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The Resurrection according to Matthew, Mark and Luke [Paperback]

By Norman Perrin (Author)
Our Price $ 15.54  
Item Number 145982  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   96
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.48" Width: 5.01" Height: 0.38"
Weight:   0.26 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1977
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN  0800612485  
EAN  9780800612481  

Availability  99 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 26, 2016 11:07.
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Item Description...
The New Testament resurrection narratives must be understood in both their similarities and their differences. Norman Perrin was a leading interpreter of the Gospels. In this book he relates each Synoptic account of the resurrection of Jesus to the theology of its Evangelist resulting in a new understanding of the importance of the Easter celebration. This book will illumine lay readers, clergy, and all students of the New Testament.

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More About Norman Perrin

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Norman Perrin has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Fortress Classics in Biblical Studies

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > New Testament   [2808  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A Fine Little Resurrection Intro  Mar 17, 2008
This is a little jewel of a book by Norman Perrin. At only 85 pages (1977 edition), it's a short and clear introduction to the reputed resurrection of Jesus. It is also more satisfying and convincing than N. T. Wright's massive, convoluted, 2003 work on the same subject.

Perrin's book should appeal both to liberal Christians and to non-Christians including secular humanists (like me). Hopefully some conservative Christians can appreciate it too. Published in 1977, it was his last work. He focuses on the "synoptic" (similar) gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, but also offers a few very important insights about the understanding of the reputed resurrection and/or ascension of Jesus in Paul and in Acts. Only the unusual gospel of John is left completely out of Perrin's consideration. That is a shortcoming, but a small one.

Perrin's special concern here is "redaction criticism," a fancy term for the study of the ways that each successive gospel writer (evangelist) changed the text of the previous gospel writer. Take, for example, Mark and Matthew. The gospel of Mark, though it follows Matthew in the New Testament, was actually the first gospel written, and it ends rather bleakly at 16:8 with the women followers of Jesus fleeing his empty tomb in fear, with no appearance of a resurrected Jesus (Mark 16:9-20 is a much later addition, as all scholars agree). Contrary to the claim of a previous reader-reviewer here, Perrin actually "concedes" only one very minor (grammatical) argument that Mark originally had a longer ending. He also relates an abundance of persuasive evidence, pp. 16-33 (1977 edition), that Mark originally ended at 16:8, with no other "lost" ending to it, a conclusion shared by a majority of scholars in the field (though some conservative Christian scholars desperately want to believe in a lost ending that contained a resurrection appearance story). Perrin then notes that the author of Matthew borrowed the empty tomb scene from Mark but altered it in his own gospel to include a brief peek-a-boo appearance by Jesus (28:9-10), thus offering his readers a softer and happier ending than Mark's scene did. Yet, the author of Matthew did not feel free to make too many changes to Mark's scene. So Matthew retains the saying that a risen Jesus will see his disciples in Galilee. Unfortunately, in Matthew this saying is illogically placed in the mouth of the risen Jesus himself appearing right there at Jerusalem. Perrin, with his generous view of myths, does not call the scene silly, but one easily could.

Perrin writes that the earliest Christian understanding of the resurrection of Jesus was essentially that of an ascension. Jesus was "raised from the dead by God," yes, but only "to sit at the right hand of God." The epistles reflect this belief abundantly. However, when the early Christian expectation of a Second Coming of Jesus gradually faded over the decades, because, of course, he did not come, that intense apocalyptic focus needed to be replaced by some other consolation. So, a few previous resurrection claims that Jesus had vaguely "appeared" to some followers were then embellished, especially in Luke and, though Perrin does not mention it, John. These embellishments pictured a more bodily resurrection of Jesus on earth involving him walking, talking, and eating. Likewise, the church itself, that is, the growing community of believers, also came to replace the Second Coming as a focus of Christian hope. Hence Luke's fictional resurrection story of Jesus on the Road to Emmaus. Its eucharistic theme, as Perrin notes, obviously encouraged attendance at church services.

At two points, Perrin writes vaguely that Mark and his audience had "some kind of awareness of resurrection appearance stories" (p. 32) and that "Mark deliberately suppresses any such [resurrection] stories" (p. 81). These comments have perhaps misled one previous reader-reviewer here into believing that the author of Mark, or his readers, specifically knew of the mountain-top resurrection appearance scene in Galilee depicted in Matthew 28:16-20. Actually, the "stories" to which Perrin refers, pp. 81-82, are not appearance stories at all, but merely the brief and bald claims by Paul and some others to have "seen" or "known" a risen Jesus - few details provided. Perrin is right that the author of Mark probably knew of such (minimal) claims but chose not to mention them because his mind was intensely focused on the impending judgment of Jesus at the Second Coming. Clearly Mark did not know of any Galilee mountain-top scene, a fiction added later by Matthew with certain deep, mythical meanings intended.

