The Resurrection

Discussion in 'Theology' started by lunamoth, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Our next seminar topic is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Our lesson readings walked us through all the arguments people give for the Resurrection not being an actual historical event. I may post some of that here as I prepare for class.

    One interesting point of the reading is that belief in the historical Resurrection is often treated as the definitive point and claim of Christianity.

    I'd be interested in hearing your understanding of this from your denomination's doctrine and teachings.

    I hope other mods are OK with this, but I feel that this discussion is suited for this forum because while of course I want to know your understanding of this, more importantly I am interested in your understanding juxtaposed to your denominations' doctrine or compared to tradition/orthodox teachings.

    Compare, not debate. :D
     
  2. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    I find this subject to be the crux of the matter (pardon the pun). I so wanted to ask this very question of Mr. Crossan at last week's lecture...unfortunately it wasn't to be. I guess I'll have to buy the book...some day.

    In the meantime I look forward to the responses this garners!
     
  3. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    I read one of Crossan's very long works, I think it was called The Birth of Christianity. It was his scholarly work but organized for the lay person. I think Crossan, though a liberal scholar, still comes down on the side of a historical Resurrection. Was that your impression from his talk?

    Added: I just wiki'd Crossan and it appears that he does not believe in a historical Resurrection. I think his point about the Gospel of Peter and an early 'Cross' narrative predating the Gospels is interesting.

    NT Wright (NT scholar and a Bishop), one of my current favorites, clearly comes down on the side of a historical Ressurection. Marcus Borg, a scholar but not a theologian (Episcopalian, I think his wife is an Episcopal Priest), leans toward a spiritual Resurrection and leaves the meaning of a 'literal or historical' Resurrection as unaddressable (I think).
     
  4. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    I just re-skimmed the chapters on the Resurrection in "The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions." This book was written by both Wright and Borg, each giving their views on various topics. Borg clearly says that in his view the historical Resurrection is 'irrelevant.' However, I like Borg's books quite a lot and still agree with much of what he says about the meaning of the Reusrrection in our daily lives and relationship with Jesus. Even if he misses kind of a main point. :D
     
  5. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    If the experts want to deny the Resurrection they only further an additional form of Christendom. The trick is in beginning to understand what St. Paul means if one seeks to return to the source before these "improvements" in order to experience the depth of Christianity.
     
  6. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    At the risk of seeming unscholarly, I would like to comment, and I will be brief.

    The historical veracity of the story is crucial to me...truth as reality, reality as truth. Hence, if there is any genuine merit to crediting the miraculous and divine birth of Christianity to a Messiah who rose from the dead three days after being laid to rest in a sealed tomb and thereby demonstrating the power of his living testamony, the resurrection stands as the pivotal and seminal moment, without which the rest is nice, but certainly nothing substantively different than what anybody else already has / had.

    I can easily deduce a Jesus as teacher of wisdom who may or may not have done so many of the miraculous things attributed to him...and still come away firm in my faith *if* there is some substantive validity to the resurrection.

    On the other hand; without the resurrection, the rest of the story is no different, substantively, than *any* other Pagan hero-god mythos common in that time and place.

    I believe this is generally the direction Crossan was pointed, although he was necessarily vague...he was selling his latest book...
     
  7. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Like you said, this shouldn't derail into a debate, so I must confess my ignorance of Borg's work. However, this attitude surprises me. Admittedly, there are matters I *want* to be true, but it seems to me suppressing reality in order to maintain an illusory truth is a kind of deception that transcends mere willful ignorance. I mean no slight whatsoever with my observation. It just seems...so contrary to the scholastic ideal.
     
  8. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    I don't think it is willful ignorance. I think it is an expected human reaction in a world that rejects the supernatural. I plan to write another post later about that.
     
  9. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    OK, some of arguments against a historical Resurrection.

    1. Fraud perpetuated by the disciples (because they preferred preaching the Gospel to working! - Reimarus, writing in 1778). Disciples stole the body and hid it. This was probably a point raised very soon after the start of Christianity.

    2. Resuscitation, Jesus is an example of 'deliverance from premature burial.' This theory was promoted by HEG Paulus writing in 1828. Jesus allowed the lie to persist. He dressed in gardeners clothes, which is part of the reason Mary did not recognize him.

