International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
rez-u-rek'-shun (in the New Testament anastasis, with verbs anistemi, "stand up," and egeiro, "raise." There is no technical term in the Old Testament, but in Isaiah 26:19 are found the verbs chayah, "live," kum "rise," kic "awake").
I. ISRAEL AND IMMORTALITY
3. Religious Danger
4. Belief in Immortality
6. Greek Concepts
II. RESURRECTION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT AND INTERMEDIATE LITERATURE
1. The Old Testament
2. The Righteous
3. The Unrighteous 4. Complete Denial
III. TEACHING OF CHRIST
1. Mark 12:18-27
2. In General
IV. THE APOSTOLIC DOCTRINE
2. Pauline Doctrine
4. 2 Corinthians 5
1. New Testament Data
I. Israel and Immortality.
It is very remarkable that a doctrine of life after death as an essential part of religion was of very late development in Israel, although this doctrine, often highly elaborated, was commonly held among the surrounding nations. The chief cause of this lateness was that Israel's religion centered predominantly in the ideal of a holy nation. Consequently the individual was a secondary object of consideration, and the future of the man who died before the national promises were fulfilled either was merged in the future of his descendants or else was disregarded altogether.
Much speculation about life after death evidently existed, but it was not in direct connection with the nation's religion. Therefore, the Old Testament data are scanty and point, as might be expected, to non-homogeneous concepts. Still, certain ideas are clear. The living individual was composed of "flesh" and nephesh, or ruach (a trichotomy appears to be post-Biblical, despite 1 Thessalonians 5:23; see PSYCHOLOGY). In the individual nephesh and ruach seem to be fairly synonymous words, meaning primarily "breath," as the animating principle of the flesh (so for the lower animals in Psalm 104:29, 30). But nephesh came to be used to denote the "inner man" or "self" (Deuteronomy 12:20, etc.; see HEART), and so in English Versions of the Bible is usually rendered "soul." But there are only a very few cases where nephesh is used for the seat of the personality after death (Psalm 30:3; compare Psalm 16:10; Psalm 38:17 Job 33:18, etc.), and nearly all of such passages seem quite late. Indeed, in some 13 cases the nephesh of a dead man is unmistakably his corpse (Leviticus 19:28 Numbers 5:2 Haggai 2:13, etc.). It seems the question of what survives death was hardly raised; whatever existed then was thought of as something quite new. On the one hand the dead man could be called a "god" (1 Samuel 28:13), a term perhaps related to ancestor-worship. But more commonly the dead are thought of as "shades," repha'im (Job 26:5 margin, etc.), weak copies of the original man in all regards (Ezekiel 32:25). But, whatever existence such "shades" might have, they had passed out of relation to Yahweh, whom the "dead praise not" (Psalm 115:17, 18 Isaiah 38:18, 19), and there was no religious interest in them.
3. Religious Danger:
Indeed, any interest taken in them was likely to be anti-religious, as connected with necromancy, etc. (Deuteronomy 14:1; Deuteronomy 26:14 Isaiah 8:19 Psalm 106:28, etc.; see SORCERY), or as connected with foreign religions. Here, probably, the very fact that the surrounding nations taught immortality was a strong reason for Israel's refusing to consider it. That Egypt held an elaborate doctrine of individual judgment at death, or that Persia taught the resurrection of the body, would actually tend to render these doctrines suspicious, and it was not until the danger of syncretism seemed past that such beliefs could be considered on their own merits. Hence, it is not surprising that the prophets virtually disregard the idea or that Ecclesiastes denies any immortality doctrine categorically.
4. Belief in Immortality:
Nonetheless, with a fuller knowledge of God, wider experience, and deeper reflection, the doctrine was bound to come. But it came slowly. Individualism reaches explicit statement in Ezekiel 14; Ezekiel 18; 33 (compare Deuteronomy 24:16 Jeremiah 31:29, 30), but the national point of view still made the rewards and punishments of the individual matters of this world only (Ezekiel 14:14 Psalm 37, etc.), a doctrine that had surprising vitality and that is found as late as Sirach (1:13; 11:26). But as this does not square with the facts of life (Job), a doctrine of immortality, already hinted at (II, 1, below), was inevitable. It appears in full force in the post-Maccabean period, but why just then is hard to say; perhaps because it was then that there had been witnessed the spectacle of martyrdoms on a large scale (1 Maccabees 1:60-64).
Resurrection of the body was the form immortality took, in accord with the religious premises. As the saint was to find his happiness in the nation, he must be restored to the nation; and the older views did not point toward pure soul-immortality. The "shades" led a wretched existence at the best; and Paul himself shudders at the thought of "nakedness" (2 Corinthians 5:3). The nephesh and ruach were uncertain quantities, and even the New Testament has no consistent terminology for the immortal part of man ("soul," Revelation 6:9; Revelation 20:4; "spirit," Hebrews 12:23 1 Peter 3:19; Paul avoids any term in 1 Corinthians 15, and in 2 Corinthians 5 says: "I"). In the Talmud a common view is that the old bodies will receive new souls (Ber. R. 2 7; 6 7; Vayy. R. 12 2; 15 1, etc.; compare Sib Or 4:187).
6. Greek Concepts:
Where direct Greek influence, however, can be predicated, pure soul-immortality is found (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 8:19, 20; 9:15 (but Wisd's true teaching is very uncertain); Enoch 102:4-105; 108; Slavonic Enoch; 4 Macc; Josephus, and especially Philo). According to Josephus (BJ, II, viii, 11) the Essenes held this doctrine, but as Josephus graecizes the Pharisaic resurrection into Pythagorean soul-migration (II, viii, 14; contrast Ant, XVIII, i, 3), his evidence is doubtful. Note, moreover, how Luke 6:9; Luke 9:25; Luke 12:4, 5 has re-worded Mark 3:4; Mark 8:36 Matthew 10:28 for Greek readers. In a vague way even Palestinian Judaism had something of the same concepts (2 Esdras 7:88; 2 Corinthians 4:16; 2 Corinthians 12:2), while it is commonly held that the souls in the intermediate state can enjoy happiness, a statement first appearing in Enoch 22 (Jubilees 23:31 is hardly serious).
