1) Jesus of Nazareth was executed by Roman cucifixionand
2) His disciples claimed--and believed--that he had appeared to them bodily risen from the dead.Today, I'll share two more historical facts. These are:
3) Saul of Tarsus (better known as the apostle Paul), a persecutor of early Chistians, became a follower of Jesus after he experienced what he thought was a resurrection appearance,and
4) James, Jesus' brother and a skeptic throughout Jesus' life, believed that he, too, saw the risen Jesus and subsequently became a leader of the church at Jerusalem.Again, these two facts enjoy a multiplicity of independent attestations and are accepted by virtually all scholars.
Regarding Paul's conversion from enemy to follower, the evidence includes Paul's own testimony, that of Luke, and that of the church in Galatia. Regarding his believing in the resurrection to the point of being willing to suffer and experience martyrdom, these same three witnesses are augmented by the testimony of Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Tertullian, Dionysius of Corinth and Origen (the latter two preserved in Eusebius).
There is less information available to us regarding James' life before the death of Jesus. Nonetheless, the gospels report that Jesus' brothers didn't believe his message, the early creed imbedded in I Corinthians 15:3-8 reports the appearance of the risen Jesus to James, and Paul and Luke identify this same James as a leader in the early church. There is independent evidence as well for James' martyrdom, these including Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement of Alexandria. It is true that the appearance of the risen Jesus to James is only recorded once (in the I Cor. passage of the New Testament), but Habermas and Licona argue that it enjoys early church tradition and acceptance of the vast majority of modern scholars...
Further, critical scholar Reginald Fuller explains that [the evidence] is sufficient. Even without it, "we should have to invent" such an appearance in order to account for two things: James' conversion from skepticism and his elevation to the pastorate of the church in Jerusalem, the center of ancient Christianity.Here are 4 historical facts, then, that need explaining. Belief that Jesus appeared alive after being horribly crucified was taught by his disciples and held to even in the face of the threat of persecution and death. And while some skeptics argue that it was their collective desire that led them to hallucinate a risen friend, that theory cannot account for the conversion and belief of Paul, an enemy, or James, a skeptic.
But there's one more such historical fact to be addressed... in the next post.