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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Resurrection by Geza Vermes

The Resurrection by Geza Vermes. New York: Doubleday, 2008. ISBN: 978-385-52242-7

I picked up this book because Geza Vermes is one of the authors David Boulton summarizes in his book, Who on Earth Was Jesus? which I reviewed last July. Here Geza examines all of the evidence about what most Christians regard as the central tenant of their faith—the resurrection of Jesus. And then draws what conclusions seem warranted.

In the end, Vermes discusses and rejects as unsatisfactory, six theories that could conceivably explain the resurrection. He rejects the two extremes that he says “are not susceptible to rational judgement,” namely the “blind faith of the fundamentalist believer, and the out-of-hand rejection of the inveterate skeptic.” The six theories are

  1. The body was removed by someone unconnected with Jesus
  2. The body was stolen by his disciples
  3. The empty tomb was not the tomb of Jesus
  4. Buried alive, Jesus later left the tomb
  5. The migrant Jesus (in this variation on number 4, Jesus leaves the area, perhaps traveling to India or Rome)
  6. A spiritual, not a bodily resurrection

Vermes states that none of these theories “stands up to stringent scrutiny.” Instead, he puts forward an alternate solution, which is that Jesus is alive in the hearts of men (and presumably women). And that perhaps this is all that matters.

For anyone interested in a modern scholarly approach to Christianity and its beliefs, this book is definitely recommended.

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