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Re: [XTalk] Cross Gospels, crucifixions, resurrections

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  • Jan Sammer
    From: Antonio Jerez ... appears ... I agree with Antonio that in the intensely polemical atmosphere Jesus followers faced
    Message 1 of 18 , Feb 6, 2002
      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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