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Changes in the King James Version

Changes in the King James Version

In 1769 the Oxford University Press published an edition of the King James Version in which many small changes were made.  These changes were of five kinds:

1. Greater and more regular use of italics;

2. minor changes in the text;

3. the adoption of modern spelling;

4. changes in the marginal notes and references; and,

5. correction of printers’ errors.

This edition soon came to be known as “The Oxford Standard” edition, because it was widely accepted as a standard text by commentators and other publishers.  The editions of the King James version published in our century generally reproduce this Oxford edition of 1769, with or without the marginal notes.  The following information is given so that the reader may gain an accurate impression of how far the modern editions differ from the original King James Version of 1611.

§ 1. ITALICIZED WORDS OR PHRASES

The King James Version was originally printed in the type style known as “black letter,” which has the following appearance:

The booke of the generation of Iesus Christ

Words of the translation which were supplied to make the sense clear, but which were not represented in the Greek text used by the translators, were often set in small “roman” type:

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled.

In later editions, the ordinary text was set in roman type, with the supplied words in italics:

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled.

This typographical feature was not employed very consistently in the 1611 edition; in many places, the supplied words are not indicated as one might expect. This inconsistency was probably the fault of the printer’s compositors, who very often modified even the spelling of words in order to lengthen or shorten a line of type.

The editors of the 1769 Oxford edition undertook, therefore, to regularize the use of italics by italicizing all words of the translation which did not have a counterpart in the text of Stephens 1550. Consequently, modern editions of the King James version are much more heavily italicized than the original: In Matthew, the 1611 edition uses roman type 69 times, whereas the more exact 1769 edition uses italics 384 times. The reader should be aware of the fact that the King James version is not, strictly speaking, a translation of Estienne 1550; and so in some cases, the modern italics are misleading if used as an indication of the readings upon which the version is based. For example, in Mark 8:14 the modern editions italicize the words the disciples because they are not in Estienne, but it is evident that here the King James translators were following, as usual, the text of Beza 1598, where the words hoi mathetai are found. The following is a complete list of such cases.

Abbreviations:
S – Stephens 1550
B – Beza 1598
E – Elzevir 1624
C – Complutensian Polyglot 1522
Er – Erasmus 1527
Vul – Clementine Vulgate 1592
Tyn – Tyndale 1535
Gen – Genevan Bible 1560
Bish – Bishops Bible 1568
Mark 8:14 Modern editions italicize the disciples, in accordance with S E. But the text of 1611 was probably based upon B.
Mark 9:42 Modern editions italicize these, in accordance with S B E. But the text of 1611 was probably based upon C Vul.
John 8:6 Modern editions italicize as though he heard them not at end of verse, in accordance with S B E. But the text of 1611 was probably based upon C S1546 S1549 and the Bishops’ Bible.
Acts 1:4 Modern editions italicize them after assembled together with, in accordance with S E. But the text of 1611 was probably based upon B.
Acts 26:3 Modern editions italicize because I know, in accordance with S E. But the text of 1611 was probably based upon B.
Acts 26:18 Modern editions italicize and before to turn, in accordance with S E. But the text of 1611 was probably based upon B.
1 Cor 14:10 Modern editions print the words of them in ordinary type, in accordance with S B E. But the text of 1611 had them in italics, in accordance with Vul.
Heb 12:24 Modern editions italicize that of before Abel, in accordance with S B E. But the text of 1611 was probably based upon Er.
1 John 3:16 Modern editions italicize of God after love, in accordance with S E. But the text of 1611 was probably based upon C B.
Rev 11:14 Modern editions italicize and before behold, in accordance with S. But the text of 1611 was probably based upon B Vul.
Rev 19:18 Modern editions italicize both before free, in accordance with S B E. But the text of 1611 was probably based upon C.

§ 2. MINOR ALTERATIONS OF THE TEXT

The following list includes all changes to the text of 1611 which do not involve the correction of obvious errors of the press (examples of which are given in § 5 below), or changes of spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. Most of these changes were made with reference to the text of Estienne 1550, and with a view to greater clarity or accuracy. The changes marked with an asterisk “*” are all those which are considered improper or unnecessary by F.H.A. Scrivener, an eminent authority on the text of the KJV, in his book, The Authorized Edition of the English Bible (1611), its subsequent Reprints and Modern Representatives. (Cambridge: University Press, 1884).

