I Believe in the Death of Julius Caesar and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Blizzard

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Since it's the 'Ides of March' I thought I would spare the political forum from this and more or less challenge us to admit that there is much we believe in that is unverifiable. Do we have faith that it happened? If you can cross this bridge there are many others you may venture to go on.



Mark Twain famously described faith as “believing what you know ain’t so.” He probably observed a good many Christians doing just that. But do thoughtful Christians believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus despite the evidence, or because of it? Today’s date is an occasion for us to consider some of the evidence for Christianity’s central claim.

On March 15, 44 BC—the Ides of March—dozens of Roman senators assassinated Julius Caesar. Nearly 77 years later, on or about Sunday, April 5, AD 33, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.



We can have justified belief in both events by following four practices historians use to discover the truth about the past.

1. Distinguish Two Methods​

The scientific method records observations, forms hypotheses, makes predictions, conducts repeatable experiments, and analyzes results. But countless unrepeatable facts can’t be discovered with the scientific method.

There’s no scientific evidence that Caesar crossed the Rubicon in January of 49 BC, or that George Washington crossed the Delaware on December 25, 1776, or that Allied forces crossed the English Channel on June 6, 1944. Reasonable people believe these events to be true because they’re verified by the historical method.

Historian Louis Gottschalk defined the historical method as “critically examining and analyzing the records and survivals of the past.” The “conscientious historian” lays aside personal bias, studies documents, examines relics, gathers facts, and follows the evidence. Through abductive reasoning, historians produce an explanation that best accommodates the facts.

At the heart of Christianity is the historical claim of the resurrection of Jesus. Rejecting this claim by appealing to science ignores the limits of science. Paul conceded that “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). Unlike other religions, the central claims of Christianity are both verifiable and falsifiable through the historical method.

2. Examine Two Intervals​

First, examine the interval between the event and the original manuscript that reports it. The shorter this interval, the closer the author is to the actual events. How do we know Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC? We weren’t there to see it, yet we believe it for the same reason we believe most things that happened in the past: eyewitnesses wrote their testimonies or relayed them to someone who wrote them.

Many believe in Caesar’s assassination simply because in high school they read Shakespeare’s famous play Julius Caesar, first performed in 1599. Shakespeare’s source was Thomas North’s 1579 English translation of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives. But Plutarch wrote Lives in the early second century AD, about 160 years after the assassination, so he couldn’t have been an eyewitness. Who was Plutarch’s source?

Plutarch used Caesar’s Gallic Wars as a source for some of his material, and Caesar was certainly an eyewitness to his own assassination, but it’s doubtful he wrote much about it. Cicero was probably an eyewitness, but he died a year later without recording details of that fateful day. Plutarch had no access to living eyewitnesses of the event, but as a prominent member of Roman society, he probably had access to documents and oral traditions that are lost to us. So the interval between Caesar’s assassination and Plutarch’s original document is about 160 years.

In comparison, the New Testament was written by eyewitnesses to the resurrection and their close associates. While Plutarch wrote 160 years after Caesar’s death, the New Testament authors wrote within the lifetimes of eyewitnesses who could confirm or deny two central claims: the empty tomb and the appearances of the risen Christ.

The New Testament authors wrote within the lifetimes of eyewitnesses who could confirm or deny two central claims: the empty tomb and the appearances of the risen Christ.
As early as AD 50, Paul goes on record that Jesus was raised from the dead (Gal. 1:1). If Jesus died in AD 33, the interval between the resurrection and the earliest original manuscript reporting it is less than 20 years. And yet we lack original manuscripts from either Plutarch or any New Testament writer, which is the norm in ancient history. That’s why the second interval is crucial.

The second interval is between the original manuscript and currently existing manuscripts. The historical method uses textual criticism to examine existing manuscripts (handwritten copies) to reconstruct the original. The shorter this interval, the better.

The interval between Plutarch’s original manuscript and our earliest existing manuscript of Lives: more than 800 years. The interval between John’s original manuscript and a fragment of his Gospel: 50 years.

New Testament scholar Darrell Bock concludes, “The Gospels compare favorably to the classics in terms of what the sources say about Jesus and Caesar. If such sourcing works for the classics and the study of Caesar, it should work for Jesus as well.”

3. Compare Two Numbers​

Generally, like credible witnesses in court, the more manuscripts the better. Even sincere witnesses omit details they didn’t see or add details they thought they saw. When all testimonies are considered as a whole, there’ll be minor variants in peripheral details, but the gist of what occurred will be clear.

