Investigating Easter: Were The Disciples Accurately Reporting the Resurrection of Jesus?

by J Warner Wallace

I’ve investigated a number of cold-case homicides over the years, and these cases eventually ended up in front of a jury. As I’ve watched prosecutors and defense attorneys make their respective cases, I’ve noticed something important: every case has both strengths and weaknesses. When I began to examine the claims of Christianity, especially the varied explanations for the resurrection, I realized every explanation also had strengths and weaknesses. In Cold-Case Christianity, I examined several explanations for the Resurrection offered by unbelievers. While these explanations did have the limited ability to account for one or more pieces of the Resurrection evidence, all of them possessed a fatal flaw that eliminated them from reasonable consideration (click the links for the extended explanations):

Were the Disciples Mistaken About the Death of Jesus?
No. Many first-century and early second-century unfriendly Roman sources affirmed and acknowledged that Jesus was crucified and died. The Roman guards faced death if they allowed a prisoner to survive crucifixion. Jesus displayed wounds following the resurrection but was never observed to behave as though He was wounded. Jesus disappeared from the historical record following His reported resurrection and ascension and was never sighted again.

Did The Disciples Lie About the Resurrection?
No. The Jewish authorities took many precautions to make sure the tomb was guarded and sealed. The people local to the event would have known it was a lie. The disciples lacked the motive to create such a lie. The disciples’ transformation following the alleged resurrection is inconsistent with the claim that the appearances were only a lie.

Did the Disciples Imagine the Resurrection?
No. While individuals have hallucinations, there are no examples of large groups of people having the exact same hallucination. While a short, momentary group hallucination may seem reasonable, long, sustained, and detailed hallucinations are unsupported historically and intuitively unreasonable…

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Investigating Easter: Were The Disciples Accurately Reporting The Resurrection Of Jesus? | Cold Case Christianity