The Atheist and His Metal Detector

Here is a pretty good article by my friend Frank Turek at The Stream

I grew up on the Jersey shore. (No, it wasn’t like the TV show.) Every summer morning I’d see several men combing the beach with metal detectors looking for jewelry and change lost the day before. One lost diamond earring or ring could pay for the metal detector several times over.

But as useful and successful as metal detectors are, they can’t be used to find everything. Metal detectors won’t help you find wood, plastic, rubber, or other nonmetallic objects.

Now, suppose metal-detector man, after just combing the beach, says to you, “I know there’s no plastic or rubber on that beach because I looked for those things with my metal detector and found nothing!” Then suppose he goes even further and says, “There’s not only no plastic or rubber on that beach, there is no plastic or rubber anywhere because I’ve never found a speck of it with my metal detector!” Meanwhile, you can’t help but notice that his metal detector is made of mostly plastic and rubber.

To read on, click here:

Are You and I Persons? Human Personhood, Rights, Flourishing and the Supremacy of Reason during the Enlightenment

Are You and I Persons?  What are humans? Do we have value?  Every worldview has to answer this question. In this paper, my friend Ben Williamson has done an excellent job in tackling this issue. For those that are apathetic about this issue, please note this current news story: Woman who cut baby from womb won’t be charged with murder over its death, DA says

Living Your Best Life Now: Learn How To Proclaim and Defend the Christian Faith in the Public Square

Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential

No! No! No!

This is not the answer to your problems. Over the years I have taught classes on evangelism and apologetics. I have always stated that Christians will only get motivated to learn and apply apologetics into their lives when they start to engage the culture for the faith. I am troubled by what seems to be an obsession with ‘lifestyle evangelism’ in the churches. Sadly, for many this can lead one to assume that a silent witness is the best witness.

It is as if many Christians assume if they live a certain way, many people will automatically ask “what makes you tick?” Now don’t get me wrong. I know our actions matter. I do know we need to live what we profess. But how many of us ever meet the standard that will cause people to ask us about what we believe? Also, what if a Mormon or a Muslim is an outstanding moral person who feeds the poor and goes out of their way to love others? The point is that we need to remember something: The Apostles were not martyred for lifestyle evangelism. Instead, they were martyred for proclaiming the Lord. If you want to see the evangelistic vocabulary in Acts, one of my former professors (Barry Leventhal) wrote about this in his article In Search of That Elusive Jewish Evangelist. Note: there is no direct link, but you can type in the article title and read it online. I have also written a post called “Who Were The First Apologists?” Anyway, here is some of the verbage of Acts:

1. “testified”
2. “exhorted”
3. “responded”
4. “answered”
5. “spoke boldly”
6. “taught”
7. “preached”
8. “spoke”
9. “questioned”
10. “confounded”
11. “disputed against”
12. “commanded”
13. “declared”
14. “persuaded”
15. “bore witness”
16. “spoke loudly”
17. “cried out”
18. “reasoned daily from
the Scriptures in the synagogue”
19. “explained”
20. “demonstrated”
21. “proclaimed”
22. “vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ”
23. “reasoned daily”
24. “conversed”
25. “begged to listen patiently”
26. “solemnly testified”
27. “persuading them con-erning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets from morning until evening”

28. “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the hings which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him”

It is clear that we are living in a day of religious pluralism and theological illiteracy. On a very general level many Christians have been told they need to share the Gospel with people. But why? What is it that motivates you to even engage the culture for the Christian faith? Or maybe you just don’t engage it all. Overseas, Christians are being persecuted and killed for their beliefs. So don’t take it for granted that we have the freedom to share what we believe with others. I have come up with SOME reasons as to why we should desire to give a verbal witness for our faith.

1. The Starting Point

If you don’t agree with the following syllogism, it makes it hard to want to share your faith:
1. The New Testament documents are historically reliable evidence.
2. The historical evidence of the New Testament shows that Jesus is God incarnate. This claim to divinity was proven by His miracles/His speaking authority, His actions, and His resurrection.
3. Therefore, there is reliable historical evidence that Jesus is God incarnate.

So if this syllogism is correct, it leads to the next syllogism:

The Command to Make Disciples: Matt 28:19

1. Whatever Jesus teaches is true.
2. Jesus taught that we are to “Go and make disciples of the nations” (Matt 28:19).
3. Therefore, Christians should desire to “Go and make disciples of the nations” (Matt 28:19).

This command does not mean we need to be sent to some far distant land to preach the Gospel. The command applies to every Christian no matter where they are located. God uses us wherever we are.

It is true that much of the Church has focused on the “go” part of this command. But we need to remember that The Great Commission is accomplished while we “go” about living our daily lives.

The context of Matt 28:19 is that in fulfillment of the Great Commission, we are to make disciples. We are to baptize new believers and we are to teach them. Unless there has been teaching and instruction about the commands of Jesus, there has not been any discipleship. So it is clear that people can’t enter into the process of discipleship without hearing about the Gospel.

Let’s be honest: Can Christians really do evangelism in today’s culture without apologetics? No!

If a Christian tells God they are willing to share their faith and put themselves in challenging settings where they can share and defend their faith, God will honor that request. Remember, the apostles approach to spreading the message of the Gospel is characterized by such terms as “apologeomai/apologia” which means “to give reasons, make a legal defense” (Acts 26:2; 2 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet 3:15); “dialegomai” which means “to reason, speak boldly” (Acts 17:2; 17; 18:4; 19:8), “peíthō” which means to persuade, argue persuasively” (Acts 18:4; 19:8), and “bebaioō ” which means “to confirm, establish,” (Phil 1:7; Heb. 2:3). Not much has changed from the first century. As long as we follow the apostles example, we will realize  there is  no need to separate evangelism and apologetics.  Also, go read the Parable of the Sower (Matt: 13) and 1 Cor. 3:5-9. Stop judging success by people praying some prayer to accept Jesus into their heart! be faithful and let God handle the results!

