In this post-Easter week, we look at Paul’s discussion of the resurrection, in 1 Corinthians 15.
One of the common objections to the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection is the long timeframe between the event (around 30 AD) and the four written gospels which testify to it (Mark is likely the earliest, in the 60s AD). Now of course, this 40-year gap is still within living memory, meaning the accounts could have been challenged by those who were around at the time if the gospel writers were simply making up stories. (If you publish made up stories about the late 1970s, there will be plenty of people around to correct you!)
More than that, in a mostly non-literate culture, the gospels weren’t primary; they reflected a long tradition of material about Jesus and his resurrection that was circulating by word of mouth. Unlike in our text-based culture, in the first century, writing these traditions down was a secondary task.
But still: there’s a gap between what’s often seen as our earliest historical evidence (Mark’s gospel) and the event itself, which can lead people to doubt the reliability of the resurrection accounts.