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He tells clearly how he pictured to
himself the Risen Jesus.^ In his mind
the future resurrection of the dead and
the resurrection of Jesus Christ are iden-
tical. But the future final resurrection

1 Gal. i. 15. It pleased God to reveal his Son in me
(t^j' VLbv avTov iv ^fJ-oi).

'^ 1 Cor. XV. 1-58, and especially 35 ff. But it is
necessary to read the entire chapter.


will not be that of the body that was put
into the ground, any more than the ear
of wheat is the very seed that was sown.
That seed is dead, it has decayed in the
ground and disappeared. The resurrec-
tion will be the birth of a new body,
superior to the organism that formerly
lived, and very different from it ; it will
come forth from it, will be born of it, as
the plant is born of the seed.

Thus is it with Jesus : he arose on the
third day, but it was not the flesh that
formerly lived that returned to life ; it
was a spiritual and celestial body coming
forth from the material and earthly body,
which died upon the cross.

Paul very distinctly denies that the
Risen Jesus had the same body as the
Crucified Jesus. His resurrection body
has neither flesh nor blood ; it is incor-
ruptible. " Flesh and blood cannot inherit
the kingdom of God." ^ Paul knows noth-
ing of a Risen One eating and drinking;
he no longer knows Christ " according to
the flesh," ^ nor does he know anything
of the guard stationed at the tomb by
the Jews. He belongs neither to the

1 1 Cor. xv. 50. 2 2 Cor. v. 16.


Jerusalemite nor to the Galilean tradi-
tion. He wrote before tradition had been
formed ; he is earlier than any tradition.

Furthermore, as he puts the appearance
to himself upon the same rank as those
to the Twelve, he knows nothing of an
ascension on the fortieth day, putting an
end to the appearances, after which there
were none, because, materially speaking,
Jesus had returned into heaven. In St.
Paul's idea the appearances were not dis-
continued at the end of forty days, for
there had been one much later, and, as
has been observed, he nowhere says that
others may not occur.

In his mind the body of the Risen
Christ was made of the substance of his
irvevfia; it is in no respect material, and
the only word which expresses the resur-
rection is axj^drj (he appeared, he was
seen). There was not then, in St. Paul's
mind, a continuation of Jesus' earthly
life, interrupted for thirty-six hours, then
resumed, and ending on the fortieth day.
No, the earthly life of Jesus ended, in the
apostle's view, upon the cross ; and the
second life began on the third day,
the life of the " glorified " Christ, which


will never be modified nor interrupted by
anything which is eternal. '^ Christ being
risen from the dead dieth no more." ^

Such is St. Paul's behef, and such is
the earliest, the oldest, the authentic form
of behef in the resurrection, — that ac-
'cepted by the apostle.

St. Paul's statements aid us in choos-
ing between the two Gospel traditions of
which we have spoken above; for it is
certain that between these two traditions
we must make a choice. I appeal to the
good faith of my readers. There is no
middle ground; either the Risen Jesus
had the body which had been alive and
had died upon the cross, or he had the
glorified body of which St. Paul speaks.

Very well ; of the two traditions, that
which gives to Jesus the very body of
his earthly life, which makes the life of
the Risen Lord a sort of forty-day supple-
ment of his ministry, closing it by the
material ascension of his physical organ-
ism, rising up to the abode of God, which
is above us in the blue sky ; and that
which makes of the resurrection of Jesus
a series of appearances, indeterminate in

1 Rom. vi. 9.


duration and having no material aspect,
though entirely real, and, as we say, ob-
jective, it is certainly the latter which
we must choose ; and St. Paul aids us to
choose ; so to speak, he makes the choice
for us. To the impartial historian, in
fact, Paul's doctrine is the true one. It
is the oldest, and the only one which
forms a part of a direct and authentic
testimony, and it was after the apostle's
time that tradition gave to Jesus a material
and tangible body.

And now, what are the facts gained for
history ?

The first is this : the life of Jesus had
come to a close. He was no lonsrer in the
world. His reappearances, whatever may
have been their nature, were brief, rapid,
fleeting interviews, which show a supra-
terrestrial existence beyond the tomb.