II. Resurrection in the Old Testament and Intermediate Literature.
1. The Old Testament:
For the reasons given above, references in the Old Testament to the resurrection doctrine are few. Probably it is to be found in Psalm 17:15; Psalm 16:11; Psalm 49:15; Psalm 73:24, and in each case with increased probability, but for exact discussions the student must consult the commentaries. Of course no exact dating of these Psalm passages is possible. With still higher probability the doctrine is expressed in Job 14:13-15; Job 19:25-29, but again alternative explanations are just possible, and, again, Job is a notoriously hard book to date (see JOB, BOOK OF). The two certain passages are Isaiah 26:19 margin and Daniel 12:2. In the former (to be dated about 332 (?)) it is promised that the "dew of light" shall fall on the earth and so the (righteous) dead shall revive. But this resurrection is confined to Palestine and does not include the unrighteous. For Daniel 12:2 see below.
2. The Righteous:
Indeed, resurrection for the righteous only was thought of much more naturally than a general resurrection. And still more naturally a resurrection of martyrs was thought of, such simply receiving back what they had given up for God. So in Enoch 90:33 (prior to 107 B.C.) and 2 Maccabees 7:9, 11, 23; 14:46 (only martyrs are mentioned in 2 Macc); compare Revelation 20:4. But of course the idea once given could not be restricted to martyrs only, and the intermediate literature contains so many references to the resurrection of the righteous as to debar citation. Early passages are Enoch 91:10 (perhaps pre-Maccabean); Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Test. Judah 25:4 (before 107). A very curious passage is Enoch 25:6, where the risen saints merely live longer than did their fathers, i.e. resurrection does not imply immortality. This passage seems to be unique.
3. The Unrighteous:
For a resurrection of unrighteous men (Daniel 12:2; Enoch 22:11; Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Test. Benj. 10:7, 8, Armenian text-in none of these cases a general resurrection), a motive is given in Enoch 22:13: for such men the mere condition of Sheol is not punishment enough. For a general resurrection the motive is always the final judgment, so that all human history may be summed up in one supreme act. The idea is not very common, and Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Test. Benj. 10:7, 8 (Greek text); Baruch 50:2; Enoch 51:1; Sib Or 4:178-90; Life of Adam (Greek) 10, and 2 Esdras 5:45; 7:32; 14:35 about account for all the unequivocal passages. It is not found in the earliest part of the Talmud, Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Test. Benj. 10:7, 8 (Greek) has two resurrections.
4. Complete Denial:
Finally, much of the literature knows no immortality at all. Eccl, Sirach and 1 Maccabees are the most familiar examples, but there are many others. It is especially interesting that the very spiritual author of 2 Esdras did not think it worth while to modify the categorical denial in the source used in 13:20. Of course, the Jewish party that persisted most in a denial of any resurrection was the Sadducees (Matthew 22:23 and parallel's; Acts 23:8), with an extreme conservatism often found among aristocrats.
III. Teaching of Christ.
1. Mark 12:18-27:
The question is discussed explicitly in the familiar passage Mark 12:18-27 parallel Matthew 22:23-33 parallel Luke 20:27-38. The Sadducees assumed that resurrection implies simply a resuscitation to a resumption of human functions, including the physical side of marriage. Their error lay in the low idea of God. For the Scriptures teach a God whose ability and willingness to care for His creatures are so unlimited that the destiny He has prepared for them is caricatured if conceived in any terms but the absolutely highest. Hence, there follows not only the truth of the resurrection, but a resurrection to a state as far above the sexual sphere as that of the angels. (The possibility of mutual recognition by husband and wife is irrelevant, nor is it even said that the resurrection bodies are asexual) Luke (20:36) adds the explanation that, as there are to be no deaths, marriage (in its relation to births) will not exist. It may be thought that Christ's argument would support equally well the immortality of the soul only, and, as a matter of fact, the same argument is used for the latter doctrine in 4 Maccabees 7:18, 19; 16:25. But in Jerusalem and under the given circumstances this is quite impossible. And, moreover, it would seem that any such dualism would be a violation of Christ's teaching as to God's care.
2. In General:
However, the argument seems to touch only the resurrection of the righteous, especially in the form given in Luke (compare Luke 14:14). (But that Luke thought of so limiting the resurrection is disproved by Acts 24:15.) Similarly in Matthew 8:11 parallel Luke 13:28 Mark 13:27 parallel Matthew 24:31. But, as a feature in the Judgment, the resurrection of all men is taught. Then the men of sodom, Tyre, Nineveh appear (Matthew 11:22, 24; Matthew 12:41, 42 parallel Luke 10:14; Luke 11:32), and those cast into Gehenna are represented as having a body (Mark 9:43-47 Matthew 5:29, 30; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 18:8, 9). And at the great final assize (Matthew 25:31-46) all men appear. In the Fourth Gospel a similar distinction is made (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; John 11:25), the resurrection of the righteous, based on their union with God through Christ and heir present possession of this union, and (in John 5:28, 29) the general resurrection to judgment. Whether these passages imply two resurrections or emphasize only the extreme difference in conditions at the one cannot be determined.
