A. THE RESURRECTION AND THE CATHOLIC CATECHISM
(Numbers in brackets refer to Sections in "The Catechism of the Catholic Church".)
Christ "descended" and also "ascended far above all the heavens" (Eph 4:9-10). The Creed teaches both his descent into hell and his Resurrection: "Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead" (Easter Vigil Exsultet).
The apostles taught that Jesus, like all men, joined everyone else in the realm of death. However, he descended there as Savior "to preach to the spirits in person" (1 Pet 3:19).
This abode of the dead is called "hell" because the souls are deprived of the vision of God. Jesus delivered only the "holy souls." He did not descend into hell to deliver the damned or to destroy the hell of damnation. Rather, he freed the just who had gone before him (Council of Rome).
When Jesus "preached even to the dead" (1 Pet 4:6) he completely fulfilled his mission. This act shows that Christ's redemptive act has spread to all men of all times.
Jesus said that "the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live" (Jn 5:25). By dying, Jesus destroyed the devil (who has the power of death) and delivered those who "through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage" (Heb 2:14-15). "Today a great silence reigns on earth. The King has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve captive with him" (Ancient Holy Saturday Homily).
God fulfilled his promises "by raising Jesus" (Acts 13:32-33). The Resurrection is the crowning truth of faith, believed by the first Christian community, handed on by Tradition and established by the New Testament documents. "Christ is risen from the dead. To the dead, he has given life" (Byzantine liturgy).
Christ's Resurrection is a real event, historically verified in the New Testament. Around 56 A.D.,
The empty tomb is the first element of the Easter story. Obviously, an empty tomb is not a direct proof of Christ's Resurrection because the absence of his body could be explained in other ways. However, the empty tomb is an essential first. The disciples' discovery of the Resurrection began with the holy women, with Peter, and especially with the disciple "whom Jesus loved." This Beloved Disciple "saw and believed." He was the first to realize that the absence of the body did not result from human means nor that Jesus merely returned to earthly life like Lazarus had done (Jn 20:5-7).
Mary Magdalene and the holy women were the first to encounter the Risen One (Mk 16:1). They became the first messengers of the Resurrection to Peter and the Twelve. Later, based on Peter's witness, the community exclaimed, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon" (Lk 24:34).
The following is a list of Christ's appearances after the resurrection:
• To Mary Magdalene - John 20:15-17; Mark 16:9-11
• To five other women - Matt. 28:9-10
• To Peter (the afternoon of the resurrection) - 1 Cor. 15:5
• To two Christians on the road to Emmaus (Cleophas and Mary) - Luke 24:13–33; Mark 16:12
• To ten disciples - John 20:19-25
• To eleven disciples (including Thomas) - John 20:26-29; Mark 16:14
• To seven disciples by the
• To five hundred Christians - 1 Cor. 15:6
• To Jesus’ half-brother James, who had been an unbeliever until the resurrection - 1 Cor. 15:7; John 7:3; Acts 1:14
• To eleven disciples on a mountain near
• To the believers at the Ascension - Acts 1:3-11
• To Stephen (after the Ascension) - Acts 7:55,56
• To the Apostle Paul on several occasions after the Ascension - Acts 9:1-8; 18:9; 22:17; 23:11; 27:23; 1 Cor. 15:8; Gal. 1:12-17.
• To John on the
These visions made the apostles witnesses to the Resurrection and foundation stones of Jesus' Church. The faith of the
Because of these witnesses, we realize that the Resurrection is a historical fact, not something outside the physical order. The disciples did not experience some mystical exaltation. Really, the passion had shocked them and they refused to believe the Good News. The Risen Jesus had to "upbraid them for their unbelief and hardness of heart" (Mk 16:14).
While actually seeing Jesus, they "thought they were seeing a ghost" (Lk 24:37). Jesus said "A ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have" (24:39). Thomas doubted and demanded a sign (Jn 20:24-27). Even during Jesus' final appearance, "some doubted" (Mt 28:17). Their belief in the Resurrection did not come from their credulity but from a direct experience of the Risen Jesus.
