Was the Resurrection a literal or metaphorical event?


As the title asks.

Was the Resurrection a literal, physical event or could it have been purely spiritual and/or symbolic?


Literal, in the sense that Jesus truly did rise from the dead. The martyrdom of the Apostles, most notably James, Peter and Paul, is an attested historical fact. Can you imagine people getting themselves martyred for some sort of “spiritual resurrection”?

In the history of all the so-called Messiahs, what happened was that the proclaimed Messiah would be put to death and the followers would scatter, the movement dying off for good.

But after Jesus was crucified, Peter boldly proclaimed the Gospel in the face of Jesus’ enemies, in Jerusalem. Why? :shrug: Paul put himself at odds with his Pharisee companions and was eventually martyred. Why? Did all of the Apostles go crazy at the same with the same hallucination? :shrug:

Note also some of the Gospels and the way the Resurrection appearances are presented. In John, Thomas refuses to believe that Jesus has come back. This is a totally normal psychological reaction. Can you imagine your friends telling you, “Say, our friend who was put to death some 3 days ago, he’s back, and healthy and we just talked to him!” You would assume your friends are either lying, that it’s a bizarre, morbid prank, or they’re hallucinating or crazy. If the Gospel author wanted to spin some yarn, why present a doubting Thomas who has a normal, psychological reaction, as opposed to one who readily believes what his friends tell him? :shrug:


Attested by whom?


Not a debatable point. LITERAL

"If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. "

1 Cor. 15, 17


Metaphorical, IMO.
Some may have “seen” him, but it is a noted psychological phenomena to “see” someone after they have died–most notably a loved one or religious figure, especially if you are in great distress. I have known two people who say they saw and talked to a loved one after their death.

Yes, I can imagine it. Why not? People have died for their beliefs in the past of of varying degrees of concrete reality, or none at all. People die for their beliefs whether they are others’ beliefs or not, or whether they are true or not to all.

I don’t think they are spinning yarn there so much. I think some of them believe they saw him, and some did not see him or believe it–as you say, the “normal, psychological reaction.”
There are many atheists or people of other religions who, when given the choice of death or converting to another belief, would choose to be put to death.



So the Road to Emmaus story was a hallucination?
Come on. :rolleyes:


Both, Jesus is alive and see are we when we die to our old selves and live in him.


**The Gospel of Matthew states that Jesus’ corpse was missing from inside of a tomb that had been barricaded, sealed, and guarded, and that the Roman guards were bribed to lie about His body’s disappearance.

Jesus’ burial sheet was found, and it has blood stains throughout. These stains have been examined under the microscope, and no tearing or other displacement of the linen fibers that bear these stains can be found.
Everyone knows what happens if one binds or bandages a wound with cloth. The blood under it clots and dries. When the bandage is removed it sticks to the wound, and its fibers tear away.
The lack of any tearing on the linen fibers of our Lord’s burial cloth indicates that His corpse vanished from inside of that sheet.

His corpse somehow caused its image to be imprinted on the burial sheet. One explanation is that as His corpse entered into an alternate dimension a small amount of thermal proton radiation was released.
That proton radiation is what caused some linen fibers to darken and thereby create an image.
At the same time thermal neutron radiation was also released. That neutron flux caused some of the nitrogen in the linen to convert to carbon 14, and that added C-14 accounts for the skewed C-14 dating results.
Bloodstains on cloth turn to a black color, but those on the Shroud are still pink. Neutron radiation also accounts for that anomaly.

My conclusion is that the Shroud of Turin contains sufficient physical evidence to validate the Gospel of Matthew account of the disappearance of Jesus’ corpse.
That vanishing implies that the stories of His reappearance in the flesh are also true.

See Mark’s new book which explains in detail the Historically Consistent Hypothesis that accounts for all of the mysterious features of the Shroud of Turin.**



1 Corinthians 15: 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

12 Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

I wanted to quote more from 1 Corinthians 15, but that really is quite long already.

As a point of Christian faith, the resurrection must be a literal event. It’s probably the first and most primary dogma of being a Christian. It’s not considered a debatable option in the Catholic faith certainly, nor in almost every denomination of our Christian brothers and sisters.


Unless you’re saying that no one actually ‘saw’ him (because he didn’t really rise from the dead), then this is irrelevant. The question is of the resurrection itself as a historical event, and not post-resurrection appearances. You can doubt the appearances, but that doesn’t cast doubt on the resurrection, per se. (In other words, despite the claims of conspiracy theorists, the fact that we only ‘saw’ the moon landings on TV doesn’t infer that the moon landing didn’t happen. The truth of that claim stands on its own, not on the claims of those who assert they saw it happen.) Now… you can ask how we might know that the claims of the resurrection are true, if there aren’t eyewitnesses of ‘real’ post-resurrection appearances, but that’s a different question as well…


**Islam holds that Jesus Himself was not crucified and not resurrected.
Baha’i Faith believes that His body was removed from His first tomb and is still buried somewhere in the Jerusalem area.
Unitarian theology is flexible, you may chose to believe that the stories of His resurrection are spiritual metaphors.
Noted theologian/archeologist James Tabor speculates that Jesus’ second tomb may have been found or is still to be found (with urn, bones, etc.)
In addition to these errors, numerous websites and books postulate that Jesus never even existed, or, if He did, He was not a worker of real miracles.