The passages in 4 Maccabees referred to above read: "They who care for piety with their whole heart, they alone are able to conquer the impulses of the flesh, believing that like our patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, they do not die to God but live to God" (7:18, 19); and "They knew that dying for God they would live to God, even as Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the patriarchs" (16:25). It is distinctly possible that our Lord's words rnay have been known to the author of 4 Maccabees, although the possibility that Christ approved and broadened the tenets of some spiritually-minded few is not to be disregarded. More possible is it that 4 Maccabees influenced Luke's Greek phraseology.
SeeMACCABEES, BOOKS OF, IV.
IV. The Apostolic Doctrine.
For the apostles, Christ's victory over death took the resurrection doctrine out of the realm of speculative eschatology. Henceforth, it is a fact of experience, basic for Christianity. Direct references in the New Testament are found in Acts 4:2; Acts 17:18, 32; 23:06; 24:15, 21 Romans 4:17; Romans 5:17; Romans 6:5, 8; 8:11; 11:15 1 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 15; 2 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 Philippians 3:10, 11, 21 Colossians 1:18 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Timothy 2:18 Hebrews 6:2; Hebrews 11:19, 35 Revelation 20:4, 5 (martyrs only); 20:12, 13. Of these only Acts 24:15 Revelation 20:12, 13, refer to a general resurrection with absolute unambiguity, but the doctrine is certainly contained in others and in 2 Timothy 4:1 besides.
2. Pauline Doctrine:
A theology of the resurrection is given fully by Paul. Basic is the conception of the union of the believer with Christ, so that our resurrection follows from His (especially Romans 6:5-11 Philippians 3:10, 11). Every deliverance from danger is a foretaste of the resurrection (2 Corinthians 4:10, 11). Indeed so certain is it, that it may be spoken of as accomplished (Ephesians 2:6). From another standpoint, the resurrection is simply part of God's general redemption of Nature at the consummation (Romans 8:11, 18-25). As the believer then passes into a condition of glory, his body must be altered for the new conditions (1 Corinthians 15:50 Philippians 3:21); it becomes a "spiritual" body, belonging to the realm of the spirit (not "spiritual" in opposition to "material"). Nature shows us how different "bodies" can be-from the "body" of the sun to the bodies of the lowest animals the kind depends merely on the creative will of God (1 Corinthians 15:38-41). Nor is the idea of a change in the body of the same thing unfamiliar: look at the difference in the "body" of a grain of wheat at its sowing and after it is grown! (1 Corinthians 15:37). Just so, I am "sown" or sent into the world (probably not "buried") with one kind of body, but my resurrection will see me with a body adapted to my life with Christ and God (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). If I am still alive at the Parousia, this new body shall be clothed upon my present body (1 Corinthians 15:53, 54 2 Corinthians 5:2-4) otherwise I shall be raised in it (1 Corinthians 15:52). This body exists already in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1, 2), and when it is clothed upon me the natural functions of the present body will be abolished (1 Corinthians 6:13). Yet a motive for refraining from impurity is to keep undefiled the body that is to rise (1 Corinthians 6:13, 14).
The relation of the matter in the present body to that in the resurrection body was a question Paul never raised. In 1 Corinthians 6:13, 14 it appears that he thought of the body as something more than the sum of its organs, for the organs perish, but the body is raised. Nor does he discuss the eventual fate of the dead body. The imagery of 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 1 Corinthians 15:52 is that of leaving the graves, and in the case of Christ's resurrection, the type of ours, that which was buried was that which was raised (1 Corinthians 15:4). Perhaps the thought is that the touch of the resurrection body destroys all things in the old body that are unadapted to the new state; perhaps there is an idea that the essence of the old body is what we might call "non-material," so that decay simply anticipates the work the resurrection will do. At all events, such reflections are "beyond what is written."
4. 2 Corinthians 5:
A partial parallel to the idea of the resurrection body being already in heaven is found in Slavonic Enoch 22:8, 9, where the soul receives clothing laid up for it (compare Ascension of Isaiah 7:22, 23 and possibly Revelation 6:11). But Christ also speaks of a reward being already in heaven (Matthew 5:12). A more important question is the time of the clothing in 2 Corinthians 5:1-5. A group of scholars (Heinrici, Schmiedel, Holtzmann, Clemen, Charles, etc.) consider that Paul has here changed his views from those of 1 Corinthians; that he now considers the resurrection body to be assumed immediately at death, and they translate 2 Corinthians 5:2, 3 " `we groan (at the burdens of life), longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven': because, when we shall be clothed with it, we shall have no more nakedness to experience" (Weizsacker's translation of the New Testament). But 2 Corinthians would have been a most awkward place to announce a change of views, for it was written in part as a defense against inconsistency (1:17, etc.). The willingness to be absent from the body (5:8) loses all its point if another and better body is to be given at once. The grammatical reasons for the interpretation above (best stated by Heinrici) are very weak. And the translation given reads into the verse something that simply is not there. Consequently it is far better to follow the older interpretation of Meyer (B. Weiss, Bousset, Lietzmann, Bachmann, Menzies, etc.; Bachmann is especially good) and the obvious sense of the passage: Paul dreads being left naked by death, but finds immediate consolation at the thought of being with Christ, and eventual consolation at the thought of the body to be received at the Parousia. (In Philippians 1:21-24 this dread is overcome.)
Of a resurrection of the wicked, Paul has little to say. The doctrine seems clearly stated in 2 Corinthians 5:10 (and in 2 Timothy 4:1, unless the Pauline authorship of 2 Timothy is denied). But Paul is willing to treat the fate of the unrighteous with silence.
