Join A BlogTalk: Historical Evidence For Resurrection of Jesus

Blogtalk: Coffee Conversation On Resurrection of Jesus

What is at stake?

1. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christianity is false.

2. If Jesus did rise from the dead, then Christianity is true, thus atheism(and other religions) is false.

At the request of Stephen Butterfield, I decide to start a coffee-table-talk-like blog dialogue on the Resurrection of Jesus. Are there Historical evidences to support this claim?

Is the resurrection the only plausible theory in the pool of Fraud(e.g disciple lied, stole the body), Psychological phenomena(e.g hallucination, delusion, vision), wrong tomb, apparent death, mythical(e.g Jesus story is a copycat of Osiri, Mythra etc)?

Can an intelligent and reasonable person accept the resurrection of Jesus?

Rules of the Blogtalk:

This blog is not responsible for any content you submit. I reserve the right, but undertake no duty, to review, edit, move, or delete any content submitted by users, in my sole discretion, without notice, including but not limited to the following reasons:

  1. Do not post junk mail, pyramid schemes, chain letters or advertisements.
  2. Do not post obscene, indecent, hateful, offensive, defamatory, abusive, harassing or profane material
  3. Do not engage in personal attacks.
  4. Vulgar and insulting nicknames will be removed. Nicknames attempting to impersonate other users will be removed.
  5. Do not post copyrighted material, including newsletter items, newspaper articles, excerpts from books, music, poems, photographs, video files or any other material, unless you own the copyright to that material, or have written permission to post it.
  6. Do not use multiple account nicknames in one discussion. Do not answer your own posts using another nickname.
  7. Keep your messages on topic for the particular discussion you are involved in.
  8. Do not post links to other non-related topic(s).

Less than 200 words is most encourage to keep the dialogue in a coffee “like” a normal conversation.

Case for Resurrection of Jesus:

An event is considered Historical if the reasons for accepting it significantly outweigh the reasons for rejecting it.

Use of Minimal Facts Approach: I will use facts that are strongly attested and accepted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject of Resurrection of Jesus, even the skeptical ones.

  • Use of Minimal Facts Approach will help us in keeping the dialogue from diverging into less important issue(i.e strawman and red herrings e.g creationism, evolution, problem of evil etc)

The Case for the resurrection present is not based on the inspiration or inerrant of the Bible. The Bible(NT) is going to be used as an ordinary historical Greek manuscripts.

There are four historical facts which must be explained by any adequate historical hypothesis:

  1. Jesus’ death and burial
  2. the discovery of his empty tomb
  3. his post-mortem (after death) appearances
  4. the origin of the disciples’ belief in his resurrection.

Fact #1: After his crucifixion Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb.

Fact #2: On the Sunday after the crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers.

Fact #3: On different occasions and under various circumstances different individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead.

Fact #4: The original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary.

Claim: The only plausible Historical Hypothesis that explain the four Factors is Resurrection of Jesus.

Key Things To Know:

C. Behan McCullagh’s 7 Factors Historians Use to Test Historical Hypothesis

  1. The hypothesis, together with other true statements, must imply further statements describing present observable data.
  2. The hypothesis must have greater explanatory scope (that is, imply a greater variety of observable data) than rival hypotheses.
  3. The hypothesis must have greater explanatory power (that is, make the observable data more probable) than rival hypotheses.
  4. The hypothesis must be more plausible (that is, be implied by a greater variety of accepted truths, and its negation implied by fewer accepted truths) than rival hypotheses.
  5. The hypothesis must be less ad hoc (that is, include fewer new suppositions about the past not already implied by existing knowledge) than rival hypotheses.
  6. The hypothesis must be disconfirmed by fewer accepted beleifs (that is, when conjoined with accepted truths, imply fewer false statements) than rival hypotheses.
  7. The hypothesis must so exceed its rivals in fulfilling conditions (2)-(6) that there is little chance of a rival hypothesis, after further investigation, exceeding it in meeting these conditions.”(cited from Reasonable Faith, 3rd Edition, p. 233:)

Indications of Authenticity or Signs of Credibility:

6 Factors that increases the probability that a saying event S is authentic or credible

What are some of the factors that might serve the role of E in increasing the probability of some saying or event S? The following are some of the most important:

(1) Historical congruence: S fits in with known historical facts concerning the context in which S is said to have occurred.

