Recently I taught my adult Sunday school class, and used a past blog post as my outline. It was this post: It’s about Jesus…part 4. Jesus legendary? I did do some fresh research and review before teaching it. Here are some thoughts, related to the Resurrection.
It is usually the Gospels that are attacked for various reasons, but we don’t have only the Gospels to tell us about the Resurrection. First Corinthians 15 is considered the most important chapter in the Bible on it. Paul emphasizes that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, our faith is meaningless.
First Corinthians is uncontested for its Pauline authorship, and its date can be narrowed down to about 53-57 AD. (This is earlier dating than any of the Gospels.) In the beginning of chapter 15 Paul says, “for what I received I passed on to you.” Biblical scholars, who analyze this type of thing, see in the wording that an early Christian creed is being referenced by Paul. So while Paul was writing in the mid 50’s, the creed part is older. How much older? It could go back to the 40’s or even late 30’s – giving very early evidence to Christian belief in the Resurrection of Jesus.
If you agree that the creed part could go back to the 30’s or 40’s, this puts it as close as 5-10 years from the actual Resurrection of Jesus. But even if you want to go with the mid-50’s, it is still only about 20 years past the Resurrection.
This shows early Christian belief in the Resurrection, and not for it being a later created legend or distorted memories. And note the emphasis on eyewitness testimony. The readers of 1 Corinthians could have found some of the eyewitnesses to question.
And ponder with me that the creed part may have been recited by Christians in the late 30’s or 40’s AD…and now it is 2016! Wow. Maybe that does not move you like it moves me, but we stand in solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters from two millennia ago.
I Corinthians 15:
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.