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You be the Judge: An Unopposed Brief Challenging Legal Apologetics


I. Introduction
II. Real Cases
III. Statement of Facts
     A. Apologists’ Evidence
     B. Evidence and Opinion
     C. Before the New Testament
     D. Letters
     E. Gospels
            1. Gospel Authors
            2. Mark
            3. Matthew, Luke, and Acts
            4. John
     F. Other Sources
     G. Persecution
            1. No Pervasive Persecution
            2. Mythical Martyrs
IV. Burden of Proof
V. Three Independent Objections to Evidence of the Resurrection
     A. Physical Facts Rule
            1. Evidence that Contradicts Natural Laws is Worthless
            2. No Supernatural Exception
     B. Private Appearances
     C. Vision or Multiple Hearsay
            1. Paul’s Vision
            2. Physical Appearances are Multiple Hearsay
                   a) Definition of Hearsay
                   b) Logic of the Hearsay Rule
                   c) Logic of the Ancient Document Exception
                   d) Hearsay Levels
VI. Apologists’ Argument
     A. No Circumstantial Evidence
            1. No Predicate Facts
                   a) Nobody Dies for a Lie
                   b) Prophecy not Fulfilled
                   c) No Physical Evidence
            2. Inference not Reasonable
                   a) Historical Details
                   b) Argument from Silence
                   c) God’s Existence
                   d) Ring of Truth
                   e) Christianity’s Success
            3. No Predicate Facts and Inference not Reasonable
                   a) Early Recordation
                   b) Legendary Development
     B. Hearsay Exceptions
            1. Rule 804(b)(3), Statements against Interest
                   a) Persecution
                   b) Peter’s Denials
                   c) Female Witnesses
            2. Rule 807, Residual Exception
     C. No Multiple Attestation
            1. Not Eyewitness/Independent
            2. Not Consistent
            3. Not Testimony
VII. Conclusion

I. Introduction

Some evangelical Christians preach “evidentialist” apologetics in which they assert that evidence proves Jesus’ Resurrection as a historical fact. Evangelicals want to prove their brand of Christianity is the Truth.

Philosophers and theologians contemplate the nature of truth, but no one needs to define “truth” when witnesses swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. There is no “true for me, but not for you” defense to perjury. Evidentialist lawyers claim they can use legal rules of evidence to prove the Resurrection is the kind of practical, real-world truth expected in court.

In my opinion, these “legal apologists” distort the law and misinform laypersons. I tried to get a Christian lawyer to debate with me so that you can read both sides the issue and decide for yourself.[1] I have so far found no Christian lawyer willing to step up to represent the evidentialist position.[2]

Legal apologist Ross Clifford believes nonlawyers cannot understand legal apologetics.[3] I disagree. Courts developed evidentiary rules using commonsense concepts of trustworthiness and reliability, and intelligent people can understand them. Whenever possible, I have a hyperlink to the legal and factual authorities upon which I rely.

For the sake of simplicity, I will use the term “Apologists” to mean all Christian, evidentialist apologists, including legal apologists.

II. Real Cases

In 1996, the Pontotoc County (Mississippi) School District, in cooperation with “the Bible Committee” of local Protestant churches, taught a high school class entitled “A Biblical History of the Middle East.”[4] The District claimed it taught the course from a “historical and literary perspective, in a non-sectarian, non-proselytizing manner.” However, the instructor testified he taught “the historical account” of the virgin birth, Jesus’ miracles and the Resurrection exactly as explained in the Bible.[5] In other words, the District taught the Resurrection as history—just like D-Day or Lincoln’s assassination.

Evidentialist Josh McDowell claims, “It is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the Resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it.”[6] However, the School District presented no such ironclad proof in court to defend its lesson plan.

Just as public schools can teach evolution because it is accurate and objective science, schools can teach accurate and objective biblical history.[7] Nonetheless, the Federal District Judge prohibited teaching the class. He ruled it was “inherently religious instruction, rather than objective, secular education, since much of the Bible [such as the Resurrection] is not capable of historic verification, and can only be accepted as a matter of faith and religious belief.”[8] No higher court considered the case because the school district did not appeal.

Several school districts controlled by conservative evangelicals have followed the same pattern. They taught the Resurrection as history, but folded their cards when challenged in court. None of them tried to present evidence to prove its reality. No lawyer has ever disputed a ruling that the Resurrection is a matter of faith and historians cannot verify it.

III. Statement of Facts

Judges apply the law to the facts of a case in order to reach a decision. Therefore, legal briefs begin with a “Statement of Facts.” Both parties explain what they believe to be the relevant facts before asking the judge to make any legal decision.

A. Apologists’ Evidence

As a practical matter, litigants rarely try to prove the truth of events two millennia ago. The kind of evidence needed to prove something in court is no longer available after so much time.

Most of Apologists’ evidence comes from the New Testament, but the New Testament is not a “document” in the legal sense. However, I see no reason to quibble about the difference between the New Testament and real documents.

I believe the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) to be a good translation of the Bible. I will, for the sake of argument, consider books in the NRSV to be analogous to the original documents. Therefore, I will consider 1 Corinthians and Galatians to be “documents,” as if we actually have in court letters written in English by Paul. I will also consider Mark, Matthew, Luke, John and Acts to be anonymous documents written sometime during the first or second centuries CE.

B. Evidence and Opinion

Apologetic tomes like Michael R. Licona’s 718-page The Resurrection of Jesus and N. T. Wright’s 817-page The Resurrection of the Son of God create the impression that copious evidence supports the Resurrection, and the sheer volume of apologetic scholarship can intimidate laypersons. Can we ever understand all the research and analysis of these Greek-reading scholars? Perhaps not, but we can understand the actual evidence or lack thereof. Proof of Jesus’ Resurrection boils down to stories in the New Testament that Jesus appeared to various people after his crucifixion.

The New Testament includes seven books containing claims about Jesus’ appearances. Apologists must rely on these seven documents as the main evidence of Jesus’ Resurrection. For the sake of simplicity, lawyers often define special terms used in their briefs. I call these seven documents “The Documents” because, although they may not be credible or admissible evidence, they are nonetheless documents.

Table 1—The Documents

 Date writtenVerses with appearancesStories or claims about appearances within the DocumentAuthor of the Document
150-57 CEGalatians 1:15-17God “was pleased to reveal his Son [to or in] me.”Paul
254-57 CE1 Corinthians 15:3-8Paul lists Jesus’ appearances to himself, Cephas, the twelve, five hundred brothers and sisters, James, and the apostles.Paul
360-65 CEMark 16:1-8A young man says Jesus will appear later.Anonymous
480-90 CEMatthew 27:62-28:20Appearances to apostlesAnonymous
5Luke 24:1-53Appearances to apostles and then AscensionLuke and Acts have the same anonymous author.
6Shortly after LukeActs 9:1-9, 22:6-11 and 26:12-18.Paul saw a flash of light and heard a voice. Paul told contradictory stories about this experience.
780-150 CEJohn 20:1-21:25Appearances to apostlesAnonymous

This is not a great quantity of evidence. All other alleged evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection bolsters, spins, or provides context for these 187 New Testament verses.

You may also consider expert opinions. An expert witness is a person with special skills, knowledge, education, and training who can help the jury understand the evidence or determine disputed facts. Experts can testify about their opinions on factual issues.

The law requires the jury to consider two issues when evaluating expert opinion. First, does the expert base his opinion on sufficient evidence?[9] Second, does the expert’s specialized knowledge help you understand the evidence?[10]

We must rely on experts to date New Testament documents. New Testament experts agree that Jesus was a real person, and the Romans probably crucified him around 30-33 CE. Paul almost certainly existed and may have converted to Christianity about 36 CE.

C. Before the New Testament

If Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to witnesses, no one at the time considered these momentous events worth recording. No contemporary accounts describe either the Resurrection or Paul’s conversion. Jesus’ early disciples probably did not write anything for posterity because they believed the world would soon end and there would be no posterity. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians notified them that, “In view of the impending crisis,” the unmarried should remain unmarried, and virgins should remain virgin.[11] I wonder how Corinthian teenagers reacted when they heard this news and what they felt when they eventually figured out Paul had misinformed them.

D. Letters

Many New Testament scholars believe that some letters (epistles) in the Bible are “pseudonymous.” In plain language, later Christians forged them.[12] Nonetheless, some of the letters are probably genuine, and they are the earliest extant Christian writings. Although, scholars disagree about dates, Paul probably wrote the first letters (possibly 1 Thessalonians or Galatians) no earlier than 45-50 CE, at least 12 years after Jesus’ crucifixion.

Paul’s letters are exactly that—letters he addressed to specific people or congregations. The letters provide glimpses into the beliefs of the first Christians. These letters reveal that factions and false prophets bedeviled Christianity from the beginning.

2 Peter 2:1False prophets
2 Corinthians 11:26Danger from false brethren
Romans 16:17-18Opposition to Paul’s teaching
Galatians 1:6-9A different gospel
1 Timothy 1:3Strange doctrines
Ephesians 4:14Tossed about by every wind of doctrine

People with different theological views wrote the letters and gospels now in the New Testament, and they often disagree on facts.[13] Chronologically, Paul’s letters contain the first version of events. However, Paul mentions only a few scattered facts about Jesus’ life.[14]

Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians sometime between 50 and 57 CE. Paul explained that he had violently persecuted the church, but then God “was pleased to reveal his Son to me.”[15] Paul doesn’t explain exactly how God revealed Jesus to him.

Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians sometime between 54 and 57 CE Apologists emphasize a list of purported postmortem appearances in 1 Corinthians 15:4-9:

[H]e was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me.

Scholars argue endlessly about these four verses, and I will emphasize only two points. First, Paul differentiates between “the twelve” and “all the apostles.” No one knows exactly what Paul meant by “all the apostles.”

