When it comes to the subject of the resurrection of the Christ, (literally his name was pronounced Yeshua). Many tend to believe it can’t be proven but must be accepted on faith alone. While faith is an important issue when it comes to the Bible, lets take a look at the facts surrounding the resurrection of Yeshua (English translation “Joshua” and every international translation “Jesus”).
In short, there is more proof that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead, than we have that Julius Caesar even lived. If you find that hard to believe, then read on…
Evidence and Proof
Some excerpts of the article below are from: Rory Roybal
The reason I initially considered Biblical Christianity is because it is the only belief system massively supported by historical evidence that can be objectively verified. It has the only set of ‘scriptures’ in the world filled with real places, real people, real historical accounts, and real scientific claims that are proven accurate when critically investigated. The Bible is also the only record that had a significant amount of future prophecy when written (~1/3). Man-made religions don’t come close to matching up to the overwhelming and flawless physical evidence that has been thoroughly examined and verified from the Bible.
The Legal Perspective of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection and Character
Simon Greenleaf was royal professor of law at Harvard and a main founder of the Harvard law school. Greenleaf, was considered to be the greatest expert of evidence the world had ever known. He wrote the famous legal volume—A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, which many consider to be the greatest legal volume ever written. Greenleaf was a skeptic firmly set against Christianity, and taught his students Christianity was false. When one of his students challenged him to investigate evidence for Christianity for himself, he set out to disprove the Biblical testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Greenleaf was certain that a careful examination of the internal witness of the Gospels would dispel all myths at the heart of Christianity, and disprove it once and for all. However, this legal scholar concluded Bible eyewitnesses were reliable and that Christ’s bodily death and resurrection were objective fact. If anyone should be qualified to state the reliability of Christ’s resurrection as an actual historical event according to the laws of legal evidence, it is Greenleaf. After years of exhaustive research and analysis, Greenleaf concluded:
“ The foundation of our belief is a basis of fact – the fact of the birth, ministry, miracles, death, resurrection by the Evangelists as having actually occurred, within their own personal knowledge … it was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually rose from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact. ”—-Simon Greenleaf —
Simon Greenleaf, LL.D., The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence, Grand Rapids, MI, Kregel Classics 1995.
Regarding the character of Jesus Christ portrayed by the Evangelists, Greenleaf determined:
“ the great character they have portrayed is perfect. It is the character of a sinless being, of one supremely wise and supremely good. It exhibits no error, no sinister intention, no imprudence, no ignorance, no evil passion, no impatience; in a word, no fault; but all is perfect uprightness, innocence, wisdom, goodness and truth. ”
Simon Greenleaf, LL.D., Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists, by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice, with an Account of the Trial of Jesus, Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown 1846, p. 67.
Eyewitnesses to the Resurrection and Miracles of Jesus Christ
The entire framework of the Bible is based on reliable eyewitness accounts, which are the strongest form of legal evidence. These accounts include multiple eyewitness testimonies of the unique birth, life, miracles, death and bodily resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.
Eyewitnesses included many people who knew Christ face to face for three years, such as the Apostles, so they could not have mistaken His identity. They saw, heard, touched, ate and drank with Christ after his bodily resurrection for 40 days. This overwhelming physical evidence overcame their initial incredulity and disbelief.
They were so sure of their experience that they were also willing to die for what they knew to be true. Some people may sometimes die for a lie that they believe to be true, but for a large group of individuals to all willingly endure severe persecution throughout their lives and die torturous deaths for something they know to be a lie (which they certainly would have known), doesn’t happen. —
The Supreme Justice of the Supreme Court said that Greenleaf’s testimony is the most basic and compelling testimony that can be accepted in any english speaking court in the world. When Greenleaf spoke, that settled the matter. He was far and away the most knowledgeable person on evidence the world had ever known. The London Times said that more light on jurisprudence had come from Greenleaf than all the jurists of Europe combined.
Greenleaf had one inviolable principle in his classrooms at Harvard, and that was, you never make up your mind about any significant matter without first considering the evidence. Greenleaf was not a Christian. When challenged by one of his students with this principle, he admitted that he had not considered the evidence. When he did, he became a Christian: believed in the deity, death and resurrection of Jesus.
After examining every thread of information he could find he said in his book, The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined for the Rules of Evidence, Greenleaf concluded:
“If any unbiased jury in the world considered the evidence for the resurrection of Christ, they would have to conclude that Jesus of Nazareth actually rose from the dead.” —
And so he became a believer that Jesus was God and was converted. He wrote, “In requiring this candor and simplicity of mind and those who would investigate the truth of our religion…He sees that Christianity is, in fact, the only evidential historical religion in the world, and the whole things rests upon evidence which he finds so compelling and so overwhelming that any honest person with an open mind examining the evidence would be like himself inescapably drawn to accept it and so he sets forth his first rule of legal evidence and for any other ancient document.
