1. I am reaffirmed (thanks to an anonymous blogger named "John") that I should stick with SBL (smile!). I think he is right when he says:
I think you would grow tired, eventually, of the relative monotony of the AAR crowd, careful as that crowd is to rule out of consideration the possibility that God in the classical Jewish or Christian sense exists, while ruling in every imaginable modern ideology as a platform from which to interpret religious texts. I can't imagine you disagreeing that many AAR papers (I've heard or read many myself) are little more than sermons which preach to a choir of choice...2. Mr. Walters has written many fiery comments in all the resurrection posts, and says that my position is nonsense and that I have misunderstood his. Certainly I do not consider my position that "dead bodies stay dead" nonsense. We can argue many things are possible, and that there are no absolute conditions for laws of nature. Tomorrow I might wake up to find myself green, or the floor no longer solid, or dead bodies rising out of the tombs. But I doubt that that will be the case tomorrow or the next day or any day of my life. Mr. Walters is correct that an inductive argument does not lead to a logically necessary conclusion. But the point of making arguments from history is that they are very strong inductive arguments. The argument that Jesus wasn't physically resurrected from the grave is a very strong inductive argument, much stronger in my opinion than the opposite - If anything is possible, Jesus could have risen from the grave, because we can't say based on inductive reasoning that on one can rise from the grave. On this point, I would like to quote from one of Wade's books by Simon Altmann (Is Nature Supernatural? p. 55-56):
I must remark for the moment that the question of the use of induction in scientific practice remains one of our major problems. I shall later propose a solution based on the principle that propositions in science never stand or fall on their own; that they must be closely knitted within what I shall call the scientific mesh of facts and theories, and that the use of induction for a proposition can only be legitimized when the proposition is integrated (or, as I shall call it, entrenched) as part of this scientific mesh.It is my opinion that Altmann's "solution" is the one that historians should (even must) own as their own. Without it, we cannot "do" history, as we cannot "do" science.
3. Deane has a wonderful response to my thoughts that just maybe there were some Jews around the time of Jesus who toyed with the idea that some of the righteous dead had already been resurrected. Yes, this would have quite the implications for christology, if it is so (which I'm still pondering). I had always assumed that the righteous dead were "spirits" living with God before the end-of-the-world - Loren is correct that there is a difference between immortality of the soul and a resurrected body (Alan Segal has made this very clear in his wonderful book, Life After Death) - but the teaching attributed to Jesus is not making this argument. He is arguing that the resurrection of the dead is proven because Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob live with God already.
4. Leon has pointed to a couple of OT stories that he thinks could be understood in terms of resurrected bodies. First to note - the stories probably did not refer to resurrection "originally." But what they may have come to mean to Jews in the first century is another story altogether. My question is this: Are bodies brought back from death the same as resurrected bodies in first century Judaism? Maybe. On this point I think of the story of Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the grave and John's understanding of this in terms of resurrection: "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live..." (11:25). If Lazarus is the beloved disciple in John (and I think he is the only good choice narratologically), then the Johannine Christians thought that Lazarus had been resurrected from the dead and thus would never die. So they were surprised and traumatized when he died (John 21). I guess what I'm saying is that whoever wrote John believed that the raising of Lazarus was his resurrection.
5. I think that naturalistic explanations can explain the story about Jesus' physical resurrection. I have thought for a long time as James Crossley has indicated, that we should be investigating these sorts of explanations. James writes in the comments:
I find myself more and more coming to the same kinds of conclusions on the issue of historical practice. There are *always* plenty of alternatives to supernatural explanations. Consequently, it becomes futile to try and explain things with reference to supernatural which can hardly be measured or analysed in a meaningful (in terms of historical reconstruction) way.For me this would be emphasizing religious experience, psychology, dream states, construction of memories within an eschatological Jewish community, transmission of stories in oral-literate environment, and so forth.