Debating the Resurrection

virtual cliff,
sorry i missed your post before... :)
John O’Donahue has said that in Celtic tradition the body lies within the soul - not vice versa
Have you ever had the impression that your life extends beyond your conscious physical body? Perhaps there is a timeless presence to everyone, that is independent of the physical. I just don’t know.

i agree there is a timeless presence, i see it as the eternal mind, but it doesn’t think as we do so we don’t recognise it. it is as if we are brain cells in its mind. i also see this as a pool of inspiration and the essence of invention, in druidry this is called ‘awen’.
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reading through, it appears then that the after life is an earthly one? we are all to be made real again.
or did i get it wrong :eek: ~ i hope so!
is there a more spiritual side to christianity? as jesus was taken up and presumably resides in ‘heaven’, then ultimately are we not to go there also?
 
The creed

Strobel seems more informed than Spong, although if he's implying St Paul saw Jesus in the flesh, I think he's made the error of seeing what's not there (whereas Spong seems to make the error of not seeing what is

The cover of Strobel's book speaks for itself.

1952274930


Whoa! What 'creed'? Not the creed Strobel is talking about ... I know of no credal statement in Christian doctrine that references St Paul.

The Creed that Paul preached was not his own, but the one into which he was instructed and the one professed by his audience.

Here is the creed:

"But perhaps the most important creed in terms of the historical Jesus is 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul uses technical language to indicate he is passing along this oral tradition in relatively fixed form" (Strobel 35).

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles" (1 Corinthians 3-8).

After Paul's conversion in about 32 A.D., it is believed that this creed was given to Paul from his meeting with the apostles in Jerusalem. We can see it in the earliest texts of the New Testament. For example, Peter is mentioned in Mark 16:7. Here we see the writers using the oral tradition of the creed. As the decades roll on, contradictions appear.

As an amateur scholar, I would say St Paul did not encounter Jesus in the flesh, nor does St Paul, nor anyone else, claim as much, as far as I know.

Strobel is saying that the apostles did touch, eat, and see the resurrected material body of Jesus. Thomas claimed that he touched Jesus. "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe" (John 20:27). In the church I was taught that to not believe in the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus is heretical. . .

Consider this:
"I know a man in Christ above fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not, or out of the body, I know not; God knoweth), such a one caught up to the third heaven." (2 Corinthians 12:2)
Many believe St Paul is talking of himself, his Damascus experience (the chronology would be right), in which case, not only do we not know if St Paul saw Jesus in the flesh, St Paul himself is unsure if he was in the flesh himself! Did Jesus come down, or was he taken up?

Paul was taken up. "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God" (Colossians 3:1).
 
Re: The creed

Here is the creed ...
OK. But I would still point out that "... what I received I passed on to you as of first importance ..." — the credal statement does not refer to Paul himself, rather Paul refers to it as 'of first importance', his own testimony follows.

Nowhere, as far as I know, in the history of the Christian Tradition, does Paul, or anyone else, infer that Paul saw Jesus in the flesh, on the road to Damascus, or after.

After Paul's conversion in about 32 A.D., it is believed that this creed was given to Paul from his meeting with the apostles in Jerusalem.
Possibly. I tend to favour Ananais in Damascus ... but Paul would have gone on and met the Apostles.

For example, Peter is mentioned in Mark 16:7.
Mark's is Peter's testimony, recorded whilst Peter was imprisoned in Rome, awaiting execution.

Here we see the writers using the oral tradition of the creed.
Oral tradition precedes written tradition.

As the decades roll on, contradictions appear.
So many insist — as if that means anything. There is a difference between formal and material truth. The chronological sequence of miracles recorded in the gospels do not always coincide, that's a material contradiction, but that Jesus performed miracles is affirmed in all of them, so in principle they are in agreement.

It is also evident that the Gospel writers present their material to build a case, as it were. Matthew's Gospel follows a quite sophisticated Hebrew literary structure, a 'ring composition' in which the whole text spreads like ripples from the central element, the Parables of the Kingdom. John's comprises two books, The Book of Signs, and the Book of Glory.