(2) Independent, early attestation: S appears in multiple sources which are near to the time at which S is alleged to have occurred and which depend neither upon each other nor a common source.

(3) Embarrassment: S is awkward or counter-productive for the persons who serve as the source of information for S.

(4) Dissimilarity: S is unlike antecedent Jewish thought-forms and/or unlike subsequent Christian thought-forms.

(5) Semitisms: traces in the narrative of Aramaic or Hebrew linguistic forms.

(6) Coherence: S is consistent with already established facts about Jesus.(cited from Reasonable Faith)

The BlogTalk is now open for comment in a dialogue-like Talk.

Questions:

What do think about Resurrection of Jesus hypotheses.? Do you have objection(s) on the Resurrection of Jesus hypotheses.?  If yes, give reasons to your objection.

What would it take for one to accept the Historical resurrection of Jesus? Which Historical Fact above do you wish to be explained?

Welcome, the comment combobox is now open…

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43 thoughts on “Join A BlogTalk: Historical Evidence For Resurrection of Jesus

  1. My simplified objection can be found above under the heading “MIRACLES AND HISTORICAL METHODOLOGY” (Dated February 26, 2011 at 00:55)

      • You’re simply avoiding the objection altogether now, Prayson. I must have posted it, simplified it, and re-posted it again several times already, and each time you avoid answering it, instead telling me that you don’t understand it, or that you don’t understand certain words, or that I haven’t answered a completely irrelevant question of yours.

        So, please, respond to the objection.

      • I have answered “MIRACLES AND HISTORICAL METHODOLOGY” on February 26, 2011 at 14:09.

        And from there you have not answer the questions I set forth namely:

        How does John Dominic Crosson defend the position that Jesus’ twin brother, Judas Didymus Thomas theory more probable than traditial Resurrection theory.

        How does he explain the empty tomb?
        How does he explain the rise of Christianity?
        How does he explain the change in heart church presecutor Saul of Tarsus and Jesus’ skeptic brother James

        How does John Dominic Crosson defend the position that Jesus’ twin brother, Judas Didymus Thomas theory more probable than tradition Resurrection theory.

        How does he explain the empty tomb?
        How does he explain the rise of Christianity?
        How does he explain the change in heart by church persecutor Saul of Tarsus and Jesus’ skeptic brother James?

        Does it pass the C. Behan McCullagh’s 7 Factors Historians Use to Test Historical Hypothesis Test.

        See February 26, 2011 at 14:09 for my refutation.

  2. Prayson said, “Why can not History tell us that these original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary?”
    History can give us lots of probable explanations for this. In fact I’ve already given you one. One which was used by the early Syriac Christian Church (i.e. Jesus’ twin brother, Judas Didymus Thomas)

    • Could you academically defend this position, namely early Syriac Christian Church (i.e. Jesus’ twin brother, Judas Didymus Thomas).

      What is your source, what is the dating of your source, which historian scholars hold this position and how?

      • See The Gospel of Thomas.

        Also see Richard Bauckham, “Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church”, 2004

        Also, John Dominic Crosson, “Mark and the relatives of Jesus”. Novum Testamentum, 15, 1973

        Amongst many, many other sources

      • I believe you have left these question out:

        What is the dating of the gospel? Are there other independent early attestation supporting that position?(new)

        How does John Dominic Crosson hold or defend this position and how.

    • Prayson asked, “What is the dating of the gospel?”
      Scholars have proposed a date as early as AD 60 or as late as AD 140 for the Gospel of Thomas.

      “How does John Dominic Crosson hold or defend this position and how”
      What position might that be, Prayson?

      I have more than a sneaking position that you’ve completely misunderstood my earlier comment, but I’ll wait to see what you have to say before I offer anything further.

      All the best,

      Stephen Butterfield.