    3. A traditional myth, an idea promoted by DF Strauss (writing in 1835-36). Never meant to be literal.

    4. It was a 'spiritual resurrection' of the faith of the apostles, perhaps accompanied by hallucinations/visions (C Weisse writing in 1968).

    5. The disciples' attempt to convey the meaning of the Cross (Bultmann writing in 1953). This is closest to Borg's anaylsis. The meaning and power of the cross is taken very seriously, but the historicity of the Resurrection is denied.
     
  10. PandaMentionalBeing

    PandaMentionalBeing Essence

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    Another argument is based upon the Solstice, where the SUN sets in the same spot for three days. The ancients seen this as symbolic for the Son's/Sun's Death, and Resurrection at the end of the three days.
     
  11. Janz

    Janz What's Amatta U

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    lunamoth,
    I have had some of my more scholarly; but extremely devote Anglican friends recommend NT Wright so I have started reading some of his essays. Very interesting stuff and what appeals to me is that both liberals and conservatives criticize him. Here are a couple of thoughts from his essay: The Resurrection and the Postmodern Dilemma.
    I guess I believe that the most of the arguments regarding the Resurrection are grounded in Modernity while our culture is moving toward postmodern thought.

    For more reading as to how people of faith should respond see:
    The Resurrection and the Postmodern Dilemma by N.T. Wright

    I studied this when I was in Seminary; and it has been many years; however, I found myself intellectually stimulated by the theories of the late Stanley J. Grenz: Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context and the Contemporary Christian Philosopher, Nancey Murphy: Beyond Liberalism and Fundamentalism.

    I don't know if this helps but I found it interesting. :)
     
  12. Janz

    Janz What's Amatta U

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    Of course, for N.T. Wright the resurrection is a historic event - coherent with the world view of Second Temple Judaism - fundamental to the New Testament. I have yet to study the concept of Second Temple Judaism but I am looking forward to doing so. :)
     
  13. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Thank you for the link Jamarz. I've read some NT Wright and I like his stuff quite a lot. (I disagree with his conclusions about homosexuality, but that does not invalidate his theology).

    This essay is great and I'm going to forward it to the rest of my seminar class. He has a lot of sermons and writings online but I don't think I've read this exact one before. I especially like the end:

    And then his great parable about the two post-modernists on the road to Dover Beach. :p
     
  14. Janz

    Janz What's Amatta U

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    ^ Me, too. The Theology of Hope. Isn't that the underlying Truth of the Gospel of Grace?
     
  15. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    I think that is pretty much hitting the nail on the head.
     
  16. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    My denomoninations thought is that it is the culmination of his teachings. He could have simply ascended, and avoided the cross, but he was teaching us to overcome, and proving the prophecy.

    Me personally, I don't buy it. I can accept that it could have happenned but I don't believe it is proven. There is a thought that he and the group were using a drug to immitate death, lowering heart beat, breath etc. Lazurus was a test subject that was written about. I think that is possible, but I think more probable is the followers needed a resurection, a G!d/man to stack this new religion up against the old ones... we need our miracles.

    For me it is part of my salvation for sure, the fact that I need to die to my self and be born anew...
     
  17. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Would you welcome a follow-up question to this wil?
     
  18. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Greater emphasis is on crucifixion in traditional Christianity. God "gave his only son to die for us" - death being the measure of God's love for us. Jesus "died for our sins," and is thus our savior.

    In esoteric Christianity the crucifixion was necessary and Jesus knew it had to come.
    From this point of view, all the arguments about the crucifixion as evil are irrelevant. It had to happen so there is nothing to argue about.

    The resurrection is about the creation of the "New Man."

    Romans 6 refers to freedom from the old man.


    Ephesians 2 refers to the creation of the New Man in a new body that reconciles our lower and higher natures.


    Colossians 3 refers to the process of the birth of the new man

    1 Corinthians refers to the body of the new man



    Secular politics argues the crucifixion and who is at fault. Esoteric understanding knows that the crucifixion was necessary to begin the ladder, the vine, that connects heaven and earth with Jesus at the beginning. After the resurrection, those capable could follow.
    The vine grow upward toward the sun, towards the "good," the Father.
     
