Definitions

grave-clothes

Resurrection of Jesus

Within the body of Christian beliefs, the resurrection of Jesus is a core event on which much of Christian doctrine and theology depend. According to the New Testament, Jesus was crucified, died, buried within a tomb, and resurrected three days later (, ). The New Testament also mentions several resurrection appearances of Jesus on different occasions to his twelve apostles and disciples, including "more than five hundred brethren at once" before Jesus' Ascension. These two events are essential doctrines of the Christian faith, and are commemorated by Christians during Good Friday and Easter, particularly during the liturgical time of Holy Week.

Other groups, such as Jews, Muslims, Bahá'ís and other non-Christians, as well as some liberal Christians, dispute whether Jesus actually rose from the dead. Arguments over death and resurrection claims occur at many religious debates and interfaith dialogues.

Significance

As Paul the Apostle, an early front runner of Christianity, contended, "If Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless" The death and resurrection of Jesus are the most important events in Christian Theology, as they form the point in scripture where Jesus gives his ultimate demonstration that he has power over life and death, thus he has the ability to give people eternal life. According to the Bible, "God raised him from the dead, he ascended to heaven, to the "right hand of God, and will return again to fulfill the rest of Messianic prophecy such as the Resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment and establishment of the Kingdom of God, see also Messianism and Messianic Age.

The following passage is Paul the Apostle's apologetic (defense) of the resurrection of Christ:

Most Christians accept the New Testament story as a historical account of some kind of resurrection, which is central to their faith. Some modern scholars use the belief of Jesus' followers in the resurrection as a point of departure for establishing the continuity of the historical Jesus and the proclamation of the early church. Most non-Christians do not accept the bodily resurrection of Jesus, considering it a myth without historical precedent. . Carl Jung suggests that the crucifixion-resurrection story was the forceful spiritual symbol of, literally, God-as-Yahweh becoming God-as-Job.

Records

Early Creeds

The earliest written records of the death and resurrection of Jesus are the letters of Paul, which were written around two decades after the death of Jesus. , and show that within this small timeframe Christians believed that it had happened. Some scholars suppose that these contain early Christian creeds and creedal hymns, which were included in several of the New Testament texts and that some of these creeds date to within a few years of Jesus' death and were developed within the Christian community in Jerusalem. Though embedded within the texts of the New Testament, these creeds are a distinct source for early Christianity.

  • reads: "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures." This contains a Christian creed of pre-Pauline origin. The antiquity of the creed has been located by many biblical scholars to less than a decade after Jesus' death, originating from the Jerusalem apostolic community. Concerning this creed, Campenhausen wrote, "This account meets all the demands of historical reliability that could possibly be made of such a text, whilst A. M. Hunter said, "The passage therefore preserves uniquely early and verifiable testimony. It meets every reasonable demand of historical reliability.
  • : "...concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord;
  • : "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, this is my Gospel.

Gospel narratives

According to the Gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. The Gospel of Matthew states that an angel appeared near the tomb of Jesus and announced his resurrection to Mary Magdelene and "another Mary" who had arrived to anoint the body (). According to Luke there were two angels and according to Mark there was a youth dressed in white (). In the last section of Mark(), which is considered a later addition by most biblical scholars(see Mark 16), it states that on the morning of his resurrection, Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene (). John states that when Mary looked into the tomb, two angels asked her why she was crying; and as she turned round she initially failed to recognize Jesus until he spoke her name ().

The Acts of the Apostles state that Jesus appeared to various people in various places over the next forty days. Hours after his resurrection, he appeared to two travelers on the road to Emmaus (). To his assembled disciples he showed himself on the evening after his resurrection (). Although his own ministry had been specifically to Jews, Jesus is said to have sent his apostles to the Gentiles with the Great Commission and ascended to heaven while a cloud concealed him from their sight. According to Acts, Paul of Tarsus also saw Jesus during his Road to Damascus experience. Jesus promised to come again to fulfill the remainder of Messianic prophecy.

