Raised By God

From Larry Hurtado:

At a musical event last night where a Christian minister also spoke, he referred to Jesus as “rising from the dead, proving that he was God.”  I find no such statement anywhere in the NT.  Instead, the NT writings rather consistently claim that Jesus was raised from death by God.  And the effects claimed were that, thereby, the man Jesus became the foundation and pattern for the ultimate redemption proffered to his followers.

Granted, NT texts reflect the belief that the man Jesus was also the unique manifestation of the divine Logos, and the one in whom the “fullness of God” dwelt bodily (e.g., John 1:1-2; Colossians 1:15-20), and the one who “though in the form of God” became a “servant” (Philippians 2:6-11).  But, the NT texts also insist just as firmly that Jesus of Nazareth was a real first-century Jewish male from Galilee, genuinely mortal.  And this was demonstrated most obviously in his death.  He really died.

So, Jesus’ resurrection is presented, not as Jesus’ act, but God’s.  Look at Romans 4:24-25, for example, widely thought to derive from an early “pre-Pauline” confession.  Paul there refers to belief in God “who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead . . . for our justification.”  Or consider 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, perhaps the earliest extant Pauline epistle, where believers are portrayed as having “turned to God from idols,”  and await “his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead.”

Actually, a survey of all the NT references to Jesus’ resurrection will confirm this pattern, in which it is posited as the crucial act of God, not the act of Jesus.  For further discussion of this and other related matters, see my book, God in New Testament Theology (Abingdon Press, 2010), e.g., pp. 55-57 on Jesus’ death and resurrection.  I also wrote about the topic several years ago for the online magazine, Slatehere.

HT: JS

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