Beyond Resurrection? A Review Essay -- By: Lee Martin McDonald

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 11:1 (NA 2001)
Article: Beyond Resurrection? A Review Essay
Author: Lee Martin McDonald


Beyond Resurrection? A Review Essay

Lee Martin McDonald

Acadia Divinity College Nova Scotia

A. J. M. Wedderburn. Beyond Resurrection. London: SCM/ Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1999, xiv + 306 pp.; ISBN 1-56563-486-1. $19.95.

From the 1950s through the 1970s, a significantly large number of articles, essays, and books were written both popularly and critically on the resurrection of Jesus, representing just about every imaginable historical, hermeneutical, and faith perspective. When yet another volume appears on this subject, we rightly ask why and what contribution it makes to the discussion of such an already extensively examined topic. One initial response is, of course, that as long as the resurrection of Jesus is considered foundational for Christian faith (1 Cor 15:12-20) scholars will continue to find new ways to examine and test its veracity and meaning for every new generation of believers.

It is important for all Christians to ask questions about the major teachings and assertions of their Bible and the Christian faith, but it is also quite helpful to know how others have responded to such questions in previous generations. Frequently students of the Bible ask questions that have already been addressed by earlier scholars. A. J. M. Wedderburn’s book allows us to examine many of these questions and view the responses to the resurrection of Jesus and the Christian faith during the last 150 years. He is conversant with most of the critical literature on this subject and generally arrives at conclusions that are familiar to us from earlier critical examinations of the resurrection of Jesus. There is very little in his volume that is new and without earlier parallel in the history of biblical studies.

However, he does provide a useful survey of the historical, theological, and even philosophical problems related to belief in the resurrection of Jesus and belief in God.

Wedderburn himself rejects the resurrection of Jesus from the dead as a historical event and calls such belief outmoded and too imprecise to be credible. His investigation has much in common with earlier studies, especially the works of Rudolf Bultmann, Hans Grass, C. F. Evans, Willi Marxsen, and Gerd Lüdemann. By the end of his inquiry, Wedderburn attempts, like many before him, to establish Christian faith on what he considers a more credible foundation than the vulnerable and indefensible historical claim that God raised Jesus from the dead. Like Bultmann, he also adopts a historical-critical methodology with positivistic assumptions about history.

Wedderburn begins his investigation of th...

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