Well, I just got back from a presentation by Mike Licona, who feels that he can prove, through methods acceptable by historians, that Jesus was resurrected. He's basically saying that there are some "historical facts" that can only be explained by resurrection.

These are:
- Jesus was crucified when the Jewish leadership demanded it. (In his words, "An overwhelming majority, virtually 100% of scholars agree on this.")
- Jesus was a traveling teacher who claimed to be the son of god.
- His apostles thought that he was resurrected from the dead shortly after his crucifixion.

Now, the following are from his BOOK on the subject, and not on his presentation tonight:

- Paul, a persecutor of the church, has suddenly changed to faith in Jesus
- The tomb of Jesus was empty.
- James, skeptical of Jesus during his ministry, was suddenly changed to faith in Jesus.

He says that these are facts that are accepted by the majority of scholars.
He also says that when assuming that all of them are true, the only reasonable explanation is that Jesus was resurrected, and that his resurrection means that we should believe all his previous claims.

Now, he was very vague about his sources tonight, I've seen him be much less vague in an older debate which can be found here:
Mike Licona vs Dan Barker, 2003
This is the list he gave of "Primary sources about Jesus that support his view":
Letters (Paul) - 50-65 CE
NT Gospels - 50-100 CE
Josephus - 90 CE
Tacitus - 115 Ce
Apostolic fathers - 64-150 CE
Other Gospels - 150-300 CE
He also mentioned Pliny and Josephus.

Next, he talked about what is a responsible method for determining the validity of historical documents. The list he gave of criteria that improves validity are:
Multiple reports
Early Reports
Eyewitness Reports
Embarrassing Reports

For early, he mentioned the letters of paul and NT gospels.
For unsympathetic he mentioned Pliny, Tacitus, and Josephus
For embarrassing he said that Jesus saying "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" while dying on the cross was embarrassing for Christianity to admit to, because stories of Jewish and Christian martyrs show them not being pussies like Jesus was when being crucified. (in my words, from my notes on the presentation).
Having women be the source for the empty tomb was embarrassing because at that time, the testimony of women was not considered of any value. Also, in the same vein, it was embarrassing that Jesus' closest followers, the apostles, dismissed the story that Jesus' body was gone, and that he had been resurrected from the dead.

I'd like to see responses to what he sees as evidence for something incredibly unlikely, Jesus' resurrection, and see them refuted as carefully as possible.

Also, I'd like to see a focus on only his claims that the evidence points to a resurrection. Not to whether resurrection is possible at all, or any of the many other ways this could branch.

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The Richard Carrier vs. Mike Licona debate is probably the best debate on the resurrection there is. The video of it can be found here and here. I also recommend the skeptical scholarly compilation, "The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave" and Richard Carrier's "Not the Impossible Faith" for the most nuanced historical approach to the evidence I know of from a skeptical point of view.

All of this is much to much for a forum thread here. The general methodological error of Licona is treating all the religious propaganda as separate impartial sources and then ignoring all the other reasons why the supposed "good evidence" exists in the way that it does since it can be played in many more ways--many more plausible--ways. The earliest stuff in Paul is too vague and compatible with all sorts of theories. The latter gospels show too many signs of obvious embellishment to take seriously. The extra-biblical sources are too vague as well and too hard to distinguish from merely regurgitating at face value what Christianity was broadcasting.

When all is put in perspective, apologists are guilty of "the Bible tells me so" since reading the gospels at face value is where the majority of their explanatory power comes from. Their attempts to chop it up into something historically viable are far too speculative.

Not very convincing I imagine. :D
The tomb of Jesus was empty.

This is the only piece of "evidence" that is actually relevent to his claim. Since it makes sense that Jesus's followers would have emptied the tomb to perpetuate the myth of the ressurection, and there is no proof that they did not, Licona's claim is flimsy at best. In fact that may be too generous of me.

If Jesus was ressurected, why did he only appear to his followers? Why not appear before the very eyes of the people who sentenced him to death? Why not appear before the Roman emporer or better yet go on a stroll through the town where thousands of people could see him? There could have been literally hundreds of credible accounts of the ressurection if only Jesus Christ had shown his face in public.
You might enjoy this series of email exchanges I had with a so-called former atheist who was convinced by "evidence" to be a Christian. I call it "Dear Dr. Muncaster".


This guy has published gobs of books and I asked him for his best evidence and he couldn't come up with crap.
Valid Point Alex but if I may imbelish on your behalf? Since when do "most" historical scholars agree that the events in the bible surrounding the cruci"fiction" and ressurection actually (extrabiblically) took place at all? I'm certain there are plenty of biblical as well as actual historians that would be interested in evidence of that statistic. If there was even the most remote physical evidence of either event there would be no shortage of christian paid prime time television feed of such an occurance.
Nope, no urrection here.

I had to, c'mon, we're NON-theists
and otheocracy.

