Although Christianity is anchored to the doctrine of the resurrection, historical research shows that from a historical standpoint Jesus was not raised from the dead. In the thorough explanation and discussion of the primary texts dealing with the claimed resurrection of Christ, New Testament expert Gerd Ludemann presents compelling evidence to show that the resurrection was not a historical event, and he further argues that this development leaves little, if any, basis for Christian faith as presently defined.
Ludemann offers fresh translations of the mist important early Christian texts concerning Jesus’ alleged resurrection and assesses their historical value. Beginning with Paul’s testimony in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, in which the apostle declares that Jesus “has been raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,” and then turning to the texts of the Gospels and of other noncanonical early Christian texts, Ludemann systematically evaluates every reference to Jesus’ resurrection in the New Testament, as well as in apocryphal literature. In each case he examines the purpose of the authors of these texts, reconstructs the tradition they reworked, and assesses the historical value of each account.
Since the historical evidence leads to the firm conclusion that Jesus’ body was not raised from the dead, Ludemann argues that the origin of the Easter story must be sought in the visionary experiences of Christianity’s two leading apostles. From a modern perspective, this leads to the inescapable conclusion that both primary witnesses to Jesus’ claimed resurrection, Peter and Paul, were victims of self-deception. In conclusion, he asks whether in light of the nonhistoricity of Jesus’ resurrection, thinking people today can in good conscience still call themselves Christians.