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Osterglaube ohne Auferstehung? Discussion mit Gerd Luedemann, Hrsg. von Hansjuergen Verweyen, in: Quaestiones Disputatae, Bd. 155, Herder, Freiburg, 1995, 2.Aufl. (Easter Faith without Resurrection? A Discussion with Gerd Luedemann, ed. by Hansjuergen Verweyen, in: Quaestiones Disputatae, vol. 155, Herder, Freiburg, 1995, 2nd. Edition).
Review provided by JEA
This collection of essays has not been published in English. The following is a report of the content, namely:
1) Introduction by H. Verweyen
2) "Between Good Friday and Easter" by Gerd Luedemann
3) "Faith in the Resurrection of Jesus and the Historical Understanding of Faith in Modern Times" by Ingo Broer
4) " 'God, however, raised him' - The Claim of an Early Christian Confession about God" by Lorenz Oberlinner
5) "Theses toward the Understanding and the Theological Function of the Proclamation about the Resurrection" by Karl-Heinz Ohlig
6) " 'Resurrection': a Word Transposes the Substance" by Hansjuergen Verweyen
This report is offered to the Bi 311 seminar "Topics in New Testament Theology: Resurrection" as part four to our reading reports for current orientation on the topic (cf. previous postings).
1) Verweyen introduces the volume on two fronts: a) regarding the origin of this question and b) regarding the individual contributions. On a) he says that the debate of former times surrounding the theses on resurrection by R. Bultmann, W. Marxsen, and R. Pesch had waned, but with the 1994 publication of the Luedemann book - cf. previous reports of our seminar - the debate has heated up again and offers itself now for substantive, helpful discussion. Between June 30 and July 1, 1994 an interdisciplinary colloquium sponsored by the theological faculty at the University of Freiburg was to serve this goal. The hosts of the event - L. Oberlinner for NT exegesis and H. Verweyen for Systematic-Constructive Theology - believed that, despite their own differences, this constructive conversation was possible. More importantly, they agreed that a sign of the times was a widespread indifference with regard to the word "resurrection." It is all the more noteworthy, therefore, that the first press releases on the Luedemann book met as much interest as they did. The hosts believed that theologians must be attentive to the broader public as well as the concerns of church goers.
Luedemann was in the States as guest professor during the winter semester in '94. The colloquium was held upon his return. Because of prior commitments, a number of otherwise qualified contributors had to decline their invitation. A resulting unforeseeable consequence was that, for the most part, the participants represent minority positions...something that is not un- interesting among the many publications on this subject. Regrettably, not published here among the speakers are the contributions of G. Greshake, R. Pesch, and A. Voegtle.
On b) he provides credentials and location of the contributors and then a brief overview of content.
G. Luedemann is professor for NT at the Univ. of Goettingen and guest professor at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville. He is also the director of the research library for the study of the "History of Religions School," which he founded in 1987. His book on the resurrection of Jesus is based - he says - on prior studies. They are: Paulus, der Heidenapostel, 2 vols., Goettingen, 1990, 2nd. ed.; Das fruehe Christentum nach den Traditionen der Apostelgeschichte, Goettingen, 1987; Texte und Traeume. Ein Gang durch das Markusevangelium in Auseinander- setzung mit Eugen Drewermann, Goettingen, 1992, '93 2nd. ed. In his article here he first gives the background for his controversial theses. They are an expression of debate with what he regards a widespread reluctance to face up honestly to the problematic of Easter. By not pursuing with sufficient seriousness the question of the content of the disciples' Easter experiences (Ger. "Ostererfahrungen") we are contributing to the problem that many Christians clamor for esoteric dimensions because of the lack of experience in these matters that characterizes normative life in the church. In summary fashion, L. reiterates the basic lines of his book - noting reviews since its publication and responses among colloquium members - and adds some supplements, e.g. a more precise analysis of Romans 7:7-25. Especially noteworthy are his concluding remarks which offer instructive insights on his overview assessments of Easter phenomena (Ger. "Osterphaenomena"); they go beyond what is recognizable in his book. The place of the cross now occupies a more pronounced appreciation.
