The Fact of Easter

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

Articles

William Lane Craig, “The Resurrection of Jesus”

Gary Habermas, “The Case for Jesus’ Resurrection”

William Lane Craig, “Forum on the Resurrection”

Video

Gary Habermas, “Teaching on the Resurrection of Jesus”

N. T. Wright, “Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?”

Books

Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Kregel, 2004).

 

2.  More advanced defenses of Jesus’ resurrection

Articles

William Lane Craig, “Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ”

William Lane Craig, “The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus”

William Lane Craig, “The Historicity of the Empty Tomb”

William Lane Craig, “The Problem of Miracles: A Historical and Philosophical Perspective”

Video

Gary Habermas, “The Historical Evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection that Even Skeptics Believe”

Books

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

Richard Carrier (historian) vs. William Lane Craig

Bart Ehrman (New Testament scholar; historian) vs. Mike Licona

Bart Ehrman (New Testament scholar; historian) vs. William Lane Craig
Video | Transcript

Antony Flew (philosopher) vs. Gary Habermas

Gerd Lüdemann (New Testament scholar; historian) vs. William Lane Craig

Debate #1

Audio:  “Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment?” (1997, Boston College)
Book:  Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment? (InterVarsity Press, 2000)

Debate #2:  “The Possibility of Resurrection” (2002, California Polytechnic State University)

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