I am well aware that the Church Fathers were very insistent upon the bodily resurrection of Jesus (over against Docetists and Arians, etc.). What I am looking for is arguments or proofs that Jesus did in fact rise bodily. Athanasius in his de Incarnatione, in the 30s chapters, offered some arguments (radically changed lives in believers, etc.) for a bodily resurrection. I have looked through indexes of Tertullian and Irenaeus in the Antenicene Fathers series, and didn’t quite see anything similar.
Does anyone here know of apologetic attempts by early Fathers to demonstrate (if not actually prove) the bodily resurrection of Jesus?
The arguments that William Lane Craig uses to defend Jesus’ bodily resurrection are taken directly out of Eusebius of Caesarea’s book “Proof of the Gospel.” I was fascinated when I looked up his argument for the Resurrection and found that it is not any bit different from the modern argument.
Some will not consider Melito of Sardis a “Church Father” but here is a quote never the less.
When the Lord had clothed himself with humanity, and had suffered for the sake of the sufferer, and had been bound for the sake of the imprisoned, and had been judged for the sake of the condemned, and buried for the sake of the one who was buried, he rose from the dead, and cried aloud with this voice: "Who is the one who contends with me? Let him stand in opposition to me. I have set the condemned man free; I have given the dead man life; I have raised up the one who had been entombed. Who is my opponent? ‘I’, he says, ‘am the Christ’. I am the one who destroyed death, and triumphed over the enemy, and trampled Hades under foot, and bound the strong one, and carried off man to the heights of heaven’. ‘I’, he says, ‘am the Christ’.
[RIGHT]—Easter sermon by Melito of Sardis, 2nd century[/RIGHT]
I’d love to look that over. I did download Eusebius’ work, but a scan didn’t see any sections that talked about this. Could you let me know which chapters/sections provided this? From what I saw, the parts that talked about the Resurrection have not been preserved.
It appears that people are misunderstanding my OP.
I’m not asking anyone to prove that Jesus bodily rose from the grave. I’m not asking what the Bible teaches about the Resurrection.
I’m asking if and how the Church Fathers undertook to prove the Resurrection. If you have any references to specific passages in these writings, such as the one I gave in the OP, please post them here. THAT would be a great place to start.
If you still aren’t sure what I mean, please read the chapters of Athanasius I referred to above, for the type of literature I’m thinking about.
St. Clement of Rome, letter to the Corinthians, chpt 24.
St. Ignatius, letter to the Magnesium, chpt 11; letter to the Trillions, chpt 9.
Origin, Against Celsus, bk 2, chpt 60
Other than that there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of a full argument. Probably because any who professed that the Resurrection didn’t happen(like the Ebionites) were immediately condemned as heretics.
It was just an accepted fact of history.
But I don’t think that it became a real issue until modern times with the advent of nominalism and other “enlightenment” thought.
St. Paul made it rather clear in his first letter to the Church in Corinth, “if Christ is not raised, then your Faith is in vain, and you have no hope because you’re still in your sins.”
Thanks. Stuff looks good. This weekend I’ll go through that, and also see if the editions of Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine in the Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers volumes I have, have some good references.
Eusebius, Proof of the Gospel, Book 3, chapter 5 discusses the idea that the Apostles made up the miracles of Jesus, including the Resurrection. The biting sarcasm is really fun to read, but I think it’s fascinating that William Lane Craig uses the exact same arguments that are here adduced by Eusebius. Read it for yourself here: