The Table Podcast

Resurrection Truth and Hope

In this episode, Mikel Del Rosario, Drs. Darrell L. Bock, and Gary R. Habermas discuss the truth and significance of Jesus’ resurrection, focusing on the hope Christianity offers.

Timecodes
00:15
Habermas’ and Bock’s background in resurrection scholarship
04:31
Can historians study potentially miraculous events?
13:01
A “Minimal Facts” argument for the resurrection
20:29
How can we know that Jesus existed?
25:20
Historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection
30:39
Why is the resurrection so significant?
38:40
How is 1 Corinthians 15 central to Christian theology?
45:21
Habermas’ story about resurrection hope
Resources Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence Blasphemy and Exaltation in Judaism: The Charge against Jesus in Mark 14:53-65 Parables of Enoch: A Paradigm Shift
Transcript
Mikel Del Rosario
Welcome to The Table where we discuss issues of God and culture I’m Mikel Del Rosario Cultural Engagement Manager here at the Hendricks Center. And our topic today is resurrection truth and hope. We’re going to be taking a look at the evidence for the resurrection and the significance of those historic events. I have two guests today. My first guest is Dr. Darrell Bock, Executive Director of Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center and Senior Research Professor of New Testament here at DTS. Welcome, Darrell.
Darrell Bock
My pleasure.
Mikel Del Rosario
Good to have you on the show once again.
Darrell Bock
Glad to be here. I occasionally do show up.
Mikel Del Rosario
And our second guest today is Dr. Gary Habermas, coming all the way from Virginia via Skype. Gary is the Distinguished Research Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy at Liberty University. Thanks for being on the show today, Gary.
Gary Habermas
I enjoy it, guys. I always enjoy being with you.
Mikel Del Rosario
Well I want to start off by getting a little bit of background on how you got interested in this topic. So Gary will you tell us a little bit about how you even became interested in studying the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus?
Gary Habermas
Well, I do a fair amount of interviews and people – sometimes I do the topic of doubt and when that comes up people assume that I got into it to help doubters. And I tell them I wish I could be that altruistic but I wasn’t. I was going through a long period of doubt myself, a long and very serious period of doubt, in fact after I already had my PhD. I say that because I don’t want somebody to think I’m talking about teenagers or something, but after I already had my PhD my mother called me to see how I was doing with some of my questions and I told her that I thought that I was probably fairly close to becoming a Buddhist, believe it or not.

That’s just a little hint. I didn’t like that option but I felt like I was drawn inexorably to that. Again I didn’t want to go there but I thought I was going there just because of my study and research. So when I started going through these doubts, earlier before I finished my PhD, when they started a lot of friends came along side me which I am grateful, Christian friends, and said, “Well, hey, study this evidence. Look at this evidence. Why don’t you try creation? Why don’t you try archeology? What about New Testament reliability? What about? What about? What about?”

And I was very, very skeptical in those days and I checked out all of the above and I thought, “Yeah, some of them are interesting. Some of them are not so interesting, but none of them are going to answer my questions in detail.” So one day, I wasn’t very familiar with the topic in those days, but one day I was reading and I thought, “Wow. If the resurrection of Jesus really happened, not just the event itself, but what it means for us in terms of worldview issues and the truth of Christianity — this could be the deal breaker. This could be the one that really straightens me out of my doubts.” And the rest is history. From that time on I’ve never given up my primary study of the resurrection of Jesus. But it was selfishly in the sense that I was trying to answer my own questions.

Mikel Del Rosario
Wow. Well, thanks for sharing that. Darrell something we’ve never asked you on the show is, “How did you ever get interested in studying the historical Jesus?”
Darrell Bock
Well, I was interested in the Gospels. I figured the Gospels were a pretty important part of the New Testament, imagine that, and I was living in a tradition in which the epistles were the major topic of exposition and the Gospels seemed to perplex people. So I thought, “Well if this is perplexing to people then I’m interested in figuring out what’s really going on.” And so I started a pursuit of particularly the synoptic Gospels because John was pretty straight-forward in many ways, and the synoptic Gospels were a little more complex. And then I ended up doing doctoral work in Luke and I’ve been basically there ever since.
Mikel Del Rosario
It’s interesting how a lot of people have these questions. Many times we have friends who ask us questions and if we don’t know the answer or we have our own doubts, we try to get answers for ourselves so we can then not only be more confident in our own faith but share those answers with others. Now Gary, you were investigating miracles and how did you approach the historical study of the claim of a miraculous event? Is that any different than regular, non-miraculous historical investigation or how did you approach that?
Gary Habermas
That’s interesting. Mike Licona, who is a well-known New Testament fellow in his own regard, was a student of mine and then my current teaching assistant who is a PhD candidate did his master’s thesis and is now doing his dissertation on the resurrection. The three of us, the other guy’s name is Ben Shaw, Ben, Mike and I discussed this regularly. And generally, maybe I’m not addressing your question, but generally we think a historian qua historian is a little bit handicapped – I mean having great tools for the event but not necessarily the best tools, let’s say not the best tools for philosophical and theological ramifications in miracle.