2. The tomb was empty on the morning
of the third day.

3. It was from this third day forward
that Jesus appeared. ^ There were appear-

1 The appearances began on the third day ; but some
persons had another opinion, and believed that Jesus
remained in the tomb three full days. We find in the
Gospels some traces of this belief (Matt. xii. 40, John


ances during a period of undetermined
length, and they took place where Jesus
had lived, in Judea and Galilee. Some
saw him in Judea, others in Galilee. He
appeared only to those who knew that the
tomb was empty ; but beyond this com-
mon starting-point each tradition devel-
oped independently of the other. These
appearances were special to those for
whom they were designed ; they alone
were aware of them.

4. The body of the Risen Lord was
a spiritual body, according to the expres-
sion of St. Paul. Later it was found hard
to reconcile the two traditions ; one was
laid over the other, and they were not
to be reconciled. Between the narratives
according to which the body of the Risen
Lord was a material organism which could
partake of food, which bore the print of
the nails, which could be touched, and the
narratives according to which it was in-
stantaneously transported from place to
place, passed through closed doors, and

ii. 19, Mark ix, 31, according to the oldest and most
authoritative text). The opinion which prevailed, that
of St. Paul, placed the resurrection on the third day,
that is, Sunday (Luke ix. 22, xxiv. 21).


was impalpable, there is an irreconcilable
contradiction. To admit this contradiction
is for every reader of the Gospel narratives
a duty of the most elementary good faith.

5. Paul believed in the resurrection,
not only because it was affirmed by the
other apostles, but because he was per-
suaded that Jesus had appeared to him
and spoken to him.

6. We may admit as historically proved
the development of the primitive tradi-
tion, in the sense of an increasing mate-
rialization of the idea of the nature of
the body of the Risen Lord.

Such are the historic conclusions to
which the impartial study of the various
narratives infallibly leads.




T ET US now attempt to perceive what
we ought to understand by the Re-
surrection of Jesus Christ.

The disciples did see appearances. The
Being which they saw had a body. But
this body was immaterial ; this is affirmed
by St. Paul. St. Paul's affirmation is
confirmed by the pains taken by the Evan-
gelists to convince their readers that the
body of the Risen Lord was material.
Several features of the accounts show,
indeed, that it was immaterial and in-
tangible. The Evangelists undoubtedly
believed in a tangible reality ; but the
first idea of the witnesses was that they
had before them a spirit, ^ and this idea
prevailed for a very long time. Clement
of Alexandria relates that, according to a
tradition still accepted in his time, St.

1 Luke xxiv. 37.


John thrust his hand into the body of
Jesus, and it passed through it without
difficulty.^ According to Jerome ^ the
Gospel of the Nazarenes related that Jesus
appeared to Peter and the other apostles,
after having appeared to James, and said
to them, " Touch me, and assure your-
selves that I am not a dcemonium incor-
porate '' (an incorporeal spirit).

The appearance was of Jesus, but he
was not recognized ; Mary Magdalene, the
disciples of Emmaus, the apostles in
Galilee,^ were not at the first moment
aware that it was Jesus who stood before
them. The statement made, based upon
the accounts of those who narrated the ap-
pearances, is that they did not at once
know who was there. It was not until
after a certain time that they recognized

The moment of recognition was usually
at a meal-time (the disciples of Em-
maus, the meal when Jesus ate fish and
honeycomb, the dinner of John xxi.). This
idea certainly grew out of the fact that
one of the memories most profoundly

1 Adumhrat. ad 1 John i. 1. "^ De vir ill. 2.

3 John xxi.


graven upon the hearts of the disciples ^
was that of the meals they had been used
to take with their Master, and especially
the moment of the breaking of bread and
the giving of thanks.

