Resurrection of Jesus

The resurrection of Jesus or resurrection of Christ is a central doctrine in Christianity. According to the New Testament, after being crucified by the Roman authorities and buried by Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus was raised from the dead by God and appeared to witnesses before ascending into heaven to sit at the right hand of God.

Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday, two days after Good Friday, the day of his crucifixion. Easter’s date corresponds roughly with Passover, the Jewish observance associated with the Exodus, that is fixed for the night of the full moon near the time of the spring equinox.

Paul the Apostle declared that “Christ died for our sins” and that belief in both the death and resurrection of Christ is of central importance to the Christian faith: “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

Background: Jewish and pagan concepts of resurrection

The 1st-century AD historian Josephus tells how the Jews were divided into three sects, of whom the Pharisees believed in the bodily resurrection of the dead and eternal life to follow, the Essenes believed in the survival of the soul only, and the Sadducees rejected both. The evidence from Jewish texts and from tomb inscriptions points to a more complex reality: for example, when the 2nd century BC author the Book of Daniel wrote that “many of those sleeping in the dust shall awaken” (12:2), he probably had in mind rebirth as stars in God’s Heaven, stars having been identified with angels from early times – such a rebirth would rule out a bodily resurrection, as angels were believed to be fleshless. Other texts range from the traditional Old Testament view that the soul would spend eternity in the underworld to a metaphorical belief in the raising of the spirit. Most avoided defining what resurrection might imply, but a resurrection of the flesh was a marginal belief.

A rotunda in Church of the Holy Sepulchre, called the Anastasis ("Resurrection"), which contains the remains of a rock-cut room that Helena and Macarius identified as the burial site of Jesus.

A rotunda in Church of the Holy Sepulchre, called the Anastasis (“Resurrection”), which contains the remains of a rock-cut room that Helena and Macarius identified as the burial site of Jesus.

The Greeks held that a meritorious man could be resurrected as a god (the process of apotheosis), and the successors of Alexander the Great made this idea very well known throughout the Middle East through coins bearing his image, a privilege previously reserved for gods. The idea was adopted by the Roman emperors, and in Imperial Roman apotheosis the earthly body of the recently deceased emperor was replaced by a new and divine one as he ascended into heaven. The apotheosised dead remained recognisable to those who met them, as when Romulus appeared to witnesses after his death, but as the biographer Plutarch (c. AD 46-120) explained of this incident, while something within humans comes from the gods and returns to them after death, this happens “only when it is most completely separated and set free from the body, and becomes altogether pure, fleshless, and undefiled”.

Gospel harmony: the resurrection in narrative context

See also: Gospel harmony and Passion of Jesus

In the New Testament all four gospels conclude with an extended narrative of Jesus’s arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial, and his resurrection. In each gospel these five events in the life of Jesus are treated with more intense detail than any other portion of that gospel’s narrative. Scholars note that the reader receives an almost hour-by-hour account of what is happening. The death and resurrection of Jesus are treated as the climax of the story, the point to which everything else has been moving all the while.

Another characteristic of the gospel accounts is that they include only a plain description of the events. Unlike elsewhere in the gospels, there is an absence of any citation of the Hebrew scriptures to contextualize or interpret the resurrection appearances. N.T. Wright calls this “The Strange Silence of the Bible in the Stories.” Wright explains that “[t]he very strong probability is that when Matthew, Luke and John describe the risen Jesus, they are writing down very early tradition, representing three different ways in which the original astonished participants told the stories.”

After his death by crucifixion, Jesus was placed in a new tomb which was discovered early Sunday morning to be empty. The New Testament does not include an account of the “moment of resurrection”. In the Eastern Church icons do not depict that moment, but show the myrrhbearers and depict scenes of salvation. The major resurrection appearances of Jesus in the canonical gospels (and to a lesser extent other books of the New Testament) are reported to have occurred after his death, burial and resurrection, but prior to his ascension.

Burial

The synoptic gospels agree that, as the evening came after the crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, and that, after Pilate granted his request, wrapped it in linen cloth and laid it in a tomb. This was in accordance with Mosaic Law, which stated that a person hanged on a tree must not be allowed to remain there at night, but should be buried before sundown.

In Matthew, Joseph was identified as “also a disciple of Jesus;” in Mark he was identified as “a respected member of the council (Sanhedrin) who was also himself looking for the Kingdom of God;” in Luke he was identified as “a member of the council, good and righteous, who did not consent to their purpose or deed, and who was looking for the Kingdom of God'” and in John he was identified as “a disciple of Jesus”.