1. New Testament Data:
The points in the New Testament doctrine of the resurrection of the righteous, then, seem to be these: The personality of the believer survives after death and is with Christ. But it is lacking in something that will be supplied at the consummation, when a body will be given in which there is nothing to hinder perfect intercourse with God. The connection of this body with the present body is not discussed, except for saying that some connection exists, with the necessity of a transformation for those alive at the end. In this state nothing remains that is inconsistent with the height to which man is raised, and in particular sexual relations (Mark 12:25) and the processes of nutrition (1 Corinthians 6:13) cease. For this end the whole power of God is available. And it is insured by the perfect trust the believer may put in God and by the resurrection of Christ, with whom the believer has become intimately united. The unrighteous are raised for the final vindication of God's dealings in history. Two resurrections are found in Revelation 20:5, 13 and quite possibly in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 1 Corinthians 15:23, 24. Hence, the phrase first resurrection.
Into the "blanks" of this scheme the believer is naturally entitled to insert such matter as may seem to him best compatible with his other concepts of Christianity and of philosophy. As is so often the case with passages in the Bible, the student marvels at the way the sacred writers were restrained from committing Christianity to metaphysical schemes that growth in human knowledge might afterward show to be false. But theologian must take care to distinguish between the revealed facts and the interpretation given them in any system that he constructs to make the doctrine conform to the ideas of his own time or circle-a distinction too often forgotten in the past and sometimes with lamentable results. Especially is it well to remember that such a phrase as "a purely spiritual immortality" rests on a metaphysical dualism that is today obsolete, and that such a phrase is hardly less naive than the expectation that the resurrection body will contain identically the material of the present body. We are still quite in the dark as to the relations of what we call "soul" and "body," and so, naturally, it is quite impossible to dogmatize. A. Meyer in his RGG article ("Auferstehung, dogmatisch") has some interesting suggestions. For an idealistic metaphysic, where soul and body are only two forms of God's thought, the resurrection offers no difficulties. If the body be regarded as the web of forces that proceed from the soul, the resurrection would take the form of the return of those forces to their center at the consummation. If "body" be considered to embrace the totality of effects that proceed from the individual, at the end the individual will find in these effects the exact expression of himself (Fechner's theory). Or resurrection may be considered as the end of evolution-the reunion in God of all that has been differentiated and so evolved and enriched. Such lines must be followed cautiously, but may be found to lead to results of great value.
In recent years the attention of scholars has been directed to the problem of how far the teachings of other religions assisted the Jews in attaining a resurrection doctrine. Practically only the Persian system comes into question, and here the facts seem to be these: A belief among the Persians in the resurrection of the body is attested for the pre-Christian period by the fragments of Theopompus (4th century B.C.), preserved by Diogenes Laertius and Aeneas of Gaza. That this doctrine was taught by Zoroaster himself is not capable of exact proof, but is probable. But on the precise details we are in great uncertainty. In the Avesta the doctrine is not found in the oldest part (the Gathas), but is mentioned in the 19th Yasht, a document that has certainly undergone post-Christian redaction of an extent that is not determinable. The fullest Persian source is the Bundahesh (30), written in the 9th Christian century. It certainly contains much very ancient matter, but the age of any given passage in it is always a problem. Consequently the sources must be used with great caution. It may be noted that late Judaism certainly was affected to some degree by the Persian religion (see Tob, especially), but there are so many native Jewish elements that were leading to a resurrection doctrine that familiarity with the Persian belief could have been an assistance only. Especially is it to be noted that the great acceptance of the doctrine lies in the post-Maccabean period, when direct Persian influence is hardly to be thought of.
The older works suffer from a defective understanding of the presuppositions, but Salmond, Christian Doctrine of Immortality, is always useful. Brown, The Christian Hope, 1912, is excellent and contains a full bibliography. Charles, Eschatology, and article "Eschatology" in Encyclopedia Biblica are invaluable, but must be used critically by the thorough student, for the opinions are often individualistic. Wotherspoon's article "Resurrection" in DCG is good; Bernard's in HDB is not so good. On 1 Corinthians, Findlay or (better) Edwards; on 2 Corinthians, Menzies. In German the New Testament Theologies of Weiss, Holtzmann, Feine; Schaeder's "Auferstehung" in PRE3. On 1 Cor, Heinrici and J. Weiss in Meyer (editions 8 and 9); on 2 Corinthians, Bachmann in the Zahn series. On both Corinthian epistles Bousset in the Schriften des New Testament of J. Weiss (the work of an expert in eschatology), and Lietzmann in his Handbuch.
SeeBODY; ESCHATOLOGY (OLD TESTAMENT AND NEW TESTAMENT); FLESH; SOUL; SPIRIT.
Burton Scott Easton
RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST, THE
" 1. First Proof: The Life of Jesus
2. Second Proof: The Empty Grave
3. Third Proof: Transformation of the Disciples
4. Fourth Proof: Existence of the Primitive Church
5. Fifth Proof: The Witness of Paul
6. Sixth Proof: The Gospel Record
7. Summary and ConClusion
8. Theology of the Resurrection
The Resurrection has always been felt to be vital in connection with Christianity. As a consequence, opponents have almost always concentrated their attacks, and Christians have centered their defense, upon it. It is therefore of the utmost importance to give attention to the subject, as it appears in the New Testament. There are several converging lines of evidence, and none can be overlooked. Each must have its place and weight. The issues at stake are so serious that nothing must be omitted.
