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.

The Resurrection of Jesus: a Clinical Review of Psychiatric Hypotheses for the Biblical Story of Easter

For anyone that has discussed the resurrection of Jesus with skeptics, I think we all know it is quite common for them to punt to hallucinations, conversion disorders, and bereavement experiences. In this article, called  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 discuss these issues. Enjoy!

Jewish Apologetics – Christianity’s Ongoing and Unique Challenge by Michael Brown

By Michael L. Brown, Ph.D.

June 9, 2006, International Society of Christian Apologetics

Charlotte, North Carolina

Several months ago, a colleague in Arizona introduced me to a very sharp lawyer and debater who also taught apologetics a local seminary. We began to talk about some of the debates I had had with Orthodox Jewish rabbis, at which point he asked, “But what objections could they possibly raise?” Having written more than 1,500 pages of answers to Jewish objections to Jesus, I must admit that his question surprised me, given his educational and apologetics background. I then began to explain to him some of the principal Jewish objections to Jesus, to which he replied, “It looks like you have your work cut out for you!” I’ve had similar conversations with pastors and Christian leaders who, initially, could not understand how Jewish people could possibly object to our presentation of Messianic prophecies or Christian evidence.

This reminds me of my experience as a new believer in Jesus in the early 1970s. The Lord graciously reached out to me when I was a heroin-shooting, LSD-using, marijuana-smoking, diesel gas-huffing, long-haired, rebellious, sixteen year-old, Jewish rock drummer with no interest in God and, of course, no faith in Jesus. In a period of several months, my life was radically transformed, and by the time I had known the Lord for one year, I was spending at least six hours alone with Him every day: three hours in prayer, two hours reading the Scriptures, and one-hour memorizing the Scriptures (memorizing 20 verses a day). Although I was certainly lacking in wisdom and sensitivity, no one in my high school could withstand my knowledge of the Scriptures, and I was even able to lead a neighborhood woman out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some time later, at the age of eighteen, I was introduced to some ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Brooklyn, men who had years of experience in dealing with Jews who believed in Jesus. They were not overwhelmed by my knowledge of the Word! In fact, it was very humbling to sit there with my King James Bible, which they politely critiqued as another one of those faulty English translations, while they sat there with their Hebrew Bibles open, Bibles they had been reading in the original since they were young children. For the first time, I was the one being challenged, both by their knowledge and by their lifestyle.

As a result of my time with these rabbis I began to look into contemporary, Jewish Christian responses to these objections, but almost everything I found at that time tended to be very superficial, primarily popular in scope and tone (not to mention often marred by embarrassing errors). Thankfully, as I continued to search, I found that there were much more substantial, academic Christian responses to these objections, but in many ways, these learned Gentile responses failed to grasp the weight of the objections, being so sure of the rightness of their own position that they could not grasp the depth of the objection, also appearing to be virtually oblivious to the terribly destructive impact of anti-Semitism throughout the course of “Church” history. Simply stated, it has been my observation for many years that Christians somehow think that by simply stating their position, they have thereby successfully responded to the particular Jewish objection being raised. After all, the Jews are stiffnecked, blind, and hardened, so there can be little or no substance to their objections. They’re just stubbornly refusing to see the truth! Not surprisingly, Christian understanding of Jewish objections to Jesus has often been marked by superficiality, insensitivity, and triumphalism.

To give one typical example, while participating in a major biblical conference in Chicago in 1988, I entered into a discussion with some of the world’s top New Testament scholars. One of them had even written a book on Jewish views of Jesus, so I asked him, “In light of Jewish fidelity to the Torah, how would you explain the gloss in Mark 7:19 which, according to many interpreters, indicates that Jesus abolished the dietary laws?” He responded, “That’s where we have to understand His authority as the Messiah. He changed the law by His Messianic authority.” Of course, that is an argument that needs to be considered, but I relate this story for a very different reason. This erudite scholar failed to realize that, according to the Orthodox Jewish understanding of the eternal immutability of the Torah, an understanding reinforced by the Lord Himself in Matt 5:17-20 and elsewhere, if Yeshua did change the law, He would thereby have disqualified himself from being the Messiah! Moreover, according to the clear reading of Deut 13:1-11, no amount of miracles or apparent divine confirmation – including, by implication, even rising from the dead – could be marshaled as sufficient cause to follow other gods, gods which were not known to the past generations, which, in the traditional Jewish view, would include the worship of Jesus. It is my goal, therefore, in this paper to illustrate the unique and challenging nature of Jewish objections to Jesus, pointing to the best way to respond to these objections.

