Richard Bauckham: Since 19th Century, people have talked about
a difference between the Jesus of history
and the Christ of faith. The idea roughly is that
the Christ of faith is the Jesus that Christians
believe in; the Jesus that we find in the Gospels
in the New Testament. The Jesus of history is supposed to be the Jesus that historians can find for us by digging back behind
the Gospels and presenting as though it were a
figure that was different from the Gospels. So, we have a long history
of people reconstructing the historical Jesus. The way that you can tell that that’s a fruitless quest is that they’re
all different; constantly getting different reconstructions
of the historical Jesus. It depends on people’s
judgments as to what’s authentic and so on; all
kinds of subjective factors, and coming up with a whole
lot of different Jesuses. It methodly doesn’t work very well. I think the distinction
between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith
is one that’s actually collapsed in the best,
recent study of the Gospels. The kind of work that shows that Gospels are actually quite close
to eye witness testimony. So, what I think we can
say we have in the Gospels is not the Christ of
faith as distinct from the Jesus of history,
but rather what I call the Jesus of testimony. (music playing) Voiceover: Did Jesus really exist? If so, what can we know about him historically? For any Christian, the
historicity of Jesus isn’t merely a matter of curiosity. The Christian faith is
dependent upon the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as historical reality. But, how can we know if
the Jesus of the Gospels is historical or legendary? Craig Blomberg: How much we can know about Jesus historically depends
on a given person’s criteria for what they will believe. There are some scholars,
certainly the most skeptical fringe element
of the scholarly world, who will say if it doesn’t come from a non-Christian source,
then by definition they won’t trust it. So, that excludes
apriori the four Gospels, and it excludes quite a
bit of early Christian testimony, the rest of
the New Testament, early Second Century writers. Even on that very rigid
criterion, there are a dozen or more references to Jesus in Jewish and Greek and Roman
sources from the earliest centuries and you can
put together a composite picture of Jesus from those sources alone. Gary Habermas: There are
about a dozen and a half extra-Biblical, non-Christian
sources that say anything from half a sentence
to a paragraph on Jesus. The vast majority date
within about 150 years after the death of Jesus
and they report totally about 50 to 60 different
items from the life, preaching, death of
Jesus; who he was, what happened afterwards, and
even the earliest church. So, 50 to 60 items that
demonstrate that he was an early First Century, Jewish teacher who was born out of wedlock,
who’s ministry intersected with that of John the Baptist,
who gathered in his adult life close followers as other
self styled Rabbis did, that his teaching came
regularly into conflict with the conventional teaching
of various Jewish leaders, and that he was ultimately
arrested and crucified under the governorship
in Judea, Pontius Pilate, which narrows the dates
to the time period between 26 and 36. Craig Keener: Later
Rabbi’s who didn’t believe in Jesus acknowledged that
Jesus and his followers did miracles, except that
they often attributed to sorcery. Craig Blomberg: The common
early Jewish polemic against the Christian movement was that Jesus was a sorcerer
who led Israel astray, which seems to be an
acknowledgement that he worked what most people
would call miracles. The issue not being did he do spectacular, unexplainable works of
mercy, but by what power were they accomplished? Was it from God, or was it from the Devil? Voiceover: There are other
non-Christian historical sources which contain minimal
independent information about Jesus’ existence and even confirm aspects of the Gospel accounts. These include references from Thallus, Mara Bar Serapion, Pliny
the Younger, Suetonius, Celsus and Lucian of Samostata. Dated around A.D. 52,
Thallus was one of the first secular writers who mentioned Christ. Julius Africanus is one writer who made an off-hand reference to
Thallus, which may confirm the Gospel account that
darkness fell upon the land during the Crucifixion of Jesus. Sometime after the destruction
of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in A.D. 70,
a Syrian by the name of Mara bar Serapion wrote
a letter to his son, a government official, encouraging him to pursue wisdom. Many scholars believe there is a definite reference to Jesus being compared to the philosophers Socrates and
Pithagoras, within the letter. Paul Eddy: He says, “Remember
the Jews who killed” “their wise King and the
consequence of that was “they lost their kingdom.” Now, very few people
disagree that what he is referring to, given the
time of his writing, is the destruction of Jarusalem in 70 A.D. What’s up for debate,
potentially, is who is the wise king that
would’ve potentially caused the destruction of the Temple in Jarusalem by the Romans? What we suggest is, when you look at … take Josephus and his account
of that time and place. It’s very difficult to
propose who would’ve been proposed to be a good
King who was killed by the Jews other than Jesus. Voiceover: Suetonius
was a Roman historian, court official under
Hadrian, and analyst of the Imperial House. He stated in his Life of Claudius that he banished the Jews from
Rome who were continually making disturbances;
Chrestus being their leader. This corresponds to the Book of Acts, in the New Testament,
in which Luke recorded the same event of A.D.
49 as he wrote about the Apostle Paul’s
relationship with two other Christians named Aquila and Priscilla. “Paul met a Jew named
Aquila, a native of Pontus, “who had recently come from Italy “with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius “had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. “Paul went to see them.” In another work of
Suetonius, he wrote about the fire that swept
through Rome in A.D. 64, under the reign of Nero. Writing in about A.D. 20, he said, “Punishment by Nero was
inflicted on the Christians, “a class of men given to a
new mischievous superstition.” Craig Blomberg: There
were numerous people, who despite being executed
in a fashion that the Jewish scripture said
proved somebody was cursed by God, never the less,
more and more people Jew and Gentile alike,
began to worship him. One early Roman source
describes how people began singing hymns to him as if he were a God. Gary Habermas: The
non-Christian sources don’t shy away from calling him the Son of God, or giving these titles,
these early titles. They don’t even shy away from reporting the Resurrection, so
some of these sources are pretty surprising at what they admit. Voiceover: Pliny de
Younger was Governor of the Roman provinces of
Pontus and Bithynia in A.D. 101 to 110. In a letter to the Emperor
Trajan, Pliny de Younger requested specific instructions about the interrogations of Christians
whom he was persecuting. He said he made them curse Christ, which a genuine Christian
cannot be induced to do. Pliny also notes that
Christians worshiped Jesus as if he were a God. This suggests that both
Pliny, and the Christians he interrogated assumed that Jesus was a historical person. Paul Eddy: Part of what we’re looking for is existence; trying to
give a case, an argument for those who go with
a purely mythical Jesus theory and say that there’s
no evidence, really, for the existence of Jesus beyond the Christian scriptures. We think that certainly Thallus, certainly Pliny de Younger, Suetonius, give us that. Voiceover: Lucian of
Samosata, a Second Century Greek writer, warned his readers about the dangers of Christian
teachings, never assuming that Christ was unreal. In the late Second Century,
the philosopher, Celsus, wrote the first known,
full-scale attack on Christianity called True Doctrine. It is worth noting that Celsus taught that Jesus was a sorcerer or magician. If the story of Jesus
were a recent legend, it seems obvious that
ancient critics like Celsus would have argued this
point instead of wasting time by offering counter-explanations
for his miracles. These independent accounts, such as Celsus and Lucian, prove that
even in ancient times, the opponents of
Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus. Craid Keener: So, Jesus’
miracles were widely known. Nobody tried to get around them and say that they didn’t happen. They tried to explain them saying these weren’t from God, if they
didn’t agree with them. But, nobody denied that
Jesus was known for that. Most scholars today
acknowledge that Jesus was experienced by his contemporaries
that way; including scholars that don’t believe
in miracles, but they believe that Jesus was experienced
by his contemporaries as a miracle worker. Voiceover: Finally, there
are two very important, non-Christian, ancient
sources that provide significant information
about the historical Jesus. Mike Licona: One ancient
non-Christian source that mentions Jesus would be
Tacitus, the Roman historian. He’s regarded as the most accurate of the Roman historians and he’s right in the beginning of the Second
Century, around the year 115. Voiceover: “To suppress
therefore the common “rumor, Nero procured
others to be accused, “and inflicted exquisite
punishments upon these “people who were in
abhorrence for their crimes, “and were commonly known as Christians. “They had their
denomination from Christus, “or Christ, who in the reign of Tiberius “was put to death as a
criminal by the procurator “Pontius Pilate. “This pernicious
superstition, though checked “for a while, broke out again and spread, “not only over Judea,
the source of this evil, “but reached the city Rome also.” Mike Licona: So, from this, what we do is, we get corroboration
of the Gospel accounts and Paul, that Jesus had been
crucified by Pontius Pilot. Also, according to the Gospels and Acts that after Jesus was
crucified, that the Christians went into hiding. Therefore, you can understand why Tacitus would say Christianity was
checked for the moment. Then he said it broke out again
in Judea where it started. Well, where is Jerusalem?
