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Re: [XTalk] Cross Gospels, crucifixions, resurrections

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  • Antonio Jerez
    ... this ... This ... I agree with you that Paul doesn t explicitely mention an empty tomb , but his recieved kerygma states that Jesus was BURIED. This does
    Message 1 of 18 , Feb 3 4:17 PM
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      Bill Arnal wrote:

      > 1) Paul, writing very shortly after the supposed events in question does
      > NOT, in trying to justify his belief in Jesus' resurrection to the
      > Corinthians, cite an empty tomb. He refers instead to what seem to be
      > visionary-type experiences. However suspicious I think we should be of
      this
      > account, it nonetheless suggests that belief in the resurrection pre-dated
      > accounts of the supposed evidence for this event, i.e., the empty tomb.
      This
      > latter is not the historical bedrock from which the subsequent fantasies
      > developed -- in this case, the fantasies generated the story, as "proof."

      I agree with you that Paul doesn't explicitely mention an "empty tomb", but
      his
      recieved kerygma states that Jesus was BURIED. This does not seem to support
      speculations about his corpse rotting on a cross. I also think that Paul's
      phariseic
      beliefs about resurrection did not include the idea that a rotting corpse,
      eaten by dogs
      and then followed by visions of Jesus could be seen as proof of the
      resurrection of the
      End Times. As far as I can glean from Paul's letters he believed in the
      quite common
      belief at that time of a bodily resurrection, meaning that at the End Time
      God would
      transform a earthly body into a "spiritual" body = an eternal nonfleshly
      body. I have
      difficulty seeing how he could have became so exalted if Jesus body had been
      widely
      known to have been eaten by dogs and then only followed by simple visionary
      experiences.
      This would hardly be taken as proof of the resurrection of the End Time. t
      would have been
      a simple ghost story, and the ancients were quite accuainted with ghosts
      without claiming that
      the End Time had arrived when seeing one.

      > 2) Q and Thomas (I know, Antonio -- we share completely different
      > perspectives on these texts; but I'm gonna talk about them anyway), on the
      > other hand, show, I think, that belief in the resurrection may POST-DATE
      the
      > inception of the Christian movement. That is to say, the absence of any
      > sense of the resurrection from these texts shows that there was a
      motivation
      > to preserve the memory of Jesus and even to ascribe high status and
      > supernatural significance to him ("son of man," "the Living One") quite
      > apart from any belief in a unique and historically fix-able resurrection
      > event. This suggests to me at least the possibility that the resurrection
      > belief emerged as a rationalization, a retrospective claim to divine
      > vindication, AFTER a deceased Jesus had already acquired some measure of
      > authority or significance among his post-mortem followers.
      >
      > 3) Most importantly, this is not a procedure that we apply to anyone else!
      > We all know that Elvis has been raised from the dead, and is appearing to
      > just about as many people as Jesus did. Do we try to explain this in terms
      > of an empty tomb, or some other event that "must have" elicited such a
      > belief? No, of course not. Indeed, it seems to me that there is NO logical
      > connection at all between "the historical Elvis" and the semi-divine
      > resurrected entity that keeps healing people, cropping up at 7-11's, and
      > consorting with space aliens. An example more contemporary with Jesus
      > himself -- the apotheosis of Julius Caesar. No one (I hope!) explains this
      > in terms of Julius' friends going to his tomb and finding his body
      missing!
      > Instead, those people who bother with the question at all suggest social
      > and/or political and/or propagandistic motives for these claims. Quite
      > rightly. Why not do so with Jesus?
      >
      > I'm not really talking about this specific example just to get in
      Antonio's
      > face (I prefer to agree with him, whenever possible). I raise it because
      it
      > strikes me as a good illustration of the fundamental problem with most of
      > the discourse, not only on this list, but about HJ in general, i.e., the
      > assumption that we are dealing here with a more or less logical unfolding
      of
      > conclusions from events, i.e., that the ancient Christians are sort-of
      > passively letting things happen to them and then formulating (theological,
      > etc.) conclusions from that. This observation may be applied to anything
      > under discussion here. Were there hundreds of witnesses to Jesus'
      > crucifixion? Well, maybe, but who cares? Presumably when G Mark started
      > appearing on the best seller racks, these witnesses weren't running up to
      > Caesarea Philippi (or wherever Mark wrote) to complain that he got the
      facts
      > wrong. I would suggest that our obsession with continuity, facticity, and
      > logical connections is just that -- OUR obsession.
      >
      > By the way, what I regard as the absolute BEST statement on the HJ in
      recent
      > years has just come out, namely, Burton Mack's piece, "The Historical
      Jesus
      > Hoopla," in his recent _The Christian Myth_ (Continuum, 2001). NT scholars
      > should be FORCED to read this essay, at gunpoint if necessary.
      >
      > Bill
      > ___________________________
      > William Arnal
      > Department of Religion
      > University of Manitoba
      >
      > "Well, I can see I'm not in Paris"
      > -- Ernest Hemingway, on landing in Winnipeg
      >
      >
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    • David C. Hindley
      ... portray their own history as not history but propaganda? And why would it be important that such sources (i.e., works on the propagandistic character of
      Message 2 of 18 , Feb 3 4:24 PM
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        Bill Arnal responded:

        >>I don't understand this question. Why would Christians
        portray their own history as not history but propaganda? And
        why would it be important that such sources (i.e., works on
        the propagandistic character of ancient Christian history)
        be Christian? I think I'm misunderstanding your question
        here.<<

        Now I am using the term "propaganda" in its neutral sense:
        either as the spreading of ideas, information or rumor for
        the purpose of helping (or injuring) an institution; or of
        ideas, facts or allegations spread deliberately to further
        one's cause (or to damage an opposing cause). We should not
        assume that "propaganda" is always a slick, covert way to
        hoodwink or otherwise fool people. It can just as readily be
        understood as attempts, for instance, to "set the story
        straight." It can serve as an effective means to answer
        charges hurled by opponents.

