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The Reason for God - Resurrection

The Reason for God - Resurrection

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Published by Dave
What does historical research tell us about Jesus' resurrection? The Empty Tomb and The Eyewitnesses present a serious historical question that needs to be answered no matter what your worldview is.
What does historical research tell us about Jesus' resurrection? The Empty Tomb and The Eyewitnesses present a serious historical question that needs to be answered no matter what your worldview is.

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Published by: Dave on Oct 17, 2012
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The Reason for God:
The Reality of Resurrection
 
What can history tell us about the historical Jesus? You can study the life of Jesus just likewe study any other ancient person in many universities around the world (using thecriterion of dissimilarity, multiple attestations, embarrassment, plausibility, coherence andso on). The most hotly debated question among these historians is: The resurrection of Jesus. It is the holy grail of the quest for Jesus.Even today, popular culture is obsessed with Jesus – look at Da Vinci Code and the newssurrounding discovery of Gnostic fragments, Mary Magdalene, and James’ tomb. Manyhistorians (who made the assumption that a miracle simply cannot happen or should beruled out of court in a responsible historical research) claim that it didn’t really happen.But how do you explain how the Christian movement started in Jerusalem? How do youexplain the empty tomb and eyewitnesses? It is a serious historical question.That is not what happened to
all 
the other would-be Messiahs who were crucified byRome. They either find a replacement or abandon that leader.The resurrection of Jesus is also a personal question. If Jesus rose from the dead (notmerely resuscitated), it changes everything. It means that death will not have the last word.It is a bedrock of hope when you are faced with a Roman sword or cancer.If he was resurrected, it authenticates the claims He made about Himself and His teachings.If not, our faith is in vain.What are the alternative explanations?Perhaps ancient people do not have scientific knowledge of the world and believe insuperstitions. So they easily accept reports of a risen Jesus. The heartbroken disciples began to sense he was still with them, perhaps see visions or dreams. These feelingsdeveloped into stories that he had risen from the grave to support these beliefs.But the Gospels were written too early to the actual events (AD50 – 90) for myths todevelop. We can see resurrection account in ‘handed down’ statement of faith formulaalready in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 (third day, physical body, eyewitnesses). Women were thefirst eyewitnesses and this is likely authentic since their words are not accepted as evidencein court. Why would you invent a fact that would be embarassing to your case? Their Jewish opponents did not challenge the claim of empty tomb, but implicitly accepted it by providing an alternative explanation (stolen corpse).Taken together, the empty tomb and eyewitnesses form a case for the resurrection. It is not bombproof evidence. But there is a dent we would expect in the historical evidence thatJesus rose from the dead, transforming disillusioned followers into committed evangelists.It is not wishful thinking.1
 
Hallucination theories and stolen body theories assume that Jesus’ resurrection was an openoption can is expected to others. But the people of that time would have considered itimpossible for different reasons. Why would they create a lie and die for it?
“Here’s the plan: We steal the body, come back and tell everybody He is risen and get killed for it.Who’s in this with me?”
 “Chronological snobbery”: Ancient people know that dead people do not come back tolife. We should give them more credit. In fact, an individual bodily resurrection was almostinconceivable. Spirit is good, but the body is evil in Greek thought. Even those who believein reincarnation understand a return to embodied life as a prison for the soul. For Jews, theyexpect a final day resurrection of all righteous in the renewal of the world. But the idea of an individual being resurrected, in the middle of history, while the rest of creation goes onwith sin and death, is inconceivable.Wright: Jewish revolutionaries whose leader had been executed had two options: give upthe revolution or find another leader. Claiming that he was alive again was simply not anoption. Unless, of course, he was.That historical event caused the Christians to shift their worldview: Jesus is not onlyhuman, he is the transcendent, personal God revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures.What does it matter? Many skeptics care for the environment and the poor, yet the materialworld and all of life came by accident and everything will end up in ashes one day. Theywonder why so few people care for justice yet their own worldview undermines anymotivation to care and make sacrifices for a better world. In the end there is no difference.If Jesus is not risen, then Karl Marx is probably right to accuse Christianity of ignoring problems in the material world., and Freud to say it is wish-fulfillment or Nietzsche to sayit was for wimps.But the Christian hope of eternal life is not like that. It is not about running away fromreality. Our ultimate future is a new heaven and a new earth. This world we live in will berenewed, transformed and restored. It won’t be abandoned or left to rot.So we look forward to a resurrection just like Jesus’ where we will be raised to life in anincorruptible and glorified body. What God has done in Christ on Easter morning, Hewould do on a cosmic scale for the entire creation, including us. There will be no moresorrow, sickness, decay or violence for God will wipe away every tear and restore all that isgood. C.S. Lewis described the future redeemed world to be more substantial, moretangible and more solid than the world as we know it. New Creation: Coming soon to a planet near you…If that is what Easter resurrection means, shall we not take up some new things thatmodel (in small ways) the future kingdom of justice, love and hope? Now, how would that look like?2
 
Surely the surprising reality of Easter Sunday ought to empower us to be witnesses of Christ’s death and resurrection the way it did for the early disciples.
Good to know about the historical quest:
EP Sanders: Any interpretation of Jesus should be able to account for these “almostindisputable facts”:1.Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.2.Jesus was a Galilean who preached and healed.3.Jesus called disciples and spoke of there being twelve.4.Jesus confined his activity to Israel.5.Jesus engaged in a controversy about the temple.6.Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem by the Roman authorities.7.After his death Jesus' followers continued as an identifiablemovement.8.At least some Jews persecuted at least parts of the new movement(Gal. I.13,22; Phil. 3.6), and it appears that this persecution endured at leastto a time near the end of Paul's career (II Cor. II.24; Gal. 5.11; 6.12; cf.Matt. 23.34; 10.17).Sanders maintains that most of the things we know about Jesus fit him into the category of a prophet of 'Jewish restoration eschatology' and 'king' of a restored Israel. He listed hisconclusions about the various historical claims made about Jesus in order from "certain" to"incredible":
I.Certain or virtually certain:
1.Jesus shared the world-view that I have called 'Jewish restorationeschatology'. The key facts are his start under John the Baptist, the call of the twelve, his expectation of a new (or at least renewed) temple, and theeschatological setting of the work of the apostles (Gal. 1.2; Rom. 11.11-13,25-32; 15.15-19).2.He preached the kingdom of God.3.He promised the kingdom to the wicked.4.He did not explicitly oppose the law, particularly not laws relating toSabbath and food.5.Neither he nor his disciples thought that the kingdom would be established by force of arms. They looked for an eschatological miracle.
II.Highly probable:
1.The kingdom which he expected would have some analogies with thisworld: leaders, the twelve tribes, a functioning temple.2.Jesus' disciples thought of him as 'king', and he accepted the role, either implicitly or explicitly.http://www.ptypes.com/sanders-historical-jesus.html 3

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