1. First Proof: The Life of Jesus:
The first proof is the life of Jesus Christ Himself. It is always a disappointment when a life which commenced well finishes badly. We have this feeling even in fiction; instinct demands that a story should end well. Much more is this true of Jesus Christ. A perfect life characterized by divine claims ends in its prime in a cruel and shameful death. Is that a fitting close? Surely death could not end everything after such a noble career. The Gospels give the resurrection as the completion of the picture of Jesus Christ. There is no real doubt that Christ anticipated His own resurrection. At first He used only vague terms, such as, "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up." But later on He spoke plainly, and whenever He mentioned His death, He added, "The Son of man.... must be raised the third day." These references are too numerous to be overlooked, and, in spite of difficulties of detail, they are, in any proper treatment of the Gospels, an integral part of the claim made for Himself by Jesus Christ (Matthew 12:38-40; Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:9, 23; 20:19; 27:63 Mark 8:31; Mark 9:9, 31; 10:34; 14:58 Luke 9:22; Luke 18:33 John 2:19-21). His veracity is at stake if He did not rise. Surely the word of such a One must be given due credence. We are therefore compelled to face the fact that the resurrection of which the Gospels speak is the resurrection of no ordinary man, but of Jesus-that is of One whose life and character had been unique, and for whose shameful death no proper explanation was conceivable (Denhey, Jesus and the Gospel, 122). Is it possible that, in view of His perfect truthfulness of word and deed, there should be such an anti-climax as is involved in a denial of His assurance that He would rise again (C.H. Robinson, Studies in the Resurrection, 30)? Consider, too, the death of Christ in the light of His perfect life. If that death was the close of a life so beautiful, so remarkable, so Godlike, we are faced with an insoluble mystery-the permanent triumph of wrong over right, and the impossibility of believing in truth or justice in the world (C.H. Robinson, op. cit., 36). So the resurrection is not to be regarded as an isolated event, a fact in the history of Christ separated from all else. It must be taken in close connection with what precedes. The true solution of the problem is to be found in that estimate of Christ which "most entirely fits in with the totality of the facts" (Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 14).
2. Second Proof: The Empty Grave:
Another line of proof is the fact of the empty grave and the disappearance of the body. That Jesus died and was buried, and that on the third morning the tomb was empty, is not now seriously challenged. The theory of a swoon and a recovery in the tomb is impossible, and to it Strauss "practically gives its deathblow" (Orr, op. cit., 43). At Christ's burial a stone was rolled before the tomb, the tomb was sealed, and a guard was placed before it. Yet on the third morning the body had disappeared, and the tomb was empty. There are only two alternatives. His body must have been taken out of the grave by human hands or else by superhuman power. If the hands were human, they must have been those of His friends or of His foes. If His friends had wished to take out His body, the question at once arises whether they could have done so in the face of the stone, the seal and the guard. If His foes had contemplated this action, the question arises whether they would seriously have considered it. It is extremely improbable that any effort should have been made to remove the body out of the reach of the disciples. Why should His enemies do the very thing that would be most likely to spread the report of His resurrection? As Chrysostom said, "If the body had been stolen, they could not have stolen it naked, because of the delay in stripping it of the burial clothes and the trouble caused by the drugs adhering to it" (quoted in Day, Evidence for the Resurrection, 35). Besides, the position of the grave-clothes proves the impossibility of the theft of the body (see Greek of John 20:6, 7; John 11:44; Grimley, Temple of Humanity, 69, 70; Latham, The Risen Master; The Expository Times, XIII, 293 f; XIV, 510). How, too, is it possible to account for the failure of the Jews to disprove the resurrection? Not more than seven weeks afterward Peter preached in that city the fact that Jesus had been raised. What would have been easier or more conclusive than for the Jews to have produced the dead body and silenced Peter forever? "The silence of the Jews is as significant as the speech of the Christians" (Fairbairn, Studies in the Life of Christ, 357).
The fact of the empty tomb with the disappearance of the body remains a problem to be faced. It is now admitted that the evidence for the empty tomb is adequate, and that it was part of the primitive belief (Foundations, 134, 154). It is important to realize the force of this admission, because it is a testimony to Paul's use of the term "third day" (see below) and to the Christian observance of the first day of the week. And yet in spite of this we are told that a belief in the empty tomb is impossible. By some writers the idea of resurrection is interpreted to mean the revival of Christ's spiritual influence on the disciples, which had been brought to a close by His death. It is thought that the essential idea and value of Christ's resurrection can be conserved, even while the belief in His bodily rising from the grave is surrendered (Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 23). But how can we believe in the resurrection while we regard the basis of the primitive belief in it as a mistake, not to say a fraud? The disciples found the tomb empty, and on the strength of this they believed He had risen. How can the belief be true if the foundation be false? Besides, the various forms of the vision-theory are now gradually but surely being regarded as inadequate and impossible. They involve the change of almost every fact in the Gospel history, and the invention of new scenes and conditions of which the Gospels know nothing (Orr, op. cit., 222). It has never been satisfactorily shown why the disciples should have had this abundant experience of visions; nor why they should have had it so soon after the death of Christ and within a strictly limited period; nor why it suddenly ceased. The disciples were familiar with the apparition of a spirit, like Samuel's, and with the resuscitation of a body, like Lazarus', but what they had not experienced or imagined was the fact of a spiritual body, the combination of body and spirit in an entirely novel way. So the old theory of a vision is now virtually set aside, and for it is substituted theory of a real spiritual manifestation of the risen Christ. The question at once arises whether this is not prompted by an unconscious but real desire to get rid of anything like a physical resurrection. Whatever may be true of unbelievers, this is an impossible position for those who believe Christ is alive.
Even though we may be ready to admit the reality of telepathic communication, it is impossible to argue that this is equivalent to the idea of resurrection. Psychical research has not proceeded far enough as yet to warrant arguments being built on it, though in any case it is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain material from this quarter which will answer to the conditions of the physical resurrection recorded in the New Testament. "The survival of the soul is not resurrection." "Whoever heard of a spirit being buried?" (Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 229).
