Disagreement over Jesus’s Resurrection: How did it Really Happen?

David Christian Clausen

Tomorrow Christians celebrate the pivotal event that lead a group of disheartened, first-century Jews to feel as if their faith in Jesus as the messiah was vindicated even after his horrifying execution. The event is known as the resurrection and it helped transform a Jewish sectarian reformist movement into a worldwide religion that ultimately left its Jewish roots far behind.

But how did those first followers of Jesus experience that life-changing moment? It is troubling to some students in my New Testament class that the texts which describe the resurrection do not entirely agree with regard to what happened. Specifically, Christians struggled during the first century to come to terms with the form in which Jesus was raised from the dead. Was Jesus’s post-mortem vindication by God revealed to the disciples in a vision? Did Jesus manifest his resurrected nature as a ghost or spirit? Or, did a corpse rise…

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