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Vision hypothesis

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Part of a series on the
Death and resurrection of Jesus


This is a sub-article of Crucifixion of Jesus.

The vision hypothesis is a term used to cover a range of theories that question the physical resurrection of Jesus, and suggest that sightings of a risen Jesus were visionary experiences. As the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus is a cornerstone of Christian belief, the vision hypothesis is controversial and not accepted by many Christians. However, for example, it is accepted by the Jesus Seminar.

Visionary experiences in the New Testament

According to Mark 16:9, Jesus "first appeared to Mary Magdalene". However, the earliest versions of the Gospel of Mark end at 16:8, see Mark 16. According to Luke 24:22-24, Mary, and the other women, saw "a vision of angels who said that He was alive". According to Mark 16:5-7 they saw a young man in a white robe who told them Jesus had risen and they would see him in Galilee. According to Matthew 28:1-8 "a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow." According to John 20:11-18, Mary saw "two angels in white", "she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus ... Supposing Him to be the gardener", but when Jesus said "Mary!", she called him Rabboni.

According to Acts 10:9-16, Saint Peter "became hungry ... fell into a trance" and saw "an object like a great sheet" from Heaven that contained "all kinds of four-footed animals ... crawling creatures ... and birds ... A voice came to him, "Get up, Peter, kill and eat!"" Peter replied that he'd never eaten anything impure, presumably nothing not kosher, as he was a Jewish Christian. The voice said "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." This repeated three times and then the sheet was gone. Acts 11:5-10 repeats the story. In Acts 12:5-11 an "angel of the Lord" helped Peter escape from prison, he "thought he was seeing a vision".

The primary vision of Paul of Tarsus is in his Road to Damascus conversion experience. In addition, Acts 16:6-10 records his vision of "a man of Macedonia" and in Acts 18:9-10 the Lord spoke to Paul "by a vision" and in Acts 22:17-18 Jesus spoke to Paul when he "fell into a trance". In 1 Cor 15:1-9 Paul wrote that Jesus was "raised on the third day", that "He appeared to Cephas", then to the Twelve Apostles, then to "more than five hundred brethren at one time", then to James the Just, then to the rest of the apostles, and last of all, to Paul.

Gospel of Mary Magdalene

In several passages of the Christian Bible (eg. Mark 16:9), Mary Magdalene is reported to be the first person to see the risen Jesus. In the early Christian Gospel of Mary Magdalene, she describes this sighting as a divine vision.

Critical views

Christian apologist scholars Gary Habermas and William Lane Craig argue that the hallucination and vision explanations for the resurrection are not plausible. (How?)[1] [2][3]

See also

References

  • Gerd Lüdemann, The Resurrection of Jesus, trans. John Bowden (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994)
  • Alf Ozen and Gerd Lüdemann, What Really Happened to Jesus? A Historical Approach to the Resurrection', trans. John Bowden (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995) ISBN 0-664-25647-3

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