Evidence that in God All Nations May Trust
- Here is some of the evidence, which you may correct, clarify, or challenge, that:
God, the deity named by the Bible as its Divine Author, is a reliable source of principles that serve the best interests of all the peoples of every nation, because God really is as the Bible describes: Creator of all, and committed to the best interests of all.
Therefore our economy, security, opportunity, and freedom can only grow as we elevate the Bible to dominate our national discussion of whether to fashion our laws after the principles of Heaven or of Hell. Our nation can only benefit as we publicly discuss, and develop consensus on, its meaning and reasonable application to the questions that trouble us.
Not as a “religion” whose expression ought to be “protected” without inquiry whether it has any basis in reality, but as tested, trusted, irrefutably proved truths so essential to our happiness that to kick them to the sidelines of our national discussions is as smart as kicking roses barefoot. (Acts 9:5)
Not to “establish” any religion, which means punishments and rewards in law for religious belief, speech, or worship. But to help identify principles of freedom, business, and opportunity which, applied to our laws, benefit everyone.
Not to surrender law-making to a minority of Bible believers. Not to change the way America’s laws have always historically been shaped: by the votes of the majority, after vigorous national discussion of the facts, the evidence, and of reality. The only difference recommended here is that in that national discussion which always precedes law making, God’s voice not be muzzled, dismissed as irrelevant.
- 1 Why Political Discussion Must Include This Evidence
- 2 Resurrection
- 2.1 No other resurrection was ever Witnessed
- 2.2 Is there any doubt Jesus died?
- 2.3 Evidence of Resurrection - the Highest Standard of Courtroom Evidence: “Worth Dying For”
- 3 Prophecy
- 4 Archaeology
- 5 Scientific Discoveries
- 6 "Difficult" Passages
Why Political Discussion Must Include This Evidence
Freedom of Religion - Past, Present, Future
- This article was published at iPatriot.com March 24, 2018.
“Freedom of religion” meant, at America’s founding, freedom from being forced by jail, torture, or threat of execution to attend, pay, or agree with any church. It meant no “religious test” before one could hold political office, buy land, or become a citizen if one was an immigrant. It meant no discrimination by government to reward or punish religious speech or worship.
Today it also means, not only that government can’t discriminate, but that a merchant can’t “discriminate” against a believer of any religion by refusing to hire him, or serve him as a customer; a landlord can’t refuse to rent to him; and a bank must lend to him.
Even some misdemeanors (violations of minor laws) are “accommodated” for the sake of one’s religion; felonies are not.
Courts define “religion” as any deeply held belief that guides one’s actions, a definition indistinguishable from a definition of insanity; these laws and rulings, from America’s founding through the present, make no inquiry whether the protected belief is grounded in reality.
- The test of religious belief...is whether it is a sincere and meaningful belief occupying in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God of those admittedly qualified for the exemption. U.S. v. Seeger, (1965)
- Determining whether the registrant’s beliefs are religious is whether these beliefs play the role of religion... We think it clear that the beliefs which prompted his objection occupy the same place in his life as the belief in a traditional deity holds in the life of his friends, the Quakers...
- A registrant’s conscientious objection to all war is ‘religious’...if this opposition stems from the registrant’s moral, ethical, or religious beliefs about what is right and wrong and these beliefs are held with the strength of traditional religious convictions. Elliot Welsh v. U.S. (1970)
- A religion need not be based on a belief in the existence of a supreme being...Atheism is indeed a form of religion... The Court has adopted a broad definition of ‘religion’ that includesl non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as theistic ones. Kaufman v. McCaughtry, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, (W.D. WI) August 19, 2005.
“Sexual orientation” is equally “protected”, though it could just as well fall under the protection of religion, since it is a belief that one is a different gender than a glance in the bathroom mirror would indicate, without any requirement that such belief be grounded in reality. Whether or not one was “born that way”, whether or not one has chosen to be “that way” and may choose not to be that way, our sexual choices, courts say, are as much a part of “who we are” as our religious choices.
- “Because sexual orientation is such an essential component of personhood, even if there is some possibility that a person’s sexual preference can be altered, it would be wholly unacceptable for the state to require anyone to do so.” VARNUM v. BRIEN, Supreme Court of Iowa, 763 N.W.2d 862 (Iowa 2009)
Americans have never before been forced to consider the merits of religions in its legal protection of all religions, because the religious accommodations considered in the past were of only minor conflicts with our laws. But with the spread of Islam’s Sharia Law across Europe and lapping at the edges of U.S. law, we find our most heinous crimes protected by Sharia, and our most cherished liberties ruthlessly prosecuted.
This attacks our Rule of Law from two directions. First, through trials over “accommodation” of religious belief. Second, in the understanding by voters of our very definitions of crimes.
In our form of government – a Republic, where “we the people” elect representatives to apply the general principles we support into the making of our laws, our majority chooses the general principles by which we are willing to be governed. To the extent, therefore, that Moslem belief or toleration of Islam influences the majority, then to that same extent, the elements of Sharia must inevitably displace our existing laws, leaving us to be ruled by Islamic clerics.
The Christian shape of our existing laws is obvious from the most cursory comparison of laws created by Christian majorities such as in America, with the laws developed by Hinduism, Islam, atheism, animism, etc. in the absence of Christian influence. But asserting that fact will not be enough to save our laws as Islam grows; it can only paint the target on our laws, for Moslems, a brighter red.
The greatest threat to our laws is not growing Moslem influence, but three other things.
First, our way of life is threatened by the diminishing willingness of Christians to value Christian laws. This results from confusion: our laws treat all religions alike without regard to their merits or their grounding in reality, and citizens too readily confuse what is legal for what is right. So if our laws treat all religions with equal protection, shouldn’t we publicly treat all religions with equal respect? We certainly get creamed by news media if we don’t! But we equally get creamed by other Christians.
Second, our way of life is threatened by the diminishing willingness of all Americans to reason with each other even when we disagree. Personal attacks are, by definition, distractions from evidence and reason. Personal attacks are nothing new, but before the internet, publishers seldom printed or aired anonymous attacks. Now the internet is full of them. Anonymity allows people to be mean, destructive jerks without risking their respectable public image.
Third, Noninvolvement Theologies keep the Light, of what God says about government-protected Darkness, bottled up in church “bushels” (Matthew 5:13-17) where it can’t threaten or embarrass the Darkness. (Renamed “politics”.) Occasional sermons about the Darkness are allowed, but discussion by members on church premises is not allowed to go into more detail about the nature of the government’s role, to establish consensus about God’s political position, or to strategize how members can work together to neutralize it. Members are permitted to do that outside church with strangers, not with fellow members motivated by the same sermons since networking with members isn’t allowed. But Christian activists don’t conduct Bible studies, organizing together outside their many churches, to double check how well their positions really line up with the Bible. So neither inside church nor outside, are the Light and the Darkness brought together.
