From the Publisher
About the Author
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It is hardly questionable that shortly before the death of Herod the Great, a Jewish boy was born in Bethlehem or Nazareth, who, about thirty years later, following a brief public career, died on a cross and was buried not long after the fifteenth year (AD 29) of the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius.
The resurrection of Jesus `on the third day’ after his burial, followed by his ascension to heaven on the same day or after forty days, is of quite a different nature. Unlike the crucifixion, it is an unparalleled phenomenon in history. Two types of extreme reactions are possible: faith, or disbelief.
My own standpoint will differ from both of these as I intend to act as a detective seeking, as I did in my previous studies, to investigate what the authors of the New Testament actually say in their writings, and not what interpretative Church tradition attributes to them. The purpose of this volume is to unravel the true meaning conveyed by the evangelists, Paul and the other authors of the Christian scriptures and illuminate it with what we know from the Old Testament and all the relevant Jewish and Graeco-Roman literary and archaeological sources. Its aim is the construction of a tenable hypothesis, but ultimately it will be up to the readers to make up their minds. The dilemma to be confronted and resolved is how to reconcile the extreme importance ascribed to the resurrection by Christianity with the very limited amount of discernible interest in the subject in the authentic teaching of Jesus.
Not long ago an eminent Anglican churchman asked me what I was busying myself with and when he heard that after The Passion and The Nativity I was writing a book on the resurrection, he sagaciously observed, `That seems to be the end of the story, except perhaps for the judgement.’