“Every document apparently ancient coming from the proper repository or custody and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise.”
“This ancient document, the Scripture, has come from the proper repository, that is, it is has been in the hands of the persons of the Church for 2000 years almost and it bears on its face no evident marks of forgery, and therefore the law presumes it to be genuine, and those who would presume otherwise upon them devolves the responsibility of proving it to be false. We don’t have to prove it to be true. They have to prove it to be false. That’s what the law says.”
(Simon Greenleaf, The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined for the Rules of Evidence)
“It was IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISEN FROM THE DEAD ” —
There are many miracles recorded in the gospel records, but not a single conflict in prepositional logic among the accounts. Therefore, there is no logical or historical reason to consider these accounts as invalid (barring devotion to the atheistic/naturalistic ‘religious’ assumption that miracles are impossible). As expected with genuine eyewitness accounts, and as I have personally witnessed in jury trials, different witnesses in the Bible’s Gospel records naturally focus on different people and events. If the Gospel accounts matched exactly, this would make their independence suspect, and they would be less credible from a legal perspective.
Even Christ’s disciples had a very hard time believing his resurrection, though he specifically predicted this and told them in advance. In fact, they rejected it over and over until they saw him with their own eyes, heard, touched and ate with Him. Their initial skepticism is understandable, but they were finally overwhelmed by verifiable evidence. The reactions of people recorded in the Bible seem very natural, and add credibility to the accounts.
Witnesses who saw Christ alive and well after His death and resurrection were numerous at the time (500 total). These events were recorded, and they were certainly carefully examined at the time. If these eyewitnesses were not credible, Christianity would have stopped before it started, since Christianity is foundationally based on the divine identity, physical death and bodily resurrection of Christ. When one examines evidence objectively according to standard application of the mature science of legal and documentary evidence,
The resurrection of Christ is shown to be one of the best proven facts of history.
Greenleaf concluded that according to the jurisdiction of legal evidence the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the best supported event in all of history! And not only that, Dr. Greenleaf was so convinced by the overwhelming evidence, he committed his life to Jesus Christ!
What changed his mind? What evidence did Dr. Greenleaf encounter that so drastically turned him around? What facts did he discover that he could not rationally ignore?
In order to answer that, let’s go back to that scene nearly 2,000 years ago. That night in the garden of Gethsemene, as a blood-thirsty mob came and arrested Jesus Christ. He was brought before Pilate, and there in plain view, Jesus Christ was spit upon, cursed, he was laughed at, whipped, beaten. He was branded a blasphemer. And He was sentenced to die by the most extreme, shameful form of capital punishment ever devised — crucifixion. Galatians 3:13 reads, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree”.
In the eyes of the world, Jesus Christ died a curse. He died as a criminal. He died in open shame and disgrace.
And there stood His apostles — in stunned unbelief. Here was their hope. Here were 12 men that had forsaken all and followed this man. They believed in this man for 3 years. Can you imagine what was going on in their minds? Didn’t He heal the sick? Didn’t we see Him walk on water? Didn’t we see Him raise people from the dead? Didn’t we see Him still the raging storm? And to end like this? THAT NIGHT, THERE STOOD 12 DEFEATED AND CONFUSED MEN! They had given up everything for naught. And then to die like He did. Beaten. Smitten. Humiliated. Guilty. Blasphemer. A complete disgrace!
And Mark 14:50, says, “And they all forsook him, and fled”.
There was the apostle Peter, the one who boasted, just days earlier, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.” (Matthew 26:35) There he was that night, standing in the mob, defeated, confused, and hurt. Jesus was dead! He was crucified as a blasphemer! One of the women saw Peter and said, “you were one of them, you was with Jesus of Nazareth”. The Bible says “he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.” (Mark 14:71) Three times Peter denied the Lord, cursing and swearing, “I know not this man”.
“And they all forsook him, and fled!”
BUT SOMETHING HAPPENED!
Something happened to that small band of frightened and humiliated men. . . Less than two months later — they went back into Jerusalem boldly preaching, at the threat of death, that — JESUS CHRIST WAS ALIVE!
Listen to Peter in Acts 2,: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs. . . ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. . . THIS JESUS HATH GOD RAISED UP, WHEREOF WE ALL ARE WITNESSES.”
What transformed these fearful and confused men into fierce, bold lions?
Acts chapter 4:18-19, reads, “And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.”
And verse 20 reads, “For we cannot but speak the things which WE HAVE SEEN AND HEARD”.
What had these men seen? What had these men heard?
What was it that beatings, threatenings, jail, torture and even death could not silence? In Acts 5, they put in jail and beaten — and verse 41 says “And they departed. . . rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name”.
What had these 12 men seen that they would eventually die a horrible death for?
