If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
–1 Corinthians 15:17-19 (ESV)
The resurrection of Jesus is at the very center of the Christian faith. Paul summarizes “the word of faith that we proclaim” in this way: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). When the indignant Jewish authorities ask for a sign to accompany his cleansing of the temple, Jesus answers: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). John goes on to explain that “he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken” (2:21-22). In other words, when asked for evidence to back up his grandiose claims, Jesus simply predicted his own resurrection. The greatest proof that Jesus is who the gospels say he is comes in the form of his resurrected body. This puts Christianity in a unique position. The truth of our faith, the entire basis for our hope, is founded upon the historical reality of a risen Lord. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, he was a liar with delusions of grandeur who should be mocked and ignored. If he did rise, then we must follow Paul’s advice and confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord. So let us carefully look into the historical evidence for this momentous event and see if it holds up to scrutiny. As always, I will be treating the gospels as historical sources whose facts must be confirmed, not as divine revelation. Let’s begin by establishing a few facts that almost all scholars of the ancient world would agree upon.
Fact #1: Jesus was crucified and died
This is the most uncontroversial fact we will encounter. The resurrection skeptics we will meet from Bart Ehrman to Gerd Ludemann to John Dominc Crossan all agree that Jesus died via crucifixion. Crossan says “that [Jesus] was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be” (Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, p. 145). Not only is the crucifixion recorded in all four gospels, Jesus’ execution is also attested by non-Christian authors Tacitus, Lucian, Josephus, and Mara bar Serapion. Keep in mind that crucifixion was a gruesome, humiliating, and torturous form of death reserved for the worst of criminals (slaves, rebels, the treasonous). Cicero said that Roman citizens should not speak or even think of “that most cruel and disgusting penalty” (Against Verres 2.5.64, 165). The Jewish scriptures say that those who are hung from a tree are cursed by God (Deut. 21:23) and the Jewish leaders certainly viewed Jesus’ death as a sign of God’s disfavor. In short, there is no reason to believe that the Church would have invented this method, out of all executions, as the one by which their Lord would die.
There is a theory that Jesus did not actually die upon the cross, but merely fell into a coma and revived later, only to convince the disciples that he was risen. Let’s start with the fact that Jesus would have been close to death even before being nailed to the cross due to his receiving 39 lashes with a Roman flagellum (Matt. 27:26; Mark 15:15; John 19:1). Once upon the cross, severe blood loss would ensue, along with dehydration and slow asphyxiation as exhaustion would eventually cause the victim not to be able to push up (painfully) on the nails to get a gasp of air. The gospel of John also tells us that Jesus’ side was pierced with a spear to make sure that he was dead “and at once there came out blood and water” (19:34). This was probably the result of the spear rupturing the pericardium, the sac that surrounds the heart, causing onlookers to see both blood and clear pericardial fluid. Such a piercing would mean certain death. Keep in mind that these trained Roman soldiers knew how to kill people and had seen their share of dead bodies. Even if he somehow survived crucifixion, are we supposed to believe that Jesus, in his severely emaciated state, moved the stone from in front of the tomb (a job usually performed by multiple healthy men), got past trained guards, figured out where the disciples were hiding, and walked the many blocks to get there on wounded feet? Even if he somehow managed that, would the disciples have seen this pathetic husk of a man as a triumphant, resurrected messiah? More likely, they would have seen it as a miracle that he survived crucifixion and rushed him to a doctor. The “swoon theory” stretches plausibility to the breaking point. I’ll instead stick with the nearly-unanimous opinion of ancient scholars who agree that Jesus died by crucifixion.