Ingo Broer is professor for Biblical Theology at the University Consortium (Gesamthochschule) at Siegen and has published widely on the theme of the resurrection of Jesus. These works are: Die Urgemeinde und das Grab Jesu, Munich, 1972; " 'Der Herr ist wahrhaft auferstanden' (Lk 24,34). Auferstehung Jesu und historisch-kritische Methode. Erwaegungen zur Entstehung des Osterglaubens," in: L. Oberlinner (ed.), Auferstehung Jesu - Auferstehung der Christen. Deutungen des Osterglaubens (QD 105), Freiburg, 1986, 39-62; "Auferstehung und ewiges Leben im Johannesevangelium," in: I. Broer, J. Werbick (Hrsg.), 'Auf Hoffnung hin sind wir gerettet' (Roem 8,24), Biblische und systematische Beitraege zum Erloesungsverstaendnis heute (SBS 128), Stuttgart, 1987, 67-94; " 'Der Herr ist dem Simon erschienen' (Lk 24,34). Zur Entstehung des Osterglaubens," in: SNTU 13 (1988) 81-100; " 'Seid stets bereit, jedem Rede und Antwort zu stehen, der euch nach der Hoffnung fragt, die euch erfuellt' (1 Petr 3,15). Das leere Grab und die Erscheinungen Jesu im Lichte der historischen Kritik" in: I. Broer, J. Werbick (Hrsg.), 'Der Herr ist wahrhaft auferstanden' (Lk 24,34). Biblische und systematische Beitraege zur Entstehung des Osterglaubens (SBS 134), Stuttgart, 1988, 29-61. In his article for this volume Broer addresses especially the problems of theological and historical hermeneutics, which are at the heart not only of the discussion with Luedemann, but also of a broad spectrum of contemporary theology in general. While agreeing with Luedemann on a numbers of fronts, Broer succeeds in refining a number of questions for which, til now, Luedemann's studies have not found sufficient answers; above all, he vigorously addresses the tension-filled foundational relationship between faith and scholarly reflection on the question: what is the basis for Easter faith?
Lorenz Oberlinner is professor for NT literature at the University of Freiburg im Breisgau. His publications on understanding Jesus' death and resurrection are: Todeserwartung und Todesgewissheit Jesu. Zum Problem einer historischen Begruendung, Stuttgart, 1980; "Deutungen des Todes Jesu in der neutestamentlichen Tradition," LebKat 12 (1990) 78-88; "Die Verkuendigung der Auferweckung Jesu im geoeffneten und leeren Grab. Zu einem ver-nachlaessigten Aspekt in der Discussion um das Grab Jesu," ZNW 73 (1982) 159-182; "Zwischen Kreuz und Parusie. Die eschatologische Qualitaet des Osterglaubens," in: L. Oberlinner (Hrsg.) Auferstehung Jesu - Auferstehung der Christen. Deutungen des Osterglaubens (QD 105), Freiburg, 1986; "Zwei Auslegungen: Die Taufperikope (Mk 1,9-11 parr) und die Grabeserzaehlung (Mk 16,1-8 parr)," in: A. Raffelt (Hrsg.), Begegnung mit Jesus? Was die historisch-kritische Methode leistet, Duesseldorf, 1991, 42-66. Verweyen regards Oberlinner to be the only contributor who follows the classical position that "resurrection" means an act of God upon the dead Jesus, i.e. this is not to be considered a metaphor for the validation of Jesus life in and from God; such was already recognizable at Jesus' execution but was understood by the disciples only in the "Easter encounters" (Ger. "in den oesterlichen Widerfahrnissen"). In this article Oberlinner first maintains that in shifting one's interest from the "resurrected Christ" to the "historical Jesus" one plunges into the well-known peril of settling for a multiplicity of divergent "Jesus logia" and not getting the Jesus of history at all. Guided by Acts 2:14-36 he critiques briefly the foundational perspectives behind frequently offered explanations for the resurrection: Jesus' death on the cross placed in question the correctness of the disciples' previous decision made in faith. This created the need for a justifying intervention of God after Good Friday in order for the claim of Jesus to authority to be sustained as nevertheless legitimate within Judaism's context of possibilities for believing.
