I can’t lay claim to being great at planning, as I had intended to finish this series some time ago. But with it being Holy Week, and with Easter just around the corner, it seemed a perfect time to conclude by looking at the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus. [Read more...]
When it comes to the Christian faith, there is no doctrine more important than the resurrection of Jesus. Biblical faith is not simply centered in ethical and religious teachings. Instead, it is founded on the person and work of Jesus. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, we as His followers are still dead in our sins (1Cor.15:7). Explanations try to show how something happened. That is, what is the cause for something that has happened. As I have noted elsewhere, the resurrection story started very, very, early. Also, there is an excellent post on the empty tomb issue over at Wintery Knight’s blog.
Anyway, let’s take a look at what explains the resurrection appearances. First, let’s observe the list of appearances:
• Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, shortly after his resurrection (Mark 16:9; John 20:11-18)
• Jesus appears to the women returning from the empty tomb (Matthew 28:8-10)
• Jesus appears to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12,13; Luke 24:13-35)
• Jesus appears to Peter ( Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5)
• Jesus appears to his disciples, in Jerusalem. (Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-23).
• Jesus again appears to his disciples, in Jerusalem. At this time Thomas is present (John 20:24-29).
• Jesus appears to his disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 28:16; John 21:1,2)
• Jesus is seen by 500 believers at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6)
• Jesus appears to James ( 1 Corinthians 15:7)
• Jesus appears to his disciples on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20).
• He appeared to his disciples (Luke 24:50-53).
• He appeared to Paul on the Damascus road (Acts 9:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:8).
I will go ahead and offer some comments from various scholars and what they say about the appearances and the experiences of the disciples: [Read more...]
Is Good Friday a Myth?
“Good Friday? What’s the difference between Good Friday and a fairytale?”
Imagine a skeptical relative asked you this question at a family gathering. I know–Awkward. But really, what would you say?
Something similar happened to me when I was a teenager. But what was odd about it was that this lady just threw out a challenge that seemed to come out of nowhere. Not sure if she even expected a response. I actually had no clue what to say.
Still, it got me thinking, “What should I have said?” What is the different between the crucifixion of Jesus and a fairytale? I had to find some answers for myself.
It is a verse that all of us who are involved in apologetics have grown to love and cherish. 1 Peter 3:15 is the New Testament’s mandate for being always ready to offer a rational defense for the Christian worldview. It is unfortunate, however, that we have come to be so familiar with this verse that we miss its full significance, for the text teaches far more than the need to provide a defense of the faith. This is best seen when read in the context of verse 14 which precedes it. Here’s the text of 1 Peter 3:14-16. Take particular note of the underlined text.
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
Verse 14 in fact contains a quotation (the underlined text) from Isaiah 8:12, in which we read, “Do not call conspiracy all that this people call conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.” Verse 15 of 1 Peter 3 continues the quotation into verse 13 of Isaiah 8, but with a subtle change. Isaiah 8:13 reads, “But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy.” Compare this to the start of 1 Peter 3:15: “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy.” Peter has replaced “the Lord of hosts” from Isaiah 8:13 with “Christ the Lord”, asserting that it is He whom we are to regard as Holy. In so doing, the Apostle Peter has here effectively identified Jesus as being of the same essence as Yahweh, another Biblical proof of the deity of Christ.
When it comes to the formation of the early Jesus movement, 1 Corinthians 15: 3-7 is a crucial element to the proclamation of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. In relation to early testimony, historian David Hacket Fisher says, “An historian must not merely provide good relevant evidence but the best relevant evidence. And the best relevant evidence, all things being equal, is evidence which is most nearly immediate to the event itself.” (1) One key in examining the early sources for the life of Christ is to take into account the Jewish culture in which they were birthed. As Paul Barnett notes, “The milieu of early Christianity in which Paul’s letters and the Gospels were written was ‘rabbinic.’” (2) historical content of the Gospel.
Paul’s usage of the rabbinic terminology “passed on” and “received” is seen in the creed of 1 Cor. 15:3-8:
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 Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers 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, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
The word “received” παραλαμβάνω (a rabbinical term) means to receive something transmitted from someone else, which could be by an oral transmission or from others from whom the tradition proceeds. This entails that Paul received this information from someone else at an even earlier date. 1 Corinthians is dated 50-55 A.D. Since Jesus was crucified in 30-33 A.D. the letter is only 20-25 years after the death of Jesus. But the actual creed here in 1 Cor. 15 was received by Paul much earlier than 55 A.D.
Even critical scholars usually agree that it has an exceptionally early origin Even the co-founder Jesus Seminar member John Dominic Crossan, writes: [Read more...]