12 Historical facts (Most critical scholars believe these twelve items)
1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
2. He was buried.
3. His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.
4. The tomb was empty (the most contested).
5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus (the most important proof).
6. The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers.
7. The resurrection was the central message.
8. They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.
9. The Church was born and grew.
10. Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship.
11. James was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a family skeptic).
12. Paul was converted to the faith (Paul was an outsider skeptic).
Here's the link by Gary Habermas:
An interesting debate on The Resurrection between Craig and Ehrman:
A week or so ago I had an exchange with Zerowing21 regarding the authenticity of The New Testament as a valid historical document. This exchange (in part) follows below for those who are interested enough to slog through it. I think it's fitting that on the Eve of Christmas, Christians should be encouraged by the veracity of the thousands of New Testament fragments that have been uncovered over the past 2000 years. In fact this obscure Jewish carpenter has had more written attestations affirming his existence than does Napoleon Bonaparte. The documentation of his life, death and resurrection is far closer to the actual timeline of events than are the recorded events of Alexander The Great. Alexander's two most noted biographers, Arian and Plutarch, wrote their biographies 400 years after his death and yet there is no question about the veracity of their records.
I think once it's understood the primary goal of the New Atheist is to create doubt in the minds of their readers and not to actually provide evidence for their criticisms it becomes obvious that their arguments are largely vacuous. They imagine themselves to be ferocious lions, but upon closer examination they are nothing more than virtual tigers. Unfortunately, many lay skeptics are satisfied with the scholarly credentials of the bestselling novelist Dan Brown and are happy to allow a piece of poorly written fiction to fill their intellectual void on the topic of textual criticism.
But there are a number of sincere skeptics who aren't distracted by the din New Atheists create and remain unimpressed by the nonexistent credentials of popularizers like Brown, Harris and Hitchens. For these folks I would be glad to recommend a wealth of resources that exist beyond the tiny realm of this social networking system. More importantly, I'd like to encourage the Community of Christians to not allow the few insincere skeptics to steal their JOY during this glorious season of celebrating CHRIST as KING. Below is a small summary with links for those sincere seekers interested in the person of Christ.
The 2 most common objections to New Testament reliability is authorship and textual variants between manuscripts.
The authorship question surrounds the Gospel accounts which would be regarded as eyewitness or contemporary accounts of the life of Jesus. It is true that Mark and John do not credit themselves with authorship but it is widely accepted by even critical scholars that they were the original authors of their respective gospels. This commonly held belief is seen as early as the second century. The well known Church Father; apologist and martyr Irenaeus gives credence to what most scholars now affirm; namely the original authorship of all 4 gospels.
2. Textual variations:
Given that there are over 5300 New Testament manuscripts or manuscript fragments, one might expect there to be some variation. The fact that we possess sooo many ancient texts is pretty impressive in and of itself. Textual critic Dr. Bart Ehrman makes quite a bit of hay over the 10,000 discrepancies found among the many manuscripts. On the surface that claim could certainly cause one to doubt the reliability of The New Testament as it is sold today. Perhaps his intention is to lay an ax at the root of all Christiandom hoping to fell the mighty oak. In reality he does nothing more than prune the twigs on a vibrant tree. His "10,000" discrepancies include missing accent marks; misspelled words; entire phrases that are worded slightly different within the greek language but given the exact same meaning when translated.
In the end, I think Dr. Ehrman does Christianity a favor in pointing out the minor discrepancies because it highlights the incredible agreement the manuscripts DO share. When listening to him debate it becomes apparent that what he intends to do is question inerrancy and NOT historical veracity. No one would argue that the men copying the texts were infallible.
But here are some points to consider when holding these ancient manuscripts to the light of reality.
1. When Erasmus translated the Latin Vulgate into greek in the early 1500's, he had at his disposal only a fraction of what we've uncovered since. In spite of this, the agreement between his published work and the earliest manuscripts uncovered since then is within 98%.
2. The earliest manuscripts we possess were written in the greek language. Interestingly enough when Jesus's words are translated from the Greek into the language he spoke, Aramaic, the depth of meaning and significance increases. There are over 180 different times where Jesus's words (in Aramaic) would have carried with them a pun or play on words. This not only lends credibility to original sourcing, but it also reveals that Jesus was a really clever guy. :D
3. As to the question of the original manuscripts being written shortly after the actual events took place, the New Testament is affirmed.
It is widely agreed upon that the gospels and most epistles date earlier then A.D. 70. The Book of Acts ends at the point where Paul is under house arrest. An event as earth shattering as the Destruction of the Temple would have surely been mentioned in the original sources. This was an incredible prophetic "win" on the part of Christ:
"1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! 2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."
It would make sense that the original writers would be anxious to point out the accuracy of Christ's prediction. As it turned out, "one stone was not left upon another" when the Romans sacked Jerusalem. When the Temple was torched, the gold that was kept in the Treasury store melted and hardened between the cracks of the stones. It was for this reason the enormous stones were taken apart and dragged away. What remains now (The wailing Wall) was once the outer court of the gentiles. Ironically, an area held in very low esteem by the Jewish Leaders of the day.
I hope to continue this discussion in the future if there is an interest. There is quite a bit more that can be added, but unwrapped presents are calling me. Below is the discussion between JT and myself. If there are any questions please feel free to leave them in the comment section
@rey - Actually the earliest (valid historical) sources date back to the gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John not to mention the extra biblical gospel of Peter. These eyewitness accounts date to within 5 years of the resurrection of Jesus. A.T. Robinson of Cambridge University says "the burial of Jesus in the tomb is one of the earliest and best-attested facts about Jesus." The original copies are gone but the amazing agreement among the hundreds of fragments found lend credibility to this.