That’s why I believe that our 21st century physical evidence ought to be given more attention. **


People go to death only for something they 100% believe to be true. Apostles believed the Resurrection was 100% true, and this could only mean they saw Jesus with their own eyes. Most of us did not see Jesus with our eyes, but some of us still believe 100%, because we follow the example of the apostles. The apostles had no example to follow - they knew the truth firsthand.

BTW, a consistent atheist can not die voluntary for his beliefs, as a conscious self-sacrifice only makes sense if one believes in some form of the afterlife, even unconsciously.

People seeing their dead relatives or religious figures is sometimes a real thing, although usually unverifiable. Even if there is a hallucination, it is not necessarily by accident. Afterlife is real.


It was physical. But for some reason many people think it was spiritual, that he is a spirit ?


:thumbsup::thumbsup: excellent post!!!


When someone is tortured, as Christ was, the body secrets something, and I can’t remember what, that causes the blood to remain red as well.

The fact that the blood stains, and I firmly believe they are blood stains, indicate that the nails were driven through the victim’s wrists, further indicates that the Shroud is not a forgery. Until modern times, people thought the nails had been driven through Christ’s palms, but tests with corpses show that this would not hold a body on the Cross. The nails were driven through the wrists. Any medieval forger would have most certainly indicated that the nails had been driven through the palms since that’s how all the artists depicted the crucifixion in medieval times.

The empty tomb, by itself, proves nothing. The real proof is the changed life of the apostles. Prior to the first Easter, they were hiding in fear, afraid that they, too, might be arrested and crucified or imprisoned. After Easter morning, they proclaimed the gospel of Christ fervently, and all but John died a martyr’s death rather than renounce Jesus’ Messiahship.

Edit: I meant to reply to your post on the Shroud, but no harm done.


Paul talks about a spiritual body, but he is really talking about a glorified body. Jesus’ resurrected body was not like his earthly body prior to his death and resurrection. Paul tells us that there is continuity, and at the same time, discontinuity. He compares the two bodies to a seed planted in the ground and the flower or other plant that springs from that seed.

Loewe wrote a wonderful article on the Easter appearances if you can find it. I have a copy here, which I give to my Christology students. This is one of the books I use:


F. F. Bruce, a professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester, says concerning the value of the New Testament records as primary sources: “Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective.”

No one, Roman or Jew, would have dared to break the seal of the Roman Empire, with which the tomb of Jesus was said to be sealed. Gamaliel, a member of the Sanhedrin, said that the rise of Christianity was “God’s doing.” He would never have said that if the body were still in the tomb or if the Sanhedrin knew its whereabouts. So, those that say the empty tomb was the wrong tomb are wrong themselves. Had it been the wrong tomb, the Sanhedrin would have been quick to point this out and produce the body of Jesus.

Hallucinations also do not hold up because had the appearances been hallucinations, the Roman would certainly have produced Jesus’ dead body and quickly quelled the rise of Christianity.

There are other things that prove the historical accuracy of the Resurrection, but I think even with the facts above, it cannot be denied.


Please accept the following in the spirit in which it is offered. To paraphrase the incredulity of Yeshua: “How long have you been here (CAF), and you still do not understand?” We know that the truth of a matter is established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Thus, we have the three eyewitness Gospels of Matthew, Mark (testimony of eyewitness Peter) and John. As well, Peter bears witness in his letters. Luke compiled the testimony of eyewitnesses. There were numerous eyewitnesses to His death, the preparation of His Body for burial by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, the 500+ eyewitnesses as recorded by Saul (Paul) to His resurrected body. Peter, Thomas, Nathanael of Cana and two others witnessed the miraculous catch and Him in His resurrected Body eat fish on the shore of the Sea of Galilee/Tiberius. Thomas probed His wounds, the eleven witnessed His eating of food in the upper room, and life eleven were witnesses to His ascension to the Father. If these were fantastical tales without foundation, how would so many come to belief? They had both seen and heard of the miracles.

The cynic may say that these are fables, but the Romans Josephus and Pliny the Younger recorded at least some of these historical events. The believing eyewitnesses were often put to death for their witness of Christ, just as the Hebrews were put to death for their practice of the faith under the Seleucid kings, as recorded in the Book of the Maccabees.

If the point you are making is that all of this testimony is in the past, then Judaism is also little more than fables. We cannot and must not say that.


A good article by Peter Kreeft on the historicity of the Resurrection, and one that’s easy to read as well:



100% literal. Thanks for that Bible verse.



I like what mother Angelica used to say, “some people are educated beyond their intelligence”. Academic education can only take you so far, then you have to let The Spirit guide you, and NO, that’s not ignorance, that’s something beyond our capacity.

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