Second, no one else ever mentions the five hundred witnesses. The Gospel authors seem unaware of Jesus’ most impressive appearance.

E. Gospels

Anonymous authors wrote the Gospels, and Christians named them decades later.[16] I use the traditional names for the four canonical Gospels, but I list them in a more likely chronological order: Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. I refer to the anonymous authors as Mark’s author, Matthew’s author, etc. I call the purported authors—to whom the Gospels were falsely attributed—as St. Mark, St. Matthew, St. Luke, and St. John.

1. Gospel Authors

No evidence exists that St. Mark, St. Matthew, St. Luke, and St. John wrote the Gospels that now bear their names. Apologists usually agree that no one put their names on the original gospel manuscripts, and Apologists only disagree with critical scholars about why the Gospel authors did not identify themselves.[17] Early Christians did not seem to care about who wrote the Gospels. For decades after they first appeared, no one who discusses or quotes them ever mentions their authors’ names.[18] For whatever reason, this attitude changed in the second century.

Irenaeus of Lyons, writing about 180 CE, identifies the four canonical Gospels[19], but Irenaeus provides no information about how he knew who wrote the Gospels. He cites no previous source and explains no justification for assigning authors to previously anonymous works.

Only one ancient author—Papias of Hierapolis, writing around 120-130 CE—attempts to provide evidence for gospel authorship. Therefore, Papias provided the only possible evidence for Gospel authorship. However, Papias, as far as we know, recorded nothing about who wrote either John or Luke.

Eusebius, the fourth-century church historian, wrote that Papias “was a man of very limited intelligence, as is clear from his books.”[20] Papias may not have been the brightest lamp in the bazaar, but he disclosed his sources of information. Eusebius quotes Papias saying,

And whenever anyone came who had been a follower of the elders, I asked about their words: what Andrew or Peter had said, or Thomas or James or John or Matthew or any other of the Lord’s disciples.[21]

In other words, a man of limited intelligence living about a century after Jesus’ death asked unidentified people to tell him stories. Irenaeus wrote that Papias was a hearer of St. John[22], but Eusebius doesn’t mention this claim.

Papias’ unnamed sources may have given him information about St. Matthew. Eusebius quotes Papias: “So then Matthew compiled the sayings of [Jesus] in the Hebrew language, and every one interpreted them as he was able.” This cannot refer to the Gospel of Matthew now in the Bible for at least two reasons. First, the canonical Gospel of Matthew is a narrative, not a compilation of sayings. Second, Matthew is a Greek document, which copied Mark—another Greek document.[23] If St. Matthew ever wrote a collection of Jesus’ sayings in Hebrew, no copy survives today. Papias probably referred to a lost gospel similar to the Coptic Gospel of Thomas, which records Jesus’ sayings without any narrative.[24]

Papias also collected stories about a man called John the Presbyter [or Elder]. Eusebius believed this mysterious figure wrote Revelations, but modern scholars question whether he existed. In any event, some unidentified person told Papias:

The Presbyter used to say this also: “Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ…. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.

Therefore, Papias wrote that an unidentified person said that John the Presbyter (who may never have existed) said that Mark wrote a gospel. Even if this were reliable information, it doesn’t appear to be talking about the canonical Gospel of Mark. The Presbyter said that St. Mark recorded everything Peter remembered, but the Mark now in the Bible lacks many details. Mark doesn’t include a single postmortem appearance by Jesus, not even an appearance to Peter. If St. Mark wrote down whatsoever Peter remembered about Christ and omitted nothing, then Peter must have forgotten that Jesus appeared to the apostles and then ascended into heaven.

In sum, Papias discusses Gospels by St. Mark and St. Matthew, but he appears to be talking about two noncanonical Gospels. Papias says nothing about Luke and John. Therefore, no evidence exists of how anyone connected St. Luke or St. John with the Gospels now attributed to them. Likewise, nothing within the canonical Gospels indicates that the traditional authors wrote them.

Some Apologists claim John was not anonymous because John 21:24 says that “the beloved disciple”—John—is “the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.” The Greek word translated “has written” doesn’t necessarily mean St. John wrote the Gospel with his own hand.[25] The verse plainly says, “we [the anonymous authors] know that his [the beloved disciple’s] testimony is true.” At best, this means that the anonymous authors claim to have talked with St. John.

We also have reasons to believe the traditional authors did not write the Gospels. For example, St. Mark’s full name, John Mark, tells us he was Jewish[26], but he made mistakes that no Jew would make. The Romans crucified Jesus on Good Friday. Mark 15:42-46 says that on Friday evening Joseph of Arimathea went boldly to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body and then later that evening purchased a linen cloth. This cannot be true because the Jewish Sabbath begins Friday evening and an observant Jew like Joseph of Arimathea would never buy anything on the Sabbath.

Matthew’s author—who obeys every jot and tittle of the law[27]—was probably Jewish. He copied Mark’s story about Joseph of Arimathea asking Pilate for Jesus’ body and then wrapping the body a linen cloth, but says nothing about the purchase of a cloth.[28]

2. Mark

Many people assume Matthew was the first gospel because it is first in the New Testament, but Mark was first. Around 60-65 CE, Mark’s author wrote the gospel for a Gentile community somewhere outside Judea.

Mark—some thirty years after the crucifixion—is the first New Testament document that mentions the empty tomb. Mark 16:9-20 describes post-Resurrection appearances, including Jesus’ advice to handle snakes and drink poison, but most New Testament scholars believe a scribe added this ending in the second or third century.[29] Without the alternate ending, Mark ends abruptly and mentions no appearances by Jesus.[30]

3. Matthew, Luke, and Acts

The authors of Matthew and Luke wrote those Gospels around 80-90 CE. No one knows which was written first. We know that the authors of Matthew and Luke read Mark because they copy more than ninety-five percent of Mark, much of it practically verbatim.[31] Scholars call Mark, Matthew, and Luke the Synoptic Gospels, from the Greek synoptikos, meaning “with one eye.” Matthew and Luke make numerous changes and additions to Mark’s account. Matthew adds fabulous embellishments to Mark, including Jewish saints rising from the dead on Good Friday and then wandering around Jerusalem the following Sunday.[32] Matthew alone claims guards watched Jesus’ tomb.[33] Only Luke describes Jesus ascending into heaven.[34]

Scholars uniformly agree that Luke’s author, whether St. Luke or someone else, also wrote The Acts of the Apostles shortly after he finished Luke. Acts begins where Luke ends, with Jesus’ Ascension.[35] Acts also describes Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. A flash of light supposedly blinded Paul, and he then heard Jesus talking.[36]

4. John

John’s author probably wrote John sometime between 80 and 150 CE. John departs factually and theologically from the synoptic Gospels. It tells another version of Jesus’ appearances.

F. Other Sources

Apologists brag that the four canonical Gospels are the earliest and best sources regarding the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. True enough. Only one first-century historian, Titus Flavius Josephus, wrote about first-century Judea, and he did not consider Jesus to be very important.

Josephus wrote Jewish Antiquities in 93-94 CE. Josephus includes a single paragraph on Jesus and another on James, the brother of Christ. Josephus wrote a great deal more about John the Baptist and other Jewish prophets, and he doesn’t say whether the Baptist knew Jesus. Historians call Josephus’ paragraph on Jesus the Testimonium Flavianum, and most surviving copies say that Jesus rose from the dead and was the Messiah. However, Apologists agree that Josephus, a non-Christian Jew, did not believe Jesus rose from the dead. Some unknown Christian probably forged the “Jesus was the Messiah” version of the Testimonium during the third or fourth century.[37]

Therefore, Christian Scripture and Christian embellishment of Josephus comprise all the first-century evidence regarding Jesus. After the first century, we have a much larger volume of writings, but little of it has any evidentiary value.

Evidence from Josephus and other non-Christian writers establish with reasonable certainty that (1) Jesus existed, (2) the Romans crucified him, and (3) at least some Christians believed he rose from the dead. However, no original source outside the New Testament reports that the Resurrection actually happened.

“Church fathers” wrote voluminous Christian literature now available from free online sources. Apologists rely on these church fathers for information regarding persecution, Gospel authorship, and other issues. However, the church fathers recorded no direct evidence of Jesus’ Resurrection. Church fathers, such as Justin Martyr, wrote apologetics, but not the evidence-based apologetics that Apologists now argue.

Just as Scripture reveals theological differences among first-century Christians, later literature reveals that early Christians held widely divergent views. Early Christians wrote a vast amount of literature that did not make it into the Bible—including many noncanonical Gospels.[38]

Christian hagiography of the second and third centuries was notoriously fanciful. Noncanonical Gospels—such as the Gospels of Peter, Thomas, Philip and James—don’t provide reliable historical information. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, although intended to glorify Jesus, portrays the prepubescent Savior killing children who aggravated him and blinding their parents. The Acts of Peter describes Peter using a talking dog as his messenger and resurrecting a sardine.

If anyone alive during the first or second century looked at Jesus’ Resurrection from a skeptical point of view, his works are lost to history. The earliest known anti-Christian writings survive only in the quotations by Christian authors who rebut them (e.g., Celsus).[39]

G. Persecution

Apologists’ arguments regarding persecution fall into two categories: (1) pervasive persecution and (2) the alleged martyrdom of the apostles. These arguments illustrate the amalgam of false assumptions and misinformation that passes for truth among Apologists.

1. No Pervasive Persecution

Many Christians endured persecution, and I will not minimize the suffering of any victim of religious bigotry. However, Apologists seem to assume that Jewish and/or Roman authorities pursued early Christians with a maniacal zeal to kill every last one. Persecution makes fine drama, and biblical epics portray Christians as victims of constant oppression. History is more complicated, and the fragmentary information on First-century persecution creates more questions than answers.

