It is generally accepted by historians who studied the Bible that Jesus almost certainly existed and was crucified. We also know that his disciples claimed Jesus appeared to them after his death.

Have historians offered interpretations on why the disciples claimed they saw a resurrected Jesus? Is there some agreement on these interpretations?

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    I'm not entirely sure we can offer much here. Who knows why people claimed they saw a resurrected Jesus? Perhaps they were deceived. Perhaps they were delusional. Perhaps they were outright lying.
    – yannis
    May 1, 2018 at 17:20
  • @yannis I'm asking if historians have offered interpretations on this and whether there has been some agreement on these interpretations
    – Logan545
    May 1, 2018 at 17:23
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    Wikipedia appears to have an article on this: Historicity and origin of the Resurrection of Jesus
    – yannis
    May 1, 2018 at 17:39
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    In general, I'd also like to suggest to OP that if you're seriously interested in the historicity of the resurrection you're more likely to have luck by hitting the books than relying on forums. Most of the historians and history enthusiasts you can find online tend to shy away from comment on it, for obvious reasons. Those that don't often have a an unusually strong personal stake. This isn't something I have any personal expertise in, but two good points of entry for you might be Bart Ehrman (skeptical) and NT Wright (religious), both respected biblical scholars, and good writers.
    – Random
    May 1, 2018 at 18:29
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    I think this is a legitimate question which could be answered. May 2, 2018 at 17:47

1 Answer 1


They're not technically Historians, but Social Psychologists certainly have a take on this. In 1956, Leon Festinger et al published a book called When Prophecy Fails.

In a nutshell Festinger and his team heard about a secretive doomsday cult that was awaiting the imminent end of the world. So they joined them to observe how they'd react when the prophecy would fail. They documented two types of behaviors.

Most cults member snapped out of it, with varying degrees of disgruntledness, as you'd expect.

The rest of them did anything but. They basically doubled down, re-interpreting what had just occurred. And went from secretive to full proselyte zealot mode.

(Resemblance with well known resurrection cults is, I am sure, merely coincidental.)

  • Thinking about this...its not 100% relevant, but it is to a certain extent. Most scholars will tell you that actually getting crucified must have been a serious blow to a cult claiming that said person was the Messiah, based on the extant typical Jewish meaning of that word. So looking at what modern cults do with seemingly irreconcilable facts may well be our best possible guide.
    – T.E.D.
    May 2, 2018 at 17:41

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