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Resurrection Logic: How Jesus’ First Followers Believed God Raised Him from the Dead


Death does not speak the final word. Resurrection does. Christianity stands or falls with this central confession: God raised Jesus from the dead.

Bruce Chilton investigates the Easter event of Jesus in  Resurrection Logic. He undertakes his close reading of the New Testament texts without privileging the exact nature of the resurrection, but rather begins by situating his study of the resurrection in the context of Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, and Syrian conceptions of the afterlife. He then identifies Jewish monotheistic affirmations of bodily resurrection in the Second Temple period as the most immediate context for early Christian claims. Chilton surveys first-generation accounts of Jesus’ resurrection and finds a pluriform―and even at times seemingly contradictory―range of testimony from Jesus’ first followers. This diversity, as Chilton demonstrates, prompted early Christianity to interpret the resurrection traditions by means of prophecy and coordinated narrative.

In the end, Chilton points to how the differing conceptions of the ways that God governs the world produced distinct understandings―or “sciences”―of the Easter event. Each understanding contained its own internal logic, which contributed to the collective witness of the early church handed down through the canonical text. In doing so, Chilton reveals the full tapestry of perspectives held together by the common-thread confession of Jesus’ ongoing life and victory over death.




Resurrection Logic is a study that will be required reading not only for audiences interested in the specific question of the science of resurrection among Jesus’ disciples but for anyone who wants to understand the evolutionary processes through which the thinking of Jesus’ earliest followers developed—both in the period of the New Testament and in the centuries following— into systems of theology, and scholarship on theology.”

Alan Avery-Peck, Kraft-Hiatt Professor in Judaic Studies, College of the Holy Cross

 “Chilton is an able guide, showing that how early followers came to believe in Jesus’ resurrection reveals deep changes in ideas about cosmology, the nature of being human, and their experience of reality. So, too, can this book challenge contemporary readers to make richer sense of their own thinking about life, death, and belief.”

Claudia Setzer, Professor of Religious Studies, Manhattan College

Review & Commentary