The majority of critical historians agree on these minimal facts about Jesus’s death, the origin of the belief in Jesus’s resurrection, and the beginning of the church:
1. Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus’s body in a tomb. No one would invent a notable individual and leader among the Jews when they would be exposed and charged of deceiving people.
2. Women found Jesus’s tomb empty on the third day. The disciples would not likely invent that they locked themselves in a room while women went to the tomb and witnessed a central evidence of Jesus’s resurrection.
3. Opponents like James and Paul converted when they experienced Jesus bodily risen from the dead. Paul persecuted the church and voted to execute believers of Jesus Christ until one day he saw Jesus resurrected. This is Paul’s confession of his conversion (Gal 1:11–17). Jesus’s brothers also converted and became preachers of the Gospel (Acts 1:14; 1 Cor 9:1–7).
4. Various people experienced Jesus risen from the dead and this changed them. There was a sudden change of beliefs that only Jesus’s resurrection can explain. First-century Jews expected a final day of resurrection, but they would not have expected a Messianic figure to die or even to rise again. However, hundreds witnessed Jesus alive having bodily risen from the dead.
5. The church began and exists because numerous people experienced Jesus resurrected and they spread that report. Paul’s proclamation in 1 Corinthians 15:1–4 is an ancient tradition dating to the original disciples and beginning of the church. Peter preached Scriptures predicting Jesus’s resurrection, noted Jesus’s empty tomb, and cited witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection as evidence of Jesus’s resurrection. This proclamation established the church in Acts 2.