So since a miracle ever since David Hume and actually way before David Hume, since a miracle is believed to be an act of God and those who don’t believe it still define it that way usually and just say there are no such things. When you start saying, “Act of God,” historians often don’t have the tools to talk about – they can be interested in it but their discipline doesn’t necessarily say that and I say that respectfully because my PhD actually is history and philosophy and religion. I studied history as much as I studied philosophy. But I’ve just taught more of my career in philosophy. So I think the history portion – we need the help of historians and others, New Testament scholars among them. But for the, “Did the Father do it?” We’re relying a lot on theologians and philosophers to answer that question. So I see it as a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary example.

Darrell Bock
Yeah, I like to illustrate this Gary by saying, “Imagine you were alive when Jesus was being crucified. So you walk by the three crosses and you say, ‘Jesus is being crucified and he’s in the middle there.’ And of course people can look and see the three men hanging there and can determine that.” Now the next statement I make is, “‘Jesus is dying for your sins.’ Now how in the world do I verify that statement?” And then I joke, I say, “What does forgiveness of sins actually look like? I mean do you see them fly away? What’s the deal?” So it’s a different kind, it’s a different class of statement and in the work that we did in the Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus we made the point there is certain things that history is able to do and history is able to frame but to actually be able to demonstrate something that’s a whole different matter.
Gary Habermas
Exactly. And I would just extend that. I would say, “Yeah, the atonement, an example, that’s not written in the stars and it’s not written in the events but after the death and resurrection.” If we’re going to say, “Well, you know, I can’t think of any other options if Jesus was raised from the dead that means the Father raised him for a purpose. That’s the best option. There’s almost no way around that.” That also involves other things like theology and philosophy.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, I like to illustrate this through the healing and the paralytic in Mark 2 where Jesus comes along and he says, “What’s easier to say?’ ‘Your sins are forgiven or rise up and walk?’” And of course one thing you can see – to actually perform that miracle is actually pretty difficult. The other you can’t see. There’s no way to prove whether in saying to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven,” that it’s actually happened. But by doing one Jesus is using something that you can see to testify to the authenticity of what you can’t see and to connect those two. And in a world and in a worldview that says, “The only way this happens is if the transcendent acts to make it happen.” That becomes a persuasive event in its totality. But you can’t demonstrate in the most specific terms one half of that claim.
Gary Habermas
And don’t forget, you guys all know this, but in that same passage he’s called the Son of Man. And once you go Son of Man you could say, “Well, Son of Man is used as a “mere man” sometimes, book of Psalms. But wow, the kind of Son of Man he’s talking about, the kind that forgives sin, you can’t see that either. So forgiving sin and being the Son of Man those are two huge things that look a little bit like there’s a relationship to the miracle he’s doing.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, in fact Jesus is playing off that humanity in that passage because normally Son of Man would point to human being, but we know from Jesus’s use of the term and the background that he eventually ties it to, which is Daniel 7, this is a human being that rides the clouds and only divinity rides the clouds in the Bible. So you get this unique mix of human and divine that Jesus uses for his self-reference as a way of pointing out, “Yes, God has given authority to the Son of Man to do this, but this isn’t any human being this is a special human being.”
Gary Habermas
Do you guys know that Darrell Bock book on exaltation? He and a bunch of other guys, Tom Wright, Craig Evans, a whole list of guys, also think that in that same passage, “Coming in the clouds,” Mark 14, is also a little matter of sitting on the throne with God, which most of the commentators seem to think that’s the biggie. When you claim to be sitting on God’s throne now you’re really crossing the line and it’s no surprise that these people are claiming that this is blasphemy in Mark 2.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, because if he isn’t who he claims to be then that’s what it is. The Psalm 1:10 passage, “Sit at my right hand,” combined with the Daniel 7 passage which is the riding the clouds receiving judgement and authority. Of course judgement is something that God executes. When we go to Acts 2 we’ve got salvation happening in baptism, a religious rite happening in the name of Jesus. Well if you were a good Jew that would only happen in the name of the God of Israel. So there’s substitutionary moves being made in terms of the kinds of functions that Jesus is performing that point to who he is. But we’re getting ahead of our story there.
Gary Habermas
That’s good, though. That’s good background.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, you’re exactly right. But the point here is when you talk about what history is and is not able to do it sets the table for some of these claims and can make the case that this happened and then it’s the testimony that comes along side of it that you kind of have to trust as a part of it because part of the point of the resurrection is to vindicate the character of the person who is being raised from the dead.
Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah, those three passages are three of my favorites as you well know. Mark 2 and then Mark 14 and then Acts 2. We’re going to take a look at those a little bit more later on. Yeah, I think at the base level we can say there’s a distinction between the event that happened, say Jesus was raised from the dead, and I think you could be a naturalist even and say Jesus rose from the dead. I don’t know why that happened. We can leave that up to future inquiry but all the evidence shows that that happened.
Darrell Bock
There was an empty tomb. They didn’t find a body. You can go for all the bits and pieces that surround it and go, “The best explanation is something very unusual has happened we need to think about.”
Gary Habermas
And they do say that.
Mikel Del Rosario
Gary, when you started your investigation, tell us a little bit about the argument that you used, the approach that you used and what’s called the Minimal Facts Argument.
Gary Habermas
Well I actually started – it’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about this in a long time, but I’m having a chapter done on me in a book of Christian apologists, incredibly from Justin Martyr to the President, and I’m saying, “What in the world am I in this book for?” I seriously am. But they pulled some things out of me because they were asking, “When did the Minimal Facts thing start?” And I actually started doing it in my doctoral dissertation which was in the middle ages. It was back in 1976. I did my PhD and I distinctly remember because of their questioning, because of their pushing, I remember a specific date in which I was in a pastorate a few years before my dissertation.