Fact #2: Jesus was buried
All four gospels agree that Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Receiving the body, he had it wrapped in a linen shroud and laid it in a newly-hewn tomb in which no one else had been laid. Mary Magdalene and another Mary (not Jesus’ mother) were listed as present for the burial. However, skeptics like Ehrman and Crossan assert that the Romans would have just left the body to rot on the cross, or, at best, thrown the body in a ditch to be eaten by animals. Both of these treatments of crucifixion victims are attested by primary sources. However, these sources do not speak specifically about Roman practice in Judea. Jewish philosopher Philo (20 BC-AD 50) wrote of how the Jews appealed to Pontius Pilate (over a different matter) “not to make any alteration in their national customs, which had hitherto been preserved without any interruption, without being in the least degree changed by any king or emperor” (On the Embassy to Gaius, 300). In other words, the Romans usually let the Jews keep their customs (see also Josephus, Against Apion 2.73; Jewish Wars 2.220). And Jewish law required that a body hung from a tree must be buried in order to not defile the land (Deut. 21:22-23). Indeed, Josephus confirms this specifically about crucifixion: “the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun” (Jewish War, 4.5.2). Philo (On Joseph, 25) and the book of Tobit also speak of the importance to Jews of burying all dead bodies. In fact, there is archaeological evidence of a Jewish crucifixion victim being buried. A 1st century ossuary containing the bones of a man named Johanan ben Ha-galgula has a nail used in crucifixions lodged firmly in the heel. Indeed, while many Roman sources report crucifixion victims being left in place, others also report that family members could request the body for burial. Taken together, all this indicates that Jesus could have been buried.
As for positive evidence that Jesus was buried, first of all we have the multiple attestation of all four gospels as well as Acts (see 13:29) and 1 Corinthians 15:4. That 1 Corinthinans passage, as we shall see below, is generally thought to be a creed dating to less than a decade from Jesus’ death and the word for “buried” in it (Gr. etaphe) specifically means to inter a body in a tomb. Secondly, the disciples had no reason to make up a burial account — Jesus had already been humiliated on the cross and the resurrection account does not require a proper burial (indeed, the prophecy in Isaiah 53:9 could be seen as predicting his burial in a mass grave). Third, Pilate would probably have not wanted to keep the body of such a notorious traitor on the cross during the Sabbath on Passover. He was skating on thin ice with both the Jewish leaders and the emperor back in Rome, so he likely would have wanted this problem out of his hair and to avoid unrest during a major Jewish festival. Fourth, why would the gospel authors make up the fact that a member of the Sanhedrin, the very group that just condemned Jesus to death, was the one whose tomb was used? It is an embarrassing admission by the gospel authors that they left it to a member of a group they despised to bury their Lord, with only women to look on. There is also no competing early Christian tradition about the fate of Jesus’ body after his death. Taken together, I see no reason to doubt the basic facts about Jesus’ burial as recorded in the gospels.
Fact #3: The Disciples Believed that Jesus Rose from the Dead and Appeared to Them
The most important fact pointing to the resurrection is the simple truth that the disciples believed and proclaimed it. This is agreed upon by almost all scholars, secular and religious, due to the fact that it is attested in eight different ancient sources. (1) The apostle Paul, who knew Peter, James, and John as well as Jesus’ brother James (see Acts 9:26-30; 15:1-35 & Gal. 1:18-19; ch. 2). Paul’s authority to speak on behalf of the apostles is confirmed in the writings of the apostle John’s disciple Polycarp (Phil. 3:2; 12:1) as well as apostolic fathers Ignatius of Antioch (Epistle to the Romans 4:3) and Clement of Rome (1 Clem. 5:3-5). In both First Corinthians (15:9-11) and Galatians (2:1-10), Paul proclaims that he heard from the apostles directly the message that he preached, i.e. that Jesus was resurrected. (2) Early oral tradition. This includes early creeds and hymns recorded in the New Testament. By far the most important is the creed recorded in First Corinthians 15. I will include it here, as we will be returning to it frequently.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