        According to the linguists, history is as much
        interpretation as presentation of facts. If the Christian
        gospels are making use of Jesus as a symbolic vehicle to
        present their own (current) understanding of the world, I am
        perfectly willing to accept that they sincerely believed
        that the actual history of Jesus and his followers *must*
        have conformed to their own viewpoint. In short, the
        historical events are reinterpreted and the story reshaped.
        There can be a logical progression of historical
        development, or a syncretistic adaptation of ideas or
        symbols. But I do have to wonder, why pick a crucified man
        to serve as a symbol, unless there was some sort of
        connection to him.

        I agree with you that the interesting questions relate to
        "the proximate, i.e., socio-political, causes (and immediate
        effects) of ancient Christian doctrines, and not the
        character of the events they appear to refer to."
        Personally, I think that the Christian gospels are apologies
        cast in the form of biographies, designed to answer charges
        by opponents that the gospel authors considered too well
        established to deny. That implies that there had been some
        development in the movement, in that valid criticisms of its
        early stages had to be "explained" (away) by those who held
        later developments of the tradition. "Our founder was not
        what you say he was (a bastard, a rebel, a magician) but he
        was actually something perfectly acceptable/tolerable (a
        divine man, a cynic-like philosopher, a healer)."

        Respectfully,

        Dave Hindley
        Cleveland, Ohio, USA
      • Antonio Jerez
        ... this ... This ... I agree with you that Paul doesn t explicitely mention an empty tomb , but his recieved kerygma states that Jesus was BURIED. This does
        Message 3 of 18 , Feb 3 4:47 PM
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          Bill Arnal wrote:

          > 1) Paul, writing very shortly after the supposed events in question does
          > NOT, in trying to justify his belief in Jesus' resurrection to the
          > Corinthians, cite an empty tomb. He refers instead to what seem to be
          > visionary-type experiences. However suspicious I think we should be of
          this
          > account, it nonetheless suggests that belief in the resurrection pre-dated
          > accounts of the supposed evidence for this event, i.e., the empty tomb.
          This
          > latter is not the historical bedrock from which the subsequent fantasies
          > developed -- in this case, the fantasies generated the story, as "proof."

          I agree with you that Paul doesn't explicitely mention an "empty tomb", but
          his recieved kerygma states that Jesus was BURIED. This does not seem to
          support
          speculations about his corpse rotting on a cross. I also think that Paul's
          phariseic beliefs about resurrection did not include the idea that a rotting
          corpse,
          eaten by dogs and then followed by visions of Jesus could be seen as proof
          of the
          resurrection of the End Times. As far as I can glean from Paul's letters he
          believed in the
          quite common belief at that time of a bodily resurrection, meaning that at
          the End Time
          God would transform an earthly body into a "spiritual" body = an eternal
          nonfleshly
          body. I have difficulty seeing how he could have became so exalted if Jesus
          body had been
          widely known to have been eaten by dogs and then only followed by simple
          visionary
          experiences. This would hardly be taken as proof of the resurrection of the
          End Time. t
          would have been a simple ghost story, and the ancients were quite accuainted
          with ghosts
          without claiming that the End Time had arrived when seeing one.

          I would also like to add the "evidence" from Matthew 28:11-15. This appears
          to be
          a reminicence (although shrouded in Matthean form) of the Jewish
          counterclaims to
          the empty tomb. Why counterclaim in this way if it could easily be shown
          that the
          false Messiah had been rotting on a cross? If Crossan is right I think we
          should have
          expected ridicule of the Christians and their "rotting" Messiah in later
          jewish litterature.
          We find ridicule of another kind but not this.


          > 2) Q and Thomas (I know, Antonio -- we share completely different
          > perspectives on these texts; but I'm gonna talk about them anyway), on the
          > other hand, show, I think, that belief in the resurrection may POST-DATE
          the
          > inception of the Christian movement. That is to say, the absence of any
          > sense of the resurrection from these texts shows that there was a
          motivation
          > to preserve the memory of Jesus and even to ascribe high status and
          > supernatural significance to him ("son of man," "the Living One") quite
          > apart from any belief in a unique and historically fix-able resurrection
          > event. This suggests to me at least the possibility that the resurrection
          > belief emerged as a rationalization, a retrospective claim to divine
          > vindication, AFTER a deceased Jesus had already acquired some measure of
          > authority or significance among his post-mortem followers.

          You are quite right that arguments based on a hypothetical Q and Thomas
          won´t cut much ground with me. I not think there existed any Christian
          grouping
          at the beginning who didn't believe or found it necessary to believe in the
          resurrection
          of their leader. The later gnostics and christians influenced by Platonism
          could discard
          this, but not Paul and other jewish-christians.

          > 3) Most importantly, this is not a procedure that we apply to anyone else!
          > We all know that Elvis has been raised from the dead, and is appearing to
          > just about as many people as Jesus did. Do we try to explain this in terms
          > of an empty tomb, or some other event that "must have" elicited such a
          > belief? No, of course not. Indeed, it seems to me that there is NO logical
          > connection at all between "the historical Elvis" and the semi-divine
          > resurrected entity that keeps healing people, cropping up at 7-11's, and
          > consorting with space aliens. An example more contemporary with Jesus
          > himself -- the apotheosis of Julius Caesar. No one (I hope!) explains this
          > in terms of Julius' friends going to his tomb and finding his body
          >missing!

          I don't understand the logic of the Elvis example. As far as I know nobody
          has claimed that Elvis body has dissappeared from his tomb in Memphis. And
          if
          evidence is needed we are fortunately in a postion to check out the claims.
          I think
          the Jewish authorities in the first century would have been in a similar
          position to
          check out claims that Jesus had disappeared from a tomb while in reality
          rotting on
          a cross. We don't find any counterclaims like that in Jewish litterature,
          and in this
          instance I think the silence is telling.
          The Ceasar example is also unfortunate. As far as I know the romans knew
          pretty
          well that his body was cremated in the traditional fashion. In this case
          there wasn't much
          of a body to look for. And since the romans did not believe in bodily
          resurrection like the
          Jews there wasn't any need for an intact body to have an apotheosis.

          I must admit that it feels a bit akward for a historian with a secular
          outlook to defend
          the empty tomb tradition, but I always try to go where the evidence leads
          me. I do recall
          that once in a time a professed atheist like Stevan Davies (what has
          happened to him?)
          also defended the empty tomb tradition on the old Crosstalk against Mahlon
          and a few
          others. It is a strange world.