By comparing the number of New Testament manuscripts to other ancient documents, the superiority of the New Testament’s historical evidence is clear. We have fewer than 10 manuscripts of various portions of Plutarch’s Lives, compared to 23,986 manuscripts of various portions of the New Testament. That’s astonishing.

New Testament scholar Dan Wallace estimates that a stack of all existing New Testament manuscripts would be taller than four Empire State Buildings. In contrast, a stack of existing manuscripts of all classical Greek works would be four feet tall.

4. Weigh Two Motives​

Even if we have a reliable representation of an original document, how do we know whether the author was reporting truth or fabricating lies?

There are normally two motives for lying: to gain pleasure or avoid pain. By Plutarch’s day, the account of Caesar’s murder was widely accepted. Plutarch wrote nothing controversial or politically dangerous that would harm his reputation or social standing. His writing only enhanced his status among the social elite. He had little to lose and much to gain by putting his historical claims in writing, gaining the ancient equivalent of a book deal.

Either the earliest disciples of Jesus were telling the truth or they weren’t. But why would they lie? Their audacious claims were controversial and politically dangerous. For their eyewitness testimony (Acts 1:22), they lost status, wealth, freedom, and, for some, their lives.

Historians consider such suffering to be an argument for the credibility of a document. As Gottschalk notes, “When a statement is prejudicial to a witness, his dear ones, or his causes, it is likely to be truthful.” By claiming to see the risen Christ, the disciples caused great harm to themselves, their families, and their closest friends. The best explanation for their consistent and durable testimony is that they were telling the truth.

Of course, many religious zealots have been willing to die for their faith. But while many will die for what they think is true, no one dies for what he knows is false. They didn’t testify to the resurrection because it was profitable. They testified to the resurrection because it was true.

They didn’t testify to the resurrection because it was profitable. They testified to the resurrection because it was true.
The Ides of March may be commemorated today by a few history nerds, but not even banks will take the day off. Yet this Easter, billions on every inhabited continent will celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Caesar gave the world the Julian calendar, but something happened in the first century that caused us to number our years by the birth of a carpenter’s son. It wasn’t his teaching, for rabbis come and go. It wasn’t his death, for countless enemies of Rome were crucified.

On this date 2,068 years ago, Julius Caesar died in Rome and the world accepts it as a historical footnote. Just 77 years later, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead in Jerusalem, and the world has never been the same.
 

Top 5 Months That Feel Like The Ides of March:
5. October (It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown has some spooky shit going down)
4. July (always the best month to stop by Orange Julius for a refreshing treat)
3. March (minor upset here, but that’s what the Madness is all about, Bay-bee!)
2. April (come she will…or won’t she?)
1. February (the shortest month that feels like the longest with a random day added every four years? That’s some bleakness that will turn you into Jack Torrance)
 

Since it's the 'Ides of March' I thought I would spare the political forum from this and more or less challenge us to admit that there is much we believe in that is unverifiable. Do we have faith that it happened? If you can cross this bridge there are many others you may venture to go on.



Mark Twain famously described faith as “believing what you know ain’t so.” He probably observed a good many Christians doing just that. But do thoughtful Christians believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus despite the evidence, or because of it? Today’s date is an occasion for us to consider some of the evidence for Christianity’s central claim.

On March 15, 44 BC—the Ides of March—dozens of Roman senators assassinated Julius Caesar. Nearly 77 years later, on or about Sunday, April 5, AD 33, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.



We can have justified belief in both events by following four practices historians use to discover the truth about the past.

1. Distinguish Two Methods​

The scientific method records observations, forms hypotheses, makes predictions, conducts repeatable experiments, and analyzes results. But countless unrepeatable facts can’t be discovered with the scientific method.

There’s no scientific evidence that Caesar crossed the Rubicon in January of 49 BC, or that George Washington crossed the Delaware on December 25, 1776, or that Allied forces crossed the English Channel on June 6, 1944. Reasonable people believe these events to be true because they’re verified by the historical method.

Historian Louis Gottschalk defined the historical method as “critically examining and analyzing the records and survivals of the past.” The “conscientious historian” lays aside personal bias, studies documents, examines relics, gathers facts, and follows the evidence. Through abductive reasoning, historians produce an explanation that best accommodates the facts.

At the heart of Christianity is the historical claim of the resurrection of Jesus. Rejecting this claim by appealing to science ignores the limits of science. Paul conceded that “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). Unlike other religions, the central claims of Christianity are both verifiable and falsifiable through the historical method.

