The Physical Resurrection a Historical Fact: Part Three

Share/recommend this article:
This article was first published in the book The Jesus Family Tomb Examined, on sale at a REDUCED PRICE in the ABR bookstore.

Excerpt Dr. Rene' Lopez, author of the book, The Jesus Family Tomb Examined: Did Jesus Rise Physically?, has graciously granted permission to ABR to publish Chapter 10 of this important and well-researched book. This is the third part of a three part online article. Concerning this book, Dr. Darrell Bock writes: "This work by Rene A. Lopez covers the issues ranging from every angle: archeological, historical, and theological. Rene has gone through the many discussions these claims have generated, giving them a close look. He is well equipped to guide one through the myriad of questions these claims have raised. This is the book to get on the Jesus Tomb claims. In it, you will be able to assess what the discussion is about. I commend the book with enthusiasm. I think you will discover a great deal in the process." Continue reading

Related Articles
Like this artice?

Our Ministry relies on the generosity of people like you. Every small donation helps us develop and publish great articles.

Please support ABR!

Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover & PayPal

In hindsight many Rabbis viewed the Hebrew Scriptures as teaching a bodily resurrection, as seen in the Talmud and the Mishnah.

How, on the basis of the Torah, do we know about the resurrection of the dead? As it is said, “And you shall give thereof the Lord’s heave-offering to Aaron the priest” [Num. 18:28]. And will Aaron live forever? And is it not the case that he did not even get to enter the Land of Israel, from the produce of which heave-offering is given? [So there is no point in Aaron’s life at which he would receive the priestly rations.] Rather, this teaches that he is destined once more to live, and the Israelites will give him heave-offering. On the basis of this verse, therefore, we see that the resurrection of the dead is a teaching of the Torah….

R. Simai says, “How on the basis of the Torah do we know about the resurrection of the dead? “As it is said, ‘And I also have established my covenant with [the patriarchs] to give them the land of Canaan’ [Exo. 6:4]. “‘With you’ is not stated, but rather, ‘with them,’ indicating on the basis of the Torah that there is the resurrection of the dead.”
Minim asked Rabban Gamaliel, “How do we know that the Holy One, blessed be he, will resurrect the dead?” He said to them, “It is proved from the Torah, from the Prophets, and from the Writings.” But they did not accept his proofs. “From the Torah: for it is written, ‘And the Lord said to Moses, Behold, you shall sleep with your fathers and rise up’ (Deu. 31:16).” They said to him, “But perhaps the sense of the passage is, ‘And the people will rise up’ (Deu. 31:16)?” “From the Prophets: as it is written, ‘Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you that live in the dust, for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out its dead’ (Isa. 26:19).”…

Romans asked R. Joshua b. Hananiah, “How do we know that the Holy One will bring the dead to life and also that he knows what is going to happen in the future?” He said to them, “Both propositions derive from the following verse of Scripture: “As it is said, ‘And the Lord said to Moses, Behold you shall sleep with you fathers and rise up again, and his people shall go awhorring ...’ (Deu. 31:16).” “But perhaps the sense is, ‘[the people] will rise up and go awhoring’ He said to them, “Then you have gained half of the matter, that God knows what is going to happen in the future.” It has also been stated on Amoraic authority: Said R. Yohanan in the name of R. Simeon b. Yohai, “How do we know that the Holy One, blessed be he, will bring the dead to life and knows what is going to happen in the future? “As it is said, ‘Behold, you shall sleep with you fathers, and ... rise again ... (Deu. 31:16)” (bSanh. 90).85

All Israelites have a share in the world to come … And these are the ones who have no portion in the world to come: He who says, the resurrection of the dead is a teaching which does not derive from the Torah, (2) and the Torah does not come from Heaven; and (3) an Epicurean (mSamh. 10:1).
And these are the ones who have no portion in the world to come: He who says, the resurrection of the dead is a teaching which does not derive from the Torah, (2) and the Torah does not come from Heaven; and (3) an Epicurean (mSamh. 10:1).

