Bunoa sera. I'm writing this on Good Friday. Christians everywhere know what it means, the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ. It wasn't a good Friday for him, but it was good for the rest of us. I'm not going to go into the details of what a horrible death it was, nor am I going to give you a theology lesson. But since I'm not planning to write anything on Easter Sunday, I'll write about Easter. But there's so much detail that I have to leave out, you'll have to do your own searches.
Ahhhh...Easter. Candy, egg hunts, candy, fluffy bunnies, candy, spring clothes, candy, diabetic comas...
"Why do we call it Easter, anyway, Cowboy Bob?"
It was named after a pagan goddess and festivals, and, possibly, the time of year that was linked to the goddess Astarte. Then, the observance of the resurrection of Jesus (the time is linked to the Passover observances of the Jews as well) as a reasonable timeframe for everything, and the Christian celebration became dominant over the pagan thing, but the pagan name remained.
He died horribly.
On the third day, he rose from the dead.
Let me take a moment and settle some counting difficulties that people have. When looking at the Gospel accounts, written two thousand years ago in ancient languages, it's a serious mistake to put 21st century Western though, customs and traditions (and expectations!) on the ancient writings. Western thought (and some crackpot "we're the one true church" cults) put the Resurrection somewhere around Wednesday, because they insist on modern interpretations and literal 24-hour periods of days.
Guess what? The way of reckoning time back then was to consider a part of a day and count it. So, crucified and buried on Friday (day one), all day Saturday (day two), some of Sunday (the third day). Not too difficult. OK? Capice?
From the very beginning (including in the Gospel records), people have tried to suppress, hide and outright lie about this fact of history.
"Gosh, Uncle Bob, you're really being a cowboy today!"
So what? It's my Weblog. Besides, I back things up, remember?
OK, I'll let you look up where they paid off the guards...no, I have to say something there. Roman guards were very meticulous and knew that they faced the death penalty for just about any foul-up. Some genius said, "Tell them that they stole the body while you were sleeping", bribed them and "made it right" with their superiors. Quick question: How do you know what happened while you were sleeping?
Let me take that one a bit further. Suppose the disciples did steal the body. Read the accounts of their activities later on. Would you give your life to spreading a message that was unpopular, face persecutions, lose everything, get executed — all for something you know is a lie?
Had to go there, I love that one. But read the other parts in the Gospels where efforts were made to cover up for the missing body and the empty tomb.
I like what I call the "oops" theory: That everyone went to the wrong tomb. Oh, gimme a break! Nobody was expecting a resurrection! There was a lot of traffic by enemies, disciples and quite a few other people. You mean that nobody said, "Hey, I see your problem. You turned left. The real tomb is over there, make a right..."
How about this one? He was revived in the tomb. Uh huh. Let's take this to the logical conclusion. Wrapped almost like a mummy, suffering wounds, loss of blood...then he woke up, unwrapped himself, rolled a two-ton rock from the entrance of the tomb, overpowered the guards, escaped, then showed himself looking better than ever. Then he lies and says he's risen from the dead. As stupid as that sounds, what about when he really does die? So would the movement he started.
A cute one is that the Resurrection is a myth that was built up over time. Spare me! There were contemporaries. Start a rumor, build a myth — and get struck down by people who where there and saying, "Nope, didn't happen that way." Biblical archaeologist William Albright reported: "We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today."
Getting a bit long in this segment, I know, but this is important. So I'll tighten things up.
"It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference." — Nelson Glueck, Jewish Archaeologist. Let me add that there is more of Shakespeare in dispute, which is far more recent, than New Testament documents.
One of the most important voices in my own spiritual journeys was Josh McDowell. I highly recommend his book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict. He set out to disprove Christianity, and became on of the forefront apologists for it, instead.
As I said before, people who do not want to believe, will not believe. Sure, they have their reasons and brainwash themselves into disbelieve, but they've never bothered to read that book, or others like it: Who Moved the Stone, by Morrison (a former skeptic). Or Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis.
I think I know why the nay-sayers don't look carefully. If they gave serious, open-minded investigation, they would be converted like McDowell and Morrison. After all, if the Resurrection is true, then we'd jolly well better find out about this Jesus person and what he has to say.
For some beginning research, I have a few things for you to check out if you're interested. And if you're intellectually honest.
First, Josh McDowell has a good, readable article here.
Here is one by Dr. Ian Paisley on the evidence.
And here is an article about the reliability of the Bible itself.
Addendum: Freedom's Lighthouse has a video here.
That outta hold you for a while, Gertrude. You can relax, knowing that the truth of Resurrection of Jesus Christ is, indeed, the "best attested fact in history". Happy Easter!