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Basic Worldview:
104 Why Christianity?

List of Messianic Qualifications
and the Resurrection of Jesus (Part 1)

Judaism and Christianity Introduction and History
History of Judaism Continued
Scholarly Objections and Historicity of Daniel (P. 1)
Historicity of Daniel (P. 2) & Judeo-Christian Syncretism
A Few Words on Gnosticism
Christianity - A Sect of Judaism (P. 1)
Christianity - A Sect of Judaism (P. 2) & Prophecy in Judaism
Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah? (P. 1)
Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah? (P. 2)
List of Messianic Qualifications & the Resurrection of Jesus (P. 1)
The Resurrection of Jesus (Part 2)
Study Conclusions and Overall Comparisons

Additional Material
The Sufferings of Eyewitnesses
Comparison of Mystical Religions to Judeo-Christianity
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 1)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 2)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 3)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 4)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 5)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 6)

| Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3

List of Messianic Qualifications

1. Be an Israelite. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and Exodus 19-24)
2. Mediate a new covenant between God and His people. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and Exodus 19-24)
3. Give God's new law, commands, and covenant to the people, which would be written in their hearts as opposed to tablets of stone. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and Exodus 19-24)
4. Intercede between God and His people. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and Exodus 19-24)
5. Be given God's word from God and would tell it to the people. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and Exodus 19-24)
6. Deliver God's people from bondage. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and Exodus 19-24)
7. The new covenant established by the Messiah, may like Moses' initiation of Israel's covenant with God, include a sacrifice. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and Exodus 19-24)
8. The new covenant established by the Messiah, may like Moses' initiation of Israel's covenant with God, include a sacrificial meal. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and Exodus 19-24)
9. The new covenant established by the Messiah, may like Moses' initiation of Israel's covenant with God, include the leaders of God's people being taken up on a mountain and seeing God's glory. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and Exodus 19-24)
10. The Messiah will be responsible for bringing the Gentile nations to God.
11. The Messiah will suffer physical affliction. (Isaiah 52:13-14, Isaiah 53:5, 10)
12. The Messiah will be despised and rejected. (Isaiah 53:3-4)
13. The Messiah will be an offering for our sin and bear the sin of many and justify them. (Isaiah 53:5-8, 12)
14. The Messiah will be killed. (Isaiah 53:7-8, 12, Zechariah 12:10)
15. The Messiah will be king over Israel. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
16. The Messianic kingdom will have no end. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
17. The Messiah will be of the house of King David, of the tribe of Judah. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
18. The Messiah will come forth from Bethlehem, the family home of King David. (Micah 5:2)
19. The Messiah will be a conquering king. (Psalm 2:2, 6, 9)
20. The Messiah will come and be killed after 26 A.D. and before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. (Daniel 9:25-26)

After looking at this list in the context of Daniel 9's timeframe three things become obvious. First, Jesus is the only available person to fulfill the messianic expectations of Judaism. So, if Jesus isn't the Messiah, then Judaism is proven false since it clearly prophesied in God's name that a Messiah would come and be killed between 33 A.D. and 70 A.D. This constitutes a huge catch-22 for followers of Judaism. They must either accept that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah, in which case Judaism is validated. Or, if they reject that Jesus was the Messiah, then Judaism is proven false and unreliable since Judaism (by means of its accepted authoritative scripture, particularly Daniel) clearly prophesies in God's name that a Messiah would come (even within a given timeframe).

Second, it is obvious from the New Testament record that Jesus has not fulfilled item numbers 15, 16, and 19. However, this cannot be used as a reason to reject Jesus as the Messiah. It may simply be the case that Jesus will fulfill the Jewish expectation of an exalted, conquering, kingly Messiah in the future as the New Testament clearly teaches. Additionally, because we have no timeframe for the occurrence of these particular messianic requirements, no description of how they relate to the suffering, rejected, dying Messiah, and no Biblical indication that there will be two distinct Jewish Messiahs, Judaism has no Biblical basis for rejecting Jesus as the Messiah on the grounds that he has yet to accomplish these three prophecies.

Third, even a quick glance at this list points to Jesus as the Messiah (or Christ). The New Testament records that he fulfilled these requirements along with many others. He was an Israelite of the tribe of Judah and a descendent of King David (Matthew 1:1-25, Luke 3:23-38). He was, in fact, born in Bethlehem, David's family home (Matthew 2:1-23, Luke 2:1-15). He brought a new covenant and gave a new law, by which the Gentiles came to worship the God of the Jews (for examples see Matthew 12:17-21, Luke 2:25-32, Acts 9:15, Acts 10:45, Acts 11:1, Acts 15:7). He suffered, was rejected, and sacrificed himself mediating a new covenant between God and God's people and providing atonement for man's sin. Like Moses, he took the men he had appointed to be leaders over God's people up on a mountain where God's glory was revealed to them (Matthew 17:1-5, Mark 9:2-7, Luke 9:28-35, 2 Peter 1:16-18). And most significantly, he was killed in the year 33 A.D. just as Daniel 9:25-26 prophesied (Mark 8:31, Luke 17:25, Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, John 18-21).