  19. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Lunamoth —

    In looking at your Resurection arguments, it's worth looking at the people behind them, as it were — notably the movement grew out of German philosophical attitudes to the Enlightenment.

    In matters of philosophy, the emphasis in Germany was on the invalidity of historical data. Prior to the Enlightenment, all history was suspect, deeply flawed, and unreliable. What one has to do, by textual criticism, is strip away everything that is superficial and superstitious, to arrive at the truth.

    The First Quest for the Historical Jesus
    It is a given of course therefore, that history is untrue, although how truth can be extracted from unreliable data is not explained. So, in asking the question "Who was Jesus?" there are certain facts we must start from:
    1 He was not the Son of God.
    2 He was not born of a virgin.
    3 He did not perform miracles.
    4 He did not resurrect from the dead.
    5 Nigh-on everything we know about Him is a myth.

    In short, He was a Jewish apocalyptic prophet who might well have worked seeming wonders, and might well have been wise beyond His years, but that's all He was, and He was crucified because He was a trouble-maker.
    H S Reimarus (1694-1768), the founder of the Quest for the Historical Jesus, was a philosopher of the Enlightenment who worked on the principle that man can arrive at a knowledge of God based on the empirical evidence and proper reasoning. Taking it as given that everything prior to the Enlightenment was suspect — all 'history' was declared unreliable by the Enlightenment — then its evident that religion, especially a Christian one founded on the idea of revelation, is false, the product of primitive superstition.

    Thus anything in Scripture that does not accord with empirical investigation and the proper exercise of human logic must be false. There were no miracles, no signs ... in fact most of Scripture can be disposed of. What we have to do is extract the truth from Scripture, and arrive at a vision of Jesus stripped of all the clothing of God, the supernatural, the miraculous, and so on, to find the man.

    H E G Paulus (1761-1851) was another critic of Scripture. He was a rationalist and a Lutheran by influence so refuted all dogma and anything of the Church. He insisted on a natural explanation for everything that is recorded in Scripture, it's just that the authors were too ignorant to realise it.

    D F Strauss (1808-1874) yet another anti-Christian and pantheist theologian who portrayed the "historical Jesus" as whose divine nature he denied, he, with the above, is still considered a pioneer in the historical investigation of Jesus.

    Marcus Borg (b 1942), a proponent of the "Jesus Seminar" ("Third Quest") suggests "the details of Strauss's argument, his use of Hegelian philosophy, and even his definition of myth, have not had a lasting impact. Yet his basic claims — that many of the Gospel narratives are mythical in character, and that "myth" is not simply to be equated with "falsehood" — have become part of mainstream scholarship."
    So in short, his methodology has been disputed and disposed of, but somehow it's product remains as viable.

    F Baur (1792-1860), a leader of the Tübingen school of theology argued that Strauss' critique of the history in the gospels was not based on a thorough examination of the manuscript traditions of the documents themselves, but on his own assumptions of the historical process.

    A Schweitzer (1875-1965) ended up challenging both the traditional view of Christianity, as well as the views proposed by 'First Quest' German theology. He believed Jesus expected the immanent end of the world upon his death, and that his disciples, illiterate to a man, failed to realise this — the message being changed by later disciples who realised it was too late to turn back.

    Schweitzer eventually distanced himself from Reimarus and Strauss, accusing them of too-violently seeking to damage Christianity in pursuing their own philosophical agendas.

    Thomas
     
  20. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    But then surely there would be no resurrection, just a message, and a rather old and tired one, at that. There's nothing Jesus taught, except Himself, that was not orthodox Judaism ...

    (By the way, that doctrine is refuted in John, and in Docetism ... )

    Oh ye of little faith! ;)

    Then the whole thing is founded on a confidence trick and a lie ... not every 'enlightened' in my book ... I mean, if that bit is fake, then all of it is fake, so the whole lot is a lie, surely?

    But according to you, He didn't die and wasn't born anew ... so not only do you think the story is fake, but you've constructed your own belief on what you know is a fake? If He didn't die, this 'born again' thing is just a crock of nonsense, it's not a fact, not a myth, not a metaphor, nor allegory, nor analogy ... it's just a lie.

    I think God can do better than resort to magician's trick to fool an audience into believing in Him ... if not, He's not worth a light ...

    Thomas
     

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