The New Testament describes Jewish authorities persecuting Christians, but with little diligence or success. Acts, chapter 8, states that a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem after Stephen’s death, but “severe” meant putting people in prison. Christians fled from Jerusalem to the countryside of Judea and Samaria, so it seems the persecution did not extend much beyond Jerusalem. It couldn’t have been too thorough even inside Jerusalem because the apostles never left the city. The old city of Jerusalem was and still is about 0.35 square miles inside the city walls. The apostles would need to lay very low to hide for any length of time in a town that small.

In Acts, chapter 9, Paul planned to persecute Christians in Damascus, but he converted to Christianity on the way. Paul then traveled the Roman Empire publicly and passionately preaching Christianity for the next thirty years. Paul wrote about Jews beating or stoning him, and chapter 21 of Acts recounts how Romans authorities finally arrested him. However, Paul suffered such persecution only after preaching in synagogues or otherwise creating a public spectacle.[40]

Josephus gives the only non-Christian account of persecution by Jews.[41] Roman procurator Festus died around 62 CE. Before the new procurator could arrive from Rome, the High Priest Ananus had James, the brother of Jesus “and certain others” stoned for breaking the law. Josephus doesn’t state whether James and the “certain others” were Christians, and he says nothing about them being in hiding before the event.[42] Ananus’ underhanded action offended both Jews and Romans, so King Agrippa II deposed Ananus and appointed a new high priest. Therefore, the only objective story about possible persecution by Jews indicates that, thirty years after the crucifixion, a Christian leader lived openly in Jerusalem and the high priest lost his job for killing him.

Scholars of Roman history typically characterize early Roman persecution as “sporadic and local.”[43] The first recorded punishment of Christians by Romans occurred about thirty years after the crucifixion.

Roman historian Tacitus wrote that many Romans believed Nero intentionally started the great fire that ravaged Rome in 64 CE. Tacitus explains that Nero tried to deflect suspicion by blaming Christians for the fire and inflicting “the utmost refinements of cruelty,” on them.[44] Therefore, Nero did not persecute Christians merely because they were Christians, but as scapegoats for the fire. No evidence shows Christians were living in fear before Nero’s false charge of arson, and there is little evidence of how Rome viewed Christians after the fire. Tacitus recorded that Nero’s horrific attack on Christians gave rise to “a sentiment of pity, due to the impression that they were being sacrificed not for the welfare of the state but to the ferocity of a single man.”[45]

Roman historian Suetonius wrote that under Nero “Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.”[46] Suetonius doesn’t specify the exact nature of these punishments, and he might have referred to the same events Tacitus described.

After Nero, a half-century passed before the next record of persecution by Rome. Pliny the Younger was a distinguished Roman lawyer and imperial magistrate. In 112 CE, Pliny was the governor of a province in what is now modern Turkey, and he wrote a letter to Emperor Trajan.[47] The Romans apparently had no uniform policy about Christians because, despite his extensive legal experience, Pliny had to ask the Emperor what to do with them. The Emperor replied, “Don’t go out of your way to look for them. If indeed they should be brought before you, and the crime is proved, they must be punished.”[48] Roman punishment for even minor crimes included torture and death. These letters indicate that—eighty years after Christ died—Rome persecuted Christians in a brutal but haphazard manner.

2. Mythical Martyrs

Apologists claim that all the disciples except John died a martyr’s death because they boldly proclaimed the truth of Jesus’ Resurrection. Apologists claim, “multiple accounts, both from early sources in the New Testament as well as outside of it” confirm these martyrdoms.[49] That assertion is false. Although it is possible that the apostles died for their faith, no reliable evidence supports the claim.

Scripture mentions the death of only one apostle, James, son of Zebedee—not to be confused with James, the brother of Jesus. Acts 12:2-3 says that King Herod had James killed with the sword, and this pleased the Jews. Acts provides no further details. James might have denied Christ three times and begged for his life for all we know.

No credible information exists regarding how any other disciple died. Christian hagiographers later—much later—concocted wild stories about martyred apostles. According to the Acts of Andrew, Andrew performed more and better miracles than Jesus, and then he continued preaching for three days while nailed to a cross. No reliable church historian mentions Simon the Zealot for three centuries, and then legends have him either sawed to pieces by a mob in Iran, dying a natural death in Edessa (modern Turkey) or perishing during Queen Boadicea’s revolt in Britain.[50]

Modern Apologists treat these weird tales as if they were serious history. For example, Pastor John MacArthur says in Twelve Ordinary Men:

All the records of the early church indicate that Peter was crucified. Eusebius cites the testimony of Clement, who says that, before Roman authorities crucified Peter, they forced him to watch his wife’s crucifixion. … When it was Peter’s turn to die, he pleaded to be crucified upside down because he wasn’t worthy to die as his Lord had died. And thus he was nailed to a cross head-downward.[51]

This certainly sounds authoritative and reliable, but it is a deceptive pastiche of rumor and fiction. Unless MacArthur means the unorganized theological writings by various church fathers[52], there are no “records of the early church.” More than a century after Peter’s death, Clement of Alexandria wrote, “They say, accordingly, that the blessed Peter, on seeing his wife led to death, rejoiced on account of her call and conveyance home.”[53] A century-old “they say” equals a rumor. Sometime during the Third century, Tertullian wrote, “Peter endured a passion like his Lord’s.”[54] Neither Clement nor Tertullian says anything about an upside down crucifixion. That’s about it for “the records of the early church.”

The inverted crucifixion—probably the most famous legend of an apostle’s demise—comes from a fanciful work of fiction written toward the end of the second century, The Acts of Peter. I recommend it for an exciting work of magic and miracles. In chapters 37-39, it recounts Peter’s upside-down crucifixion, but no one crucified his wife and Peter was not the least bit humble. Instead, Peter asked his executioners to crucify him with his head downward, and then—while hanging upside down on the cross—he delivered a lengthy speech about how everyone sees the world upside down from how God wants us to see things. As far as I have been able to determine, no one knows where the idea first arose that Peter considered himself unworthy of regular crucifixion.

Another curious feature of The Acts of Peter is the lack of Christian persecution. Peter preached the gospel to multitudes in Rome with no interference from the authorities. Peter only got into trouble when he preached chastity so persuasively that women “loving the word of chastity, separated themselves from their husbands, because they desired them to worship God in sobriety and cleanness.”55] Two Romans, a prefect and a friend of the emperor, finally had Peter crucified for alienating the affections of their wives and concubines.

Pastor MacArthur combined two contradictory stories: (1) Clement’s rumor that Romans crucified both Peter and his wife, and (2) “The Acts of Peter” in which Peter is crucified upside down and alone. MacArthur then adds the unattributed legend that Peter felt unworthy of a regular crucifixion. From these conflicting sources, MacArthur concocted his seamless narrative in which Peter waits for “his turn” after his wife and the Romans then crucified him upside down because he felt unworthy. MacArthur describes a chain of events that did not happen in any of his sources and presents this blatant fabrication as if it were serious and authoritative history. In my opinion, this is merely one example of how Apologists engage in Orwellian misrepresentation of history.

IV. Burden of Proof

If someone makes a claim, then that person should provide evidence to support the claim. For example, if someone claims you injured him in a car accident, then he must prove it. In legalese, the proponent, a person who asserts a proposition or proposal, bears the burden of proof.[56] Apologists claim Jesus rose from the dead, so they must prove it.

I don’t need to disprove that Jesus rose from the dead. Courts recognize that proving a negative is always difficult and frequently impossible.[57] Proving a negative would require “negative evidence,” i.e., evidence tending to prove the nonexistence of a fact.[58] In my opinion, no ancient document satisfies the legal standard for negative evidence to disprove Jesus’ Resurrection. However, the absence of contrary evidence doesn’t establish anything to be true.[59] Apologists must still prove Jesus rose from the dead[60], and I can simply point out deficiencies in their alleged proof.[61]

V. Three Independent Objections to Evidence of the Resurrection

Three independent legal principles bar all evidence of Jesus’ Resurrection as a matter of law. Therefore, Apologists cannot meet their burden of proof unless they prove to you that none of these three rules apply to this case.

A. Physical Facts Rule

When separating truth from fiction, common sense requires that we reject the physically impossible. You don’t believe Kim Jong-il never defecated or that Davy Crockett could ride a streak of lightning. Most courts call this commonsense evidentiary principle the “physical facts rule.”[62] Some courts call the rule the “doctrine of inherent incredibility.”[63] Other courts don’t worry about labels and simply consider evidence “unbelievable on its face”[64] or “incredible as a matter of law”[65] when it violates the laws of nature.

1. Evidence that Contradicts Natural Laws is Worthless

“Judicial notice” means a judge doesn’t need evidence to establish facts that are so well known they cannot be reasonably doubted. “Courts take judicial notice how things happen according to the laws of nature.”[66] Therefore, the judge decides testimony is worthless when a witness describes events that could not have occurred under natural laws or scientific principles.

You already know about the most common application of the physical facts rule. An alibi is a “defense based on the physical impossibility of a defendant’s guilt by placing the defendant in a location other than the scene of the crime at the relevant time.”[67] The court does not consider astral projection or any other supernatural or pseudoscientific explanation for being at two places at the same time.

This pragmatic rule has deep roots. In 1842, legal apologist Simon Greenleaf published A Treatise on the Law of Evidence. Greenleaf explained that courts take judicial notice of “things, which must have happened according to the ordinary course of nature.”[68] He cited as authority an English case, Rex v. Luffe.[69]

In Luffe, the court determined that a child was illegitimate because the mother’s husband had been overseas for more than a year and returned to his wife in England just two weeks before the child’s birth. The court reasoned that children were illegitimate in cases “where it may certainly be known from the invariable course of nature, as in this case it may, that no birth could be occasioned and produced within those limits of time.” In other words, a baby cannot be born more than a year after conception.

