Amazon Customer Review1
- There are many unsolved mysteries from the past, and we can look back with curiosity and wonder what really happened, but the sands of time have buried the facts beyond the reach of the historian. Is that the case with that first Easter? Is the truth hidden in the mists of long ago, never to be recovered? And does it make any difference anyway? Habermas and Licona give clear and compelling answers to these questions, showing the impressive evidence for the resurrection of Christ and the massive relevance of this event.
- The book commences by showing that this is a subject everyone has a stake in – if it’s true then it affects everything and everyone forever! “...if Jesus actually rose from the dead, it appears the truth of Christianity is confirmed and all adherents to conflicting beliefs must reassess whether their assurance came from a spirit other than God’s or was the result of self-delusion.” (p.28).
- The second chapter gives a very useful summary of criteria for establishing historicity. Any one of the five criteria given (multiple, independent sources; enemy testimony; embarrassing testimony; eyewitness testimony; early testimony) is a good indicator of historicity. The rest of the book shows that the evidence for the resurrection rings all five bells.
- The next section deals with the minimal facts approach. This approach takes the sceptic up on his own ground, and only deals with data that are strongly evidenced (on the basis of the five criteria above) and accepted by virtually all scholars on the subject, even sceptical ones.
- The minimal facts are:
Habermas and Licona point out that the empty tomb meets the criterion of being strongly evidenced, but it isn’t accepted by nearly every scholar – only about 75% (!) of scholars accept the empty tomb as a historical fact.
- the death of Christ on the cross;
- the disciples’ belief that He rose from the dead and appeared to them;
- Paul’s conversion;
- James’ conversion;
- the empty tomb.
- They give really helpful acronyms and tables to aid memorisation of the evidence for these minimal facts, like POW for the disciples’ belief that they saw the risen Christ, or the JET factor for the empty tomb. The person interested in sharing the evidence for the resurrection would do well to learn and practice writing out these mnemonics.
- The opposing theories are dealt with in detail. There are historical objections that propose alternative explanations, such as
These objections are slain by the facts and buried by the evidence, and are sadly only resurrected by the ignorant!
- legendary development,
- stolen body,
- wrong tomb or
- apparent death.
- There are then psychological objections – the disciples were hallucinating, deluded or experiencing visions. Habermas and Licona show that these objections can’t stand against the established facts of history.
- Then there are philosophical objections to do with the problem of miracles and the presupposition of naturalism. The authors show that this is a closed-minded approach that seeks, not the right answer, but the right kind of answer.
- The authors then deal with the nature of the resurrection, i.e. that it is a physical, bodily resurrection. They address texts that some have used to object to a bodily resurrection. It is at this point that they very nearly lose a star in my rating! When it comes to 1Pet.3:18 all they do is say that critics deny Peter wrote this letter and that it is a late first century pseudographical2 work, thus by the minimal facts approach it is not relevant to the discussion. That may get the verse off the table in a discussion with a critic, but it leaves a problem with the person who believes in the resurrection and then is left with questions about the authority of Scripture. It surely would have been better to point out that there are good reasons to accept Petrine authorship and then show that his words here in no way undermine the truth of the bodily resurrection. They should have given some references to works that help explain 1Pet.3:18 instead of basically conceding the point and throwing it out.
- They then show evidence for an early, high Christology based on evidence accepted by sceptical historians, and they present independent evidence for God’s existence3 based on fine tuning and the cosmological argument.
- Then they deal with less scholarly, less serious, attacks, and conclude with putting all this into a winsome and practical form for sharing with others.
- The appendices are very useful, the DVD quiz is good fun, and overall this book is an excellent resource. The foundation of Christianity is rock solid.
In-Page Footnotes ("Habermas (Gary) & Licona (Michael R.) - The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus")
Footnote 1: Footnote 2:
- Does he mean pseudepigraphal?
- It’s interesting that Habermas + Licona take this line. Do they take it to be proto-gnostic?
- The text is
→ “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (1 Pet. 3:18 KJV)”.
→ “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; (1 Pet. 3:18 NAS)”
- The offending last three words are: ζῳοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι
- What’s the point of this? Obviously, it’s a necessary premise for a miracle – if that’s what the resurrection is claimed to be, rather than an anomalous natural occurrence. But, can’t it be assumed, with a reference?
- No doubt the demonstration of this wide point must be very skimpy.
Kregel Publications,U.S.; Pap/Com edition (26 Mar. 2004)
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2017
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)