At one time] all blessings in the Temple concluded with “forever.” When the heretics corrupted [the practice] and said, “There is but one world [but no world to come],” they ordained that they should say, “forever and ever” [thus suggesting the existence of a world to come] (mBer. 9:5).86

Jewish leaders also recited daily a common liturgical temple prayer (which perhaps the Sadducees were exempt from repeating). It mentions bodily resurrection as coming from God who gives “life to the dead.”87

Josephus’ (A.D. 37–100) resurrection proclamations have been controversial, but sufficient evidence exists to show that he also followed the common concept of a bodily resurrection.

Do not you know that those who depart out of this life, according to the law of nature, and pay that debt which was received from God, when he that lent it us is pleased to require it back, enjoy eternal fame? That their houses and their posterity are sure, that their souls are pure and obedient, and obtain a most holy place in heaven, from whence, in the revolution of ages, they are again sent into pure bodies (The Jewish War 3.374).

But every good man hath his own conscience bearing witness to himself, and by virtue of our legislator’s prophetic spirit, and of the firm security God himself affords such a one, he believes that God hath made this grant to those that observe these laws, even though they be obliged readily to die for them, that they shall come into being again, and at a certain revolution of things receive a better life than they had enjoyed before (Apion 2.218).

Wright correctly says, “Josephus makes the strong claim that belief in the resurrection is supported not only by conscience and the faithfulness of God, but by ‘the lawgiver’s prophecies.’ As we have seen in the rabbis, and shall see in the New Testament, the question of whether the resurrection was prophesied by Moses himself was at the heart of at least some first-century debate on the subject. Josephus is here adopting a clear-cut Pharisaic position, both on the content of the belief and on its biblical basis.”88

Furthermore the Essenes (Qumran community) described by Josephus appear to have the two-stage approach, in which at death a person’s soul survives but later he receives a new body in the Resurrection.89 Émil Puech’s definitive work on the Essenes and their beliefs, especially concerning the Resurrection, is a standard text today.90 Without having to reduplicate his find, various passages in the Qumran Scrolls bring to bear what the Essenes believed.

For He shall heal the critically wounded, He shall revive the dead, He shall send good news to the afflicted, (Isaiah 61:1) (4Q521 f2ii+4:12)

And the Lord will perform marvelous acts such as have never been, as he said; for he will heal the wounded and will make the dead live, he will bring good news to the poor, he will lead … and enrich the hungry … (4Q521 f2ii+1:10–13)

… see all the Lord has made: the earth and all that is in it, the seas and all they contain, and all the reservoirs of waters and torrents … those who do what is good before the Lord … like these, accursed. And they shall be for death … he who gives life to the dead of his people. We shall give thanks and announce to you … of the Lord, who … (4Q521 f7+5ii:1–7)91

the Reviver [rai]ses the dead of His people. (vacat) Then we shall [giv]e thanks and relate to you the righteous acts of the Lord which[ …] thos[e destined to d]ie. And He shall open[ the graves …] and o[pen …] and[ …] and a valley of death […] and a bridge of de[eps …] the accursed shall languish (?) […] and the heavens shall advance[ …] (4Q521 f7+5ii:6–14)

Your holy ones. That bodies, covered with worms of the dead, might rise up from the dust to an et[ernal] council; from a perverse spirit to Your understanding (1QHa 19:15)

Then the sword of God shall hasten to the time of judgment and all the children of His truth shall awaken to put an end to [the children of] wickedness, and all the children of guilt shall be no more. The hero shall draw his bow, and the fortification shall open […] as an open country without end. The eternal gates shall open to bring out the weapons of war, and they shall be migh[t]y from one end of the world to the other … But there is no escape for the creatures of guilt, they shall be trampled down to destruction with no rem[nant. And there is no] hope in the abundance of … , and for all the heroes of war there is no refuge. (vacat) For [victory belongs] to God Most High […] Raise the ensign, O you who lie in the dust, and let the worms of the dead lift a banner for […] they cut […] in the battles of the arrogant. And He shall cause a raging flood to pass through, which shall not enter the fortified city […] […] for plaster and as a beam for […] truth [….] (1QHa 14:32–40)92

Other texts also indicate this, according to Philip Jenkins. “The evidence of the Dead Sea Scrolls shows that at least some Jews had a highly developed concept of the Messiah in the century before Jesus’ career, seeing a figure who healed the sick and raised the dead.”93

