Did Jesus' resurrection happen?


Fact Box

  • Resurrection’ is defined (generally) as “bringing something that had disappeared or ended back into use or existence” and (in Christianity) “Jesus Christ's return to life on the third day after his death, or the return of all people to life at the end of the world.”
  • Jesus (born 6-4 BC, died 30-33 AD) was a first-century Jew who led a ministry focused on seeking and saving the lost and calling sinners to repentance. In each of the gospels, he predicted his death and resurrection. Jesus died by Roman crucifixion, and three days later, his disciples and other eyewitnesses reported having seen him again, risen and alive. 
  • Christianity hinges on Jesus’ resurrection being true. First Corinthians 15:12-14 says, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain.”
  • A 2022 Lifeway research found that 66% of surveyed US adults believe the biblical accounts of Jesus’s resurrection are accurate, including 58% of those aged 18-34

Vic (No)

Jesus is believed to have died for the sins of humanity, encouraging early believers to convert from Judaism to Christianity following his death, so it wasn't in vain. Believers used the resurrection story to promote conversion to Christianity, which later justified brutal wars against believers and non-believers alike. However, simply put, Jesus' resurrection couldn't have happened because dead people don't come back to life. Science has yet to prove how it would have happened, and attempts to disprove resurrection claims are futile in the face of a global religious community whose existence is propagated by the story. Some historians regard the Bible as fiction, noting uncanny similarities between its stories and Greek mythology. Like Jesus, the Greek god Hercules, also born of a human mother and divine father, was known as the world's savior. Thus, Jesus' resurrection is as fantastical as old Greek and Norse myths, albeit less exciting.

Other theories suggest that Jesus did not resurrect from the dead, producing plausible explanations for his empty tomb. The swoon theory claims Jesus never actually died on the cross but 'swooned' or fainted. Therefore, he was placed in the tomb undead, eventually able to wake up and leave his tomb. Another is that those who went to recover Jesus' body mistakenly went to the wrong tomb. Likewise, it is possible Jesus' body was stolen to perpetuate this claim that he was a risen lord. Skepticism toward a bodily resurrection of Jesus persists due to concerns over the absence of empirical evidence, the apparent influences of mythology on the gospel accounts, and alternative naturalistic explanations, not to mention the fact that people do not rise from the dead. Continued rigorous scrutiny and critical analysis of such historical claims is necessary for many things, including the resurrection.

Elisa (Yes)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is considered a historical event. The resurrection and gospel accounts present compelling evidence that cannot be theorized away; They were written in the first century (closer to Jesus' lifetime than accounts for Alexander the Great were), included eyewitness testimony, and contained embarrassing details (such as the disciples' cowardice following Jesus's death), which legitimize resurrection claims. 

The 'historicity' (historical authenticity) of the events surrounding Jesus' life and death shows the resurrection happened. Historical evidence—like his empty tomb and the witnesses of his death and burial—is affirmed by secular and religious scholars alike. Even non-Christian sources confirm Jesus lived, died by crucifixion, and was later seen risen by the disciples and many others. The gospels even highlight women as the first to see Jesus alive, which is significant since women's testimonies were not legally recognized. They certainly would've excluded such witnesses from the accounts if they had made this up. Enemies of Jesus even acknowledged his empty tomb, accusing the disciples of stealing his body. If Jesus were truly dead, the Romans and Jewish authorities could’ve produced his body at any time to squash resurrection rumors. Even modern scientists, such as physicist Daniel Gordon Ang, have stated 'the theory that Jesus rose from the dead is a much more plausible explanation than any of the other ones.'  

Finally, why would Jesus's disciples endure such persecution, torture, and even martyrdom for a lie? Most of Jesus's disciples later endured traumatic deaths. No one knowingly dies for a lie, especially when they've gained no power or riches from it. The disciples were emboldened by what they had seen—the risen Jesus—enough to 'die for what they knew to be true.' Approximately 2.3 billion Christians believe today, and that’s because Jesus Christ's resurrection happened.

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