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|Death and Resurrection of Jesus|
The post-resurrection appearances of Jesus are the earthly appearances of Jesus to his followers after his death and burial. Believers point to them as proof of his resurrection and identity as Messiah, seated in heaven on the right hand of God (the doctrine of the Exaltation of Christ).
Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament.
The resurrection of Jesus, or anastasis is the Christian belief that God raised Jesus after his crucifixion as first of the dead, starting his exalted life as Christ and Lord. In Christian theology, the death and resurrection of Jesus are the most important events, a foundation of the Christian faith, and commemorated by Easter. His resurrection is the guarantee that all the Christian dead will be resurrected at Christ's parousia. For the Christian tradition, the bodily resurrection was the restoration to life of a transformed body powered by spirit, as described by Paul and the Gospels, that led to the establishment of Christianity.
In Abrahamic religions, a messiah or messias is a saviour or liberator of a group of people. The concepts of moshiach, messianism, and of a Messianic Age originated in Judaism, and in the Hebrew Bible; a moshiach (messiah) is a king or High Priest traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil. Messiahs were not exclusively Jewish: the Book of Isaiah refers to Cyrus the Great, king of the Achaemenid Empire, as a messiah for his decree to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple.
|Events in the|
| Life of Jesus |
according to the Gospels
The resurrection of the flesh was a marginal belief in Second Temple Judaism, i.e., Judaism of the time of Jesus. Mark 12:24–25, Luke 20:34–36 ).The idea of any resurrection at all first emerges clearly in the 2nd-century-BC Book of Daniel, but as a belief in the resurrection of the soul alone. A few centuries later the Jewish historian Josephus, writing roughly in the same period as Paul and the authors of the gospels, says that the Essenes believed the soul to be immortal, so that while the body would return to dust the soul would go to a place fitting its moral character, righteous or wicked. This, according to the gospels, was the stance of Jesus, who defended it in an exchange with the Sadducees: "Those who are accounted worthy ... to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they ... are equal to the angels and are children of God..." (
Second Temple Judaism is Judaism between the construction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, c. 515 BCE, and its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE. The development of the Hebrew Bible canon, the synagogue, Jewish apocalyptic expectations for the future, and the rise of Christianity can all be traced to the Second Temple period.
The Book of Daniel is a 2nd-century BC biblical apocalypse combining a prophecy of history with an eschatology which is both cosmic in scope and political in its focus. In more mundane language, it is "an account of the activities and visions of Daniel, a noble Jew exiled at Babylon," its message being that just as the God of Israel saved Daniel and his friends from their enemies, so he would save all of Israel in their present oppression.
The Essenes were a Jewish sect during the Second Temple period that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE.
The Greeks, by contrast, had long held that a meritorious man could be resurrected as a god after his death (the process of apotheosis).The successors of Alexander the Great made this idea very well known throughout the Middle East, in particular through coins bearing his image – a privilege previously reserved for gods – and although originally foreign to the Romans, the doctrine was soon borrowed by the emperors for purposes of political propaganda. According to the theology of Imperial Roman apotheosis, the earthly body of the recently deceased emperor vanished, he received a new and divine one in its place, and was then seen by credible witnesses; thus, in a story similar to the Gospel appearances of the resurrected Jesus and the commissioning of the disciples, Romulus, the founder of Rome, descended from the sky to command a witness to bear a message to the Romans regarding the city's greatness ("Declare to the Romans the will of Heaven that my Rome shall be the capital of the world...") before being taken up on a cloud.
Apotheosis is the glorification of a subject to divine level and, most commonly, the treatment of a human like a god. The term has meanings in theology, where it refers to a belief, and in art, where it refers to a genre.
Alexander III of Macedon, commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (basileus) of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon and a member of the Argead dynasty. He was born in Pella in 356 BC and succeeded his father Philip II to the throne at the age of 20. He spent most of his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa, and by the age of thirty he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to northwestern India. He was undefeated in battle and is widely considered one of history's most successful military commanders.