Where is Gallilee? It’s Judea. This is completely
consistent with the early church following the
great commission of Jesus, to go into all the
world, preach the Gospel, make disciples of all peoples. It’s pretty neat. That’s from Tacitus. Craig Keener: Perhaps the most
remarkable source is Josephus. Josephus was a First
Century Jewish historian. He doesn’t have a bias against Jesus. He’s not a follower of Jesus. He doesn’t say he
believes he’s the Messiah. He calls Jesus a sage. Voiceover: “Now, there was
about this time, Jesus, “a wise man; if it be
lawful to call him a man, “for he was a doer of wonderful works, “a teacher of such men
as received the truth “with pleasure. “He drew over to him
both many of the Jews, “and many of the Gentiles. “He was the Christ, and when
Pilate, at the suggestion “of the principle men
among us had condemned “him to the cross, those
that loved him at the first “did not forsake him,
for He appeared to them, “alive again the third
day, as the divine prophets “had foretold these and ten
thousand other wonderful “things concerning him. “And the tribe of
Christians so named from him “are not extinct at this day.” Greg Boyd: Most agree
that there’s been some Christian interpolation
here, but it’s highly unlikely that Josephus
was not a Christian, just a Jewish historian,
that he would say in this reference, indeed,
if he was just a man. That sounds like a
believer, or to virtually confesses he was the Messiah;
that’s very unlikely. Or, it’s unlikely that
Josephus would’ve granted on the third day Jesus rose. So, most scholars argue,
for a variety of reasons, that those things have been interpolated. Craig Keener: Now, there
are some things that were added by later scribes,
but scholars were able to reconstruct, based on Josephus’ style, and so on, the part of Josephus’ saying that was most likely
original, and the scholars’ reconstruction has been confirmed with the discovery of an Arabic
manuscript of Josephus, that has it in the same form that they had thought was most likely. Josephus says that
Jesus – he’s also talked about John the Baptist
and James, the brother of Jesus – he says that
Jesus was a sage, he was very popular with the people. He talks about him
being handed over by the elite leaders of his people. It wasn’t all of his
people, it was just certain people in Jerusalem who
did this, handed over to the Roman authorities
who had him executed. Josephus also said that Jesus was a worker of paradoxa. That’s a term that
Josephus elsewhere uses for another prophet; for Elisha, referring to Elisha’s miracles. So, most scholars, notably Geza Vermes, a Jewish scholar at
Oxford, have argued that Josephus acknowledges Jesus
as a wonder working sage. Voiceover: There is a
second reference to Jesus within Josephus’ antiquities of the Jews; a passage which a large
majority of scholars have regarded as
authentic in its entirety. “Festus was now dead,
and Albinas was but upon “the road, so he assembled
the Sanhedrin of judges “and brought before them
the brother of Jesus, “who was called Christ,
whose name was James, “and some others, or
some of his companions; “and when he had formed
an accusation against them “as breakers of the law, he
delivered them to be stoned.” There is much we can know
about Jesus historically from non-Christian
sources; that he existed and accomplished powerful
works that even hostile sources acknowledged. Craig Blomberg: On the
other hand, it’s really not fair to exclude Christian sources because many people in the earliest decades of the Christian movement became
believers; not because they were raised in a Christian home, but because the testimony
about Jesus that was passed onto them was so credible, that they converted. So, it’s really unfair
to exclude all of the early Christian writers
who followed that kind of a pilgrimage because
it was the very evidence that they then go on to narrate, that led to their conversion. It’s not that they began with it, somehow presupposed it, and
were looking for reasons to justify it. Neither is it appropriate
to exclude the four Gospels; a priori. It’s sometimes said,
“Ah, but they’re books “of Theology and not
just historical record,” and that’s certainly true, but then every ancient biography, every
ancient history writer had an ideological purpose. The idea of recording facts just to have a comprehensive chronicle
of something is really a modern invention in
the last few centuries. Nobody in the ancient
world would have dreamed of bothering, and so
unless one is prepared to be suspicious on
ideological grounds of every ancient source on every
topic, in which case we would need to throw out our textbooks
of world civilization, which nobody is doing, what’s fair to do is
to read the Gospels and assess them on their own merits. There are all kinds of internal criteria for authenticity that make the Gospels impressive documents, and that could be another lengthy conversation. Voiceover: The primary historical sources we have for the life of
Jesus are the Gospels, and the letters which
are now contained in the New Testament of the Bible. But, are the New Testament
writings accurate sources for the events they report? What are the conclusions of scholars and historians who examine the reliability of the Gospels with the
same criteria by which all other historical
documents are examined? Gary Habermas: You know,
one thing that kills me is the way we play kind of fast and loose with the New Testament,
but we don’t treat the rest of history that way. For example, Alexander
the Great has got to be one of the best known personages from the ancient world. The stories we have of
Alexander, the accounts of Alexander, go from 300 to
450 years after his death; 300 to 450, and the best
two, the two best known stories, biographies, of
Alexander are Plutarch and Arrian, and they’re both at the end of that range; 425, 450,
but oh, we know so much about Alexander. He went across from Macedonia east and to India, and he did
this and he did that, and he conquered this and
his falanx configuration of troops and nobody
could stand against him. We’re so sure we know all this data, and the sources are
300 to 450 years later. Almost totally. But, the
Gospels, using critics’ dates now, I’m going to use critics’ dates to show that they still don’t
– doesn’t change anything, on the critic’s dates,
Mark is only about plus 40 after Jesus. Matthew is about plus 50,
on the critics’ dates. Luke about plus 55,
and everybody puts John at about plus 65. Well, how bad is 65 years later? Way, way better than anything
we have for Alexander. Voiceover: Scholars point
out that the writers of the New Testament
did not intend for their works to be considered
fictional or legendary. Arguably, the Gospels
of Jesus Christ can be categorized in the genres
of ancient biography and historical monograph. Craig Keener: The Gospels
were ancient biographies. The majority of scholars
now recognize that, and are surely right. I mean, when you look at the options in ancient literature, the kinds of genres, the kinds of writings that were available in ancient literature,
somebody approaching the Gospels, it’s the story about a person who lived recently. They didn’t write novels about people who lived recently. In fact, usually novels
were romance novels about fictitious characters;
not always but usually. You look at all the
options and the Gospels fit biography in all the important respects that people would look for for biography. Of the four Gospel
writers, one of them, Luke, was also a historian. A biography that’s part of a larger work, a multi-volume work that deals with other historical characters
would usually be seen as just a biographical volume within a multi-volume history. The second volume of Luke’s
work, The Book of Acts, talks about the history of the early Christian mission;
especially how they went from being centered especially in Jerusalem to going out and reaching the Gentiles. The texture of The Book
of Acts actually changes as it’s moving from
one setting to another; from the Jerusalem
church, the piety of the Jerusalem believers worshiping the temple, to a movement that begins spreading among the Gentiles. The way Luke chronicles it is very fitting for what most scholars
considered, not all scholars, but most scholars consider
to be a historical monograph. It’s interesting when
you look at many of the details of Luke’s second
volume, The Book of Acts, especially when it gets into the Diaspora, outside of Judea and
Galilee, and it gets into the larger Roman world, there are so many areas
where we can test him. We can test what he says against Paul’s eyewitness accounts of the same things, like Paul getting let
down in a basket from the walls in Damascus, to the mention of particular authorities
and particular cities. The chief leader in Ephesus is called the town clerk, the
grammateus, which is correct for Ephesus. The leaders of Thessalonica
are called politarchs, which was correct for Thessalonica. Novels didn’t work at getting
so many details correct. For example, when Paul
is tried before Felix, the governor Felix,
well the time that Paul was there was the time that
Felix was the governor. Somebody making these
things up wouldn’t have known that; novels, again, didn’t normally include that kind of information. Moreover, Felix actually had three wives; not all at once, but
he was married to three princesses in succession. The one he was married to at this time was Drusilla, who was
mentioned as his wife in The Book of Acts. Even if Luke were checking things out, he could’ve gotten the wrong wife. Paul then appears before
Festus, who is in fact the next Roman governor,
and Festus invites Agrippa II and Bernice to come hear Paul. Well, Agrippa was the ruler
of an area at that time. He was known for visiting
new officials coming into the area, and his
sister Bernice, actually she had been married. She
had not lived with him for a long time, but just
recently the marriage had broken up, and
Bernice had come to stay with her brother, Agrippa. So, I mean, getting the right
details at the right time. Moreover, Luke tells us
up front at the beginning of his Gospel that he’s not
just making these things up. He gives a good preface
for historical work. Ben Witherington III: It
seems pretty clear that what we’ve got in the Gospels and in Acts is an attempt at serious ancient biographical and history writing. Insofar as we can check them internally, and compare them one to another, and find little bits of
information in Paul’s letters or in Acts or in the rest of the New Testament, or in
some secondary sources, sofar as we can check them,
they seem to be accurate. They seem to be reliable witnesses. Voiceover: One of the
internal evidence tests for historical reliability is the use of primary sources. Richard Bauckham: A lot
of history relies on testimony, and testimony
is really – it’s a form of human knowledge alongside
various other forms, but it’s the form of
human knowledge when you know something because someone else has told it to you. It’s not something you
could verify yourself, otherwise you wouldn’t need to be told it. It’s basically something you rely on someone else to know. We do this all the time in everyday life. An enormous amount of our life is based on believing what other
people say in one way or another, and we don’t have to be credulous about this. We don’t have to believe
everything everyone says. We have reasons for
trusting some people and not trusting other people. We have reasons for trusting some things that people say and not others. We can be critical about
this; we’re not stupid. Nevertheless, we rely a
great deal of the time on things that we cannot
verify for ourselves that other people say. One thing about the
Gospels, of course, is that the events they are
relating are events that the people who reported
them regarded as supremely significant events. They are events that changed
their lives; affected everything about their own lives, and they certainly thought of them as kind of world changing events, enormously
important, unique kind of events, events in which God was
involved in a special way; if there’s something
special about the events, if they’re, as it were,
out of the ordinary events. A lot of things have happened in history we can think, “Oh, well, yes, of course,” “that’s the sort of
thing that happened to me “yesterday, or that’s
the sort of thing I read “about in the newspaper” Sometimes, in history, you
come across, as it were, virtually unparalleled
events; the sort of thing you haven’t got immediate
experience of yourself. So, how do you deal with those? I think another really
good example of this is a very different sort
of event, but another example of a kind of
unique sort of event in modern history is the
Holocaust in Nazi Germany. This, I think, is again,
an event where people who write about the
Holocaust are tremendously dependent on the testimony
of Holocaust survivors. If we didn’t have that testimony
of Holocaust survivors, if we just had sort of
the external facts that you could get from the
German records and so forth, we would have no idea what
it was really like, you know. You absolutely need the insider testimony; people who went through
it and experienced it. That’s what you need for
a unique sort of event. That’s why I think the
fact that the Gospels come to us from people who were insiders, who were with Jesus,
who were close to Jesus, who experienced these things themselves, actually makes them much more valuable as testimony to what was really going on. Voiceover: The Apostle
Peter wrote, “For we did “not follow cunningly
devised fables when we “made known to you the power and coming of “our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were “eyewitnesses of his majesty.” In John’s Gospel we read,
“And he who has seen “has testified, and his testimony is true, “and he knows that he
is telling the truth, “so that you may believe.” Steve Gregg: Two, if
not three, of the four Gospel writers were
actually present at some of the things that they record. Matthew was, John was; Mark’s Gospel is considered to be Peter’s
Gospel according to earliest traditions. Peter is the one who’s
the authority behind Mark’s Gospel. Luke, of course, doesn’t claim that he was present for any of the events. He probably wasn’t a
Christian and wasn’t in Palestine early enough to see Jesus, but at the beginning of his Gospel, he said that he had
opportunity to interview eyewitnesses and he had
a thorough knowledge of the subject. So, he was a reliable witness. Voiceover: “Inasmuch as
many have undertaken to “compile an account of
the things accomplished “among us, just as they
were handed down to us “by those who from the beginning were “eyewitnesses and servants of the word. “It seemed fitting, for me as well, having “investigated everything
carefully from the “beginning, to write it
out for you in consecutive “order, most excellent
Theophilus, so that you may “know the exact truth about the things you “have been taught.” Craig Keener: Luke was
writing historiography. He tells us in his
preface, and novels didn’t have these kinds of prefaces,
that historical preface. There’s one novel that I think
of that has a preface that tells you how he made