Islam is forcing Christians off the fence. Unfortunately not all jump wisely. Islam forces Christians whose religion is love and freedom to find a way to stop treating religions of bigotry and torture as their equal, and a handy way to distinguish between them is to observe which one is grounded in reality, and a handy way to establish which one is supported by evidence is to reason with each other in forums as Biblically equipped as churches but which invite reasoning even between people who disagree.
Because if we remain apathetic about reality – equating all religions without inquiring which one is true, we will lose everything. Our freedom, our religion, our economy, our technology, our peace and safety. We will be beheaded for Jesus. And not with those nice, sleek, quick, French guillotines.
God wants us to interact. God wants “all” to vigorously, verbally interact, in church – 1 Corinthians 14. The Bible commands, we ignore. God is sending Moslems to loosen our tongues.
Evidence that Jesus rose from the dead, after being documented to be dead beyond any possibility of natural resuscitation, and whose rising was witnessed by impartial witnesses who had nothing to gain from their testimony, and everything to lose
The Bible says Jesus rose from the dead.
If a book claims something is true, does that prove it is true?
Sometimes. It depends on who published it, how its allegations were tested before publication, and how critics reacted after publication.
Scientific journal articles are peer-reviewed before publication, and often critiqued after publication with attempts to duplicate the research to see if it bears the same results. If post-publication research reaches the same results the article usually becomes widely accepted.
It is simplistic to say “I don’t believe the Bible, so prove whatever you want to prove without quoting the Bible”.
In any court trial, the allegation is part of the evidence. No juror says “I don’t believe the lead witness, so don’t allow the lead witness to testify.” It is the interaction of the witnesses and the circumstances that makes the case. In fact, no one expects every word of a witness to be true. Several witnesses testifying about seeing the same thing will always report contradictory details, sometimes strikingly so, which jurors will dismiss as normal human error, while still regarding the testimony as useful in reaching a verdict.
However, if you fear threats to your opinions, you will need to censor not only the lead witness, but all the rest of the evidence. You will need to make yourself as difficult to reason with as a letter from a bureaucrat. The choice is yours, but be warned: the evidence that Jesus died, beyond any possibility of natural resuscitation, and rose from the dead, is strong. Overwhelming. Who can refute it?
Before we come to that evidence, however, let’s settle whether that claim is even unique. Some say it is not.
No other resurrection was ever Witnessed
Jesus Christ is the only human being in history who died and rose from the dead according to contemporary witnesses recorded in contemporary documents. (As opposed to speculations published centuries later.)
No one has even suggested that Abraham or Moses rose from the dead. (Unless we count the transfiguration reported in Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9.)
No one in Buddha’s day ever saw Buddha rise from the dead.
- The original accounts of Buddha never ascribe to him any such thing as a resurrection; in fact, in the earliest accounts of his death, namely, the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, we read that when Buddha died it was “with that utter passing away in which nothing whatever remains behind.” (Therefore Stand, by Wilbur Smith, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1945, page 385.)
None of Sakya Muni’s followers noticed him wandering around anywhere after he died. Smith continues,
- “Professor Childers says, ‘There is no trace in the Pali scriptures or commentaries (or so far as I know in any Pali book) of Sakya Muni having existed after his death or appearing to his disciples.’”
Mohammed died 632 AD at Medina. Certainly no Moslem is about to allege he rose from the dead, since pilgrimages to Medina, to visit the occupied tomb of Mohamed, is a staple of Islam. The Koran solves the problem of Jesus offering the ultimate proof of His divinity while Mohamed couldn't do the simplest miracle, by claiming Jesus didn't rise either:
- 4.157 [The Jews said] Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa of Marium, the apostle of God; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure.
- 4.158 Nay! God took him up to Himself; and God is Mighty, Wise.
- 4.159 And there is not one of the followers of the Book but most certainly believes in this before his death, and on the day of resurrection he (Isa) shall be a witness against them.
Confucius? Did anyone ever allege he rose from the dead? I came across the allegation, that he was seen carrying one shoe, in the literature of an obscure New Age group 35 years ago - "Holy Order of MANS" - which has since converted to an orthodox Christian group. But [www.tslpl.org/history2/820826.htm the St. Louis Public Library] says it wasn’t Confucius carrying that shoe, but Bodhidharma, a Buddhist missionary from Southern India to China, who died in 530 AD.
Fascinating allegation, that Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, died and is still in his tomb, but one of his missionaries rose from the grave leaving his tomb empty. Maybe the difference is that when Buddha died, before Jesus’ resurrection, it never occurred to anybody to compete with such unimaginable credentials; but after Jesus’ resurrection, the Buddhists were feeling some competition and needed a better story.
Of course, even with this motive, the idea of just silently carrying a shoe falls way short, in profundity, of Jesus’ inspiring post-death teachings to hundreds.
There is no claim that Bodhidharma’s death was clearly beyond the possibility of resuscitation. In fact, there was only one known witness to the claim that he even died before he was seen alive, who was hardly an impartial witness: a disciple named Huike, first written about over a century later. Obviously the documentation that Bodhidharma actually died before being seen alive is nothing like the documentation of Jesus’ death.
The earliest recorded claim of his resurrection is dated four centuries after the alleged fact.
In contrast to the 5,600 Greek New Testament manuscripts dating to within 100 years of Jesus’ crucifixion, the fewer than a dozen earliest writings about Bodhidharma are dated centuries apart from each other and they can’t even agree on which century Bodhidharma lived in.
Wikipedia summarizes the confusion over when Bodhidharma lived:
- The accounts also differ on the date of his arrival, with one early account claiming that he arrived during the Liu Song dynasty (420–479) and later accounts dating his arrival to the Liang dynasty (502–557). Bodhidharma was primarily active in the territory of the Northern Wei (386-634). Modern scholarship dates him to about the early 5th century.
A breakdown by tamqui.com lists the various writers, when they wrote, and which one first told about carrying the shoe:
- 547 AD Bodhidharma claimed to be 150 years old. He was in Luoyang between 516 and 526 according to clues in The Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Luoyang (Luòyáng Qiélánjì), compiled in 547 by Yáng Xuànzhī, a writer and translator of Mahāyāna Buddhist texts into the Chinese language.
- Before 574 AD, Tánlín (506–574) wrote a biography of the “Dharma Master” as a preface to a work attributed to Bodhidharma, Two Entrances and Four Acts.
- Before 667 AD, Dàoxuān (596-667) wrote Further Biographies of Eminent Monks (Xù gāosēng zhuàn), added, to Tánlín’s information, that Bodhidharma arrived in China in 479 Ad was buried by a single disciple, Huike. Clues in the work suggest he died before 534, perhaps during the mass executions at Heyin in 528.
