Is it really clear that the first Christians believed in the empty tomb of Jesus and in the resurrection of our bodies, leaving all the graves empty?
Check out the rest of the article, in which I explain that the earliest Christian community maintained that in the resurrection of Jesus, his body came back to life, setting the precedent for the resurrection of all the dead.
Is believing in the resurrection of Jesus as foolish as falling for somebody’s tall-tale about teleportation? Recently James East brought to my attention his short article where he calls into question the “minimal facts” approach to arguing for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. How well does his objection fare? Not especially well, as it turns out. Continue reading “The minimal facts argument and teleportation”→
Jesus used God’s relationship to Abraham to argue for the resurrection, not for a conscious intermediate state.
In the New Testament in Mark chapter twelve (paralleled in Matthew chapter twenty-two), we read about an encounter between Jesus and some Sadducees. Sadducees, as you may know, were a group of Jews who denied the resurrection of the dead, as well as the existence of spirits (in the sense of departed spirits), angels and demons. This life is all there is, they believed, and when you die, that is the end of you forever.
In this passage the Sadducees were trying to reduce the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead to absurdity by showing that it led to bizarre consequences. What if a woman’s husband died, so she remarried a number of times, with each subsequent husband dying (!!!). At the resurrection of the dead, who would she be married to? Their implied answer was: “Surely not all of them. So the resurrection leads to unacceptable consequences, and you should really just give it up.” Continue reading ““God of the Living” – William Tyndale and the Resurrection”→
Episode 42 presents the “minimal facts” approach to the resurrection of Jesus.
This episode doesn’t just present the argument in order to persuade you, it’s also meant to show you what the argument is like so that you can use it yourself (if you find it persuasive of course). It starts out with four facts granted by the majority of New Testament critics, and then works towards an explanation of those facts.
In this episode I refer to other blog posts and podcast episodes, and as promised here are links to those:
St Paul appealed to the existence of numerous living witnesses to Jesus of Nazareth, risen from the dead.
Mainstream New Testament scholarship on the Gospels is considerably more conservative than it was, say, forty years ago. For example, the greater number of New Testament critics seemed to agree as a kind of in-house duty that the Gospels were written very late in the first century – the later the better, and if you can find a way of saying that they weren’t finished until the second century, even better! The centre of what is “mainstream” has moved a long way since then. Now it is voices like N. T. Wright, Craig Evans and Richard Bauckham that are setting the pace. Much of the extraordinary scepticism and radical reconstruction of first century Christianity is now seen as simply unwarranted.
But I digress (I got distracted by a certain sense of satisfaction with the sea change that the world of biblical studies has seen). Even those with outdated and extraordinarily sceptical approaches to New Testament studies acknowledge the relatively early date of authorship of the letters written by the Apostle Paul. The first epistle to the Corinthians was composed in the mid fifties, around twenty-five years after the crucifixion. From reading through the letter you can see that one of the theological issues that the church in Corinth was struggling with was scepticism over the resurrection. Continue reading “"Most of whom are still alive" – The Apostle Paul on witnesses to the resurrection”→
What does the death of some of the first followers of Jesus’ tell us about what they knew?
Easter is a time of year that seems to bring sceptics out of the woodwork. The proverbial Grinches (wrong holiday, I know) find this to be a natural time of year to rain on the parade of Christians celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus. I still recall listening to the debate between William Lane Craig and Brian Edwards on the resurrection a few Easters ago (gosh, has it been that long? The year 2001 or 2000, I forget). You can check that debate out for yourself – Link to the debate.
It’s only fair, then, that Christians take this opportunity to capitalise on the surprising flimsiness of some of the sceptical arguments out there (hence my last post on the supposed virgin birth of Buddha), and also to continue to illustrate the way that the biblical account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus stands up well to critical scrutiny.
So here’s a brief thought to consider for today: Why were some (although not all, or even most) of the early disciples martyred? What was the reason for killing them? That’s something of a no-brainer. They were killed for their proclamation of their religious beliefs in an effort to convert the local populaces where they lived. They proclaimed the message of the resurrection of their teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, and it cost them. Continue reading “The death of the Apostles: Why would you?”→
Is Christian hope all about going to heaven, rather than you-know-where?
Here it is, the first podcast episode for 2009, complete with my summer hay fever voice! Kicking things off for the year is a discussion of what lies beyond the grave. The resurrection of the dead is the hope of the New Testament for our eternal life, yet popular Christian theology has come to place a lot of weight on the hope of going to heaven when you die. Short story: It has to stop and we need to adjust our focus.