Does the Bible provide extraordinary evidence for Jesus' Resurrection?

by Matt Slick

If you read the paper on extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, then you read the concluding points about the validity and weaknesses of the position and addressing four major points:

  1. Will their presuppositions allow unbiased examination of the evidence?
  2. What would qualify extraordinary evidence?
  3. What criteria is used to determine what is extraordinary evidence?
  4. Is the criteria for extraordinary evidence reasonable?

Nevertheless, does the Bible actually provide extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims? I believe so. But, instead of providing a list of various claims and evidences, I want to focus on the most important one in the Bible: Christ's resurrection.

Basically, does the extraordinary claim that Jesus rose from the dead have any extraordinary evidence to back it up? But, since this is a subject of history, we cannot apply the methods of experimentation and repetition to see if it happened. We don't have any film. All we have is the evidence presented in the Bible, a document of history. Like the extraordinary Alexander the Great who conquered the known world by the age of 33, the resurrection of Jesus is also a historic event.

Following is a chart that categorizes some Biblical facts into two categories. I admit this is a bit subjective, but I think that my analysis is sound. Afterwards, I will briefly comment on each one.

Extraordinary claim: Jesus physically rose from the dead
Extraordinary evidence Not so extraordinary evidence
1. Textual reliability of the ancient document 5. Accounts written by eyewitnesses
2. Retention of crucifixion wounds post event 6. No counter historic information
3. Post death appearances to many people 7. Jesus' body is gone from the tomb
4. Prophetic fulfillment 8. Changed lives
  1. Textual reliability of the ancient document
    1. The New Testament documents are 99.5% textually pure. This is indeed an extraordinary fact since all other ancient documents do not even approach this level of accuracy.
  2. Retention of crucifixion wounds post event
    1. This would indeed be an extraordinary evidence of a resurrection to see the actual holes in Jesus' hands and side after he had died on the cross.
      1. John 20:27, "Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing."
  3. Post death appearances to many people
    1. It is indeed extraordinary to have someone who has died in public at an execution to appear to many people afterwards.
      1. John 20:26, "And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, "Peace be with you."
  4. Prophetic fulfillment
    1. Fulfilling prophecies made hundreds of years earlier about Jesus' birth, death, crucifixion, and resurrection is indeed extraordinary.
  5. Accounts written by eyewitnesses
    1. It is perfectly ordinary to have people write about what they saw. History is full of such accounts.
  6. No counter historic information
    1. There is no contradictory historical information concerning Jesus' resurrection. This doesn't prove anything; but when the gospels were written, people contemporary to the described events (Jews, Romans, etc.,) could have easily written something refuting or correcting the resurrection account. No such writings exist. This isn't extraordinary, but it is important.
  7. Jesus body is gone from the tomb
    1. It is not extraordinary for a body to disappear from a tomb if we realize that it could have been stolen.

We can see that there is sufficient reasons to believe that the Bible does indeed provide extraordinary evidence for an extraordinary claim, namely, the resurrection of Jesus.

 

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