Bottom line: If you want to see transformation in your life, get the focus off yourself and share the Gospel with others. When you do, you will see the need to learn to have reasons for what you believe and why you believe it. You will grow because you will learn to be fully dependent on the Holy Spirit!

What Did Paul See? A Look at the Resurrection of Jesus and What Happened to Paul

Over the years, I have had my share of discussions about what we can know about Jesus. I think a good starting place about historical discussions about Jesus  is seen in the book The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach by New Testament historian Mike Licona.[1]  In the book Licona discusses what is called “The Historical Bedrock.” These three facts about the Historical Jesus are held by most critical scholars and historians:

1. Jesus’ death by crucifixion

2. Very Shortly after Jesus’ death, the disciples had experiences that led them to believe and proclaim that Jesus had been resurrected and had appeared to them.

3. Within a few years after Jesus death, Paul became a follower of Jesus after a personal experience that he interpreted as a post resurrection appearance of Jesus to him.[2]

In this post, I want to focus on #3. After all, Paul wrote a large majority of the New Testament. Also, his letters are the earliest records we have for Jesus.

Well known New Testament scholar Dr. Bart Ehrman writes the following regarding Paul’s experience:

It is a historical fact that some of Jesus’ followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead soon after his execution. We know some of these believers by name; one of them, the apostle Paul, claims quite plainly to have seen Jesus alive after his death. Thus, for the historian, Christianity begins after the death of Jesus, not with the resurrection itself, but with the belief in the resurrection” [3]

Even New Testament scholar Dale Allison even says that Paul converted from a persecutor of the church to one of its greatest promoters because of an experience he perceived was of the risen Jesus appearing to him. [4]   Note: see more below on the issue of whether Paul  “converted.”

Some Background on Paul

The undisputed letters of Paul that can be used to give us an understanding about who he was and what his mission was are in Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. The rest of the letters yield very little about the life of Paul.  From Paul’s Letters, we can gather that:

1. The man’s name was Paul: A Greek name.

2. He had a Jewish name, Saul. Remember, having two names was not uncommon for Jews who lived outside Palestine in the first century.

3. Paul was born in Tarsus, a city in Southwestern Asia Minor.

4. He came from a family of Pharisees of the tribe of Benjamin and was named for the tribe’s most illustrious member, King Saul.

5. Paul studied under the famous teacher Gamaliel (Acts 22: 3), the grandson of Hillel. Hillel is known as the Academy of Hillel, founded by a Jewish sage called Hillel the Elder.  The House of Hillel was a school of Jewish law and thought that was very well known in the 1st century B.C.E. Jerusalem.

6. Since Paul’s letters show familiarity with rabbinic methods for interpretation of Scripture and popular Hellenistic philosophy to a degree, this makes it likely that he received a formal education in both areas. Hence, Paul’s exegesis of the Old Testament shows evidence of his rabbinic training.

7. Paul was probably, as an adult, a resident of Damascus. [5]

Paul was an active persecutor of the early Messianic Community:

The language Paul uses in his pre-revelatory encounter with the risen Lord shows how much how antagonistic he was towards the messianic movement. In Gal. 1:13-15, Paul uses terms such as “persecute” and “destroy” to describe his efforts to put an end to the spread of the early  faith.

Even though Paul does not give a list of the reasons why he was an ardent persecutor of the early Messianic Movement, this reasons for being a persecutor was probably due to several reasons:

First, Paul may have perceived it to be a threat to Torah obedience.  We need to keep in mind that in within the historical background of the first century, if a Jewish person was to deny the Torah as part of their practice, they would be denying the fact that they were Jewish! [6]

Second, given how he speaks about this topic in his letters (Gal 3:13;1), Paul was most likely aware of Deuteronomy 21:22-23: “If a person commits a sin punishable by death and is executed, and you hang the corpse on a tree, his body must not remain all night on the tree; instead you must make certain you bury him that same day, for the one who is left exposed on a tree is cursed by God. You must not defile your land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.” The context of this verse is describing the public display of the corpse of an executed criminal. To say that crucifixion was portrayed in a negative light within Judaism in the first century is an understatement. “Anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse”-the very method of death brought a divine curse upon the crucified. In other words, anyone who was crucified was assumed not to be the Anointed One of God. So Paul most likely found the idea of group of Jewish people following a crucified Messiah to be abhorrent.

Third, given what we see in Acts 8 (following the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7)  we see that Paul most likely found the Jesus movement as a threat to the Temple. It says in Acts 8: 1-3,

“Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.”

What Can We Know About Paul’s Revelation of Jesus? A Resurrected Jesus, Or A Subjective Vision?

Jesus was crucified about 33 A.D.  According to many scholars, Paul became a follower of Jesus around 35 A.D. Remember, Paul’s letters are dated between AD 40 and 60.

 Also, Paul did not follow Jesus from the beginning.  However, Paul is still considered an apostle, though “abnormally born” and “the least of the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:8-9). ). His first years as a follower of Jesus in Arabia remain a mystery. In many places, Paul discusses his Jewish identity. He says “ I am a Jew” (Acts 22;3) “I am a Pharisee” (Acts 23;6), and “I am a prisoner for the sake of the hope of Israel”  (Acts 28:20).  Notice that Paul didn’t say “I was a Pharisee” or that “I was a Jew.” So perhaps it is inaccurate to say that Paul switched religions. Hence, it would be more reasonable to say that while Paul did have a radical reorientation about his theology, but he more likely received a “call” rather than a conversion to a new religion.  If anything, Paul did ‘repent.’ The Hebrew word for repent is “shub” which means to “turn back” or “return.”  So Paul was most certainly restored to the God of Israel through the Messiah. But  the old saying, “Paul converted to Christianity” (like Ehrman says)  has not gone unchallenged within New Testament scholarship.

The Messiah Appeared to Paul

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” -1 Cor. 15: 3-8

Let’s go back to Ehrman’s comment:

It is a historical fact that some of Jesus’ followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead soon after his execution. We know some of these believers by name; one of them, the apostle Paul, claims quite plainly to have seen Jesus alive after his death. Thus, for the historian, Christianity begins after the death of Jesus, not with the resurrection itself, but with the belief in the resurrection.

