HISTORICITY OF THE RESURRECTION
Chapters 4-5 from “Jesus for Ever. Fact and Faith” by John Wijngaards, Catholic Truth Society, London 1987.
The Resurrection: did anything really happen?
The resurrection is the central doctrine of our Christian faith. It has always been thus. From the earliest times the apostles preached Jesus as the one who had risen. It was what Peter told the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem: ‘You killed the author of life, but God raised him from death’ (Acts 3:15). ‘Jesus Christ of Nazareth—whom you crucified but whom God raised from death!’ (Acts 4:10). In fact, Jesus’ resurrection was so central to the apostles’ preaching that Paul could exclaim: ‘If Christ has not been raised from death, then our message is useless, and so is your faith’ (1 Cor 15:14).
An old profession of faith preserved in the New Testament begins as follows:
Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the scriptures.
He was buried.
He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.
He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.
(1 Cor 15:3-5)
This is an ancient creed, indeed. Paul recorded this fragment in the year ad 57, but he was obviously quoting a well-known formula whose contents, rhythmic form and
stereotype expressions allow scholars to identify it as pre- Pauline and date it between ad 36 and 42.(16) ‘Already, a few years after Jesus’ death we have a fixed tradition, a formulated confession, that is a dogma, that was handed on in the communities and that functioned as a norm for the preaching of faith’.(17) ‘The only reasonable conclusion is that what we have here is a doctrine fixed by the college of apostles in Jerusalem’.(18) The antiquity and universality of Christian faith in Jesus’ resurrection cannot be doubted. But what about its historical truth?
The resurrection itself transcends history as we will see later. Anchored however as it is in ordinary history, certain claims can be probed by historical research. The early Christians held that Jesus’ tomb was empty. He was believed to have risen ‘on the third day’. Christians venerated the Sunday as the day of his resurrection. Let us consider each of these claims in turn.
Veneration of an empty tomb
The ancient creed stated: ‘He was buried. He was raised . . . ‘ Since the mention of burial implies a tomb, the profession of his rising implies that the tomb was believed to be empty. I am starting with this observation because it is very basic to the whole idea of resurrection for Jews. There have been modern theologians who claimed Jesus rose spiritually ‘leaving his flesh and bones to rot in the grave’. To the Jews such a concept was impossible. To regain life involves both soul and body. It would be unthinkable for someone like Paul to proclaim the resurrection while the body was still in the tomb.(19) A claim that Jesus had risen would inevitably provoke the query: What about his tomb?
The tombs of great and holy men were visited and venerated. Scripture itself lists a number of famous tombs: King David’s (1 Kings 2:10), Solomon’s (1 Kings 11:43), King Josiah’s (2 Chron 35:24), the tombs of the Maccabear. family (1 Mac 13:25-30), of Abraham and Jacob (Acts 7:15-16) and of John the Baptist (Mk 6:29). From literary sources and archaeological evidence a list has been drawn up of forty-nine well-known tombs in and around Jerusalem.(20) Jesus himself referred to the custom of venerating tombs (Mt 23:29-31). In such a climate both Jesus’ disciples and his adversaries would have closely watched his tomb and taken an interest in whatever happened there.
When the gospel traditions speak of Jesus’ tomb, they indicate a definite place that must have been known to everyone. ‘In the place where he was crucified there was a garden and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid’ (Jn 19:41). ‘Joseph of Arimathea laid Jesus’ body in his own new tomb which he had hewn in the rock; he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb before leaving’ (Mt 27:60). These are topographical details verifiable by anyone in Jerusalem.
Again, we know that in early Christian preaching at Jerusalem, as reflected in Acts, David and Jesus were compared. In Psalm 16:10 David had prayed, ‘You will not abandon my soul to the underworld, nor allow your holy one to see corruption.’ The early Christians maintained this verse did not apply to David, but to Jesus. ‘Brethren,’ Peter stated, ‘I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David that he both died and was buried and his tomb is with us to this day. But being the prophet he was and knowing that God had promised under oath that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, he foresaw and announced the resurrection of Christ, namely
that it was he who was not to be abandoned to the underworld, whose flesh would not see corruption. This Jesus God has indeed raised up and of that we all are witnesses’ (Acts 2:29-32).
Peter’s argument only made sense because the undisturbed tomb of David could be contrasted with the empty tomb of Christ!
