As a result of this early and eyewitness testimony, the Christian teachings concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus are open to historical testing. As German historian Hans von Campenhausen attests concerning 1 Corinthians 15:3ff., “This account meets all the demands of historical reliability that could possibly be made of such a text.”^58 A.M. Hunter states that “The passage therefore preserves uniquely early and verifiable testimony. It meets every reasonable demand of historical reliability.”^59

Now we begin to perceive the immense importance of this creed in terms of both facts and faith. Initially, it reveals some crucial facts concerning the gospel of the deity, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It also shows that Paul was very close to these facts.^60 As Dodd asserts concerning this creed: Thus Paul’s preaching presents a special stream of Christian tradition which was derived from the mainstream at a point very near to its source. . . . anyone who should maintain that the primitive Christian gospel was fundamentally different from that which we have found in Paul must bear the burden of proof.^61

This factual witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus also became an apologetic for Christian belief.^62 The belief that the same Jesus who was dead and buried was raised again (1 Cor. 15:3–4) also strongly implies the empty tomb, especially in the context of Jewish thought.^63 On the other hand, this creed is also referred to by some as the most important single formulation of faith in the early church.^64

The importance of the creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3ff. can hardly be overestimated. No longer can it be charged that there is no demonstrable early,

56 See Cullmann, The Early Church, pp. 65–66; cf. p. 73; Jeremias, Eucharistic Words, p. 106; Hengel, The Atonement, p. 38; Dodd, Apostolic Preaching, pp. 16–17.