Gerd Ludemann, in his skeptical analysis of the resurrection stories (see sources) makes the surprising admission that this creed shows evidence of oral tradition of a catechetical nature and probably dates from Paul’s conversion, within two or three years of Jesus’ death. The use of the Aramaic “Cephas” for Peter, the parallelisms in the text, and the use of many non-Pauline terms all point to this being the case. Many scholars believe that Paul received this creed from Peter and James in Jerusalem at that time, which means the creed would have been formulated no later than two years after Jesus’ death. If nothing else, First Corinthians is an undisputed Pauline epistle written in AD 53 or 54, and so Paul received this teaching less than 20 years after Jesus’ death. This creedal affirmation of the resurrection is thus clearly of apostolic origin. (3) Sermons in Acts (see chs. 1-2, 10, 13, 17) that date to the earliest formation of the Church. These sermons similarly appear to be based on an oral, catachetical tradition. They also, like First Corinthians 15, assert that Jesus appeared not just to individuals but to groups of people. (4), (5) & (6) Matthew, Luke, and John (also Mark, if you accept the longer ending). Of course, the canonical gospels contain stories of Jesus appearing to the apostles. I hope I have demonstrated in this series that the gospels should be trusted as sources, especially since they date to 25 to 65 years after Jesus’ death. (7) Clement (c.35-99) was bishop of Rome from AD 88 to 99. He was consecrated by the first bishop of Rome, the apostle Peter. Both Ireneaus (Against Heresies 3.3.3) and Tertullian (Prescription Against Heretics 32) confirm that Clement knew the apostles. In his epistle to the Corinthians (1 Clement), dated to around AD 95, the bishop writes: “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, [the apostles] went forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come” (42:3). Thus, Clement gives us extra-biblical confirmation of the apostolic preaching of the resurrection. Lastly, (8) Polycarp (c.69-155) was a disciple of John the apostle who consecrated him bishop of Smyrna. Ireneaus (Ag. Her. 3.3.4) confirms that the bishop knew the apostles. Polycarp mentions the resurrection of Jesus five times in his Epistle to the Philippians (c. 135-137), for example: “in faith and righteousness, and that [Paul and the apostles] are now in their due place in the presence of the Lord, with whom also they suffered. For they loved not this present world, but Him who died for us, and for our sakes was raised again by God from the dead” (9:2). In summary, this overwhelming amount of early evidence of apostolic preaching of the resurrection gives us confidence that the apostles believed that Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to them.
Aside: The Apostolic Proclamation of a Bodily Resurrection
When I say that Jesus “appeared” to the disciples, it may seem that I am saying that the disciples saw a vision. We will deal with theories involving visions and hallucinations in the next post, but for now I want to settle the fact that the apostles preached a bodily resurrection of Jesus. Perhaps here would be a good place to list all of the resurrection appearances of Jesus:
- Mary Magdalene and the other women (Matt. 28:9-10; John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9-11)
- Two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32; Mark 16:12-13)
- Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5)
- Ten disciples in the upper room (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25)
- Eleven disciples in the upper room (John 20:26-29; 1 Cor. 15:5; Mark 16:14)
- Seven disciples fishing (John 21:1-23)
- Eleven disciples on a mountain (Matt. 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18)
- 500 others at one time (1 Cor. 15:5)
- James, brother of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:7)
- Disciples at the ascension (Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:3-8)
As you can see, multiple people both individually and in groups, scheduled and unscheduled, in various states of mind and over a long period of time, saw the risen Lord. And these witnesses go out of the way to show that Jesus had a physical body. First off, almost none of them immediately recognize Jesus, but then have an “ah-ha!” moment of recognition, which lines up with Paul’s comparison of the earthly body with the resurrection body (1 Cor. 15:35-38). Secondly, Matthew records the women touching Jesus (28:9), while both Luke and John record him as eating and drinking (see Luke 24:30; John 21:9-13). Luke’s gospel makes this as overt as possible:
And [Jesus] said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Luke 24:38-42
Notice that Jesus says unequivocally that he’s not a ghost (or “spirit”). As the story of Jesus walking on the water demonstrates, the disciples knew the difference between a ghost and a physical person (Matt. 14:26). Third, we have the story of “doubting Thomas” in John 20:24-29, where Thomas actually puts his hand in Jesus’ nail and spear wounds. I’m not sure how much more explicit you want the apostles to get in their message.