Karl-Heinz Ohlig is professor for the religious studies and the history of Christendom at the University of the Saarland (Saarbruecken). His previous studies are: Woher nimmt die Bibel ihre Autoritaet? Zum Verhaeltnis von Schriftkanon, Kirche und Jesus, Duesseldorf, 1970; Fundamentalchristologie. Im Spannunsfeld von Christentum und Kultur, Muenchen, 1986.In contrast to others who follow the dominant direction of research represented by R. Bultmann when they pursue historical-critical exegesis as regards matters of continuity between the "historical Jesus" and the "kerygmatic Christ," Ohlig - without this caveat - limits himself to the question of what can be determined solely by the means available to historical criticism about Jesus and his resurrection. As meager as the result may be for Christian proclamation, he insists: within the realm of the exegetical presuppositions put into practice by the historical-critical method this result can certainly stand firm. As one probes behind these presuppositions one must make this the starting point if one expects from historical analysis a richer yield as regards the rational ownership (Ger. "rationale Verantwortung") of Christian hope. Important for the Easter faith discussion are also the brief - compared to his book on Christology - remarks about the many-faceted history-of-religions context for expectations on the world beyond. It is only against this backdrop - he thinks - that the peculiar center of Christian Easter faith can be determined more exactly.
Hansjuergen Verweyen is professor for Systematic-Constructive Theology at the University of Freiburg and - as we have seen - the editor of this volume. His publications listed as supporting his work on the topic here are: Christologische Brennpunkte, Essen, 1977, 1985 2nd. Edition; "Die Ostererscheinungen in fundamentaltheologischer Sicht," ZthK 103 (1981) 426-445; "Die Sache mit den Ostererscheinungen," in: I. Broer, J. Werbick (Hrsg.), 'Der Herr ist wahrhaft auferstanden' (cf. above under Broer), pp. 63-80; Gottes letztes Wort. Grundriss der Fundamentaltheologie, Duesseldorf, 1991 2nd. Edition, esp. Kap. 17; "Der Glaube an die Auferstehung. Fragen zur 'Verherrlichung' Christi," in: B. J. Hilberath, K.-J. Kuschel, H. Verweyen (Hrsg.), Heute glauben. Zwischen Dogma, Symbol und Geschichte, Duesseldorf, 1993, 71-88. He thinks that this dialogue with Luedemann shows how hard it is to clarify the question of the basis for Easter faith in an interdisciplinary dialogue between exegetical and systematic theology. In the article here his main point is that the term "resurrection" (Ger. "Auferweckung/Auferstehung") is shaped by the category apocalyptic; this lodges the event of Easter faith within a very narrow perspective. His objections have two fronts. The first is that if you take this historically conditioned "metaphor" to be the thing itself (Ger. "die Sache"), the result is that it creates near unsolvable problems from a religion-critical point of view (e.g. theodicy) and makes problematic a consistent understanding of faith in the incarnation. Even OT faith in the life granted by Jahweh and - most importantly - the plethora of NT passages about the salvation that Jesus - living ultimately in and from God - guarantees for the future of all creation, come up short, if one forces them into the linguistic Procrustean "resurrection." The second front is this: as far as the contemporary discussion is concerned, it is a fatal error of the established "historical-critical" exegesis if and when it regards the theology of the various NT authors to be historically irrelevant. If both of these fronts - the monopolization of the resurrection "metaphor" and the inadequate methodological access to the history of Jesus of Nazareth - are recognized as unnecessary limitations, then the central problems of Easter faith could be led out of short-circuited lines of questioning and into a discussion in which a truly scholarly ownership of Easter faith appears less off track.
2). G. Luedemann - pp. 13-46.
(Note: Inasmuch as this article represents a stage of summary, reflection, and restatement of his two previous publications its content is reviewed here in considerable detail. In it one finds a number of possibilities for critical integration and development of the line of questioning of this seminar.)