Romulus was the legendary founder and first king of Rome. Various traditions attribute the establishment of many of Rome's oldest legal, political, religious, and social institutions to Romulus and his contemporaries. Although many of these traditions incorporate elements of folklore, and it is not clear to what extent a historical figure underlies the mythical Romulus, the events and institutions ascribed to him were central to the myths surrounding Rome's origins and cultural traditions.
The experiences of the risen Christ attested by the earliest written sources – the "primitive Church" creed of 1 Corinthians 15:3–5 , Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:8 and Galatians 1:16 – are ecstatic rapture events and "invasions of heaven". A physical resurrection was unnecessary for this visionary mode of seeing the risen Christ, but the general movement of subsequent New Testament literature is towards the physical nature of the resurrection. This development can be linked to the changing make-up of the Christian community: Paul and the earliest Christ-followers were Jewish, and Second Temple Judaism emphasised the life of the soul; the gospel-writers, in an overwhelmingly Greco-Roman church, stressed instead the pagan belief in the hero who is immortalised and deified in his physical body. In this Hellenistic resurrection paradigm Jesus dies, is buried, and his body disappears (with witnesses to the empty tomb); he then returns in an immortalised physical body, able to appear and disappear at will like a god, and returns to the heavens which are now his proper home.
The earliest report of the post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus is in Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians.This lists, apparently in chronological order, a first appearance to Peter, then to "the Twelve," then to five hundred at one time, then to James (presumably James the brother of Jesus), then to "all the Apostles," and last to Paul himself. Paul does not mention any appearances to women, apart from "sisters" included in the 500; other New Testament sources do not mention any appearance to a crowd of 500. There is general agreement that the list is pre-Pauline – it is often called a catechism of the early church – but less on how much of the list belongs to the tradition and how much is from Paul: most scholars feel that Peter and the Twelve are original, but not all believe the same of the appearances to the 500, James and "all the Apostles".
The First Epistle to the Corinthians, usually referred to as First Corinthians or 1 Corinthians is a Pauline epistle of the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The epistle is attributed to Paul the Apostle and a co-author named Sosthenes, and is addressed to the Christian church in Corinth. Scholars believe that Sosthenes was the amanuensis who wrote down the text of the letter at Paul's direction. Called "a masterpiece of pastoral theology", it addresses various issues that had arisen in the Christian community at Corinth.
By claiming that Jesus has appeared to him in the same way he did to Peter, James and the others who had known Jesus in life, Paul bolsters his own claims to apostolic authority.In Galatians 1 he explains that his experience was a revelation both from Jesus ("The gospel I preached ... I received by revelation from Jesus Christ") and of Jesus ("God ... was pleased to reveal His son in me"). In 2 Corinthians 12 he tells his readers of "a man in Christ who ... was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows;" Elsewhere in the Epistles Paul speaks of "glory" and "light" and the "face of Jesus Christ," and while the language is obscure it is plausible that he saw Jesus exalted, enthroned in heaven at the right hand of God. He has little interest in Jesus' resurrected body, except to say that it is not a this-worldly one: in his Letter to the Philippians he describes how the resurrected Christ is exalted in a new body utterly different from one he had when he wore "the appearance of a man," and holds out a similar glorified state, when Christ "will transform our lowly body," as the goal of the Christian life.
The gospel of Mark (written c.70 CE) contained no post-Resurrection appearances in its original version, which ended at Mark 16:8, although Mark 16:7, in which the young man discovered in the tomb instructs the women to tell "the disciples and Peter" that Jesus will see them again in Galilee, hints that the author may have known of the tradition of 1 Thessalonians.
The authors of Matthew (c.80–90 CE) and Luke/Acts (a two-part work by the same anonymous author, usually dated to around 80–90 CE) based their lives of Jesus on the Gospel of Mark.As a result, they diverge widely after Mark 16:8, where Mark ends with the discovery of the empty tomb. Matthew has two post-Resurrection appearances, the first to Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" at the tomb, and the second, based on Mark 16:7, to all the disciples on a mountain in Galilee, where Jesus claims authority over heaven and earth and commissions the disciples to preach the gospel to the whole world. Luke does not mention any of the appearances reported by Matthew, explicitly contradicts him regarding an appearance at the tomb (Luke 24:24), and replaces Galilee with Jerusalem as the sole location. In Luke, Jesus appears to Cleopas and an unnamed disciple on the road to Emmaus, to Peter (reported by the other apostles), and to the eleven remaining disciples at a meeting with others. The appearances reach their climax with the Ascension of Jesus before the assembled disciples on a mountain outside Jerusalem. In addition, Acts has appearances to Paul on the Road to Damascus, to the martyr Stephen, and to Peter, who hears the voice of Jesus.
