The Resurrection of the Messiah

The Resurrection of the Messiah

The Resurrection of the Messiah

The Resurrection of the Messiah


Bryan combines literary, historical, and theological approaches in this study of the doctrine of the Resurrection. In the first part of the book, the author provides a careful and sympathetic description of first-century Jewish and pagan opinions and beliefs about death and what might follow. He then presents a general account of early Christian claims about the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. In the second part, Bryan offers a detailed, full-length commentary on and exegesis of the main New Testament texts that speak of Jesus' death and resurrection: 1 Corinthians 15 and the narratives in the four canonical gospels. In the third part, Bryan discusses and evaluates various proposals that have been made by those attempting to explain the data in ways that differ from the traditional Christian explanation. Finally, Bryan asks, "So what?" and considers various theological and ethical implications of accepting the claim "Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead."Throughout his study, Bryan exhibits a willingness to face hard questions as well as an appropriate reverence for a faith that for almost two thousand years has enabled millions of people to lead lives of meaning and grace.


Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. That, as a matter of history, is just about as certain as anything in antiquity. Indeed, one might argue that as historical events go it was not even particularly remarkable. Many others had been executed in the same way, by Romans and on occasion—when they had opportunity to run their own affairs—by Jews. Crucifixion was cruel, humiliating, and shameful, but it was not unusual.

What followed was, however, rather less usual. For so long as I can, I wish to stay with what we may reasonably regard as historical certainties and, at this point, with three in particular.

The first is this: that in the years following the crucifixion, there came into existence a group of people who claimed to be followers of Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified teacher from Galilee, and who were in time called “Christians” (Acts 11:26). In other words, there came into existence the Christian church.

The second is this: that those first Christians when asked why they had come into existence seem frequently to have given an answer that was something to do with Jesus having risen from the dead. Arthur Michael Ramsey, later to be the one-hundredth archbishop of Canterbury, wrote of his initial surprise when he attended lectures by Sir Edmund Hoskyns on the theology and ethics of the New Testament and the lecturer began by saying, “We must begin with the passages about the resurrection.” In time, however . . .

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