Arun Shourie, 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 & Circular Reasoning? (Part 1)

My area is not Biblical Studies or exegesis and especially not Philosophy, but I came across something in a book that I am reading that just did not sound right. The author said that in 1 Cor. 15:12-19, Paul commits circular reasoning while trying to prove that Jesus rose from the dead. Is this so?

Well let me say that first off in the passage under discussion, Paul is not even trying to prove the resurrection! And second off, as far as I can tell there is no circular reasoning. Lets take a look. The passage and my analysis are down below.

BTW, the book that I am reading is titled Harvesting Our Souls and it is by Arun Shourie. The book is rife with erroneous reasoning and much of its commentary on biblical passages and on the scholarly sources (liberal btw) that he consults belie an inattentive and careless reading. It is surprising to see such writing from Arun Shourie because, he is a noted journalist in India and also holds a doctorate from Syracuse University.

Anyway… Here is the passage. It is a set of conditionals (if-then statements). I have colored some of its parts, made some of it bold and supplied some implicit “then”‘s.

12. Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, [then] how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13. But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
14. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
15. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
16. For if the dead are not raised, [then] not even Christ has been raised.
17. And if Christ has not been raised, [then] your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
18. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
19. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, [then] we are of all people most to be pitied.


Ok. Now I am going to shorten the above in the following manner.
a) I will remove 16 since it is more or less the same as 13.
b) I’ll remove 15, 17-19 also since they are just listing out various consequences that follow if Christ has not been raised.
c) I’ll change the word “preaching” in v.14 to “proclamation” since they mean almost the same thing.

We get:
12. Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, then how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13′. But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
14′. And if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain and your faith is in vain.


a) I’ll put 13′ and 14′ together since P=>Q, Q=>R gives P=>R.
b) I’ll remove the consequence “your faith is in vain” for the purpose of clarity. (I am trying to understand how this guy arrives at the charge of circularity.)

I get ~~~~~>
12. Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, then how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13”. But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then our proclamation is in vain.

And . . . as far as I can tell . . . there is no circularity.

Question: How do we know that the Holocaust took place? It is proclaimed by survivors by print and also visual media.

12”. Now if the Auschwitz is proclaimed as having occurred, then how can some people say that the Holocaust never took place?
13”’. Because if the Holocaust never took place, then all these reports about Auschwitz are false.

So its like saying – while there is evidence for the Holocaust having taken place and yet there is in particular incredible evidence for the Auschwitz having taken place. So if we know that Auschwitz took place then how can some people say that the Holocaust never took place?

And folks, if the Holocaust never took place then what are we to do then with all this evidence for Auschwitz?

The key is the first verse cited above.

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