* Mat 3:12 Add he before will burn up. Rejected by Scrivener.
Mat 6:3 Add hand after right. Approved by Scrivener.
* Mat 9:34 Omit the before devils.
* Mat 12:23 Add not before this the son.
* Mat 13:6 Read had no root instead of had not root.
Mat 16:16 Add the before Christ.
Mat 16:19 Add and before whatsoever thou shalt loose.
Mat 26:75 Read word instead of words.
Mat 27:22 Read Pilate saith instead of Pilate said.
* Mat 27:52 Add the before saints.
Mark 2:4 Add the before press.
Mark 5:6 Read he ran instead of he came.
* Mark 6:7 Read he called instead of he calleth.
* Mark 6:53 Read Gennesaret instead of Genesareth. 1611 followed another source. 1769: S B E. 1611: Er Vul.
Mark 10:18 Read [there is] none good but one instead of there is no man good, but one.
Mark 11:8 Read branches off the trees instead of branches of the trees.
Luke 1:3 Add all before things.
Luke 1:74 Read hand instead of hands.
Luke 3:21 Omit and before it came to pass.
* Luke 8:8 Add had before said.
* Luke 11:16 Read others instead of other.
Luke 17:34 Add and before the other shall be left.
* Luke 18:9 Read others instead of other.
Luke 19:9 Read a son of Abraham instead of the son of Abraham.
Luke 20:12 Read sent a third instead of sent the third.
Luke 23:19 Read cast into prison instead of cast in prison.
John 5:18 Transpose not only because he to because he not only.
John 7:16 Add and said after Jesus answered them.
John 8:30 Read these words instead of those words.
John 11:3 Read his sisters instead of his sister.
* John 11:34 Read They said unto him instead of They say unto him.
John 12:22 Read tell Jesus instead of told Jesus.
John 15:20 Read than his lord instead of than the Lord.
* John 16:25 Add but before the time. 1611 followed another source. 1769: S B E. 1611: Er Vul.
John 21:17 Read He saith unto him instead of he said unto him.
Acts 2:22 Add and before wonders.
* Acts 5:34 Add the before law.
Acts 7:35 Read by the hand instead of by the hands.
Acts 8:32 Read his shearer instead of the shearer.
* Acts 10:9 Add top after upon the house.
* Acts 18:5 Add the before spirit.
* Acts 19:19 Transpose also of them to of them also.
* Acts 24:14 Add in before the prophets.
Acts 24:24 Read Jewess instead of Jew.
Acts 27:18 Read And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next [day] instead of And being exceedingly tossed with a tempest the next day.
Rom 3:24 Read Christ Jesus instead of Jesus Christ.
Rom 4:12 Add who before also walk.
Rom 6:12 Transpose reign therefore to therefore reign.
* Rom 7:2 Read law of her husband instead of law of the husband.
Rom 7:13 Transpose Was that then to Was then that.
Rom 11:28 Read for your sakes instead of for your sake.
Rom 12:2 Read and acceptable instead of that acceptable.
Rom 14:6 Read regardeth the day instead of regardeth a day.
Rom 14:10 Add for before we shall all stand.
* 1 Cor 4:9 Read appointed to death instead of approved to death.
1 Cor 7:32 Read things that belong instead of things that belongeth.
1 Cor 10:28 Add for before the earth is.
1 Cor 12:28 Read helps, governments instead of helps in governments.
* 1 Cor 13:2 Read have not charity instead of have no charity.
* 1 Cor 14:15 Add I before will pray.
* 1 Cor 14:18 Read than ye all instead of than you all.
1 Cor 14:23 Read one place instead of some place.
1 Cor 15:6 Read After that instead of And that.
1 Cor 15:41 Read and another glory of the moon instead of another of the moon.
1 Cor 15:48 Add also before that are earthy.
1 Cor 16:22 Read anathema, Maranatha instead of Anathema Maranatha.
* 2 Cor 5:1 Read made with hands instead of made with hand.
2 Cor 5:2 Read groan, earnestly desiring instead of groan earnestly, desiring.
2 Cor 5:20 Omit that before be ye reconciled.
2 Cor 8:21 Add also before in the sight.
2 Cor 9:5 Add and before not.
2 Cor 9:5 Add as before of covetousness.
2 Cor 9:6 Add also after reap twice.
2 Cor 11:26 Read journeyings instead of journeying.
2 Cor 11:32 Add of the Damascenes after the city.
* Gal Title Add the Apostle before to the Galatians. 1611 followed another source. 1769: E. 1611: S.
Gal 3:13 Add a before tree.
* Gal 5:15 Add that after take heed.
* Eph 1:9 Read hath purposed instead of had purposed.
Eph 4:24 Read the new man instead of that new man.
* Eph 6:24 Add Amen at end of verse. 1611 followed another source. 1769: S E. 1611: Vul.
Phil 4:6 Read requests instead of request.
2 Th 2:14 Read our Lord Jesus Christ instead of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Tim 1:4 Add godly before edifying.
* 1 Tim 2:9 Read shamefacedness instead of shamefastness.
2 Tim 1:7 Add and before of love.
* 2 Tim 1:12 Omit I before am persuaded.
2 Tim 2:19 Read this seal instead of the seal.
2 Tim 4:8 Add all before them also.
2 Tim 4:13 Add and the books after bring [with thee].
Heb 3:10 Read their heart instead of their hearts.
Heb 8:8 Add with before the house of Judah.
Heb 11:23 Add were before not afraid.
Heb 12:1 Omit unto before the race.
James 5:2 Add are before motheaten.
1 Pet 2:1 Add all before evil speakings.
1 Pet 2:5 Read sacrifices instead of sacrifice.
1 Pet 2:6 Add also after Wherefore.
* 1 Pet 5:10 Read called us unto instead of called us into.
1 John 2:16 Add and before the lust of the eyes.
* 1 John 3:17 Read have need instead of hath need.
1 John 5:12 Add of God after hath not the Son.
Jude 1:25 Add both before now and ever.
Rev 1:4 Add which are before in Asia.
Rev 1:11 Add unto before Philadelphia.
Rev 5:13 Add and before honour.
Rev 5:13 Add and before glory.
Rev 12:14 Read fly instead of flee.
Rev 13:6 Read them that dwell instead of them that dwelt.
* Rev 17:4 Read precious stones instead of precious stone.
* Rev 22:2 Read on either side instead of of either side.

