Was The Resurrection of Christ Literal or Metaphorical?

It is said that Christ is where history and theology intersect. Yet there are opposing views of the resurrection of Christ.Individual pursuits by certain scholars that contributed to our current position may have seemed rather benign at the time, even brilliant. But the law of unintended consequences as applied to history has resulted in a skepticism and reduced importance of the resurrection of Christ today.

The 14 and 15th centuries saw the first twinges of a paradigm shift in the history thought. Pinned down by platonic dualism, where matter was evil and only the spirit realm was good, the civilized world had become stagnant under the dark cloud of the Middle Ages. Society seemed to max out this philosophy and longed for an impetus to break out. Scripture always held that the created material world was valid and not evil, but the written Word was in the hands of relatively few. In spite of the depressed state of innovation, the church still led the world in scholarly advancement and produced many writers of original genius.

A confluence of forces came together to break through that dark cloud and reveal the first glimmer change, one of which was the advent of the printing press, which put the Scriptures in the hands of more people. The other was St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas reconciled the prevailing philosophy that matter was evil with theology, and his treatise gave the philosophical world the approval it needed to study the material creation. The world was launched into a spree of progress that hasn’t slowed since. From the renaissance, to the age of empiricism, to the industrial revolution and the age of technology, the pendulum had swung from Platonic dualism to an Aristolean emphasis on materialism and this world only. Because of the intellect of Aquinas, a good case can be made that Christianity is the core of progress in the world today.

The fascination with the material world introduced changes into the worldview of man and gave him new things to occupy his time. It opened up vistas of pursuit not before visible, perhaps an application of Isaiah “I will give you treasures hidden in secret places” (Isaiah 45:3). But it also lead eventually to an unhealthy emphasis and preoccupation on materialism as the ultimate reality, where life itself was strained to produce answers to the questions of it’s own meaning. Science originally began as God’s gift to understand his material world, another avenue of knowledge that affirmed the varied mysteries of a Creator. But it soon grew to compete with and eclipse theology as the highest pursuit of meaning that has remained to this day. The notion is captured by what Stephen Hawking said recently, “the scientific account is complete; theology is unnecessary”.1

The emphasis on empiricism also lead to the questioning of intangible things like authority and moral law. Since you can’t hold a clump of authority in your hand or study it in a test tube, man only came to believe what he could be see in a microscope or through a telescope. One offshoot that has been come to fruition is an anti-establishment, anti-authority mentality. Another by-product is the theory of evolution which was spawned as a curious and diabolical twist as to the origin of the creation. If man, as the highest evolved species, is just an overgrown blob of biology and a random collision of molecules from some pre-biotic soup, then there is no such thing as his intangible side such as a soul or spirit. By some accounts, this theory contributed to World War II and the atrocities of the Holocaust as Hitler applied the ‘survival of the fittest’ from the animal world to people and the master Aryan race.

One of the risks God took in allowing man to gain the prosperity of knowledge by peering into the unbeknownst folds of the natural world, was an idolatry to horizontal materialism, socially and scientifically. As a by-product of this allure came the rise of humanism, where man became the final arbiter of truth, and existentialism, where meaning was determined by the individual. This sowed the seeds for a skepticism to the social mores that have governed the human tradition and the supernatural realm in general. Thus relativism was born, where there are no transcendent absolutes that have been passed down through the wisdom of the ages as best captured by Scripture. Whether theologically or politically, liberals today operate from a skepticism towards conservative anchors, and approach life that from a position that nature is supreme.

As this relates to the Bible, the age of empiricism, bolstered by humanism and existential hopelessness, gave way to a new strain of biblical scholarship called higher criticism. Higher criticism, with a natural skepticism to the supernatural in general, started to address the biblical text from an interdisciplinary perspective. As science became “king” and struggled to validate the supernatural, the miraculous claims of Scripture were viewed with more suspicion. But men couldn’t just assault the text from a position of unbelief without the cover sheet of an intellectual label, so he operated under the guise of source and form criticism. Though many new insights into the New Testament were revealed as a result of higher criticism, the essential motive behind these disciplines was to look for loopholes in the structure, form, sources and genre’s of the text to ultimately discredit its supernatural claims. Higher criticism is sort of the biblical version of uniformitarianism from geology where “the present is the key to the past”. That is, the slow moving processes we see today, without any evidence of the one oft miraculous event, always happened in the past. Cynic David Hume (1711-1776) called it “antecedent probability”2 in an attempt to deny miracles by noting that the preponderance of events all around us are natural, everyday occurrences.

The first seeds of higher criticism implanting doubts into the historicity of the gospel accounts are cast by the deist Reimarus in the 18th century. The thread is then detected in David Friederich Strauss (1808-1874) who first proposed Jesus’ resurrection as a myth. There was a subtle shift in his emphasis: “it’s not about the events in the gospels, but the nature of the gospels”.3 The theme was echoed by a swarm of German theologians and then by the likes of Schweitzer and Bultmann in the early 20th century. Writes Chesterton, “The man of the nineteenth century did not disbelieve the Resurrection because his liberal Christianity allowed him to doubt it. He disbelieved in it because his very strict materialism did not allow him to believe it”.4 Chesterton’s statement holds true to this day. The emphasis on materialism, which has spurred many brilliant but confusing philosophies of reality, substituted infallible revelation as the starting point for meaning.

Higher criticism took something of a dip in the 20th century as new discoveries gave renewed credibility to orthodox biblical scholarship, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. But a movement in the 1980’s was formed to keep it alive and renew the old spin of liberal interpretations called the Jesus Seminar (The New Quest), of which John Dominic Crossan is one of the most articulate and visible spokesman. The scholars of the Jesus Seminar have made their careers studying the New Testament text, but deny the plain sense of much of it’s content or the literal intents of it’s authors. This is due primarily because of an a priori presupposition against the supernatural in general and miracles in particular. Crossan feels he has struck the right balance with the German liberal theologians of the 19th and 20th centuries for a modern audience.

