The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Myth, Hoax, or History? -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 07:2 (Winter 1998)
Article: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Myth, Hoax, or History?
Author: David J. MacLeod

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Myth, Hoax, or History?1

David J. MacLeod*

Sometime around the year ad 512 the Apostle Paul found himself in Athens presenting the Christian message both in the synagogue and in the marketplace (Acts 17:16–31). Athens had long since lost its political eminence. but it was still the greatest university town in the world and continued to represent the highest level of culture.3 To modern-day visitors of Athens, it is a city of the masterpieces of the architects and sculptors of the age of Pericles (490–29 bc). To Paul, a Jewish rabbi brought up in the spirit of the ten commandments (“You shall have no other gods before Me, You shall not make for yourself an idol,” Exod. 20:3–4), it was a “city full of idols” (Acts 17:16). It was said that there were more statues of gods in Athens than in all the rest of Greece put together. It was easier in Athens, the saying went, to meet a god than to meet a man.

During his visit to Athens Paul was taken to Mars Hill4 where he met and conversed with philosophers from the rival Stoic and Epicurean schools. Stoicism and Epicureanism were alternative attempts to explain the meaning of

life—to come to terms with its uncertainties and hardships. The Epicureans5 believed that everything happened by chance, that death was the end of all, and that pleasure was the chief end of man. They did not deny the existence of gods, but they believed they were remote from the world and took no interest in the lives of men and women. The Stoics6 were pantheists, i.e., they believed that everything was God—God was the world-soul. At their best the Stoics were marked by moral integrity and a high sense of duty. They believed that everything that happened was the will of God and should be accepted without resentment. When they died the little spark of the divine spirit that was within them returned to the world-soul. They also believed that every so often the world disintegrated in a conflagration of fire and started all over again on the same cycle of events.

In that city and to this sophisticated and urbane audience, Dr. Luke7 tells us, Paul was proclaiming, “Jesus and the resurrection” (You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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