The third and final fact I'll present to determine if the Resurrection is fact or fiction is the numerous appearances of Christ after his death to friends, an enemy and a skeptic.
The creed in 1Cor 15: 3-8 states, "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, then to the twelve, after that he appeared to more than five hundred followers of Jesus at one time, most of whom are still alive, but some have died, after that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to [Paul]"
Scholars date this creed to within 5 years of Christ's death, including atheist scholar Gerd Ludermann in 2004. Many sources in antiquity also attest to the disciples' willingness to die and suffer for this belief that he appeared to them after his death including, Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius, Dionysius, Tertullian and Origen.
Granted this does not prove their beliefs in this creed were true, but it does prove they believed it so strongly they were willing to endure great suffering and even die for proclaiming it. Liars make poor martyrs.
Paul was an avowed enemy of Christians, yet he became its biggest proponent and as a result spread it throughout the Mediterranean. His testimony is that Christ appeared to him and as a result he changed from persecutor to persecuted. Many oral traditions that even predate the New Testament as well as all of the ancient sources I cited above attest to Paul's testimony of Christ appearing to him thus accounting for his radical change.
Many would have loved to use the fact that during Jesus' life, his own family didn't believe he was the Messiah and many do. However, one brother in particular who started off as a skeptic also had a radical change all the way to becoming a martyr proclaiming his new belief as reported by ancient sources including, Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement of Alexandria.
Boston University scholar and critic, Paula Fredriksen, states, "The disciples' conviction that they had seen the Risen Christ...[is] historical bedrock, facts known past doubting."
So, due to the many Biblical and non-Biblical sources and testimonies that claim Christ appeared to friends, an enemy and a skeptic, we can conclude that he did in fact appear to many after his death.
In the comments of this post, let's try and stick to just the facts and arguments presented in this post. On Sunday, I'll write a final post with the conclusions that are drawn from these three facts.