Prior to an analysis of resurrection texts, Luedemann begins with a quotation from H. Weinel, 1902 and another from E. Hirsch, 1940. The first pertains to what Weinel regards as popular indifference toward the writings of theologians because of their intent to keep lay people in the dark through the use esoteric language; the second to Hirsch's view that it was not clear to theologians of his time because of general theological waffle-speech (Ger. "Begriffsspinnen") just how it really stood as regarded the historical grasp of the Easter event and the extent to which the majority of Protestant scholars had distanced themselves from the NT Easter legend. Non-theologians, moreover, had little idea what theologians knew and thought about the legendary character of the Easter accounts. And finally Hirsch's challenge that it was incumbent upon scholars to fight for clarity without compromise; theologians owe it to themselves - he says - and to their community of faith to be accountable here to what they really believe to be historical and not to be historical. To these two Luedemann adds a third quotation from G. Ebeling, 1967, which speaks of the contrast between what was once understood to be the liberating, empowering event at the beginning of church history and that which "today" is perceived as the cause for embarrassment and an elusive legalism of belief; the challenge posed by these circumstances, according to Ebeling, is monumental. Luedemann sees his program
in similar terms. He traces his interest in the question of the resurrection to the beginning of his theological studies in the winter semester of 1966/67.
There follows a lively exchange between himself and reviewers of his original book as well as other conversation partners, e.g. R. Slenczka, I. Broer, H. Kessler, A. Voegtle, W. Pannenberg, A. Suhl et al. The cutting edge of the exchange pertains to method, a differentiated historical understanding and reconstruction, the need for orientation on the texts themselves. He ends this exchange with a quotation from I. Kant: "Probability is truth whose recognition is still burdened with difficulties but is therefore not deceitful."
Regarding sources he begins - not arbitrarily - with the Pauline epistles, well actually with I Cor. 15, well actually with I Cor. 15:1-5. For his reconstruction it is key that Paul had formerly passed on here to the Corinthians what he also had received, probably soon after his conversion, around AD 34. He considers it a great historical boon that Paul actually quotes the tradition. Luedemann restricts that tradition to vv. 3c-5 with its parallel structured doublet and pulling together for catechetical purposes various originally disparate statements: a double proof a) from scripture and b) from a confirming fact (Jesus' burial/appearance to Peter). He sees the "raised...died...for our sins" references as having been brought together in the tradition prior to Paul, while the 4x use of "hoti" perhaps is the work of Paul. In any case, these are various traditions that have been grouped together. Luedemann concludes: "This disparate tradition must be the foundation for all further analyses." p. 22 Out of this conviction he draws the following consequences for the reconstruction of the historical facts (Ger. "Tatsachen") based on these verses 3-5 "accompanied by historical data drawn from elsewhere (Ger. "anderwaerts gewonnener")":
a) the fact of Jesus' death on the cross, a Roman form of execution
b) he was buried by a stranger, in connection with which knowledge of the burial place was subject to considerable uncertainty in the early church
c) the disciples fled to Galilee out of shock over what had happened to Jesus
d) Peter had denied his Master during the arrest, i.e. he deserted him to escape the threat of his own crucifixion
Luedemann considers these four points to be relatively certain and does not discuss them further. He turns instead to other matters that arise in this quest for historicity as important.