II. Understanding Crossan’s Position

Was the resurrection of Christ actual and physical? We will answer that by addressing the objections of John Dominic Crossan. Before we get into the content of Crossan’s understanding of the resurrection of Christ, we must note that there are three basic assumptions behind his interpretation methods. The first is that the resurrection accounts are not to be taken literally. He operates on the speculation that because the gospels are written anywhere from 35-60 years of so after Jesus’ passion events, this supplies plenty of opportunity for legendary material to creep in and shape the text. Since there are differences between the gospels not only in overlapping narratives, but also what is new to a particular gospel, he uses that as leverage to exploit the myth charge posited centuries ago by Strauss. Second, Crossan doesn’t believe history can be known in any absolute sense. He agrees with Morton Smith who wrote: “admittedly, history is more complicated that physics; the lines connecting the original figure to the developed legends cannot be traced with mathematical accuracy”.5 This is particularly true regarding so called supernatural events. As he says, “The gospels are, in other words, interpretations. Hence of course, despite there being only one Jesus, there can be more than one gospel, more than one interpretation”.6

He gravitates toward the minority of historians today that all history is written through the bias of the author’s perspective, so we cannot really know what happened in the past. Therefore, it is the job of historians in every era to reinterpret history and conform it to the cultural views of that era. He believes that’s what the evangelists of the canonical gospels did. Crossan does believe in getting into the context of Scripture to better understand it, but he believes any data must be reinterpreted through the lens of a modern praxis, which in our case is naturalism that denies the supernatural. The third assumption is that Crossan denies the existence of the supernatural. He says, “I don‘t believe in an afterlife, I believe in this one”.7

It’s worth noting that many liberal scholars who attack the authenticity of the resurrection narratives via the legend charge do so by divorcing Paul from the gospel equation. In a sort of a textual divide and conquer scheme, the evidence of the early creedal tradition detected in Paul (I Cor.15:3-8) is glossed over which better supports their premise that the gospels were a later tradition that developed into legend. They feel they can ignore the argument of a steady stream of kerygma that developed immediately after the resurrection by the earliest followers of Christ in Jerusalem. But Crossan is smarter than that, listens to what evangelical scholars are saying and adopts their points into his counter-hypothesis of a physical resurrection.

The appearances of Christ to the early followers, or eyewitness testimony, is the primary catalyst for launching the Christian movement which even scholars like Crossan wouldn’t disagree with. Even he believes the apostles fully believed they saw something, a fact most historians affirm, whether they support the resurrection or not.8 But Crossan says what they saw wasn’t the literal Christ raised from the dead. Where other redactionists do not, Crossan brings Paul into his hypothetic equation by saying he was in a trance or had an “altered state of consciousness”. 9 when he encountered Christ on the road to Damascus. This is really the old hallucination theory with a new package, where the focus of the eyewitness accounts is put on the mind of the interpreter and not on the external event. In agreeing with solid scholarship, Crossan retains Paul and gives his hypothesis the appearance of more credibility. Yet in this, Crossan contends that Paul’s trance was the only appearance to someone, and the dominant experience of the risen Jesus.10

Crossan proceeds into deeper, if not more murky, water when he expostulates just what the resurrection of the risen Jesus meant to the other apostles. He says these entailed “different options” of trance and “exegesis” in varying “combinations” with the different followers of Christ. Though there were both “corporate and individual experiences of ecstasy”, much of Christianity was fueled by exegesis.11 Resurrection was primarily metaphorical, with a continuing sense of Jesus’ presence after he died only in the minds of the apostles who reconstituted prevailing Jewish ideas of a general resurrection for the righteous, that existed at the time. He likens, for example, the appearance of Christ to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus as a parable to elicit Christian faith, in the same vein as say the story of the Good Samaritan. In this sense, “Emmaus never happened, Emmaus always happens”.12 As he summarizes, “There is no evidence for a passion-resurrection story that does not presume, embody, and integrate exegesis as its hidden substratum and basic content”.13

Crossan points out that the apostles camped on Jesus words about the “kingdom of heaven”14 as a continuing reality on earth with profoundly political overtones. “Resurrection” was only one way and perhaps the best term the early followers could think of to best describe their purposes. In the one area of agreement held by many evangelical scholars about the resurrection, Crossan weaves in Caesar as the competing contrast to Jesus as the Lord of the earth, depending on which a person choose to believe. Caesar represents the lord of all that is evil on earth, and Jesus is God’s figurative eschatological agent in his “Great Cleanup” program, where justice and mercy will prevail.15 All of this is spearheaded by the first primary leader of the church Peter. After he recovers from his disillusionment at the death of Christ, Peter has an illuminating moment to “resurrect” the presence of Christ only through his memorable words and example. Peter is seen to compete for and take over the leadership of the early church in an authoritative power play. Crossan uses select passages such as the footrace Peter and John had to the empty tomb as a wrestling for that priority in leadership (John 20:4).

Part of the subtlety of his appeal is that Crossan doesn’t disagree with the historicity of Jesus, or even the passion narrative. He believes Jesus was a real person, was actually crucified and then buried, though not necessarily placed in a tomb. He thinks Jesus was literally buried in the ground where vultures came and ate the flesh, and that the grave was unmarked and obscure. In a sense, Crossan wouldn’t disagree with a literal resurrection in the sense that the movement of early Christianity was real and tangible, the leaders were real, and that they had real experiences. They just didn’t experience a real resurrected Christ that the gospels talk about with a body that was continuous and different at the same time (John 20:26-29, Luke 24:33-43). Crossan emphasizes meaning over historicity, and the following statement by Licona cogently summarizes his position: “By resurrection, the early Christians did not mean a crude literal understanding that Jesus’ corpse had been raised but rather that God’s power and presence in Jesus can still be experienced in his absence”.16 Not only was Jesus’ resurrection a later development because of the time lapse in the inking of the gospels, but it was also metaphorical. Crossan believes, because of a floating interpretation method, that the uniqueness of the resurrection is a modern “fundamentalist invention”.17

Of course, Crossan has to have a textual basis for his assertions since Christianity, in some respects, is a text based worldview. Crossan holds to some inspiration to the gospels and believes Matthew and Luke are later than, and dependant on, Mark, like many scholars do. But he contends Mark also manufactured many stories such as the empty tomb.18 Crossan conveniently taps into later Gnostic gospels as his authoritative sources, such as the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Thomas and the Epistle of Barnabas which show no unified core of beliefs.

Where he does gravitate to Scripture to underwrite his theories, he proof texts a few tendentious passages from the New Testament to support his imaginative recreations of a metaphorical resurrection. For example, Crossan places inordinate emphasis on I Peter 3:18-19 and I Peter 4:6 (and Matthew 27:52-53) to support his metaphorical resurrection with what is known as a Cross Gospel, where Jesus emerges from the tomb being carried by two angels followed by a procession of people in the shape of a cross following Him. A voice from heaven then asks if those who sleep have been preached to, and they answer “yes.” This is within a larger context of the “Harrowing of Hell” theology (the robbing of hell of its residents) found in the Odes of Solomon as well as the Gospel of Peter as well.19 The Gospel of Peter (and the Cross Gospel) Crossan feels have elements that pre-date all of the canonical gospels, though the copies we have are later than the gospels. Although his theology seems experiential and event caused, it is based on delusion and “group ecstasy”20 of the early followers, as well as a questionable exegesis of non-canonical texts that support a symbolic resurrection.