- Before 713 AD, Yǒngjiā Xuánjué (665-713) wrote the Song of Enlightenment (Zhèngdào gē) which says Bodhidharma was the 28th Patriarch of Buddha in one line.
- 952 AD, the Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall (Zǔtángjí) was written that finally has all the traditional elements of the Bodhidharma story, including the resurrection and him carrying one shoe as he walked back to India, leaving his grave empty except for the other shoe, leaving only one recorded witness to his alleged resurrection four centuries before someone finally decided to write down something about the miraculous event. The Anthology says Bodhidharma arrived in China in 527, not 479.
The Wikipedia article tells us that Buddhism is not just an empty religion, it is consciously, deliberately, if not proudly so. Here is an exchange between the only Buddhist monk alleged to have risen from the dead and an emperor, recorded in Wikipedia:
- Emperor Wu: "How much karmic merit have I earned for ordaining Buddhist monks, building monasteries, having sutras copied, and commissioning Buddha images?"
- Bodhidharma: "None. Good deeds done with worldly intent bring good karma, but no merit."
- Emperor Wu: "So what is the highest meaning of noble truth?"
- Bodhidharma: "There is no noble truth, there is only emptiness."
- Emperor Wu: "Then, who is standing before me?"
- Bodhidharma: "I know not, Your Majesty."
Is there any doubt Jesus died?
Is there any doubt Jesus died? That is, outside the claims of the Koran?
It wouldn’t necessarily require a miracle for a man like the Bodhidharma to revive after being assumed dead, and to walk out of his tomb, if it wasn’t sealed too thoroughly, or wasn't sealed at all. By contrast, there was consensus among early writers that Jesus was brutally tortured to death, followed by a spear to His heart, and then sealed in a tomb for three days and nights by soldiers. There was no non-miraculous return to consciousness in Jesus’ cards! Very little chance of regaining consciousness, after a spear thrust to the heart!
How do we know the spear reached Jesus’ heart? Because water and blood poured out of the wound, a thing which doctors can explain today but which is rare enough that the Gospel writer said, in effect, “I know that is going to be hard to believe, but you are going to have to trust me.”
- John 19:35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. (KJV)
John is acknowledging how unusual is what he saw. Whether John means to acknowledge that this will be really hard for his readers to believe, or to say that once they believe it, knowing this happened will really strengthen their faith, John is saying he never heard of anything like this before, blood and water flowing out of a body pierced by a sword!
Bible commentator Adam Clarke analyzes this point:
- “And he knoweth” - This appears to be an appeal to the Lord Jesus, for the truth of the testimony which he had now delivered. But why such a solemn appeal, unless there was something miraculous in this matter? It might appear to him necessary:
- 1. Because the other evangelists had not noticed it.
- 2. Because it contained the most decisive proof of the death of Christ: as a wound such as this was could not have been inflicted, (though other causes had been wanting), without occasioning the death of the person; and on his dying for men depended the salvation of the world. And,
- 3. Because two important prophecies were fulfilled by this very circumstance, both of which designated more particularly the person of the Messiah. A bone of him shall not be broken, Exo_12:46; Num_9:12; Psa_34:20. They shall look upon him whom they pierced, Zec_12:10; Psa_22:16.
This is the only time John said anything like that in his Gospel, indicating John found this incident harder to explain than walking on water, feeding over 10,000 people out of one lunch box, raising the dead, or the many other miracles Jesus did. John would not have put the believability of his book at risk for an unbelievable detail, unless it were true, because John wanted his book to be believed, as he states in John 19:35.
Therefore, the very inclusion of this unbelievable incident in John’s book is considerable evidence that it happened. John had everything to lose, and nothing to gain, by including it. Men will state as the truth what they do not believe (men will lie) when they think that will serve their interests. Men do not lie in order to destroy everything they care about! Only a man’s reverence for Truth can motivate him to state, as fact, what will harm his own interests.
(Had modern doctors been there to explain it for John, the incident would have been easier for John to believe, but his report would be harder for us to believe.)
The unbelievability of what John saw is echoed in the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10, cited by John in his verse 37, a prophecy that people would be amazed at what they saw when Jesus’ side was pierced.
- John 19:34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. 36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
Here is a statement of a couple of doctors confirming what part of the body would contain a water-like fluid; that place is the membrane around the heart, proving the spear must have penetrated that far:
- “It is now well known that the effect of long-continued and intense agony is frequently to produce a secretion of a colorless lymph within the pericardium (the membrane enveloping the heart), amounting in many cases to a very considerable quantity” [Webster and Wilkinson]. Jamieson, Robert ; Fausset, A. R. ; Fausset, A. R. ; Brown, David ; Brown, David: A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, S. Jn 19:34
But every sufferer on a cross suffered “long continued and intense agony”. What explains why so bloody a generation, so accustomed to sword thrusts viewed by thousands in the course of battle and public torture, had never before seen water, or “colorless lymph”, visibly pour out of a wound? Could it be that the particular type of "agony" that causes that fluid is not the agony of torture, but emotions not normally produced by torture?
Either way, the colorless fluid flowing along with blood proves the spear penetrated at least to the edge of Jesus' heart, while the flow of blood proves it penetrated his heart itself, making it inconceivable that he could have survived by any normal means.
It is preposterous enough to imagine than any human body could revive after even the “gentlest” of crucifixions. A spear to the heart, evidenced by the very inclusion of such a questionable detail in John’s Gospel, raises the question of the sincerity of any argument that Jesus didn’t really die!
How did Jesus die? That is, not that there was any lack of possible causes, but what was the final cause of death?
Was it asphyxiation from running out of strength to push his body back up in order to exhale, the usual final cause of death from crucifixion? Did Jesus die of a “broken heart” as Dr. W. Stroud theorized in 1847? Did He die from the spear to his heart, which several reliable early Greek manuscripts include as part of Matthew 27:49?
The following evidence goes beyond “merely” proving that the Bible is the Word of God, to a graphic demonstration of God’s Love for us – which is evidence of His commitment to our best interests.
Jesus died of Heart Failure?
The doctor who started the theory that Jesus died of a broken heart was Dr. W. Stroud, writing almost two centuries ago, in 1847.
- Dr. W. Stroud (Physical Cause of the Death of Christ) argues that this fact proves that the spear pierced the left side of Jesus near the heart and that Jesus had died literally of a broken heart since blood was mixed with water. [Robertson, A.T.: Word Pictures in the New Testament. Oak Harbor : Logos Research Systems, 1997, S. Jn 19:34]
What is speculative is whether the fluid buildup around Jesus’ heart caused a heart attack, killing His body, before the spear ended all controversy about whether He was dead.
