Jesus’ Predictions of His Own Resurrection

Dr. Craig,

I appreciate the work you do a great deal and it has been personally beneficial to my faith and my ministry. I do have a question, however, concerning the 1st century Jewish expectations of resurrection. You write, and I agree that the evidence points to a Jewish belief in a general resurrection at the end of the age (John 11:24), as opposed to that of a dying and rising Messiah during their own lifetime. This would seem to work as evidence against certain theories that would deny the resurrection, such as it being a hoax, or the resurrection appearances being hallucinations, etc.

My question is about events like Jesus raising people from the dead (John 11:43-44; Matthew 9:25; Luke 7:13-15), and Jesus' predictions about His own death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31, etc.). Would not these event's and predictions have created an expectation in His disciples that He would die and rise again? It seems difficult to argue both that there was no expectation of a dying and rising Messiah and that Jesus vindicated His radical personal claims to be a dying and rising Messiah. Did the disciples simply ignore what He said and taught? Did they fail to understand what He meant? I am curious to hear your thoughts on these questions.


United States


"Did the Resurrection Really Happen?" - Dr. Gary Habermas

What is the Historical evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Do Atheist admit key historical facts that point towards the truth of the Resurrection?

Listen to a concise but insightful and informative response from the world's expert on the Historical evidence for the man Jesus of Nazareth, and His Resurrection from the dead - Dr. Gary Habermas.

In 3 minutes, he shares his powerful, revolutionary approach to demonstrating the reality and veracity of the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, almost 2,000 years ago.

Have a blessed "Resurrection Sunday" today - Jesus is Risen!

- Pastor J. 

Atheists Scholars Give Evidence for Easter! - Dr. Gary Habermas

Can Christians show that Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as a Historical Event?

Can Christians demonstrate the Resurrection by using only 4 HISTORICAL FACTS?!?

Dr. Gary Habermas has pioneered one of the most effective approaches to demonstrating the historical nature of Resurrection:  

He only uses 4 historical facts, all of which are accepted by Atheist scholars of the New Testament.

This approach, called"The Minimal Facts" method, is not only unique in that it uses data accepted by Atheists, but it is arguably the quickest and most efficient way to discuss the "Core Historical Facts" surrounding Jesus of Nazareth.  

I encourage you to go to to investigate the great (and free) audio, video, and articles Dr. Habermas offers regarding the historical facts surrounding Jesus of Nazareth and His Resurrection from the dead.

This is an indispensable approach to use this Easter, as you share the Gospel and the Hope of Everlasting life - found only in the Risen Christ!

- Pastor J. 

Local Knowledge of Jesus’ Empty Tomb, Question of the week by Dr. Craig

Greetings Dr. Craig!
I read some of your articles addressing the resurrection of Jesus and wanted to thank you first of all for your great work and effort.
Yet I noticed that - at least in the works I read - a specific argument was seemed not to be addressed, which my New Testament professor, who does not believe in the empty tomb, once used against a bodily resurrection of Jesus. The argument was: If the location of the tomb of Jesus was known to the disciples, it would have been remembered and would have likely become some sort of an early pilgrimage destination. Yet there is no evidence for any such thing, thus, it is unlikely that the disciples knew the tomb, therefore, they could have not known whether the tomb was empty or not.
So what is your take on this?
Thank you very much!

Click HERE to read Dr. Craig's answer

The Historicity of the Empty Tomb of Jesus

William Lane Craig

An examination of both Pauline and gospel material leads to eight lines of evidence in support of the conclusion that Jesus's tomb was discovered empty: (1) Paul's testimony implies the historicity of the empty tomb, (2) the presence of the empty tomb pericope in the pre-Markan passion story supports its historicity, (3) the use of 'on the first day of the week' instead of 'on the third day' points to the primitiveness of the tradition, (4) the narrative is theologically unadorned and non-apologetic, (5) the discovery of the tomb by women is highly probable, (6) the investigation of the empty tomb by the disciples is historically probable, (7) it would have been impossible for the disciples to proclaim the resurrection in Jerusalem had the tomb not been empty, (8) the Jewish polemic presupposes the empty tomb.

Source: "The Historicity of the Empty Tomb of Jesus." 

New Testament Studies

 31 (1985): 39-67.