III. Refuting Crossan’s Arguments

 

The Exclusive Claims of the New Testament

 

One of the best ways to undress an opponents arguments is not only go point by counterpoint, but also to expose the cracks in his foundation. The first part of the refutation will do just that. Crossan calls himself a Christian, but denies it’s exclusivity claims as the only way to heaven, if there is such a thing. For him, Christianity is just another flavor of ice cream, for those who happen to have that bent, like some people are built to become lawyers or doctors depending on these proclivities. As a pluralist, Crossan a priori denies fundamental moral absolutes, timeless truths, principles, and a personal God that is sovereign and guides the affairs of men . As a relativist, he thinks the claims of Christianity are too exclusivist. His contention is that Christ “is not the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). He says “it’s an insult to God that God is only cosmically revealed in Jesus”.21 Crossan’s colleague Marcus Borg reiterates, “God has made himself known in all the religions of the world which are different linguistics for articulating relationship with God. I can’t believe God choose to be known only in our own tradition”.22 For Crossan, his theological relativism correlates with his political liberality. He thinks fundamentalism in anything leads to error, including politics and leadership. He references Hitler as an example and says it is the duty of “every religion today to take care of it’s own fundamentalism”.23

While it’s true that an error taken to extreme can lead to more error, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a path that isn’t true. It doesn’t mean right doesn’t exist just because wrong is everywhere. His notions go against a law of logic called the law of singularity where there are examples of oneness everywhere. There is only one number one ranked tennis player in the world at any given time. A spark plug tends to fire only one way in a car. A man essentially and completely dies once. One philosophy of government dominates at any given time. Chesterton wrote, “It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands”.25 Singularity is everywhere. Why not in religion as well? Even Jesus observed this phenomenon when he referred to the heart of a man. Essentially, a man can’t have two competing affections in the heart at the same time. “No one can serve two masters; either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other” (Matt. 6:24). This doesn’t prove in itself that Christianity is the one correct way, but it does dismantle Crossan’s relativism.

The law of singularity is backed by the law of non-contradiction in philosophy which states that if something is true, then it’s opposite cannot be. If the resurrection is literal and historical according to the original authors, then other interpretations, religions or worldviews of the resurrection are incorrect. And if Crossan says such a dogmatic position is indefensible, we might reply that he is being contradictory. If the datum don’t point to a physical resurrection, they certainly don’t point to a quasi spiritual metaphorical resurrection either. The literal intent of Scripture guards against this as we shall see. 

It’s questionable if Crossan even believes in God at all if he doesn‘t take the resurrection literally, at least the God of the Bible. If God exists, by definition He is supernatural and can do anything. Therefore, Crossan’s pantheistic tendencies are a contradiction since contrasts exist and evil is not goodness. We might address his relativism, “How do you presume to say something is wrong if there is no standard by which right and wrong exists”? “How can you have a position about anything“? In other words, the skeptic presumes to judge God by a standard that does not exist apart from God. Why believe his assertions? The law of singularity is an all pervading law of reality and is biblically based (John 11:25, 14:6, Phil. 2:9-11).

Does Difference Mean Inaccuracy?

One of Crossan’s main frontal assaults is to discredit the text by reason of “inconsistencies”. He writes,

“If you read the gospels vertically and consecutively, from start to finish and one after another, you get a generally persuasive impression of unity, harmony and agreement. But if you read them horizontally and comparatively…across two, three or four versions, it is disagreement rather than agreement that strikes you most forcibly.”27

But many of the inconsistencies are fairly easily answered. For example, skeptics like to bring up whether there was one angel at the tomb as Matt.28:2-4 says or two as Luke 24:4 says. Some questions aren’t hard to refute and in this case both could be correct. If you mention only one angel, it doesn’t obviate the presence of another. Matt.28:2 is written from a more specific focus. In so doing, skeptics like Crossan are using the variations in the text to discredit the text and charge the evangelists with bias. If it can be shown there is bias, the implication is we don’t have to take the all important spiritual claims seriously or literally, such as a resurrection (and the associated judgment of unbelievers).

For Crossan who already claims to believe the New Testament to some extent, it’s important to correct his error of the text with the text. With a piecemeal interpretation method, he thinks he can discredit the text by pointing out discrepancies within it. Thus, sound answers and a deeper understanding of Scripture are needed to refute revisionists. First, variations don’t mean an event did not take place. A general trustworthiness of the gospels is still present. We have two varying accounts of Caesar crossing the Rubicon River to enter Rome. Does that mean historians don’t believe that Caesar crossed it? Also, in this case, differences mean there was no collusion in fabricating the resurrection accounts. Skeptics would be more suspicious if all four gospels were uniform in every way.

The truth is, a writer can adapt or tailor a message to a specific audience with his own inimitable style, and not compromise the core distinctives of that message, in this case details of Christ. Historical writers do it all the time. Furthermore, bias is no guarantee of unreliability. Many credible historical works were written by “insiders”. Crossan on occasion references Tacitus. Tacitus was biased but is considered the greatest Roman historian and extremely helpful in our understanding of ancient Rome. Bias may actually be preferred in many cases because it can indicate a level of care not found anywhere else.

History Is Knowable

We would also take issue with the premise that history cannot be known, is extremely complicated, or fluidly relative. As Crossan says:

“[the] historical Jesus must be open to each and every century’s public proofs and disproofs, and it is precisely each century’s reconstructed historical Jesus that becomes an ever renewed challenge to Christian faith. I never presume that we find the historical Jesus once and for all. I never separate the historical Jesus from the Christ of faith. Jesus Christ is the combination of a fact (Jesus) and an interpretation (Christ). They should neither be separated nor confused, and each must be found anew in every generation, for their structural dialectic is the heart of Christianity”.28

But this goes against the historical method that guides all of history. The process of trying to understand what happened in history is called the historical method, originally set down by Aristotle and used to this day. He wrote, “the benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, not abrogated by the critic to himself. Therefore, one must listen to the claims of the document under analysis and not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualified himself by contradictions of known factual inaccuracies”. In other words, though we want to be discerning, it’s arrogant for us to doubt an event just because we don’t like the assertion, especially since, as in the case of the resurrections, there are plenty of independent sources and eyewitness accounts.

Crossan does admit that he is certain the crucifixion of Christ did happen, but not the resurrection. He uses legend and embellishment as his reasoning to divorce the resurrection accounts, supposedly from a critical redaction of the gospels. But it sounds more like an a priori commitment to a worldview that doesn’t account for miracles, and he’s just using the text as an excuse to refute what he doesn‘t accept. Who is more inconsistent here, the text or Crossan? He believes some things, but not others. As Habermas and Licona say, “The skeptic cannot arbitrarily pick and choose which details to believe and which to ignore because they do not fit into his view”.29a

If an event such as the resurrection did happen, knowing the process and probabilities of preserving any document from ancient history, what other ways could it have been done with as much layered attestation as the New Testament and external testimony? Crossan attempts to answer that but fouls himself out of the game when he says we can’t know: “I never presume that we find the historical Jesus once and for all”. So if truth is relative, what basis do we have to believe his alternative assertion of history?

