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Re: resurrection centrality

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  • Stevan Davies
    ... Wooooo, and who, who is not a Christian already, is going to think much of this? The problem is NOT were there Christians who made a big hoo hah about the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 30, 1998
      Ragu wrote:
      > Perhaps not just "people appearing", but you have to remember what this was.
      > This was a resurrection body which Paul & the gospels spoke of.

      Wooooo, and who, who is not a Christian already, is going to think much
      of this? The problem is NOT "were there Christians who made a big hoo
      hah about the resurrection?" but "would the resurrection stories have
      made any particular impact on potential converts?" One must use
      historical imagination... imagine going today to a village in Niger
      and telling people about seeing Jesus in a resurrection body... what
      response would you get? A mixture of "so what" and "oh yeah, my
      dead uncle came back in a resurrection body and boy did we have to
      pay through the nose to get a healer to make him go away."

      Memorize this: "In all cultures, the dead rising is NOT a good
      thing." Halloween is our local festival of the dead rising... and
      this is not an affirmative thing in the ritual.

      > The Jews of the time did not have a concept of a full resurrection (not just a
      > simple reanimation/resuscitation of a mortal being, but a resurrection to
      > glory, immortality, etc. [eg Phl 3:21]) which happened within history--it
      > always happened at the end of time. (The oddity of this concept is not some
      > apologetical fodder--Meier writes,
      > ==
      > "Moreover, there was nothing in the OT or Jewish belief in the 1st century
      > that tied together the resurrection of an individual within ongoing
      > history--certainly a novel concept at any rate--with Davidic Messiahship. That
      > the individual should have been a crucified criminal makes the royal title all
      > the stranger. [A Marginal Jew, vol. 1, pp. 218-219]

      Ongoing history for a week? A few sporadic ghost appearances does not
      "ongoing history" make.

      Yeah yeah. And what happens when a missionary goes forth with an
      idea that has no cultural basis in people's thoughts or expectations?

      If I come unto you, Ragu, and say "Oh, here's a story about
      my friend Kachurick who was just electrocuted and he came back in
      a wizbock body" what the hell are you going to think about that?
      You leap into the conversion seat and we apply the juice? You never
      heard of Kacurick, you have no knowledge of a "wizbock" body, and
      you think nothing of it at all. So if there is no notion of people
      in "resurrection" bodies, you can't convert the sinner by inventing
      the concept.

      All your Paul stuff says that Paul thought the resurrection was a big
      deal and this isn't news. No point in discussing it.

      > Thus, in all probability the earliest representation of Christian belief stems
      > with Paul & co. So it seems to me that the burden of proof lies squarely on
      > the shoulders of those who claim that the resurrection was _not_ central to
      > the early Christian faith.

      Not for Q. Not for Thomas. Not for John, really... GJ can do without
      it quite nicely. It's got it but it doesn't need it. And this set of
      letters was set off by my mentioning that folks like yourself are
      canonically biased so that what mattered to Paul, Mark, Luke, Matthew
      is, by false inference from biased sources, thought to be normative
      for all. Resurrection isn't "central" to Matthew, for that matter.
      What's the Resurrection get, six lines?

      > in the ancient world or anywhere else and so the claim
      > that Jesus did so could NOT have been the main deal for his cult."
      > >>
      > Tell that to Paul.

      I would. I'd tell Paul that the main deal for his cult is the
      reception of the holy spirit. If you "believe in the resurrection" in
      any sense you would like it to be, and have not the spirit, you have
      nothing. If you have the spirit, and think the resurrection is
      silly, Paul would fuss, but I think he'd recognize you as a

      > I don't see how one can reasonably detach the rest of early Christianity so
      > far from Paul's "If Christ is not risen, then your faith is in vain; you are
      > still in your sins." It remains to be established that the resurrection was
      > not central/integral to the earliest Christians.

      Sounds a bit like Martin Luther here. Or maybe Marcion. Not just
      canonical bias but Paul bias. What's true for Paul is normative for
      Christianity. Paul thought so, but unlike yourself Paul did NOT think
      everybody else agreed.

      > > >Paul would agree, Mark too. Certainly not John. Nor Q or Thomas.
      > >>
      > This comment is too vague. As for John, it seems obvious that the conclusion,
      > following the resurrection account of ch.20, would include the resurrection as
      > relevant when he writes, "But these are written that you may believe that
      > Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may
      > have life in his name" (20:31). As for Q, this is a _sayings document_, the
      > extent of which is unrecoverable to us, so we shouldn't expect resurrection
      > material. As for Thomas, the beginning refers to the "living Jesus"...this
      > could be seen as a vague reference to the resurrection, but I would agree with
      > the consensus that GThom is in some meaningful sense gnostic, and the phrase
      > is easier to interpret that way. The point is that this Jesus wasn't 'dead'.

      We could do a John discussion on another thread perhaps, for I'll
      maintain that Johannine christianity doesn't need a resurrection at
      all. You can point out that it has one... but I'd say that was a
      necessary part of the narrative tradition, not Johnannine
      soteriology. If Jesus had ascended by balloon during the Passover
      that would leave Johannine thought right where it was.

      Notion that "living Jesus" refers to the resurrection is an old
      silliness that hasn't got anything going for it. That "living" means
      "living" and not "appearing in a Pauline resurrection body" seems to
      be just a bit the simpler way of understanding the passage.

      > As for whether there was a _specific_ appearance (not necessarily a subjective
      > "vision" as hinted above) to Peter, this is recorded by Paul (15:5), who
      > personally knew Peter, and by Luke 24:34. Both are believed to be early
      > Christian hymns. Outside of that, Lk/Jn record his discovery of the empty tomb
      > by Peter.

      Nobody much denies that people saw Jesus after his death. Very common
      sort of thing, much to be expected. Paul made a really really big
      deal out of it, everybody knows that. But I say again, if the essence
      of the Christian missionary message was "Jesus rose again" the
      audience responses would generally focus on people they knew who also
      rose again. If Christians then went on to invent some sui generis
      categories of rising again so that Jesus was uniquely risen in some
      wierd form of his own (cf. Meier quoted above) it is impossible to
      imagine anybody but Christians thinking anything at all of that.

      > hope this helps....


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