Did Jesus really come back from the dead? 

Part 3 – More proof historically

How do we know the resurrection wasn’t just a Christian invention? But on that basis how do we know the reports of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar and their exploits weren’t inventions too? Be fair; the same rules apply to all.

History is based on compelling evidence, and the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is compelling all right. According to 1 Corinthians 15:6, for instance, the resurrected Jesus “appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living.” Paul could literally talk to hundreds of people who’d witnessed Jesus alive from the dead. That’s like making a documentary about World War 2 and being able to talk to people who lived through the war and wrote down what they saw and experienced personally. Eye-witness reports like that are a goldmine for historians.

But how did Paul get to hear about these five hundred eye-witnesses in the first place? He answers that in verse 3 when he writes, “For what I received I passed on to you.” All these reports of Jesus’ resurrection had been passed on to him. Many scholars now believe that 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 was a creed or tradition that had been written down within months of Jesus’ resurrection, which Paul then “received” from the apostles in Jerusalem when he visited them in 35 AD (Galatians 1:18-19). 

So Paul is quoting reports about Jesus written just months after Jesus was raised from the dead. And if those reports were wrong then there were plenty of people still living who could have corrected Paul, and he accepts that. His letter was out in the open for anyone to find fault with what he wrote, too.

So now we have hundreds of eye-witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, plus documents written very close to the event confirming it, and copies in circulation already. And historians want lots of copies too, the more the merrier, so they can cross reference what’s written to see if they agree. There are 1,500 recovered manuscripts of Homer’s Iliad about the siege of Troy confirming its authenticity, but there are 5,843 recovered manuscripts of the New Testament. 

Nothing else in the history of that era comes even close to the number of documents we have of the New Testament, giving historians lots of opportunity to find fault. So have they found any faults?.…(continues tomorrow)

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