The idea of resurrection was not unknown in Judaism but for those Jews who believed in the resurrection of the dead â€“ and not all of them did- the resurrection was something that happened for everybody at the same time. It happened at the end of â€œthis ageâ€ when the God of heaven was to bring in the everlasting kingdom of God.
The death of Jesus, while it might have discouraged his followers, devastated them even, it could easily have been weaved into the framework of the conventional Jewish apocalyptic drama: Jesus suffers and dies as a prelude to his and our entrance into the coming kingdom. We now await the final end-time scene at which point Jesus â€“ and all his faithful followers – will be resurrected to reign with him in the kingdom of God.Â There is no need to weave into the narrative the idea of an empty tomb, nor the idea that Jesus has been raised, as it were, before time.
Only the fact of the empty tomb and the post-mortem resurrection appearances of Jesus could ever have suggested to these orthodox Jews the idea that the resurrection of the dead had already begun with Jesus.