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5.0 out of 5 stars to obtain the 14 ft length of fine linen on which the body of Jesus was to ..., 21 July 2014
This review is from: The Resurrection of the Son of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God) (Paperback)
I cannot claim to have read the whole of this large book; but it seems to me that Bishop Wright has too narrow a focus on the actual resurrection. So far as I can see he does not go into the surrounding circumstances, which may have a bearing. Why, for instance, was Jesus laid in a tomb so close to the site of the crucifixion (only about 50 yards away if the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem is correct in its placing of the crucifixion)?

The answer lies in the time constraints. Let us suppose that Jesus died about 3.0 pm at the earliest. The Passover Sabbath would start at sundown, say 6.0 pm. That doesn't leave much time for Joseph of Arithmathea to get Pilate's permission to take charge of the body, to arrange for a nearby tomb to be available, to obtain the 14 ft length of fine linen on which the body of Jesus was to be laid, to take down the body from the cross (with the sudarium, a cloth about 4ft 6ins square, to wrap round his head to stop the worst of the blood from marking those concerned), to lay the body in the tomb and to close it by rolling the stone across the mouth of the tomb. It appears that Joseph may have had the assistance of Nicodemus, but not of any of the disciples - we don't meet him in any other context, and there is no reason to suppose that the disciples, lower class people from Galilee, would have had any conversation with Joseph, a senior member of the establishment. Some of the women who accompanied Jesus saw where the body was laid, but again there is no reason to suppose that they spoke to Joseph or Nicodemus.

It is plausible to suppose that the use of a rock-cut tomb so near to the site of the crucifixion (which was just outside the city walls) was not intended to be a permanent resting place for the body of Jesus, but was chosen for the occasion because of the shortage of time. The sabbath ended at sundown on the Saturday, but there would have been enough light for some time after that for Joseph's servants to have moved the body to a more permanent resting place, possibly some way away. The women who wished to give Jesus' body a more suitable dressing would not have known this; so it is entirely understandable that Mary of Magdala should have run to Peter and John and said "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him."

Peter and John ran to the tomb and found that the body was not longer there, although the shroud and the sudarium were still in the tomb - there was no point in burying them elsewhere. But their puzzlement was soon put at rest by the appearance of Jesus himself, first the Mary and later that day to all the disciples. Their joy at this was such that there was no reason for them to go and find Joseph of Arimathea and ask or tell him what had happened; and Joseph, being in secret a supporter ofJesus, did not disabuse them when they began to speak of having seen Jesus on the Sunday.

Much the best written evidence of the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection is Paul's account in 1 Cor.15, with which Bishop Wright deals exhaustively; while the change in the disciples, from despondent and leaderless men to the bold preachers we find after Pentecost is only explicable by their conviction that Jesus was alive after he had been crucified and they had seen and conversed with him. Subsequent appearances of Jesus throughout history, including some 30 in the last 50 years which are examined in detail by Phillip Wiebe in his book Visions of Jesus, are just as convincing to those to whom he appeared, notably Hugh Montefiore, who knew virtually nothing of Jesus as he had been forbidden by his father to read the New testament, and indeed was at one time thinking of becoming a rabbi. His appearance to Hugh, with the words "Follow me", converted him in an instant from being a Jew to being a Christian, and he later became Bishop of Birmingham.

Bishop Wright does not mention the numerous appearances of Jesus in history up to the present day; but I have no doubt, for what seem to me better reasons, that the story if the Resurrection was in essence true, if not for the very learned reasons he gives.
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