James Tabor’s Essay on Early Christianity’s View of Resurrection: A Review

Posted By on April 19, 2012

I have to this point confined my thoughts on the “Jesus Family Tomb” (Talpiot A) and the more recent adjacent tomb (Talpiot B) to my PaleoBabble blog, but my thoughts on James Tabor’s recent blog post entitled, “Why People are Confused about the Earliest Christian View of Resurrection of the Dead” seems to fit this blog better. I want readers to know up front that Tabor’s post is quite good — stimulating, thoughtful, irenic in tone — just plain old good stuff for those who enjoy reading biblical studies scholarship.

For those unfamiliar with James Tabor, he is a New Testament scholar and part of the team that has been promoting the Talpiot tomb discoveries. He believes the Talpiot A tomb contained the bones of Jesus, and so he denies the resurrection of Christ as defined as the raising of Jesus’ dead body three days after dying on the cross. But the gist of his article is that ancient Jews and Christians conceived of resurrection as a reconstitution of the dead person in a new body, not a raising of the dead body, making the old body irrelevant. Hence he does not see his view that Jesus’ body was not raised on the third day as a repudiation of the idea of resurrection — and even a physical resurrection at that. Although I think his articulation of this view (as it involves a rejection of the more common view) suffers some coherence problems, I would not want anyone to pass on reading his essay. It’s well worth your time. Readers should digest Tabor’s article first before proceeding.

Lastly, before I proceed, I want to make it clear that what Tabor has produced is intended as a piece of conciliatory scholarship (see the last paragraph). For the record, I think he is entirely sincere in that regard. I have some criticisms of his thinking in what follows, but I want it to be understood that I appreciate what he’s doing here. I just see some coherence problems.

Evaluation

Tabor’s article was a delight to read as he succeeded in bringing out important nuances to how resurrection gets discussed, and how he sees that discussion aligning with, or departing from, primary material in the Old Testament and Hellenistic-Jewish context. He hits his stride about half way, making his contention clear (emphasis mine):

. . . Jews like Jesus, as well as the Pharisees, believed that on the ‘last day,’ the dead would be raised. What people mix up is the literal idea of resuscitation or the ‘standing up’ of a corpse, and the fully developed Jewish idea of resurrection at the end of days. The latter does not involve collecting the dust, the fragmentary decaying bones, or other remains of the body and somehow restoring their form. According to the book of Revelation, even the ‘sea’ gives up the dead that are in it—which can hardly mean one must search for digested bodies that the fish have eaten and eliminated—as unpleasant as the thought may be (Revelation 20:11-15).

Corpse revival is not resurrection of the dead–at least in its classic sense of what happens to all humankind in the end of days. . . . The fully developed view of resurrection of the dead among Jews in the time of Jesus was that at the end of days the dead would come forth from Sheol/Hades—literally the ‘state of being dead,’ and live again in an embodied form.”

The highlighted portions bring into focus where Tabor diverges with what we might call a traditional view of resurrection. He sees incongruity between the Jewish/Judeo-Christian understanding of resurrection and the gospel accounts of the empty tomb because “corpse revival is not resurrection from the dead.”  Tabor believes that Jesus’ body was removed from the garden tomb, which was intended as a temporary tomb, and then deposited in what has been called the Talpiot A tomb, where it remained until its discovery in 1980, whereupon all the bones in the tomb were removed and reburied in an unknown location (a practice that is normative in accord with orthodox Jewish wishes when such remains are found). Tabor considers the empty tomb reports in the gospels to have been written post-70 AD, “when the links with the faith of the Jerusalem community had been severed.” In other words, the empty tomb account is, for Tabor and others, in conflict with an original knowledge (and theology) of what happened after the death of Jesus held by the pre-70 AD followers of Jesus. Thus there is a conflict between the beliefs of the original Christians and some of the content of the New Testament.

I don’t follow this thinking since it is problematic in terms of coherence. I offer several items for consideration.

1. The Cart Before the Horse?

At the outset, I would object that one ought not arbitrarily dismiss the empty tomb accounts as late. Tabor would respond that such dismissal is not arbitrary. But I would ask what I think is a reasonable question: Other than the reconstructed theology that results from this division of the material, what empirical data from the text produce that division and the reconstruction? I have read a good deal of NT scholarship that presumes the division, but how do we actually know it is real?  Is there something in the grammar or syntax or literary character of these accounts that betray such lateness? If so, I’d like to see it. In the absence of any specifically textual data that produce a pre-/post-70 AD dichotomy to which Tabor adheres, the only conclusion one could draw is that the dichotomy is merely a hermeneutical filter brought to the text.  And on one level even if there was textual evidence of lateness it wouldn’t prove the point. Why? Because the fact that X idea wasn’t written about until some point does not prove X idea wasn’t embraced prior to it being written down. This is basic logic. But, in a nutshell, I don’t want a scheme that argues for stripping out the third day empty-tomb resurrection element just because it sounds workable by those who want to dispense with the third day empty-tomb element as part of a larger argument about what happened to Jesus’ body. If that particular element is to be stripped out of the accounting, I want it stripped out by the data of the text, not by virtue of a preconceived filter brought to the text. Coherence in interpretation isn’t based on the beauty of one’s conclusion in one’s own eye (or in collective eyes); it’s based on whether the conclusion actually proceeds from the data. Reconstructive opinion isn’t a substitute for data.

2. Chronological Comment out of the Ether?

Second, Tabor believes Paul’s theology was consistent with the “pre-70 AD reconstitution view” of resurrection which he embraces in his essay (Tabor: “Resurrection of the dead, according to both Paul and Jesus, has nothing to do with the former physical body,” and “Paul knows nothing of that first empty tomb. He knows that Jesus died and was buried and on the third day he was raised up” ).  For Paul, Jesus was a “life-giving spirit” (quoting 1 Cor 15:34), and so Paul did not believe that Jesus’ corpse was revived.

But is that all Paul believed about Jesus? Is it impossible that Paul believed in both a corpse revival and a “spiritual body? Many of course would argue just that. But, one could say that, since it’s pretty certain Paul died before 70 AD, his theology could not have drawn from all that post-70 “dead body now standing up” late theology . . . if it’s late . . . right?

This trajectory is related to my first objection, but has tidiness problems of its own.