That is why all the four gospel accounts end with the finding of the empty tomb. It is impossible for me, in such a short essay, to analyse these stories here in detail. But just a few words are essential to indicate their origin and meaning. The oldest account, which we find in Mark 15:42—16:8, belongs to the ancient passion narrative. Internal analysis shows that this text was not used in kerygma (to proclaim the message) nor in apologetics (to defend one’s faith). Rather it would seem to have been a liturgical reading which seems to have accompanied a ritual of reconstructing Jesus’ passion in Jerusalem. This liturgical practice of the early Christian community had three parts which are reflected in the narrative: the vigil or night celebration (Mk 14:18-72), the Good Friday commemoration at the prayer hours (Mk 15:2-41) and the Easter celebration at the empty tomb (Mk 16:1-8). Succeeding events of the passion were linked to liturgical times of prayer: prime (Mk 15:1), terce (Mk 15:25), sext (Mk 15:33-34) and so on. Parts of the passion were re-enacted as is shown by visual presentations and dramatic elements.
This would explain how we have to understand the story of the women finding the tomb. No doubt, ancient historical events are preserved in the narration; yet the story itself reflects more directly liturgical practice. The women, representing Christian pilgrims, approach Jesus’ tomb. They find the stone rolled away from its opening. They enter the empty chamber and find a man clothed in white: the liturgical minister. The man preaches the Easter message: ‘You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He has risen. He is no longer here. See the place where they laid him.’ ‘What we have, therefore, is a very ancient record of liturgical practice directly linked to Jesus’ tomb.(21)
Up, and away,
thy SAVIOUR’S gone before,
why dost thou stay,
dull soul? behold the door
is open, and HIS precepts bid thee rise,
Whose power hath vanquished all
in vain thou say’st
thou are buried with thy SAVIOUR,
if thou delay’st
to show by thy behaviour,
that thou are risen with HIM.
Till thou shine
how can’st thou say HIS light is thine?
George Herbert 1592-1633
Now we may never be able to verify some historical details recorded in the gospels: the names of the women who found the tomb empty (Lk 24:10) or the guard at the tomb (Mt 27:62-66); and the fact that the linen cloths that had covered Jesus were found intact (Jn 20:6-7. Such details may even have served theological purposes. What is incontrovertible, however, is the fact of the empty tomb itself. The apostles spoke of it. Pilgrims went to see it. It was there for people to inspect. Critics have tried to explain the fact of the empty tomb by conjecturing that Jesus’ body had been stolen, or that he crawled out of his grave half dead. Whatever we may think of such conjectures, one thing seems certain: Jesus’ tomb was empty and the early Christians saw this as a confirmation of the fact that he had risen.
The third day
Not only the place of the resurrection, but also its exact time is recorded in ancient tradition. No less than twelve times we read in the New Testament that Jesus rose ‘on the third day’.(22) A further nine times the parallel expression ‘after three days’ is used. (23) The expression occurs in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts and the letters of St Paul. We saw that it was already part of the ancient formula in Corinthians, ‘He rose on the third day according to the scriptures’ (1 Cor 15:4). What does the phrase mean?
Jesus was crucified on the Friday before the Passover. The Jews were anxious that Jesus should die before sunset, because the Passover feast began with sunset on the Friday evening and ‘they did not want the bodies to stay on the crosses on the Sabbath for that Sabbath was a high feast’ (Jn 19:31). For the same reason Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were in a hurry to bury Jesus. ‘Because it was the day before the Jewish Passover, they buried Jesus in the tomb since it was close at hand’ (Jn 19:42). Counting from the Friday, ‘the third day’ was the Sunday. The Jews never used a mathematical calculation in these matters as we might do by thinking of three times twenty-four hours; they counted both the day of the start and the day of completion within the number. ‘On the third day’ or ‘after three days’ referred to: Friday, Saturday, Sunday. When they confessed that Jesus rose ‘on the third day’, they meant the date also referred to as ‘the first day of the week’ after the Passover (Mt 28:1; Mk 16:1-2; Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1).
This is a very precise dating of the event. In fact, at 1 first sight the importance of this dating might escape us. Suppose for a moment that belief in the resurrection of Jesus arose some weeks or months after Jesus’ crucifixion. We j could then have simply expected them to proclaim that Jesus had risen. There would be no reason for them to claim it had happened on the third day. Some scholars have tried to find such a reason in the ancient formula: ‘He rose on the third day according to the scriptures’ (1 Cor 15:4). But the evidence does not support them. The reference ‘according to the scriptures’ refers to Jesus having to die and rise again as mainly found in Deutero-Isaiah (Is 52:13—53:12). There is no mention there of a ‘third day’. In fact, there is no convincing Old Testament passage at all that could have occasioned the belief that Jesus had to rise on the third day. No single text is quoted for this purpose either in the New Testament or in early Christian writings of the first two centuries. Jonah 2:1, which is sometimes referred to (see Mt 12:40), is a mismatch because the text says: ‘After three days and three nights,’ which is substantially different from ‘on the third day’. Hosea 6:2, ‘After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up,’ belongs to a different context, is never quoted in the New Testament and can thus not have been the origin of the tradition.
