A Skeptic Examines the Evidence
English journalist Frank Morison believed Jesus’ resurrection was mythical and began research for a book proving his case. Morison wanted to know what actually happened that changed Jesus’ followers and started a movement that has made such a profound impact on our world.
He realized there were five possible explanations:
- Jesus didn’t really die on the cross.
- Jesus’ body was stolen.
- The disciples were hallucinating.
- The account is legendary. Or,
- It really happened.
Morison began examining the facts patiently and impartially to see where they would lead him.
1. Was Jesus Dead?
Morison first wanted verification that Jesus was really dead when placed in the tomb. He learned that Jesus’ death was considered factual for nearly 1800 years. Then about 200 years ago, a few skeptics postulated that Jesus didn’t die on the cross, but merely lost consciousness, and was revived by the cool, damp air of the tomb. This became known as the “swoon theory.”
Morison wondered if Jesus could have survived the cross. He researched both Jewish and Roman contemporary history and discovered the following facts supporting Jesus’ death:
- All the accounts affirm he died.
- Pilate verified he died.
- During the lifetime of the eyewitnesses no one disputes his death.
- Secular and contemporary historians, Lucian, Josephus, and Tacitus cite his death as factual.
Morison became convinced that Jesus was truly dead, a fact almost universally accepted as true by trusted scholars and historians.
Morison concludes, “That Jesus Christ died on the cross, in the full physical sense of the term…seems to me to be one of the certainties of history.”
But maybe Jesus’ body was stolen?