the story up, [Longos]. But, Luke says that he’s going to detail the events that were fulfilled among us. That’s the language of historiography. Also, Luke tells us about
the kinds of sources that were available to him. Craig Blomberg: The
first four verses of the Gospel of Luke, often referred to as his prologue or preface, actually give us the most detail of any passage
in the four Gospels of what one of those writers
thought he was doing. Craig Keener: First of
all, he tells us that many have undertaken
to write an account of these things among us. Not just one or two,
and not just the sources that we still have
available today like Mark or the material shared with
Matthew, but there were many sources available to Luke. Today we can’t duplicate that, but we have somebody who was around back when those sources were available. Just like when Suetonius or
Tacitus, Roman historians, write about about events;
sometimes they tell us their sources, sometimes
they don’t, but we know that they had sources. Craig Blomberg: So, we
have Luke who was not an eyewitness of, as
far as we know, anything in his Gospel. He comes on the scene midway through The Book of Acts, interviewing and hearing second and third-hand from people he calls eyewitnesses and servants of the Word. Exactly what ancient historians set out to do wherever possible. Richard Bauckham: Luke
followed the ordinary practice of ancient
historians; what we now call oral history; which is
going to the eyewitnesses. Probably Luke was collecting
his traditions over a considerable period, you
know, it’s not something he thought about doing
and then finished it in six months’ time. It’s something he would have planned. Maybe by the time he
finished his Gospel there weren’t many eyewitnesses still alive. We’re not sure when he
wrote, maybe that’s the case. He’d probably been
collecting his traditions for quite a while, and maybe
some of his traditions he got from written
sources, but he would’ve done that because he knew they came from good authorities. Maybe some of his traditions,
he got it second hand. Again, he would’ve quizzed
people, he would’ve interrogated them, he would’ve checked his sources and made
sure he was relying on good sources. The key thing is, eyewitness
authority was the key thing. Voiceover: Once again,
Luke intended his Gospel to be a factual account
based on the testimony of eyewitnesses. When he refers in his preface to, “Those from the beginning
were eyewitnesses, “and servants of the word.” Craig Blomberg: Servants
of the word appears to be a fairly technical term
for people in Jewish, Greek, Roman circles alike
who were charged with the careful transmission,
by word of mouth, about some important event or figure. Richard Bauckham: The
word oral tradition can be rather misleading because it’s often used rather vaguely. Some historians who use
oral sources, say for modern African history,
where oral sources are still a very key ingredient. We distinguish between oral
history and oral tradition. Oral history basically
is within living memory; it’s where you get things
from the eyewitnesses. Oral tradition is what
has been passed down over generations. So that’s a key
distinction, and in the case of the Gospels, strictly
speaking, we’re dealing with oral history, because the time period is within living memory. Some of the scholars who
worked on the Gospels at the beginning of the 20th Century, the people called the form critics, who really introduced the
notion of oral tradition into Gospel scholarship;
enormous influence. They’re models for oral tradition. With things like European
fairy tales, which are passed down over centuries,
probably, and passed down anonymously and
moreover were never meant to be history; they were
always fairy stories. They were all entertaining
stories which you told because they’re entertaining. Quite the wrong model
for what was happening in the case of the Gospels. We’re not dealing with generations, let alone centuries; we’re
dealing with a quite short period in which the eyewitness
were still available. So, I think oral history is much closer analogy of what Gospel writers were doing, rather than talking about
them as recipients of oral tradition, which sort of
creates the impression, you know, the long period in which
all kinds of things happened and traditions passed from mouth to mouth. It wasn’t like that. Paul Eddy: The oral
traditions of a people, let’s say Christianity,
become absolutely essential to defining for each individual
who I am, who we are, and what our purpose in life here is. So, what we now realize,
I think, or we have to acknowledge, is that
early Christians would’ve held their oral traditions
as identity forming, and therefore would
have had a real concern to preserve and have custodians
around that preservation taking care of their oral traditions. Dan Wallace: If the
Gospel of Mark was written say 25, maybe even 30
years after the ascension of Jesus, then you’ve got
probably 10,000 retellings of the same material by Peter
until Mark wrote it down. So, what happens is, you
get these early Christians to start telling the stories of Jesus, and they’re doing it
both in the community of other believers and before
unbelievers, and the telling over and over and over again. They are principally
doing it for several years in Palestine. Consequently, you’ve got
other eyewitnesses who are observing them, hearing
them and correcting them if they make mistakes. So, you have this memory
in community that is extremely impressive
for the New Testament. You don’t have these
people telling the stories of Jesus in isolation,
without accountability to other believers who knew
exactly what happened. Paul Eddy: So, this idea
of eyewitness is the lynch pin that connects
the current presentation of the Gospel message
back to Jesus himself. It seems that as long
as eyewitnesses lived, until the death of that first generation, maintaining that connection was absolutely essential to them. Voiceover: In sum, the
oral proclamation had a stable core that was
retold in public and private settings,
safeguarded by memory and community, and confirmed by eyewitnesses. This evidence points to
a strong and reliable oral history behind the written Gospels. Craig Keener: But everywhere in antiquity, far more than today in
the west, people were very careful with oral memory. Dan Wallace: What I’ve
noticed when it comes to these cultures, in modern times even, is that Middle Eastern
mentality is so different from the modern Western mentality. The times I’ve spent,
for example in Turkey, we have met Muslims there,
the country is 99.8% Muslim, these Muslims have
memorized the entire Koran, which is about the size of
our Bible – it’s a big book – in Arabic, and yet they
don’t know a word of Arabic. They don’t understand it at all. So, all of it is meaningless
sounds, and they’ve memorized the whole thing. Now, for a Westerner,
that’s impossible, and also, it seems senseless, but
that’s what they’ve been able to do. There have been missionaries who have gone to Middle Eastern
cultures, and when they – sometimes they’ll tell,
say a parable of Jesus, or a story about Jesus
from one of the Gospels, and then the next day,
the children, little kids, would repeat it having
heard it once, verbatim. It’s a different mindset. With the coming of the
printing press and how that’s impacted Western civilization, and now with the internet, our ability to memorize has shrunk
dramatically, but these Middle Eastern cultures
and the ancient cultures, and especially ancient
Jewish culture learned how to memorize and lived
by memorization extensively. Craig Keener: You had
people, uneducated people, some people say this is
the only the literate; no, uneducated bards who
couldn’t maybe read or write, but they could recite
all of Homer’s Iliad, and Odyssey from memory. You had educated people
who could perform feats that we would consider phenomenal. One guy went into an
auction and listened to every item that was sold
and at the end of the day, he could repeat back
every item that was sold, the price for which it was sold, the person to whom it
was sold, without using any notes. Another person went to
a poetry recitation, heard the poem being
recited and as the person finished the poem, the
guy in the back said, “Hey, that’s plagiarism. That’s my poem. “You stole my poem!”
and the guy up front was like, “Well,” he was
embarrassed because he didn’t know what to say, because
the guy had been reading the poem, didn’t know it from memory. The guy in the back, he said,
“I can repeat it from memory.” He repeated it from memory. Then he said, “Ah, just
joking. I just wanted to “show you how good my memory is.” So, there were people
who could memorize things as they were hearing them;
incredible feats of memory. But, memory was particularly emphasized in academic settings; from
elementary settings on up. Dan Wallace: For example,
the Rabbis would recite a lesson and their students
that were being trained in the rabbinical schools
had to recite the same exact word sometimes 500
times before they could go on to the next lesson. So, there’s very strong
demands on the overall performance of the students. Craig Keener: Disciples
of teachers were supposed to remember what their
teachers taught them. They could pool the memories afterwards, and often did. If the disciples of
Jesus did not accurately remember the substance
of a lot of His teaching, that’s not saying they
remembered every detail, but if they didn’t accurately remember the substance of His teaching, they were quite unlike what we would
expect from any disciples in the First Century. It seems far more likely, based on all the evidence we have, Jewish
evidence, Greek and Roman evidence, all the evidence
we have from antiquity, there are areas where
we don’t have evidence, but we have a whole lot
of evidence, and you put it all together, it
suggests these people would remember things. Voiceover: Many reasons
can be given for the delay of the written
Gospels, but even thinking about this question in
these terms is perhaps considering it from the wrong perspective, because oral proclamation
of the Gospel was paramount in the Apostles’
earliest motives. It might be better to ask, “Why were the Gospels written at all?” Dan Wallace: The Gospels were not written immediately after the ascension of Jesus, and there are a number of
reasons why that is the case. Perhaps the most important
is that these early disciples believed that
Jesus would come back very, very soon, imminently,
at any moment, and so the parousia, or the coming of Christ, was prominent in their minds. Consequently, they did
not want to put into written form the stories of Jesus. They were spreading the
news about Him to the entire ancient Mediterranean
world, so much so that the news got to Rome within 15 years and the emperor had to kick out the Jews because they were causing all sorts
of problems with the Christians because the were following
one named Chrestus, or Christos, or Christ, that is. So, there was this strong
oral tradition due to the impulse of evangelism
and mission that kept them from wanting to reduce it to writing. As soon as you reduce
it to writing, you are assuming that this has to last beyond that generation and affect the
next group, typically. Only after a couple of
decades did they come to realize Jesus might not return soon and consequently they would
have to reduce this to writing. Paul Eddy: We believe that there never was a purely oral tradition. Much like the orally oriented world of the ancient world all over
the place, there was an interesting mixture of
dominantly oral, but some literary weavings within that. Luke is a highly educated,
very competent person with regard to First Century
literacy, and we have no reason to believe
others like Luke weren’t involved in this movement
from quite early on. Even if we just take Matthew as reflective of the kind of people
that could be in Jesus’ early movement, someone like Matthew,
working as a tax collector, would have had to have
a trade literacy to be able to keep books and things like that. Not surprisingly, the
Christian tradition claims that Matthew, from very
early on, wrote notes about Jesus and His teachings. The whole category of
notebooks is something that we now know was a
live option for people in the First Century. So, we now have historical
precedent, and actual literary evidence coming
together that that’s what was going on in some
of the early Jesus context. Voiceover: We have traced
the oral tradition behind the Gospels to the written
Gospels and have seen that they are as reliable
as eyewitness testimony to the person and work of Jesus. But what if the copies
of those written Gospels were corrupted and the
original text was lost in translation? Craig Blomberg: Depending
on who you talk with, there are all kinds of
objections to reliability of the Gospels, but some
of the more commonly heard ones include, “Hasn’t the “Bible been copied so many times and then “translated into so
many different versions, “that we simply don’t have any confidence “as to what the writers
originally said or meant?” Usually that kind of a
question comes from people who really aren’t aware of the thousands of manuscripts available
and the kinds of variants and differences; most
of which are extremely minuscule that one finds among them. Dan Wallace: The number of New Testament manuscripts that we have
today is a vast quantity. Voiceover: As of August,
2013, the grand total of Greek New Testament
manuscripts stands at 5,838. This is more than 1,000
times the manuscript data for the New Testament than for the average Greco-Roman author. Dan Wallace: That’s so
incredible it’s almost incomprehensible when
you compare it to any other ancient literature. That comes to more than 2.6
million pages of manuscripts. It’s a huge amount; that’s just in Greek. Then we have the New Testament, because of the evangelistic
motives of the early Christians to spread the Gospel in areas where Greek was not the primary language, the New Testament got
translated into Latin, into Syriac, into Coptic,
into Georgian, Gothic, Armenian, Ethiopic. We have thousands of
copies in those languages. We don’t know the exact
number; they have not been tabulated. In Latin alone, we have
more than 10,000 copies of the New Testament; hand written copies of the New Testament that
started to get translated in the Second Century when
the Gospels spread West. In Syriac, hundreds, perhaps
even a couple thousand, same with Coptic. Our best guess on these versions, our best conservative guess on
these versions, is that we have at least 15,000 hand written copies. Voiceover: The very best
classical author in terms of existing manuscript copies is Homer. Manuscripts of Homer
number less than 2,400, compared to the New
Testament manuscripts that are approximately ten
times that amount when translations in other
languages are included. Dan Wallace: Now, when
you look at all this material, you say, “Okay,
you got 5,000, almost “6,000 for the Greek New
testament, and you’ve “got maybe 15,000 for
these other languages, “surely those manuscripts
aren’t complete.” That is correct. There’s only 60 complete
Greek New Testament manuscripts that have