The Gospel of Mark states that when Joseph of Arimathea asked for Jesus’s body, Pilate marveled that Jesus was already dead, and he summoned the centurion to confirm this before releasing the body to Joseph. In the Gospel of John, it is recorded that Joseph of Arimathea was assisted in the burial process by Nicodemus, who brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes and included these spices in the burial clothes per Jewish customs.

Tomb discovery

Main articles: Empty tomb and Myrrhbearers

Although no single gospel gives an inclusive or definitive account of the resurrection of Jesus or his appearances, there are four points at which all four gospels converge:

  1. Attention to the stone that had closed the tomb
  2. The linking of the empty tomb tradition and the visit of the women on “the first day of the week;”
  3. That the risen Jesus chose first to appear to women and to commission them to announce the resurrection to the disciples, including Peter and the other apostles;
  4. The prominence of Mary Magdalene;

All four gospels report that women were the ones to find the tomb of Jesus empty. According to Mark and Luke, the announcement of Jesus’ resurrection was made to several women. According to Mark and John, Jesus appeared first (in Mark 16:9 and John 20:14) to Mary Magdalene.

In the gospels, especially the synoptics, women play a central role as eyewitnesses at Jesus’ death, entombment, and in the discovery of the empty tomb. All three synoptics repeatedly make women the subject of verbs of seeing, clearly presenting them as eyewitnesses.

Post-Resurrection appearances

Main article: Post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus

Jesus made a series of post-resurrection appearances to the disciples. He was not immediately recognizable, according to Luke. E. P. Sanders concluded that although he could appear and disappear, he was not a ghost. Writing that Luke was very insistent about that, Sanders pointed out that “the risen Lord could be touched, and he could eat”. He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, but she did not immediately recognize him. The first two disciples to whom he appeared, walked and talked with him for quite a while without knowing who he was, (the road to Emmaus appearance). He was made known “in the breaking of the bread”. When he first appeared to the disciples in the upper room, Thomas was not present and would not believe until a later appearance where he was invited to put his finger into the holes in Jesus’ hands and side. Beside the Sea of Galilee he encouraged Peter to serve his followers. His final gospel appearance is reported as being forty days after the resurrection when he was “carried up” into heaven where he sits on the right hand of God.

At a later time, on the road to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus, then the arch-persecutor of the early disciples, was converted to Christ following an extraordinary vision and discourse with Jesus which left him blind for three days. (Saul later became known as Paul the Apostle.) He became one of Christianity’s foremost missionaries and theologians.

Resurrection accounts

See also: Life of Jesus in the New Testament

Evolution of resurrection beliefs within the New Testament writings

The experiences of the risen Christ in the earliest written sources – the “primitive Church” creed of 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:8 and Galatians 1:16 – are ecstatic rapture events. A physical resurrection was unnecessary for this visionary mode of seeing the risen Christ, but the general movement of subsequent New Testament literature is towards a physical resurrection. This development can be linked to the changing make-up of the Christian community, from Paul and the Jewish emphasis on the life of the soul, to the gospel-writers, in an overwhelmingly Greco-Roman church, stressing instead the pagan belief in the hero who is immortalised and deified in his physical body.

Paul and the resurrection of the spiritual body

The earliest surviving Christian writings are the letters of Paul, written between 50-57 AD (or possibly 48-57). In one of these, his First Epistle to the Corinthians, he passes on what he has been told of how, after his death and burial, the resurrected Jesus appeared to Peter, then to “the Twelve,” then to five hundred followers, then to James (presumably James the brother of Jesus), then to “all the Apostles.” He claims that Jesus subsequently appeared to him in the same way he did to the others, and in 2 Corinthians 12 he tells of “a man in Christ (presumably Paul himself) who … was caught up to the third heaven”, and while the language of “glory”, “light”, and the “face of Jesus Christ” is obscure it is plausible that he saw Jesus enthroned at the right hand of God. In the Epistle to the Philippians he describes how the body of the resurrected Christ is utterly different to the one he wore when he had “the appearance of a man,” and holds out a similar glorified state, when Christ “will transform our lowly body,” as the goal of the Christian life – “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” (I Corinthians 15:50) and Christians entering the kingdom will be “putting off the body of the flesh” (Colossians 2:11).

