The Resurrection of Jesus: A History of Interpretation – Endnotes

1 1 Cor 15:14. New Revised Standard used throughout.

2 Mark 16:11. Although this verse was apparently not in the original text, it shows that the early church believed that the disciples’ initial response was disbelief. Only after Jesus appeared to them did they believe.

3 Luke 24:9-11. The women believed only because they had seen Jesus.

4 Luke 7:11-17.

5 Matt 28:17. Literally, it says that “they” doubted, implying that the people who worshipped also doubted. This is probably typical for anyone undergoing a major revision in understanding what is possible. “Can this really be true? Is this only a weird dream?” In Matthew, the doubt may have been whether worship was appropriate.

6 Acts 17:32. Many Greeks would have believed in the immortality of the soul and would have considered a resurrection (i.e., of the body) as unnecessary and even demeaning.

7 1 Cor 15:12-13.

8 1 Cor 15:44. By talking of a pneumatikos body, Paul does not mean a body made out of pneuma (whatever that could mean) any more than he means a body made out of psyche when he talks of a psychikos body (translated as “physical body” in the NRSV). No matter what it is made of, it is still a sôma, from which Greeks wanted to escape. Paul speaks of the transformation of the old body into the new (v. 51) rather than an abandonment of the old body. His analogy of the seed (vv. 37-38) suggests the same.

Some sort of noncorporeal theory may lie behind 2 Tim 2:18, too: “claiming that the resurrection has already taken place.” The false teachers apparently did not deny the resurrection, but claimed that it passed without any observable evidence. The bodies were still in the graves, but the souls had supposedly been raised. Paul argues that these noncorporeal theories of resurrection are erroneous, as I will argue later in this paper.

9 If unbelievers had made such claims, and if Matthew was free to invent stories, then presumably he would have. I find it interesting that no one suggested that ordinary grave-robbers stole the body. But if people were not normally buried with anything of value, grave-robbers would have been rare in first-century Judea.

10 Argument paraphrased from William Lane Craig, Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen, 1989), 207.

11 William Lane Craig, The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus During the Deist Controversy (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen, 1985), 40.

12 Origen, Contra Celsus 2.60. Online: No one should assume that psychological theories are possible only with the advent of modern psychology! The ancients had brains and were not unaware of mental phenomena.

13 Craig, Historical, 43. Further evidence against the hallucination theory will be presented later.

14 Ibid. Reimarus and Strauss are critics who pulled this thread the hardest.

15 Origen, Contra Celsus, 2.10. Online: Although Origen did not make this specific point, this argument refutes the allegation reported in Matthew 28:13. One person might be willing to die for a lie he had invented, but it is implausible that an entire group would. The disciples were sincere in their beliefs. They were not conspirators, body thieves or intentional deceivers.

16 Craig, Historical, 47, citing Demonstratio Evangelica 3.5.

17 Ibid., 48.

18 Ibid. Craig considers this an excellent starting point for modern apologetics (Historical, 544).

19 Ibid., 49.

20 Ibid. The documents became supported by church authority.

21 Ibid., 69.

22 Craig advocates a form of this argument for modern apologetics (Historical, 535-538), but it seems that a similar argument would support Islam, showing that the argument itself is of limited value. It seems to be a variant of the argument, “Many people believe it, so it must be true.”

23 Ibid., 192.

24 Ibid., 190.

25 Ibid., 206. Grotius also used the dilemma of deceived or deceivers (Ibid., 207).

26 Ibid., 209.

27 Ibid., 200.

28 Ibid., 212-214, citing Traité de la vérité de la religion chrétienne, volume 2. “Abaddie’s Traité, which was translated into German and English, is perhaps the finest apologetic work of the century” (ibid., 212).

29 Ibid., 215-216.

30 Ibid., 218.

31 Ibid., 74-75. Grotius, Pascal, and Abaddie responded to some of the Deist arguments. Deism grew in France in the 18th century through the radical skepticism of Pierre Bayle’s Dictionnaire (1696) and the literary genius of Voltaire.

32 Although Locke was not a Deist, and he believed in the resurrection, the Deists built on Locke’s insistence that faith must conform to reason (William Baird, History of New Testament Research, Volume 1: From Deism to Tübingen (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 33-38). Locke’s The Reasonableness of Christianity appeared in 1695. “Deists, such as Toland…appealed to Locke for his rationalism in religious matters, while orthodox thinkers followed Locke in his defense of revealed religion on the basis of miracles…. Collins…adopts many of Locke’s arguments from his letters on toleration to support his Deism” (Craig, Historical, 254).

