The Trouble with Resurrection

March 15–16, 2019
Salt Lake City, Utah

Early Christian communities were convinced that Rome had not defeated Jesus when they crucified him. They employed a host of metaphors to express that conviction. The single English word “resurrection” fails to convey the different words and metaphors used in Greek. Furthermore, it is not at all clear to what extent the earliest Christians believed in a physical resurrection. Paul certainly calls this into question. In this JSOR we ask, what does the New Testament really say about the resurrection?

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Bernard Brandon Scott (Ph.D., Vanderbilt University) is the Darbeth Distinguished Professor Emeritus of New Testament at the Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A charter member of the Jesus Seminar, he is the author of several books including The Real Paul (2015) and The Trouble with Resurrection (2010).

Margaret E. Lee (Th.D., Melbourne College of Divinity) is retired as Assistant Professor of Humanities at Tulsa Community College in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was named Regional Scholar by the Society of Biblical Literature in 1996. She is the author of “Sound Mapping” in the Dictionary of the Bible and Ancient Media (2017) and numerous journal articles. She is the editor of Sound Matters: New Testament Studies in Sound Mapping (2018) and co-author with Bernard Scott of Sound Mapping the New Testament (2009) and Reading New Testament Greek (1993).

Program Details

The Earliest Reference to Jesus’ Resurrection

The Easter liturgies center attention on the empty tomb and the appearance stories. But what do the earliest references to the Jesus’ resurrection tell us? Where does that lead us? The earliest references are in Paul’s letters, all written well before the Gospel stories. By examining these earliest references, we will see how the earliest believers in Jesus understood the resurrection. Then we can ask how this relates to the later Gospel narratives.

Friday evening, 7:30–9 pm

Foreign Influences on Hebrew Notions of Resurrection

Jesus’s Jewish roots are often viewed as an expression of a coherent Hebrew culture with unified religious ideas. When we look closer, we find a more complex picture, colored by rich influences from the Jewish diaspora, the foreign contexts the people of Israel experienced after their first temple was destroyed. How do these influences affect Christian notions of resurrection?

Saturday, 9:30–10:30 am

Mary Magdalene and The Resurrection

Mary Magdalene, not Peter, is central in all the Gospel narratives of Jesus’ resurrection appearance stories. How did this come about and what does it tell us about her place in the resurrection tradition? Asking how Mary Magdalene figures in the resurrection will open new avenues of viewing early Christianity.

Saturday, 11 am – noon

Christian Heresies and the Resurrection

The Christian confession that Jesus is alive seems simple and straightforward but is it? We need look no further than the New Testament itself for a wide variety of ideas about Jesus’s identity and mission, some of which range into heretical territory. Evidence for this diversity is hidden in plain sight in the NT gospels. We find additional evidence in early NT manuscripts that reflect lively debate about the nature of Jesus and the meaning of his resurrection, including orthodox positions as well as ideas that were eventually labeled as heresy.

Saturday, 1:30–2:30 pm

An Open Conversation on Resurrection

This one hour panel discussion on the topic of the concept of “resurrection" and similar concepts will feature a panel composed of leaders from the following faith communities: Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Baha’i, Muslim and Christian.  The conversation will feature Brandon Scott, and there will be plenty of time for audience Q&A.

Saturday, 3–4 pm


Utahns for Religious Scholarship

Local Contact and Information

All events at:

First Unitarian Church of SLC

569 South 1300 East, Salt Lake City, Utah 84102

For local information, contact:

Rev. Charles Robinson
[email protected]


All Sessions

  • Individual Rate $75
  • Pre-registration Rate (by March 1) $60
  • Additional Family Members $50

Single Sessions

  • Friday Evening Lecture $20
  • Saturday Morning Workshop $30
  • Saturday Afternoon Workshop $30

Refunds are available until two weeks before the event if requested in writing, minus a $10 administrative fee. No refunds will be given after that date.