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Jesus Raises a Close Friend

December 13th, 2009 1 comment

The Resurrection of Lazarus

John records a third resurrection which was performed by Jesus, shortly before the crucifixion. This is the story of Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus’ from Bethany. Unlike the widow’s son at Nain or Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days prior to Jesus’ arrival. Commanding the removal of a stone which had blocked the entrance of Lazarus’ tomb for over half of the Jewish week of mourning was the most inexplicable of actions. The only possible justification for such a request would have been the resurrection of the occupant. This account demonstrates more clearly than any other the foreknowledge; the prophetic insight that Christ held concerning these miracles.

Vincent Van Gogh: La Résurrection de Lazare (d’après Rembrandt)

Vincent Van Gogh: La Résurrection de Lazare (d’après Rembrandt)

Before we examine the passage from John’s Gospel, a little background is in order. Some have questioned why John alone would chronicle this most remarkable of pre-crucifixion revivifications. One might reason that such an amazing incident should have been a keynote feature in the Synoptic Gospels as well. The answer to this seeming paradox, once again, depends on when each account was written. All four Gospel accounts record that Jesus’ life had been threatened by the Jewish authorities prior to the events at Lazarus’ tomb[1]. In Chapter IV we examined the reasons for this conflict between Christ and the Jewish rulers. John’s account preserves considerable detail of how this underlying premise affected the decisions and actions of the participants. Read more…

The Resurrection of the Daughter of Jairus (II of II)

July 30th, 2009 No comments

The Resurrection of the Daughter of Jairus

(An Excerpt from Chapter VI of How to Live Forever)

Part II

(iii.) The Eyewitness accounts:

With the availability of three eyewitness reports, we have the opportunity to compare the compatibility of the testimony for ourselves. From this point onward it will be much easier to evaluate the testimony of the resurrection accounts, for we have already proven the identity of each author. We have so proven by demonstrating the early acceptance of the four Canonical Gospels through the use of quotations by the earliest church fathers, men who were themselves trained and appointed by Jesus’ disciples. We have shown that these men, and their audience, accepted quotations from the Gospels as a final authority – the words of their Lord as preserved through His messengers. And this acceptance apparently pervaded the Christian world, throughout Rome, Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece at the very least.

The Raising of Jairus' Daughter - Schnorr von Carolsfield

The Raising of Jairus' Daughter - Schnorr von Carolsfield

In addition, we have recovered the testimony of Jesus’ Apostles regarding the origins of the four Gospels as preserved through the succession of elders in Rome, Alexandria, and Asia Minor. We have shown that other such successions probably existed in North Africa, Greece, Syria, and Palestine. And we have found no evidence of any conflicting testimony of apostolic origin concerning the Gospels. Rather, we have observed the confident perception of Justin, Aristides, Irenaeus, Lucian, and others that all Christians were using the same Gospels.

So we are now armed with the knowledge that Matthew, Jesus’ disciple and eyewitness wrote the Gospel of Matthew with an Hebrew audience in mind. Mark was not an eyewitness, but rather the interpreter[a] for Jesus’ Apostle Peter who was. Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark at the request of Peter’s followers, so that they might have a record of the testimony of Peter as regards the risen Christ.  Luke was not an eyewitness, but states in his introduction that his record was written to provide a more complete account of events surrounding Jesus’ life than previous accounts, presumably Matthew’s and Mark’s. Luke was liaison between the church elders at Jerusalem and the Apostle Paul during the latter’s two year imprisonment at Caesarea, (see discussion pp 78-83). During that time, Luke would have had ample opportunity to interview the surviving Apostles as well as Jesus’ family. To make good his claim to have written a more complete account, Luke must have had access to eyewitness testimony of comparable status to the Apostles Matthew and Peter, the witnesses for the accounts Luke intended to complete. Read more…

The Resurrection of the Daughter of Jairus (Part I)

July 25th, 2009 No comments

The Resurrection of the Daughter of Jairus

(An Excerpt from Chapter VI of How to Live Forever)

Part I

…Having established the genuineness of the four canonical Gospel Accounts; having researched their origins and pedigrees; having looked at every witness, Greek, Roman, Jew, and Christian whose testimony could bear on the subject; and realizing that there exists no contradictory testimony; we may proceed to examine the resurrection accounts of the eyewitnesses. We are not denying the existence of other Gnostic and Apocryphal literature; we are merely recognizing that none of this corpus can produce a respectable pedigree. The literature which cannot be confirmed to be from actual witnesses cannot contribute to this discussion of resurrection as a scientific fact. We will leave the investigation of unsubstantiated legend to others. In our search for evidence of resurrection, we have discovered every source of legitimate testimony concerning Christ’s ministry on earth, and we will now use the confirmed testimony of his witnesses to continue the investigation.

The Raising Of Jairus' Daughter - Ilya Yefimovich Repin

The Raising Of Jairus' Daughter - Ilya Yefimovich Repin

6. The Resurrection of the Daughter of Jairus

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke each preserve a resurrection account involving the daughter of one Jairus, ruler of a local Synagogue. This is the first time that we have encountered testimony from multiple eyewitnesses of the same resurrection event. Before we delve into in-depth analysis of these observations, it is fitting that we should address a modern bias which frequently masquerades as “science”.