e) was the grave empty? He concludes that neither I Cor. 15, Paul, nor the tradition associated with him knows anything about the "empty" tomb. Here he debates primarily Pannenberg (in dialogue with von Campenhausen) and in comparing the statement/account of I Cor. 15 and Mk. 16 he concludes regarding the latter: "Mk. 16:1-8 as source for the discovery of the empty tomb is without historical value." p. 26 As a kind of "battle formula" (Ger. "Kampfesformel") he maintains the thesis of the "full [not empty] tomb" to hammer home the brutal reality of Jesus' death lest someone be inclined to spiritualize the matter; Jesus died a bloody death and decomposed in a human way (Ger. "menschlich verwest ist"). ibid. He leaves no doubt about the seriousness of his position in his response to U. Luz. Luedemann won't leave open any back-door maneuvers here: "It would be outrageous if the historian henceforth could only speak about the decomposition of persons of antiquity - who were said to have been raised or translated or some such - when their bones could be identified for certainty. To put it positively: the factual statement about the decomposition of Jesus is for me the basic starting point for all further study of the questions hovering around his "resurrection." p. 27
f) the sudden appearance of Easter faith as the result of visions? His basic perspective here is that the historical analysis of the primitive Christian proclamation of the resurrection does not lead to the establishment of the supernatural event of a disappearance of Jesus out of the tomb, but rather to the confirmation of the "sudden" emergence of Easter faith that found expression in the theological statement "God raised Jesus from the dead," which henceforth became a solid element of the confession. (cf. ibid). And it was "visions" that were the concrete cause leading to this statement. Refining his terms, Luedemann maintains that, seen from without, the "Easter experiences" (Ger. "Ostererfahrungen") are to be designated as visions, the visual appearance of persons, things, or scenes which have "no external reality" (Ger. "Keine aeussere Wirklichkeit"). "A vision reaches its recipient," he says, "not by means of anatomical sense organs, but is the product of conceptual ability and imagination" (Ger. "Vorstellungskraft und Phantasie"). p. 28 The point of departure for this thesis is Paul, but only insofar as the appearance in I Cor. 15:8 is of the same kind (Ger. "Von derselben Art") as the others listed before it in the text. And since Paul places his encounter (Ger. "seine Begegnung") with Jesus parallel to them, Luedemann claims this presupposition to be well supported. He draws additional support from Paul's statement in I Cor. 9:1 as follows: the verb "to see" is used in the 1st. Pers. Perf. Act. Ind. and must refer to "seeing" on the road to Damascus. Paul is expressing the same content as that in I Cor. 15:8, that of sense-active perception, the visual side of the appearance. That which is expressed as active perception in 9:1 (Ger. "aktive Wahrnehmung") is presupposed in 15:8. "Paul apparently is thinking here of seeing Jesus in his transformed resurrection bodiliness" (Ger. "seiner verwandelten Auferstehungsleiblichkeit"). pp. 28f Homogeneous for his view are also Paul's remarks in Gal. 1:15f. The use of "knowledge" in Phil. 3:8 he also translates with "viewing" (Ger. "Schau") drawing on the Damascus event (Ger. "Damaskusgeschehen"). And finally, II Cor. 4:6 is also for Luedemann a comparable reflex moment for Paul. Probable, he maintains, is that at his conversion Paul would have seen Christ in a state of illumination (Ger. "in einer Lichtgestalt gesehen haette"), which would be congruous with his remarks about heavenly humans in I Cor. 15:49. Paul would thereby be making parallel his viewing of Christ with the let-there-be-light at the dawn of creation in order - says Luedemann - to express what encountered him outside Damascus (Ger. "was ihm... widerfuhr"). p. 29
His deduction from all of this is of great consequence: since Paul uses the same verb with regard to himself as for all persons to whom Jesus appeared it is a well-founded assumption that the others named in the list of I Cor. 15 similar to Paul in the context of their own world view saw Jesus in his glory (Ger. "in seiner Herrlichkeit"). ibid That is to say, "...in individual and group visions the executed Jesus became visible as the living one, endowed with divine fullness of power and heavenly radiance" (Ger. "...als Lebender sichtbar, mit goettlicher Machtfuelle und himmlischem Glanz ausgestattet"). p. 30 In response to the discomfort felt by many today that visions should stand at the beginnings of Christian faith, Luedemann states that we are not the only ones who feel this way; no NT gospel writer - he leaves Mark out for the moment - was happy about the fact as is indicated by counter-point emphases on fleshly characteristics of the appearances. Ridicule existed, moreover, among ancient opponents of the appearances. Hence, the question poses itself inexorably: did the disciples themselves produce the "Easter events"? If so, for what reasons? And further, do source materials exist at all about the inner condition of the disciples between Good Friday and Easter? Luedemann answers that at first glance we know virtually nothing from the sources about this matter, but this does not mean that we do not have good reasons for proposing per reconstruction that this or that might have happened in their inner self (Ger. "dass dies und das in ihrem Inneren geschehen sein duerfte"). p. 31 Since people wrote these texts, historians just like psycho-analysts also have the right to read texts against the grain, as it were, within the realm of an hermeneutics of suspicion (ref. here to P. Ricoeur) in order to get behind the actual history. Luedemann sees this quest as by no means disrespectful, but as an expression of interest in the history that is "unfamiliar" (Ger. "fremd") for us.