And I remember where I was sitting and what I wrote and I was writing out what is the beginning for what I call the Minimal Facts Argument and I went back and found the notes in my file and it was marked, “1972,” which proceeds my dissertation by the completion of it by four years and so I was actually – that too, Mikel came from my doubts. I was sitting there having doubts while I was pastoring. I believe my church never heard any of my doubt questions, but I was still having questions and I thought to myself, “How can I answer Rudolph Bultmann’s objections on the New Testament?” And I sat there and I thought, “Well, Bultmann gives me this, this, this, and this – and those facts, he gives them to me because, more importantly, they’re establishable, so I have two criteria here.

These facts are establishable and even skeptics like Bultmann grant them. Wow! I think on that criteria alone I can get past this major objection. Again, it was for me and my doubts – at least four years before I wrote my dissertation. But in my dissertation I actually started developing it a little bit and I argued that these facts are very well established. That’s because they’re well established that the critics allow them and that basis alone seemed to me seemed to be a very strong basis. And on my committee, half my committee did not believe in the resurrection and one of the members of my committee represented the history department because again I did history and philosophy of religion, it was my PhD, and he was a Jewish member of the history department. And he was the most complimentary person on my committee. And I thought that was just a real affirmation because I was doing this Minimal Facts thing and he was a historian. So anyway it just all started coming together but that too actually came from me working through my own doubts years before I did the dissertation.

Mikel Del Rosario
And so you are using facts that are strongly evidenced historically, that even your Jewish scholars, even your skeptics, people who are not friendly to the Christian faith would say, “Yeah these are historical?”
Gary Habermas
Right. He never objected. None of the six people on my committee, none of them objected or made me take anything out of my dissertation. As a matter of fact, you guys might find this very incredible, but they never even made me add a sentence to my dissertation. They had me add a sentence to my précis, but I had already said that sentence in my dissertation twice, so they didn’t ask me for anything new, which was just a gift of God. I have no idea how I went through it like that but I think the Minimal Facts thing had something to do with it. If we’re going to omit this data then, you know, and don’t forget at that time I’m not arguing that God did it and all the ramifications and the things we’ve been talking about: atonement, Son of God, right hand of God, coming of the clouds. I wasn’t even arguing all that. I was just saying what did he do with this event and they let it fly.
Darrell Bock
So the point you’re making is the tomb was empty and the claim of resurrection is the best way to explain what’s going on?
Gary Habermas
With the appearances, because remember, Darrell, back in those days when I did the dissertation from ’74 to ’76, the empty tomb was a minority view. We’re back in the world of Rudolph Bultmann, here, and if you said in class, if I were to speak up in one of my PhD classes and said, “I accept the empty tomb,” they might smile, they might be polite, but they would know I was either an evangelical or a conservative catholic because the empty tomb was minimally admitted in those days.

So, it’s come a long way today with about 75 percent of critical scholars accepting it, but when people think, “Well, 75 is not that high,” they grant the experiences that we call appearances. That’s going to be in the 90s. Always has been for 200 years since Schleiermacher, and before that empty tomb is not that high. Well, it depends on how you look at it. If empty tomb starts out at 20, as it probably was, moving up to 75 is a huge jump.

Darrell Bock
Yeah, in fact in New Testament studies we talk about there being two kinds of resurrection traditions, empty tomb traditions and appearance traditions, which is the experience of course. And I love the way scholars finesse this when they get down to the nitty gritty. I have quotes of scholars who talk about, “Well, the disciples believed something happened.” They never deny the experience of something going on and I characterize it as all kinds of things. So they know it’s that close, but the hard part is again moving into that theological interpretation that says, “God did something and he did something very real.”
Gary Habermas
So, in fact guys I’m the guy that does the headcount on everybody from 1975 to date French, German and English. I’ve got this huge document. By the way that thing is at 1,400 pages right now and all that is where people are. It’s not a critique. It’s just a document of views. And if you said to me, “Let’s stop right now. How many guys don’t admit there’s experiences from the original apostles? I would stop and think and I’m pretty familiar with my list still, all those pages. I’m not sure I could name a single, well-known critic. And when you go down from Schleiermacher to the present, you’re talking about guys like David Strauss, Rudolph Bultmann, and today Bart Ehrman, Crossan, Borg, none of them would dispute that point. So it is solid, solid, solid. Now, empty tomb you’re going to fall back a little bit, but yeah that’s the one-two punch.
Mikel Del Rosario
Now, Darrell, you’ve been working in historical Jesus and people ask you sometimes very basic questions, but how would you – if you had a sound bite on TV and someone were to ask, “What are some of the top reasons for believing there was a real person named, Jesus, who was really crucified,” what would you say?
Darrell Bock
Well, the real person part is pretty easy. There’s a lot of testimony. When there’s smoke, there’s fire. There is a lot of testimony about Jesus and some of it is non-Christian testimony. Granted, the reports are later, Josephus who writing in the end of the first century, Suetonius and Tacitus writing in the early part of the second century. But the point is there’s a lot of explanation, and I actually don’t think you can explain the life and career of Paul without a real historical Jesus. He ministered in the context. He was in Jerusalem. He knew about the controversy. He knew what the early church was preaching. At one point he believed that what Jesus claimed was false, but that means that they believed that Jesus existed. I mean a person still makes a false claim.