The Risen Jesus invited the disciples to touch him and to share a meal. They could see that he was truly risen and that he had the very same body, marked by the wounds of his passion. This authentic, real body had the qualities of a glorious body (not limited by space and time) able to be present how and when Christ willed. Jesus' body was no longer confined to earth, but belonged to the heavenly realm. Jesus could appear to his disciples (as a gardener or in other forms familiar to the disciples) so that their faith would be awakened.
Jesus had miraculously raised three people from the dead (Jairus' daughter, the widow's son, and Lazarus). These three returned to ordinary, earthly life and would eventually die again. Jesus' Resurrection is essentially different. He has passed from a state of death to another life, beyond time and space. Sharing in divine life, Jesus' body is filled with the Spirit. He is now "the man of heaven" (1 Cor 15:45-50).
No one saw Jesus rise from the dead. No Gospel describes the event and no one can say how it came about physically. Although the Resurrection is an historical event (verified by the empty tomb and Jesus' appearances to his disciples) the Resurrection transcends history. Therefore, Jesus did not reveal himself to the whole world, but "to those who came up with him from Galilee to
Because God has intervened in history, the Resurrection is an object of faith. All three Divine Persons participated in this event. By his power, the Father raised up his Son and introduced his Son's humanity into the Trinity. By the Resurrection, Jesus was revealed as the "Son of God in power" (Rom 1:3-4). This manifestation came through the Spirit who gave life to Jesus' dead humanity (Rom 6:4). As for the Son, he effected his own Resurrection by his divine power. "I have power to lay down my life and I have power to take it up again" (Jn 10:17-18).
The Resurrection happened because the divine person of Christ remained united to both the separated body and to the separated soul. "By the unity of the divine nature, which remains present in each of these two components of man, these are reunited" (St. Gregory of Nyssa).
"If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1 Cor 15:14). The Resurrection confirms Christ's teachings (even those not accessible to human reason). By rising, Christ has given definitive proof of his divine authority.
Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies and all of his own promises. The Resurrection proves the divinity of Christ, showing that he is truly "I Am," the Son of God and God himself.
The Paschal mystery has two aspects, first, our liberation from sin (by Christ's death) and second, our receiving new life (by his Resurrection). This new life (justification) is victory over death and a new participation in grace. After the Resurrection, Jesus called us brothers: "Go and tell my brethren" (Mt 28:10). We are not brothers by nature but by adoptive grace.
The Risen Christ is the source of our own future resurrection. "In Christ all shall be made alive" (1 Cor 15:22). We have been swept up in Christ and "have tasted... the powers of the age to come" (Heb 6:5). "We live no longer for ourselves but for him" (2 Cor 5:15).
Christ's body was glorified at the very moment of the Resurrection (as shown by the new powers he enjoyed). Yet, for forty days he appeared to his disciples while his glory remained veiled under the appearance of an ordinary humanity.
In his final apparition, Jesus "was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God" (Mk 16:19). His Ascension is the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory. After his Ascension, Jesus did appear to Paul "as to one untimely born" (Gal 1:16).
Jesus spoke to Mary Magdalene of another stage of his glory: "I have not yet ascended to the Father" (Jn 20:17). Therefore, Christ's glory shown to the disciples is quite different from the glory of Christ exalted at God's right hand. The Ascension is an historical event marking a transition from risen glory to exalted glory.
The two events (Christ's coming down from heaven and his ascending up to heaven) are closely linked. Jesus said, "No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man" (Jn 3:13). Human nature does not have "access to the Father's house." Only Christ can give us such access and give us confidence that we will be with him.
Jesus said he would "be lifted up from the earth" (Jn 12:32). This mystery (begun with the cross) is completed by the Ascension when Jesus entered "into heaven itself." In heaven, Jesus "makes intercession" for "those who draw near to God through him" (Heb 7:25).
Now seated at the Father's right hand means that Jesus Christ has the glory of his divinity which he had before all ages. Because his flesh is glorified, he now is seated bodily. This "being seated" signifies the inauguration of the Messianic kingdom. "His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away" (Dan 7:14). After the Ascension, the apostles became witnesses that Christ's kingdom "will have no end" (Nicene Creed).