33 Le Clerc in 1685, supposedly arguing against the Deists, argued against biblical inspiration – but he also argued that the historical evidence supported the general reliability of the Gospels, and that the minor contradictions showed that the disciples did not conspire to deceive (Craig,Historical, 112, 115).

“No true disciple of Simon and Le Clerc is to be found until Jean Astruc and Johann Semler in the latter half of the eighteenth century. The influence of these early biblical critics upon Deism consisted in their removing the aura of sanctity from the Holy Scriptures by handling them like any other historical work and in the doubts they created concerning the reliability and authority of the Bible” (Ibid., 121).

34 Baird, 39-56. “The principal Deist works came to a close with the posthumous publication of Lord Bolingbroke’s Works in 1754. Deist works continued to appear sporadically during the rest of the century, but [in England] the fire of the controversy had gone out” (Craig, Historical, 261).

35 Craig, Historical, 120.

36 The argument of Annet (Baird, 51) and Voltaire (Craig, Historical, 100),

37 Baird, 6, and Craig, Historical, 253, 298.

38 Craig, Historical, 299. “Although his posthumously published Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779) reveal Hume to have been more agnostic than a Deist, nevertheless his Enquiries…and his Natural History of Religion (1757) are consistent with a Deist viewpoint…. Although Hume in his critical side allies himself with Deism in its critique of revealed religion, his thought also tended to the dissolution of Deism, even prior to the publication of the Dialogues, by strengthening the skepticism concerning self-sufficiency of reason and the possibility of a natural religion” (Ibid., 261).

39 Some modern responses: Wolfhart Pannenberg argues for the possibility of miracles in the physical world (Craig, Historical, 513, citing Basic Questions in Theology (trans. G.H. Kehm; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1970), 40-50) and Richard Niebuhr similarly argues that “the historian must be open to the uniqueness of the events of the past and cannot exclude a priori the possibility of events like the resurrection simply because they do not conform to his present experience” (Craig, Historical, 512, citing Resurrection and Historical Reason, 170).

For further argument against Hume, see Richard Swinburne, “Evidence for the Resurrection,” in The Resurrection: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Resurrection of Jesus (ed. Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, and Gerald O’Collins; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 197-198 and Stephen T. Davis, Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1993), 2-9.

40 Craig, Historical, 258. Craig seems to have omitted the citation on this argument; it appears to be an argument that Sherlock puts into the mouth of Woolston’s attorney somewhere between pages 51 and 65 of Tryal. Craig notes that this is Hume’s argument before Hume wrote it in 1748 (Ibid., 621, n. 427).

41 Ibid., 256-257, citing Thomas Woolston, A Sixth Discourse on the Miracles of Our Saviour (London: author, 1729), 5, 15-16, 19, 27.

42 Craig, Historical, 257.

43 Ibid., 258, citing Thomas Sherlock, The Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus (London: J. Roberts, 1729), 42-44.

44 Craig, Historical, 259, citing Sherlock, 74-80. Craig later points out, perhaps summarizing Ditton, that “had Jesus appeared publicly, we today should still be dependent on the same sort of evidence that we already have: written testimony. The fact that the Deists deny the multitude of public miracles performed by Jesus…shows that they would still reject the resurrection, even had it occurred publicly as well” (341).

45 Craig, Historical, 259-260, citing Sherlock, 81, 104.

46 Baird, 49-50.

47 Craig, Historical, 343, citing Annet, 49-71. Here I wonder if Annet came up with a better excuse. For all we know, the guard did tell others what happened.

48 Craig, Historical, 344.

49 Ibid., 344 and 638, n. 660.

50 Ibid., 344-345, citing Moss-Sherlock, 45-89. Annet was also answered by Samuel Chandler, The Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ Re-Examined (1744) and Gilbert West, Observations on the History and Evidence of the Resurrection (1747) (Ibid., 346-348). All three offered possible harmonizations of the resurrection discrepancies, but they came up with different solutions, and did not explain why each evangelist would omit so much of the story.