You're welcome to allow your particular prejudice to obscure the majority opinion of both secular and Christian authorities, but on this you stand with the minority.
@rey - @bakersdozen2 - The gospels are not considered historical documents. Luke is the only one of them that claims to be writing history rather than in the allegorical style of the time. Luke cites no sources and does not comport himself as a historian (first off, the book wasn't written by Luke the apostles).
What's more, Luke's writing compares to allegorical literature. Consider the approach to the empty tomb, where all the gospel writers focus on Mary, but all include their own take on it (in Luke's, Mary is accompanied by Joanna and Mary the mother of James, but not in any of the others - compare to the book of John where Mary has a crap ton of people with her).
@Zerowing21- @rey - The Gospels represent legitimate chronicles of early eyewitness accounts. I'm not sure where either of you are going with the "legitimate historian" argument. Luke himself is believed to have been an incredibly thorough historical scribe by many secular textual critics. JT's tactic here is much like Bart Ehrmann's who tries to confuse the issue of inerrancy versus accuracy.
There is no question that secular historians affirm the Gospels as legitimate sources for historical proofs.
There are a number of ways in which the content of information is dissected from the thousands of fragments that have been uncovered(and continue to be discovered) to prove the veracity of the New Testament. No rational person would ague that there are zero mistakes in recording a past event. Given the incredible wealth of fragments that have been found most critics put the reliability of the manuscripts to within 97%. Again this does not address the issue of inerrancy but instead it addresses the issue of accuracy.
@Carsonsmom2 -The whole counsel of Scripture is far more reliable than modern day bloggers. To put it simply, my money (my everything) is on Jesus.... not JT. I think most historians would agree that the accuracy of scripture supercedes that of xangans any day which is what this really boils down to, quite frankly. :)
@rey - @bakersdozen2 - No. We don't even know who wrote them, so how is it possible to verify their level of scholarship? What's more, all of them cite no sources. BD2 is simply wrong.
@Zerowing21 - Those are not the standards applied by legitimate textual critics of ancient manuscripts. They look for historical, geographical and cultural congruity. Agreement with contemporary sources of the time.
JT, are you familiar with how the veracity of ancient manuscripts is determined? You aren't going to find formal citations and bibliographies among fragments. I can point you to some sources that discuss how authenticity is established.
@bakersdozen2 - I am familiar with that process, as a matter of fact. But please point me to sources. I'd like to see what you consider reliable on this.
@Zerowing21 - There are many reliable sources. At the moment, I'm reading Robert H. Stein. He outlines the criteria for authenticity in this way: (some categories have been condensed for simplification)
1. The Criterion of Multiple Attestation
2. The Criterion of Embarrassment
3. The Criterion of Dissimilarity
4. The Criterion of Aramaic Linguistic and palestinian Environmental Phenomena
5. The Criterion of Tradition Contrary to Editorial Tendency
1. The Criterion of Contradiction of Authentic Sayings
2. The Criterion of Environmental Contradiction
3. The Criterion of the Tendencies of the Developing Tradition
I was thinking about this while I was out and decided that I will write a post on the general topic of Apologetics with emphasis on this in particular. I fly to Atlanta tomorrow to see my other son graduate from AIT so I won't be able to address this until later this week. We're trying to get ready for the trip out, but it seems that this topic needs attention. No doubt 98% of Xanga will find it a great cure for insomnia. Have a good week!
@bakersdozen2 - Will wait up on those reliable sources.
@bakersdozen2 - *sigh* Looked up Robert H. Stein. From the cover of his book...
Robert H. Stein is senior professor of New Testament interpretation at
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.
Not a historian. Not operating within peer review on the subject of history. Out to convince laymen. Go back to my response to you and read the portion on sourcing.
@Zerowing21 - Hmmm, yes. Most people have a hard time taking a PhD. from Princeton Theological Seminary seriously (?)
"Robert H. Stein (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) was most recently senior professor of New Testament interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He previously taught at Bethel Seminary. A world-renowned scholar of the Synoptic Gospels, Stein has published several books, including Luke, A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible, Studying the Synoptic Gospels, and Jesus the Messiah."
@bakersdozen2 - As someone to go tussling around with historians, yes, I do. I would also think that degree would be useless for arguing with biologists or anything other than theology.
@Zerowing21 - He is a formost authority on the New Testament so, I think you'd find yourself standing alone in your criticism once again.
@bakersdozen2 - I'm sure you think that. You're wrong. His degree in theology does not put him on the same playing field as historians on history any more than the biochemistry a biologist must learn puts him on level playing field with a chemist on the field of chemistry.
Tell you what, I'll make you a bet. I'll do run an Academic Search Premier search that includes all relevant databases looking for peer review papers by Stein in the field of history. I'm betting zero turn up. I'm willing to wager an entry on my blog on this (and I expect the same if you accept the bet).
@Zerowing21 - JT, in academia he is known as a premier scholar in New Testament interpretation and criticism. I would imagine that he would know just a little bit about the historical veracity of the New Testament. His specialty is the Gospel themselves and this discussion is about them specifically.
I honestly think you saw the words Southern Baptist and thought Hayseed preacher. Princeton Theological Seminary is not exactly a Community College. His area of expertise is the New Testament and we're discussing The New Testament as a valid historical source.Just admit it when you're wrong.
Anyway, I have to make dinner now. Angel hair pasta in a mascarpone cream sauce with pistachios
@bakersdozen2 - So take the bet.
T It's interesting to note that Robert H. Stein is a peer reviewed scholar on this very topic in fact. Here's the link:
I don't think peer review is as weighty a criteria especially given Dr. Steins distinguished credentials from Princeton. JT seems to believe that it alone is the benchmark for his certification of approval.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!!