Though the main concerns of the Qumran community lie with maintaining “present purity” and with an expectation of better world to come than the present, various texts nevertheless carry the idea of a bodily resurrection; but this was not a point of debate or dogmatically asserted by them.94

The JFT book and the LTJ film promote the view that Jesus of Nazareth could have risen spiritually, thereby making their ossuary discovery of Jesus valid. However, L. Y. Rahmani, one of the leading experts on ossuaries said, “The concept of ossilegium was apparently based on the ideas of personal and individual physical resurrection propagated by the Hassidim in the second century BCE. The concepts are explicitly mentioned in late Biblical literature (Dan. 12:2) and exemplified in passages such as II Macc. 7 and 14:46.”95
Jewish testimony reveals their common belief to be that of a future physical resurrection. Hence Wright said, “The [bodily] resurrection was not simply a doctrine of the Pharisees and their putative successors, the rabbis. All the evidence suggests that, with the few exceptions noted already, it was widely believed by most Jews around the turn of the common era.”96

Resurrection in Christian sources.

Jewish testimony before and during the first-century apostolic era demonstrates that belief in a bodily resurrection was common. But what did the church fathers believe about the Resurrection? Could their view give us a reflection of first-century thought, and do their views reflect similar beliefs of their Jewish predecessors?

Before discussing what the church fathers believed about the resurrection, it is necessary to discount as a predominant view the notion of a fringe group like the “Gnostics,” who believed in a symbolic or spiritual Resurrection. First, numerous passages in Gnostic literature explicitly deny bodily resurrection,97 since according to them the world is evil, and one must return to the prior disembodied state before creation. They believed that a “resurrection” of sorts can occur in this life and that it abides in a person as he gains gnosis (knowledge) that will be released on death.98 Nothing in Gnostic materials agree with Jewish and Christian beliefs about the bodily resurrection, God’s goodness, and the orderly creation account.99 It is clear that nothing in the Gnostic texts reflects what Jewish and first-century sources believed about the future judgment that requires a resurrected body.100 To suggest that they reflected early Christian thought is wrong and anachronistic since their writings are late (middle second century to the fifth century). Hence it is a mistake to think orthodoxy and Gnosticism were competing beliefs in the first century.101 Philip Jenkins has correctly said:

The problem with these reconstructions is the suggestion that both orthodoxy and Gnosticism are equally ancient and valid statements of the earliest Christianity, which they are not. What became the orthodox view has very clear roots in the first century, and indeed in the earliest discernible strands of the Jesus movement; in contrast, all the available sources for the Gnostic view are much later, and that movement emerges as a deliberate reaction to that orthodoxy....

This point [dating late Gnostic works earlier than they are] is illustrated by the debate over the key concept of the Resurrection, which is so fundamental to Pagel’s argument. We recall that the orthodox regarded Jesus’ resurrection as a specific event that occurred at a given moment in history, while Gnostics viewed it as a continuing symbolic process. There is no doubt that the orthodox position reflected the ideas of the first century, as all the four canonical gospels had before provided their famous accounts of the resurrection and the various appearances to Jesus’ followers. But when did the Gnostic interpretation emerge? Most evidence generally cited in support of such a view dates from well into the second century.102

Together with Jenkins one can say, “Finding what Gnostics believed about Jesus might be intellectually interesting … but it brings us no closer to the historical roots of Christianity than does exploring the religious beliefs of nineteenth-century Shakers or Mormons. The Gnostic texts no more than confirm what we already knew about the far fringes of early Christian belief.”103

The church fathers’ beliefs, however, were more in line with Jewish thought but with a slight variance, they taught that a future resurrection is possible because of Jesus’ resurrection. Hence we are not surprised that the church fathers, apologists, and later Christians articulated their beliefs in a future Resurrection similar to that of their NT predecessors.

First Clement (first century A.D.) appears to take a two-stage approach of the Resurrection. That is, when Christians die they are temporarily in heaven (see 1 Clem. 5:4, 7; 6:2; 35:1; 44:5)104 before receiving a superior resurrection body (1 Clem. 24:5 [John 12:24]; 26:1).105 Clement makes his two-step-postmortem view explicitly in 1 Clement 50:3–4:

Those who by God’s grace were perfected in love have a place among the godly, who will be revealed when the Kingdom of Christ visits us. For it is written: “Enter into the innermost rooms for a very little while, until My anger and wrath shall pass away, and I will remember a good day and will raise you from your graves.”

