While the Gospel accounts individually provide different angles and emphases, together they offer a remarkably coherent account of Christ’s life. The earliest Gospels were composed only thirty or so years after Christ’s death, and the last was written before 100 AD. Moreover, historians have innumerable early manuscripts of scripture, a vastly greater body of material than they possess of many ancient and classical texts, and so they are in a good position to confirm that the biblical writings are authentic. Finally, in recent decades archaeologists have been compelled to reconsider people and events long regarded as legendary. They have located the tomb of Caiaphas, the high priest who interrogated Jesus, and have unearthed an ancient plaque honoring Pilate, the Roman prefect who decreed Christ’s crucifixion. Skeletal remains exist showing that Roman crucifixions were performed in precisely the manner outlined in the Bible. Summarizing the evidence, writer Jeff Sheler notes that “the picture that has emerged overall closely matches the historical backdrop of the Gospels.”

Let us now consider the historicity of Christ’s resurrection. “If Christ had not been raised,” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “our preaching is useless and so is your faith:’ The resurrection is the most important event in Christianity. Since the nineteenth century, some biblical scholars have refused to accept the biblical account of the resurrection because it was produced by people obviously biased in Christ’s favor. Interestingly, Christ’s followers, by their own admission, did not expect his resurrection. Arriving three days after his death, some of them brought spices to the tomb to anoint his body. Only then did they observe that the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. The fact of the empty tomb was admitted by the Roman guards and also by the Jewish magistrates, who told the Roman authorities that Christ’s followers must have stolen the body.