Until recently the empty tomb has been widely regarded as both an offense to modern intelligence and an embarrassment for Christian faith; an offense because it implies a nature miracle akin to the resuscitation of a corpse and an embarrassment because it is nevertheless almost inextricably bound up with Jesus' resurrection, which lies at the very heart of the Christian faith. But in the last several years, a remarkable change seems to have taken place, and the scepticism that so characterized earlier treatments of this problem appears to be fast receding.


 Though some theologians still insist with Bultmann that the resurrection is not a historical event,


 this incident is certainly presented in the gospels as a historical event, one of the manifestations of which was that the tomb of Jesus was reputedly found empty on the first day of the week by several of his women followers; this fact, at least, is therefore in principle historically verifiable. But how credible is the evidence for the historicity of Jesus' empty tomb?

In order to answer this question, we need to look first at one of the oldest traditions contained in the New Testament concerning the resurrection. In Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (AD 56-57) he cites what is apparently an old Christian formula (

1 Cor 15. 3b-5

), as is evident from the non-Pauline and Semitic characteristics it contains.


 The fact that the formula recounts, according to Paul, the content of the earliest apostolic preaching (

I Cor 15. 11

), a fact confirmed by its concordance with the sermons reproduced by Luke in Acts,


 strongly suggests that the formula originated in the Jerusalem church. We know from Paul's own hand that three years after his conversion (AD 33-35) at Damascus, he visited Jerusalem, where he met personally Peter and James (

Gal 1. 18-19

). He probably received the formula in Damascus, perhaps in Christian catechesis; it is doubtful that he received it later than his Jerusalem visit, for it is improbable that he should have replaced with a formula personal information from the lips of Peter and James themselves.


 The formula is therefore probably quite old, reaching back to within the first five years after Jesus' crucifixion. It reads:

. . . hoti Christos apethanen huper ton hamartion hemon kata tas graphas,

kai hoti etaphe,

kai hoti egegertai te hemera te trite kata tas graphas,

kai hoti ophthe Kepha, eita tois dodeka.

Continue reading --->

The Lost Tomb of Jesus: A Response to the Discovery-Channel Documentary Directed by James Cameron

by Dr. Gary R. Habermas and Colleagues

Jesus Burial Tomb?

Recently, questions have been raised regarding the historicity of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  These issues emerged from the directorial genius of 

James Cameron and is entitled, "

The Lost Tomb of Jesus

." This new Hollywood-quality documentary is set to air March 4th, 2007 on the Discovery Channel. However, this documentary is poorly supported by the historical and scientific data, regardless of how well the film has been made.

Good TV, Bad History & Science

"[The Lost Tomb of Jesus] will make good TV but involves a bad critical reading of history. Basically, this is old news with a new interpretation. We have known about this tomb since it was discovered in 1980. There are all sorts of reasons to see that this is much ado about nothing much."


Dr. Ben Witherington, New Testament professor at Asbury Theological Seminary and author of 

What Have They Done With Jesus?

An incredible number of problems are present in the recent claim that Jesus' grave has been found.  In the end, the time-honored, multi-faceted evidence for the Gospel data of the Deity, death, and bodily resurrection of Jesus are more convincing than ever. Even the early opponents of the Christian message acknowledged that Jesus' tomb was empty. 

And the evidence for Jesus' bodily resurrection appearances has never been refuted


I've known about "The Lost Tomb of Christ" and the story behind it for quite some time.  Last summer (2006), I interviewed James Tabor, the main scholar involved with "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" project.  James was very helpful in answering my questions about the Talpiot site and we have become friends.  Still, I am convinced that he is mistaken at virtually every evidential turn in the road.  

There is no way this should challenge a Christian's faith


  • The tomb was discovered in 1980; it is a very old story and it did not take anyone by surprise.
  • The BBC did a documentary on the tomb in 1996.
  • ... So why is this situation suddenly getting media attention?

Continue reading --->

The Resurrection of Jesus

William Lane Craig

Examines the historical grounds for belief in Jesus’ resurrection, focusing on the empty tomb, his post-mortem appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief in his resurrection.

I spoke recently at a major Canadian university on the existence of God. After my talk, one slightly irate co-ed wrote on her comment card, “I was with you until you got to the stuff about Jesus. God is not the Christian God!”

This attitude is all too typical today. Most people are happy to agree that God exists; but in our pluralistic society it has become politically incorrect to claim that God has revealed Himself decisively in Jesus. What justification can Christians offer, in contrast to Hindus, Jews, and Muslims, for thinking that the Christian God is real?