The gospels and the resurrection of the flesh

Paul’s proof of the resurrection is the appearances of the risen Lord to others and himself. At some point such appearances ceased – after forty days forty according to Acts, although the Paul’s experience was many years after that. In any event, the end of personal appearances meant that for the gospel-authors alternative proofs were needed. These were found in the narratives of the empty tomb, angelic announcement, and witnesses to post-resurrection appearances on Earth rather than in heaven. In the process they moved from a Jewish to a Hellenistic and Roman paradigm in which Jesus dies and is buried, his body disappears (with witnesses to the empty tomb), and he then returns in an immortalised physical body, able to appear and disappear at will like a god, before returning to the heavens which are now his proper home.

Mark, written c.65-75 CE., ends in its original version with the discovery of the empty tomb, an angel’s announcement that Jesus has risen, and a promise that they will meet him again in Galilee. There are no post-resurrection appearances, perhaps because the tradition of such appearances was only just beginning to develop, but the author does seem to know of the appearances claimed for Peter and the Twelve. The remainder of the New Testament literature tends towards an emphasis on the physical nature of the resurrection, while still showing tensions with the earlier model of the divine exaltation of Christ’s soul. Matthew presents Jesus’s post-resurrection appearance (Matthew 28:19-20) as a Greco-Roman apotheosis, the human body transformed to make it fitting for paradise, but goes beyond the ordinary Greco-Roman forms by having Jesus claim “all authority … in heaven and on earth” (28:18), a claim no Roman hero would dare make. In Matthew there is only a single such appearance, in Galilee, but in Lukethere are several, all in Jerusalem, where Jesus tells the disciples to remain until they receive the Holy Spirit. In Matthew Jesus instructs the disciples to take the good news of the resurrection to the gentiles, in Luke to bring the whole world into a divine community of righteousness and compassion. In Luke and Acts (two works from the same author) he then ascends into heaven, his rightful home. John, like the other three, includes an empty tomb and appearances, in this case in both Jerusalem and Galilee.

Resurrection in the New Testament texts (table)

Pauline/pre-Pauline Mark Matthew Luke Acts John
Resurrection of Spirit Uncertain Flesh Flesh Flesh Flesh
Proof-type Experiential witnesses Narrative report Narrative report Narrative report Narrative report Narrative report
Empty tomb No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Announcement No Angel Angel Angel Jesus
Appearances Visionary Bodily Bodily Bodily Bodily
Message No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Witnessed ascension No No No No Yes No
Jesus Christ God Holy Spirit Bible Gospel Church

The resurrection of Jesus

Historicity and origin of the narrative

Main article: Historicity and origin of the Resurrection of Jesus

For the very earliest Jewish Christians, whose experience of the resurrection is recorded in Paul, Jesus was a man (“son of man”) the crucified messiah, who had been exalted to the right hand of God in heaven, thereby becoming a “son of God”, and would very shortly return to redeem Israel and usher in the Kingdom of God. His resurrection signaled the nearness of the end, since at the end the dead would be resurrected.

Summarizing its traditional analysis, the Catholic Church stated in its Catechism: “Although the Resurrection was an historical event that could be verified by the sign of the empty tomb and by the reality of the apostles’ encounters with the risen Christ, still it remains at the very heart of the mystery of faith as something that transcends and surpasses history.”

As metaphor

In his book The First Coming: How the Kingdom of God Became Christianity, Thomas Sheehan argues that even Paul’s account of the resurrection is not meant to be taken as referring to a literal, physical rising from the grave, and that stories of a bodily resurrection did not appear until as much as half a century following the crucifixion. Instead, Sheehan believes that Paul’s understanding of the resurrection, and perhaps Peter’s as well, is a metaphysical one, with the stories of Jesus’s (figurative) resurrection reflecting his triumphant “entry into God’s eschatological presence,” and that Paul’s reference to Jesus having risen “on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:4) “is not a chronological designation but an apocalyptic symbol for God’s eschatological saving act, which strictly speaking has no date in history. Thus the ‘third day’ does not refer to Sunday, April 9, AD 30, or to any other moment in time. And as regards the ‘place’ where the resurrection occurred, the formula in First Corinthians does not assert that Jesus was raised from the tomb, as if the raising were a physical and therefore temporal resuscitation. Without being committed to any preternatural physics of resurrection, the phrase ‘he was raised on the third day’ simply expresses the belief that Jesus was rescued from the fate of utter absence from God (death) and was admitted to the saving presence of God (the eschatological future).”

