I was watching a video of Richard Dawkins and John Lennox in debate on the question “Has Science Buried God.” One expected — and I do not think that, given the academic reputation of the debaters, this is unreasonable — that there would be no lies. And yet, prominent in Lennox’s argument was a critical lie, a lie so central to his argument that he should have lost by default the moment he uttered it. Here he is telling that lie:
Now, the lie is this. Geza Vermes does not defend the historicity of the resurrection. While I don’t intend to read any new books on the resurrection, it seemed to me worthwhile looking it up on amazon.com and seeing whether anyone had commented on Vermes’ position vis-à-vis the resurrection, and, sure enough, someone had. So I am going to quote that reviewer here. He’s a so-called Vine Voice™ reviewer, so he has at least some credit with Amazon (at least with a particular demographic — see below). His name is Christopher Price. Here’s part of what he has to say about Vermes’ book on the resurrection, The Resurrection: History and Myth (which he awards two stars):
Despite his misgivings, Vermes seems to accept the historicity of the empty tomb and the fact that some sort of appearances occurred. He explores alternative theories, such as the wrong tomb, stolen body, and not-really-dead theories, and finds them all lacking as historical explanations. So just what does Vermes think happened? I still do not know for sure. His epilogue is titled, “Resurrection in the Hearts of Men.” He admits that Jesus’ followers experienced a powerful mystical event that caused them to proclaim the gospel with authority. His theory seems to be that these two factors combined to spur them on to proclaiming the gospel, and that when their newfound missionary activities were successful, their doubts eased and Jesus was resurrected in their hearts. This seems to put the cart before the horse and fails to offer an explanation for the empty tomb and the resurrection appearances in the first instance. It also leaves unexplained Paul’s encounter with the risen Jesus. Finally, it fails to explain why Jesus’ followers would have interpreted these events as a resurrection rather than some other event — such as an assumption into heaven. This last issue is one of the crucial historical questions surrounding Jesus’ reported resurrection and the absence of any serious exploration of it is a substantial omission[!]
It is worthwhile pointing out, if you didn’t guess from that last remark, that Christopher Price is a Christian — of the charismatic persuasion, by his own account – and this may be why he gives Vermes’ book on the resurrection only two stars. But this is valuable testimony, for it shows clearly that Christians who believe in the resurrection will not think that Vermes does.