51 Ibid., 268, 283-285. Tindal’s book was translated into German in 1741.

52 Ibid., 277, citing Dictionaire philosophique, s.v. “Miracles.”

53 Ibid., 274, citing Rousseau, Lettres écrites de la montagne.

54 Ibid., 282, citing Pensées philosophiques, pensée 46.

55 Ibid., 626, n. 492.

56 Ibid., 282-283, citing Monod, De Pascal à Chateaubriand, p. 228.

57 Ibid., 283.

58 Ibid., 279-280.

59 Ibid., 322-323, citing Turretin-Vernet, Traité 3:23-36. The date is probably in the 1740s.

60 Ibid., 323-324, citing Vernet 3:37-75.

61 Ibid., 320, 330.

62 Ibid., 286.

63 Ibid., 287.

64 Ibid., 288, citing Die vornehmsten Wahrheiten der natürlichen Religion.

65 Baird, 171.

66 Craig, Historical, 371-372, giving no citation.

67 Ibid., 372-373, citing Talbert’s edition of Fragments, 172-200.

68 Ibid., 374, citing Reimarus, 96-104.

69 Baird, 171-172.

70 Craig, Historical, 289.

71 Baird, 173.

72 Craig, Historical, 295, and Baird, 130, 174-176.

73 Baird, 175.

74 Ibid. A similar question could be asked of the Jesus Seminar today: If Jesus was so innocuous, why was he killed?

75 Ibid., 176.

76 Ibid.

77 Ibid. Michaelis used the minor discrepancies as evidence that there was no collusion (Baird, 130).

78 Craig notes, “Semler thus stands the traditional apologetic completely on its head” (Craig, Historical, 379, citing Semler, Beantwortung der Fragmente eines Ungenannten insbesondere vom Zweck Jesu und seiner Junger, 2nd ed., 1780, 264). Here Semler seems to believe that we can know what Jesus taught.

79 Craig, Historical, 380.

80 Craig lists a variety of rebuttals of “the apostles were deceived” theory – a smattering from Samuel Clarke, Gottfried Less, Ditton, and Sherlock. It seems that although some Deists offered this as a possibility, it had persuaded few and did not call for extensive reply (Ibid., 331).

81 Ibid., 338, citing Less, Wahrheit, 160-162.

82 Ibid., 338-338, citing Ditton, Discourse, 362-71.

83 Ibid., 263-265. Although Gibbon did not deal with the resurrection, Craig is attentive to his arguments because Craig thinks that the growth of the church is evidence for the resurrection (ibid., 544).

84 Ibid., 265, citing Gibbon, Modern Library edition, 1:432.

85 Ibid., 313, citing Paley, 1:3-15.

86 Ibid., 324-327, citing Paley, 1:178-319. Craig notes that Paley drew heavily on a 1730 work by Nathaniel Larder.

87 Ibid., 335, citing Paley, 1:106-41.

88 Ibid., 332. This shows why the “deceived” theory never got far off the ground – it was incredible that neither disciples nor Jewish leaders would fail to check the tomb. All the available evidence said that there was a tomb, and that it was empty. In the late 1700s, there was simply a choice between hoax and resurrection, and “hoax” was becoming harder to claim. The time was ripe for a new theory, which would come from Strauss.

89 Ibid., 335, citing Paley, 1:42-105.

90 Ibid., 336, quoting from Paley, 1:3276-328.

91 Ibid., 352-353.

92 This subjectivist approach was supported by Rousseau, Kant, and Schliermacher, and much earlier, by the Pietists (Ibid., 432, 435, 445).

93 Ibid., 392-393, citing Ausführung des Plan und Zwecks Jesu (1784-92).

94 Ibid., 396-397, citing Paulus, Philologisch-kritischer und historischer Kommentar über das neue Testament (1802), 3:842-852.

95 Ibid., 397-399,

96 Ibid., 398.

97 Baird, 219; also Gerald O’Collins, “Resurrection,” in The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought (ed. Alister E. McGrath; Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), 555.

98 Walter Bauer (1802) simply left the resurrection as a mystery (Baird, 191).

99 Craig, Historical, 402, citing Strauss, Herrmann Samuel Reimarus und seine Schutzschrift für die vernünftigen Verehrer Gottes (1862), translated in Talbert’s edition of Reimarus’s Fragments, 276-277.

100 Ibid., 402, citing Strauss, A New Life of Jesus (1879), 1:412.

101 O’Collins, 555.

102 David Friedrich Strauss, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined (ed. Peter C. Hodgson; trans. George Eliot; Ramsey, N.J.: Sigler, 1994), 742-744, and Craig, Historical, 525.

103 Baird, 307, citing Die evangelische Geschichte kritisch und philosophisch bearbeitet, 1.83.

104 Ibid., 381, citing (but not giving page numbers) The Life of Jesus and The Apostles.

105 William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1994), 271.

106 Baird, 239.

107 Ibid., 227, quoting from De Wette’s 1837 commentary on John.

108 Ibid., 334, citing Madges, The Core of Christian Faith, 129.

109 Ibid.

110 Craig, Historical, 472, citing The Credibility of the Evangelical History (London: Chapman, 1844), 52.

111 Ibid., 472-473.

112 Baird, 255, citing Harris, Strauss and His Theology, 87-88.

113 Ibid., 262, quoting Baur’s Church History, 1:42.

114 Ibid., 265, quoting Baur, Neutestamentliche Theologie (date?) 127.

115 Craig, Historical, 533, citing A. N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1963), 188-191, and Julius Müller, The Theory of Myths (London: Chapman, 1844), 29. For six arguments against the myth theory, see Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli,Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1994), 189-195.

