5 Minimal Facts of the Resurrection

Much of this is borrowed heavily from Lee Strobel’s book “A Case for the Real Jesus“. One of my favorite books.


In the minimalist fact approach the evidence must be so strong that the vast majority of today’s scholars on the subject—including skeptical ones—accept these as historical facts. This involves subjecting the bible to historical scrutiny like any other account from antiquity.

1. Jesus was killed by crucifixion.
Historical forensics supports this beyond doubt.

2. Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them.
The same people that abandoned him at the moment of his arrest, later believed in his resurrection and lordship so strongly that they were all willing to do die for their beliefs.

3. The conversion of the Church persecutor Paul.
A self-asserted enemy of the burgeoning Christian movement switches sides with nothing to gain (via naturalist perspective) from his conversion other than persecution and eventual martyrdom.

4. The conversion of the skeptic James, Jesus’ half-brother.
James was a devout Jew and grew up with Jesus. Not only did he convert, but he became the pastor of the Jerusalem Church which was the heart of the early Church.

5. Jesus’ tomb was empty.
The Jerusalem factor – Jesus was publicly executed, buried in Jerusalem, and his resurrection was proclaimed in the very same city. Mere weeks after the crucifixion, Peter declares to a crowd in Jerusalem: “God has raised this Jesus to life and we are all witnesses of the fact.”

Enemy attestation – skeptics were saying that the disciples stole the body, the religious leaders paid the soldiers guarding it to spread that story, it’s an indirect admission that the body was unavailable for display.

Liars make poor martyrs – Are we suppose to believe that the disciples conspired to steal the body, pulled it off, and then were willing to suffer continuously and even die for what they knew was a lie?

Testimony of women – women were the first to discover the vacant grave, in both first-century Jewish and Roman cultures, women were lowly esteemed and their testimony was considered questionable; If you were going to concoct a story in an effort to fool others, you would never in that day have hurt your own credibility by saying that women discovered the empty tomb.

All the strictly historical evidence we have is in favor of the empty tomb, and those scholars who reject it ought to recognize that they do so on some other ground than that of scientific history. – William Ward of Oxford University


2 thoughts on “5 Minimal Facts of the Resurrection

  1. Nate,

    You must be willing to acknowledge that the Minimal Facts that you have presented are not the only minimal facts to be presented. The ones here presented are those which seem to argue on behalf of the proposition that one Jesus was raised from the dead. However, you have conveniently, and you are not the only one to do this, omitted those “facts” that would argue against the proposition. For example, it is a “minimal fact” that by the time some of the disciples began to preach the Resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem, there was no body of any kind to be found. There was no “dead” body to refute the claim, and certainly no “resurrected” body of the living Jesus to further promote the claim. This seems to be a rather convenient disappearance of the resurrected Jesus. And what was the explanation for this missing resurrected body? God had lifted him up into the clouds and he now sits at the Right Hand of God. This is truly a convenient transportation of this resurrected body. You might offer that the detractors had no “dead” body to refute the claim, but, likewise, the proponents had no “living” body to “prove” the claim. This “minimal fact” doesn’t help the resurrection hypothesis, especially if you want to take the position that Thomas is said to have taken in John’s Gospel. This story might simply be an apologetic device, because it was known that there was and would be no “living” body to promote the claim, and people would simply have to believe on “faith”. This disappearance of the body is a true roadblock for someone seeking honest answers regarding this so-called miraculous event. To simply pile one miracle on top of another as an explanation seems to be lacking in the way of anything to recommend it.

    Anyway, thought I would share this thought with you. I would also add that there are additional “minimal facts” that argue against the hypothesis. Focus creates blindness, and the traditional Minimal Facts Approach does that very thing by focusing only on those “facts” that apologists believe argue on behalf of the proposition that one Jesus was raised from the dead. It is reasonable to conclude by investigating all the “facts” that the proposition might not be true as conventionally believed. The cry of Thomas to “show me the body” could not be answered by the time that preaching was begun. Believe on “faith” was the response. An insufficient response, or so it seems to me.


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