In a message dated 5/3/2004 12:04:06 PM Eastern Daylight Time, cmiller@...
> Would you like to elaborate on what deficiencies in
> theology that you find Crossan exhibiting?
Sure -- or at least I could do so easily enough, in a nutshell, and regarding the essential, theological point of Crossan's third lecture. Keep in mind that the lecture series was on "The Historical Jesus", and the sub-categories were: Life, Death, Resurrection.
Actually I quite enjoyed most of the third lecture, but I was absolutely blown away when Crosan quite suddenly announced that his talk was finished, without his having said a single word about (1) the resurrection narratives in the gospels; (2) resurrection terminology as used in any particular letter of Paul; or (3) even the resurrection of Jesus.
He began with a survey of resurrection thinking in the Old Testament. This part of the lecture was rather good. He argued, not very originally, but nevertheless pointedly and cogently, that resurrection was not a belief in most of the OT and that it was quite possible to date its earliest appearance, almost to the year. So we heard a lot about the martyrdom of various members of the Maccabee family, and how the doctrine of resurrection arose from the refusal of the authors of the accounts to accept a Deuteronomistic solution to the problem of divine justice as it emerges from reflection on those dramatic events. So far, so good -- or at least I found all of this interestingly and articulately expressed.
When he arrived at the NT we were first of all supposed to imagine a range of possible grades of "literalness", ranging from pure metaphor, or parable, all the way to something like resuscitation, according to which people at the time of the writings of the NT might have heard language of resurrection. Fine.
The next step was to follow Crossan into the Mediterranean world of the first century, tagging along with Paul as he set up his leather- or linnen-working tent, and engaged in conversation with a stray Gentile in the market place of one of the great Greco-Roman cities. We were to imagine Paul attempting to explain to this gentleman what resurrection was (he would not be presumed to know, because Crossan deliberately avoided placing this encounter, as Luke would have done, in a synagogue, but rather in the town square).
In a nutshell, Crossan said that what resurrection referred to (and one would presume that he was intending to tell us at this point what the word meant when used by NT authors, how their audiences would have "heard" the term) was the life-sharing that would take place in the Christian community Eucharist (and the ideals/realities of communal life that that would represent = divine justice, against the "norms" of human civilization). I guess we were supposed to believe that Paul always uses the future tense of the verb when he speaks of Christian resurrection because such conversations took place, say, on a Wednesday, and the synaxis to which Paul referred would take place on the following Sunday. Anyway, this was it, Punkt!
In the course of the talk, Crossan tried to make a link between the idea of resurrection and that of the kingdom of God on which he had expounded in the first lecture. The idea was that both are understood as referring, metaphorically, to present realities in which we Christians are actively engaged. He made this point without referring to a single Pauline, or for that matter NT text, that would support the idea that we, Christians, are co-agents, if not sole agents, of the reality that comes to be in what Paul would describe as resurrection. (I would say that this idea works rather better of "the Kingdom of God", but even here it is reductionistic for sure, at least compared to the full range of the use of kingdom language in the NT). Cela suffit..
Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
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