The Resurrection of Jesus Validated
by One of the World’s Greatest Historians
by One of the World’s Greatest Historians
The facts surrounding the resurrection of Jesus were recorded by one of the greatest historians who ever lived—St. Luke. Luke’s attentiveness to accuracy and detail was confirmed by the famous archeologist, Sir William Ramsay, who expected to discredit Luke‘s accounts by visiting and examining the places mentioned in his Gospel and Acts. But instead of discrediting Luke, Ramsay acquired a very high regard for Luke as a historian and wrote,
Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense; in short, this author should be placed along with the greatest of historians.15
If Luke was this careful to get his facts right about names, places and dates, we can be confident that he was also careful to get his facts right concerning the more important things about which he reported, such as the Resurrection of Jesus. Luke would have interviewed the numerous eyewitnesses of the resurrection who were still alive when he wrote His Gospel. We can be confident that if there had been any smell of conspiracy or hallucination from these eyewitness accounts, Dr. Luke would have detected it.
Not a Myth
Some, of course, refuse to accept the historical facts and claim that these stories are myths fabricated by followers of Jesus who wanted to deify Him. This reminds me of C.S. Lewis, an agnostic professor of Renaissance Literature at Oxford University, who exposed the shallow claims concerning the mythological character of the New Testament. Lewis was an expert in mythological literature and he tells of his astonishment the first time he read the Gospels. His surprised response was, “This is not myth!”
Lewis, of course, became a believer and an astute apologist for Christianity. It was at this time that higher criticism was being popularized in seminaries in Germany and certain theologians, such as Rudolph Bultman, were claiming that the New Testament accounts of Jesus, His miracles, and His resurrection were myths created by His followers. Lewis challenged this approach, saying, “I would like to know how many myths these people have read!” Lewis went on to explain that he had been a long-time professor and critic of mythological literature and knew how a myth sounded and felt, “And the gospel story is not myth!”
A Harvard Law Professor is Convinced
Dr. Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) was the Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University and one of the principle founders of the Harvard Law School. He authored the famous three-volume work, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, which is still considered one of the greatest single authorities on judicial legal procedure. Greenleaf originally set out to disprove the biblical testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ, believing that a careful examination of the internal witness of the Gospels would reveal the myths at the heart of Christianity. Instead, this legal scholar came to the conclusion that the witnesses were reliable, and that the resurrection did in fact happen. As a result he became a believer and wrote a book entitled, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. Greenleaf concluded that, according to the jurisdiction of legal evidence, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best-supported event in all of ancient history.
A British Lawyer is Convinced
A brilliant young British lawyer, Frank Morrison, decided that he would write a book showing that, based on the testimony of the eyewitnesses, Jesus Christ could not have risen from the dead. Unfamiliar with the earlier work of Greenleaf, Morrison’s plan was to examine and compare the testimonies of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the same way he would examine and cross-examine the testimonies of witnesses in a court of law. He felt confident that by doing so he would be able to show that their testimonies could not be corroborated. His book was never written for in the process of examining the eyewitness accounts of the resurrection and the questions raised by such an examination, he too became convinced that Jesus did, indeed, rise from the dead. Instead of a book disproving the resurrection he wrote a book entitled, Who Moved the Stone?, demonstrating, from a lawyer’s perspective, convincing proof that Jesus did rise from the dead.
He Got it Right
Ours is not blind leap of faith into the dark. Our faith is based on solid historical evidence. Yes, if Dr. Luke was so careful to get it right about so many people, places, dates, and events, we can be confident that he also got it right when recorded the most important event of human history—the resurrection of Jesus Christ.