The Gospel of John was written some time after 80 or 90 CE.Jesus appears at the empty tomb to Mary Magdalene (who initially fails to recognise him), then to the disciples minus Thomas, then to all the disciples including Thomas (the "doubting Thomas" episode), finishing with an extended appearance in Galilee to Peter and six (not all) of the disciples. Chapter 21, the appearance in Galilee, is widely believed to be a later addition to the original gospel.
(c. 2nd-4th cent.)
(c. 3rd cent.)
|Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome go to the tomb, where the stone has been rolled away. [16:1–4]||Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" go to the tomb. [28:1]||"The women who had come with him from Galilee" [23:55-56] [24:1] find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. [24:2-3]||Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb and finds the stone removed. [20:1–10]|
|Mary Magdalene informs "Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved," who go to the tomb, but don't understand that Jesus has been risen. [20:2–10]|
|They see "a young man, dressed in a white robe," who says that "He has been raised; he is not here." [16:6]||An angel appears who rolls back the stone, telling them that "He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said." [28:2-7]||Two man "in dazzling clothes" suddenly appear, say that "He is not here, but has risen." [24:4-5]||Appearance of two angels to Mary Magdalene. [20:11–13]|
|"Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them" tell the apostles what happened, but are not believed. Peter goes to the tomb, sees the linnen cloths, and is "amazed." [24:9-12]|
|Instruction to them to tell the "disciples and" Peter to go to Galilee where they will see Jesus. [16:7]||Instruction to Mary to tell "his disciples" to go to Galilee to meet Jesus. [28:7]|
|[Verse 8] "So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid." [Mark 16:8]|| [Unversed - shorter ending]|
They tell "to those around Peter" what had been commanded to them, whereafter Jesus starts proclaming through them "eternal salvation." [Mark 16:8]
|Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene and the "other Mary" [28:9–10]||Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, who informs the disciples [20:11–18]||[Verse 9 - longer ending] Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene. She tells "those who had been with him," but they don't believe he's alive and seen by her. [16:9-11]|
|Jesus appears to two disciples [24:13–31]||Jesus appears to two disciples [16:12]|
|"He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. [1 Corinthians 15:7]||Jesus appears to eleven disciples and others in Jerusalem; Great Commission; command to stay in Jerusalem [24:36–50]||Jesus appears to apostles for forty days [1:3]||Jesus appears twice to the disciples in Jerusalem. [20:19–31]||Jesus appears to eleven disciples (unspecified location); Great Commission [16:14–18]|
|Jesus appears to eleven disciples in Galilee; Great Commission [28:16–20]||Jesus appears again in Galilee, to Peter, Tomas, and five other disciples, commanding Peter to take care of his sheep [21:1–22]|
|Jesus orders the apostles to stay in Jerusalem, promising to baptise them with the Holy Spirit [1:4–8]|
|Jesus is taken up into heaven [24:51]||Jesus is taken up into heaven [1:9–11]||Jesus is taken up into heaven [16:19]|
|"Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me." [1 Corinthians 15:8]|
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The earliest Jewish followers of Jesus (the Jewish Christians) understood him as the Son of Man in the Jewish sense, a human who, through his perfect obedience to God's will, was resurrected and exalted to heaven in readiness to return at any moment as the Son of Man, the supernatural figure seen in Daniel 7:13–14, ushering in and ruling over the Kingdom of God.Paul has already moved away from this apocalyptic tradition towards a position where Christology and soteriology take precedence: Jesus is no longer the one who proclaims the message of the imminently coming Kingdom, he actually is the kingdom, the one in whom the kingdom of God is already present.
