History And The Resurrection

Interpreting the Resurrection, by Neville Clark (Westminster, 1967, 128 pp., $2.75), No Idle Tale, by John Frederick Jansen (John Knox, 1967, 106 pp., $3.50), and Jesus in the Gospels, by Ernest W. Saunders (Prentice-Hall, 1967, 324 pp., $7.50) are reviewed by Daniel P. Fuller, dean of the faculty and associate professor of hermeneutics, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.

These authors unite in affirming that although historical reasoning in itself can never compel faith in the risen Jesus, still the results of historical research are very important for faith. Clark, a former professor at Colgate Rochester Divinity School who is now a pastor in England, makes history important for faith by asserting that if the results of historical investigation were “totally incompatible with the Resurrection faith … then indeed the axe would be laid to the root of the tree.” For Jansen, a professor at Austin Seminary, historical reasoning can confirm an already existing faith by providing it with certain pointers (but not proofs!). Saunders, dean at Garrett Theological Seminary, declares: “Historical inquiry … can only correct or corroborate.… Historical inquiry alone cannot give the certainty of faith, but it can prepare the way for it.”

This is the common conclusion, even though each of these writers has mapped out distinctive areas for investigation. Jansen gives a stimulating exposition of Luke 24 and the first few verses of Acts. Clark makes an excellent summary of the whole theme of resurrection in the Old Testament, the intertestamental period, and the New Testament. And Saunders, in line with the renewal of interest in the historical Jesus brought on by the “new hermeneutic,” has written ...

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