Philosophical questions about the resurrection of Jesus

Course at IAP-PUC, First Semester 2010, Wednesdays 15.00 - 16.20 h, by Daniel von Wachter

Contact: - replace "ABCD" by "von-wachter". Tel. 354-1509. I am there to help you. Usually I am in the office at the IAP at least Monday till Thursday from 7.30 h. Usually it is best to send me questions by email. I will then answer by email or ask you to come.

Content of this page

Descripción del curso

Today, like in the past, some philosophers argue rigorously that there is strong evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. This course will not only investigate what evidence there is for the resurrection of Jesus but first investigate in general how one correctly evaluates the probability of a certain historical event. In particular, the role of background assumptions, which is often overlooked, is considered. So a large part of this course is epistemology.



Study this page and the following thoroughly:

If you want to participate, send me an email now, so that I have your email address. Between the meetings we will communicate by email, so read it regularly (once a day). I recommend that you use an email program like Thunderbird, which is much more efficient than reading email online ('webmail').

In general, participants have to attend every session. (If you want an exception, for example if you would like to do distance learning, talk to me.) You may miss maximally 2 sessions. If you miss more than 2 sessions, the course is failed. You are welcome to try the course until 12th of March and decide then whether you want to continue to participate.

The course starts at 15.00 h. Be on time.

Be dressed decently. Take it as a token of appreciation of each other's company and as respect for the occasion. For the intermediate exam, gentlemen wear a tie, ladies equivalently.

In different countries there are different customs how to address each other at university. We use surnames.


For each session there are a few pages obligatory reading. You must study them. If for some reason you could not read them, tell me before the session. Always bring this as well as the core text (Swinburne) with you.

Besides that, there will be for each session further readings of which you should do at least some.

Sometimes there will be a short written homework. It will not be marked, but no participant may fail to do it more than twice in the semester.

Send me written homework the day before the session (22 h) by email. If it is short (up to 1.000 words), write or paste the text in an email. If it is longer (which it usually is not) or if it contains formatting which would be lost, send it to me as a file in format ODT (OpenOffice) or PDF or RTF (if you use MS Word, save as RTF) and follow THESE instructions.


70 % for an essay, to be written at the end of the semester. 30 % half-term exam.

There will be no exam and no essay to be written after the end of term. The last meeting of this course is on Wednesday 16 June.

Half-term exam

The half-term exam will be on 21st of April, 2010, at 15.00 h.


You need to write one essay on one of the topics named below. Length: 2.500 to 3.500 words. Submit it until 3rd of July, 2010, 22h. Submit it by email.

Follow THESE instructions carefully! Format the file properly. There you also find the criteria for marking. Read also at least one of the other mentioned guides for writing philosophy papers (I recommend Huemer's).

You must have read Swinburne's "The Resurrection of God Incarnate" completely for writing the essay. Read also some of the other texts mentioned in the Bibliografia below.

Essay topic A

How does one find out whether Jesus rose from the dead?

In this essay you must explain with precision what one has to consider for investigation whether a certain historical event occurred.

Essay topic B

Was Jesus the kind of person for whom a resurrection is probable?

In this essay you must first explain why this is relevant for investigation the resurrection, then consider the various issues and the evidence. See especially Part II of RGI.

Essay topic C

An argument for/against Jesus' resurrection

In this essay you must give one or a group of arguments for or against the claim that Jesus rose from the dead. If you chose this topic, contact me before you write it and tell me what you would like to do.

Further notes

Discuss questions from this course (and other questions) on the Internetforum of the IAP:!

If you need to improve your English, take this course as an occasion to do so. Make an effort, find the method for learning English which works best for you. One good method is to study texts of which you have an English and a Spanish version, and ideally also a good recording in British English. (Perhaps you find some at Albalearning.) Study also the grammar. I can give you advice.

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Slides from the sessions

Here you will find the slides which I present in class for download.

Notes for the sessions

Go to the next session.

The bibliographical data of all texts which are referred to here only in the form 'Swinburne 2004' you find below in the bibliography.

Wednesday, 10th of March, 2010: Introduction

Wednesday, 17/3/2010

On Wednesday, 17/3/2010, at 13.30 h there will be an introduction to working techniques:


1. Study thoroughly 'The resurrection of God Incarnate' (RGI) pp. 9-17.Take notes. Be prepared to answer questions like 'What is detailedhistorical evidence?' and 'Give an argument for the reliability oftestimony'
2. Read pp. 17-31
Repeat the Introduction.


Obligatory reading for this session: study thoroughly pp. 17-31.

Further: Read the whole book as soon as you can, even if you do not understand everything.

21/4/2010: Half-term exam, 15.00 h!


Wednesday, 16th of June, 2010: Last session


Core text: Swinburne, Richard, 2003, The Resurrection of God Incarnate, Oxford University Press

Further texts:

Additional internet resources

Further relevant texts