Just like the Luffe court recognized that the “invariable course of nature” mandates about nine months to produce a baby, judges must take notice of the basic natural law that dead people stay dead. Therefore, evidence that Jesus revivified is worthless because it is impossible under natural laws.[70]

Apologists rely on unsworn gospel “testimony,” but even testimony under oath is unbelievable and worthless when it conflicts with established physical facts.[71] A Federal Court of Appeals explained the logic behind the rule.

Eye-witnesses’ testimony, essential though it may be, is fundamentally “soft” evidence, subject to human failings of perception, memory and rectitude. In law, as in other spheres of human affairs, simple facts may be far more persuasive than the most learned authorities. As in Dean Prosser’s homely example, “there is still no man who would not accept dog tracks in the mud against the sworn testimony of a hundred eye-witnesses that no dog has passed by.”[72]

Like Dean Prosser’s hypothetical dog tracks, it is a physical fact that dead people stay dead. The Gospel “testimony” is soft evidence and cannot overcome this physical fact. Even if Apologists had a hundred fact witnesses testifying under oath, physical facts would take precedence over testimony. Biblical “testimony” is worthless to prove a biological impossibility.

Evidence that could not have occurred under natural laws is always worthless. Exceptions to evidentiary rules sometimes allow juries to consider evidence judges would otherwise exclude. The physical facts rule has no exceptions—not ever.

2. No Supernatural Exception

Apologists argue that miracles don’t contradict science, but occur outside science.[73] This is a distinction without a difference. The physical facts rule discredits all evidence that violates natural laws.[74]

Like other common-law rules, courts developed the physical facts rule and rejected miraculous evidence through a combination of logic and experience. English courts once employed trial by combat and a wide variety of ordeals in which God supposedly determined guilt or innocence.[75] Courts learned through experience that they could not trust miracles to achieve justice.[76] Courts found other supernatural evidence equally unreliable. Colonial American courts considered testimony about witchcraft and the power of spells.[77] The Salem witch trials demonstrated the dubious quality of such evidence, and no American court after 1692 has admitted supernatural evidence. Other than a few judges in southeastern Cameroon who still considered spectral evidence in the 21st century[78], modern courts worldwide reject miraculous evidence.

B. Private Appearances

The renowned Victorian medium D. D. Home performed many impressive miracles, including levitating himself three floors above the street.[79] No one ever detected the slightest fraud behind Home’s spiritual powers, but he achieved this spotless record while performing for friendly audiences, usually at private dinner parties.[80] Some people not on Home’s guest list doubted his powers, and we should be equally skeptical about Jesus’ appearances to his disciples.

Peter said, God raised Jesus “and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”[81] If this is true, then Jesus chose to afford his opponents no opportunity to observe his Resurrection. Christian claims about a private resurrection are no more credible than D. D. Home’s private miracles. It is an established legal doctrine that demonstrations conducted by an interested party without notice to adversaries are always received with suspicion and for that reason alone are entitled to little or no weight.[82]

Consider Jesus’ invitation-only resurrection from Herod’s point of view. Pilate sent Jesus to Herod Antipas after he learned Jesus was a Galilean and therefore under Herod’s jurisdiction. Herod had wanted to see Jesus for a long time and hoped to “see him perform some sign.”[83] Herod questioned Jesus at length, but Jesus refused to answer him. Herod mocked Jesus, but only after the alleged miracle worker appeared to be a fake.[84] Nonetheless, Herod did not find Jesus guilty of any crime and sent him back to Pilate.[85] Imagine the conversation if Peter had talked with Herod after Pentecost.

Peter:         Herod! I bring you the good news of Jesus Christ!

Herod:       Jesus? The fellow who performed a bunch of miracles in Galilee? Crucified a couple of months ago?

Peter:         That’s him! Praise Jesus!

Herod:       I saw him before Pilate crucified him, and he couldn’t show me any sign. Wouldn’t even answer my questions.[86]

Peter:         But now he’s showing you a sign! He is raised from the grave!

Herod:       Outstanding! Tell him to come see me. I’d really like to talk to him now.

Peter:         Well, he’s already ascended to heaven.

Herod:       Is that so? Can he come back and talk to me?

Peter:         Oh, he’s coming back, but it’ll be too late for talking!

Herod:       Okay. Let’s work with what we have. How long was he here?

Peter:         He was here for forty days, and he ascended about ten days ago.

Herod:       And you’re just now telling me?

Peter:         We’ve been real busy continually blessing God in the temple.[87]

Herod:       Okay. Did Jesus go to the Temple?

Peter:         Well, he went to the temple before he was crucified, but he didn’t go back after his resurrection.

Herod:       So he’s keeping this resurrection thing quiet?

Peter:         Not at all. He wants everyone to know.

Herod:       If he didn’t go to the temple, did he make any public appearances?

Peter:         No. He appeared only to those of us who were chosen as witnesses.

Herod:       And who’s that?

Peter:         His brother. His disciples.

Herod:       So, friends and family?

Peter:         Pretty much. But, he also appeared to five hundred brothers and sisters!

Herod:       Excellent! Give me their names.

Peter:         Well, we never recorded the names, but I’m sure there were five hundred of them.

Herod:       Interesting story. So what can I do for you now?

Peter:         You must accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior!

Herod:       Really? He didn’t say anything about that to me. Why should I believe you?

Why should Herod have believed this story? Really think about that. Why should Herod have believed in a secret resurrection?

C. Vision or Multiple Hearsay

Jesus’ alleged appearances in The Documents fit into two categories: either (1) Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus or (2) physical appearances after the Resurrection. Visions are not admissible evidence, and physical appearances are all multiple hearsay. Taken together, these two defects bar all evidence regarding Jesus’ Resurrection.

1. Paul’s Vision

Apologists agree that Paul never saw Jesus in the flesh, before or after his crucifixion. Paul experienced a vision (a light and a voice) on the road to Damascus. He may also have had other visions, but they don’t seem to be important to Apologists. Visions are not credible evidence. Joseph Smith, Jim Jones, Shirley MacLaine, Charles Manson and countless other people have experienced visions or at least claimed to have done so. Although Paul may have had a vision on the road to Damascus[88], talking with God demonstrates insanity in real courts.[89] Therefore, statements in Galatians, 1 Corinthians and Acts that Jesus appeared to Paul in a vision are not admissible, except to show Paul’s insanity.

2. Physical Appearances are Multiple Hearsay

Legal scholars have written volumes on the hearsay rule. I will focus on the logic behind the rules and ignore many technicalities.

Apologists claim to have eyewitness testimony. Using the legal definition of “testimony,” that claim is simply false. “Testimony” means a witness speaking under oath.[90] Apologists have no eyewitness testimony because Mary Magdalene and other alleged fact witnesses are no longer available to testify regarding anything they personally observed. Instead, Apologists rely on documents.

a) Definition of Hearsay

Most nonlawyers think hearsay means a witness in court testifies about something that someone else said outside of court. However, the hearsay rule also applies to documents. In fact, we need not discuss hearsay testimony by live witnesses because Apologists have no live witnesses.

Federal Rule of Evidence 801(c) defines “hearsay” as a “statement” that:

  1. the declarant does not make while testifying at the current trial or hearing; and
  2. a party offers in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement.

A “declarant” is a person who says, writes or otherwise makes the out-of-court statement that a party offers into evidence. A document’s author is the declarant because he made out-of-court statements in the document. For example, Mark’s author is the declarant of all the statements in Mark. Mark’s author did not make these statements “while testifying at the current trial or hearing.” Instead, he made the statements when he wrote the Gospel some time during the first century.

Offering a statement truth of the matter does not mean the statement is true. It merely means that the person offering it believes it to be true.

b) Logic of the Hearsay Rule

The “principal justification for the hearsay rule is that hearsay statements, being made out of court, are not subject to cross-examination.”[91] Cross-examination is “the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.”[92] I would certainly like to ask Matthew’s author a few questions.

Matthew says that, along with a miraculous three-hour darkness and rock-splitting earthquake, “tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.”[93] We might ask Matthew’s author what the saints did after rising on Friday and before strolling around Jerusalem on Sunday. Did the saints talk when they appeared to many in Jerusalem, or did they just stumble around like zombies? If they talked, what did they say? Why did the other gospel authors not think this momentous event worth mentioning?

We would certainly like to ask Matthew’s author where he got his information about Caiaphas secretly bribing the guards. Consider the story from Caiaphas’ point of view. If the Jewish saints had already risen on Friday and their tombs were open, why would Caiaphas ask Pontius Pilate on Saturday to place a guard on Jesus’ tomb?[94] Was there a separate cover-up for all the other open tombs?

What did Caiaphas think when some, but not all, of the soldiers guarding Jesus’ tomb told him an angel of the Lord proclaimed that Jesus had risen from the dead, just like he said he would?[95] A few days before, Caiaphas had been afraid to arrest Jesus for fear that the people might riot.[96] Sunday morning, the man Caiaphas had just crucified was on the loose and planning Lord knows what. The angel of the Lord, who was apparently tight with Jesus and strong enough to move a two-ton stone, was last seen sitting on said stone a short walk from Caiaphas. Did this not worry him?

Caiaphas must have remembered Jesus had warned Caiaphas that he would see Jesus seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.[97] Did Caiaphas wonder whether Jesus might hold a grudge over the crucifixion? After the incident with the moneychangers, Caiaphas knew Jesus had a temper.[98]

By the time the chief priests assembled with the elders[99], Caiaphas must have received reports that the dead saints had come out of their tombs and were walking around Jerusalem, a city already on edge because of two earthquakes and the inexplicable three-hour darkness.[100] What does Caiaphas do about this SAPFU (Surpassing All Previous Foul-Ups)? He supposedly decided he could handle the whole situation by bribing the guards to keep quiet.[101] Did Caiaphas really believe all the guards, having seen the most momentous event in history, would really keep their secret?

