Well, I just got back from a presentation by Mike Licona, who feels that he can prove, through methods acceptable by historians, that Jesus was resurrected. He's basically saying that there are some "historical facts" that can only be explained by resurrection.
- Jesus was crucified when the Jewish leadership demanded it. (In his words, "An overwhelming majority, virtually 100% of scholars agree on this.")
- Jesus was a traveling teacher who claimed to be the son of god.
- His apostles thought that he was resurrected from the dead shortly after his crucifixion.
Now, the following are from his BOOK on the subject, and not on his presentation tonight:
- Paul, a persecutor of the church, has suddenly changed to faith in Jesus
- The tomb of Jesus was empty.
- James, skeptical of Jesus during his ministry, was suddenly changed to faith in Jesus.
He says that these are facts that are accepted by the majority of scholars.
He also says that when assuming that all of them are true, the only reasonable explanation is that Jesus was resurrected, and that his resurrection means that we should believe all his previous claims.
Now, he was very vague about his sources tonight, I've seen him be much less vague in an older debate which can be found here:
Mike Licona vs Dan Barker, 2003
This is the list he gave of "Primary sources about Jesus that support his view":
Letters (Paul) - 50-65 CE
NT Gospels - 50-100 CE
Josephus - 90 CE
Tacitus - 115 Ce
Apostolic fathers - 64-150 CE
Other Gospels - 150-300 CE
He also mentioned Pliny and Josephus.
Next, he talked about what is a responsible method for determining the validity of historical documents. The list he gave of criteria that improves validity are:
For early, he mentioned the letters of paul and NT gospels.
For unsympathetic he mentioned Pliny, Tacitus, and Josephus
For embarrassing he said that Jesus saying "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" while dying on the cross was embarrassing for Christianity to admit to, because stories of Jewish and Christian martyrs show them not being pussies like Jesus was when being crucified. (in my words, from my notes on the presentation).
Having women be the source for the empty tomb was embarrassing because at that time, the testimony of women was not considered of any value. Also, in the same vein, it was embarrassing that Jesus' closest followers, the apostles, dismissed the story that Jesus' body was gone, and that he had been resurrected from the dead.
I'd like to see responses to what he sees as evidence for something incredibly unlikely, Jesus' resurrection, and see them refuted as carefully as possible.
Also, I'd like to see a focus on only his claims that the evidence points to a resurrection. Not to whether resurrection is possible at all, or any of the many other ways this could branch.