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February 3, 2006

Author examines evidence for Jesus Christ’s resurrection

By Lionel Green

Special to The Times

Could the resurrection of Jesus have been a hoax? Was Jesus’ body really absent from his tomb? Were there witnesses who actually saw Jesus after his death on the cross?

After setting the groundwork in the previously reviewed parts one and two of Lee Strobel’s book “The Case for Christ,” the author digs deep for evidence regarding the most amazing claim about Jesus — his resurrection — in part three.

Strobel interviews Dr. Alexander Metherell who explains how Jesus could literally sweat blood. Metherell then gives a graphic description of a Roman flogging and the effects it likely had on Jesus. Metherell’s description is probably illustrated best in Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ.”

Metherell follows his flogging analysis with another even more graphic portrayal of what happened to Jesus during the crucifixion. The doctor gives a medical account of what Jesus physically went through.

It leaves little doubt that Jesus died an agonizing and complete death on the cross. Metherell even provides his explanation of the likely cause of death, which surprised me.

Strobel then attacks the contradictions surrounding Jesus’ empty tomb. I never realized the number of inconsistencies in the events surrounding the empty tomb, but scholar William Lane Craig patiently deals with each of Strobel’s contentions.

It provided me another opportunity to learn about portions of ancient history, which is the real strength of Strobel’s book.

Regarding the resurrection, Strobel goes straight to the point: “Isn’t it true that there are absolutely no eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection?”

I was surprised when scholar Gary Habermas answered, “That’s exactly right — there’s no descriptive account of the resurrection .... Nobody was sitting inside the tomb and saw the body start to vibrate, stand up, take the linen wrappings off, fold them, roll back the stone, wow the guards and leave.”

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