The resurrection is the centerpiece of Christianity. If Jesus did not arise from the dead, everything is for naught. If He didn’t rise from the dead, he would be just a man. If he was just a man, he wasn’t even a wise man (like Ghandi or Khalil Gibran); he was a madman or a liar because no wise man is confused about his deity.
Most modern scholars accept, at a minimum, that the people who followed Jesus in the 1st Century believed that He arose from the dead and appeared to them in his body after his death. Paul wrote to the people of Corinth, recounting a list of people who had seen Jesus alive after His death on the cross, including more than five hundred (500), some of whom Paul said were still alive.
Think about that: about 35 years after Jesus died, most of more than five hundred people who claimed to see Jesus risen from the dead in his body were still alive.
Virtually no one disagrees that Paul’s letters (the ones scholars concede) were written in the 50’s AD. James, Peter and Paul all died in the 60’s AD during the persecution of Christians by Rome. Another key date is the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. The scholarly consensus is that “the deaths of these important figures likely encouraged the writing down of the narratives about Jesus” (though, some scholars maintain the narratives were written down well before that time).
(Incidentally, scholars in the 19th Century began to posit the idea that the Gospels were written much later, as in the 2nd Century, and that the Gospels were not written by the people attributed to them. That view of the Gospels grew into the 20th Century, but modern scholars have backed off that view and concede that the Gospels were written within a generation of the death of Jesus.)
Most scholars agree that Mark was the first Gospel to be written, and that Mark was written around the year 70 AD. Most scholars believe the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were composed in the 80’s, using Mark as source material and a “collection of Jesus’s sayings” (oral tradition). The Gospel of John was believed to derive from different sources (like the Apostle John, himself).
While there is some disagreement on how early the Gospels were written, the scholarly work of Gary Habermas has convinced most scholars, even skeptical ones, that the message of the Gospel – that Jesus, lived, died and rose from the dead, appearing to his followers – goes back many years before the Gospels are believed to have been written. In fact, it goes back to the very beginning. Continue reading “Dating the Gospels and the Resurrection Story”→
Women have suffered under the dominion and control of men since the beginning of recorded history (and before, no doubt). The culture in the US today, though, is much different than at any other time in history. Women have gained status they have never before had. As an example, about 65% of all college students in the US are women. The political, cultural and societal winds have shifted.
Most of the world, however, is not even close to that benchmark yet. In Muslim countries, in particular, women continue to be treated in ways that more “western” sensibilities consider backward and even barbarian. But, the historical subjugation of women is not just a Muslim thing; it has been widespread and pervasive going far back in time.
This may seem like an odd backdrop to the resurrection story, but women and the resurrection story are forever intertwined in one of the most progressive and remarkably dignified ways in ancient literature.