Even a summary listing could take a separate chapter. For example, the resurrection is a sign for unbelievers (Matt. 12:38–40; 16:1–4) as well as a comfort for believers (John 11:23–26; Luke 24:36–39). It was an indispensable part of the gospel (Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 15:1–5) and the heart of early preaching (Acts 4:2; 4:33).
39 Joachim Jeremias, “Easter: The Earliest Tradition and the Earliest Interpretation,” pp. 306–307; Reginald H. Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives(New York: Macmillan, 1971), pp. 34–42; C.H. Dodd, “The Appearances of the Risen Christ: An Essay in Form-Criticism of the Gospels,” More New Testament Studies(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968), pp. 125–126; Rudolf Bultmann, Theology, vol. I, p. 45. Bultmann also sees a probable parallel to 1 Cor. 15:5 and Luke 24:34 in Luke 22:31f.
40 Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, p. 190; cf. pp. 169–170.
41 Jeremias, “Easter: The Earliest Tradition and the Earliest Interpretation,” p. 306. (The emphasis is Jeremias’.)
42 Fuller, Resurrection Narratives, pp. 27–49.
43 Ibid., p. 37.
It was the impetus for evangelism (Matt. 28:18–20; Luke 24:45–48) and the chief message in Paul’s church planting methods (Acts 17:1–4).
Continuing, it provided daily power for the believer (Phil. 3:10; Rom. 8:11) and was the grounds for total commitment (1 Cor. 15:58). Believers would be raised like Jesus (1 John 3:2; Phil. 3:21) and the resurrection guarantees the reality of heaven (1 Pet. 1:3–5). And as we saw earlier in Paul, Acts also insists that one could not even be an apostle without having been a witness to this event (1:21–22).
An additional evidence for the resurrection and an especially powerful pointer to its centrality that is generally ignored by members of the Jesus Seminar is the presence of early creedal traditions in the preaching of Acts. Yet there is strong evidence that the (especially Petrine) sermons record reliable accounts of the early messages on the death and resurrection of Jesus, including his appearances. Dodd also argues that these confessions are perhaps as early as Paul’s creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3ff.^44
Fourth, we still must deal with the data itself. Crossan admits that we have Paul’s testimony concerning his personal experience, and that his report dates very early.^45 Then he concludes that “trances and visions” probably did occur, singling out Paul’s experience as the chief example.^46 While this is not the place to argue for the historicity of these events, or their being caused by the risen Jesus,^47 we will simply note here that Crossan apparently does not intend to deny the reality of these experiences. Neither has he chosen to argue a naturalistic hypothesis. As such, they have to be adequately explained. And as we have argued, it is insufficient to attempt to pass them off as mere indications of early church power structures.
5.Other religious phenomena
Fifth, while Crossan does not deny the disciples’ experiences, he further downplays their uniqueness by his remark that “trances or visions” are found in “every religion.”^48 Such a comparison is intriguing, since Crossan states earlier that the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ appearances are not“entranced revelations.” He declares that they “bear no marks of such phenomena.”^49