(i.) The Synoptic Problem:

With three records based upon eyewitness testimony of the same events, there are likely to be many incidences of overlapping material. These similarities may extend to distinctive nuances in the deeds performed, or striking turns of phrase by the participants. Also, based upon the unanimous testimony of the earliest students of the Gospels, we know that it was quite conceivable that Mark could have possessed a Hebrew version of Matthew when he composed the Gospel of Mark. Luke claimed in his introduction to know of a plurality of previous Gospel accounts, and there is no evidence for any belief that these were other than Matthew and Mark. And whoever translated Matthew into Greek could be expected to have had access to all three records of apostolic testimony. So similarities between the various accounts are to be expected. Read more…

Resurection at Nain (III of III)

June 21st, 2009 No comments

A Resurrection at Nain

(An Excerpt from Chapter V)

Part III of III

…So our argument really reduces to the question of whether Luke’s witnesses were telling the truth, or premise (2):

(2)  Nether Luke, nor his eyewitnesses, are embellishing the account, (i.e. lying,) for some unknown motive.

Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, discredited as a common criminal. But his

Alessandro Magnasco - 'The Raising of Lazarus'

Alessandro Magnasco - 'The Raising of Lazarus'

disciples continued his message. Within months of his crucifixion, Jesus’ Apostles were threatened and beaten by the prevailing Jewish Authorities, and yet they would not cease preaching in public:

15So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. 17But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

18Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

-Acts 4:15-18

27Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

-Acts 5:27-28

Although the ruling Jews made it clear that adherence to this outlawed creed was forbidden, and that the persecution would end when this threat to the existing order was renounced, Jesus’ followers committed ever more to their cause. These men have left us their own explanations for their actions: Read more…

Resurrection at Nain (II of III)

June 14th, 2009 No comments

A Resurrection at Nain

(An Excerpt from Chapter V)

Part II of III

With this understanding, let us proceed to premise (1):

(1)  a. Luke either personally witnessed the event or;

b. Luke personally and exhaustively interviewed all available eyewitnesses and      accurately reported a compilation of their testimony, or;

c. both a. and b. above.

Codex Alexandrinus - End of Luke's Gospel

Codex Alexandrinus - Last Page of Luke's Gospel

We have established Luke and Paul as trustworthy witnesses, but we are pretty certain that neither was present at Nain. So who were Luke’s witnesses for this particular resurrection? Luke, who was sincere, respected as an authority by his peers, and accurate as to factual details, assures us that he interviewed sufficient eyewitnesses to establish his narrative as completely dependable:

1 SINCE [as is well known] many have undertaken to put in order and draw up a [thorough] narrative of the surely established deeds which have been accomplished and fulfilled in and among us,

2 Exactly as they were handed down to us by those who from the [official] beginning [of Jesus' ministry] were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word [that is, of the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God],

3 It seemed good and desirable to me, [and so I have determined] also after having searched out diligently and followed all things closely and traced accurately the course from the highest to the minutest detail from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,

4 [My purpose is] that you may know the full truth and understand with certainty and security against error the accounts (histories) and doctrines of the faith of which you have been informed and in which you have been orally instructed.

-Luke 1:1-4 (Amplified) Read more…

Resurrection at Nain (Part I)

June 7th, 2009 No comments

A Resurrection at Nain

(An Excerpt from Chapter V)

Part I of III

This excerpt contains the first full treatment of a resurrection account from the book, How to Live Forever. The authorship and reliability of source texts have been examined and verified in the first four chapters. For purposes of this essay, assume that Paul’s companion, Luke, authored the third gospel in the late 50’s AD based upon interviews with eyewitnesses indigenous to Judea; and particularly those residing in Jerusalem, the center of the earliest church. The occasion for this opportunity was provided by Luke’s role as intermediary between the elders of the Jerusalem church and the apostle Paul, during the latter’s two year incarceration at Caesarea Maritima. This essay will be provided in three parts, each demonstrating a necessary facet of authenticity. Beginning with part I:

Jean Jouvenet: The Resurrection of Lazarus

Jean Jouvenet: The Resurrection of Lazarus

And to any thoughtful person would anything appear more incredible, than, if we were not in the body, and some one were to say that it was possible that from a small drop of human seed bones and sinews and flesh be formed into a shape such as we see? For let this now be said hypothetically: if you yourselves were not such as you now are, and born of such parents [and causes], and one were to show you human seed and a picture of a man, and were to say with confidence that from such a substance such a being could be produced, would you believe before you saw the actual production? No one will dare to deny [that such a statement would surpass belief]. In the same way, then, you are now incredulous because you have never seen a dead man rise again. But as at first you would not have believed it possible that such persons could be produced from the small drop, and yet now you see them thus produced, so also judge ye that it is not impossible that the bodies of men, after they have been dissolved, and like seeds resolved into earth, should in God’s appointed time rise again and put on incorruption. -Justin’s First Apology to the Romans, xix

Read more…