Matthew through Revelation, without any gaps, because they
haven’t fallen out somehow. However, the average Greek
New Testament manuscript, the average, is more than 450 pages long. So, you start multiplying these copies. We have the whole New
Testament reproduced in these manuscripts hundreds
and hundreds of times over. When you compare that
to other ancient Greek literature, the average
Greek or Latin author has fewer than 20 copies of his writings still in existence, written in any language. You stack those up it’s
maybe four feet high, and usually far fewer than 20 copies. The average is probably four, five or six. The New Testament, you
stack up those manuscripts, it’s over a mile high. Four feet high, a mile high. If you had a magic wand
and you could wipe out all of the New Testament
manuscripts in the world in one fell swoop, the
Greek ones as well as all the ancient versions, we
still would not be left without a witness. That’s because of the
ancient church fathers. These patristic writers
wrote commentaries, they wrote homilies,
theological treatices, all sorts of things, and
these folks did not have the gift of brevity. We have, there’s a place
in [Bioron] Germany where they have been
tabulating these quotations and illusions to the New
Testament for decades and a couple of decades ago they came up with more than one million quotations of the New Testament by
these church fathers. We have, again, the whole
New Testament virtually reproduced many times over, just
in the writings of the fathers. So, the problem that we
have with the New Testament textural criticism is
not that we have a dearth of data, which is the
problem that all other ancient literature faces when it comes to reconstructing the text. The problem we have with
New Testament textural criticism is we have an
embarrassment of riches. Gary Habermas: Obviously when you’re doing New Testament reliability,
the earlier the sources, in general, the earlier
the sources the better. So, we want New Testament
evidence that’s as close to the events as possible. Dan Wallace: The oldest
manuscripts in the New Testament we have come from the Second Century. There are a minimum of four of them, and perhaps as many as 12. These are extraordinarily
difficult to date exactly. In fact, if there is not a date written on the manuscript, and you have
that in later centuries, the way we date these manuscripts is by a comparison of
handwriting, size, features, all sorts of different
issues called paleography, trying to determine the
date and the providence, and things like that of a manuscript. Our earliest New Testament
manuscript is most likely P52, which was the 52nd papyrus of the New Testament that was published. It’s from Egypt. It’s written on both
sides which means it’s an early book form, or
codex form, and it’s got John 18:31-33 on one
side, and John 18:37-38 on the other side. The date of this is somewhere
between 100 and 150. So, the first half of the
Second Century is what most scholars have come
to believe about it. On a number of very
important bases, especially the comparison of this
manuscript with other early dated manuscripts,
the two best manuscripts that compare to this in terms of the look of the text was one that
was written in A.D. 94 and the other that was written in 127. So, these come closest to
what this manuscript was like. You say, “Well, gee, isn’t
that really subjective to date a manuscript by handwriting?” Well, it is if handwriting doesn’t change, but handwriting does change over time. The irony is that it’s
the later New Testament manuscripts, written in the Middle Ages, from the 10th to the
13th Century that are the hardest ones to date
by Century because that handwriting got stabilized and it didn’t change very much. Even today we can even tell
this with printed books. If you read a book that
says cooperation in it, and it has two little
dots over that first “o”, that’s called a diaeresis. You won’t find that in modern English. You’ll find it in books
that were written 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago. If you see that you say, “This is old.” If you see the handwritten
documents; our founding documents for the United
States, the Declaration of Independence, the
Constitution, and if you go to the archives
building and see that in Washington D.C., you’ll
notice that the handwriting is done in such a way that
is quite different from what you were taught in
school and in later centuries. You’d say, if you were
just to look at that manuscript, not even know
what it is, you’d say, “This is old. This is
very old. This is probably “well over 100 years old.” That’s a lay person
who’s guessing at that. When you start doing these comparisons, what you discover is a
certain letter formation, certain what’s called
ligatures, where they join two letters, like
in the word archaeology, it used to be spelled with
a and e sharing one side. In later printed texts that’s dropped. That’s called a ligature when you join two letters together. Those follow a certain pattern
in terms of chronology. So, there’s ways to
date these manuscripts. Usually we can date them
within a period of about 50 years; the earlier
manuscripts especially. So, P52 is almost surely
no later than A.D. 150, and closer to A.D. 100. It may even be in the 90s. Extremely early manuscript;
very, very important. Even though it’s tiny,
the significance of this is that European scholars,
for 90 years, since 1844, had argued that
John’s Gospel had virtually nothing to say of any historical value, and when Roberts finds
this small fragment, that changed everything. Even though it’s a small
part of John’s Gospel, it was evidence that John’s
Gospel was much earlier than they had thought,
and consequently it opened up the door for historical reliability. Gary Habermas: The
earliest bodies of papyri are the Chester Beatty papyri and the Bodmer papyri, and
those two sets together are between a half and two thirds
of the entire New Testament. So, we have papyri from
that early time, which would be in the Second Century,
100s, and just slightly later. In addition to these early
papyri, we have what’s called Tatian’s Fourfold
Gospel, from about 180 A.D., and it’s a side-by-side
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. 180 is still less than a
Century after the close of the New Testament; have all four Gospels. Dan Wallace: So, when
you hear somebody say, “Well, you can’t tell what the original” “New Testament actually
said because we don’t have “the originals and waiting
a long time before we “get any copies,” I
say, you know, if that’s the case, then we might as
well just shut off everything we know about the ancient
world because we’re basing our knowledge of the
ancient world on manuscripts that come hundreds of years later. The average classical
author, his existing copies come at least half a
millennium after he wrote. For the New Testament
we’re waiting decades. It’s an amazing difference. Most scholars of classical
literature, when they do texture criticism,
they have to reconstruct the text because of gaps in
the manuscript testimony, where they’ve got nothing
there, and they don’t even know what’s written. Sometimes they just
say, “We have no clue.” For example, you’ve got
135 books on Roman history that Libby wrote and we
only have 42 of those left, so they can’t do the gaps, they just say, “We don’t know what’s in those.” Even with the books that they do have, there’s long gaps in a
lot of this material. For the New Testament that’s not the case; we have so many manuscripts, and they make a coherent message that
there’s either absolutely no reason or virtually
no reason to come up with conjecture in any
place where you’re saying, “Here’s what I think
the original text said, “we don’t have any
manuscripts that say that.” Craig Blomberg: So, we
really are in a position to say we know what New Testament writers originally wrote with
an astonishingly high degree of accuracy, and
people who claim it’s corrupt simply haven’t studied the matter. Dan Wallace: There are
some who like to think that the copying of the
New Testament manuscripts is akin to the telephone
game, where somebody whispers a brief story
in somebody’s ear and it goes down the line until you
get to the tenth, fifteenth person and he spits it
out and it’s all garbled; it makes no sense. The telephone game is
meant to be one in which a story, which is not a
particularly straightforward story, and it’s only whispered,
and only once, is garbled. Otherwise, if everybody
says exactly the same, it’s not any fun, is it? It’s a party game; we do that at parties. The copying of the New
Testament is not at all like the telephone game. First of all, it wasn’t copied orally, and even if it had been
copied orally, that is, if people just recited
this over and over again down the centuries, they
would’ve done a far better job of it than what we
do in modern society, as we’ve talked about with oral culture. It’s copied by writing it
out, and you have these scribes who are copying out a text, and it’s not just a single
line of transmission, where you can only
interview the last person in that line. That’s not the case
with the New Testament. We have multiple lines
of transmission, so maybe the original documents
were probably copied 10, 15, 20 times, perhaps,
and then they go out through various areas
in the ancient world, and they’re copied again. People recognize, “Well,
there’s some mistakes here. “I know this is not what
all the manuscripts say.” So, some of these people
go back to the site, read the original, or at least look at earlier manuscripts,
and there’s comparisons. So, you get these
manuscripts that are flooding the Mediterranean world
and not only is that happening, but we don’t
just look at the last generation of these manuscripts. We could go back and interview a guy from the 15th Century or the 10th
Century or the Fifth Century or the Second Century to
see what he had to say. So, to compare the copy
of the New Testament to the telephone game,
the only comparison is that there’s some copying
going on and that’s it. Voiceover: The Gospels
present Jesus as performing incredible miracles and
rising from the dead. In Matthew’s Gospel, we
read that Jesus went about all the cities and
villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the
Gospel of the kingdom, and healing every
sickness and every disease among the people. The anti-super-naturalists
bases their thinking on the presupposition that
God has not intervened in history, and miracles cannot occur. Therefore, regardless of how convincing the evidence might be, the
anti-super-naturalist will reject any claims of miracles
recorded within the Gospels, particularly the Resurrection of Jesus. Craig Blomberg: The
first question you always have to ask when it comes
to the Resurrection, or any miracle for that
matter, whether found in the Gospels, or some other document is, are you open to the possibility
of the supernatural? Gary Habermas: You know,
it’s interesting that critics like to say to
Christians, “Yeah, but you “got miracles in your
Gospels. You guys believe “in miracles today, and
that just throws out “so much of what you do,” etc., etc. One of the first things I want to say is, that throws things out
from your perspective. That throws things out naturally. Of course miracles are very,
very rare as natural events. Uh, duh, they’re not
natural events at all. But, when you make that
criticism as a skeptic, you’re assuming your world view. Steve Gregg: We have a
naturalistic world view that prevails in our society;
especially in the economy. They assume there is no supernatural. Obviously the Bible records
supernatural things, so if your starting point is there is no supernatural, then all the reports of supernatural things
have got to be myths or legends or lies or something like that. Voiceover: What evidence
do we have that miracles happen today and that
miracles happened in history? Craig Keener: Today when people just start with the premise that
miracles don’t occur, often without knowing it, they’re echoing the arguments of David Hume. David Hume was a philosopher
a few centuries ago who came up with an
argument that, to just boil it down very simply, a
longer argument, David Hume argued that we
can’t trust any witnesses who claim miracles
because there’s no witness credible enough to surmount
the prejudice against miracles because, essentially,
we know that there are no credible eyewitnesses for miracles. If that is not a circular argument, I don’t know what would qualify as one. One of Hume’s arguments
rests on natural law. He says that miracles are
a violation of natural law. Hume got a lot of his
arguments from earlier deists who have mostly been forgotten today. He was trying to argue against Christian apologetic use of miracles, but arguing that miracles are a
violation of natural law just speaks completely
irrelevantly to that question, because nobody, no theist,
no Christian, believes that miracles are a violation in the sense that God is breaking his own law. God is not subject to those laws. Moreover, human’s
conception of natural law depended on the physics of his day, which is very different
from the physics of today. Today, usually people view natural law as descriptive rather than saying what can or cannot happen,
rather a description of what does or does not happen. Even in Hume’s own day,
the very people who were designing the ideas of natural
law believed in miracles. It wasn’t just scientists
who disagreed with miracles, it was Hume’s skeptical philosophy. People have often used the argument from analogy, this basically goes back to David Hume, but was
formulated more formally maybe a century or so
ago by [Aaron Strauch]. He argued that the kinds
of events that don’t happen today, we have no reason to believe that they happened in the past. This argument has since
been turned on its head, as scholars have begun
to wake up to the reality that actually we do have
a lot of eyewitnesses claiming what they believe,
and many of us believe, are miracles today as well. If we deny the existence
of miracles, a priori, without looking at the evidence, that does not follow
the scientific method. The scientific method is inductive;
it looks at the evidence. Craig Blomberg: Some people say
modern science has disproved it. It’s done nothing of the
kind, and scientists are much more modest today than they were a generation ago, although some
still make un-provable claims. Science by definition
studies the repeatable. Miracles, by definition,
are not repeatable, at least not in identical
fashion, and therefore, the two domains really don’t
conflict with each other at all. Craig Keener: Nobody actually
believes only what is replicable. Nobody only believes what can be
determined by experimentation. If somebody is dead,
and you want to find out how they died, you can’t
go back and kill them again; repeat the experiment
to see how they died. Forensic science works in a different way. Historiography works in a different way. Miracles are, by
definition, unique; they’re not replicable, so
consequently, they don’t end up in medical journals very often, especially when there is
a theistic explanation associated with them,
which is kind of normally not going to survive
