had risen from the dead is even more extraordinary than might be supposed. The idea of resurrection was associated with the final denouement when God would appear to judge the living and the dead, and the dead would rise to face that judgement. No prophecies pointed to the raising of an individual in advance of those eschatological events, not even the Messiah - he was not after all expected to die! So the resurrection of Jesus was, as it were, 'out of time', an anticipation of events still to come - it meant that the end-time had begun.

If the disciples responded to the charisma of Jesus during his life, they responded with awe after his death and resurrection. The problem of the historical Jesus to a large extent lies in the fact that all the material is coloured by the resurrection belief. Yet the resurrection claim is itself a confirmation of the eschatological 'reading' of Jesus' career. Readings which make him simply a prophet, a sage, a holy man or a philosopher cannot account for his politically motivated condemnation to death, nor the subsequent effects of his life and death. The remarkable thing is that the memories which the gospels record -in Greek for urban, Gentile believers - retain so much that fits into what we can discern of rural Jewish Galilee and Jerusalem under Pilate.

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