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The Structure of Resurrection Belief$
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Peter Carnley

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198267560

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198267560.001.0001

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The Resurrection as a Historical Event

The Resurrection as a Historical Event

(p.29) II The Resurrection as a Historical Event
The Structure of Resurrection Belief

Carnley Peter

Oxford University Press

For several centuries, the understanding of the resurrection of God was often seen as a historical event, and this perception remained unchallenged for years. The resurrection of Christ was deemed an event that had occurred at one time on the human past and which was understood to have passed from generation to generation through the authoritative biblical tradition whose acceptance was based on the trustworthiness and sincerity of the apostolic witnesses. In recent years, in accordance with the increasing trend of critical-historical enquiry, the Church's belief in the resurrection of Christ has no longer been seen as a matter of passively receiving the traditional testimony, but rather is founded by drawing a rational inference after a critical scrutiny of the evidences presented by early witnesses. However, regardless of whether one relies on the authoritative transmitted tradition or the scientifically based reconstruction, the resurrection of Jesus as a historical event of the past remains the dominant belief among followers of Christianity. This belief is founded upon the trust and obedience of the continuing lordship and sovereignty of the raised One. This chapter discusses the structure of resurrection belief of the traditional kind, in which the use of the category of ‘historical event’ is accepted or defended as appropriate to the handling of the resurrection of Jesus, and, in which the chief apologetic concern has been to demonstrate the occurrence of this alleged event. The works of the nineteenth-century Anglican theologian B.F. Westcott and the German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg are examined in the chapter to serve as a paradigm to the structure of the resurrection belief.

Keywords:   resurrection, Christ, historical event, B.F. Westcott, Wolfhart Pannenberg

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