One of my favourite New Testament scholars is without a doubt Donald A. Hagner, emeritus professor of New Testament from Fuller, and a regular visitor here in Cambridge. Last year I had the privilege of having several engaging discussions with him about the resurrection of the body here at Tyndale House. I was surprised and excited to read his new article: "The Resurrection of the Body in the New Testament," published in Australian Biblical Review [ABR 59 (2011) 64-80].
What strikes me in his article is how he captures the modern disregard for the human body:
"It is of the greatest importance to be clear on the fact that Jesus was resurrected bodily. The tomb was empty because the body of Jesus had been raised. Any idea of a tomb still containing the body of Jesus is totally incompatible with the New Testament evidence and proclamation. The appearances of the resurrected Jesus were not merely subjective visions. Those who witnessed the resurrection appearances saw Jesus in a literal body. The objective reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus as a space-time event is fundamental to Christianity. It serves as the vindication of all that he said and did, including his personal claims. It also serves as the guarantee of the future. No other explanations will suffice. The bodily resurrection of Jesus alone provides the only compelling explanation of the transformation of the disciples and only it can account for the origin of Christianity and the growth of the church" (68).
I love the way Hagner spells out the implications of Jesus' resurrection on p. 77:
"It is as though the future resurrection has interrupted into the present. Becoming a Christian is more than just having our loyalties shifted. Just as the resurrection of Christ inaugurates a new era, so by our identification with Christ we immediately enter into an existence that can be characterised as resurrection life. That new existence is made possible by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit".
Hagner discusses many other aspects of Christ's and our future resurrection in this article. In my opinion, this article is compulsory reading for anyone doing research on the resurrection of Jesus. It is also a good introduction to the resurrection of Jesus and believers for ministers and lay people who wants to get a birds eye view of some of the best research, from the pen of a mature and erudite Christian scholar.