2. Examine Two Intervals​

First, examine the interval between the event and the original manuscript that reports it. The shorter this interval, the closer the author is to the actual events. How do we know Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC? We weren’t there to see it, yet we believe it for the same reason we believe most things that happened in the past: eyewitnesses wrote their testimonies or relayed them to someone who wrote them.

Many believe in Caesar’s assassination simply because in high school they read Shakespeare’s famous play Julius Caesar, first performed in 1599. Shakespeare’s source was Thomas North’s 1579 English translation of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives. But Plutarch wrote Lives in the early second century AD, about 160 years after the assassination, so he couldn’t have been an eyewitness. Who was Plutarch’s source?

Plutarch used Caesar’s Gallic Wars as a source for some of his material, and Caesar was certainly an eyewitness to his own assassination, but it’s doubtful he wrote much about it. Cicero was probably an eyewitness, but he died a year later without recording details of that fateful day. Plutarch had no access to living eyewitnesses of the event, but as a prominent member of Roman society, he probably had access to documents and oral traditions that are lost to us. So the interval between Caesar’s assassination and Plutarch’s original document is about 160 years.

In comparison, the New Testament was written by eyewitnesses to the resurrection and their close associates. While Plutarch wrote 160 years after Caesar’s death, the New Testament authors wrote within the lifetimes of eyewitnesses who could confirm or deny two central claims: the empty tomb and the appearances of the risen Christ.


As early as AD 50, Paul goes on record that Jesus was raised from the dead (Gal. 1:1). If Jesus died in AD 33, the interval between the resurrection and the earliest original manuscript reporting it is less than 20 years. And yet we lack original manuscripts from either Plutarch or any New Testament writer, which is the norm in ancient history. That’s why the second interval is crucial.

The second interval is between the original manuscript and currently existing manuscripts. The historical method uses textual criticism to examine existing manuscripts (handwritten copies) to reconstruct the original. The shorter this interval, the better.

The interval between Plutarch’s original manuscript and our earliest existing manuscript of Lives: more than 800 years. The interval between John’s original manuscript and a fragment of his Gospel: 50 years.

New Testament scholar Darrell Bock concludes, “The Gospels compare favorably to the classics in terms of what the sources say about Jesus and Caesar. If such sourcing works for the classics and the study of Caesar, it should work for Jesus as well.”

3. Compare Two Numbers​

Generally, like credible witnesses in court, the more manuscripts the better. Even sincere witnesses omit details they didn’t see or add details they thought they saw. When all testimonies are considered as a whole, there’ll be minor variants in peripheral details, but the gist of what occurred will be clear.

By comparing the number of New Testament manuscripts to other ancient documents, the superiority of the New Testament’s historical evidence is clear. We have fewer than 10 manuscripts of various portions of Plutarch’s Lives, compared to 23,986 manuscripts of various portions of the New Testament. That’s astonishing.

New Testament scholar Dan Wallace estimates that a stack of all existing New Testament manuscripts would be taller than four Empire State Buildings. In contrast, a stack of existing manuscripts of all classical Greek works would be four feet tall.

4. Weigh Two Motives​

Even if we have a reliable representation of an original document, how do we know whether the author was reporting truth or fabricating lies?

There are normally two motives for lying: to gain pleasure or avoid pain. By Plutarch’s day, the account of Caesar’s murder was widely accepted. Plutarch wrote nothing controversial or politically dangerous that would harm his reputation or social standing. His writing only enhanced his status among the social elite. He had little to lose and much to gain by putting his historical claims in writing, gaining the ancient equivalent of a book deal.

Either the earliest disciples of Jesus were telling the truth or they weren’t. But why would they lie? Their audacious claims were controversial and politically dangerous. For their eyewitness testimony (Acts 1:22), they lost status, wealth, freedom, and, for some, their lives.

Historians consider such suffering to be an argument for the credibility of a document. As Gottschalk notes, “When a statement is prejudicial to a witness, his dear ones, or his causes, it is likely to be truthful.” By claiming to see the risen Christ, the disciples caused great harm to themselves, their families, and their closest friends. The best explanation for their consistent and durable testimony is that they were telling the truth.

Of course, many religious zealots have been willing to die for their faith. But while many will die for what they think is true, no one dies for what he knows is false. They didn’t testify to the resurrection because it was profitable. They testified to the resurrection because it was true.


The Ides of March may be commemorated today by a few history nerds, but not even banks will take the day off. Yet this Easter, billions on every inhabited continent will celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Caesar gave the world the Julian calendar, but something happened in the first century that caused us to number our years by the birth of a carpenter’s son. It wasn’t his teaching, for rabbis come and go. It wasn’t his death, for countless enemies of Rome were crucified.