While it is true that Paul’s writings do not mention the “tomb” of Jesus with respect to his resurrection language, in 1 Cor 15:4 Paul writes that Jesus was buried and raised “on the third day.” A straightforward reading of this phrasing would have Paul’s language of resurrection linked to the “third day” idea that derives from the gospel portions that Tabor says were added after 70 AD. In other words, it seems clear that Paul’s chronological reference to the resurrection derives from the empty tomb description put by all the gospels as occurring on the “first day” of the week subsequent to the dead Jesus being removed from the cross before the beginning of the Sabbath.1 But how can that be if Tabor is correct? If Paul knew nothing of the first empty tomb, whence the third day reference? If we presume the chronological indicators in the gospels about Jesus being raised on the first day of the week after he was put in the tomb before the preceding Sabbath began were absent from any gospel material Paul could have seen to learn about Jesus’ death and burial, where did he get his “third day” chronology? If Paul was thinking only of a future bodily “reconstitution” resurrection “at the last day” subsequent to Jesus’ Talpiot A burial, the chronological reference makes no sense. It seems to me that the gospels are the logical source for Paul’s chronological wording. 

But let’s think a bit about how this “third day” information got into Paul’s letter if the gospel material about the third day was post-70. I see two possible answers: (1) Paul got the idea from the OT, not the NT gospels, and so Paul’s statement in 1 Cor 15:4 does not undermine Tabor’s view that the third day material in the gospels is post-70; (2) someone added that language after 70 AD to Paul’s pre-70 letter.

I’ll take the latter first since it’s my guess (and it’s only a guess) that Tabor would choose door number two. It seems akin to what he’s saying about the gospels, so it seems like a good guess. If so, I’d again like to see the empirical textual data for that. It’s a reasonable request. I want data to drive the conclusion, not a presupposed interpretive template.

I looked at several leading commentaries by respected critical NT scholars, all of whom place 1 Corinthians at roughly 50-55 AD, shortly before, and in conjunction with, the composition of Romans, which is dated to the mid-to-late 50s AD. For sure, many struggle with the third day language because they favor the dichotomy Tabor follows. But why? Do these scholars have a reason other than theological preference for finding the phrase in Paul uncomfortable? Without data that is the picture created.

The former alternative — that Paul’s “third day” language derives from the Old Testament (and not the gospels), is adopted by some NT scholars I referenced while reading Tabor’s article. Conzelmann is illustrative. After listing four other speculation-driven options that are offered to defend the lateness of the phrase, he writes (sorry for the imprecision of the transliteration due to Greek font problems): “So there remains a fifth possibility, alongside the first: 5) The date was derived from Scripture. The phrase kata tas graphas “according to the Scriptures,” presumably again refers here, too, not only to egegertai “he was raised,” but to the whole statement. The allusion is indicated in the same general way as that to Isa 53. It can only be to Hos 6:2.”[1. Hans Conzelmann, 1 Corinthians: A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Hermeneia; Fortress Press, 1975), 256.]

This OT source option is a possible choice for Tabor, but I wonder how comfortable he is with it. That a Jew and not a Christian could get a three-day resurrection from the OT undermines his argument elsewhere that certain “resurrection symbology” from Talpiot B (i.e., the “Jonah fish” symbol on an ossuary) is evidence for its identification as a Christian tomb.2

But the OT option has internal problems of its own. The “third day” reference is immediately followed by the reference to Peter seeing the resurrected Christ, and then the twelve — a chronology that proceeds from the gospel chronology involving the third day resurrection.  Although appealing to the OT seems a better option, that option has far less explanatory power than just saying Paul got his chronology of events from the gospels, and that means their content was pre-70 AD. Unless Tabor can provide another explanation for Paul’s chronological comment, the notion of this information being added to Paul’s thinking after 70 AD lacks coherence.

Another internal problem for the OT option is probably apparent to readers. If Paul could look at Hosea 6:2 (per Conzelmann above) and perhaps marry it to Jonah 1:17 and Jonah 2:2 (cf. the reference to Sheol), then how is it that the gospel writers could not have done the same thing prior to 70 AD? Why does Paul’s interpretive observation from the OT become unreasonable when the observers  and interpreters happen to be a group of Jews who believed Jesus was the messiah, but who were living before 70 AD? On what exegetical, grammatical or syntactical grounds (i.e., grounds that aren’t a theological statement) are we concluding that the third day wording found in the gospels could not have had the same source as that of Paul’s phrasing (and any Jonah fish symbol in Talpiot B)? Again, this strikes me as a very reasonable question.

3. The Either-Or Fallacy

Another coherence problem in Tabor’s articulation is that it presents the reader with an either-or fallacy. Tabor presents his readers with a choice between two options: either embrace the notion that Jews and the original Christians thought of resurrection as a “corpse revival” (the “standing up” of the original, now dead, body) or embrace the fact that Jews and original Christians conceived of resurrection as a remote, future, physicalized re-constitution of the dead person, making the status of anyone’s earthly bones (including those of Jesus) irrelevant to the discussion. There’s actually at least one more option: Jews and early Christians accepted both these notions as resurrection and did not set the two in opposition to each other.

Let’s consider Ezekiel 37:5-6, cited by Tabor in his essay:

“…And I will lay sinews upon you and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

Tabor takes this vision of the dry bones as a reconstitution (“Resurrection of the dead here, clearly, is a reconstitution of the physical body”). But I would suggest it is not reconstitution. It simply does not describe or presume the same circumstances as Tabor’s other (better) examples that certainly require reconstitution. What I mean is that, in Ezekiel’s vision, there are bones in the valley, and those same bones become enfleshed and re-animated. The bones are not re-created from dust in the vision (that would be reconstitution). The vision is one of fallen victims whose skeletons lay exposed, or who were perhaps buried (Ezek 37:1). Other examples  Tabor notes, or could note, such as bodies lost at sea or immolated bodies, would obviously require reconstitution. But one cannot coherently use Ezek 37 as reconstitution since the bones of the dead are in fact the starting point for the resurrection depiction — just as bones in a grave would be the starting point for a corpse revival resurrection. Tabor apparently (?) presumes that one can only speak of bodily resurrection (i.e., the original body “standing up in corpse revival”) before the flesh has rotted. But on what basis could this view be parsed so precisely? It cannot, and so his categories for resurrection are somewhat contrived, though the nuancing is merited. My view, as noted earlier, is that the Jewish (and Judeo-Christian) view of resurrection included both “standing up” of the old body and reconstitution where that was logically necessitated. I need Tabor to prove that a Jew or early Christian would have rejected one of those before I can begin to see this approach as making sense. I think everyone could agree that there was no uniformity of opinion among Second Temple Judaisms regarding the resurrection, a mode of resurrection, or definition of resurrection. Any argument based on that presumption is tenuous.