Other interpretations

An early alternative interpretation was provided by George Bush, Professor of Hebrew at New York City University, in 1845 in a book entitled The Resurrection of Christ. He reviews in detail the post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus and demonstrates how they can be better understood as visions of a spiritual or celestial body rather than as appearances of a material body using, in many cases, a careful analysis of the original Greek or Hebrew words.

Biblical scholar Géza Vermes analyzes this subject in his book, The Resurrection. He concludes that there are eight possible theories to explain the resurrection of Jesus. Vermes outlines his boundaries as follows,

I have discounted the two extremes that are not susceptible to rational judgment, the blind faith of the fundamentalist believer and the out-of-hand rejection of the inveterate skeptic. The fundamentalists accept the story, not as written down in the New Testament texts, but as reshaped, transmitted, and interpreted by Church tradition. They smooth down the rough edges and abstain from asking tiresome questions. The unbelievers, in turn, treat the whole Resurrection story as the figment of early Christian imagination. Most inquirers with a smattering of knowledge of the history of religions will find themselves between these two poles.

From his analysis, Vermes presents the remaining six possibilities to explain the resurrection of Jesus account,

  1. “The body was removed by someone unconnected with Jesus”,
  2. “The body of Jesus was stolen by his disciples”,
  3. “The empty tomb was not the tomb of Jesus”,
  4. Buried alive, Jesus later left the tomb”,
  5. Jesus recovered from a coma and departed Judea, and
  6. the possibility that there was a “spiritual, not bodily, resurrection”.

Vermes states that none of these six possibilities are likely to be historical.

According to N. T. Wright in his book The Resurrection of the Son of God, “There can be no question: Paul is a firm believer in bodily resurrection. He stands with his fellow Jews against the massed ranks of pagans; with his fellow Pharisees against other Jews.” And according to Gary Habermas, “Many other scholars have spoken in support of a bodily notion of Jesus’ resurrection.”

Habermas also argues three facts in support of Paul’s belief in a physical resurrection body. (1) Paul is a Pharisee and therefore (unlike the Sadducees) believes in a physical resurrection. (2) In Philippians 3:11 Paul says “That I may attain to the ek anastasis(out-resurrection)” from the dead, which according to Habermas means that “What goes down is what comes up”. And (3) In Philippians 3:20–21 “We look from heaven for Jesus who will change our vile soma (body) to be like unto his soma (body)”. According to Habermas, if Paul meant that we would change into a spiritual body then Paul would have used the Greek pneuma instead of soma. Although others argue that a “body” (or “soma”) can be a spirit “body”, not necessarily “flesh”, in order for it to be a body, according to Paul’s own words to the Corinthians, regarding “spiritual body”. But they say that it was a true resurrection nonetheless.

Flavius Josephus (c. 37–c. 100), a Jew and Roman citizen who worked under the patronage of the Emperor Vespasian and his son Titus, wrote the Antiquities of the Jews c. 93 which contains a passage known as the Testimonium Flavianum. This passage mentions John the Baptist and Jesus as two holy men among the Jews. The text describes the death and resurrection of Jesus as follows: “When Pilate, upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned [Jesus] to be crucified, those who had formerly loved him did not cease [to follow him], for he appeared to them on the third day, living again, as the divine prophets foretold, along with a myriad of other marvelous things concerning him.”

There are various other arguments against the historicity of the resurrection story. For example, the number of other historical figures and gods with similar death and resurrection accounts has been pointed out. However the majority consensus among biblical scholars is that the genre of the Gospels is a kind of ancient biography and not myth. Robert M. Price claims that if the resurrection could, in fact, be proven through science or historical evidence, the event would lose its miraculous qualities. In a more focused argument, Carrier asserts that, “The surviving evidence legal and historical, suggests that Jesus was not formally buried Friday night,” but that “it had to have been placed Saturday night in a special public graveyard reserved for convicts. On this theory, the women who visited the tomb Sunday morning mistook its vacancy.”

New Testament historian Bart D. Ehrman recognizes that “Some scholars have argued that it’s more plausible that in fact Jesus was placed in a common burial plot, which sometimes happened, or was, as many other crucified people, simply left to be eaten by scavenging animals.” He further elaborates by saying: “[T]he accounts are fairly unanimous in saying (the earliest accounts we have are unanimous in saying) that Jesus was in fact buried by this fellow, Joseph of Arimathea, and so it’s relatively reliable that that’s what happened.” Analyzing all ancient reports of crucifixion, he later changed his mind to Jesus having been eaten by scavengers.