On this date 2,068 years ago, Julius Caesar died in Rome and the world accepts it as a historical footnote. Just 77 years later, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead in Jerusalem, and the world has never been the same.
But do you believe in love after love?
 

Top 5 Rebuttals to the OP:
1. I think historians also consider plausibility. It's highly plausible the senators murdered Caesar. It's highly implausible Jesus rose from the dead.
2. No one really cares about the Ides of March anymore, beyond a cautionary tale and/or superstition. No one is using Caesar's death to proselytize, unlike the resurrection of Jesus.
3. I don't think you're using abductive reasoning quite right here. The most logical explanation to someone claiming to see their dead friend isn't resurrection.
4. To claim Paul was an eyewitness to the resurrection is a bit of a stretch IMO.
5. There are lots of resurrection stories throughout history. Now do those. :)
 










Top 5 Rebuttals to the OP:
1. I think historians also consider plausibility. It's highly plausible the senators murdered Caesar. It's highly implausible Jesus rose from the dead.
2. No one really cares about the Ides of March anymore, beyond a cautionary tale and/or superstition. No one is using Caesar's death to proselytize, unlike the resurrection of Jesus.
3. I don't think you're using abductive reasoning quite right here. The most logical explanation to someone claiming to see their dead friend isn't resurrection.
4. To claim Paul was an eyewitness to the resurrection is a bit of a stretch IMO.
5. There are lots of resurrection stories throughout history. Now do those. :)

You'll have to explain to me who you think Jesus was Nokomis. It's ok to not believe what the Bible says as it directly refutes what you're saying here. Paul? Of course he did.

It's highly implausible Jesus rose from the dead.

I don't see that at all obviously. Chiefly, if He didn't we can throw the Bible out the window. If we believe in the other miracles I see no logical reason to not believe in the resurrection. I don't even think that it's a situation of one of these things is not like the other. Either the miraculous happened or it didn't.

Legend, lunatic, or liar. Make your choice I suppose.
 

You'll have to explain to me who you think Jesus was Nokomis. It's ok to not believe what the Bible says as it directly refutes what you're saying here. Paul? Of course he did.



I don't see that at all obviously. Chiefly, if He didn't we can throw the Bible out the window. If we believe in the other miracles I see no logical reason to not believe in the resurrection. I don't even think that it's a situation of one of these things is not like the other. Either the miraculous happened or it didn't.

Legend, lunatic, or liar. Make your choice I suppose.
Paul was an eyewitness to the resurrection? I thought Jesus came to Paul several years after his death on the road to Damascus as a blinding light and voice. Did Paul ever see a physical Jesus, (maybe I'm not recalling the passage)? I always thought of it more as a Force Ghost.

There's a difference between religious plausibility and scientific/historic plausibility. And that's kind of the point. You can believe without hard evidence.

"Legend, lunatic, or liar." Are you talking about Paul here? Maybe all three?
 

Paul was an eyewitness to the resurrection? I thought Jesus came to Paul several years after his death on the road to Damascus as a blinding light and voice. Did Paul ever see a physical Jesus, (maybe I'm not recalling the passage)? I always thought of it more as a Force Ghost.

There's a difference between religious plausibility and scientific/historic plausibility. And that's kind of the point. You can believe without hard evidence.

"Legend, lunatic, or liar." Are you talking about Paul here? Maybe all three?

Did the Apostles see the resurrected Christ? Of course. In different forms from one that appeared and vanished like a mist to one that they could touch. The Scriptures don't weigh the validity of the appearances; they mark them as genuine. In Acts 26 Paul says that Jesus said "I have appeared to you." What does that mean? I have appeared to you.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts 26&version=NKJV

I believe the author of the article I presented took the plausibility angle into account. What am I missing?

To be a stickler there were no eye witnesses to the resurrection. None. The women came to the tomb and it was empty but to doubt the resurrection is to doubt Jesus and the reason He came to us which is why I again ask you: Who is Jesus to you?

The trilemma of C.S. Lewis, and others of course, postulates that Jesus was a legend, lunatic, or liar.

 



Did the Apostles see the resurrected Christ? Of course. In different forms from one that appeared and vanished like a mist to one that they could touch. The Scriptures don't weigh the validity of the appearances; they mark them as genuine. In Acts 26 Paul says that Jesus said "I have appeared to you." What does that mean? I have appeared to you.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts 26&version=NKJV

I believe the author of the article I presented took the plausibility angle into account. What am I missing?