4. Servant-King, Corporate and Individual

Another angle to the either-or fallacy presented by Tabor is the incident in Matt 27:51-53, which is seen by many as an allusion to Ezek 37:1-14. This is important since the resurrective events of Matt 27:51-53 are overtly connected to the resurrection of Jesus by the gospel writer.

The above consideration becomes weighty when one factors in some stock elements of OT theology. For an Israelite (and for later Jews wanting a royal deliverer) the anointed king represented the nation. Consequently, the messiah, the ultimate king figure, represented the nation (this individual-to-corporate representation is basic to an OT theology of kingship, and was hardly unique in the ancient Near East). A close reading of Isaiah 40-55 reveals the same thinking about the “servant” in those chapters. The titular servant of God is most often corporate Israel, but is also an individual (most notably, in Isaiah 53). That would mean that anyone associating Isaiah 53 with the messiah (right or wrong — the point is that NT writers did just that) would see the messiah as representing Israel as the servant (and, as noted above, also as king).

So what’s the point? Just this: if the vision of Ezekiel 37 describes the resurrection of the nation of Israel, it could quite easily have been interpreted as being connected to a resurrection of the individual that represented the corporate nation: the servant-king-messiah. And if it is possible to see “standing up corpse revival” in Ezekiel 37 (which is basically described in explicit terms there), that could have fed an expectation or belief that this is what happened to Jesus (for those who saw Jesus fulfilling those roles). These connections are, as I noted above, stick elements of OT and NT theology. There is nothing new here to which I can lay claim.

If the above is the case (that NT writers thought along these lines, or that any Second Temple Jew who knew the Scriptures relatively well) then no one would be surprised at any literary and conceptual connection made between the individuals in Ezekiel’s vision and Matthew 27:51-53 being raised (“stood up” in their original bodies) and the representative of Israel (Jesus as messiah) being raised in the same manner.

5. Front-loading a Question

I want to briefly add a note about the Matthew 27:51-53 episode and include the raising of Lazarus (John 11). One of the reasons Tabor rejects these passages saying anything useful about resurrection is because he presumes (probably correctly, even though the text is silent) that these individuals died (again) later on.  Tabor contends that this isn’t the sort of resurrection Jews were expecting has some validity (“What is important to note about all these stories of “resurrection” is that these people returned from death to live again, but they then they subsequently died again”).

The logical problem here concerns how far to press that point. Tabor’s rejection rationale is only valid if the stories reflect the intellectual parsing (on the part of the writers and early Christian readers) Tabor ascribes to them. For Tabor’s objection to have real weight one would have to be sure that there wasn’t a mere point of analogy behind the story (and the episode, for those who assume it happened). That is, while Lazarus and the saints of Matt 27:51-53 were going to die again, how do we know the Jewish writers and readers mostly and exclusively thought “that’s not the sort of thing I’m looking forward to, so that can’t be what my Bible is talking about by resurrection,” and not rather, “this power is a wonderful foretaste of what will happen at the last day, when the kingdom of God comes”? The latter perspective is accompanied by the theological element of the OT that the eschatological kingdom will be an Edenic restoration, a time when there are no more tears due to there being no more death (Isa 25:6-8; 30:19; cp. Hosea 13:14). In other words, there is an “comparing apples and oranges” element to Tabor’s assumption here.  He has to assume a certain amount of theological ignorance on the part of the pre-70 Jewish biblical writers. But that hardly seems coherent given the theological-literary output of the Second Temple period, unless one wants to argue the gospel writers had no exposure to that, which would be a hard sell.

Conclusion

I want wrap up by repeating that, despite these criticisms, Tabor’s effort deserves attention and commendation. I wouldn’t have spent the time on it I did if I didn’t believe that. By way of a probably awkward illustration (and I don’t mean any irreverence here), if I died tomorrow and met Jesus in heaven, and he said, “Mike, I’m glad to see you, but I have to tell you that Tabor was right about my resurrection — you see me embodied but I’m really just a life-giving spirit now, preparing to reconstitute all those who believed in what did on the cross, and to be reconstituted myself by my Father when that time comes,” I’m not going to take a rain check or ask Jesus if he’d read this review. Reconstitution the way Tabor describes it would still be a miraculous, gracious act of God, and Tabor’s NT would still have Jesus as the center of that plan. But as things stand now, I’m not persuaded of Tabor’s position.

  1. See Matt 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-10.
  2. See this archive for my posts on the Jonah symbol and related Talpiot B discussion.

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47 Responses to “James Tabor’s Essay on Early Christianity’s View of Resurrection: A Review”

  1. [...] a bit late on the above post because I’ve been writing a review of Tabor’s stimulating essay on early Jewish and Christian views of resurrection. That review [...]

  2. Michael, I have to thank you warmly for this exchange. What a refreshing change from the ugly and uncivil kinds of things I have been reading on the Web from a vocal minority of my dear “bibllioblogger” colleagues. Now as Dom Crossan said to me recently–this is real discussion! This kind of exchange is exciting. No name calling, no slander about motives, just solid, core biblical discussions. I care deeply about my scholarship and my life has been devoted to understanding the Bible in its historical contexts. It is not a side thing with me, it is my passion and my center. I have my own faith, as you have yours. Who knows, if we ever sat down together we would both likely discover much about one another. Anyway, no place here to respond other than to say I will recommend this post to others and welcome your judicious and well put input. More to come.

  3. I will take you up on that. Along with Cargill’s many drinks he is promising me it looks to be quite a fest!

    I am on the SBL program, BTW, talking about both this image and the four line Greek inscription. Also I think Simcha and I are also on another panel that Goodacre and Cargill put together on publishing research and the media–that should be interesting. Looking forward to it.

  4. blop2008 says:

    Good respectful scholarship, that’s what I like to see :-O

    Question to both Heiser and Tabor: Why is it that the resuscitation (“resurrection”) of Lazarus, and the other examples, are used to convince us that Jesus’ traditional bodily resurrection articulation was not the Jesus’s former physical body? This is a rhetorical question for the following points : (1) Given the probably non-dichotomy (as questioned by Heiser) of Pre/Post 70 C.E. understanding of bodily/spiritual resurrection by Jews/Christians, isn’t better to understand Jesus has having resurrected in bodily form as portrayed by the gospel of Luke, and that (2) Lazarus and others were merely resuscitated (Im using resuscitation / resurrection to distinguish both kinds of coming back to life) and subsequently died *because* (3) Jesus is the firstfruits of “those that have fallen asleep [died]” as shown in 1 Corinthians 15.20:

    “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

    (4) How can Jesus be the firstfruits of the resurrected in the way *he* resurrected in bodily form if Lazarus and others had already been resurrected in this same way before Jesus’ own resurrection? (5) Furthermore, why assume that the new spiritual body that Paul is referring to is completely disconnected from a *transformed* body that is closely related to the former body, since by implication it is a transformation, not a mere resuscitation as with Lazarus. Therefore, (6) Jesus’ resurrection by the Father/Spirit made his former body to be transformed into a spiritual entity that is physical similar or the same as the former body, but transformed in order to be part of the spiritual realm, someone who can appear and disappear at will.

