The Best Attested Event in the Ancient World; Jesus’ Resurrection

Lee Strobel says that the “resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best attested event of the ancient world.”

That is very strong language considering Strobel’s credentials. Strobel was educated at Yale Law School, worked as a legal editor for the Chicago Tribune and was an atheist until 1981. Strobel is not a guy who can easily be accused of drinking the Christian Kool-Aid, he has credibility as one who doubted and opposed the story of Jesus.

It is also a staggering statement in light of all the history we have from the ancient world. Consider for a moment the events to which Strobel is comparing the resurrection. For example, Hannibal’s Carthaginian Wars with the Romans, The Ides of March and Julius Caesar, Spartacus and The Servile Wars; to name a few. Most wouldn’t hesitate to affirm the veracity of these events, though some doubt whether we ever put a man on the moon or whether Jesus was even a real person. Coherent people assume they are true and Strobel apologetically says that the resurrection of Christ is best attested event in ancient history. That is an incredible statement.

But Strobel isn’t the first person to investigate and defend the resurrection apologetically. Paul also asserts the historicity of the resurrection and says that it is irrefutable fact.

Nearly 2000 years earlier in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul devotes 58 verses to the resurrection and says that if a person doesn’t believe in the resurrection then they are not a Christian. That’s how important the resurrection was and is. (15:1-2) In 15:3-11 Paul defends the resurrection of Christ saying that Christ died for our sins according the scriptures, and that He was buried. After all, that is what happens to people who are dead, they get buried. He goes on to write that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures.

How do we know he died, was buried and rose? Because verse five tells us that Cephas (Peter) saw Jesus after His death and burial. But not only Peter but also the twelve, and not only the twelve but also 500 people at one time. Not only did Jesus appear to them but Paul is essentially saying, “If you don’t believe me then ask them yourself because they are still alive, though some have died.” If that were all it would be impressive, but Jesus also appeared to James and then to the apostles and lastly He appeared to Paul himself, the once ardent persecutor of all things Jesus.

If we were having a trial to determine the validity of the resurrection of Jesus that would be a lot of witnesses to call to the stand who saw Jesus at one time or another and Paul says they would back up his story. It’s near impossible that at least 515 people would be able to hold a lie in tact and then ultimately die with the lie, and many for the lie as martyrs.  Mass Hallucination doesn’t explain it away either and really only validates the story, because a person who hallucinates will do so uniquely not in unified detail with hundreds of other people. If the resurrection of Jesus Christ were a hoax someone would be glad to take the credit for exposing it, but that historically has not happened.

The resurrection of Jesus was so real and true to Paul that it changed his life from one who violently opposed Jesus to one who died violently for Jesus. Thousands of years later the certainty of the man who beat death with His Life is still making believers ought of doubters and staunch atheist. Just ask Lee Strobel.

For other convincing evidence of the resurrection go to YouTube and search Gary Habermas and Anthony Flew, a leading philosophical atheist who is now considering God.

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About brentprentice

Brent is the lead pastor and one of the Elders at Eagle Heights in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He has been married to Lacey for 14 years and together they love two sons, Luke and Elijah, and a daughter, Bella.

Posted on March 29, 2010, in Resurrection. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Beau Quilter

    Hi Brent. Where did you get that Lee Strobel quotation: “resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best attested event of the ancient world.”

    • brentprentice

      Beau – Thanks for the question. I am confident I saw it on a youtube video that I actually had posted with this blog, but as it sometimes happens, the video was removed. I looked around a bit and could not find it in another place. I hope you are well.

  2. Hi Brent – I have a question related to the content of this paragraph from your article:

    ” Nearly 2000 years earlier in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul devotes 58 verses to the resurrection and says that if a person doesn’t believe in the resurrection then they are not a Christian. That’s how important the resurrection was and is. (15:1-2) In 15:3-11 Paul defends the resurrection of Christ saying that Christ died for our sins according the scriptures, and that He was buried according to the scriptures. After all, that is what happens to people who are dead, they get buried. He goes on to write that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures.”

    Which Bible did you make the 1 Cor 15 v 3,4 quote from? All our Bibles from the modern printing era do not have “…. he was buried according to the scriptures ….” but I know that I have read this in the past.

    I would be grateful if you have time to reply.

    • Hi Susan. Thank you for the question. Actually after looking that over, it may have just been a mistake on part. I used the NASB translation, and you are right that it does not say “He was buried according to the scriptures” I think I must have just inserted it from the resurrection portion. I will edit my post to reflect your astute observation. Thank you!

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