We can run ourselves ragged over what to believe from history. But it’s not always necessary. Few doubt Pharaoh Neco lost the battle at Carcemesh to the Babylonians in 605 B.C. Nobody doubts Alexander the Great defeated Darius the Persian. Nobody doubts Constantine founded Constantinople after many military victories. Nobody doubts Napoleon fought at the Battle of Waterloo. Nobody doubts Santa Anna lost to General Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto. Why? Because we have no reason to doubt these facts. And we trust the documents that have been passed down. At some point we have to trust the historical method. Major contours of history hang on much thinner wires than the events of the New Testament and nobody doubts them! If we don’t believe in the authenticity of the Scriptures, we should doubt everything we know about the past. We have no reason to doubt a St. Ignatious, who gave one of the earliest external testimonies to Christ at the end of the 1st century: “He was crucified and died under Pontius Pilate, not merely in appearance…He really died and was buried and rose from the dead.”29b We have to give him the benefit of the doubt because a literal resurrection is the assertion of history from multiply attested independent sources.

The New Testament is history written in sober, eyewitness language. With testimony, logic, and the historical method, the life of Christ is even more substantiated. If we apply to the Bible the credence we would to other literary documents, Scripture is a slam dunk. Conversely, if you discount Scripture, then all of ancient history is a sham. Professor and philosopher John Warwick Montgomery was right: “to be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to let all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no other documents of the ancient periods are as well attested… as the New Testament.”30

Who are we today to redact onto the context of the New Testament and pronounce what the original authors really meant? This is just neo-paganism or neo gnosticism that is guided by a suspicion that there is a deeper meaning or hidden agenda behind the plain words of revelation, since the truth of a physical resurrection is too difficult to digest for minds conditioned by naturalism. Wright calls Crossan’s interpretation methods a “hermeneutic of suspicion”.31

Crossan is guilty of an overactive speculation and imaginative creativity not only in his denial of the resurrection, but also in positing his alternative hypothesis. Like boundaries in other areas, there has to be a limit in creative interpretation, otherwise one runs the risk of becoming less believable than the original assertion from history. The laws of hermeneutics have built in self limiting principles by which to interpret any ancient text. One of those is to let the text itself (or context) interpret the text. A concrete resurrection is in perfect harmony with the rest of the New Testament. The plain sense of Scripture is historical, and in the case of the New Testament, most scholars place it in the category of Greco-Roman bioi, or biography. Crossan is showing fundamental inconsistency in that he believes some of the accounts in the gospels are historical and can be interpreted literally, but not others. Labeling selected texts of the resurrection as non-historical doesn’t account for the empty tomb, which most scholars and historians consent to.

One of the standard defenses for a literal resurrection of Jesus is categorizing the gospels in the genre as Greco-Roman Bioi, which a majority of historians now agree with.25 In a slick move, Crossan also places Jesus within Greco-Roman Bioi. In fact, he likens Jesus in analogy to the deification of Octavius when his father Julius Caesar died and was deified 42 B.C.26 This is another example of Crossan’s ability to listen to evangelical scholarship in order to know where to supply a relativistic counter response.

As a scholar who makes his living studying the text, how does he arrogantly cherry pick, from a 21 century lens, what he chooses to believe when the original authors didn’t leave that option open to us? He is dead wrong when he writes, “what those first Christians experienced as the continuing presence of the risen Jesus…gave the transmitters of the Jesus tradition a creative freedom we would have never dared postulate had such a conclusion been forced upon us by the evidence”.32 He is actually blaming the text for his own creative freedom!

Independent Sources

Critics often assert the lack of independent testimony of outside works for the resurrection. But if the New Testament is understood for what it really is, an accurate work of history, we wouldn’t need them. The New Testament is like our Funk and Wagnalls reference work on the life of Christ. In understanding the historical method of how ancient history is passed down, how much better could the events of the New Testament be preserved for us, especially when compared to other events of history that nobody doubts? If skeptics want to attack the New Testament with “a lack of independent sources” as an assault, bring it on. As Habermas and Licona point out:

“Tiberius Caesar was the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus’ ministry and execution. Tiberius is mentioned by ten sources within 150 years of his death…Compare than to Jesus’ forty-two total sources in the same length of time. That’s more than four times the number of total sources [over those] who mention the Roman emperor during roughly the same period.”33

Crossan is shrewd, knows where to give and raises questions on the same evangelical arguments. His wording is intended to raise doubts:

“Have we not, for Jesus…four biographies by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John- individuals all directly or indirectly connected to him, and all writing, say, within seventy-five years of his death? Is that equal to or even better than the research on the contemporary Roman emperor, Tiberius, for whom we have biographies by Velelius, Paterculus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Dio Cassius, only the first of who was directly connected with him, the others writing from seventy-five to two hundred years after his death?”34

Literality and the Nature of Words

Crossan’s cohort at the Jesus Seminar Marcus Borg said, “Our stubborn and lazy language can’t capture the resurrection of God, therefore it is metaphorical”.35 Here we have a glimpse of another premise that both Crossan and Borg operate from, that God is a mystery, nobody can really know him and any attempts at our language revealing Him are spastic. The problem with that is he is going against the primary sense of language, which is the literal nature of words. The whole world operates around the literal nature of what words mean. If they don’t mean what they say, the world goes into chaos. Even when there is metaphor or allegory, words have tangible referents behind them. As Crossan likes to joke, “when the Bible says Jesus is the Lamb of God, it doesn’t mean Mary had a little lamb”.36 But words are rooted in tangible realities and events that give metaphor meaning. The referent tells us Jesus is as tender as a lamb, not a vulture or a jackal. The referent is confined to the original meaning of the word. It’s only when you interpret literally that you can use metaphor. A literal interpretation allows for allegory. Crossan has it backwards when he says, “meaning creates reality; metaphor is the foundation of reality”.37 Analogy uses words anchored in physicality, and literality is the plain sense of Scripture.

It goes against the natural grain of order in the world to not interpret history and the New Testament specifically, in literal fashion, especially when it is clear this was the intent of the original authors. The progress of the civilized world, or at least western thought, and the pragmatic effects of Christianity in shaping the advances of technology, have been based on interpreting the New Testament literally. If Christianity is at the core of the progress, are the pragmatic results of Christianity tenable but the original event (such as the resurrection) that launched the movement fairy tales?

