Jewish Historian Pinchas Lapide Believed the Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Was Strong

This clip is from our interview with Dr. William Lane Craig concerning the Historical Jesus. This clip answers the Question: Is the historical evidence for the resurrection so strong that even Jewish scholars will accept it?

via How strong is historical evidence for the resurrection? – YouTube (1:18)

Here’s more on Pinchas Lapide, the Jewish historian referenced by Craig in the clip.  John Ankerberg moderated and broadcast a debate between Lapide and Walter Kaiser which you can find in a search on YouTube with those three names.

See also this quote from Lapide’s book The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective.

7 Replies to “Jewish Historian Pinchas Lapide Believed the Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Was Strong”

  1. Jesus’ resurrection after his death is the ultimate and defining proof of Jesus’ divinity. Just about everyone knows the story, which is summarized in the Apostles’ Creed. Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

    There is only one way for Jesus to prove that he rose from the dead. He had to appear to people. Therefore, several different places in the Bible describe Jesus’ appearances after his death:

    •Matthew chapter 28
    •Mark chapter 16
    •Luke chapter 24
    •John Chapter 20 and 21

    1 Corinthians 15:3-6 provides a nice summary of those passages, as written by Paul:

    For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. As you can see in this passage, Jesus appeared to hundreds of people a number of different times.

    Being like Paul: When we look at these Bible passages, there is a question that comes to mind — why did Jesus stop making these appearances? Why isn’t Jesus appearing today? It really is odd. Obviously Paul benefitted from a personal meeting with the resurrected Christ. Because of the personal visit, Paul could see for himself the truth of the resurrection, and he could ask Jesus questions. So… Why doesn’t Jesus appear to everyone and prove that he is resurrected, just like he appeared to Paul? There is nothing to stop Jesus from materializing in your kitchen tonight to have a personal chat with you. And if you think about it, Jesus really does need to appear to each of us. If Paul needed a personal visit from Jesus to know that Jesus was resurrected, then why wouldn’t you? It is an important question for the following reasons:

    •We are told by the Bible that Jesus appeared to hundreds of people.

    •We therefore know that it is OK for Jesus to appear to people — it does not take away their free will, for example.

    •We know that it would be easy for Jesus to appear to everyone all through history, since Jesus is all-powerful and timeless.

    •We know that, if Jesus did reappear to everyone, it would be incredibly helpful. We could all know, personally, that Jesus is resurrected and that Jesus is God. If Paul (and all the other people in the Bible) needed a personal visit to know that Jesus was resurrected, then why not you and me?

    •Yet, we all know that Jesus has not appeared to anyone in 2,000 years.

    THINK folks! Which is more likely: A dead man walked out of his grave 2,000 years ago, ate a broiled fish lunch with his fishing buddies and then 40 days later levitated into outer space, or, this entire story of a Resurrection is a legend: a legend based on false sightings and/or visions and hallucinations, of well-intentioned but uneducated, illiterate, hope-shattered, superstitious Galilean peasants, desperately trying to keep alive their only source of hope in their miserable, first century existence?

    1. Were any of these people there to witness this resurrection, or was it written in the new testament which was not given by God.

      1. The witnesses are not to the event but rather to the resurrected Jesus Himself. That is, those who knew Him before He died testified to having experienced Him alive AFTER He had died.

        There are many people who can bear witness to the fact that I am alive…and yet not a one of them saw me being born. Thus the witnesses to Jesus being alive after death do not have to have witnessed the moment that He was raised from the dead in order to bear witness to His resurrection.

  2. “false sightings and/or visions and hallucinations” – ?

    I’ve read the things that Paul, Peter (Cephas), and James have written. None of them sound like the kind of people who write about things they’re not sure about. As Luke wrote, it was “many convincing proofs” that Jesus gave them (Acts 1:3).

    So you want Jesus to appear to you? Would you be willing to testify to the experience…and give your life for having told about it…like they did?

    Those men had more character in their little fingers than you and I have in our whole beings put together. We’re fools if we don’t take their word that what they saw was what the Old Testament had promised.

  3. Were Jesus’ disciples capable of differentiating between a vivid dream and reality?

    In the Gospel of Matthew, an angel appears to Joseph twice, once to tell him that he should go ahead and marry Mary, even though she is pregnant (not by him), and then again a couple of years later to warn him of Herod’s plan to kill Jesus and that he should take the family to Egypt. The author of Matthew tells us that both of these “appearances” occurred in dreams.

    The question is: Did Joseph believe that God had sent a real angel to him to give him real messages?

    If first century Jews were truly able to distinguish dreams/visions from reality, why would Joseph marry a woman who had been impregnated by someone else just because an angel “appeared” to him in a dream? If first century Jews knew that dreams are not reality, Joseph would have ignored the imaginary angel and his imaginary message. For Joseph to go through with his marriage to a pregnant Mary was a very rare exception to the behavior of people in an Honor-Shame society. His act of obeying an angel in a dream is solid proof that he believed that the angel was real and the message was real.

    And if Joseph understood that dreams are not reality, why would he move his family to a foreign country based only on a dream?

    And how about Paul’s dream/vision? Paul saw and heard a talking bright light in a dream. Paul saw the men accompanying him to Damascus collapse to the ground with him…in a dream. Paul reported that these men also saw the light but didn’t hear the voice…or heard some kind of noise but didn’t see the light…in a dream….depending which passage of Acts you read.

    So it is obvious that first century Jews were just as likely to believe that a dream is reality as some people do today! People have been seeing angels, bright lights and dead people for thousands of years…in their dreams…and have believed that these events are reality.

    So the fact that four, anonymous, first century books contain stories of people “seeing” dead people and even “seeing” large groups of people “seeing” dead people, should come as no surprise.

    They were vivid dreams. Visions. Nothing more.

  4. Gary,

    The apostles surely knew the difference between dreaming about a person and having a face-to-face encounter with that person. I doubt that any of them would have been surprised to have had a dream about Jesus after He died, but to have a face-to-face encounter and even to have meals with Jesus after He was raised from the dead was something they were not expecting – even though He had told them to expect it!

    The apostles who wrote the documents we call the New Testament were crystal clear and emphatic on the point that Jesus had been raised from the dead. It would be more plausible to say that they were lying than to say that they mistook a dream for reality. The most plausible explanation of their testimony, however, is that they knew what they were talking about and were telling the truth.

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