Paul was a religious fanatic, a zealot is how he describes himself, whose raison d’etre had become the elimination of those who believed that Yeshua was the Messiah. The Jesus movement, which at this time was still very much a part of Judaism (it is Paul who will later uncouple it from its Jewish mooring) is in Paul’s eyes an aberration and he is prepared to brutalise and imprison those who subscribe to it. He is an extremist; religion is his life, his world, his being; he spends all of his time with his band of Pharasiac thugs and members of the new cult (trying to destroy them, admittedly). That’s all he does. He doesn’t have any other interests. No wonder then, that he starts to hallucinate, as fanatics are prone to do, perhaps while suffering an epileptic seizure.
According to Luke in Acts 9.5, Paul can’t make sense of what he thinks he’s ‘seeing’ in his head. He doesn’t immediately connect the light there with Jesus and is forced to interpret it, perhaps some considerable time afterwards (both he and Luke recount the experience only many years later) as being the cult leader whose followers he is persecuting. Once he has decided that this is what his experience was all about, he switches from one kind of fanaticism to another, from one kind of extremist Judaism to another equally fanatical kind.
He does not, I want to emphasise, go from being a Jew to a Christian; he has three years yet to spend brooding on his hallucinatory experience and to work up a convoluted interpretation of it. Only after that does he offer his own bizarre take on the Yeshua phenomenon that conflicts with the original cult and will eventually succeed it.
So, the risen Jesus, like ghosts today, was ‘seen’ only by those already infatuated with him, and even then not always in a form that was recognisably human.
There were no appearances to anyone in the outside world who might have provided objective verification of his return from the dead.
No appearance to any authority, none to the emperor.
There was no appearance in front of Pilate so that the resurrection might be become part of Roman records.
None to Herod to show him he had overcome death.
None to the masses who had earlier called for his death to prove to them he really was their King.
None to usher in, at last, the Kingdom of God he’d been promising for so long.
None to Caiaphas to demonstrate that he, Jesus, truly was the prophesied Messiah.
None to Judas, to prevent his suicide and forgive him for his betrayal (or ask his forgiveness for using him as a pawn in the Great Divine Plan).
None, in fact, to anyone outside his own coterie, people who were already susceptible to ‘visions’ and psychologically primed to see him again – or to convince themselves they had, like the gullible people today who swear they’ve seen him in the clouds, in various food items or in the hallowed form of a dog’s bottom.