Resurrection is not necessarily good news. Jenson ( Canon and Creed ) observes that the announcement “Hitler is Risen” constitutes good news only to a perverse few. Resurrection is good news only if the Risen One is one we want to have back.

Saying “Jesus is Risen” also doesn’t constitute good news unless we know which Jesus is risen. It is the Jesus who said and did this and that that is risen. Resurrection is pointless without Christology.

This identification of the risen one is the work of the gospels: “the Gospels offer themselves to be Scripture precisely because, as extended narrative identifications of the risen one and as peremptory proclamations of his resurrection, they are not tied to the immediate catechetical or polemical or missionary needs in service of which their authors may have composed them.”

And this means that scholarship that re-reads the gospels in a polemical context of first-century struggles loses precisely the gospels’ character as gospels.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart