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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Resurrection of Christ.

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This great fact, by which "he was declared to be the Son of God with power," stands out everywhere prominently on the pages of the New Test. as the foundation of the Christian faith (Romans 1:2; Acts 13:32-33; 1 Corinthians 15:3-15). According to the Scriptures the disciples were assured, by the testimony of their senses, that the body of Christ, after his resurrection, was the same identical body of human flesh and bones which had been crucified and laid in the sepulchre (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 27:63; Matthew 28:5-18; Mark 16:6-19; Luke 24:5-51; John 20:9-26; Acts 1:1-11). Our Lord himself took special pains to make the impression upon the minds of his disciples that in his crucified body he was actually raised to life. He appealed to the testimony of their own senses "Behold," says he, "my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me here." He showed them his hands and his feet, which the nail-prints attested to be the same which had hung upon the cross. Our Lord also invited Thomas to thrust his hand into his wounded side; and, to remove the last remaining shadow of doubt from the minds of his disciples that it was he himself in thle same human body, "he called for food, and he took aand did eat before them" (Luke 24:39-43; John 20:27). The fact also that our Lord continued forty days upon earth after his resurrection, in the same human bovy in which he was crucified, shows plainly that he did not rise from the tomb in a glorified body. And the evidence is equally strong that he now dwells in heaven in a glorified body (Philippians 3:21; Colossians 3:4).

Since this event, however, independently of its importance in respect to the internal connection of the Christian doctrine, was manifestly a miraculous occurrence, the credibility of the narrative has from the earliest times been brought into question (Celsius, apud Origen. cont. Cels. i, 2; Woolston, Discourses on the Miracles, disc. vi; Chubb, Posth. Works, i, 330; Morgan, The Resurrection Considered [1744]). Others who have admitted the facts as recorded to be beyond dispute, yet have attempted to show that Christ was not really dead, but that, being stunned and palsied, he wore for a time the appearance of death, and was afterwards restored to consciousness by the cool grave and the spices. The refltation of these views may be seen in detail in such works as Less, Ueber die Religion, ii, 372; id. Auferstehungsgeschichte, nebst Anhang (1799); Doderlein, Fragmente und Antif/ragmente (1782). The chief advocates of these views are Paulus (list. Resurrect. Jes. [1795]), and, more recently, Henneberg (Philol. histor. krit. Commentar fib. d. Gesch. d. Begrabbn., d. Auferstehung u. Himmelfahrt Jesu [1826]). "If the body of Jesus Christ," says Saurin, "were not raised from the dead, it must have been stolen awav. But this theft is incredible. Who committed it? The enemies of Jesus Christ? Would they have contributed to his glory by countenancing a report of his resurrection? Would his disciples? It is probable they would not, and it is next to certain they could not. How could they have undertaken to remove the body frail and timorous creatures, people who fled as soon as they saw him taken into custody? Even Peter, the most courageous, trembled at the voice of a servant-girl, and three times denied that he knew him. Would people of this character have dared to resist the authority of the governor? Would they have undertaken to oppose the determination of the Sanhedrim, to force a guard, and to elude, or overcome soldiers armed and aware of danger? If Jesus Christ was not risen again (I speak the language of unbelievers), he had deceived his disciples with vain hopes of his resurrection. How came the disciples not to discover the imposture? Would they have hazarded themselves by undertaking an enterprise so perilous in favor of a man who had so cruelly imposed on their credulity? But were we to grant that they formed the design of removing the body, how could they have executed it? How could soldiers, armed and on guard, suffer themselves to be overreached by a few timorous people? Either (says St. Augustine) they were asleep or awake; if they were awake, why should they suffer the body to be taken away? If asleep, how could they know that the disciples took it away? How dare they then depose that it was stolen?"

The testimony of the apostles furnishes us with arguements, and there are eight considerations which give the evidence sufficient weight.'

1. The nature of these witnesses. They were not men of power, riches, eloquence, credit, to impose upon the world; they were poor and mean.

2. The number of these witnesses. (See Corinthians 15; Luke 24:34; Mark 16:14; Matthew 28:10.) It is not likely that a collusion should have been held among so many to support a lie, which would be of no utility to them.

3. The facts themselves which they avow: not suppositions, distant events, or events related by others, but real facts which they saw with their own eyes (1 John 1).

4. The agreement of their evidence: they all deposed the same thing.

5. Observe the tribunals before which they gave evidence: Jews and heathens, philosophers and rabbins, courtiers and lawyers. If they had been impostors, the fraud certainly would have been discovered.

6. The place in which they bore their testimony. Not at a distance, where they might not easily have been detected, if false, but at Jerusalem, in the synagogues, in the praetorium.

7. the time of this testimony: not years after, but three days after, they declared he was risen; yea, before the rage of the Jews was quelled, while Calvary was yet dyede with the blood they had spilled. If it had been a fralud, it is not likely they would have come forward in such broad daylight, amid so much opposition.

8. Lastly, the motives which induced them to publish the resurrection: not to gain fame, riches, glory, profit; no, they exposed themselves to suffering and death, and proclaimed the truth from conviction of its importance and certainty.

Objections have also been raised upon the apparent discrepancies of the Gospel narratives of the event. These discrepancies were early perceived; and a view of what the fathers have done in the attempt to reconcile them has been given by Niemeyer (De Evangelistarum in Narrando Christi in Vitam Reditu Dissensione [1824]). They were first collocated with much acuteness by Morgan in the work already cited, and at a later date by an anonymous writer, whose fragments were edited and supported by Lessing, the object of which seems to have been to throw uncertainty and doubt over the whole of this portion of Gospel history. A numerous host of theologians, however, rose to combat and refute this writer's positions, among whom we find the names of Doderlein, Less, Semler, Teller, Maschius, Michaelis, Plessing, Eichhorn, Herder, and others. Among those who have more recently attempted to reconcile the different accounts is Griesbach. who, in his excellent Prolusio de Fontibus uide Evangelistoe suas de Resurrectione Donini Narrationes hauserint (1793), remarks that all the discrepancies are trifling, and not of such moment as to render the narrative uncertain and suspected, or to destroy or even diminish the credibility of the evangelists, but serve rather to show how extremely studious they were of truth "and how closely and even scrupulously they followed their documents." Griesbach then attempts to slhw how these discrepancies may have arisen, and admits that, although unimportant, they are hard to reconcile, as is indeed evinced by the amount of controversy they have excited. The principal one of these discrepancies has been discussed under APPEARANCE (See APPEARANCE) .

For works on the general subject, besides those referred to under the preceding article, see Malcolm, Theological Index, s.v.; Darling, Cyclop. Bibliog. (see Index); and for monographs on the various points connected with our Lord's resurrection, see those cited by Volbeding, Index Programmatum, p. 67 sq.; and by Hase, Leben Jesu, p. 160, 221, 225, 227, 230; also the following: Clausewitz, De AMortuorum Tempore Resurrect. et Chr. Resurrectione (Hal. 1741); Kunadius, De Sanctis Redivivis (Viteb. 1665); Hobichhont, De Sanctis Resurgente Christo Resurgentibus (Ros. 1696); Schtirzmann, De Anastasi Atheniensibus pro Dea Habita (Lips. 1708). Numerous articles on the subject are to be found in religious periodicals, among which, as the latest, we name Journ. Sac. Lit. Jan. 1853, Oct, 1854; Studien u. Kritiken, 1870, i; Zeitschr. f. wissenchaft. Theol. 1863; Theol. and Lit. Journal, Oct. 1857, Oct. 1858; Lond. Bib. Rev. April, 1849; Brit. and For. Ev. Rev. April, 1862; Bibl. Sacra, June, 1852. Oct. 1860, Oct. 1869; New-Englander, May, 1857; Meth. Quar. Rev. Oct. 1873, Oct. 1877; Christian Quar. Amril, 1876; Amer. Presb. and Theol. Rev. July and Oct. 1867; South. Presb. Rev. Oct. 1860; Mercersb. Rev. April, 1861; Danville Rev. March, 1863; Universalist Quar. April and Oct. 1861. (See JESUS CHRIST).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Resurrection of Christ.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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