Sunday, April 08, 2012

Resurrection 1

I start this chapter on Easter morning, 2012. Today I and Christians all over the world will celebrate that Sunday so long ago, perhaps in the year AD30, when Jesus physically emerged from the tomb in which they had buried him. For Christians, every Sunday is a little Easter, a little celebration that Jesus has risen from the dead. [1]

We say it was after three days, because the Jewish day goes from sundown to sundown. Jesus was thus dead from about 3pm to sundown on Friday (day one). He was dead all Saturday (day two). Then he was dead from sundown on Saturday to the time when he rose early Sunday morning (day three). [2]

Most scholars believe he was buried in a vault something like this one, today located in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher not far from the traditional site of Jesus' burial.


There is another site, Gordon's Tomb, which is located in a garden today and has a rock outcropping that looks somewhat like a skull. Many Christian visitors say it gives them a better feel for what they picture when they read John 19:41, even though it is not likely the original location. [3]

The earliest report of Jesus' resurrection comes from Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7. [4] Since Paul wrote this letter around the year AD54, it is a very early report indeed, likely within fifteen years of the event. Paul says that he himself inherited this tradition (15:3), presumably from people like James and Peter in Jerusalem (e.g., Gal. 1:18; 2:9).

It is not at all likely that he is lying, since he has enemies in the church at Corinth and indeed had conflicts with the Jerusalem church. Both groups no doubt would have loved to show him wrong if he was saying false things about such a fundamental tradition. But we have absolutely no evidence that anyone did. It is thus overwhelmingly likely that the tradition Paul passes on here is exactly what everyone in Jerusalem was saying.

Paul doesn't give much detail. He basically gives a list of those to whom Jesus appeared. Jesus rose on the third day (1 Cor. 15:4). He appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve (15:5). [5] There was an appearance to a large group of over 500 people (15:6).  Then there was a second wave of appearances.  Jesus appeared to his brother James and to all the apostles (15:7), ending with his appearance to Paul himself (15:8).

These were all real people, most of whom were still alive at the time Paul was writing. We have good reason to think that many of them suffered considerably in consequence of this belief. The disciple James, Peter, James the brother of Jesus, Paul--all of them were put to death, still firmly believing that they had seen Jesus alive after his death. It is not reasonable to think these individuals were lying...

[1] The Bible nowhere equates Sunday with the Jewish Sabbath.  The Jewish Sabbath was from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. For Christians, Sunday is a celebration of Jesus' resurrection. For this reason, those who choose to give up something for Lent do not have to do so on the Sundays of that period. No Sunday is a day for fasting.

[2] Being dead three days also makes a symbolic connection with the prophet Jonah. Jonah was in the fish for three days and three nights (Matt. 12:40).

[3] Although the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is currently within the walls of Jerusalem, archaeology has confirmed that it was right outside the city at the time of Jesus. The Romans usually crucified right outside city walls on a path where people would walk by.

[4] It would be very common to think that the gospels were written first because they treat Jesus, who came before Paul. But the gospels were not written by Jesus or at the time of Jesus. They were written later in the century, likely after Paul was already dead in fact.

[5] This would not have included Judas Iscariot at this point. Either "the Twelve" is used loosely or Paul has in mind those who would be considered the Twelve after Judas was replaced.

14 comments:

Scott F said...

"Since Paul wrote this letter around the year AD54, it is a very early report indeed, likely within fifteen years of the event."

Don't you mean "within twenty-five years of the event?"

AD54 - AD30 = 24 years

Ken Schenck said...

;-)

Michael Heath said...

In 1 Corinthians 15:4-8 Paul rattles off a list of people who saw Jesus after the resurrection, ending, "And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time". However, Paul fails to mention here that he saw the resurrected Jesus AFTER his ascension, in a VISION, unseen by those around him. This leads me to wonder, how many of Jesus's other 'resurrection appearances' were actually in visions and not flesh and blood, since Paul seems to consider them one and the same? And if visions are counted, visions at any time and any place, why isn't the number much higher and constantly growing? (And yes, I am aware of the 'doubting Thomas' story) I'm curious! And if anyone sees a flaw in my questioning or if I have made a mistake, please correct it but without discounting my entire question, please.

Byron Kenard said...

it appears that the willfully ignorant likes to count the 3 days that The Prophet (of whom Moshe spoke of) was in the grave, but loves to leave out the 3 nights...

now how in the #%&*! do you get 3 days and 3 nights AND have a resurrection that occurs on the 3rd day? especially when you are observing pagan holydays, for instance Friday (when Dagon the Assryan fish god was worshiped, in one culture) till Easter Sunday ( when Nimrods wife was sent back to earth by the gods and her image landed in the Euphrates river, in a different culture)

please explain...

PS. DONT FORGET TO COUNT THE 3 NIGHTS....you morons

Byron Kenard said...

...now watch how silent this room gets....

Byron Kenard said...

4000 + Denominations bickering and fighting about things they don't understand...amazing

Byron Kenard said...

...still waiting

Byron Kenard said...

DOESN'T LOOK LIKE ANY OF YOU CAN COUNT TO THREE....

if Albert Einstein couldn't do it, I highly doubt any of you can either...pretty amazing what you all inherited from your roman father emperor Constantine who stripped everything Jewish out of the scriptures including the Jewish Messiah.

Ken Schenck said...

I do have a day job. :-)

The resurrection does not rise or fall on the ability to fit it with Jonah's three days and three nights. The resurrection is a historical question, not an exegetical one, and it is only Matthew's presentation that makes this connection. Luke's version does not, nor does Mark or John. There is no prediction in the Jewish Scriptures read in context that predicts that the Messiah will spend three days and three nights in the grave.

The varying presentations agree that Jesus died on a Friday and was no longer in a grave on Sunday morning. Their unity on this point amid significant diversity suggests that on this point they are most likely to be historical. But in the end, the resurrection does not rise or fall on Sunday or Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday.

It is you who are the sophomore.

Byron Kenard said...

...your an idiot (period)

Byron Kenard said...

get your history together.


The Sign of Jonah
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." 39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.…

Ken Schenck said...

So you're quoting Matthew, which was probably written in the 70s, long after the event. If Matthew did not think this quote fit the event as he understood it, why would he have put it this way? Luke 11:29-32 does not put it this way. Mark 8:11-12 doesn't put it this way. How did Jesus put it historically, assuming this is historical Jesus (versus, say, risen Jesus) material?

Byron Kenard said...

...why argue with a philosophy major?


ps...you did a horrible job explaining 3 days and 3 nights, just like I said you would



Shalom, enjoy your day!

Ken Schenck said...

Because I wrote a philosophy textbook. :-)