Other explanations, such as that ‘on the third day’ would simply mean ‘after a short time’, or that corruption was supposed to occur within three days, could possibly explain its use in one or other text; it could never be the basis of such a definite and consistent confession, of such a precise dating. The constant and specific pointing to ‘the third day’ must contain the reminiscence of a historical event, of something that happened on the day after the Passover feast.24 And, that ‘first day of the week’ happened to be a Sunday ….
Sunday as the Day of the Lord
We are so used to thinking of the Sunday as a special day, a day of worship and leisure, that we forget it had no special status at the time of Christ. For the Jews it was the Saturday, the Sabbath, that mattered as the day of rest. The ‘first day of the week’ was as uneventful and profane as Monday is for us. That same ‘first day of the week’ also had no significance for either the Hellenists or the Romans. But, surprisingly, the early Christians started to treat that day with special reverence. It was on the first day of the week that the early Christians came together to break the bread (Acts 20:7). It was then that they collected their common gifts (1 Cor 16:2). They called that day ‘the day of the Lord’ (Rev 1:10).
Last Supper Death Passover
The ancient instruction of the apostles of ad 100 says, ‘On the Lord’s Day you should come together, break the bread and give thanks, after having confessed your sins so that your sacrifice may be spotless’ (Didache 14:1). St Ignatius of Antioch wrote in ad 110 that Christians were no longer celebrating the Sabbath, but lived under the observance of the Lord’s Day ‘on which also our own life is arisen through him and his death’ (Magn 9:1). The same practice of Christian worship on the Sunday is attested by Pliny the Younger (ad 111-113) and by Justin Martyr in texts dating from ad 150. Why do we suddenly find among early Christians this observance of the Sunday as ‘the Lord’s Day’?
It is interesting to see the answer the gospels give to this question. Luke tells us that Jesus on that ‘first day of the week’ appeared to two disciples walking to Emmaus
and broke the bread with them (Lk 24:28-32) and that on that same day Jesus appeared to the apostles in Jerusalem and celebrated the Eucharist with them (Lk 24:36-49). John speaks of a similar apparition to the disciples ‘in the evening of that first day of the week’ (Jn 20:19-23) and a further apparition precisely a week later (Jn 20:26-29). Peter says: ‘God raised him up on the third day and made him appear, not to all people but to us who were chosen by him as witnesses, us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead’ (Acts 10:40-41). The earliest sources therefore testify to the belief that Jesus appeared to the community of disciples on that first Sunday and that he celebrated the Eucharist with them.
This ties in extremely well with the Sunday practice recorded in other sources. These always indicate two reasons why Christians kept the Sunday: it was the day when Christ rose from the dead and it was the day when they came together for a eucharistic celebration. Now, it was well known that Jesus had actually instituted the Eucharist on a Thursday, on ‘the night when he was betrayed’ (1 Cor 11:23). What would have been more natural for them than to have selected the Thursday for the Eucharist? The fact that they did not do so, that from the earliest times on they decided to choose the Sunday; the fact also that, in spite of their strong Old Testament background they rejected the Sabbath for it, must point to an actual event of tremendous significance which took place on that Sunday, that first day of the week. This happening must have been linked to a eucharistic meal. In fact, no other explanation does justice to this sudden strong attachment of the Christian community to the Sunday Eucharist than to assume that the early community was convinced that they had actually met the risen Lord at a new eucharistic meal on that first Sunday. This meeting with the risen Christ was considered to be like a second institution of the Eucharist, which made Sunday forever the appropriate day for Christian worship and celebration.(25)
The events of Easter Day
I would like to come to an intermediate conclusion. The actual resurrection event is of such far-reaching significance that it transcends history. We will speak about this later. It is also interesting to note that the resurrection itself, since it goes beyond human observation, is not described in the Christian sources. They testify to its effects: the empty grave (to start with the least), encounters with the risen Christ, a total renewal of faith.
