Gary R. Habermas über die erstaunliche Dichte an Argumenten aus dem Neuen Testament, welche die Auferstehung von Jesus bezeugen (in: S. N. Gundry & S. B. Cowan (Hrsg.), Five views on apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan 2000. S. 108-111).
1. The most widely discussed New Testament text on the subject of the historical Jesus is 1 Corinthians 15:3–8. (a) Virtually all scholars, whatever their theological persuasion, agree that Paul here records a primitive Jewish tradition(s) that is not his; he received it from another source. There are many literary indications of this, such as: (i) the use of “delivered” and “received,” which are not only technical terms for passing along tradition, but are Paul’s direct comment that this is not his material. Other indications include (ii) the Jewish parallelism and stylized accounts, along with (iii) the proper names Cephas and James. Further, (iv) the triple “and that” (hoti) clauses, which are typical of Hebrew narration, (v) the two references to Scripture being fulfilled, as well as (vi) the possibility of an Aramaic original also point in this direction. Finally, (vii) the terminology, diction, and structure are all non-Pauline.
(b) This creedal testimony is exceptionally early. Not only is it older than 1 Corinthians, but it very likely predates even Paul’s conversion. The predominant view is that Paul probably received the material from Peter and James, the brother of Jesus, when he visited Jerusalem, around a.d. 33–38 (Gal. 1:18–20). Of course, those who gave it to Paul had it before he did. (c) As a minimum, Paul received the data from someone he, an apostle, deemed to be a trustworthy source.
2. Not to miss another significant factor, Paul personally witnessed an appearance of the risen Jesus. (a) The apostle provides his own testimony in more than one place (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8; cf. Gal. 1:16). He did not have to rely on the word of others, because the risen Jesus had also appeared to him. (b) Three times in the book of Acts (9:1–9; 22:1–11; 26:9–19) we find non-Pauline accounts of this occurrence.
3. That Paul was accurate in his report of Jesus’ appearances to others is provided on more than one front. (a) Paul actually sought out the apostolic leaders for the purpose of checking out the nature of the gospel (including the resurrection, 1 Cor. 15:1–4) that he preached (Gal. 2:1–10). The apostles Peter, John, and James the brother of Jesus specifically approved Paul’s proclamation (vv. 6–10). (b) Some substantiation of this last claim is also provided in Acts 15:1–31, even though it is debated whether this is the same occasion that Paul describes in Galatians 2 or another similar conference. Either way, Paul’s message of the gospel was confirmed by other apostles according to more than one source.
4. Further indications confirm the resurrection reports made by the other apostles too. (a) Paul testifies that the other apostles were preaching the same message that he was preaching in regard to Jesus’ appearances (1 Cor. 15:11, 14–15). (b) The pre-Pauline creed reports the crucially important information that Jesus appeared to groups that included apostles, plus over five hundred persons at one time. Paul’s statement that most of these last witnesses were still alive (1 Cor. 15:6) implies that he may have known some of them. (c) As we have already seen, Paul knew personally some of the individuals in the list. In each of these ways, Paul is tied to the mainline apostolic reports of Jesus’ appearances. (d) The Gospels also describe these appearances to the Twelve and to others (Matt. 28; Luke 24; John 20–21; cf. Mark 16:6–7). Any confirmation of these separate narratives would argue for this same point from another non-Pauline perspective.
5. Jesus’ brother James was an ardent unbeliever during Jesus’ public ministry. This family skeptic also witnessed the risen Jesus (1 Cor. 15:7). Critics need to explain this special appearance too.
6. An additional pointer concerning the apostolic witness to the postmortem appearances of Jesus comes from a number of creedal statements in the book of Acts. Many scholars think that these speeches reflect some of the earliest Christian preaching in that they are brief proclamations that are theologically unadorned. The resurrection is at the center of each of these portions. This would certainly give us one of our best insights into the apostolic message after Pentecost.
7. That Jesus’ tomb was empty does not by itself prove a resurrected body, but it would strengthen the case in that direction. For one thing, it makes naturalistic theories much more difficult to formulate, whether for Jesus’ appearances or for the vacant tomb itself. Here are a few of the many evidences that the tomb was unoccupied that first Easter morning: (a) The earliest report in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4 strongly implies an empty tomb. As part of the triple hoti clause, and especially in a Jewish context, the progression from Jesus’ death, to his burial, to his resurrection indicates that something happened to his body. (b) The early creedal proclamation in Acts 13:29–30, 36–37 also declares that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was later empty.
(c) Not only did the Jewish leaders not disprove the witness concerning the empty tomb, but their polemic even admitted it (Matt. 28:11–15). One well-known principle of historical research generally recognizes what one’s enemies admit. That the Jewish leadership could not even eliminate this physical component of the early proclamation is itself an indictment. (d) That the Gospels tell us the women were the earliest witnesses to the open sepulcher (Matt. 28:1–10; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–10; John 20:1–2) is another reason to believe the authenticity of the report. Since the testimony of women was not allowed in a law court, why would they be cited as witnesses unless that is what happened? (e) The city of Jerusalem is the last place the disciples should have preached the gospel message if Jesus’ grave was still occupied. Producing the body would have quieted the message.
8. The transformation of the witnesses, even to the point of being willing to die for their faith, is an additional indicator of the strength of their convictions that they had seen their risen Lord. It is true that people are often transformed for false causes that they also believe in, but there is a qualitative difference here. Both the disciples and the others who are willing to die share a sincere belief. But very much unlike the others, the disciples were willing to suffer not just for their belief concerning who Jesus was, but precisely because they had seen him after his death. In brief, their transformation was not simply based on beliefs about Jesus, like so many others, but on the knowledge that they had seen him alive after his crucifixion.
9. That the resurrection of Jesus was the central component of early Christian belief is also a helpful indicator of its truth. The resurrection being the pivotal doctrine led to increased amounts of attention, with investigations by the earliest witnesses increasing their faith rather than revealing any obstacles. Paul knew that there was no Christian faith apart from the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:14, 17), so he visited the apostles Peter and James in Jerusalem to discuss the nature of the gospel proclamation (Gal. 1:18–20). So important was this theme that he returned fourteen years later to repeat a similar procedure before more church leaders (Gal. 2:1–10). Luke explains that the resurrection was the chief proclamation in the early church, leading to the disciples’ persecution (Acts 4:1–3, 33). Peter tells us that it secures heaven for believers, allowing them to rejoice during suffering (1 Peter 1:3–5).