    By the way, I respectfully think that Tabor is off about the Messengers/Mal’akhim in the OT as them being mere humans, if I have correctly understood his statement about this particular point. Dr. Heiser would most likely agree with me, since I know him enough to be almost certain. I say this because, understood correctly, divine spiritual beings are able to physical morph into our physical world, and eat, drink etc. We know this from the text of the OT and from modern research about the demonic and “alien” abductions, as well as the paranormal. But, since Tabor may be oblivious to these areas of research, he doesn’t “click” concerning this particular point. He should revise this matter.

    • MSH says:

      Yes, I’m with you on the mal’akim. I can only guess at the resuscitation question. My take is sure, you could call it that, which would take it out of consideration regarding resurrection. I’m thinking James might say that a bodily “standing up” of Jesus would have therefore been viewed not as resurrection, but only as resuscitation, leading to the expectation that Jesus would just die again. But that’s a guess. Since posting this James Tauber (different guy, not a typo) has pointed me to NT Wright’s volume on The Resurrection of the Son of God. Wright has well over 100 pages of material about the (important point) varying views within Judaism about what happens after one dies and the matter of what resurrection is. I skimmed through some parts today. Basically, it adds the data for my contention that there was no monolithic view of this, and so there is an either-or fallacy problem.

  5. Patrick says:

    The “reconstituted body” idea doesn’t bother me because that’s the end result of resurrection even from the orthodox view. It’s how Professor Tabor arrives there that concerns me.

    I think the dialectic here makes good logic myself. There’s more though to me that militates against Professor Tabor’s views.

    The view of Professor Tabor depends on the 4 canonical Gospel accounts being frauds concerning one of the the prime issues in the Bible. With me, that idea just has no logic to it .

    The claim is the writers inserted this false stuff about the old body being resurrected and reconstituted and my question would be why would they, if as Professor Tabor states, they did have a Divine miracle to accurately describe?

    It allegedly was counter to 2cd temple Jewish expectation and it was definitely counter to pagan expectations of escaping the “evil matter” of the human body.

    Yet, Professor Tabor says Jesus was resurrected into a new reconstituted body, just un associated with His original temporal body. What on earth reason would the ancient scribe have for falsifying that? That’s still a Divine miracle.

    Why would they do that? Professor Tabor’s views would have had way more original appeal to the pagan than the canonical Gospel views would have on the surface of it.

    Insistence on bodily resurrection was exactly how not to appeal to the ancient pagan mind. Yet, the canonical scribes did so with a false story when the faith had a true story of a spiritual resurrection ?

    If Professor Tabor is accurate, writing this story also was how not to appeal to the ancient Jew and it would have created tremendous confusion between pre and post 70 AD believers who would now be struggling with opposite views of Christ and resurrection.

    I don’t get the logic of why they would do this and why the early Church accepted these 4 documents as well if there was this division.

    Further, James did not believe until after the resurrection. He recognized that was His family member alive and Josephus documented James’ martyrdom. He definitely saw Jesus alive again, IMO.

    1 last point, if the accounts get the resurrection wrong, what on earth did they get right?

    • MSH says:

      I loved the last line. Made me chuckle. In regard to your question about acceptance of the gospels, I am betting that Tabor would say (with other NT scholars) that those recognizing the canon back in the 3rd century AD and onward didn’t know anything about their composition history (read: the idea that supernaturalistic material was added later).

  6. I concur with Mr Tabor: a very well-judged article indeed. About your last paragraph, though: if this scenario were true, would it mean that those physical details in the resurrection accounts (Jesus eating fish, inviting Thomas to touch him) were ‘illusions’? How ‘physical’ are ‘spiritual bodies’? Plus, the idea of Jesus’ still needing to be reconstituted ‘physically’ isn’t obviously in Scripture, as far as I can make it.

    • MSH says:

      Actually, it really wouldn’t mean they were illusions. Back in 2007 Deborah Thompson Prince write a very interesting article that relates to this entitled, “The ‘Ghost’ of Jesus: Luke 24 in Light of Ancient Narratives of Post-Mortem Apparitions” (Journal for the Study of the New Testament 29:3, pp. 287-301). Basically, she goes into the classical Greek literature and its depiction of “post mortem apparitions” and shows how the elements of the gospel story are found in earlier literature — all the ones you note and more — but those apparitions were not bodily-resurrected persons. (I know that sounds odd). But she argues that Luke (a Gentile in apparent command of classical material and motifs) creates a unique assemblage and portrayal from these stock elements. Here is her article abstract:

      “Scholarly discussion of Luke 24 often focuses on the physical demonstration of
      Jesus’ bodily presence at the time of his post-resurrection appearances. Based
      upon ancient beliefs regarding the dead, the palpability of Jesus’ hands and feet
      and his ability to eat during his appearance to the eleven in Jerusalem (24.36-
      43) are often thought to oppose any conception of Jesus as less than fully alive
      and physically present. It has been argued recently, however, that these attributes
      were not absolute proof of one’s living status. So, why does Luke employ them?
      To answer this question, the literary characteristics of Greco-Roman narratives
      of post-mortem apparitions will be examined and compared to the characteristics
      applied to the appearances of Jesus in Luke 24. This comparative approach
      reveals the Lukan text’s engagement with these diverse literary traditions,
      without being limited by any one of them. The picture of Jesus that emerges
      surpasses all expected modes of post-mortem appearances by virtue of the fact
      that it incorporates them all.”

      What I mean by this is that a presumed “pre-reconstitution” appearance of Jesus (i.e., something less than a “full” resurrection body) would still have been understood by readers to have been capable of physical acts and traits. Not sure if I’m being clear here.

      • G.M. Grena says:

        Does the Thompson Prince article address John 20′s specific reference to nail prints? Not sure how she could argue that Luke created a “unique assemblage and portrayal”, & if Luke didn’t own a copy of John, then that would be a heck of a coincidence, wouldn’t it? Especially if Dr. Tabor is correct about these being late pseudeipigrapha… In any event, thanks for this well-written review!

