Dr. Craig Evans is one of the foremost scholars alive today in the study of the historical Jesus, focusing especially on his death and resurrection. Evans has lectured Cambridge, Oxford, Princeton and Yale. He has been interviewed by New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Evans served as consultant for The Bible television miniseries, viewed by over 100 million North Americans.
A prolific writer, Dr. Evans has published more than 70 books and hundreds of journal articles and reviews. He is the Dean of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University.
Dr. Evans is helping us to think through the connection of the mind and the heart. Sometimes we wonder if what is in our heart connects academically in terms of research. The evidence in his life works has shown that Christianity stands up to intellectual rigor.
What are some of the most plausible arguments that the resurrection of Jesus actually happened?
Dr. Evans says that there are several lines of argument.
The gospels tell us that the women are the first ones to find the tomb empty and see the risen Jesus. Fiction is not going to do that. Given the low regard women had in antiquity, especially as witnesses to something important. Why, if you are going to make up a story, why not have the apostles, why not have the Sanhedrin, why not the very people who condemned Jesus. Go to the tomb and see it empty, and then see Jesus risen. There is a realism there, telling it like it is.
The other thing that persuades Dr. Evans, is that the disciples weren't looking for a crucified, and then resurrected Messiah. This whole paradigm was hard for them to understand.
You have one of the most embarrassing stories in the gospels, where Peter actually rebukes Jesus. For having predicted His own suffering and death. That tells us that the disciples aren't going to cook up a story like this.
Had Jesus died, and simply stayed dead, and there was no resurrection, the movement would have ended. They would have gone on to something else. They had something to believe in.
In Luke Chapter 4 they had moved on. They went back to fishing, and then Jesus shows up resurrected and surprises them.
It's the surprise of Easter that tells us that there is something behind this.
The conversion of Paul. He is an enemy of the church. He doesn't believe in Jesus at all. He doesn't believe in the resurrection. He is opposed to the early church, he wants to destroy it. Then he meets the risen Jesus and his life is turned around 180 degrees.
That's the kind of evidence that shows us there is something here. This is not some myth or story that somebody made up.
The women as the witnesses was revolutionary in that culture. Women were not really even seen as credible in those days. So if you were making up a story, you would not make it up that way if you wanted it to gain traction. Them telling us that gives us a commitment to truth.
A fictional story would have been different.
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