Leading "Jesus Seminar" member John Dominic Crossan argues that Jewish belief in an afterlife originated after the close of what we know as the Old Testament canon, concluding, “So belief in life after death has certainly not always been a part of biblical faith” [Crossan. Who Is Jesus? (Westminster: John Knox Press, 1996), 131].
But this statement is clearly seen as false when one examines the actual biblical text.
For in the second book of the Bible we read the recorded words of God to Moses, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6 KJV). God here uses the present tense “I am” when speaking of men whom Moses knows to be long deceased. And so, if God is presently the God of these men when speaking to Moses, it is clear that these men are yet, in an entirely real sense, still alive, for God is not claiming to be a god over now-inanimate matter, but over living individuals.
This is not my argument, but rather the argument of Jesus Himself, as seen in the following passage:
On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Him and questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, Moses said, `If a man dies, having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up an offspring to his brother.'
"Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. And last of all, the woman died.
"In the resurrection therefore whose wife of the seven shall she be? For they all had her."
But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
"But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, `I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."
And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.
But when the Pharisees heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they gathered themselves together. (Matthew 22:23-34 NASB)
The Pharisees were silenced at Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection. The question is, will Crossan display this same kind of common sense in light of the authority of Jesus, or will he persist in railing against the plain teaching of God’s Word, continuing to attack the doctrine of the resurrection with charges that have already been sufficiently answered by our Lord?
[This blogpost was originally published on 8/24/05 under the title, "A Simple Contradiction."]