyer figured that an intelligent, rational approach to the story would completely discount such an event. However, when he applied his legal training to the facts, he had to change his mind. Instead of a refutation of the Resurrection, he eventually wrote the best seller Who Moved the Stone? He titled the first chapter “The Book That Refused to Be Written.” The rest of the book confirms decisively the validity of the evidence for Christ’s resurrection. 

George Eldon Ladd, professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, concludes: “The only rational explanation for these historical facts is that God raised Jesus in bodily form.”  Believers in Jesus Christ today can have complete confidence, as did the first Christians, that their faith is based not on myth or legend but on the solid historical fact of the risen Christ and the empty tomb. 

Gary Habermas, a distinguished professor and chairman of the department of philosophy and theology at Liberty University, debated former atheist and leading scholar Antony Flew on the issue “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” A professional debate judge who was asked to evaluate the debate had the following remarks: 

“The historical evidence, though flawed, is strong enough to lead reasonable minds to conclude that Christ did indeed rise from the dead. . . “ 

Habermas does end up providing “highly probably evidence” for the historicity of the resurrection “with no plausible naturalistic evidence against it.”  

Most important of all, individual believers can experience the power of the risen Christ in their lives today. First of all, they can know that their sins are forgiven (Luke 24:46-47; 1 Corinthians 15:3). Second, they can be assured of eternal life and their own resurrection from the grave (1 Corinthians 15:19-26). Third, they can be released from a meaningless and empty life and be transformed into new creatures in Jesus Christ (John 10:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17).  

What is your evaluation and decision? What do you think about the empty tomb?  

After examining the evidence from a judicial perspective, Lord Darling, former chief justice of England, stated that “there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.” 

Is The Garden Of Eden A Real Place Or Just A Myth?

The Bible declares that God “planted a garden eastward in Eden” but there is no archaeological evidence that any such place existed, is this just a myth? 

The Bible mentioned that “the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.” (Genesis 2:8). 

If Genesis is true, then where is Eden located? and why is there no archaeological evidence for its existence? 

Fortunately, the Bible described the location of Eden and named its rivers as follows: “now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.” (Genesis 2: 10-14). 

River Gihon is on the land of Cush which is currently Ethiopia and there still exists the Nile river. The other rivers still exist too. By looking at the maps, we will find that the two rivers Euphrates and Tigris which is Hiddekel already exist in Iraq. We can therefore extrapolate that the garden of Eden was in Iraq.  But what about the Pishon river? 

Titus Flavius Josephus (AD 100) a very well-known roman historian stated that the “Pishon, which denotes a multitude, running into India, makes its exit into the sea, and is by the Greeks called Ganges. Euphrates also, as well as Tigris, goes down into the Red Sea. Now the name Euphrates, or Phrath, denotes either a dispersion, or a flower: by Tiris, or Diglath, is signified what is swift, with narrowness; and Geon runs through Egypt, and denotes what arises from the east, which the Greeks call Nile.” (Antiquities of the Jews – Book I) 

Hence, it is clear that the Garden of Eden was in the land between the Ganges river and Nile river. The core of the garden is in Iraq where the two rivers Tigris and Euphrate exist. This conclusion is supported by several points, including: 

1- The ethnicity of the country is very ancient. 

2- The lands of Iraq are among the most fertile lands in the world. 

3- Archaeological documents indicate that the plains of Iraq, located to the southwest of Babylon, were called Aden. 

Yet why can’t we find traces of Eden? The answer is that this part of the world already has archeological traces of ancient life, geographical evidence of rivers are mentioned, and the historical evidence of Titus Flavius Josephus. We would not expect any archaeological evidence, since there is no indication that Adam and Eve made pottery or built durable buildings. 

Why Are Alternative Theories About The Resurrection False?

Many skeptics proposed alternative theories to explain the Resurrection of Jesus, but their theories are so contrived and illogical when compared to the claims of Christianity that their very weakness actually helps build confidence in the truth of the Resurrection. 