Last year, Bart Ehrman  released another book on Christology. In the book  he devotes two chapters to the resurrection. As usual, his hypothesis is that the disciples had visionary experiences. In it he says:

It is undisputable that some of the followers of Jesus came to think that he had been raised from the dead, and that something had to have happened to make them think so. Our earliest records are consistent on this point, and I think they provide us with the historically reliable information in one key aspect: the disciples’ belief in the resurrection was based on visionary experiences. I should stress it was visions, and nothing else, that led to the first disciples to believe in the resurrection. -Bart D. Ehrman, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (New York: Harper One, 2014),  183-184.

The good news is that Ehrman goes onto to define what he means by “visions” of Jesus. He describes visions as something that are either “veridical” or “nonveridical.”  Veridical visions means people tend to see things that are really there while nonveridical visions the opposite-what a person sees is not based any kind of external reality.  It is the latter that leads to what is called the hallucination hypothesis. In other words, skeptics assert that nonveridical visions can be attributed to some sort of psychological explanation. Ehrman then punts to his agnosticism again and says he doesn’t care if the appearances can be attributed to either “veridical” or “nonveridical” visionary experiences or anything else.

So let’s look at the appearance of Jesus to Paul:

Gerd Lüdemann says:

“At the heart of the Christian religion lies a vision described in Greek by Paul as ōphthē—“he was seen.” And Paul himself, who claims to have witnessed an appearance asserted repeatedly “I have seen the Lord.” So Paul is the main source of the thesis that a vision is the origin of the belief in resurrection….When we talk about visions, we must include something that we experience every night when we dream. That’s our subconscious was of dealing with reality.” (7)

The problem with Lüdemann’s comment is that he doesn’t expand enough on how ōphthē is used. Hence,  ōphthē isn’t restricted to describing something that is only visionary, spiritual, or physical.

Furthermore, given Paul  had discussed his personal visions in 2 Cor. 12:1 and other places, he knew the difference between an internal vision and an external appearance.

1 Corinthians 9

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord?  If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.”  1 Corinthians 9: 1-2

Here we see that Paul is using “seen”  (ὁράω)  “horáō”  which in the passive form of (ōphthē)  entails ” to see with the eyes,” “to see with the mind, to perceive, know,”  “to see”  (i.e. become acquainted with by experience, to experience), “to see, to look to” or “I was seen, showed myself, appeared.”

Acts 26

“In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.  At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.  And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language,‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.  But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,  delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you  to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’  “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.”- Acts 26: 12-20.

Sometimes, people point out  Acts 26: 19, where Paul says: “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision (ὀπτασία) “optasía”  but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. ”

However, a look at the entire context of this chapter shows that the vision here could refer to the time when Ananias received the information about Paul’s commission to minister to the Gentiles (Acts 9: 10-19). Paul did not receive his specific missionary mandate from his Damascus road experience (Acts 9: 1-9). Rather, he was told “to go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (v. 5) where  the “vision” (v. 10) came to Ananias that Paul was given his missionary mandate “to carry my [Christ’s] name before the Gentiles” (9: 15). Therefore, when Paul said “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26: 19), it is possible it was to the commission he was given through Ananias’s vision that Paul is referring to.

Acts 9- Paul’s Damascus Road Experience

Here we see whatever happened,  this was after the ascension. Hence, to say Paul saw the exact same Jesus before he ascended is hard to infer from the text. There simply isn’t enough information here.  The Bible says, “they heard” the same voice Paul did ” (Acts 9: 7). But they “did not see anyone ” (Acts 9: 7). Notice  Paul was physically blinded by the brightness of the light.  One way or the other, the experience involved something that was external to Paul. It wasn’t something that was the same thing as a vision that Paul talks about in 2 Cor. 12:1.  Furthermore, the phrase “he let himself be seen’” (ōphthē , aorist passive, ), is the word Paul uses  in 1 Cor. 15:7 to describe of his own resurrection appearance as the other ones in the creed. As Paul Barnett says:

“It is sometimes claimed that the word appeared (ōphthē) means a mystical seeing, as of a vision, and that since this was what Paul “saw” it was what the other apostles “saw.” In other words, after death, Jesus was taken directly to heaven whence he “appeared” to various people, mystically, as it were. This however, is not all the meaning of Paul’s words. First, the word ōphthē, “appeared” is not limited to visionary seeing it is also used for physical seeing. Moreover, the verb raise used in the phrase ‘raised on the third day” is used elsewhere in combination with the words “from the dead” which literally means “from among the corpses.” Thus raised preceding  appeared gives the latter a physical not a mystical meaning. Christ, as “raised from the dead” ….appeared.”  Furthermore, when Paul asks “ Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?”(1 Cor. 9: 1), he is using the ordinary word horan, “to see” for physical sight. If “seeing” the Lord “raised from the dead” qualified others to be apostles, then Paul is, indeed, an apostle. It was no mere subjective vision that arrested Paul en route to Damascus. (8) .

In the end, word studies can’t entirely resolve this issue. We would have to look at all the texts that speak of resurrection (including the entire 1 Cor. 15 chapter),  as well as the anthropology of the New Testament. We also need to study the resurrection in light of the Second Temple Jewish period. See our reading list here for some resources that may help.

What About Galatians 1:11-12?

When we come to Galatians 1:11-12, Paul defends his ministry by discussing the manner of how he received the Gospel:

“ For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12).

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15: 3-5:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”

So what is the truth? Paul says in Galatians that he received it by divine revelation. But  what about the creed in 1 Corinthians 15? How do we respond to this?  First, while we always need to look at the context of where the word “received” is used, in both 1 Cor. 15:3 and Galatians 1:12, the word “received” (“παραλαμβάνω”) means to receive something transmitted from someone else, which could be by an oral transmission or from others from whom the tradition proceeds. In other words, according to Paul, he did not create the Gospel story. It was something he received from another source.