B. JESUS DID RISE FROM THE DEAD - THE ANSWERS TO SKEPTICS
Theories against the Resurrection
The theories propounded by skeptics against the resurrection are the following:
1. Stolen Body Theory.
2. Missing Body Theory.
3. Swoon Theory.
4. Drugged-Body Theory.
5. Twin Theory.
6. Hypnosis Theory.
7. Hallucination Theory.
8. Mass Hypnosis Theory.
9. Spiritual Resurrection Theory.
10. Tomb of Jesus Theory.
1. Stolen Body Theory
• The disciples stole the body and claimed that He rose from the dead.
• Matthew 28:11-15 Now while they were on their way, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and counselled together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ 14 “And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.” 15 And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this.
Answers to Stolen Body Theory
The Linen Wrappings and Empty Tomb
• Again, such a theory ignores the evidence of the linen wrappings and the empty tomb. If someone had stolen the body, they would have either taken the body and left the wrappings scattered or piled in a heap, but only resurrection could account for the position of the linen wrappings with the body absent.
• Further, there is the question of the probability of who COULD and WOULD steal the body under the circumstances.
• 1. The Romans would not; they were there to guard it with their lives by Roman law. They had sealed the tomb and were there to protect it against theft. The religious leaders had provided their own refutation against such a theory.
• 2. The women could not for they could not have removed the stone and were wondering who would remove it for them when they went early Sunday morning to finish burial preparations (cf. Mark16:3-4).
• 3. The disciples would not because they were perplexed and scattered, huddled together in hidden rooms. Two had even left town and were on their way to Emmaus.
• 4. The Jewish crowd would not and had actually requested a Roman guard to protect the tomb against theft (Mat. 27:63-66). This last point is very significant because the presence of the Roman soldiers and the Roman seal over the door made the possibility of the religious leaders claims of theft a thousand times more difficult if not impossible.
• The likelihood of these timid, scared Galilean disciples stealing the body of Jesus out from under the noses of a guard of highly disciplined and skilled Roman soldiers while they all slept (an offense punishable by death) is ridiculous.
2. Missing Body Theory
• Could someone else have taken the body from the tomb without Jesus' followers knowing about it? In fact, according to John 20:2-16, this is exactly what Mary Magdalene thought when she first discovered that the tomb was empty.
• This explanation would probably occur to most people who found themselves in a similar situation.
• But, why would someone else do that?
Answers to Missing Body Theory
• In considering the evidence of the resurrection, we must always start with the fact of the empty tomb.
• The Gospels tell us that Jesus was buried in the tomb of a wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea. Three days later that tomb was empty.
• It was empty despite the fact that it had been sealed by a huge stone weighing close to two tons, and despite the fact that it had been guarded continuously by a special contingent of Roman soldiers.
3. Swoon Theory
• The basic assertion of the Swoon Theory is that Jesus wasn't completely dead when he was removed from the cross. In fact many people have been mistakenly pronounced dead, even by modern doctors. In some cases breathing becomes so shallow and heartbeat so faint that both are very difficult to detect. If modern doctors can be fooled, then so could the Roman soldiers at the cross.
Answers to the Swoon Theory
• 1. The nature of the beating Jesus received before being nailed to the cross would have been enough by itself to send him into shock. The whip --- braided leather thongs interwoven with metal balls and laced with sharp pieces of bone -- wielded by the Roman soldiers would have most likely broken and cut the skin, penetrating to the bone.
• 2. Jesus was in such critical condition, it appears likely that he collapsed while carrying his crossbar to Calvary -- forcing the governor's soldiers to recruit Simon to carry it for him (Mat. 27:32; cf. Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26).
• 3. Roman soldiers were quite good at what they did, and failure to properly prosecute a crucifixion rendered their own lives forfeit. We can therefore be fairly certain that they were correct in their assessment of Jesus' death (John 19:33). In fact, one of the soldiers "pierced his side with a spear" (v34) in order to ensure the accuracy of this judgment.
4. The final argument against the swoon theory relies on the response of the apostles to the post-resurrection appearances of Christ. Had he only swooned, and somehow revived in the cool air of the tomb, he would have been in terrible shape. Given the severity of the beating as noted above, he would have needed weeks, perhaps even months, to recover. Surely a man in this state would not inspired the disciples, frightened and scattered after Jesus' capture, to preach his resurrection with a boldness and courage that often endangered their own lives!
