Chapters 6-9, The Resurrection
Back to Post-Resurrection Appearance Stories

Article Review
Report on the Article titled “"Seeing" the Risen Jesus” By Stephen T.Davis
From The Resurrection
Chapter 6
Review provided by RR

About the Author

Stephen T. Davis received his bachelor's degree from Whitworth College, M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate School in Philosophy, and is currently a professor of Philosophy and Religion at Claremont McKenna College. He is the author of several books and articles.

About the Article

The author Stephen T. Davis begins by defining three types of "seeing".

(1) Normal where the visual senses work as they should and the object seen is a material object.

(2) Subjective is where only one person can see the object because it is not real, like in a hallucination.

(3) Objective where the person sees the object that no one else can see because has enabled them to see the real and objective presence of the object. He eliminates the hallucination or subjective case as not being appropriate as Jesus made appearances that established that what was seen was real. Seeing in the normal sense is what the author believes to be the case and he cites many verses of scripture as support.

He presents several cases that argue for the visualization or objective case, which he argues against.

(1) Jesus appeared only to believers. Thomas, James and Pual were not believers when Jesus appeared to them. ( Jesus did appear only to those who were chosen and were insiders to the Christian movement. Acts 10:39-40)

(2) The resurrection was not a resuscitation. Jesus did not die again. His disappearance was an eschatological disclosure from heaven of One who had been exalted. Unlike Badham who argued that Jesus was not real and passed through doors, Davis says that there is no record anywhere that Jesus passes through locked doors. He appeared and was seen.

(3) Argues that Ophthe the aor. Pass of horao to see is used in several places with different meanings and so is not valid as a comparison. "One word does not establish the reality of Jesus."

(4) Doubt and failure to recognize. Davis argues that God actually prevent the people from seeing Jesus until the appropriate time. God did not enable them to see as exemplified in the Emmaus story. Once God allow people to see, all those present could see.

(5) Paul's Damascus Road Conversion Story (Acts) encounter happened after the 40 days of appearances revealed between the crucifixion and 40 day period as accounted by Luke. Paul's experience was of the objective or visualization type and different from the other appearances of Jesus.

(6) The Pauline notion of a spiritual body is false. Here Davis challenges O'Collins his cohost at the seminar, by saying that Jesus was real and did have a "Glorified body". He says that this body can be seen as opposed to O'collins and that what Paul was talking about in the Glorified body was the earthly body of flesh and blood which cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. The Glorified body is still a body, is real, and a material object that can be seen.

The greatest argument against the visualization possibility is the massive physical detail provided in the appearance stories. This was done so the disciples would know that Jesus was real. It also provided the continuity between Jesus who had been crucified and the risen Lord. But the focus was still on remembering the actual nature of the appearances.

The early church fathers, Ignatius, and Justin Martyr all emphasized the importance of the resurrection and that Jesus ate, drank, and possessed a body of the flesh. Jesus not only appeared in Spirit but in the flesh. The early fathers writing before the "Critical Historical Method was developed" must certainly be given credibility for their writing and its veracity.

So What?

Stephen Davis makes his argument that Jesus was real and could be seen. That Jesus was seen is consistent with the Christian belief that God became incarnate as a human being in Jesus Christ. (Incarnation) In each appearance account Jesus is seen as Jesus. He is not a bright light, not a vision, not a hallucination. You did not need special enhanced vision to see Jesus. Any one who would have been present with those Jesus appeared to could have seen him, as was the case with the disciples. We could not as Raymond Brown says have the "Synchronized Ecstasy" of 500 people having the same objective vision of Jesus.

Jesus is real and to those he appeared to was seen in body and spirit. I believe as Davis correctly says that the holy Spirit would provide the illumination and revelation of what was seen. The gift of Faith and a Special Grace enabled those who witnessed the appearance of Jesus to witness and proclaim what they had seen. This same Faith and Special Grace enables us today to bear witness to the resurrection and what we too have experienced as Christians.