the peer review process among those who don’t like those kinds of explanations. What we can do is go
back where miracles are reported to occur and
check them and see where we can get the documentation. Science is limited, but
science can also look at evidence and say, “Okay,
this person was sick “with this before. This
person, after prayer, “stopped being sick with this.” How often does this happen? So, science can ask questions like that, but the question of the
interpretation of science, the question of how we
evaluate the evidence, has to go beyond that. There, to a great extent,
people’s presuppositions come into play. Steve Gregg: If the
supernatural has ever occurred, it has occurred in
history, and the knowledge of the supernatural
event would be the same as the knowledge of any other
event; witnesses who saw it. If there’s reliable
witnesses who saw an event, then we have no reason
to doubt that event, just because it involves
forces that we might not be personally familiar with. Greg Boyd: We’re not against
the historical critical method at all, we just think
it should be more critical. A historical critical method that a priori rules out miracles is not critical enough, because it’s not critical
enough of its own ethnic perspective, its
own limited world view, its own limited experience. So, let’s apply the historical critical method, but let’s be
really critical of it, and be critical of the
possibility of our own limited world view being,
at times, erroneous. Craig Blomberg: If one is at least open to the possibility that
there might be a God, who on rare occasions, for His purposes, works in ways other than
the normal scienctific laws of cause and effect,
which He also created, then the question for the Resurrection, or any other miracle, whether
in Christian documents or any other documents is,
how strong is the evidence? Craig Keener: There was a
survey done of physicians in the U.S., and well
over 70% of them said that they believe that
miracles still occur today as they occurred in ancient times, and what was most remarkable was that 55% of them said that
they had seen treatment results that they considered miraculous. There was a peer form
survey done, I believe in 2006, in which they
studied Pentecostals and Charismatics, we’ll
come to other Christians in a moment, but in ten nations. In these 10 nations
alone, among Pentecostals and Charismatics alone, about
a couple hundred million people, who claim to have
witnessed divine healing. In those same 10 nations alone, you take the other Christians in
the survey who don’t claim to be Pentecostal or Charismatic, about 39% of them claimed
that they had witnessed divine healing. Some of these accounts are extraordinary. In a lot of cases, you
have people who were not Christians at the time that they witnessed these things, and became
Christians as a result of these things, that
were so different from their usual expectations. About 10 years ago, there
was a source from within the China Christian
Council, which was, I think, was affiliated with the Three-Self Church, and this source said that roughly 50% of all conversions to
Christianity in the previous 20 years, had been due to what they called faith healing experiences. Another source affiliated
with house churches, the unofficial churches in rural areas, suggested that the
numbers could be as high as 90%. Now, I have no way of
knowing what the actual percentage was, and again,
the statistics I gave earlier, those can be disputed
in terms of exact figures. The point is, we are
talking about hundreds of millions of people worldwide, because the first figures
were only from 10 nations, and in some nations we’re talking about millions of people
changing centuries of their ancestral allegiances and
beliefs on some points, to follow Jesus, because they believe that Jesus has done something
that can’t be easily explained in another way. There’s no way I can interview hundreds of millions of people, but
I’ve interviewed a lot of people, and came up
with a range of reports, including instantaneous
healings of blindness, deafness and people being
raised from the dead who were dead, as far
as anybody could tell they were dead, for hours. There are miracles that have
had medical doccumentation. Southern Medical Journal
published an article in September of 2010. There was another article
in British Medical Journal back in the ’80s. Many of the cases where
have eyewitness reports are from parts of the
world where people didn’t have access to medical help. Consequently, there’s no
medical documentation. I think maybe miracles happened for them because they desperately needed them. There are other places where we do have medical documentation. Greg Spencer: I was a
police officer for 15 years, majoring in narcotics enforcement. During that narcotics
enforcement, I exposed myself to tremendous amounts of violence, hardcore pornography,
I was just a very hard, callous man. It cost me my first
marriage as I put my entire life into that career. I was also a Deputy Medical Examiner, frequently having to view
autopsies; unintended deaths, violent deaths
through motor vehicle accidents or whatever violence it may be that man does to man. My brain was filled
with all of that stuff. I gave up that career after that 15 years, and went on to driving truck, which lasted about six months driving cross-country. I began noticing a loss of vision. I went to an eye doctor and was examined and diagnosed with macular degeneration. My vision went from 20/20
down to about 20/400 in a very short time and
was deemed legally blind, not only legally but literally blind. I couldn’t see. I was on disability, was
looking at disability for the rest of my life. I was sent to the Oregon
Commission for the Blind, and went through the full training to be a functional blind man;
the white cane training, the guide dog and everything
there was to that. That same time, in that
area of time, I met my current wife, Wendy, who
is a born-again on fire believer in Jesus Christ, who recognized what I was going through, and
drug me with her to church, where I was introduced to Jesus Christ, and had an opportunity
in 2001 to attend a men’s retreat, which the topic was the cleansing of the mind. I recognized I needed that. I couldn’t sleep nights
without horrid, graphic nightmares that I would
constantly have; closing my eyes with these
visions of the violence, the pornography, the bodies,
was just overwhelming. I’d wake up screaming at
night with these nightmares. My prayer in that men’s retreat was, “Lord, cleanse my mind.
Take this junk away.” “Set me free.” Shortly after praying, I
felt the Lord telling me, “You’re clean.” I opened my eyes and low-and-behold, at the back of the stage,
where I sat in this chapel, I could see a tiny
sign that said, read, exit. At that point, realized
I had been cleansed of my sin, but I had
also been healed, and my vision had been totally restored. Being on disability, I now
had to get off of disability. Going to the State to
tell them I’m no longer disabled, I can see, opened a one year long investigation which
the state concluded, after numerous medical
exams, with a letter that was given to them by the professional eye doctor was that there had
been a remarkable healing, a miraculous healing. This is some of the
medical records that we received from Oregon
Health Sciences University, from Dr. Brad Seeley, dated May 21, 1999, when we first began my case, documenting the loss of visual acuity. There’s even the graph
of both eyes as he did, showing where the vision loss was in both left and right eye, with
all of his notations on it. All the documentation of loss of vision, going up and up and up; all of the documentation from him. I don’t have it out, but I do have documentation from the local doctor, as well as the letter from Dr. Burpee, clearing me of the investigation
with the state of fraud. There was evidence of
macular degeneration, but it was healed and the scar tissue had been restored; no explanation of how that could be other
than it was remarkable. Craig Keener: It seems to me that you get to a point where it strains credibility, where a person is willing
to call everybody liars, or willing to attribute to coincidence, something that is so
statistically improbable, cumulatively speaking, that it makes you wonder why they hold so tenaciously to a philosophical premise inherited from a philosopher a few
centuries ago, David Hume, that they’re not willing to be
open to this kind of evidence. There was a professor that I had wonderful dialogues with, but he would challenge my faith in God a number of times. On one occasion, I finally asked him, “If somebody were raised
from the dead right “in front of you, would you believe?” He said, “No.” I asked him, “You have
the audacity to call me “closed-minded simply
because I’m a Christian?” Michael Brown: When the Bible talks about the coming of the Messiah,
the coming of this one who would be a redeemer,
it really shows that this is not just a book of human
wisdom and human inspiration, but this is a book
inspired by God himself. Voiceover: The Gospel
writers appeal to two areas of Jesus’ life to
establish His messiah-ship. His Resurrection and
fulfilled messianic prophecy. The Old Testament is a
collection of writings from the ancient Israelites, including the five books of Moses, historical books, wisdom books and the
books of the prophets. These scriptures were
written over a thousand year period, completed
more than 400 years prior to the life of Christ, and
contained over 300 prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. All of these predictions
were fulfilled in Jesus, and they establish a
solid confirmation of his credentials as the Messiah. Steve Gregg: You know,
we could try to prove the Bible’s Word of God
by going to archaeology and science and historical
records; those are all good because all of those
things frankly do confirm, but God never appealed to those things. The one thing He appealed
to proved that His Word was His word was, “I can
tell the future, can you? “You can’t, can you?
My prophets can. That’s “because they were there speaking for me, “so believe it.” That’s what God says in Isaiah 41. Other writings that
claim to be Holy writings from God, they just lack
that one important feature, and that’s supernatural credentials. Fulfilled prophecy is a
supernatural credential. Michael Brown: If we go
back to the very, very early parts of the Bible,
about 4,000 years ago, we see that when God
chose this man, Abraham, just some obscure guy, living
in a tent and traveling, he tells him that through
his seed, through his offspring, the whole
world will be blessed. That’s pretty remarkable;
pretty remarkable that through the one seed,
Abraham, then you have the children of Israel,
then through the children of Israel you have Jesus the Messiah, fascinating that these
words spoken 4,000 year ago actually came to pass. When we move things up,
oh, say about 1,000 years, to the time of David, we
have prophecies over him that there will be one that
comes forth from his loins. One of his descendants will
be both a king and a priest. As a priest he’ll deal with sin. As a priest he’ll bring mediation between God and man. Of course, we see 1,000 years later, Jesus the Messiah coming into
the world and doing this very thing. You say, “Ah, that’s a spiritual thing, “how can you weigh that?” Well, there are hundreds
of millions of people around the world who say, yes,
it had that effect in my life. We can go back about 1,400
years where Moses says that there’ll be a prophet
raised up like him, who will speak the words
of God to the people of Israel, and there were
many prophets that did that, but not on the level of a Moses. Jesus comes into the world, he prophesies that the Temple would be destroyed. It was one of the great
wonders of the ancient world. Herod had expanded it and it was this gorgeous, large structure,
these massive stones. The idea of it being
destroyed was unthinkable. Jesus said it was going to
be destroyed and leveled; completely leveled, and it happened. So, Jesus, the prophet
like Moses, has prophesied 1,400 years in advance, and then speaks prophetic words like
no one else ever spoke. This could go back to David. This could go back 1,000
before the time of Jesus, so 3,000 years ago, we
don’t know exactly when. There is a Psalm of a suffering, righteous person in Psalm 22; it’s
ascribed to David in the superscription, and it speaks of one who seems to be rejected
by God, who’s surrounded by hostile enemies, and it may even say in the Hebrew that his hands
and feet are pierced through. The fact is it speaks of
one, basically hung out to dry, mocked, people
looking at this one, hanging there, all their
bones out of joint, people saying, “Where’s
your God? Go ahead, “where’s your God? Where
is He to save you?” The person’s garments are divided up. It’s an amazing picture of what
really looks like crucifixion. Now, here’s what’s
fascinating, crucifixion was unknown at that time. Crucifixion was invented
by the Persians several hundred years later and
then the Greeks learned it from the Persians and
the Romans learned it from the Greeks, and that’s how it was practiced in Jesus’ day,
and it was ultimately considered so barbaric
that the Romans ultimately outlawed it, if you can imagine that. So, here we have a
picture that really looks like a crucifixion, but
then it goes further. This one is delivered
from the jaws of death, here in Psalm 22, and
not only delivered from the jaws of death, but what happens is, his deliverance is so great that it brings praise to God to the ends of the earth. Hmmm, can I think of
anyone who was crucified, who was delivered from the jaws of death, and his deliverance is so
great that it’s brought praise to the God of Israel
to the ends of the earth? Fascinating. There are prophecies
that speak of him being rejected by his own
people, Israel, and yet being a light to the entire world. These are spoken by Isiah probably between five and seven hundred
years before the time of Jesus in terms of when they’re actually recorded and passed on. Isiah 53:1 starts off by
asking, “Who’s believed “our report? Who’s
believed this message that “we have?” and this one,
the servant, he’s going to seem so insignificant,
just grow up out of nothing. We read about his origins. Jesus Yeshua comes from Galilee, small town Nazareth. The Messiah is going to come from there? You’ve got to be kidding me. Now, he’s going to be
in Jerusalem and he’s going to be famous and a great teacher. He’s a carpenters son. He grows up in obscurity, and then as his ministry develops, he
begins to identify with with the sick, the suffering,
the hurting, the outcasts. The prophet says he’s
intimately acquainted with sickness and begins
to take the pain, the sin of the people on his own
shoulders and ultimately dies for our sins. In Isiah 53, the people
of Israel say, “We thought “he was dying for his
sins. We thought he was “suffering for his
transgressions, then we find “out, we come to realize
no, he was dying for us. “The sickness he bore, the
sin, the pain he carried, “it was ours. It wasn’t his.” They make this great
confession, “All of us like “sheep have gone astray.
