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Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?: The Resurrection Debate Paperback – December 4, 2003

3.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In May 1985, Flew, a prominent philosophical critic of theism, and Habermas, professor of Apologetics and Philosophy at Liberty University (Virginia), debated the issue of the resurrection. This book contains the transcript of the debate and related material. Flew argues from a basically Humean position that the establishment of a miracle is extremely difficult; he then attacks the specific evidence brought forward to support the claim of resurrection. Habermas relies heavily on Biblical evidence, e.g., the "eyewitness" accounts. Some interesting, though standard, issues are discussed, but the interchange is sometimes repetitive and the debaters at cross-purposes; Flew is not at his best. For larger religion collections. Richard Hogan, Philosophy Dept., Southeastern Massachusetts Univ., N. Dartmouth
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Gary Habermas is author of 'Ancient Evidence for the Life of Jesus: Historical Records of His Death and Resurrection' 'The Resurrection of Jesus' and 'The Verdict on the Shroud' He teaches at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Antony Flew, a professor emeritus at Kiele University is author of 'The Presumption of Atheism' 'New Essays in Philosophical Theology' 'God and Philosophy' and 'A Rational Animal' Terry L. Miethe is dean of the Oxford Study Centre, Oxford, England, professor of philosophy at Liberty University, and an adjunct professor at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He is the author of 'The New Christian's Guide to Following Jesus' and 'The Christian's Guide to Faith and Reason'
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub (December 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592444318
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592444311
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,786,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian Douglas on December 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking I've ever read! It is the published form of a 1985 debate between Christian evidentialist apologist Gary Habermas and atheistic philosopher Antony G.N. Flew concerning the question, "Did Jesus rise from the dead?" The question was limited to historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ - other topics, such as the existence of God and the verifiability of miracles, were off limits. After each debater gave an opening statement, a rebuttal, and the two went "head-to-head", the judges voted 7-2 (one draw) in favor of Habermas as winner of the debate.
This book is incredibly interesting. Part One is the formal debate, as described above. Part Two is a transcript of the discussion between Flew, Habermas, Terry L. Miethe, and W. David Beck that took place the night after the debate. Part Three consists of responses to the debate by Wolfhart Pannenberg, Charles Hartshorne, and J.I. Packer. Part Four is a final response by Habermas to the issue of the resurrection.
No matter what your religious or philosophical background, if you are interested at all in whether or not it is reasonable to believe in the miraculous, particularly in the Christian claim that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, this book will fascinate you. Enjoy!
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True, this "debate" is not a fair fight. The book is divided into four sections: Habermas vs. Flew, Habermas and two friends vs. Flew, reflections by Pannenberg, Hartshorne, and Packer (two of whom believe in the resurrection), and final comments by Habermas. Not only are skeptics outnumbered 5 to 2, or 7 to 2, depending on how you count, Habermas knows a lot more about the subject than his opponent.

I came away admiring Flew for his pluck and good-humored way of deporting himself against the odds. He does know something about early Christianity, and makes some good points. But no doubt Habermas shows the better hand. Probably they should have roped in someone like E. P. Sanders to even things out. Crossan's debates with Craig and Wright on the same subject, to both of which Habermas added comments, would seem more even, in terms of scholarly firepower; though frankly, I respect Flew's attitude more.

I appreciated the fact that everyone spoke to the subject, here. In some of these debates (Crossan-Craig for one), the skeptic shows such scorn for the proceedings that you wonder why he came. Flew is always polite, rational, and shows his opponents the respect to really argue. Habermas knows his stuff, as do his two comrades. Having Pannenberg and Packer on board also adds to the interest of the book.

It may be that, as the critic below claims, Habermas exagerates how many scholars accept some of his points. (Though he probably knows more about the scholarly consensus on this subject than anyone.) But "scholarly" theories of the sort this critic recommends do not, I think, much recommend themselves. People usually lasted longer on the cross, so Jesus couldn't have died as soon as the Gospels all say he did?
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This seems to me a fairly good book. It is one of the few books on the reputed bodily resurrection of Jesus that takes the debate form, and much is gained by that format, as both sides are heard, questioning each other closely. Flew and Habermas are both diplomatic, though Habermas is more combative, while Flew is funnier. Personally, I think Flew, the skeptic, won the debate, though he was no real expert on the subject. His common sense prevailed, despite his having perhaps been "set up" by the Christian organizers of the debate, who arranged for it to take place only two brief months after first approaching him with the idea.

Early on, the two debaters discuss the theoretical possibility of miracles. They agree that miracles are not possible in a closed naturalistic world order, but that, if a supernatural power exists, such miracles are indeed possible. However, Flew rightly insists that the evidence for any such miracles should be very strong before we accept it, considering that religious minds are excitable and prone to fantasy. Unfortunately, neither of the two debaters mentions the fact that reported miracles have become far fewer in the centuries since modern science arose, which seems to me a very strong argument against the reality of those many miracles reported in medieval and ancient times, including a bodily resurrection of Jesus.

Habermas touts the reputed miracles of the mortal Jesus as evidence for his divinity and, by extension, his resurrection. Flew, however, notes the hard truth that the earliest documents of the New Testament (the 21 epistles or letters) never mention even a single miracle by Jesus performed during his lifetime. Read James, for example, or Hebrews, or all the letters of Paul. You'll find no mention of miracles by Jesus.
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The affirmative side of the argument was a bit too pleased with itself. A more balanced view would have considered evidence rules and the reasons for their existence in more detail….but ultimately, the affirmative side is the stronger unless you can exclude their evidence with technical legal arguments. They do have a lot of evidence from credible witnesses in their corner. By Nuremberg evidentiary standards, the affirmative case is proven. The one piece of evidence that was raised but not adequately dealt with was the lack of a body especially since there were soldiers on duty. I had never thought of that. Did no one ever come forward and say for money, I did it; I spirited away the body; here's where I put it? Surely the Romans or the Jews could have extracted that since they found a Judas among the Twelve?….
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