Theological significance in Christianity

Further information: Jesus in Christianity

Some modern scholars use the belief of Jesus’ followers in the resurrection as a point of departure for establishing the continuity of the historical Jesus and the proclamation of the early church. Carl Jung suggests that the crucifixion-resurrection account was the forceful spiritual symbol of, literally, God-as-Yahweh becoming God-as-Job.In Christian theology, the resurrection of Jesus is a foundation of the Christian faith. It is described in the Nicene Creed: “On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures”. Christians, through faith in the working of God are spiritually resurrected with Jesus, and are redeemed so that they may walk in a new way of life. As Paul the Apostle stated: “If Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless”. The death and resurrection of Jesus are the most important events in Christian Theology. They form the point in scripture where Jesus gives his ultimate demonstration that he has power over life and death, thus he has the ability to give people eternal life. Terry Miethe, a Christian philosopher at Oxford University, stated, “ ’Did Jesus rise from the dead?’ is the most important question regarding the claims of the Christian faith.’ ” According to the Bible, “God raised him from the dead”, he ascended to heaven, to the “right hand of God”, and will return again to fulfill the rest of Messianic prophecy such as the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment and establishment of the Kingdom of God; see also Messianism and Messianic Age.

The apostle Paul wrote that: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain… If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile”. Many scholars have contended that in discussion on the resurrection, the apostle Paul refers to a rabbinic style transmission of an early authoritative tradition that he received and has passed on to the church at Corinth. For this and other reasons, it is widely believed that this creed is of pre-Pauline origin. Geza Vermes writes that the creed is “a tradition he [Paul] has inherited from his seniors in the faith concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus”. The creed’s ultimate origins are within the Jerusalem apostolic community having been formalised and passed on within a few years of the resurrection. Paul Barnett writes that this creedal formula, and others, were variants of the “one basic early tradition that Paul “received” in Damascus from Ananias in about 34 [AD]” after his conversion.

But Christ really has been raised from the dead. He is the first of all those who will rise. Death came because of what a man did. Rising from the dead also comes because of what a man did. Because of Adam, all people die. So because of Christ, all will be made alive.

Paul’s views went against the thoughts of the Greek philosophers to whom a bodily resurrection meant a new imprisonment in a corporeal body, which was what they wanted to avoid—given that for them the corporeal and the material fettered the spirit. At the same time, Paul believed that the newly resurrected body would be a heavenly body; immortal, glorified, powerful and spiritual in contrast to an earthly body, which is mortal, dishonored, weak and natural. According to theologian Peter Carnley, the resurrection of Jesus was different from the resurrection of Lazarus as: “In the case of Lazarus, the stone was rolled away so that he could walk out… the raised Christ didn’t have to have the stone rolled away, because he is transformed and can appear anywhere, at any time”.

According to international scholar Thorwald Lorenzen, the first Easter led to a shift in emphasis from faith “in God” to faith “in Christ”. Today, Lorenzen finds “a strange silence about the resurrection in many pulpits”. He writes that among some Christians, ministers and professors, it seems to have become “a cause for embarrassment or the topic of apologetics”. It has been argued that many Christians neglect the resurrection because of their understandable preoccupation with the Cross. However, the belief in Jesus’ physical resurrection remains the single doctrine most accepted by Christians of all denominational backgrounds.

Christians view the resurrection of Jesus as part of the plan of salvation and redemption by atonement for man’s sin.

Resurrection and redemption

In the teachings of the apostolic Church, the resurrection was seen as heralding a new era. Forming a theology of the resurrection fell to the apostle Paul. It was not enough for Paul to simply repeat elementary teachings, but as Hebrews 6:1 states, “go beyond the initial teachings about Christ and advance to maturity”. Fundamental to Pauline theology is the connection between Christ’s Resurrection and redemption. Paul explained the importance of the resurrection of Jesus as the cause and basis of the hope of Christians to share a similar experience.