      • How does John Dominic Crosson defend the position that Jesus’ twin brother, Judas Didymus Thomas theory more probable than traditial Resurrection theory.

        How does he explain the empty tomb?
        How does he explain the rise of Christianity?
        How does he explain the change in heart church presecutor Saul of Tarsus and Jesus’ skeptic brother James

        How does John Dominic Crosson defend the position that Jesus’ twin brother, Judas Didymus Thomas theory more probable than tradition Resurrection theory.

        How does he explain the empty tomb?
        How does he explain the rise of Christianity?
        How does he explain the change in heart by church persecutor Saul of Tarsus and Jesus’ skeptic brother James?

        Does it pass the C. Behan McCullagh’s 7 Factors Historians Use to Test Historical Hypothesis Test

        1

        . The hypothesis, together with other true statements, must imply further statements describing present observable data.
        2. The hypothesis must have greater explanatory scope (that is, imply a greater variety of observable data) than rival hypotheses.
        3. The hypothesis must have greater explanatory power (that is, make the observable data more probable) than rival hypotheses.
        4. The hypothesis must be more plausible (that is, be implied by a greater variety of accepted truths, and its negation implied by fewer accepted truths) than rival hypotheses.
        5. The hypothesis must be less ad hoc (that is, include fewer new suppositions about the past not already implied by existing knowledge) than rival hypotheses.
        6. The hypothesis must be disconfirmed by fewer accepted beleifs (that is, when conjoined with accepted truths, imply fewer false statements) than rival hypotheses.
        7. The hypothesis must so exceed its rivals in fulfilling conditions (2)-(6) that there is little chance of a rival hypothesis, after further investigation, exceeding it in meeting these conditions.”(cited from Reasonable Faith, 3rd Edition , p. 233:)

      • Prayson asked, “How does John Dominic Crosson defend the position that Jesus’ twin brother, Judas Didymus Thomas theory more probable than traditial Resurrection theory.”
        He doesn’t defend that position. I never said that he did.

        Like I feared, you’ve completely misunderstood the point I made.

        So I’ll break it down as simply as I can in to one comment. Give me a moment

  3. Prayson said, “Lets worry about miracle after what seeing what history has to offer, if that is okay!”
    And what “history” might that be, Prayson?

      • Prayson, I’ve responded to these points twice already. What part of my objection do you not understand?

      • I don’t understand your objection. Will you be kind and explain your objection! I have tried to read and reread but I just can not follow your argument in your objection.

      • Is this your objection/rebuttal

        Any PROBABLE explanation (however improbable) for the “4 facts” (I even gave you a couple of examples) is MORE PROBABLE than a miracle, because a miracle, by it’s very nature, is the LEAST PROBABLE occurrence.

        ?

        Logical form:

        1. Miracle by very nature is least probable(Your major premise)
        2. Therefore any probable explanation for the 4 facts is more probable than a miracle(your conclusion)

      • Prayson said,
        “1. Miracle by very nature is least probable(Your major premise)
        2. Therefore any probable explanation for the 4 facts is more probable than a miracle(your conclusion)”
        That is correct

      • Before I go into the logic in your argument, I would ask your to define the following terms which are “Obscure”(unclear meaning) due to Vagueness(an imprecise boundary) thus help me not attack a straw man:

        1. Least probable
        2. Any probable explanation
        3. More probable

        How least is least? how any is any? and how more is more?

        Help me see the precise boundary of your words, and if you can use clear words to give the same argument above will be super.

      • Prayson asked, “How least is least? how any is any? and how more is more?”
        I’m sorry Prayson but your comment above is unintelligible. The words “least”, “any” and “more” are simple enough to understand, and I’m sure you don’t need me to act as dictionary for you (with respect).

      • Prayson said, “..we can not use vague words”
        Huh? How can we possibly have a discussion if you’re not familiar with the words “least”, “any” and “more”?

        This conversation has almost ground to a halt. If I can do anything to help, I will. But basic words shoudln’t be so much of a problem for you, surely?