          Best wishes

          Antonio Jerez
          Goteborg, Sweden
        • Bob Schacht
          ... Bill, Welcome back from lurker status! :-) I started this response before the Super Bowl, but was unable to finish it until afterwards. ... Guilty as
          Message 4 of 18 , Feb 3 7:02 PM
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            At 10:01 AM 2/3/2002 -0600, you wrote:

            >Hi everyone:
            >
            >I've been following this Cross Gospel discussion from the sidelines,

            Bill,
            Welcome back from lurker status! :-)
            I started this response before the Super Bowl, but was unable to finish it
            until afterwards.

            > and have found myself agreeing in particular with Ted comments about
            > Mark's lack
            >of historical interest in and knowledge of the crucifixion.
            >
            >Antonio's recent comment on the resurrection (i.e., that Christianity as we
            >know it is only explicable in terms of an empty tomb or some other index
            >that would suggest a resurrection to Jesus' followers), though, struck me as
            >worthy of comment. This strikes me as of a piece with the approach of most
            >people on this list, and most scholars of the historical Jesus, namely,
            >assuming that there must be some logical linkage between the historical
            >person Jesus and the movement that arose in his name. Or to put it
            >differently, early Christianity is a direct extrapolation from SOMETHING,
            >some je ne sais quoi, about Jesus; and early Christian reflection on Jesus
            >as having died and been raised by God reflects SOMETHING about events prior
            >to these conceptualizations themselves.

            Guilty as charged. The problem I have, with my feeble imagination, is
            conceiving of a world-wide movement lasting 2000 years based on a scam
            (which seems to be what you're suggesting). I remember having a go-around
            with Willi Braun on this issue in the early days of CrossTalk. And as David
            Hindley observed today,
            >But I do have to wonder, why pick a crucified man to serve as a symbol,
            >unless there was some sort of
            >connection to him.

            In other words, why pick as the basis for your scam someone who had been
            thoroughly discredited and humiliated?
            If Christianity was NOT based on something about Jesus, then it seems to me
            that we've really done is to transfer the genius of Jesus to the genius of
            some subsequent myth-maker who then becomes the "real" prophet for the new
            religion. Perhaps you have Paul in mind? So that Christians are really
            nothing more than Paulians with the wrong name? Or, since you're coming
            from a Religious Studies paradigm, perhaps your real question is, what is
            it about the human temperament that Paul (or whomever your candidate is for
            the "real" founder of Christianity) was able to tap into so effectively as
            to be able to create the longest-running scam in human history? But perhaps
            I misunderstand you.

            >These quite intuitive assumptions strike me as problematic, especially as
            >they apply to the resurrection, for a number of reasons:
            >
            >1) Paul, writing very shortly after the supposed events in question does
            >NOT, in trying to justify his belief in Jesus' resurrection to the
            >Corinthians, cite an empty tomb. He refers instead to what seem to be
            >visionary-type experiences. However suspicious I think we should be of this
            >account, it nonetheless suggests that belief in the resurrection pre-dated
            >accounts of the supposed evidence for this event, i.e., the empty tomb. This
            >latter is not the historical bedrock from which the subsequent fantasies
            >developed -- in this case, the fantasies generated the story, as "proof."

            Well, we do have RSV 1 Thessalonians 4:14:
            >For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through
            >Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

            and RSV Romans 6:4
            >We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ
            >was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in
            >newness of life.

            and RSV Colossians 2:12:
            > and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised
            > with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

            and RSV 1 Corinthians 15:4:
            >that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with
            >the scriptures,

            which is about as close to the Gospel accounts as one might expect to find
            in Paul.

            Since for Paul, the important point was the resurrection, an empty tomb was
            secondary, or perhaps implicit-- an unnecessary detail.
            Besides, you are arguing from silence (no explicit reference to a tomb),
            which is a somewhat risky line of reasoning.


            >2) Q and Thomas ... on the
            >other hand, show, I think, that belief in the resurrection may POST-DATE the
            >inception of the Christian movement. That is to say, the absence of any
            >sense of the resurrection from these texts shows that there was a motivation
            >to preserve the memory of Jesus and even to ascribe high status and
            >supernatural significance to him ("son of man," "the Living One") quite
            >apart from any belief in a unique and historically fix-able resurrection
            >event.

            But doesn't this raise the genre question? Q and especially Thomas both
            focus on Sayings of Jesus, so that we would not expect to find narrative
            about resurrection there. This is old ground, covered many times before.

            >This suggests to me at least the possibility that the resurrection
            >belief emerged as a rationalization, a retrospective claim to divine
            >vindication, AFTER a deceased Jesus had already acquired some measure of
            >authority or significance among his post-mortem followers.

            And how might that have happened? How could a discredited and humiliated
            Jesus acquire some measure of authority or significance after being
            crucified, and having his corpse shredded by scavengers? What am I missing
            here?


            >3) Most importantly, this is not a procedure that we apply to anyone else!
            >We all know that Elvis has been raised from the dead, and is appearing to
            >just about as many people as Jesus did. Do we try to explain this in terms
            >of an empty tomb, or some other event that "must have" elicited such a
            >belief? No, of course not.

            Well, I don't see any Church of the Resurrected Elvis, either. Besides,
            most of what you're referring to is not that Elvis died and rose again, but
            sightings based on the idea that Elvis never really died in the first place
            (despite the Coroner's report).

            >.... An example more contemporary with Jesus
            >himself -- the apotheosis of Julius Caesar. No one (I hope!) explains this
            >in terms of Julius' friends going to his tomb and finding his body missing!
            >Instead, those people who bother with the question at all suggest social
            >and/or political and/or propagandistic motives for these claims. Quite
            >rightly. Why not do so with Jesus?

            The claims may have been made, but I don't notice that they were received
            with much credibility. What is it with the claims about Jesus that made
            them so much more credible than the claims about Caesar?

            >I'm not really talking about this specific example just to get in Antonio's
            >face (I prefer to agree with him, whenever possible).