In view of the records of the Gospels and the general testimony of the New Testament, it is impossible to be "agnostic" as to what happened at the grave of Jesus, even though we are quite sure that He who died now lives and reigns. It is sometimes said that faith is not bound up with, holding a particular view of the relations of Christ's present glory with the body that was once in Joseph's tomb, that faithis to be exercised in the exalted Lord, and that belief in a resuscitation of the human body is no vital part of it. It is no doubt true that faith today is to be exercised solely in the exalted and glorified Lord, but faith must ultimately rest on fact, and it is difficult to understand how Christian faith can really be "agnostic" with regard to the facts about the empty tomb and the risen body, which are so prominent in the New Testament, and which form an essential part of the apostolic witness. The attempt to set faith and historical evidence in opposition to each other, which is so marked a characteristic of much modern thought will never satisfy general Christian intelligence, and if there is to be any real belief in the historical character of the New Testament, it is impossible to be "agnostic" about facts that are writ so large on the face of the records. When once the evidence for the empty tomb is allowed to be adequate, the impossibility of any other explanation than that indicated in the New Testament is at once seen. The evidence must be accounted for and adequately explained. And so we come again to the insuperable barrier of the empty tomb, which, together with the apostolic witness, stands impregnable against all the attacks of visional and apparitional theories. It is becoming more evident that these theories are entirely inadequate to account for the records in the Gospels, as well as for the place and power of those Gospels in the early church and in all subsequent ages. The force of the evidence for the empty grave and the disappearance of the body is clearly seen by the explanations suggested by various modern writers (those of Oscar Holtzmann, K. Lake, and A. Meyer can be seen in Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, chapter viii, and that of Reville in C. H. Robinson, Studies in the Resurrection of Christ, 69; see also the article by Streeter in Foundations). Not one of them is tenable without doing violence to the Gospel story, and also without putting forth new theories which are not only improbable in themselves, but are without a shred of real historical or literary evidence. The one outstanding fact which baffles all these writers is the empty grave.
Others suggest that resurrection means a real objective appearance of the risen Christ without implying any physical reanimation, that the "resurrection of Christ was an objective reality, but was not a physical resuscitation" (C. H. Robinson, Studies in the Resurrection of Christ, 12). But the difficulty here is as to the meaning of the term "resurrection." If it means a return from the dead, a rising again (re-), must there not have been some identity between that which was put in the tomb and the "objective reality" which appeared to the disciples? Wherein lies the essential difference between an objective vision and an objective appearance? If we believe the apostolic testimony to the empty tomb, why may we not accept their evidence to the actual resurrection? They evidently recognized their Master, and this recognition must have been due to some familiarity with His bodily appearance. No difficulty of conceiving of the resurrection of mankind hereafter must be allowed to set aside the plain facts of the record about Christ. It is, of course, quite clear that the resurrection body of Jesus was not exactly the same as when it was put in the tomb, but it is equally clear that there was definite identity as well as definite dissimilarity, and both elements must be faced and accounted for. There need be no insuperable difficulty if we believe that in the very nature of things Christ's resurrection must be unique, and, since the life and work of Jesus Christ transcend our experience (as they certainly should do), we must not expect to bring them within the limitations of natural law and human history. How the resurrection body was sustained is a problem quite outside our ken, though the reference to "flesh and bones," compared with Paul's words about "flesh and blood" not being able to enter the kingdom of God, may suggest that while the resurrection body was not constituted upon a natural basis through blood, yet that it possessed "all things appertaining to the perfection of man's nature" (Church of England Article IV). We may not be able to solve the problem, but we must hold fast to all the facts, and these may be summed up by saying that the body was the same though different, different though the same. The true description of the resurrection seems to be that "it was an objective reality, but, that it was not merely a physical resuscitation." We are therefore brought back to a consideration of the facts recorded in the Gospels as to the empty tomb and the disappearance of the body, and we only ask for an explanation which will take into consideration all the facts recorded, and will do no violence to any part of the evidence. To predicate a new resurrection body in which Christ appeared to His disciples does not explain how in three days' time the body which had been placed in the tomb was disposed of. Does not this theory demand a new miracle of its own (Kennett, Interpreter, V, 271)?
3. Third Proof: Transformation of the Disciples:
The next line of proof to be considered is the transformation of the disciples caused by the resurrection. They had seen their Master die, and through that death they lost all hope. Yet hope returned three days after. On the day of the crucifixion they were filled with sadness; on the first day of the week with gladness. At the crucifixion they were hopeless; on the first day of the week their hearts glowed with certainty. When the message of the resurrection first came they were incredulous and hard to be convinced, but when once they became assured they never doubted again. What could account for the astonishing change in these men in so short a time? The mere removal of the body from the grave could never have transformed their spirits and characters. Three days are not enough for a legend to spring up which should so affect them. Time is needed for a process of legendary growth. There is nothing more striking in the history of primitive Christianity than this marvelous change wrought in the disciples by a belief in the resurrection of their Master. It is a psychological fact that demands a full explanation. The disciples were prepared to believe in the appearance of a spirit, but they never contemplated the possibility of a resurrection (see Mark 16:11). Men do not imagine what they do not believe, and the women's intention to embalm a corpse shows they did not expect His resurrection. Besides, a hallucination involving five hundred people at once, and repeated several times during forty days, is unthinkable. 4. Fourth Proof: Existence of the Primitive Church:
From this fact of the transformation of personal life in so incredibly short a space of time, we proceed to the next line of proof, the existence of the primitive church. "There is no doubt that the church of the apostles believed in the resurrection of their Lord" (Burkitt, The Gospel History and Its Transmission, 74).