4. Drugged-Body Theory
• This is similar to the Swoon Theory, except that the apparent death on the cross is induced by a drug. Such a possibility does have a scientific basis, because experiments have shown that a plant-derived drug called Reserpine can put mice into a temporary death-like state for several days. This, or some similar drug, might very well have the same effect on a human being.
Answers to Drugged-Body Theory
• 1. A detailed account of this theory was given by Hugh J. Schonfield in his book The Passover Plot. The author argues that a death-simulation drug was given to Jesus as part of a plot to allow him to survive the crucifixion.
• 2. Although such a scenario is possible, this theory is usually rejected on the grounds that it is too complex and involves too much conjecture.
• 3. Science was not that advanced to produce that type of drug.
5. Twin Theory
• There are two main versions of this theory, both based on the idea that Jesus had a twin brother. In one version the twin dies on the cross instead of Jesus, and in the other version the twin appears as an impostor after Jesus dies.
• Proponents of these ideas claim to find supporting evidence in certain names which can be translated as "twin".
• However, both versions of the theory are obviously very far-fetched, and it has few supporters.
• This is an actual theory proposed by Robert Greg Cavin during a debate with William Lane Craig, a Christian apologist. It states that Jesus had an identical twin by the name of Hurome and came into town during the time of the crucifixion.
• Hurome is separated from Jesus at birth and does not see him again until the time of the crucifixion. Upon stumbling into
Answers to Twin Theory
• 1. Again, like the Swoon Theory, I think that this is a bit of a stretch. Easily refuted as not being in line with the historical documents that we have.
• 2. Another interesting note that we can find in this story that was pointed out by Craig, is that this story is necessary based on the conclusion of Cavin's own research. He too has found that Christ was fatally tormented, the tomb was empty. The many instances when Jesus had appeared to the disciples and others, and that as a result of the resurrection the lives of the disciples were utterly transformed are proof that this theory doesn't hold.
6. Vision Theory
• The basic idea of this theory is that the earliest belief in the resurrection was based on illusory visions of a ghostlike apparition of Jesus.
• In ancient times many people believed that divine beings sometimes used visions as a method of communication.
• A person who had such a vision knew that it was a vision, but thought that a divine being had created it.
• Thus, the belief in the resurrection could have originated when some followers of Jesus imagined that he was using visions to communicate with them.
• Then later, as the message was carried to people in other communities, stories about visions could have gradually evolved into stories of a real physical resurrection.
Answers to Vision Theory
The Vision Theory is:
• 1. It is incompatible with the state of mind of the Apostles; the theory presupposes faith and expectancy on the part of the Apostles, while in point of fact the disciples' faith and expectancy followed their vision of the risen Christ.
• 2. It is inconsistent with the nature of Christ’s manifestations; they ought to have been connected with heavenly glory, or they should have continued the former intimate relations of Jesus with His disciples, while actually and consistently they presented quite a new phase that could not have been expected.
• 3. It does not agree with the conditions of the early Christiain community after the first excitement of Easter Sunday, the disciples as a body are noted for their cool deliberation rather than the exalted enthusiasm of a community of visionaries..
• 4. It is incompatible with the length of time during which the apparitions lasted; visions such as the critics suppose have never been known to last long, while some of Christ’s manifestations lasted a considerable period.
• 5. It is not consistent with the fact that the manifestations were made to numbers at the same instant.
• 6. It does not agree with the place where most of the manifestations were made: visionary appearances would have been expected in Galilee, while most apparitions of Jesus occurred in
• 7. It is inconsistent with the fact that the visions came to a sudden end on the day of Ascension.
7. Hallucination Theory
• This theory says all of Christ’s post-resurrection appearances were really only supposed appearances because actually the people only had hallucinations. In this way, all the post-resurrection appearances can be dismissed.