§ 3. MODERNIZED SPELLING, CAPITALIZATION, AND PUNCTUATION

The following lists show every instance of altered spelling, capitalization, and punctuation from the first chapter of Matthew.

Spelling

It will be noticed below that fourteen is spelled two different ways in the 1611 edition: This is because early printers employed various spellings according to the requirements of space, i.e., they would lengthen or shorten the words orthographically in order to present the text in neatly justified columns. The ampersand (&) was frequently used instead of the word and for the same reason. Another graphic abbreviation sometimes used is the form ye (properly pronounced, the) instead of a fully written the.

begate/begat     dreame/dream hee/he sleepe/sleep
bin/been feare/fear knewe/knew sonne/son
booke/book foorth/forth publique/publick tooke/took
borne/born foureteene/fourteen shee/she untill/until
childe/child fourteene/fourteen sinnes/sins &/and

Capitalization

The use of capital letters in the 1611 edition was somewhat irregular, but in general, it may be observed that, in addition to proper nouns, common nouns referring to important persons were often capitalized, after the custom of the times. Pronouns referring to persons of the Trinity were not capitalized. Because each verse of the translation was printed as one paragraph, the first word of every verse was also capitalized. Below are listed all changes from the first chapter of Matthew.

1611 1769
Angel of the Lord angel of the Lord
holy Ghost Holy Ghost
his Name Jesus his name JESUS
Behold, a Virgin Behold, a virgin

Punctuation

The 1611 edition was more heavily punctuated than our modern editions, as is generally true for older books; but it appears that sometimes the punctuation was influenced by mere considerations of space, as in the second example below.

1611 So all the generations from Abraham to David, are fourteene …
1769 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen …
1611 Then Joseph her husband being a just man, and not willing …
1769 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing …
1611 That which is conceived in her, is of the holy Ghost
1769 That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost

§ 4. MARGINAL CHANGES IN THE OXFORD EDITION OF 1769

In the first edition of the King James Vversion, marginal notes indicating various renderings or readings appeared in 775 places in the New Testament. Of these notes, 34 evidently referred to various readings of the Greek manuscripts. They appear in the following places: Mat 1:11, 7:14, 24:31, 26:26; Mark 7:3, 9:16; Luke 2:38, 10:22, 17:36; John 18:13; Acts 13:18, 25:6; Rom. 5:17, 7:6, 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:31; Gal. 4:15, 4:17; Eph. 6:9; 1 Tim. 6:5; Heb. 4:2, 9:2; James 2:18; 1 Pet. 1:4, 2:21; 2 Pet. 2:2, 2:11, 2:18; 2 John 1:8; Rev. 3:14, 6:8, 13:1, 13:5, 17:5.

The editors of the 1769 edition left all of the original marginal readings and renderings unchanged but added 87 more notes, of which 17 referred to various readings of the Greek manuscripts. The following is a list of all notes added to Matthew.

1:20 Gr. begotten.
1:21 That is, Saviour.
5:22 That is, Vain fellow.
6:1 Or, righteousness.
10:10 Gr. a staff.
10:25 Gr. Beelzebul.
12:24 Gr. Beelzebul.
14:6 Gr. in the midst.
16:22 Gr. Pity thyself.
21:19 Gr. one fig tree.
22:26 Gr. seven.
23:23 Gr. anethon, dill.
24:33 Or, he.
28:19 Or, make disciples, or, Christians of all nations.

Below are listed all of the alternatives added to the margin in 1769 which evidently refer to various readings of the Greek text.

Mat 6:1. Read righteousness instead of alms. 1769 margin: Vul. Text: S B E.
Mat 10:10. Read a staff instead of staves. 1769 margin: S B E. Text: C S1546 S1549.
Luke 22:42. Read willing to remove instead of willing, remove. 1769 margin: S B E. Text: unknown.
John 7:50. Read to him instead of to Jesus. 1769 margin: S B E. Text: Tyndale.
Acts 7:44. Read who spake instead of speaking. 1769 margin: S B E. Text: Vulgate.
Acts 8:13. Transpose miracles and signs to signs and miracles. 1769 margin: S B E. Text: unknown.
Acts 8:13. Add great before miracles. 1769 margin: S B E. Text: unknown.
2 Cor 10:10. Read saith he instead of say they. 1769 margin: S. Text: B Vul.
Heb 10:2. Omit not and render For then they would have ceased to be offered. Because. 1769 margin: B E Vul. Text: S.
Heb 10:17. Add Then he said at beginning of verse. 1769 margin: no editors. The note evidently refers to the reading of the recently discovered Harclean Syriac version. Text: S B E.
James 4:2. Read ye envy instead of ye kill. 1769 margin: Er. Text: S B E.
2 Pet 1:1. Read Simeon Peter instead of Simon Peter. 1769 margin: S B E. Text: C Vul.
2 Pet 1:1. Read righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus instead of righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus. 1769 margin: S. Text: unknown (B E read of our God and our Saviour Jesus).
2 John 1:3. Read shall be with instead of be with. 1769 margin: S B E. Text: Vulgate.
2 John 1:12. Read your joy instead of our joy. 1769 margin: Vul. Text: S E B.
Rev 15:3. Read nations instead of saints. 1769 margin: C. Text: S B E.
Rev. 15:3. Read ages instead of saints. 1769 margin: Vul. Text: S B E.
Rev 21:7. Read these things instead of all things. 1769 margin: C Vul. Text: S B E.
Rev 22:19. Read from the tree of life instead of out of the book of life. 1769 margin: C Vul. Text: S B E.