      • Stephen,

        Vague is good in day to day langauge, and I do understand the meaning of any, least and more. The problem is, there is no precise limit in this words.

        How many is many, 2, 3. 4, 100, 10000, the word many has no precise value that can be used logically.

        “He is old” is good statement in normal day to day talk, but in logic, this statement is useless, since we do not know how old is old, 1 month old? 2 years? 50 years? 70?

        He is 15 year old, is more precise, because old now is defined to a precise value(namely 15 years).

        In the same way I would like you to give a precise value of your words.

        If not, I am sorry I do not know what to with your argument since it is logically useless.

      • MIRACLES AND HISTORICAL METHODOLOGY:
        1. Miracles are by their very nature the least probable occurrence.
        2. The resurrection was a miracle.
        3. Historical methodology tries to determine the most probable occurrence to explain an event.
        4. Miracles, being as they are the least probable occurrence, are not accessible by historical methodology (see 3)
        5. Historical methodology cannot determine whether or not the resurrection occurred.

        JESUS TWIN HYPOTHESIS:
        1. Any probable occurrence (however improbable) is more probable than the LEAST probable occurrence (i.e. a miracle)
        2. Ancient Syriac tradition states that Jesus had a twin brother.
        3. It is a probable (though not necessarily true) explanation that the disciples mistook Jesus’ twin for the risen Jesus.
        4. This is more probable an explanation than the least probable (i.e. a miracle).

        Remember, no one is saying that the resurrection didn’t happen. Only that it is not within the scope of historical methodology! The resurrection is a theological question and entirely an issue of faith.

        I genuinely cannot put it any simpler for you.

        Best wishes,

        Stephen Butterfield

      • Hi Stephen,

        Thank you for explain your argument.

        Please defend you premise 3. I will refute it as follows:

        3´ It is false that Historical methodology tries to determine the most probable occurrence to explain an event.

        Defending 3´

        Historical methodology tries to determine the plausible explanation of an event. It does not matter whether the event just happened once.

        The plausible explanation of an event is the one that satisfies C. Behan McCullagh’s 7 Factors Historians Use to Test Historical Hypothesis Test.

        Resurrection of Jesus is the only plausible explanation of the 5 events.

        Jesus Twin Hypothesis Under Test:

        Fail Test 3:

        The hypothesis must have greater explanatory power (that is, make the observable data more probable) than rival hypotheses.

        It does not explain :
        1. the empty tomb,
        2. the change of heart of James, Jesus own other brother who was skeptical about him before the crucifixion,
        3. The change of Saul of Tarsus, persecutor of Church

        Fail Test 5:

        The hypothesis must be less ad hoc (that is, include fewer new suppositions about the past not already implied by existing knowledge) than rival hypotheses.

        This hypothesis is ad hoc, because it introduce Jesus having a twin brothers, unknown to the first church(exp. Gospel of Thomas, which was rejected by the first Church).

        It introduce the the disciple not knowing the difference between Jesus and Judas is supposed twin brother, to mistake that costed their life.

        Fail Test 2:

        The hypothesis must have greater explanatory scope (that is, imply a greater variety of observable data) than rival hypotheses. (Check Test 3)

      • Hello Prayson,

        Prayson said, “I will refute [premise 3] as follows:
        It is false that Historical methodology tries to determine the most probable occurrence to explain an event.
        Historical methodology tries to determine the plausible explanation of an event.”
        Huh? In one breath you say it is false, then the next breath you say it’s true.
        Here’s a definition of “plausible”:

        Plau-si-ble (adj)
        1. Seeming reasonable or probable

        Your argument is self-refuting. How can you say it’s false that historical methodology tries to determine the most probable/plausible occurrence, and then in the next sentence say it’s true??? Please explain that one for me!