Answers to Hallucination Theory
• 1. The hallucination theory is simply not plausible because it contradicts laws and principles which psychiatrists say are essential to hallucinations. Psychiatrists claim:
• 2. Only certain kinds of people have hallucinations. These are usually high-strung, highly imaginative, and very nervous people. In fact, usually only paranoid or schizophrenic individuals have hallucinations. But Christ appeared to many different types of people. His appearances were not restricted to people of any particular psychological make up.
• 3. Hallucinations are linked in an individual’s subconscious--to his particular past experiences and this was certainly not a part of any past experience.
• 4. Hallucinations are usually restricted to when and where they occur. They usually occur in a nostalgic atmosphere or in a place of familiar surroundings which places the person to a reminiscing mood.
• 5. They occur in people when there is a spirit of anticipation or hopeful expectation. The historical record shows no such anticipation existed. They were prone to disbelieve even after they were told of the resurrection.
8. Mass Hypnosis Theory
• Another modern theory is that the disciples experienced mass hypnosis. The advocates of this idea argue that the disciples so desperately wanted Jesus to rise from the dead that they created an aura of auto suggestion, or mental hypnosis, and thus whenever the name of Jesus was mentioned His disciples believed that they could see Him.
Answers to Mass Hypnosis Theory
• Mass hypnosis is a probability with even as many as five hundred people, given precisely the right type of controlled environment and the proper mass medium like radio or television or film, but mass hypnosis without some form of mass media, and without a professional hypnotist, and without ideal conditions is utterly outside the realm of sound reasoning. And so I ask you, how could five hundred people in the open air of a countryside, before the invention of mass media, and before the discovery of hypnosis, be subject to mass hypnosis? And how does this explain the fact of the empty tomb? I think it's obvious that the skeptics are grasping for straws.
9. Spiritual Resurrection Theory
• This is the view that Christ’s resurrection was not a real physical resurrection. Proponents of this theory assert that Christ’s body remained in the grave and His real resurrection was spiritual in nature. It was only told this way to illustrate the truth of spiritual resurrection.
• According to this view, his human body either vanished or was removed by God, and he reappeared in his eternal spiritual form.
Answers to Spiritual Resurrection Theory
• .1. Note what William Craig says in his book entitled, Knowing the Truth About the Resurrection, Our Response to the Empty Tomb:
• 2. “We need to see clearly that there can be positive theological implications of the resurrection only insofar as its historical reality is affirmed. While many theologians may find such a conviction hopelessly antiquated, the man in the street knows better. His common sense tells him that there is no reason why a dead man should be decisive for his existence today, and I agree with him. Once doctrinal teachings are detached from their historical realities, we have entered the arena of myth. And there is simply no good reason to prefer Christian myths over other myths or, for that matter, secular philosophies. The resurrection is only real for our lives today if it is a real event of history.” (Introduction, p. xiii).
• 3. A physical body did disappear from the tomb. If it was only a spiritual resurrection, then what happened to the body? History shows there was a body there and it disappeared. The enemies of Christ were never able to produce the body nor disprove the resurrection.
• 4. The resurrection accounts are not presented in parabolic or symbolic language, but as hard fact. John 20 is full of what Greek grammarians call vivid historical present tenses to stress the historical reality of the Gospel message.
• 5. The record states He was touched and handled, that He had a body, and that He even ate with the disciples (Luke 24:30, 41f; John 21:12f).
• 6. First Corinthians 15 teaches us that Christ not only arose, but that He arose bodily. He possessed a glorified body which had unique capacities. First Corinthians 15:44 calls it a spiritual body, but it was nevertheless a physical body as well. Note the following facts about the body of Christ:
• 7. He could appear in different forms (Mark16:12).
• 8. He could eat though it was not needed for sustenance (Luke 24:30).
• 9. He could appear and disappear and could pass through solid objects (John 20:19, 26).
• 10. He could pass in a moment from one place to another (Luke 24:31).
• 11. Philippians 3:21 shows that His body was glorious and unique, but nevertheless, still a body according to which our bodies will one day be fashioned. So, it was spiritual, glorified, and yet a physical body of flesh and bone.
10. Tomb of Jesus Theory
• James Cameron, the Oscar winning Hollywood director who brought us the Terminator and Titanic movies, along with Simcha Jacobovici a producer-director have made a documentary that alleges they have found the tomb of Jesus and that the evidence therein shows Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, had at least one child named Judah, and, of course, that Jesus did not physically rise from the dead.
