Inaugural Lecture - Center for Classical Theology - REGISTER
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Recommended Reading on the Resurrection

By Matthew Barrett–

Certain books are worth returning to again and again each year. And on significant occasions like Easter Sunday, Christmas, and others it is helpful to have a couple of books to take off the shelf and re-read in order to meditate on and think deeply about the central truths of the Christian faith. Since Easter is almost here, you may be looking for a book or two (or three or four!) to invest in for this very reason. There are a number of books on the resurrection that are worth your time for a variety of reasons, but today I have picked just five (and they are not listed in any order of importance). Here they are:

Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything. By Adrian Warnock.

If I could hand just one book to somebody on the resurrection of Christ, this would probably be the one. Warnock’s treatment of the resurrection is theologically minded, but pastorally driven as well. He does an excellent job showing how the resurrection is central to our salvation (something I will touch on later this week). Here is what Crossway says of the book,

Jesus truly is alive today. But compared to his atoning death, Jesus’ resurrection sparks relatively little discussion in the church. Inadvertently, we can become so focused on the good news that Christ died for our sins, that we almost forget he was “raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25).

In Raised with Christ, author Adrian Warnock exhorts Christians not to neglect the resurrection in their teaching and experience.Warnock takes his cue from Acts, where every recorded sermon focuses on Jesus’ resurrection. He stresses that Christians who faithfully proclaim both the death and the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and live out the implications of that message in vibrant,grace-filled churches, will be enabled to reach a world that lives in death’s dark shadow.

The power of the risen Christ is active in every true Christian, transforming our lives. Raised with Christ will help you discover afresh the massive implications of the empty tomb. Jesus’ resurrection really has changed everything.

George Eldon Ladd (1911-1982) was professor of New Testament exegesis and theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. This book is a helpful introduction to the resurrection of Christ in the gospel narratives and in Paul. It is a short read and many will find it helpful in working through some of the differences in the gospel resurrection accounts.

For those looking for an academic work on the resurrection, you will want to pick up a copy of Wright’s massive and monumental treatment of the topic. Here is the publisher’s description:

Why did Christianity begin, and why did it take the shape it did? To answer this question ” which any historian must face ” renowned New Testament scholar N. T. Wright focuses on the key question: what precisely happened at Easter? What did the early Christians mean when they said that Jesus of Nazareth had been raised from the dead? What can be said today about this belief?

This book, third in Wright’s series Christian Origins and the Question of God, sketches a map of ancient beliefs about life after death, in both the Greco-Roman and Jewish worlds. It then highlights the fact that the early Christians’ belief about the afterlife belonged firmly on the Jewish spectrum, while introducing several new mutations and sharper definitions. This, together with other features of early Christianity, forces the historian to read the Easter narratives in the gospels, not simply as late rationalizations of early Christian spirituality, but as accounts of two actual events: the empty tomb of Jesus and his “appearances.”

How do we explain these phenomena? The early Christians’ answer was that Jesus had indeed been bodily raised from the dead; that was why they hailed him as the messianic “son of God.” No modern historian has come up with a more convincing explanation. Facing this question, we are confronted to this day with the most central issues of worldview and theology.

Gaffin is an excellent scholar and his short treatment of the resurrection in Pauline literature is very valuable. Like Warnock’s book, Gaffin demonstrates much more extensively that the resurrection is front and center in Paul’s understanding of salvation. Here is a description of the book:
What place does the resurrection of Jesus Christ have in Paul’s teaching concerning salvation? Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. explains in part one that a change has taken place in Reformed theology’s interpretation of the center of Paul’s thought — a change that affects how we should approach Paul”s writings. Gaffin discusses this change and the proper way to approach Paul. Part two uncovers the basic structure of Paul’s resurrection theology and shows the central place of Christ’s resurrection in the whole of Paul’s theology. Part three discusses how Paul develops and uses this resurrection theme in several passages and in connection with the doctrines of adoption, justification, sanctification, and glorification. Gaffin’s conclusion presents the implications of this study for the problems and program of Reformed dogmatics.

Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. By D. A. Carson.

Another brief, but very helpful treatment of the cross and resurrection. Again, this is a book you could read in an afternoon and it is also a book worth keeping in your car in case you come across someone who wants to know more about the gospel.

How are Christians to approach the central gospel teachings concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus? The Bible firmly establishes the historicity of these events and doesn’t leave their meanings ambiguous or open to interpretation. Even so, there is an irony and surprising strangeness to the cross. Carson shows that this strange irony has deep implications for our lives as he examines the history and theology of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection.

Scandalous is the latest addition to the Re:Lit series, which highlights important theological truths in accessible and applicable ways. Both amateur theologians and general readers will appreciate how Carson deftly preserves weighty theology while simultaneously noting the broader themes of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Through exposition of five primary passages of Scripture, Carson helps us to more fully understand and appreciate the scandal of the cross.

Matthew Barrett (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. Barrett has contributed book reviews and articles to various academic journals, and he is the author of several forthcoming books. He is married to Elizabeth and they have two daughters, Cassandra and Georgia. He is a member of Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, KY.

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