Friend, there’s only one event in the history of this universe that could explain such a change.
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST!
One theory suggests the apostles fabricated the resurrection. Two major problems: One, If the body of Jesus Christ was available, you’d better believe, the Roman authorities would have paraded His body for all to see. Christianity was spreading like a wild fire! And nothing could have quenched that flame quicker than the body of Jesus Christ! An article, suggesting Jesus faked His death and resurrection, appeared in the prestigious British Journal of the Royal College of Physicians. The article makes the assertion, “the whole episode was planned by Jesus and his followers. . . that death would be feigned so that early removal from the cross might be secured.”
Do you know the problem with that — if the resurrection of Jesus Christ was not true — there were 12 men that knew it!
Remember, friend — THESE MEN WERE EYEWITNESSES! They were there!
“Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were EYEWITNESSES. . .” Luke 1:2
“That which was from the beginning, which we have HEARD, which we have SEEN WITH OUR EYES, which we have LOOKED UPON, and our HANDS HAVE HANDLED. . .” 1 John 1:1
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were EYEWITNESSES of his majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16
And these men went so far as seal their testimony with their blood! They died a horrible and martyrs death!
WOULD ALL THESE MEN DIE FOR A LIE. . . KNOWING IT WAS A LIE?
There is no way, these 12 men could have all been deceived.
For this reason — how could these 12 men die for a lie? — and here is the catch — IF THEY KNEW IT WAS A LIE!
If the resurrection of Jesus Christ a lie — THEY WOULD HAVE HAD TO HAVE KNOWN IT!
You can not find a group of 12 men in the history of this universe who forsook all, were beaten, were jailed and even went so far as die for a lie — KNOWING it was a lie!
Michael Green, principal of St. John’s College, Nottingham, writes concerning the apostles, ”. . . You could imprison them, flog them, kill them, but you could not make them deny their conviction that on the third day he rose again.” Dr. Greenleaf wrote, “IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISEN FROM THE DEAD!”
And then there’s the man called Saul of Tarsus.
Saul of Tarsus thought Jesus was a false messiah, a fake, a blasphemer. And to exterminate Christianity totally, became his passion! The Bible describes him:
“As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.” (Acts 8:3)
“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, . . .” (Acts 9:1)
Saul of Tarsus was one of Christianities’ most rabid persecutors. One day traveling the dusty road to Damascus, Saul burning with vengeance, with documents authorizing him to capture all the followers of Jesus. But on the road to Damascus something happened to Saul of Tarsus. . .
“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest”. (Acts 9:3-5)
And on the road to Damascus, the greatest conversion in history took place! For Saul of Tarsus, among the greatest enemies of Jesus Christ, that ever lived — became the Apostle Paul — THE GREATEST CHRISTIAN THAT EVER LIVED!
What happened to this man?
What could so transform this man, that he completely dedicated his life to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ? And was later beheaded at Rome in 67 A.D. for his faith in Jesus Christ.
There is only one possible explanation….
JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY ROSE FROM THE DEAD!
Gilbert West and Lord Lyttleton, two Oxford students, believed Christianity was a “tale gone mad” and they determined to refute the Christian faith. Lyttleton resolved to disprove the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, and West would refute the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They figured a careful, rational, examination of the evidence would easily disprove the Christian faith.
But after examining the evidence — they both separately came to the opposite conclusion! Lyttleton concluded that Saul of Tarsus did, in fact, convert to the Apostle Paul through Jesus Christ. And Gilbert West concluded that the:
Resurrection of Jesus Christ was among the best established facts in all of history! West went on to write a book entitled, “Observations on the History and Evidences of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ”.
Professor Thomas Arnold, former chair of history at Oxford, and author of the famous volumes, History of Rome, was skillfully educated in the study of historical facts. Professor Arnold, stated, “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, than the great sign which God has given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”
After investigating the evidence of the resurrection, Lord Darling, former Chief Justice of England, stated, ”. . . 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.”
To deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ you have to close your eyes to the overwhelming facts of history.
Orthodox Christianity, Judaism and Islam all hold to the miracle of God’s special creation of the universe and life, but only Christ proved He is the Creator and Messiah by His well authenticated miracle of bodily resurrection from the dead. All leaders of ‘religions’ are dead and buried, but as Creator, Christ alone was victorious over physical death, and is the only One we must follow.
Historical and Archeological Accuracy of Old and New Testaments:
Nelson Glueck was one of the greatest modern archeologists, an ordained Rabbi, and former president of the Hebrew Union College and Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. He personally discovered over 1,000 ancient sites, including the copper mines of King Solomon and the ancient sea port of Ezion Geber. After studying archeological evidence for the Bible for decades, he said:
“ It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference. ”
Dr. Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert: a History of the Negev, New York, New York: Farrar, Strous and Cudahy 1959, p. 136.
