Easter Approaches

Easter Approaches April 18, 2014

Marcus Borg, Kimberly Winston, and Jim Naughton all raised the question of whether Christians need to believe that Jesus rose bodily from the dead. Their conclusions are different, in interesting ways. What do readers of this blog think?

Of related interest, Mark Goodacre shared a video of an interview Karen King recently gave:

And Bart Ehrman responded to someone who seemed to have reviewed his latest book without reading it.


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TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
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  • I incline to the reality of transformation for those who believe. Same as Psalm 34 v 9 in the Hebrew – taste and see. Same life known in the OT as in the New.

  • Whether or not Jesus actually rose from the dead does not really affect my own appreciation for the moral teachings which I see to be the heart of Jesus’ own gospel message.

    However, if Paul is correct in saying that “it is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body”, then that is to me like a kind of bonus stage lol.

    (I don’t particularly agree with Paul’s argument in 1 Cor 15:32)

    Edit: That reminds me of this rather strange but convincing-looking argument about Paul not being trustworthy. (I wish Dr McGrath could share some thoughts on this.) http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/recommendedreading/280-jesus-on-paul-the-least.html

    • Actually, in reality, all human writings (bible included) are sort of equally untrustworthy. The reader must always figure out how/why what is written actually makes sense at all, to even meaningfully believe and understand what the writer is actually saying. (also explains why my blog url says “caveat lector” …)

    • The difference between that page and mainstream scholarship is that most would say that Matthew was arguing against Paul, not that Jesus was.

      • Yeah, good point. Thanks Dr McGrath, that helped a lot.

  • Andrew Dowling

    I for many years kept the Resurrection as being the one “miracle” of the Bible I could accept being true . . and I felt that if it was lost, my faith would go with it. Then after really examining the language of the Resurrection accounts and their history/context . . I came to the conclusion the accounts aren’t really talking about a physical body coming out of the grave at all. And that the story in some ways becomes even more powerful when it moves away from being a one-time historical undertaking. I think Borg’s post is on the mark.

    Some of this is related to embracing and being OK with doubt and uncertainty . . particularly about the afterlife. For many, if Jesus didn’t raise from the dead bodily and that miracle didn’t happen, well then we really don’t know if this is it or not . . God has given us no proof. But really, would selective proof given to a handful out of the tens of billions of humans that have walked the Earth be the act of a loving God anyway? There may or may not be an afterlife . . I hold out hope for one like most people. But the Resurrection signals a call to action in this world . . not to the next.

    • Well put, Andrew! It’s pretty lonely being an “agnostic” on the bodily resurrection of Jesus… though it doesn’t really bother me. That is, as a former Evangelcial and now very progressive follower of Jesus (“Christian” only to some), I recognize how special and utterly world-changing he must have been both in his earthly existence and post-death as well. It DOES seem he probably appeared in some manner to many of his followers, at least as late as 3 years or so after his death, in the case of Paul… although Paul doesn’t claim a visual type of experience, and the Acts accounts confuse the issues.

      But does that mean I have to accept tales of an “empty tomb”? (Which, also, might be technically correct but perhaps because of a re-burial by Joseph of A. or someone.) Or of Jesus eating and being touched in peoples’ normal states of consciousness? Not at all. As you imply, I think (after a whole lot of study) that we barely understand the Gospel/Acts genres, the intentions of the authors and the expectations (interpretations) of the original audiences (mostly NOT the same audience… but a scattered set of them.)

      Thus: agnosticism, not re. God’s existence, but re. the nature of the Resurrection is a rational, reasonable yet spiritual position, not at all in the way of spiritual growth or serious following of Jesus.