Replying to Findo’s 12 facts: an intro
A few months ago, after a twitter exchange on the topic of the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, I discovered myself, and my argument ‘referenced’ (perhaps too polite a term for what it was) in a podcast where the argument was not so much examined but simply dismissed out of hand and ridiculed. i objected to this irrational response, and a dedicated blog post followed where a somewhat better response was given. The discussion quickly descended to ad hominem arguments against Gary Habermas, however, and I have not yet replied to the opening post specifically. understandably, after the initial name-calling of the podcast it has taken some time for me to take the writer seriously, however we have had much debate and discussion since then, and I thought it about time to reply to this post.
To begin with, the title is quite misleading – they are not my facts so much as the list of ‘facts’ (that is, things considered to have most probably happened in history – one can never be 100% empirically certain about history) that Gary Habermas has establish via extensive literature review ( see here and here) to be accepted by the majority of critical scholars who study this area, even if they reject the resurrection itself.
The list of ‘facts’ are:
- Jesus died due to crucifixion
- …was buried afterwards
- Jesus’ death caused the disciples to experience despair and lose hope, believing that their master was dead.
- The tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered to be empty just a few days later.
- The disciples had real experiences which they thought were literal appearances of the risen Jesus.
- The disciples were transformed from timid and troubled doubters afraid to identify themselves with Jesus to bold preachers of his death and resurrection who were more than willing to die for their faith in him.
- This message was the center of preaching in the earliest church.
- Was especially proclaimed in Jerusalem, the same city where Jesus had recently died and had been buried.
- As a direct result of this preaching, the church was born.
- Featuring Sunday as the special day of worship.
- James, a brother of Jesus who had been a skeptic, was converted when he believed that he saw the resurrected Jesus.
- A few years later, Paul was also converted to the Christian faith by an experience which he, likewise, thought was an appearance of the risen Jesus.
Such facts are crucial in terms of our contemporary investigation of Jesus’ resurrection. With the possible exception of the empty tomb, the great majority of critical scholars who study this subject agree that these are the minimal historical facts surrounding this event. As such, any conclusions concerning the historicity of the resurrection should at least properly account for them.
I will respond to Andrew Skegg’s responses with a point per post over the coming days and weeks.
As we will inevitably be looking at the historical texts collected in the New Testament, it is worth reading J.P Moreland’s short overview of the Historicity of the New Testament.