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Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection Paperback – 19 Oct 1993

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Product details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Reprint edition (19 Oct. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802801269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802801265
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 863,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Broad in Scope and Excellent in Substance 17 Aug. 2004
By C. Price - Published on
Format: Paperback
In a field crowded by apologists, historians, and New Testament scholars, Stephen T. Davis may seem a bit out of place writing about the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. He is, afterall, a professor of philosophy. As it turns out, his background in philosophy makes for a very gratifying book about the resurrection of Jesus (and the general resurrection of Christians).

Davis covers a lot of ground. In Davis' own words, the book is "a somewhat eccentric mixture of philosophy, Christian theology, New Testament scholarship, and perhaps even preaching." He covers a lot of ground, but largely maintains its cohesiveness. Though the structure is abrupt at one place, Risen Indeed effectively brings together the philosophy, theology, and apologetics related to the resurrection of Jesus.

In his first Chapter, Davis effectively engages the arguments of David Hume and Anthony Flew, which object on philosophical grounds to the possibility of evidencing miracles. To his credit, Davis takes them more seriously than do most apologetics for the resurrection. Additionally, Risen Indeed clearly makes important distinctions, such as the difference between "soft apologetics" and "hard apologetics", and the difference between a "soft miracle" and a "hard miracle." Davis concludes the chapter by noting that belief and denial of the resurrection of Jesus can be rational -- depending on the philosophical predisposition of the reader towards the possibility of a miracle. This sifting through the issues is very helpful in setting up the rest of Davis' "soft apologetic" for the resurrection.

Chapters Two and Three also plow the ground for further discussion. In a common-sense manner, Davis reduces the argument that we cannot examine the historicity of the resurrection because it is an event "outside of history" or "beyond historical inquiry." Such arguments in my opinion are simply dodges by historians afraid of upsetting the religious or the religious afraid of being proved wrong by the historians. As Davis shows, the resurrection -- if it happened -- is a historical event that happened within time and space. As a proposition, it is possible to investigate it in a historical manner.

Davis moves into the actual apologetic for Jesus' resurrection in Chapter Four--Resurrection and the Empty Tomb. He begins by responding to common objections against its historicity and concludes by arguing for the reliability of the New Testament accounts and noting the difficulty the early Jerusalem Church would have had in proclaiming his resurrection had the tomb not been empty. Both arguments are well made, but relatively brief. For fuller defenses of the empty tomb the reader should take note of Davis' references.

The book then shifts gears. Rather than proceed directly to the resurrection appearances or further evidence of Jesus' resurrection, Davis discusses basic Christian theology about the implications of Jesus' resurrection to the coming resurrection of Christians -- which, he argues, will be a similar, bodily resurrection. The theology is sound, but makes a somewhat abrupt appearance. Such considerations proceed for three chapters before we return to the direct apologetic for Jesus' resurrection. Though a little out of place in sequence, these chapters are valuable discussions of resurrection theology. Probably more interesting, however, to Christians than others.

Chapter Nine discusses the role of the resurrection in apologetics. It reiterates some points earlier made, and delves into the question of Jesus' resurrection appearances and possible alternative explanations of the resurrection. Davis' discussion is well done and effectively engages contrary views. But again, this is not a work of New Testament criticism and consultation with more detailed sources will be helpful (such as N.T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God).

Overall, this is an excellent book. I would recommend it for anyone who is interested in understanding the nature of the reported resurrection of Jesus, the expected general resurrection of Christians, and the apologetics related to those events. It better sets the philosophical stage for such explorations than any book I have read.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, sophisticated defense of Jesus' resurrection 10 Jan. 2001
By - Published on
Format: Paperback
Although Stephen T. Davis is a professor of philosophy, he appears to know the resurrection narratives as well as any Biblical scholar. In this comprehensive treatment of the resurrection, Davis addresses a wide variety of issues, including miracles, critical history, the concept of resurrection, the empty tomb story, dualism, physicalism, immortality, and apologetics. Along the way, he presents a sophisticated defense of the orthodox position against a number of objections. But Davis does more than just answer objections to Christian belief in the resurrection. He also presents what he calls a "soft apologetic" for the resurrection. What this means is that, unlike some apologists, Davis is NOT trying to show that nonbelief in the resurrection is irrational. Rather, he is simply trying to show that, from a supernaturalist perspective, belief in the resurrection is rational.
I, for one, am happy to accept that, for certain supernaturalists in certain epistemic circumstances, belief in the resurrection can be rational. But I also happen to think (and perhaps Davis would agree) that, for other persons in other epistemic circumstances, nonbelief in the resurrection can be rational. I am not just talking about naturalists here. Suppose we put aside all worries about the existence of God and the problem of miracles. Assume that there is a God who performs miracles from time to time. The crucial question is whether the resurrection is one of those miracles. In other words, did Jesus really rise from the dead?
As part of his defense of an affirmative answer to that question, Davis argues in favor of the empty tomb story. But it seems to me that his discussion is incomplete, for his defense of the *burial* of Jesus is incomplete. Davis's defense of the burial story consists almost exclusively of the argument that it is highly unlikely that Joseph of Arimathea is a Christian invention. But one can agree that Joseph of Arimathea was a real, historical individual without accepting all of the details of the Markan burial story (e.g., that Jesus was buried permanently in Joseph's tomb, etc.). And the *details* of Jesus' burial are crucial to arguments for the empty tomb, for the details have enormous implications about whether Jesus' followers knew the location of Jesus' tomb. If Jesus' followers did not know the location of the tomb, then the case for the empty tomb (and, by extension, the case for the resurrection) is greatly undermined. (For more information, see my forthcoming paper on the Secular Web about the empty tomb story.) Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, Davis did not address such details in his book. So Davis's argument is, at best, incomplete.
Thus, even on the assumption that there exists a God capable of raising Jesus from the dead, I still see no reason to believe that the resurrection actually happened. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book and found it very helpful. In particular, I found Davis's chapter on bodily resurrection to be among the most helpful chapters in the entire book. Anyone interested in the historicity of the resurrection will definitely want to become familiar with Davis's book.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Of interest to LDS 9 Dec. 2008
By Crazy Horse - Published on
Format: Paperback
Stephen Davis, a respected professor of philosophy at California's Claremont McKenna College, has written a fine book of both biblical exegesis and philosophical argument defending traditional Christian belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and the future resurrection of the dead.

In a wide-ranging but deeply informed and intelligent discussion, he treats common objections and covers such topics as physicalism, dualism, and the nature of personal identity. Latter-day Saint readers will be particularly interested in his brief reflections on the prospects for the salvation of the unevangelized, those who have not heard the message of Christ during mortal life (see pp. 159-65).

In the course of his examination of that topic, he not only invokes such passages as 1 Peter 3:18-20; 4:5-6; and 1 Corinthians 15:29, so familiar to Latter-day Saints, but, without any apparent knowledge of Mormon doctrine on the subject, comes to a tentative position (a "conjecture" that he titles "postmortem evangelism") remarkably like that taught by Joseph Smith and further elaborated in the vision of the redemption of the dead granted to President Joseph F. Smith on 3 October 1918 and now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 138.
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