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Visiting theologian debunks fringe scholars who doubt Resurrection

Eminent Rome-based Australian Jesuit theologian Gerald O'Collins told a Perth audience last night that a some scholars continue to flout the laws of historical scholarship to arrive at conclusions that contradict traditional Christian teaching about the Resurrection.

Fr O'Collins, one of the English-speaking world's most respected theologians specialising in the Resurrection, has been teaching at Rome's Gregorian University for many years. He delivered last night's lecture to a University of Western Australia audience of 200 that included Anglican Primate of Australia, Archbishop Peter Carnley. Archbishop Carnley is himself an expert on Resurrection studies.

Fr O'Collins said the views expressed by of scholars such as Barbara Thiering continue to pose a challenge for Christians and "serious scholars". Formerly a lecturer at the University of Sydney, Dr Thiering came to prominence in the late 1980s with her books on the Dead Sea Scrolls that included Jesus the Man: A New Interpretation from the Dead Sea Scrolls .

"One of the curious things about people who run these lines is that generally speaking they produce it as though nobody has ever thought of these theories before," said Fr O'Collins. "There's dozens of books along these lines."

He said that the Roman Historians are "quite clear that Jesus died and he was buried ... The Romans did not mess about. The terrible scourging you see in Mel Gibson's film. That happened quite often."

"All that literature that he wasn't crucified belongs to science fiction. You only have to read the real scholars - Jewish, Protestant, Catholic - who've written on the Dead Sea Scrolls to realise how people are just scandalised by Barbara Theiring's terrible misuse of the evidence of the Dead Sea Scrolls. People have spent their lives studying the Dead Sea Scrolls and she used the evidence in ways that is just bizarre.

"More honourable are people like Muslims who argue that Jesus was a great prophet and prophets did not die that way. They honour Jesus. This other stuff though is from the bizarre fringe of Biblical Scholarship. Their misuse of the evidence follows no laws of historical scholarship."

Gregorian Theologian challenges non-resurrection scholars (Vias Tuas Communications 12/8/04)

Pontificia Universita' Gregoriana
Gerald O'Colllins SJ: The Resurrection - An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Resurrection of Jesus (Oxford Scholarship Online)
Gerald O'Collins: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Some Contemporary Issues (part text online)

12 Aug 2004