Thus, Crossan interprets both the nature miracles and the resurrection narratives not as being indicative of any supernatural occurrences, but as a socio-political commentary on the early church leadership. The chief leaders held authority over the main groups, in turn directing the church community as a whole. These miracle texts, then, serve the purpose of being a powerful facilitator in establishing and maintaining the ecclesiastical hierarchy.
So what does all of this mean concerning the resurrection of Jesus? Crossan thinks that the New Testament accounts are not primarily concerned with the facticity of the appearances, but rather with “power and authority in the earliest Christian communities. That is what they were intended to be, and that is how we should read them.”^34 In this sense, then, we ought not be inquiring about the miraculous element, and doing so is to trivialize the message. These accounts “tell us nothing whatsoever about the origins of Christian faithbut quite a lot about the origins of Christian authority.”^35
Does this say anything about the facticity of the resurrection appearances? Even if recording the miraculous element is not the chief point of the New Testament narratives, Crossan is careful not to infer that the appearances never really happened. In fact, in speaking about Easter he expressly affirms: “Of course there may have been trances and visions.” Then he adds that these sorts of things happen “in every religion” and so we should not be surprised.^36
When considering Crossan’s hypothesis, several critiques immediately come to mind. First, and in spite of some interesting contentions, Crossan has not established his socio-political schema as a central theme in the early church. Interpreting references in light of a secondary construction is far from proving it to be the original intent of the authors. His account remains an unverified hypothesis.