It is now admitted on all hands that the church of Christ came into existence as the result of a belief in the resurrection of Christ. When we consider its commencement, as recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, we see two simple and incontrovertible facts:
(1) the Christian society was gathered together by preaching;
(2) the substance of the preaching was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was put to death on a cross, and would therefore be rejected by Jews as accursed of God (Deuteronomy 21:23).
Yet multitudes of Jews were led to worship Him (Acts 2:41), and a great company of priests to obey Him (Acts 6:7). The only explanation of these facts is God's act of resurrection (Acts 2:36), for nothing short of it could have led to the Jewish acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Messiah. The apostolic church is thus a result of a belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The early chapters of Acts bear the marks of primitive documents, and their evidence is unmistakable. It is impossible to allege that the early church did not know its own history, that myths and legends quickly grew up and were eagerly received, and that the writers of the Gospels had no conscience for principle, but manipulated their material at will, for any modern church could easily give an account of its history for the past fifty years or more (Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 144). And it is simply absurd to think that the earliest church had no such capability. In reality there was nothing vague or intangible about the testimony borne by the apostles and other members of the church. "As the church is too holy for a foundation of rottenness, so she is too real for a foundation of mist" (Archbishop Alexander, The Great Question, 10).
5. Fifth Proof: The Witness of Paul:
One man in the apostolic church must, however, be singled out as a special witness to the resurrection. The conversion and work of Saul of Tarsus is our next line of proof. Attention is first called to the evidence of his life and writings to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some years ago an article appeared (E. Medley, The Expositor, V, iv, 359). inquiring as to the conception of Christ which would be suggested to a heathen inquirer by a perusal of Paul's earliest extant writing, 1 Thessalonians. One point at least would stand out clearly-that Jesus Christ was killed (2:15; 4:14) and was raised from the dead (4:14). As this Epistle is usually dated about 51 A.D.-that is, only about 22 years after the resurrection-and as the same Epistle plainly attributes to Jesus Christ the functions of God in relation to men (1:1, 6; 2:14; 3:11), we can readily see the force of this testimony to the resurrection. Then a few years later, in an epistle which is universally accepted as one of Paul's, we have a much fuller reference to the event. In the well-known chapter (1 Corinthians 15) where he is concerned to prove (not Christ's resurrection, but) the resurrection of Christians, he naturally adduces Christ's resurrection as his greatest evidence, and so gives a list of the various appearances of Christ, ending with one to himself, which he puts on an exact level with the others: "Last of all he was seen of me also." Now it is essential to give special attention to the nature and particularity of this testimony. "I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3 f). This, as it has often been pointed out, is our earliest authority for the appearances of Christ after the resurrection, and dates from within 30 years of the event itself. But there is much more than this: "He affirms that within 5 years of the crucifixion of Jesus he was taught that `Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures' " (Kennett, Interpreter, V, 267). And if we seek to appreciate the full bearing of this act and testimony we have a right to draw the same conclusion: "That within a very few years of the time of the crucifixion of Jesus, the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus was, in the mind of at least one man of education, absolutely irrefutable" (Kennett, op. cit., V, 267).
Besides, we find this narrative includes one small but significant statement which at once recalls a very definite feature of the Gospel tradition-the mention of "the third day." A reference to the passage in the Gospels where Jesus Christ spoke of His resurrection will show how prominent and persistent was this note of time. Why, then, should Paul have introduced it in his statement? Was it part of the teaching which he had "received"? What is the significance of this plain emphasis on the date of the resurrection? Is it not that it bears absolute testimony to the empty tomb? From all this it may be argued that Paul believed the story of the empty tomb at a date when the recollection was fresh, when he could examine it for himself, when he could make the fullest possible inquiry of others, and when the fears and opposition of enemies would have made it impossible for the adherents of Jesus Christ to make any statement that was not absolutely true. "Surely common sense requires us to believe that that for which he so suffered was in his eyes established beyond the possibility of doubt" (Kennett, op. cit., V, 271).
In view, therefore, of Paul's personal testimony to his own conversion, his interviews with those who had seen Jesus Christ on earth before and after His resurrection, and the prominence given to the resurrection in the apostle's own teaching, we may challenge attention afresh to this evidence for the resurrection. It is well known that Lord Lyttelton and his friend Gilbert West left Oxford University at the close of one academic year, each determining to give attention respectively during the long vacation to the conversion of Paul and the resurrection of Christ, in order to prove the baselessness of both. They met again in the autumn and compared experiences. Lord Lyttelton had become convinced of the truth of Paul's conversion, and Gilbert West was convinced of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If, therefore, Paul's 25 years of suffering and service for Christ were a reality, his conversion was true, for everything he did began with that sudden change. And if his conversion was true, Jesus Christ rose from the dead, for everything Paul was and did he attributed to the sight of the risen Christ.
6. Sixth Proof: The Gospel Record:
The next line of proof of the resurrection is the record in the Gospels of the appearances of the risen Christ, and it is the last in order to be considered. By some writers it is put first, but this is in forgetfulness of the dates when the Gospels were written. The resurrection was believed in by the Christian church for a number of years before our Gospels were written, and it is therefore impossible for these records to be our primary and most important evidence. We must get behind them if we are to appreciate fully the force and variety of the evidence. It is for this reason that, following the proper logical order, we have reserved to the last our consideration of the appearances of the risen Christ as given in the Gospels. The point is one of great importance (Denney, Jesus and the Gospel, 111).