I know there are contradictions. Does it bother me? No, Why? Because I understand how and why they are there. The 'contradiction' school of thought generally does not flow from those who are scripture experts, but from a rather narrow view that a contradiction must mean an error. It's a 'spirit and the letter' thing. Personally I think its a great deal of effort to validate a lack of faith.

Strobel is saying that the apostles did touch, eat, and see the resurrected material body of Jesus. Thomas claimed that he touched Jesus. "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe" (John 20:27).
The eleven, yes. Strobel is saying nothing different to Scripture. But not St Paul.

What St. Paul did preach, in a very forceful way, was the idea of the solidarity of humanity in the Mystical Body of Christ, he the head, we the members "So we being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another" (Romans 12:5). There is much discussion around the idea that when the voice from the luminous cloud said "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" that the Apostle was given an insight into the depths of this doctrine, that 'me' referred to God, to Jesus, to the Christian community, to the church He founded.

St John speaks in the same vein, his discourse of the Lord at the Last Supper is all about this unity of being, and the Eucharist — the Body and Blood of the Lord — is the means by which it is accomplished.

Luke's account of the meeting on the road to Emmaus again affirms this doctrine — the two travellers (one anonymous, he is you and I) meet the risen Lord but do not recognise Him, until the breaking of bread, at which point their eyes were opened, but He vanished from their sight, but they, in the Eucharist, are in Him.

These texts indicate that the Christian community had quite a profound understanding of the Eucharist from the very beginning — a doctrine that was greatly reduced by the Reformation, and is reduced at every step from then on. If you must read Spong, balance that with the insights of those who can see into the Mystery, rather than rely on those who recoil from it.

Thomas
 
The eleven, yes. Strobel is saying nothing different to Scripture. But not St Paul.

You are saying the eleven could touch, eat with, and see Jesus physically, but not Paul. Paul does not say that. "Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed" (1 Corinthians 15:11).

Apparently, Paul, in claiming the same "appearance" experience as that of the disciples, is not saying that the disciples saw a resurrected Jesus in actual bodily form. Quite the contrary.
The use of ophthe within the context of Paul's statement is significant. Paul's use of ophthe in expressing both his own visionary experience and those allegedly seen by the disciples is significant because his supposed encounters with the risen Jesus are never with a tangible form. In claiming the same experience for himself as experienced by the disciples, Paul is relating that "what was seen" by the disciples is also a visionary experience devoid of any physical component. Paul's objective is to show that his apostolic authority is equal to that of the original disciples through his having received the same type of "appearance." If he did not have the same experience, Paul's claim to apostolic authority is nullified because it derives not from direct contact with a physical Jesus, but from an ephemeral vision.

Jews for Judaism FAQ
 
You are saying the eleven could touch, eat with, and see Jesus physically...
Yes

... but not Paul.
I am saying we can only go on what Scripture tells us — Acts 9:3-8:
"And as he went on his journey, it came to pass that he drew nigh to Damascus; and suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him."
This is not consonant with the pre-Ascension appearances of Jesus. At the Ascension He was taken up in a cloud, now He comes in light ... prior to the Ascension He would simply be seen, no accompanying phenomena.

"And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?"
Saul sees nothing, he hears a voice ...

"Now the men who went in company with him, stood amazed, hearing indeed a voice, but seeing no man."
Again, this does not match the pre-Ascension appearances ...

"And Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing."
And when his eyes were opened suggests his eyes were shut throughout the experience ... what Saul saw, he saw inwardly.

Therefore I am saying St Paul 'saw' Christ ... but not in the way He saw seen prior to His ascension, indeed, if He was seen after the Ascension, the same as He was before, then that would make the Ascension meaningless — no difference before or after.

