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