[D]uring this past Easter season, I saw a two hour TV show involving the Shroud of Turin. A team of graphic experts used cutting-edge 3D software to bring the face of Jesus to light (http://www.history.com/shows/the-real-face-of-jesus). The technology was highlighted via recreations of lifelike sightings of Jesus after his resurrection. The show was well done; the effect of it on me was akin to my initial amazement at the many historical and archeological discoveries over the past century or so. Over an over they provided solid evidence that the people, places and events in the bible were real. I was left with the thought that the resurrection of Jesus was also the literal truth.
There is now a scientific basis to believe that the resurrection of Jesus really happened; that it wasn’t a matter of vision, metaphor or exaggerated poetic license to make a point. Is there also a historical basis?
N.T. Wright is widely regarded as one of the premier scholars involved in the historical study of Jesus. In his book, The Challenge of Jesus, he maintains that Christianity was not just a kingdom of God movement. It was, from the onset, a resurrection movement; the belief in resurrection was unquestionable and not merely a central belief but the central driving force of early Christianity.
N.T. Wright is one of my favorites. Here is a description of The Challenge of Jesus from Publishers Weekly:
Here, prolific Anglican theologian and historical Jesus quester Wright makes accessible to lay readers the arguments he laid out in his scholarly tome Jesus and the Victory of God. But Wright does more than just rehash old arguments; he adds a discussion of the resurrection, absent from Victory, and addresses the prickly problem of relevance. In the first six chapters, Wright tackles many of the questions of the historical Jesus debate: Did Jesus believe the Kingdom of God was "now" or "later"? (Both, says Wright.) Did He know He was God in the same way "that one knows one is hungry or thirsty"? ("It was not a mathematical knowledge…. It was more like the knowledge that I have that I am loved by those closest to me.") What exactly happened on Easter? (Jesus’ body seemed both physical and transphysical.) Wright then addresses how all these historical-cum-theological musings are significant for Christians living in a postmodern world. This superb addition to Wright’s oeuvre will prove fruitful reading for neophytes as well as for those already familiar with his approach. (Jan.)
The On The Path… with Prayers: Christianity spread like wildfire – how come?