            Oh common, Bill; I can't imagine you backing away from a good debate. In
            fact, I rather thought that you relished the idea! ;-)

            >I raise it because it
            >strikes me as a good illustration of the fundamental problem with most of
            >the discourse, not only on this list, but about HJ in general, i.e., the
            >assumption that we are dealing here with a more or less logical unfolding of
            >conclusions from events, i.e., that the ancient Christians are sort-of
            >passively letting things happen to them and then formulating (theological,
            >etc.) conclusions from that.

            One need not depend on that word "passively." They could have been rather
            actively involved-- if they really had something to work with. But if they
            didn't really have anything to work with, my feeble imagination cannot
            grasp why their efforts succeeded so spectacularly.

            > This observation may be applied to anything
            >under discussion here. Were there hundreds of witnesses to Jesus'
            >crucifixion? Well, maybe, but who cares? Presumably when G Mark started
            >appearing on the best seller racks, these witnesses weren't running up to
            >Caesarea Philippi (or wherever Mark wrote) to complain that he got the facts
            >wrong. I would suggest that our obsession with continuity, facticity, and
            >logical connections is just that -- OUR obsession.

            Do we have here a counter-obsession with minimizing the importance of Jesus
            by belittling every single possible element of significance in his life? I
            thought that the purpose of History, or Religious Studies, was to find
            rational connections and explanations based on historical evidence. Are you
            suggesting that we ought to be more comfortable with discontinuity,
            fantasy, and illogical connections as the basis of our understanding early
            Christianity? If so, I can understand that, from your perspective, you
            would welcome a portrait of early Christians as irrational innovators
            unconcerned with facts, but must we follow suit?


            >By the way, what I regard as the absolute BEST statement on the HJ in recent
            >years has just come out, namely, Burton Mack's piece, "The Historical Jesus
            >Hoopla," in his recent _The Christian Myth_ (Continuum, 2001). NT scholars
            >should be FORCED to read this essay, at gunpoint if necessary.

            Dang. I've been avoiding Mack for YEARS. Do I really have to? :-)

            Bob



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Gordon Raynal
            ... Bob, Just a short reply about this.... and hopefully not to overly repeat myself... but why frame the language like this? (as in scam and thoroughly
            Message 5 of 18 , Feb 4 5:30 AM
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              >
              >Guilty as charged. The problem I have, with my feeble imagination, is
              >conceiving of a world-wide movement lasting 2000 years based on a scam
              >(which seems to be what you're suggesting). I remember having a go-around
              >with Willi Braun on this issue in the early days of CrossTalk. And as David
              >Hindley observed today,
              >>But I do have to wonder, why pick a crucified man to serve as a symbol,
              >>unless there was some sort of
              >>connection to him.
              >
              >In other words, why pick as the basis for your scam someone who had been
              >thoroughly discredited and humiliated?

              Bob,

              Just a short reply about this.... and hopefully not to overly repeat
              myself... but why frame the language like this? (as in "scam" and
              "thoroughly discredited and humiliated")? To go in reverse order... was
              Jesus discredited among those who heard him and agreed? ...those who shared
              in the reconciliation work? ...those who, in whatever sense, "were healed?"
              ...those who took up the challenge and became missionaries and/ or those
              homebodies who made for "new communion" or those literate folk who began to
              pour over the Hebrew Scriptures? Again... I take it that among folks of an
              ancient and STRONG faith system (i.e. the Hebraic faith)... with a LONG
              tradition of relatively minor folks making LASTING impressions (think Amos,
              for example)... that someone like Jesus among those who were positively
              challenged or affected would precisely hold on to a movement that was
              bringing serious moral refreshment, if you will. Thus his death, far from
              being simply a negative would bode for Scriptural reflection and
              strengthening the movement. And isn't that exactly what we've got? I note
              when I read I Cor. 15... that Paul talks about Cross and Resurrection in
              terms of "according to Scripture." And so to the other point... why the
              language of "scam" around the development of the kerygma. The produce of it
              is clearly rooted in careful, thoughtful and imaginative reflection on the
              Hebrew Scriptures. I think that Crossan's point is exactly right... and I'd
              say it this way... the whole motive for doing this wasn't either cross or
              resurrection, but something historically shared and experience in a movement
              that made a REAL difference in Galilee and then outward. There... in a life
              and in lives... in a movement and the human effort to expand and expound...
              is the source of moving in the directions various communities did. And what
              the text finds show is that there were SEVERAL sorts of paths taken to
              expand and expound.

              To conclude... just consider... in the 1960's who would have thought that
              Malcolm X would show up as a celebrated figure in American Civil Rights
              history? MLK, Jr. was under the FBI eye of Hoover. What of Malcolm with his
              fiery rhetoric? But 3 decades later Malcolm made it on a U.S. Postage stamp!
              Lots can happen in three decades. And back to HJ... 3 decades is a LOT of
              time to read TANAK and think about producing an effect kerygma.

              Gordon Raynal
              Inman, SC
            • William Arnal
              ... Good point. But just to clarify, this is really not what I was arguing about. I don t know whether Jesus was buried (I assume in a pauper s grave) or eaten
              Message 6 of 18 , Feb 4 7:51 AM
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                Antonio Jerez wrote:

                >I agree with you that Paul doesn't explicitely mention an "empty >tomb",
                >but
                >his
                >recieved kerygma states that Jesus was BURIED. This does not seem to
                > >support
                >speculations about his corpse rotting on a cross.

                Good point. But just to clarify, this is really not what I was arguing
                about. I don't know whether Jesus was buried (I assume in a pauper's grave)
                or eaten by dogs, or left to rot, or whatever. What I'm saying is, specific
                knowledge of an empty tomb does not seem to be at the core of the earliest
                references to the resurrection (cf. further Mahlon's comments). I further
                note that Paul's assertion here that Jesus was buried is theologically
                important to him, since he strongly associates burial with baptism. Thus it
                does not mean, or at least NEED not mean, that Paul has specific knowledge
                of a burial -- just that he takes it for granted.

                >also think that Paul's
                >phariseic
                >beliefs about resurrection did not include the idea that a rotting >orpse,
                >eaten by dogs

                Possibly not, but again, all I'm suggesting is lack of specific knowledge.
                Well, and also that, in consequence, the empty tomb story is a late
                fabrication, and thus CANNOT be the source of the doctrine of the
                resurrection. I'm inclined to look elsewhere.