I'm not sure why you find this so problematic? St Paul preached the resurrection, and not only that, he preached our resurrection in Christ. The body St Paul saw and preached was the Mystical Body, Christ its head, we its members.

as I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed" (1 Corinthians 15:11).
I read this to mean St Paul preaches no more than he had been taught, "For I delivered unto you first of all, which I also received" (1 Corinthians 15:3) ...

As for your quite:
Apparently, Paul, in claiming the same "appearance" experience as that of the disciples, is not saying that the disciples saw a resurrected Jesus in actual bodily form. Quite the contrary.
Actually it's not saying anything about the nature of what the disciples saw, nor is it saying anything about the nature of what St Paul saw, only that he was called to apostleship by Christ Himself. So this text actually tells us nothing, and is explicable only in reference to the rest. Taken out of context however, and you can make it say all manner of things, to suit your argument, as is done here.

Thomas
 
It would not make sense for Paul to see a 'resurrected' bodily Jesus, in light of the ascension. In reaccounting the ascension:

"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." - Acts 1:9-11

Here we have the two angels (presumably) explaining to the disciples that Jesus will return in like manner, i.e. in His glorified physical form. That is not to happen until the last days when He comes in a cloud and every eye will see Him (see Matt. 24:30-31, Rev. 1:7).

Now having Jesus appear physically to Paul would seem have Him return in that physical state a bit prematurely. But if He appeared as Light (John 1:8), then His presence would be known to Paul without having to appear physically.

Beside John's vision in Revelation, the only other instance of someone seeing Jesus after His ascension was the occasion of Stephen's stoning, when he saw the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

It seems to me that there is something metaphysical going on here. That Jesus can appear in physical form (as in Stephen's case) and in the form of light. Perhaps there is a quantum thing going on here, beyond our dimensional senses, where beings can appear as material or some sort of energy. When you think about it, all matter is...is packets of energy, in accordance to Einstein's E = mc(2). It is that unreasonable to suppose that there could be two quantum states avaliable in other dimensions (heavenly places)?
 
Therefore I am saying St Paul 'saw' Christ ... but not in the way He saw seen prior to His ascension, indeed, if He was seen after the Ascension, the same as He was before, then that would make the Ascension meaningless — no difference before or after.

I'm not sure why you find this so problematic?

It is problematic, is it not? Paul's writings are the earliest in the New testament.

Spong wittingly points this out.

We need to note that it would be another 30 years before Luke would write the story of the ascension of Jesus, a story made necessary by the increasing tendency to assert that the resurrection was Jesus coming back into this world--from which he eventually had to make an exit by ascending. Resurrection in its earliest New Testament understanding was the raising of the crucified Jesus into the presence and meaning of God. So our first conclusion is that resurrection originally meant something quite different from what traditional believers have been led to conclude. . .The idea of a bodily resurrection receives its first mention in the ninth-decade writings of Matthew, and it is present in only one episode. However, it becomes full and overt when the later gospels of Luke and John were written, between the years 88 and 96 of the common era. So I state a second reality: While Christianity was certainly born in whatever the "Easter experience" was, around the year 30, it was not interpreted as the physical resuscitation of the body of the deceased Jesus until about 50 years later.

-- Beliefnet.com

I would like to note that. . .

"Irenaeus in Against Heresies notes the Gnostic view that the Ascension happened eighteen months after the Resurrection. The apocryphal text known as the APocryphon of James describes the teachings of Jesus to James and Peter 550 days after the resurrection, but before the ascension, suggesting an even longer period."

On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I was reading some of it today. He clearly believes that Jesus physical body ascended to heaven.

So this text actually tells us nothing, and is explicable only in reference to the rest. Taken out of context however, and you can make it say all manner of things, to suit your argument, as is done here.

Maybe you are right, but as from what I have learned thus far, you took Paul's words out of historical context.
 
It is problematic, is it not?
No, it isn't ... Christianity has never had a problem with it, for 2,000 years. I suggest Bishop Spong is making problems where there aren't any.

