What is the Evidence for the Resurrection?

Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) was the famous Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, and succeeded Justice Joseph Story as the Dane Professor of Law in the same university, upon Story’s death in 1846.

H. W, H. Knott says of this great authority in Jurisprudence: “Ib the efforts of Story and Greenleaf is to be ascribed the rise of the Harvard Law School to its eminent position among the legal schools of the United States.!

Greenleaf produced a famous work entitled A treatise on the Law of Evidence which “is still considered the greatest single authority on evidence in the entire literature of legal procedure.”

In 1846, while still Professor of Law at Harvard, Greenleaf wrote a volume entitled An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. In his classic work the author examines the value of the testimony of the apostles to the resurrection of Christ. The following are this brilliant jurist’s critical observations:

“The great truths which the apostles declared, were, that Christ had risen from the dead, and that only through repentance from sin, and faith in Him, could men hope for salvation. This doctrine they asserted with one voice, everywhere, not only under the greatest discouragements, but in the face of the most appalling errors that can be presented to the mind of man. Their master had recently perished as a malefactor, by the sentence of a public tribunal. His religion sought to overthrow the religions of the whole world. The laws of every country were against the teachings of His disciples. The interests and passions of all the rulers and great men in the world were against them. The fashion of the world was against them.

“Propagating this new faith, even in the most inoffensive and peaceful manner, they could expect nothing but contempt, opposition, revilings, bitter persecutions, stripes, imprisonments, torments, and cruel deaths. Yet this faith they zealously did propagate; and all these miseries they endured undismayed, nay, rejoicing. As one after another was put to a miserable death, the survivors only prosecuted their work with increased vigor and resolution. The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of the like heroic constancy, patience, and unblenching courage.

“They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths which they asserted; and these motives were pressed upon their attention with the most melancholy and terrific frequency. It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.

“If it were morally possible for them to have been deceived in this matter every human motive operated to lead them to discover and avow their error. To have persisted in so gross a falsehood, after it was known to them, was not only to encounter, for life, all the evils which man could inflict, from without, but to endure also the pangs of inward and conscious guilt; with no hope of future peace, no testimony of a good conscience, no expectation of honor or esteem among men, no hope of happiness in this life, or in the world to come.”

 Principal Hill from Scotland:

“When you look at all the evidence of the resurrection “But, if not withstanding every appearance of truth, you suppose their testimony (the testimony of the Apostles) to be false, then, inexplicable circumstances of glaring absurdity crowd in upon you. You must suppose that 12 men of mean birth, of no education, living in that humble station which placed ambitious views out of their reach and far from their thoughts without any aid from the state, that they formed the noblest scheme which has ever entered into the mind of man, adopted a most daring means of executing that scheme  and conducted it with such address as to conceal the imposture under the semblance of simplicity and virtue.

“You must further suppose that men guilty of blasphemy and falsehood united in an attempt the best contrived and which proved the most successful for making the world virtuous and that they formed this singular enterprise without seeking any advantage to themselves with an avowed contempt for loss and prophet and with the certain expectation of scorn and persecution and that although of one another’s villainy,  none of them ever thought of providing for his own security  by disclosing the fraud.  But, that amidst sufferings the most grievous  to flesh and blood to conceal their conspiracy they continued on until all of them had been killed  with no one ever changing his story. Those that can swallow such suppositions have no title to complain about miracles.”

More to come soon (God willing)

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