 There are 7 alternative theories for the resurrection as follows: 

  1. The Wrong-Tomb Theory, 
  1. The Hallucination Theory, 
  1. The Swoon Theory, 
  1. The Stolen-Body Theory, 
  1. The Moved-Body Theory, 
  1. The Relocated-Body Theory, and 
  1. The Copycat Theory 

  1. The Wrong-Tomb Theory: 

This theory was suggested by British biblical scholar Kirsopp Lake who proposed that the women who informed the disciples about the missing body of Jesus went to the wrong tomb that morning! 

If this is true, then the disciples who went after to check for the body of Jesus must have gone to the wrong tomb as well!  

We can be certain, however, that the Roman guard stationed at the tomb to prevent the body from being stolen, would not have been mistaken about the location. So how could the women and the disciples have been mistaken about the location of the tomb, while at the same time seeing the Roman guards there?  

Also, if this theory is true, then why didn’t the Jewish authorities produce the body from the proper tomb, thus nipping this rumor of the resurrection in the bud? 

  1. The Hallucination Theory: 

The hallucination theory explains the appearances of Jesus after the Resurrection to His disciples are mere hallucinations that they kept experiencing for a while. For the skeptics, there is no real evidence that Jesus resurrected from death because the disciples were simply deluded. 

But could it really be that the disciples have just had hallucinations, and all of their testimonies on the resurrection of Jesus are false?  

Jesus appeared to His disciples over a forty days period, and in most instances He appeared while they were gathered together. In one instance, Jesus appeared to five hundred people at the same time. And that’s not all! Jesus not only appeared to His disciples, but He ate and traveled with them.  

One of the disciples of Jesus, Thomas, had similar doubts and refused to believe that Jesus was alive despite what his friends told him. He insisted that ​​unless he saw the nail marks in the hands of Jesus and put his finger where the nails were, and put his hand into Jesus’s side, he would not believe. 

A few days later, Jesus appeared to His disciples and dealt with the doubts of Thomas. He asked Thomas to touch His wounds from the crucifixion. Thomas couldn’t help but believe and worship Jesus.  

How then could all the disciples experience the same hallucination while also experiencing it together? How could it be that these hallucinations also involved physical interactions with Jesus and not only visions? And can the hallucination theory explain the fact that most of the discples endured torture and martyrdom because they stuck to their claim that Jesus became alive after death?  

Another issue with this theory is that if all disciples were hallucinating, why didn’t the Jewish and Roman leaders reveal the actual body of Jesus and refute the claims of the disciples early on? 

  1. The Swoon Theory: 

Nineteenth-century German rationalist Karl Venturini popularized the swoon theory which was promoted several centuries ago, and is often suggested even today. It claims that Jesus didn’t really die; he merely fainted from exhaustion and loss of blood. Everyone thought he was dead, but later he was resuscitated, and the disciples thought it to be a resurrection. 

This theory does not regard the due diligence of the Roman soldier who had to check that Jesus was dead while He was hung on the cross. In Roman law, a soldier would be punished by execution if he let a criminal escape. Therefore, in order to remove any doubt, the soldier pierced the side of Jesus with a spear. 

It would also be impossible to explain multiple events that occured after the resurrection if Jesus had just revived from a swoon. For one, how did Jesus roll the stone of the tomb to get out while He was in such a weak condition? And how did the terrified disciples transform into courageous apostles for the faith if they had only seen a faltering Jesus who barely survived injury.  

German theologian David Friedrich Strauss, himself no believer in the Resurrection, deals a deathblow to any thought that Jesus could have revived from a swoon: 

“It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulcher, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to his sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that he was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life, an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Such a resuscitation could only have weakened the impression which He had made upon them in life and in death, at the most could only have given it an elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm, have elevated their reverence into worship.” 

  1. The Stolen-Body Theory: 

Another theory maintains that the disciples stole the body of Jesus while the guards slept. The depression and cowardice of the disciples make a hard-hitting argument against it. Can we imagine that they suddenly became so brave and daring as to face a detachment of select soldiers at the tomb and steal the body? They were in no mood to attempt anything like that. 

