Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment? is a lively and provocative debate between Christian philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig and New Testament scholar and atheist Gerd Lüdemann. The volume presents each thinker’s case, their rebuttals, and responses from four additional scholars – two each on either side of the debate. Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment? serves as both an introduction to the importance of the debate to Christian faith and as a resource for those seeking a deeper understanding of how Christ’s resurrection is viewed from both sides of the debate.
This text version of a debate originally set at Boston College is edited by Paul Copan and Ronald K. Tacelli, who invite the responses of four additional scholars. Robert Gundry, a New Testament scholar, and Stephen Davis, a philosopher, argue in support of a historical and actual resurrection. Michael Goulder and Roy Hoover, both New Testament scholars, offer their support for Gerd Lüdemann's view that the "resurrection" was based on the guilt-induced visionary experience of the disciples. The book concludes with a final response from Lüdemann and Craig.
Was the resurrection of Jesus a fact of history or a figment of imagination? Was it an event that entailed a raised and transformed body and an empty tomb? Or was it a subjective, visionary experience – a collective delusion? In the view of many, the truth of Christianity hangs on the answer to this question. Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment? helps readers understand and weigh the arguments for themselves.
“The first thing I would like to say is that we are dealing here with ancient texts of a specific time that were not written by eyewitnesses.” (Page 41)
“With that I come to my second point: all the debates concerning the resurrection become involved with emotions.” (Page 41)
“2. Kant and the horizon of science. Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)” (Page 11)
“From this two things follow: (1) We can never know things as they are in themselves, but only as they appear to us—that is, as they are given sensible form and are thought by way of concepts. Thus (2) we can never have concrete knowledge of nonempirical reality; all of our most fundamental concepts (among which are cause and effect) can yield knowledge only insofar as they can apply to the empirically or sensibly given, to something having spatial and temporal form. But the traditional objects of metaphysics (e.g., God, the soul) are radically nonempirical. So metaphysics as a field of systematic knowledge is impossible; only sciences that deal with empirical realities (even at their most general and abstract, as with mathematics and physics) can yield knowledge.” (Page 12)
“Third, Dr. Lüdemann assumes that the Jewish authorities suffered a sort of collective amnesia about what they did with the body of Jesus.” (Page 36)
This would be an excellent book for anyone who wants to become familiar with the arguments both for and against the resurrection of Jesus.
—Steven B. Cowan, Associate Director of the Apologetics Resource Center
Paul Copan is the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He has written several books, including Creation Out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical and Scientific Exploration, and he has edited several others, including The Rationality of Theism and Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?. Formerly he served with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and taught at Trinity International University (Deerfield, Illinois).
Ronald K. Tacelli, S.J., is associate professor of philosophy at Boston College and has published articles in the Public Affairs Quarterly and Dowside Review.