Apostolic fathers

The Apostolic Fathers, likewise, discussed the death and resurrection of Jesus, including Ignatius (50−115), Polycarp (69−155), and Justin Martyr (100−165).

Non-Christian

Flavius Josephus (c. 37–c. 100), a Jew and Roman citizen who worked under the patronage of the Flavians, wrote the Antiquities of the Jews c. 93, which contains a passage known as the Testimonium Flavianum that mentions the death and resurrection of Jesus: "When Pilate, upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned [Jesus] to be crucified, those who had formerly loved him did not cease [to follow him], for he appeared to them on the third day, living again, as the divine prophets foretold, along with a myriad of other marvelous things concerning him. It is widely held by scholars that at least part of the Testimonium Flavianum is an interpolation, since Josephus was not a Christian and characterized his patron Emperor Vespasian as the foretold Messiah. However, a few scholars have argued for the authenticity of the entire passage. (See also Josephus on Jesus.)

More recent records

Latter-day Saints

According to records considered to be scripture by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, such as the account recorded by prophets on the ancient American continent, the Book of Mormon, the resurrected Christ soon appeared to other peoples of the earth, to show them as he did to the apostles that he lives and did indeed conquer death. He had told his disciples in Jerusalem that he would visit others when he said, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd," as recorded in John 10:16. He appeared to multitudes of the Nephite people and let all who would come to feel the marks in his hands and in his feet, and in his side. Similarly to other appearances of the Savior, the voice of God the Father was heard by the people as Christ descended into their midst, giving divine witness that this was his son, Jesus Christ, their living savior and redeemer.

Critical analysis

Historians use the historical method to study ancient history. In this process, the accounts of the witnesses are analyzed for their reliability, plausibility, and motive. Defending the historicity of the Biblical narrative, including that of the resurrection, is within the field of study known as Christian apologetics, and applying the historical method to the Bible (which may or may not conflict with defending historicity) is a field of study known as Biblical criticism.

Prior events

Hundreds of years before the time of Jesus, Jewish prophets promised that a messiah would come. Apologists claim that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies, which they claim are nearly impossible to fulfill by chance. Judaism claims that Jesus did not fulfill these prophecies (see Jewish Messiah). Other skeptics usually claim that the prophecies are either vague or unfulfilled, or that the Old Testament writings influenced the composition of New Testament narratives. Many Christians anticipate the Second Coming of Jesus, when he will fulfill the rest of Messianic prophecy, such as the Last Judgement, the general resurrection, establishment of the Kingdom of God, and the Messianic Age. See the article on Preterism for contrasting views.

Entombment

All four Gospels state that, on the evening of the crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, and that, after Pilate granted his request, he wrapped Jesus' body in a linen cloth and laid it in a tomb. This was in accordance with Mosaic Law, which stated that a person hanged on a tree must not be allowed to remain there at night, but should be buried before sundown. In Matthew, Joseph was identified as "also a disciple of Jesus;" in Mark he was identified as "a respected member of the council (Sanhedrin) who was also himself looking for the Kingdom of God;" in Luke he was identified as "a member of the council, good and righteous, who did not consent to their purpose or deed, and who was looking for the Kingdom of God'" and in John he was identified as "a disciple of Jesus." Mark stated that, when Joseph asked for Jesus' body, Pilate was shocked that Jesus was already dead, and he summoned a centurion to confirm this before dispatching the body to Joseph. John recorded that Joseph was assisted in the burial process by Nicodemus, who brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes and included these spices in the burial cloth as per Jewish customs.

The Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) described the burial as occurring on the "Day of Preparation," with Mark providing the explanation of this as the day before the Sabbath. The synoptics described the tomb as "hewn out of the rock," i.e., a sepulture, with Matthew, Luke, and John stating that it was new (i.e., no one else had been buried there before), and with Matthew stating that the tomb belonged to Joseph. John stated that the tomb was located in a garden near the site of the crucifixion.

