Saturday, July 07, 2007

Resurrection books?

Does anyone know of any good, readable books on the resurrection that deal with historicity and theological implications? All the ones I can think of focus on either history or theology, or are out of date, or mediocre, or 740-pages long. I've had a few conversations recently where I found myself wishing I had something to recommend/loan/give. Any ideas?

PS On a personal note, I had another CT scan yesterday, which had good news.

UPDATE: Thanks for all the suggestions. I should have been clearer in my original post, but I was particularly interested in popular, rather than academic, texts: books that an interested investigator or younger Christian might read.


Anonymous said...

Well, 817 if you count the Bibliography and the Index... And I have to put my vote on that one. It is by far and away the best complete look at the resurrection that I've ever read.

Ben Myers said...

Of course, the problem with that 740-page book is that it has far too little to say about the actual meaning of the resurrection. I think it's an excellent book, of course -- but the arguments that "it really happened" and that "it was a real body" can only go so far! (As for the size problem: Wright's little book The Challenge of Jesus includes a chapter that basically summarises the big volume on resurrection -- so this could be a good one to loan.)

In any case, I reckon the best interpretation of the resurrection is still Pannenberg's book -- the specific historical discussions are of course dated, but they could be supplemented by more recent stuff, e.g. Wright's book, or some of the articles from the recent resurrection issue of the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus.

byron smith said...

Thanks for these comments.

I agree with Ben that I really wish he'd said more theologically, but maybe he is saving that for book 4. In any case, I was thinking of books to recommend to interested invesitgators, or perhaps to Christians who don't read much theology (as shocking as that may be!). At the moment, The Challenge of Jesus is a great give-away book, but I was wondering if there is something more specifically on the resurrection out there.

Sam Charles Norton said...

Have you come across this book?

Anonymous said...

Byron. Pannenberg was the most helpful I came across some years back when I did a bit of reading on the topic. Other helpful books/essays worth check out are...

Moltmann, J. “The Resurrection of Christ: Hope for the World”, in D’Costa, G. (ed.). Resurrection Reconsidered. Oxford: One World, 1996, 73-86.

Davis, Stephen. “‘Seeing’ the Risen Jesus”, in Davis, S., Kendall, D. & O’Collins, G. (eds.). The Resurrection. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997, 126-147.

Lorenzen, T. Resurrection and discipleship. Interpretive models, biblical reflections,
theological consequences
. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1995.

Lüdemann, G. The Resurrection of Jesus. London: SCM Press, 1995.

Bolt, P. “Mk. 16:1-8: The Empty Tomb of a Hero?”, Tyndale Bulletin 47 (May, 1996): 27-37.

Wenham, J. Easter Enigma: Are the Resurrection Stories in Conflict? Exeter: The Paternoster Press, 1987.

Of course, Pannenberg also has a shorter treatment.

Pannenberg, W. “History and the Reality of the Resurrection”, in D’Costa, G. (ed.). Resurrection Reconsidered. Oxford: Oneworld, 1996, 62-72.

I think you've inspired to post a few wee reviews on some of these.

Anyway, that all ought to add up to somewhere near 700 pages - that's 40 less.

Praise the Lord of life for your great news, which is good news for all the world!

byron smith said...

Rev Sam - I did come across that book a few years ago while writing an essay. I can't remember which chapter(s) I read, but I don't remember being impressed. Were there particular bits you liked?

Jason - thanks, that's an impressive list and I look forward to your reviews! Are there any in particular you would recommend for an investigator with little or no knowledge of theology/scripture?

Anonymous said...

Byron. For a starter, I'd probably recommend something like Ladd's I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus. Also a read through Calvin's Institutes Book 3.25 is most fruitful and written precisely for that kind of reader.

I haven't seen it for ages, but something like Barnett's Is the New Testament Reliable?: A Look at the Historical Evidence may include a useful chapter or two too.

Of course, Barth's 3 pages (Ch. 18) in Dogmatics in Outline is excellent and a great tool for raising questions for further discussion, if that is on the cards.

Hope that helps.

One of Freedom said...

Jason that is an impressive list. I didn't find Lüdemann that helpful when I read it, but that was at least a year ago now. It was fairly technical. Tom Wright does a much better job and the Challenge of Jesus (which is what immediately sprung to mind) might be perfect for someone with no background in theology/scriptural studies.

I haven't read that Ladd text, I find him a bit on the bible/technical side, which I like but I'm not sure is a great entrance text.

I would recommend finding a short article, such as the Moltmann one Jason recommends, and starting conversation from there. Most of the pop writing on this subject is more trying to establish the resurrection as something "real" and fails to consider adequately the theological implications. But once you start to unpack just how profound resurrection is, the whole issue of historicity fades in the distance.

byron smith said...