And then the other thing that I think is interesting is the Jewish Tradition itself, which you never get in the Jewish tradition is the idea that Jesus is a myth, that he’s made up. What you get is a description of the unusual character of his ministry, and he’s attributed to be either a sorcerer or a magician in the tradition. And again sources and traditions aren’t myths. They are real people doing something that’s causing that characterization to exist. So, if someone asks me, on the one hand, “What about Jesus existence,” that would be it. And then on the crucifixion side, in the death experience, again we’re back to the testimony of Josephus, Suetonius, Tacitus, et cetera, who are utilizing in all likelihood various kinds of official records, if they don’t know about it directly, and in that case, are testifying to the fact that Jesus died. Jimmy Dunn used to say, still says that, “The death of Jesus is one of the most well-attested events in history.”

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah, John Dominic Crossan says, “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical could ever be.” That’s an amazing quote.
Gary Habermas
Marcus Borg says almost that identical quote. That’s amazing stuff. Again, you guys know this but for the listeners, Bart Erman has a list. He goes 100 years from the crucifixion of Jesus and says up to 100 years the sources are admissible, and he lists 15 different sources. Independent sources for the crucifixion of Jesus and 4 of the sources are outside the New Testament within 100 years, so that’s, you know, there’s an atheist New Testament scholar making that concession there.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, I tell my students that if I’m in an ordination exam with them that I might ask them this question: “Give me evidence for the existence of Jesus and for his death, but you cannot cite a Christian source to make the point.” And you can do it.
Gary Habermas
You can do it easily.
Darrell Bock
Even though some people challenge the Josephus quote because there are elements in it that had certainly been added by a Christian later. And some people doubt one of the allusions among the Roman historians. Generally speaking, those three witnesses in particular are often cited as being credible pointers to the fact that this testimony exists and people outside the Christian community are aware of it.
Mikel Del Rosario
So, it’s not just like, “Well, you have to believe the Bible because it said so.” We have evidence outside the Bible both from Christians and non-Christians. We have sources that talk about Jesus directly and then sources that talk about the impact that he had in the world, as well.
Darrell Bock
That’s right. So, those are Jewish sources that are challenging what Jesus claimed but certainly said that he existed. And what I like to say about the Jewish tradition and the Josephus tradition – Josephus says he did unusual works. The Greek word is where we get our word paradox from. And the sorcerer or magician tradition is – notice what this is conceding, this is conceding that Jesus was doing unusual stuff. What’s being debated is the power that it came from. So that’s an important observation to be making because – and particularly for a person who says, “Well, Jesus didn’t exist, or that never happened.” That’s not what the layers of the tradition are telling you. He had a reputation for doing things that were hard to explain.
Mikel Del Rosario
Gary, if you had a few minutes at somebody’s soccer game or baseball game or something and they asked you, “‘Hey, what is the evidence for Jesus’s resurrection,’ how would you unpack those minimal facts in just a few short minutes with someone?”
Gary Habermas
Do you want me to give you a list of six or past that?
Mikel Del Rosario
You can do four.
Darrell Bock
I’m surprised it’s not seven.
Gary Habermas
Listen, over the years I move between three and seven, and when somebody said, “Why does the number change?” I said, “It’s very, very simple. Nobody will only give me seven.” And Rudolph Bultmann will give you 20. Even though Bultmann says all we know about Jesus is that he was a first century itinerant Jewish prophet who preached the Kingdom of God and died for it. Even though Bultmann said that’s all we know, if you actually read his theology of the New Testament and other things he’ll list about 20 of them. So, the reason why I move between three and seven is because nobody only gives me three to seven. So, I’ll get a shorter list or a longer list depending on who I’m talking to.
Mikel Del Rosario
Let’s do the top three.
Gary Habermas
Pardon me.
Mikel Del Rosario
Let’s do the top three.
Gary Habermas
The top three?
Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah.
Gary Habermas
If I want to do three – now, I don’t know if you’re going to make me count the death of Jesus because you have to start with that. It’s not evidence to the resurrection, but I start with that. If you can see that the death of Jesus, as per our previous comments, here I would go with the disciple have experiences that they believe were appearances of the risen Jesus. Number two: they were transformed. I don’t say they died for this proclamation. I say they were willing to die for this proclamation, which everybody concedes. And, thirdly, it was preached very, very early, and you say, “How early?” I’ve been working on this right now. I’m working on this magnum opus. I’m on 4,500 pages now, Darrell, on the one you said I wouldn’t do. He challenged me, Mikel, years ago. He told me I would never do it. He is one of the main reasons I’m doing it.
Darrell Bock
Unless you got started.
Gary Habermas
Unless I got started, yeah. But I’m just doing a stretch on early right now, and virtually everybody now concedes, including Bart Ehrman, that there are a half dozen early creeds in the New Testament that can get us back to one to two years after the cross and it names these events.