Article Review
“Biblical Criticism and the Resurrection” By William P. Alston
From The Resurrection
Chapter 7
Review provided by GG

Gerald Goodridge Summary of:


Biblical Criticism and The Resurrection

By William P Alston





William P Alston is Professor Emeritus; Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1951


William P. Alston is a past President of the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association, of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and of the Society of Christian Philosophers. Perhaps best known for his work in the philosophy of language, epistemology, and the philosophy of religion, his impact is also felt in such areas as philosophical psychology and the history of philosophy. He was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford in 1965-66 and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Psychology at the University of Alberta in 1975. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he received the Syracuse University’s Chancellor’s Citation for Exceptional Academic Achievement. He conducted NEH summer seminars in 1978 and 1979, and directed an NEIl Institute on Philosophy of Religion in 1986. He is founding editor of the journal Faith and Philosophy. In October, 1987 he led a delegation of eight American philosophers in epistemology and philosophy of mind for a week of discussions with Soviet philosophers in Moscow and Leningrad. In September, 1991 he participated in a conference at Castel Gandolfo, Italy on theology and physical cosmology sponsored by the Vatican Observatory.


His publications include several anthologies; Philosophy of Language (Prentice-Hall, 1964); more than one hundred journal articles, many anthologized; eighteen articles in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ed. Paul Edwards, MacMillan, 1967); and numerous reviews. Two collections of his essays have been published by Cornell University Press (1989): Epistemic .Just ~/l cation:

Essays in Epistemology and Divine Nature and Human Language: Essays in Philosophical Theology. His most recent books are Perceiving God: A Study in the Epistemology ofReligious Experience, (Cornell, 1991), The Reliability of Sense Perception, (Cornell, 1993), and A Realist Conception of Truth (Cornell, 1995).


Copied from www-hl.syr.edulphillalston.html










Personal Interaction:


I identified with Alston ideals.


The stated “general topic of this paper is the historical (in)accuracy of the Gospel accounts of the risen Jesus.” (148)


The somewhat unstated purpose of Alston’ s effort was to assess the arguments that have been brought forth to support what he argues are negative conclusions about what we can learn from the biblical accounts of what allegedly happened as the disciples encountered the risen Lord.


Definition of  ‘argument with negative conclusions:’


Conclusions “having a disconfirmatory force ... in a Christian’s belief system.” (150)

Stated importance of this work:

“I fully recognize that it is more important to enter into an appropriate relationship with the risen Christ then it is to figure out exactly what happened in Palestine at that time. Nevertheless, ... it is certainly not irrelevant to Christian concerns to do the best we can to determine what we can reasonably believe about Jesus’ return to life... If these procedures fail to yield an answer, or worse, indicate that the balance of probability lies with the negation of certain historical reports in the Gospels, then we cannot be rationally justified in accepting those reports. Unless we embrace an irrational faith, we must reject them and, if we continue as Christians, find some other basis for Easter faith. (149)


Part V

Alston addresses the third prong of Fuller’s argument which is an attempt to discredit

Luke’s and John’s accounts of the appearances. Alston describes Fuller’s analysis as quite detailed, a line by line examination of the Gospel accounts.


Fuller’s analysis highlights the differences in the Gospels accounts and Alston agrees that the differences do exist.


Areas of differences include:

1. Locations:

Matthew --- sets appearance and commission to mission on a mountain in          Galilee

Luke  --- Places all the appearances in an around Jerusalem

 John  --- Includes both Jerusalem and Galilee

            2. Time:

Matthew  --- The appearances seem to take place over a period of days

Luke       ---  The appearances took place in a 24 hour period

John       ---   The appearances seem to take place over a period of days

3. The Holy Spirit:

Matthew  --- No comments

Luke        --- The Disciples are told to wait in Jerusalem until they

                                              receive the Holy Spirit — looking forward to Pentecost


                         John              Jesus bestows the Holy Spirit on Easter Evening.