He says in another passage, “Let us consider, dear friends, how the Master continually points out to us the coming resurrection of which he made the Lord Jesus Christ the firstfruit when he raised him from the dead” (1 Clem. 24:1). Second Clement (second century A.D.) was a sermon written by an anonymous author, but many scholars continue to refer to it as 2 Clement. The homily stresses the reality of the physical resurrection:

And let none of you say that this flesh is not judged and does not rise again. Understand this: in what state were you saved? In what state did you recover your sight, if it was not while you were in this flesh? We must, therefore, guard the flesh as a temple of God. For just as you were called in the flesh, so you will come in the flesh. If Christ, the Lord who saved us, became flesh (even though he was originally spirit and in that state called us, so also we will receive our reward in this flesh. Therefore let us love one another, that we all may enter into the kingdom of God. (9:1–6).106

Ignatius of Antioch (A.D. 35–107) also expounded how believers will likewise be raised from the dead like Jesus.

[Jesus], moreover, really was raised from the dead when his Father raised him up, who—his Father, that is—in the same way will likewise also raise us up in Christ Jesus who believe in him, apart from whom we have no true life. (Letters of Ignatius to the Trallians 9:2)

He reiterates in various letters similar sentiment of how Christians must believe in a physical resurrection (Letters of Ignatius to the Philadelphia 8:2; 9:2; to the Smyrnaeans 1:2; 12:2).

For he suffered all these things for our sakes, in order that we might be saved; and he truly suffered just as he truly raised himself—not, as certain unbelievers say, that he suffered in appearance only (it is they who exist in appearance only!). Indeed, their fate will be determined by what they think: they will become disembodied and demonic. (Letters to the Smyrnaeans 2:1)

For I know and believe that he was in the flesh even after the resurrection; and when he came to Peter and those with him, he said to them: “Take hold of me; handle me and see that I am not a disembodied demon.” And immediately they touched him and believed, being closely united with his flesh and blood. For this reason they too despised death; indeed, they proved to be greater than death. And after his resurrection he ate and drank with them like one who is composed of flesh, although spiritually he was united with the Father. (Letters to the Smyrnaeans 3:1–3)

Polycarp (A.D. 69–155), bishop of Smyrna, similarly to Ignatius believed that Christians will rise from the dead just as Jesus rose (Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians 2:1–2; 5:2). Waiting to be martyred, he anticipated like many who died before him, eternal life, which he describes in terms “both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit” (The Martyrdom of Polycarp 14:2; see also 19:2).

The Didache (early second century A.D.), which means teaching, contained instructions for the Christian community. For the Didache the physical resurrection is not a central point of debate. However, while discussing the eucharist and end time events, the Didache makes it clear that it follows the same beliefs as that of other church fathers.

Just as this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and then was gathered together and become one, so may your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom; for yours is the glory and the power through JesusChrist forever. (Didache 9:4)

And “then there will appear the signs”[46] of the truth: first the sign of an opening in heaven, then the sign of the sound of a trumpet,[47] and third, the resurrection of the dead—but not of all; rather, as it has been said, “The Lord will come, and all his saints with him.” Then the world “will see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.”[49] (Didache 16:6–8)

Barnabas (late first century A.D.) demonstrates in his letter the belief in a physical resurrection since he believes Jesus will come in the flesh.

The prophets, receiving grace from him, prophesied about him. But he himself submitted, in order that he might destroy death anddemonstrate the reality of the resurrection of the dead, because it was necessary that he be manifested in the flesh. (Letter of Barnabas 5:6)

He reiterates the belief of Jesus rising from the dead and how there will be a “recompense” for those who will be resurrected (Letter of Barnabas 15:8–9; 21:1).

The Shepherd of Hermas (mid to second century A.D.) is quite ambiguous in espousing the doctrine of the Resurrection. Only one passage mentions the Resurrection. Though a bit unclear, the references to undefiled “flesh” and “spirit” in order to “live to God” seem to indicate resurrection as the future status of Christians (Shepherd 60:1–4[Parables or Similitudes 5.7.1–4]).

