Rejoice everyone! We are ending this section on the resurrection! (Also note that when the gospels end on the resurrection, that’s cause of rejoicing as well.)
To begin with, Loftus has Spong offering up a reconstruction of what might have happened after the death of Christ. Loftus does say that Spong emphasizes that it is conjecture. Let this be noted though friends. Apparently, Spong can conjecture. When a Christian though tries to harmonize the resurrection accounts, we suddenly can’t make conjectures. History is just unknowable then.
What is it? Why Peter had a vision after his dejection over seeing his teacher crucified and all hopes for the Messiah destroyed. He takes this vision to the other disciples and they go to the feast of tabernacles and from there, the story unfolds. Other voices chime in on this idea saying that over time, the accounts just became more and more legendary until there’s a physical resurrection.
It’s a nice conjecture, but is there any reason to believe it? Is there any reason to believe that Peter and the others would have a vision and believe Jesus was resurrected and base their lives on that while knowing there was a tomb with a body nearby? (The hallucination theory cannot be held in isolation. It has to be combined with some explanation of the empty tomb.)
Not in those days. No Jew would abandon the central tenets of their faith for a new movement unless they were absolutely convinced that it was true. They also would not take a crucified messiah, who would be said to be under God’s curse, and rally to him as their leader. N.T. Wright makes an excellent point here in his work “The Resurrection of the Son of God”, that if they had wanted a new Messiah figure, the logical choice would have been James, the brother of Jesus.
This theory doesn’t explain James either! How do you explain him and Paul converting? It would take more than a psychological experience for someone to suddenly believe that their brother was the Messiah, and even more God. What about Paul? Why would he suddenly leave behind what he’d grown up with and embrace the faith he tried to destroy? These kinds of theories rely on psychology more than facts.
Loftus gives us the real reason for his buying these theories. He says “The sum total of my modern life experience is that truly dead bodies stay dead.” (p.215) Oh really? That’s your experience? You actually think most of us in this world have a different one? Do you really think for a moment that the ancients as well had a different one?
There’s something to be noted. Even if you don’t think the tomb was empty, you can believe Jesus was buried. Now why would they bury Jesus? It’s the same reason they buried anyone. They were dead! They did not expect for dead people to come back to life again. (For Jews, at least not until the final resurrection at the age of the Messiah.)
This is where I’m just stunned at what I see. If you want to come up with theories to counter the resurrection, all right. Go ahead. However, don’t give us this nonsense of dead people stay dead as if we don’t know that. We know it and we expect it. We bury our own dead as well. Barring the second coming of Christ, I’ll be buried someday as well and I don’t expect to come out until the second coming.
That concludes our look at the resurrection. Tomorrow, we shall go to the next section.