The renowned Sir Frederic Kenyon was a leading authority on the reliability of ancient manuscripts, and is considered to have been one of the greatest Directors of the British Museum. He drew this conclusion:
“ The interval then, between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established. ”
Kenyon, F. G., The Bible and Archaeology, New York and London: Harper 1940, pp. 288, 89.
Sir William Ramsey, an eminent British scholar and archaeologist, was a Professor at both Oxford and Cambridge. He was raised as an atheist and skeptic and was convinced the Bible was fraudulent. He believed Luke’s writings were not historically sound, and that travels of the Apostle Paul recorded in the book of Acts were the weakest part of the New Testament. Therefore, he set out to disprove the book of Acts by personally tracing the Apostle Paul’s journeys, spade in hand. However, his own extensive 15-year field investigation of near east archaeology in the Bible lands forced him to completely reverse his position. He stated:
“ I set out to look for truth on the borderland where Greece and Asia meet, and found it there. You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historian’s and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment. “ Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of facts trustworthy; he is possessed of the true historic sense … In short, this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians. ”
Sir William Ramsey, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the trustworthiness of the New Testament, 1915, pp. 81, 222.
Of Ramsay’s book, Josh McDowell, Christian author and former skeptic, writes:
“ The book caused a furor of dismay among the skeptics of the world. Its attitude was utterly unexpected because it was contrary to the announced intention of the author years before … for twenty years more, book after book from the same author came from the press, each filled with additional evidence of the exact, minute truthfulness of the whole New Testament as tested by the spade on the spot. The evidence was so overwhelming that many infidels announced their repudiation of their former unbelief and accepted Christianity. And these books have stood the test of time, not one having been refuted, nor have I found even any attempt to refute them. ”
Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith, San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers 1972, p.365.
Academia’s Outdated Bible Teaching
Our academic institutions generally teach false and disproved information about the Bible to unwitting and trusting students. The idea that Bible authors and historical events are not as internally stated and that the Old Testament is inconsistent with the New are common claims among skeptics, widely taught and accepted in higher academia as fact.
However, so-called ‘higher criticisms’ of the Bible still generally taught in university religion or philosophy courses have been completely discredited by the last century of archeology and rock solid manuscript evidence. Their ideas are obsolete, so much so that no leading historian today would dare challenge historicity of the Biblical text (all of it) and destroy their own professional reputation, regardless of theological beliefs.
Many professors still teach outdated and unfounded hypotheses and are aware they are obsolete, but don’t want to change their course material for obvious personal reasons, and some have gone on record saying it would simply be too much work to change their curriculum.
Unified Old and New Testaments
The Old and New Testaments form a tightly integrated whole, and are not disjointed as skeptics often claim. The New Testament was written almost exclusively by Jews well versed and believing in the Old Testament. Much of the New Testament is exposition of the Old Testament by those who were in a position to know it best, and they directly quoted the Old Testament approximately three hundred times in the New. Paul the Apostle was an ex-Pharisee from the eminent school of Gamaliel, and Paul wrote the majority of the New Testament. Many of the Pharisees had the Old Testament completely memorized, and Jesus Christ Himself said:
“ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled ” (Matt. 5:17-18).
It is hard to imagine any stronger statement of reverence for the Old Testament, and in no cases do New Testament writers contradict it.
The Mature Science of Documentary Evidence
The mature discipline of documentary evidence is to determine whether recorded events are credible. It demands one look for things mentioned in documents that can be objectively verified, such as names of cities, cultural practices, names of people, and well known historical events.
The Bible has been intensely investigated in this area probably more than any other book, in no small part due to intense desire of skeptics to disprove it, but much also by people who are objective researchers and those who wish to further substantiate it. New Testament accounts are precisely true according to this rigorous and objective science, despite unfounded objections of skeptics.
Precise Bible Accuracy
Evidence for accuracy of the Bible is overwhelming, the greatest of all ancient books. There are over 40,000 extant New Testament manuscripts for comparison as of this writing, and less than .0015% statistical chance of textual errors This amounts to a few verses maximum, and none of those are direct statements of Jesus or change any basic tenets.
William Albright was a Biblical and archeological scholar who mastered more than 26 ancient and modern languages. He stated:
“ The excessive skepticism shown toward the Bible by important historical schools of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, certain phrases of which still appear periodically, has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history. ”
Albright, William F., The Archaeology of Palestine and the Bible, Ada, MI: Revell 1935, p. 127.
Millar Burrows, renowned Professor of Archaeology at Yale University, exposed the cause of persistent unbelief:
“ The excessive skepticism of many liberal theologians stems not from a careful evaluation of the available data, but from an enormous predisposition against the supernatural. ”
Burrows, Millar, What Mean These Stones? New York, NY: Meridian Books 1956, p. 176.