        Prayson said, “Jesus Twin Hypothesis Under Test:
        Fail Test 3:
        The hypothesis must have greater explanatory power (that is, make the observable data more probable) than rival hypotheses.
        It does not explain :
        1. the empty tomb,
        2. the change of heart of James, Jesus own other brother who was skeptical about him before the crucifixion,
        3. The change of Saul of Tarsus, persecutor of Church”
        Prayson, I’m not arguing that the Jesus twin hypothesis explains all of the above. I said that it explained the post-mortem sightings. A PROBABLE explanation for the empty tomb could be that Jesus was simply thrown in to a common grave. A PROBABLE explanation for the conversion of Saul could be that he had an internal battle with his conscience, suffering the guilt of his prior persecution of Christians. All these are probable explanations, though not necessarily true.

        As I have said all along. There are many, many PROBABLE explanations for all of the “facts” that you mention, and all of them (however they are combined, and however ad-hoc) are more probable than a miracle because there is not a single event that a miracle cannot answer. What can’t a miracle explain?!

        REMEMBER: I am not arguing FOR these probable explanations as true explanations, and I am not arguing that the resurrection did not occur. Only that historical methodology cannot determine the truth or falsity of the claim that Jesus rose from the dead.

        Also, this is supposed to be a “coffee conversation” so it strikes me as somewhat curious as to why you are only comfortable when you’re pasting great chunks of text from apologetics websites. Please, try and think for yourself, and do use your own words whenever possible. Thank you.

        Best wishes,

        Stephen

        • That is why I asked you do define terms in first place, if you remember, to avoid this stage.

          Least probable as you use, is an event that it occurrence is rare example miracles. Thus when I say Historical mythology tries to determine plausible explanation, I mean it does not care whether the event has least occurrence. If I am wrong in understand your terms, then tell me, define your term.

          If I look at dialogue, I can see now that your primary objection is not an intellectual, but Spiritual barrier. C. Behan McCullagh’s 7 Factors Historians Use to Test Historical Hypothesis is not apologetic “pasting great chunks of text from apologetics websites/book” This test is used by any Historian in academia to test an Historical Hypothesis.

          Because you argue:

          Anything to explain the events but NOT Miracles “however they are combined, and however ad-hoc” , Anything even if they do not pass Historical Hypotheisis test, it does not matter, because If Miracles happened then God exist and that is your biggest objection. This is not an intellectual problem but spiritual.

          If miracle happened c A.D 30-33, then, it best being suppressed by hiding behind your worldview” façade, namely “Only that historical methodology cannot determine the truth or falsity of the claim that Jesus rose from the dead” because if you step outside that, everything will be sheltered. Paul letters to the Romans deal with something almost the same:

          For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, (Romans 1:18-22 ESV)

    • Hello Prayson,

      Prayson said, “Least probable as you use, is an event that it occurrence is rare example miracles. Thus when I say Historical mythology tries to determine plausible explanation, I mean it does not care whether the event has least occurrence.”

      No, you’re completely confused on this issue, and that’s why this conversation is now going round in circles. You seem to think that by “least probable” I mean “only happens once or twice”. That’s not what “least probable” means. It’s a matter of PROBABILITY not SCARCITY. You’re confusing the two.

      I understand that English isn’t your first language Prayson, but it makes complicated discussion almost impossible if I have to spell out, define, simplify, repost and re-iterate every word of every objection that I put forward. And that is what’s been happening over the last few days. Everyone can see that.

      You seem out of your comfort zone if you have to think for yourself, only happy when you’re abe to paste from apologetic websites constantly, and become frantic and confused if the discussion deviates from this path. You fail to respond to my specific questions and even resort to preaching, as you did in your last comment. I’m sorry, but this just isn’t good enough, and makes fruitful dialogue near impossible.

      • Hi Stephen,

        The dialogue is nearly impossible because you do not explain or define your terms when I ask of you and you fail to distinguish between the evidence for resurrection of Jesus and the best explanation of that evidence. Since you are mixing them up.

        Now that you have explained you term, I hope this dialogue will be “possible” 🙂

        Miracle and Probability: Refuting the Argument:

        The argument you gave is copy of David Hume’s argument against miracles(18th century) echoed by Bart D. Ehrman, a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina.

