“A New Life of Jesus” By David Friedrich Strauss (1808 –1874),a German theologian and writer.
We might, therefore, refuse to acknowledge in the resurrection of Jesus any miraculous objective occurrence for the following reasons.
The Evangelical evidence, on which the belief of that occurrence originally rested, is far from giving that certainty which it ought to give in order to make such a miracle credible.
- For in the first place it does not come from eye-witnesses,
- secondly the different accounts do not agree, and
- thirdly they give a description of the nature and movements of the subject after the resurrection which contains in itself contradictory elements.
Inasmuch, then, as the ecclesiastical view of the matter, as regards the last point, admits only the possibility of a miracle, the essence of which involves characteristics which are, according to human notions, self-contradictory, an attempt is made to take another point of view, and to understand the Evangelical accounts in such a manner that they shall not contain such contradictions.
According to this the Resurrection of Jesus takes the form of a natural occurrence,
his condition after it is the same as it was before it.
In the appearances after the resurrection, the accounts of which are given in the Evangelists, the advocates of this view keep exclusively to those features which seem to point to a perfectly natural corporeality;
a. the marks of the wounds,
b. the tangibility,
c. the eating, which is here taken to be not merely a power of eating, but also as a want of sustenance.
- On the other hand, they endeavour to set aside by an evasive explanation the opposite characteristics which point to something spiritual in the nature of Jesus after the resurrection.
a. The fact of the disciples, as is sometimes stated, being afraid at his appearance (Luke xxvii. 37 ; John xxi. 12) is intelligible,
b. they say, on the supposition that they really believed that he was dead, and thought consequently that what they then saw of him was his shade ascended from the world below.
c. The travellers to Emmaus did not recognise him for some time.
d. Mary Magdalene thought he was the gardener.
The first of these is explained sometimes by the disfigurement of his features by suffering,
sometimes by supposing that he had not marked features;
the latter from the circumstance that having risen from the grave unclothed from the sepulchre he had borrowed clothes from the neighbouring gardener.
While the doors were shut he stood suddenly in the midst of his disciples.
Even Schleiermacher considers it self-evident that the doors had been opened for him before.
They see here, they say, a proof of the fact that the body which Jesus brought from the grave was not a glorified one,
a. but severely wounded and hurt,
b. and gradually recovering.
And this proof is the improvement shown in his state of health between the morning of the resurection, when he forbade Mary Magdalene to touch him (John xx. 17),
and eight days later, when the healing of his wounds had advanced so far that he himself invited Thomas to do so.
Again in the morning he stays quietly in the neighbourhood of his grave,
in the afternoon he feels already strong enough for an expedition to Emmaus, three hours distant,
and some days later undertakes even the journey to Galilee.