Some time ago, when I was writing my book on resurrection [The Resurrection of the Son of God], a friend came to see me unexpectedly and asked what it was about, and I told him “resurrection.” Straightaway, he said, “Oh, of course I have always taken the view that the idea of resurrection was in the air at the time, and the disciples were so bothered by Jesus’ cataclysmic defeat and death that they more or less reached for that category as a way of coping with their grief.”
That is totally implausible as a historical account of something that happened in the first century.
We know, as I said before, of several other movements where the leader was killed, the one upon whom everyone had pinned their hope; but at no point do we find such movements then suffering from the blessed twentieth-century disease called cognitive dissonance, where they make up stories about something glorious that has happened in order to try to come to terms with their grief. That just doesn’t work as history.
Evans, C.A. & Wright, N.T. (2009). Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened [ebook]. Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Location 1072