        • MSH says:

          She does not specifically address John and the nails (the term didn’t come up in a search); she does talk about Luke’s descriptions of Jesus hands and feet, though.

  7. Krzysztof Ciuba says:

    Again (from Bobcargil web) reminding: 1Cor 15:1nn is from …30′s and not 50′s after Ulrich Victor (Benedict xvi INterview with Peter Gewald: the Light of the World), page 180 in Polish edition: 2011, by ZNAK.
    Probably the idea “third day” is a typical device for both, Paul@the authors of Synoptics based on earlier sources. therefore, I opt for James interpretation of dating events.

    • MSH says:

      it sounds to me like you argue against Tabor with this (if Paul and the Synoptics are using the same alleged sources — where is the proof they used them at different times?).

  8. blop2008 says:

    Oh yes, anyone interested on the ressurection and, specifically, the portrayal of it by Luke should read Deborah Thompson Prince’s 2007. That was a very refreshing article.

  9. Patrick says:

    Michael,

    I’m wondering if the gnostic gospels are part of the logic/dialectic here on Professor Tabor’s side?

    There is a 2003 book detailing research concerning Jewish Palestinian names from 300 BC-200 AD.

    http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/book-reviews/10444519/lexicon-jewish-names-late-antiquity-book

    Those gnostic gospels don’t appear to use names and villages like the 4 canonical Gospels do. Hard to see them as authentic based on eyewitnesses of 30 AD Israel events from an academic angle. One of them uses Egyptian names for example.

    It’s odd, but as with your OT research, today we have more details and info than some ancients may have had about such issues in 300 AD.

    BTW, I wonder if Professor Tabor has considered the OT comments about “You will not allow my body to see corruption” which has been used for millenia to demonstrate Christ’s bodily resurrection fulfilled that? If God didn’t use Jesus’ original soma, it saw corruption and then if so, what was that OT prediction about? Certainly not David’s soma.

    • MSH says:

      I’m betting the Gnostic material contributes something to James’ thinking. Good question for him on that psalm. I can imagine some ways he might approach that, but if he is lurking here maybe he will chime in.

  10. Jerome says:

    Interesting analysis of Mr Tabor’s article.

    It seems to raise some questions of its own though:

    1. You wrote: “The ‘third day” reference is immediately followed by the reference to Peter seeing the resurrected Christ, and then the twelve — a chronology that proceeds from the gospel chronology involving the third day resurrection.’ But if that’s true then why doesn’t Paul mention any of the women to whom the ‘resurrected Christ’ appeared first? Or the disciples walking to Emmaus? Also, to which Gospel chronology are you (or Paul) referring to in that case? Each Gospel has a unique chronology and, as far as I know, there hasn’t been a unified post-resurrection account with all the details from all the different versions that wouldn’t end up with contradictions?

    2. What about Paul’s desire to get rid of the ‘earthly tent’ ( = his natural body) in 2 Cor 5? As he also writes: ‘as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord’. This seems to imply that one has to leave the natural body if one wants to be with the Lord. Furthermore: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” > this ‘while in the body’ indicates that on Judgment Day people are NOT ‘in that body’ anymore (I assume Paul meant the previous, human, natural body).

    Prof Tabor’s argument would make sense then: at the ‘resurrection’ that which survives the death of the body (= the spirit) would be recalled from the ‘realm of the dead’ (and the spirit of the deceased has to survive somehow, right?) and finally get that new, improved, glorious, imperishable body (independently of the state or the whereabouts of the original body), enabling the person to ‘be at home with the Lord’!

    3. Unlike the Gospel authors, Paul does not describe the ‘resurrected Christ’ as a humanoid. Instead he describes his own conversion as the result of ‘God revealing his son to/in me’. That does not sound like a physically resurrected Jesus simply walking up to Paul and talking to him? It rather sounds like a vision, a subjective, internal revelation.

    4. But assuming, for the sake of the argument, that Jesus was indeed physically resurrected in his old body, walked out of the tomb and then showed himself to several hundred people, some of whom even were able to touch him and thus proving his resurrection then why wouldn’t he have given everyone that chance (then and now)? Why would all the others have to simply believe this (and if they don’t then they deserve to be sent to Hell for eternal punishment) while those fortunate ones did not? That, in my opinion, does not really make sense and makes Jesus/God look rather bad and petty.

    • MSH says:

      In order:

      1. My point is about the flow of Paul’s thoughts, not any attempt to reproduce the chain of events in his letter.

      2. Yes, no doubt Paul wanted to be with the Lord, but the curious language of the NT is that people in this “intermediate state” (and that is what theologians typically call it) seem to be embodied– for example, how else could Peter, James, and John recognize Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration? How would the rich man in Luke 16 recognize Abraham (and how could Abraham see the man)? This sort of “embodied before getting one’s new body” language is not unique to the NT, either. I think the best thing that can be said is that there was no “one” view of all this (afterlife, intermediate state, resurrection) — and so I think James is wrong to tell his readers that Jews believed X about the resurrection. What he needs to show — and I would submit that he cannot — is that the “rising up” of the dead body *was not included* in the spectrum of beliefs at the time. For me, the Ezekiel example presupposes that, but there are other passages that don’t put things in the same way.

      3. I don’t follow this one – Paul doesn’t describe Jesus in human terms? Paul refers to Jesus as a man in several places, including resurrection passages (1 Cor 15:45-49). I would think “man” is certainly human in conception. I’m not sure what the point is, though.

      4. I think this is a pointless hypothetical question. Why wouldn’t Jesus do X (you could fill that in with dozens of things). It essentially asks us to debate a negative.

      • blop2008 says:

        I strongly concur with Dr. Heiser, and Point 4 was definitely a Red Herring, since there are many things that just don’t “drive” in OT and NT theology, as if that supports one view or another. Point 3 is cherry picking since there are multiple passages in the NT, including Paul, where the ressurected Jesus is cast as a man; but a *transformed-glorified one*.

  11. Jerome says:

    Thank you for answering, Mike. I don’t want to turn this into an endless discussion but I would like to react to your answers, If I may.

    1. You seemed to suggest that Paul could only get the ’3rd day’ idea from having heard or having read the chronology that’s also mentioned in the Gospel texts (the Gospels themselves hadn’t been written at Paul’s time, right?). But if that’s true then why did he leave out the women (who according to the Gospels saw Jesus first)? So why assume then that Paul’s chronology *proceeds* from the (later written) Gospel chronology? Wasn’t it possible to simply get the ’3rd day’ idea from interpreting certain passages of the OT in a certain way?