                I'd also note that in many instances it's hard to account IN ANY FASHION for
                Paul's beliefs as we know them in line with his Pharisaic background. That
                Pharisaic background, indeed, seems to be what made Paul so initially
                hostile to Christians. And once Paul has his change of mind, just about the
                entirety of his Pharisaic background goes out the window. So *I* would be
                inclined to say that we should look for ideas in earliest Christianity that
                would have absolutely FAILED to convince a Pharisee of anything, rather than
                views that would have been likely to do so.

                Once again, and for the record, I'm NOT arguing that Jesus' corpse was
                consumed by dogs. What I'm suggesting is that we have no secure knowledge
                about the disposition of Jesus' body, and cannot trace belief in his
                resurrection to an empty tomb. That's all.

                For what it's worth, the question of dogs and such can probably only be
                resolved in terms of likelihoods -- i.e., how likely it is that a
                crucifixion victim in Judea would be left on the cross to rot, and/or what
                would normally be done with such a body. And here I think (though I won't
                claim any expertise on the issue) the evidence seems to cut both ways. On
                the one hand, I seem to recall literary sources (Josephus?? someone else?)
                claiming that Jews had dispensation to remove such bodies; and on the other
                hand, the archaeological evidence for crucifixion victims is SO scarce that
                burial seems unlikely.

                Bill
                ___________________________
                William Arnal
                Department of Religion
                University of Manitoba

                "Well, I can see I'm not in Paris"
                -- Ernest Hemingway, on landing in Winnipeg



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              • William Arnal
                ... Gordon Raynal s already answered this, really. I am not suggesting a scam, and I think that s an unhelpful way of putting things. It is, in fact, a
                Message 7 of 18 , Feb 4 9:47 AM
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                  Bob Schacht wrote:

                  >Guilty as charged. The problem I have, with my feeble imagination, is
                  >conceiving of a world-wide movement lasting 2000 years based on a scam
                  >(which seems to be what you're suggesting). I remember having a go-

                  Gordon Raynal's already answered this, really. I am not suggesting a "scam,"
                  and I think that's an unhelpful way of putting things. It is, in fact, a
                  denigration of human creativity to say or imply that fantasy and imagination
                  cannot generate important movements, while raw "facts" can and must do so.
                  The view I'm taking is that the ancient Christians were not much concerned
                  with raw facticity, and that they creatively embellished the portrait of the
                  person they regarded as their "founder" in order to highlight the specific
                  significance he had for them. This is hardly a new claim.

                  >In other words, why pick as the basis for your scam someone who had >been
                  >thoroughly discredited and humiliated?

                  This only follows (and with objections, again, to "scam" noted in passing)
                  if Jesus' original significance to his followers was of a sort that
                  martyrdom WOULD in fact discredit and humiliate. There is no real reason to
                  assume this, though. Were the early Christian martyrs discredited and
                  humiliated by their deaths? Were the Maccabean martyrs? Was Martin Luther
                  King?

                  >If Christianity was NOT based on something about Jesus, then it seems >to
                  >me
                  >that we've really done is to transfer the genius of Jesus to the >genius of
                  >some subsequent myth-maker who then becomes the "real" prophet for the >new
                  >religion.

                  No! Again, I don't think this sort of reasoning would apply to many other
                  historical phenomena, so why apply it here? "Christianity" is the function
                  of centuries of incremental development. Some figures in this development
                  are prominent, some less so, but the end result is the "accomplishment" of
                  no single person. Who INVENTED Judaism? I'd suggest, no one. So also with
                  Christianity.

                  >[various texts cited and snipped]
                  >which is about as close to the Gospel accounts as one might expect to >find
                  >in Paul.

                  And it's not very close at all, is it? Which is just the point. Paul invokes
                  as "proof" of the resurrection the witnesses of individuals who supposedly
                  saw the risen Jesus, and not the concrete evidence of an empty tomb. This is
                  not an argument from silence, by the way, it's an argument ABOUT silence --
                  i.e., Paul does not confirm the empty tomb accounts, and taken on its own,
                  the Pauline message understands the "proof" of the resurrection in more or
                  less visionary terms. In my response to Antonio, by the way, I suggested
                  that the claim Paul makes in 1 Cor that Jesus was buried does not reflect
                  specific knowledge.

                  >Since for Paul, the important point was the resurrection, an empty >tomb
                  >was
                  >secondary, or perhaps implicit-- an unnecessary detail.
                  >Besides, you are arguing from silence (no explicit reference to a >tomb),
                  >which is a somewhat risky line of reasoning.

                  Of course it's even more risky to use the argument against the argument from
                  silence to argue that silence about something actually indicates it was
                  there!

                  >But doesn't this raise the genre question? Q and especially Thomas both
                  >focus on Sayings of Jesus, so that we would not expect to find >narrative
                  >about resurrection there. This is old ground, covered many times >before.

                  I would have thought so (i.e, that this was old ground), but evidently a
                  reminder is in order. I know of almost no one (no one springs to mind) who
                  regards the absence of a resurrection NARRATIVE in Q or Thomas to be in any
                  way significant. To focus on this issue is a classic case of erecting a
                  straw man and knocking it down. The problem with Q and Thomas is that they
                  both have integral theologies of Jesus' significance ("christologies," if
                  the term is conceived loosely) that do not appeal to or logically require a
                  focus on the crucifixion or resurrection. To argue that they somehow assumed
                  these things anyway is special pleading, and a far worse argument from
                  silence (i.e., that absence of reference to phenomenon "x" indicates that
                  phenomenon "x" IS present!) than any I've ever made. Sayings gospels are
                  indeed capable of communicating theology, even if they aren't inetersted in
                  providing narrative.

                  >The claims may have been made, but I don't notice that they were >received
                  >with much credibility. What is it with the claims about Jesus that made
                  >them so much more credible than the claims about Caesar?

                  This is a most remarkable assertion! Why on earth would anyone claim that
                  Julius' apotheosis was less widely credited than that of Jesus???? If
                  anything, the opposite is manifestly true.

