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Re: Mk 12,26

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  • Eric Eve
    ... Interesting question. Since Mk 12.23 clearly has Jesus talk about what will happen EN ANASTASEI, and he goes on to say that when the dead rise (hOTAN GAR
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 22, 2004
      Pawel Glowacki wrote:

      > QUESTION: How are we supposed to understand Mk 12,26 (and par.)? Am I
      > mistaken in seeing here the belief in a resurrection of the dead (NEKPWN
      > OTI EGEIPONTAI) whose fleshly remains stay in their graves, as is
      > obviously (?) the case with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? If this is well
      > known, I would be happy to know the references. Is it perhaps related to
      > "John the Baptist all over again"?

      Interesting question. Since Mk 12.23 clearly has Jesus talk about what will
      happen EN ANASTASEI, and he goes on to say that when the dead rise (hOTAN
      GAR EK NEKRWN ANASTWSIN) they will neither marry nor be given in marriage
      but will be like angels (EISIN hWS AGGELOI EN TOIS OURANOIS). Were 'angels
      in heaven' conceived of as having material bodies? At the very least they
      could hardly be thought to have bodies in material continuity with some
      previous form of existence. Or is the point solely that resurrected people
      will be asexual like the angels? Or are angels here being regarded as having
      'heavenly bodies' in the astronomical sense (e.g. stars, cf. Dan 12.3)?

      Nineham comments (on this Markan passage), "From the point of view of the
      later Gentile Church his statement will have been of the greatest
      significance as suggesting a spiritual view of the resurrection, free from
      the crudely materialistic traits which we know to have been a genuine
      stumbling-block to more spiritually minded 'Greeks'." Hugh Anderson concurs
      that "the Gentile church would have found it useful to conveying to Gentile
      converts a transcendentalising of the Jewish climate of ideas, in which
      crass notions of the resurrection body were frequently entertained" but at
      once goes on, "The likening of the resurrected dead to celestial phenomena
      like angels, and the 'spiritualising' of the resurrection belief symbolised
      by it, are not of course peculiar to Jesus (see 'celestial bodies' in 1 C.
      15:35ff.; 'angels' in 1 En. 15:7; 104:4; 2 Bar. 51.10." Morna Hooker takes a
      similar line, "Jesus rejects materialistic notions of the resurrection
      life..." and goes on to cite bBerakoth 17a as a possible rabbinic parallel
      ("The world to come is not like this world. In the world to come there is no
      eating or drinking or begetting or bargaining..." while acknowledging that
      "Other descriptions of the world to come are less less spiritual, but it is
      by no means clear that accounts of sumptuous feasting and drinking were
      intended to be taken literally." Harrington and Donahue comment that "In the
      Dead Sea scrolls (especially Hodayot or Thanksgiving Hymns) the idea of
      eternal life as angelic existence is prominent." They go on, like other
      commentators, to cite 1 Cor 15.35-50 as a parallel "Paul denies that
      resurrected life is simply the exact continuation of earthly life...". After
      noting that "The resurrection of the body represents a form of life after
      death that is more in keeping with the traditional Jewish concept of the
      human person as at once body and soul (and/or spirit)" Donahue and
      Harrington also suggest that "The theology presented here would also have
      provided Mark's community with an apologia against Gentile rejection of
      resurrection on the basis of a crassly materialistic understanding of the
      Christian proclamation (see Acts 17.31-34)."

      I think it may be fair to say, then, that all of the above-cited
      commentators perceive some tension between this passage and the notion of
      resurrection as a the revival (or even revival/transformation) of a corpse,
      though it's a bit unclear whether they think this is to be attributed to an
      innovation on the part of the HJ, an appropriation of a particular strand of
      Jewish thought, or a strategic missionary concession to Graeco-Roman views.
      Perhaps someone who has read Wright can tell us how he deals with this
      passage.

      Best wishes,

      Eric
      -------------------------------
      Eric Eve
      Harris Manchester College
      Oxford
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