It appears Crossan’s interpretation is contradictory. He believes the resurrection is metaphorical yet the Harrowing of Hell and the Cross Gospel have some reality anchored to them? What is this hell if man was born for physicality? How are people rescued from Hell if there are no concrete or tangible implications?

Rewriting history is very dangerous, and that may be what liberals want. But then even Crossan would be out of a job, since no texts from antiquity are worth six pence. If we were to take the premise of Crossan’s interpretation and bring it to it‘s logical conclusion, then all of history is unknowable. Applied to other spheres of life, our country would collapse. The legal system, based on case law precedent, would lead to injustice. In economics, public policy, and science chaos would ensue because nothing is knowable, records aren’t reliable, and data systems are untrustworthy.

Legend

Though he has some new and creative innovations, Crossan is no different than an earlier generation of redactionists who believed that since the gospels weren’t actually penned for another 35-60 years after Christ, this is plenty of time for legends to creep in regarding the resurrection. But compared to other writings of famous historical figures and events, the time between the life of Christ and his biographies is very short. Furthermore, the physical resurrection of the Jewish God YHWH was unthinkable in the minds of the Jews. Even if someone had that crazy notion privately, the motivation to legislate it into existence as a movement would have been impossible. Plus, legends of dying and rising gods didn’t really begin until after the Christian phenomena.38

And as far as the gospels being the result of legendary evolution, which goes against the evidence of New Testament development, the usual pattern is that “poetry is created in honor of historical events or persons”39, not visa versa. Myth doesn’t have to mean fiction as skeptics use the term. Myth can also mean someone has taken on legendary status because of original acts of heroism. In other words, there is an original tangible event or occasion. When we say “Michael Jordan is a legend in the game of basketball”, we mean he is of mythical proportions in light of the great things he actually did. His reputation was based on actual history. So legend can be based on reality. Crossan, aware of this point, coyly backs out of it and uses other words such as “figurative”, “symbolic”, and “parabolic”. He stays away from the term myth “because I’m afraid it sounds like a dirty word at the moment”.40Does that mean only some people today do some great things but nobody in antiquity ever did? And if they did some great things, how would we know if they weren’t recorded through the historical method? The New Testament does just that as an accurate work of history, not just a “religious” manual.

The legend assault evaporates when attention is paid to the canonical gospels. Take the passion narratives of Jesus. Many who get roped into the account were outsiders to begin with, verifiably incidental players in the drama. The events transcend collusion because of the conflicting constituencies involved. There were too many people with different backgrounds to collude in fabricating Jesus death and resurrection accounts. Somebody would have been investigated and found a liar before it ever got recorded and passed down into history. Caiaphas the high priest or even Pilate had the power to stop rumors of a resurrection if it didn’t happen. If there were any attempts at myths, it was on the other side, to cover up the resurrection.

Let’s address the theory of the stolen body which has circulated from the beginning for 2,000 years. A stolen body means we’re dealing with an empty tomb and a physical resurrection by definition. There is nothing metaphorical about this. The empty tomb is one of the irrefutable facts most scholars agree with concerning the resurrection. Furthermore, if the accounts were embellished, why mention women as the first witnesses of the empty tomb? Women had little credibility as eyewitnesses in the ancient world, in both Jewish and Roman settings.

Most of the early Christian leaders were skeptical, practical, common sense folk with no agenda towards selfish ambition. They weren’t cultists who were easily swayed by flowery legend or unrealistic talk of another world. Empty religion had fatigued them into a skepticism towards anything hokey. They were pragmatic hard working realists who were only interested in what worked. Jewish scholar Pinchas Lapide remarked that the complicated counter-proposals of skeptics to the gospels

“strike me as all too abstract and scholarly to explain the fact that the solid hillbillies from Galilee, who for the very real reason of the crucifixion of the master, were saddened to death, were changed within a short period of time into a jubilant community of believers…I cannot rid myself of the impression that some modern Christian theologians are ashamed of the material fact of the resurrection”.41

C.S. Lewis, Professor of Medieval English at both Cambridge and Oxford, was an expert on mythic material, and makes a legendary point:

“as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends. From an imaginative point of view they are clumsy, they don’t work up to things properly. Most of the life of Jesus is totally unknown to us, as is the life of anyone else who lived at that time, and no people building up a legend would allow that to be so. …there are no conversations that I know of in ancient literature like the Fourth Gospel. There is nothing, even in modern literature, until about a hundred years ago when the realistic novel came into existence. In the story of the woman taken in adultery we are told Christ bent down and scribbled in the dust with his finger. Nothing comes of this. No one has ever based any doctrine on it. And the art of inventing little irrelevant details to make an imaginary scene more convincing is a purely modern art”.42

If lies were beginning to circulate about what really happened with Christ, they would have immediately been squelched by the scores of people who actually saw Him. It’s like somebody trying to write a spurious biography about the life and death of Ronald Reagan and re-fabricating his words, deeds, and policies. There are too many people alive today who worked with him and knew what actually happened. The lies wouldn’t be solidified and passed down into history as the New Testament was. F.F. Bruce, Rylands Professor at the University of Manchester, said, “It’s not as easy as some writers seem to think to invent words and deeds of Jesus in those early years, when so many of his disciples were about, who could remember what had and had not happened…The disciples could not afford to risk inaccuracies of the facts.”43

On this point Crossan and others of the Jesus Seminar movement are more artful than previous scholars who wrote off all of the gospels as myth. They enter into the context, use the nomenclature of evangelicals and use half truths to sell a lie. Crossan does believe some of the deeds in the life of Christ did happen. He just denies the physical resurrection and other miracles that would support this. But if the evangelists have proven reliable in many areas that are incidental, why can’t they be trustworthy in the central event of the resurrection? Doesn’t this sound more like an argument based on an a priori prejudice against the supernatural in general and miracles in particular?

The evangelists weren’t just using reverse psychology to gain credibility in a big area like resurrection by proving reliable in a bunch of smaller details of less consequence, as people like Crossan suspect. The resurrection of Christ fits perfectly into a larger context of his words, deeds and miracles in the gospels. If someone were to invent a myth that the tomb of one of the thieves on the cross was found empty, it would have been shot down because his previous life didn’t match this purported miracle. If one must throw out the baby of the physical resurrection, then one must throw out the bathwater of historical context, and find a new line of work!