What is apparently beyond medical dispute is that intense grief (1) is a major cause of heart attacks, (2) causes colorless fluid to gather in the membrane around the heart, and (3) in rare cases it can cause capillaries near the skin to burst, causing people to literally sweat blood.
But this theory raises the question: if “long continued and intense agony” causes the “colorless lymph” to accumulate around the heart, what explains why so bloody a generation, so accustomed to sword thrusts viewed by thousands in the course of battle and public torture, had never before seen “water” visibly pour out of a wound? Could it be that the particular type of "agony" caused by torture doesn’t produce it – only the heartbreak of rejection?
When someone you love attacks you physically, can the physical pain be dwarfed by the grief that the one you love would return your love so cruelly?
A funeral director, Caleb Wilde, writes that there is even a name for lethal heartbreak: “stress-induced cardiomyopathy”. He says,
- Older couples that have been married for many years suffer intense grief when their spouse suddenly dies. Some times the husband and wife are so close that when the one dies, the other will end up dying soon after because of pain of being separated from their loved one.
- Loneliness and grief often overwhelm bereaved individuals and the toll taken on the heart can be clearly seen. As the mortality statistics indicate this is not myth or romantic fairy tale. All available evidence suggests that people do indeed die of broken hearts. Dr. James Lynch wrote a book called, The Broken Heart,
- Dr. George Ingle from Rochester University Medical School ...170 sudden heart attack deaths. His studies showed that a great majority of sudden death cases had a close personal loss precede their death. The more you love somebody, the more you are hurt when that person dies or rejects you. Can you be so close to somebody that their rejection can literally break your heart?
But is there any evidence that Jesus suffered the heartbreak of rejection? He is God! He is Heaven’s boss! Heaven! What could possibly depress Him?
Nothing – except His love for people who hate Him.
- He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:3.
- “Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone (the stone refers to Jesus) which the builders (teachers of Israel) rejected, this became the chief corner stone;” Matthew 21:42.
- “But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance.’ And they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him” Matthew 22:38-39.
- “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” Matthew 23:37.
- “But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation” Luke 17:25.
- “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and world did not know Him. He came to His own and those who were his own did not receive Him” John 1:10-11.
- “And you are unwilling to come to me that you might have life” John 5:40.
- “’They hated Me without cause’” John 15:25b.
Wilde points out, "love suffers when it cannot give, and intimacy is proportional to grief."
- Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death mat 26:37-38
- Luke 22:44 “And being in agony he was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.”
Wilde writes that C. Truman Davis, M.D. writes in his book, The Crucifixion of Jesus,
- “Though very rare, the phenomenon of Hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under great emotional stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat”....We, therefore, have rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that Our Lord died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure…”
- “Heart failure”, Wilde adds, “that began to develop in the garden when Jesus was sweating blood, continued to build when he was rejected by many of his disciples and came to utter fruition when his people nailed him to a cross.”
Jesus’ heartbreak, because of how sporadically and feebly we return His great love, was certainly as great as that of spouses who lose their spouse to death. His infinite love had to cause Him infinite grief. This must be related to His infinite Wisdom, which also must have caused Him infinite grief, since
- Ecclesiastes 1:18 ...in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
The buildup of fluid, to the extent it is caused uniquely by heartbreak, proves that heartbreak was about to kill His human body, but it doesn’t prove it killed Him before the spear cut open His heart.
A comprehensive medical analysis of all the elements of the crucifixion, including the fluid around the heart, was written by three doctors and published in 1986 in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Reprinted by GodAndScience.org, it includes detailed medical illustrations and medical terminology combined with archeology and analysis of the original Greek text.
Jesus died when He was Ready
John Wesley on Matthew 27:50 -
- After he had cried with a loud voice - To show that his life was still whole in him. He dismissed his spirit - So the original expression may be literally translated: an expression admirably suited to our Lord's words, John 10:18 No man taketh my life from me, but I lay it down of myself. He died by a voluntary act of his own, and in a way peculiar to himself. He alone of all men that ever were, could have continued alive even in the greatest tortures, as long as he pleased, or have retired from the body whenever he had thought fit. And how does it illustrate that love which he manifested in his death? Insomuch as he did not use his power to quit his body, as soon as it was fastened to the cross, leaving only an insensible corpse, to the cruelty of his murderers: but continued his abode in it, with a steady resolution, as long as it was proper. He then retired from it, with a majesty and dignity never known or to be known in any other death: dying, if one may so express it, like the Prince of life.
Ancient Doubt that Jesus Died
Although the water flowing out of Jesus' body was outside the experience of anyone then, the spear thrust, opening a gap in Jesus’ side big enough to insert a hand, John 20:27, should have settled any arguments whether Jesus thoroughly died, a debate begun in John’s time:
- At the time of the writing of this Gospel, Gnosticism and Docetism were current problems. These ideologies denied the reality of the Incarnation and of His death. But the blood and water are firm answers against those heresies. Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 2:340
Another Bible commentary mentions the Docetists:
- Various explanations have been offered regarding the blood and water, but John’s intention here is to affirm the physical reality of Jesus’ death, in contrast to the views held by the Docetists, who claimed that he had only appeared to die. Carson, D. A.: New Bible Commentary : 21st
Century Edition. 4th ed. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA : Inter-Varsity Press, 1994, S. Jn 19:17
Islam denies that Jesus died.
- 4.157 And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of God; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure. 4.158 Nay! God took him up to Himself; and God is Mighty, Wise.
Of course, if the Qu’ran were right, that Jesus neither was killed nor was crucified but was taken directly to God while it only appeared to everybody that He was crucified and resurrected, that would be almost as strong credentials for Jesus’ knowing what He was talking about, and knowing how to preserve a record of what He said, (The Qu’ran claims the Bible has been changed too much for us to ever know what it originally said), as the Gospel version. Weird credentials, but still strong credentials.
Kyle Butt analyzes the “swoon theory”, that Jesus was indeed crucified but later revived:
- It is at this point in our study that some would suggest that Hugh Schonfield’s infamous “Swoon Theory” should be considered. Schonfield (1965) postulated that Christ did not die on the cross; rather, He merely fainted or “swooned.” Later, after being laid on a cold slab in the dark tomb, He revived and exited His rock-hewn grave. Such a theory, however, fails to take into account the heinous nature of the scourging (sometimes referred to as an “intermediate death”) that Christ had endured at the hand of Roman lictors, or the finely honed skills of those Roman soldiers whose job it was to inflict such gruesome punishment prior to a prisoner’s actual crucifixion.
- To press the point, in the March 1986 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, William Edwards and his coauthors penned an article, “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” that employed modern medical insight to provide an exhaustive description of Jesus’ death (256:1455-1463).
