The persuasive history of early Christianity

By Tom Quiner


A Quiner’s Diner reader, Larry, took me to task in a recent post (“Would you die for a lie?”).

He rejects the evidence of the resurrection accounts of Jesus.

Although I disagree with him, I appreciate that he took the time to share his perspective:

“There aren’t really 500+ witnesses of the resurrection. We just have one person (Paul) claim that there were 500+ people who witnessed it. Who were these people? When did they see Jesus? Where were they? What were the circumstances around this event? Did they all see him simultaneously, or are these separate experiences? Why don’t we have any of their actual testimony? We don’t know any of that.

If a man came up to you today and told you that he could miraculously cause amputees to regrow their limbs, that over 500 people have seen him do it, would you believe him? Those 500 people aren’t witnesses at all. We only have the testimony of one man who never knew Jesus when he was alive. The evidence for Jesus is hearsay. That doesn’t mean it’s false, but it means we need another way to verify the claims. As it stands, you are taking the word of a book that says Jesus believed in that very book. It’s in the interest of the writers of the Bible to have you believe that, so it counts as very weak evidence.”

The simple response is that there wasn’t a single eye witness writing about the resurrection.

There were many.








In fact, Peter reports that 3000 gathered who had seen the risen Christ. As to where this all took place, it was Jerusalem where Jesus had spent his final week. It would be hard to fabricate a story of resurrection with so many eye witnesses in their midst, and with reporting by so many different people.

Investigative reporter, Lee Strobel, didn’t believe in the resurrection accounts of Jesus either. He had been an atheist since college. He set out to write a book that disproved the veracity of the “Jesus story” and ended up finding the evidence overwhelming in support of the resurrection.

In the video above, he talks about the multiple sources of eye witnesses to the resurrected Jesus. Pay particular attention to his comment about the early Creed that the early Christians recited that confirmed that they believed in the resurrection. This Creed was written within 24 to 36 months of those events.

The writers of these accounts emphasized that they wanted to be accurate and were reporting the truth.

These histories were fresh and written within a generation.

One of the accounts in the New Testament has to give one pause. It concerns Stephen. This young man preached on the street corners of Jerusalem on the Risen Christ. Now that’s not a very smart thing to do considering that the people who put Jesus to death were lurking around the corner. After all, he was preaching about Jesus just a year or so after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

He was confronted. And arrested. And condemned to death by stoning by the same power structure that executed Jesus.

It all happened fast.

All he had to do was renounce Jesus. That is all. It would be a simple thing to do if it were all a lie. Keep in mind that he had most likely been an eye witness to the resurrection.

He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t renounce Jesus, because he knew that would be a lie.

Can you imagine the pain of being stoned to death? Don’t you think that when the first few stones hit, you’d be screaming at the top of your lungs, “It’s all a lie! Stop it! Stop it! I take it all back!”

Do you know what Stephen said instead ?

“Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”

This comes from Luke’s account in the Acts of the Apostles 7:56.

He becomes the first martyr. One of his killers is none other than Paul of Tarsus, the devout enemy of Christians who within a few years himself becomes a devotee of Christ.

I am struck by the persuasive history of early Christianity.

I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss it out of hand.