Was Individual Resurrection a Common Belief in the Ancient World? Part 2
by Bill Pratt
In part 1 of this post, Tim Keller presented historian N. T. Wright’s analysis of Jewish and Greco-Roman attitudes toward an individual resurrection. Would the ancient world have accepted the story of Jesus’s resurrection without serious skepticism? According to Keller, Wright’s research indicates that the Greco-Roman world would not have been at all receptive.
But what about Jews in particular? Keller mines Wright’s historical research to further examine two skeptical theories which attempt to explain how the story of Jesus’s resurrection could have originated.
Over the years, skeptics about the resurrection have proposed that the followers of Jesus may have had hallucinations, that they may have imagined him appearing to them and speaking to them. This assumes that their master’s resurrection was imaginable for his Jewish followers, that it was an option in their worldview. It was not.
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Others have put forth the conspiracy theory, that the disciples stole the body and claimed he was alive to others. This assumes that the disciples would expect other Jews to be open to the belief that an individual could be raised from the dead. But none of this is possible. The people of that time would have considered a bodily resurrection to be as impossible as the people of our own time, though for different reasons.
Keller notes that in the first century there were many other Jews who claimed to be the Messiah, and who were executed for those claims…