• On March 28, 1980, just outside of
Answers to Tomb of Jesus Theory
• 1. The names on the ossuaries were very common at that time. 'Jesus' and 'Joseph' were common names of the time, and another ossuary bearing the same inscription [Jesus son of Joseph] was revealed by archaeologist Eleazar Levi Sukenik in a 1931 lecture in
• 2. At least 25% of the Jewish women in the first-century
• 3. The ossuaries are inscribed in different languages: Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek. ‘Jesus’,
• 4. The Inscription dates are from 1 B.C to 1 A.D. not from 30 to 33 A.D the date of Christ’s Crucifixion.
• 5. The ossuaries for families were in their home towns. Although Christ died in
• 6. The family of Jesus was poor. Joseph was a carpenter and couldn't afford such an elaborate burial.
• 7. Incorrect reading of names? Pfann [a biblical scholar at the University of the Holy Land in
The Dead Sea Scrolls ans the Accuracy of the Bible
• In 1947 the accuracy of these documents was confirmed by the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls were found in caves in the dessert near the
• In careful comparison of the manuscripts it was confirmed that the copies we had were almost precisely the same as those which date over 1000 years earlier. Old Testament scholar Gleason Archer said that even though there is such a difference in dates of the manuscripts, "they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more that 95 per cent of the text. The 5 per cent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling.“
• No other historical literature has been so carefully preserved and historically confirmed.
Biblical Prophecies Fulfilled
• More than fifty prophecies were fulfilled by His death and resurrection.
• More than 100 prophecies found in the Old Testament were fulfilled in Jesus (e.g., being from the line of King David, Being born in
• Jesus accurately predicted that He would be killed and after three days rise again.
THE RESURRECTION IS A FACT
· The popular historian Will Durant, himself not a Christian, wrote concerning Christ's historical validity, "The denial of that existence seems never to have occurred even to the bitterest gentile or Jewish opponents of nascent Christianity" (Durant, The Story of Civilization, vol. 3, p. 555).
• N. Sherwin-White a Classical Roman Historian For the New Testament of Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Any attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.
• Professor Thomas Arnold, for 14 years a headmaster of Rugby, author of the famous, History of Rome, and appointed to the chair of modern history at
• Brooke Foss Westcott, an English scholar, said: "raking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it."
Writers of the 1st Century of the Christian Era
• More than 40 ancient sources of the 1st Century of the Christian era, other than New Testament writers, such as Josephus and Pliny, refer to the teachings, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
C. EXTRA-BIBLICAL HISTORICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE LIFE, DEATH, AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS
I. ANCIENT NON-CHRISTIAN SOURCES
Cornelius Tacitus (55-120 AD), "the greatest historian" of ancient
"Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed."
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillas, chief secretary of Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD):
"Because the Jews of Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, [Claudius] expelled them from the city."
"After the great fire at
Flavius Josephus (37-97 AD), court historian for Emperor Vespasian:
"At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders." (Arabic translation)
Julius Africanus, writing around 221 AD, found a reference in the writings of Thallus, who wrote a history of the
"Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away the darkness as an eclipse of the sun--unreasonably, as it seems to me." [A solar eclipse could not take place during a full moon, as was the case during Passover season.]
Pliny the Younger, Roman governor of
"[The Christians] were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food--but food of an ordinary and innocent kind." Pliny added that Christianity attracted persons of all societal ranks, all ages, both sexes, and from both the city and the country. Late in his letter to Emperor Trajan, Pliny refers to the teachings of Jesus and his followers as excessive and contagious superstition.
Emperor Trajan, in reply to Pliny:
"The method you have pursued, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those denounced to you as Christians is extremely proper. It is not possible to lay down any general rule which can be applied as the fixed standard in all cases of this nature. No search should be made for these people; when they are denounced and found guilty they must be punished; with the restriction, however, that when the party denies himself to be a Christian, and shall give proof that he is not (that is, by adoring our gods) he shall be pardoned on the ground of repentance, even though he may have formerly incurred suspicion. Informations without the accuser's name subscribed must not be admitted in evidence against anyone, as it is introducing a very dangerous precedent, and by no means agreeable to the spirit of the age."