It was important to Alston to point out that Fuller did not reject the appearance of Jesus after his crucifixion but Fuller believed the appearances were more in line with what Paul reports, 1 Cor 15. However, Fuller believes the account transformed, from “the light” that Paul reports to the bodily appearances in the Gospels to support changing traditional needs. The believed changes are assigned to the *Hellenistic phase of the development of the tradition (the tradition ---i.e. Johannine, Lucan etc --- m which the account was proclaimed).


Alston finds this premise* to be an extremely speculative suggestion/hypothesis that is allowed to play a major role in Fuller’s and other scholars’ arguments.


For Alston the fact that the Gospel narratives aligned with interests, needs or convictions of the early Church is not enough to discredit, or label reductive, the Gospel narrative.


He asked if 2,000 years in the future should someone examine the speeches of M.L. King and removed everything that pertains to the interest, needs and convictions of the people what would we be left with.


From this type of reasoning Alston thought the development of tradition theories could be faulty and therefore the thoughts and suggestions developed through this process could be faulty.


The final engagement of Fuller’s work by Alston was in regard to the Enmaus story.



Fuller’s conclusion that the Etnmaus account is contrived because it contains contradictions. This is alleged because in the initial conversation between Cleopas and Jesus, Cleopas dd not mention appearances to the other disciples in his report to Jesus.


Alston asserts that Fuller came to this conclusion because of an eagerness and readiness of historical critics to attribute “contradiction” classifications to the Gospel accounts. This tendency Alston labels as “A low threshold for conflict.”


Alston states that if Fuller would just read the account, without the propensity to assign contradiction, he would realize that Cleopas did not learn about the other appearances until he met with the disciples which was clearly after his encounter with Jesus and therefore there is no contradiction in the Gospel account..


Part VI— Summary of the Arguments:

The different lines of arguments:

1.  It is possible that it happened this way, therefore it did:

(A) taking any material that reflects interests, needs, or convictions of the early church to have been added to the tradition because of that, rather than being based on actual happenings at the period the narrative concerns.

(B) any material that is in line with an evangelist’s theological perspective must have

been due to his reconstrual of the matter.

(C) that stories could have originated because of a ‘story-telling proclivity’, then we will

assume that they did.

(D) if certain alleged words of Jesus could have originated with a Christian prophet in the early church, then we will suppose that they did.


2. The argument for silence that we saw to be so pervasive in Fuller. If our (admittedly extremely scanty) sources do not contain a certain kind of material, it must not have been available when those sources were composed.


3. Extremely speculative suggestions that are allowed to play a major role in an argument. An example for this would be Fuller’s supposition that the appearance to Paul was typical of all the appearances of the risen Jesus.


4.  A low threshold for conflict. For example the Emmaus story.

Article Review
Response to the Article titled “Biblical Criticism and the Resurrection” By William P. Alston Critiqued by Sarah Coakley
From The Resurrection
Chapter 7
Review provided by JR

About the Respondee:

SARAH COAKLEY- Feminist theologian
Born in London
Undergraduate degree (1973) University of Cambridge
Graduate Degree (1982) University of Cambridge
Presently a Professor of Divinity at Harvard University


Ms. Coakley agrees with main thrust of Alston that New Testament Scholarship is unnecessarily COY in their representation of “supernatural” events and particularly bodily resurrection. She doesn’t understand why. She states that this leads to intensifying “skeptical presumptions against credulity.”

The report diverts attention to Nature of Resurrected Body of Jesus. The Body has a hard quality. The Ascension is of a Hard Body. Where does the Hard Body go? This Hard Body has to go away somewhere- if no longer to be on earth. Luke confronts that the Body’s a ghost. Because Luke’s rendering of Body is different from other gospels.

Therefore, what about the problem of the gospel being authentic?

Was the difference of the gospel due to interpretive restructuring?

Restructuring by either the Gospel writer or bearers of oral tradition?

Who or what is the risen Christ?

Does Alston not think it important to believe in this Bodily form? Are the Body changes insignificant? Why is the form of Christ’s continuing presence “of secondary importance?”

