Religion in Society

Atheist Claim: No Evidence of Jesus Resurrection

| by John W Loftus
When it comes to the evidence that Jesus was raised from the dead consider what we don’t have, but would like to, things that Christian apologist Michael Licona admits. We do not have anything written directly by Jesus himself or any of his original disciples, nor do we have anything written by the Apostle Paul before he converted telling us about the church he was persecuting, nor anything written by the Jewish leaders of that time about Jesus or the early preaching of Paul, nor any Roman documents that mention Jesus, the content of his preaching, why he was killed, or what they thought about the claims he had resurrected. [Note: Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, 2010), p. 275.] There are other things Licona does not have, but would like to. We do not have any legitimate Old Testament prophecies that specifically refer to Jesus’ resurrection. We also do not have present day confirmations that God does these kinds of miracles in today’s world. Basically then, we lack a great deal of needed independent collaborative evidence. What else would we like to have but don't?

We have no independent reports about the gospel claims that the veil of the temple was torn in two at Jesus’ death (Mark 15:38), nor that darkness came “over the whole land” from noon until three in the afternoon (Mark 15:33) because “the sun stopped shining” (Luke 23:45), nor that there was an earthquake at his death (Matthew 27:51, 54), with another “violent” one the day he supposedly arose from the grave (Matthew 28:2), nor that the saints were raised to life at his death, then waited until Jesus purportedly arose from his tomb before walking out of their own opened tombs, who subsequently “went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” (Matthew 27:52-53). Could these events really have occurred without subsequent Rabbinic literature or Philo or Josephus mentioning them? When it comes to the so-called empty tomb of Jesus, archaeology has proven the celebrated one found underneath Gordon’s Calvary in Jerusalem is of later origin, [Note: A. R. Millard, Discoveries From the Time of Jesus, pp. 126-27], while the one underneath the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is not authentic either, having been discovered by Bishop Marcarius though “divine revelation” at the time of Constantine in 326 CE, and was not known or venerated prior to that time [Note: Eusebius, Via Constantini 3.25–32)].