We asked the question: What can historical science say about the resurrection event? If we put together what we have seen so far, we can state that on purely historical grounds we have to admit that something unusual happened on that Sunday after the Passover. The tomb where Jesus had been buried was empty and became a place of pilgrimage. The early Christians were convinced Jesus had risen on that particular day, ‘on the third day’, and that he had appeared to them at the eucharistic meal so that from that time on it was the Sunday, not the Sabbath, that became the day of worship. It points to some profound experience that transformed them as a community.
No unbiased historians in my view can deny the fact of that experience. They may interpret it as a purely psychological event, as some form of mass hypnosis. Perhaps, understandably so. No one can accept the reality of the Christians’ claim unless it makes sense within a totality of meaning. Before proceeding further we should
therefore ask ourselves: Why bother about a man who died and is believed to have risen?
Making Sense of the Resurrection
I am not at all surprised that many historians refuse to give credence to the early Christians’ claim that Jesus ‘rose on the third day’. No amount of evidence would make them accept it. David Hume (1711-1776), that Scottish forerunner of modern historians, spoke for many when he wrote:
Suppose that all the historians who treat of England should agree that on the first of January 1600 Queen Elizabeth died; that both before and after her death she was seen by her physicians and the whole court, as is usual with persons of her rank; that her successor was acknowledged and proclaimed by parliament; and that, after being interred a month, she again appeared, resumed the throne and governed England for three years: I must confess that I should be surprised at the concurrence of so many odd circumstances, but should not have the least inclination to believe so miraculous an event.(26)
Hume says it cannot be true, because such things do not happen; they do not make sense. In the case of Queen Elizabeth or any other ordinary person, he is right. But what if God uses such an unusual event as a sign? What if that sign precisely requires a new act of creation, a restoration of life?
In communication we rely heavily on signs. And signs, if we care to study them, prove remarkably unpredictable. Sounds and vocabulary in one language are complete gibberish in another. Gestures may convey one thing in one country, something else in the next. Signs need to be interpreted within a cultural context, within a totality of human experience. What seems nonsensical to us at first may suddenly become very meaningful in the light of genuine experience. A sign will only make sense to us if we experience it as a sign.
This brings us back to the experience of Jesus’ disciples. We saw in the previous chapter that the Easter event left a visible imprint on the course of history by the ensuing veneration of the empty tomb and the introduction of the Sunday Eucharist. The impact of the resurrection experience becomes even more telling when we place the Easter event within a wider context. Jesus’ crucifixion should have put an end to the small charismatic fellowship he had built up . . . Instead, a disillusioned and dispirited band of disciples suddenly turned into an enthusiastic and dynamic team of preachers. Pinchas Lapide, a well-known Jewish writer, recently expressed it so well in an interview.
The resurrection is an invisible event that lies sandwiched between two certainties. The first certainty is the crucifixion. There is hardly a fact so well documented in Jesus’ history as his death. And the other historical certainty is the foundation of the Church which first embraced the whole East, then spread the knowledge of God to nations until the ends of the earth. I find that one can assert on logical grounds that between the utter despair of the crucifixion and the emergence of the Church something very basic must have happened. The explanation I find is the one given by the Jewish originators of the Church who point to the resurrection.(27)
Seeing the risen Christ
For the early Christians the most convincing sign that Jesus had risen was the fact that they actually saw him. Many apparitions of Jesus are recounted in the New Testament: to Mary Magdalene, to the women after they had left the tomb, to Peter, to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, to more than five hundred disciples on one occasion, to James, and, most of all, as we have seen, to the apostles assembled in the upper room on the first day of the week.
Without any doubt these encounters with the risen Christ were real to the disciples. They were happenings that shook them and transformed them. Yet they were not just like meeting an ordinary person of flesh and blood, like coming across someone in the street.
The apparition accounts stress the reality of Jesus’ presence by narrating how he ate a piece of fish with them (Lk 24:36-43) and how Thomas could touch Jesus’ wounds (Jn 20:27). These were exceptional gestures, however, not the rule; and they occur in later rather than earlier texts. The accounts show unmistakably that Jesus was different. Neither Mary Magdalene, nor the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, nor the apostles fishing on the Lake of Tiberias, recognised Jesus at first. The moment of recognition came as a surprise, as a mystical insight (Lk 24:31; Jn 20:16; 21:7). Jesus did not allow Mary to touch him or hold on to him (Jn 20:17). When he appeared to the assembled disciples, he entered the room through closed doors (Jn 20:19, 26). Jesus was not seen by Caiaphas or Pilate; he was only seen by believers. ‘God raised him up on the third day and made him appear, not to all the people but only to us who were chosen by him as witnesses’ (Acts 10:40-41). Jesus’ apparitions were spiritual happenings that took place within the context of faith.