On Resurrection and Religious language Coakley states that

Why not use metaphorical terms to discuss Jesus’ resurrection? Why must we use literal speech? In seeing the resurrected Body, could you not use metaphorical language? Does using metaphorical language imply lack of realism or is it necessary to describe the mystery and novelty of the resurrected body? Sarah questions Alston’s resistance to the ontological seriousness of metaphorical speech and asks why does the resurrection language need to be “literal?”

Resurrection and “espistemic transformation” (I believe Coakley means the transformation of Jesus in the epistles, Matthew, Luke and John.)

Coakley states that Alston glosses over: (a) Recognizing the risen Christ for who he was. (b) She doesn’t believe that there’s a possibility of even being present at an appearance and to still “be doubting.” (c) Suggests apprehension of risen Christ (then and now) requires some responsive recognition “deeper” than normal cognition or visual perception.

On Resurrection and gender Coakley states:

Women were probably the first to witness the resurrection and the first to see the risen Christ.

Of What epistemic significance is this?

What was it about Mary Magdalene’s testimony that was informative that needed to be downplayed?

“Spiritual Senses” tradition requires that men develop a “feminine” role in relation to Christ.

What levels of the self in terms of intuitiveness are unavoidable in order to grasp the richness of the risen Christ?

How are “normal” understandings of perception and rationality to be revised in light of the resurrection narratives?

And to what extent is that necessary revision entangled with questions of gender?

So What:

Coakley further concludes at the end of her article that “In this, my suspicion is that no spiritually profound advances can be made here unless some of the lessons of feminist critique are assimilated.”

My overall question for Ms. Coakley was one of wanting to hear some other questions of depth from her. Although I appreciate having questions raised about women and their instrumental roles, it is unclear to me just what underlying benefits are to be gleaned from these questions. It seems to me moreover, that provocation can be a hindrance if it gets in the reader’s way down the path of substantive understanding. I would like to have seen other questions following her initial questions asked in good-natured humor, staying on track for deeper, substantive discussion. In my reading of the article, the balance was not always clear to me.

I appreciate the feminine viewpoint being brought forward as this view I believe is much needed. It was however, unclear to me what was meant about the unique “role contributions” of female vs. male gender perceptions in dialogue with these texts. I would therefore, encourage a clarification of the text, as I believe much more needs to be thought through and shared on this angle of vision.

Article Review
Report on the Article titled “Evidence for the Resurrection” By Richard Swinburne
From The Resurrection
Chapter 8
Review provided by BD

Information about the author
Born in Smethwick, England, Richard Swinburne obtained his Bachelor’s degree from Exeter College, Oxford, in 1957 and his M.A. (Oxon.) in 1961. Currently he is Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion at Oxford University. His publications include: Is There a God?, (1996), The Christian God (1994), and The Coherence of Theism (1993), all published by Oxford University Press.

Summary of article

To assess what has happened in the past you must take into account both historical and general background evidence.

Historical evidence consisting of:
1) our own personal (apparent) memories,
2) the testimony of witnesses,
3) physical traces

General background evidence is the evidence of what normally happens.

Basic Rules and Definitions of theory.

Memories and testimony should be trusted when there is no counter evidence that is trustworthy. Most of our beliefs about the world come from what others claim and perceive without verifying the reliability of the witness (ex. geography, science, and history). We assume people will naturally tell the truth.

To determine if a historical event actually occurred, the two types of evidence need to be weighed against each other. When historical evidence conflicts with background evidence it suggests an event did not occur. How then do we confirm what actually occurred? We must try to determine how we are going to balance the validity of all the evidence involved to determine if the event has indeed occurred.