MARGINAL REFERENCES TO THE APOCRYHA DELETED

The total number of references to the Apocrypha in the margins of the Old and New Testaments of the King James version as printed in 1611 is 113. Of this number, 102 are in the Old Testament, and 11 in the New. The New Testament passages with references to the Apocrypha are as follows:

Mat 6:7 Ecclesiasticus 7:14
Mat 23:37 2 Esdras 1:30
Mat 27:43 Wisdom 2:15-16
Luke 6:31 Tobit 4:15
Luke 14:13 Tobit 4:7
John 10:22 1 Maccabees 4:59
Rom 9:21 Wisdom 15:7
Rom 11:34 Wisdom 9:13
2 Cor 9:7 Ecclesiasticus 35:9
Heb 1:3 Wisdom 7:26
Heb 11:35 2 Maccabees 7:7

§ 5. ORIGINAL ERRORS OF THE PRESS CORRECTED

The following changes are all from Matthew.

4:25 great great great
5:47 do you do ye
8:25 awoke, saying awoke him, saying
21:20 away? away!
26:34 might night

§ 6. BIBLIOGRAPHY

For the student who wishes to learn more concerning the history of the King James version, the following books will be of interest.

Geddes MacGregor, A Literary History of the Bible from the Middle Ages to the Present Day. Abingdon Press: Nashville, 1968. An excellent layman’s history of the English versions up to 1961. The original KJV prefix, The Translators to the Reader, is given in an appendix.

The Holy Bible, an Exact Reprint Page for Page of the Authorized Version Published in the Year MDCXI. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1833. Reprinted by Thomas Nelson in 1993 as The Holy Bible, 1611 Edition. This is an edition of the King James version which exactly reproduces the spelling, punctuation, marginal notes, and chapter headings of the first edition. An exhaustive collation with the printing of 1613 was prefixed to the Oxford edition, but left out of the Nelson reprint. The following paragraph from Scrivener, The Authorized Edition of the Bible, p. 35, describes the interesting circumstances surrounding the publication of this reprint. “For many years which followed the publication of the edition of 1769, even after its glaring imperfections had become in some measure known, the King’s Printer and the two English universities continued to reproduce what was in substance Dr Blayney’s work, when the public attention was claimed in 1831 by Mr Curtis of Islington, who complained that all modern reprints of Holy Scripture departed widely from the original edition of 1611, to the great deterioration of our Vernacular Translation [The Existing Monopoly an inadequate protection of the Authorized Version of the Scripture, &c. By Thomas Curtis, London, 1833, 8vo]. It is needless to revive the controversy that ensued, in which the case of the priveleged presses was successfully maintained by Dr Cardwell in behalf of Oxford, by Dr Turton for Cambridge, in the pamphlets which have been already cited in this section [Oxford Bibles, 1833. By Edward Cardwell; and Text of the English Bible Considered, 2nd edition, 1833. By T. Turton]. The consequent publication of the standard text in the Oxford reprint of 1833, which we have found so useful, virtually settled the whole debate, by shewing to the general reader the obvious impossibility of returning to the Bible of 1611, with all the defects which those who superintended the press had been engaged, for more than two centuries, in reducing to a more consistent and presentable shape.”

F.H.A. Scrivener, The Cambridge Paragraph Bible. Cambridge: University Press, 1873. This book is a critical edition of the Authorized Version.

F.H.A. Scrivener, The Authorized Edition of the English Bible (1611), its subsequent Reprints and modern Representatives. Cambridge: University Press, 1884. This is the definitive work on the textual sources and history of the Authorized Version.

Luther Weigle, ed., The New Testament Octapla: Eight English Versions of the New Testament in the Tyndale-King James Tradition. New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1962. Full parallel texts of Tyndale 1535, Great Bible 1540, Geneva Bible 1562, Bishops’ Bible 1568, Rheims 1582, King James version (represented by Scrivener’s edition of 1873), American Standard Version 1901, Revised Standard Version 1960.

What is your Verdict?

What is your Verdict?

VALIDITY OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST
Copyright ©2012 Pastor Kevin R Airrington


Juries in the United States are asked every day to determine if there is enough evidence in a criminal trial to convict a person “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In this article I am going to ask you to weigh for yourself the historical and the physical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from about 29 a.d. and then, you judge for yourself if the Bible is a credible document.

