Does the argument from prophecy support Jesus' resurrection?

An article by Callum Hoare in The Express, titled, “Scientist finds ‘compelling evidence’ that Jesus Christ resurrected on Easter Sunday” (March 30, 2024) quotes Dr. Joshua Swamidass as saying that Biblical prophecies written long before Jesus existed support the claim that he rose from the dead:

“With dates established by radiometric analysis, prophecies from centuries before Jesus’ birth predict his life, death, and resurrection.”

"These prophecies include specific details that Jesus and his followers could not control.

"For example, before the Romans invented crucifixion, Psalms 22:16 described the piercing of Jesus’ hands and feet.

“Isaiah 53 is a particularly important prophecy too that lays out the story of Jesus and the meaning of the resurrection.”

Christian faith is not supported by poor arguments.

Biblical scholar Dr. Dan McClellan explains why Psalm 22 is not a prophecy about Jesus’ crucifixion, and why the word “pierced” is a mistranslation of Psalm 22:16, in this highly illuminating six-minute video:

Rabbi Tovia Singer’s online article, “A Closer Look at the ‘Crucifixion Psalm’”, is also well worth reading. Whether you agree with the rabbi or not, it would be unwise to appeal to this psalm in support of the claim that it predicts Jesus’ crucifixion. There is no mention of a Messiah in the psalm, which is not even written in the future tense but in the perfect tense, as Rabbi Singer explains in this five-minute video (3:10):

As for Isaiah 53, I would urge readers to peruse Professor Bart Ehrman’s article, Does Isaiah 53 Predict Jesus’ Death and Resurrection? (May 8, 2020). A few excerpts will suffice for my purposes:

Still, it is important to note that the passage never uses the term “messiah” or explicitly indicates it is talking about a messiah, but also that we have no evidence that any Jew prior to Christianity ever thought it was about the messiah. There is a good reason for that: before the birth of Christianity, no one thought the messiah would be someone who would die and be raised from the dead…

Another reason for thinking Isaiah 53 does not refer to just one person, the future messiah who would die for sins, is that the passage describes the suffering of the servant as a past event, not future (he was despised and rejected; he has borne our infirmities; he was wounded for our transgressions). On the other hand – this is a key point – his vindication is described as a future event (He shall see light; he shall find satisfaction; he shall divide the spoil). The author thus is referring to someone (as a metaphor for a group of people) who has already suffered but will eventually be vindicated.

And who is that someone, that “servant of the LORD”? The historical context of the author’s writing is obviously an important factor in deciding, but there is a clincher to the argument. The author of Isaiah explicitly tells us who the servant is. Most readers don’t notice this because they do not read the passage in its literary context. But as biblical scholars have long known, there are four distinct passages in Isaiah that talk about this servant. And they tell us who he is. This is most clear in Isaiah 49:3, where God directly addresses the servant: “And he said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’” The suffering servant is Israel.

Ehrman is not alone. In the following two-minute video, Dr. Dan McClellan declares forthrightly that Isaiah 53 is not about Jesus, and that the Servant described in this chapter is Israel. That remains the consensus view of Biblical scholars.

I share Dr. Swamidass’s belief that “the Resurrection makes sense through the lens of history.” Nevertheless, I feel it is a grave mistake for Christians to appeal to prophecy in an attempt to bolster the case for Christ.

What do readers think?


I agree prophecies are not the best argument for the resurrection because of multiple plausible interpretations. What other historical evidence do you see that supports the resurrection of Christ?

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All the arguments seem to assume the accuracy of the Gospels, which is really not a proposition that can be rationally defended - at least not to th4 extent required to justify belief in a miracle.


Hi Andrew @vjtorley
I agree that the multiple interpretations of prophecy whether the counter arguments are real or not reduces the persuasiveness especially to non believers.

When however you include how the Bible and its prophetic predictions fits into the overall theology then it becomes very persuasive. The issue is someone has to become committed to learning the Bible in order to understand the overall evidence.