                  >didn't really have anything to work with, my feeble imagination cannot
                  >grasp why their efforts succeeded so spectacularly.

                  The subsequent success strikes me as a function of other factors from a
                  later date. Coming up with an explanation of those factors is precisely what
                  needs to be done, it seems to me.

                  >Do we have here a counter-obsession with minimizing the importance of
                  > >Jesus
                  >by belittling every single possible element of significance in his >life? I

                  Not at all. I am suggesting that since this obsession with facticity is a
                  modern one (or at least, its form is modern), we can't assume that the
                  earliest Christians felt the same way, or would have needed to conceptualize
                  Jesus' importance strictly in terms of historical events. Paul certainly
                  doesn't feel the need to do so. Does HE "minimize the importance of Jesus"
                  or "belittle" his life?

                  >thought that the purpose of History, or Religious Studies, was to find
                  >rational connections and explanations based on historical evidence.

                  Yes, in a way, but the rational connections need not be in the minds of the
                  participants. The connnections that are rational and plausible explanations
                  to US may be sociological, or some such thing, and would have meant little
                  to the people whose behavior they endeavour to explain. Or to put it
                  differently, to come up with a rational explanation for an event is not the
                  same thing as assuming (without evidence) that the actors in that event were
                  operating in terms of a rationality identical to our own. One can explain,
                  or try to explain facism, for instance, without needing to posit that facism
                  is a rational ideology.

                  >would welcome a portrait of early Christians as irrational innovators
                  >unconcerned with facts, but must we follow suit?

                  I think they are RATIONAL innovators, and that their concern for facts, such
                  as it is, is not identical to our own. What it seems to me you're doing,
                  Bob, is calling every rationality different from your own, "irrational."

                  Bill
                  ___________________________
                  William Arnal
                  Department of Religion
                  University of Manitoba

                  "Well, I can see I'm not in Paris"
                  -- Ernest Hemingway, on landing in Winnipeg


                  _________________________________________________________________
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                • beefnboots
                  ... Well, I d say that that is one thing you could wonder, but I wonder what import the crucified or hung man had in the cultures of the ancient Near East and,
                  Message 8 of 18 , Feb 4 10:57 AM
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                    --- In crosstalk2@y..., "David C. Hindley" <dhindley@c...> wrote:

                    > According to the linguists, history is as much
                    > interpretation as presentation of facts. If the Christian
                    > gospels are making use of Jesus as a symbolic vehicle to
                    > present their own (current) understanding of the world, I am
                    > perfectly willing to accept that they sincerely believed
                    > that the actual history of Jesus and his followers *must*
                    > have conformed to their own viewpoint. In short, the
                    > historical events are reinterpreted and the story reshaped.
                    > There can be a logical progression of historical
                    > development, or a syncretistic adaptation of ideas or
                    > symbols. But I do have to wonder, why pick a crucified man
                    > to serve as a symbol, unless there was some sort of
                    > connection to him.

                    Well, I'd say that that is one thing you could wonder, but I wonder
                    what import the crucified or hung man had in the cultures of the
                    ancient Near East and, particularly, of the extent and nature of
                    martyrology amongst the Jews. I would guess that those who shaped
                    and reshaped the doctrine which has come to be Christianity did so
                    with the symbolism they had at hand and utilized that to re-form a
                    symbolic message to their own ends. Incrementally. Repeatedly.


                    >
                    > I agree with you that the interesting questions relate to
                    > "the proximate, i.e., socio-political, causes (and immediate
                    > effects) of ancient Christian doctrines, and not the
                    > character of the events they appear to refer to."
                    > Personally, I think that the Christian gospels are apologies
                    > cast in the form of biographies, designed to answer charges
                    > by opponents that the gospel authors considered too well
                    > established to deny. That implies that there had been some
                    > development in the movement, in that valid criticisms of its
                    > early stages had to be "explained" (away) by those who held
                    > later developments of the tradition. "Our founder was not
                    > what you say he was (a bastard, a rebel, a magician) but he
                    > was actually something perfectly acceptable/tolerable (a
                    > divine man, a cynic-like philosopher, a healer)."
                    >
                    > Respectfully,
                    >
                    > Dave Hindley
                    > Cleveland, Ohio, USA

                    Possible...

                    Kelly Wellington
                    Portland, Oregon
                  • Steve Black
                    ... I write... It seems to me that where we posit the genius of early xnty will be the determining factor in our historical reconstructions. It seems to me
                    Message 9 of 18 , Feb 4 11:04 AM
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                      >Bob Schacht wrote:
                      >
                      >>If Christianity was NOT based on something about Jesus, then it seems >to
                      >>me
                      >>that we've really done is to transfer the genius of Jesus to the >genius of
                      >>some subsequent myth-maker who then becomes the "real" prophet for the >new
                      >>religion.



                      >Bill Replied
                      >No! Again, I don't think this sort of reasoning would apply to many other
                      >historical phenomena, so why apply it here? "Christianity" is the function
                      >of centuries of incremental development. Some figures in this development
                      >are prominent, some less so, but the end result is the "accomplishment" of
                      >no single person. Who INVENTED Judaism? I'd suggest, no one. So also with
                      >Christianity.

                      I write...
                      It seems to me that where we posit the "genius" of early xnty will be
                      the determining factor in our historical reconstructions. It seems to
                      me that the early church is *a* place for this genius to be seen.
                      This I say because it is the texts of the early church that we
                      actually have (in contrast to the reconstructed authentic words of
                      Jesus - which we only "have" via modern scholarship), and the results
                      of those texts was xnty itself. The problem is in tracing behind
                      these texts to see how much genius just might be laid at the door of
                      the HJ. Because this move will always more conjectural, it ought
                      always to be stated more tentatively.