(For more on how Jesus brought a new covenant and the Law of Christ please see the articles in the Redemption and Liberty in Christ sections of our website.)

(NOTE: The most comprehensive and detailed arguments that Jesus is the Messiah are those provided in the New Testament. For this reason we recommend that those who are seriously interested read the New Testament beginning with the four gospels and the Book of Acts.)

With all of this in mind and with no other available person to fulfill the prophesies of the Jewish scripture, we must accept Jesus as the Messiah and thereby remove the final separating issue between Christianity and Judaism. Having done so, we have shown that unlike Islam, Christianity is not only a legitimate interpretation of Judaism, but it is the correct, legitimate interpretation of Judaism. And, in fact, having established that Jesus Christ fulfills the Old Testament requirements and prophecies that the Messiah would bring a new covenant to the Jewish people just as Moses had mediated a covenant, we have already partially demonstrated this conclusion.

And by demonstrating that Jesus fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament we have simultaneously established that Judeo-Christianity, unlike all of the other religions we have examined, is substantiated by the evidence it offers. The legitimate supernatural phenomena exhibited by Judeo-Christianity demonstrates that it should be accepted as a reliable and accurate understanding of God, if for no other reason than that no other religion can make this claim. Other religions offer either no evidence to support their claims or the evidence that they do offer contradicts itself, such is the case with Islam. Only Judeo-Christianity offers supernatural evidence that provides corroboration for its claims about the God who exists beyond the natural world we see all around us.

But, before we move on to a comparison demonstrating the reasonableness and superiority of the Judeo-Christian religion over that of Islam and the many forms of Propositional religion, we must also discuss one final piece of evidence for the validity of Judeo-Christianity - resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Resurrection The central claim of Judeo-Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Christ is simply the Greek word for Messiah). Because the New Testament authors claimed the resurrection of Jesus as proof that Jesus' teaching was from God, we must also determine whether or not it is reasonable to accept their testimony that Jesus did, in fact, rise from the dead. For this reason no examination of the validity and reliability of Judeo-Christian theology would be complete without a demonstration of the historical legitimacy of the resurrection.

Before we proceed we must remember three important facts about historical analysis.

First, we cannot object to the historical claim that Jesus was resurrected simply because of the involvement of supernatural phenomena. As we have discussed in greater detail earlier in this study, history, in and of itself, contains no prohibition against the occurrence of such phenomena. Only if we presuppose invalid atheistic conclusions or unwarranted deistic or naturalistic conclusions through circular reasoning can we disregard even the proposition of the supernatural or miraculous. Since employing such conclusions as criteria for dismissing miraculous claims would be inappropriate circular reasoning we must instead consider the resurrection on its own historical merits as we would any other claimed historical event.

Second, we noted in our section on Propositional religions that the evidence of the supernatural offered by religions of this type tended to be subjective in nature and was defined, by these religions themselves, as unknowable through normal reasonable processes. History, by basic definition, is interested in events that can be objectively verified through a reasonable assessment of evidence. Since, Propositional religions are not concerned with claims of this type, their evidence (being subjective in nature) is not available to and does not involve historical analysis. For this reason some historians may be content to permit this kind of supernatural claim simply because it falls outside of the domain of historical interest and qualifications.

And yet it is the very claim made by Evidentiary religions that knowable, verifiable supernatural events have occurred that leads some historians and scholars to dismiss them, not through an assessment of the evidence, but without an assessment, simply because some historians and scholars hold to the presupposition that the supernatural cannot occur. It is a blatant contradiction and prejudice to permit subjective claims of the supernatural which, by definition, cannot offer objective evidence of their validity, while at the same time dismissing out of hand, claims of the supernatural, which offer objective evidence of their validity, without first conducting an examination of that evidence.

And while this criticism applies to those scholars who would apply an atheistic bias to the evidence, a similar comment can be made regarding Theists. Given the existence of God, which we have demonstrated in our previous article series on Atheism, there is a need for us to investigate what view of God is accurate and should be adopted. The world's religions comprise the available options. As we examine which of the world's religions offer an accurate view of God, it would be completely contradictory for us to reject the testimony of those who claim to have experienced objectively verifiable events, such as miracles, while at the same time accepting the testimony of those who claim to have experienced an internal, subjective realization of truth. It is completely irrational to dismiss without examination the testable evidence offered by one party in order to favor an alternate explanation given by another party, which offers absolutely no evidence and cannot be verified.