If that’s not enough, we have further confirmation from Peter and Paul. Peter says that they “ate and drank” with Jesus after his resurrection (Acts 10:41) and contrasts King David’s dead and decaying body with Jesus’ risen body (Acts 2:25-32). Meanwhile, Paul declares that in Jesus the deity dwells “bodily” (Col. 2:9), and says that “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11). In other words, Christ was raised bodily, so we can be assured of a bodily resurrection. The proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus was the resurrection of a physical, flesh-and-blood, human body.
Fact #4: The Gospels report that Women Discovered the Empty Tomb
All four gospels (Matt. 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-11; John 20:1-2) report that the first people to encounter the empty tomb and the risen Lord were women. Now, in Jewish culture, the testimony of women was not trusted. To wit:
- But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex. (Josephus, Antiquities, 4.8.15)
- The words of the Torah should be burned rather than entrusted to women (Jerusalem Torah, Sotah 3:4, 19a)
- It is impossible for the world to exist without males and without females, yet fortunate is he whose children are males, and woe is he whose children are females. (Talmud, Kiddushin 82b)
- The oath of testimony is practiced with regard to men but not with regard to women (Talmud, Shevuot 30a)
Even in Luke, it says that the disciples dismissed the women’s story of the empty tomb as “an idle tale, and they did not believe them” (24:11). Indeed, the pagan critic Celsus used the women’s testimony as evidence against the resurrection: “when dead he rose again, and showed the marks of his punishment, and how his hands were pierced with nails: who beheld this? A half-frantic woman, as you state, and some other one, perhaps, of those who were engaged in the same system of delusion” (qtd. in Origen, Contra Celsum, 2.55). This is why scholar N.T. Wright says that “to put Mary Magdalene [at the empty tomb] is, from the point of view of Christian apologists wanting to explain to a skeptical audience that Jesus really did rise from the dead, like shooting themselves in the foot. But to us as historians, this kind of thing is gold dust. The early Christians would have never, never made this up” (There is a God, p. 207).
Fact #5: The Resurrection was first Proclaimed in Jerusalem
Historians agree that the resurrection message was first preached in Jerusalem. This is attested in multiple sources from Acts (ch. 2 and following), to Paul’s letters (especially 1 Cor. 15 and Galatians 2:1,9), and even to pagan author Tacitus, who called Judea “the home of the disease” (Annals 15.44). If you want to start a cult claiming your dead leader is actually alive, it wouldn’t be prudent to begin that cult in the very city where everyone just saw your leader die. Yet that is exactly what the disciples did. Furthermore, they would have known that such a message would be inviting persecution and social ostracism, and they preached the message anyway. Any theory regarding the resurrection must come to terms with this fact.
Fact #6: The Conversion of Skeptics like Paul and James
The conversion of the apostle Paul from an enemy of Jesus and persecutor of the Church into one of Christ’s most ardent advocates is one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. Paul recounts his conversion in numerous letters including First Corinthians (15:9-10), Galatians (1:13-16), and Philippians (3:6-7). Of course, Luke records his conversion and Paul’s proclamation of that conversion in the book of Acts (chs. 9, 22 & 26). In Galatians, Paul mentions that his reputation preceded him in Judea with rumors wildly circulating that “he who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy” (1:23). This points to an early oral tradition about Paul’s conversion. All of this resulted, according to Paul, from an encounter with the risen Lord. There is no reason to believe that he would make any of this up, especially since he is portrayed as giving help to those who killed Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:58) Even skeptics admit that something must have caused Paul to change course so drastically.