Commenting on the proposition that the disciples stole Christ’s body, J. N. D. Anderson says: 

This would run totally contrary to all we know of them: their ethical teaching, the quality of their lives, their steadfastness in suffering and persecution. Nor would it begin to explain their dramatic transformation from dejected and dispirited escapists into witnesses whom no opposition could muzzle. 

  1. The Moved-Body Theory: 

Another theory says that the Roman or Jewish authorities moved Christ’s body from the tomb. This explanation is no more reasonable than the stolen-body theory. If the authorities had the body in their possession or knew where it was, why didn’t they explain that they had taken it, thus putting to an effective end the disciples’ preaching of the Resurrection in Jerusalem? If the authorities had taken the body, why didn’t they explain exactly where they had put it? Why didn’t they recover the corpse, display it on a cart, and wheel it through the center of Jerusalem? Such an action would have utterly destroyed Christianity. 

John Warwick Montgomery comments: 

“It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might easily have refuted it simply by producing the body of Jesus.” 

  1. The Relocated-Body Theory: 

In The Empty Tomb, Jeffrey Jay Lowder describes an interesting hypothesis, namely, that the body of Jesus was temporarily stored in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea on Friday night before being relocated to a criminal’s tomb. The tomb of Jesus was empty not because He resurrected, but because the body was simply relocated. Thus, the disciples mistakenly believed He was resurrected. This hypothesis has gained a considerable following on the Internet. 

The “relocation hypothesis” gains support from the fact that reburial was common in ancient Palestine. But it’s important to note that the reburial procedures of the Jews differed significantly from the theory proposed here. The Jewish tradition was to bury a body for one year, and then after the flesh deteriorated and only bones remained, they would remove the bones and place them in an ossuary. 

The problem for the relocation of the body of Jesus is the complete lack of historical support, either in biblical or non-biblical sources. None of the New Testament Gospel accounts suggest that the body of Jesus was reburied. Mark 16:6, where the young man at the tomb says, “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!” undermines this view. 

The relocation hypothesis actually faces a more significant problem. Dr. Michael Licona 


“At best, even if the reburial hypothesis were true, all it accounts for is the empty tomb. And interestingly, the empty tomb didn’t convince any of the disciples—possibly with the exception of John—that Jesus had returned from the dead. It was the appearances of Jesus that convinced them, and the reburial theory can’t account for these.” 

If the body of Jesus was simply relocated, why didn’t a relative uncover the body when the disciples began proclaiming the resurrection? Why wouldn’t an authority produce the body and stop Christianity in its tracks? Some have suggested that by this time the body of Jesus would be unrecognizable, but given the climate of Palestine, the body would have been recognizable for a considerable amount of time. 

  1. The Copycat Theory: 

“Nothing in Christianity is original” is one of the most commonly used lines of many critics today. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries many scholars believed that the central claims of Christianity were plagiarized from Greco-Roman mystery religions. Jesus was considered another “dying and rising” god in the tradition of Osiris, Mithras, Adonis, and Dionysus. While this theory has experienced a surprising resurgence on the Internet and in popular books, it faces near universal rejection by contemporary scholars. Here’s why. 

While parallels between Jesus and the mystery religions may appear striking on the surface, they collapse under scrutiny. Osiris, for instance, is considered by many to be a dying and rising god from ancient Egypt. According to the myth, Osiris was killed by Seth and resuscitated by Isis. But rather than returning to the world in a resurrected body, Osiris became king of the underworld—hardly a parallel to the historical resurrection of Jesus. This is why Paul Rhodes Eddy and Greg Boyd, authors of The Jesus Legend, conclude that “the differences between Christianity and the mystery religions are far more profound than any similarities. While there certainly are parallel terms used in early Christianity and the mystery religions, there is little evidence for parallel concepts.” 

Unlike the historical Jesus, there is no evidence for the reliability of any of the alleged parallel stories in the mystery religions. Jesus of Nazareth ate, slept, performed miracles, died, and returned to life. These accounts are supported by a reliable historical record. In contrast, the dying and rising gods of the mystery religions were timeless myths repeated annually with the changing seasons. 