- Sixteen years later, Brad Harrub and Bert Thompson coauthored an updated review (“An Examination of the Medical Evidence for the Physical Death of Jesus Christ”) of the extensive scientific evidence surrounding Christ’s physical death (2002). After reading such in-depth, medically based descriptions of the horrors to which Christ was exposed, and the condition of His ravaged body, the Swoon Theory quickly fades into oblivion (where it rightly belongs). Jesus died. Upon this, we all most certainly can agree. (www.apologeticspress.org, Apologetics Press: Reason & Revelation, Feb 2002 – 22:9-15, by Kyle Butt, M.A.)
Evidence of Resurrection - the Highest Standard of Courtroom Evidence: “Worth Dying For”
Ignatius was convinced that Jesus rose from the dead. He didn’t just say it in his fund raising letters. He said it on his way to die for believing it. Many lie to impress others, in order to acquire more admiration, influence, or money. No one will die, like Ignatius did, for a lie.
Ignatius lived from 50-115 AD. He was a pupil of the Apostle John, and Bishop of Antioch. His letters which survive today were written during his journey to be martyred. On the road, he knew he would be given one more chance to live if he would just renounce Jesus. The conclusions he wrote down show that he was asking himself the same questions we would ask, in his shoes: “Now did Jesus really die, or did it just look like it? Is Jesus really Italic textGod, worthy of my worship, who died willingly, for me? Worth me dying for? Or just another man with some good ideas, who got himself in more trouble than he could get out of?”
He must have been recalling every interview he had ever had with anyone who said they saw him resurrected, or saw the miracles of Crucifixion Day, or heard the lame excuses of the Sanhedrin soldiers who couldn’t keep the tomb sealed. Here are some of Ignatius’ conclusions:
- He was crucified and died under Pontius Pilate. He really, and not merely in appearance, was crucified, and died, in the sight of beings in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth.
- He also rose again in three days....On the day of the preparation, then, at the third hour, He received the sentence from Pilate, the Father permitting that to happen; at the sixth hour He was crucified; at the ninth hour He gave up the ghost; and before sunset He was buried.
- During the Sabbath He continued under the earth in the tomb in which Joseph of Arimathaea had laid Him.
- He was carried in the womb, even as we are, for the usual period of time; and was really born, as we also are; and was in reality nourished with milk, and partook of common meat and drink, even as we do. And when He had lived among men for thirty years, He was baptized by John, really and not in appearance; and when He had preached the gospel three years, and done signs and wonders, He who was Himself the Judge was judged by the Jews, falsely so called, and by Pilate the governor; was scourged, was smitten on the cheek, was spit upon; He wore a crown of thorns and a purple robe; He was condemned: He was crucified in reality, and not in appearance, not in imagination, not in deceit. He really died, and was buried, and rose from the dead. (“Ignatius’ Epistle to Trallians”, Ante-Nicene Christian Library: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers. Ed. by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Vol. 1. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1867, p. 199-203.)
Josephus. Here is the account of Josephus, the nonChristian hired by the Roman government to write a history of the Jews. Being on the payroll of a government busy persecuting Christians, it is hard to imagine what would motivate him to make up details like these:
- Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. he drew over to him many Jews, and also many of the Greeks. This man was the Christ. And when Pilate had condemned him to the cross, upon his impeachment by the principal men among us, those who had loved him from the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive on the third day, the divine prophets having spoken these and thousands of other wonderful things about him. And even now, the race of Christians, so named from him, has not died out. (Josephus, AJ, 18.3.3.)
Regarded as Scripture by Witnesses with Nothing to Gain, Everything to Lose
- Most men will embrace a myth to save their skins. No man will embrace a myth in order to feel his skin peeled off his bleeding, screaming body.
The entire New Testament was written by men who lived during Jesus’ generation. The dates assigned by scholars do not vary by more than a few years. The books were quickly regarded as Scripture: we know this not only because Peter described Paul’s writings as “Scripture” in 2 Peter 3:16, but also because of the accurate way it was preserved: by scribes taking the same care that had been taken to pass down the Old Testament for the past 4,000 years – so that by the 3rd century, by which time some 5,600 copies were made which we still have today, there was not found a discrepancy from one copy to the other so dramatic as a single phrase.
The only exception is the small number of earlier Egyptian manuscripts, not discovered until about a century ago, which uniformly leave out several whole sentences found in the “majority texts”. But even these minority texts do not vary by so much as a phrase from all the other Greek texts, in those verses which all reproduce. Nothing like this is true of any other literature besides the Bible. Shakespeare is only 400 years old, yet entire sections of it are in doubt as to the original scenes. There is no other ancient literature of which we have copies even 1,000 years old.
The fact that these writings were regarded as Scripture very early, plus the large number of copies which survived, shows that they were widely distributed. The fact that these writings were widely distributed among people who had lived through the events written about shows they must have been accurate, or witnesses would have risen to denounce their accuracy, which would have torpedoed their status as the Word of God. The fact that witnesses did not expose the Scriptures as frauds is very strong proof that they were not frauds, considering how powerfully motivated witnesses were to try! No one likes to be eaten by lions!
Buddha was born a prince. He may have renounced his kingdom and lived as a pauper, but he could not renounce his status. He had star power. He was not persecuted for his faith. He was safe and secure, and his followers added to their status, safety, and security by believing him, so they had nothing personal to gain by being critical of him, and probably something to gain by overlooking any flaws they perceived.
Mohamed was a ruthless military leader obsessed with swordpoint conversions and gruesome tortures of “unbelievers” in himself. His followers had, therefore, every personal reason to overlook any discrepancy in his writings or life. To this day any serious criticism of Mohammed or Islam may generate a “fatwah”, an order from Muslim clerics justifying anyone willing to kill the critic.
None of those incentives to reverence their hero existed for followers of Jesus!
The first Christians had nothing personal to gain, and everything personal to lose, by believing the New Testament or any of its claims. They had every personal reason to find any fault with it they could, any excuse they could muster to renounce Jesus and deliver themselves from lions or worse.
Yet they found no fault with it. That is, those who renounced it at swordpoint could not do so persuasively or with sufficient evidence or credible testimony to escape the impression that it was terror talking, not honesty.
The Christians, rather, regarded it as Scripture, and were willing to suffer horrible deaths for their allegiance to it, after comparing its words with their memories of what they had lived through.
They not only believed it but gave their lives for its hope.
Not just a few nutcakes, but martyrs by the hundreds of thousands, including the cream of society, including powerful generals and political leaders.
All this is extremely powerful evidence that the events reported by the New Testament were real historical events which occurred just as the New Testament reports.
Kim Jong Ill 2, the self proclaimed "god" who ruthlessly rules North Korea, fills his land with literature about his divinity and there are probably people who actually believe him. Extremely few who do not believe him dare to say so publicly. The only reason the literature exists is because he controls police who enforce its distribution and reverence.
The opposite incentives existed after the resurrection of the Son of God.