Now, with this made clear, we proceed to consider the evidence afforded by the records of the post-resurrection appearances of Christ. Modern criticism of the Gospels during recent years has tended to adopt the view that Mark is the earliest, and that Matthew and Luke are dependent on it. This is said to be "the one solid result" (W. C. Allen, "St. Matthew," International Critical Commentary, Preface, vii; Burkitt, The Gospel History, 37) of the literary criticism of the Gospels. If this is so, the question of the records of the resurrection becomes involved in the difficult problem about the supposed lost ending of Mark, which, according to modern criticism, would thus close without any record of an appearance of the risen Christ. On this point, however, two things may be said at the present juncture: (1) There are some indications that the entire question of the criticism of the Gospels is to be reopened (Ramsay, Luke the Physician, chapter ii; see also Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 63;). (2) Even if the current theory be accepted, it would not seriously weaken the intrinsic force of the evidence for the resurrection, because, after all, Mark does not invent or "doctor" his material, but embodies the common apostolic tradition of his time (Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 62).
We may, therefore, meanwhile examine the record of the appearances without finding them essentially affected by any particular theory of the origin and relations of the Gospels. There are two sets of appearances, one in Jerusalem and the other in Galilee, and their number, and the amplitude and weight of their testimony should be carefully estimated. While we are precluded by our space from examining each appearance minutely, and indeed it is unnecessary for our purpose to do so, it is impossible to avoid calling attention to two of them. No one can read the story of the walk to Emmaus (Luke 24), or of the visit of Peter and John to the tomb (John 20), without observing the striking marks of reality and personal testimony in the accounts. As to the former incident: "It carries with it, as great literary critics have pointed out, the deepest inward evidences of its own literal truthfulness. For it so narrates the intercourse of `a risen God' with commonplace men as to set natural and supernatural side by side in perfect harmony. And to do this has always been the difficulty, the despair of imagination. The alternative has been put reasonably thus: Luke was either a greater poet, a more creative genius, than Shakespeare, or-he did not create the record. He had an advantage over Shakespeare. The ghost in Hamlet was an effort of laborious imagination. The risen Christ on the road was a fact supreme, and the Evangelist did but tell it as it was" (Bishop Moule, Meditations for the Church's Year, 108). Other writers whose attitude to the Gospel records is very different bear the same testimony to the impression of truth and reality made upon them by the Emmaus narrative (A. Meyer and K. Lake, quoted in Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 176).
It is well known that there are difficulties connected with the number and order of these appearances, but they are probably due largely to the summary character of the story, and certainly are not sufficient to invalidate the uniform testimony to the two facts: (1) the empty grave, (2) the appearances of Christ on the third day. These are the main facts of the combined witness (Orr, op. cit., 212).
The very difficulties which have been observed in the Gospels for nearly nineteen centuries are a testimony to a conviction of the truth of the narratives on the part of the whole Christian church. The church has not been afraid to leave these records as they are because of the facts that they embody and express. If there had been no difficulties men might have said that everything had been artificially arranged, whereas the differences bear testimony to the reality of the event recorded. The fact that we possess these two sets of appearances-one in Jerusalem and one in Galilee-is really an argument in favor of their credibility, for if it had been recorded that Christ appeared in Galilee only, or Jerusalem only, it is not unlikely that the account might have been rejected for lack of support. It is well known that records of eyewitnesses often vary in details, while there is no question as to the events themselves. The various books recording the story of the Indian mutiny, or the surrender of Napoleon III at Sedan are cases in point, and Sir William Ramsay has shown the entire compatibility of certainty as to the main fact with great uncertainty as to precise details (Ramsay, Paul the Traveler, 29). We believe, therefore, that a careful examination of these appearances will afford evidence of a chain of circumstances extending from the empty grave to the day of the ascension.
7. Summary and Conclusion:
When we examine carefully all these converging lines of evidence and endeavor to give weight to all the facts of the case, it seems impossible to escape from the problem of a physical miracle. That the prima facie view of the evidence afforded by the New Testament suggests a miracle and that the apostles really believed in a true physical resurrection are surely beyond all question. And yet very much of present-day thought refuses to accept the miraculous. The scientific doctrine of the uniformity and continuity of Nature bars the way, so that from the outset it is concluded that miracles are impossible. We are either not allowed to believe (see Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 44), or else we are told that we are not required to believe (C. H. Robinson, Studies in the Resurrection of Christ, chapter ii), margin, the reanimation of a dead body. If we take this view, "there is no need, really, for investigation of evidence: the question is decided before the evidence is looked at" (Orr, op. cit., 46).
We challenge the tenableness of this position. It proves too much. We are not at all concerned by the charge of believing in the abnormal or unusual. New things have happened from the beginning of the present natural order, and the Christian faith teaches that Christ Himself was a "new thing," and that His coming as "God manifest in the flesh" was something absolutely unique. If we are not allowed to believe in any divine intervention which we may call supernatural or miraculous, it is impossible to account for the Person of Christ at all. "A Sinless Personality would be a miracle in time." Arising out of this, Christianity itself was unique, inaugurating a new era in human affairs. No Christian, therefore, can have any difficulty in accepting the abnormal, the unusual, the miraculous. If it be said that no amount of evidence can establish a fact which is miraculous, we have still to account for the moral miracles which are really involved and associated with the resurrection, especially the deception of the disciples, who could have found out the truth of the case; a deception, too, that has proved so great a blessing to the world. Surely to those who hold a true theistic view of the world this a priori view is impossible. Are we to refuse to allow to God at least as much liberty as we possess ourselves? Is it really thinkable that God has less spontaneity of action than we have? We may like or dislike, give or withhold, will or not will, but the course of Nature must flow on unbrokenly. Surely God cannot be conceived of as having given such a constitution to the universe as limits His power to intervene if necessary and for sufficient purpose with the work of His own hands. Not only are all things of Him, but all things are through Him, and to Him. The resurrection means the presence of miracle, and "there is no evading the issue with which this confronts us" (Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 53).
Read Complete Article...
RESURRECTION, GOSPEL OF THE
See APOCRYPHAL GOSPELS.