How Jesus' First Followers Believed God Raised Him from the Dead
Imprint: Baylor University Press
319 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: September 2019
Death does not speak the final word. Resurrection does. Christianity stands or falls with this central confession: God raised Jesus from the dead.
Bruce Chilton investigates the Easter event of Jesus in Resurrection Logic. He undertakes his close reading of the New Testament texts without privileging the exact nature of the resurrection, but rather begins by situating his study of the resurrection in the context of Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, and Syrian conceptions of the afterlife. He then identifies Jewish monotheistic affirmations of bodily resurrection in the Second Temple period as the most immediate context for early Christian claims. Chilton surveys first-generation accounts of Jesus’ resurrection and finds a pluriform—and even at times seemingly contradictory—range of testimony from Jesus’ first followers. This diversity, as Chilton demonstrates, prompted early Christianity to interpret the resurrection traditions by means of prophecy and coordinated narrative.
In the end, Chilton points to how the differing conceptions of the ways that God governs the world produced distinct understandings—or "sciences"—of the Easter event. Each understanding contained its own internal logic, which contributed to the collective witness of the early church handed down through the canonical text. In doing so, Chilton reveals the full tapestry of perspectives held together by the common-thread confession of Jesus’ ongoing life and victory over death.
Part One: Crucibles of Hope
1. Resurrection and Immortality before Jesus
2. Israel’s Revolution of Hope
3. Bodies Raised in Israel’s Vindication
Part Two: Catalyst of Transformation
4. Paul on How Jesus "Was Seen"
5. Seen "by Kêpha’," Then "by the Twelve"
6. Seen "by More Than Five Hundred," Then "by James"
7. Seen by "All the Apostles"
Part Three: Reasoning with the Resurrection
8. After Paul, beyond the Tomb
9. Resurrection, History, and Realization
Resurrection Logic is a remarkable work of scholarship—original, enlightening, and saturated with spiritual insight.~Bernhard Lang, author of The Hebrew God: Portrait of an Ancient Deity
Resurrection Logic is a study that will be required reading not only for audiences interested in the specific question of the science of resurrection among Jesus’ disciples but for anyone who wants to understand the evolutionary processes through which the thinking of Jesus’ earliest followers developed—both in the period of the New Testament and in the centuries following— into systems of theology, and scholarship on theology.~Alan Avery-Peck, Kraft-Hiatt Professor in Judaic Studies, College of the Holy Cross
Chilton is an able guide, showing that how early followers came to believe in Jesus’ resurrection reveals deep changes in ideas about cosmology, the nature of being human, and their experience of reality. So, too, can this book challenge contemporary readers to make richer sense of their own thinking about life, death, and belief.~Claudia Setzer, Professor of Religious Studies, Manhattan College
…a rewarding and thought-provoking study.~Donald Senior, The Bible Today
…engaging, beautiful, and balanced.~Glenn B. Siniscalchi, Catholic Biblical Quarterly
This is a wide-ranging and bold contribution to the study of Jesus’ resurrection and covers a huge amount of ground. Many have already drawn attention to the diversity within the New Testament on the resurrection, but Chilton’s use of the witnesses in 1 Corinthians 15:1–11 as a framework for exploring different accounts provides a fresh angle. His treatment makes for fascinating reading and, to my knowledge, is highly original.~Scottish Journal of Theology