In hindsight, Caiaphas’ head-in-the-sand approach worked surprisingly well. The angel of the Lord and the Jewish saints apparently went away, Jesus never appeared in public again, and Caiaphas never saw Jesus coming on clouds of heaven. Was Caiaphas relieved at this anti-climactic ending?

Apologists can certainly think of possible answers to all these questions, but that is not the point. The law doesn’t allow lawyers to speculate about what declarants might say. We will never hear answers to these questions because we cannot cross-examine documents. Apologists can try to explain away contradictions, uncertainties and absurdities of the Gospels’ conflicting appearance stories, but nothing will replace cross-examination. We cannot place Mary Magdalene or any other fact witness under oath and ask them about Easter morning.

c) Logic of the Ancient Document Exception

Apologists tacitly admit that The Documents are all hearsay. However, they claim that The Documents are excepted from the hearsay rules under the ancient documents exception.

In general, courts deem hearsay so unreliable that they exclude it from evidence. However, there are exceptions. A hearsay exception doesn’t establish a statement is admissible. A hearsay exception means that courts don’t exclude a hearsay statement purely because it is hearsay. Courts may still exclude the statement on other grounds—such as the physical facts rule.

Rule 803(16)excepts a statement from the hearsay rule if meets two requirements: (1) the statement is in an authentic document (to which I have agreed) and (2) the document was prepared before January 1, 1998[102], an arbitrary date for the beginning of the “Information Age.”[103] Therefore, every authentic document prepared before 1998 qualifies for the exception. Rule 803 exceptions usually have sufficient “circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness” that courts consider the hearsay almost as reliable as in-court testimony. The “ancient document rule” of Rule 803(16) is about as close as Apologists gets to any legal rule or principle that could support the admissibility of The Documents.

At first blush, the ancient document rule seems nonsensical. Were all documents prepared before January 1, 1998 truthful? Mein Kampf was an authentic pack of lies when Hitler published it in 1925, and it still is. The Book of Mormon and L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health were written before 1998. Are they true?

Nonetheless, the rule usually works fairly well when admitting evidence in trials. Most trials involve disputes that arose within four or five years before the trial. The hearsay exception for ancient documents reflects the common sense that people who write documents usually have no bias—one way or the other—regarding unanticipated disputes that may develop years later.

This rationale doesn’t apply to the Gospels because they were all highly controversial when they were first written. According to Matthew, the Jews disputed Jesus’ Resurrection from the very beginning—when Caiaphas supposedly bribed the guards to stay quiet.[104] The ancient document exception to the hearsay rule gives you no reason to believe The Documents are any more credible than the Koran or any other document created before 1998.

d) Hearsay Levels

Hearsay may have multiple levels. The basic rule is simple. When people pass a statement from person to person, each person is a declarant and a separate hearsay level. People can pass statements from person to person either orally or in writing. Either way, each link in the chain (each person/declarant) is a hearsay level—two declarants mean double hearsay (hearsay within hearsay), three declarants mean triple hearsay (hearsay within hearsay within hearsay), and so on.

Even if the ancient document hearsay exception applied, it would apply only to the first hearsay level—the author/first declarant of the document.[105] However, as discussed in the Statement of Facts, the Gospels’ authors are all anonymous. These anonymous documents must be either multiple hearsay or pure fiction.

Apologists often cite Matthew 26:11-15 in which Caiaphas bribed the guards at Jesus’ tomb to say that his disciples stole the body. However, they don’t suggest how Matthew’s author acquired this information. Luke 8:3 says that Joanna—one of Jesus’ female followers—was married to Chuza, Herod’s steward. Some Apologists theorize that this connection allowed Christians to learn inside information. Suppose that (1) Caiaphas told (2) Herod that he bribed the guards, and then Herod told (3) Chuza who told (4) Joanna who told (5) Matthew’s author. Five declarants would be quintuple hearsay.

Multiple hearsay is admissible only if each individual declarant falls within an exception to the hearsay rule.”[106] In the example above, Apologists would need five hearsay exceptions to admit the statement in Matthew 26:11-15 that Caiaphas bribed the guards—a separate hearsay exception for each declarant.

Even if Apologists could show a complete chain of declarants with hearsay exceptions for each declarant, multiple hearsay is always of dubious value. Flaws in perception, memory, narration, and sincerity increase with each hearsay level.[107] Remember how Pastor MacArthur concocted a new story for Peter’s crucifixion? Each declarant—intentionally or unintentionally—may change the story as they pass a statement from person to person, and we cannot cross-examine any of them. In practice, courts sometimes consider double hearsay, rarely allow triple hearsay and almost never admit quadruple hearsay into evidence.

VI. Apologists’ Arguments

All Apologists do not make the same arguments. I respond to the most common arguments made by most Apologists.

A. No Circumstantial Evidence

Most of Apologists’ arguments depend on circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is evidence of predicate facts from which the jury may infer the “principal fact” sought to be established.[108] For example, testimony that a witness saw the accused running from the scene of a murder would be direct evidence of flight, but only circumstantial evidence that the accused committed the murder.

Circumstantial evidence requires a two-step analysis.

  1. Step one. The jury decides whether to believe the predicate facts—e.g., is the witness telling the truth about seeing the accused flee the scene?
  2. Step two. The jury must infer the principal fact—e.g., did the accused commit the murder?[109]

An inference must be based on “probabilities rather than possibilities” and must not be the result of “mere speculation and conjecture” about what might have happened.[110] If the facts are equally consistent with two possible inferences, then neither inference is reasonable.[111]

1. No Predicate Facts

Apologists makes three arguments for which they have no predicate facts.

a) Nobody Dies for a Lie

“Nobody dies for a lie” is the most beloved of all apologetic arguments. Apologists recognize people die for all sorts of crazy ideas, but they assert that those people—especially Islamic terrorists—sacrifice themselves for something they merely believe to be true. Apologists argue that the Apostles are different because they had seen their resurrected Savior with their own eyes and they knew Jesus rose from the dead.[112] .

Apologists claim that “the eyewitnesses” all died martyrs’ deaths because they proclaimed Jesus’ Resurrection. No convincing evidence exists that any eyewitness died a martyr’s death.

Even if the disciples had died for their beliefs, we don’t know that those beliefs included Jesus’ physical resurrection, as opposed to a spiritual resurrection.[113] St. Peter and St. John supposedly wrote letters now included in the Bible, but they don’t say anything about a physical resurrection. No one clearly described a physical resurrection before an anonymous author wrote Mark around 60-65 CE.

Apologists apparently expect you to assume all Christians believed in the physical Resurrection described in the Gospels. You may not have noticed this assumption because most people today think early Christians all shared the same beliefs. However, Scripture reveals that factions and false prophets bedeviled Christianity from the beginning. In sum, we know that early Christians believed different things, so we don’t know whether they all believed in Jesus’ physical resurrection.

Other than fanciful legends, anonymous hearsay statements in Acts provide the best evidence about what the disciples might have believed after Jesus’ crucifixion. Acts 1:13 lists eleven disciples, but the Bible never mentions seven of them again. Andrew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James disappear from Scripture.

b) Prophecy not Fulfilled

Apologists often claim that Jesus fulfilled numerous Old Testament prophecies and that the odds of anyone satisfying this “prophetic fingerprint” by chance is eleventy gazillion to one—or thereabouts.[114] This would be most impressive if Apologists had the facts to support this math.

To testify in court, a witness must explain some methodology for how he selects significant data from a large mass of information.[115] Christians merely pick a few verses among the 23,214 verses in the Old Testament that resemble something that supposedly happened to Jesus and ignore the rest. Courts have consistently excluded testimony that “cherry-picks” relevant data.[116]

No Old Testament prophecy predicted the Messiah would suffer, die and rise from the grave.[117] However, crucifixion turned out to be a prominent item on Jesus’ résumé, so the first Christians wanted prophecies on the subject.

Like so many people before and after them, Jesus’ followers searched Scripture and found what they were looking for. Early Christians interpreted a few selected verses to be prophetic, and modern Christians often cite Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22.

Most first-century Jews believed the Messiah would be a military and political leader who would defeat the Romans and restore Israel to glory. They had good reason for that belief because messianic prophecy in the Old Testament describes just such an earthly king. The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah explicitly promised that a descendent of David would defeat Israel’s enemies and restore its former glory. Isaiah 13:15-16 further explained that on the day of the Lord, “whoever is caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered, and their wives ravished.”

Having failed to kill a single infant or ravish any wives, Jesus was a total washout as the Jewish Messiah. Christians ignore the more bloodthirsty prophecies about the Messiah—such as drinking his enemies’ blood.[118]

Apologists must explain some logical methodology to determine why parts of Psalm 22 are prophetic and the baby-killing messiah of Isaiah 13:15-16 is not. Otherwise, the alleged evidence regarding prophesy is not admissible.

c) No Physical Evidence

Alleged artifacts of Jesus include twenty holy grails, three crowns of thorns, four spears that pierced Jesus’ side, and forty-three “True Shrouds” of Christ.[119] Most Apologists agree that all these relics are fakes—except for the Shroud of Turin. The Shroud is supposedly the actual “clean linen cloth” described in Matthew 27:59 in which Joseph of Arimathea wrapped Jesus’ body. This argument fails the first step of circumstantial evidence—the facts don’t support it.

Shroud apologists have generated volumes of literature with graphs, charts and many big words. I will not delve into this voluminous pseudoscience and will instead focus on one simple point.

The Shroud first appeared in France about the year 1360. In the 1400s, witnesses described the image as being then so vivid that the blood seemed freshly shed.[120] A sixteenth-century painting by Giovanni Battista della Rovere portrays the image (then over two centuries old) in muted colors with no trace of red.

Burial of Jesus, painting by Giovanni Battista della Rovere (1560-1627)

Giovanni Battista della Rovere creator QS:P170,Q16855905, Jesus wrapping - g.battista, CC BY-SA 3.0

Compare that to the shroud today; the image has now almost completely faded away.