The synoptics stated that women saw where Jesus was buried; Matthew named "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary," Mark named "Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses," and Luke simply gave "the women who had come with him from Galilee." Matthew gave an account of the chief priests and Pharisees requesting that Pilate secure the tomb, lest Jesus' disciples should steal the body and proclaim Jesus to be risen from the dead, whereupon Pilate said, "you have a guard of soldiers, go, make it as secure as you can"—after which they secured the sepulture by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

William Lane Craig argued that the guard placed at the tomb was a Jewish guard, and that Pilate's words to the chief priests and Pharisees recorded in Matthew, "You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you can," were all rebuff. In support, he observed that Roman guards would have been subject to execution if they slept during watch, and that the Jewish authorities probably could not have provided protection for Roman guards from Pilate, like they could have if the guard was Jewish; thus, he wrote, "if one were to give the story the benefit of the doubt, one would assume the guards were Jewish.

Resurrection of Jesus

The resurrection of Jesus is foundational to New Testament faith. The act of Jesus rising to life from a state of death is not narrated at all in scripture. Rather, the first sign of the resurrection of Jesus is simply the tomb being found empty by the women – which has been called the most significant affirmation of women in the New Testament.

Some skeptics have argued that the corpse of Jesus may have been reburied or stolen instead. Also, no non-Christian sources written at the time specifically mention the death or resurrection of Jesus.

The Gospel accounts of the resurrection have been the subject of contemporary scholarship using tools of historical and literary analysis. Issues of those accounts include:

  • comparisons with other New Testament accounts of restored life
  • differences in the resurrection narratives
  • the antiquity and continuity of memories on which the accounts rely
  • the reality of the resurrection.

Tomb discovery

Although no single Gospel gives an inclusive or definitive account of the resurrection of Jesus or his appearances, there are four points at which all four Gospels converge: (1) the linking of the empty tomb tradition and the visit of the women on "the first day of the week;" (2) that the risen Jesus chose first to appear to women (or a woman) and to commission them (her) to proclaim this most important fact to the disciples, including Peter and the other apostles; (3) prominence of Mary Magdalene; (4) attention to the stone that had closed the tomb

Variants have to do with the precise time the women visited the tomb, the number and identity of the women; the purpose of their visit; the appearance of the messenger(s) – angelic or human; their message to the women; and the response of the women.

Although these four accounts are difficult to reconcile into a single sequence of events, the differences should neither be under- nor over-emphasized. Well-researched findings in both psychology and law demonstrate that even honest eyewitnesses asked retrospectively to describe an event can give differing accounts of some details.

According to apologists, the differences between the four accounts largely eliminate any possibility of collusion between the writers to propagate a falsehood. Rather, they show that each writer researched the events independently.

Women

All four Gospels report that several women were the ones to find the tomb of Jesus empty. According to Mark and Luke, the announcement of Jesus' resurrection was first made to women. According to Matthew and John, Jesus actually appeared first to women (in John to Mary Magdalene alone).

In the Gospels, especially the synoptics, women play a central role as eyewitness at Jesus' death, entombment, and in the discovery of the empty tomb. All three synoptics repeatedly make women the subject of verbs of seeing, clearly presenting them as eyewitnesses.

The presence of women as the key witnesses who discover the empty tomb has been seen as increasing the credibility of the testimony, since, in the contemporary culture (Jewish and Greco-Roman), one would expect a fabrication to place men, and especially numerous and important men, at this critical place, rather than just "some grieving women. C. H. Dodd considered the narrative in John to be "self-authenticating" since no one would make up the notion that Jesus had appeared to the "little known woman" Mary Magdalene. However, some passages in the Mishnah (Yebamoth 16:7; Ketubot 2:5; Eduyot 3:6) indicate that women could give testimony if there was no male witness available. In addition, Josephus and Pliny the Younger have used women as witnesses to their claims.

All three Synoptics name two or three women on each occasion in the passion-resurrection narratives where they are cited as eyewitnesses: the Torah's required two or three witnesses in a statute that had exerted influence beyond legal courts and into situations in everyday life where accurate evidence was needed. Among the named women (and some are left anonymous), Mary Magdalene is present in all four Gospel accounts, and Mary the mother of James is present in all three synoptics; however, variations exist in the lists of each Gospel concerning the women present at the death, entombment, and discovery. For example, Mark names three women at the cross and the same three who go to the tomb, but only two are observed to be witnesses at the burial. Based on this, and similar examples in Matthew and Luke, Richard Bauckham argued that the evangelists showed "scrupulous care" and "were careful to name precisely the women who were known to them as witnesses to these crucial events" since there would be no other reason, besides interest in historical accuracy, not to simply use the same set of characters from one scene to another.