    2. I’m not saying that this ‘new, spiritual body’ isn’t physical, in some weird sense. I’m just saying that Paul states that he wants to leave his *old* body in order to get the *new* one, which would enable him to be ‘at home with God’. This would indicate that the old body is NOT needed in order to get the new one, that it can be shed in order to rot away. Thus making it possible, as Prof Tabor suggest, that you could be in the presence of a corpse and yet believe that the person itself has already been resurrected. As the ‘first fruit’ in this case.

    3. I was referring to Paul’s description (or actually lack of description) of the post-resurrection ‘Christ’, not of the pre-resurrection Jesus! The later he obviously saw as human (born of a woman). But Acts (assuming it can be trusted on this), when describing Paul’s conversion, speaks of Paul only seeing a ‘bright light’ and hearing ‘voices’. Acts does not describe Paul as having seen a humanoid ‘risen Christ’ like the other ones allegedly have.

    And Paul *himself* describes his conversion as the result of ‘God revealing his son to/in me’. That, as I have written before, sounds more like an internal revelation than the description of meeting a humanoid Jesus on a road, no?

    4. Agreed. Yet it’s a valid question overall about Christianity. But it’s somewhat off-topic to this thread, I agree.

    • MSH says:

      In order:

      1. Because he wasn’t concerned to give a fifth gospel accounting of the chronology. When you quote a Scripture reference, do you always include the entire verse, or the surrounding verses?

      2. I don’t think the conclusion about not needing the old body follows. We aren’t actually told that the old body is not in view. Yes, the old body and the new “spiritual” body (whatever that means) are contrasted, but I don’t think it is clear that Paul is saying the old body is dispensed with (as opposed to being transformed). I can see where one could read parts of what Paul says that way; my point is that such a reading isn’t compelling.

      3. Paul still uses “man” in some post-resurrection contexts. But one could argue that he is referring to visible form and not physicality there. So there is ambiguity even in those (infrequent) instances.

  12. Patrick says:

    Beyond the Psalm, “Your body will not see corruption” , we have Peter in Acts assigning that prophesy to Jesus’ resurrection and informing the crowd while David’s body was definitely still in it’s grave, Jesus’ wasn’t.

    Paul made a statement about “He was resurrected after 3 days according to the scriptures”. I’ve never seen an OT reference except Hosea 6:2 for that and it’s verbiage is “He will raise us up” in most English translations. Don’t know the original language there, but, that gives me more sense of a physical resurrection of the original body(admittedly may not in original language).

  13. Jerome says:

    @Patrick:

    That verse was referring to King David, not Jesus.

  14. Jerome says:

    @MSH:

    1a. Of course you don’t have to include everything when referencing a quote. But Paul could easily have written ‘and that he appeared to Mary (or ‘the women’), to Cephas/Peter and then the Twelve’ if he indeed knew about Mary and/or the women from those other sources, right? Why would he leave the FIRST apparition, an event most extraordinaire!, of Jesus out!?
    1b. So Paul, or someone else, could not have come up with the ’3rd day’ reference from reading and interpreting the OT alone? That had to come from an already existing ‘Christian’ text, based allegedly on eyewitness accounts?

    2. But are you objective in calling the evidence ‘not compelling’? Such evidence, if correct, threatens the long-held and cherished assumption that Jesus’ corpse got revived and Jesus then walked out of the tomb (btw: naked? since the linen was apparently left behind). That would be a big incentive to call the evidence ‘not compelling’. Paul insists quite a lot though on leaving the ‘old tent’ and that one can’t be ‘at home with god’ while ‘in the body’.

    3. Would you mind sharing one of these instances where Paul refers to the ‘risen Christ’ as ‘man’? Also, even in some parts of the Gospels Mary and the disciples, the people who were closest to him!, did not visually recognize him ‘post-resurrection’! So whatever his ‘body’, it must have been very different (and let’s not forget he could go through walls and fly up to the sky). And the story about ‘the risen Christ’ appearing to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus works very well on a symbolical level and is actually very poetic, so why assume it happened in an actual, historical sense?

    • MSH says:

      Yes, it’s not compelling. As others have prompted me to check, NT Wright has a good 100-150 pages in his book on the resurrection in regard to early Jewish views of the afterlife and resurrection. There is much material in there that runs counter to Tabor’s proposal. Consequently, the notion that Tabor is correct about the way ancient Jews of the era of Jesus viewed resurrection is far from compelling. Jews of the era were not lock-step on the issue. There’s no reason to agree that his way of parsing the material is the only way to parse it. So it isn’t compelling. Why would it be?

      I noted some references on Paul referring to Jesus as a man in the context of resurrection earlier. For example, see Rom 5:17 – “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness ?reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” While the focus of this “reigning” is Jesus’ death in Romans 5, the focus shifts to include the resurrection in Romans 6 (e.g., Rom 6:1-11; you cannot just isolate things). The “man” Christ Jesus is, in his resurrected state, the one mediator between God and other men (1 Tim 2:5). While one could argue that “mediation” there refers to the death, the writer of Hebrews (who may or may not have been Paul) has Jesus continually making intercession — and so it is not a coherent argument to say that “mediation” is ONLY the sacrificial death). At any rate, Paul echoes this statement in Heb 7:25 in Rom 8:34, where the resurrected Christ is interceding for believers. Then there is 1 Cor 15:21 – “For as ?by a man came death, ?by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.” NOTICE that this is the same chapter where we read that Jesus is a “life-giving spirit” (v. 45).

      My view is simple. I don’t feel anything in the text compels us to choose between a bodily resurrected Jesus and Jesus as a life-giving spirit. To me it’s a both-and, not an either-or. And since I don’t find Tabor’s framing of the Jewish understanding of resurrection compelling (for reasons noted above), I see no compelling reason to have to view the material as an either-or proposition.

  15. benkeshet says:

    b”h

    Seems to me that Professor Tabor has made not a small error and I’m a bit surprised no one has mentioned it yet. He wrote:

    “There are three stories of the resuscitation of the dead in the Hebrew Bible. Elijah raises the son of widow, his successor Elisha raises the child of a wealthy woman, and an dead man put in the grave of Elijah (sic – Elisha), touching his bones, “lived and was raised to his feet” (1 Kings 17:17-22; 2 Kings 2:32-37; 2 Kings 13:21).”

    Pray tell, where in the Tanakh is it written that ELIJAH died? Can this error be considered a minor typo, or is it Freudian slippage in accord with a broader trend to minimize the physicality of resurrection and or translation?