This is also the message of Mark, a gentile writing for a church of gentile Christians, for whom Jesus as "Son of God" has become a divine being whose suffering, death and resurrection are essential to God's plan for redemption.Matthew presents Jesus' appearance in Galilee (Matthew 28:19–20) as a Greco-Roman apotheosis, the human body transformed to make it fitting for paradise. He goes beyond the ordinary Greco-Roman forms, however, by having Jesus claim "all authority ... in heaven and on earth" (28:18) – a claim no Roman hero would dare make – while charging the apostles to bring the whole world into a divine community of righteousness and compassion. Notable too is that the expectation of the imminent Second Coming has been delayed: it will still come about, but first the whole world must be gathered in.
In Paul and the first three gospels, and also in Revelation, Jesus is portrayed as having the highest status, but the Jewish commitment to monotheism prevents the authors from depicting him as fully one with God.This stage was reached first in the Christian community which produced the Johannine literature: only here in the New Testament does Jesus become God incarnate, the body of the resurrected Jesus bringing Doubting Thomas to exclaim, "My Lord and my God!"
The appearances of Jesus are often explained as visionary experiences, in which the presence of Jesus was felt.According to Finney, a physical resurrection was unnecessary for the visionary mode of seeing the risen Christ, but when the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John were being written, the emphasis had shifted to the physical nature of the resurrection, while still overlapping with the earlier concept of a divine exaltation of Jesus' soul. This development can be linked to the changing make-up of the Christian community: Paul and the earliest Christ-followers were Jewish, and Second Temple Judaism emphasised the life of the soul; the gospel-writers, in an overwhelmingly Greco-Roman church, stressed instead the pagan belief in the hero who is immortalised and deified in his physical body.
James Dunn notes that whereas the apostle Paul's resurrection experience was "visionary in character" and "non-physical, non-material," the accounts in the Gospels are very different. He contends that the "massive realism' [...] of the [Gospel] appearances themselves can only be described as visionary with great difficulty - and Luke would certainly reject the description as inappropriate," and that the earliest conception of resurrection in the Jerusalem Christian community was physical.
According to Thomas Sheehan, stories of a bodily resurrection did not appear until as much as half a century following the crucifixion.
David Friedrich Strauss (1808–1874), in his "Life of Jesus" (1835), argued that the resurrection was not an objective historical fact, but a subjective "recollection" of Jesus, transfiguring the dead Jesus into an imaginary, or "mythical," risen Christ.The appearance, or Christophany, of Jesus to Paul and others, was "internal and subjective." Reflection on the Messianic hope, and Psalms 16:10, led to an exalted state of mind, in which "the risen Christ" was present "in a visionary manner," concluding that Jesus must have escaped the bondage of death. Strauss' thesis was further developed by Ernest Renan (1863) and Albert Réville (1897). These interpretations were later classed the "subjective vision hypothesis", and "is advocated today by a great majority of New Testament experts."
According to Ehrman, "the Christian view of the matter [is] that the visions were bona fide appearances of Jesus to his followers",a view which is "forcefully stated in any number of publications." Ehrman further notes that "Christian apologists sometimes claim that the most sensible historical explanation for these visions is that Jesus really appeared to the disciples."
According to De Conick, the experiences of the risen Christ in the earliest written sources – the "primitive Church" creed of 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 , Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:8 and Galatians 1:16 – are ecstatic rapture events.
According to Hurtado, the resurrection experiences were religious experiences which "seem to have included visions of (and/or ascents to) God's heaven, in which the glorified Christ was seen in an exalted position."These visions may mostly have appeared during corporate worship. Johan Leman contends that the communal meals provided a context in which participants entered a state of mind in which the presence of Jesus was felt.
According to Ehrman, "the disciples' belief in the resurrection was based on visionary experiences."Ehrman notes that both Jesus and his early followers were apocalyptic Jews, who believed in the bodily resurrection, which would start when the coming of God's Kingdom was near. Ehrman further notes that visions usually have a string persuasive power, but that the Gospel-accounts also record a tradition of doubt about the appearances of Jesus. Ehrman's "tentative suggestion" is that only a few followers had visions, including Peter, Paul and Mary. They told others about those visions, convincing most of their close associates that Jesus was raised from the dead, but not all of them. Eventually, these stories were retold and embellished, leading to the story that all disciples had seen the risen Jesus. The belief in Jesus' resurrection radically changed their perceptions, concluding from his absence that he must have been exalted to heaven, by God himself, exalting him to an unprecedented status and authority.