Because I have believed,
I bid my mind be still.
Therein is now conceived
Thy hid yet sovereign will.
Because I set all thought
aside in seeking Thee,
Thy proven purpose
Wrought abideth blest in me………
Because I can no more exist
but in Thy being
Blindly these eyes adore;
Sightless are taught new seeing.
Siegfried Sassoon 1886-1967
An encounter with Jesus came close to what we would call a ‘vision’ today. We can see this from the way in which Paul compares his own vision on the road to Damascus with the apparitions Peter, the Twelve, James and the five hundred disciples had (1 Cor 15:5-8). When Paul speaks about his own experience on the road to Damascus (Acts 26:12-18), he puts it on a line with a later vision he had in Jerusalem (Acts 22:17-21) and another vision he received in Troas (Acts 16:9-10). Seeing the Lord was a special kind of vision (1 Cor 9:1), different from other spiritual revelations and insights (2 Cor 12:1-4). But there was much they had in common too. Paul was an ecstatic visionary, a charismatic leader who had profound mystical experiences. Within those experiences the encounter with the risen Christ stood out as authoritative and unique.(28)
At this moment you may object that such visions are purely subjective and you can never prove that Jesus ‘really’ appeared. To some extent you would be right. Mystical experiences and spiritual visions do not come under the scope of direct scientific observation. But the fact that these visions are ‘subjective’ does not imply that they are purely imaginary and do not respond to reality. Reality goes far beyond what can be observed under the microscope, and seers of visions may see reality better than modern science ever can.(29) The apostles could see the risen Christ because, as Thomas Aquinas reminds us, ‘they saw him alive with the eyes of faith’.(30)
The experiences which the apostles had of the risen Christ were of a very special kind, since they had to be the original witnesses of the resurrection. But other Christians, too, can share in this same experience. When we come to know and accept Jesus, it is not because of some notional assent, but because we have a living encounter with him. This is what Jesus promised. ‘My Father will love whoever loves me. I too will love that person and reveal myself to him or her’ (Jn 14:21). Jesus will show himself to us as the saviour, as the Lord, in a tangible manner. We will know he is there because we can see him. ‘In a little while the world will see me no more, but you will see me’ (Jn 14:19). Jesus’ Spirit will speak to us, leading us into the fullness of truth (Jn 16:13). The confirmation of Jesus’ resurrection is not, therefore, only the witness of a few individuals who lived nineteen centuries ago. By entering directly into our life and transforming it, Jesus will confirm his living presence in a very immediate and convincing spiritual experience.31 It is this spiritual reality and the meaning it gives to our life that makes the resurrection such a central event.
The key fact in history
Allow me to enlarge a little on this question of meaning. People sometimes have very crude ideas about the resurrection. They imagine it means first and foremost that a corpse stepped out of the tomb and was subsequently seen by a number of people to speak and act. This is the ‘animated corpse’ concept of the resurrection. Small wonder that critics are sceptical and that historians claim such a happening must be both nonsensical and the product of pure imagination.
According to Christian faith, however, what changed at the resurrection is not only the body of Christ, but the situation in the world. We believe that at the resurrection
God was reconciled with sinful mankind. It was as if in a totally new creation he brought about a new situation in which there was hope and the prospect of eternal life. The resurrection is therefore a cosmic event. The apparitions of the risen Christ are a sign, confirming and announcing this event.
The resurrection cannot be tamed or tethered by any utilitarian test. It is a vast watershed in history, or it is nothing. It cannot be tested for truth; it is the test for lesser truths. No light can be thrown on it; its own light blinds the investigator. It does not compel belief; it resists it. But once accepted as fact, it tells more about the universe, about history, and man’s state and fate than all the mountains of other facts in the human accumulation.(32)
Let us go a little deeper into this meaning of the resurrection. Perhaps we could put it in this way. From the moment of our birth our life is threatened by death. When we leave the womb of our mother we lose a very basic security that we will never regain; but new possibilities for us as persons open up. The same happens when we leave our parental home. Throughout life we meet this combination of growth and loss. When a woman grows old she loses her fertility; a man loses his job. There is an aspect of dying in all this, with the possibility of greater freedom too. At the end of it all stands death itself. Will it mean a total destruction of our personality? Will it mean the loss of everything we have built up? Will our unique search, our specific individuality be dissolved into dust and ashes for ever?