So in this case, what is helpful here is to differentiate between essence and form.  The essence of the gospel, that Jesus of Nazareth was truly the Son of God, was revealed to Paul (he received it) on the life changing moment on the Damascus road. Paul realized that the Christians that he had been persecuting had been right all along about Jesus being the Messiah.

As far as the form the gospel, this includes the historical undergirding of certain events, certain phraseology used to express the new truth and doubtless many other things that were passed onto Paul by those other than him (see Carson, Moo, Morris, An Introduction To The New Testament Survey, pg 220).

Remember, Paul also employs oral tradition terminology such as “delivering,” “receiving,” “passing on” “learning,” “guarding,” the traditional teaching within his letters in the following places:

Romans 16: 17: “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.”

1 Corinthians 11:23: For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread.

Philippians 4:9: The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

1 Thessalonians 2:13: For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

2 Thessalonians 2:15: So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

Paul’s usage of the rabbinic terminology “passed on” and “received” is seen in the creed of 1 Cor. 15:3-5. This entails that Paul received this information from someone else at an even earlier date. The majority of scholars who comment think that Paul probably received this information about three years after his conversion, which probably occurred from one to four years after the crucifixion. At that time, Paul visited Jerusalem to speak with Peter and James, each of whom are included in the list of Jesus’ appearances (1 Cor. 15:5, 7; Gal. 1:18–19).This places it at roughly A.D. 32–38. Even the co-founder Jesus Seminar member John Dominic Crossan, writes:

“Paul wrote to the Corinthians from Ephesus in the early 50s C.E. But he says in 1 Corinthians 15:3 that “I handed on to you as of first importance which I in turn received.” The most likely source and time for his reception of that tradition would have been Jerusalem in the early 30s when, according to Galatians 1:18, he “went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas [Peter] and stayed with him fifteen days” (9)

Conversion Disorders and Hallucinations: Note: To see a critique of these options for what happened to Paul, see  The Resurrection of Jesus: a Clinical Review of Psychiatric Hypotheses for the Biblical Story of Easter Joseph W. Bergeron, M.D. and Gary R. Habermas, Ph.D


In the end, it is clear that Paul had a dramatic change that turned him from a persecutor of the early followers of Jesus to the greatest missionary of the early faith. Someone may object and say it is not a big deal for someone to make such a radical change in their beliefs in antiquity. After all, people change beliefs all the time (i.e. people leave Islam for the Christian faith or vice versa). In response, I suggest doing a thorough study of the honor and shame culture that Paul was acquainted with. You will see it was much more of a challenge to change one’s beliefs in antiquity than it is today. I submit that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation for the change in Paul’s life.


1. Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographal Approach (Downers Grove, ILL: Intervarsity Press, 2010).

2. Ibid, 302-303.

3. Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Third Edition (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 276.

4. Dale Allison, Resurrecting Jesus: The Earliest Christian Tradition and Its Interpreters (New York: T&T Clark, 2005), 263-268.

5. Most of points 1-8 are laid out in Marion Soard’s The Apostle Paul: An Introduction to his Writings and Teaching (Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1987), 10-11.

6. See Martin Hengel’s The Pre-Christian Paul (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1991).

7.  Gerd Lüdemann, The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology. Translated by John Bowden. London: SCM, 1994 (1994), 97, 100.

8. Paul Barnett, Jesus and the Rise of Early Christianity (Downers Grove, Intervarsity. 1999), 183-184.

9.  J.D. Crossan & Jonathan L. Reed. Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers, 2001) 254.

Is the Resurrection of Jesus a Qualification for Being the Jewish Messiah?

In many Jewish- Christian debates, I have been told by Orthodox Jews and anti-missionaries that a messianic figure being raised from the dead is not a requirement for being the Messiah.  Let me give some examples of this:

 “The state of the world must prove that the Messiah has come; not a tract. Don’t you think that when the Messiah arrives, it should not be necessary for his identity to be subject to debate – for the world should be so drastically changed for the better that it should be absolutely incontestable! Why should it be necessary to prove him at all? If the Messiah has come, why should anyone have any doubt?” (Rabbi Chaim Richman, available at

“The only way to define “the Messiah” is as the king who will rule during what we call the Messianic age. The central criterion for evaluating a Messiah must therefore be a single question: Has the Messianic age come? It is only in terms of this question that “the Messiah” means anything. What, then, does the Bible say about the Messianic age? Here is a brief description by  famous Christian scholar: “The recovery of independence and power, an era of peace and prosperity, of fidelity to God and his law and justice and fair- dealing and brotherly love among men and of personal rectitude and piety” (G.F. Moore, Judaism, II, P 324). If we think about this sentence for just a moment in the light of the history of the last two thousand years, we will begin to see what enormous obstacles must be overcome if we are to believe in the messianic mission of Jesus. If Jesus was the Messiah, why have suffering and evil continued and even increased in the many centuries since his death.”–David Berger and Michael Wyschogrod, Jews and Jewish Christianity” A Jewish Response to the Missionary Challenge (Toronto: Jews for Judaism, 2002), 20; cited in Oskar Skarsaune,  In The Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity (Downers Grove, ILL: Intervarsity Press, 2002), 302.

R. Beasley-Murray says the following about the messianic hope and the kingdom of God:

“When God comes to bring his kingdom, it is to this world that he comes and in this world that he establishes his reign. The hope of Israel is not for a home in heaven but for the revelation of the glory of God in this world. As God’s claim on man encompasses the totality of his life, so God’s salvation for man encompasses the totality of human existence, including our historical existence.”-G. R. Beasley-Murray, Jesus and the Kingdom of God, 25

Also, as Richard N. Longenecker says:

“The literature of Judaism, both biblical and post-biblical, evidences a much greater interest in the Messianic Age itself and the activity of God during the age than in the person or persons whom God would use to bring about and to accomplish his purposes. One has only to scan the Old Testament passages which look towards the distant future to note that the greater emphasis is given to a description of the Age itself than to God’s anointed instrument who will usher in that Age. While sections and chapters are devoted to the former (e.g., Isaiah 26-29; 40ff; Ezekiel 40-48; Daniel 12; Joel 2:28-3:21), definite references to the latter are confined, in the main, to a few specific verses (e.g., Isaiah 9:6ff; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9)”- Richard N. Longenecker, The Christology of Early Jewish Christianity, 63.