If the goal is to determine the most reasonable assessment of God based upon the available objective evidence, then we cannot dismiss testimony regarding physical events while at the same time believing testimony regarding mere mental realizations. Rational analysis concerning the accurate view of God requires that testimony regarding external, physical evidence take preference over subjective knowledge precisely because the external evidence can be objectively tested, while subjective knowledge can not.

It is one thing to dismiss a subjective claim of the supernatural, which cannot be verified through objective assessment of the evidence as we have done. It is quite another to dismiss supernatural claims, which do offer objective evidence to substantiate their claims, without any assessment of the evidence that they offer. For this reason, we must now perform an evaluation of the evidence offered by the Judeo-Christian scripture concerning the supernatural claims that it makes in order to determine if those claims are valid and should be accepted or invalid and must be rejected.

Third, we cannot simply reject the New Testament record of Jesus simply because it is told by his followers. The simple fact is that history is recorded by the victors and is seldom if ever written by those with no interest in the subject matter. If we cannot rely upon any historical documentation that is written by someone with a stake in or a relationship to the subject matter then a modern understanding of history becomes rather impossible. Instead, since historians accept that people with a personal interests can be relied upon to provide an accurate and fair description of historical events, we must also acknowledge that the New Testament can be considered as reliable, accurate, and fair with regard to historical material and accounts it provides.

For all three of these reasons, we must evaluate the New Testament record of Jesus as we would any other historical document or any other record of an event.

As a historical document we must also recognize two facts. First, the New Testament is the only available ancient Jewish source concerning the events in question. Besides the New Testament we have no other resource expressing a Jewish view of these events that dates from the time period of these events. Though the New Testament is written from the point of view of particular Jews who accepted the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is also the only ancient source informing us of the opposing Jewish view. Other than the New Testament Jewish writings presenting an opposing point of view to the resurrection of Christ, other oppositional accounts do not emerge until centuries after the fact, which means that those who proposed them were simply in no position to evaluate the legitimacy of the resurrection, particularly in comparison to first and second hand testimony.

In light of this it is inappropriate to object to the New Testament record as if it is not representative of the Jewish view. For one, there is no other Jewish source speaking about the death and resurrection of Jesus from the 1st century. And two, the New Testament is a Jewish view of the events, written by Jews and written from the teachings and testimonies of Jews.

Second, though, many Christians have certainly been anti-Semitic and used the New Testament as basis for their prejudice, the New Testament itself cannot be considered to be an anti-Semitic document for two reasons. First, the New Testament account of Jesus is a record of events, in which all the characters including both protagonists and antagonists (except Pontius Pilate) are Jews. Second, the New Testament was mostly written by Jews. In light of these two facts, it is absurd to label the New Testament as anti-Semitic anymore than it would be to label the movie Braveheart anti-Scottish simply because in that movie Scottish lords are depicted as being instrumental to the betrayal, capture, and killing of William Wallace. Like the hero of Braveheart is Scottish, the hero of the New Testament is Jewish, which makes it is impossible to consider either to be works of racism, even though the villains in these works are also Scottish and Jewish, respectively.

One final note before we proceed to examine the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. For those of us who live after the fact, none of the events of history are available to direct verification. We cannot directly verify whether or not Alexander the Great conquered ancient Mesopotamia by the time he was 33 years old. We cannot directly verify whether or not John Wilkes Boothe assassinate Abraham Lincoln. We cannot observe these things ourselves. Nor can we watch or listen to video or audio records capturing these events. Instead, we are forced to rely upon the testimony of those who lived at the time and were in a position to directly verify (or refute) the legitimacy of historic events.

The same is true for the resurrection of Jesus. Like other historical events, the resurrection is not available to us for direct verification. Instead, we must rely upon the testimony of those who lived at the time and were in a position to directly verify the legitimacy of that event.

There are four things that should be noted as we begin our examination of the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. The first is that Jesus Christ is an actual historical person as were his disciples and the other persons involved in the New Testament account. This fact is demanded by the academic standards for determining historicity, as established in depth earlier in this article series. Because of this we cannot think of the New Testament account as the same as Greco-Roman or eastern mythological stories involving some accomplishment of some god or goddess. The fact that Jesus of Nazareth was a real historic figure means that the examination of whether or not he rose from the dead is a legitimate historical question and not simply a matter of myth or legend.

