Saturday, 20 February 2010

Credible evidence for Jesus' resurrection or not?

I had a great week in Nijmegen! My office is on the 14th floor of the Erasmus building (to the right). Great view of the city!
I had a very interesting and engaging conversation with a Dutch couple on the plane earlier in the week. Afterwards, I once again realised how important it is for Christians to be able to offer legitimate reasons for WHAT they believe and WHY. It is one thing te believe that Jesus rose from the dead, it could be quite another to explain why. Did he really rise from the dead? Are there any credible evidence for it? Or is faith a step in the dark?
I have been studying these issues for more than five years now. From the start I decided to study not just those whom I agreed with. I wrestled with the likes of Gerd Ludemann, Sandy Wedderburn and John Dominic Crossan (not the kind of scholars to study over a cup of tea on a sunday afternoon). I have read their work carefully. Do I agree with some theories that Jesus' disciples experienced hallucinations? Or that his body rotted in a tomb? Or that the vultures tore his bodily remains apart on the cross? As a historian, I think there are credible reasons to refute these claims.

Four New Testament scholars, with the academic clout to deserve a hearing have convinced me of the credibility of believing that Jesus really rose from the dead. They are Mike Licona, Gary Habermas, William Lane Craig and Tom Wright. All of their work on the resurrection of Jesus is worth looking at. Wright, who wrote a volume of more than 800 pages on the matter can state with convidence:
"Historical investigation, I propose, brings us to the point where we must say that the tomb previously housing a thoroughly dead Jesus was empty, and that his followers saw and met someone they were convinced was this same Jesus, bodily alive though in a new, transformed fashion. The empty tomb on the one hand and the convincing appearances of Jesus on the other are the two conclusions the historian must draw."
See also the youtube link below, for an excellent preview of a new book on the resurrection by Wright:

Hey, but the facts alone cannot produce faith! That is God's gift for those who put theit trust in Jesus.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Here we go! PhD in Nijmegen!

I have just been informed that I've been accepted as PhD candidate in New Testament at the department of Theology, Radboud University, Nijmegen, in the Netherlands!

Nijmegen is the oldest city in the Netherlands with a rich and colourful history. In terms of theology, the most famous theologian associated with Nijmegen is undoubtedly the controversial Edward Schillebeeckx.

The university is also famous for early church and patristic research and often referred to as the "Nijmegen School".

More recently the influential Gospel of John scholar professor Jan van der Watt, formerly from the University of Pretoria, South Africa joined the faculty. He is currently the General editor of the Review of Biblical Literature. I am so grateful for the opportunity to do my PhD under him. For one of his recent publications, click on the link

 I am flying out to Nijmegen next week and will share some of my experiences in due course. I am so thankful towards God for this opportunity. The picture to the right is of professor Jan van der Watt.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


Any chance that Jesus' bones will one day be found in a Jerusalem tomb? No. And this is taught by both the canonical gospels and Paul. This is more or less the answer given me today while having coffee with professor Leander Keck (now 82 years old) at his house in Cambridge, UK.

For almost two hours I listened attentively to this renowned New Testament Scholar talking about the "Yale School", Brevard Childs, George Lindbeck, William Wrede, Rudolf Bultmann, Ernst Troeltsch, Ernst Kasemann (whom he knows personally), Joachim Jeremias and much more.. I share a few significant moments with you:

Professor Keck is busy writing a book on Christology. As we discussed some issues relevant to this project professor Keck made the following interesting remarks:

Leander Keck:
"Why is it [the new book] taking so long? Because I realised that Wrede and Bousset mislead the discipline. They described New Testament Christology as the history of early Christian christology, for which the New Testament is one of the sources. But history of Christology is not Christology. I've got nothing against the history of Christology, but that is not Christology. Christology to me is a doctrine, it is a teaching, it has a rational, it is a logic, it relates to God with Jesus at the centre... why do you think Jesus is decisive for everybody? That's the problem. And the history of Christology tells you how and why they answered it in this or that way, what concepts they used, who got this or that idea, where they borrowed it from, how they interacted etc. But that doesn't answer the question! Why is Jesus who Christians say He is? That takes a theologian."
Frederik Mulder:
"Not a biblical scholar?"
Leander Keck:
"Well, a biblical scholar too, but there's no reason why a New Testament scholar cannot be a theologian. That's why you are in a good position to combine those fields."
Frederik Mulder:
"It's tough. All those wars going on since Gabler?"
Leander Keck:
Yea yea right. That's it. But if that's the problem, how was it that Wrede's solution - history only, and filled out then by Bousset... why did we buy that?! What happened? Why did that seem to be the solution? We need to free ourselves, not to repudiate history, but to free ourselves from thinking that Christology is the history of Christology."

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

World Class New Testament Scholars in Cambridge

It is not often that one gets the opportunity to meet two world-class New Testament Scholars at the same time. Recently I managed just that. Prof Donald Hagner (to the left) is emeritus professor from Fuller Seminary, and to the right is prof Leander Keck, emeritus professor from Yale Divinity School. Prof Keck's lovely wife in the middle is the former widow of another world-class Scholar: Brevard Childs also from Yale. They married some years after both their spouses passed away.

Check out the links below for two of their influential works: