Conservative Christians love New Testament scholar N.T Wright when talking about the bodily resurrection of Jesus…
“When one couples this volume with the recent work of N.T. Wright on resurrection, one has to say that there is now a formidable intellectual gauntlet that has been thrown down, supported by meticulous research and powerful arguments, that challenges any view of the Easter events that does not include the bodily resurrection of Jesus.” —an endorsement by a prominent conservative Christian theologian, found on the inside cover of this book
…but on other issues, NT Wright is not very popular with them.
“Contrary to New Testament teachings, some scholars doubt that Jesus actually predicted his resurrection.” Habermas and Licona, p. 29
So what does NT Wright say about the topic of Jesus predicting his own resurrection? (From an article published in Gregorianum, 2002, 83/84, 615-635, reposted on Wright’s website he says)
“It is out of the question, for a start, that the disciples were simply extrapolating from the teachings of Jesus himself. One of the many curious things about Jesus’ teaching is that though resurrection was a well known topic of debate at the time we only have one short comment of his on the subject, in reply to the question from the Sadducees–a comment which is itself notoriously cryptic, like some of its companion pieces in the synoptic tradition. Apart from that, there are the short repeated predictions of Jesus’ passion and resurrection , which many of course assume are vaticinia ex eventu, and two or three other cryptic references. “
Gary: Vaticinia ex eventu??? That’s Latin for: “Jesus didn’t make these statements. These are FAKE prophecies, invented by the authors of the Gospels.”
This is the problem with conservative scholarship. They can’t get their scholars to agree on even the BIG stuff! Conservative Christians LOVE N.T. Wright for his endorsement of the bodily resurrection of Jesus but they fail to mention all the other things that Wright believes that they find anathema! Not only does Wright not believe Jesus predicted his resurrection, Wright believes that there is insufficient evidence to state that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses!
“I don’t know who wrote the Gospels and neither does anyone else.” –NT Wright
If the scholars who support the orthodox Christian belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus can’t even agree among themselves about other core “facts” of orthodoxy, what does that tell you about the strength of their position???
Ok, so what evidence do Habermas and Licona use to support their assertion that Jesus predicted his own resurrection? Here it is, in condensed form:
- The Principle of Embarrassment
The resurrection prediction stories put the disciples in a bad light (they didn’t believe Jesus or didn’t understand what he was saying). Christians would not have invented stories that made themselves look bad.
2. The Principle of Dissimilarity
(I’ll let you read the book for the authors discussion of this issue.)
3. Multiple Attestation
All four Gospels record these prophecies.
But here is the evidence AGAINST the authenticity of these “prophecies” which in my opinion, blows the above evidence in favor of their authenticity out of the water:
All four of the Gospels were written AFTER the alleged event in question!!!
Imagine someone writing a book in 1981 in which they allegedly quote someone in June of 1941 predicting that the Japanese will bomb Pearl Harbor in a sneak attack on Sunday morning, December 7th of that year. Now, which is more probable: That someone really did prophesy the Japanese sneak attack six months prior to the event, or, the author of the book INVENTED the prophesy forty years after the event had already happened???
You got it, folks! The overwhelming probability is that the author of the book invented the story that someone prophesied six months in advance the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Why? Answer: In our everyday, collective human experience, predictions of the future are rarely accurate. However, people cheat, lie, and make up tall tales all the time!
I believe that the only reason that conservative Christians believe that it is much more probable that the prophecies by Jesus regarding his approaching death and resurrection found in the four Gospels are authentic and not invented by the anonymous authors writing these stories years later is because conservative Christians so desperately want these “prophecies” to be true. In any other situation, not involving their Faith, I would bet they would never believe any prediction written in a book published years after the event predicted had already taken place.