Did Jesus rise from the dead?
Debate Rounds (5)
A few rules:
1) Only accept this debate if you're not a Christian.
2) If you accept the challenge, please don't forfeit.
3) Don't go off topic, only make points that are relevant to the debate topic.
Round 1 - Acceptance to debate
Round 2 - Present your case
Round 3 - 1st rebuttals
Round 4 - 2nd rebuttals
Round 5 - Closing remarks
The approach I will use to argue in favor of the Resurrection is called the "Minimal Facts argument" which only considers data that meet two criteria:
1) The data is strongly evidenced
2) The data is granted by virtually all scholars who study the subject, even skeptical ones
Fact #1 - Jesus died by crucifixion
The crucifixion is recorded in all four gospels of the New Testament. A number of non-Christian sources report the crucifixion as well.
Josephus (37 - 100 A.D) , a Jewish historian writes:
"Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross." (Antiquities 18.63-64)
Tacitus (56 - 120 A.D), a Roman historian writes:
"Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus" (Annals 15.44)
Mara bar Serapion, writing to his son from prison writes:
"Or [what advantage came to] the Jews by the murder of their wise king? Seeing from that very time, their kingdom was driven away from them."
I could go on an on, but I think you get the point,all the evidence is in favor of his crucifixion.
Atheist New Testament scholar Gerd L"demann writes, "Jesus' death as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable."
Fact #2 - Jesus' disciples believe that he rose and appeared to them.
There is a virtual consensus among scholars who study Jesus' resurrection, that after Jesus' death, his disciples sincerely came to believe that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them.
The sources of this claim fall into three separate categories. The first is the testimony of Paul and the disciples. The second source is the oral tradition of the early church. The third and last source is the written works of the early church. These three sources are able to historically establish these claims as reliable historical fact (The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, p.51).
Paul made this personal claim that Jesus resurrected from the dead because he claimed that Jesus appeared to him along with Cephas, the twelve Disciples, five hundred brethren, James, the apostles, and then to Paul himself. Paul personally knew Peter, James, and John (Galatians 1:18 " 19; 2:2 " 20) and the Bible also states that Paul fellow-shipped with the disciples (Acts 9:26 " 30; 15:1 " 35). This is also attested to by other early church writers that lived within one hundred years of Jesus (The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, p.51).
All four Gospels attest to the Resurrection of Jesus as well as the Book of Acts, which is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke.
The Gospels and the Pauline material in the New Testament were all written in the 1st century, making them exceptionally early accounts.
Among the Pauline letters we have an ancient Pre-Pauline tradition of the early Church quoted in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7:
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
The vast majority of New Testament scholars are in agreement that Paul is passing on tradition that he received from Peter and James in Jerusalem 5 years after the Crucifixion. But in order for Paul to have received it, Peter and James must have had it before him, which means Peter and James composed it at an earlier date than when Paul received it. But before the creed could have been composed, the beliefs of the creed must have been agreed upon by the disciples, so the beliefs of the creed are earlier than its composition. This takes us back very very close to the actual events.
Atheist scholar Gerd L"demann states: "the elements in the tradition are to be dated to the first two years after the crucifixion . . . no later than three years after the death of Jesus."
Co-founder of the skeptical Jesus Seminar, John Dominic Crossan states: "Paul wrote to the Corinthians from Ephesus in the early 50s C.E. But he says in 1 Corinthians 15:3 that "I handed on to you as of first importance which I in turn received." The most likely source and time for his reception of that tradition would have been Jerusalem in the early 30s when, according to Galatians 1:18, he "went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas [Peter] and stayed with him fifteen days"
Crossan's associate, Robert Funk states: The conviction that Jesus had risen from the dead had already taken root by the time Paul was converted about 33 C.E. On the assumption that Jesus died about 30 C.E., the time for development was thus two or three years at most."
James D. G. Dunn a major New Testament scholar states "This tradition, we can be entirely confident, was formulated as tradition within months of Jesus" death."
Things this early creed teaches us: Jesus death for sins, his burial, his resurrection from the dead, appearances to individuals: Peter and James, appearances to groups: the twelve, five hundred brethren at one time, all the apostles.
It's amazing that the earliest report of the Resurrection has more appearances than the Gospels, which were written decades after this creed was formulated.
Lastly, the writings of the early church were written by the apostolic fathers, which were the individuals who succeeded the original apostles (The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, p.53). Some of these apostolic fathers could have spent a good deal of time with the apostles and could have possibly been appointed by them; they were in a position to know what the apostles were preaching.