Thus Luedemann asserts: the execution of Jesus did indeed trigger a crisis among the disciples; they fled to Galilee. There Peter was the first to see Jesus alive. The details of that which one must designate a vision cannot be elucidated with the same degree of probability as with Paul, "because in all the ... texts we are confronted by unfamiliar accounts (Ger. "Fremdberichte") which, moreover, contain secondary elements." ibid And yet, it is no mistake to see the Petrine vision as an unanticipated, sudden event (Ger. "Geschehen"), a "primary phenomenon" that made faith in Jesus' resurrection possible in the first place (contra E. Schillebeeckx). Luedemann links this viewing of Jesus by Peter here directly to the latter's denial: his guilt feelings were dispelled by the certainty of grace. The reflection of this turn around can be seen in Lk. 5:8 and is developed, moreover, in Jn. 21:15-19. Luedemann is amazed at structural connections between this Petrine "original revelation" and that of the one to Paul.
Luedemann connects Paul and Peter at this point of the resolution of their guilt feelings. He finds much more to say, however, about Paul than Peter in this regard. Having reiterated statements in his other two books on the biography that recounts the change from Saul the persecutor to Paul the apostle, he develops supplemental perspectives in this article through an exegesis of Romans 7. His thesis is that this chapter is written in retrospect and delineates the unconscious conflict that caused Paul's maturation prior to his conversion. Already criticized for his interpretation of Rom. 7:7-25 and Phil. 3:6 as contradictory, Luedemann answers here that the two should not be played off against one another, but that the pre-conversion pride of Phil. 3 does not disclose the whole story.
Based primarily on a shift in verb tense, he divides the Rom. 7 pericope into two parts (vv. 7-12 [the primitive history of the "I"] and 14-25 [the conflict of the "I"] hinged at v. 13 [the radical sinfulness of sin]). When v. 7 asserts a lack of knowledge of covetousness if the law did not speak against it, Luedemann draws from it a psychological insight of a conflictive escalating contradiction. His conversation partners here, among others, are G. Theissen, Psychologische Aspekte paulinischer Theologie, (FRLANT 131), 1983 and A. Vergote, "Der Beitrag der Psychoanalyse zur Exegese. Leben, Gesetz und Ich-Spaltung im 7. Kapitel des Roemerbriefes," in: Leon-Dufour (ed.), Exegese im Methodenkonflikt. Zwischen Geschichte und Struktur, 1973, pp. 73-116. In responding to the latter's assertion that he is not interested in doing a psychoanalysis of the person of Paul, Luedemann asserts that "a psychoanalysis of the person of Paul, if then it can be done, is a radicalization of the historical question, even if it is subject from certain sides then to the accusation of imperialism, of mental terror, or of psychoanalytical intractability." p. 34 n.76 In vv. 14-25 he finds the decisive interpretive impetus: the conflict encompasses one that is conscious and one that is not and the movement of the pericope is toward the former (vv. 21ff). What was for Paul at the time an unconscious conflict got connected consciously for him at the moment of his "conversion vision" (Ger. "Bekehrungs-vision"). p. 39 Descriptively, Luedemann presupposes here a fundamental anthropological model, classically expressed by Freud in dream interpretation (cf. Luedemann's Texte und Traeume, BensH 71, Goettingen, 1992, pp. 25-31). Applied to Rom. 7 as reflection upon the unconscious side of the conflict prior to the Damascus vision, Luedemann says: "A modern correspondence would be the way actual conflicts, which are the cause of one's suffering, are brought to consciousness retrospectively for the patient in the process of psychoanalytical treatment." ibid, n. 88 Luedemann is experimenting here - he calls it in German a "Gedanken-experiment" - with notions of a Pauline aggressiveness in attitude, an ardor of opposition, that had its unconscious, shaping side - a latent, unconscious Christian leaning - against which he rebelled in fear and the resulting projections manifested themselves in attacks against Christians. With the vision of Christ comes for Paul a reshuffling of things (Ger. "Umschichtung"); the burden of his guilt complex was resolved in the assurance of being in Christ (Ger. "Der... aufgestaute Schuldkomplex wurde durch die Gewissheit, in Christus zu sein, abgeloest"). p. 40 Paul was now "illumined by eternity, warmed by the encounter with the love of God." ibid What he had longed for unconsciously became reality in another human being. Ibid One cannot determine at this point if Paul could have said this immediately after Damascus or not. Like all visionaries (Ger. "Visionaere") he thought about his vision; yet, the time frame between the Damascus event and the theological interpretation of the vision could not have been very long.
