The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives

The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives

The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives

The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives

Synopsis

In this classic study, Reginald H. Fuller approaches the New Testament resurrection narratives as a critic who is concerned with the historical basis of the Easter proclamation. He starts with the earliest record of the Easter traditions in 1 Corinthians 15 and only thereafter turns to the Easter narratives of the four Gospels. In so doing he attempts to reconstruct the history of the tradition using the tools of tradition and redaction criticism to discover the reasons which gave rise to the various Gospel accounts of Jesus' resurrection. Above all else, Fuller's comprehensive study leads to a clear understanding of what the Easter proclamation, "The Lord is risen," means according to the New Testament.

Excerpt

It was indeed a surprise when Fortress Press informed me that they were planning to make this present work available again after so many years. According to Gary R. Habermas, no less than two thousand scholarly books and articles on the subject of the Resurrection have been published since 1970 (see his report, “The Trend toward Bodily Resurrection,” in Robert B. Stewart, The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright in Dialogue [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006], 72). Habermas recognizes in these studies a trend away from a “supernatural subjective” to a “supernatural objective” interpretation of the resurrection appearances. By these two terms he seeks to differentiate between visions subjective to the recipients, and objective sightings of the risen Jesus in his bodily yet spiritual reality. That this trend of scholarship, from the subjective to the objective, has continued in the last few years is especially indicated by N. T. Wright in his massive work, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003).

It is arguable that the subjective and objective interpretations of the Resurrection appearances are both to be found in the New Testament. The subjective type is clearly earlier, as Paul shows in his discussion in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul also implies that the Resurrection and Exaltation were a single indivisible event, and that the appearances were visions of Christ no longer on earth, but exalted to heaven. The later experiences were meetings on earth with the resurrected but not yet ascended Jesus. The subjective type thus presupposes the order: resurrection, exaltation, appearances; the objective type presupposes the order: resurrection, appearances, ascension.

The subjective or visionary interpretation of the appearances may be taken in two different ways. For Paul (and for some modern scholars, including myself) they were revelatory: through them God communicated to the disciples that Jesus was raised from the dead and . . .

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