Resurrection Apologetics: The 12 Facts

Excerpt from ‘Resurrection/Myth or Fact?’ by Eric Chabot

As an authority on the resurrection, Gary Habermas is considered to be one of the top three resurrection apologists in the world. In his book The Historical Jesus, Habermas lists “at least twelve separate facts that are agreed to be knowable history” by “practically all critical scholars” (The Historical Jesus, pg 158). Taking into account that even four of these facts that are accepted by virtually critical scholars (1, 5, 6, and 12) the case can still be made that the literal resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation for these four facts (The Historical Jesus, pgs 162-164). The 12 facts include:

  1. Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.
  2. He was buried, most likely in a private tomb.
  3. Soon afterwards the disciples were discouraged, bereaved and despondent, having lost hope.
  4. Jesus’ tomb was found empty very soon after his interment.
  5. The disciples had experiences that they believed were the actual appearances of the risen Christ.
  6. Due to these experiences, the disciples lives were thoroughly transformed. They were even willing to die for their belief.
  7. The proclamation of the Resurrection took place very early, from the beginning of church history.
  8. The disciple’s public testimony and preaching of the Resurrection took place in the city of Jerusalem, where Jesus had been crucified and buried shortly before.
  9. The gospel message centered on the preaching of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
  10. Sunday was the primary day of worshiping and gathering.
  11. James, the brother of Jesus and a skeptic before this time, became a follower of Jesus when he believed he also saw the risen Jesus.
  12. Just a few years later, Paul became a believer, due to an experience that he also believed was an appearance of the risen Jesus.

Here are five well-evidenced facts granted by virtually all scholars who study the historical Jesus: (see See Habermas. G.R. and Licona, M. L. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus).

1. Jesus’ death by crucifixion

2. Jesus’ followers sincerely believed Jesus rose from the dead

3. Early eyewitness testimony to belief in Jesus’ resurrection

4. The conversion of Jesus’ skeptical brother, James

5. Paul, once an enemy of the early faith, became a commited follower of Jesus the Messiah

Who are some of these critical scholars that Habermas mentions? To read more about this see:

It is important to understand that I don’t want to say that just because I offer a list of core facts that are universally agreed on by historians and Biblical scholars makes it true. If so, that would be what is called a “consensus gentium fallacy” which is the fallacy of arguing that an idea is true because most people believe it. Habermas completed an overview of more than 1,400 critical scholarly works on the resurrection from 1975 to 2003. He studied and catalogued about 650 of the texts in English, German and French. Habermas reports that all the scholars who were from across the ideological spectrum agreed on the five facts that are mentioned. Therefore, the scholars and historians that Habermas researched were not all from a conservative or traditional perspective. So there was some neutrality in the study…


The Poached Egg

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:  The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus / The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ / The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach / More suggestions…