Tag Archives: Inference

Four reasons why positing the resurrection best explains the historical data

From Ratio Christi at Ohio State University.


When it comes to the Christian faith, there is no doctrine more important than the resurrection of Jesus. Biblical faith is not simply centered in ethical and religious teachings. Instead, it is founded on the person and work of Jesus. From a soteriological perspective, if Jesus was not raised from the dead, we as His followers are still dead in our sins (1Cor.15:7).

He lists four pieces of “historical bedrock”. These are the facts that even really skeptical atheists like Bart Ehrman and James Crossley will give you in a debate.

  1. The post-mortem appearances
  2. Paul’s use of the Greek word “soma”, which means body
  3. Identification of Jesus as divine by the earliest Christian community
  4. The rapid growth of early Christianity even after its founder was dead

This is a very very minimal set. He did not even use the burial, much less the empty tomb, which is a harder sell.

Here’s a closer look at Reason #2 of 4:

2.The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Explains Paul’s Use of the Word “Soma”

Whenever the New Testament mentions the word body, in the context of referring to an individual human being, the Greek word (soma, always refers to a literal, physical body). This is significant because Paul uses the word soma to describe the resurrection body of Jesus (1 Cor.15:42-44).Greek specialist Robert Gundry says “the consistent and exclusive use of soma for the physical body in anthropological contexts resists dematerialization of the resurrection, whether by idealism or by existentialism.” (1) Furthermore, N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God shows that the Greek word for resurrection which is “anastasis” was used by ancient Jews, pagans, and Christians as bodily in nature, with this being the case until much later(A.D. 200).

The only explanation that can be given to the emphatic insistence on the early proclamation of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, rather than translation or even a spiritual body is the fact that the apostles did in fact actually witness a material resurrection.

And one Bible passage from his Reason #3: 1 Corinthians 8:4-6.

4So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one.

5For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”),

6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

1 Corinthians is unanimously viewed by historians across the ideological spectrum – from evangelical to atheist – as a genuine epistle written by Paul, around 55 AD. I think this passage argues strongly that the earliest Christians thought of Jesus as other than an ordinary man. And the Ratio Christi post has many more passages to support Reason #3 as well.

Read the whole thing. If you want to see a great debate on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, you should watch William Lane Craig debate James Crossley.