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Posted February 4, 2004

Some Wonderful Reading In Preparation for Easter!

Book: Easter Faith: Believing in the Risen Jesus
Author: Gerald O’Collins, S.J.
Paulist Press, New York, pp.122

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Belief in the resurrection of Jesus is central to the Christian faith. But how sure can we be that this belief is well-founded?

In Easter Faith one of the most distinguished Catholic biblical scholars and theologians of our time draws on a lifetime’s study and research to review the evidence for the credibility of the resurrection. The result is a lucid and elegant work that brings together biblical scholarship, theology, and lived experience into a unique and compelling portrait of the Easter faith of the Christian community.

An Excerpt from the Book:

When believing in a person, we normally can point to good reasons for doing so but not to totally and utterly overwhelming reasons. If that were the case, it would be hard to see how we could freely accept such a relationship of trusting belief. Being simply compelled to accept someone seems incompatible with the freedom needed for interpersonal trust and belief. Hence the kind of ‘solid, substantial, objective evidence’ imagined by Dan Cohn-Sherbok would rule out the possibility of faith in Jesus:

“If Jesus appeared surrounded by hosts of angels trailing clouds of glory and announcing his Messiahship for all to see, this would certainly be compelling. But it would have to take place in the public domain. Such an event would have to be witnessed by multitudes, photographed, recorded on video cameras, shown on television, and announced in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Jesus’ appearance would have to be a global event, televised on CNN and other forms of the world’s media. Further, if as a consequence of his arrival, all the prophecies recorded in the scriptures were fulfilled, the ingathering of the exiles, the rebuilding of the Temple, the resurrection of all those who have died, the advent of the Days of the Messiah, final judgement — I would without doubt embrace the Christian message and become a follower of the risen Christ.”

Such compelling evidence would seem to rule out, rather than rule in, the possibility of freely becoming a follower of Jesus.

Table of Contents:

1. Are Background Theories Decisive?

God, Divine Action and Faith
The search for analogies
Analogies of the Resurrection
Bereavement experiences
Mystical visions
Christic visions

2. Historical Evidence and Its Limits

Two extremes
Historical knowledge and Easter faith
Historical evidence
The spread of Christianity
Novelties to explain
Appearances and empty tomb
The limits of evidence

3. Testimony and Experience

Testimony to the Risen Christ
Personal experience of the Risen Christ
Experience in worship
Experience in life
Experience through the Holy Spirit

4. The Empty Tomb of Jesus: History and Theology

The basis in history
Theological significance
The Divine self-revelation
Redemption through Christ
A Coda: On going beyond the literal meaning

5. Easter As Revelation and Redemption: Matthew, Luke and John

The victory of life
The reconciliation of sinners
Redeeming love

An Unfinished Postscript