The Testimony Of Paul The Apostle To The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ -- By: William Houliston

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 073:292 (Oct 1916)
Article: The Testimony Of Paul The Apostle To The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ
Author: William Houliston


The Testimony Of Paul The Apostle To The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ

Mr. William Houliston

The testimony of Paul to the fact of Christ’s bodily resurrection differs from all other testimony relating to it, in two very essential points which give to it its peculiar force, and against which the common objections and arguments of the skeptic or critic do not apply, and fall impotently to the ground.

The first point of difference is that the writings of Paul are not history or a mere record of events, that they are not written as such nor with any such purpose in view; and this is of tremendous importance in the discussion. Many motives may operate upon the mind of the historian in the narration of events to prompt or incline him, consciously or unconsciously, to exaggerate, misstate, or utterly to misrepresent or falsify facts. He may be prejudiced, his mind may have a bias in a certain direction; he may even be hostile to the facts in the case. He usually has a philosophy of events or of history to which he is apt to be wedded, and in behalf of which he may be easily tempted to distort, to suppress, or even to deny a fact.

The historian is also liable to be influenced by a desire to interest his readers, to inflame their imagination and excite their wonder. There are few historians who have escaped

criticism on some or all of these points. In short, the motive of self-interest is at least liable to obtrude itself, and influence the statements of the historian either in the coloring of the facts or in their actual substance.

But Paul’s writings are letters, not history, and as such not exposed to these influences or open to such criticism. Moreover, they were intended for and written directly to his contemporaries; and this is our second point in support of the peculiar validity and force of his testimony. The men or churches to whom the letters were written were in a position to know and appreciate the character of the writer, his ability, and the validity and trustworthiness of his statement of facts. They can also be reasonably presumed to have been more or less conversant with contemporaneous events, and with the happenings and the popular talk current within a period not exceeding twenty-five or twenty-six years before the first letter to the Corinthians was written, in which Paul’s chief testimony to the event appears, and within this period the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ had occurred; for the crucifixion occurred in a.d. 33, and the letter was written in a.d. 59. Furthermore, those to whom the letter was addressed had access at the time, either by letter or in person, to the little less than five hundred surviving eyewitnesse...

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