The Jewish people knew the God of Israel as the only one who could raise the dead (Job 19:26; Ps. 17:15; 49:15; 73:24; Is. 26:19; 53:10; Dn. 12:2;12:13). Belief in a resurrection of persons from the dead are seen in eight passages: (Job 19:26; Ps. 17:15; 49:15; 73:24; Is. 26:19; 53:10; Dn. 12:2;12:13). The resurrection terminology is seen in two places (Ezek. 37:1-14; Hos. 6:2) to show a national and spiritual restoration brought about by the return from the exile. So it is not as if resurrection is foreign to the Jewish mind. But sadly, a resurrected Messiah it is not even on the radar screen for many Jewish people.

As I have said before, the word “messiah” means “anointed one” and is derived from verbs that have the general meaning of “to rub something” or, more specifically, “to anoint someone.” The Jewish Scriptures  records the anointing with oil of priests ( Exod 29:1-9 ), kings (1 Sam 10:1;2 Sam 2:4;1 Kings 1:34), and sometimes prophets (1 Kings 19:16b) as a sign of their special function in the Jewish community. Also, when God anointed or authorized for leadership, in many cases he provided the empowering of the Holy Spirit to do complete the task (1 Sam. 16:13; Isa. 61:1).

However, just because someone was anointed in the Jewish Scriptures to perform a specific task doesn’t mean they are “the Messiah.” So we can conclude that “anointed one” was not used as a title with a capital “M” in the Jewish Scriptures. Are there any texts in the Jewish Scriptures that say the Messiah has to be resurrected? Apart from Psalm 16: 1-10 (used by Peter in Acts 2:22-32) and the end of Isa. 53, there aren’t an overwhelming amount of texts that support a resurrected Messiah. This is why when Paul says the Messiah “rose from the third day according to the Scriptures” (see 1 Cor. 15:4), he is probably not referring to a specific text or texts but more to the overall plan of God’s saving activity that has been laid out in the Jewish Scriptures. The “third day” motif that  Paul is following is found in Hosea 6:1-2 and other texts that speak of God doing something significant or restoring something on the third day.

So after looking at these issues, perhaps we may ask “what does the resurrection have to do with Jesus being qualified to be called the Messiah?”

Gavin Ortlund’s online article called Resurrected As Messiah: The Risen Christ As Prophet , Priest and King, offers some find tips here:

1.Ortland says, “In this article, I hope to further extend reflection on the soteriological significance of the resurrection by considering it in relation to Christ’s messianic office of prophet, priest, and king.

2. Christ’s risen and exalted life in heaven necessary for some of his priestly duties, but that it is portrayed in Heb 5:5–10 and 7:16 as the occasion for his appointment to a specific  priestly office, namely, the everlasting, intercessory priesthood typified by Melchizedek, in which office  he continually applies the saving benefits of his atoning sacrifice to his people.

3. Christ’s priestly office is referred to as the source of eternal salvation (Heb 5:9) and belonging to the “order to Melchizedek” (Heb 5:10), which, as chapter 7 will repeatedly declare, is a perpetual priesthood (Heb 7:17, 21, 24–25, 28; cf. Ps 110:4). Only an endless, heavenly life, achieved by resurrection and exaltation, can result in perpetual priestly ministry and thus “eternal salvation.”

4.Resurrection —-ascension: The focus of Hebrews is on the exalted life of Christ in heaven, not the resurrection event, which is referenced directly only in Heb. 13:20. Strictly speaking, Jesus’ exaltation to the right hand of God occurred at his ascension into heaven, forty days after his resurrection (Acts 1:3, 9–11). Nevertheless, whatever significance we may attach to the ascension, it is the resurrection that is presented in the NT as the crucial transformation from one kind of existence to another.

5. While it is not initially clear that the coming Davidic king is to be identified with the coming prophet and coming priest, in later passages of the OT the kingly and priestly expectations begin to merge (Psalm 110; Zech 6:13; 49 Jer 33:17–18; 30:21; Ezek 21:26–27; Dan 9:24–27). That prophetic responsibilities also belong to this office  is apparent from his role in spreading the  the NT (Acts 3:21–23). The  hope thus becomes a Davidic hope; the Davidic hope, a full-orbed messianic hope.

What picture  emerge from the OT about the Davidic King’s rule?

First, his rule is universal:

􀆞􀀁 Ps 72:8: “May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!”;

􀆞􀀁 Isa 9:7: “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end”;

􀆞􀀁 Zech 9:10: “His rule shall be from sea to sea4and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

Second, his rule is everlasting:

􀆞􀀁 2 Sam 7:16: “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever”;

􀆞􀀁 Ps 21:4: “He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever”;

􀆞􀀁 Ps 72:17: “May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun!”;

􀆞􀀁 Ps 89:36–37: “His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies”;

􀆞􀀁 Jer 33:17: “David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel.”

Ortland says, “At what point does Jesus enter into his Davidic kingship? When does he actually sit down on his throne and being his rule? It may be tempting to answer this question with the incarnation, and indeed, Jesus is perceived as a king both by others (Matt 2:2) and himself (John 18:36) during his earthly life. In the letters and preaching of the apostles, however, it is not the incarnation but the resurrection that marks the inauguration of Christ’s Davidic rule. Though always a king, Jesus enters into the full operation of his kingly office and authority at his resurrection and subsequent ascension into heaven. Easter morning is a sort of royal coronation service, at which point Christ sits down upon the throne; he takes up his scepter; he marshals his troops; the great conquest begins.”

