Crucified Bodies and Scavengers

As I have indicated in earlier posts, some years ago now, New Testament scholar John Dominic Crossan, one of the leading scholars today discussing the historical Jesus, made the argument that rather than being properly buried, Jesus’ body may have been eaten by scavenging dogs. You can see his discussion in his popular book, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. (Crossan does not believe that Jesus was physically raised from the dead; but he does consider himself to be ...

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Women Who Did Not Doubt the Resurrection

In my post yesterday I noted something unusual about the doubting tradition in the resurrection narratives (i.e., the tradition that some of the disciples simply didn’t believe that Jesus was raised) – in addition, of course, to the fact that there is such a dominant doubting tradition! (itself a fascinating phenomenon) – which is that there is no word anywhere of the women who discover the tomb doubting, but clear indications (either by implication or by explicit statement) that some ...

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Disciples Who Doubt the Resurrection

QUESTION:

Are we to understand from this that some of the actual disciples, the inner circle, doubted? Is this the origin of the “Doubting Thomas” character in John? Maybe not everyone got a vision of the risen Christ? Perhaps these are hints that after the crucifixion some of the group ran away and DIDN’T come back!

RESPONSE:

This is a question specifically about the stories of the resurrection of Jesus, and it is one that I’ve been pondering myself intensely for a ...

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Why Was Jesus Killed?

QUESTION:

I don’t see the rationale for the Romans to crucify Jesus. It doesn’t appear that he verbalized any anti-Roman propaganda nor was anything anti-Roman alluded to in Josephus’s couple of lines on Jesus. Pilate probably didn’t even know who Jesus was (possibly the bouncing back and forth between Herod was legend).

RESPONSE:

Yes, it’s a great question and completely central to the story of Jesus: why was he crucified? First off, I agree the Herod story is almost certainly not ...

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Anti-Judaism in the Gospels

QUESTION:

It is in my understanding that it is of common scholarly opinion that the Gospel writers (at least Matthew, Luke, and John) were rather anti-Semitic in nature. Correct? How would you respond to that claim? After reading “The Origin of Satan” by Elaine Pagels, it is a subject that deeply interests me, and I would love to hear your professional opinion on the matter.

RESPONSE:

This question actually ties into some of the things I’ve been thinking about ...

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Was Jesus Given a Decent Burial (By Joseph of Arimathea)

One of the most pressing historical questions surrounding the death of Jesus is whether Jesus really was given a decent burial, as the NT Gospels indicate in their story of Joseph of Arimathea. Even though the story that Joseph, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, received permission to bury Jesus is multiply attested in independent sources (see, e.g., Mark 15:43-47; John 19:38-42), scholars have long adduced reasons for suspecting that the account may have been invented by Christians who wanted ...

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The Women and the Empty Tomb

QUESTION:

So, on Ludemann’s account, how do the stories of the women at the tomb found in the canonical gospels come to be told? As many scholars I’ve read have pointed out, having women, who were considered untrustworthy witnesses, as the first to see the risen Christ, was not exactly a way to get people to believe the stories. So why would the gospel writers tell the stories with the women in such a prominent place?

RESPONSE:

I’m not sure how ...

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Gerd Lüdemann on the Resurrection of Jesus

One of the first books that I have re-read in thinking about how it is the man Jesus came to be thought of as God is Gerd Lüdemann’s, The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry (2004). Lüdemann is an important and interesting scholar. He was professor of New Testament at Göttingen in Germany, and for a number of years split his time between there and Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville. He is a major figure in scholarship, and is noteworthy ...

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The Resurrection as a Key to Early Understandings of Jesus

A key part of my book on “How Jesus Became God” will involve a discussion of Jesus’ resurrection. One can make the case, rather easily, that apart from the Christian belief that God raised Jesus from the dead not only would no one ever have thought of him as God (since, as I will be arguing, no one thought of him as God while he was living – he himself almost certainly did not!) but that Christianity itself would not ...

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Does Luke Combat a Docetic Christology?

QUESTION:

There are some scholars who believe that the resurrection story found in Luke’s gospel is an antidocetic narrative ( Gerd Ludemann and Charles Talbert, for instance). According to these scholars when the risen Jesus performs acts designed to show his disciples that he has an actual body of flesh and isn’t some phantom or demon, the story is designed to refute the heresy of docetism that existed during the time that Luke wrote his gospel. I have never ...

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