One of the most prolific and influential theological writers right now is a guy called N. T. Wright, Bishop of Durham in England.
What makes Wright so interesting is that he’s not obviously a “hero” or a “villain”, sometimes he’s more like one, sometimes he’s more like the other. He has some really helpful things to say about Jesus, some helpful correctives on Paul, some very unhelpful views – in my opinion – on justification and imputation and some extraordinarily good stuff on the resurrection.
Here is a quote from the Times of London Easter Sunday opinion piece that Wright wrote (yes, that just happened) earlier this year. The whole article is worth checking out:
“But ‘resurrection’ to 1st-century Jews wasn’t about ‘going to Heaven’: it was about the physically dead being physically alive again. Some Jews (not all) believed that God would do this for all people in the end. Nobody, including Jesus’s followers, was expecting one person to be bodily raised from the dead in the middle of history. The stories of the Resurrection are certainly not ‘wish-fulfilments’ or the result of what dodgy social science calls ‘cognitive dissonance’. First-century Jews who followed would-be messiahs knew that if your leader got killed by the authorities, it meant you had backed the wrong man. You then had a choice: give up the revolution or get yourself a new leader. Going around saying that he’d been raised from the dead wasn’t an option.
Unless he had been.”
– NT Wright