Most men will embrace a myth to save their skins. No man will embrace a myth in order to feel his skin peeled off his bleeding, screaming body. Romans 14:7-8 makes the same point, concerning the world then, in every part of which, Christianity was punished brutally: no one lives for Christ for his own benefit, and no one at all dies for his own benefit! Much less dies a horrible death! So the very fact that someone is “taking arrows” for Jesus proves he believes in – is living for – something greater than himself.
- Romans 14:7 For none of us [Christians] liveth to [benefit] himself, and no man dieth to [benefit] himself. (KJV)
(Technical note of Greek grammar: “liveth to himself”, KJV, is the Dative case in Greek, which can denote the purpose of the action of the verb. It is called the “Dative of Purpose.” It is called the “Dative of Benefit (or harm)” when the dative “expresses the advantage or disadvantage of something for someone. For example:... ‘Every man toils for himself.” See Wikipedia.
Now look at some of the statements the first Christians believed, for which they joyfully gave “the ultimate sacrifice”.
- Acts 1:3 ...he shewed himself alive [to His apostles] after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
There could not be a clearer statement that the evidence Jesus gave that it was really Him in His resurrected body, not some ghost or vision, was of the highest quality by any courtroom or scientific standards. These statements were accepted as not merely accurate, but infallible – worthy to be classified as Scripture – by the first Christians, who lived through these events. And not merely infallible, but worth dying for.
The lowest standards of evidence in American courts is called “Preponderance of Evidence”. It means that if 51% of the judge’s mind thinks “guilty” and only 49% thinks “innocent”, then you are guilty. It is used in child abuse cases to decide if your children should be taken away from you because you abused them. It is used in divorce cases by the judge to decide which parent should receive primary custody of the children.
A higher standard is “Clear and Convincing Evidence”. It is used in divorce cases to decide if the parent not given primary custody of the children should also be deprived of “joint legal custody”, meaning access to the child’s school, legal, and medical records.
The highest standard in American courts, the goal of juries in all criminal cases, is “Beyond Reasonable Doubt”.
God offers a level of evidence far higher: “Worth Dying For”. No American court asks, expects, or achieves that level of evidence.
Here is another statement in the Bible about the factual foundation of the New Testament, which billions of Christian “witnesses” (the meaning of the Greek word “martyrs”) have found “Worth Dying For”:
- Luke 1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 2 Even as they delivered [reported] them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; 3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect [complete] understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, (seeker of Wisdom) 4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Luke says, in other words, that he based his writing on thorough, scrupulous investigative reporting, relying on eyewitness reports.
His claim, by itself, proves nothing. I could write my own version of Jesus’ ministry and claim I was there. My claim wouldn’t prove I was.
But in court, when all the witnesses agree with the defendant, that is accepted as strong evidence that the defendant is telling the truth. Many witnesses to Jesus’ ministry lived long enough to read Luke’s account of it, and accepted it as not merely accurate, but inspired.
In other words, Luke’s writings were not merely accepted, but revered.
Luke claimed not only to be an accurate reporter, but an insider. Indeed, many of the events Luke reports in Acts are in second person, showing he was one of the participants in the events. This, too, was accepted by the great majority of his readers as fact, we may infer from the reverence for his writing.
(Exactly how early Luke’s writings were accepted as Scripture, we don’t know. But Luke’s statements about the resurrection were corroborated by Paul, whose writings were accepted as “Scripture” by no less than Peter, as we shall soon see.)
The people of the time, who lived through the events reported by Luke, read Luke’s books and must have agreed that he had interviewed many eyewitnesses and was an honest, fair reporter of the highest quality, and also an “insider”. They had so much reverence for it that they faithfully hand-copied thousands of copies – a tedious, expensive process – and distributed it to readers who trusted it so thoroughly that they risked being tortured for believing it.
Had Luke written only philosophical statements, without all the talk of witnesses and “infallible proofs”, his writing might have passed as Scripture without anyone thinking his stories were historically accurate. After all, many New Age religions offer to tell you what God thinks, without describing any testable historical details. Or at least without insisting that the stories they tell really happened. They are taken as myths, or analogies.
But when Luke spoke of investigative reporting by an insider with access to eyewitness reports and infallible proofs, there was no possibility that the first Christians could dismiss Jesus’ resurrection as a myth – just a story with a lesson whose events never actually happened.
Either they had to accept the resurrection as historically accurate, or they had to dismiss the writings as certainly not inspired by God. (And, therefore, not worth dying for.)
The fact that they accepted Luke’s writings as the Words of God proves they literally believed Jesus thoroughly died, with no physical way to ever revive; but yet that he then rose again in the very same completely physical body, yet far more glorious than before.
The fact that Luke’s reports survived, at such terrible personal cost, proves people believed them. And they didn’t just believe them because Luke, Paul, and others wrote about it, but because what they read lined up with what they themselves witnessed.
All of this we can know just by knowing when the New Testament books were written, and by appreciating their very early status as Scripture which is confirmed by the almost superhuman care with which such a large number of copies were made with such remarkable consistency.
The Resurrection: Central to New Testament Writings
Next we can observe that the resurrection of Jesus was the cornerstone of everything taught in the New Testament. Jesus’ death was reported in far greater detail in the Gospels than any other event or teaching of Jesus, and His death and resurrection, more than anything Jesus taught, are the hinge upon which all New Testament teaching turns. For example,
- 1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.... 30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
- Romans 10:8 ... the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
If the resurrection were an obscure sidebar in the New Testament, we might be able to imagine the thousands of witnesses to Jesus’ life, death, and the hundreds of witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, accepting the rest of the New Testament as Scripture even if they didn’t agree that He rose from the dead. But with the Resurrection the central theme of the New Testament, it is impossible that all those witnesses could accept the New Testament as Scripture, unless it was confirmed by what they had lived through – that is, what they had personally witnessed, or heard from some of the 500 eyewitnesses.
Acts 2 reports a time when the 120 disciples, along with the 11 apostles, (Acts 1:15), all began miraculously speaking in languages which people from all around the world were able to understand in their mother tongues. That was a pretty spectacular event! If that really happened, there were a lot of people who remembered it for a long time; and if it never happened, there is no way a statement that it happened could be widely distributed and accepted as the Word of God. Now look at the speech which Peter is reported to have given at that event. Peter is alleged to say that Jesus’ resurrection was prophesied, that Jesus did rise, and that “we all are witnesses”. The fact that witnesses to these events and to that speech were still alive as Acts was being circulated, yet that Acts was counted as Scripture, proves the report must be accurate. The miracle of Tongues really did happen, and Peter really did tell the crowd what is reported here.