Swinburne uses Hume’s definition of a Miracle: “a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent.” Swinburne alters this definition by stating if a disruption of the law of nature occurs there is no real law. “The law of nature is a principle which determines what often happens, and by a fundamental law a principle which determines what happens, when it happens is determined by law at all. Derivative laws are consequences of fundamental laws, which operate always and everywhere and without exception, when what happens is determined by law. A violation of a law of nature is then to be understood as an event contrary to the predictions of a fundamental law of nature. The laws may be violated by something which has the power to set aside the principles governing the natural behavior of things. “

These definitions are given to us so that Swinhurne can set up his theory in dialogue with Hume's theory of how to weigh and balance conflicting evidence. Swinburne states Hume made two mistakes in his theory of the resurrection, first being he only uses historical evidences of testimony. He does not consider what someone would think who witnessed a miracle and treats the event as static. Second, Hume’s understanding of the background evidence too narrowly focused on using scientific theory.

Swinburne discusses the nature of a bodily resurrection. For there to be an actual resurrection it must be a bodily resurrection of Jesus’ old body and not a new life in a new form. Jesus must overcome suffering and death in the resurrection. For this to happen, God must interfere with the operation of natural law.

Swinburne looks for evidence to support a bodily resurrection. There only seem to be testimony from witnesses “ of an indirect character.” The gospel writers are indirect witnesses, yet their informants are direct witnesses who saw the empty tomb and have met the risen Jesus. We are asked to believe this indirect evidence as first hand. To verify the trustworthiness of the witness we can look at the quantity of available witnesses. Unfortunately, we do have dissention between our witnesses. Luke 24:50 tells us the ascension occurred the same day as the resurrection and Acts 1:3 tells us it was 40 days later. He argues people would not testify about something they did not believe and had checked out thoroughly. Swinburne concludes the historical evidence itself is not strong enough to stand up against background evidence if you only look at the law of nature. Swinburne refers to his previous work “The Existence of God” and based on the knowledge that there is God, there is evidence that the laws of nature are dependent on God and can be suspended at God’s will. God interacts with humanity and makes his presence known to us through the resurrection. Using this logic, God incarnate is killed and the resurrection is the fruit of his sacrifice. God’s interaction with humanity is historically evidenced throughout history. With our new base of background evidence, the need to gather historical evidence is greatly reduced.

The historical evidence Swinburne uses to support the background evidence focused on the celebration of the Eucharist. He claims this because the eyewitnesses to the empty tomb, or to the risen Jesus, says it occurred on the first Easter. This links the apparent memories of the original community of Jesus’ disciples. Scripture references used to support the Eucharist as historical include Acts 20:7, which records breaking bread on the first day of the week and suggests the author was a participant. Both Paul and the synoptic writers use the same words klav artov for what Jesus did at the Last Supper are in Acts 2:46. I Corinthians 16:1-2 also references that the first day may be significant to Christians. Revelations 1:10 suggests the Lord’s Day holds central theological significance. The Sunday Eucharist was also found in churches that were not founded by Paul. Examples are the “Didache,” “Justin’s First Apology,” and Eusebius that record a Jewish sect that celebrated the Lord’s Day. There is no plausible origin as to the significance of the first day of the week being the Lord’s day except to the Christian community, which bases this on the witnesses of the empty tomb and appearance stories. In the appearance, stories of Jesus eating are yet another tie to the Eucharist. Sightings referenced are Mark 16:14, Luke 24:30,35; 24:43; John 21:13 and Acts 10:41. They all refer to the breaking of bread as recorded in I Corinthians II and Luke 22; 24:30 and 35.

Luke 24:43 Jesus taking labwv, the fish is similar to I Cor. 11:23 Jesus taking the bread. Similar comparisons are found in John 21:13 Jesus taking the bread and giving didwsiv with Luke 22:19.

He concludes with the statement that through memory, beliefs in the resurrection and to partake of the Eucharist on Sunday must be taken as true evidence since there is a lack of any strong counter evidence. Swinburne presents two tracks of reason to prove the resurrection: 1) To believe the combination of the post resurrection practice of Sunday Eucharist and that this command came from Jesus himself, is evidence of the resurrection. 2) To believe that the witnessing of the empty tomb on Easter Sunday was followed by the sharing of bread with the resurrected Jesus as foundation of evidence to prove the resurrection.

