The season of Easter rests upon a historical claim: Jesus died, and on the third day he rose from the dead. But is this historical claim true, and is it rational to believe it? Was Jesus’ resurrection an actual historical event? Is Christian belief in Jesus’ resurrection the best rational explanation of the historical testimony about Jesus in the New Testament?
The apostle Paul himself said that not only the season of Easter but the credibility of the entire Christian faith rests upon this issue:
“If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:14–19 [ESV])
The following collection of resources demonstrates that there are strong historical arguments and evidence that support belief in Jesus’ resurrection. The four Christian scholars who produced the articles, videos, and books in the following list (Craig, Habermas, Wright, and Licona) have all devoted a substantial portion of their scholarly careers in research and writing about Jesus’ resurrection and are widely recognized experts in the historical and philosophical issues involved in studying the historical Jesus.
1. Introductory defenses of Jesus’ resurrection
Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Kregel, 2004).
2. More advanced defenses of Jesus’ resurrection
N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Fortress Press, 2003).
Michael Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (InterVarsity Press, 2010).
3. Debates about the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection
Gerd Lüdemann (New Testament scholar; historian) vs. William Lane Craig
Debate #1: Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment? (InterVarsity Press, 2000)
Debate #2: “The Possibility of Resurrection” (2002, California Polytechnic State University)