The Shroud of Turin

If the Shroud were an authentic relic from 30 CE, why would the image remain fresh for over thirteen centuries, and then almost disappear in four centuries? On the other hand, that is exactly what would happen if someone faked the Shroud around 1360.

2. Inference not Reasonable

Apologists make five arguments for which they have predicate facts, but the inference is not reasonable.

a) Historical Details

Apologists argue that accurate historical information corroborates the Gospels. For example, Luke 3:1 says Lysanias ruled Abilene in the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, a fact recently confirmed by archaeological evidence.[121] Apologists argue accurate information about such historical details means the Gospels tell the truth about the Resurrection.

This argument lacks common sense. Conan Doyle and numerous other Spiritualists state accurate geographic, political and historical information. Does that convince you that spirits materialized in Victorian séances? Accurate background details don’t confirm an entire story to be true.

b) Argument from Silence

An argument from silence asserts that the lack of evidence means something. The classic example is Sherlock Holmes’ curious incident of the dog that did not bark in “Silver Blaze.”[122] The absence of evidence that the dog barked indicated that it knew the intruder. An argument from silence holds water when only one credible explanation exists for the silence. The dog not barking provided valid evidence that it knew the intruder because we can think of no other reason for its silence.

Apologists argue that “enemies in Jewish leadership” could have nipped Christianity in the bud by producing the body of Jesus, so the absence of such evidence means the Jews could not find Jesus’ body.[123] However, credible explanations exist for the absence of evidence regarding Jesus’ body.

First, this argument assumes facts that Apologists has not yet proved. They assume that early Christians proclaimed Jesus’ bodily resurrection and that unspecified “enemies” desperately wanted to disprove this heretical claim.[124]

Second, Jesus’ body might have disappeared in many mundane ways. Apologist N. T. Wright agrees that, without Jesus’ subsequent appearances, a missing body “would have proved nothing; it would have suggested nothing, except the fairly common practice of grave-robbery.”[125] In John 20:2, Mary Magdalene thought someone had stolen Jesus’ body. It was a perfectly natural assumption. What would you think if you found an empty grave today?

c) God’s Existence

Apologists often argue that scientific evidence about a finely tuned universe proves that God exists and that Jesus’ Resurrection is more likely because God exists. Even if Apologists could prove a “God” exists, it would not be reasonable to infer the existence of Yahweh, the Hebrew God of the Old Testament.

Jesus and his followers were Jews who worshiped in the Jewish temple, observed Jewish customs and believed Jewish Scripture. Evangelicals have long recognized, correctly in my view, that one cannot accept Jesus and reject the Old Testament God to whom he prayed. The New Testament intertwines Jesus’ story with Old Testament stories about Yahweh. For example, Jesus speaks in very literal terms about Noah building an ark to save his family from a flood.[126]

Apologists never talk about Yahweh when trying to win converts. When necessary, evangelicals defend the primitive, genocidal God who ordered the Israelites to show the Amalekites no mercy, “but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”[127] However, they generally avoid subjects like the sheer stupidity of killing donkeys and the contemptible misogyny of forcing a girl to marry her rapist.[128] Therefore, Apologists argue that they can prove the existence of a generic “God,” and gloss over the fact that the God of Abraham was an exceedingly disagreeable character.

Apologists cannot prove the existence of Yahweh, an omniscient god who wrote Scripture. Quite the contrary, the Bible is the best evidence that fallible people wrote the haphazard conglomeration of myth, history, letters and other miscellaneous documents now called the Bible. Books such as the 481-page Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Gleason Archer and the 624-page Big Book of Bible Difficulties by Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe try to explain some of the Bible’s apparent mistakes.[129]

Apologists claim the Bible merely appears to contain errors because we stupid mortals don’t understand it. Gleason Archer explains, “When we are unable to understand God’s ways or are unable to comprehend His words, we must bow before Him in humility and patiently wait for Him to clear up the difficulty or deliver us from our trials as He sees fit.”[130] This rationalization begs the question: why can’t Yahweh write an understandable book? Archer would not have to explain what the Bible really means if Yahweh had delivered coherent scripture to begin with.

If an omniscient God existed, expecting him to use understandable language doesn’t set a high bar. Numerous laws require mere mortals to communicate messages clearly. For example, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires bill collectors to send demand letters understandable to both sophisticated and unsophisticated consumers.[131] Yahweh, rather than being omniscient, lacks the communication skills required of bill collectors.

d) Ring of Truth

Apologists claim the Gospels have the “ring of truth.”[132]

Lawyers often use diagrams, models and other “demonstrative evidence” to help the jury understand the facts. An accident reconstruction expert may prepare a video demonstrating how an accident probably happened.

Demonstrative evidence reveals how parts of the Gospels don’t ring true. Numerous films depict Jesus’ life, but have you ever noticed that filmmakers always omit or distort some things such as the walking-dead saints from Matthew 27:52-53 or Jesus cursing a fig tree?

No filmmaker accurately depicts Matthew 27:25’s blood curse in which, after Pilate declared himself innocent of Jesus’ blood, the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” In The Passion of the Christ, Caiaphas—not the people—delivers the controversial dialogue (in Aramaic and without subtitles). Moreover, why would a crowd say such a thing? After spilling oceans of Jewish blood, Christians now struggle to find palatable theological interpretations for Matthew 27:25, but since when do mobs announce theology?

Acts 1:9 describes the Ascension, but no one ever shows how Jesus “was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” No holy biopic shows this because it would look silly. Like Mohammed flying to Paradise on a winged equine, Jesus’ magic cloud has not stood the test of time.

e) Christianity’s Success

Apologists argue that some great event must have inspired Christianity in order for it to spread throughout the Roman Empire[133] and/or that Christianity could not have succeeded if the Resurrection were not true.[134] Legal apologists use this standard apologetic argument, but they have never advanced any legal argument to support it. Apologists argue:

  1. Christianity was and is successful.
  2. You can therefore infer that Jesus rose from the dead.

In legal terms, Apologists claim that Christianity’s success is circumstantial evidence of a “but-for cause.” But-for causation means that an event would not have happened but for a specific cause—but for the Resurrection Christianity would not have succeeded. But-for causation doesn’t mean an event has only one cause, but rather that the event in question would not have occurred without the but-for cause.”[135]

Apologists cannot seriously argue that genuine miracles are a but-for cause for a successful religion. Joseph Smith provided precious little evidence for his alleged miracles, and yet Mormons now have the fastest growing religion on earth.

Other factors explain Christianity’s growth. Two pivotal conversions enabled Christianity’s amazing success, and they both resulted from purported visions. According to Acts, Paul became the apostle to the Gentiles after his vision on the road to Damascus. Emperor Constantine became the first Christian emperor after a vision promising him victory in the Battle of Milvian Bridge.[136] Visions are no evidence of reality. Constantine also claimed he had a vision of Apollo and the Roman goddess Victoria, and no one believes they are real.[137]

3. No Predicate Facts and Inference not Reasonable

Apologists make two related arguments for which they don’t have predicate facts, and the inference is not reasonable.

a) Early Recordation

Based primarily on Paul’s list of Jesus’ appearance in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, Apologists claim early Christians expressed belief in Jesus’ bodily resurrection within two to six years of his crucifixion, and that false beliefs could not develop so quickly.[138] Although Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in 54-57 CE, Apologists claim he learned about these appearances much sooner. Michael R. Licona admits this is speculation.[139]

Even if the two to six year time estimate were correct, inferring that false beliefs require more than two years to germinate is plainly absurd. If writing stories immediately made them true, then you have to believe every news story you read on the Internet.

b) Legendary Development

Apologists sometimes argue that the “famous study” conducted by historian A. N. Sherwin-White, from Oxford University, meticulously examined the rate at which legend accrued in the ancient world and concluded that not even two full generations was enough time for legend to develop and wipe out a solid core of historical truth.[140]

The facts don’t support this claim because Sherwin-White actually said no such thing. Although the Oxford scholar discussed legendary development in his book—Roman Law and Roman Society in the New Testament, he conducted no “famous study” and made no “meticulous examination.” He used one example from Herodotus’s Histories to illustrate that historians could sometimes find the truth despite legendary development.[141]

Sherwin-White agreed that legends could develop swiftly. For example, he wrote, “There was remarkable growth of myth around [Alexander the Great] within the lifetime of his contemporaries, and the historical embroidery was often deliberate.”[142] Sherwin-White’s main point was that the Gospels still contain some accurate information, despite legendary embellishments.

Even if Sherwin-White had made such a “meticulous examination,” it would not be reasonable to infer the Resurrection to be true. This argument uses the “false dilemma” logical fallacy. Apologists present an either/or choice between legend and truth, as if anything that is not a legend must be true. By definition, the word “legend” normally implies a story handed down from earlier generations, so the Gospels would not fit the definition if they were—as Apologists claim—written soon after the purported events they describe. However, stories may still be false even though they are not legends.

Everyone knows that people make up stories and urban legends can spring up overnight. Common sense says that it would have been even easier for people to tell miraculous stories in ancient times. In The Jewish War, Josephus relates numerous miraculous events that supposedly occurred only 10 or 15 years before he published the book, including eyewitness accounts of “chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor … running about among the clouds” around Jerusalem.[143] A resurrection is tame stuff compared to this whopper.

B. Hearsay Exceptions

Apologists make four arguments involving exceptions to the hearsay rule. They generally don’t characterize these issues as hearsay exceptions, but that is what they are. Exceptions to the hearsay rule use a two-step analysis similar to circumstantial evidence. If (1) Apologists must prove the predicate facts required by the rule, then (2) the rule requires the judge to infer that the hearsay is, barring other objections, nonetheless admissible.