About 2,000 years ago an event was supposed to have occurred and the Bible records evidence of that event.  Much of the evidence that is recorded in the Bible is supported by outside documents and first-century historians.  If the man we call Jesus Christ was not raised from the dead then the Christian faith and the New Testament are complete and entire frauds.  In short, prove the Resurrection to be false and the entire Christian religion would fall apart and Jesus would found to be a liar.

But if true, this single event, above any other in the history of mankind, provides something solid to believe in. It provides evidence of the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth more powerfully than anything that he ever said or did.  It proves that Jesus is who He claimed to be: the Son of God.

Any event that claims to be historical must satisfy certain tests of authenticity.  For example, we know that people and events were historical by the things that were said and not said about them in their own time and the time immediately following.

Examine within these few pages the arguments that demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was truly raised by God from the dead. You will then have a solid basis for faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and with your whole heart, soul, and mind lay hold upon the hope of eternal life.

If true, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the single most important event in the history of mankind, and therefore the one most crucial to establish as an authentic historical event. In fact, the Resurrection is the very linchpin of the Christian faith, holding together every claim and every blessing. If the Resurrection could be proven a fraud, Christianity would disintegrate as a total fabrication with little redeeming merit. Jesus would not even be an example of a “good moral teacher,” as some maintain, for his most important prediction—that he would be raised from the dead—would be found a lie.

As Christians, our very salvation depends in large part upon the reliability of the four historical records of the birthlifedeath, and especially the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.   The most important, most vital element for our salvation is a deeply held historical factual raised Jesus from the dead.   Romans 10:9 asserts: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  We are trifling with the bedrock of our salvation when we entertain doubts about the historical accuracy of any part of Scripture.  But most crucial are those parts that make historical claims upon which our salvation depends.

Therefore, those who argue that historically the resurrection is not provable and even unnecessary are contradicting the testimony of the apostolic witnesses.  The Apostle Paul’s entire ministry was built upon the foundation of the Resurrection, and it was his personal encounter with the risen Christ that caused him to develop a firm conviction in the reality of this event. In the following verses, I have highlighted in bold type Paul’s statements of the consequences to the Christian faith if the Resurrection of Christ did not, in fact, happen.

1 Corinthians 15:14-20

(14) And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

(15) Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

(16) For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

(17) And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

(18) Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

(19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

(20) But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

Later in his life, Paul’s public testimony to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and his proclamation of the Gospel in Ephesus caused such uproar that the Roman authorities took him into protective custody lest he be killed by the Jews.  After several appeals according to Roman law, Paul found himself standing before King Agrippa, his last level of appeal before the Emperor himself.

Given permission to speak freely, Paul launched into a passionate account of his life, concluding with his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus.  When Paul then verified the Resurrection from Old Testament prophecy, the governor, Festus, interrupted him and told him he was crazy. The truth of Paul’s brilliant reply remains emblazoned across the pages of human history.

Acts 26:25-26

(25) “But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

(26) For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.

Amen! And that is why, taken together, the following historical proofs of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ present evidence that is beyond a reasonable doubt.

1. The Resurrection narratives have the ring of historical truth

The Resurrection narratives (Gospels) bear unmistakable signs of being historically accurate. The earliness of these accounts, at a time when hostile witnesses were present, would have made a fabrication unlikely and dangerous.  There is agreement on the main facts and great variety in the witnesses given, yet they are not a mere repetition of some standardized story with all the discrepancies worked out.  The accounts of Christ’s resurrection appearances are clearly independent of one another, as their surface dissimilarities suggest.  Deeper scrutiny, however, reveals that these appearances are non‑contradictory.  Henry Morris writes:

It is a well‑known rule of evidence that the testimonies of several different witnesses, each reporting from his own particular vantage point, provide the strongest possible evidence when the testimonies contain superficial contradictions that resolve themselves upon close and careful examination. This is exactly the situation with the various witnesses to the resurrection.1

2. The Apostle Paul’s life and ministry is a strong witness of the Resurrection

At the time Paul met the resurrected Christ, he was an ardent antagonist to the Christian faith.  A highly educated man, he was not easily persuaded of anything that appeared contrary to or inconsistent with the Mosaic traditions.  It could be said that he would have been the last person on earth to accept the idea of a crucified and resurrected Messiah based on the Jewish expectations of the time. The fact that he became so fully persuaded of the resurrection of Christ that he completely dedicated his life to his risen Lord is powerful evidence of the reality of the Resurrection.   Canon Kennett writes:

Within a very few years of the time of the crucifixion of Jesus, the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus was in the mind of at least one man of education [the Apostle Paul], absolutely irrefutable.2

3.  The empty tomb is a historical given

No reputable New Testament historian doubts the historical fact that the tomb in which Christ was placed after his crucifixion was empty. Therefore, there are only three explanations for it. His enemies took the body, his friends took the body, or Jesus was raised from the dead. The first possibility is extremely unlikely, because his enemies would have certainly displayed his body if they could have, in order to humiliate his disciples, quell the rumors of his resurrection, as well as to cut short any new religious movement that threatened their Mosaic traditions.

It is equally unlikely that his friends would have taken his body, because after his crucifixion they were profoundly disappointed and discouraged and did not believe that he would be resurrected. It is absurd to think that under these conditions they would invent a scheme in which they would steal away the body to fabricate a story they obviously did not believe.