The Social Gospel as a Concession

To be sure, there may be some element of agreement between Crossan and evangelicals where Christ was a political threat to the status quo political structure of the day, competing for allegiance for lordship along the lines of Caesar. But even in this case the social gospel”, to which Crossan reduces the meaning of the resurrection ,will not suffice. Christ didn’t merely come to “clean up” the world and bring peace and justice. He came to offer Himself as the true Lord over all creation as the first fruits of a complete paradigm change through his physical resurrection (I Cor. 15:20). Liberal branches of Christianity that deny the exclusive claims of the New Testament and the physicality of the resurrection often gravitate to the “social gospel”. Perhaps this is to appease a conscious in not writing the whole thing off, but giving some allegiance due the Scriptures. As a result of the backwash of existentialism that has muddied the water of historical knowledge in general, Crossan views the text from an anti-establishment praxis that surfaced in the 1960’s which questions all authority. This maldeveloped worldview spawned the Jesus Freaks movement and re-ignited the social gospel. In Crossan’s own words, Jesus was a Jewish peasant in a Mediterranean world, a “hippie in a yuppie world.” By eliminating a literal, historical resurrection, Crossan feels he has improved upon its meaning with an emphasis on the social gospel. But he has really taken the teeth out of it with a tamed down, sissified version that lacks eternal consequence.

The Trance Argument

The trance/vision/ecstasy/delusion argument that Crossan proposes fits under the umbrella of the old hallucination theory which has been refuted by Habermas, Licona and others.44 Crossan hints that Christianity took its cues from ancient “cult of the dead” practices, where the devoted have meals at the tomb of the dead in which case they experienced some form of Jesus alive. The problem with this theory is that people went to the tombs of the deceased not to bring dead people back, but to make sure Aunt Edna isn’t coming back again! Furthermore, an apparition means a person is alive in some other sense, but definitely not physically. Visions or apparitions usually indicate a person is dead all the more.

Paul as a convert is a line of evidence that dogs the steps of skeptics like Crossan because of the early creedal/kergyma tradition found in his writings (I Cor. 15:3-8). These indicate a core steady stream of factual tradition, without any elaboration on the theological implications or meaning of the resurrection, that was consistent with what the early Jerusalem apostles held. Skeptics like to divorce this element of Paul or focus on his “subjective” trance like experiences. But the evidence by a majority of scholars is that the creedal tradition of I Cor. 15:3-8 dates to within 3-5 years of the actual event of Jesus resurrection.45 This proves there was no time for flowery legendary developments of resurrection to creep in, such as Crossan purports with a later date for the gospels. A theologically unadorned kerygma from Paul anchors and shows consistency with the raw naked data in the gospel narratives regarding the resurrection.

It’s hard to believe a trance would have changed the life vector of a sober minded, intellectual pragmatist such as Paul from his entrenched Judaism. Many people have “epiphanies” or moments of realization, but the average Jew (to say nothing of a leader) was extremely stubborn and hard headed in tradition. They never surrendered these easily, especially to make it one’s life purpose to put oneself in harm’s way for something so subjective as a trance. They needed convincing proof or “signs” from without that something worked (I Cor.1:22). They never simply looked for a new ideology.

Crossan says Paul’s trance is the main witness and visionary experience of the early followers. But as Wright replies, to “insist on this could not possibly…have given rise to the belief that Jesus had been raised from the dead…[This] is a thoroughly insufficient condition for the early Christian belief”.46 Visions did not usually constitute physical contact, as we see in Luke and John. On the contrary, visions of the dead usually made it clear that eating or drinking did not happen. The more that these visions fit patterns which experts note today, the less likely that anyone would have said that a dead person had been raised from the dead. Some historians assume that people in ancient times were less intelligent than we are today. That’s part of a modern arrogance of contemporariness where we believe ourselves to be more advanced because we enjoy greater technology. But the ancients weren’t stupid. (In fact, a case can be made that the mind of yesteryear was greater than that of today, but that’s another issue). The first response of anybody, whether in the ancient or modern world, would be to question the mental stability or even recent diet, of the person who holds such a vision.47

This leads in to what is known as the mutations argument. That is, how do we explain almost overnight the morphing of the Sabbath going from a Saturday in Judaism to Sunday in Christianity? The Jews never surrendered their traditions so quickly. We know Christianity was birthed out of Judaism, and the disciples were Jewish. History shows a sudden contrast from Judaic to Christian principles. The Jews were so stubbornly traditional in their beliefs that they wouldn’t allow a corruption of rabbinic teachings unless something eventful and miraculous happened. Metaphor or trance wouldn’t do it. Something more tangible or shattering was needed to explain their motivation. Wright says with tongue in cheek:

“The seventh-day Sabbath was so firmly rooted in Judaism as a major social, cultural, religious, and political landmark that to make any adjustment in it was not like a modern…deciding to play tennis on Tuesdays instead of Wednesdays…It takes a conscious, deliberate and sustained effort to change…one of the most powerful elements of a symbolic praxis within a worldview”.48

Refuting Metaphor

 

Crossan states, “I have said the resurrection is metaphor. I am willing to die for it. It doesn’t have to be literal for me”.49 Licona presents us with a series of three strong questions that befuddle the misguided metaphorical miscreants of resurrection. The first is, “if the earliest Christians did not intend for Jesus’ bodily resurrection to be understood in a literal sense, why write in a genre that would encourage such a misunderstanding when the present poetical one will do”?50 In other words, why risk writing in such a way where people might confuse it as physical? Second, “If the early Christians did not believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus’ corpse, why are they defending it by saying they could not have stolen the corpse since the tomb was guarded”?51 Why even provide a defense in such physical terms such as a “stolen body” and lean towards a bodily resurrection? And third, “if Jesus’ resurrection was meant to be interpreted as a poetic metaphor, why is it that no known Christian opponent criticized the early Christians…for misunderstanding poetry as history”?52 These are questions no metaphorical and hallucination theory advocate has sufficiently answered.

Existentialism, where the focus is on the individual and the interpreter determines reality, is the backdrop for Crossans’ premises. But this sort of denial as it relates to the supernatural and the resurrection in particular, can lead to dangerous applications. In fact, this same Kantian existential premise of Crossan’s shaped the thinking of James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people in Colorado recently. He said that life and reality is “what takes place inside the mind, as opposed to the external world.”53 For the person not willing to rethink his assumptions by which he comes to the text, in this case a preexisting condition of bias against the supernatural, a naturalistic explanation will never be the best explanation for data. Only a mindset that allows for the possibility for the supernatural will be the best hypothesis for the data.