According to Helmut Koester, the stories of the resurrection were originally epiphanies in which the disciples are called to a ministry by the risen Jesus, and at a secondary stage were interpreted as physical proof of the event. He contends that the more detailed accounts of the resurrection are also secondary and do not come from historically trustworthy sources, but instead belong to the genre of the narrative types.
According to Gerd Lüdemann, Peter had a vision of Jesus, induced by his feelings of guilt of betraying Jesus. The vision elevated this feeling of guilt, and Peter experienced it as a real appearance of Jesus, raised from dead. He convinced the other disciples that the resurrection of Jesus signalled that the endtime was near and God's Kingdom was coming, when the dead who would rise again, as evidenced by Jesus. This revitalized the disciples, starting-off their new mission.
According to Biblical scholar Géza Vermes, the resurrection is to be understood as a reviving of the self-confidence of the followers of Jesus, under the influence of the Spirit, "prompting them to resume their apostolic mission." They felt the presence of Jesus in their own actions, "rising again, today and tomorrow, in the hearts of the men who love him and feel he is near."
Adoptionism, also called dynamic monarchianism, is a Christian nontrinitarian theological doctrine which holds that Jesus was adopted as the Son of God at his baptism, his resurrection, or his ascension.
The Gospel According to Mark is one of the four canonical gospels and one of the three synoptic gospels. It tells of the ministry of Jesus from his baptism by John the Baptist to his death and burial and the discovery of the empty tomb – there is no genealogy of Jesus or birth narrative, nor, in the original ending at chapter 16, any post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. It portrays Jesus as a heroic man of action, an exorcist, a healer, and a miracle worker. Jesus is also the Son of God, but he keeps his identity secret, concealing it in parables so that even most of the disciples fail to understand. All this is in keeping with prophecy, which foretold the fate of the messiah as suffering servant. The gospel ends, in its original version, with the discovery of the empty tomb, a promise to meet again in Galilee, and an unheeded instruction to spread the good news of the resurrection.
Mary Magdalene, sometimes called simply the Magdalene or the Madeleine, was a Jewish woman who, according to the four canonical gospels, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers and was a witness to his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. She is mentioned by name twelve times in the canonical gospels, more than most of the apostles and more than any other non-family woman in the Gospels. Acording to many mainstream scholars, Mary's epithet Magdalene may mean that she came from the town of Magdala, a fishing town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, however this ignores the long standing tradition of Mary Magdalene being known as the “watchtower” of the early movement.
The Last Supper, also known as the Passover meal is the final meal that, in the Gospel accounts, Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper is commemorated by Christians especially on Maundy Thursday. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "Holy Communion" or "The Lord's Supper".
John the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament, which refers to him as Ἰωάννης. Generally listed as the youngest apostle, he was the son of Zebedee and Salome or Joanna. His brother was James, who was another of the Twelve Apostles. The Church Fathers identify him as John the Evangelist, John of Patmos, John the Elder and the Beloved Disciple, and testify that he outlived the remaining apostles and that he was the only one to die of natural causes. The traditions of most Christian denominations have held that John the Apostle is the author of several books of the New Testament.
The ascension of Jesus is the departure of Christ from Earth into the presence of God in heaven. In the Christian tradition, reflected in the major Christian creeds and confessional statements, God exaltated Jesus after his death, raising Him as first of the dead, and taking Him to heaven, where Jesus took his seat at the right hand of God. While in modern times a literal reading of the ascension-accounts has become problematic, as its cosmology is incompatible with the modern, scientific worldview, the real relevance of Jesus' ascension lies in this exaltation.
The four Gospels narrate how several women, including Mary Magdalene, found the tomb of Jesus to be empty when they visited his tomb to anoint his body with spices and oils. Instead, they met with an angel who told them that Jesus had been raised from the dead.
