17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
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.