It had always been a blessed hour, that
meal- time of the little community, the
little spiritual family, when they all sat
around the same table, when they sang
the old psalms, when they dipped into the
same dish and drank from the same cup ;
therefore from the earliest days of the
primitive Church the fraternal repasts so
much enjoyed by the Jews were in great

It happened further that as soon as
they recognized Jesus he disappeared ;
that the moment when the vision vanished
was precisely that in which some one
said, " It is he ! " So long as the vision
lasted, either they knew not who it was,^
or they were asking one another if it was
he, — yes or no.^

From these facts it results with the
strongest evidence that there is not the

1 We have already had occasion to make this remark ;
see above, p. 118.

2 Luke xxiv. 13-35. 3 John xxi. 12.


least relation between the resurrection of
Jesus and other resurrections narrated in
the Bible; for example, that of Lazarus.
According to the text the resurrection of
Lazarus was the return to physical and
organic life of a corpse in which decom-
position had already begun. The body
of Lazarus came to life again. Lazarus
resumed the existence of a few days pre-
vious, in his house, with his sisters ; began
again to feed liis body and to live the daily
material life, precisely as if his illness,
instead of ending in death, had ended in
recovery. His organism resumed all its
physiological functions, and at a later
time Lazarus died a second time, and this
time, not to live again. If the laws of
France had been operative in Judea, the
risen Lazarus might have demanded the
annulling of his act of decease.

It is entirely otherwise with the Risen
Christ, of whom Paul said, '' He dieth no
more ; " ^ and with the documents which
we possess it is absolutely impossible to
establish any likeness between the return
of Lazarus to life and the return of Jesus
Christ to life.

1 Rom. vi. 9.


We have now arrived at the following
historic certainties : —

1. There were appearances of Jesus,
sometimes uncertain and unrecognizable,
and always followed by disappearances.

2. He had a body called "glorified"
or " spiritual ; " and we are absolutely
ignorant of what that is, — we only know
that it is not the earthly body.

3. The Risen Christ dies no more ;
he has then no organic life, and his
body performs no physiological function

4. God revealed his Son in St. Paul.
In the apostle's experience, therefore, to
the exterior vision which dazzled his sight
there was a corresponding inner revelation
of which his soul was the theatre.

5. None of Jesus' adversaries saw him
after his death; his disciples alone saw

6. The succession of the appearances
and their number cannot be perfectly

Certain details remain to be elucidated ;
thus, the contradictions in the narratives,
speaking sometimes of a material body,
sometimes of an immaterial body, are in


the highest degree natural. The apostles
took divers methods of explaining a fact
which in itself was certain. Their faith
expressed itself in images: each had his
own, and each believed that this figure
corresponded with a reality. But as they
contradict one another we ought not to
seek to restore them to unity.

One says, the Risen Lord had an or-
ganic body which partook of food. An-
other says, a spiritual body which passed
through closed doors; and sometimes the
same writer says both.

One of them believes that the resur-
rection and ascension took place the same
day, and that both were one identical
act; according to this evangelist, with
Jesus to arise from the dead was to as-
cend into heaven. Another says, the two
acts were separated by an interval of forty
days. One said, the Lord is the Spirit ; ^
the other, he has a body which bears the
mark of the nails. We have shown that
there are several traditions, that is, several
explanations, and nothing is so pitiful as
the effects of certain conservatives to
harmonize all these differences, to bring

1 2 Cor. iii. 17.


them all into unity. While denying ple-
nary inspiration, they put all these nar-
ratives in the same rank ; all are true,
authentic, infallible, and therefore they
harmonize. We believe that we show
more respect for the Scriptures in not
trying to bring into agreement things that
do not agree, and in not giving forced
harmonizations. It is hard to believe
how many petty manipulations, forced
texts, one-sided explanations, we find
among the conservatives ; arguments of
which in the secret of their souls they
cannot but feel the weakness and noth-
ingness, and which, taken all in all, are
miserable failures.

But if we can sum up all the contra-
dictions in the narratives, and show how
very natural they are, there nevertheless
remain many insoluble questions ; for ex-
ample, How were the appearances pro-
duced? When did they cease? Under
what influences? How did belief in the
ascension into heaven grow up? We do
not know.

