resurrection etc

From: Ted Davis (
Date: Fri Feb 15 2002 - 16:45:24 EST

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    I find it helpful to distinguish three statements:

    (1) I believe that the crucified Christ rose bodily from the grave

    (2) I believe that the crucified Christ was seen and touched, after his
    burial, by multiple persons who were not hallucinating

    (3) I believe that Christians must believe (1) and (2)

    This can't be a long post--I shun them b/c my choice is typically to post
    something short or not to post at all--and I grant readily that one can't do
    justice to this in a post whether long or short. But I wish to say
    something about this.

    I strongly affirm (1) and (2) myself, and am sympathetic to (3). I
    understand the view (widely promoted by academic theologians since the
    mid-19th century) that the resurrection was actually another thing, which I

    (4) I believe that the followers of Jesus believed that they saw and
    experienced Jesus after his burial

    but I think both as a scholar and as a Christian that this view was a
    complete surrender to scientific naturalism, a surrender that shows failure
    of nerve as well as failure of faith. I am not accusing those who
    affirm(ed) it of failing to be faithful followers of Jesus--ie, faithful
    Christians--but I am saying they haven't thought carefully enough about
    this, and that they accepted a false view of science and its scope. I think
    a lot of this had to do with the pursuit of legitimacy in German and other
    universities, but frankly I don't know that historical story nearly well
    enough to say that with confidence. Nevertheless, I am confident about the
    failure of nerve and the failure of faith, and I intend to write about that
    in my current book project.

    Thus I explain my response to (3).

    I distinguish (1) from (2) simply to separate the claim of an empty tomb
    from the claim of appearances. They aren't the same thing, and (again) I
    understand the view that (2) led to (1). Lots of books have been written
    about this, most of which I will never have time to read, so I want simply
    to note the difference. But I think that the Thomas tradition, which I
    accept as authentic, rules out accepting (2) without (1). It's also
    consistent with Paul's discussion in Corinthians, which jumps from his
    experience (close to category four, actually) to the highly un-Platonic
    notion of the glorified bodies rather than separated souls. If the
    glorified Christ who showed himself to Saul--er, Paul--is really the "first
    fruits of them that slept," as Paul teaches, then I think we can readily put
    (1) and (2) in the same camp.

    Ted Davis

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