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Lecture 10 The Saving Death and Resurrection of Jesus.

Required Reading

Craig L. Blomberg, Jesus and the Gospels, chap. 17

L.M. McDonald and S.E. Porter, Early Christianity and Its Sacred Literature (Peabody
2000), pp.158-217.

Recommended Reading
Joel B. Green, “Death of Jesus” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels.
L. Morris, The Cross in the New Testament (Exeter 1967).

How was crucifixion perceived in the ancient world?

Perhaps originated with the Carthaginians, but practiced by the Persians, Indians,
Assyrians and others, and later among the Greeks and Romans. Some evidence suggests
crucifixion was used as a mode of execution by Jews before the time of Herod the Great
(Josephus, J.W. 1.4.6 §§97–98; Ant. 13.14.2 §§379–383; 11QTemple 64:6–13).

The nature of first-century crucifixion:

1. A political and military punishment.

o Roman citizens were spared from this form of execution though, in

extreme occasions (e.g., high treason) death by crucifixion might be imposed.

o More generally among the Romans, crucifixion was a penalty reserved for
those of lower status—namely, dangerous criminals, slaves and the populace of foreign
provinces. Among these peoples crucifixion served as a means of asserting Roman
authority and maintaining law and order. Thus, in the province of Judea, it proved to be a
generally effective weapon against resistance to Roman occupation. Don’t mess with us.

“Crucifixion was a powerful symbol throughout the Roman world. It was not just
a means of liquidating undesirables; it did so with the maximum degradation and
humiliation…..It told an implicit story, of the uselessness of rebel recalcitrance
and the ruthlessness of imperial power. It said, in particular: this is what happens
to rebel leaders. Crucifixion was a symbolic act with a clear and frightening

Tom Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, p.543.

2. A barbaric and sadistic punishment

Seneca, Dialogue 6 (4 BC-65 AD):

I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made in many different ways: some have
their victims with head down to the ground; some impale their private parts; others
stretch out their arms on the gibbet.

Martial, Liber Spectaculorum 7 (AD 40-104):

Laureolus, hanging on no unreal cross, gave up his vitals defenceless to a

Caledonian bear. His mangled limbs lived, though the parts dripped in blood and
in all his body was nowhere a body's shape.

The act itself damaged no vital organs, nor did it result in excessive bleeding. Hence,
death came slowly, sometimes after several days, through shock or a painful process
of asphyxiation as the muscles used in breathing suffered increasing fatigue
(Joel B. Green, “Death of Jesus” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels)

3. A public and humiliating punishment

Naked and affixed to a stake, cross or tree, the victim was subjected to savage ridicule
by frequent passers-by.

Josephus, BJ 5.449-51 (AD 37/8-post AD 93/94):

When they were going to be taken (by the Romans), they were forced to defend
themselves, and after they had fought they thought it too late to make any
supplications for mercy: so they were first whipped and then tormented with all sorts
of tortures, before they died and were then crucified before the wall of the city. Titus
felt pity for them, but as their number — given as up to five hundred a day — were
too great for him to risk either letting them go or putting them under guard, he
allowed his soldiers to have their way, especially as he hoped that the gruesome sight
of the countless crosses might move the besieged to surrender: “So the soldiers, out of
rage and hatred they bore the prisoners, nailed those they caught, in different postures,
to the crosses, by way of jest, and their number was so great that there was not enough
room for the crosses and not enough crosses for the bodies.”

5. What was the Jewish perception of a crucified Messiah? (Deut 21:23).

Already by the time of the first century A.D., the victim of crucifixion was
understood in terms of Deuteronomy 21:22–23—specifically, “anyone who is hung
on a tree is under the curse of God.” In its own context, this passage refers to the
public display of the corpse of an executed criminal. But the NT gives evidence that
this meaning was expanded considerably within the early church to include persons
who had been crucified. This is seen in the verbal allusions to Deuteronomy 21:22–23
(e.g., Acts 5:30; 13:29; 1 Pet 2:24) and Paul’s explicit citation of Deuteronomy 21:23
in Galatians 3:13. Apart from and prior to Christianity, evidence from the Qumran
literature (4QpNah 3–4.1.7–8; 11QTemple 64:6–13) as well as from the writings of
the first-century Alexandrian Jew Philo (Spec. Leg. 3.152; Post C. 61; Somn. 2.213)
attests that victims of crucifixion could be understood this way within Judaism. Thus,
the cross could not be interpreted positively as a symbol of the Jewish resistance.

• Implications for the theological and historical context of the Christian

1 Cor 1:18, 23; Phil 2:8; Heb 12:2; Gal 3:13; Rom 8:32.

“No mere human, in his or her right mind or otherwise, would ever have dreamed up
God’s scheme for redemption – through a crucified Messiah. It is too preposterous, too
humiliating, for a God.” Gordon Fee

“Christianity is the only major religion to have as its central event the humiliation of its
God” Bruce Shelley

“Let the very name of the cross be far away not only from the body of a Roman citizen,
but even from his thoughts” (Cicero, Pro Rabiro).

The shadow of death across the ministry of Jesus.

1. Early cryptic allusions (Mk 2:20 et par).

The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will
fast on that day (Mark 2:20)

2. The transfiguration of Jesus (Lk 9:31; Mk 9:12/Mt 17:12).

They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure (exodos), which he was
about to accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:31)

3. Explicit predictions (Mk 8:31-33 et par; Mk 9:30-32 et par; Mk 10: 32-34 et

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and
be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after
three days rise again (Mark 8:31)

4. The Parable of the Wicked Tenant Farmers (Mk 12:1-12 et par).

5. Symbolic events (Mt 14:3-9; Jn 13).

For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever
you wish; but you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has
anointed my body beforehand for its burial. (Mark 14:7-8)

6. The Passover prediction (Mt 26:2).

"As you know, the Passover is two days away--and the Son of Man will be handed over
to be crucified."

Why was Jesus crucified?

• The specific charges laid against Jesus:

. Lk 23:2, 5.

. The 'King of the Jews' charge (Mt 27:11; Mk 15:2; Lk 23:3; Jn 18:33).

• Overall, how satisfactory an explanation is this?

. Jesus must have been a person who, by his words or actions, attracted a high
degree of animosity, fear or jealousy on the part of his fellow Jews, so much so
that they were prepared to secure his condemnation in a pagan court.
A.E. Harvey, Jesus and the Constraints of History,

. The problem: there is no evidence for any armed rebellion on Jesus' part (Mt
26:55; Mk 14:48; Lk 22:52) or subsequent arrests of His followers.

• The animosity of his opponents:

1. Pharisees (Mk 3:6; Mt 27:63-64).

2. Sadducees (Mt 27:62; Mk 14:53, 55-58).

3. Herodians and Herod Antipas (Mk 3:6; 12:13; Lk 13:31).

4. General hostility, fear and jealousy (Jn 7:10-13).

• Why was Jesus such a threat to each of these groupings?

• What was the list of capital crimes in the Old Testament?

. (a) Sorcery. (b) Rebellious son. (c) Profanation of the Sabbath. (d) Blasphemy.
(e) False prophecy. (f) Idolatry.

• What further justifications for Jesus' execution can be found within this

Sorcery (Mt 9:34; 10:25; 12:24; Jn 7:20; 8:52; 10:20):

. See Lev. 20:27; 19:26; Deut 18:10-14.

. Rebellious son (Mt 11:19):

. See Deut 21: 18-21, esp. v.20.

. Profanation of the Sabbath (Mk 2:23-28 et par; 3:1-6 et par; Lk 13:10-17; 14:1-
. See Num 15:32-36.

. Blasphemy (Mk 14:61-64; cf. Mk 2:7):

. See Lev 24:10-23; 1Kgs 21:8-14.

. False prophecy (Mk 14:65):

. See Deut 13:1-11.

. The idolatry charge is inappropriate re Jesus.

What is the Gospels understanding of his own death?

The need for a canonical reading of the NT (Gospels and Epistles)

 The NT canon is not a menu to pick from.

The need for a proportional reading of the Gospels

 The dominance of the cross in each Gospel

Jesus’ interpretation of his death

Mk 10:45. The Ransom Saying and Isaianic Servant terminology.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give
his life as a ransom for many.

The term ransom or redemption means a price paid to free someone. The
preposition for usually carries the sense “instead of” or “in place of”, thus implying a
substiutionary atonement or sacrifice for God’s people. The most likely background is
the suffering Servant of Isaiah 53:10-12

10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and
though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong
his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the
spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered
with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the

Note that Jesus quotes from Isaiah 53:12 in Luke 22:37.

Mk 10:38-39. The Cup and Baptism imagery.

The ‘cup’ image was used in the OT for God pouring out his
judgement (Jeremiah 25:15-38; Ezekiel 23:31-34. The destructive
‘baptism’ image probably has the idea of destructive waters behind it
(e.g. Psalm 124:3-5). In other words, Jesus absorbs God’s wrath
against us and takes our destruction in his place.

Mk 14:22-25 (1 Cor 11:23-25; Lk 22:15-20). The Last Supper and the

alliance of Isaianic Servant terminology with OT Covenantal and Kingdom

Here, Jesus portrays himself as the new Passover Lamb (cf. 1 Cor 5:7),
inaugurating a new covenant, which brings forgiveness of sins and
personal knowledge of God (Jer 31:31) Once again Jesus dies for the
‘many’ (Isaiah 53:12). The table imagery also suggests that Jesus’
death inaugurates the future messianic banquet in the Kingdom.

• Luke's Gospel on Jesus' understanding of His death:

Lk 9:31. The Transfiguration and Exodus typology.

Elijah (representative of the prophets) and Moses (representative of the Law)

speak to Jesus about the fulfilment of his ministry through his ‘departure’:
Greek: exodus) at Jerusalem. Thus in the cross a new exodus is provided.

• Summing up Jesus' perspective concerning His death.

Jesus’ death
. surpasses the best the OT has to offer (covenant; exodus; righteous
sufferer of the Psalms; Moses/Elijah);
. turns away wrath (is propitiatory: the cup image);
. is on behalf of others (‘for others’);
. fulfils the Isaianic Servant role.

The Resurrection of Jesus.

For starters, read G.N. Stanton (1989), or G.R. Osborne (1992), or C.L. Blomberg, Jesus
and the Gospels (Leicester 1997), pp.351-362. Follow this up with G.E. Ladd (1975) or
M.J. Harris (1983). The magisterial work on this topic is now N.T. Wright, The Resurrection
of the Son of God.
1. R.E. Brown, The Virginal Conception & Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (London 1974).
2. W.L. Craig, 'The Empty Tomb of Jesus', in R.T. France and D. Wenham (eds.), Gospel
Perspectives 2: Studies of History and Tradition in the Four Gospels (Sheffield 1981).
3. D. Fuller, Easter Faith and History (London 1968).
4. G.E. Ladd, I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus (London 1975).
5. M.J. Harris, Raised Immortal: The Relation Between Resurrection and Immortality in the
New Testament Teaching (London 1983), pp.5-97.
6. G.R. Osborne, The Resurrection Narratives: A Redactional Study (Grand Rapids 1984).
, 'Resurrection', in J.B. Green (et. al., eds.), Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (Downers
Grove 1992), pp.673-688.
7. G.N. Stanton, The Gospels and Jesus (Oxford 1989), pp.267-270.

What was the resurrection hope

before the New Testament?

• Resurrection belief was a late development in the OT:
. The belief in Sheol.

. OT figures (Enoch [Gen 5:24]; Elijah [2 Kings 2:9-11]).

. Important OT texts:
. Hos 13:14; Ezek 37:1-14; Job 19:25-27; Is 25:8, 26:19.

. The central OT text:

. Dan 12:1-3, 13.

• Several intertestamental texts expand upon the resurrection hope:

2 Maccabees 7:10-11, 14; 14:46

1 Enoch 62:13-16.

• Key differences between the OT/Intertestamental texts and the NT:

OT Resurrection Belief NT Resurrection Belief

. Only occurs at the eschaton. . The eschaton breaks in with Jesus.

. A general resurrection. . The resurrection of an individual (Jesus)

inaugurates the resurrection of all Christians at
the eschaton.

. The resurrection of the righteous . The resurrection of the obedient and

who obey the Law. suffering Messiah who experienced the curse of
the Law in His death (Gal 3:13).

. A resurrection whose power is transferred

spiritually to believers in the present (Rom 6:1-
8:11) and physically at the eschaton (1 Cor 15).

What are the historical boundaries of the evidence

for the resurrection?


Empty tomb
? Resurrection appearances
of Jesus

• What links A to B?

. The resurrection is an historical inference:
. No one witnessed the actual resurrection event itself.

. The sobriety of the Gospel accounts in contrast to the apocryphal Gospel of

Peter (Appendix A Extract 5).

• Historians must determine the explanation that best fits the evidence:
1. They may adopt an historical agnosticism:
That Jesus' followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my
judgement, a fact. What the reality was that gave rise to the experiences I
do not know.
E.P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (London 1993), p.280.

2. They may postulate alternate theories:

. 'The swoon theory' and other such 'furphies'; the resurrection is a theological
construct of the church etc).

3. They may posit the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

What do we make of Mark's resurrection account?

(Mark 16:1-8)

• The puzzle of Mark's ending:

1. Its abruptness:
. No resurrection appearances (but Mark knows of them: Mk 14:28).

. The final word in the Greek sentence in v.8 (gar, 'for').

2. The fear and disobedience of the women (v.8).

• The two additional endings are not satisfactory:

. See RSV for the shorter ending (footnote in RSV only). Inexplicably, the shorter
ending is not in the NIV!

. See either the RSV or NIV for the longer ending (vv.9-20: maintext).

. Universally, these endings have been seen as the product of later Christians filling
out the ending of Mark from other traditions regarding the resurrection.

. There are two main reasons for this:

1. Neither ending belongs to the earliest and most reliable manuscripts of

2. Also their style and vocabulary does not match Mark's.

• How do we explain the abrupt ending?

. Three proposals have been suggested:
1. The author had intended to proceed further but was prevented from doing
so (e.g. by his death etc).

2. In fact the author had proceeded further than v.8: but at a very early date all
that he wrote was lost (ie. it became detached from the end of the papyrus)
and was not retrieved.

3. The author did intentionally end his Gospel at Mk 16.8.

. Some scholars suggest that we can hypothetically reconstruct the lost ending of
Mark from the resurrection accounts of Matthew and Luke: very speculative!

Finally, what did it all mean?

(1) In terms of their understanding of Christ himself

(i) The vindication of Christ (Acts 2:36, Rome 1:4; Phil 2:9-11)

(ii) So who then is this?

(2) In terms of their understanding of the Cross

(i) The Resurrection was neither a sequel to nor a reversal of the cross

(ii) The Resurrection reveals what the cross was – God’s act for humankind

(3) In terms of their understanding of Christian existence

(i) This event marked the turning of the ages – the Resurrection is an eschatological

(ii) This is the definitive breakthrough the eternal order into the world of suffering and

(iii) Jesus lives, and will soon pour out the eschatological Spirit.