Tag Archives: Historical Evidence

Jay Smith debates Mohammed Bahmanpour on the crucifixion of Jesus

This is from Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable radio show.


The Koran claims that Jesus did not die on the cross.

Mohammed Bahmanpour of the Islamic College in London defends the Koranic view that although “it was made to appear to them” that he died, in fact he was substituted by another.

Jay Smith is a Christian evangelist to Muslims in London and brings to bear Biblical and other historical witnesses to the crucifixion.  They debate the issue and whether the Koran or the New Testament is to be trusted as a revelation of God.

Includes listener interactions with the guests.

The MP3 file is here.

Here are the opening speeches:

– in Surah 4 (Quran), it says that Jesus didn’t die on a cross
– it only appeared to onlookers as though Jesus died on the cross
– muslims believe that the crucifixion really happened
– but Jesus wasn’t the one who died, it was actually Judas
– most Muslims think that Judas betrayed Jesus
– some Shiites believe that Judas died voluntarily in Jesus’ place
– the gospel of Judas seems to make Judas out to be a hero

– the 4 gospels agree that Jesus died on a cross
– John is an eyewitness and it’s in his gospel
– Paul’s writings also echo the gospels (Romans and epistles)
– the gospel of Judas is a fourth century document
– it reflects gnostic theology, which denies that Jesus had a body
– even Surah 19 says that Jesus actually did die and rise after
– so Surah 4 and Surah 19 are internally contradictory

They take calls from callers and debate issues with each other. It’s interesting to hear the role that history and historical methods plays in each religion.

Speaking of Unbelievable, Justin has an Unbelievable conference coming up on May 14th in the UK. Details are here.

What does the Bible say about using evidence when witnessing?

Clay Jones of Biola University makes the case that the use of evidence when preaching the gospel was standard operating procedure in the early church. It’s only the modern church that is kind of lazy about the way they talk about Christianity as personal preferences and feelings. (H/T Apologetics 315)


In 1993 I started working for Simon Greenleaf University (now Trinity Law School) which offered an M.A. in Christian apologetics (Craig Hazen was the director). Much of my job was to promote the school and although I had studied Christian apologetics since my sophomore year in high school, I decided I needed to see whether an apologetic witness had strong Biblical precedence.

It does.

As I poured through the Scripture I found that Jesus and the apostles preached the resurrection of Christ as the sign of the truth of Christianity.

What follows are some of the passages which support the resurrection witness.

Here is my favorite verse from his massive list:

Mat. 12:39-40: A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Jesus is saying that the resurrection was deliberately given as a sign to unbelievers to convince them. (The Sign of Jonah)

Apologetics advocacy

Video of the second debate between Mike Licona and Bart Ehrman

I was browsing on Mike’s web site and found links to these videos.

Here they are:

4 videos in high quality, about 30 minutes each.

If you sometimes have trouble understanding what Habermas and Craig are talking about in their debates, you need to listen to this debate. Licona is taking a much higher-level view. He is basically selecting facts that NO ONE denies and not even talking about the evidence for them – instead he is spending his time arguing why the resurrection is the best hypothesis for explaining the facts, and why the naturalistic hypotheses are not as good. Craig spends more time proving the facts, but virtually no historian denies them.

If you like the debate, you can buy it here from $9.99 on 2 DVDs, with extra content – suitable for showing to larger audiences, like in your church!

You may also be interested in watching the debate between William Lane Craig and Bart Ehrman, or you can download the transcript here.

Related posts on Bart Ehrman


Tough Questions Answered has first report of Licona/Ehrman debate!

Here is their commentary on the recent Licona vs. Ehrman debate at SES. And they didn’t even tell me about it, I had to find it myself. Those meanies!

Excerpt from their awesome post-debate report:

Here is my summary of the arguments that each of them presented.

Licona opened the debate with a historical argument that goes like this.  First, he argued, virtually all historians (close to 100%) agree on three key facts about Jesus:

  1. He died by crucifixion.
  2. His disciples believed they saw Jesus appear several times after he died.
  3. The apostle Paul believed he saw Jesus appear after he died.

Then, Licona explained that the historian’s job was to figure out the best explanation of these three facts.  There are four criteria that the professional historian should use to judge possible explanations of the facts:

  1. explanatory scope
  2. explanatory power
  3. plausibility
  4. less ad hoc

I read their post, and it sounds like Bart Ehrman made his standard discredited case based on 1) manuscript variants and 2) David Hume’s argument against miracles. He doesn’t even care that he lost his debate against Craig with these exact same arguments.

As I reported before:

In Ehrman’s debate with Peter Williams on the UK-based Unbelievable radio show, and in Ehrman’s debate with Dan Wallace, Ehrman lists the 4 worst problems caused by the invariants:

  1. the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11) is a late addition not present in the earliest manuscripts
  2. the long ending of Mark (Mark 16:9-20) is a late addition not present in the earliest manuscripts
  3. Jesus was angry and not compassionate when he healed the leper (Mark 1:41)
  4. that Jesus died apart from God, and not by the grace of God (Hebrews 2:9)

Now I have to tell you, these disputes are irrelevant to standard Christian doctrine. Also, I personally prefer the woman at the well story being left out, and I prefer angry Jesus in 3). Why? Because I am snarky. The only variant that bugs me is the ending in Mark, because I liked the long ending. But none of these “worst cases” affects anything that Mike Licona might say on behalf of the resurrection, which is what the debate is supposed to be about, right?

That post also had some links to other debates on the resurrection. Furthermore, in previous debates, Ehrman’s argument against miracles is really just David Hume’s argument against miracles, which even non-Christian scholars, like John Earman, have defeated at the highest level here:

Here is an another interesting part of part one of TQA’s report (part two is forthcoming, they say!):

Interestingly, Ehrman did fully accept Licona’s three facts about Jesus as historically true.  He just didn’t accept the explanation of Jesus rising from the dead to explain those facts.  His favorite explanation seemed to be hallucinations, so the two debaters spent a lot time discussing hallucinations.

UPDATE: Part 2 of their evaluation has been posted!

Further Reading

Here are some resources related to this debate.