The Easter Story... Is It Really True?

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Yes, there are plenty of people celebrating the resurrection who are sane, intelligent and well-educated, but they are statistical anomalies in a world where higher levels of education are strongly correlated with a lack of religious belief. Smart people can have blind spots, but this quick and easy explanation does not do justice to the complexities of religious belief.

THE RESURRECTION: STORY, REALITY, OR THE REAL STORY?

If we genuinely accept that a believer in the resurrection can be intelligent, but also think that any intelligent person would find the idea of the resurrection preposterous, the most charitable explanation is that intelligent believers are as aware of the implausibility of their beliefs as anyone else.

This is indeed what you tend to find if you bother to talk to a Christian.

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Some believe the unbelievable because they have had religious experiences so strong that they are literally unable to doubt their veracity of. But once you accept the existence of a divine creator who has a personal relationship with you, almost anything else is possible. It is not crazy but logical to conclude that what such a God says or does will sometimes be beyond our comprehension. It follows that there is nothing irrational in accepting a story that we are unable to make sense of rationally.

What atheists often forget is that many — perhaps most — religious believers are less than completely convinced anyway.


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Many of them are fully aware of the dissonance between what their faith and their rational mind tell them. Religion offers many tools to help manage this. It tells people that faith is superior to belief based on evidence.

The Easter story thus ends up rather like quantum theory: Surprisingly to some, there are actually solid historical reasons to believe that Jesus did, in fact, rise from the dead. There are multiple, early historical sources which testify to the crucifixion of Jesus including in all four New Testament Gospels c. Interestingly, Jesus' crucifixion is not just attested by the New Testament, but also by a large number of secular writers.

It is also attested by various non-Christian historians and writers including the Jewish-Roman historian Josephus c. Late 1st to Early 3rd Centuries A.

THE RESURRECTION: STORY, REALITY, OR THE REAL STORY? - OBLATE

This is a remarkable amount of historical testimony for an ancient event, especially from sources coming within 20 years of Jesus' death. By contrast, Alexander the Great's first biography was written years after his life. In addition to the ancient testimony for the crucifixion, the medical nature of the crucifixion accounts in the Gospels indicate that Jesus would not have survived the rigors of the crucifixion. Interestingly, the Journal of the American Medical Association wrote a special on the crucifixion of Jesus. In just describing the flogging, they stated,. The scourging…was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death ….

Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.

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However, the whipping was not all the affliction Jesus would receive. The stimulated nerve would produce excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms. Likewise, most skeptical historians agree with this conclusion.

Furthermore, the Romans are known to have been experts at killing their victims. The idea that someone could survive the crucifixion tortures is highly unlikely. Even more, if Jesus had survived the crucifixion, his battered body would have hardly been a motivation for the disciples to start a new religion. Jesus comes into their midst staggering and bloody and says, "I am risen!

Is the Easter Story of Jesus' Resurrection True?

In addition to the crucifixion, there are numerous reasons to believe that the tomb was indeed empty on that Easter morning. This evidence can be summarized by the acronym JET: First, the disciples preached the gospel in J erusalem in the midst of opposition. It would have been virtually impossible for Christianity to survive and expand in Jerusalem if the body of Jesus was still in the tomb.

All the opponents of Jesus would have had to do was produce the body of Jesus and squelch this Christian movement. Second, early enemies of Christianity never disputed that the tomb was e mpty. Instead, they argued that the disciples stole the body Matt. Third, and perhaps the strongest evidence, the first witnesses to the empty tomb were women. Sadly, the t estimony of women was not regarded highly in antiquity.

However, in the Gospels, the apostles are the ones who are cowardly hiding from the Jews and the women bring them news of the empty tomb!


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