Also, explain this. The resurrection narratives were being circulated and presented as faithful accounts of historical events within a few decades of Jesus' death. If the point was to deceive people into believing that the narratives were true, we would expect them to contain features that would embellish their supposed credibility—yet this is precisely what we do not find. Indeed, several features of the Resurrection accounts are inconsistent with their being fabrications:
1) The discovery of the empty tomb by the women. In each of the resurrection accounts, the first people to stumble upon the empty tomb are women. Within the context of first-century Palestine, this is a rather embarrassing fact: the testimony of women was, unfortunately, not considered credible and would not have been accepted in a court of law as evidence. If the stories were fabricated propagandistic pieces, it would have been far better to have "fine, upstanding, reliable male witnesses being first at the tomb," to quote historian and New Testament scholar N. T. Wright.
The formula quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians, which is commonly dated by scholars to within a few years of Jesus' death (at around AD ~36),
>Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.
omits the women entirely and just says that Jesus appeared to Cephas and the Twelve, who are obviously all men. This summarized version of the Easter events is what Paul reports as having 'received' by him—so we know that when early Christians were summarizing the events and passing them onto others a mere three or so years after Jesus' death, they were passing on a story that would have seemed more credible because it did not feature women. If the resurrection stories were indeed fabricated, it makes no sense to insert the women afterward, because this just makes the stories less likely to be credible from a first-century perspective—no, the presence of the women must date to before AD ~36, and again, it would make no sense for anyone to have made it up.
2) The lack of scriptural references. Within the early formula quoted above it is of particular note that Jesus is supposedly resurrected 'in accordance with the Scriptures'—the Scriptures are thought to demonstrate that the Messiah must have been raised from the dead. If appealing to the Scriptures was seen as enhancing the credibility of Jesus' resurrection, it is absolutely extraordinary that the resurrection accounts are devoid of scriptural references.
The gospels, if you have read them, are drenched with references to the Jewish Scriptures. Mark opens with a quote from Isaiah; John with a reference to Genesis; and throughout their descriptions of Jesus' life and ministry, all four gospels take tremendous care to continually frame Jesus' actions within the context of the Jewish Scriptures. Yet in the resurrection accounts, all of that extensive scripture-referencing simply stops (with the exception of a one-off reference in John). If the accounts had been fabricated, we would expect their creators to have included as many scriptural references as possible because such references would have enhanced the accounts' credibility, yet that is precisely what we do not find. Instead we have four accounts in which there is scarcely a scriptural reference to be found.
3) The 'transphysicality' of Jesus' resurrected body. The accounts of Jesus' post mortem appearances to his disciples are among some of the strangest stories in ancient literature—not only do they claim that the resurrected Jesus had highly unusual properties (being able to enter into locked rooms, for instance, or to vanish at will), but they also claim that his body was not quite the same. The story of the two disciples' walk to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35 says that neither of them recognized Jesus until after he had departed their presence; when Jesus preaches on the hillside in Matthew 28:17, the text records that "some doubted"; and in John 21:12 we read that none of the disciples dared ask who Jesus was, because they knew it was the Lord. This is all extremely strange—particularly if the stories were fabricated.
We would firstly have to ask where the fabricators got these ideas in the first place, since nothing in second-Temple Jewish literature suggests that resurrected bodies would have these kind of properties (and so if you wanted to present your fake stories as being backed up by the Scriptures, this is not what you have done). But more relevant for our purposes: If you are trying to convince a population that a certain figure had truly risen from the dead, why would you include such details? Why would you say that some people doubted? That Jesus was not easily recognized? That he entered locked rooms and was capable of vanishing from sight? If you wanted to affirm clearly that Jesus had been raised from the dead, then you would not have said these things; you would have rather said that Jesus was recognizable, that his body was unchanged, and that no eyewitness doubted, in addition to saying that the empty tomb was first discovered by upstanding male witnesses while peppering your account with as many scriptural proof-texts as you could find.
4) Finally, there is the lack of any theological message in the resurrection accounts. It has become popular in skeptical scholarly circles to say that the resurrection accounts were crafted to justify the theology of early Christianity, especially as it relates to Christians' future hope of their own immortality. In Paul, for instance, ~25 years after Jesus' death, the datum of Jesus' resurrection is used to justify conclusions about Christians' future states: since his body was made immortal, so yours will be, too; since your body will be resurrected, you should use your body responsibly (by, say, not engaging in sexual intercourse with a prostitute). However, if the resurrection narratives were fabricated to justify theological points current in early Christianity, we would at least expect them to mention those theological points: somewhere in the narratives we would find a reference to the general resurrection of all believers at the last day, to immortality and to whatever other theological points were being justified with appeal to Jesus' resurrection—the authors could have easily put those words into the angel's mouth. But again, this is precisely what we do not find. We find no attempt to justify any theology. We just find the barebones story that on the third day after his death, Jesus' tomb was discovered empty by a group of women and the disciples subsequently had very odd encounters with him. There is no theology, no attempt to justify any political positions, no interpretation, nothing. Strange for a piece of propaganda, don't you think?
I must honestly conclude that the most likely explanation for all of these historical data is that Jesus rose from the dead. And if he rose from the dead, his claims to being Israel's Messiah are absolutely vindicated.
For more info, check out N. T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God , from which most of the above is sourced.
>But that is not proof. That is also - in essence - a claim. So what is your reason to believe that?
What do you mean by this? Jesus was executed as a false Messianic claimant and as someone who had blasphemously claimed equality with the God of Israel—if he had been raised through divine power, his resurrection could only be seen as vindication of his claims. And we have good reasons to believe that the resurrection accounts were not fabricated. Consider that these narratives were being circulated and presented as faithful accounts of historical events within a few decades of Jesus' death. If the point was to deceive people into believing that the narratives were true, we would expect them to contain features that would embellish their supposed credibility—yet this is precisely what we do not find. Indeed, several features of the Resurrection accounts are inconsistent with their being fabrications:
Thanks! I did my best. I haven't actually read any Habermas—my principal source when it comes to resurrection scholarship is N. T. Wright and his book The Resurrection of the Son of God , which I only read a few months ago and is still fresh in my mind. A great (but long) read that I recommend picking up if you haven't already!