It can only be surmised that the most likely reason was that Paul, along with the rest of the church, stressed only the appearances to men as the "official" witness of the early church. In Jewish courts of the time, the witness of a woman was not recognized and women could not testify in court. "Whereas others found woman not qualified or authorized to teach, the four Gospels have it that the risen Christ commissioned women to teach men, including Peter and the other apostles, the resurrection, foundation of Christianity.

Mark's account (which in the earliest extant manuscripts) ends abruptly and claims that the women told no one. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark do not present any further involvement at the tomb. Luke describes Peter as running to the tomb to check for himself, and John adds that the Beloved Disciple did so too, the beloved disciple outrunning Peter.

There is some scriptural variation as to whom the women told and in what order. Curiously, Mary also addresses Jesus as “Lord.”

Men

Luke merely states that after seeing the vacancy of the tomb, Peter was wondering what had happened, John gives a detailed account. ()

John describes the beloved disciple only as making a cursory glance at the linen, Peter is described as carefully examining the scene. After making their examination, the Beloved Disciple apparently draws a conclusion. (John 20:8–9)

Once Peter has entered, John describes the Beloved Disciple as entering the tomb whereupon he believed as they knew not about the scripture. What exactly the Beloved Disciple believed, and who exactly they are, and what scripture exactly is being referenced, is not explained. The word used to mean scripture is singular and most of the time this form is used to refer to single quotations. Several passages from the Old Testament have been proposed as likely candidates for this source such as Psalm , Hosea , and Jonah . Since most of the New Testament was written before the Gospel of John, candidates have also been suggested from these texts. John only indicates that Peter and the Beloved Disciple were present, but it is possible that one or both of the people named Mary may also have been there, and thus Hartmann believes they refers to Peter and Mary being in ignorance about a resurrection.

Since the only mention in John of the tomb having any content describes it only as having grave clothes, this paucity of evidence for anything more than the body being stolen would make the Beloved Disciple rather gullible if it were a resurrection he suddenly believed in. A question also arises as to why, according to John, the Beloved Disciple doesn't tell Peter and them about this. A long line of major scholars including Augustine of Hippo and John Calvin have thus argued that the Beloved Disciple simply came to believe Mary Magdalene's story that the body was gone. Unlike Hartmann, and those sharing his view, most scholars regard they as referring to Peter and the Beloved Disciple, pointing to them both being ignorant about any resurrection, and pointing to the conclusion that the Beloved Disciple had come to believe some other issue.

Textual critics like Schnackenberg, however, have argued that the passage does actually refer to belief in a resurrection, but argues the reference to him believing is a later addition to the text. The version of John in the ancient Codex Bezae has the passage reading that he saw and did not believe. Bultmann has called John 20:9 a gloss of the ecclesiastical redaction, also arguing that the verse is a later addition, particularly since it references scripture as indicating that Jesus must rise from the dead, since John almost always prefers instead to use the wording ascend from the dead.

Luke and John both have the disciple(s) return home, which probably refers to Jerusalem, but possibly also Galilee.

Resurrection appearances of Jesus

After the discovery of the empty tomb, the Gospels indicate that Jesus made a series of appearances to the disciples, with the most notable being to the disciples in the upper room, where Thomas did not believe until he was invited to put his finger into the holes in Jesus' hands and side (); along the road to Emmaus, where people talked about their failed hopes that Jesus would be the messiah before recognising Jesus (); and beside the Sea of Galilee to encourage Peter to serve his followers (). His final appearance is reported as being forty days after the resurrection when he ascended into heaven, where he remains with God.