Jason & Frank - thanks for more thoughts. This whole discussion is very useful.

Anonymous said...

Byron. I recently ordered a copy of von Balthasar's Mysterium Paschale. It arrived today. A quick flick through tells me that it too could be considered a good option for a book on the resurrection, not least because it deals with the resurrection in light of the whole passion narrative. Anyway, for what it's worth ...

Anonymous said...


Hello. How about:

Knowing the Truth About the Resurrection: Our Response to the Empty Tomb (Knowing the Truth) by William Lane Craig


Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment?: A Debate Between William Lane Craig and Gerd Ludemann


Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary R. Habermas

Anyway there are others, but take them for what their worth.

In Christ

byron smith said...

Thanks bobby - does WLC say much about the meaning of the resurrection?

Anonymous said...

His focus is pretty much apologetic, and not necessarily theological, so no . . . but then you have those 700+ "paged" books that pick it up from there ;).

I'm new to your blog, it appears you have been struggling with cancer? I want you to know that I will be praying for you, Byron.

In Christ

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your CT scan's negative results, Byron!

I want to second Jason's recommendation of Lorenzen, Thorwald,Resurrection and discipleship. Interpretive models, biblical reflections,
theological consequences
. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1995.

Lorenzon analyzes different models of the Rez. and its relation to history and shows how each have different theological consequences, before proposing his own approach. Interestingly, Lorenzon is Australian!

Rory Shiner said...

Great news on the scan Byron.

Sadly, I haven't got anything to add to the books already mentioned. Unfortunately, the Bible Speaks Today volume "I Believe in the Resurrection" by Beasley-Murray is not great, which is a shame because I reckon the market is wide open for a good book pitched at that level on the resurrection.

You busy?

Guy Davies said...

In addition to some of the other suggestions already mentioned, I'd recommend:

1) Richard Gaffin: Resurrection and Redemption is v. good exegetically & theologically. Concentrates solely on Paul, but excellent stuff. This is the book for the meaning and significance of Jesus' resurrection.(P&R, 1987 2nd ed).

2) Paul Beasley-Murray The Message of the Resurrection (The Bible Speaks Today, IVP, 2000).

3) Relevant sections in Herman Ridderbos' Paul: An Outline of his Theology (Eerdmans 1997 repr) & Geerhardus Vos' The Pauline Eschatology (P&R 1986 repr). Donald Macleod has a helpful chapter on Jesus and the Resurrection in his From Glory to Golgotha, (Christian Focus, 2002).

4) Wright interacts helpfully with Marcus Borg on the resurrection of Jesus in Part IV of The Meaning of Jesus, (SPCK, 1999).

5) For resurrection in the OT see The Shades of Sheol by Philip S. Johnston (IVP/Apollos, 2002).

6) Entries in Dictionary of Paul and his Letters (IVP, 1993) & New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, (2000, IVP)

byron smith said...

Bobby - yes, I'm familiar with some of Dr Craig's work and have heard him speak a few times. Personally, I think his apologetics could become more theological (see the final paragraph of this post). The particular 740 page book we're talking about (The Resurrection of the Son of God) could have also been much more theological. Thanks for your prayers; here is an intro, and I also have a second blog on which I post updates on my health.

MWW - thanks and thanks. You never know when you'll come across an Aussie.

Rory - thanks, and the thought has crossed my mind...

Guy - I really appreciated the Gaffin when I read it. As I said in the comments above, I was really trying to think of a popular level book to give away to investigators.

Anonymous said...

Well, the Aussie Thorwald Lorenzon also has a popularization of his larger work. Ressurection, Discipleship, Justice: Affirming the Resurrection of Jesus Today(Smyth & Helwys, 2003) is quite good on the theological dimensions, but discussion of the historical evidence is not as strong here as in his earlier book.

The conservative philosopher, Stephen T. Davis' book, Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection (Eerdmans, 1993) tries to hold historical investigation and theology together on a popular level, but I think he misses the challenges many give to the question of whether historiography can cope with an event like the Resurrection. (Pannenberg, of course, tackles this issue head on and wants to broaden the scope of what historians can say qua historians. I've never been sure that he is right.)

P.S., we celebrated your continued healing today in the "prayers of the people" time at church, mate.

Paul W said...


Have a hunt in a second hand store for Michael Ramsey's The Resurrection of Christ.

byron smith said...

Thanks Michael, I'll definitely have a look at the first book. And thanks for your prayers.

Paul - thanks, I'll keep an eye out for it.

Alex said...

Byron... just a pithy reply to your comment regarding Christians that don't read much theology being shocking. Indeed, since I read a lot, this is shocking to me to. But what is more shocking is Christians that don't practice their theology.