The initial text depicts the Last Supper that Jesus shared with His disciples, explaining the significance of his death. Jeremias asserts that the tradition here comes from the earliest time in the early church, even going back to Jesus.^39 Additionally, 1 Corinthians 15:3ff. recounts the gospel facts of the death, burial, resurrection and appearances of Jesus Christ and is probably even earlier in its formulation. There are numerous other creedal statements in the New Testament that also report the subject of the death and resurrection of Jesus.^40 We will return to a detailed treatment of this topic in Part Two below.
The point to be made is that the report in 1 Corinthians 15:3ff. of the earliest eyewitnesses who themselves attested the appearances of the risen Jesus predates the Gnostic material. Further, it must be remembered that the Gnostic texts do not deny these facts; in reality, they affirm the resurrection of Jesus.^41 But Raymond Brown still reminds us that the earliest interest relative to the resurrection of Jesus is “an identifiable chain of witnesses,” not Gnostic theology.^42 Farmer contends that any Gnostic scenario which implies that the death and resurrection of Jesus were unimportant for the earliest apostolic community “is like children making castles in a sandbox” in the sense that it is a “fanciful reconstruction” of the data.^43 Summary and Conclusion
So what do those who appear to champion the Gnostic thesis think about the death and resurrection of Jesus? Perhaps surprisingly, there is apparently no attempt by Robinson or Koester to deny either historical event. Robinson, in fact, reminds us of a crucially important logical point: even if the death and resurrection of Jesus were absent from Q, it does not follow that the Q community was not aware of these occurrences.