What is certain is that the entire life of
Jesus is to be explained only by an inter-
vention of God. It is a miracle, if by


that we understand, not an impossible
abrogation of the laws of nature, but a
creative act of the sovereign God, un-
explained and still inexplicable. It is a
miracle of that sort (and this is the only
sort of miracle that is possible, and in
consequence authentic), it is, we say, a
miracle of that sort which is hidden in the
mystery of his birth ; it is another of this
same kind which is hidden in the mys-
tery of his resurrection. Miracles of this
kind are not to be observed by scientific
methods, and the disciples describe them
as they can, by poetic images and popular
symbols, to which, according to the ideas
of their time, they give a historic reality ;
but the fact itself, the miraculous fact,
subsists behind figurative explanations
and concrete symbols.

This one thing remains certain, — the
life beyond the tomb is not at all a part
of the earthly life : it is a superior exist-
ence, truly supernatural. Its appearances
are always sudden, and last only a brief
time, even in the most realistic traditions.
The Risen Lord did not live in continu-
ous and normal relations with the world
in which he had formerly lived.



Among the questions which remain in-
soluble is this : What became of the body
of the Crucified Jesus ?

On the one hand, the Risen Jesus had
not the same body as during his earthly life ;
and on the other hand, his earthly body,
his corpse, was not in the tomb on the
third day. What became of the body of
the Crucified One?

To answer this question is impossible
for everyone. It is impossible for those
who deny the resurrection ; it is not less
so for those wlio believe that there were
visions of a glorified body; it is not
less so for those who, contrary to the asser-
tion of St. Paul, affirm a return to life
of the physical organism of Jesus; for
\that organism, the body which ate, walked,
slept, in fact lived the earthly life, be-
ginning again as that of the risen Lazarus
did, did not, as he did, die a second
time, to be buried again. We know very
well what became of the body of Lazarus
after his second death — it was buried ;
but what became of that of Jesus ?

Shall we be told, " It was that which
went up into heaven on Ascension Day " ?
No, we shall not be told so, because that


cannot have been a truly material body
which went up into heaven ; it was not
"flesh and blood," it was a "glorified"
body, as we say. And thus, to the ques-
tions, " What became of the crucified body ?
Where was it when the tomb was found
empty on the morning of the third day ? "
— a reply is as impossible for the most
conservative believers as for unbelievers,
for the partisans as for the opponents of
the resurrection.

It does not suffice to say, the material
body was transformed into a spiritual body ;
for this has no meaning. ]\Iatter is mat-
ter, and remains matter. Everything is
changed, as we well know, but nothing is
lost, and matter can only be transformed
into matter. /

No satisfactory solution has therefore
been found by any one.^

1 Some one will perhaps reply : " The material body
could be transformed into a spiritual body, for nothing
is impossible with God; and besides, who shall say
what is matter and what is spirit ? Why could not the
material body, the corpse of Jesus of Nazareth, have
become the glorified body of the eternal Christ ? "
Agreed : it might have so become. To the supposition
of this abstract possibility and this appeal to the al-
mighty power of God it is evident that we have no
reply to make.


The most widely differing conjectures
have been offered to explain the disappear-
ance of the body. It has been asked —
singular conjecture — if the Sanhedrin
might not have taken measures to conceal
the body of Jesus. Although dead, this
man still distressed them. His tomb, as
we have shown,^ might become a place of
pilgrimage. People would certainly visit
it, thought Annas and Caiaphas. Some
women had already spoken of coming back
to embalm the body. The disciples would
take advantage of this well-known and
respected sepulchre to excite and promote
an uprising of the people. It was neces-
sary, then, in the minds of these men that
Jesus should be entirely done away with.
Even his death did not satisfy them ; they
desired the destruction of his body, its
total extinction.

Therefore the Sanhedi'in made away
with his body on Saturday night, as soon
as the Sabbath was ended, and had it car-
ried somewhere else, hidden, burned, per-
haps, saying. We must have done even
with his corpse. They secured the aid of
the Roman soldiers who were guarding
1 See above, p. 182 f.


the tomb, pcaying them money. Hence the
story related by Matthew, of paying
the soldiers to say nothing. Later, when
the apostles declared that the resurrection
had taken place, the Sanhedrin could not
contradict it, nor offer to produce the
corpse ; they were therefore silent, because
otherwise it would have been necessary to
confess what they had done. According
to a passage in Tertullian,^ certain Jews
said that the gardener had made away with
the body, because he feared that the throng
of comers and goers would injure his
vegetables. They admitted then that the
body might have been carried away by
others than the apostles.