Otheocracy... saw it on a sign outside gwhatever meeting today
some Iranians in green are pissed
F minus for the spiritual leaders
what's so spiritual about greed?
Too much to tackle here all at once. Let's look at the claim that: "Paul, a persecutor of the church, has suddenly changed to faith in Jesus". We have no evidence outside of Luke's claim that Paul ever persecuted anyone. Luke worked for Paul. You might ask "why would Luke claim such a thing if it were not true"? Good question. Here's the deal, Paul was a brilliant rhetorician and he knew damned well how convincing it would be to tell a bunch of Greek Pagans that “I used to persecute the Christians, and now I myself am a Christian...what more proof do you need?” It was as effective a claim back then as it is today! I seriously doubt that Paul ever persecuted anyone, and the people he made these claims to would have no idea if it was true or not (this was long before electronic media). This is a tactic used by salesmen routinely in this day and age.
You said-“Having women be the source for the empty tomb was embarrassing because at that time, the testimony of women was not considered of any value. Also, in the same vein, it was embarrassing that Jesus' closest followers, the apostles, dismissed the story that Jesus' body was gone, and that he had been resurrected from the dead.”

Another effective rhetorical tool. Of course, a simple examination of the situation will quickly reveal the absurdity of their logic in this matter. For starters, it's quite possible that the authors of this tale might have anticipated this particular line of reasoning and determined that having woman discover the empty tomb actually added credibility to this tale rather than subtract credibility (making it seem less scripted). In fact, given the gross number of discrepancies between each tale, this may be the only factor that provides a degree of credibility to the tale. Secondly, three of the gospels make it very clear that while a woman may have been the first on the scene, it was a man who provided official verification of the claim when Peter traveled to the tomb to see for himself. In my opinion, the fact that only the female companions of Jesus were planning to visit his tomb that morning serves as evidence that the male disciples knew that there was no reason to visit the tomb as they had long since removed the body. But how could they have removed the bodies, after all (Christians would point out) there were guards present at the tomb. Even if we are willing to assume that the one gospel that claims guards were placed at the tomb is accurate (recall that according to the gospel of Matthew, the Jews insisted upon having guards present as they feared the disciples would attempt to steal Jesus' body and later claim that he rose from death) it wasn't until the day after Jesus' death that the guards were placed at the tomb meaning that the disciples had about 12 hours to steal the body before a guard even arrived. Of course, this assumes that any of this actually happened.
Letters (Paul) - 50-65 CE – Paul practically invented the religion, the fact that he wrote letters about the religion he invented proves nothing. In his letters he make virtually no references to Jesus beyond the claim that he died for our sins.

NT Gospels - 50-100 CE – Three of which borrowed heavily from the first (which was written by Mark who admittedly never actually met Jesus). Mark's gospel was written around 70AD (not 50AD) more than enough time to invent a biography about a man who may or may not have existed. Littered with known historical innacuracies and contradictions, these book disprove each other.

Josephus - 90 CE- Only reference to Jesus was that he was brother of James. The other “quote” attributed to Josephus (know as the testimonium flavianum) has been known to have been an interpolation for centuries. It was likely written by Eusibius.

Tacitus - 115 Ce - Specifically, Tacticus has this to say of Christian's: "[they]derived their name and origin from Christus, who, in the reign of Tiberius, had suffered death by the sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate" (Annals 15.44) Interestingly, Tacticus appears to be of the impression that Christianity was named after a man named Christus and furthermore he mistakenly refers to Pilate as the Procurator of Judea when he was instead the Prefect of Judea. Two rather odd errors for one of Rome's most famed historians and certainly calls into question just how throughly he researched the matter which further calls into question just how significant Tacticus considered the history behind this faith

Apostolic fathers - 64-150 CE – Some of these people may have actually believe what they were told about Jesus (as did many converts) same can be said of many early Muslims.

Other Gospels - 150-300 CE – Written by people centuries after the alleged death of Jesus, they were just repeating the tales they were told and adding details that advanced their theological point of view.
James, skeptical of Jesus during his ministry, was suddenly changed to faith in Jesus-

There's no evidence that James believed that his brother was a god or rose from the dead...none. Even in the Letter of James (probably written by James) he makes no mention of Jesus rising from the dead or being a god. Even if it did, it wouldn't prove a thing. However, how is it that James did not originally believe? Angels announced his conception and that he would be the messiah; angels appeared at his birth; his mother was a virgin; kings appeared at his birth-site bearing gifts (gold being one); Jesus and family had to flee to Egypt to avoid being killed by Herod; Jesus was a god during his entire childhood and yet James was surprised to learn that his brother was “special”...whatever, it's just stupid.
It is a bit odd how anyone could miss it. Especially odd contextually where you have the disciples in Mark completely stumped about how to feed the huge crowds AFTER Jesus had already done the same trick earlier in the book.


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