The Epistles to Diognetus (A.D. 150–225),107 an apologist, comes close to agreeing with the typical Hellenistic dualistic view of the soul versus the body (6:3–5). In the following passage he seems to espouse physical resurrection, but it is difficult to say for sure since it is ambiguous.

The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and its members, and Christians love those who hate them. The soul is enclosed in the body, but it holds the body together; and though Christians are detained in the world as if in a prison, they in fact hold the world together. The soul, which is immortal, lives in a mortal dwelling; similarly Christians live as strangers amidst perishable things, while waiting for the imperishable in heaven. (Epistles to Diognetus 6:6–8)108

Papias (A.D. 60–130), bishop of Hierapolis, clearly demonstrated that he believed in a physical resurrection. Three texts demonstrate this.

Among other things he says that there will be a period of a thousand years after the resurrection of the dead when the Kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this earth. These ideas, I suppose, he got through a misunderstanding of the apostolic accounts, not realizing that the things recorded in figurative language were spoken by them mystically. (Fragments of Papias 3:12)

From this it is clear that in the list of names itself there is one John who is placed among the apostles, and another, John the Elder, whom he lists after Aristion. We have mentioned this fact because of the statement made above, which we have recorded on the authority of a considerable number of people, that the two later epistles of John are not the work of the Apostle but of the Elder. He is the one who is said to have promulgated the Jewish tradition of a millennium, and he is followed by Irenaeus, Apollinarius, and others, who say that after the resurrection the Lord will reign in the flesh with the saints. (Fragments of Papias 7:3)

When he says these things he is hinting, I think, at Papias, who was then bishop of Hierapolis in Asia and flourished in the days of the holy evangelist John. For this Papias, in the fourth book of his Expositions of the Lord, mentioned food among the sources of enjoyment in the Resurrection. Later on Apollinarius believed this doctrine, which some refer to as the millennium…. and Irenaeus of Lyons says the same thing in the fifth book of his Against Heresies and cites in support of his statements the above-mentioned Papias. (Fragments of Papias 16:1)

Caroline Walker Bynum’s magisterial work, The Resurrection of the Body, concludes, “Early Christianity, rabbinic Judaism, and the Koran109 all speak of the body that rises as bones or a seed…. By the early third century, polemicists for the resurrection of the flesh assumed a dualist anthropology that saw the human being as a union of soul and body…. A theory of bodily return was, to these thinkers, essential.”110 To believe that people would rise bodily from the dead was the predominant view in this period. The evidence makes this an undisputable point.


Before discussing the Resurrection, we looked at the document (the Bible) that testifies of Jesus’ resurrection. The evidence demonstrated that the Bible can be trusted as a historical document, and therefore it gives credence to the resurrection accounts of Jesus of Nazareth.

Furthermore, though the Hebrew Scriptures refer in general more to a temporal fleetingness of life that emphasizes an earthly perspective, the seed and early plant form of the doctrine of a future bodily resurrection appears in various passages. During the second-Temple period and in the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, the concept of the Resurrection became “much clearer, so that many passages which might have been at most ambiguous became clear, and some which seemed to have nothing to do with resurrection might suddenly give a hint, or more than a hint, in that direction.”111 Thus almost the majority of Jewish literature recorded from 200 B.C. to A.D. 200 emphasized the belief of a future bodily resurrection. Rabbinic literature (Talmud and Mishnah) also exhibited the common expectation of the dead being raised bodily in the future resurrection. This belief continued to be the dominant conviction of the church fathers who followed their apostolic predecessors.

That people would rise bodily from the dead was the predominant view and background of the period when the witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection recorded the NT. A reading of the evidence makes this point undisputable.

The ABR staff would like to thank Dr. Rene' Lopez for graciously permitting us to post chapter 10 of his book here on the ABR website.