So, I would say I take those three. They had experiences which they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus. They were transformed and willing to die because of that event, not because of 20 other events, because they were willing to die for the resurrection. And thirdly, that it was proclaimed immediately, take in particular Larry Hurtado, or Richard Bauckham, or Jimmy Dunn, this triumvirate of early Christology people. They put it at one to two years after. Dunn says it could be the same year. Dunn said the creed of 1 Corinthians 15 could have come out the same year he was crucified. That is just unbelievable. If you put those three together I think the critics are in a corner.

Darrell Bock
Well, I think here the key figure is Paul because he has to be able to have understood the high Christology of the Christian message in order to process his vision experience.
Gary Habermas
What about the pre-Pauline? You know this Darrell. They’re put in this two to three, one to two year slot. They think there are sources before Paul in the creeds that Paul did not believe. He probably knew about them but before he came to Jesus he knew about these early high creeds: Romans 1:3-4, Romans 10:9, 1 Corinthians 15:3, and following. Those are pre.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, that’s actually my point. My point is he had to be able to process that vision. And when he saw there isn’t Jesus, the light bulb that went off in his head is, “What those guys were saying that I thought was wrong was right.”
Gary Habermas
Which is very close to Mark 2.
Darrell Bock
Exactly right. And so he has to – when I talk abut this in public, this is where I end. I end with the story of Paul. We know that this incident on the Damascus road happened within a few years of the crucifixion. We also know that Paul was aware of the debate in Jerusalem that was going on because he was in Jerusalem when Stephen was murdered. And so when he has this experience, he immediately processes what has taken place and who Jesus is and the only way that can happen is if that Christology existed which he had heard preached before he has that experience.
Gary Habermas
That’s exactly right. That is stunning information.
Mikel Del Rosario
And for those who are listening, if you take a look at our archives you’ll be able to see an interview that we did with Sean McDowell on the fate of the apostles. So, like Gary was saying, we say they were willing to die for their faith but you can actually see some of the research that Sean did, Sean McDowell did on the fate of the apostles and the ones that he was able to find some good historical evidence for who did die for their faith. Well, let’s transition a little bit now from the historical evidence of the resurrection to the significance of that event. I want to think about that from the perspective of early Christians and some of the earliest apologetic arguments for Jesus as Christ, as Lord, and I want to talk about Peter’s speech in Acts 2. So Darrell, can you unpack for us what the earliest Christians were thinking when they began to see Jesus as Lord after the resurrection.
Darrell Bock
Well, the question is as a Jewish monotheist before the arrival of Jesus, “How did you view God.” God was seen as the unique deity. He was uniquely attributed to possessing glory. He sat in heaven over whatever spiritual beings existed as the unique authority. And so honor and glory were to be exclusively given to him. That’s the starting point. Now, there is within Judaism emerging during this time a tradition that contemplates whether or not anyone can share God’s glory and presence. And there was a “yes vote” and a “no vote,” if you will.
The “yes vote” either attributed it metaphorically to a religious great like Moses, there’s a book called Exagoge of Ezekiel. I don’t expect you to have had your devotions in this book. Part of the Old Testament where we call Old Testament pseudepigrapha, or Second Temple Jewish writing from 200 BC, actually in which Moses is invited to sit on the thrones of heaven. It’s actually the language of Daniel 7, interestingly enough. And he sees this in a dream and he can’t make sense of it, so he asks Jethro to interpret the dream and Jethro explains, “This is like the power that you have in performing the plagues, basically.” That’s my summarization. And most people read that text as a midrash on Exodus 7
1. Now, Exodus 7

He is the vehicle through which and that is being portrayed metaphorically in the Exagoge as Moses being allowed to sit on the throne with God and share his judgement authority. So that’s one example. A second example is the figure of the Son of Man in 1 Enoch. Again, another Second Temple Jewish text. We sometimes put it in the collection that is called Old Testament pseudepigrapha. But this is a well-known Jewish text mostly about angels and spirits and judgement and the plan of God, et cetera. But, the Son of Man figure sits with God in heaven. He’s preexistent. He shares in the judgement. So, he’s a very, very exalted figure.

In fact, James Charlesworth and I edited a book in which we argued that 1 Enoch is probably written in the first century, late first century BC or early first century AD and may have even been written in the Galilee area. And so that even puts it in the very region Jesus ministered in. So those are “yes votes” and then there are “no votes.” And the “no votes” say, “No, this doesn’t happen.” And it says it in one way or another. The most colorful example is in 3 Enoch, another Jewish text in which Metatron is giving Enoch a tour of heaven. In the midst of it he refers to himself as the lesser Yahweh. I call him the Whopper Junior. And God’s not happy with that description, so he calls him in for a talk.

