The Resurrection of Jesus: Which Explanation Fits the Minimal Facts?
Beyond Teachable Moments
Yesterday I presented a ‘Minimal Facts’ Bible Study on the case for Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The ‘Minimal Facts’ present data concerning Jesus’ death and the events immediately surrounding it that are so strongly attested historically that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the rather skeptical ones.
Today we’re going to investigate some of the most significant explanations for these facts to determine which is the best. In order to be the best explanation, it must have the best explanatory power for all of the data (all of the Minimal Facts). In keeping with good detective skills, it is often the most simple and straightforward explanation that is the correct one (no backflips to make the explanation fits the facts).
This is a follow up on the Minimal Facts Bible Study presented yesterday. You’ll need to refer to your notes from Part 1 to complete it.
Minimal Facts Bible Study Part 2
The controversy over Jesus’ alleged resurrection is not about the facts themselves. The Minimal Facts are almost universally accepted by scholars in the field who can properly attest to them. Rather, the controversy is in the explanation of the facts.
Look at the list of Minimal Facts you discovered through yesterday’s Bible Study.
1. What could explain the change in the disciples (Q4)?
2. What would cause a skeptic (James) and enemy (Paul) to end up being martyred for belief in something that they were once hostile to?
3. Here is a list of some of the more popular explanations for the Minimal Facts. (For an exhaustive list, see The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. I highly recommend this book.).
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a) Jesus wasn’t really dead (He survived the crucifixion).
b) Jesus’ disciples moved the body and lied about the resurrection.
c) The Jews, Romans or somebody else moved the body and lied about it.
d) The early church hallucinated the resurrection appearances (swoon theory).
e) The resurrection account was embellished over time.
f) Being willing to die for one’s belief does not prove that it is true (the disciples were deluded).
g) Jesus had a twin brother who posed as Jesus after Jesus died (the resurrection was faked).
h) Jesus rose bodily from the dead and appeared to the disciples.
Referring to the list of Minimal Facts, assess each of these explanations to see which provides the best explanation for all of the facts…