The Resurrection Factor by Josh McDowell (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., 1981), 190pp, paperback, $4.95.
In this book, the author answers the question, “Does the historical evidence support the resurrection of Jesus Christ?” He makes several observations including an examination of the testimony of history from the point of view of several people, namely, a Roman History scholar, textual critic, and professor of Ancient History among others. The resurrection as foretold in Scripture and basic historical facts are recounted. Intelligent faith is discussed along with the possibility of miracles. Is the resurrection a fact or fable? Is the Scientific Method limited in explaining such an event? What historical criteria can be used? And, what reliable historical documents exist to support the resurrection?
In addition, the author provides a review of the several security precautions taken during the trial, crucifixion, and burial of Jesus Christ by the Roman authorities. When these measures were not enough, several facts subsequently had to be reckoned with including the broken Roman seal and empty tomb. How was it that a large stone was moved uphill away from the site and why did the Roman Guard go AWOL? What is the significance of the graveclothes left behind and why did women see the resurrected Jesus first? Many theories have been used to attempt to explain these facts with some people believing that one theory is as good as another! However, there is circumstantial evidence such as the creation of the Church, Sunday worship, Baptism, Communion, and the changed lives of the people who beheld the resurrected Jesus that point to the undeniable occurrence of such an event in history.
In this book, you will find out the specifics of why Christians believe in the resurrection. You will also discover how Josh McDowell, a former skeptic, became a believer in Jesus Christ as he began to uncover these truths for himself as he “spent hundreds of hours over thirteen years combing the annals of history.” This work is a handy reference for those who want an outline to follow in their own personal study or need a quick snapshot of the issues surrounding the resurrection of Jesus to share with others in a timely manner. It could easily become the basis for a class taught on this subject if further independent study is done to gather additional material to flesh out its contents.
Following the eight chapters of the book is a valuable Appendix which addresses three important topics. “Three Days and Three Nights in the Tomb” deals with the question “How could Jesus have remained in the tomb three days and three nights if He was crucified on Friday and rose on Sunday?” It also reconciles the different Gospel accounts with each other of this event. Second, a partial reprinting of Dr. Johnston Cheney’s The Life of Christ in Stereo is included because of “its excellent harmonizing of the post-resurrection appearances of Christ” in chronological order. Third, an excerpt from Walter M. Chandler’s (former justice of the New York State Supreme Court) The Trial of Jesus will help the reader learn how to evaluate a witness’s testimony in order to assess the “accuracy of the New Testament resurrection accounts.” Finally a complete bibliography concludes this work.
This book gives all readers something to think about and respond to, whether they are new believers or those mature in their faith. Of course, skeptics are most welcome to examine the claims of Scripture as it pertains to Christ’s rising bodily from the dead. Perhaps they, too, will become “born again” believers like Josh McDowell and join the Body of Christ!
Reviewed by Deb Garland, www.spiritandtruth.org