The most recent scholarly treatise on dying and rising gods was written by T. N. D. Mettinger, professor at Lund University. In The Riddle of Resurrection, Mettinger grants the existence of the myths of dying and rising gods in the ancient world, which, he admits, is a minority view.  Yet his conclusion puts the nail in the coffin of the copycat theory: 

“There is, as far as I am aware, no prima facie evidence that the death and resurrection of Jesus is a mythological construct, drawing on the myths and rites of the dying and rising gods of the surrounding world. While studied with profit against the background of Jewish resurrection belief, the faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus retains its unique character in the history of religions. The riddle remains.” 

What is your evaluation and decision? What do you think about the empty tomb? After examining the evidence from a judicial perspective, Lord Darling, former chief justice of England, concludes that “there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.” 

Did Jesus Really Exist?

Few scholars hold the view that Jesus never lived. However, this idea is persistent and appears from time to time. For such scholars, the books of the New Testament are late with the exception of Paul’s epistles. Since Paul didn’t meet Jesus physically, it is possible that Jesus never existed at all and Christianity started without any contact with a historical Jesus who supposedly died about 30 AD because only in later documents is His sojourn on earth assigned to a specific time and place. 

However, there are five main problems with this view. 

First, Paul mentions a historical Jesus and exhibits sufficient interest in the life of the historical Jesus. This includes the preservation of eyewitness testimony to these facts. In 1 Corininthians, Paul incorporates a very early Christian creed that is much older than the book in which it appears. He states : 

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:3-7).  

Such early traditions appear frequently in the New Testament and consist of oral teachings and proclamations that were repeated until recorded in the book itself. These creeds, then, predate the New Testament writings in which they occur. This particular tradition records the death, burial, resurrection, and appearances of Jesus.  

In addition, Paul not only met some of these witnesses personally, but he explains that his message concerning these facts is identical with their eyewitness testimony. He said that  “after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him for fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.” (Galatians 1:18-19). He also stated that the entire faith is based on this witness of the resurrection of Jesus “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.” (1 Corinthians 15:14-15). It was crucially important for Paul that this information is very close to the actual events, and therefore cannot be dismissed as late material or as hearsay evidence. 

Second, Paul demonstrates evidence that Jesus lived in the first century AD. He refers to Jesus’ contemporaries Cephas and the twelve (1 Corinthians 15:5); the apostles, the brothers of Christ, and Cephas (1 Corinthians 9:5); James the brother of the Lord (Galatians 1:18-19); the apostles Peter, James and John (Galatians 2:8-9); and Peter alone (Galatians 2:11). Further, Paul points out that most of the 500 people who saw the resurrected Jesus at one time were still alive when he wrote the book of 1 Corinthians, about AD 55-57. 

Many explanations of skeptics, therefore, can be categorized as “pettifogging”, where they raise a smoke screen instead of dealing directly with the material that goes against their hypothesis. 

The third main problem is that skeptics rely on ancient mystery religions to explain the existence of Christianity without a historical Jesus. Such a reliance on the development of legends was a popular thesis in the late 19th century, but has been dismissed later by the majority of researchers, and for good reason. Read more on Jesus and ancient myths in this article 


Also read more on why alternative theories to the resurrection are false in this article (https://www.facebook.com/101891955556995/posts/144801514599372/

Fourth, the hypothesis that Jesus never existed relies on late dating of the Gospels to 90 AD at the earliest, with no links of Jesus’ death to Pilate before that date. Such dates for the Gospels may have been popular in the nineteenth century, but are abandoned today by the vast majority of scholars, and for good reason. Most critical scholars date Mark about AD 65-70 and Matthew and Luke about AD 80-90. Some scholars even accept dates earlier than these. 

For historical evidence outside of the New Testament on the crucifixion of Jesus at the time of Pilate, please read this article (https://www.facebook.com/101891955556995/posts/152251733854350

The fifth main problem is the lack of application of normal historical methodology to the Gospel material. If we apply to the New Testament the same sort of criteria as we should apply to ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject the existence of Jesus than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned. 

In conclusion, few scholars have asserted that Jesus never existed or have attempted to cast almost total doubt on his life and ministry. When such efforts have occurred, they have been met by rare outcries from the scholarly community.