Personal interaction to article

Swinburne questions, as I do, why would witnesses testify of the resurrection when by doing so their very lives would be at risk? What would be the motive or benefit to insist that the resurrection had occurred when it went against everything you believe concerning your faith, and against the very law of nature?

I did agree with Swinburne that you could not assume that the empty tomb and the appearance stories would be a static event in history. We are still wrestling with the event 2000 years later.

I found it interesting that Swinburne minimizes the need for historical support of the resurrection because God exists and has the authority to intervene in the world and is not bound by natural law. This new definition of background evidence of God’s existence and command over natural law is more than adequate evidence to believe in the resurrection. Where I believe this is a great faith statement, such a statement would shut down any further dialogue with someone trying to embrace and discern the resurrection.

Swinburne infers that when Jesus eats with the disciples after the resurrection that Luke is addressing that post resurrection meal claim “anew in the kingdom of God.” Then goes on to say Jesus himself mandates the Eucharist to be on Sunday. I felt this was a huge leap of faith taken by Swinburne. Swinburne claims that because we partake in the Eucharist on Sunday, the first day of the week, the very day the tomb was found empty and Jesus appeared and ate bread with the disciples we have the historical evidence we need to prove there was a resurrection. In the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all specify it was the first day of the week when the empty tomb was discovered and Jesus appears to the women. In Mathew we do not know what day he appeared to the disciples, we only know he appeared to them after they had arrived in Galilee. Jesus did not eat with anyone in Matthew. It is only in Luke we do find Jesus eating with Cleopas and his friend. However, by the time they arrived at the village according to Jewish customs technically the first day would have come to an end, and the evening meal Jesus ate with them would have actually been at the start of the second day of the week. When Jesus appears even later that night to the disciples he asks for food, and is given fish, not the bread of the Eucharist. In addition, Jesus does not eat with the disciples in John until sometime later after the disciples had gone to the Sea of Tiberias, where he ate fish with bread this time.

In reference to Jesus commanding, the Eucharist be served on Sunday, in Luke 24:44-49 Jesus refers to what is written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and Psalms and opened the disciples mind to understand the scripture. The scripture does not reference Jesus giving new rules about when to administer the sacraments as Swinburne implies. Swinburne may have found a loop hole in John 21:25 which reads “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the book that would be written.” I guess you could use this verse to be in dialogue with Swinburne’s claim that Jesus commanded the Eucharist be served on Sunday. Again, that is a huge assumption on his part.

Article Review
Report on the Article titled “The Resurrection of Jesus and Roman Catholic Fundamental Theology” By Francis Schussler Fiorenza
From The Resurrection
Chapter 9
Review provided by SKC

Francis Schüssler Fiorenza is the Charles Stillman professor of Roman Catholic Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School; he has taught at HDS since 1986. His primary interests are in the fields of fundamental or foundational theology, in which he explores the significance of contemporary hermeneutical theories as well as neo-pragmatic criticisms of foundationalism. Publications by him includeFoundational Theology: Jesus and the Church; Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives, edited with John Galvin; Habermas, Modernity, and Public Theology, edited with Don Browning; Handbook of Catholic Theology, edited with Wolfgang Beinart, and Modern Christian Thought Volume 2: The Twentieth Century, written with James Livingston.

Schüssler Fiorenza seeks to affirm whether the resurrection of Jesus is indeed the sole ground of Christian faith; he does this by asking questions or looking through the lens of Roman Catholic fundamental theology and the influences of foundationalism.

Quote on foundationalism: “No external standard be it history or human experience exists independent of cultural traditions and social interpretation that can provide an independent foundation of either faith or theology.

Salient points

1. Traditional Roman Catholic fundamental theologians have said “the Resurrection of Jesus is not a fact that can be historically demonstrated…it is a reality that is accessible only in faith.” P. 216.