Similarly, James the brother of Jesus was not a follower of Jesus during his crucifixion (see Mark 3:21, 31-35; 6:3-4; John 7:5). Yet we see that the early leader of the church in Jerusalem was Jesus’ brother James. This conversion (and later martyrdom) is attested by Paul’s letter to the Galatians (1:19; 2:9-12), in the early creed quoted by Paul (1 Cor. 15:7), by early Church father Clement of Alexandria (qtd. in Eusebius, Ecc. Hist., 2.1), and even in the work of Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities 20.9.1). No early Christian would dare to say that one of their most important leaders, and a blood relation of the Lord to boot, started out as an unbeliever unless it were true. That is why scholars accept that this conversion story must be true and must be accounted for in any theory about the resurrection.
Fact #7: The Disciples Suffered Persecution and Martyrdom for Proclaiming the Resurrection
That the disciples went to their deaths proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus is attested by seven ancient sources. (1) The Acts of the Apostles records Peter and John being imprisoned (ch. 4) and flogged (ch.5), and the the martyrdom of the apostle James, the brother of John (ch. 12). All this was done while they preached the resurrection (see 4:2, 33). (2) Clement of Rome writes the following in his epistle to the Corinthians:
Through envy and jealousy the greatest and most righteous pillars of the church have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labors; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience. 1 Clement 5:2-7
(3) Ignatius of Antioch (d. 108), who almost certainly knew the apostles, writes the following in a letter to the church at Smyrna: “When, for instance, He came to those who were with Peter, He said to them, Lay hold, handle Me, and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit. And immediately they touched Him, and believed, being convinced both by His flesh and spirit. For this cause also they despised death, and were found its conquerors.” (3:2-3). According to Ignatius, their witness of the resurrection made the apostles brave in the face of death. (4) Polycarp: in the quote already given above (under fact #3), he mentions the suffering of Paul and the apostles. As you might know, Polycarp would himself become a legendary martyr for the faith. (5) Tertullian of Carthage (c. 155-220) is often called the father of Latin Christianity. He reports the following:
That Paul is beheaded has been written in their own blood. And if a heretic wishes his confidence to rest upon a public record, the archives of the empire will speak, as would the stones of Jerusalem. We read the lives of the Cæsars: At Rome Nero was the first who stained with blood the rising faith. Then is Peter girt by another, when he is made fast to the cross. Then does Paul obtain a birth suited to Roman citizenship, when in Rome he springs to life again ennobled by martyrdom. Scorpiace, 15
Notice that Tertullian appeals to the Roman archives and the work of Roman historians. The suffering of the apostles was a matter of public record. (6) Origen of Alexandria (c. 184-253) records the apostles as teaching “a doctrine which they would not have taught with such courage had they invented the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; and who also, at the same time, not only prepared others to despise death, but were themselves the first to manifest their disregard for its terrors” (Contra Celsum 2.56). Jesus “led His disciples to believe in His resurrection, and so thoroughly persuaded them of its truth, that they show to all men by their sufferings how they are able to laugh at all the troubles of life” (ibid. 2.77). (7) Dionysius, bishop of Corinth in the late second century, is recorded as saying the following by Eusebius: “You have thus by such an admonition bound together the planting of Peter and of Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both of them planted and likewise taught us in our Corinth. And they taught together in like manner in Italy, and suffered martyrdom at the same time” (Ecc. Hist. 2.25.8).
All of this evidence points to the unmistakable conclusion that the disciples truly believed that they had seen the risen Lord. People will die for falsehoods and delusions, but they will not suffer and die for something they know to be a lie. They were willing to back up their claims by making the ultimate sacrifice.