Prophecy is a piece of evidence but it needs all the other evidence to improve the Case for Christianity. For me prophecy was very powerful as I found the competing interpretations like the ones above to not be very persuasive.

Hi everyone. Off to work in a sec, but for now, I’d like to wish you all, and Dr. Swamidass, a happy Easter. Surrexit Dominus vere.


You can’t explain the vigor with which the Christian belief developed itself soon after Easter Sunday if Jesus’s story ended at Good Friday. Something extraordinary must have happened in the interval.
IMO, the shroud of Turin is another piece of evidence.

Yes you can. People can be incredibly gullible and insistent.

Here’s some evidence of this:


Let me say up-front that I don’t think much of the standard apologetic arguments for the resurrection, and on this point, I find myself in agreement with @Paul_King. One can imagine alternative scenarios. and Dr. Dale Allison, author of The Resurrection of Jesus: Apologetics, Polemics, History (T & T Clark, 2021), discusses the most plausible alternative to the Resurrection in a video discussion with Nahoa Life (a very intelligent young man) at [27:39] - namely, (i) tomb robbery of Jesus’ body by unknown persons, followed by (ii) hallucinations experienced by Mary Magdalene and/or Peter, and later, the other apostles (believe it or not, there have been visual, auditory and even tactile hallucinations, and in any case, the apostles may not have had identical experiences of Jesus), coupled with (iii) the apostles’ expectation that the end of time (and hence, the General Resurrection of the Dead) was at hand (Luke 19). Taken together, these facts could have led the apostles to conclude that their experiences of Jesus were not encounters with a ghost, but with the first man to be raised by God from the dead (soon to be followed by the rest of the human race). See what you think:

You might like to have a look at this post of mine over at The Skeptical Zone: “The Shroud of Turin: Why I think the image is natural and probably medieval”.

Instead, my argument for the truth of Christianity is a pragmatic one: it has transformed the world in a lasting way. My best evidence for this claim comes from skeptics. If you believe (as I do) that the hand of God moves in history, you might see this as a sign that Jesus was indeed sent by God and raised by God. As Jesus himself put it: “By their fruits you shall know them.”

Allow me to quote from a post by Dr. Bart Ehrman, who is an agnostic atheist, titled, The Invention of Charity: My Prospectus for the Book. Dr. Ehrman’s book will be coming out later this year.

The book I am proposing, The Invention of Charity, will looking at one … Christian innovation that revolutionized our world to the great benefit of many (most?) of its inhabitants. The Christian tradition made a radical intervention in public rhetoric and social practice connected to the use of wealth, in particular to the question of how those with resources should help those without. Why and how should the rich assist the poor? This was not a question raised in the Roman environment out of which Christianity emerged.

It is not that Christians invented the idea of “charity”: they inherited a concern for the needy from their Jewish forebears. But they, not the Jews, converted the Roman world, and, in the end, universalized and, to some extent, institutionalized the imperatives, incentives, and practices of charity… Prior to the Christian conquest of the Empire, the Western world knew of no such things as hospitals, orphanages, private charities, or governmental assistance to the poor. These are Christian innovations.

You could say that Judaism and Islam practice charity, too, but as Ehrman points out, it was Christianity that spread it around the world. A Christian might take that as a confirmatory argument for the reality of the Resurrection. That said, I wouldn’t expect this argument to convert a Jew or a Muslim. I discuss this argument in a more critical vein here, but on a personal level, I find it convincing. Christianity is still a force for good in the world.

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Do you have an actual measure of this vigor?

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On balance? I doubt it. It may seem like Christian charities do some good in the world to be sure, and I’m sure many people find some sort of meaning living a Christian life. On various scores of mental health in the west, Christians get slightly higher scores than non-believers. But seriously that seems to be about it, and while fine I find it extremely dubious that people reporting finding greater meaning in the west outbalances the stultifying effect Christian teachings has had on much of the developing world.
Look at how all the people Christians think are sinners are treated in many places of the world. Homosexuality, and contraceptives in Africa, for example? Heck, even here in the west people not living a traditional Christian life in terms of relationships and “family values” are still vilified and maligned by Christians.