The hiding of the body by the Sanhedrin
is certainly not beyond the limits of possi-
bility, but I beg the reader to remark
that this possibility is entirely abstract.
Nothing can be cited to support it ; not an
act, not a text, not an allusion, however
fleeting, appears to give a degree of value
to this hypothesis. It is gratuitous in the
strongest sense of the word. More than
that, it is in the highest degree improbable ;

1 De Spectaculis.


for it would have been singularly mala-
droit of the high priest to take the trouble,
of his own motion, to furnish the apostles
a reason for believing in the resurrec-
tion. And to conclude, as we shall
show in the following pages, it is im-
possible that the disappearance of Jesus'
body in such a manner, even if it took
place, should explain the belief in the

Besides, it is possible to imagine such
an absurdity as old Annas becoming the
true founder of Christianity. We should
in that case owe him very abundant
thanks. By putting Jesus to death by
cravenly demanding that Pilate should
crucify him, he had already given to the
world a God dying for its sins and expi-
ating them upon the cross; now he does
better still ; by effecting the disappearance
of the body, by letting loose his rage upon
the sorrowful Man of Nazareth, the hatred
of this unscrupulous priest has given to
the world a Risen God! Jesus is there-
fore only one of our brothers in suffering,
and the despairing cry of Mary Magdalene
will remain through all the centuries
the expression of the truth : *^ They have


taken away my Lord, and I know not
where they have laid him ! "

No; the wonderful results which fol-
low^ed the crucifixion are to be explained
only by actual appearances of the Cruci-
fied One ; by a real resurrection, therefore.
And as to the disappearance of the body,
we can easily imagine that St. Paul must
have considered this question as entirely
idle. No doubt he knew that the tomb
had been found empty on the morning of
the third day, and he believed that the
incorruptible body of Jesus was derived
from his corruptible body as the plant
is derived from some sort of seed; but
he was little concerned with the material
and earthly body of Jesus. It had been
precisely nothing other than a seed, and
to those who might have asked him what
had become of it he would have re-
plied, " Unthinking man I that which thou
sowest takes not on life unless it first
die! Jesus the Christ according to the
flesh died and was buried; but I know
not the Christ according to the flesh ;
and the third day the Christ according
to the Spirit arose from the dead. The


carnal body died and the spiritual body
took on life." Such was, without any
doubt, the doctrine of St. Paul; such is
also our own, and such is the truth about
the resurrection.





T X TE are here at the very heart of the
subject, and both impartiality and
scientific probity oblige us to sound it to
the bottom.

For the mere historian the actual state
of the question is this : On the third day
after the death of Jesus and during the
following days, for a space of about six
weeks, something happened which can-
not be attributed to the imposture of the
disciples ; namely, a certain number of
persons saw Jesus Christ, and reported
sayings of his. Furthermore, St. Paul, in
an undoubted letter, states that he also
saw and heard him some time, perhaps
several years, later.

Are we authorized by the mental state
of those who had these visions to deem
them purely ecstatic ? Tlie disappearance


of the body was no doubt the initial fact,
the generative incident, of the belief in
a return of the Crucified Lord to life ; but
does its disappearance suffice to account
for the visions ?

Could not indeed the apostles and the
women, seeing the tomb empty, have imag-
ined the return of Jesus to life, persuaded
themselves that Jesus was risen, and then
had visions created by their imagination ?
To this question we may reply that not
one of the disciples expected Jesus to
return to life. Their despair, their desire
to embalm the body, the stone that they
rolled to the entrance of the cave, are
sufficient proofs of this.

But does this answer suffice? Let us
transport ourselves to the first century ;
let us picture to ourselves not men of
to-day, but Jews of that time, and these
Jews disciples of Jesus, standing before
their Master's empty tomb. Is it not
natural that the thought should take pos-
session of their hearts, especially since it
was Jesus that was dead, "Perhaps his
body is come to life again!" For we
must not forget with what facility people
of those times welcomed the report of a


resurrection. The return of a corpse to

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