Here’s another article to file under contextualizing the Bible with respect to its literary conventions. If you’re like me, you’ve heard Christian apologists say something like “the New Testament resurrection stories are like nothing in the ancient world,” a statement usually made to convince us that the resurrection was a bodily one. Now, I believe the resurrection was a bodily resurrection, but statements like these on the part of well meaning pastors or apologists aren’t really informed. Below are two recent articles on how Mark and Luke use (or violate) literary conventions known throughout the Greco-Roman world for telling ghost stories when they write about Jesus (pre- or post-resurrection). Be advised: Prince’s article may disturb readers whose background is pretty much popular apologetics. But her conclusion makes sense (I have marked some important parts with a red line). Same for the article on Mark, but to a lesser degree (parts marked in red show the payoff for preaching of this literary analysis).
Deborah Thompson Prince, The Ghost of Jesus: Luke 24 in Light of Ancient Narratives
of Post-Mortem Apparitions
Jason Robert Combs, A Ghost on the Water? Understanding an Absurdity in Mark 6:4950