Resurrection ProofsQUESTION: Resurrection proofs - Is there historical evidence?ANSWER:
Christianity has many extraordinary claims but they all rest on one event, the resurrection of our Lord. If this event did not come to pass, Christianity is of no use. 1 Corinthians 15:14 says, "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."
The Christians of the early Church agreed with the Apostle Paul's statement. The Church would have come to nothing had the resurrection been discredited. Yet when the Church was experiencing growth, the Romans did not debunk the resurrection. There were certainly a plethora of hostile witnesses to the events of the Gospels, but not a single Roman came forward to expose supposed fallacies. Many Roman critics attacked the philosophy of Christianity, but they were unable to attack its historical accuracy, as they were witness to the events of the New Testament. The Church could not have grown in Jerusalem if Jesus' own generation (who had Him put to death) could have immediately exposed the resurrection as lies.
The resurrection is not a lie. Christ died. Roman soldiers were experts at execution. They plunged a spear into Christ's side, and resultant blood and water flowed through the wound. This was recorded in the gospels, however they did not understand the medical connotations as we do today. The fluid was flowing from the pericardium and Christ could not have survived.
Many historians readily accept the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, and Caesar. Plato wrote between 427-347 B.C., with our earliest copies of his works dating from the 900s (1200 year span), of which 7 copies have survived. Aristotle wrote between 384-322 B.C., and his earliest works are dated from the 1100s (1400 year span), with 49 surviving copies. Thucydides wrote around 460-400 B.C.; our copies of his works are from the 900s (1300 year span), with 8 copies in existence. Caesar's life was chronicled from 100-44 B.C. Our earliest copies of the chronicles of Julius Caesar date from the 900s (1000 years) and we have 10 surviving copies.
The New Testament, on the other hand, was written between 40-100 AD and our earliest copies of the New Testament manuscripts are from the 130s (less than 100 years) and we have 5000 Greek copies, 10,000 Latin copies and 9300 copies in other languages.
The New Testament stands alone in historical accuracy. It is the greatest of the resurrection proofs. The gospels themselves are the most reliable historical books in existence. However there are secular sources to confirm the gospels' claims. Josephus, a prominent Jewish historian, corroborated the prophecies, miracles, and crucifixion of Jesus. Tacitus, a Roman historian, goes as far as to say, "Christus…suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea. . .but even in Rome." (Tacitus, Annals 15.44 as quoted in Case for Christ
Scholars assert that when Tacitus says Jesus, "checked for the moment" it indicates Jesus' death, and, "again broke out" refers to the resurrection.
The Bible also says the Earth went dark for three days. This is supported in the writings of Thallus, a mid-eastern historian, who noted the darkness, which was parallel with the time of the crucifixion. Phlegon also wrote about a great earthquake and the greatest eclipse in the 202nd Olympiad, which is the year A.D. 33.
These miraculous historical events mysteriously come together and are explained in the Bible. There is undoubtedly an abundance of resurrection proofs to confirm the claims of the resurrection. We don't have to take a blind leap of faith, to follow assorted stories from a 2000-year-old book. We can accept the most significant event in history, which coincidentally is the most well documented event in history.