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Did Jesus Rise Bodily From the Dead? Yes and no!

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Did Jesus rise bodily from the dead? Even those who give an affirmative answer to this question do not all agree on the reasons why. According to the Gospels, Jesus's close circle of followers believed in his resurrection because he has appeared to them. For almost twenty centuries, Christian believers affirmed a bodily resurrection based on their belief in one of the central elements of the Christian belief system. In response to the rationalist denial of such beliefs by critical New Testament scholarship, orthodox New Testament scholars design affirmations based on historical proof. They defend a literal bodily resurrection based on historical plausibility and the possibility of divine intervention in a world-view which tolerates paranormal events in history against the scientific rejection of a bodily resurrection by critical scholars. The aim of this article is to offer both a meta-analysis of these viewpoints about Jesus's resurrection and an alternative understanding of the resurrection accounts in the New Testament itself. The social-scientific perspective employed provides both tools for the analysis of the above positions and the framework for offering an alternative answer to the question of Jesus's literal bodily resurrection.

Affiliations: 1: Department of New Testament, University of South Africa, P.O. Box 392, 0003 UNISA, Republic of South Africa


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