Did Jesus rise from the dead?

“Yes, after all…
  • Jesus's body went missing
  • People were saying, “He appeared to us.”

      The Apostles, Paul, Mary, etc. proclaimed that “We physically met with Jesus after he died!”

      We can discuss 7 examples of this.
      Notably, “He appeared…:
      • …to me” says Peter.
      • …to me” says Paul. [These others forthcoming]
      • …to me” says Mary.
      • …to me” says James.
      • …to me” says Cleopas and companion.
      • …to us” (together) say the 12 apostles.
      • …to us” say the 500.

      But so what? Plausibly…

      They were lying?
      They were fooled by Jesus himself who faked his death on the cross?
      • They were fooled by a look-a-like impostor of Jesus?
      • They were fooled by hallucinations of Jesus?
      • They were fooled by aliens or a hologram?

      And keep in mind…

      • …God would have Jesus appear to more than just the apostles.
  • People were saying, “Jesus was resurrected.”

      The Apostles, Paul, Mary, etc. proclaimed that “Jesus has been eschatologically resurrected from the dead!”

      We can discuss 4 examples of this, notably…
      • …“he's resurrected,” says Peter.
      • …“he's resurrected,” says Paul.
      • …“he's resurrected,” says Mary.
      • …“he's resurrected,” says James.
      This is relevant because, for 1st century Jews, non-eschatological interpretations of Jesus's returning would make more sense.1 On the other hand, if Jesus rose and presented himself as having eschatologically resurrected, then the disciples' otherwise wild belief makes sense.

      But so what? Plausibly…

      They hallucinated Jesus and mislabelled it a resurrection?
      1. Markus Bockmuehl: “why should first-century Jews find themselves compelled to use the distinctive language of resurrection in the first place? After all, the walking dead were a well-known phenomenon until the advent of modern medicine. [...For example,] Apparitions of Moses and Elijah, both believed to have been bodily assumed to heaven, attended later Jewish teachers from R. Aqiba in the second century to Shabbetai Tzvi in the seventeenth...” [Cambridge Companion to Jesus, ed. Bockmuehl (Cambridge, 2001), 111-112.]
  • “No, after all…
  • Dead people always stay dead

      Humans who die always naturally stay dead.

      We can discuss 2 reasons to agree:
      • …we see an unbroken trend of humans staying dead.1
      • …natural mass cell revival is wildly improbable (violating entropy).
      This is relevant because Jesus is a human who died.

      But so what? Plausibly,…

      God exists and had special reason to resurrect Jesus.2
      1. There is actually some dispute about whether all dead humans have stayed dead. An attempt to document modern-day resurrections has been conducted recently by a skeptical Christian scholar, professor Craig Keener. (Miracles vol. 1 (Baker Academic, 2011), 543-579.) Keener is a well-published historical Jesus scholar and highly respected academic. His 2-volume book covers resurrections in volume 1, discussing accounts in Africa (including the author's own sister), Asia, the Philippines, Latin America, and the West. What gets pointed out is that no matter how many resurrection accounts are accumulated, one can always say “God has never raised anyone in the past, so this new purported instance also ought to be rejected.” As long as God only rarely raises persons from the dead, only rarely having sufficient reason to do so, skeptics will always (understandably) look for any natural explanation or assume data tampering. The point is not to judge the rationality of this, but simply to note that it cannot be taken for granted that God has not raised anyone from the dead. Reports abound.
        Also noteworthy is that, in the Bible, several figures are purportedly raised from the dead, miraculously, by God's power:
        • Elijah raised Zarepheth's son (1 Kings 17:17-24)
        • Elisha raised Shunamite's son (2 Kings 4:20-37)
        • God's spirit raised a man in Elisha's tomb (2 Kings 13:21)
        • Jesus raised Jairus's daughter (Mk 5:35-43)
        • Jesus raised Lazarus (Jn 11:1-44)
        • Peter raised Tabitha/Dorcas (Acts 9:36-41)
        • Paul raised Eutychus (Acts 20:7-12)
      2. Jesus stands out (in history, character, etc.) as a chosen representative of God might. While God may have little reason to raise most individuals spontaneously in the middle of human history, He might nevertheless have reason to raise Jesus―to vindicate Jesus and his message. See Oxford philosopher Richard Swinburne's The Resurrection of God Incarnate (Oxford, 2003). He covers this question in depth and concludes that becoming incarnate and resurrecting is a kind of thing God might plausibly do if God existed.
  • Jesus had not died
  • Jesus was resurrected by aliens
  • Jesus never existed
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