Tom Wright’s Surprised by Hope is the closest thing to C.S Lewis’ Mere Christianity I have seen. Sure, it’s a different kind of book, but it has the same level of immediacy and insight. Chp 4 is called “the strange story of Easter.” Here are some highlights:
The lack of consensus in the Gospel accounts … what do these differences indicate? “Indeed, they are a reasonable indication that something remarkable happened, so remarkable that the first witnesses were bewildered into telling different stories about it” (53).
In other words, the confusion indicates a lack of collusion. How do you deal with the variations in the Gospel accounts: one young man, two young men, one angel or two angels? That sort of thing.
Four strange elements:
1. The strange silence of the Bible in the resurrection accounts. No reflection like this: “See here, this fulfills Isaiah; and see there, that’s Hosea.” None of this. (By the way, that’s not a quote from Tom Wright.)
2. The strange presence of women as the principal witnesses.
3. The strange portrait of Jesus himself. Thus, “… the one thing you would expect to find is the risen Jesus shining like a star” (55).
4. The strange absence of the future Christian hope. Nothing about “So, then, we too will be raised” or “See now, you needn’t fear.” (My prose, not Tom’s.)
Here is where Tom’s prose got me: “But this is like what you get when different artists paint portraits of the same person. This painting is certainly a Rembrandt; that is indubitably a Holbein. The touch of the individual artist is unmistakable. And the yet the sitter is fully recognizable” (57).
Tom gives some standard alternative explanations and then launches into a little bit about historiography (and in this book this section stands out as difficult to follow).