1. Rule 804(b)(3), Statements against Interest

People rarely invent stories that expose themselves to ridicule or danger. If someone admits something embarrassing, then the judge can infer that he is probably telling the truth. Federal Rule of Evidence 804(b)(3) creates a hearsay exception for a “statement against interest.” The rule is somewhat technical, but in general provides that judges can except a statement from the hearsay rule if the statement, at the time the declarant made the statement, would expose the declarant to serious embarrassment or danger. Apologists claim three statements against interest show that the Gospels are credible.

a) Persecution

Apologists claim that Christians faced persecution, and therefore claims about Jesus’ Resurrection must be true. However, Apologists cannot prove the predicate facts.

First, Rule 804(b)(3) applies to statements made by specific “declarants.” The Gospels were anonymous, and we can identify only one declarant of The Documents—Paul. Paul made statements about Jesus appearing to him, but he made these statements in private letters to Galatian and Corinthian Christians. No evidence exists that Paul feared persecution based on anything he said in letters to his followers.

Second, Rule 804(b)(3) also requires that the statement must be against the declarant’s interest “when made.” Apologists cannot establish when or where any of The Documents were written. Therefore, Apologists cannot establish that the declarants would have feared persecution at some unknown time and place.

b) Peter’s Denials

Apologists claim that the Gospels—everything in the Gospels—must be true because they tell the story of Peter denying Jesus three times.[144] However, this story doesn’t “show the truth” of the Resurrection for at least three reasons.

First, hearsay exceptions apply to individual statements. The issue in this brief is whether Apologists can prove Jesus’ Resurrection. Even if the against-interest hearsay exception applied to statements about Peter denying Jesus, statements about Jesus’ Resurrection are still hearsay. Evidence for a credible part of a story doesn’t prove an incredible (miraculous) part of a story.

Second, we don’t know who wrote the Gospels, so we cannot know what was against the gospel authors’ interest. Paul called Peter a hypocrite, and Peter probably irritated Gentile Christians with his inconsistent positions about circumcision.[145] The anonymous Gospel authors might have enjoyed gigging Peter.

Third, even if the anonymous gospel authors loved and admired Peter, his temporary weakness was not against the interests of early Christians. Fiction writers understand that flaws and setbacks make a better story before the hero’s eventual redemption and victory. Peter’s pre-Resurrection weakness is part of this powerful story.

c) Female Witnesses

Apologists argue that Christians would not have invented the story about women finding the empty tomb because women had little status in society and could not testify as witnesses in a Jewish court.[146] However, Apologists make the false assumption that the gospel authors shared Jewish and Roman prejudices against women, but the evidence indicates the exact opposite. Jesus, as portrayed in the Gospels, would not be embarrassed that women were important witnesses. Women traveled with Jesus and provided for him “out of their resources.”[147]

Paul’s letter to the Romans in 56-57 CE identifies several prominent women in the Roman church.[148] If actions speak louder than words, Phoebe was the most important person named in Romans because Paul apparently chose her to carry the letter to the Roman church. Paul called Phoebe “a deacon of the church” and directed the Romans to “help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.”

Mark’s author first wrote the story about women finding Jesus’ empty tomb—possibly based on earlier oral accounts. For all we know, Phoebe might have “been a benefactor” to Mark’s author and/or whoever first invented the story about women finding an empty tomb.

2. Rule 807, Residual Exception

Apologists argue that Jewish critics subjected evidence of the Resurrection to the functional equivalence of cross-examination because “testimony” to Christ’s Resurrection (the Gospels) “was presented contemporaneously in the synagogues—in the very teeth of opposition, among hostile cross examiners who would certainly have destroyed the case for Christianity had the facts been otherwise.”[149]

Federal Rule of Evidence 807 creates a residual or catchall exception for hearsay statements. This residual exception sometimes allows judges to admit hearsay even when no specific hearsay exception applies. Rule 807 has two primary requirements.

First, Apologists must provide the declarant’s name and address. Even if the declarant is dead, Apologists must at least be able to identify the declarant.[150]

Second, the circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness must be equivalent to one of the specific hearsay exceptions. Rule 804(b)(1) creates a specific exception for prior testimony that:

  1. was given as a witness at a trial, hearing, or lawful deposition, and
  2. is now offered against a party whose predecessor in interest had an opportunity and similar motive to cross-examine the witness.

You can see why former testimony under Rule 804(b)(1) might be trustworthy. It is testimony under oath, a legitimate opponent cross-examined the witness, and a court reporter recorded the questions and the answers. Apologists’ “functional equivalence of cross-examination” doesn’t come within a country mile of this reliability.

C. No Multiple Attestation

Apologists argue that “multiple attestation” supports the truth of Jesus’ Resurrection. Courts don’t use the term “multiple attestation,” but the principle is valid: the more independent witnesses who report an event, the better.[151] Apologists claim The Documents are independent, consistent, eyewitness testimony, but no part of that claim withstands legal analysis. New Testament verses about Jesus’ Resurrection are not independent, not consistent, not eyewitness, and they are not even testimony.

1. Not eyewitness/independent

“Eyewitness” and “independent” are essentially the same thing under the law. Independent testimony comes—either directly or through admissible hearsay—from independent eyewitnesses.[152] The Documents don’t meet this standard. Paul—the author of 1 Corinthians and Galatians—did not witness Jesus’ Resurrection and saw Jesus only in visions. Apologists cannot establish eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels or establish a chain of hearsay declarants back to any eyewitness.

2. Not consistent

Apologists concede The Documents tell inconsistent stories about Jesus’ Resurrection, but they argue minor differences don’t discredit the “core” story. Apologists usually analogize the situation to witnesses to a car accident. Independent witnesses may disagree as to which car ran a red light, but they all agree there was a crash.

This argument is disingenuous because Apologists don’t believe that only the “core” story is true. Apologists believe Scripture is the inerrant word of God.[153] They believe every word in the Bible to be true, even when they contradict each other. Apologists downplay inerrancy because evangelicals must resort to ridiculous mental gymnastics to explain the Bible’s manifold errors and inconsistencies. However, lawyers should not argue facts they don’t believe to be true. A lawyer should only plead alternative facts when he is in legitimate doubt as to which facts are correct.[154]

3. Not testimony

“Testimony” means a witness speaking under oath or affirmation.

VII. Conclusion

Apologists often observe that courts use legal standards of evidence to decide important issues. I agree. This is the kind of evidence we use when facts really matter, such as executions and Presidential elections. It should surprise no one that Apologists can produce no evidence that would stand up in court.

One Apologist estimates that “since the seventeenth century, over one hundred and twenty Christian apologists have composed juridical or legally styled apologetic texts.”[155]. I don’t expect that this brief will hold back that tide. Nonetheless, I challenge any would-be legal apologist to contact me via Internet Infidels before writing yet another book or article claiming you can prove Jesus rose from the dead. I am still waiting for someone to accept my invitation to respond to this brief.


[1] Robert G. Miller, “Open Letter to Bradley J. Lingo, Dean of the Regent University School of Law” (August 31, 2023). The Secular Web. <https://infidels.org/kiosk/article/open-letter-to-legal-apologists/>.

[2] Miller, “Will No One Answer the Call? Update to Open Letter to Bradley J. Lingo, Dean of the Regent University School of Law” (September 30, 2023). The Secular Web. <https://infidels.org/kiosk/article/will-no-one-answer-the-call/>.

[3] Ross Clifford, John Warwick Montgomery’s Legal Apologetic: An Apologetic for All Seasons (Bonn, Germany: Culture & Science Publications, 2004), p. 61.

[4] Herdahl v. Pontotoc Cnty. Sch. Dist., 933 F. Supp. 582, 591 (N.D. Miss. 1996).

[5] Herdahl, 933 F. Supp. at 596.

[6] Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), p. 327.

[7] Wiley v. Franklin, 468 F. Supp. 133, 148-50 (D.C. Tenn., 1979).

[8] Herdahl, 933 F. Supp. at 596.

[9] Federal Rule of Evidence 702.

[10] Cayuga Indian Nation of New York v. Pataki, 165 F. Supp. 2d 266, 303-04 (N.D.N.Y. 2001) rev’d on other grounds 413 F.3d 266 (2nd Cir. 2005).

[11] 1 Corinthians 7:25-28.

[12] Bart D. Ehrman, Forged (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2011), pp. 92-114.

[13] Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2009), pp. 61-99.

[14] Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus—Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 79.

[15] Galatians 1:16.

[16] Ehrman, Jesus—Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, p. 42.

[17] Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), p. 46 (quoting Craig A. Evans); Ehrman, Forged, pp. 223-225.

[18] Ehrman, Jesus—Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, p. 42.

[19] Earl Doherty, Challenging the Verdict (Ottawa, ON: Age of Reason Publications, 2001), p. 9; Irenaeus, Against Heresies book III, chapter XI, §8.

[20] Eusebius, The Church History, book 3, chapter 39.

[21] Eusebius, The Church History, book 3, chapter 39.

[22] Irenaeus, Against Heresies book V, chapter 33.

[23] Robert M. Price, The Case Against The Case for Christ (Cranford, NJ: American Atheist Press, 2010), p. 25.

[24] Ehrman, Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It Into the New Testament (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press), p. 19.

[25] The Society of Biblical Literature, The HarperCollins Study Bible (London, UK: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993), note to John 21.24.

[26] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2006), p. 416.

[27] Matthew 5:18.

[28] Matthew 27:59.

[29] Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010), pp. 273-274.

[30] Mark 16:1-8.

[31] Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus, p. 204.

[32] Matthew 27:52-53.

[33] Matthew 27:62-66.

[34] Luke 24:50-51.

[35] Acts 1:1-11.

[36] Acts 9:3-9.

[37] Gary Habermas & Michael Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2004), p. 267n42.

[38] Bart D. Ehrman, Lost Scriptures.

[39] Richard Carrier, “The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb” in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave ed. Robert M. Price & Jeffery Jay Lowder (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2005): 105-231, p. 105, 179.