        “Because historians can only establish what probably happened, and a miracle of this nature is highly improbable, the historian cannot say it probably occurred”(Ehrman, “Historical Jesus,” Part II, p. 50)

        What you, following Herman failed to notice is that this argument was refuted by great scholars of Hume’s time, William Paley and George Campbell.

        No modern contemporary philosopher hold this argument in academia Today, because it is rejected as fallacious.Good refutation is found in a great book by John Earman, PhD on Philosophy of Science(who is not a Christian and does not believe God exist, University of Pittsburg) Hume’s Abject Failure: The Argument Against Miracle.


        Would you like me to go through how the argument was refuted in respect to resurrection of Jesus?
        (i.e Calculating the Probability of the Resurrection)

  4. Prayson said, “It is Historical that people believed in Flat earth.”
    Of course it is an historical fact that people BELIEVED that the earth was flat. No one is disputing that. But it is NOT TRUE that the earth was ever flat, despite the fact that people had good reasoning for believing it was. That is a crucial point. One which you must now recognise.

    You must know that people can have all sorts of beliefs about all sorts of things, and they may have very good reasons for believing them, but this doesn’t necessarily make them true, and it is the TRUTH of the resurrection that you are trying to determine. But, as we have now establshed, you can’t determine such a thing based on the fact that people had good reasons for believing it. We can now safely put this to bed.

    Also, you seem to have failed to answer my rebuttal about how and why historians cannot have access to the supernatural, and how and why they work on probability not proof. I state again, the LEAST PROBABLE occurrence (i.e. a miracle; in this case the resurrection) cannot ever be the MOST PROBABLE occurrence, so historians, working on that which is most probable, cannot tell us anything about the resurrection. Do you now understand this crucial objection?

    It would seem, then, that your argument from a historical perspective falls flat before it even begins, unfortunately.

    Rather than address my objection you simply posted those “4 Facts” again. So, here’s a mental exercise for you: Think of an answer to any (or all) of those “4 Facts”, one that is highly improbable but not impossible. Can you do that? Ok, so let’s say, for example, that Jesus wasn’t buried in a tomb at all but was instead thrown in to a common grave. Or perhaps he had a twin brother (as an ancient Syriac tradition tells us) which explains why people thopught they saw him after his death. I don’t subscribe to these particular explanations but you have to acknowledge that even though they are HIGHLY IMPROBABLE they are still MORE PROBABLE than a miracle because a miracle is the LEAST PROBABLE occurrence!

    I’m sorry to say but historical methodology cannot help you with the resurrection.

    As ever, it’s nice talking to you.

    All the best,

    Stephen Butterfield

    • Dear Stephen,

      I will like to know why Historical methodology can not help in knowing(I removed “FACT”):

      #1 After his crucifixion Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb.

      #2: On the Sunday after the crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers.

      #3: On different occasions and under various circumstances different individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead.

      #4: The original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary.

      In deed no one can know anything 100%, it is a fact that you exist, but I am not 100% sure a guy called Stephen exists. You could be an auto-computer answering my comments or just in my imagination.

      Can Historical methodology use to investigated #1-#4?

      I dropped Flat Earth since its has become a red herring. Let focus on Historical Jesus.

      • Hello Prayson,

        Prayson said, “I will like to know why Historical methodology can not help in knowing [that the “4 facts” lead to the conclusion that Jesus was resurrected from the dead]”
        I’ve already answered this in my last response. But I will repeat myself for you:

        Any PROBABLE explanation (however improbable) for the “4 facts” (I even gave you a couple of examples) is MORE PROBABLE than a miracle, because a miracle, by it’s very nature, is the LEAST PROBABLE occurrence.

        I repeat, historical methodology aims to find the most probable explanation for any given event, so historians can never appeal to miracles.

        I can’t put it any easier for you.

        Best wishes,

        Stephen Butterfield

      • Could History not tell us that “The original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary”?

        It does not matter if there belief was true or false, but my question is, Why can not History tell us that these original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary?

        Let try to but our prejudice on “miracle” aside and focus on what history has to offer. Could we do that?

  5. Hello Prayson,

    I’m not so sure that the question of Jesus’ resurrection can be touched by the historical method, even it did happen.