Each one has turned to his “own way, but the Lord
has laid on Him, Jesus, “Yeshua, the iniquity of us all.” So, it talks about his death,
it talks about his burial. Then it says that He will
see light, or He will see the light of life. The Dead Sea Scrolls has
an expanded reading there, the most ancient manuscripts
we have of Isiah 53. How do you die, how are
you cut off from the land of the living, how do you
suffer a stroke for the people, a stroke of judgement
for the people of God, how can all this be true? You’re wounded, you’re bruised,
you died; it even speaks of him dying a violent death. It’s plural in the Hebrew,
it speaks of a violent death, and yet he sees the light of life. We call that resurrection. Voiceover: Furthermore,
the Old Testament prophets recorded specific details
about the Messiah’s ministry. That His ministry would begin in Galilee. That it would be a ministry of miracles. That He would be preceded by a messenger. That He would be a teacher of parables. That He was to enter
the Temple, and that He was to enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Craig Blomberg: Here
we have pretty direct, straight forward, predictive prophecy and its fulfillment, but
there are other passages, where the New Testament
writer says, “Thus is “fulfilled, what the Lord said,”
to such-and-such a prophet. You go back and you say, doesn’t
seem to match all that well. “Out of Egypt I have called My Son,” Hosea 11:1, and you read it in context, and Hosea is talking about
the Exodus and the Son is the children of Israel
being brought out of Egypt. The very fact that it
doesn’t match all that well is also an important observation. It means the Gospel writers did not comb the Old Testament looking for something that the Messiah was supposed to do and then make it up and
attribute it to Jesus. What they did was recognize
things that Jesus really did. Once they were convinced
He was the Messiah, on other straightforward grounds, and using a very common
Jewish and Greek device of the day, called typology, saw striking parallels to the actions in Jesus’ life of statements about Old
Testament events and characters. In a world view in which God existed and superintended
providentially the affairs of humanity, to see that Moses had to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land at
the time they were given the covenant, that we now
call the Old Testament, and then to see that the
Messiah had to flee too, and therefore be led out of Egypt to the land of Israel,
which was the Promised Land at the time of the giving
of the new covenant, was way too coincidental to be random. It had to be the sign
of a sovereign God at work in discernible
patterns; just as powerful as direct predictive prophecy. Steve Gregg: Let me talk about what the skeptics think about
the prophecies about Jesus. One of them is that Jesus
knew the prophecies, and in order to convince people that he was the Messiah, though
he wasn’t any more than anyone else was, he just
was a guy who wanted to convince people he was the Messiah, he engineered things
so that he did some of the things that prophets said
that the Messiah would do. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Anyone can do that. There are things that
Jesus did that a person could, in fact, plan to do. If he wanted to say, “Okay,
I want people to think “I’m the Messiah, there’s
this prophecy here, “I can do that. I’ll make that happen.” Lot’s of skeptics say
that’s what happened. You say Jesus fulfilled
prophecy, well, any- Jesus knew the prophecies,
he could do them. They’re not aware of the nature of the prophecies that He
fulfilled and the impossibility of someone doing them on purpose. For example, being born in Bethlehem. Whoever had a choice about where
they were going to be born? Or, Daniel’s prophecy about
when the Messiah would come? Who had a choice about
when they’d be born? Voiceover: Concerning Jesus’ birth, Isaiah prophecied about of the
virgin birth of Christ, which the Gospel writers recorded as this miraculous event was fulfilled
with Jesus’ mother, Mary. Within the book of
Genesis and the Prophets are prophecies that the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham,
a descendant of Isaac, a descendant of Jacob and
of the tribe of Judah, from the family line of Jesse,
and of the house of David. All of which Luke
documented the fulfillments when he provided a detailed
genealogy of Christ within his Gospel. Steve Gregg: Obviously
things like that are things that happened to somebody, not something that people engineered. I mean, that he was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, or crucified
or any of the things that we recognize as
fulfillments of prophecy in his life, almost all of them are things that a man didn’t have any
power over, but there’s another, even more important argument against that skeptical issue. Jesus does not act like a man who’s trying to convince people that he’s the Messiah. As a matter of fact, if
he was, he would’ve done other things, because
the Jews were looking for the Messiah not to
do the things he did, but to do things that he
never attempted to do. They expected the Messiah to raise an army of Israelites against the Romans. That’s the one thing that
the Jews were willing to believe a Messiah would do. When he fed the 5,000
in John 6:15, it says, “When Jesus knew that
the crowds were about “to take him by force and
make him King,” that is, force him into the role of Messiah, “he withdrew and went to
a mountain alone to pray and sent the crowds away.” He did not accommodate
the people’s expectations of the Messiah. That’s why they abandoned
him to be crucified. He just wasn’t the Messiah
they were looking for. So, Jesus’ fulfillment
of prophetic scripture, insofar as we can
establish that he did so, and we can on many points,
was strictly because he, in fact, was the predicted Messiah, not because he was
trying to pretend to be. Michael Brown: So, you’ve got a number of prophecies in advance,
laying out the broad strokes of his ministry
in some cases, laying out his death and
resurrection, laying out some specifics of those. Some are a thousand years in advance, some are 700 years in advance,
some 500 years in advance, and then we have
three prophecies, Haggai, who propheciesed a little
over 500 years before the time of Jesus, who says the glory of the second temple will
be greater than the glory of the first; Malachi,
who prophecised about 400 years before the time of Jesus, saying that the Lord himself will
visit the second temple, and then Daniel prophesying
again about 500 years before the time of Jesus, speaking of how atonement for sin will
be made and everlasting righteousness brought in before
the second temple was destroyed. In other words, these
momentous things have to happen before the
second temple is destroyed and they’re prophesied
between four and five hundred years before the time of
Jesus, and sure enough, Jesus comes and fulfills those things, and the second temple is
destroyed in the year 70, which means if he isn’t the
Messiah, there never will be one. Conversely, because he did these things, we know the prophetic words are true. Voiceover: Is the resurrection of Jesus the best established
explanation of the events recorded in the Gospels? Such as the disciples
experiences of Jesus’ appearances and the
discovery of the empty tomb. The resurrection of Jesus, in
Christianity, stand or fall together. “If Christ has not been raised, then our “preaching is vain, your
faith also is vain.” Paul went on to affirm
that, “Christ is risen “from the dead, and has
become the first fruits “of those who have fallen
asleep. For since by man “came death, by Man also
came the resurrection “of the dead.” Gary Habermas: If we just
let the New Testament speak for itself, it’s pretty clear that the resurrection is at
the very center of faith. There’s a lot of ways you can tell that. For example, in the Gospels,
when Jesus is asked, “Give us a sign. How do we
know that you’re the Messiah?” On at least three different
occasions, he points to his resurrection. Mike Licona: Well, there
are several times in the Gospels in which Jesus predicts
his death and resurrection. Historians, we’re limited
to things that we can prove. There are some things that ancient reports include about Jesus or any ancient figure for that matter, and for all
we know, it could be true, but it may not be. We look for multiple independent sources. We look for eyewitness,
early sources, unsympathetic sources, hostile sources,
things like this. When it comes to Jesus’
predictions about his death and resurrection,
there are some of these predictions that Jesus
make within the Gospels that are a little more
strongly evidenced than others. So, for example, in Mark
8, this is the story where Jesus says, “I’m going to be killed. “I’m going to be crucified,
and then three days later, I’m going to rise from the dead.” Voiceover: “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man
must suffer many things, “and be rejected by the
elders and chief priests “and scribes, and be
killed, and after three days “rise again. He spoke this
word openly. Then Peter “took Him aside and began
to rebuke Him. But when “He had turned around and
looked at His disciples, “He rebuked Peter, saying
‘Get behind Me, Satan! “‘For you are not mindful
of the things of God, “‘but the things of men.'” Mike Licona: Now,
historians can look at this and say there are a
number of things in this verse that seem to suggest that this is an authentic saying of Jesus. One of those would be the
criterion of embarrassment. Why, if you were going
to invent the kind of predictions, Jesus predicting
his death and resurrection, why would you have Jesus rebuking
the leader of the Church? Why not make it a minor
disciple or someone? Why make it Peter, your lead apostle? Peter has the audacity to rebuke his Lord, and then Jesus turns around and rebukes the leader of His church. This isn’t the kind of
stuff that you make up. Voiceover: One strongly
evidenced historical claim of the Gospels is that Jesus really died by Crucifixion. Mike Licona: Crucifixion
in antiquity was perhaps the most brutal way of dying. It was almost always preceded
by some form of torture. In the case of the Romans,
what they typically did was, they scourged
a person; you could even scourge a person to death. It was so horrible that Seneca, at the end of the First Century, a
Roman philosopher said that a person on the cross
looked maimed, misshapen, deformed and nailed and drawing the breath of life amid long drawn out agony. Gary Habermas: When we talk about reasons for the death of Jesus, for
those who ask questions, how do we know he died
and so on, there’s several different areas we can go. One is medical science. From what we know about Crucifixion, still the most common medical
reason given for crucifixion is that on the cross
you die by asphyxiation. Now, it’s not unanimous, but that’s still the majority medical view. If that’s true, there are built in checks and balances in crucifixion. You don’t have to be a medical doctor. All you have to do is
walk by and see if this person on the cross is
hanging in the low position. Because, if they’re going
to speak, or if they’re going to breathe, or if
they’re going to live, you have to push up,
because when you hang down, your body constricts the muscles; intercostal pectoral
deltoid muscles constrict around your lungs. Mike Licona: It was easy to inhale, it was difficult to exhale. So, the tendency would be to have carbon dioxide build up, which
would cause all sorts of seizures and convulsions
and be very painful. But, in order to expel the carbon dioxide, you had to push up on
your nail pierced feet to expel it, and then
go back down because it was too painful to be on
the nail pierced feet, all your weight on that, and then very shallow breathing until you had
to expel the carbon dioxide. Gary Habermas: So, if
you’re up, you’re alive, maybe talking and breathing,
but if you’re down, for any amount of time,
you’ve probably slumped into a coma, you’ve
passed out, because you can’t breathe increasingly
in the down position. So, if you’re down for
a half hour, I mean, what I’m saying is, you
don’t have to have any medical treatment at all
to know when a person’s dead on a cross if this
is true, because you’d slump down in a down
position and you’d be dead. Mike Licona: We only have
one account in antiquity of a person surviving crucifixion. In one of Josephus’
writings, he mentions three of his friends being crucified. He saw it during the fall of Jerusalem. So he ran to his friend,
the Roman commander Titus, who ordered that all three
be removed immediately as a favor to Josephus, and given the best medical care Rome had to offer. In spite of this, two
of the three still died. So, your chances of
surviving crucifixion were almost zero, unless
someone had removed you prematurely and intentionally
tried to restore you to health. Even then, you had a
two out of three chance that you weren’t going to make it. Gary Habermas: Secondly, we
know that very frequently they gave death blows to the
person who was on the cross. It’s sort of like, “You’re
not faking on my watch.” Then you’d do something to them. We have the case in the
Gospels of them breaking the legs of the two men
on each side of Jesus. We have some cases outside
the Gospels of breaking legs. We find those a couple of
times, and in the Gospel of John, they come to Jesus, they don’t break his legs because he’s already dead. Now, see, even when you
say, “How does a Roman “soldier know he’s already dead?” Well, you’re hanging low and you’re not making a sound. You can’t breathe in that position. So, what did they do? Well, again, “Not on my watch.” So, they didn’t break his legs, because breaking legs,
