I have just started reading NT Wright’s book, the Resurrection of the Son of God. In the first chapter, Wright lays the groundwork for his 800+ page assertion that the physical resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead was a real historical event which can be shown to have occurred, with evidence:
Wright asserts that the Christian movement could not have developed and spread so rapidly within the Jewish community of the first century unless Jesus really and truly…physically…rose from the dead. The physical resurrection of a dead person was inconceivable in first century Judaism. No one would have converted to this new Faith based on such an outrageous, unheard of, supernatural assertion…unless…people had really witnessed and interacted with, a resurrected, walking, talking dead man.
Quote : “Never before had there been a movement which began as a quasi-Messianic group within Judaism and was transformed into a sort of movement which Christianity quickly became. Nor has any similar phenomenon ever occurred again. The common post-Enlightenment perception of Christianity as simply ‘a religion’ masks the huge differences, at the point of origin, between this movement and , say, the rise of Islam or of Buddhism. Both pagan and Jewish observers of this new movement found it highly anomalous: it was not a club, not even like a religion (no sacrifices, no images, no oracles, no garlanded priests, certainly not like a racially based cult.
…how might we speak of such a thing, which had not been seen before and has never been seen since?
…If we are to speak truly about the early church, we must describe something for which there was no precedent and of which there remains no subsequent example. In addition, as we shall see, the early church by its very existence forces upon us the question which we, as historians, must ask: what precisely happened after Jesus’ crucifixion that caused early Christianity to come into being: Ironically, then, it is precisely the uniqueness of the early church that forces us to say : never mind analogies, what happened”
I get the feeling that the remainder of this book will be based solely on this “evidence”. I hope not, because I believe it is an inaccurate assertion. I believe that it can be proven very easily to be an inaccurate assertion.
Do radical, world-view-altering, new beliefs occur within very stable, mature belief systems? Let’s look at Christianity. For almost 1,800 years the Christian Church believed that God’s full revelation, his complete message to mankind, had been revealed in the Old and New Testaments. In the early 1800’s a Christian man living in New York state claimed to have received a new message, a new testament, from God. Hundreds, then thousands, and today 15,000,000 of this Christian man’s followers believe this shocking, radical teaching, never heard of before in the Christian Faith. It is called Mormonism.
How about Judaism? Wright claims that this phenomenon has never occurred in Judaism. I guess that Wright does not consider the movement of Menachem Mendel Schneerson to be equivalent. Many would disagree with Wright on this point.
Let’s keep reading.
See part 2 here.
13 thoughts on “A Layman’s Review of NT Wright’s, The Resurrection of the Son of God, Part 1, Was the Christian movement unique in history?”
Out of curiosity, why are you bothering to engage Randal Rauser on his blog. Don’t expect someone proud like him to concede defeat on any theological point. If you want to see some of his arguments cut to shreds, check out Triablogue. There is a search function on the site. Search for “Randal Rauser”, and you will find many articles by a guy named Steve Hayes (who recently passed away). Steve Hays cut many of Randal’s arguments to shreds (imo):
Don’t expect someone proud like him to concede defeat on any theological point.
Yes, his M.O. when he backed into a corner is to pretend that the question is improperly (ignorantly) stated and therefore unanswerable. He attempts to humiliate the challenger to avoid answering the question.
That is called prevaricating, or in modern English: bullshitting.
Thanks for the reply.
I have known about Randal’s blog for quite some time. I don’t have a background in Theology, so I mostly read articles and read what others have to say in the comments section. I can tell you that Randal is adept at weaseling his way out of a line of questioning when it isn’t going his way. He has all kinds of tactics. He also has demonstrated that he can be mean-spirited and vindictive (imo). Steve Hays, of Triablogue, was a guy who I believe understood Randal’s M.O. well. I didn’t know Steve, but I understand Steve had a rich knowledge of Theology. He had no qualms with bashing Randal’s points. There are many articles (perhaps more than 100) referencing Randal to be found in the second link I shared above. They go back as a far as 2011. You might enjoy reading some. Meanwhile, I enjoy reading your exchanges on Randal’s site. Just don’t expect him to budge an inch or concede theological points… no matter what evidence you can muster.
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Hopefully my comments will trigger curiosity in the minds of other believers who read his blog, causing them to take a fresh look at the evidence for their religious superstitions. I view myself as an evangelist for reason, science, and non-superstitious thinking.
BTW, Gary, I understand you are not religious. I cited links above re. Steve Hays and his interactions with Randal. Steve was a Christian, but the point of my sharing those links with you was that I believe they are quite revealing re. Randal himself. He is a piece of work (imo). Again, don’t expect him to budge one inch – no matter what evidence you can proffer.
I don’t expect him to budge, but I am hoping to budge some of his readers.
BTW, Gary, I don’t know if you saw this, but here is Randal attacking you on twitter recently:
This seems like a common tactic of his… to attack his interlocutor if he feels the exchange is not going well. As I said, Randal can be mean-spirited and vindictive.
Hmmmm. I hate to be political here, but there’s someone else that uses similar tactics. 😈
He knows his worldview is in trouble.
Thanks for the heads up!
Gary, as an FYI, here is Randal again attacking someone (I am confident it is you) on twitter recently. There are three (3) separate tweets in this thread, and I’m confident he is referring specifically to you:
As an FYI, I have followed your exchanges with him on his blog. He is employing one of his typical tactics in that he is trying to make you give a very specific (i.e. one that is satisfactory to him) definition of “subjective personal perception” before he will answer your question. This is a dodge (imo). He could answer, but he is playing semantic games (imo). I’ve seen him do this. Engaging someone like that can seem like banging your head against a proverbial wall. Again, Gary, you are dealing with someone who won’t (likely) budge an inch no matter what you say, and he can be rather mean-spirited and vindictive in the process (imo).
Yes, I’ve gotten that impression. But the fact that he is tweeting about me (a nobody) shows that my question (if he believes that he has a personal relationship with Jesus) has gotten under his skin.