85. On another occasion the question asked how a person can live again since in death he turns to dust. In bSanh 90b–91a it is answered, “Queen Cleopatra asked R. Meir, saying, ‘I know that the dead will live, for it is written, ‘And [the righteous] shall blossom forth out of your city like the grass of the earth’ [Psa. 72:16]. ‘But when they rise, will they rise naked or in their clothing?’ He said to her, ‘It is an argument a fortiori based on the grain of wheat.’ ‘Now if a grain of wheat, which is buried naked, comes forth in many garments, the righteous, who are buried in their garments, all the more so [will rise in many garments]!’ Caesar said to Rabban Gamaliel, ‘You maintain that the dead will live. But they are dust, and can the dust live?’ His daughter said to him, “Allow me to answer him: ‘There are two potters in our town, one who works with water, the other who works with clay. Which is the more impressive?’ He said to her, ‘The one who works with water.’ She said to him, ‘If he works with water, will he not create even more out of clay?’ A Tannaite authority of the house of R. Ishmael [taught], ‘[Resurrection] is a matter of an argument a fortiori based on the case of a glass utensil.’ ‘Now if glassware, which is the work of the breath of a mortal man, when broken, can be repaired, ‘A mortal man, who is made by the breath of the Holy One, blessed be he, how much the more so [that he can be repaired, in the resurrection of the dead]’” (italics original).

86. In these quotations the word Sadducees appears in some manuscript. See Efraim E. Urbach, The Sages, Their Concepts and Beliefs, trans. Israel Abrahams, World and Wisdom of the Rabbis of the Talmud (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987), 652; Wright, Resurrection of God, 135 n. 17–19. Perhaps these texts should be understood as a rabbinic polemic against the Sadducee notion that any form of resurrection was impossible.

87. Wright mentions mBerakhot 4:1–5:5 and records the translation of the prayer from S. Singer, The Authorized Daily Prayer Book of the Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth of Nations (London: Eyre and Spottiswood, 1962), 46–47 (Resurrection of God, 146).

88. Wright, Resurrection of God, 177, see also 178–81. See also N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, vol. 1 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), 324–27. Wright points out in numerous places the common Pharisaic belief in the resurrection that was obviously also Paul’s since he was a Pharisee (Josephus, The Jewish War 2.163; Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews 18:14).

89. Wright reaches this conclusion after investigating the following passages: Josephus, The Jewish War 2.151; 153 [compare with 2 Macc. 7:11, 29]; 154–8; Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews 18.18 (Resurrection of God, 185-86).

90. Puech, La croyance des Esséniens en la vie future. This was noted by Wright (Resurrection of God, 186).
91. Paragraphs two and three are translated by Geza Vermes and appear in Wright, Resurrection of God, 186. Where brackets and ellipsis appear, the text is missing and the probable words that fit the context are added.

92. The translation of paragraphs four and five are from the electronic version of Accordance 7.4 Michael O. Wise, Jr. Martin G. Abegg, and Edward M. Cook, “The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New English Translation,” (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996).
93. Philip Jenkins, Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 80. See Scrolls 1QSa, 1Q28a, and the complete 4Q521 in Wise, Martin G. Abegg, and Cook, “The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New English Translation.”

94. Wright, Resurrection of God, 189. See also Puech, La croyance des Esséniens en la vie future, 791–92; Wright, New Testament and the People of God, 203–9.
95. Levy Yitzhak Rahmani, A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries in the Collections of the State of Israel, ed. Ayala Sussmann and Peter Schertz (Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority, 1994), 53. Rachael Hachlili also says, “One of the main Jewish burial rites characterizing the Second Temple period is the Ossilegium, a deliberate procedure of gathering the skeletal remains of an individual after the decay of flesh and placing them in a special container, an ossuary, while retaining this individual burial within the family tomb to await the individual’s physical resurrection” (Jewish Funerary Customs Practices and Rites in the Second Temple Period, Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, ed. John J. Collins, vol. 94 [Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2005], 483).
96. Wright, Resurrection of God, 147.

