Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Applying the Principles, Part I

[Part six in the Scripture and History series]

I have been outlining Greg Herrick's "The Historical Veracity of the Resurrection Narratives" the last few posts in the series. First, I should say that here Herrick is only dealing with one possible naturalistic explanation of the Resurrection accounts:

From this brief discussion we contend that Jesus' resurrection, spoken of in the Gospels (and indeed the entire New Testament) is a bodily resurrection - the corporeal theory.
The brief discussion in the paper also mentioned five (5) other explanations:
  1. the political theory,
  2. the swoon theory,
  3. the mythical theory,
  4. the subjective vision theory,
  5. the objective vision theory
He dismisses the first two without discussion, but he examines why the thinks the next three fail to the corporeal theory.

You will have to read the linked article for those reasons. He moves on to examine the historicity of the Gospel accounts of the corporeal Resurrection of Jesus. The last two posts looked at Herrick's view of some common "criteria of authenticity" to measure that by; and
"We turn now to an application of those criteria to the resurrection narratives, including the material on the death of Jesus, his burial, the empty tomb, the appearances of Jesus to his disciples and the disciples' belief in the resurrection."
His introduction to the section:
No one saw the resurrection of Jesus. All that was seen was the resurrected Jesus. If, then, a resurrection took place, it must be demonstrated with a reasonable degree of certainty, historiographically speaking, that Jesus actually died and then was seen at some later time alive and in bodily form. A brief sketch of the Gospel testimony runs something like this: 1) Jesus died; 2) was buried in a sealed and guarded tomb; 3) the tomb was found empty three days later and 4) Jesus was seen alive and the disciples held the belief of his resurrection . . . This section seeks to analyze these various ideas according to the details of the Gospels and the criteria of authenticity.
I am only going to outline that application - again you have to read the linked article if you want to capture his entire argument, and that of those he argues against.

I. Jesus died
the criterion of multiple attestation, coherence, and multiple forms demonstrate with reasonable certainty that Jesus did indeed die by crucifixion. That crucifixion was indeed practiced by the Romans . . . is confirmed by Josephus, [satisfying] the criterion of Palestinian environment.
II. He was buried in a sealed and guarded tomb
  • Multiple Attestation:
    • The earliest tradition: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 - the word θάπτω (thaptō) occurs 10 other times in the Gospels and Acts . . . It always refers to the physical burial of a dead person.
    • The Gospels all confirm this testimony

  • Developing tradition or dissimilarity:
    • The earliness of the 1 Corinthians tradition argues against the development of legend. Some of those eyewitnesses were indeed women [also criterion of embarrassment] who played a role in the early church in which the traditions developed
    • The tradition of his burial is not surrounded by adornment and embellishing . . . The later church cannot be read back into the description of Jesus' burial.

  • Divergent tradition: all the Gospel writers mention Joseph of Arimathea and Luke tells us that he was a member of the Sanhedrin. Given the fact that all the writers implicate the religious leaders in Jesus' death . . . Such a unanimously spoken of tradition would probably not survive due the presence of eyewitnesses, unless, of course, it were true.

  • Palestinian environment:
    • the tomb meets with archaeological discoveries
    • the new tomb coheres with the Jews not wanting to pollute other family members interred there
    • Jesus' body would not have been allowed to remain on the cross until the next day, lest the corpse defile the land
    • since he died around the sixth hour, Joseph probably had time to accomplish the burial before nightfall and the beginning of the Sabbath

Next post, the real issues:
  • III. The tomb was found empty three days later
  • IV. Jesus was seen alive and the disciples held the belief of his resurrection.

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How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly