Resurrection in Retrospect: A Critical Examination of the Theology of N.T. Wright

By Peter Carnley

An analysis of the work of the biblical scholar N.T. Wright, rebutting the idea that the Resurrection of Jesus can be understood solely in historical terms.

ISBN: 9780227177150


In 2003, the British New Testament scholar N.T. Wright published The Resurrection of the Son of God, arguing vigorously that the Resurrection of Christ should be handled purely as a historical event, subjected to historical reason and critical-historical research. Resurrection in Retrospect examines Wright’s arguments, demonstrating the flaws in the view that the Resurrection should be understood essentially as Jesus’ return from the dead to this world of space and time in a material and physical body, and asserting that it is a ‘mystery of God’, which must necessarily be appropriated, not by reason alone, but by faith. Evidence relating to a past occurrence can be known only retrospectively, yet Easter faith has to do with apprehending in the present a concretely experienced reality, which Saint Paul called ‘the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:2).

An epistemology of the identification of the Spirit in faith as the living presence of Christ can be found in the companion volume: The Reconstruction of Resurrection Belief.

Additional information

Dimensions 254 × 178 mm
Pages 328

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Peter Carnley was Warden of St John’s College and taught systematic theology in the University of Queensland in Brisbane, prior to becoming Archbishop of Perth in 1981. He was elected Primate of Australia in 2000 and retired from full-time ministry in 2005. A Lambeth DD was added to his earned degrees in 2012, and he holds honorary doctorates from the General Theological Seminary, New York, and from the Universities of Newcastle (NSW), Queensland, Western Australia, Charles Sturt University (NSW), and the University of Divinity, Melbourne. He is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, Melbourne, and Emmanuel College and St John’s College, Cambridge. He became a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2007, the citation reading ‘for his contribution to theology, ecumenism, and social justice’.

As well as the companion volume to this title, The Reconstruction of Resurrection Belief (also published by James Clarke and Co Ltd), his other books include A Kind of Retirement (2016), Reflections in Glass (2004), and The Structure of Resurrection Belief (1987).



1. Introduction: Matters of Method
2. 2 Baruch, Josephus, and The Wisdom of Solomon
3. Language and Experience
4. The Appearances Tradition
5. Paul and The Empty Tomb
6. The Empty Tomb: The Gospel Narratives
7. The Nature of Faith
8. The Verbal Expression of Faith
9. The Subjective Vision Hypothesis
10. Incorruptibility or Immortality?
11. Heaven

Appendix 1: 2 Baruch 49-51
Appendix 2: Jewish Sources on the Legal Status of Women

Index of Authors
Index of Subjects


Endorsements and Reviews

Peter Carnley here provides the most painstaking riposte to date to the idea that the Resurrection of Jesus is simply another historical event accessible even to ‘secular’ historians. In so doing, he recapitulates and refines his lifelong work on this topic with verve and spiritual wisdom: this is a book that all interested and educated Christians can and should read and reflect upon.
Sarah Coakley, Logos Institute at University of St Andrews, and Australian Catholic University, Melbourne

This is a very subtle and illuminating book on the most complicated topics concerning the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Resurrection hope in general. Biblical and extracanonical witnesses, systematic reflections, and practical theological concerns are addressed alike, with fruitful results. A profound, critical engagement with Tom Wright’s influential contributions to the topic provides a thread running through the book. However, Carnley does not only offer valuable perspectives on the main topics of the Resurrection. He also deals with burning questions about the nature of faith, the question of human immortality, and the eschatological existence in heaven.
Michael Welker, Senior Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Heidelberg