:Acts 2:29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
Consider what that proves, if Peter really did deliver such a speech, 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:6, also counted as Scripture by those early witnesses, says Jesus appeared to 500 people at just one of His appearances. And now the crowds, from all over the world, there to celebrate the Pentecost in the Holy City, are told that Jesus rose from the dead and was seen by all the people preaching in those miraculous tongues.
How would the crowds have responded, if they had seen or heard no credible evidence of the resurrection claim? They had to know about the evidence, because, told this astonishing claim, that a man who had been thoroughly killed and mutilated had risen from the dead in a physical yet now glorious body, a thing never before, in all the history of the world, been even imagined, and was dangerous to imagine given the hostility of the Sanhedrin not to mention of Rome, they did not mock but were “pricked in their heart”. Here is the conclusion of Peter’s speech, and their reaction:'
:Acts 2:33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. :37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
The Empty Grave
Had it been a myth – had Jesus’ body still been in the tomb 50 days after His death – the easiest thing in the world for the Sanhedrin to do, to put a quick stop to all this nonsense, would have been to open the tomb and show these dreamers Jesus’ dead, stinking body! The only possible reason why that never happened, was that the tomb was open, and Jesus was gone!
Kyle Butt, in “Fact – the Tomb of Christ was Empty”, quotes two Jewish sources. The first is 130 years after Jesus rose. The second, 500 years later:
:A godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilaean deceiver, whom we crucified, but his disciples stole him by night from the tomb where he was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that he has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven. (“Dialogue with Trypho” by Justin Martyr, A.D. 165, chapter 108, quoting a letter circulated by the Jewish community about the empty tomb of Jesus) :A diligent search was made and he [Jesus] was not found in the grave where he had been buried. A gardener had taken him from the grave and had brought him into his garden and buried him in the sand over which the waters flowed into the garden. (“Toledoth Yeshu”, 6th Century. This treatise claimed Jesus was the illegitimate son of a soldier named Joseph Pandera. This quote comes near the end of the treatise, under a discussion of His death.)
Here again is perhaps the most irrefutable evidence in or outside the Bible that Jesus really did rise again from the dead:
:1 Corinthians 15:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
This statement was written by Paul, whose writings were very early regarded as Scripture. He wrote that almost all the 500 witnesses, who saw Jesus after His crucifixion, were still alive! Were that statement not true – if in fact not one witness were still alive, so that readers would not be able to locate one single witness to Jesus’ resurrection – that statement alone would have torpedoed Paul’s status as a spokesman for God.
Yet look who endorsed Paul’s status as an author of Scripture: Peter himself! (To doubt that Peter wrote with the authority God, while refusing to check the overwhelming evidence, requires a willful apathy about reality. To doubt that Peter even wrote it requires denial of the obvious.)
- 2 Peter 3:15 ...our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Peter! The man whom Paul publicly humiliated not so long before, according to Paul’s description in Galatians 2:11-14! Here is Paul publicly humiliating Peter, and telling the Galatians all about it, and Peter reading Galatians and calling it Scripture! And not only that, but Peter says he loves Paul!
Peter was the leader of the apostles. How could a letter attributed to Peter become accepted as Scripture if it was a forgery? Wouldn’t it have quickly come to Peter’s attention, and wouldn’t his denouncement of it have quickly spread? Peter did write that letter. Peter really did call Paul’s writings “Scripture”. That “Scripture” written by Paul really did say there were still almost 500 living witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.
There were, in fact, over 500 living witnesses to the resurrection of the Son of God from the dead, and not just from any death. (500 saw Him on just one occasion.) From the most irreversible death imaginable.
Here’s how it was put by Ambrose Fleming, outstanding English scientist, emeritus professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of London, recipient of the Faraday medal in 1928:
:...we can ask ourselves whether it is probable that such a book, describing events that occurred about thirty or forty years previously, could have been accepted and cherished if the stories of abnormal events in it were false or mythical. It is impossible, because the memory of all elderly persons regarding events of thirty or forty years before is perfectly clear. :No one could now issue a biography of Queen Victoria, who died thirty-one years ago, full of anecdotes which were quite untrue. They would be contradicted at once. They would certainly not be generally accepted and passed on as true. Hence, there is a great improbability that the account of the resurrection given by Mark, [the earliest New Testament book written], which agrees substantially with that given in the other Gospels, is a pure invention. This mythical theory has had to be abandoned because it will not bear close scrutiny. (Ambrose Fleming, quoted in “Therefore Stand: Christian Apologetics”, by Wilbur M. Smith, pub. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1965, p. 427-28; which was in turn quoted in “The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict” by Josh McDowell, pub. Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 1999, p. 218.)
Here’s how it was put by Thomas Arnold, author of the well known three-volume “History of Rome”, Chair of Modern History at Oxford, a man trusted around the world to discern the difference between historical fact and fable:
- The evidence for our Lord’s life and death and resurrection may be, and often has been, shown to be satisfactory; it is good according to the common rules for distinguishing good evidence from bad. Thousands and tens of thousands of persons have gone through it piece by piece, as carefully as every judge summing up on the most important cause [court case]. I have myself done it many times over, not to persuade others but to satisfy myself. I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead. (Quoted in “Therefore Stand” by Wilbur Smith, ibid, p. 425-26.)
Let’s see how Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) put it. Greenleaf understood evidence. He was Dane Professor of Law at Harvard University, and one of the law school’s principal founders. He wrote “A Treatise on the Law of Evidence” which is still today “considered a classic of American jurisprudence” according to the Wikipedia. Greenleaf also wrote “An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice.” Wikipedia says this book “set the model for many subsequent works by legal apologists.” In this book, he wrote,
- The great truths which the apostles declared, were, that Christ had risen from the dead, and that only through repentance from sin, and faith in Him, could men hope for salvation. This doctrine they asserted with one voice, everywhere, not only under the greatest discouragements [such as being stoned and left for dead, Acts 14:19], but in the face of the most appalling errors [perversions of justice in court] that can be presented to the mind of man. Their master had recently perished as a malefactor, by the sentence of a public tribunal. His religion sought to overthrow the religions of the whole world. The laws of every country were against the teachings of His disciples. The interests and passions of all the rulers and great men in the world were against them. The fashion of the world was against them.
- Propagating this new faith, even in the most inoffensive and peaceful manner, they could expect nothing but contempt, opposition, revilings, bitter persecutions, stripes, imprisonments, torments, and cruel deaths. Yet this faith they zealously did propagate; and all these miseries they endured undismayed, nay, rejoicing. As one after another was put to a miserable death, the survivors only prosecuted their work with increased vigor and resolution. The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of the like heroic constancy, patience, and unblanching courage. They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths which they asserted; and these motives were pressed upon their attention with the most melancholy and terrific frequency.