The teachings of the apostle Paul formed a key element of the Christian tradition and theology. If his death stands at the center of Paul’s theology, so does the resurrection: unless the one died the death of all, the all would have little to celebrate in the resurrection of the one. Paul taught that, just as Christians share in Jesus’ death in baptism, so they will share in his resurrection for Jesus was designated the Son of God by his resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15:20–22 Paul states:

But Christ really has been raised from the dead. He is the first of all those who will rise. Death came because of what a man did. Rising from the dead also comes because of what a man did. Because of Adam, all people die. So because of Christ, all will be made alive.

The Apostolic Fathers, discussed the death and resurrection of Jesus, including Ignatius (50–115), Polycarp (69–155), and Justin Martyr (100–165). Following the conversion of Constantine and the liberating Edict of Milan in 313, the ecumenical councils of the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries, that focused on Christology helped shape the Christian understanding of the redemptive nature of resurrection, and influenced both the development of its iconography, and its use within Liturgy.

Belief in bodily resurrection was a constant note of the Christian church in antiquity. And nowhere was it argued for more strongly than in North Africa. Saint Augustine accepted it at the time of his conversion in 386.Augustine defended resurrection, and argued that given that Christ has risen, there is resurrection of the dead. Moreover, he argued that the death and resurrection of Jesus was for the salvation of man, stating: “to achieve each resurrection of ours, the savior paid with his single life, and he pre-enacted and presented his one and only one by way of sacrament and by way of model.”

The 5th-century theology of Theodore of Mopsuestia provides an insight into the development of the Christian understanding of the redemptive nature of resurrection. The crucial role of the sacraments in the mediation of salvation was well accepted at the time. In Theodore’s representation of the Eucharist, the sacrificial and salvific elements are combined in the “One who saved us and delivered us by the sacrifice of Himself”. Theodore’s interpretation of the Eucharistic rite is directed towards the triumph over the power of death brought about by the resurrection.

The emphasis on the salvific nature of the resurrection continued in Christian theology in the next centuries, e.g., in the 8th century Saint John of Damascus wrote that: “… When he had freed those who were bound from the beginning of time, Christ returned again from among the dead, having opened for us the way to resurrection” and Christian iconography of the ensuing years represented that concept.

Views of other religions

Groups such as Jews, Muslims, Bahá’ís, and other non-Christians, as well as some liberal Christians, dispute whether Jesus actually rose from the dead. Arguments over death and resurrection claims occur at many religious debates and interfaith dialogues.

Baha’i Faith

Abdu’l-Bahá taught that Christ’s resurrection was a spiritual resurrection and that the accounts in the Gospels are parables. `Abdu’l-Bahá wrote: “We explain, therefore, the meaning of Christ’s resurrection in the following way: After the martyrdom of Christ the Apostles were perplexed and dismayed. The reality of Christ, which consists in His teachings, His bounties, His perfections and His spiritual power, was hidden and concealed for two or three days after His martyrdom, and had no outward appearance or manifestation—indeed, it was as though it entirely lost. For those who truly believed were few in number and even those few were perplexed and dismayed. The Cause of Christ was thus as a lifeless body. After three days the Apostles became firm and steadfast, arose to aid the Cause of Christ, resolved to promote the divine teachings and practice their Lord’s admonitions, and endeavoured to serve Him. Then did the reality of Christ become resplendent, His grace shine forth, His religion find new life, and His teachings and admonitions become manifest and visible. In other words the Cause of Christ, which was like unto a lifeless body, was quickened to life and surrounded by the grace of the Holy Spirit.”

Baha’is believe the Quran’s statement: “And because of their saying, “We killed Messiah ʿĪsā, son of Mariam, the Messenger of Allāh”,–—but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but it appeared so to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts”.means that Jesus’s Spirit didn’t die on the cross, however Baha’is uphold that Jesus was actually crucified in the flesh.

Gnostics

Some Gnostics did not believe in a literal physical resurrection. “For the gnostic any resurrection of the dead was excluded from the outset; the flesh or substance is destined to perish. ‘There is no resurrection of the flesh, but only of the soul’, say the so-called Archontics, a late gnostic group in Palestine”.

Islam

Main articles: Islamic view of Jesus’ death and Islam’s View of Jesus

Muslims believe that ʿĪsā (Jesus) son of Mariam (Mary) was a holy prophet with a divine message. The Islamic perspective is that Jesus was not crucified and will return to the world at the end of times. “But Allāh raised him up to Himself. And Allāh is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise”. The Quran says in Surah An-Nisa [Ch004:Verse157] “And because of their saying, “We killed Messiah ʿĪsā, son of Mariam, the Messenger of Allāh”,—but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but it appeared so to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts”.

