Craig has also written an article, Visions of Jesus: A Critical Assessment of Gerd Lüdemann's Hallucination Hypothesis, which is available on his web site.
In the article, Craig gives his problems with the hallucination theory. First, he says that it lacks explanatory scope, i.e., the ability to explain all the factors associated with the resurrection. He writes:
This is the central failing of the Hallucination Hypothesis. Offered only as a way of explaining the post–mortem appearances of Jesus, its explanatory scope is too narrow because it offers nothing by way of explanation of the empty tomb. In order to explain the empty tomb, one must conjoin some independent hypothesis to the Hallucination Hypothesis.
If this is the central failing of the theory, then I think Craig is in trouble. Why should all the various details surrounding the resurrection as reported in the gospels have to be explained by one theory? In reality, the hallucination theory is part of a bigger theory that would include how the empty tomb legend developed. Craig's objection seems ludicrous. Reports of unusual phenomena are sometimes complicated, especially when more than one person is involved; to require that one explanation fit all the circumstances involved is absurd. For example, many different people report seeing UFO's. Must all of these be explained under one theory? They all saw a weather balloon? No, there is a multitude of different things that one could see that might make him think he is seeing a UFO.
Second, Craig maintains that the hallucination theory lacks explanatory power, i.e., the ability to adequately explain the nature of the appearances. He writes:
... the diversity of the appearances is not well–explained by means of such visions. The appearances were experienced many different times, by different individuals, by groups, at various locales and under various circumstances, and by not only believers, but also by unbelievers like James the brother of Jesus and the Pharisee Saul of Tarsus.
This diversity is very difficult to explain by recourse to hallucinations. For hallucinations require a special psychological state on the part of the percipient. But since a guilt complex "ex hypothesi" obtained only for Peter and Paul, the diversity of the post–mortem appearances must be explained as a sort of contagion, a chain reaction.
Just like Gary Habermas, Craig is presupposing the inerrancy of the NT reports. If one does that, then, of course, there is no way to explain the resurrection in naturalistic terms. The counter-apologist must not allow himself to be drawn into this trap. It could be that Peter and Paul are the only ones who actually did see something. The stories of the appearances to the Twelve, to James, and to the 500 could be legendary developments. Or, some others could have claimed to see visions too as we know that it was a status symbol (1 Cor. 9:1). You didn't want to be a second-class citizen. This "me too" phenomena is seen in all kinds of human social settings. For example, in some Charismatic churches, one is not a good Christian unless one has spoken in tongues. There is huge sociological pressure to "fit in." Under this kind of pressure and the contagious excitement of those who have claimed the supernatural gift, many people will claim something that they are really not sure they have experienced but, as time goes on, they do convince themselves of the reality of their experiences (See Glossolalia: behavioral science perspectives on speaking in tongues, by H. Newton Malony and A. Adams Lovekin).
Craig argues that the diversity associated with the various appearances argues against the hallucination theory. He says:
It is important to keep in mind that it is the diversity that is at issue here, not merely individual incidents. Even if one could compile from the casebooks an amalgam consisting of stories of hallucinations over a period of time (like the visions in Medjugorje), mass hallucinations (as at Lourdes), hallucinations to various individuals, and so forth, the fact remains that there is no single instance in the casebooks exhibiting the diversity involved in the post–mortem appearances of Jesus. It is only by compiling unrelated cases that anything analogous might be constructed .But the fact that there are so many different cases in history that can be amalgamated as Craig says is proof that hallucinations can take place under a lot of various circumstances.
Craig also maintains that an hallucination would not have been interpreted by the disciples as a physical resurrection. He writes:
Subjective visions, or hallucinations, have no extra–mental correlate but are projections of the percipient's own brain. So if, as an eruption of a guilty conscience, Paul or Peter were to have projected visions of Jesus alive, they would have envisioned him in Paradise, where the righteous dead awaited the eschatological resurrection. But such exalted visions of Christ leave unexplained their belief in his resurrection. The inference "He is risen from the dead," so natural to our ears, would have been wholly unnatural to a first century Jew. In Jewish thinking there was already a category perfectly suited to describe Peter's postulated experience: Jesus had been assumed into heaven. An assumption is a wholly different category from a resurrection.
This argument is also put forward by N. T. Wright in his massive volume, The Resurrection of the Son of God. There are at least two problems with it.
First, there was a lot of diversity among Jewish beliefs in the first century. There were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, as well as others. There were also sects and cults that had incorporated various Greek ideas into Jewish theology. To maintain that the Jewish belief in the afterlife was monolithic in the first century is mistaken.
Second, the concept of the resurrection seems to have entered Jewish theology during the exile and is found primarily in the Hebrew writings after that time, namely Daniel and 2 Maccabees. Many scholars believe this belief in the resurrection was adapted from the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism . The concept of the resurrection in Jewish theology arose as a way to explain how God would vindicate the martyrs. Initially, it seems that Jews who believed in a resurrection expected only the martyrs to be raised (see Life after death: a history of the afterlife in the religions of the West, by Alan Segal, pp. 248ff.)
Since Jesus would have been viewed by his followers as a martyr, it would have been natural for them to think that he would be resurrected. As for the argument that they believed the resurrection would only take place at the end of the age, the fact is they did think they were at the end of the age. Jesus had taught that the end was near. He said that this generation will not pass away until all these things be fulfilled (Matthew 24:36). The author of Matthew's gospel, which is commonly thought to be written primarily to a Jewish audience, is the only one to include the resurrection of many saints in connection with Jesus' death (Matthew 27:52-53). When Paul offered the first theological interpretation of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, he argued that Jesus' resurrection was the first-fruits (15:23) and that soon all believers will join in that resurrection (15:51-52).
I will continue discussing Craig's objections to the hallucination theory in the next post.