To be a stickler there were no eye witnesses to the resurrection. None. The women came to the tomb and it was empty but to doubt the resurrection is to doubt Jesus and the reason He came to us which is why I again ask you: Who is Jesus to you?

The trilemma of C.S. Lewis, and others of course, postulates that Jesus was a legend, lunatic, or liar.

I have appeared to you?

Jesus presents Himself to Paul as he was His chosen apostle, hand picked, real and also proof of His resurrection. This is not a time to send a courier or other form of messenger. Paul was not to be an apostle chosen by man but by God Himself thus he was to become a true minister of the Gospel which was made by Christ. Galatians 1:1 Given the greatness of this event, Paul was not to doubt His plausibility.

Who is Jesus to me? The Truth.

To question the accuracy and authenticity of the Bible is to question all of ancient history.
 

I have appeared to you?

Jesus presents Himself to Paul as he was His chosen apostle, hand picked, real and also proof of His resurrection. This is not a time to send a courier or other form of messenger. Paul was not to be an apostle chosen by man but by God Himself thus he was to become a true minister of the Gospel which was made by Christ. Galatians 1:1 Given the greatness of this event, Paul was not to doubt His plausibility.

Who is Jesus to me? The Truth.

To question the accuracy and authenticity of the Bible is to question all of ancient history.

Thank you for weighing in. Yes, Jesus is the Truth. I was asking who Nokomis says that Jesus is as Nokomis clearly doubts the resurrection which I believe puts into doubt everything Jesus taught of Himself. Nokomis isn't alone of course but I think it's important to see where he is coming from.
 

Thank you for weighing in. Yes, Jesus is the Truth. I was asking who Nokomis says that Jesus is as Nokomis clearly doubts the resurrection which I believe puts into doubt everything Jesus taught of Himself. Nokomis isn't alone of course but I think it's important to see where he is coming from.
Thanks Blizzard. This is what I believe.

Science is always trying to catch up with the Bible. It will never happen.

People are funny. The majority accept the writings of Homer, Plato, Herodotus, Sophocles, etc. inspite that very few of their manuscripts have been vetted compared to the Bible. The Bible is by far the most vetted document in the world. Clearly the Bible stands alone as the best preserved literary works of all time. Yet people question it's validity.

I believe that the Bible was not meant to be fully understood by mere mortals, those of the world. Gods Word is made clear and able to be understood by those who accept the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 says.... Remember, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God's Spirit dwells in you.

He will open our minds to His Truth and understanding of His Word if we rely on Him.

In regard to Mark Twain, he was an atheist. I don't subscribe to his beliefs nor his definition of faith “as believing what you know ain’t so." I know in my heart that the Bible is the Truth and is so!! :)
 
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Did the Apostles see the resurrected Christ? Of course. In different forms from one that appeared and vanished like a mist to one that they could touch. The Scriptures don't weigh the validity of the appearances; they mark them as genuine. In Acts 26 Paul says that Jesus said "I have appeared to you." What does that mean? I have appeared to you.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts 26&version=NKJV

I believe the author of the article I presented took the plausibility angle into account. What am I missing?

To be a stickler there were no eye witnesses to the resurrection. None. The women came to the tomb and it was empty but to doubt the resurrection is to doubt Jesus and the reason He came to us which is why I again ask you: Who is Jesus to you?

The trilemma of C.S. Lewis, and others of course, postulates that Jesus was a legend, lunatic, or liar.

Christianity spread like wildfire throughout the region shortly after they saw him die on a cross. How does this happen when there are witnesses everywhere who saw him die? Not only that, the Romans wanted this squashed immediately.

I saw my dead grandpa many, many years ago in a coffin. The only way anyone was going to run around years later saying he was alive is if they actually saw him alive. Anyone here know of anyone who died a while back have thousands of people say he/she/they/them/we are alive.

NOPE!
 
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Thank you for weighing in. Yes, Jesus is the Truth. I was asking who Nokomis says that Jesus is as Nokomis clearly doubts the resurrection which I believe puts into doubt everything Jesus taught of Himself. Nokomis isn't alone of course but I think it's important to see where he is coming from.
Heh... I never said I doubted the resurrection. I questioned the desire to ascribe historical proofs to it. No one doubts the historical Jesus, but the resurrection is a leap of faith. Doesn't make it any less powerful.
 

Heh... I never said I doubted the resurrection. I questioned the desire to ascribe historical proofs to it. No one doubts the historical Jesus, but the resurrection is a leap of faith. Doesn't make it any less powerful.
Most of the world doubts the historical Jesus.
 




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