On the other hand, though we want to think about what we’re thinking about and look at the lens by which we view life, even a cultural worldview that allows for the supernatural may not be enough. Many believe in the supernatural and reject the physical resurrection. There is even a tendency in Christian circles to categorize the resurrection as “just another miracle” and trivialize it. But life takes on a certain logic if resurrection is understood for what it is, that we were born for eternal significance and physicality. All of life proceeds towards it. Resurrection speaks to every issue we go through, and every struggle we have only has meaning in light of resurrection. The way the text is written, resurrection is a paradigm shifting game changer, the 100% focus of existence. Resurrection is the key to life and solving the problems of evil, mortality and death. As Wright says,

“It is not simply a matter of whether one believes on ‘miracles’, or in the supernatural, in general…If anyone ever reaches the stage where the resurrection is in that sense no problem, we can be sure that they have made a mistake somewhere, that they have constructed a world in which this most explosive and subversive of events- supposing it to have occurred- can be domesticated and put on show, like a circus elephant or clever typing monkey, as a key exhibit in the church’s collection of supernatural trophies. The resurrection…then becomes…a happy ending to a fairy story…No: the challenge [has] not simply to do with worldviews in general, or with ‘the supernatural’ in particular, but with the direct question of death and life, of the world of space, time and matter…Here there is…no neutrality. Any who pretend to it are merely showing that they have not understood the question”..54

 

You Know the Scriptures, How Do You Interpret Them?

 

In addition to his trance parti pris, Crossan says his metaphorical interpretation of the resurrection is based on the “exegesis” of the early leaders of the church. Exegesis is the cornerstone of solid scholarship. But his exegesis is slippery and transient, another example of listening to the evangelical argument and supplying a twist. It’s interesting that Jesus Himself commented on the importance of interpretation and that there were different ways a person could do so (Luke 10:26). It should tell us something that He personally held to a plain, literal sense of the text when he referred to a historical David (Matt.12:3), Jonah (Luke 11:29-32), the events at Sodom and Gomorrah (Matt.11:23) and many other examples from the Old Testament.

Crossan believes interpretation is relative to the era and the person. He says “The gospels are interpretation…despite there being only one Jesus…there can be more than one interpretation”.55 He believes early followers “historized prophecy”, to make the prevailing winds of general resurrection fit with the developed legend in Christ. He says his metaphorical interpretation of the resurrection is based on “exegesis”, the exegesis of the early followers. But this is a twist on exegesis. He listens to solid scholarship and offers his sneaky alternative. What really happened is that the resurrection was a single stunning event that destroyed the apostles’ paradigm and caused an eventual research of the Old Testament for evidence that Christ was actually foreshadowed (in which support was found). What Crossan says happened is that the passion narratives were created from Old Testament prophecies, thus “historicized prophecy”.

Since Crossan is into Petrine doctrine, it makes us wonder if he glossed over II Peter 1:20-21 “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God”. Apparently both prophecy and the interpretation are directed by the Holy Spirit, not men speculatively abrogating his rearrangements onto the text.

As for Crossan appealing to the Gospel of Peter and other pseudepigraphical writings for his textual authority is totally without warrant. Though he tries to envision a link between Matthew and the Gospel of Peter, with Peter taking precedence, he is out of step with mainstream scholarship. The gospel of Peter is clearly dependant on both Matthew and I Peter.55 Even the earliest of the Gnostic Gospels were penned after the 1st century.

Crossan’s admits his interpretation “goes beyond anything that any of the New Testament writers actually say…Indeed they may at many points contradict my arguments”. In fact, even “Luke himself would not have agreed with Crossan’s judgment”.56 The question we must ask ourselves are, “How literal and historical should we be in Bible study in particular and history in general?” “How important is a high view of Scripture?” And, “should we take a home spun theory, corrupted by modern assumptions, that militates against the traditional interpretation of the ages as well as the intention of the biblical authors“? We have seen that the New Testament is an accurate work of history, not just a corpus of beliefs for another religious cult who developed legends out of selfish ambition or political power.

IV. DEFENDING THE CONRETE RESURRECTION

C.S. Lewis wrote one time, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered”.57 Crossan’s philosophy of interpretation seems flawed. In some apologetic arena’s it might be wise to avoid using Scripture to prove Scripture as some people are skeptical of the text. But not in Crossan’s case, who purports to offer a clearer understanding than a literal resurrection and has made a life of studying the text. A deeper understanding of Scripture is needed to ferret out and refute his half truths, no matter how winsome and well spoken he appears.

The whole basis of Christianity in the New Testament is the physical resurrection of Christ. I Corinthians 15:17 says, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins”. This was a one time, shock event, a single moment through which the whole world would be changed forever. The stories in the gospels are not metaphors for an ongoing Christian experience, social justice or God’s Great Cleanup, the nebulous “kingdom of God” on earth. The resurrection of Christ was the first fruits of a broad resurrection of the righteous in the future where believers will again experience extreme physicality in ways not now known on the contours of our physical earth. But this is all an echo of the original occurrence itself. In Luke, the resurrection is presented to the women (24:1-8), to the eleven (24:9-11), to Peter (24:12), to the two on the road (24:13-35), and again to the apostles in the upper room (24:37, 41). The tomb was empty as far as Luke was concerned and he describes the physical body of Jesus so specifically that he demands it. The ‘many convincing proof’ he writes about in Acts 1:4 are evidenced in the upper room appearance in the 24 chapter of his gospel:

“’Look at my hands and my feet: it really is me! Touch me and see; a spirit doesn’t have flesh and blood and bones as you see that I have.’ Saying this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still disbelieving from joy, and wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in front of them” (v.39-42).

Crossan says a literal resurrection makes Christianity very unpalatable and puts up a stumbling block to those who would become Christians otherwise. In a strange way, he is right. According to the designs of the original authors and witnesses, a physical resurrection surfaces the heart condition of the hearer. In Acts 26, after Paul is summoned before Festus the Roman Governor and Agrippa the puppet king of Israel, he mentions the resurrection twice (v.8 and v.24). After the second time, Festus blows a gasket and interrupts, “Paul, you’re out of your mind”! His naturalism couldn’t allow for a physical resurrection. Festus understood exactly what Paul was saying and the passage wouldn’t make sense if Paul meant metaphor. It makes one wonder what case Crossan can build for a metaphorical resurrection from Scripture. In denying a physical resurrection, he is definitely not a Christian in the biblical sense, and if not in the biblical sense, what other sense is there? It all started with the testimony of the New Testament. The later heresies and Gnostic deviations are not Christian.