Click above to read the entire article. I will add another point here:

The Resurrection is needed for Jesus to be the initiator of the New Covenant

Just like the giving of the Torah (with Moses), the New Covenant needs someone to inaugurate it. We just read about the day when God would place his Spirit permanently inside people so they can walk in holiness and love. We see in the New Covenant passages:

  1. God promises regeneration. (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:26) 2. God promises the forgiveness of sin. (Jeremiah 31:34; Ezekiel 36:25)
  2. God pledged the indwelling Holy Spirit. (Ezekiel 36:27)
  3. God promises the knowledge of God. (Jeremiah 31:34).
  4. God promises His people would obey Him. (Ezekiel 36:27; 37:23- 24; Jeremiah 32:39-40)
  5. The fulfilling of this covenant was tied to Israel’s future restoration to the land. (Jer. 32:36-41; Ezek. 36:24-25; 37:11-14)

As Jesus says: And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, so that He may be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him nor know Him. But you know Him, for He dwells with you and shall be in you.” (John 14:16,17) So we can conclude with following syllogism:

  1. If Jesus rose from the dead, He can send the Spirit and inaugurate the New Covenant.
  2. Jesus rose from the dead
  3. Therefore, Jesus is the inaugurator of the New Covenant

Note: If needed, see our articles section called Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus

See our full article on the New Covenant here:

FInally, regarding the messianic expectations at the time of Jesus, let us heed these words:

Stanley Porter says:

“Intertestamental and New Testament literature suggests that the expectation was all over the map. Some Jewish people did not expect a Messiah. Others thought that the Messiah would be a priestly figure, still others a royal deliverer. Some scholars interpret the evidence to suggest that at least one group of Jewish thinkers believed there would be two messiahs, one priestly and one royal. From what we know we can be certain that the New Testament did not create the idea of the Messiah. But we can also be sure that there was nothing like a commonly agreed delineation of what the Messiah would be like. The latter point means that modern-day Christians who shake their heads about why the Jewish people did not universally recognize the Messiah, considering all the fulfilled prophecy, really do not understand Old Testament literature.”–Porter, The Messiah in the Old and New Testaments (Mcmaster New Testament Studies), 29.

Why Was Jesus Accused of Blasphemy?

Over the years I have heard many skeptics say Jesus was just another messianic figure who got himself crucified. The old saying, “Jesus is just one of several messiah’s in the first century” is not only patently false but also a gross oversimplification. Just because someone leads a messianic revolt does not qualify them as “the Messiah” (notice the capital “M”). Here are some of the figures who claimed royal prerogatives between 4 B.C.E and 68-70 C.E but are not called “the” or “a” Messiah:

1. In Galilee 4 B.C.E.: Judas, son of bandit leader Ezekias (War 2.56;Ant.17.271-72)
2. In Perea 4 B.C.E.: Simon the Herodian slave (War 2.57-59;Ant 17.273-77)
3. In Judea 4 B.C.E.: Athronges, the shepherd (War 2.60-65;Ant 17.278-84)
4. Menahem: grandson of Judas the Galilean (War 2.433-34, 444)
5. Simon, son of Gioras (bar Giora) (War 2.521, 625-54;4.503-10, 529;7.26-36, 154)

Another issue that can tend to be overlooked is that we can minimize the issue of blasphemy in a Jewish setting. by the way, none of the above figures were accused of blasphemy. According to Jewish law, the claim to be the Messiah was not a criminal, nor capital offense. Therefore, the claim to be the Messiah was not even a blasphemous claim. (1)

If this is true, why was Jesus accused of blasphemy? According to Mark 14:62, Jesus affirmed the chief priests question that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Coming Son of Man who would judge the world. This was considered a claim for deity since the eschatological authority of judgment was for God alone. Jesus provoked the indignation of his opponents because of His application of Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1 to himself.

Also, many parables, which are universally acknowledged by critical scholars to be authentic to the historical Jesus, show that Jesus believed himself to be able to forgive sins against God (Matt. 9:2; Mark 2: 1-12). Forgiving sins was something that was designated for God alone (Exod. 34: 6-7; Neh.9:17; Dan. 9:9) and it was something that was done only in the Temple along with the proper sacrifice. So it can be seen that Jesus acts as if He is the Temple in person. In Mark 14:58, it says, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.’ The Jewish leadership knew that God was the one who was responsible for building the temple (Ex. 15:17; 1 En. 90:28-29).(2)

Also, God is the only one that is permitted to announce and threaten the destruction of the temple (Jer. 7:12-13; 26:4-6, 9;1 En.90:28-29). (3) It is also evident that one reasons Jesus was accused of blasphemy was because He usurped God’s authority by making himself to actually be God (Jn. 10:33, 36). Not only was this considered by the Jews to be blasphemous, it was worthy of the death penalty (Matt. 26:63-66; Mk. 14:61-65; Lk. 22:66-71; Jn. 10:31-39; 19:7)

As the late Martin Hengal said:

“Jesus’ claim to authority goes far beyond anything that can be adduced as prophetic prototypes or parallels from the field of the Old Testament and from the New Testament period. [Jesus] remains in the last resort incommensurable, and so basically confounds every attempt to fit him into categories suggested by the phenomenology of sociology of religion.” (4)

Remember that there was a Jewish leader named Bar Kohba who made an open proclamation to be the real Messiah who would take over Rome and enable the Jewish people to regain their self-rule (A.D. 132-135). Even a prominent rabbi called Rabbi Akiba affirmed him as the Messiah. Unfortunately, the revolt led by Bar Kohba failed and as a result and both he and Rabbi Akiba were slain. And remember, Bar Kohba was not accused of blasphemy. He never claimed to have the authority to forgive sins or claim to be the Son of Man (as referring to Daniel 7).

What is interesting is that in relation to the Daniel 7 text is that there is an established tenet in Talmudic times is that there is a splitting of the Messiah in two: Messiah ben Yossef who is also referred to as Mashiach ben Ephrayim, the descendant of Ephrayim will serve as a precursor to Messiah ben David. His role is political in nature since he will wage war against the forces that oppose Israel. In other words, Messiah ben Yossef is supposed to prepare Israel for its final redemption. The prophecy of Zech. 12:10 is applied to Messiah ben Yossef in that he is killed and that it will be followed by a time of great calamities and tests for Israel. Shortly after these tribulations upon Israel, Messiah ben David will come and avenge the death of Messiah ben Yossef, resurrect him, and inaugurate the Messianic era of everlasting peace.(4)

What is also interesting is that R. Saadiah Gaon elaborated on the role of Messiah ben Yossef by starting that this sequence of events is contingent. In other words, Messiah ben Yossef will not have to appear before Messiah be David if the spiritual condition of Israel is up to par.(5)

This is why it says in the Talmud, “If they [the people of Israel] are worthy of [the Messiah] he will come ‘with the clouds of heaven’ [Dan 7:13] ;if they are not worthy, ‘lowly and riding upon a donkey’ [Zech. 9:9]” (b. Sanhedrin 98a).