[40] e.g., Acts 14:19.

[41] Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20:197.

[42] Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus, p. 457.

[43] Candida Moss, The Myth of Persecution (London, UK: HarperCollins Publishers, 2013), p. 159.

[44] Tacitus, Annals book XV, chapter 44.

[45] Tacitus, Annals book XV, chapter 44.

[46] Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, Nero Claudius Caesar XVI.

[47] Letter 97, To the Emperor Trajan.

[48] Letter 98, Trajan to Pliny.

[49] Habermas & Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, p. 64.

[50] C. Bernard Ruffin, The Twelve, The Lives of the Apostles After Calvary (Huntington, WV: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 1997), p. 146, 156.

[51] John MacArthur, Twelve Ordinary Men (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2002), p. 60.

[52] See the works listed under The Fathers of the Church on the New Advent website.

[53] Clement, Miscellanies book 7, chapter 11.

[54] Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics chapter 36.

[55] Acts of Peter chapter 34.

[56] U.S. ex rel. Ondis v. City of Woonsocket, 587 F.3d 49, 54 (1st Cir. 2009).

[57] El-Ali v. State, 388 S.W.3d 890, 893 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2012).

[58] Hummer v. Levin, 673 A.2d 631, 636-37 (D.C. 1996).

[59] Alabama-Tombigbee Rivers Coal. v. Kempthorne, 477 F.3d 1250, 1257 (11th Cir. 2007).

[60] In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 367-68 (1970).

[61] Hands v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 282 F. Supp. 2d 645, 652 (N.D. Ohio 2003).

[62] Harris v. General Motors Corp., 201 F.3d 800, 803 (6th Cir. 2000).

[63] In re A.H.B., 491 A.2d 490, 496 (D.C. 1985).

[64] United States v. Feliciano, 761 F.3d 1202, 1206 (11th Cir. 2014).

[65] United States v. Calabrese, 572 F.3d 362, 369 (7th Cir. 2009).

[66] Brown v. Piper, 91 U.S. 37, 42 (1875).

[67] United States v. White, 443 F.3d 582, 587 (7th Cir. 2006).

[68] Simon Greenleaf, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, 2nd ed. (Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co., 1844), p. 7.

[69] Rex v. Luffe, 8 East 193, 202 (1807).

[70] Ralston Purina Co. v. Hobson, 554 F.2d 725, 729 (5th Cir. 1977).

[71] Nieman v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., 155 N.W.2d 809, 811 (Wis. 1968).

[72] Harris v. General Motors Corp., 201 F.3d 800, 803 (6th Cir. 2000) (quoting Prosser on Torts, 4 Ed., 212).

[73] Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), p. 62.

[74] Dotson v. Clark Equip. Co., 783 F.2d 586, 588 (5th Cir. 1986).

[75] Catholic Encyclopedia, Ordeals.

[76] Medina v. People, 114 P.3d 845, 850 (Colo. 2005).

[77] Pando by Pando v. Fernandez, 127 Misc. 2d 224, 231 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1984).

[78] Mohammed A. Diwan, Conflict Between State Legal Norms and Norms Underlying Popular Beliefs: Witchcraft in Africa as a Case Study, 14 Duke J. Comp. & Int’l L. 351, 368 (2004).

[79] Ronald Pearsall, The Table-Rappers (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1972), p. 85.

[80] Pearsall, The Table-Rappers, p. 149; Harry Houdini, A Magician Among the Spirits (New York, NY: Harper & Brothers, 1924), p. 41.

[81] Acts 10:40-41.

[82] In re Newman, 782 F.2d 971, 974 (Fed. Cir. 1986); Hutzler Bros. Co. v. Sales Affiliates, 164 F.2d 260, 266 (4th Cir. 1947).

[83] Luke 23:6-9.

[84] Luke 23:8.

[85] Luke 23:11, 23:15.

[86] Luke 23:6-9.

[87] Luke 24:53.

[88] Galatians 1:16.

[89] Wilson v. Gaetz, 608 F.3d 347, 354 (7th Cir. 2010); Diestel v. Hines, 506 F.3d 1249, 1258 (10th Cir. 2007).

[90] TheLawDictionary.org; Ball v. Memphis Bar-B-Q Co., Inc., 228 F.3d 360, 364 (4th Cir. 2000).

[91] Rice v. McCann, 339 F.3d 546, 551 (7th Cir. 2003).

[92] White v. Illinois, 502 U.S. 346, 356 (1992).

[93] Matthew 27:52-53.

[94] Matthew 27:62-66.

[95] Matthew 28:11.

[96] Matthew 26:3-5.

[97] Matthew 26:64.

[98] Matthew 21:12.

[99] Matthew 28:12.

[100] Matthew 27:51 and 28:2.

[101] Matthew 28:11-15.

[102] Federal Rule of Evidence 803(16).

[103] David C. Kent, “Older by the Day: ‘Ancient Documents’ in the Internet Age.” American Bar Association website (April 23, 2020).

[104] Matthew 28:11-15.

[105] Hicks v. Charles Pfizer & Co. Inc., 466 F. Supp. 2d 799, 806-07 (E.D. Tex. 2005).

[106] Federal Rule of Evidence 805}; U.S. v. Habteyes, 356 F. Supp. 3d 573, 586 n. 6 (E.D. Vir. 2018).

[107] Hicks v. Charles Pfizer & Co. Inc., 466 F. Supp. 2d 799, 806 (E.D. Tex. 2005).

[108] Gen. Acc. Fire & Life Assur. Corp. v. Schero, 160 F.2d 775, 776 (5th Cir. 1947).

[109] Robeson v. Dilts, 170 N.W.2d 408, 414 (Iowa 1969).

[110] Burroughs v. Commonwealth, 673 N.E.2d 1217, 1218 (Mass. 1996).

[111] Lovato v. Plateau, Inc, 444 P.2d 613, 615 (N.M. 1968).

[112] McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, p. 271.

[113] Rudolph Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, Vol. 1 (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951), p. 445.

[114] Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus, p. 275; John Warwick Montgomery, Christ our Advocate (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2016), p. 255, 262; Peter Stoner, Science Speaks (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1963), pp. 72-73, 100.

[115] Fail-Safe, L.L.C. v. A.O. Smith Corp., 744 F. Supp. 2d 870, 891 (E.D. Wis. 2010).

[116] E.E.O.C. v. Freeman, 778 F.3d 463, 469 (4th Cir. 2015).

[117] Ehrman, Jesus—Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, p. 218.

[118] Zechariah 9:15.

[119] Joe Nickell, Relics of the Christ (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2007), pp. 33, 56-57, 102, 108, 116.

[120] Herbert Thurston, “The Holy Shroud (of Turin)” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 13 ed. Charles G. Herbermann, Edward A. Pace, Condé B. Pallen, Thomas J. Shahan, & John J. Wynne (New York, NY: Robert Appleton Company, 1912).

[121] Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), p. 97.

[122] Gentry v. City of Murrieta, 43 Cal. Rptr. 2d 170, 186 (1995) (citing Doyle, Silver Blaze).

[123] Habermas & Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, p. 70.

[124] Carrier, “The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb,” p. 105.

[125] N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God ((Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), p. 688.

[126] Luke 17:26-27.

[127] 1 Samuel 15:3.

[128] Deuteronomy 22:28-29.

[129] Gleason C. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982); Norman L. Geisler & Thomas Howe, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008).

[130] Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, p. 15.

[131] Wright v. Credit Bureau of Georgia, Inc., 555 F. Supp. 1005, 1007 (N.D. Ga. 1983).

[132] John Warwick Montgomery, “The Jury Returns: A Juridical Defense of Christianity” (1991). Issues, Etc. Archive. <https://www.issuesetcarchive.org/articles/bissart1.htm>.

[133] Frank Morrison, Who Moved the Stone? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), pp. 115-116.

[134] Val Grieve, Your Verdict on the Empty Tomb of Jesus (InterVarsity Press, 1988), pp. 83-85.

[135] Ehrbar v. Forest Hills Hosp., 131 F. Supp. 3d 5, 20 (E.D.N.Y. 2015).

[136] Charles Freeman, A.D. 381: Heretics, Pagans and the Dawn of the Monotheistic State (New York, NY: The Overlook Press, 2008), p. 49.

[137] Charles Freeman, A.D. 381, p. 46.

[138] William Lane Craig, The Son Rises (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2000), p. 26.

[139] Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus, p. 231.

[140] Strobel, The Case for Christ, p. 264.

[141] A. N. Sherwin-White, Roman Law and Roman Society in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1963), pp. 190-191.

[142] Sherwin-White, Roman Law and Roman Society in the New Testament, p. 193.

[143] Josephus, The Jewish War 6:288-300.

[144] Morrison, Who Moved the Stone?, p. 119; Craig, The Son Rises, p. 77.

[145] Galatians 2:11-14.

[146] Craig, The Son Rises, p. 60, 77, 118.

[147] Mark 15:40-51; Luke 8:1-3.

[148] Romans 16:1-16.

[149] John Warwick Montgomery, Law above the Law (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1975), pp. 88-89.

[150] Amcast Indus. Corp. v. Detrex Corp., 779 F. Supp. 1519, 1529 (N.D. Ind. 1991).

[151] Bart D. Ehrman, How Jesus Became God (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2014), pp. 94-96.

[152] Jackson v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 665 So. 2d 661, 664 (La. App. 1995); Powell v. Viking Ins. Co., 44 Wash. App. 495, 502, 722 P.2d 1343, 1348 n. 3 (1986).

[153] Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), p. 74.

[154] Great Lakes Higher Educ. Corp. v. Austin Bank of Chicago, 837 F. Supp. 892, 894 (N.D. Ill. 1993).

[155] William P. Broughton, The Historical Development of Legal Apologetics (Longwood, FL: Xulon Press, 2009), p. 12.

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