Emporer Hadrian (117-138 AD), in a letter to Minucius Fundanus, the Asian proconsul:
"I do not wish, therefore, that the matter should be passed by without examination, so that these men may neither be harassed, nor opportunity of malicious proceedings be offered to informers. If, therefore, the provincials can clearly evince their charges against the Christians, so as to answer before the tribunal, let them pursue this course only, but not by mere petitions, and mere outcries against the Christians. For it is far more proper, if anyone would bring an accusation, that you should examine it." Hadrian further explained that if Christians were found guilty they should be judged "according to the heinousness of the crime." If the accusers were only slandering the believers, then those who inaccurately made the charges were to be punished.
The Jewish Talmud, compiled between 70 and 200 AD:
"On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, 'He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed
[Another early reference in the Talmud speaks of five of Jesus's disciples and recounts their standing before judges who make individual decisions about each one, deciding that they should be executed. However, no actual deaths are recorded.]
Lucian, a second century Greek satirist:
"The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day--the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. ... You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property." Lucian also reported that the Christians had "sacred writings" which were frequently read. When something affected them, "they spare no trouble, no expense."
Mara Bar-Serapion, of
"What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of
II. GNOSTICS SOURCES
The Gospel of Truth, probably by Valentius, around 135-160 AD:
"For when they had seen him and had heard him, he granted them to taste him and to smell him and to touch the beloved Son. When he had appeared instructing them about the Father. ... For he came by means of fleshly appearance." Other passages affirm that the Son of God came in the flesh and "the Word came into the midst. ... it became a body."
"Jesus, was patient in accepting sufferings. . . since he knows that his death is life for many. . . . he was nailed to a tree; he published the edict of the Father on the cross. ... He draws himself down to death through life. ... eternal clothes him. Having stripped himself of the perishable rags, he put on imperishability, which no one can possibly take away from him."
The Aprocryphon of John, probably by Saturninus, around 120-130 AD:
"It happened one day when John, the brother of James,--who are the sons of Zebedee--went up and came to the temple, that a Pharisee named Arimanius approached him and said to him, `Where is your master whom you followed?' And he said to him, 'He has gone to the place from which he came.' The Pharisee said to him, 'This Nazarene deceived you with deception and filled your ears with lies and closed your hearts and turned you from the traditions of your fathers.'"
The Gospel of Thomas, probably from 140-200 AD:
Contain many references to and alleged quotations of Jesus.
The Treatise On Resurrection, by uncertain author of the late second century, to Rheginos:
"The Lord ... existed in flesh and ... revealed himself as Son of God ... Now the Son of God, Rheginos, was Son of Man. He embraced them both, possessing the humanity and the divinity, so that on the one hand he might vanquish death through his being Son of God, and that on the other through the Son of Man the restoration to the Pleroma might occur; because he was originally from above, a seed of the Truth, before this structure of the cosmos had come into being."
"For we have known the Son of Man, and we have believed that he rose from among the dead. This is he of whom we say, 'He became the destruction of death, as he is a great one in whom they believe.' Great are those who believe."
"The Savior swallowed up death. ... He transformed himself into an imperishable Aeon and raised himself up, having swallowed the visible by the invisible, and he gave us the way of our immortality."
"Do not think the resurrection is an illusion. It is no illusion, but it is truth. Indeed, it is more fitting to say that the world is an illusion, rather than the resurrection which has come into being through our Lord the Savior, Jesus Christ."
". . . already you have the resurrection ... why not consider yourself as risen and already brought to this?" Rheginos was thus encouraged not to "continue as if you are to die."
III. LOST WORKS QUOTED IN OTHER SOURCES
Acts of Pontius Pilate, reports sent from Pilate to Tiberius, referred to by Justin Martyr (150 AD):
"And the expression, 'They pierced my hands and my feet,' was used in reference to the nails of the cross which were fixed in His hands and feet. And after he was crucified, they cast lots upon His vesture, and they that crucified Him parted it among them. And that these things did happen you can ascertain the 'Acts' of Pontius Pilate." Later Justin lists several healing miracles and asserts, "And that He did those things, you can learn from the Acts of Pontius Pilate."