4. The disciples were devout Jews

The disciples were Jews who took seriously their Jewish privileges and obligations. Therefore, it is unthinkable that they would have been party to making up a new religion for personal gain. To a first‑century Jew, such an act was equivalent to lying against the God of Israel, as Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 15:12‑19 (where he called it bearing false witness, contrary to one of the Ten Commandments). For a first‑century Jew, lying against God and perverting His revelation would mean risking one’s salvation and future participation in the Messianic Kingdom. Would such a person risk divine retribution for a few years of prestige as a leader of a new religion? The answer can only be an emphatic “no.”

5. The testimony of women

The presence of women at the tomb is strong evidence that the biblical record is true. Women had virtually no credibility in the firstcentury Jewish culture, and their testimony in a court of law was considered worthless. For example, if a man was accused of a crime that only women witnessed, he could not be convicted on that basis.  If the account of Jesus’ resurrection were a fable added later in an attempt to authenticate Christianity, why would the record have women be the first to see him and testify to the empty tomb, unless it had really happened that way? Women bringing testimony of his resurrection that is then denied by the male disciples makes the latter look bad, and these men were the first leaders of the Christian Church.  A fabricated story added later by the Church would certainly have painted their first leaders in a more favorable light.

6.  Jewish propaganda presupposes the empty tomb and the missing body

The Jewish Temple authorities paid those who had seen the tomb empty to lie and say that the disciples had stolen the body, and they even murdered many of those who preached about his resurrection. With such a powerful incentive to squash the new movement, they would have stopped at nothing to produce Jesus’ dead body if they could have. The fact that they did not means they could not because he was risen.

7. His enemies would have produced his dead body to silence the believers

If he did not rise from the dead, what became of his body?  If his enemies stole it and never showed it openly, that would have encouraged the very rumors of a resurrection that they were very anxious to prevent.  But the decisive proof that His enemies did not take the body is that they surely would have quickly produced it with great fanfare, for they stopped short of nothing to discredit the story.  As William Lane Craig argues:

This is historical evidence of the highest quality, since it comes not from the Christians but from the very enemies of the early Christian faith.3

8. There was no veneration of the tomb

If Jesus was not resurrected, why is there no record of his disciples venerating his tomb as so often happens to religious leaders?  Though God forbade it, the practice continued among the Israelites to the point that God Himself disposed of the bodies of Elijah and Moses lest their followers venerate their gravesites.

9. A non-Christian historian testifies in support of the Resurrection

Josephus, the firstcentury Jewish historian, wrote about Jesus Christ and the growth of Christianity as follows:

And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned Him to the cross, those that loved Him at the first did not forsake him; for He appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning Him. And the tribes of Christians, so named from Him, are not extinct at this day.4

Though some have tried to dismiss this corroborating secular testimony as fraudulent, this is unlikely because Josephus’ writings were well received at the time of their writing by both Jews and Romans. He was even made an honorary Roman citizen.

There is no record of any objection being raised to this passage by early detractors of Christianity, and had this been a fraudulent and late insertion into the writings of Josephus, this fact would have been openly debated in the literature of the day. Because this did not happen, the silence of the critics is damning to their cause.5

10. No alternative explanations in the early non-scriptural sources

There is no alternative explanation for the rise of the Christian Church given in early historical sources that would even attempt to give the “real” story.  In the event that the story was fabricated, surely some critic would have attempted such an alternative explanation.  But the only adequate explanation for the rise of the Church that has ever been given is that the early Christians believed Jesus had been raised from the dead.

11. The biblical records of the Resurrection appearances give a unified witness

The Four Gospels and the Apostle Paul give a unified witness of eleven resurrection appearances.  Because these records are harmonious and noncontradictory, the burden of proof is upon those who would say that they do not tell the truth.

The eleven resurrection appearances, in their likely order, are as follows:

  1. To Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9; John 20:11–18)
  2. To the other women (Matt. 28:8–10)
  3. To Simon Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5)
  4. To the two men on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13–35)
  5. To eleven of the disciples (except Thomas-Luke 24:33–49; John 20:19–24)
  6. To the twelve a week later (John 20:24–29; 1 Cor. 15:5)
  7. To seven disciples by the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1–23)
  8. To more than five hundred followers (1 Cor. 15:6)
  9. To James (1 Cor. 15:7)
  10. To all the Apostles [this could be speaking of the Ascension](1 Cor. 15:7)
  11. To the Twelve at the Ascension (Acts 1:3–12)6 

12. The idea of Christ’s new body was a totally foreign concept

The disciples had enough trouble believing that Christ would die and then be raised, and would never have even conceived of the idea of the Messiah having a different body.  It is virtually inconceivable that early Christians fabricated such a story, which even today sounds like science fiction to many doubters.