that’s another indication of asphyxiation, you
make the guy stay down in the low position. So, he stabbed him with the spear. We have two sources
outside the Gospel of John that tell us that stabbing
with a spear is an option. We also have accounts where a guy had his skull crushed with a
club to make sure that he didn’t get off the cross alive. We have another one
where a guy is threatened with a bow and arrow. Mike Licona: This is the
Gospels, everything they describe about the
crucifixion, the scourging beforehand, to being impaled,
the breaking of legs. You would break the legs, in Jerusalem, because Josephus reports
that prior to the fall of Jerusalem, the Romans
allowed Jews in Jerusalem to remove the crucified prior to sunset. So, different than it was
throughout the Roman Empire, they would allow the Jews to remove people prior to sunset and give
them a proper burial. So, everything the Gospels report about crucifixion, the process,
is very compatible and right in line with
what we also read in secular history of the period. Voiceover: Another strongly evidenced, historical claim of the
Gospels is that Jesus’ tomb was empty three days after his burial. Mike Licona: We know
that the early Christians were proclaiming, in Jerusalem, that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Not only do we find this in the Gospels, we also find it in the writings
of the Roman historian, Tacitus, from the early Second Century. It says that after Pilate crucified Jesus, that the evil and mischievous superstition broke out again in
Judea, where it started; Jerusalem and Judea. How is it that you can
proclaim the resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem, if his body is still in the tomb? Because, all the enemies,
the Jews wouldn’t have done it probably, but
the Romans, they could’ve had the Romans do it. Just go to the tomb and make
sure the body’s in there. Any body that even resembled
the stature of Jesus would’ve been devastating
to the early Christians. It seems like they
weren’t able to do that. In fact, the only thing
that we have coming from the earliest times
would’ve been recorded in Matthew, who’s just written
in the First Century, somewhere between the
60s or 50s and the 80s, and he reports that
the Jewish leaders were going around saying that the
disciples stole the body. Now, why do you say the
disciples stole the body if it’s still in the tomb? This is just a reason for explaining why the tomb was empty. Gary Habermas: There
is a surprising amount of evidence that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was empty. In fact, in surveying critical scholarship to come up with this
list of facts that people agree to, I have found
23 different arguments for the empty tomb, which
critical scholars use; 23 arguments. When I went to graduate school in the 70s, almost nobody admitted the empty tomb. If you did, you were an Evangelical. You had to be a conservative;
almost nobody else admitted the empty tomb. Today, almost 2/3 to
3/4 of scholars believe in the empty tomb. It’s really come up in value. Now, here’s what the, to me, why this is important: the empty tomb does not require a resurrection. Right? Other things
could’ve happened, but it’s a good indicator of a couple things. Number one, it’s one
of many considerations in favor of a resurrection. It could be something else,
but if the alternative theories don’t work, and they don’t, like the disciples stole the body, which the critics don’t
even take today it’s such a bad theory, because the main
reason being you don’t die for something you don’t believe in. So, it’s an evidence, a major
evidence, for the resurrection. One other thing, the empty tomb shows that what happened to
Jesus concerned his body. That’s very important
because the Jewish view is, the primary Jewish view,
the predominant Jewish view, is resurrection of the body. The empty tomb says
that since the body was gone, whatever happened to
him, happened to his body. It wasn’t a glorified
spirit, although He was really raised from the dead? No, because the body still
would’ve been in the tomb. So, we have good evidence
for it, but it’s also a good indication that Jesus was raised, and he was raised bodily. Voiceover: Even critical scholars concede that the disciples really
believed that they saw the risen Jesus, because there is so much evidence in favor of these events. Gary Habermas: The fact
that the disciples really believe that Jesus was
raised from the dead is indicated by several important signs. Let me first say that virtually the entire critical community concedes this without any arguments. There’s almost no one who
will argue that the disciples disciples did not believe
that Jesus appeared to them. I mean, almost you
could basically count on one hand people who won’t concede this. Okay, so now you say, “So
why did they concede that?” One of the first reasons is,
they were willing to die. Mike Licona: We have
no less than 11 ancient sources that report that
the disciples of Jesus and Paul were willing
to suffer continuously, and even willing to die a martyr’s death for their Gospel
proclamation; their belief that Jesus had died for
their sins and had been raised from the dead. Now, you have people like
Luke, Tertullian, John, Dionysius of Corinth,
Origin, Polycarp, Ignatius, and Clement of Rome;
all report these things in terms of just the disciples. Forget Paul, you had seven
there, seven or eight that just talk about the
willingness of disciples to suffer and even die for their beliefs. Now, it doesn’t mean
we’ve got early testimony that they’d all die for their beliefs. We know that they all were
willing to die for their beliefs. We know that they all
suffered for their beliefs. We can establish historically
that Peter died as a martyr. Paul died as a martyr. James, the half brother of
Jesus, died as a martyr. I think we’ve got good
evidence that John the Apostle died as a martyr. Gary Habermas: Why are you willing to die, leave your family, leave your business, unless you really believe
what you’re teaching? You would have to have
severe mental problems, you would think, for a
person to do all those things and not believe
what they’re talking about. Then have nobody recant later? Have nobody say, “Well,
it was all a joke,” or, “I tried to be part of this but
I can’t be part of it anymore.” Nothing like that. I just think their
sold-out-ness, their willingness to preach and give everything for
it, and then be willing to die; those are knockout reasons to believe that they were really convinced of this. Voiceover: Scholars
acknowledge that historical facts of Jesus’ existence,
his death by crucifixion, the empty tomb, and
that the disciples were really convinced they saw the risen Jesus. In spite of these facts,
several non-miraculous theories have been offered as alternative explanationstof what
happened at Jesus’ tomb. The most popular being,
the hallucinations theory. Gary Habermas: Today, if I
had to guess, I would say the most popular response
for people to want to believe in the
resurrection is that the early disciples saw hallucinations. I think that this is highly problematic, because our earliest
accounts that critics accept, for example, 1 Corinthians,
chapter 15, has three group appearances listed there. Jesus appeared to the
12, he appeared to all the Apostles, he appeared
to 500 brethren; he appeared to 500 men. In other words, that group
could’ve been much larger. Voiceover: “For what I
received I passed on to “you as of first importance:
that Christ died for “our sins according to the
Scriptures, that he was “buried, that he was
raised on the third day “according to the Scriptures,
and that he appeared “to Peter and then to the
Twelve. After that, he “appeared to more than five
hundred of the brothers “at the same time, most
of whom are still living, “though some have fallen
asleep. Then he appeared “to James, then to all
the apostles, and last “of all he appeared to me also.” Ben Witherington III:
Maybe the most interesting thing about that
tradition at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15 is,
what it does not say is, he died, he was buried
according to scriptures, he rose, and then people saw him. What it says is, He
appeared to this person. He appeared that person. It’s an active verb
indicating that Jesus himself took the initiative to
appear to certain people. Now, that’s not the language of
“I saw in a dream or a vision.” That’s objective language, rather than subjective language. In that list of those to whom he appeared, at least two of those people were not even followers of Jesus at all. One would be James, his
brother, the other would be Paul at the bottom of the list, who was not only not a follower, he was an antagonist to the movement. So, you have appearances to those that had been followers, you have
appearances to those who were family, but didn’t
really believe in Jesus, and then you had appearance
to somebody who was the enemy of the early Jesus movement. Well, that’s pretty remarkable. In each case we hear he
appeared, he appeared, and last of all he appeared to me. That’s very striking evidence. Gary Habermas: So, the
problem with hallucinations is that nowhere in the
literature, I’ve got a clinical psychologist friend who did an in depth literature search,
nowhere in the literature are there documented cases
of group hallucinations. So, therefore, when you say that these are individual events, group
appearances are highly problematic, but that’s
not the only problem. The empty tomb with 23
evidences in its favor, hallucination is a full tomb
view, not an empty tomb view. That body should have
been in the tomb if there was an hallucination,
but the body is not in the tomb, saying something
happened to the body, that says something happened to the body. The empty tomb is a real
problem for hallucination. Another thing is,
hallucinations almost never transform a life where the
person never rethinks it. I know some actual
hallucination accounts where people are talked out of them very easily, and you go, “Oh, well that didn’t happen,” and the guy goes, “How
do you know?” and you go, “Because I was there,”
and he goes, “Oh, I must” “have been making it up.” You can almost always
talk them out of it and it doesn’t send them out
preaching and caught doing this and doing that. The fact that nobody ever recanted among the disciples, nobody
rethought it, nobody- But maybe the biggest problem
of all for hallucinations is how many different
persons, times and places are claiming to see the risen Jesus. Hallucinations are person dependent. Some people are prone to see
them, some people aren’t. Mike Licona: The most
likely group to experience a hallucination are senior
adults grieving the loss of a loved one, and of
those, approximately 7% experience a visual hallucination of that loved one they’re grieving over. That’s the highest percentage. In the case of the apostles,
we’re talking about not 7%, but 100%. He appeared to the 12. He appeared to all of
the apostles according to the earliest reports. So, that’s 100%, not 7%. That’s unheard of in
the medical literature, that’s in psychology that
specializes in things like this, so it’s very implausible. You really have to stretch
to make that happen. The hallucination hypothesis
also doesn’t account for the appearance to Paul or to James. They’re not believers, right? So, they’re not wanting to see Jesus. The conversion of Paul
is of great interest. It would be something
that skeptics would love if we didn’t have it because
it’s probably the strongest point in terms of the
evidence for the resurrection. There’s a lot of other
stuff, but Paul, he’s a key. The reason he’s so
important is because he was not a follower of Jesus at
the time of his experience, and in fact, he was a
persecutor of the church. Jesus was the last person in the world that Paul wanted to see. Steve Gregg: Here’s a
man who’s anti-Christian, vehemently anti-Christian,
persecuting Christians, throwing them in jail,
he goes off on assignment to arrest Christians in
other countries, which he’s doing with great
fervor and great zeal, and he gets to his
destination and he’s now preaching the Gospel. What happened? There’s only two possible
things that could’ve happened; one is what he said happened, and the other is he’s
lying about what happened. The problem is, nothing
about his later life supports that thesis. The guy never did arrest those leaders. Instead, he got arrested
himself; beaten and imprisoned and eventually
beheaded for his faith. Not the kind of stuff that
people did when they’re generally faking a conversion. They don’t usually go
all the way like that. More than that, what
we have to remember is that when Paul got saved and came back to Jerusalem a few years
later, the apostles there had that very suspicion
about it; said they didn’t believe you as a disciple. They were afraid of him. They had heard his story,
too, but they thought he was lying, but they changed their mind, which was a very risky
thing for them to do. Really risky, because
he wasn’t just claiming to be a Christian. Now, let’s face it, if
he was a fake and he was there to infiltrate and
arrest them and destroy the movement, even trusting
him to be a Christian would be risky, but more
than that, he didn’t claim he was a Christian,
he claimed he was an apostle, you know? Now, the guys least likely
to go for that story are the apostles, because
they’re, by definition, they’re the leaders. They’re going to let this stranger come in and claim he’s one of the leaders too? It’s like me walking
into a church I’ve never been in, they don’t know me, and I say, “Hey, I’m one of the elders here.” I don’t think they’re going
to buy that, you know. “I’m in charge here.
