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[HJMatMeth] Re: Psychological Origins Of The Resurrection Myth

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  • John Dominic Crossan
    I do not think, Joe, that we have adequately faced the two questions of my earlier post, namely: what did pre-Christian Jews mean when they used the term
    Message 1 of 5 , Mar 2, 2000
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      I do not think, Joe, that we have adequately faced the two questions of my
      earlier post, namely: what did pre-Christian Jews mean when they used the
      term "resurrection" and what did Christian Jews mean when they said that God
      had "raised" Jesus from the dead? I find those to be questions that should
      be answered first before we consider psychological explanations for what
      happened on Easter Sunday. It is those first century persons who used the
      term "resurrection," and what we think it means, or whether we believe it or
      not, must be subsequent to answering those questions. You are quite right
      that until modern times (wherever modern times are present!), it was quite
      likely that people who were considered dead were resuscitated (or, worse
      still, were buried and later found to have been buried alive by, say, the
      scratch marks on the roof of the coffin).
      Even apart from what "resurrection" meant in its first century milieu, those
      who invoked it, went to some trouble to insist they were not talking about
      resuscitation. They did that by emphasizing, as I said in an earlier post,
      "after three days" or "on the third day". That was their way of signaling
      that Jesus was really, really dead. Whatever they were talking about, it was
      not resuscitation. Also, however, we are to understand a young girl on a
      bed, a young man on a bier, or Lazarus in a tomb (getting better each time),
      what happened to Jesus was not reported on the same level.
      I still think, in other words, that we should get back to the first century
      and ask: what did resurrection meant at that time and place.
      You are quite right that vindicating the justice of God is "stronger whiskey
      than an apparition." So let's get back to ask what resurrection meant and
      bracket until we are finished on that point with any decision about whether
      WE believe in it or not.
      Finally, for me, the crucial point which made the future possible (but not,
      of course, inevitable) was when Jesus told his companions to go out and do
      the same thing that he was doing. At that point, Jesus' program, unlike
      John's, could not be stopped by executing its leader. I do not think, in
      other words, that there was any massive loss of faith at the death of Jesus
      among his followers. Those who ran, lost their nerve, but not their faith.
      And, there must have been many who did not even know for weeks or months
      that Jesus had been executed. Yet, the Kingdom of God had not been turned
      off at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon. My plea, once more, is that we get out of
      the 19th century, get back into the 1st century, and try and see things with
      1st century eyes.

      >From: joseph baxter <joseph@...>
      >To: hjmaterialsmethodolgy@egroups.com
      >Subject: [HJMatMeth] Re: Psychological Origins Of The Resurrection Myth
      >Date: Wed, Mar 1, 2000, 3:24 PM

      > Professor Crossan,
      > Dom, it "warms the heart" to experience you "live."
      > The Emmanus story could be a beautiful parable, which you put
      > powerfully. And Jesus could have appeared in apparitions.
      > But that doesn't explain the emphatic claim that Jesus vindicated the
      > justice of God. That's stronger whiskey than an apparition. Jack is
      > suggesting that maybe the truth is somewhere in between ( which is actually
      > suggested as a possibility by your comments, viz: "Even if everything in
      > our present gospels were taken literally and all of those events were
      > considered visions/apparitions, they would not necessarily indicate
      > "resurrection" in 1st century terms."), and that maybe this idea of
      > vindicating the justice of God arose circumstantially, a culturally
      > necessary gloss on a set of events that were probably not well
      > understood. According to reports, Jesus appeared dead when he was taken
      > down. That doesn't make him dead. There is reliable evidence that a
      > significant percentage of people (some studies suggest 2%) have actually
      > buried alive, until fairly recently . Since the medical facts were not
      > really being monitored, many of the apostles may have gone to their graves
      > believing that what they had witnessed (indeed, reportedly,they didn't
      > really witness it) was a "resurrection."
      > Pilate moreover, was reportedly surprised by the report of his quick
      > death. Survival is a reasonable explanation of the resurrection story. It
      > best accords with nature as we know it. We could very well see Jesus, in
      > Thomas, as Lao Tse. Someone who reached the wilderness and figured it out
      > better than his biographers.
      > There are also problems with apparition view. It is fiercely at odds with
      > the staunchness of belief that it was more than an apparition. As you put
      > it yourself, "The ancient world knew all about visions and apparitions and
      > even about such events as revelations from God, but they would not have
      > used the precise term resurrection for such events." So a question is
      > raised whether this staunchness is more easily explained as a first century
      > exegesis of what was regarded as a superhuman live re-appearance, or a
      > first century exegesis of apparitions. Survival could be the corn, rye,
      > and barley that goes into that whiskey. Distill those apparitions and you
      > only get ghosts.
      > Ultimately, there is a real psychological question about how Christianity
      > arose out of defeat. Even without further extant reporting, we know there
      > was a forceful effect of the idea that Yeshu had been alive. I personally
      > find it hard to believe that Yeshu would have had such a stunning effect on
      > his disciples if he simply died. Something very powerful fired his
      > demoralized disciples into the resolute belief which inspired the radical
      > itinerancy you write about so well in the Birth of Christianity. How
      > Christianity lost that defining moment ( and re-styled it as a vindication
      > of God) is a question for the ages.
      > Joe Baxter
      > joe
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