In his conclusion, Perrin cautiously confesses to final ignorance about what actually happened on the first Easter day (if there was one), an ignorance owing to "the telling and retelling of the stories over a period of some thirty years, but also ... [to] the intensive theological motivation of the evangelists Matthew and Luke, which ... can most seriously affect their narratives." He also seems rather skeptical that there was an empty tomb, considering it a later fiction. Such empty tomb skepticism has, however, been rather undercut by some more recent, conservative scholars - Craig, Habermas, Wright, et al. - who have impressively defended the reality of the empty tomb (though their supernatural explanation for it is far less impressive). In any case, no conservative Christian can gloat that the empty tomb is an obvious fact that Perrin and others should have known about. It is never once mentioned in all the 21 epistles, nor in Acts, and there have been other fairly good reasons to doubt the empty tomb accounts, for example, their suspicious parallels to the Old Testament story of Daniel in the lion's den. The confusing information in the Bible itself is to blame for this ongoing empty tomb controversy.

In sum, Perrin's book is enlightening and - busy people please note - can easily be read in just a few sittings.
A must-read book: a gem.  Jan 23, 2006
Perrin's book lays out, in sparse, analytical prose, a concise understanding of the development of the understanding of the resurrection as displayed in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. He treats the material respectfully, and makes important contributions to understanding the meaning of the resurrection in academic as well as personal terms. He describes, in detail, the evidence from Paul, and uses Paul's understanding of the resurrection to illuminate the later depictions in the Gospels. It is a book of knowledge, and a book of faith.
Interesting Analysis, but starts in the wrong place  Oct 16, 2004
After reading The Resurrection by Norman Perrin, I can definitely say that he knows a lot. A lot about Greek literature and a lot about these gospels. He especially knows a lot about how the synoptic gospels differ from each other. And that is the focus of his book. Perrin attempts to understand how each views the resurrection of Jesus by focusing on how they differ from each other. Unfortunately, due to the substantive and methodological problems in his analysis, Perrin usually ends up engaging in undue speculation (however well informed) or stating the obvious.

First, by building his case on how much the synoptic gospels differ instead of how each presents the resurrection as a whole, Perrin skews his analysis to highlight the different emphasis. This problem is highlighted by the length of the book--which weighs in at 84 pages of text and only refers to six sources (2 of which are other works by Perrin).

Second, Perrin does not include any discussion of the Gospel of John. To his credit, Perrin is frank about this and explains that it is because he lacks the requisite expertise. Even so, if the focus is on how different Christian authors, and presumably communities, viewed and retold the story of the resurrection, any analysis that simply ignores the Gospel of John is denying itself an important part of the picture.

Third, Perrin does not give much time to discussing the earliest presentation of the resurrection in the letters of Paul, except for a few pages in his conclusion. Even then he does not really work them into the picture of understanding the gospels in light of how the earliest Christian writings and formula understood the resurrection. Again, this seems to be denying the analysis much needed data.

Fourth, because Perrin starts with the Gospel of Mark and focuses on how Matthew and Luke differ from Mark, his analysis can only be as good as his conclusions regarding Mark. And here it appears there are significant flaws. Though Perrin concedes much of the argument that the original version of Mark did not end at 16:8 is strong, he nevertheless concludes that it did indeed end there. Additionally, Perrin argues that Mark envisions no resurrection appearances at all! Even though Perrin concedes that Mark's readers were aware of stories of such appearances. What about Mark's statement that Jesus will meet his followers in Galilee? Perrin does not think this refers to Jesus appearing to the disciples there (as Matthew reports). Rather, to Perrin "Galilee" is code word for the mission to the gentile nations. This all seems rather unlikely, especially if we give any place to Paul's letters in the analysis. These, in my opinion, foundational errors set the entire program off on the wrong foot--no matter how intelligent or informed the rest of Perrin's discussion.

All in all, Perrin's book does a good job of pointing out differences between the synoptic gospels and their treatment of the resurrection. The analysis of the significance of those differences rests on some assumptions/conclusions that prove to be unpersuasive. And much data -- such as Paul's letters and the Gospel of John -- are sacrificed to the further detriment of the enterprise. Still, the price is right and informed speculation can be helpful in trying to sort out the gospels and the resurrection. Just recognize the limitations of this particular analysis.
Good Redaction Criticism  Jan 1, 2001
Norman Perrin is a well-respected New Testament critic for good reason. Perrin provides first-rate redaction criticism of the resurrection narratives in the synoptic gospels that sheds light on the purposes of the authors and the meaning of the myths. Perrin stresses that the importance of the resurrection stories does not lie in their literal, historical accuracy. Apart from Perrin's idea that Mark refers to the parousia instead of an appearance in 16:7, I found nothing in it to be disagreeable. Although conservative Christians will not appreciate Perrin's insight, liberal Christians should find that this book enriches an understanding of their faith. Secular students of the New Testament, such as myself, will find Perrin to be a good source for sound observations on the texts.

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