“As a Jew and a rabbi, I could be convinced of Jesus’ resurrection, but I would set very high standards of what is required. It would not be enough to have a subjective experience of Jesus. If I heard voices or had a visionary experience of Jesus, this would not be enough. Let me sketch the kind of experience that would be necessary. If Jesus appeared by hosts of angels trailing clouds of glory and announcing all for His Messiah ship to see, this would be compelling. But it would have to take place in public domain. Such an event would have to be witnessed by multitudes, photographed, recorded on video cameras, shown on television, and announced in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Jesus appearance would have to be a global event, televised on CNN, and other forms of the world’s media. Further, if as a consequence of his arrival, all the prophecies recorded in scripture were fulfilled; the ingathering of the exiles, the rebuilding of the Temple, the resurrection of all those who died, the advent of the days of the Messiah, final judgment-I would without a doubt embrace the Christian message and become a follower of the risen Christ.”-Gavin D’ Costa, Resurrection Reconsidered, pgs, 198-199.
The comments by Rabbi Cohn-Sherbock demonstrate the attitude among many in the modern world today. He also raises some objections based on another traditional role of the Messiah in Judaism. However, there is not one messianic expectation in Judaism. Also, whether or not certain passages are clearly Messianic depend upon what the preconceived idea of the reader. What do they believe the Messiah is supposed to do? If a traditional Jewish person says the Messiah cannot suffer and die, how would we expect them to interpret the Messianic passages? It is also quite obvious that Cohn-Sherbock has unrealistic explications for the evidence for the resurrection. If I applied the same criteria to the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, we could never know that happened as well. After all, even if the giving of the Torah was witnessed by multitudes (they saw Moses after he received it), it is the past and the only reason we know it was witnessed by people is because it was written in the Torah itself. Hence, we have to rely on written documents that record the event.
So the giving of the Torah and the resurrection of Jesus should be treated the same way anything else would in antiquity. Of course, the resurrection took place in the public domain. As Paul says, the events were “not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). But even though the events were done in public, it is in the past. Gary Habermas writes:
“The occurrence of past events can usually be discovered (within a certain probability) by a careful investigation of the facts. These former events are only accessible by a study of the available historical evidence. Although the historian usually did not personally participate in what he is studying (assuming he wasn’t originally there), he can inspect the relevant data such as the eyewitnesses, written documents, and various other records, structures, and archaeological finds. Upon such confirmation the historian must build his case. Such tools comprise the working principles of historical research. “- Gary Habermas, “Appendix One: Historiography,” in The Historical Jesus (Joplin, MO: College, 1996), 270.
Rabbi Cohn-Sherbock needs to realize that his expectations for evidence for the resurrection of Jesus would not hold up for the central event in Judaism which was the giving of the Torah. Hence, we need to be consistent in what we we consider to be evidence for something in the past. I guess Sherbock will have to wait for the return of Jesus. I will be praying for him.