Next, there are a few resurrection appearances of Jesus. One of the most widely recalled pre-ascension visions of Jesus is the doubting Thomas conversation (John 20:24-29) between Jesus and Thomas the Apostle. After Jesus' death, the apostle stated that he would not believe that Jesus was resurrected until he stuck his fingers in the nail holes in Jesus' hands and spear-hole in his side. Thomas was ordered to do so when he met Jesus, but the Gospel of John does not specify if physical contact actually took place.

Six months later, on the road to Damascus, a one time rabbi and persecutor of the early church named Paul of Tarsus converted to Christianity. A few years later, Paul became Christianity's foremost missionary, converting hundreds of people, planting dozens of churches throughout Greece and the Near East, and writing letters that would become part of Christian scripture. On one missionary journey, Paul travels to Athens and speaks at the Areopagus, where he claims that over 500 people were witnesses of the resurrected Jesus, many still alive at the time.

It is the faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that the Savior appeared after his resurrection also upon the American continent and taught them, as well as bestowed the rights of the priesthood upon twelve apostles to administer in all the affairs of the church among that people. The account is recorded in Third Nephi in the Book of Mormon

Authorship of the story

Supporters of the authenticity of the resurrection accounts argue that the comparatively short length of time between the events and the earliest descriptions (around forty to fifty years) makes it unlikely that a deliberate fraud could have occurred. E.P. Sanders argues that a plot to foster belief in the Resurrection would probably have resulted in a more consistent story, and that some of those who were involved in the events gave their lives for their belief. However, Sanders offers his own hypothesis, different from the supporters, claiming that "there seems to have been a competition: 'I saw him,' 'so did I,' 'the women saw him first,' 'no, I did; they didn't see him at all,' and so on.

In Mark's account, the earliest manuscripts of Mark 16 break off abruptly at 16:8, where the men at the empty tomb announce Jesus' resurrection, lacking post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. The modern text of Mark 16:9–20 does not appear in the earliest manuscripts. Many modern translations of Mark 16 end at Mark 16:8 with for they were afraid, sometimes adding 16:8–20 in italics, or in a foot note; the New Revised Standard Version gives both the "long ending," i.e., 16:8–20, and another variant "short ending" after Mark 16:8.

Those who think Paul was a Gnostic Christian hold the belief that Paul talks of the resurrection as an allegory or that Paul thought that Jesus was never a human.

Non-Christian

The Jewish perspective is that the body of Jesus was removed in the same night, see also Stolen body hypothesis. Apologists see this an acknowledgment that the tomb was empty, with an attempt to explain it away. The Toledoth Yeshu, however, dates from mediaeval times, and is not an early source. It was a conflation of the Talmud accounts of multiple people named Yeshu.

The Islamic perspective is that Jesus was not crucified, but someone who looked like Jesus died in his place. This view is also given in the uncanonical Gospel of Barnabas which identifies Judas as the one crucified. Bible records on the fate of Judas Iscariot can be considered contradictory , although both diverging accounts state he died an untimely death.().

The Ahmadiyya Movement believes that Jesus survived the crucifixion and traveled to Kashmir, where he died as a prophet under the name of Yuz Asaf (whose grave they identify in Srinagar, India).

See also

Footnotes and references

Further reading

Pro-Resurrection

Articles:

Books:

  • Habermas, Gary, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (College Press: Joplin, MI 1996).
  • Habermas, Gary and Licona, Michael, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Kregel Publications, 2004.
  • McDowell, Josh, New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Thomas Nelson, Inc, Publishers, 1999
  • Strobel, Lee, The Case for Easter, Zondervan Publishing Company, 2004.
  • Wenham, John. Easter Enigma: Do the Resurrection Stories Contradict One Another? Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  • Wright, N.T., The Resurrection of the Son of God. Fortress Press. 2003 Online excerpt

Sceptical

Articles:

Books:

Dialogues

Major events in Jesus' life in the Gospels
Nativity| Childhood| Baptism| Temptation| Sermon on the Mount| Transfiguration| Last Supper| Passion| Crucifixion| Resurrection| Hell| Ascension

Search another word or see grave-clotheson Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature