A Redefinition of Reality

One may readily concede that the historical factuality of the resurrection cannot be affirmed with the same level of confidence as the historical factuality of the crucifixion. All historical judgments can be made only with relative certainty, and the judgment that Jesus rose from the dead can be offered—from the historian’s point of view—only with great caution. The character of the event itself hardly falls within ordinary categories of experience. Still, something extraordinary happened shortly after Jesus’ death that rallied the dispirited disciples and sent them out proclaiming to the world that Jesus had risen and had appeared to them. Reductive psychological explanations fail to do justice to the widespread testimony to this event within the original community and to the moral seriousness of the movement that resulted from it. The best explanation is to say that God did something beyond all power of human imagining by raising Jesus from the dead. To make such a claim is to make an assertion that redefines reality. If such an event has happened in history, then history is not a closed system of immanent causes and effects. God is powerfully at work in the world in ways that defy common sense, redeeming the creation from its bondage to necessity and decay.

Hays, Richard B. The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics. London: Continuum T&T Clark, 2004. 166.

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