    The Tanakh says Elijah was taken up bodily in the chariot to heaven. His translation experience is arguably an integral part of overarching ideas about “resurrection” and “translation.” No tradition I’m aware of says Elijah’s lifeless body fell to earth (and was buried) while his spirit was taken to heaven in the chariot. It could be argued that just as Elijah was translated bodily and remains alive to this day, so Yeshua was both resucitated from death and bodily translated (and not either-or as you point out Mike). His body would not decay, precisely comparable to Elijah’s experience over the centuries.

    Respectfully.

  16. Jerome says:

    @benkeshet:

    It’s obvious that Prof Tabor meant Elisha’s bones, not Elijah’s bones. Has to be a typo.

    As for Elijah: Taken up to heaven in a chariot? And you take that literally? Seriously? Where did that chariot fly to? Past the moon, into another dimension? Some far-away planet?

    Also, Elijah was not resurrected. He did not die first and then ‘got taken up to Heaven in a chariot’. He was alive when ‘this’ happened. So it’s not really connected as to how people imagined a ‘resurrection’.

    • MSH says:

      That’s the easiest approach. All of this talk is, as you note, about afterlife experience, not places that have literal latitude and longitude (or that can be mapped above sea level / atmospheric level).

      • Jerome says:

        They illustrate the limited knowledge of people at the time though: ‘Heaven’ is ‘up there’ and you can fly to it: be it with a chariot, like Elijah, or own your own, like the ‘resurrected Christ’. And ‘Hell’ is of course, as the opposite of ‘Heaven’, ‘under ground’ (in the Earth’s core?? Oh, wait, they didn’t know that the Earth was a globe …).

        • MSH says:

          right – the biblical cosmology is pre-scientific, and never intends to be anything else.

          • Jerome says:

            Which raises the questions:
            1. If the Bible is God’s Word then why didn’t he explain them how the world works and that ‘Heaven’ is not simply ‘up there’, above the clouds, and that you can’t reach it by ‘flying there’. Claiming such incorrect elements in stories makes it seem like you’ve just invented that story …
            2. So even though the text claims that ‘Elijah went up to Heaven by a windstorm/chariot’ you don’t believe that this actually, factually happened?

            • MSH says:

              See my earlier response.

              Your first question is so odd and uninformed (assuming some sort of “Weekly World News” literalism). That a person tries to put a belief into words does not mean that the words he or she uses within their culture are to be understood in all literalness. God used people of a particular time and culture and let them express themselves in ways that communicated to — drum roll, please — THEIR culture. We do the same thing today (e.g., at death, people “pass on”) understanding that we could plot a literal course to this destination; it’s just an attempt to express a belief about an afterlife using the vocabulary that works in our time and place. I can’t see how that’s difficult to comprehend.

  17. Jerome says:

    @MSH:

    Where did I say that Professor Tabor’s view is the ONLY way to parse it? And as you said Jews from that era were not lock-step on the issue. So there’s nothing that invalidates his interpretation or renders it impossible? Not that this would therefore automatically make it true, of course not.

    And did no Jews at the times then expect the souls/spirits of the deceased coming back from the realm of the dead, at some point, and into a new body?

    Some of your examples of Paul using ‘man’ in relation to Jesus refer to him before his death and resurrection, like in 1 Cor 15:21.

    And the others don’t seem to mean a ‘human’ man so there’s no real connection to his previous, human body either.

    • MSH says:

      These examples aren’t in pre-resurrection contexts (though others would be). I was asked why I don’t see Tabor’s argument as compelling. I gave you my honest answer.

  18. benkeshet says:

    b”h

    @ Jerome

    2:11 As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a fiery chariot pulled by fiery horses appeared. They went between Elijah and Elisha, and Elijah went up to heaven in a windstorm. 2:12 While Elisha was watching, he was crying out, “My father, my father! The chariot and horsemen of Israel!” 14 Then he could no longer see him. He grabbed his clothes and tore them in two.

    2:13 He picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had fallen off him, and went back and stood on the shore of the Jordan. 2:14 He took the cloak that had fallen off Elijah, hit the water with it, and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he hit the water, it divided and Elisha crossed over.

    2:15 When the members of the prophetic guild in Jericho, who were standing at a distance, saw him do this, they said, “The spirit that energized Elijah rests upon Elisha.” They went to meet him and bowed down to the ground before him.

    2:16 They said to him, “Look, there are fifty capable men with your servants. Let them go and look for your master, for the wind sent from the Lord may have carried him away and dropped him on one of the hills or in one of the valleys.”

    But Elisha replied, “Don’t send them out.” 2:17 But they were so insistent, he became embarrassed. So he said, “Send them out.” They sent the fifty men out and they looked for three days, but could not find Elijah. 2:18 When they came back, Elisha was staying in Jericho. He said to them, “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t go’?”

    Apparently the Tanakh’s redacting “narrator” believed that Elijah was caught up, that Elisha believed that, and that the prophetic guild also knew he’d been wisked away, but possibly only to another earthly location. They searched around, and upon not locating Elijah, nor his body, they reported back, to which Elisha said, “Told ya.”

    As an unworthy recipient of a few miracles in my life, I will have to go with literalism on Elijah’s catching away. Paul too said he did not know if he attended the heavenly scene “in body or out of body.” So, Jerome, your question resembles the Sadducees “funnin” with Yeshua about resurrection. As Yeshua responded, it is not enough to know scripture, but also “the power of G-d.” If the Deity has really never directly interacted in this world, then sure, we will have to make the best of naive stories of quite fantastic miracles. That is precisely what Prof Tabor is saying about Yeshua and the resurrection, that the gospels got it wrong and are too literalistically naive. But if the Deity really has interacted and does interact, then there’s a strong possibility that the naive reading is the proper reading.

    Respectfully.

    • Jerome says:

      benke:

      Miracles, seriously? That’s another endless topic of discussion where rationality will be scarce … But just a quick question: why were YOU deemed worthy of such miracles when, for example, my neighbor’s child has died of cancer even though her parents are believing Christians and prayed for Jesus to intervene?

      And of, so you believe in a ‘taken up in a chariot and flying up to Heaven’. I guess we have to stop our discussion there then. Once one assumes magic and the supernatural to be possible then EVERYTHING becomes possible. No need to debate this any further.

      “Apparently the Tanakh’s redacting “narrator” believed that Elijah was caught up, that Elisha believed that, and that the prophetic guild also knew he’d been wisked away, but possibly only to another earthly location. They searched around, and upon not locating Elijah, nor his body, they reported back, to which Elisha said, “Told ya.””

      Yeah, and the evidence that any of this actually happened like that is … ? Ah, yeah, I thought so. There is no. Except that one story. And we all know that what’s written down has to be true, right? :D

      • MSH says:

        No, *everything* is not possible; belief in the miraculous merely denies materialism. Your caricature is inaccurate.

