What is an overview of arguments for and against the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus? Was Jesus' resurrection a historical fact? What do scholars and historians have to say about all this? Is there consensus among the majority of scholars or is this still a controversial topic?

  • 1
    Questions shouldn't ask for both sides like this. And if you really want answers from historians then you should ask at History. – curiousdannii Apr 6 at 9:39
  • 1
    @curiousdannii - update: it didn't :( – Spirit Realm Investigator Apr 6 at 18:42
  • 2
    Is the documented record of reliable witnesses not 'historical' enough ? What more evidence do you want ? – Nigel J Apr 6 at 19:42
  • 2
    @SpiritRealmInvestigator I'm personally shocked to see the bias of the History.SE community to your question, as just in about 15 minutes I could find plenty of scholarly and peer reviewed works about the historicity of the resurrection done in the past 20 years. Some scholars often mentioned in the resources I found are NT Wright, Gary Habermas, John Crossan, and Bart Ehrman all of whom are aware of the strict standard of historicity. – GratefulDisciple Apr 7 at 1:28
  • 2
    @MikeBorden Yes, so an ideal candidate for the against position. Neither does Crossan. Christian scholars who adhere to the secular historicity standard then use them as foil to poke holes into their deficient historiography since the subject matter necessarily need special handling for a reasonable person. Christian scholars in the past few decades have advanced their academic respectability way beyond popular apologists in the 80s like Josh McDowell. It's just many people are not aware of this, hence probably the bias in History.SE. – GratefulDisciple Apr 7 at 1:45

Simon Greenleaf, one of the principal founders of the Harvard School of Law and author of the 3 volume "A Treatise On The Law of Evidence", which is still considered a classic of American jurisprudence, also wrote a book entitled "An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice."

In this book he applies U.S. trial court rules to the accounts of the 4 gospel eyewitness accounts and finds them not only acceptable witnesses, but exemplary as pertaining to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

There is far too much to even begin to cut and paste into an answer but a full, free pdf is available many places including here:



General sources of evidence for

Wolfhart Pannenberg -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfhart_Pannenberg

Lee Strobel -- The Case for Easter: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for the Resurrection

Additional Evidence for

The two words for love in John 21:15 has long been debated. The second word that Peter used is the verb whose noun form means friend. Sometimes people bring up that Jesus most likely spoke these words in an Aramaic influenced Hebrew rather than Greek, followed by dismissing the difference. However, Samuel Olyan wrote in Friendship in the Hebrew Bible:

Although the biblical text has no word for “friendship,” there are a number of words for “friend.” Most common is rēaʿ and related nouns such as rēʿâ, raʿyâ, rēʿeh, and mērēaʿ, each apparently derived either from a root r ʿ h or a root r ʿʿ, both meaning something like “to associate with” or “to affiliate with,” suggesting a voluntary dimension to friendship." (Olyan, S. M. (2017). Friendship in the Hebrew Bible. (J. J. Collins, Ed.) (p. 4). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.)

What is interesting about this root is one of it's homonyms means to feed sheep, and is the verb used to translate such in John 21:15 in the Syriac (Aramaic) Peshitta and Hebrew translations of the New Testament. Thus, Jesus made a play on Peter's words. This play on words is too striking to be coincidence. Not only does it substantiate the authenticity of the account, but also the historicity of the resurrected Jesus.

General evidence against

Generally historians reject history based on miracles and unique events inconsistent with scientific principles, which are based on generalizations. The resurrection of Jesus is a unique event that can't be investigated by similar events. Its evidence depends on eye witnesses.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.