I’m one of the guys in “charge in this church,” and they’d never seen me before. That’s going to be a hard sell, and Paul’s conversion and his
apostleship is going to be a hard sell with the other apostles. The interesting thing is, as
you know, in 2 Peter 3, Peter after knowing Paul for
decades at that time, said that Paul was a beloved
brother and wrote Scripture. If someone was to question
Paul’s genuineness, one thing they just have
to deal with, that no one seriously doubts, that
man was once a Pharisee who hated Christianity,
and on a particular journey to Damascus, he
changed and became one who claimed to be a Christian. Now, we can say his story
is true, and it fits all the evidence afterwards. Or, is his story was
false and then we have no way of explaining the
evidence afterwards; his genuine conversion, the
power, the miracles working just like were going through
Peter and James and John. In other words, if someone
is really interested in it and doesn’t have
a foregone conclusion against Paul, they’re
going to have to buy it. They’re going to have to buy his story, because there’s not an alternative
that really works at all. Mike Licona: The conversion
of James, the skeptical half brother of Jesus, is important, too. Here we’ve got all four gospels
report that Jesus had brothers. Two of them, Mark and
John, report that Jesus’ brothers didn’t believe in him. Somehow they came to
believe that their brother was the Messiah, was the Son of God. Now, what would it take to convince you that your brother is the
Lord, and yet, this is what convinced them. Most scholars would believe
that its an appearance to James that led to
his transformation from being a skeptic to now someone who becomes a leader of the Jerusalem
church and according to Josephus, a Jewish historian,
Clement of Alexandria, and Hegesippus, they
all report that James, the half brother of Jesus, died the death of a martyr; he was stoned. Voiceover: There is much we can know about Jesus, historically. In the First Century gospels preserved by the church, remain
by far the best sources for this information. The portrayal of Jesus
in the Gospels, dependent on eyewitness testimony,
is more plausible than the alternative hypothesis
of it’s modern detractors. Ben Witherington III: That
if they’re going to be a fair-minded, honest
historian, then they will first have to recognize
that there is irreducible amount of evidence about
the historical Jesus that is not explained by
just explaining it away, and saying, “Well, it doesn’t
exist,” or “It doesn’t matter.” That does not explain
the rise of Christianity. What even the secular
historian most of the time admits is you have to account for the rise of this remarkable movement
that really changed the Roman Empire and in
various ways the whole Western world, as well as other
parts of the world as well. You have to give a large enough
an account of the origins, the Genesis of this early Christian movement that adequately
explains, “Where did it “come from and how did it arise?” Most historians would
say it would never have arisen at all if there had
never been a historical Jesus and if he hadn’t been a
very significant person that made a big impact on his disciples. If the size of the impact
crater on the earliest disciples is large,
then you have to assume that the presence of the
figure who made that impact was significant and large indeed. Craig Blomberg: They weren’t
looking for this event to happen. Their dreams were crushed when Jesus was executed as a criminal. They were hiding behind
locked doors for fear that they would be next to be arrested. You can’t call it late legend because it developed almost immediately. If it’s all made up,
why do all four Gospel writers seemingly
independently of each other create women as the
first eyewitnesses, when women’s testimony, with
rare exceptions, wasn’t admitted in a court of law? Ben Witherington III:
Why would a new Jewish movement make up this
idea about a crucified and resurrected Messiah? It seems highly, historically improbable if it wasn’t grounded in
something that actually happened to Jesus of Nazareth
at the end of his life. In an honor and shame
culture, since crucifixion was the most shameful way to
die, something had to happen to Jesus after crucifixion
that was so significant that it made for a total reversal of the verdict on Jesus
once he was crucified. How did it happen that
people thought of him as the Son of God, or the
risen savior, or the Lord, after he was crucified
if nothing whatsoever happened to him after he
was laid in the grave? I think most historians would say that’s pretty inexplicable. Craig Blomberg: All kinds
of insuperable problems admit [and obtain], unless we say, “Maybe Jesus was raised from the dead.” Paul Eddy: One can
finally ask the question about all of this stuff,
“So what? What does this “matter if the Gospels are
historically reliable?” It now raises the question
of what did he do and say? What is the basic message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and what
bearing does that have for us as human beings? Voiceover: The Jesus
of testimony, the Lord, Jesus Christ, died for
our sins, was laid in a tomb, and on the third day he was raised. The Bible says, “Jesus
God has exalted to His “right hand to be Prince
and Savior, to give “repentance … and forgiveness of sins. “Truly, these times of
ignorance God overlooked, “but now commands all people everywhere “to repent, because He
has appointed a day on “which He will judge the
world in righteousness “by the Man whom He has
ordained. He has given “assurance of this to all by
raising Him from the dead.” Gary Habermas: I think
we have a pretty tight argument that the resurrection evidences the teachings of Jesus. In the resurrection, we see God’s approval of the teachings of Jesus. His number one teaching
was the Kingdom of God and how to get there. That was his number one teaching. Steve Gregg: When Jesus came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom
of God in Mark 1:14-15, it says, “Jesus came into
all of Galilee preaching “the Gospel of the Kingdom
of God saying the time “is fulfilled and the
Kingdom of God is at hand. “Repent and believe the
Gospel. Believe the Good News.” What good news? That the Kingdom of God
was at hand; what he just preached, the gospel of the Kingdom. Now, when Mark begins
his Gospel, he begins the Gospel in 1:1 saying,
“The Gospel of Jesus Christ” and then he tells the whole
story of Jesus Christ, with an emphasis on his passion
and his resurrection, of course. All the gospels emphasize
his passion, his death, and resurrection; it’s
very important, obviously; essential core issue of
the Gospel, but it’s not the whole Gospel, because
the whole gospel of Mark is the Gospel. The whole story of Jesus is the Gospel. The story of Jesus in a certain
context of what God was doing. The word Gospel means
good news, good tidings. Now, Jesus’ Gospel was,
“Here’s the Good News “I’ve got for you, the
Kingdom of God is at hand.” Greg Boyd: So, Jesus
announces that God has broken into the world. With the coming of Jesus,
we have the planting of the mustard seed of the Kingdom. Jesus says the Kingdom
is like a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds that he knew of, and yet when it grows, it
takes over the whole garden. That’s the Kingdom of God. So, His life, His death
and His resurrection is the birth of this movement. When you look at Jesus,
you’re seeing what it looks like when God
reigns in a human life. When God totally, 100%
rules a human being, what do they look like? Well, they look like Jesus. They look like somebody
who would wash the feet of his disciples. They’d look like Jesus, who
gives his life for his enemies; the very people who are crucifying him. The Kingdom that Jesus
brings, it looks like perfect self sacrificial love. It looks like servant-hood. It looks like humility;
coming under people. It is not at all what any Jew
of the First Century expected. For centuries Israel
had not been a sovereign nation and they saw it
as an insult to God. Here they are, they believe
in the one true God, and yet these Pagans are ruling them, and they are oppressed
and so they’re calling out for deliverance and everyone was expecting a Davidic Messiah, a Messiah like David, to be a warrior and would
use supernatural power to crush their enemies. Jesus comes and he says,
“Love your enemies. “Turn the other cheek. “Bless those who persecute you. “Feed those who are hungry. “Care for those who are homeless.” It’s not what anyone
expected to hear and it’s not what anyone wanted to hear. That’s why it’s not surprising that Peter, when they come to arrest Jesus, Peter takes out his sword and starts- I’m sure he thought that this would- now Jesus would finally
rise up and show His true colors and the
legions of angels would come and give them victory. Instead, Jesus rebukes Peter and says, “Put away that sword.” Then he heals the guy’s
ear saying this is how we do warfare in the Kingdom
of God; not with a sword, we do it not by beating up our enemies, we do it by praying for
the healing of our enemies. That’s the beauty of the Kingdom of God. Craig Keener: The coming
of God’s Kingdom is good news for some but
it’s bad news for those who aren’t ready. Michael Brown: You know,
one thing that we have in common regardless of
our religious beliefs, if we’re atheists, if
we’re Muslims, if we’re Christians, if we’re Jews,
we’re all human beings. We all live, we’re going to die. We know our frailty, in
that sense, and if we’re honest, we also know our sin. I’m not talking about based
on someone’s religious beliefs, I mean based on
what we know is right. You’re not a sinner only
if you’re shooting heroin, and robbing some poor old widow and raping helpless victims and dropping bombs on innocent civilians. No, those are things that sinful people do that may be more obvious,
but every one of us judged by God’s perfect standards, every one of us falls short. When we recognize the
standards, love God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength, love your neighbor as yourself, then just the selfishness that we tend
to walk in and the pride that we tend to walk
in, and the fact that we put our energy and love
towards so many other things, aside from God, that
condemns us right there. We haven’t even talked about don’t commit adultery, which means don’t even have adulterous thoughts,
or don’t commit murder which could even mean don’t have hateful thoughts towards others. We haven’t even gone through that. So, universally, we all fall short. This is God’s answer. He sends His Son into the world. The only one that’s perfectly righteous. That’s why he was virgin born. That’s why He came down from above. He sends his son to the
world, perfect, pure, clean never sins. His Son says, “I’ll take the
sin. I’ll take the guilt.” Ben Witherington III: He came and died for the sins of humanity
and therefore made it possible for God’s estranged people to be reconciled to God. Now, that’s far more than
just being a good teacher. That’s far more than just
being a miracle worker. That’s a changing of the
direction of a fallen world full of evil and wickedness. Jesus is not just a dusty
figure from [unintelligible]. That is an interesting historical study. Jesus is the risen Lord who today still confronts us about who we are and who we ought to be and what
God had in mind for us. That story we’ll still
teach and preach today. Craig Blomberg: He says, “If
you declare with you mouth ” Jesus is Lord,” that’s the term the emperors used, it’s
the term for Yaweh, God of Israel in the Old Testament. “If you declare that Jesus is the Supreme “Master of the universe and of your life, “and believe in your
heart that God raised Him “from the dead, he’s not
just a great teacher, “that we follow, he was bodily raised from “the dead, you will be saved.” Michael Brown: I believe
that Jesus took my place, died for my sins. When you truly turn to
him, “God, forgive me.” “Wash me clean. Give
me a brand new start.” That’s what happened. Not only did Jesus die,
he rose from the dead. When we put our trust
in Him, we die with Him, to our sins, and we rise
in a brand new life. My own story is literally from LSD to PhD. I was shooting heroin. I was using hallucinogenic drugs. I was a wicked, rebellious
kid and enjoying it. I thought I was cool. I was playing drums in a rock band. I was going to be a star. I had no intention of
changing, and then God began to show me in my
own heart, the guilt of my sin, began to show me just between the two of us my guilt and
the wrongness of what I had done, and when I
realized Jesus died for me, when I realized that,
how much God loved me, December 17th of ’71, I said that’s it. I’ll never put a needle in my arm again. I was free from that day on; new life. I realized that when he
died, I died with him. Now, I rose with him in new life, where we serve God. Craig Keener: When I came to
Christ, I had been an athiest. As far as anybody knew,
I was an atheist up until that day, although
I had started having considerable doubts; maybe
agnostic was a better way to put it at that point. I heard the Gospel, and
it wasn’t from people that actually could give me a very good argument for it, but they gave
me the right content for it. They didn’t understand
a lot of the things that we’ve talked about here, but they knew the basic message, that
Jesus came to save us, and they hammered that home. I said, “I’m an atheist.
I don’t believe that. “Why should I believe
that?” and I walked away, and God gave me a different kind of evidence, an evidence
that maybe some of our listeners are feeling right now. God gave me the evidence
of His own presence. His demands on me, a
certainty that went beyond any other kind of evidence
that I could have had, because it came directly into my heart. God works with different
people in different ways. The way he worked with me
that day, I walked home, I was so convicted by the Holy Spirit. I didn’t have that
wording back then to know what it was called. I struggled back and forth, but God was in the room with me, just
as real as anybody else could’ve been, and finally
my knees buckled out from under me and I said, “God, I don’t” “understand all this,
about how Jesus dying “and rising from the dead, how that can “save me, but God, if
that’s what you’re saying,” “then I’ll believe it.
But, God, they talked” “about being saved,
they talked about being” “right with you. I don’t
know how to do that. “So, if you want to do
that for me, you’ll have” “to do it yourself.” That was the beginning
of my Christian life. If God would take me,
who knew almost nothing about Christianity,
who had, you know, half of what I did know was incorrect, who had blasphemed God’s name,
who’d spoken against Him, if God would take me, God
will take anybody who’s just willing to accept the
testimony of His Spirit. Jesus rose from the dead
and now Jesus is alive, and is Lord of the Universe, and is ready to transform the life
of whoever comes to Him.