(Fact #8: The Empty Tomb)
While the previous facts are nearly universally agreed upon, this fact is (understandably) more controversial. That said, according to an exhaustive study of the literature by scholar Gary Habermas, 75% of critical scholars consider Jesus’ empty tomb to be a historical fact. There is a strong historical and logical case for believing the tomb to be empty. First off, of course, the empty tomb is attested in all four gospels (Matt. 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-9), which are our best primary sources on the matter. Secondly, we have already seen that the disciples proclaimed the resurrection in Jerusalem. If the tomb was not empty, the Jewish authorities would only have to point to the tomb or even produce the body to disprove these claims. Instead, multiple sources tell us that the Jews claimed that the disciples stole the body. Just to give three examples we have (1) Matthew 28:12-13: “And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’”; (2) Justin Martyr (c.100-165) records a Jewish debater as saying: “[Jesus’] 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” (Dialogue with Trypho, 108). (3) Tertullian records something similar: “This is He whom His disciples secretly stole away, that it might be said He had risen again” (De Spectaculis 30). We will cover this theory in more detail in the next post, but suffice it to say that the “stolen body theory” would not be circulating if the tomb was still closed. Third, remember that the disciples reported that women found the tomb, an unlikely thing to claim unless you were very confident that no one could produce better evidence. Lastly, there are no competing claims or evidence for the existence of a tomb containing the body of Jesus. The sensational discovery of a tomb called the “Jesus family tomb” in Talpiot (East Jerusalem) in 2007 turned out to have nothing to do with Jesus of Nazareth, a conclusion supported by all serious archaeologists and linguistic and biblical scholars. In short, there is ample evidence supporting the conclusion made by the majority of biblical scholars (including secular scholars) that Jesus’ tomb was found empty. However, given that this fact is not as unanimously attested, I will take this piece of evidence with a grain of salt when testing theories.
The average laymen may be surprised to learn how many facts surrounding the resurrection story are confirmed by almost all biblical scholars, even the skeptical ones. With the baseline that Jesus was definitely dead and buried in a tomb, any theory about what actually happened in the days following Jesus’ death must account for these six facts:
- The disciples really believed that Jesus rose from the dead bodily
- It was reported that women were the first to discover the empty tomb
- The resurrection was proclaimed in Jerusalem immediately after the death of Jesus
- Skeptics like Paul and Jesus’ brother James were converted to Christianity
- The disciples (and Paul and James) suffered persecution and went to their death proclaiming the resurrection
- The tomb was empty (this fact alone will not be used to confirm or deny any particular theory)
In my next post, I will examine the various theories that have been offered to explain these perplexing facts.
Thanks again to newadvent.org for the texts from the early Church fathers. The Talmud texts were found at www.sefaria.org.
Secondary Sources Consulted:
By far the best source on this topic is Gary Habermas and Michael Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004). I also consulted Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the New Testament; Bock and Wallace, Dethroning Jesus; Pitre, The Case for Jesus; and Williams, Can We Trust the Gospels?
Secondary Sources for Further Research:
On the crucifixion of Jesus, see Martin Hengel, Crucifixion (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977); Gerald S. Sloyan, The Crucifixion of Jesus: History, Myth, Faith (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995); and William D. Edwards, et. al. “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ.” Journal of the American Medical Association 255.11 (March 21, 1986), 1455-63.
On the burial of Jesus, see Shimon Gibson, The Final Days of Jesus: The Archaeological Evidence (New York: HarperCollins, 2010); Byron R. McCane, Roll Back the Stone: Death and Burial in the World of Jesus (Harrisburg [PA]: Trinity Press, 2003); and Jodi Magness, “What Did Jesus’ Tomb Look Like?” Biblical Archaeology Review 32:1 (January/February 2006)
The best Christian scholarly sources on the resurrection include Dale C. Allison, Resurrecting Jesus: The Earliest Christian Tradition and Its Interpreters (New York: T&T Clark, 2005); Michael Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove, IVP, 2010); and N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003)
The skeptical sources cited above include John Dominc Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994) and The Historical Jesus: The Life of Mediterranean Peasant (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991); Bart D. Ehrman, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (New York: HarperOne, 2014); and Gerd Ludemann, The Resurrection Of Christ: A Historical Inquiry (Amherst [NY]: Prometheus, 2004)