Evaluating the Resurrection

According to the "apostle" Paul, the faith of a Hebrew-Christian must stand or fall on a single alleged fact: the resurrection of Jesus. In Paul's own words, "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless" (1 Cor. 15:17). Are the accounts of Jesus' resurrection in the Christian bible believable -- or have you, like Esau, traded your holy birthright for a bowl of worthless soup?

Following is a short Biblical study to assist you in evaluating this most central of Christian claims. We pray that it will be received by you in the spirit of sincerity and love in which it is written.


Was he in heaven, in accordance with his promise to the crucified thief that "today you shall be with me in paradise (Lk. 23:43)? If so, how can we account for his post-resurrection statement to Mary Magdalene, "touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to the Father" (Jn. 20:17)?


(1) Who first approached the empty tomb: was it Mary Magdalene alone (Jn. 20:1) or Mary M. and "the other Mary" (Mat. 28:1) or the two Mary's and Salome (Mk. 16:1) or the two Mary's and Joanna (Lk. 24:10)?

(2) On first reaching the tomb, were they greeted by an angel sitting outside (Mat. 28:2,5), by two men standing inside (Lk. 24:4), by one man sitting inside (Mk. 16:5), or no one at all (Jn. 20:1,2)?

(3) Did Mary Magdalene receive word of the resurrection before her actual encounter with Jesus? Although Matthew (28:5), Mark (16:6), and Luke (24:5) answer in the affirmative, John disagrees, maintaining that it was Jesus himself who first revealed to the grief-stricken Mary that he was alive (Jn.20:14-17).

(4) Did the resurrected Jesus first appear to a joy-filled Mary Magdalene on the road (Mat. 28:8-9) or to a grief-stricken Mary Magdalene in the tomb (Jn. 20:14-17)?

(5) When the women were first informed that Jesus had risen, did they fearfully keep the news to themselves (Mk. 16:8) or did they rush to inform the disciples (Lk. 24:9; Mat. 28:8)?

(6) Was Mary Magdalene's initial report to the disciples a hearsay account of what she had been told by two men (Lk. 24:9) or a first-person account of an actual visitation by the risen Jesus (Jn. 20:18)?


Did Jesus first reveal himself in Galilee to the eleven remaining disciples (Mat. 26:16, Mk. 16:7,14), in Jerusalem to the eleven (Lk. 24:33,36), in Jerusalem to the ten, with Thomas absent (Jn. 20:10,19,24), or to Peter and then to the twelve (1 Cor. 15:15) -- and since Judas was already dead (Mat. 27:5), and his successor had not yet been chosen (Acts 1:26) -- who was number twelve??

Would you base even the simplest decision upon reports which were so obviously inconsistent and contradictory? Does it make sense to do so when your eternal salvation is at stake?

You are confronted with an eternal choice. Will you be faithful to G-d -- or to a religion of myth and men?? The prophet Elijah, himself a master of resurrection (1 Ki. 7:21-22), addressed the issue succinctly: How long will you halt between two opinions? If the L-rd be G-d, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him" (1 Ki. 18:21). Joshua's challenge too, rings forth even today: "choose you this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my household, we will serve the L-rd" (Josh. 24:15). As many former Hebrew-Christian's have discovered, it is far better to be on G-d's team.

Would you like to talk to someone who used to be involved with Hebrew-Christianity? Contact JEWS FOR JUDAISM. Find out why they came back to Judaism. Call or write one of our offices nationwide, someone will be happy to speak with you.


© Gerald Sigal