116 These include Rudolf Bultmann, John Dominic Crossan, Willi Marxsen, Sally McFague, and Norman Perrin (Davis et al., 6-7, 263 and Davis, 35-36, 39-40). Davis calls this “exegetical legerdemain” (Ibid., 40).

117 Baird, 388-389, citing History of Jesus, 6:361.

118 Ibid., 292, citing The History of Israel, VII: The Apostolic Age (1885), 68.

119 William P. Alston, “Biblical Criticism and the Resurrection,” in Davis et al., 156, summarizing from Reginald Fuller, Formation of the Resurrection Narratives (New York: Macmillan, 1971), 168-182.

120 Craig, Historical, 478, citing Ostergeschehen und Osterberichte, 4th ed. (Göttingen: Wandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1970).

121 These three points are from Craig, Reasonable Faith, 287-288. For more on the corporeal nature of the resurrection, see Stephen T. Davis, “‘Seeing’ the Risen Jesus,” in Davis et al., 126-147.

122 Craig, Reasonable Faith, 272-277. See also William Lane Craig, “John Dominic Crossan,” 253-262, and Davis, Risen Indeed, 62-84. Of course, not everyone accepts that the tomb was empty. Crossan, Küng, Lindars, Perrin, Pesch, and Yarbro Collins do not (Davis et al., 13-15, 219, 273).

123 Craig, Reasonable Faith, 278-280. The latter theory was suggested by Kirsopp Lake in 1907. Writers occasionally revive a theory, such as Hugh Schonfeld did in The Passover Plot, but they convince few. Hick, Kaufmann, and Luedemann maintain a hallucination theory (Davis et al., 10, 29, 34, 231, 304).

124 Leon Morris, “Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” ISBE 4:153, quoting T. Peters, CBQ 35(1973): 481. See also Kreeft and Tacelli, 186-188.

125 Swinburne, 200, quoting The Sign of Four, The Complete Sherlock Holmes, 1 (Doubleday, 1930), 111. Swinburne quoted the maxim in his favor, but it seems to more easily fit the skeptic who says that resurrections are impossible, so even a weird theory is to be preferred.

126 Craig, Reasonable Faith, 289-292.

127 Craig, Historical, 513, citing Auferstehung TT4 (Stuttgart: Kreuz, 1970), 152-154.

128 Ibid., 513.

129 Alan G. Padgett writes, “If Jesus rose from the dead…it is not subject to natural-scientific explanation. Likewise, it is not subject to historical explanation. Historical science is incapable of making a theological judgement about whether or not God could or did raise Jesus” (“Advice for Religious Historians,” in Davis et al., 303).

In his history of NT interpretation, Baird commented on the resurrection of Jesus fairly often, as my footnotes show. In contrast, Neill and Wright do not even list it in the subject index! (Stephen Neill and Tom Wright, The Interpretation of the New Testament 1861-1986, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988)). Harrisville and Sundberg do not have a subject index, but a skim of the book did not turn up any comments about the resurrection (Roy A. Harrisville and Walter Sundberg, The Bible in Modern Culture: Theology and Historical-Critical Method From Spinoza to Käsemann (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1995)). This silence on a topic so fundamental to Christian faith is surprising, and may reflect the ambivalence the authors have about whether the resurrection can be studied historically.

130 Davis, 28, quoting from “The Resurrection: A Disagreement,” Theology 75 (April 1972): 516.

131 Morris, 153.

132 Swinburne makes this case in Davis et al., 202-207.

133 Schüssler Fiorenza writes, “As a Christian, I consider the conviction that God raised Jesus to be the most coherent historical account…. Others with different background assumptions will weigh the evidence and various warrants differently, and may not be convinced” (“The Resurrection of Jesus and Roman Catholic Fundamental Theology,” in Davis et al., 247).

134 Davis, 174, and C. Stephen Evans, Why Believe? (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1996). “Most people adopt their belief about the resurrection on the basis of something other than the relevant historical evidence…. The nonbelievers are probably convinced of their position not primarily because of evidence or arguments in its favor but because it is entailed by the worldview that they accept” (Davis, 19, 17).


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