13.  Modern scholars and historians admit that there is strong evidence of his bodily resurrection

J. P. Moreland confirms this and quotes other scholars:

Almost no New Testament scholar today denies that Jesus appeared to a number of his followers after his death. Some scholars interpret these as subjective hallucinations or objective visions granted by God which were not visions of a physical being.  But no one denies that the believers had some sort of experience. The skeptical New Testament scholar Norman Perrin admitted: “The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based.” Dunn, professor of divinity at the University of Durham, England, agrees: “It is almost impossible to dispute that at the historical roots of Christianity lie some visionary experiences of the first Christians, who understood them as appearances of Jesus, raised by God from the dead.”7

Thomas Arnold, former Professor of History at Rugby and Oxford, and one of the world’s greatest historians, made the following statement about the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better, fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair enquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died, and rose again from the dead.8

Simon Greenleaf is one of the most highly regarded legal minds ever seen in America. He was an expert on the laws of evidence, and the founder of the Harvard Law School. He analyzed the accounts in the Four Gospels of the resurrection of Christ in terms of their validity as objective testimonial evidence, and concluded:

It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.9

14. The conviction of his followers in the Resurrection

Those who first published the story that Jesus had risen from the dead believed it to be a fact.

They rested their faith not only on the fact of the empty tomb, but on the fact that they themselves had seen Jesus alive after his burialHe was seen not once or twicebut at least ten recorded times; and not just one at a time, but in groups of two, seven, ten, eleven, twelve, and over five hundred.

15. The martyrdom of his followers for their belief in the Resurrection

The firstcentury believers preached and acted with conviction about the truth of his resurrection, many of them even dying because of their belief. If his friends had stolen the body to make it look like he had been resurrected, they would have known that they were believing a lie, and men do not become martyrs for what they know to be false.

16. The unanimous testimony of eye-witnesses, who could not all have been deceived or deluded

Some critics say that the early Christians had a vision or a hallucination of Christ after his death, in the same way people today claim to have “seen” the pop icon Elvis Presley.  Could it not have been an ecstatic visionA dreamA fantasy of an excited imagination?  Perhaps an apparitionNone of these is at all probable, for different groups of people do not keep on seeing the same hallucination. Over five hundred people in a crowd would not all dream the same dream at the same time.

Some modern Christian apologists have argued that it is irrelevant whether or not Christ actually was physically raised, because his “spirit” went to be with God.  God then supposedly gave Christ’s followers a “vision” of Christ continuing to live “spiritually” at God’s side. Such a mystical and spiritualistic concept would not have satisfied the Hebraic mind of the disciples, however, who believed the dead to be dead until raised in a bodily, physical resurrection.  It would also have placed the Christian faith on a subjective, mystical basis without historical claims and would not account for the early disciples’ energetic witness of the bodily resurrection of Christ.

17. The unbelief of the disciples concerning his resurrection

With the exception of Joseph of Arimathea, the followers of Jesus did not believe that he would die and then be resurrected. They were not expecting the event, and when it happened they did not believe it at first. They considered it an “idle tale” (Luke 24:11 ‑ KJV). They did not believe it until they had to, when they were directly confronted by the risen Lord.  Henry Morris writes:

One thing is certain: the disciples could not have fabricated the story of the resurrection from their own imaginations. On the contrary, they somehow failed to anticipate it even after such an abundance of prophetic preparation for it, both from the Scriptures and from Christ. It took the strongest of evidences to convince them it had actually taken place.10

18. The idea of a resurrected Messiah was a hard sell to the Jews and absurd to the Greeks

The picture of Jesus was not in keeping with then current conceptions of what the Messiah would be like (a theocratic ruler who would deliver Israel from Gentile oppression) and it would have been hard to convince others of its truth.  The Greeks, with their doctrine of the immortality of the soul, thought the idea of a bodily resurrection absurd and unnecessary (Acts 17:32).  If the disciples had invented an event or a doctrine around which to build a new religion, it would have been more in line with the standard expectations of the day.

19. He could have gotten out of the tomb only by resurrection

The “swoon” theory has proposed that Jesus was not really dead when they buried him, and that he “came to” again. But in that case, weak and exhausted, encased in heavy grave wrappings; he could scarcely have moved, much less removed the heavy stone door (about 2,000lbs) and gotten out of the tomb.   Furthermore, the Roman authorities had sealed the door, and even if he had been successful in moving the stone, the guards would have rearrested him and further humiliated him. Since there is no record of such an event, it must not have happened, because his enemies would have made much of such a bizarre happening.

20. The very existence and growth of the Christian Church makes no sense if he was not raised

Some critics say that the resurrection was a later addition to the story of Christ, invented years later by the Church to glorify a dead hero.  But it is known, from historical records outside Scripture, that the sect known as Christians came into existence in the reign of Tiberius, and that the thing that brought them into existence was their belief that Jesus had risen from the dead.

The Resurrection was not a later addition to the Christian faith, but the very cause and incentive for itThey rested their faith, not on historical records, but on what they had seen with their own eyes. The records were the result of their faithnot the cause of it. Christianity hinges on the historical fact of Christ’s resurrection, for without it the entire faith is found fraudulent.  Had there been no resurrection, there would have been no New Testament, and no Christian Church.

21. The disciples had nothing to gain by fabricating a story and starting a new religion

His followers faced hardship, ridicule, hostility, and martyrs’ deaths. In light of this, they could never have sustained such unwavering motivation if they knew what they were preaching was a lie.  Religion had its rewards for them, but those rewards came from a sincere belief that what they were living for was true.

