The historian and the resurrection of Jesus


the archives near Emmaus

What can a historian say and what can’t a historian say—as a historian—about the claim that Jesus was resurrected from the dead? The late Geza Vermes wrote this paragraph in Jesus the Jew: A Historian’s Reading of the Gospels (p. 41):

…in the end, when every argument has been considered and weighed, the only conclusion acceptable to the historian must be that the opinions of the orthodox, the liberal sympathizer and the critical agnostic alike—and even perhaps of the disciples themselves—are simply interpretations of the one disconcerting fact: namely that the women who set out to pay their last respects to Jesus found to their consternation, not a body, but an empty tomb.

This was his summary statement in a section where he examined the Gospel’s claims regarding Jesus’ resurrection. He limits the “facts” to Jesus being crucified and place in a tomb that was known by some of his…

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