Spong:
We need to note that it would be another 30 years before Luke would write the story of the ascension of Jesus...
OK. That does not mean that the story of the ascension was not being told, does it?

a story made necessary by the increasing tendency to assert that the resurrection was Jesus coming back into this world--from which he eventually had to make an exit by ascending.
That's Spong's thesis.

I would rather say that as Luke addressed a gentile audience, and generally a Greek philosophical outlook, the assertion of the Resurrection in the flesh was all the more important because the Greeks found the idea distasteful, if not abhorrent. Not so the Jews, who had already been speculating on the idea of physical resurrection for over a century.

It was precisely because the Gentile world is prone to dualism that Luke went to great lengths to emphasise the physicality of Jesus, and His physical ascension into heaven. Had He not, the Gentile mind would have assumed his spirit ascended, but not His body. Neither Mark nor Matthew were contending with the same problems.

John, on the other hand, was coming at it from a different angle, contending the notion that Jesus was some angelic entity and not quite human at all.

Resurrection in its earliest New Testament understanding was the raising of the crucified Jesus into the presence and meaning of God. So our first conclusion is that resurrection originally meant something quite different from what traditional believers have been led to conclude. . .The idea of a bodily resurrection receives its first mention in the ninth-decade writings of Matthew, and it is present in only one episode.
Pure invention on Spong's part ... unless he can cite pre-Matthaen sources to substantiate his claim? I suggest his conclusion is wrong.

Of the four Evangelists, John was probably the most aware of current Jewish thinking. If, say, we assume Spong is right, then John and the disciples would have understood from the outset that by resurrection Jesus meant justification before His Maker ... but John points out that even after the resurrection, they still did not understand, which indicates that the physical resurrection of the material body of The Lord was something wholly unexpected by them ... so I would suggest John's Gospel drives a very big cart through Spong's thesis.

So I state a second reality: While Christianity was certainly born in whatever the "Easter experience" was, around the year 30, it was not interpreted as the physical resuscitation of the body of the deceased Jesus until about 50 years later.
But it's not a reality is it, it's an unproven and very shaky thesis at best ... without any supporting material evidence? He is overstating his case by a long shot. There's no way it's a reality.

The reality is ... he doesn't know, as no-one can know, if one refutes the testimony of Scripture and Tradition.

If you refute scripture, how can you assert anything? There's no alternative material to work with.

So his whole argument is based on his own unproven assumption that scripture is a myth — we're back to Bultmann — and scholarly thinking today suggests this way of thinking is wrong.

Basically he's rationalising his lack of belief ... and turned it into popular literature. His argument is not new, and others have done it better, but they do it in scholarly works that don't exactly fly off the shelves ...

By the same principle, I could come along and, choosing not to believe even those things that Bishop Spong chooses believe in, I can reduce his doctrine by the same process he employs, and so on ... I could argue that the nativity story is such a concoction, there probably never was a man at all.

I was reading some of it today. He clearly believes that Jesus physical body ascended to heaven.
Exactly. St Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of St John. It is evident in St Irenaeus that everyone believed that Jesus rose physically from the dead, and ascended physically into heaven.

The gnostics of course, must deny this or the fabric of their doctrine is shredded. They hold to an absolute dualism, that 'Jesus' is one thing, and 'Christ' is something else altogether ...

I have the text of Irenaeus, btw ... a reference would be useful.

Maybe you are right, but as from what I have learned thus far, you took Paul's words out of historical context.
I don't think so.

But I am wondering what you're trying to get to:
1 Are you denying the resurrection of the body?
2 Are you denying the ascension?

If not ... what is the problem?

Thomas
 
No, it isn't ... Christianity has never had a problem with it, for 2,000 years. I suggest Bishop Spong is making problems where there aren't any....Basically he's rationalising his lack of belief ... and turned it into popular literature. His argument is not new, and others have done it better, but they do it in scholarly works that don't exactly fly off the shelves ...