    When dealing with ancient history, historians don’t set out to prove what happened in the ancient past, they work on what MOST PROBABLY occurred in the ancient past. The resurrection of Jesus is a miraculous event, let’s not forget, and miracles are, by their very nature, the LEAST PROBABLE occurrence. So it cannot ever be the case that the historian can demonstrate that the least probable occurrence (i.e. a miracle) was in fact the most probable occurrence.

    Historical methodology, it seems, cannot come to your aid when it comes to the resurrection, unfortunately. The question is for theologians to tackle, not historians.

    All the best,

    Stephen Butterfield

    • Hi Stephen,

      Thank you for the comment above. An event is considered Historical if the reasons for accepting it significantly outweigh the reasons for rejecting it.

      As a Historian interested in finding what happened in Israel c. AD 30-33 last moments of Jesus of Nazareth, evidences is all that we look for. Where these evidence lead us is a secondary goal.

      The resurrection of Jesus is an event claim to be in time and space thus Historical methodology is an avoidable to method to use, to show whether the claim is true or false.

      Jesus’ resurrection is not only for the theologians to tackle, but for everyone in the field of academia because if it’s true, then there is much at stake namely Christian God exist.(We are all theologians,philosophers and historians, both atheist and theist, the question is how good)

      As a Historian, it does not matter whether an event occurred only once or least probable, but what the evidences we have points to.

      • Hello Prayson,

        I think you’ve missed the point of my response. I’m not arguing that historians believe the resurrection didn’t happen, or that it could not have happened, merely that historians cannot tell us either way, because historical methodology works on PROBABILITY not proof. The question of Jesus rising from the dead is for theologians to answer, not historians.

        Remember this very important point: even if the resurrection WAS an historical event, historians cannot demonstrate that it was because the LEAST PROBABLE occurrence (i.e. a miracle) can never be the MOST PROBABLE, for rather obvious reasons.

        Prayson said, “As a Historian interested in finding what happened in Israel c. AD 30-33 last moments of Jesus of Nazareth, evidences is all that we look for… The resurrection of Jesus is an event claim to be in time and space thus Historical methodology is an avoidable to method to use, to show whether the claim is true or false.”
        Yes, we do look for evidence. Historians may be able to tell us that a certain man lived at a certain time and was put to death in a certain manner but they cannot tell us that he was put to death to atone for sins, or that he rose from the dead, or that he flew in to heaven. These require a supernatural explanation and HISTORIANS do not have access to the supernatural.

        Prayson said, “An event is considered Historical if the reasons for accepting it significantly outweigh the reasons for rejecting it.”
        Poor criterion, unfortunately. There have been many instances in the past when men have had better reasons for accepting something than rejecting it. The earth being flat, for example. But it has never been the case historically, despite people having good reasons to believe it, that the earth was ever flat.

        It’s nice talking to you.

        All the best,

        Stephen Butterfield.

      • “An event is considered Historical if the reasons for accepting it significantly outweigh the reasons for rejecting it.”

        It is Historical that people believed in Flat earth. That the earth is still flat, it is Historical that there are no reasons for accepting this view, the reason to reject it significantly outweigh the reson to affirm it.

        Dear Stephen,

        We only wish to use History to tell us:

        Fact #1: After his crucifixion Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb.

        Fact #2: On the Sunday after the crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers.

        Fact #3: On different occasions and under various circumstances different individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead.

        Fact #4: The original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary.

        I think this is open for Historians. What do you think?

  6. Your entire premise falls down very early, because you describe conjecture as fact.

    “Fact #1: After his crucifixion Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb.”

    The argument falls down here. We do not know for certain that a man called Jesus existed. We do not know for certain that a man called Jesus was crucified. We do not know for certain that he was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea.
    Christianity needs to stop using the word “fact” when it means “very loose and unprovable conjecture”.

    • Dear Futiledemocracy,

      Thank you for your comment. The facts that I presented are acceptable by the majority of New Testament scholar in the academia on the subject of resurrection of Jesus. Even the atheist and skeptical ones.