22. The unanimous testimony of the early Christian leaders

If the empty tomb and resurrection was a fabrication, why did not at least one of the disciples break away from the rest and start his own version of Christianity?   Or why did not at least one of them reveal the claim as a lie?  The Temple authorities were willing to pay good money to anyone who would provide such information.  Or if money was not alluring enough, what about the possibility of proving the Resurrection a lie in order to draw disciples away to follow some enterprising would‑be cult leader?  History has shown that this role is a popular one, and this would have been a golden opportunity.

Without the strong and persuasive evidence of the Resurrection, the continued unity of the early Christian leaders is inexplicable in light of the human tendency to want to promote oneself.  The assumption that they were all committed to the truth of their message is the only adequate explanation of their continued unity and the lack of any revelation of fraud.  Those who lie for personal gain do not stick together very long, especially when hardship decreases the benefits.

23. All of the alternate explanations proposed for the Resurrection lack credibility

In light of the evidence of the empty tomb, the Resurrection appearances and the rise of the Christian Church, a reasonable person should conclude that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a wellestablished historical fact.   In a court of law, such evidence would compel conviction unless contradictory evidence could be brought forward to introduce “a reasonable doubt.”   But all alternate explanations and theories are extremely doubtful and counter‑intuitive.

Therefore, Christians are being rational, sensible, and fully consistent with common sense when they rest their faith on this wellestablished historical event.  Not only is there compelling historical evidence to back the beliefbut extravagant benefits in the future are promised to those who believe it.  According to the Bible, the only sure promise of everlasting life for mankind, both individually and collectively, depends upon belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  As Halley writes:

What a Halo of Glory this simple belief sheds on human life. Our hope of resurrection and life everlasting is based, not on a philosophic guess about immortality, but an historic fact.11

What is your Verdict?

From my research I have found 23 pieces of evidence proving the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We have more evidence of proof of the Resurrection than we do evidence that Abraham Lincoln ever lived.  Yet, you believe Abe lived, don’t you?

Maybe this article has helped you come to your own verdict and you are ready to offer the same kind of prayer that changed my life over 23 years ago.  Perhaps you are still skeptical; let me encourage you to continue in your research, but act quickly as the Bible says we are not guaranteed our next breath here on earth.  Hear me for just a moment, there is a lot riding on your verdict!  If Jesus really is the Son of God, then your eternal future depends on how you respond to Him.  John 8:24 says, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”  Those are strong words; I get it!  But please understand my friend, they are meant with the most concerning love for you.  Jesus paid it all for you.  He is opening the door to Heaven for all who will put their trust in Him.  The choice is yours.  The evidence is in; it is not disputable — what is your verdict?

1.  Henry Morris, The Defender’s Bible (World Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995), p. 1576.

2. New Bible Dictionary (Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1975), p. 1087.

3. William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics   (Crossway Books, Wheaton IL, 1994), p. 277.

4. Translated by William Whiston (originally published in 1737), The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus (The Winston Co., Philadelphia, PA, 1957), p. 535.

5. For more on the authenticity of Josephus’ reference to Jesus, see Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1999), pp. 55–57.

6. Traditionally, Judas Iscariot is excluded from the number witnessing his ascension because of the record in Matthew 27:5 that seem to indicate that Judas went and “hanged himself” shortly after the crucifixion. It seems more likely, however, that Judas was received back into the company of the disciples in the period between his repentance and the Ascension, which he witnessed. After he saw Jesus ascend, and all hope of the restoration of a Davidic kingdom lost, Judas went and killed himself. His absence then precipitated the need to replace him, which became the first order of business after the Resurrection (see Acts 1:16–26). If Judas had killed himself before the Resurrection, it is logical to assume that Jesus himself would have been involved in choosing his replacement, since he chose the original 12. The fact that Judas was received back into the company of the disciples after his betrayal of Jesus speaks volumes about the forgiveness of the Lord Jesus, as well as the committed brotherhood of the disciples.

7. J. P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1987), pp. 171 and 172.

8. Thomas Arnold, Sermons on Christian Life (London, 1854), p. 324.

9. Simon Greenleaf, the Testimony of the Evangelists (New York: 1874), p. 28.

10. Morris, op. cit., The Defender’s Bible, p. 1574.

11. Henry H. Halley, Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1955 edition, p. 497. 

 

Other Information, Books, Booklets, and Articles available from:

Airrington Ministries: www.airrington.com

Save a VillageTM: www.saveavillage.org

For Further Evidence

Craig, William Lane, Reasonable Faith, Westchester, Ill Crossway, 1994

Geivett, R. Douglas, & Gary R. Habermas. Eds. In Defense of Miracles. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press 1997

Habermas, Gary, & Antony Flew. Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? The Resurrection Debate. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987

Hanegraaff, Hank.  The Third Day. Nashville: W Group, 2003.

Morrison, Frank.  Who moved the Stone? Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987

Wilkins, Michael, J. and J.P. Moreland, eds. Jesus Under Fire. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985

Wilson, Ian. Jesus: The Evidence. San Francisco: Harper 1988

Schonfield, Hugh. The Passover Plot. New York: Bantam 1965

Johnson, Timothy Luk. The Real Jesus. San Franscico: Harper 1996

Strobel, Lee. The Case For Easter. Grand Rapids:Zondervan 2003

 

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