- It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact. If it were morally possible for them to have been deceived in this matter, every human motive operated to lead them to discover and avow their error. To have persisted in so gross a falsehood, after it was known to them, was not only to encounter, for life, all the evils which man could inflict, from without, but to endure also the pangs of inward and conscious guilt; with no hope of future peace, no testimony of a good conscience, no expectation of honor or esteem among men, no hope of happiness in this life, or in the world to come.
- Such conduct in the apostles would moreover have been utterly irreconcilable with the fact that they possessed the ordinary constitution of our common nature. Yet their lives do show them to have been men like all others of our race; swayed by the same motives, animated by the same hopes, affected by the same joys, subdued by the same sorrows, agitated by the same fears, and subject to the same passions, temptations, and infirmities, as ourselves. And their writings show them to have been men of vigorous understandings. If then their testimony was not true, there was no possible motive for its fabrication. (Greenleaf, Simon. The Testimony of the Evangelists, Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1965; reprinted from 1847 edition. P. 28-30).
Lord Darling, a Chief Justice of England a century ago, is widely quoted as saying:
- The crux of the problem of whether Jesus was, or was not, what He proclaimed Himself to be, must surely depend upon the truth or otherwise of the resurrection. On that greatest point we are not merely asked to have faith. In its favour as living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true. (Green, Michael. Man Alive. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1968, p. 53-54.)
Had Jesus actually not risen from the dead, how easy it would have been for the Pharisees or the Romans to, at any time, disprove all this nonsense – all these books circulating around the Roman Empire alleging that 500 people had seen Jesus alive after His crucifixion! All they would have had to do would be to have gone into the tomb, brought out His body, and shown it to people! That would have been a pretty easy way to stop this growth of this new religion that challenged all others and was growing, despite all their lions and crucifixions, to something like 10% of the population!
“But the gardener stole the body.” Seriously? The soldiers, who were subject to crucifixion themselves if they fell asleep, fell asleep? While the gardener came in with an end loader and pushed the stone away?
The Roman Caesar was incredibly determined to stamp out Christianity! He wanted everyone to worship him! It would have been so easy for him to just bring out Jesus’ body! So much easier than all those crucifixions, consuming so many soldier-hours! So much easier than losing merchants, jailers, community leaders, famous generals, etc., to the extent that after only three centuries the entire empire fell to Christians! The only thing any of them ever had to do was produce the body! The fact they did not, though they would have dearly loved to, proves it was not there!
...several secular writers substantiated the fact that Jesus Christ did die. Tacitus, the ancient Roman historian writing in approximately A.D. 115, documented Christ’s physical demise when he wrote concerning the Christians that “their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilatus” (1952, 15.44).
- Jesus of Nazareth was a transgressor in Israel who practised magic, scorned the words of the wise, led the people astray, and said that he had not come to destroy the law but to add to it. He was hanged on Passover Eve for heresy and misleading the people (Bruce, 1953, p. 102, emp. added). From the Talmud, cited at ApologeticsPress.
The fact that Pilate condemned Christ to the cross is an undisputed historical fact. As archaeologist Edwin Yamauchi stated:
- Even if we did not have the New Testament or Christian writings, we would be able to conclude from such non-Christian writings such as Josephus, the Talmud, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger that...he [Jesus—KB] was crucified under Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius (1995, p. 222). Cited at ApologeticsPress.
From How can we be convinced that Jesus is the Messiah? I/III, “Bible talks given in Moscow to Messianic Jews”, Autumn 1992 by Risto Santala:
The New Testament deals with historical facts.
- Something drastic happened the same year that Jesus died. Even the main Jewish source, the Talmud, speaks about the discontinuation of the sacrificial system before the destruction of the Temple. Something mysterious happened 40 years prior to its destruction.
- There are three different discussions about it (in Sanh., Abodah Zarah and De Yomah). According to them, the sacrifices lost their power, the Presence of God left the Temple and the gates of the Holy of Holies opened by themselves.
- The friend of Nicodemus, Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai, who was rescued from beleaguered Jerusalem in a coffin by his disciples, handed down this tradition in Mas. Yomah: "FORTY YEARS PRIOR to the destruction of the Temple... the western candle did not burn and the gates of the Temple opened by themselves; and thus Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai rebuked them saying: 'Temple, Temple, why do you grieve so? I KNOW that you are about to be destroyed.' "
- All this occurred 40 years before the destruction of the Temple, in the year 30 A.D., which is considered the year of Jesus' death. We also have this story in three of the Gospels, how the veil of the Temple was rent in two from top to bottom when Jesus died. Three times the Epistle to Hebrews interprets these occurrences: we now have a new hope that enters through the veil to the Holy One. The Messiah entered by His own blood into the Holy of Holies to atone for our sins. And thus he opened up for us "a new and living way" through the curtain to our God, so that we can draw near to Him "in full assurance of faith".
- It is most interesting to know that even the Jewish historian Josephus described a similar sign from the same period. Once the heavy gates of brass facing east from the Temple opened by themselves although they had been locked by iron bolts. The Temple guard hastened to notify the commander about the matter and he succeeded in locking them only with great difficulty.
Jesus’ Resurrection Disproves Evolution
You say “But how can a scientist be unscientific?”
Oh, pul-leeze. That’s like saying how can someone who has read the Bible not act like a Christian! I know musicians who have been trained to be ABLE to play music, but instead they play heavy metal. So just because someone has been trained in the scientific method doesn’t mean he is automatically honest.
But you know the most overwhelming evidence that evolution is a fraud with no evidence stronger than wishful thinking? Not the evidence that photographs, bones, skeletons, fossils, proved to be frauds decades ago, are still in High School science text books. Its the fact that this man, Jesus, who proved that everything He said is true by rising from the dead, said, shortly before he rose, that the books written by Moses are stronger evidence than seeing someone rise from the dead. Luke 16:31.
Evidence that the future was foretold with specificity and accuracy beyond human ability, and documented to be before the event
|This is not a completed article, whose absence of information is a statement that there is no information. This is a project, begun, but waiting on you to help complete it. This is a challenge. What is the evidence that your beliefs are based on reality? Present it here.|
Evidence that historical events and cities alleged have been documented to be unimpeachably accurate by archeologists
|This is not a completed article, whose absence of information is a statement that there is no information. This is a project, begun, but waiting on you to help complete it. This is a challenge. What is the evidence that your beliefs are based on reality? Present it here.|
Evidence that scientific principles unknown to the scripture’s human authors are confirmed today as accurately described
|This is not a completed article, whose absence of information is a statement that there is no information. This is a project, begun, but waiting on you to help complete it. This is a challenge. What is the evidence that your beliefs are based on reality? Present it here.|
Contrary evidence: “difficult” passages
Addressing the "difficult passages" quoted to cast doubt on the divine authorship of at least this portion of the scriptures
Evidence FOR other religions
Contrary evidence: Evidence that other religions have been tested and proved as much as or more than the Bible