From time to time, people claim that Jesus’ resurrection was an apotheosis. An apotheosis was a belief within the Greco-Roman tradition that certain heroes could at death ascend to the realm of the gods and even attain divinity themselves and receiving worship from mortals. I have argued elsewhere that the Jewish concept of the general resurrection has some things in common with apotheosis. However, this seems less likely when we get to Jesus’ resurrection.
In the apotheosis traditions, the mortal becomes a god. The way that looks is that either the body is taken up or the body remains and a divine body goes to the gods. What is in common is that dwelling with the gods is the point of the whole affair and it happened immediately at death. You do not see the heroes or emperors walking around earth. The apotheosis is accepted solely on faith or a decree by the senate.
How do the Gospel accounts fit with this? Mark likely ended his Gospel at Mark 16:8. While Mark does not give an actual resurrection appearance, the Gospel ends not with Jesus in heaven but in Galilee. Matthew has a much fuller resurrection narrative, but like Mark, Jesus is left in Galilee and not in heaven. The Gospel of John ends with Jesus having breakfast at the seaside with his disciples. Luke alone of the evangelists describes Jesus’ ascension (Luke 24:51). However, even here Luke puts much more emphasis on the resurrection appearances on earth than anything that happens in heaven and in fact the ascension is remarkable in the brevity of its description.
The next time someone dismisses Jesus’ resurrection as just another example of apotheosis, challenge them to actually read Greco-Roman accounts of apotheosis and read the resurrection narratives and discover how different they really are.