The consequences and refinements of his views follow then in the concluding portion of the article. In sum they are:
1) Peter and Paul experienced firsthand, genuine revelations (Ger. "originale Offenbarungen"), while all others are derivative, mediated (Ger. "abhaengige") revelations, i.e. the viewing of the exalted one by Peter shaped all other viewings (Ger. "Schau/Schauungen") in the circle of disciples; Paul's vision was not derivative like this, since neither Jesus nor Peter knew him in his pre-Christian period.
2) Both Peter and Paul's visions are directly connected to denial of Jesus and/or the persecution of his church.
3) For both guilt feelings were resolved by the certainty of grace.
4) Both developed similar if not identical views on justification (cf. Gal. 2:15f).
5) Peter's Easter experience "was accomplished by Jesus alone," i.e. "...as an accomplishment of Jesus' preaching and death the 'nevertheless of faith' broke through for Peter, ...the recollection of how Jesus was, led to a better understanding of how Jesus is in the present." pp. 41f
6) Parallels are to be drawn between this Petrine break through and what happens in the grief process with which we have become acquainted in our century; mourners report pictured representations of the departed loved one. Deepened here: the early Christian Easter experience - or really Easter theology - did not push the death of Jesus aside, but from the beginning put it at the center...it is not the one-sided restoration of times gone by...rather, the disciples viewed in the abyss of the cross the glory of God...an act of life...utterly hidden eternity, utterly hidden grace...the presence of the eternal in Jesus' life - which needed no resurrection (Gospel of Philipp 21a) - as the justification of the hope of an eternal life. (pp. 41ff & n. 102)
7) Eternal life has nothing to do, however, with the religious, fanciful expectations of a miracle kingdom at the end of all things. The recovery of New Testament expectations for the future is senseless. The hope expressed by Paul in I Thess. 4:13-17 has shown itself to be erroneous. And what we know today about the cosmos excludes any recovery of these expectations; after all, "the dying out of humanity has about as much meaning for the cosmos as the demise of an anthill for the earth." p. 44 Genuine Christian faith must now finally begin to speak and to look unflinchingly in the eye of the corruption of all things earthly. We must ponder the "dour reality, the grim factuality, and extreme senselessness" of the death of every human and for this it is enough to look toward access to God of the sort that comes through Jesus by faith; his factual and contingent person contains such a final validity (Ger. "letzte Gueltigkeit" - Ohlig)...in the historical contingency between the message and the manner of Jesus there shines forth unqualified Being (Ger. "unbedingtes Sein"). The presence of God floods over into Peter and into us and makes us participants in God (Ger. "...macht uns Gottes teilhaftig"), united with God so that death has nothing more against believing ones, connected to God so that in death we are with God. This is the bottom line of what the historical investigation of these matters can deliver as a reasonable believing possibility for people of today. The radical critique of the anachronism of the old faith does not mean the end of believing, but leads back to its actual center, Jesus himself, the one in whom lies - says Luedemann - the center of all future theology. Faith's certainty is that in death, in our death, we are with God. pp. 45f
[coming soon as supplement for the website also:]
3). I. Broer - pp. 47-64
4). L. Oberlinner - pp. 65-79
5). K.-H. Ohlig - pp. 80-104
6). H. Verweyen - pp. 105-144
While it is problematic to follow Luedemann's insistence that the standard by which to measure the historicity of the resurrection appearances is the "Pauline" tradition (cf. Bultmann, Grass, Fuller earlier) - not to mention the difficulties encountered by the psychologization of the data - it would be useful for us not to protest for now, but to push beyond Luedemann's exploration of it; rather than moving in the direction of Romans 7 (though we need to keep it in mind too), we need to give careful attention to the rest of I Cor. 15 and other remarks of Paul in II Cor. 4 and 5, Phil. 3, Romans 6 and elsewhere.
