55 These affirmations are found in Borg, Jesus, pp. 184–185 and Borg, “Thinking about Easter,” pp. 15, 49.
56 Just some of the roadblocks to explaining Jesus’ appearances as hallucinations (or as otherwise subjective incidents) include the private nature of such psychological phenomena, thereby precluding group citings such as the three reported by Paul in 1Cor. 15:5–7, the negative mental states of the recipients, the variety of persons, times, and places involved, the extent of the disciples’ transformations, the empty tomb, James’ conversion, and Paul’s experience on the way to Damascus.
Yet, seldom are any reasonsgiven for such a stance. Mere theological assertion seems to be the order of the day. Appeals to peer pressure (in the name of the current state of modern scholarship) serve as the impetus and those who dare to disagree are sometimes painted as hopelessly backward. Nevertheless, it is certainly insufficient to simply state one’s view or claim a critical consensus without adequate evidence.
Even worse, informal logical fallacies abound in statements by the Jesus Seminar. Comments about the “secular heavens” start to sound less like reasoned responses and more like a prioripreaching. The lack of careful argumentation begs the question on behalf of the assertions that are made. Rejections of Gospel texts based on author’s styles, ancient parallels, and a pre-modern temperament commit the genetic fallacy. Interestingly enough, some Seminar Fellows appear to recognize such dangers.^57 Unfortunately, this seems to be a minority acknowledgment.
The Jesus Seminar apparently offers no challenges to the basic fact of Jesus’ death. But there are many reasons why Crossan’s doubts concerning the traditional burial of Jesus cannot be substantiated. His surmisals are confronted by almost a dozen items of data.
When discussing the resurrection of Jesus, we have attempted to isolate a single issue: whether Jesus actually appeared to his followers. Both Crossan and Borg might prefer to question the New Testament texts, satisfied with what they think we cannotknow. But we insisted that, when attempting to ascertain the truth of what happened after the death of Jesus, such is an insufficient approach. Rather than be satisfied with this negative tack, we maintain that the minimal amount of historical data is still sufficient to establish the literal nature of Jesus’ appearances, whatever their actual form. These two scholars seem not to realize that their own writings establish a sufficient basis to confirm this truth.
Both Crossan and Borg admit at least the possibility of Jesus’ appearances, with Borg being more open to them. Further, neither scholar attempts to explain away the core factual data by employing naturalistic, alternative hypotheses. The early, eyewitness data supplied by Paul and admitted by both Crossan and Borg are sufficient to show that Jesus did, indeed, appear to his followers after his death. Additional details concerning the other witnesses drawn from Paul’s data, the Acts traditions, or even the Gospels, serve to greatly strengthen this conclusion.^58
57 Chilton, “Exorcism,” p. 263; Borg, Jesus, pp. 66–67, 70–71.
58 Crossan and Borg are not the only members of the Jesus Seminar who have published important works on the resurrection of Jesus. For two such older examples that may be interpreted as providing even more groundsfor the conclusions we have reached here, see James M. Robinson, “Jesus from Easter to Valentinus (or to the Apostles’ Creed),” Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 101; No. 1 (1982), pp. 5–37; John Kloppenborg, “An Analysis of the Pre-Pauline Formula 1 Cor 15:3b–5 in Light of Some Recent Literature,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, vol. 40 (1978), pp. 351–367.
Although the Jesus Seminar has received much attention from its treatment of the historical Jesus, their conclusions must be apportioned to the data. As a result, their basic rejection of the supernatural events in Jesus’ life is unwarranted.^59