                      It seems to me to be a weakness of some reconstructions is the
                      assumption that all truly "profound" sayings are automatically traced
                      back to the HJ. The assumption is that no one in the early church was
                      capable of "relevant" thought. The same might be said about the
                      criteria of dissimilarity. This assumes that Jesus was the only
                      person that was able to think "outside the box", as it were. Given
                      (what I believe to be) the presence of "genius" within the early
                      church itself, this assumption seems unfounded.
                      --

                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Gordon Raynal
                      ... Steve, Thanks for making this point in this discussion. When I read the extant materials I m struck by the genius (of various sorts)... the creativity...
                      Message 10 of 18 , Feb 4 2:53 PM
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                        >It seems to me to be a weakness of some reconstructions is the
                        >assumption that all truly "profound" sayings are automatically traced
                        >back to the HJ. The assumption is that no one in the early church was
                        >capable of "relevant" thought. The same might be said about the
                        >criteria of dissimilarity. This assumes that Jesus was the only
                        >person that was able to think "outside the box", as it were. Given
                        >(what I believe to be) the presence of "genius" within the early
                        >church itself, this assumption seems unfounded.

                        Steve,

                        Thanks for making this point in this discussion. When I read the extant
                        materials I'm struck by the genius (of various sorts)... the creativity...
                        the links made to TANAK, ancient mythic formulas, socio-political-economic
                        realities, etc.... of "a host of voices." Just by way of analogy... the
                        Southern Christian Leadership Conference was made up of a number of smart
                        and talented leaders beside MLK, Jr., not to mention a lot of saavy folks in
                        all sorts of places around. I agree with you... many scholars seem so to
                        focus on HJ so as to miss that these folks across several generations had a
                        lot of genius among them. Historically those who pose whatever "high
                        shooting star" kind of approach, whether it be "some event" or whether it be
                        HJ himself, or Paul miss the genius and miss the cooperative human endeavor
                        from one generation to another.

                        Gordon Raynal
                        Inman, SC
                      • Stephen C. Carlson
                        ... Assuming that we re still discussing the empty tomb, rather than theology in general, I m a little confused as to how documents that are little more than a
                        Message 11 of 18 , Feb 4 10:43 PM
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                          At 11:47 AM 2/4/02 -0600, William Arnal wrote:
                          >Bob Schacht wrote:
                          >>But doesn't this raise the genre question? Q and especially Thomas both
                          >>focus on Sayings of Jesus, so that we would not expect to find >narrative
                          >>about resurrection there. This is old ground, covered many times >before.
                          >
                          >I would have thought so (i.e, that this was old ground), but evidently a
                          >reminder is in order. I know of almost no one (no one springs to mind) who
                          >regards the absence of a resurrection NARRATIVE in Q or Thomas to be in any
                          >way significant. To focus on this issue is a classic case of erecting a
                          >straw man and knocking it down. The problem with Q and Thomas is that they
                          >both have integral theologies of Jesus' significance ("christologies," if
                          >the term is conceived loosely) that do not appeal to or logically require a
                          >focus on the crucifixion or resurrection. To argue that they somehow assumed
                          >these things anyway is special pleading, and a far worse argument from
                          >silence (i.e., that absence of reference to phenomenon "x" indicates that
                          >phenomenon "x" IS present!) than any I've ever made. Sayings gospels are
                          >indeed capable of communicating theology, even if they aren't inetersted in
                          >providing narrative.

                          Assuming that we're still discussing the empty tomb, rather
                          than theology in general, I'm a little confused as to how
                          documents that are little more than a collection of Jesus's
                          sayings are supposed to communicate the alleged fact of the
                          empty tomb.

                          Something like: "Jesus said, 'On the third day, my tomb
                          will be empty.'"??? Not even the author of Mark, who
                          knows of (or created) the empty tomb put that detail
                          on the lips of Jesus, esp. in the passion predictions
                          of 8:31, 9:39-32 and 10:33-34.

                          Q's and Thomas's silence on the empty tomb is just not
                          worth the papyrus it is written on.

                          Stephen Carlson
                          --
                          Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
                          Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
                          "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
                        • William Arnal
                          ... Actually, the context for what I said was a general discussion of the place of the doctrine of the resurrection in the development of ancient Christian
                          Message 12 of 18 , Feb 5 1:42 PM
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                            Stephen Carlson wrote:

                            >Assuming that we're still discussing the empty tomb, rather
                            >than theology in general, I'm a little confused as to how
                            >documents that are little more than a collection of Jesus's
                            >sayings are supposed to communicate the alleged fact of the
                            >empty tomb.

                            Actually, the context for what I said was a general discussion of the place
                            of the doctrine of the resurrection in the development of ancient Christian
                            thought. I cited Q and Thomas as evidence that such a view did not develop
                            right away (or at least, was not shared by everyone), and Bob replied that
                            the genre of these works forbade the conclusion that they had no significant
                            theological interest in the resurrection. I was simply saying, no, they
                            don't forbid such a conclusion, even though of course they DO forbid drawing
                            any inferences from the fact that they lack resurrection (and not empty
                            tomb; not what we were talking about here!) NARRATIVES.

                            >Q's and Thomas's silence on the empty tomb is just not
                            >worth the papyrus it is written on.

                            Maybe, maybe not. But it was their silence (or supposed silence) on the
                            resurrection that Bob and I were talking about.

                            Bill
                            ___________________________
                            William Arnal
                            Department of Religion
                            University of Manitoba

                            "Well, I can see I'm not in Paris"
                            -- Ernest Hemingway, on landing in Winnipeg



                            _________________________________________________________________
                            Chat with friends online, try MSN Messenger: http://messenger.msn.com
                          • Stephen C. Carlson
                            ... Looking back at the discussion, it appears that I and possibly Bob missed your segue from the empty tomb to theologizing about the resurrection. I would
                            Message 13 of 18 , Feb 5 7:29 PM
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                              At 03:42 PM 2/5/02 -0600, William Arnal wrote:
                              >Stephen Carlson wrote:
                              >>Assuming that we're still discussing the empty tomb, rather
                              >>than theology in general, I'm a little confused as to how
                              >>documents that are little more than a collection of Jesus's
                              >>sayings are supposed to communicate the alleged fact of the
                              >>empty tomb.
                              >
                              >Actually, the context for what I said was a general discussion of the place
                              >of the doctrine of the resurrection in the development of ancient Christian
                              >thought. I cited Q and Thomas as evidence that such a view did not develop
                              >right away (or at least, was not shared by everyone), and Bob replied that
                              >the genre of these works forbade the conclusion that they had no significant
                              >theological interest in the resurrection. I was simply saying, no, they
                              >don't forbid such a conclusion, even though of course they DO forbid drawing
                              >any inferences from the fact that they lack resurrection (and not empty
                              >tomb; not what we were talking about here!) NARRATIVES.