97. I am indebted to Wright for this observation. See the Gospel of Thomas sayings 11; 21; 29; 37; 51; 71; 87; 112; The Book of Thomas the Contender 138:39–139:30; 141:16–19; 142:10–144:19; 145:8–16; The Epistle to Rheginos [also known as Treatise on Resurrection] 44:13–38; 45:32–46:2; 46:16–47:27; 48:6–16, 34-8; The Gospel of Philip 68:31–7 [“true flesh”?]; 56:15–57:8; 59:9–22; 73:1–8. In agreement with Wright, we cannot be sure exactly what the Gospel of Philip wanted to say since it is too obscure, but an attempt to harmonize the Jewish concept of bodily resurrection with the Hellenistic belief of a returning soul may be intended, as argued by J. E. Menard, “La notion de résurrection dans l'épître à Rheginos,” in Essays on the Nag Hammadi Texts in Honor of Pahor Labib, ed. M. Krause (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975). See also the Apocalypse of Peter 83:6–84:6; the Apocryphon of James 7:35–8:84; 14:32–6; 1 Apocalypse of James 29:16– 19; the Letter of Peter to Philip 133:15–17; the Letter of Philip 134:9–19; 137:6–9; the Exegesis of the Soul 134:6–29; the Gospel of the Savior 100:7.1–6.

98. Epistle to Rheginos 47:2–27; 49:14–24. This is a different rising that occurs to believers as Paul mentions in Romans 6:1–23 and 8:10–13 See Wright, Resurrection of God, 540.
99. See chapter 3 for a discussion of Gnostic literature.

100. Wright, Resurrection of God, 548.

101. This has been the argument of various scholars today. They seek to smuggle Gnostic books back into the first century by dating them earlier than they actually are and push the NT books into the second century by dating them later than they actually are. This creates an illusion as if orthodoxy and Gnosticism are competing views that coequally existed in the same period. Philip Jenkins says, “As in the case of the ‘other gospels,’ assertions about the independent authority of the Gnostic tradition rely on misleading claims about the dates of key documents. Basically, the orthodox position is thoroughly spelled out in texts from the first century onward, while the documents which Pagels, King, and others cite to illustrate rival Gnostic concepts are far later, and in many cases assume a knowledge of one or more of the four canonical gospels” (Hidden Gospels, 116). See Karen L. King, The Gospel of Mary Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle (Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge Press, 2003); Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (New York: Random House, 1979). Gregory Riley argues from the Gospel of Thomas that early Christianity denied the bodily resurrection (Resurrection Reconsidered: Thomas and John in Controversy (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), 133–56).

102. Jenkins, Hidden Gospels, 116.

103. Ibid., 118.

104. This translation is from the electronic version of Accordance 7.4, Michael William Holmes, ed., The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, trans. J. B. Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992).

105. Wright, Resurrection of God, 481–3.

106. See how the phrase “enter His kingdom” also appears in 2 Clement 11:7.

107. Holmes, ed., Apostolic Fathers, 293. This is just one of the suggested dates, but no one knows for sure.
108. Wright says, “This [passage] could, at a stretch, be understood to be compatible with, say, 2 Corinthians 4 and 5; but it seems more natural to take it as a moderate Platonic statement, not seeing an incorruptible body as a gift from heaven but seeing the immortal soul awaiting a complete immortality, away from the corruptible material world, as a gift which will be enjoyed in heaven itself. Diognetus thus probably articulates the view of personal eschatology which many western Christians still assume to be that of the New Testament.” He also acknowledges in a footnote that Hill “suggests, more positively, that though the work does not clearly refer to the resurrection, there is no evidence that the author doubted it” (Resurrection of God, 494 n. 78). See Charles E. Hill, Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Millennial Thought in Early Christianity, 2 ed. (Grand Rapids, 2 ed. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Erdmans Publishing, 2001), 103.

109. See the Koran, Surah 56:60–61.

110. Caroline Walker Bynum, The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200– 1336 (1995), 54, 57–58.

111. Wright, Resurrection of God, 147. See also Williams, “Contribution of Jewish Inscriptions to the Study of Judaism,” 91, as quoted by Wright.

Add comment


Research RSS Feed

AddThis Feed Button

Recent Articles

“And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty, and your faith is also empty” (1 Cor 15:14)....
INTRODUCTION: Something happened over 1,970 years ago that changed the course of world history. This...
On February 8, 2014, a symposium was held at Houston Baptist University in conjunction with the new archaeological...
We presently live in a culture of great skepticism and confusion. Many scholars, scientists, historians...
Associates for Biblical Research
  • PO Box 144, Akron, PA 17501
  • Phone: +1 717-859-3443 | Fax: +1 717-859-3393
  • Toll Free: 1-800-430-0008
Friend ABR on Join us on Twitter Join us on Twitter