The answer of the New Testament is: the resurrection of Jesus. “God will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead” (

Acts 17.31

). The resurrection is God’s vindication of Jesus’ radical personal claims to divine authority.

So how do we know that Jesus is risen from the dead? The Easter hymnwriter says, “You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart!” This answer is perfectly appropriate on an individual level. But when Christians engage unbelievers in the public square—such as in “Letters to the Editor” of a local newspaper, on call-in programs on talk-radio, at PTA meetings, or even just in conversation with co-workers—, then it’s crucial that we be able to present objective evidence in support of our beliefs. Otherwise our claims hold no more water than the assertions of anyone else claiming to have a private experience of God.

Fortunately, Christianity, as a religion rooted in history, makes claims that can in important measure be investigated historically. Suppose, then, that we approach the New Testament writings, not as inspired Scripture, but merely as a collection of Greek documents coming down to us out of the first century, without any assumption as to their reliability other than the way we normally regard other sources of ancient history. We may be surprised to learn that the majority of New Testament critics investigating the gospels in this way accept the central facts undergirding the resurrection of Jesus. I want to emphasize that I am not talking about evangelical or conservative scholars only, but about the broad spectrum of New Testament critics who teach at secular universities and non-evangelical seminaries. Amazing as it may seem, most of them have come to regard as historical the basic facts which support the resurrection of Jesus. These facts are as follows:

FACT #1: 

After his crucifixion, Jesus was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. 

This fact is highly significant because it means, contrary to radical critics like John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar, that the location of Jesus’ burial site was known to Jew and Christian alike. In that case, the disciples could never have proclaimed his resurrection in Jerusalem if the tomb had not been empty. New Testament researchers have established this first fact on the basis of evidence such as the following:

1. Jesus’ burial is attested in the very old tradition quoted by Paul in 

I Cor. 15.3-5


For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:

. . . that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,

and that he was buried,

and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.

Paul not only uses the typical rabbinical terms “received” and “delivered” with regard to the information he is passing on to the Corinthians, but vv. 3-5 are a highly stylized four-line formula filled with non-Pauline characteristics. This has convinced all scholars that Paul is, as he says, quoting from an old tradition which he himself received after becoming a Christian. This tradition probably goes back at least to Paul’s fact-finding visit to Jerusalem around AD 36, when he spent two weeks with Cephas and James (

Gal. 1.18

). It thus dates to within five years after Jesus’ death. So short a time span and such personal contact make it idle to talk of legend in this case.

2. The burial story is part of very old source material used by Mark in writing his gospel.

Continue reading --->

The Minimal Facts Approach to the Resurrection of Jesus: The Role of Methodology as a Crucial Component in Establishing Historicity


In recent years, an increasing number of studies have begun to employ what I have termed the “Minimal Facts” approach to a critical study of the resurrection of Jesus. This methodology differs significantly from older apologetic tactics that usually argued from historically reliable or even inspired New Testament texts to Jesus’ resurrection. The Minimal Facts outlook approaches the subject from a different angle. In this essay, I will concentrate on the nature, distinctiveness, and value of the Minimal Facts methodological approach to the resurrection of Jesus. After a brief overview, I will interact directly with the use of such an approach by Michael Licona in his recent volume, 

The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approachincluding considering a few caveats for future study.

The Minimal Facts Method

For more than 35 years, I have argued that, surrounding the end of Jesus’ life, there is a significant body of data that scholars of almost every religious and philosophical persuasion recognize as being historical. The historicity of each “fact” on the list is attested and supported by a variety of historical and other considerations. This motif began as the central tenet of my PhD dissertation.

2 This theme has continued in virtually all of my other dozens of publications on this subject since that time.

3 Interestingly, my second debate on the resurrection of Jesus with philosophical atheist Antony Flew began with his general acceptance of my list of historical facts as a good starting point.

From the outset of my studies, I argued that there were at least two major prerequisites for an occurrence to be designated as a Minimal Fact. Each event had to be established by more than adequate scholarly evidence, and usually by several critically-ascertained, independent lines of argumentation. Additionally, the vast majority of contemporary scholars in relevant fields had to acknowledge the historicity of the occurrence. Of the two criteria, I have always held that the first is by far the most crucial, especially since this initial requirement is the one that actually establishes the historicity of the event. Besides, the acclamation of scholarly opinion may be mistaken or it could change.

