In chapter one the question is asked: Is something like the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ really non-negotiable? To come to an informed understanding of this question, hermeneutical, epistemological and exegetical approaches, underlying the resurrection debate, is analysed in five scholars with divergent interpretations. They are William L. Craig (1); Gary R. Habermas (1), Gerd Lüdemann (2), A.J.M. (Sandy) Wedderburn (3) and N.T. (Tom) Wright (1). In chapter two, their views on the resurrection are briefly stated. Then their hermeneutical presuppositions are discussed, which indicate that group (1) believes God can intervene in nature, and number (2)&(3) deny it. Group (1) believes that the Bible is a divine book giving credible witness to the resurrection, while numbers (2)&(3) see it as a purely human book with highly contradictive resurrection evidence. In chapter three crucial texts in 1 Cor. 15, which give the earliest New Testament evidence, are analysed. The texts and interpretations are: Verse 4 - kai oti etafh (he was buried) - For group (1) this phrase refers to Jesus’ empty tomb. For number (3) this phrase only allows for that possibility, but rejects it eventually. For (2) this phrase excludes an empty tomb. Verse 6 - pantakosioi~ adelfoi`~ ([he appeared also to] 500 brethren) – For group (1) this phrase is historical. For (2)&(3), this phrase is a redactional addition. Verses 8-11 - Paul the escaton (last) to see Jesus - For group (1) Paul saw Jesus in bodily form. For number (2) Paul had a hallucination and number (3) affirms that possibility. Verse 44 - swma pneumatikon (supernatural body) - For group (1), this phrase indicates that Christians will arise from the dead with a tangible glorified body. For numbers (2)&(3) it indicates no bodily resurrection. Verse 50 - sarx kai aima (flesh and blood [cannot inherit the kingdom of God]) – For group (1) this phrase refers to a typical Semitic expression. This means the resurrected body will be without sin and glorified. For numbers (2) &(3) this phrase indicates no bodily resurrection. In chapter four a summary of their exegetical results is given. Furthermore their hermeneutical presuppositions and epistemologies are critiqued. In the case of group (1) critical realism is shown to be a helpful tool, but with reservations. Forthwith, number (3) is discussed and indicated that his “reverent agnosticism” is the result of (a) 19th century liberal theology and (b) his “historical Jesus”. He then expresses faith through (c) existentialism combined with (d) mysticism. At this stage number (2) is discussed. He concurs with number (3): (a)&(b)&(c). He then utilizes Wilhelm Herrmann’s version of (c). Eventually however, he renounces Christianity all together. Numbers (2)&(3) are then discussed together to indicate the similarities. Furthermore it is argued that (a)&(b)&(c) represent a deviation from the foundational meta-narratives of the Christian faith. It is then stated that the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is a foundational Christian meta-narrative which is indispensable. In the conclusion it is argued that Christian churches should have the courage to confess unashamedly the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, particularly now, in the 21st century.
Dissertation (MTh (New Testament Studies))--University of Pretoria, 2007.