Apostolic Father Clement (referred to in Philippians 4:3) spent a good amount of time with the apostles, particularly Peter, according to early church fathers by the name of Irenaeus and Tertullian. They both wrote about Clement in the time period of the late second century " early third century and wrote about how Clement had direct interaction with the apostles and how Clement received first hand instructions and observed their early traditions.
"Therefore, having received the orders and complete certainty caused by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and believing in the Word of God, they went with the Holy Spirit"s certainty, preaching the good news that the kingdom of God is about to come" (1 Clement 42:3)
Polycarp (69 AD " 155 AD), like Clement, is an Apostolic Father who mentioned the resurrection of Jesus five times in his letters to the church in Philippi (The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, p.55). According to writers of Irenaeus and Tertullian, the content of the messages that Polycarp was sending derived directly from the original apostles because it was said that he was appointed to his position by the apostles, which wanted to preserve the Christian messages by providing their successors with all of the correct information and doctrines.
During the lifetime of Polycarp, he had forwarded on his apostolic teachings to many people, including Ignatius. Ignatius wrote seven letters recording the information he was given by Polycarp regarding the teachings he received directly from the original apostles. He wrote about how the disciples were strengthened by Jesus, which led them not to fear death, but rather they believed that through death "they are found" (The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, p.57).
"For I know that after His resurrection also He was still possessed of flesh, and I believe that He is so now. When, for instance, He came to those who were with Peter, He said to them, "Lay hold, handle Me, and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit." And immediately they touched Him, and believed, being convinced both by His flesh and spirit. For this cause also they despised death, and were found its conquerors. And after his resurrection He ate and drank with them, as being possessed of flesh, although spiritually He was united to the Father." (Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, ch. 3).
Given the testimony of Paul, oral tradition, and the written tradition, we can feel confident in proclaiming that we know that the disciples believed Jesus rose from the dead and that Jesus appeared to them.
Fact #3 - Church persecutor Paul believed Jesus appeared to him.
Paul was once known as Saul of Tarsus. Prior to Paul seeing the appearance of the resurrected Jesus, he was a devastatingly loyal persecutor and murderer of Christians. The actions of the pre-Christian Paul are described in the book of Acts. Paul wrote a narrative about his conversion to Christianity, so the notion that we should question his own testimony regarding his experience seems to be unnecessary.
Fact #4 - James, an unbeliever believed that Jesus appeared to him.
The Gospels report that before the crucifixion, James was an unbeliever (Mark 3:21, John 7:5). That he was martyred for his belief in the Resurrection is reported in Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement are sources for the martyrdom of James (The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, p.59)
Fact #5 - The Empty Tomb
This is a fact that is not supported by the overwhelming majority of New Testament scholars as the other four facts are, however it is still considered to be historically reliable by 75% of New Testament scholars. The early 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 creed implies the empty tomb. If you want, i'll give you more evidence for the empty tomb in my rebuttal if needed, as I am running out of space.
Conclusion: The best explanation for all these facts is that Jesus was raised from the dead.
Alice-out-of-wonderland forfeited this round.
I will use this post to further on my opening statement,
Evidence for the empty tomb of Jesus:
I will use the acronym J.E.T for my argument in favor for the empty tomb
J - Jerusalem factor:
The early Christians began preaching the resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem, the same town that he was crucified and buried. We know this because the Gospel of Luke reports it in Luke 24:47, it's reported in the Book of Acts, and in one of Paul's undisputed letters in Galatians 1-2. Regardless of how unreliable you think the New Testament is, this particular fact is hard to deny. It would have been very difficult for the preaching of the Resurrection of Jesus to be successful had Jesus' body still been in the tomb. No one would've believed them, all anyone had to do was go to the tomb and either point to the fact that the body is still in there or take the body and parade it across the streets of Jerusalem and Christianity would've died on he spot, but in fact the opposite is true, no body was ever produced, and the enemies of Jesus were helpless as Christianity was spreading like wildfire. In Acts 2, the Apostle Peter is preaching to the crowds mentioning the fact that Jesus did miracles in their midst, crucified him, and God raised him from the dead to which everyone he was talking to were witnesses to. Did the crowd say "Peter, what are you talking about? You're crazy!" No, in fact they said, "Peter we know what you say is true, what shall we do?" And Peter proclaimed "be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins" and 3000 Jews converted that day.
