Did Yeshua Rise From the Dead?
The resurrection of Messiah Yeshua (Also known as Jesus Christ) is central to both Messianic Judaism and Christianity. According to these theologies, the entire purpose of the Old Testament is for both instruction and the foretelling of the Messiah who was to come.
First and foremost, as Bible believers, we know that Yeshua rose from the dead because the Bible tells us so. If we believed the Bible, why would we dismiss its accounts? Unbelievers may not consider the Bible to be viable evidence, but they beg the question by assuming the falsity of that which they are arguing against. So, if they accuse us of begging the question for appealing to the Bible, they are begging the question by assuming what they already believe about the Bible (that it is false). If they claim they do not believe the Bible is false, then they should not be so dismissive of it.
The axiom that this article will start with is 'The Bible is the Word of God.' In this article, 'evidence' is defined as propositions we would expect to be true if the Bible is true. If the Bible is true, we would expect some information from history to be consistent with the Bible's accounts. Yeshua's death, burial, and resurrection happened around 33 A.D, and when we look at the Gospel we will find that we have a lot of reasons to believe that they were written not long after Yeshua's death, burial, and resurrection. Aside from the Bible telling us who wrote these four components of the Gospel, there is an abundance of historical evidence that backs up the four components of the Gospel's claims to authorship.
There is one Gospel, but there are four components of it: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. All of these tell of Yeshua's resurrection, and all of these components of the Gospel were inspired by God. Thus, for a believer, the timing of the writing of the Gospels are not relevant to our acceptance of them, for if they were inspired by God, it does not matter to us when they were written. Despite this, however, mentioning when they were written (and the times they were written are indeed favorable to us) would potentially be of some benefit to the unbeliever because it could help them be more open to what the Bible has to say.
The Gospel of Mark
The Gospel of Mark is unanimously considered to be written by John Mark. John Mark was the cousin of the Apostle Barnabas (who worked with the Apostle Paul for a time and was one of the first to hear Paul's testimony of meeting Yeshua on the road to Damascus). John Mark did not walk with Yeshua when he was alive, but he was an interpreter for the Apostle Peter (who did walk with Yeshua). It is likely that Mark was written before the Gospel of Luke because Luke referenced the Gospel of Mark on multiple occasions. Most scholars estimate that Mark was written in the early 50s or 60s A.D.1
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Matthew has been estimated to have been written between 50 and 100 A.D., but historical evidence points to a date range of closer to 50 and 70 A.D.2 In addition, Yeshua predicted the destruction of the temple in Matthew 24. This prediction suggests that this Gospel was written prior to 70 A.D. Surely, if it were written later, we would expect to have documentation of someone crying foul for predicting an event that already happened. The early congregations have unanimously attributed the Gospel of Matthew to Matthew, who was a disciple of Messiah Yeshua. Thus, with this Gospel, we have an eye witness account. Furthermore, Matthew went to Glory somewhere around 74 A.D.
The Gospel of Luke
Luke's account was written to someone named 'Theophilus'. There are theories about who 'Theophilus' could be, but that is for another article. Luke's purpose was to give an orderly account of both what transpired in the past and what he was taught. Luke was the Apostle Paul's personal physician. Early congregations have unanimously attributed the Gospel of Luke to Luke himself. It is widely believed that the Gospel of Luke was written in the early 60s A.D.3
The Gospel of John
The early congregations have mostly attributed the Gospel of John to the Apostle John. The earliest reference to John's authorship was Ireneaus, who was a disciple of the Apostle John's disciple, Polycarp.4 It is not inconceivable to think the two discussed the Gospel's authorship at one point. Most scholars date the Gospel of John to the early 90s A.D., but some think that it was written before 70 A.D. because it gives no reference to the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem, and since Yeshua predicted its destruction in Matthew 24, it would certainly be mentioned if it were written after that date; after all, the Gospel of John places a heavy emphasis on the Deity of Messiah. Since the Apostle John was a disciple of Yeshua, his account is an eye-witness account.
1 Corinthians 15
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, the Apostle Paul gives an account of whom Yeshua appeared to. Not only does he name names, but he says that Yeshua appeared to more than 500 people. 1 Corinthians was written in response to a letter that was written to Paul from the congregation at Corinth. Paul's authorship of 1 Corinthians is not disputed, and it was believed to have been written in 53-54 A.D. This account predates all four components of the Gospel.
I can go on about the amazing evidence for the authenticity of the Gospel accounts as well as the Pauline writing's significance, but space does not permit me to do so. It should be clear to the reader at this point that not only does the Bible tell us who these writings were written by, but we also have an abundance of testimonies concerning authorship and historical evidences that back the notion that these writings were written not long after 33 A.D. by historical standards. By comparison, the earliest sources about Julius Caesar were written more than 100 years after Julius Caesar's life.6 If any unbeliever thinks that the Gospels were written too long after the events they describe, he would also have to reject the accounts for Julius Caesar (as well as other prominent historical figures) in order to remain consistent with his historical method.
Further Evidence for Yeshua's Resurrection
There are twelve historical facts that a majority of both believing and skeptical New Testament scholars accept as truth. First, Yeshua died by crucifixion. Second, he was buried. Third, his death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope. Fourth, the tomb was empty. Fifth, the disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Yeshua. Sixth, the disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers. Seventh, the resurrection was the central message. Eighth, they preached the message of Yeshua's resurrection in Jerusalem. Ninth, the Messianic congregation (also commonly called the 'Church') was born and grew. Tenth, Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship. Eleventh, James was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a family skeptic). Twelfth, Paul was converted to the faith (Paul was an outsider skeptic).7 It is my opinion that these twelve facts are best explained by Yehsua's resurrection from the dead, and it is almost my opinion that alternative explanations are inferior to the Bible's account of Yeshua's resurrection.
1. Intro to Mark. (2016, November 09). Retrieved April 17, 2019, from https://www.biblica.com/resources/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-mark/
2. When Were the Four Gospels Written? (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2019, from https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_410.cfm
3. Introduction to the Gospel of Luke - Study Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2019, from https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/intros/luke.cfm
4. Introduction to the Gospel of John - Study Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2019, from https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/intros/john.cfm
5. Introduction to the Epistles to the Corinthians - Study Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2019, from https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/intros/corinthi.cfm
6. Bock, D. (2018, November 14). Sources for Caesar and Jesus Compared. Retrieved April 17, 2019, from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/sources-for-caesar-and-jesus-compared/
7. (2019, April 17). Retrieved from http://www3.telus.net/trbrooks/garyhabermas.htm