In this post I continue discussing some of the issues that I learned about for the first time, or changed my mind about, while writing How Jesus Became God. This post is about an issue that I figured out (for myself) for the first time; I don’t know that other scholars have pointed this out in quite the same way. (Or if they do, I’ve forgotten about it.) It is about the tradition scattered throughout the Gospels that the disciples “doubted” that Jesus was raised even when they had clear evidence that he had been – namely, that he was standing right in front of them. How do we explain this doubt tradition?


In considering the significance of the visions of Jesus, a key question immediately comes to the fore that in my judgment has not been given its full due by most scholars investigating the issue. Why do we have such a strong and pervasive tradition that some of the disciples doubted the resurrection, even though Jesus appeared to them? If Jesus came to them, alive, after his death, and held conversations with them – what was there to doubt?

The reason this question is so pressing is because, as we will see later in this chapter, modern research on visions has shown that visions are almost always believed by the people who experience them. When people have a vision – of a lost loved one, for example – -they really and deeply believe the person has been there. So why were the visions of Jesus not always believed? Or rather, why were they so consistently doubted?

Jesus, of course, does not appear to anyone in Mark’s Gospel. But he does in Matthew, Luke, John, and the book of Acts. Most readers have never noticed this, but in every one of these accounts we find indications –or rather direct statements — that the disciples doubted that Jesus was raised.

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