2. While traditional theologians have tried to prove the resurrection based on formulas or probability, the author gives significance to Gerald O’Collins who takes a combined look at historical probability along with the evaluation of narratives, the significant growth of Christianity in order to establish the truth of resurrection. The author still points out though that there is still not 100% historical probability. Having said this, he agrees that each argument alone isn’t strong enough to establish historical fact, but if you take together these other “internal” factors you build the strongest case for resurrection. P. 217

3. Because historical fact is difficult, many fundamental theologians have tried to say that since they cannot be absolute about the resurrection as the basis for Christian faith, it’s better to ground faith on the life of Jesus alone. The author gives this some merit since the life of Jesus roots faith in events that are similar to ours, but he ultimately discounts this idea as standing alone because it rejects tradition of the believing community, and because the resurrection should be seen as a continuation of Jesus’ life (not a different event). Without the resurrection, Jesus isn’t accessible. P. 222

4. The New Testament serves not just as reconstruction of history, but also can affirm its history based on “rhetoric” of affirmation. The author wants to link the appearances with the theological intent of the gospel authors:

a. Mathew’s interpretation of resurrection is the fulfillment of the Jonah sign

b. Luke links resurrection with Jerusalem, distinguishes resurrection and ascension, emphasizes God’s act of raising Jesus as the presupposition of the exalted Lord’s reign, ensures Jesus’ appearance isn’t a ghost

c. John details motifs of discipleship, faith, and community in relation to Jesus’ resurrection

d. The author examines other motifs linked to resurrection in other New Testament books apart from the gospels. Each of these represent “not an absence, but a presence ahead.” P. 224

5. The authors evaluates appearances narratives now by looking at analyses of Martin Dibelius, Charles H. Dodd, and John Alsup:

a. Dibelius’ thesis of these accounts is they have the literary form of illustrations, examples and paradigms used for missionary proclamations and sermons. P. 227

b. Dodd details the appearances as “concise” (what is stereotypical of these tales of resurrection) and “circumstantial” (that which is embellished as art or craft) P. 228

c. Alsup says by looking at form, content and origin in the pre-redacational stage, the affirmation that Jesus wasn’t dead but risen alone doesn’t fully express the basis for these narratives. “These stories participate in a specific form as theological statements” and were not primarily interested in or capable of delivering essential historical reporting. P.232

6. The author looks at the influence of transcendence: Because we may have known and loved someone who has suffered and died doesn’t, we have suffered with them. We have felt loss. We understand loss, death, suffering, and yet we do not know what it’s like to die. “If we think of Jesus’ resurrection in terms of our own categories and expectations, we will most likely misunderstand it.” P. 237

7. Expressions, language, metaphors (example: resurrection) are unique to the early Christian faith; they express unity to the early Christian faith and continue on-going meaning behind the metaphors. P. 244

8. The author redefines what a historical event is. He says, “a historical event is historical to the degree that such an event can be asserted with some degree of certainty as historical according to certain canons of historical method.” He accepts as examples of these canons: Death of Jesus, Early Christian hymns, Appearance narratives, Empty grave stories. He would also include the lives of the witnesses (praxis). These become foundational to understanding and developing a “historical process”. P. 248

Conclusion: Fundamental Roman Catholic Theology should base Christian faith not just on the life of Jesus but also on the resurrection of Jesus as a continuous act by looking at a “historical process” taking into account Christian uniqueness:

Historical probability
Evaluation of narratives
Rhetoric- or the linking of the resurrection to the theological intent of gospel writers
Review of genre
Review of language and metaphors

The weight and number of early testimony and the lives of the disciples P. 222, 248


What is our comfort level (Roman Catholic or not) of giving experience weight to this argument? The author points out that if we try to portray the resurrection in terms we know and understand (our experience) we certainly are bound to misunderstand these appearances as resuscitations similar to Lazarus’. If I link this chapter to my exegesis in Luke, I’m amazed at how effective the gospel author was at distinguishing the resurrection to include the body with the spirit so not to confuse it with a spirit or just a resuscitation. Because the author emphasizes a process that takes into account theology, hermeneutics, tradition and community, how was this article received? How would Dibelius, Dodd, and Alsup evaluate the author’s use of the theology of transcendence in thinking about the resurrection?