How do you even calculate the amount of good Christianity does? What do the factors weigh? How many instances of “corrective gangrape” of teenage lesbian girls, instances of deaths and disease due to AIDS by HIV in Africa, do people experiencing lower levels of stress in Wyoming offset, really?


That’s kind of interesting, what studies have been done to support this? And is it true of other religions as well?

In your post, we read that Hugh Farey notes that looms capable of weaving a 3/1 twill “are unknown to history, archaeology or literature before about the twelfth century” (p. 20).
But it seems that Farey is wrong here for I’ve read that fragments of silk of this type have been found in Palmyra (dating from around 276 AD) and in a child’s coffin (around 250 AD).


Links, please? I would also suggest that you contact Hugh Farey with this information. He’s a very agreeable and open-minded person.

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I was referring to charitable work. When it comes to charitable organizations, the work that Christian charities do is huge. Just look at this article by Professor David Paton, who holds a chair in industrial economics at Nottingham University Business School, titled, “The world’s biggest charity”.

I’m not trying to airbrush the sins of Christianity. Above, I linked to Professor Bart Ehrman’s post, The Invention of Charity: My Prospectus for the Book, in which he candidly declares:

It is easy to enumerate the negative, even horrific effects of Christianity on the course of Western history, beginning with the conversion of the Roman world in the fourth and fifth century (even though the roots of the problems were all were earlier): the fierce opposition, and then almost complete suppression (through legislation) of all other religious traditions and practices of antiquity, leading ultimately to the loss and even destruction of most of the great religious and cultural artifacts that ancient Greece and Rome had to offer; the vitriolic, internecine conflicts over alternative understandings of Christian “truth,” leading to ostracizations, heresy trials, and the Inquisition; the fervent rejection of Jews and Judaism, leading to anti-Jewish legislation, restriction of Jews’ civil rights, massacres, pogroms, violent anti-semitism, and, eventually, the Holocaust; the theological justifications for the Crusades, slaughter of indigenous populations, slavery, and … and it’s a very long list.

Recognizing such historical atrocities has sometimes made it difficult for outsiders to the faith to recognize the serious benefits accrued to Western culture from the Christian “conquest.” But no religious movement can be seen in purely Manichaean terms. The Christian church did indeed transform culture and society in salubrious ways, not just through the lives of individuals who adopted a Christian ethic of love and service to others (an ethic rarely endorsed in Roman antiquity), but in ideologies and institutions that became central to western culture.


Probably this, but note that Stephen Jones doesn’t give the weave ratio of the ancient samples, or any references for them, which suggests to me that they are actually not 3:1 twill but 2:2 twill, which is known from several ancient samples.

Here are some questions.

  1. does anyone think that the argument should convince an open-minded non-believer?

  2. if it only convinces those that have already bought into a bundle of Christian theological assumptions isn’t it redundant?

  3. is it akin to belief in conspiracy theories, where everything “fits together” in a self-reinforcing way but doesn’t stand up to critical examination?


It should not surprise anyone that the life and death of Jesus seems to be reflected in the verses of Isaiah 53 and other parts of the OT. This is not a coincidence. We have to remember that the Hebrew Scriptures came before Jesus. The authors of the New Testament used images of the Jewish Messiah they found in the Hebrew Scriptures and created their stories about Jesus to fit those images.

Hi Boris
Do you then disagree with the Jewish Rabbi’s that claim that Isaiah 53 is about the Hebrew people?

What is your position on Daniel 9 which indicates the timing of when Messiah will be “cut off”?

I love Rabbi Tovia Singer–he’s my man. Moreover, I’ll wager that It can be prophesied with 100% accuracy that no matter how much debunking occurs re Jesus’ life details, including the death and claimed resurrection vis a vis the aforementioned prophecies, evangelical Christians will ignore it…

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Daniel 9 gets it wrong, Onias III dies in 171 BC, not 106 BC

[Correction, that’s when Onias III is deposed, he dies a few years later]