1. See Darrell L. Bock. Blasphemy and Exaltation in Judaism: The Charge Against Jesus in Mark 14:53-65. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998.
2. William Lane Craig. Reasonable Faith: Third Edition. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2008, 307.
3. Martin Hengel, The Charismatic Leader and His Followers. New York: Crossroad, 1981. 68-69; Cited in Edwards, 96.
4. Jacob Immanuel Schochet. Mashiach: The Principle of Mashiach and the Messianic Era in Jewish Law and Tradition. New York: S.I.E. 1992, 93-101.
5. Ibid.

15 Suggested Readings on the Resurrection of Jesus

Here some of my picks to read on the resurrection:

1. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary R. Habermas and Michael Licona (Paperback – Sep 25, 2004)

This book is apologetic in nature. Gary Habermas, who has been one of the top resurrection apologists over the last few decades and his protégé Mike Licona give one of the most thorough treatments that I have seen. They discuss just about every counterargument that has ever been formulated against the historicity of the resurrection. They also provide some charts and acronyms that are extremely helpful.

2. Did the Resurrection Happen?: A Conversation with Gary Habermas and Antony Flew (Veritas Forum Books) by Gary R. Habermas, Antony Flew, and David J. Baggett (Paperback – Apr 29, 2009)

This is rich reading. The first part of the book was an updated version of a debate that took place between the late Anthony Flew (who left atheism for deism or some kind of theism) and Gary Habermas. Flew was quoted as saying the resurrection of Jesus was the best attested miracle that he had seen. David J. Baggett offers an assessment of the debate along with some of the counterarguments to the resurrection.

3. Beyond Death: Exploring the Evidence for Immortality by Gary R. Habermas and J. P. Moreland (Paperback – Jan 2004)

This is an interesting book. It provides some apologetics and comments about ethical issues. It also goes over the arguments for near-death experiences. It is a nice combination of philosophy, apologetics, theology, and ethics.

4. The Death of Death: Resurrection and Immortality in Jewish Thought by Neil Gillman (Paperback – Apr 2000)

This is written by Jewish author Neil Gillman. He traces the history of resurrection thought in Judaism and why many modern Jewish people don’t accept the resurrection concept. Guess what? He even discusses naturalism and how it has impacted the Jewish community.

5. The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach [Paperback] Michael R. Licona (Author)

This was Mike Licona’s doctoral dissertation. This is not simply an apologetics book. It is very helpful resource for Biblical scholars, historians and philosophers. It is a very long book but fairly easy to read. Mike has provided a large chapter on what he calls ‘horizons.” Horizons are the presuppositions that impact all Biblical scholars and historians. Horizons always play a role in how we approach the resurrection. Mike also covers the work of several scholars on their work on the resurrection such as J.D. Crossan, Geza Vermes, Michael Goulder and others. He also provides several responses to the arguments of Bart Ehrman (whom he has debated). He covers the historical sources for the resurrection and confirms that the “historical bedrock” for the historical Jesus is the following:

1. Jesus died by Roman crucifixion
2. Very shortly after Jesus’ death, the disciples had experiences that led them to believe and proclaim that Jesus had been resurrected and had appeared to them
3. Within a few years after Jesus’ death, Paul converted after experiencing what he interpreted as a post resurrection appearance of Jesus to him.

Licona provides a response to the naturalistic alternatives to the resurrection and shows how they don’t meet what he calls the requirements of:
1. Plausibility
2. Explanatory scope and explanatory power
3. They are less ad hoc
4. Illumination

6. Risen Indeed: Making a Sense of the Resurrection [Paperback]: Stephen T. Davis

Stephen Davis has been one of the top theistic philosophers for quite some time. This book covers a wide variety of topics such as the philosophical issues surrounding the resurrection. Davis provides a nice critique of naturalism and discusses some of the challenges of dualism and physicalism. I found the chapter on resurrection and judgment to be quite interesting.

7. The Resurrection of the Son of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, Vol. 3) by N. T. Wright (Paperback – Apr 2003)

This was the third volume in N.T Wright’s work on Christian origins. Along with the Licona book, it is probably the most comprehensive book to date on the topic. Wright covers a wide variety of issues such as the worldview of the Second Temple Judaism period, the resurrection in Jewish thought (in the Bible and the extra-biblical Jewish literature). He has also provided a correction that has been long overdue in Christian discipleship/theology. Does everyone know going to heaven is not what resurrection is? Sadly, due to a lack of teaching on the resurrection, Wright points out that the average Christian assumes that that the final destination is to be in the intermediate state- the place that is called ” heaven.”

Hence, immortality is generally viewed as the immortality of the soul. Contrary to what many people think, salvation in the Bible is not the deliverance from the body, which is the prison of the soul. The believer’s final destination is not heaven, but it is the new heavens and new earth- complete with a resurrection body. In the final state, heaven including the New Jerusalem portrayed as a bride breaks into history and comes to the renewed, physical, earthly, existence (see Rev 21). This shows that God is interested in the renewal of creation- God cares about the physical realm.

Wright has been quoted elsewhere as saying the following:

“ If nothing happened to the body of Jesus, I cannot see why any of his explicit or implicit claims should be regarded as true. What is more, I cannot as a historian, see why anyone would have continued to belong to his movement and to regard him as the Messiah. There were several other Messianic or quasi-Messianic movements within a hundred years either side of Jesus. Routinely, they ended with the leader being killed by authorities, or by a rival group. If your Messiah is killed, you conclude that he was not the Messiah. Some of those movements continued to exist; where they did, they took a new leader from the same family (But note: Nobody ever said that James, the brother of Jesus, was the Messiah.) Such groups did not go around saying that their Messiah had been raised from the dead. What is more, I cannot make sense of the whole picture, historically or theologically, unless they were telling the truth.” (John Dominic Crossan and N.T Wright. The Resurrection of Jesus. Minneapolis, MN, Fortress Press. 2006, 71).