Let me begin with the concept of a newer and better covenant displacing the old, inferior covenant. (Remember, of course, that to a religious Jew, there is no such thing as the “Old Testament,” nor is there anything inferior or lacking in their covenant with God as they understand it.) To us, living in the light and glory of that wonderful new covenant, a covenant confirmed by the death and resurrection of the Son of God, it is difficult to see how a religious Jew could not possibly recognize his spiritually incomplete state. But what do we say to a Muslim who claims that Muhammad is the seal of the prophets and that it is we who are spiritually incomplete? We tell him, among other things, that anyone who seeks to add to the final revelation of God in Jesus, as spelled out in the New Testament writings, is a false prophet. We respond in similar fashion to the claims of those who say that so-and-so is a contemporary incarnation of the Christ. We remind them of Jesus’ words that false prophets and false christs would arise who would deceive many, and we point out that the Lord clearly forewarned us, instructing us to wait for His coming in the clouds.

This, of course, is self-evident to us, yet we often fail to see the parallel response from Judaism to Christianity: “In the Torah, God warned us not to follow any prophet or miracle worker who in any way deviated from the words of this Instruction, and anyone that contradicts or adds to or takes away from the once-and-for-all revelation from God at Sinai – a revelation that He said was for all generations – must be rejected out of hand. We have been forewarned! And the last word He spoke to us in the prophets was to remember the Torah of Moses and to expect the coming of Elijah (Mal 4:4-6). As for your Messianic claims, when our Messiah comes and establishes peace on the earth and regathers the exiles, we’ll have no trouble recognizing that he’s the one. Until then, we reject all other false Messianic claimants.” Furthermore, while so much Christian practice bears little resemblance to the commands of the Torah and the calendar of the Torah, the traditional Jew points to many passages in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) which call on him to perpetuate the Torah lifestyle so that, when his children ask him, “Why do you do this?”, he can explain, “It is because the Lord brought our fathers out of Egypt . . . ” (see, e.g., Exod 12:24-28). In this way, as stated in the Psalms and other related passages, one generation declares to the next the faithfulness of God (see, e.g., Ps 78:1-7). To a Jew, this is part of his sacred calling: Preserving the unbroken chain from Abraham to Sinai to the present. This, he would argue, is hardly an outmoded covenant!

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Current Apologetic Reading: 13 Suggestions

Here are some of my picks for keeping up to date with all the apologetic literature out there.

1. Mapping Apologetics: Comparing Contemporary Approaches

2. Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case

3. Faith and Reason: Three Views (Spectrum Multiview Books)

4. Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes

5. The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus

6. Can We Still Believe the Bible?: An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions

7. The Gospels and Acts (The Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible)

8. The Gospel According to Isaiah 53: Encountering the Suffering Servant in Jewish and Christian Theology

9. Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality

10. Apologetics Beyond Reason: Why Seeing Really Is Believing

11. True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World

12. An Introduction to Biblical Ethics: Walking in the Way of Wisdom

13. The Outrageous Idea of the Missional Professor

15 Suggested Readings on The Relationship Between Science and Theology/Religion

If you’re interested in reading up on the relationship between science and theology/religion, here are some of my picks. I am not including a review of each book. Hope they help!

1. Science & Christianity: Four Views (Spectrum Multiview Book Series Spectrum Multiview Book Series)

2. The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design

3. Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design

4. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition

5. The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism

6. Mapping the Origins Debate: Six Models of the Beginning of Everything

7. God and Evolution

8. The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism

9. God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?

10. Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach

11. More than Myth?: Seeking the Full Truth about Genesis, Creation, and Evolution

12. Science and Faith: Friends or Foes?

13. The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series)

14. More Than a Theory: Revealing a Testable Model for Creation (Reasons to Believe)

15. Religion and Science (Gifford Lectures Series)


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