E - Enemy attestation
The early enemy response to the proclamation of the Resurrection presupposes that the tomb was indeed empty. Matthew's gospel reports what the authorities were saying in response to the proclamation of the Resurrection in Matthew 28:12-13, did they say "the body is still in the tomb" no their response was "the disciples stole the body", this indeed presupposes that the tomb was empty. Also, in a debate between a Jew and an early Christian (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 108; Tertullian, De Spectaculis 30), the Jew tries to explain away the empty tomb by saying the disciples stole the body and the proclamation of the Resurrection was a deception on the part of the disciples; why would the Jew need to explain away the empty tomb if it wasn't empty, would you say "my dog ate my homework" if you did in fact do your homework?
T - Testimony of Women
The women are the first and chief witnesses of the empty tomb. It is amazing how the first people to witness the empty tomb recorded in the Gospels were women. Had the account been an invention by Christians, why would they put women as their first witness? I say this because women in 1st century Jerusalem were considered unreliable as witnesses and weren't even allowed to testify in court. Some quotes to prove this:
Sooner let the words of the Law be burnt than delivered to women. (Talmud, Sotah 19a)
Any evidence which a women [gives] is not valid (to offer), also they are not valid to offer. This is equivalent to saying that one who is a Rabbinically accounted a robber is qualified to give the evidence as a woman. (Talmud, Rosh Hashannah 1.8)
Given the fact that the Gospel writers wrote down the embarrassing fact that Jesus' women followers discovered his empty tomb is strong evidence that the testimony of the empty tomb in the Gospels are true as any later legend about the empty tomb would've most certainly had men as the first witnesses of the empty tomb.
Some quotes for you:
Jacob Kremer, an Austrian specialist in the resurrection, states that "by far, most scholars hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements concerning the empty tomb." (Die Osterevangelien: Geschichten um Geschichte [Stuttgart Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1977], pp. 49-50)
Historian Michael Grant concludes that "the historian . . . cannot justifiably deny the empty tomb" because if we apply the same historical criteria that we use elsewhere, then "the evidence is firm and plausible enough to necessitate the conclusion that the tomb was indeed found empty." (Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992), p. 176)
Unless my opponent can provide evidence against the empty tomb, there is no reason to doubt it.
Alice-out-of-wonderland forfeited this round.
I specifically said if you're going to accept the challenge then please do not forfeit.
My opponent has one final chance to either refute the evidence I provided or offer a negative case for the Resurrection.
Alice-out-of-wonderland forfeited this round.
Anyways, I have firmly established the 4 facts that virtually all scholars (95-100%) agree on, this is including skeptical ones:
Jesus death by crucifixion, the beliefs of the disciples that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them, former Church persecutor Paul believed that Jesus appeared to him, former skeptic James - the half brother of Jesus believed that Jesus appeared to him.
I also squeezed in one extra fact: the empty tomb
Although this fact is not agreed upon by the vast majority of scholars like the other 4 facts are, 75% of scholars (including skeptical ones) agree that Jesus' tomb was found empty. I also demonstrated how all the evidence is in favor of the empty tomb.
Then I showed how the best explanation of all these facts, including the empty tomb was that Jesus rose from the dead, just like all the evidence suggests. Remember, I established these facts without assuming Bible inspiration or reliability, the vast majority of scholars agree with these facts, even ones who assume the Bible is not inspired or reliable, so pointing out the fact that you don't believe in the Bible, therefore, I don't believe in the Resurrection simply won't cut it.
Here is what a former skeptic of the Christian faith has to say:
[Dr. Greenleaf, the Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, was one of the greatest legal minds that ever lived. He wrote the famous legal volume entitled, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, considered by many the greatest legal volume ever written. Dr. Simon Greenleaf believed the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax. And he determined, once and for all, to expose the "myth" of the Resurrection. After thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection " Dr. Greenleaf came to the exact opposite conclusion! He wrote a book entitled, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. In which he emphatically stated]:
"it was IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISEN FROM THE DEAD, . . ." (Simon Greenleaf, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice, p.29)
Quote from notable historian:
[Professor Thomas Arnold, for 14 years a headmaster of Rugby, author of the famous, History of Rome, and appointed to the chair of modern history at Oxford, was well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts. This great scholar said]:
"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."
(And from another scholar):
[Brooke Foss Westcott, an English scholar, said]:
"raking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it."
I have established my case, Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
Alice-out-of-wonderland forfeited this round.
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Vote Placed by DrFuzenstein 1 year ago
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