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Resurrection a Legend?|
Myth, Fairy Tale or Fable?
Has anyone told you that the resurrection is just a myth, a child's fairy tale, a fable that developed hundreds of years after Jesus Christ was crucified? If so, they are totally ignorant of the latest historical evidence surrounding the resurrection.
Hear what I say: No serious historical scholar denies that Jesus Christ lived or that his early followers believed that he had risen from the dead. None. Sure, a few historians like the infamous skeptic Bart Ehrman think that the disciples were somehow deluded. But even Ehrman concedes that the disciples and the earliest witnesses truly believed they had seen the risen Christ. The story about the resurrection of Jesus cannot be dismissed as a myth.
Earliest Creed Recited within One Year of Resurrection
Historians know that very early after the resurrection (most likely less than one year), Christians were already reciting a creed they had memorized about their risen Lord. This pre-Pauline creed states that Jesus died for our sins just as the Scriptures said, that He was buried, and that He was raised from the dead on the third day just as the Scriptures said. After that Jesus was seen by Peter and then by the other apostles (1 Corinthians 15: 3-5).
NO TIME for Legends to Evolve about Resurrection
Of course, most Christians are familiar with this early creed because the apostle Paul included it in the first few verses of 1 Corinthians 15. It became a part of his longer letter to the church at Corinth which we all read freely in our New Testaments. Paul said that he had already received this creed and had checked it out for himself (see 1 Cor. 15:3; Galatians 1:16-2:10).
Noted historian Gary Habermas says that Paul is clear that this material was not his own but that he had passed on to others what he had received earlier (1 Cor. 15:3). Remember, shortly after the resurrection new believers only had access to the Torah or the Old Testament. The New Testament didn't become available to them until a few decades later. So they memorized a short, song-like Aramaic creed that summarized the Gospel message. The resurrection beliefs did NOT have TIME to become legends hundreds of years later!
Many Infallible Proofs (Acts 1:3)
Of course, there are many other proofs of a resurrected Messiah. Briefly, no one has ever refuted the empty tomb that had been heavily guarded by Roman soldiers. In addition, the cowardly, timid disciples became bold eye witnesses once they reunited with their Savior. All but one were put to death for their faith. Think about it - do you know anyone who would die defending a known lie?
Furthermore, the apostle Paul turned from persecutor to preacher after he met the risen Jesus. Numerous eyewitnesses saw the risen Jesus. Plus, notable apologist Josh McDowell recounts that there are even sixteen historians who wrote about Christ apart from the Scriptures. For example, the historian Thallus (A.D. 52) mentioned the darkness that appeared at the time of Jesus Christ's crucifixion.
Happy Resurrection day! Hold your head up high and shout for joy! He is risen indeed!
Habermas, Gary R. 2006. Experiences of the risen Jesus. Garyhabermas.com.
McDowell, Josh. 2015. Incredible proof for why you should have faith in the Bible. CBN News.
Turner, Ryan. An analysis of creed in 1 Cor. 15:1-11. Christian Apologetics&Research Ministry (CARM). Carm.org.
Valorie Emilio holds an MA in History from UCLA focusing upon Christian Origins while her husband, Ken, received the MA in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University.
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