What about some of the more recent attempts to explain away Christ’s resurrection? Were the resurrection accounts legends that grew up around an ordinary man? Did He not really die on the cross, as put forth in the book The Jesus Papers? Was the tomb of Jesus actually found?
Let’s look at the facts:
Early eyewitness testimony based on appearances is basis for the origin of the belief in the resurrection, not later legends arising.
There is no parallel historical case for legends developing so quickly after the events themselves.
Legends and stories would not have convinced persecutor Paul or skeptic James. Instead they would have suspected some sort of fraud.
Legends don’t explain the empty tomb.
Resurrection narratives do not contain the embellishments characteristic of later second-century documents. For example, one later Gnostic fabrication has a giant Jesus and a talking cross emerging from His grave.
There is evidence in the text that the disciples intended to convey real history.[vl1]
The Jesus Papers: This was a popular book by Michael Baigent that claimed Jesus never died but was somehow resuscitated after being crucified. This idea is a worn–out theory that should have been buried long ago.
The alleged papyrus documents are gone, and there is no translation or other authentication of them. Most likely they never existed. Dr. Craig Evans comments: “No papyrus buried in the ground in Jerusalem will survive two thousand years, period. . .Any archaeologist will tell you that. So there’s nothing to this.”
How would a severely injured, half-dead Jesus convince the disciples He was the risen Lord of glory? Most likely they would have wanted to take Him to a doctor.
The Romans were expert executioners; they knew a dead man when they saw one.
Baigent’s use of the Greek word soma to exclusively represent a living body is totally wrong.
Physicians and historians who have studied crucifixion have concluded that a person could almost never survive it, even in the unlikely event the Romans somehow took someone down from the cross alive.
Almost all scholars reject the Jesus Papers theory.
The Jesus tomb: There was a tomb, an ossuary or “bone box,” found in Jerusalem in 1980 which reportedly had the names of a Joseph, Mary, Mariamne Mara (whom they took for Mary Magdalene) and a “Jesus son of Joseph.”A film documentary was made in 2007 by James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici suggesting it was the family tomb of Jesus. But practically no serious scholars give this idea any credibility because:
All the names inscribed in this tomb were very common. According to Licona, Mary was the most common woman’s name in Jerusalem, and Joseph was the second most common man’s name. One out of every eleven men was named Jesus. Licona spells out the implications of this: “As Cameron’s documentary said, finding the names of John, Paul and George is no big deal, but when you add Ringo to the pool, you may have something. The problem, of course, is that when you really examine things, there’s no equivalent of ‘Ringo’ in the Talpiot tomb.”
According to calculations by physicist Randy Ingermanson, one out of every seventy–nine males in Jerusalem was Jesus, son of Joseph. Hershel Shanks and Ben Witherington III estimate that during the ninety–year period in which ossuaries were used―from 20 B.C. to 70 A.D.―there were about eighty thousand males in Jerusalem. That means there were approximately a thousand men named Jesus who had a father named Joseph.” He goes on to say that even if all the other names found are taken into account approximately eleven men would still be in Jerusalem that fit this exact profile.
Furthermore, this does not take into account the fact that there is absolutely no credible evidence Jesus was ever married and much evidence He was single.
Also, the tomb may have included extended family members as well as immediate family. So the Mary or “Mariamne Mara” who was in the tomb could have been an aunt, cousin, etc.
DNA tests supposedly showed that “Jesus” and “Mariamne” were not related, and so it was automatically assumed they were married. But this is jumping to quite an unwarranted conclusion! She may have been married to one of several other men in the ossuary, or to none of them, since nothing there indicates who her husband was. Also, the ossuaries often held more than one skeleton, making it difficult to match up the names with the bones.
Lee Strobel quotes historian Paul Maier: “This is merely naked hype, baseless sensationalism, and nothing less than a media fraud.”
Again, “natural” explanations for the events of the resurrection require greater faith to believe than the resurrection itself; thus, the resurrection is as sure a fact as any history can be. And this is the fact Jesus used to prove He is who He claims to be, and so it follows that what He says about the authority of Scripture is absolutely true.