Throughout this research, I have produced two lists of facts that have varied slightly in the numbering from publication to publication. The longer list was usually termed the “Known Historical Facts” and typically consisted of a dozen historical occurrences that more generally met the above criteria, but concerning which I was somewhat more lenient on their application. This would apply especially to the high percentages of scholarly near-unanimous agreement that I would require for the shorter list. From this longer listing, I would extrapolate a briefer line-up of from four to six events, termed the Minimal Facts.

6 This latter list is the stricter one that Licona is addressing and which is the focus of much of this essay.

I explain my use of the longer and shorter versions this way: since I have surveyed this material for decades, I can report that most contemporary critical scholars actually concede far more facts than those included even in the long list, let alone just the few Minimal Facts alone. But the problem is that, as the numbers of events expand, fewer scholars agree on each one. So there could be more give and take on “whose facts” ought to be utilized. Obviously then, longer lists would not fulfill especially the second strict criterion of the Minimal Facts method.

So I decided to be even more selective than the majority of critical scholars by shortening the list in order to get more scholars (and especially the skeptics) on board. This methodological move has the benefit of bypassing the often protracted preliminary discussions of which data are permissible, by beginning with a “lowest common denominator” version of the facts. If I am correct in holding that this basis is still enough to settle the most pressing historical issues, then it is indeed a crucial contribution to the discussions. We will return below to some ramifications here.

Regarding my references to the “vast majority” or “virtually all” scholars who agree, is it possible to identify these phrases in more precise terms? In some contexts, I have identified these expressions more specifically. At least when referencing the most important historical occurrences, I frequently think in terms of a ninety-something percentile head-count. No doubt, this is one of the reasons why the concept has gained some attention.

Click HERE to continue reading

Circularity and Evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection

Hello Dr. Craig,
I am a second year undergrad student at UCLA and have been an avid reader of your work since high school. I cannot express to you how powerful it is the work you are doing for the Kingdom. The example you have set in glorifying the Lord with your mind has been a source of great encouragement for me.
The lack of intellectual rigor that has pervaded the church saddens me deeply. Too often I find that Christians adhere to their belief purely through emotional experience. While they may be justified in this belief by the witness of the Holy Spirit, when tasked with explaining their belief to skeptics or appealing rationally to seekers, they are either unable to defend their beliefs with evidence or caught in the cycle of circular reasoning by using scripture to prove scripture.
I am a part of the Intervarsity leadership team here at UCLA and I hope to introduce and defend your apologetics work through seminars in the near future.
On to the actual question..
1. In your defense of the question "Does God Exist?", one of your standard five arguments from the theist point of view is "The Resurrection of Jesus". In this argument, you explain that the historical Jesus came on the scene with an unprecedented sense of divine authority and that Jesus claimed to be God and carried out a ministry of miracle working. You say that the supreme confirmation of Christ's claim was his resurrection from the dead. If Jesus really did rise from the dead, then it would seem that we have a divine miracle on our hands, and thus evidence for the existence of God. You explain three established, historical facts that you contend are best explained by the resurrection of Jesus and thus provide evidence for the existence of God. If this argument is sound, it would seem that the resurrection of Jesus is evidence for God's existence.
2. In some of your work (and I believe most recently in your Defenders: Doctrine of Christ (Part 24) podcast), you defend the Resurrection Hypothesis, that is, the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead. As part of your argument for this hypothesis, you use probability calculus to show that while the Resurrection Hypothesis based on the background information alone is very improbable, once we are given the specific evidence, the Resurrection Hypothesis becomes much more probable. One aspect of the specific evidence you give is the probability of the existence of God. While it is highly improbable that Jesus rose from the dead naturally, if God exists then it is not at all improbable that God would raise his son from the dead to fulfill his plan for the universe.
So for the first argument stated, you contend that the resurrection of Jesus serves in itself as evidence for God's existence. In your Resurrection Hypothesis, you appeal to the evidence for the existence of God as a part of the specific evidence used to show that the Resurrection Hypothesis is more probable than not.
Are these arguments not then circular reasoning?
Please point out to me if I am wrong in my conclusion here, but if I understand these two arguments correctly and they do indeed use circular reasoning, it would not follow that the Resurrection Hypothesis is invalid, rather it would just show that the resurrection of Jesus could not in itself be evidence for the existence of God.
Again, thank you for everything you are doing for the Kingdom through your work and I want you to know that the impact of your work has significantly influenced me and eventually, I hope, the UCLA campus.
In Christ,
United States