When historical Jesus’ scholar, John Dominic Crossan, stated that Jesus’
resurrection appearances were apparitions and not physical appearances, was it
possible to test this conclusion? To what degree are a scholar’s conclusions affected
by his presuppositions?
Crossan’s definition of history was that it ‘is the past reconstructed interactively
by the present through argued evidence in public discourse’ (Crossan 1999:3). The
outworking of this view was that the New Testament Gospels are regarded as megaparables,
fictitious creations. His application of this view was, ‘Emmaus never
happened. Emmaus always happens’ (Crossan 2012:5). A pattern emerged in which
Crossan stated that he was using a method of postmodern interactivism (Crossan
1998a:42). But how is this discerned and articulated with as objective a methodology
What do presuppositions of postmodern, reconstructive, interactivism do to
Crossan’s conclusions regarding Jesus’ resurrection appearances? Here the
parameters were restricted to literary and historical dimensions of Crossan’s speech
The problem investigated was to seek to identify Crossan’s presuppositions
and methods in his study of the resurrection of Jesus to determine if they were valid
or not when the Gospel evidence on the resurrection was considered. A
presupposition-hypothesis method was used to test for verification or falsification,
using a critical realist epistemology.
A research gap indicated a need for a more objective model to isolate a
researcher’s presuppositions of Jesus’ resurrection. The Beaver and Geurts
framework (2011) was chosen that led to probability and not certainty about the
content of presuppositions. Presuppositional ‘triggers’ were identified from Crossan’s
The hypothesis tested was: J D Crossan's presuppositions and methods, in his study
of the resurrection of Jesus, are not valid when the Gospel evidence on the
resurrection is taken into consideration.
Twenty-three presuppositions were discovered and these were developed into
18 hypotheses, three of which were tested:
Hypothesis 9: The divine manifestation of Christianity for a postmodern world is
deconstruction (his term is reconstruction) and it is not done once for all, but is
reinterpreted for each generation’s issues. It was found that reconstruction mutilates
the voice of the author by imposing an a priori metaphorical dogmatism on the text.
Crossan’s postmodern, reconstructive, interactive hermeneutic was shipwrecked on
the ‘rocks’ of contradiction, inconsistency and a self-defeating methodology.
Hypothesis 10: The New Testament resurrection narratives are not historical
documents. Crossan defined history as a postmodern reconstructionist and reached
postmodern, reconstructive conclusions, thus using a question begging logical
fallacy. He also did not apply this methodology consistently.
Hypothesis 12: It does not matter what a person believes about whether Jesus’
tomb was empty or not; the importance is its meaning, which is independent of
factuality. Crossan imposed his own understanding of the meaning of Jesus’
resurrection through his use of free play, relativistic, multivalent, postmodern, nonsupernatural
stratagem on the text. Thus, Crossan’s idiosyncratic meanings replaced
objective, hermeneutical testing of the text of Scripture.
Therefore this dissertation’s hypothesis was verified.