      Do you have sources to back your claims, namely not certain that a man called Jesus was crucified and on?

      Craig Defend #1 as follows:

      Historians have established this fact on the basis of evidence such as the following:

      1. Jesus’ burial is multiply attested in early, independent sources.

      We have four biographies of Jesus, by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which have been collected into the New Testament, along with various letters of the apostle Paul. Now the burial account is part of Mark’s source material for the story of Jesus’ suffering and death. This is a very early source which is probably based on eyewitness testimony and which the commentator Rudolf Pesch dates to within seven years of the crucifixion. Moreover, Paul also cites an extremely early source for Jesus’ burial which most scholars date to within five years of Jesus’ crucifixion. Independent testimony to Jesus’ burial by Joseph is also found in the sources behind Matthew and Luke and the Gospel of John, not to mention the extra-biblical Gospel of Peter. Thus, we have the remarkable number of at least five independent sources for Jesus’ burial, some of which are extraordinarily early.

      2. As a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin that condemned Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea is unlikely to be a Christian invention.

      There was an understandable hostility in the early church toward the Jewish leaders. In Christian eyes, they had engineered a judicial murder of Jesus. Thus, according to the late New Testament scholar Raymond Brown, Jesus’ burial by Joseph is “very probable,” since it is “almost inexplicable” why Christians would make up a story about a Jewish Sanhedrist who does what is right by Jesus.(Raymond E. Brown, The Death of the Messiah, 2 vols. (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1994))

      For these and other reasons, most New Testament critics concur that Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb. According to the late John A. T. Robinson of Cambridge University, the burial of Jesus in the tomb is “one of the earliest and best-attested facts about Jesus.” (John A. T. Robinson, The Human Face of God (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1973), p. 131.)

      Cited from Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus? A Debate between William Lane Craig and Bart D. Ehrman; College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts March 28, 2006

      • “Do you have sources to back your claims, namely not certain that a man called Jesus was crucified and on?”
        – How would it be possible for me to back up a negative? Do you have evidence to back up claims that there isn’t an invisible monkey sat right next to you, right now? The burden of proof is on you believers, to offer some sort of evidence, other than what is written in the Bible; especially given that the Bible has many historical inaccuracies.
        Your citation is meaningless. There is no evidence provided other than what is written in the Bible. That is not evidence. You can’t use “probable” in a court of law.

      • Hello Futile Democracy,

        You are right,the burden of proof is on affirming side. I asked you to give us sources to back up your claim so as to help us see how you reach that conclusion namely it is not certain that a man called Jesus was crucified.

        Remember, we ought to keep this dialogue in coffee-like table talk. I am not here to win, but to share knowledge with brilliant and clever guys like you.

        The 27 NT documents found in the Bible are used in this case as any other Historical sources thus Indications of Authenticity or Signs of Credibility method used by Historians is applied to them by both theist and atheist scholars to find the authenticity and credibility of this documents.

        Non-Christian documents that recorded about this Jesus of Nazareth.

        1. C. Plinius Secundus, governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor letter in AD 112 to Emperor Trajan
        2. Suetonius A.D 120 in Life of Nero(xvi.2)
        3. Cornelius Tacitus, great Roman historian write history of the reign of Nero(The Annals 15.44 c A.D 115)
        4. Flavius Joesphus (lived 37 A.D. – 100 A.D.) Jewish Antiquities 18.3.3
        5. Suetonius’ A.D 120 writing The Life of the Deified Claudius 25.4
        6. Lucian of Samosata, The Death of Peregrine, 11-13(c. mid-second century)

        There also early writing from the Church Fathers between A.D 30-200 that writes on this figure also.

        John Dominic Crossan, one of the top non-Christian Biblical scholar critic,author and lectureron Authority on historical Jesus and First Century Christianity writes


        “That he(Jesus of Nazareth) was crucified is a sure as anything history can ever be”(Jesus:A Revolutionary Biography pg. 145,also 154,196,201).

        Both top Christians and non-Christians(including atheist) scholars affirms that Jesus being crucified is Historical.

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