Phlegon, born about 80 AD, as reported by Origen (185-254 AD), mentioned that Jesus made certain predictions which had been fulfilled.
IV. ANCIENT CHRISTIAN SOURCES
Clement, elder of
"The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ was sent forth from God. So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order. Having therefore received a charge, and having been fully assured through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in the word of God with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come. So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their firstfruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons unto them that should believe."
Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, letter to the Trallians (110-115 AD):
"Jesus Christ who was of the race of David, who was the Son of Mary, who was truly born and ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died in the sight of those in heaven and on earth and those under the earth; who moreover was truly raised from the dead, His Father having raised Him, who in the like fashion will so raise us also who believe on Him."
Ignatius, letter to the Smyrneans (110-115 AD):
"He is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, but Son of God by the Divine will and power, truly born of a virgin and baptised by John that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him, truly nailed up in the flesh for our sakes under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch (of which fruit are we--that is, of his most blessed passion); that He might set up an ensign unto all ages through His resurrection."
"For I know and believe that He was in the flesh even after the resurrection; and when He came to Peter and his company, He said to them, 'Lay hold and handle me, and see that I am not a demon without body.' And straightway they touched him, and they believed, being joined unto His flesh and His blood. Wherefore also they despised death, nay they were found superior to death. And after His resurrection He ate with them and drank with them."
Ignatius, letter to the Magnesians (110-115 AD):
"Be ye fully persuaded concerning the birth and the passion and the resurrection, which took place in the time of the governorship of Pontius Pilate; for these things were truly and certainly done by Jesus Christ our hope."
Quadratus, to Emperor Hadrian about 125 AD:
"The deeds of our Saviour were always before you, for they were true miracles; those that were healed, those that were raised from the dead, who were seen, not only when healed and when raised, but were always present. They remained living a long time, not only whilst our Lord was on earth, but likewise when He had left the earth. So that some of them have also lived to our own times."
(Pseudo-) Barnabas, written 130-138 AD:
"He must needs be manifested in the flesh. ... He preached teaching
Justin Martyr, to Emperor Antoninus Pius about 150 AD:
After referring to Jesus's birth of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem, and that His physical line of descent came through the tribe of Judah and the family of Jesse, Justin wrote, "Now there is a village in the land of the Jews, thirty-five stadia from Jerusalem, in which Jesus Christ was born, as you can ascertain also from the registers of the taxing made under Cyrenius, your first procurator in Judea."
"Accordingly, after He was crucified, even all His acquaintances forsook Him, having denied Him; and afterwards, when He had risen from the dead and appeared to them, and had taught them to read the prophecies in which all these things were foretold as coming to pass, and when they had seen Him ascending into heaven, and had believed, and had received power sent thence by Him upon them, and went to every race of men, they taught these things, and were called apostles."
Justin Martyr, in Dialogue with Trypho, around 150 AD:
"For at the time of His birth, Magi who came from
"For when they crucified Him, driving in the nails, they pierced His hands and feet; and those who crucified Him parted His garments among themselves, each casting lots for what he chose to have, and receiving according to the decision of the lot."
"Christ said amongst you that He would give the sign of Jonah, exhorting you to repent of your wicked deeds at least after He rose again from the dead ... yet you not only have not repented, after you learned that He rose from the dead, but, as I said before, you have sent chosen and ordained men throughout all the world to proclaim that 'a godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilean deceiver, whom we crucified, but His disciples stole Him by night from the tomb, where He was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that He has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven.'"
"For indeed the Lord remained upon the tree almost until evening, and they buried Him at eventide; then on the third day He rose again."
Summary of Catholic Catechism is from the "Catholic Catechism Simplified" CatholiCity.com © 1996-2010 The Mary Foundation
FOR "THE CATECHISM OF
For most part of this section acknowlegement must be made to Josh McDowell Leadership U:
New Advent: Resurrection of Jesus Christ:
William H. Shannon, The Resurrection:How We Know It's True:
The author is here indebted to Habermas, Gary R. Ancient Evidence for the Life of Jesus.