 

V. Conclusion

 

In summary, Crossan approaches the text and the resurrection accounts from a premise of naturalism, where he doesn’t believe in the supernatural realm. He is also a relativist where history at best is ambiguous and at worst the New Testament is biased. Therefore, the authority and inspiration of Scripture is dubious and there is no eternity. If Crossan believes that many theological and historical issues surface when Jesus’ resurrection is interpreted literally, it’s easy to see how his liberal innovations have strengthened the orthodox case. What he has posited as an alternative takes greater faith, more imagination, and less discipline to secure. Like a counterfeit bill that surfaces at a bank, the spurious in ways unintended highlight the authentic all the more. Licona warns, “If Crossan is truly interested in removing a stumbling block, he must recognize that in doing so he places a new one that may be even larger”.58

Does God exist or doesn’t He? If He is supernatural, He can do anything He wants; He can maintain the universe in undetected ways as well as penetrate our human fauna with startling events called miracles. If God can create, why is it so hard for Him to re-create and resurrect? A resurrection of believers holds that we will trod the contours of this earthen sod again, the next time without sin and death. We were built for physicality, and all of life affirms this. We live in, interact with, and arrange a material world. And we will do so again with some of the qualities hinted at in the glimpses of Jesus’ appearance narratives. C.S. Lewis wrote, “You cannot go on seeing through things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it…But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To see through all things is the same as not to see.”59

Crossan, like a Chameleon, wears a lot of colors, and phases in and out of a point with subtlety. It’s hard to pin him down as he cherishes his theological eclecticism. Though articulate and well learned, he seems to be caught in a theological no man’s land with his raw admixture of belief/unbelief. At times he sounds like a Jew who insists that this world is it. At other times he sounds like a deist, at others a pantheist, still at others a platonic dualist, and sometimes a relative atheist. He has made statements that one cannot know if the resurrection occurred. When exposed to so much evidence, to remain antagonistic to the resurrection often means a confusing counter hypothesis, which is what we see here. Again to quote Lewis, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”60

Crossan’s emphasis on meaning and social change may intersect with an evangelical position, but how one gets there means everything. He switches the focus from the “mode” of the resurrection to the “meaning,” perhaps because from experience it’s an argument he has lost. The specifics of what happened on Easter morning is what produces a tsunami of life change. If there is no one time resurrection, then there is no one time transaction of a soul that is secured in salvation.

A metaphorical resurrection is not big enough to explain the onset of 1st century Christianity as a mutation of stubborn Judaism within a skeptical and naturalistic pagan culture. A concrete resurrection is too radical for a soft, status quo world that confines all phenomenon to a naturalistic explanation, of which Crossan seems to favor. Therefore, Crossan thinks the resurrection is a matter of subjective mental processes , linguistics and interpretation. But Christians, from the earliest days, held that an external event penetrated human history and launched the enterprise that we know today.

Because of it’s emphasis on physicality, the resurrection of Christ is the best chance for a committed materialist to preserve and improve the best things about his existence in this life. It’s baffling why anyone wouldn’t want this. No other worldview or religion can offer this option. It’s one thing to hope against hope. But to trust in such a phenomena is not without evidence, the probabilities of it’s veracity are greater than the improbabilities. Author and thinker Philip Yancey wrote one time, “frankly what keeps me in the Christian faith after all these years is a lack of other options”.61 Crossan’s interpretation accentuates Yancey’s statement all the more. Frankly, why I believe in the literal resurrection is a lack of other explanations for the evidence.

 

Endnotes

 

1. “Larry King Live” Television Show, CNN, 2009.

2. Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus, A New Historiographical Approach

(Downer’s Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2010) 145.

3. Robert Stewart, introduction to The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossanand N.T. Wright in Dialogue, ed Robert B. Stewart (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006) 5.

4. G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (New York: Doubleday) 132.

5. Morton Smith, prologue to Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, by John Dominic Crossan (New York: Harper Collins, 1994) xiii.

6. Ibid, xiv.

7. DrOakely1689. “The Resurrection Debate: Crossan and Borg vs. White and Renihan.” YouTube. Video 2.20:01, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waiM136MeuU (accessed July 19, 2012).

8. Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2004) 128.

9. Licona, 521.

10. Ibid, 522.

11. Ibid, 522.

12. Crossan, 197.

13. John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (New York: Harper Collins, 1991) 571.

14. Stewart, 26, 33,34.

15. Ibid, 24.

16. Licona, 539.

17. Livingthequestions. “The Dangers of Fundamentalism-John Dominic Crossan.” YouTube. Online Video Interview, 4:56, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6f0ZHaoSnf0 (accessed July 22, 2012).

18. Licona, 523.

 19. Ibid, 528.

20. Ibid, 539.

21. DrOakely1689.

22. Ibid.

23. MrAtheistChristian. “Jesus Scholar John Dominic Crossan.” YouTube. Online Video Interview, 47:14 min, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXYWex6F3n8 (accessed July 20, 2012).

24. Chesterton, 123.

25. Licona, 203.

26. Crossan 1994, 2.

27. Crossan, 1994, xiv.

28. John Dominic Crossan. “Almost The Whole Truth: An Odyssey,” The Fourth R, Volume 6,5, September/October 1993, [e-journal] http://www.westarinstitute.org/Periodicals/4R_Articles/crossan_bio.html (accessed July 21, 2012).

29a. Habermas and Licona, 113.

29b. St. Ignatius, The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians, Chapter IX.

30. John Warwick Montgomery, History and Christianity (Downers Grove, Il: Inter-varsity Press, 1971), 29.

31. Wright, 601.

32. Crossan 1994, xvii.

33. Habermas and Licona, 128.

34. Crossan 1994, xiv.

35. DrOakely1689, Borg.

36. Ibid, Crossan.

37. Ibid, Crossan.

38. Wright 80-81.

39. Licona 542.

40. John Dominic Crossan, Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up? A Debate Between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan, ed. Paul Copan (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 37.

41. Licona 545-6.

42. C.S. Lewis, The Grand Miracle, And Other Selected Essays on Theology and Ethics From God In The Dock, ed. Walter Hooper (New York: Random House, 1970), 113.

43. F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Leicester, UK: InterVarsity Press, 1981), 43.

44. Habermas and Licona, 104-119.

45. Ibid, 52.

46. Wright, 690.

47. Ibid, 690.

48. Ibid, 580.

49. DrOakely1689.

50. Licona, 542.

51. Ibid, 544.

52. Ibid, 553.

53. Huffpost Denver. The Internet Newspaper: News Blogs Video Community. “James Holmes Shown in Camp Video When He Was 18, Discussing ‘Temporal Illusions’”. Available from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/22/james-eagen-holmes-science-camp-video_n_1692991.html?icid=maingrid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl2%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D182556; accessed 23 July 2012.

54. Wright, 712.

55. Crossan 1994, xiv.

56. Wright, 635.

57. Ibid, 657.

58. Licona, 533.

59. C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: Harper Collins, 1976).

60. C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (New York; Harper Collins, 1971).

61. Reference lost.

 

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                           Copyright by Scott Chandler. All Rights Reserved

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About Scott Chandler

As a trained academician, Scott speaks to the issues of our culture with an emphasis on apologetics.
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