Regardless, whether such curiosities are taught in other belief systems is not the issue. Anyone can make claims. The real question is whether they can be demonstrated. I have argued elsewhere that such non-Christian claims are poorly
44 Of chief interest are Acts 2:14–39; 3:12–26; 4:8–12; 5:17–40; 10:34–43; 13:16–41. See Dodd, “Appearances,” pp. 124, 131; C.H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments, pp. 17–31 and chart after p. 96.
45 Crossan, The Historical Jesus, p. 397; Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, pp. 165–166, 190.
46 Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, p. 190.
47 For an example of such arguments, see the excellent treatment by William Lane Craig, Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus.
48 Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, p. 190.
49 Ibid., p. 169.
evidenced.^50 If this is the case, they merely number among the myriads of unproven religious assertions. As such, they are not rivals to Jesus’ resurrection.
In sum, Crossan fails to adequately explain or dismiss the resurrection of Jesus. His socio-political interpretation is unproven. Additionally, he fails to realize that even if his thesis is accurate, not only is it still an inadequate basis for his de-emphasis of the facticity of Jesus’ resurrection, but his theme actually requires this event. Further, the resurrection is central not only to the early Christian authority structures, but to the New Testament as a whole. Yet this event cannot be reduced to any of these themes. Additionally, not only does Crossan admit the possibility of “visions,” but his attempt to eliminate their uniqueness by noting the presence of such occurrences in other religions also fails. Marcus Borg
On this topic also, Borg takes a more moderate approach than does Crossan, addressing the resurrection appearances of Jesus at more length, as well. Borg thinks that, while “the story of the historical Jesus ends with his death on a Friday in A.D. 30, the story of Jesus does not end there.” According to Jesus’ followers, “he appeared to them in a new way beginning on Easter Sunday.”^51
However, “[w]e cannot know exactly what happened. According to the earliest accounts of Easter reported by his followers, Jesus ‘appeared to them’” but “[w]e do not know what form those appearances took” since they are sometimes described as visionary and other times as corporeal. Did anything happen to Jesus’ body? Borg states that, in historical terms, “we cannot say,” maintaining that Jesus’ resurrection was not a reanimation of his corpse but that “Jesus’ followers continued to experience him as a living reality . . . .”^52 Presumably, Borg thinks that the truth lies somewhere in between these two positions.
In a more recent article that attempts to answer this question, Borg adds a few items. He continues to take seriously the claims that Jesus appeared, largely because such is the testimony of Paul, whom he considers the earliest New Testament author, the only eyewitness writer we have, and because this was the central event for him. Thus we must make sense of these occurrences. Yet, these are not “straightforward events” and could not have been photographed. Again, they signify the continuing presence of Jesus in “the lives of Christians as both companion and lord.”^53