Now, when I was a kid my dad used to have talks with me and I quickly learned this was not going to be a conversation. He was inviting me in because I had not upheld the honor of the family name in some way or another and I needed to be corrected. So this is one of those talks Yahweh invites Metatron in for a talk and punishes him for having the nerve to equate himself even with Yahweh. So that’s a “no vote.” No one shares honor and glory with God. Another example is Rabi Akiva who believed that David was the one who sat at the right hand of God in Psalm 110
1, to which the sages, that’s the group of official rabbis. Usually when the sages are cited in Jewish material this is the final opinion.

The sages asked him, “How long will you prophane the Shekinah?” It’s dishonoring to God to suggest that David could sit with God in heaven. That’s another “no vote.” So there’s this debate going on in Judaism whether God’s honor and glory can be shared. But, the moment that you acknowledge that could happen and you have Jesus doing stuff that God does like forgive sins, like give salvation, like send the Spirit which is the point of Acts 2, all of a sudden you have made an equation, in function, that begins to beg the question, “Who is this masked marauder who’s managed to come to earth and do his thing?”

And of course, what they are claiming is that Jesus is the Lord, Jesus is the Christ, Jesus is the son of God, the unique son of God who is to use the language of the Romans 1 creed, “horizoned” or “marked out” or “demonstrated” as son of God in power by resurrection. It isn’t that he took on something that he wasn’t, but he’s shown to be something that he is. And in the midst of that, then, you get this emerging high Christology which is the direct result of the resurrection because the disciples understood that when God raised Jesus from the dead, his parking place was the right hand of God. And I joke with people if you want to contact Jesus he’s reachable at www.righthandofgod.com.

Mikel Del Rosario
We should buy that domain one day. I also love how he takes the messianic trajectories that are in the Psalms, like in Psalm 1:10, for example, and says, “All the stuff we’ve been talking about with this idealized Davidic king that would be in the Eschaton now is actually come true. What was metaphorical before is now like literal because Jesus rose from the dead and he ascended to heaven, he’s seated at the right hand of God and that’s why we have the spirit –
Darrell Bock
And even the geography of Jerusalem reflects this. I actually have a picture that I show in class of the map that’s at the shrine of the book of Jerusalem of the first century Jerusalem, and I make the point if you look here’s the temple, here’s the Shekinah facing towards the Mount of Olives, into the right hand of the temple, right next to the right hand of the temple, the part of Jerusalem that sits next to the temple at the right hand is the city of David. And so, even the geography of Jerusalem, of ancient Jerusalem, speaks to this truth that the king was intended to be the vice regent of God on earth. And to represent his presence and his authority in that people were organized around the rule that he undertook, and then, of course, what the resurrection does, is as you say, it “literalizes” or takes that picture and says, “Now this is what’s this picture is really about.”
Mikel Del Rosario
Wow. So, we’ve been saying that the evidence for the resurrection is the best explanation for the historical facts that we have and this is a great example of how Christians now, we’re taking this fact and interpreting it based on expectation, based on these different debates and saying that Jesus is Lord and Christ. Now, Gary you talked about 1 Corinthians 15 as the center of Christian theology. And unpack what you mean by that. How is that the center of Christian theology?
Gary Habermas
Well, the first two verses before the creed comes, the first two verses – when I go into a university campus and I’m going to unpack this, people just think, “Oh. He’s sticking with the text.” They don’t realize that right off that bat I can give the gospel and challenge them to believe because that’s what Paul does. And the first two verses, he says, “When I came to you at Corinth I preached the gospel to you.” Now here’s a footnote. I tell a crowd I write with footnotes, so here’s my footnote. Whenever the gospel is unpacked, God’s side of what we’re supposed to commit ourselves to, what historical facts, what’s true. These three are always present: the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus. I mean, that’s a minimum: deity, death, and resurrection. And Paul is going to define that in just a moment.
So, he says I gave you the gospel and what you do with it depends on where you are. If you believe it, you’re in. If not, you’re not on the path. And that’s how he starts. First two verses, then he gives the creed, then he unpacks it through the rest of the chapter and at the end, the very last verse, 15
58, he’s already been talking about application. Mostly the believers at resurrection but in the last verse he says, “Be steadfast don’t give up. Don’t walk away because this stuff is really true.” Secondly, “Your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Paul sees an argument from resurrection of Jesus, to our resurrection, to “Be steadfast,” to “What are you going to do about it? Your labor for the Lord is not in vain.” And, “Oh! Here comes an opportunity to give.” So, Paul sees the argument from resurrection straight through. But I think if I would make the point very briefly, I would say, when people question in universities or class, and maybe they want to talk about the hotbox question of sovereignty and free will. Maybe, “What about creation.” Christian rooms, Christian classes, are going to be a little bit different. But when they want to ask the questions that they want to ask they’ll be about everything else. But I tell them, “Look. Table those questions until you’re sure where you are on the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus, because if that’s true and a person can make a commitment to that, again that’s verse 2 of 1 Corinthians 15, if we could make a commitment to that Jesus, then everything else in its own time and place.

