Nicholas Thomas “Tom” Wright (born 1 December 1948) is a leading New Testament scholar
D.D. (published work submitted, principally The New Testament and the People of God, The Climax of the Covenant and Jesus and the Victory of God)
D.Phil. (Thesis topic: ‘The Messiah and the People of God: A Study in Pauline Theology with Particular Reference to the Argument of the Epistle to the Romans’; supervisor: Prof. G.B. Caird)
“The resurrection of Jesus took everybody by surprise. The disciples werent expecting it. They knew perfectly well, that if you followed someone who you thought was the Messiah, and he got killed, then that was it.
We know at least a dozen other Messianic or prophetic movements, within a hundred years on either side of Jesus, they routinely ended with the death of the founder. And if the movement wanted to continue, they didnt say, oh hes been raised from the dead. They said, lets find his brother or cousin who can carry on this movement. You can see how those Jewish groups did that.
This one did it differently. They had James the brother of Jesus, as this great leader of the early church, but nobody said, James is the Messiah. They said, Jesus is the Messiah. Why? Hes dead. They got him, didnt you realize they crucified… No. He was raised from the dead.
The only way you can explain, why Christianity began, and why it took the very precise shape it was, is lets say it cautiously, first – they really did believe He was bodily raised from the dead. And then if you take the second question, why would they believe that? You can go through all the theories, that they found themselves forgiven.
They had a fresh sense of the presence of God. That this was cognitive dissonance, etc. Then you bring all those theories to the actual facts that we know on the ground in the first century. . .they just dont fit. The only way you can explain the rise of the early Christian belief that Jesus was raised, is that there really was an empty tomb. They really did meet Jesus again, in a transformed body.
And the thing makes sense. Of course, when I wrote a big book on this, my philosopher tutor from Oxford who was an atheist read it and he said, great book. You really make the argument. I simply choose to believe that there must be some other explanation even though I dont know what it was. I said, fine. Thats as far as I can take you. I cant bully you into saying, therefore you must believe. Because to do that requires a change of world view.But, once you change the world view, and say, maybe there really is a creator God. Maybe this creator God, really is sorting out this sad old world at last. Then, everything else makes sense in a way that it doesnt with any other possibility.”