72 This does not even include the experience of the more than 500 persons who also claimed to have seen the risen Jesus, concerning whom Paul asserted that most were still alive and could be questioned.
73 The advantage of using only four of the facts is that, with such a small number, there is even wider support for these facts among critical scholars. Additionally, these four reveal how strong the case for the resurrection is, in actuality. But it should be noted that the case
The four facts to be used here are (1)Jesus’ death due to crucifixion, (5)the subsequent experiences that the disciples were convinced were literal appearances of the risen Jesus, (6)the corresponding transformation of the disciples, and (12)Paul’s conversion appearance, that he also believed was an appearance of the risen Jesus. These four “core” facts are even more widely accepted as knowable history than the rest of the twelve, being accepted by virtually all critical scholars.^74
Each of these four facts is established by means of normal historical methodology (see Appendix 1). The deathof Jesus due to crucifixion is evidenced not only by 1 Corinthians 15:3, but is further corroborated by the nature of crucifixion (including Yohanan’s skeleton, which we examine in the next chapter), medical testimony concerning Jesus’ heart wound, and Strauss’ famous critique of the swoon theory. Other New Testament creeds (like Phil. 2:8; 1 Cor. 11:23–26), as well as certain non-Christian and early non-New Testament Christian sources (see chapters below) are also helpful.
The fact of the disciples’ experiencesthat they believed to be appearances of the risen Jesus, is corroborated chiefly by the early and eyewitness testimony of 1 Corinthians 15:3ff. Other creeds (like Luke 24:34), and especially contemporary research on early confessions in the book of Acts,^75 are particularly valuable. Non-biblical references will also be discussed below.