I mean don’t let me discourage you from researching creation, and the end times, and sovereignty and free will, and the Trinity. Don’t let me discourage you. But major on the major, which to start, would be the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus, which of course assumes his historicity. And if you’re there, then as Paul says, verse 2, “You’re on the path.” I sometimes say, “You’re on the road to the Emerald City. You’re on the yellow brick road when you make this move.” So that’s why I say it’s the center, because you’ve got the gospel in particular, and it’s evidence. The most evidential passage in the New Testament on the early creedal passage, and then he branches out to other important topics like
“Be steadfast. Let’s help others out. You’re going to be raised again someday.” So he branches out from there to other things. So all told, yeah, I don’t think 1 Corinthians 15 can be beaten.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, and it branches out in two ways that I think are very important that are understated in most Easter contexts. And that is the real point of the resurrection is that it is the vindication of Jesus by God. The resurrection is not something Jesus does. The resurrection is something God does for Jesus. And remember the context is he’s been put in an empty tomb because the Jewish leadership thought he was guilty of blasphemy and Rome thought he was guilty of sedition. So there’s this dispute going on in the public saying Jews say, or at least the Jewish leadership says, “He’s not who he claims to be.” Rome says, “He doesn’t deserve to have a kingdom.” So the resurrection comes along and says, “No. He is who he claims to be, and yes, he deserves to have a kingdom.”

So when we generally hear an Easter message it’s, “He’s risen so one day we’ll be risen.” Well, that’s true. I’m not underplaying that. But the flip side of it is the reason that can happen is because Jesus is who he claimed to be. So that is the first implication that I think comes out of that. The second implication is one I can’t stress enough, which is it says Jesus died for our sins in that creed. Well, the next question you have to ask is, “Well, why is it important that he died for our sins?” To do this you have to think Jewishly. He dies for our sins in order to cleanse us or wash us – to make us a clean vessel. And as a clean vessel, which means we’re forgiven, or we’re justified, whatever term you want to use to describe the result, we are now put in the position of being able to receive the enablement that previously we did not have.

We get the spirit of God that enables us to walk in the way that we were incapable of walking when we were dead in our trespasses and sins. I like to say of Romans, “Read Romans not as a letter. Read it as a story.” In the beginning we were dead in our trespasses and sins. How much power does a dead person have, none. When you come to Romans 6-8 all of a sudden you’ve got the capability of walking with God and that’s why Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel it is the power of God unto salvation.” It is his work that makes us alive, that justifies us, that brings us to new life. It’s the forgiveness of sins that puts us in the position to be able for God to be able to do that. And then he gives us his Spirit so now we have the power, by which is meant capability, to walk with God in a way we couldn’t walk before we came to Jesus. That’s the Yellow Brick Road. The Yellow Brick Road is the ability to walk with God enabling you to live in the way he originally designed you to live and eternal life is not just a life of duration it’s a life of quality that God gives us that allows us to live for eternity but with eternity in us so that we are able to live out the way we were designed to live.

Mikel Del Rosario
That’s amazing, yeah. So we have here, we see that as Christians, we believe things historically and we believe things theologically, as well. And there’s a practical, every day dimension to this that actually makes a difference. And Gary, could you tell us the story that you tell about how the resurrection has really impacted your life when you were going through a very difficult time with your wife? Tell that story to us.
Gary Habermas
Well, my wife, it was over pretty quickly, but my wife had been sick for a few months. We had no idea what it was, and when they finally sent us for testing, they had already sent us for other tests, but when they sent us for the final testing, they discovered it. Turned out she had stage four stomach cancer and she died four months later. That’s all she lived. But, before she got sick I had done some publishing on the subject of doubt and in one of those publications I was reflecting on Job. And Job is talking with God in Job 38 and I made this make believe scenario, what my Job 38 would be if I got to ask Job my questions. What would it look like? And I had published that. And three years later she got sick.

And so I thought, “Oh my, for crying out loud. I can’t believe this. Now, I have to see. Does the advice I give in this earlier document really work when I’m going through the fire?” And so we had gotten back from the hospital where they told us there was nothing they could do for her and she was terminal. And the kids were in school. It was the first week in May of 1995. She was upstairs sleeping because she was given medicine for stomach cancer that made her sleep 17-18 hours a day. And I put a child monitor up there and went out and sat on the front porch. It was starting to get warm and I had my Job 38 and I literally sat there and thought, “Wow. This is my day in the sun. I can think like Job 38.” And I had this make believe conversation. It was the same one I had three years earlier with the resurrection, but now it was spiced in a way by my wife’s obvious dying. And she didn’t live too much longer.

But as I sat there on the porch imagining what God would say to me, I would start by saying, “Lord. Why is Debbie upstairs dying? I mean she’s 43-years-old and she’s the mother of our four children and I thought you called me to ministry. But how can I minister, and how can I teach, and how can I publish if my kids need breakfast, lunch, and dinner? And they need their clothes washed.” We had four children. And if they had to have their homework done at night, how can I get anything done? And so I said, “Why her? Why now? Why this? And she’s my best friend.

And my Job 38, the way I saw that is the Lord would have said to me, “Gary I appreciate this. I appreciate your laying this out, but I’ve got a question for you. What kind of world is this? Now, I notice that’s how Job 38 starts too, “Where were you when I created the foundation of the world?” And I pictured the version for me would be, “What kind of a world is this?” And I didn’t know what to say and she’s dying and I didn’t want to play theology. And I said, “Well, Lord I don’t know. I’ll tell you in terms of my own studies. It’s a world where your son came to earth, died for our sins, was raised from the dead, and we can have a lot to hope for because of this.

