In chapter 6 of his book Raised with Christ Adrian Warnock starts a survey of what the Bible teaches about the resurrection. He begins in the Old Testament, looking at passages in every part of it which describe or at least hint at this concept. He acknowledges that
I am deliberately writing from the perspective of a New Testament Christian, looking back at these accounts with the benefit of hindsight. It is not clear how many Old Testament believers truly had a full-orbed view of the resurrection. In many of the verses we will examine, a different interpretation is possible. (p.81)
Well, this is something of an understatement! It is clear to me how many Old Testament believers had this view: none at all. The only passages Adrian looks at which clearly refer to resurrection proper, as opposed to long life, survival as a disembodied spirit, or resuscitation of a corpse, are the ones from Isaiah, Daniel and Ezekiel. And since these authors knew nothing of the resurrection of Jesus Christ they clearly did not have “a full-orbed view of the resurrection”. Also Adrian ignores many critical issues about text and translation in the passages he quotes.
But at least Adrian realises that he is not doing proper exegesis but instead reading the New Testament back into the Old. And he has some basis for doing this in that the New Testament itself uses some of these passages to support its teaching on the resurrection. Nevertheless Adrian has by no means made his case, in general terms rather than about a few writers, that “in the Old Testament people did believe in God raising the dead” (p.94).
In chapter 7 Adrian continues his run through the Bible, looking briefly at the Deuterocanonical books with one citation of 2 Maccabees, and then going on to the gospels and references to “Resurrection before the Cross”. He shows how Jesus predicted his own resurrection and also confirmed what was at that time the hope of many Jews, of a general resurrection at the end of time. Again Adrian ignores critical questions and assumes that all words attributed to Jesus were actually uttered by him “before the Cross”. This is of course what his popular evangelical audience would expect, but is likely to leave his book less than fully acceptable to more sceptical or scholarly readers.
Then in chapter 8 Adrian looks at the Acts of the Apostles. He starts this with a quote:
What have the Romans ever done for us? (p.103)
which would once have been highly controversial in a Christian book, as these words are from the 1979 film Monty Python’s Life of Brian, which was widely condemned as blasphemous at the time. Standards of acceptability change from generation to generation – but Adrian, or his publishers, chose not to give a precise source for these words.
The point of the quotation is to lead into the question which is the title of chapter 8, “What Did the Resurrection Ever Do for Us?” Adrian discovers by looking through Acts that, according to the early apostolic preaching, what the resurrection did for us includes our salvation, forgiveness and assurance, the sending of the Holy Spirit, physical healing, our own resurrection, and final judgment. It is almost shocking to find Adrian agreeing with G.E. Ladd’s words
The whole gospel is encapsulated in the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus. (p.115)
Indeed Adrian adds that the cross must not be neglected. But he accepts that at least in Acts it is the resurrection which has the greater prominence.
In chapter 9 it looks as if Adrian is going to continue his look through the Bible with the letters of Paul, starting with Romans. But in fact this chapter, “Raised for Our Justification”, consists almost entirely of the exegesis of these words taken from Romans 4:25. Perhaps he is deliberately transitioning here into the more theme-based second half of the book. Although he starts by quoting N.T. Wright, he entirely fails to engage with the insights on justification offered by the “New Perspective on Paul”. Instead he cites Puritan and Reformed comment on this verse to make his case that the resurrection prompts faith in us, vindicates Jesus, and makes it possible for him to actively bring us salvation. Thus Adrian can conclude:
If we too quickly say it is the combined work of Jesus that saves us, there is a real danger we will make the resurrection a mere auxiliary to the cross. It is helpful to consider the work of the cross and resurrection and what they contribute to our salvation. However, the message we should take away is that it is union with Jesus himself, the one who died and was raised, that saves us. (p.131)
Continued in part 5.