                              Looking back at the discussion, it appears that I and possibly
                              Bob missed your segue from the empty tomb to theologizing
                              about the resurrection. I would agree with you to the extent
                              that Q and Thomas demonstrate that the authors of these texts
                              thought about Jesus in very different terms than Paul. It is
                              not clear, however, whether their theologizing about Jesus is
                              complementary of, ignorant of, or in opposition to Pauline
                              christology. Those possibilities need to be explored in more
                              detail, but I would agree that the following statement of
                              yours is not inherently implausible:

                              >This suggests to me at least the possibility that the resurrection
                              >belief emerged as a rationalization, a retrospective claim to divine
                              >vindication, AFTER a deceased Jesus had already acquired some measure of
                              >authority or significance among his post-mortem followers.

                              There are other problems, however. Q is not extant, and the
                              extent of its content is much less known than that of Mark or
                              Thomas. The approach taken for Q's contents is quite
                              conservative (i.e. no passion narrative for Q even though
                              Luke appears to have access to another source), but this
                              conservatism comes at a cost -- it makes the argument from
                              Q's silence much more difficult to pull off, because the
                              fact of Q's silence is less supported.

                              Fortunately, Thomas is extant, so its lack of theologizing
                              in terms of the resurrection is more significant. However,
                              Thomas is difficult to date. If I recall correctly, you
                              favor a mid-first century date, I lean to an early second
                              century date, and Nick Perrin, whom I met over breakfast at
                              SBL, is working on a book showing that Thomas is dependent
                              on the Diatessaron (i.e. late second century). Therefore,
                              Thomas may not tell us very much about early Christianity.

                              Stephen Carlson

                              --
                              Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
                              Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
                              "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
                            • Jan Sammer
                              From: Antonio Jerez ... appears ... I agree with Antonio that in the intensely polemical atmosphere Jesus followers faced
                              Message 14 of 18 , Feb 6 7:17 AM
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                                From: "Antonio Jerez" <antonio.jerez@...>
                                >
                                > I would also like to add the "evidence" from Matthew 28:11-15. This
                                appears
                                > to be
                                > a reminicence (although shrouded in Matthean form) of the Jewish
                                > counterclaims to
                                > the empty tomb. Why counterclaim in this way if it could easily be shown
                                > that the
                                > false Messiah had been rotting on a cross? If Crossan is right I think we
                                > should have
                                > expected ridicule of the Christians and their "rotting" Messiah in later
                                > jewish litterature.
                                > We find ridicule of another kind but not this.
                                >
                                I agree with Antonio that in the intensely polemical atmosphere Jesus'
                                followers faced in the early days of their movement, their opponents would
                                have seized upon any information they may have had that Jesus had not
                                undergone a physical bodily resurrection -- *had any such information been
                                available*. As it is, the ridicule the Christians were subjected to seems
                                entirely to be dependent on the gospel accounts themselves, with little, if
                                any independent information from any other source. The virgin birth story is
                                ridiculed by making Jesus an illegitimate child. The empty tomb story is
                                ridiculed by accusations that the Christians stole the body. The Christians
                                countered (via Matthew) that this was impossible, since the tomb had been
                                placed under armed guard and (via GPeter) sealed with seven seals. But such
                                criticism does not evidence any independent knowledge of the facts, just the
                                contrary. To Antonio's question, "Why counterclaim in this way if it could
                                easily be shown that the false Messiah had been rotting on a cross?" the
                                most valid answer seems to be that it could not be so shown, not because the
                                critics knew that the body had in fact been buried, but because the critics
                                did not have access to *any* information of what had actually happened. In
                                this situation they took the Christian claims and tried to find flaws or
                                weak spots in the narrative.

                                The empty tomb story is a logical development from the Jewish / Christian
                                belief in bodily resurrection. In Christian dogma, the bodily resurrection
                                of Jesus hearkened the new age in which the resurrection of the dead is the
                                norm. As the writings of Paul make clear the resurrection of Jesus is the
                                main Christian hope, since all believers could expect to follow the example
                                of the one who had defeated death itself. The belief in bodily resurrection
                                is also the chief motive for the extreme piety traditionally displayed by
                                Jews with respect to the physical remains of their ancestors. That is also
                                why the statement ascribed to Jesus by the Matthew/Luke, "Let the dead bury
                                their own dead" would have been so shocking, particularly in response to
                                someone wishing to bury his own father. The only way it could have been
                                acceptable was if the age of bodily resurrection was so imminent that the
                                act of burial as such was no longer appropriate.

                                Jesus was supposed to have resurrected with a new, more glorious body, but
                                still a body transformed out of the old human body. The empty tomb is thus
                                implied by Christian belief from the first. However, as I have explained,
                                the centrality of the empty tomb as proof of the resurrection was an
                                incidental effect of the way that Mark chose to use his source. In Mark's
                                source the empty tomb was not the key evidence of resurrection it became for
                                Mark (even though for Mark the real proof are the Galilean appearances, to
                                which he merely alludes); the proof in Mark's source was the young man
                                standing by the tomb who talked to the women and who was in fact the
                                resurrected Jesus, whom they did not yet recognize as such. For dramatic
                                reasons the recognition of the true nature of the young man by the women
                                went through a series of steps, in which the women gradually came to the
                                realization that the vigorous young man standing in front of them was in
                                fact the resurrected Jesus with a glorious new body, in place of the
                                tortured body which they had seen laid in the tomb. For theological reasons
                                of his own, Mark chose not to reproduce the entire recognition scene, thus
                                leaving the identity of the young man unresolved. With his story of the
                                empty tomb Mark had opened up a gaping hole in the fabric of the Christian
                                narrative, which critics were quick to exploit and which other gospel
                                writers, who followed Mark, never succeeded in closing in a wholly
                                satisfactory way.

                                Jan Sammer
                                sammer@...
                                Prague, Czech Republic
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