        On miracles and your self-assured position that there is no analogy in “real” history, this recent and massive work of scholarship may interest you – that is, if you are *really* interested in researching the question, as opposed to assuming that you know everything that has happened or will happen, or that can happen.

        http://www.amazon.com/Miracles-Credibility-Testament-Accounts-Volume/dp/0801039525/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335983122&sr=1-1

        After this, you could move on to scholarly philosophical critiques of materialism. But something tells me you aren’t interested in reading anything that critiques your position. Funny how those on the other side are willing to do that frequently.

        The issue is about what these texts say, not whether what is said is real. The texts cannot tell us that independently. For that, we need philosophy and science — to judge whether or not ideas like an afterlife are coherent and rational. And a great number of thinkers in those fields (today and yesterday) have concluded they are. But that likely doesn’t matter for you. And I don’t believe for a minute you’ve done any sort of rigorous research into these issues. Your comment sounds like axe-grinding. Oh well.

        • benkeshet says:

          b”h

          Thank you Michael for mentioning Craig Keener’s two volume tome, which I did not know about. Also, you said,

          “The issue is about what these texts say, not whether what is said is real.”

          and this is what I originally posted about. Should the Tanakh’s and the intertestimental “Elijah traditions” have been included in Prof. Tabor’s discussion on first century Jewish views of recusitation and resurrection as they relate to gospel resurrection accounts of Yeshua? Prof. Tabor claims the gospels got it wrong by assuming bodily resurrection-translation, not merely recusitation, nor the “spiritual arising” he postulates. Yet if Elijah (and the Enoch traditions) are included in this discussion, the evidence that gospel authors accepted bodily translation and presence in heaven cannot be dismissed in Yeshua’s case. What any modern reader believes, Tabor, myself or anyone else, is not under consideration.

  19. Hal Roberts says:

    I have seen 2 walking spirits ( or ghost ) in my life. One that I think I new, when I read this it reinforces my belief that when we pass on we go to a alternate dimension until judgment day. I think the dead will be raised in the same spirit form that looks like a vapor apparition to us. After judgment day I’m not sure what we will look like, there are a few possibilities it seems. I have just found your site and find it interesting will be coming back

  20. Lol. Seems all of these discussions start out great. Then, it’s paramount to a skipping record. I am an apologist. Shoit me. There are common denominators in just about everydebate or ddiscussion I am involved in. Be it atheist, scholar, Christian fanatic, or my personal favorite, the historian. Believe it or not, most Christians are actually Historians as well. This just means Jesus = Bible.
    When any and all of these discussions take place, everyone thinks they are talking about Jesus, when in fact they are talking about Scripture interpretations. The dead giveaway is the constant use of past tense verbs that always follow the name Jesus.
    Theology is the benchmark for scholarly assumption. Has anyone at all stopped to consider the fact that the Gospel is extremely simple. For the life of me I can never understand what everyone studies. Not at all knocking Dr. Tabor; I’m a new fan. But does it strike anyone as strange that there is only one thing that can, or ever will straiten this argument out, and that seems to be the subject of this discussion. Please allow me to simplify the entire Old and new Testament for anyone that is interested.
    The entire Bible can be summed up in five sentences or less. It was designed so that children could understand it.Jesus came. Jesus died. Jesus was raised from the dead.(btw, form, at this point is irrelevant) Jesus is alive now. This is the Gospel. You can read all you want to. You can discuss this until you’re dead yourself, but if Jesus Christ did escape death, and is indeed alive, then why no present tense verbs?
    This is the nutshell version. He’s either alive, or He’s not. If He is, and you don’t see Him, uou are wasting your time arguing about Scripture, simply because it isn’t true, any of it. If you still don’t understand, look at it like this. What difference does it make who is right, what form He took when and if He resurrected, or any of these other things we discuss. If you ccan’t see the resurrected form He has taken on, does it matter what form it is?
    I have read some comments here that say if I, or the other person that commented on miracles, profess any such reward for our time spent on this subject as actually knowing of them; then we’re. “leaving the realm of reasonable reality”. Consider your own reality. The very bottom line is what’s real. If it’s not real, don’t waste your time. Unless you think miracles are beyond the scope of logical reason, but spending enough time on a subject such as this, as to be able to join a conversation with people of this caliber (we all seem to have spent some time) Is is reasonable and logical then to be up all hours of the night reading and commenting, and even arguing about something that’s not even real?
    I teach Jesus, not theology. I used to, and decided to learn the reality of it. I have literally died a total of three times now. I am not claiming any sort odf superiority, but I would like to point this fact out, and state the obvious. Obviously, it has been spoken with the tongue that Jesus has been seen.

    • MSH says:

      I appreciate the heart here, but there are lots of things in the Bible that children cannot process. It wasn’t written for children. But they can comprehend some of its more crucial ideas for sure.

  21. Mark Kellam says:

    Just wanted to apologize for the typos in the comment I left. I was on a cellphone. My fingers are bigger than the keypads, lol, and there’s no way on the mobile site to edit comments. Btw, the site looks great on mobile. I also would like to say that when most of the atheist quote the bible during these types of discussions and some Christians), they seem to not want t consider other very important factors to the equation. Jesus says that we are born with a blind spot of sorts, and that certain things have to be done to have it removed. As crazy as this may sound, Jesus could be standing right beside you, and you wouldn’t see him. Silly as it is, it is scripture. If this is the case, then the reports that some saw Him after the resurrection, and some didn’t. It would also explain why Mary thought Jesus was a gardener, and didn’t know Him, after only three days. This hasn’t been addressed either. This blind spot was evident in Mary, and Jesus says, “why do ye not have faith?” when referring to her inability to see Him as Himself. This is followed up with the two men Jesus met on the road, same thing, and it states Jesus appeared “in another form” to some people.

    Dr. Tabor speaks of some apologist that say He is in a flesh body, but that it is a different flesh body. I would say it’s (if anything) an ultra physical body. I would rather look at this philosophically. When you dream, for instance, you take a “you” with you to “there”, and you also have a body of sorts, that is not a spirit. Another way to look at Jesus, is that if we now, at this very minute are spirit, and flesh, and there is really no difference except our perception of it. This is also scripture. We are made from the same “stuff” as everything. There is no spirit and flesh. Only a belief that causes it to appear that way. This is what the resurrection is about. His appearance, or non-appearance. Think of Mary. She didn’t see Him until she believed it was Him, because He revealed Himself.
    -Peace

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