Second, we must recognize that at the time of these events it was possible to objective verify whether or not the resurrection had, in fact, occurred. This is important because if an event was not available to objective verification at the time it is said to have occurred, we would not be able to reasonably assess its historical legitimacy.

For example, we might imagine two claims of the supernatural. The first claim comes from an individual who reports that God has appeared to him when he was alone in his room. The second claim comes from an individual who claims that God has regenerated his amputated left arm.

The first claim could not be considered historically legitimate because there would be no external or physical means by which we could verify whether or not God appeared to this person while they were alone in their room. This type of supernatural claim was common among Propositional religions and was exhibited in Islam. We have no way of knowing whether or not the angel Gabriel appeared to Mohammed in the cave as he claimed, or if Mohammed was, in fact, just making all of this up or perhaps himself deceived in some way. Likewise, it could not be objectively verified whether or not Siddhartha Gautama or Vardhamana actually achieved enlightenment. Such events, by their nature cannot be objectively verified by those alive at the time, and we have no reason to accept that they ever actually occurred.

However, the claim of the man who said that God had regenerated his amputated left arm could indeed be objectively verified. It could be determined from those who knew him and from medical records and photographs whether or not this individual had previously had an amputated left arm. And we could certainly verify whether or not the left arm was now present again after the amputation. Therefore, since we could verify that his left arm was actually restored after previously having been amputated, we would have sound reason to accept this man's claim.

Jesus' resurrection falls into the second type of claim. Those around at the time could verify that Jesus was dead and that three days later he was alive again. This places the resurrection of Jesus into the realm of a historical claim, which like all other historical events, can be verified for us now, by analyzing the testimony of those who witnessed first-hand the events in question.

Third, we must remember that the New Testament record of the events surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection were, in fact, written by either first-hand witness who lived at the time of the events in question and were close to Jesus during them or by second-hand witnesses who recorded the testimony of other first-hand witnesses. This is important because it allows us to evaluate the testimony of those who actually claimed to witness the events in question and who were in a position to objectively verify them. When first and/or second-hand testimony is not available we do not have access to an objective verification of the events in question at a point in time when they could be directly verified. And, with no objective verification of these events available for us to base our examination on, we would have no reason to accept that the event in question actually occurred.

Fourth, we must recognize that the record of the New Testament confirms that those who claimed that Jesus was resurrected from the dead were, in fact, interested in objectively verifying whether or not this had truly and legitimately occurred. The New Testament does not present Jesus' disciples as being willing to accept the claim that Jesus was resurrected without proof that they could verify or without the testimony of those who were in a position to directly verify whether the resurrection had, in fact, occurred. They were not willing to accept the mere proposition that Jesus had risen from the dead. They needed evidence, which they could verify. Without this evidence, without seeing for themselves, many of the disciples refused to accept the notion of Jesus' resurrection.

We must therefore draw a striking contrast between the manner in which the New Testament asserts the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the manner in which other religious texts present remarkable claims about their founders. In all of the other cases that we examined from Zoroaster, to Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), to Varhamana, etc. we saw that extraordinary claims were made without any attempt to provide evidence for those claims, which was objectively verifiable even at the time of the events in question. Instead, those who promoted these religions accepted the claims of these men without objectively verifiable evidence and expected others to do so as well. Acceptance of those claims was always openly based upon subjective, inner realization.

However, Jesus' disciples were reluctant to accept that he had been resurrected. Despite his teachings, they did not fully comprehend them and, therefore, had not expected this to occur and most refused to accept that Jesus had risen from the dead until they were able to confirm this directly themselves. In their accounts Jesus' disciples don't even embellish their responses, but instead attest to the fact that they were unwilling to believe without proof. They report that Jesus had risen not because they believed it or because of some personal, subjective experience, but on the basis of evidence, which they objectively verified. Likewise, Jesus does not require them to accept that he has risen from the dead without proof, instead, he himself provides them with evidence proving that he had, in fact, risen from the dead.

Matthew 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him,they worshipped him: but some doubted.

Mark 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. 10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. 12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. 14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

Luke 24:9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. 12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass...36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? 42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

John 20:20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD...24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

These are not the actions of those who are delusional, gullible, or are eager to believe what only serves their own interests. Instead, they are exactly what we'd hope and expect that reasonable persons would do when faced with such a claim. They wanted to directly and objectively verify the claim and they only accepted that Jesus had been resurrected once they were able to do so.

With all of that said we can now move on to examine the New Testament record of the events in question to determine whether or not we have reason to accept the New Testament claim that Jesus' resurrection is a historical fact.

(Continued in next section.)

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