Publication Date


Document Type



Published in the Christian Research Journal, 23:4, 2001.


A survey of over 1000 recent publications on Jesus’ resurrection reveals some intriguing trends. For example, after almost a century of virtual dormancy, some critical scholars have proposed a number of naturalistic alternative hypotheses to explain away Jesus’ resurrection. Similar to the situation at the end of the Nineteenth Century, the most popular response by critics today is that the disciples experienced some sort of subjective perceptions of Jesus, although He had not been raised from the dead. Hallucination (more properly termed subjective vision) hypotheses come in different varieties. Sometimes it is suggested that the resurrection appearances of Jesus were similar to the recent claims that the Virgin Mary has appeared. Other times, it is said that these subjective visions were normal responses to grief by Jesus’ disciples, or perhaps even due to a psychological disorder. All of these recent strategies have something else in common, too: each one fails by a large margin to explain the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection appearances. These inadequacies are due to an entire host of problems. This is the result even when these views are judged by critically accepted standards. In fact, perhaps the main reason why most scholars still hesitate to propose alternative scenarios to explain away the resurrection is that numerous historical critiques stand in the way of these naturalistic approaches. Even critical scholars usually agree.