Is There Historical Evidence For The Life, Death And Resurrection Of Jesus Christ?Flavius Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian who was a Pharisee referred to Jesus Christ in the book Jewish Antiquities. Although some doubt the authenticity of the first reference where Josephus mentioned Jesus as the Messiah, Professor Louis H. Feldman of Yeshiva University says that few have doubted the genuineness of the second reference. There Josephus said: “[Ananus the high priest] convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ.” (Jewish Antiquities, XX, 200) Yes, a Pharisee, a member of the sect many of whose adherents were avowed enemies of Jesus, acknowledged the existence of “James, the brother of Jesus.”
The influence of Jesus’ existence was felt through the activities of his followers. When the apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome about 59 C.E., the principal men of the Jews told him: “As regards this sect it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against.” (Acts 28:17-22) They called Jesus’ disciples “this sect.” If they were everywhere spoken against, secular historians would likely report about them, would they not?
Tacitus, born about 55 C.E. and considered one of the world’s greatest historians, mentioned the Christians in his Annals. In the account about Nero’s blaming the great fire of Rome in 64 C.E. on them, he wrote: “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.” The details of this account match the information regarding the Jesus of the Bible.
Another writer who commented on Jesus’ followers was Pliny the Younger, the governor of Bithynia. In about the year 111 C.E., Pliny wrote to Emperor Trajan, asking how to handle Christians. People who were falsely accused of being Christians, wrote Pliny, would repeat an invocation to the gods and worship the statue of Trajan, just to prove that they were not Christians. Pliny continued: “There is no forcing, it is said, those who are really Christians, into any of these compliances.” That testifies to the reality of the existence of the Christ, whose followers were prepared to give their lives for their belief in him.
After summarizing the references to Jesus Christ and his followers by the historians of the first two centuries, The Encyclopædia Britannica (2002 edition) concludes: “These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries.” http://bit.ly/ZvQvvd
In fact, there is more historical evidence for the murder and resurrection of Christ than there is for evolution. Indeed, any denial of the historicity of Christ’s resurrection is comparable to denying the US declared its independence in 1776 or that Columbus landed in America in 1492.
In his book "The Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus", Michael Licona provides a list of scholars who attest to the historicity of Christ’s murder and resurrection which includes Brodeur, Collins, Conzelman, Fee, Gundry, Harris, Hayes, Hèring, Hurtado, Johnson, Kistemaker, Lockwood, Martin, Segal, Snyder, Thiselton, Witherington, and Wright.
Concordantly, British scholar N. T. Wright states, "As a historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.” (N. T. Wright, “The New Unimproved Jesus,” Christianity Today (September 13, 1993)), p. 26.
Even Gert L¸demann, the leading German critic of the resurrection, himself admits, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”(Gerd L¸demann, What Really Happened to Jesus?, trans. John Bowden (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), p. 80.)
These are just a minute sampling of the research the massive throng of scholars who all attest to the historicity of Christ’s resurrection - http://amzn.to/13MQiTE
Prominently, in his book, “Justifying Historical Desc
1. It has great explanatory scope: it explains why the tomb was found empty, why the disciples saw post-mortem appearances of Jesus, and why the Christian faith came into being.
2. It has great explanatory power: it explains why the body of Jesus was gone, why people repeatedly saw Jesus alive despite his earlier public execution, and so forth.
3. It is plausible: given the historical context of Jesus’ own unparalleled life and claims, the resurrection serves as divine confirmation of those radical claims.
4. It is not ad hoc or contrived: it requires only one additional hypothesis: that God exists. And even that needn’t be an additional hypothesis if one already believes that God exists.
5. It is in accord with accepted beliefs. The hypothesis: “God raised Jesus from the dead” doesn’t in any way conflict with the accepted belief that people don’t rise naturally from the dead. The Christian accepts that belief as wholeheartedly as he accepts the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead.
6. It far outstrips any of its rival hypotheses in meeting conditions (1)-(5). Down through history various alternative explanations of the facts have been offered, for example, the conspiracy hypothesis, the apparent death hypothesis, the hallucination hypothesis, and so forth. Such hypotheses have been almost universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. None of these naturalistic hypotheses succeeds in meeting the conditions as well as the resurrection solution.
As an aside, when asked, “You accept the historical Jesus?”, Albert Einstein's reply was
“Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”
–Albert Einstein, from an interview with the Saturday Evening Post