Judaism

Main article:Judaism’s view of Jesus

Christianity split from Judaism in the 1st century AD, and the two faiths have differed in their theology since. According to the Toledot Yeshu, the body of Jesus was removed in the same night by a gardener named Juda, after hearing the disciples planned to steal the body of Jesus. However, Toledot Yeshu is not considered either canonical or normative within rabbinic literature. Van Voorst states that Toledot Yeshu is a medieval document set without a fixed form which is “most unlikely” to have reliable information about Jesus. The Blackwell Companion to Jesus states that the Toledot Yeshu has no historical facts as such, and was perhaps created as a tool for warding off conversions to Christianity.

Relics

Main articles: AcheiropoietaShroud of Turin, and Veil of Veronica

The resurrection of Jesus has long been central to Christian faith and appears within diverse elements of the Christian tradition, from feasts to artistic depictions to religious relics. In Christian teachings, the sacraments derive their saving power from the passion and resurrection of Christ, upon which the salvation of the world entirely depends.

An example of the interweaving of the teachings on the resurrection with Christian relics is the application of the concept of “miraculous image formation” at the moment of resurrection to the Shroud of Turin. Christian authors have stated the belief that the body around whom the shroud was wrapped was not merely human, but divine, and that the image on the shroud was miraculously produced at the moment of resurrection. Quoting Pope Paul VI’s statement that the shroud is “the wonderful document of His Passion, Death and Resurrection, written for us in letters of blood” author Antonio Cassanelli argues that the shroud is a deliberate divine record of the five stages of the Passion of Christ, created at the moment of resurrection.

Easter

Main article: Easter

Easter, the preeminent feast that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, is clearly the earliest Christian festival. Since the earliest Christian times, it has focused on the redemptive act of God in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Easter is linked to the Passover and Exodus from Egypt recorded in the Old Testament through the Last Supper and crucifixion that preceded the resurrection. According to the New Testament, Jesus gave the Passover meal a new meaning, as he prepared himself and his disciples for his death in the upper room during the Last Supper. He identified the loaf of bread and cup of wine as his body soon to be sacrificed and his blood soon to be shed. 1 Corinthians states, “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed”; this refers to the Passover requirement to have no yeast in the house and to the allegory of Jesus as the Paschal lamb.

In Christian art

In the Catacombs of Rome, artists indirectly hinted at the resurrection by using images from the Old Testament such as the fiery furnace and Daniel in the Lion’s den. Depictions prior to the 7th century generally showed secondary events such as the Myrrhbearers at the tomb of Jesus to convey the concept of the resurrection. An early symbol of the resurrection was the wreathed Chi Rho (Greek letters representing the word “Khristos” or “Christ”), whose origin traces to the victory of emperor Constantine I at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312, which he attributed to the use of a cross on the shields of his soldiers. Constantine used the Chi Rho on his standard and his coins showed a labarum with the Chi Rho killing a serpent.

The use of a wreath around the Chi Rho symbolizes the victory of the resurrection over death, and is an early visual representation of the connection between the Crucifixion of Jesus and his triumphal resurrection, as seen in the 4th-century sarcophagus of Domitilla in Rome. Here, in the wreathed Chi Rho the death and Resurrection of Christ are shown as inseparable, and the Resurrection is not merely a happy ending tucked at the end of the life of Christ on earth. Given the use of similar symbols on the Roman military banner, this depiction also conveyed another victory, namely that of the Christian faith: the Roman soldiers who had once arrested Jesus and marched him to Calvary now walked under the banner of a resurrected Christ.

The cosmic significance of the resurrection in Western theology goes back to Saint Ambrose, who in the 4th century said that “The universe rose again in Him, the heaven rose again in Him, the earth rose again in Him, for there shall be a new heaven and a new earth”. This theme developed gradually in the West, later than in the East where the resurrection had been linked from an earlier date to redemption and the renewal and rebirth of the whole world. In art this was symbolized by combining the depictions of the resurrection with the Harrowing of Hell in icons and paintings. A good example is from the Chora Church in Istanbul, where John the Baptist, Solomon and other figures are also present, depicting that Christ was not alone in the resurrection. The depiction sequence at the 10th-century Hosios Loukas shows Christ as he pulls Adam from his tomb, followed by Eve, signifying the salvation of humanity after the resurrection.

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia