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Re: [XTalk] Recap on Paul and Jesus :)

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  • Karel Hanhart
    ... Rikk, Thank you for your resume of the problem of the continuity/discontinuity of the historical Jesus and the confession that Jesus is the Christ, the
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 23, 2002
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      "Rikk E. Watts" wrote:

      > d. does not take seriously the ontological continuity that is central to
      > Jewish notions of resurrection. While I certainly grant discontinuity, it
      > cannot be ontological, but only transformational. Resurrection means
      > nothing if it is not the same individual (1 Cor 15).

      Rikk,

      Thank you for your resume of the problem of the continuity/discontinuity
      of the historical Jesus and the confession that Jesus is the Christ, the
      "son of God in power". And no doubt that the confession rests on the
      mystery of the resurrection. I agree with you that Paul certainly was
      writing about a historical person, Jesus of Nazareth.
      My question regards your statement "the ontological continuity that is
      central to the Jewish notions of resurrection". It seems to me that this
      expression originates in certain notions of Christian exegetes, such as
      William L. Graig. He claimed because "Paul's thought was Hebraic, he
      could not envision an afterlife without a body" (NTS 31.1 "The
      Historicity of the Empty Tomb of Jesus"). I have answered, "Of course,
      he could not. Nobody can". The appearances of the risen one presuppose
      the ability of recognition. One might believe it was a subjective
      psychological experience or an appearance from the Other World. But
      recognition is a sine qua non. Some bodily form is required for
      recognition: an angelic being or a ghost. This is true for any religion
      teaching an afterlife. This was true for Hellenistic religions some of
      whom claimed the immortality of the soul. Jewish literature forms no
      exception. It is clear that in the notion of the general resurrection at
      the End of days a return to life upon earth is involved. But the various
      verbs to get up, to rise or to be raised from the dead have a wide range
      of usage and meaning. But it certainly doesn't mean that when
      resurrection takes place a grave must be emptied. In fact, the endings
      of the Gospel are unique and isolated; close parallels cannot be found.
      Craig tried to answer carefully major objections to the deeply
      ingrained belief in "the historicity of the empty tomb". He didn't
      succeed MHO in this attempt. This is true for his minimizing Mark's
      explicit statement that the Human One [bar nasj - son of man' would be
      handed over to the nations and rise "after three days", while Matthew
      has "on the third day" repeating the reported oldest tradition in 1
      Cor. He also failed to identify the Scriptures referred to in "was
      raised on the third day ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES". Now the third day
      obviously was the Sunday after Pesach (i.e. Good Friday). And as Clement
      of Alexandria made clear the Scriptures were Levit. 23,11.15: one should
      begin counting the 50 days of the harvest on the Sunday after Pesach.
      Concisely put, the main exegetical problem with regard to Mark's open
      tomb story is two fold: (1) why did Mark himself literally refer to LXX
      Isa 22,15 and to Gn 29,2.3 (re the tomb hewn from the rock and the "very
      large stone rolled" before the door of the tomb? (2) why did the
      Pharisees claim that the First Day of the fifty days of the harvest was
      Nisan 16 (the sabbath day of 'the funeral' while the Christian Jews
      continued to keep the biblical Sunday of Lv 23,11.15? The time indicator
      in Mark 16,2 should be translated "on the first day of Shabuot (or the
      Feast of Weeks - [ton sabbaton, plural] )". Shabuot is the Hebrew term
      for Pentecost, the harvest feast. And Jesus rose as "the first fruit of
      the [divine] harvest".
      There must have been an important historical reason why the Pharisees
      switched from the Sunday after Pesach (Lv 23,11.15) to the fixed day of
      Nisan 16, the day after Pesach and they need to be investigated further.
      These I believe are the main questions raised by the text itself.
      Certainly not the question of the "ontological continuity that is
      central to Jewish notions of resurrection". I grant you the
      interpretation of the metaphor of an opened tomb in terms of discovering
      an empty grave is deeply ingrained in Christian tradition. Moreover, the
      question of continuity with the historical Jesus is an important
      theological problem (in my opinion not to be resolved on human terms).
      However, renewed study of Jewish literature of Tenach and of the
      'intertestamental period' make clear Mark's stories - such as the dove
      entering into Jesus, Jesus walking on the seas and ordering the winds to
      cease, or multiplying five loaves etc should by mainly interpreted by
      Scripture (i.e. midrash) and not as literal historical, biographical
      details of Jesus' acts. We do not need to have a fundamentalistic
      approach to Scripture in order to understand it, as I am sure you'll
      agree.

      yours cordially

      Karel Hanhart
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