Resurrection Of Jesus Christ Essay Research

Resurrection Of Jesus Christ Essay, Research Paper The Resurrection of Jesus Christ No other event in history has been the object of as much scrutiny and

Resurrection Of Jesus Christ Essay, Research Paper

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

No other event in history has been the object of as much scrutiny and

criticism as the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Christ is

the basis upon which all Christianity stands. If the resurrection never

happened, then there would be no Christianity, as the Apostle Paul says in 1

Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless

and so is your faith.” This is why opponents of the Christian faith have tried

to attempt to discredit the Biblical account of the resurrection. Of the many

theories of the resurrection, the Biblical account is the only historically

reliable and possible explanation of the resurrection.

The historical reliability of the Bible is the first matter that needs

to be discussed. There are three criteria that the military historian C.

Sanders lists as principles for documentary historical proof: the

bibliographical test, internal evidence test, and the external evidence test

(McDowell 43). The bibliographical test is the examination of text by the

documents that have reached us. The reliability of the copies of the New

Testament is tested by the number of manuscripts (MSS) and the time intervals

between the time in which the piece of literature was written and our earliest

copy. There are more than 5,300 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament and

10,000 Latin vulgate manuscripts, not to mention the other various translations.

Totally there are around 24,000 total MSS for the New Testament. The next

closest document in respect to MSS is the “Illiad” by Homer, with 643

manuscripts(McDowell 43).

The textual reliability then continues with respect to the time interval

between the original and the first known manuscript. The shorter the interval,

the more reliable the text is. Homer’s “Illiad” was written in 900 BC and the

earliest copy was found in 400 BC. This is compared to the New Testament that

was written from 40-100 AD. The first known manuscript of the New Testament

was found in 125 AD. This twenty-five year gap is very impressive as compared

to the Illiad’s five hundred year span (McDowell 45). This first test has

basically shown that the text which people have in their possession is

essentially the original text.

The second test is the internal evidence test. The internal evidence

test proves whether or not what was recorded is credible and to what extent. Dr.

Louis Gottschalk, former professor of history at the University of Chicago,

states the ability of the writer to tell the truth is helpful in determining

credibility. The “ability to tell the truth” is related in two ways. They are

the witness’s nearness chronologically and geographically (McDowell 51-52). The

New Testament accounts were written by men who were eyewitnesses or related the

story from eyewitness accounts. Chronologically speaking, the Gospels were all

written while people, other than Christians, who had been eyewitnesses to the

life of Christ were still alive. For the most part the non-Christian

eyewitnesses were opponents of the faith. The resulting effect of this would

be the necessity for the disciples to relate the life of Christ accurately due

to the fact that any inaccuracies would have allowed opponents to discredit

Christianity right from the beginning (McDowell 52-53).

The third test to prove historical reliability is that of exterior

evidence. Gottschalk defines external evidence as “conformity or agreement with

other known historical or scientific facts…(McDowell 54).” Other writers are

a great source of exterior evidence. The writings of historian Eusebius, and

Iraneous, Bishop of Lyons, have confirmed the writings of the Apostle John.

These men did their historical writing between 130 and 180 AD. They researched

scrolls from the time of Christ. Archaeology also provides exterior evidence.

Archaeologist Joseph Free states, “Archaeology has confirmed countless passages

which have been rejected by critics as unhistorical and contradictory to known

facts (McDowell 54).” A wonderful example of this is found in Paul’s letter to

the Roman’s. In this letter he makes reference to the city treasurer, Erastus.

A pavement fracture was found during the excavations of Corinth, in 1929, on it

was inscribed the words: “ERASTVS PRO:AED:P:STRAVIT (’Erastus, curator ofpublic

buildings, laid this pavement at his own expense.’)(McDowell 110)”

Archaeologist F.F. Bruce states that this man and the man Paul refers to are one

in the same (McDowell 110). These three tests when applied to the Bible show it

as the most historically reliable text known to man, thus the events found upon

the pages of the Bible are actual historically proven events.

In light of these facts there are still many theories other than that of

the Biblical account. Three of them include the “Visionary” theory, the theft

theory, and the wrong tomb theory. The first theory is that of Strauss, that the

appearances of Jesus after His death on the cross were “visions generated by the

imaginations of the disciples (Ramsey 48).” This may be the easiest of all the

theories to discredit. First of all it does not take into account the inability

of the disciples to grasp this idea that Christ was alive and to recognize Him

for who He was (Ramsey 48). There were many doubters even among those who

walked with Jesus for His three years of ministry. The best known is the story

of Thomas, who didn’t believe until he had touched the wounds on Christ’s hands

(Jn 20:25). There is also the fact that Christ revealed Himself to a group of

people equaling 500 (1 Cor. 15:6), it would be ludicrous to assume that all of

them had seen the same hallucination.

The next major theory is one developed by B.H. Streeter, who states that

the tomb was definitely empty, however the resurrection was not the cause, but

theft (Ramsey 50). Streeter thinks that the disciples had stolen the body to

prove the supernatural claims of Jesus (Wells 206). This theory is also easily

reputed due to two major facts: the Roman Guard and the boulder. First for

anyone to steal the body of Christ the thieves would have to get by the Roman

Guard Unit. According to Josh McDowell, a magna cum laude of Talbot Theological

Seminary, the Roman Guard of that day is considered one of the greatest fighting

forces of all time. A unit consisting of sixteen, eight at a time would guard

the tomb, and every four hours they would be relieved. The Guards were laden

with the best armor and weapons of the time. Their only punishment was death,

these men did not fail assignments (McDowell 227-229). According to Streeter

this unit must have fallen asleep, which if caught, would result in death. Next

is the boulder, it weighed between one and a half to two tons (McDowell 226).

The moving of this boulder would have been a very difficult thing to do without

waking up the Roman Guard.

The third theory is that of Dr. Kirsop Lake who states that the women

who had first seen the empty tomb had gone to the wrong tomb (Ramsey 51). This

theory lacks plain common sense and does not take into account the broken Roman

seal. First these women had followed the tomb owner and the Roman Guard to the

tomb, to see where Jesus was buried (Lk. 23:55). For these women to have gone to

the wrong tomb on that first Easter Sunday then the owner of the tomb, and the

Roman Guard would have all gone to the wrong tomb. The broken Roman seal is

however the icing on the cake. This seal was equivalent to that of police lines

today. The Roman seal was placed on the tomb after being inspected by a guard.

The seal was a cord that stretched across the boulder that was placed at the

tomb entrance, and was sealed at either end with clay. Finally the clay was

stamped with the official mark of the Roman governor (McDowell 230). The seal

was used to show authenticity, to prove that Jesus was inside the tomb (McDowell

230). If the women had gone to the wrong tomb there would have been no broken

seal, because it was not common for dead bodies to be protected by the Roman


The Biblical account of Christ’s resurrection is the only historically

possible version of the resurrection. The other theories that have been

introduced all have large holes in them. Many do not take into account all of

the facts of the resurrection, because they do not view the Bible as the

historically reliable piece of literature that it is. When one takes into

account the reliability of the Bible, and the many facts of the resurrection it

is impossible to conclude any other theory than that of the Bible. Christ died

on the cross for man’s sins. On the third day He rose from the grave, proving

all He had preached and taught. The fact of the matter is this: all the

opponents of Christians at the time of Christ’s resurrection had to do was find

the body and march through the city square. They weren’t able to, because it

wasn’t there, He has arisen, and that’s a fact!