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Resurrection: Myth or Reality? Paperback – Bargain Price, February 18, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (February 18, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060674296
  • ASIN: B000GG4IU6
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,291,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Continuing his project of making Christianity viable in a secular world, Bishop Spong here pursues the mystery of Easter. The solutions he proposes are not grounded in a literal understanding of the Bible; nor are they based in a quest for the historical Jesus. Easter, for Spong, was not a supernatural event that occurred inside human history. He asserts that even though Jesus was of history, we will never know all that Jesus was or meant. Most especially, we will never know exactly what happened on that moment that is called Easter. What we can know is that the first Christians became convinced that Jesus did not die and, to express the intensity of their experience, they used the language and style of midrash. Thus, Bishop Spong believes that to enter the meaning of the Gospels, to enter the experience of Easter, it is necessary to enter the tradition of midrash. His book, consequently, is a long and complex journey into the images of the biblical texts, the midrashic vehicles employed to carry the transcendent meaning of Easter.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Episcopal Bishop and prolific author Spong examines the Christian doctrine of resurrection and its biblical evidence to discover its true meaning beneath the legends and myths that encase it. Written for the lay reader, Spong's book has the tone of personal quest, but his actual findings are similar to those of recent New Testament scholars. This book will appeal to those wanting a reasonable, nonliteralist faith grounded in the mystery of reality beyond time and space. Highly recommended.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

John Shelby Spong was the Episcopal Bishop of Newark, New Jersey for twenty-four years before his retirement in 2000. He is one of the leading spokespersons for liberal Christianity and has been featured on 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, FOX News Live, and Extra. This book is based on the William Belden Noble lectures Spong delivered at Harvard.

Customer Reviews

That is one way to see it, but one can see it another way.
dr. j
What of his claim that the Gospels were not intended as history, but is written in the midrashic tradition?
Elizabeth Ewoldt
It seems a good idea to read Spong's books in the chronological order in which they were written.
calmly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Dr. James Gardner VINE VOICE on January 3, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Shelby Spong is an Episcopal Bishop and the author of several books, among them Born of a Woman, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, and This Hebrew Lord. In the current book Spong examines the most minute details about the Resurrection in an attempt to re-visit the "Easter" story that is at the core of Christianity. Spong's unique contribution to this analysis is his deep familiarity with Hebrew literature and the midrash tradition, the lens through which the all Jewish people of the first century interpreted the gospels.

Part One (Chapters 1-3) is a 40+ page introduction to the study of the gospels, the use of words, and the midrash method. Part Two (Chapters 4-9) is a detailed study of each of the gospels as well as the epistles of Paul. Part Three examines some of the major images present in the Resurrection story (e.g., the suffering servant, the son of man. In Part Four (Chapters 14-18) Spong provides his own interpretation of what the gospels really say, and in Part Five he provides us with an idea of what the resurrection story means to him on a personal level.

This book is a monumental work of scholarship and it will completely revise your idea about biblical research as well as the story of the resurrection. Literalists beware, this is not the book for you. But anyone with an open mind who has ever questioned the inconsistencies in the gospel accounts (e.g., did Jesus appear to the disciples in Galilee or in Jerusalem? Did one, two,three or more women go to the tomb?) or wondered about the strange and impossible to explain issues (e.g., cursing the fig tree, the cowardly disciple who becomes the Rock upon which the church is founded) will find this book a true eye opener.

The book is well written, but the notes are sketchy and far too few.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By calmly on February 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
Spong presents reasons why he believes the resurrection of Jesus became literalized gradually after his death. Spong proceeds through the letters written by Paul to argue why he does not find good evidence that Paul regarded Jesus' resurrection as bodily. He then proceeds through the Synoptic Gospels in the order in which they are believed by most scholars today to have been written (Mark, Matthew, and finally Luke) to show what he believes are signs of increasingly literalized presentations of the resurrection. After reviewing all the Gospels including John, Spong speculates boldly to try to capture some sense in which Peter and the others who had known Jesus might have had a transforming Easter experience after the death of Jesus that led them to proclaim that he had been raised. Spong explains what it was about Jewish beliefs and the conditions of the times that would have influenced their response to Jesus's death.

Is it plausible? Probably not if you believe to begin with that the resurrection was bodily. It will seem that Spong is certainly reverse-engineering this book's arguments to fit his own rejection of a supernatural resurrection. Will it be plausible to other Christians? Perhaps but it may seem one set of speculations among many. Spong has not carefully graded his speculations as to which seem most likely and which least so he may have weakened his presentation by making it seem dependent on too many speculations. As for non-Christians, they may note that however "radical" Spong may seem to Christians in questioning the Gospel accounts, he seems not to question much, if at all, Jesus himself. One might compare Elaine Pagels' speculations in
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39 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Bobby Touchton on April 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
John Shelby Spong pursues the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. For the layperson who can overcome traditional viewpoints, he sets out to propose solutions which are not grounded in a literal understanding of the Bible; nor are they based in a quest for the historical Jesus. He attempts to get to the true meaning beneath the legends and myths that encase the resurrection story. As most Christians would do well to realize, he asserts that even though Jesus was of history, we will never know all that Jesus was or meant. Most especially, we will never know exactly what happened on that moment he suffered and died. He asserts that the first Christians became convinced that Jesus did not die and, to express the intensity of their experience, they used the language and style of midrash. This book appealed to me as one who wanted a reasonable, nonliteralist faith grounded in the mystery of reality beyond time and space. I would highly recommend it for one who wants to delve deeper into their faith. As with his other books, this is a daring examination of the very foundations of Christianity.
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30 of 40 people found the following review helpful By James Yanni on May 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
In "Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism", John Shelby Spong, biblical scholar and Episcopal bishop of Newark explains that the texts of the bible are filled with truth, but a deeper, symbolic truth rather than a surface literalism. In "Born Of A Woman", he reinforces this by saying, in essence, "Yes, this applies even to the stories of Christmas and the virgin birth." In this book, he parallels that one by saying, "Yes, this applies even to the Easter story and the resurrection, the cornerstone and linchpin of Christianity."
As in those other books, it is refreshing to hear a practicing, active Christian admit what has been obvious to me for all of my adult life, namely that no thinking adult could easily wrap his/her head around the concept of biblical literalism. But for some reason, something seemed to be missing in this book; in "Rescuing the Bible.." and "Born of a Woman", I didn't feel like I was reading biblical scholarship; that's meant as a compliment. The style was almost conversational, and it was easy to read Spong's explanations. This book seems to me a great deal more dry and scholarly than either of those. It still presents interesting ideas, but it was more of an effort to focus on the writing. I frequently found my mind wandering, which didn't happen in either of the aforementioned books.
Worth reading, but somewhat slow going.
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