Clearly, many of the Apostles did die as martyrs, without any historical evidence that any had ever reneged on their faith and their certitude about the Resurrection of their Master.
However, Sean McDowell has written that the historical record about the martyrdom of some the Apostles isn’t compelling. Why not? Some of the historical evidence doesn’t appear until hundreds of years after the fact.
Nevertheless, McDowell argues that their martyrdom isn’t absolutely critical to their testimony to the Resurrection. Why not? McDowell explains that their outspoken lives were always lived facing martyrdom and cites historian Michael Licona:
· “After Jesus’ death, the disciples endured persecution, and a number of them experienced martyrdom. The strength of their conviction indicates that they were not just claiming Jesus had appeared to them after rising from the dead. They really believed it. They willingly endangered themselves by publicly proclaiming the risen Christ.” (Christian Research Journal, Vol.39, No.2, 16)
According to McDowell, the entire Christian community had also been convinced of the Resurrection:
· From the Apostles forward, there is no evidence for an early Christian community that did not have belief in the Resurrection at its core. The centrality of the Resurrection can be seen by considering the earliest Christian creeds, the preaching in Acts, and the writings of the apostolic fathers. (14)
McDowell cites NT scholar James Dunn in support:
· “It is an undoubted fact that the conviction that God had raised Jesus from the dead and had exalted Jesus to his right hand transformed Jesus’ first disciples and their beliefs about Jesus.” (14)
Could they ALL have been deluded or just mistaken?