Monday, January 16, 2006

Rebuttal of Some of Holtz's Anti-Resurrection Arguments

The Disciples Saw Jesus
Biblioskeptics like Holtz often say that Jesus' post-resurrection appearances were unimpressive to the disciples who heard about them (and should have been expecting them) and even to those who witnessed them or that they were cases of mistaken identity. This is a gross misrepresentation of the accounts. Occasionally there was difficulty recognizing Jesus [Lk 24:15-16; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4], but in every case it was only temporary. Perplexity, sorrow, the dimness of the light, visual distance, the suddenness of Jesus' appearance, the different clothes He was wearing, and spiritual dullness were some factors causing this difficulty. Before the appearances were over, the witnesses had absolutely no doubt that Jesus Christ, whom they had known intimately for many years, had arisen in a literal, physical body. Holtz quotes Mt 28:17: "When they saw Him, they worshiped Him, but some doubted." The Greek verb in context points to hesitation/indecision as to what to do next, not disbelief in the fact of the resurrection.

The Bible Teaches a Bodily Resurrection
The Bible explicitly teaches the physical nature of Christ's resurrection. A literal physical resurrection of Jesus is supported by the facts that Jesus was touched by human hands, His body had flesh and bones, He ate physical food on at least four occasions, His body had His crucifixion wounds [this is mentioned by Phlegon in Chronicles], His body was recognized, His body could be seen and heard, He was resurrected "out from among" the grave where corpses are buried, the word soma in the text always means physical body, the tomb was vacated, the grave clothes were unwrapped, and the body that died was the same one that was raised. Christ appeared to more than 500 people on 11 separate occasions over a 40 day period. The only good explanation for this is a supernatural physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Holtz's Far-Fetched Hypothoses
Holtz also speculates without evidence that Joseph of Arimathea could have stolen the body. Joseph had no reason to steal the body. Since Joseph was a disciple [Luke 23:50-51] we can eliminate the motive of preventing the disciples from stealing it. Joseph could have produced the body and discredited the entire story if he was not a follower of Christ. Joseph, a pious Jew, would not have broken the Sabbath [Luke 23:50-56]. A Roman guard stationed in front of the tomb [Matt. 27:62-66] would have seen Joseph's torches at night. The women came at dawn the next morning [Luke 24:1]; there was no opportunity for Joseph to remove the body. Where would Joseph put the body? Christ's body was never found, despite the fact that almost two months passed before the disciples started preaching; this was an abundant time frame in which to expose a fraud. This theory, lacking a means, motive, and opportunity, is junk.