Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Theories for and Against the Resrurrection of Jesus Christ

Spectacular events never cease to amaze the human race. Although some people discount the facts and clearly worded books of the Bible, none of the modern hypotheses are able to withstand even the slightest exploration. There are five major theories explaining why some people do not believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead: (1) the wrong tomb was returned to, (2) the body was stolen, (3) Jesus faked His death, (4) it is just a legend, or (5) it was incorporeal, not somatic.

First, there is the speculation that the body of Jesus was laid in a tomb that was not well marked and thus the women did not go to the right tomb when they went to anoint his body. Arriving at the wrong tomb they would obviously not find the body of Christ, and would mean the women could not have found His body. This is highly unlikely for one significant reason. The fact that Joseph of Arimathea was a prominent man in the first century made it inconceivable that people would not know where this affluent man’s tomb lay.

Second, many people disbelieve the resurrection because they think the body of Jesus was stolen. Who would have stolen the body? There are three groups would could plausibly have wanted to remove the body of Jesus: the Jewish authorities, the Roman authorities, or the disciples and other Christians. The second party that had a motive to steel the body of Christ was the Jewish authorities. Christians of the first century were influencing the pagans and, more importantly, the Jews. The temple leaders lost much of their popularity because of this. If they had removed the body of Jesus from the tomb, they only needed to bring it forth and their congregation of followers would have flocked back to their Jewish ways and customs, thus restoring the Jewish authorities’ power among people.

If the Romans had taken the body of Jesus they could and would promptly have shown the body to the people as proof that Jesus did not rise from the dead. This would have stopped the huge influx of people to the Christian faith and would have doused the ideas they were espousing. Also they could have saved themselves a huge amount of embarrassment. The fact that a “criminal” was be crucified, pronounced dead, buried, and then rose from the dead out of a tomb that was guarded by Roman centurions, caused a big ruckus within the Romans. If they had the body of Christ, they would have had the means of restoring their honor and dignity, and they would have been fools not to produce the body to give evidence that the rumors of the resurrection were false.

The 12 disciples and Christians in general were ruthlessly put to death and harassed because they professed belief that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and that He rose from the grave three days after He was killed. If the Christians had stolen the body of Jesus to make a statement or to pretend that He was mightier then they believed Him to be, a reasonable solution to their predicament was readily at hand. All they had to do was turn over the body to the authorities and the persecutions would stop. History has shown that people do not die for a lie, and since it would have been in their power to end the torture they were suffering, it is not preposterous to assume the Christians did not take the body of Christ to promote their agenda.

Thirdly and most popularly, is the swoon theory. This conjecture relies upon numerous facts that have been proven false. It proposes that Jesus’ death on the cross was faked and He merely fell into a coma, which looked like death. This is easily refuted by several documents written by eyewitnesses. In addition, if those documents are not respected, the sheer volume of far-fetched events that would need to occur to make this hypothesis viable are extensive. After He was taken off the cross the guards, professionals in their field of torture, pronounced He was dead. Just to be doubly sure he was dead, they stabbed Him in the heart. Water and blood flowed out. This separation of the two substances cannot happen unless the person has died (this is supported by cardio-surgeons). Assuming that He was able to feign His death, the next obstacle He would need to defeat would be to escape the stone tomb that he was laid in.

Carrying on the traditions of the people from the first century, the body of Jesus was embalmed, wrapped in cloth, and placed inside a tomb carved into the side of a hill. In this particular situation, the Romans were uneasy and posted guards at the mouth of sealed-off burial chamber. In order for Him to have unswathed Himself, rolled the massive boulder away from the opening of the sepulcher, and evaded the posted guards, Christ would have need to overcome the dizziness due to the loss of blood, and fatigue of being beaten (nearly to death), hung on a cross for hours, and then stabbed in the heart. On the part of the disciples, if Christ had truly eluded death, and was then a wanted man, why would they proclaim to the world that He was not dead, but alive. They had security in this announcement because, as the Apostles’ Creed states,

“[Jesus Christ] suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”

Fourth is the idea that the story of the resurrection is a myth, or legend. By definition, a legend is, “a story coming down from the past; especially one popularly regarded as historical although not verifiable.” For this story of Christ to have spread, there would have to have been a group of people committed to the corruption of history. Furthermore, all the people who were alive when Jesus supposedly rose from the grave, would have to, themselves, be dead. The scheme to fabricate such a spiel would have to have included secular historians as well as those who claim to have followed “The King of the Jews.” To make this rumor believed by numerous people, it would take roughly two generations beyond those who started it. Another point that seems to stand as evidence against the resurrection of Jesus being myth is the fact that it starts with women. Back then women were not regarded highly, and were certainly not the ones to lend credence to this tale. Consequently, the effort required to invent such an unconventional and easily refuted postulation is quite incredible.

Fifthly, some people subscribe to the opinion that Jesus’ resurrection was not bodily, but spiritual. In this case, the first four chronicles of the New Testament come into play. They each document the fact that Jesus was seen first by the women in the tomb and then by the disciples and others. To say that the resurrection was not physical means that the Bible would have to be discounted as erroneous. (There are many copies, or fragments of copies of these books. They are backed up by the oeuvre of temporal contemporary writers.)

There is one other theory about the truth surrounding the resurrection of Jesus, and that is to simply believe that God did what He said he did, recorded in the four gospels, each recounting the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Peter writes of a promise, found in 1 Peter 1:3, for those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He did defeat death when he rose from the dead:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has begotten us again to a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation…”
After a brief look into these five different views of what happened to the body of Jesus Christ, it must be concluded that the resurrection was a miraculous event; every other explanation will fall short.


Scribe said...

That was a really neat post, Caity! It was intersting to see the various arguments against Jesus' resurrection stated and refuted! Good job!


Mountain Momma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mountain Momma said...

Great post Caity, Im always impressed with your intelect!