The resurrection provides the Christian answer to this universal problem of our existence. The resurrection is the fact that can fundamentally alter the negative character of our common human death. (33) The resurrection is the possibility for us as specific persons in our concrete situation to release ourselves from whatever in the past or present obstructs us from being truly ourselves and to embrace the fullness of life.(34) The confession that Jesus Christ has risen is for the Christian an expression of the certainty that otherwise would seem only a beautiful dream, that love stronger than death.(35)
Jesus rose to definitive life, a life no longer subject to chemical and biological laws. He stands outside the possibility of dying, in the Eternity given by love . . . Whoever confesses the ultimate meaning of Jesus, confesses at the same time his meaning as the one who defeats death, his lordship over death, his resurrection.(36)
This is no empty talk. It means that if we share Jesus’ resurrection, our everyday life takes on a new quality. We experience what Paul called ‘the power of his resurrection’ (Phil 3:10).
The resurrection can thus be said to be truly transcendent. It belongs to history because it is rooted in it and transforms it. Pope Paul VI could call it ‘the unique and sensational event on which the whole of human history turns’.(37) Yet it goes beyond the confines of ordinary history. ‘It truly is a primal miracle’, he tells us, ‘which transcends history and so is beyond the reach of historical enquiry . . . The reality of the resurrection of Jesus lies beyond our earthly categories.'(38)
If Jesus’ resurrection can thus be shown to eminently meaningful, how does this relate to his message? Have his teachings been faithfully recorded? Can he become my personal guide?
Online sections of Jesus for Ever:
16. J. KREMER, Das aelteste Zeugnis von der Auferstehung Christi, Stuttgart 1970, p.29-30.
17. H. SCHLIER, Die Zeit der Kirche, Freiburg 1956, p.230.
18. B. GERHARDSON, Memory and Manuscript, Uppsala 1961, p.297.
19. J. MANEK, ‘The Apostle Paul and the empty Tomb’ Nn,’,~m Testamentum 2 (1957) 276-280.
20. J. JEREMIAS, Heiligen Graeber in Jesu Umwelt, Goettingen 1958.
21. J. DELORME, ‘Resurrection et Tombeau deJesus’, in La Resurrection du Christ et l’Exegese Moderne, ed. P. DE SURGY, Paris 1969, p.105-151. It was natural that this record would be amplified from other sources in Mt 27:57-28,8; Lk 28:1-15.
22. Mt 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 27:64; Lk 9:22; 13:32; 18:33; 24:7,21,46; Acts 10:40; 1 Cor 15:4.
23. Mt 26:61; Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:34; 13:2; 14:58; 15:29; Jn 2:19,20. Once the expression ‘after three days and three nights’ is used under influence of the Jonah story (Mt 12:40).
24. Fr von CAMPENHAUSEN, Der Ablauf der Osterereignisse und der Leere Grab, Heidelberg 1958, p.11-12.
25. W. RORDORF, Sunday. The History of the Day of Rest and Worship in the earliest centuries of the Christian Church, London 1968, pp.229-236.
26. D. HUME, Essay concerning human understanding; in A.DULLES, Apologetics and the biblical Christ, London 1962, p.62.
27. In De Bazuin, 17 April 1981, pp.51-55; English translation my own.
28. E. BENZ, Paulus als Visionaer, Wiesbaden 1952.
29. J. WIJNGAARDS, ‘Assessing Spiritual Experiences’, The Clergy Review 67 (1982), pp. 253-260.
30. Summa Theologica III q 55 a2. ad 1 (oculata fide).
31. I have described this experience more fully and documented it with many illustrations in Experiencing Jesus, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame 1983.
32. Editorial in Life, 1956; Time, Inc. See Encyclopedia of Religious Quotations, ed. F. S. MEAD, London 1965, p.379.
33. N. BREUNING, ‘Death and Resurrection in the Christian message’, Concilium 4 (1968), pp.5 – 13.
34. T. VAN DER STAP, ‘Wear ontmoet ik de Verrijzenis?’, Streven 20 (1967), pp.647-650.
35. J. RATZINGER, Einfuehrung in das Christentum, Munich 1969, p.249.
36. J. RATZINGER, ibid. pp.254-255.
37. PAUL VI, ‘Easter Message’, Osservatore Romano, 13 April 1972.
38. W. KUNNETH, The Theology of the Resurrection, London 1965, pp.78-80.