In Christianity, Jesus is believed to be the Son of God and the second Person of the Holy Trinity. Christians believe that through his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, God offered humans salvation and eternal life. He is believed to be the Jewish messiah prophesied in the Hebrew Bible and Christian Old Testament. These teachings emphasize that as the Lamb of God, Jesus chose to suffer on the cross at Calvary as a sign of his obedience to the will of God, as an "agent and servant of God". Jesus died to atone for sin to make us right with God. Jesus' choice positions him as a man of obedience, in contrast to Adam's disobedience.
Early Christianity had its roots in Hellenistic Judaism and the Jewish messianism of the first century and Jewish Christians were the first Christians. Christianity started with Jewish eschatological expectations, and it developed into the veneration of a deified Jesus after his earthly ministry, his crucifixion, and the post–crucifixion experiences of his followers.
The life of Jesus in the New Testament is primarily outlined in the four canonical gospels, which includes his genealogy and nativity, public ministry, passion, resurrection and ascension. Other parts of the New Testament – such as the Pauline epistles which were likely written within 20–30 years of each other, and which include references to key episodes in Jesus' life, such as the Last Supper, and the Acts of the Apostles, (1:1–11) which includes more references to the Ascension episode than the canonical gospels - also expound upon the life of Jesus. In addition to these biblical texts, there are extra-biblical texts that Christians believe make reference to certain events in the life of Jesus, such as Josephus on Jesus and Tacitus on Christ.
The Christ myth theory is the view that "the story of Jesus is a piece of mythology", possessing no "substantial claims to historical fact". Alternatively, in terms given by Bart Ehrman paraphrasing Earl Doherty, "the historical Jesus did not exist. Or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity."
The stolen body hypothesis posits that the body of Jesus Christ was stolen from his burial place. His tomb was found empty not because he was resurrected, but because the body had been hidden somewhere else by the apostles or unknown persons. Both the stolen body hypothesis and the debate over it presume the basic historicity of the gospel accounts of the tomb discovery. The stolen body hypothesis finds the idea that the body was not in the tomb plausible - such a claim could be checked if early Christians made it - but considers it more likely that early Christians had been misled into believing the resurrection by the theft of Jesus's body.
The vision theory or vision hypothesis is a term used to cover a range of theories that question the physical resurrection of Jesus, and suggest that sightings of a risen Jesus were visionary experiences. It was first formulated by David Friedrich Strauss, and proposed in several forms by mainstream scholarship, including Helmut Koester, Géza Vermes, and Larry Hurtado, and members of the Jesus Seminar such as Gerd Lüdemann.
The history of early Christianity covers the Apostolic Age and the Ante-Nicene Period, to the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE.
The burial of Jesus refers to the burial of the body of Jesus after crucifixion, described in the New Testament. According to the canonical gospel accounts, he was placed in a tomb by a man named Joseph of Arimathea. In art, it is often called the Entombment of Christ.
Christianity in the 1st century covers the formative history of Christianity, from the start Jesus' ministry and death until the last living of the Twelve Apostles. The latter period subsequent to Jesus death, resurrection and Great Commission, according to Christian tradition, is sometimes distinguished as the Apostolic Age, when the apostles spread the message of the Gospel to all nations and founded apostolic sees around the Early centers of Christianity.
The historical reliability of the Gospels refers to the reliability and historic character of the four New Testament gospels as historical documents. Some believe that all four canonical gospels meet the five criteria for historical reliability; and others say that little in the gospels is considered to be historically reliable. Almost all scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, but scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts of Jesus, and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate. Elements whose historical authenticity is disputed include the two accounts of the Nativity of Jesus, the miraculous events including the resurrection, and certain details about the crucifixion.
The historicity and origin of the resurrection of Jesus has been the subject of historical research and debate, as well as a topic of discussion among theologians. The accounts of the Gospels, including the empty tomb and the appearances of the risen Jesus to his followers, have been interpreted and analyzed in diverse ways, and have been seen variously as historical accounts of a literal event, as accurate accounts of visionary experiences, as non-literal eschatological parables, and as fabrications of early Christian writers, among various other interpretations. It has been suggested, for example, that Jesus did not die on the cross, that the empty tomb was the result of Jesus' body having been stolen, or, as was common with Roman crucifixions, that Jesus was never entombed.