Bible Professor Publishes on Resurrection
Modeling academic excellence for the Asbury community, Associate Professor Kevin Anderson of the Christian Studies and Philosophy department has recently published an article titled “Resurrection” in the second edition of the well-known Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels.
The article grew out of Anderson’s doctoral research, which investigated the topic of resurrection in Luke and Acts.
“For that work I had to do extensive research in the whole second temple period of Judaism, as well as some research into how people in the Hellenistic world would have viewed resurrection,” Anderson said. “So I have that wider research, as well as specific research into resurrection in Luke and Acts.”
In this wider research, Anderson explores how the idea of resurrection functioned in the Old Testament. Conceptually, resurrection didn’t become common until the Intertestamental Period. Resurrection in the Old Testament was not tied to Messianic prophecy — it had more to do with final judgment, as well as God’s covenant relationship to Israel as a nation.
“It’s this idea that because God has a covenant relationship with his people, that even if his people suffer and are killed, even in a grisly fashion, God will vindicate them,” Anderson said. “It’s the idea that he will raise us up from the dead, he will renew our nation and he will also cause those people who did this to us to topple and fall—they will be judged as the wicked people that they are.”
In the New Testament, Anderson says the resurrection of Christ functions not only as an act done on the behalf of believers, but also as a unifying act.
“Paul talks about the death and resurrection of Jesus as something he does for us, for the forgiveness of sins, but those references are few and far between,” Anderson said. “Most of the time, Paul likes to talk about our participation or our unity with Christ. And so he thinks of it in a corporate way — we are united with Christ in His death, and therefore we are also united with His resurrection. It fits into this whole idea that Christ isn’t raised on his own account; he’s raised on behalf of everybody, and indeed, the church, in a sense, is raised up in Him.”
One of the results of Anderson’s research, though, has been an experience of mystery. He says that true understanding must be governed by faith.
“The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know,” he said. “The more you expand on a particular topic, or even a particular book in the Bible, the more you realize how much there is to fathom. And then you hit a wall of mystery too, sometimes, and research can’t take you across that. There may be a spiritual vista — maybe faith gets there, but reason can’t quite get there.”
For Anderson, the resurrection of Christ isn’t just an academic concept, or a field of research — it’s an essential element of Christianity.
“It’s so pivotal to the Christian faith,” Anderson said. “Paul says that if Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain. Without it, Christianity is nothing. I just really feel fortunate to be able to have spent the time that I have researching in this area.”
--by Joel Sams '15