And he said to me in my imagination, “Well, it’s a good start. It’s a good place to start. And I know what you’re going through.” Well, I had read a lot of literature and later wrote a book on grief and I knew that’s the last thing you say to somebody who is dying, “I know what you’re going through,” even if you did go through what they went through. The problem is they can look at you and say, “Yeah, but you’re over it. I’m not. I’m in the middle of it. So don’t talk to me about this.” Well, I pictured God saying to me, “I know what you’re going through.” And I thought, “All right. How so?” And he said, “Well I watched my son die.” And I said, “I had already been told it was terminal but I had hoped there was a way out for her.” And so I was shocked when he said that. And I said, “Wait a minute are you telling me that as you watched your son die I’m going to have to watch Debbie die?”

And I pictured him saying to me, “Son you’re going to go through some deep water, but some day you will be –” as the last card I put away after she passed away said, “How are you going to feel some day when you talk about the Yellow Brick Road finally issuing into the Emerald City?” The card said, “How are you going to feel walking down the streets of heaven hand in hand with your wife?” And I’m telling you guys, when I read that card I thought I was going to die. When I opened that card up I couldn’t repeat those words for a year. “You’ll be able to walk down the streets of heaven hand and hand with your wife.” And so I pictured God saying to me in the words of that card, I pictured him saying, “Gary, you’ve got some deep waters to go through, but one day you and Debbie will be in the kingdom together with us and it will be a glorious time. But I can’t explain it all right now, but just keep that truth ever before you.”

And basically that was the shortened version of the conversation. Later, I told the story again. That was the three-year earlier story that I published with her death put into it. So I interpreted her death as my sending my greatest gift home to heaven. And it would have been the other way around if it would have been me that died. But I sent my greatest gift home where she couldn’t be touched. And the words of 1 Peter 1
3 and following there, “Nobody can take this away from me.” She can’t be hurt anymore. Nobody can steal this. It’s garrisoned in the halls of heaven. Yes, it’s horrible. But, yes she’s safe. And, yes it’s forever. And, yes it’s about reunion. And metaphorically, because the conversation never took place with the Lord, but metaphorically, yeah that’s what the resurrection meant to me. So it symbolized, “It’s not great right now,” but this is as philosophers have said down through the ages, “This is not the best of all possible worlds, but it’s the best way to achieve the best of all possible worlds.” And I knew I was going to have to get on with the achieving part.
Mikel Del Rosario
Thank you for sharing that with us, Gary. So we see that there is evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. The meaning of that is the vindication of who Jesus is and the eternal life that he offers us. And this is really the hope of the resurrection truth and hope that we celebrate at Easter time. Thank you guys so much for being on the show. Thanks, Darrell.
Darrell Bock
My pleasure.
Mikel Del Rosario
Thank you, Gary, for being with us once again.
Gary Habermas
Guys, I enjoyed every second of it. Thank you so much.
Mikel Del Rosario
You’re welcome. And we thank you so much for tuning in and for watching and listening to us here on The Table. If you have a topic that you would like us to consider for a future episode, please email us at thetable@dts.edu. I’m Mikel Del Rosario and I hope you’ll join us again on The Table Podcast as we discuss issues of God and culture.
Read More
Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than forty books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
Gary Habermas
Dr. Gary Habermas has dedicated his professional life to the examination of the relevant historical, philosophical, and theological issues surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus. His extensive list of publications and debates provides a thorough account of the current state of the issue. He has also contributed more than 60 chapters or articles to additional books, and over 100 articles and reviews in journals and other publications. In recent years, he has been a Visiting or Adjunct Professor at about 15 different graduate schools and seminaries in the United States and abroad. Dr. Habermas is a Distinguished Research Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy at the Rawlings School of Divinity. He is married to Eileen and they have seven children and 11 grandchildren.
Mikel Del Rosario
Mikel Del Rosario is a doctoral student in New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, Project Manager for Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center, and Adjunct Professor of Apologetics and World Religion at William Jessup University. Mikel co-authors The Table Briefing articles for Bibliotheca Sacra, manages the Table Podcast, and helps Christians defend the faith with confidence though his apologetics ministry. He holds a Master of Theology (ThM) from DTS and an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University.
Diversity
Jun 18, 2019
Elijah MisigaroElijah MisigaroNancy FrazierNancy FrazierSamuel LeeSamuel LeeMikel Del RosarioMikel Del Rosario
Diverse Views on Multicultural Conversations In this episode Mikel Del Rosario, Elijah Misigaro, Sam Lee, and Nancy Frazier discuss diverse views on multicultural conversations, focusing on creating a culture of inclusion.
Arts & Media
Jun 11, 2019
Michael J. SvigelMichael J. SvigelNatalie CarnesNatalie CarnesReg GrantReg GrantTimothy S. YoderTimothy S. YoderDarrell L. BockDarrell L. Bock
A Theology of Art and Beauty In this episode, Drs. Darrell L. Bock, Reg Grant, Michael J. Svigel, Timothy S. Yoder, and Natalie Carnes discuss a theology of art and beauty.