You’ve got to love Christian moderates. They will always find a way to maintain their belief in the core doctrines of orthodox Christianity but do it by denying the literal interpretation of half of the Bible!
New Testament scholar NT Wright believes the core orthodox Christian doctrine that Jesus was bodily resurrected from the dead. One of the primary pieces of evidence he sites for this extraordinary claim is that no first century Jew would have ever invented the concept of the resurrection of one individual. This belief could have only originated from seeing the actual flesh and blood body of a resurrected dead human. Yes, many first century Jews believed in a general resurrection of the righteous at the end of the age, but no first century Jew would have ever imagined one person being resurrected prior to everyone else.
Any Christian who attended Sunday School heard his Sunday School teacher read Bible passages in which Jesus predicted his own death and resurrection. According to the Bible, Jesus had been telling his disciples that he would be killed and that he would be resurrected for quite some time before he was arrested in the Garden:
“Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly.” —Mark 8:31-32
“An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” —Matthew 12:39-40
“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” —Matthew 16:21
“The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” —Luke 9:22
“The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” —John 2:18-22
What does NT Wright say about these passages? From an article published in Gregorianum, 2002, 83/84, 615-635, reposted on Wright’s website he says this:
“They [Christians] retained the belief in a coming Messiah, but redrew it quite drastically around Jesus himself. Why? The answer the early Christians themselves give for these changes, of course, is that Jesus of Nazareth was bodily raised from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. It is Jesus’ own resurrection that has given force and new shape to the Christian hope. It was, they insist, Jesus’ own resurrection which constituted him as Messiah, and if Messiah, then Lord of the world. But what exactly did they mean by this, and what brought them to such a belief?
…they really did intend to say that Jesus had been bodily raised, they were not simply using that language to describe something else, a different belief about Jesus or a different experience they had had. Second we must enquire as historians what could have caused them to say such a thing?
It is out of the question, for a start, that the disciples were simply extrapolating from the teachings of Jesus himself. One of the many curious things about Jesus’ teaching is that though resurrection was a well known topic of debate at the time we only have one short comment of his on the subject, in reply to the question from the Sadducees–a comment which is itself notoriously cryptic, like some of its companion pieces in the synoptic tradition. Apart from that, there are the short repeated predictions of Jesus’ passion and resurrection , which many of course assume are vaticinia ex eventu, and two or three other cryptic references. (emphasis, Gary’s)
Vaticinia ex eventu???
Let’s look it up, shall we:
Vaticinium ex eventu: (“Prophecy from the event”) is a technical theological or historiographical term referring to a prophecy written after the author already had information about the events he was “foretelling”.
Gary: So what NT Wright is saying is that “of course” Jesus never predicted his resurrection! Of course Jesus never told his disciples, for three years, that he would be resurrected after being dead for three days! Of course Jesus never told anyone that he would be resurrected as one individual; resurrected as one individual prior to the general resurrection when every other righteous Jew would be resurrected. Any one who knows anything about Bible scholarship knows that THESE passages are not authentic/inspired/literal…they are scribal alterations…somebody added them…they shouldn’t be there…only fundamentalists believe that Jesus really said them…
So, since Jesus never predicted his resurrection…
….when he did rise from the dead that first Easter Sunday, his resurrection came as a total…out of the blue…absolute…unheard of…shock…to every Jew who saw him!
So the fact that a small minority of first century Jews came to believe that Jesus had been bodily resurrected (the overwhelming majority did not, by the way), this is excellent evidence that the bodily Resurrection of Jesus did occur because no first century Jew would have ever conceived of such a concept…unless of course…Jesus had been preaching just such a concept…to the small minority of Jews who after this death did believe it, based on grief-induced hallucinations, visions, vivid dreams, false sightings, and misperceptions of natural phenomena.