8. Resurrection Reconsidered – Paperback (Aug. 1, 1996) by Gavin D’Costa

This book contains a variety of essays on the resurrection. Some of them are written by skeptics and those who are of other religious backgrounds. One chapter that stands out is an essay written by Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok. I saw Sherbok speak several years ago. What is interesting are his comments about why he doesn’t buy the resurrection story. He says:

“As a Jew and a rabbi, I would be convinced of Jesus’ resurrection, but I would set very high standards of what is required. It would not be enough to have subjective experiences of Jesus. If I heard voices or had a visionary experience of Jesus, this would not be enough.”

Sherbock goes on to say the only things that would convince him would be something that takes place in the public domain. Such an event would have to be witnessed by multitudes, photographed, recorded on video cameras, shown on television, and announced worldwide. The resurrection would have to be announced on CNN and world media.

With these expectations, I wonder how Sherbock even knows anything happened in the history of the Jewish people. None of the events in the Torah, etc, can meet these expectations that he has for the resurrection. So he sets an expectation level that will never be met. Oh well!

9.The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective by Pinchas Lapide and Wilhelm C. Linss (Paperback – Mar 31, 2002)

In contrast to Sherbok, the late Pinchas Lapide was an Orthodox Jewish scholar who did some significant work in Christian/Jewish relations. He came to think that the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection was quite compelling. He said,

”The resurrection of Jesus by Creator is a fact which indeed is withheld from objective science, photographers, and a conceptual proof, but not from believing scrutiny of history which more frequently leads to deeper insights. In other words: Without the Sinai experience-no Judaism; without the Easter experience-no Christianity. Both were Jewish faith experience whose radiating power, in a different way was meant for the world of nations.”

Lapide was so impressed by the creed of 1 Cor. 15, that he concluded that this “formula of faith may be considered as a statement of eyewitnesses.”

What is ironic is that Lapide thought Jesus was not the Messiah for the Jewish people. But he was resurrected for the sake of the Gentiles. He thinks it is part of God’s redemptive plan for the nations. Interesting indeed.

10. The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan And N.T. Wright in Dialogue by Robert B. Stewart (Jan 2006)

This book is an exchange between John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright on their different understandings of the historical reality and theological meaning of Jesus’ Resurrection. The book highlights points of agreement and disagreement between them and explores the many attendant issues.
This book brings two leading lights in Jesus studies together for a long-overdue conversation with one another and with significant scholars from other disciplines. The book also contains a series of responses to Wright and Crossan by scholars such as Robert Stewart, William Lane Craig, Craig Evans, R. Douglas Geivett, Gary Habermas, Ted Peters, Charles Quarles, and Alan Segal.

11. The Resurrection of the Messiah by Christopher Bryan

Bryan has been doing some excellent scholarship. This book is a combination of literary, historical, and theological approaches in a study of the doctrine of the Resurrection. Bryan does examine the sources for the resurrection. He also includes an appendix where he critiques John Crossan’s (of the Jesus Seminar) on whether the resurrection is “the Prophetization of History.”

12. Unlocking Romans: Resurrection and the Justification of God by J.R. Daniel Kirk


Amazon gives the summary of the book here:

If the God of Israel has acted to save his people through Christ, but Israel is not participating in that salvation, how then can this God be considered righteous? Unlocking Romans is an intriguing study of Paul’s letter that is directed in large extent toward answering this question in order to illuminate the righteousness of God the book of Romans reveals. J. R. Daniel Kirk explains that this God is best understood not in abstractions, but in the particularity of Israel’s story. This story contextualizes the identity of God and the quality of Gods righteousness. The answer here, Kirk claims, comes mainly in terms of resurrection. Even if only the most obvious references in Romans are considered – and Kirk certainly delves more deeply than the obvious – the theme of resurrection still appears not only in every section of the letter, but also at climactic moments of Paul’s argument. The network of connections among Jesus resurrection, Israel’s Scriptures, and redefining the people of God, serves to affirm Gods fidelity to Israel. This, in turn, demonstrates Paul’s gospel message to be a witness to the revelation of the righteousness of God. Unlocking Romans is a clear and inviting theological study of what many consider the Bibles most theological book.

12. I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus by George Eldon Ladd (Sep 1987)


This is an excellent short little book by one of the most influential New Testament theologians of the last century. It can be read in about an hour.

13. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Paul D. L. Avis (Oct 1993)

This book features a series of essays on the resurrection. Some of essays present some objections to the resurrection which can be helpful for all of us who are in the apologetic endeavor. One of my favorite essays is written by Richard Bauckham.

14. Resurrection: Theological and Scientific Assessments by Mr. Michael Welker, Mr. Ted Peters and Mr. Robert John Russell (Oct 2, 2002)


The Amazon review says:

A team of scientists and theologians from both sides of the Atlantic explore the Christian concept of bodily resurrection in light of the views of contemporary science. Whether it be the Easter resurrection of Jesus or the promised new life of individual believers, the authors argue that resurrection must be conceived as “embodied” and that our bodies cannot exist apart from their worldly environment. Yet nothing in today’s scientific disciplines supports the possibility of either bodily resurrection or the new creation of the universe at large. Bridging such disciplines as physics, biology, neuroscience, philosophy, biblical studies, and theology, Resurrection offers fascinating reading to anyone interested in this vital Christian belief or in the intersection of faith and scientific thought.

15. Defending the Resurrection by James Patrick Holding


I think all apologists should read Holding’s work. Why? Because he is one of the most well known internet apologists and he has dealt with the majority of junk arguments on the internet. He also has had plenty of online debates and a public debate with Richard Carrier.


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