By the same principle, I could come along and, choosing not to believe even those things that Bishop Spong chooses believe in, I can reduce his doctrine by the same process he employs, and so on ... I could argue that the nativity story is such a concoction, there probably never was a man at all.
Hey what's say we all meet in November and continue this discussion!

Lyceum 2008
 
But I am wondering what you're trying to get to:
1 Are you denying the resurrection of the body?
2 Are you denying the ascension?

Doesn't every body?

Meaning since magic is the only explanation and no where in all of my life-time does magic ever appear anywhere..... then to doubt magic is the first order to being honest with thy self.

It is like Islam suggesting Mohammed ascended from the mount: do you believe that?
 
Hi Wil —

I bet I'd go down a storm there!

Thomas
youse guys and your colloquialisms...and now I'm guessing this is a sarcastic colloquilism as well!

Ok from my search 'go down a storm' could mean a rousing success, having a great time, or being quite appreciated.

And I'm gathering that you don't think it so and are using the phrase sarcastically to utterly confuse this yank.

I'd actually bet against it. I'll bet their would be some wonderful discussions and if one could hold ones temper all would come out the better for it! Primate spirituality, how could you pass it up?
 
youse guys and your colloquialisms...and now I'm guessing this is a sarcastic colloquilism as well!
Sorry chum! A very gentle sarcasm, with a big smile ...

I'd actually bet against it. I'll bet their would be some wonderful discussions and if one could hold ones temper all would come out the better for it!
You might well be right!

Primate spirituality, how could you pass it up?
Decisions! Decisions!

Pax tecum,

Thomas
 
Doesn't every body?
No.

Meaning since magic is the only explanation ...
Metaphysics is a more reliable explanation. Revelation is the best one.

and no where in all of my life-time does magic ever appear anywhere..... then to doubt magic is the first order to being honest with thy self.
Actually I would argue that's quite a modern and erroneous position. The first order to being honest with thyself is to recognise that one is not the arbiter of truth. The honest position would be to to acknowledge that others might know more and/or better than I ... then apply oneself honestly to the question.

The answer then is that Christian doctrine might be right and true, it's a matter of faith, not knowledge. One can choose not to accept it ... But one cannot disprove it.

It is like Islam suggesting Mohammed ascended from the mount: do you believe that?
No. But then I'm Christian, not a Muslim. I'd expect a Muslim to believe it, if that is their doctrine.

Thomas
 
I have the text of Irenaeus, btw ... a reference would be useful.

Yes, interesting reads.

Before we look at a quote from Paul, I noted that Irenaeus believed Lazarus's material body did come back to life. When Paul says, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God," Irenaeus claims that it means fleshy works cannot enter into heaven, so there is no denial of the physical resurrection here as the opponents claim. In fact, "this same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven" would be interpreted as a physical address to the disciples. Jesus ascended into the sky. Likewise, He will come back in the same manner depicted in the Left Behind series. Irenaeus also believed that Enoch and Elijah ascended in the same way. The bodies who came out of their tombs and "appeared to many people" in the holy city after His resurrection also mean the same thing. According to Irenaeus, these are all undeniable facts.

Hey what's say we all meet in November and continue this discussion!

Lyceum 2008

Kool
 
Debate? Debate is key but there are more required keys.
 
I have a quick question for Thomas and anyone who is interested.

I know Matthew 27: 51-53 may mean something else to conservatives Christians, but I am curious as to how the early Christians and Church Fathers who came into contact with this text would have thought, believed, remembered, and taught this text to mean. Some quotes from them would be nice. These saints, who lived according to God's will, were raised from the dead. Matthew implies that Jesus' resurrection had begun the events of the last days, so the general resurrection had just begun. Also, Paul commented that Jesus was the "first" to rise (Colossians 1:18). Resurrected people do not die. So there must be some other explanation that Christians who believe in the material resurrection of Jesus must believe this verse to mean. It seems to be a good point in the "will the real Jesus stand up?" debate, yet William Craig only seems to say that conservatives do not take this verse as historical, and then makes no other comment on it :)confused:).
 
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