Once we have done this we can make a concerted effort to compare the Pauline quest with what we have been studying in the gospel tradition. In doing so, we will want to maintain genre clarity lest the exegesis become fuzzy as happens in Luedemann's examination of the post-resurrection appearance genre.
Finally, out of this lively encounter with Luedemann we need to probe further the adequacies of not only the historical questions (like was the tomb "full or empty"), but also - most importantly - of psychological categories for theological content. This is no easy matter. Luedemann's appeal here is not a passing fad. His alternatives require serious evaluation.
“‘Come, Lord Jesus’: The View of the Post Resurrection Community”
In Who Do People Say I am?
Review provided by DDH
I. Publication: Author: Gerard S. Sloyan, Who Do People Say I am? from Proceedings 1979, Villanova University Theological Institute, ed. F A Eigo, Villanova Press,1980. Sloyan is Professor of Religion (New Testament) at Temple University. His publications include: Shaping the Christian Message, The Three Person in One God, Speaking of Religious Education, Jesus on Trial and Is Christ the end of the Law?
II. Subject Matter Sloyan’s discussion centers around the message of the post resurrection Christian community that Jesus would come in glory (end-time hopes) developed through the medium of myth and apocalyptic expression. This form-critical discussion brings together myth, history, apocalyptic genre, and the Gospel appearance tradition.
Defining myth, Sloyan rejects the notion that “myth handles what history cannot, or that it is at odds with any awareness of what we call history” (92). In addition, he jettisons the “conviction that myth belongs to a primitive stage of human development” (94). Positively stated, he agrees with James Mackey and Paul Ricoeur, asserting that myth is “a symbol or a series of symbols developed in the form of a story” and is “but one of several ways to transcend the boundaries of human finitudes” (92). Quoting and agreeing with Mackey, he believes that “myth is an inevitable expression of religious faith” and “myth is part of the raw material on which the historian exercises his craft”, therefore, “the history of the origins of Christianity is recoverable only in mythic form” (94). The apocalyptists employed “verbal imagery from the biblical books of prophecy” to interpret the events of history through a “rebirth of images” with a mythic form of expression (92). Through this expression, we can know “what really happened, happened to a people in history who thought mythically” (95).
According to Sloyan, some myths may include “a conviction as that of alienation from God and subsequent healing”, the parables Jesus told, the trial and crucifixion of Jesus and “that which is unheard of; namely an individual’s return from the tomb” all of which are considered “mythical version of a historical occurrence” (100). In addition, Sloyan asked that we avoid the mistake of assuming that while the letters of Paul were written earlier that the gospel writers had them in their possession. Agreeing with Alsup, he asserts that while the kerygma tradition was written down earlier, this is no reason to assume that this is the “first form that the proclamation of the Lord’s resurrection took” (100). Further, in agreement with Alsup, the gospel appearance stories are not dependent on the kerygma tradition but form a separate and independent tradition. Each gospel account represents a core story with redactional material from the author based on later developments within the evangelist’s community. “The Gospel appearance stories are quite another Gattung than either the Pauline kerygma or the sermons of earlier Acts,” Sloyan writes (102). In fact, he doubts that there was a single clearly defined view about the risen body. The resurrection of Christ was such a extraordinary event “beyond anything previously experienced” that ordinary language could not express the event (112). Therefore, the evangelists employed both mythic “symbols” and apocalyptic language to report this miraculous historical event.
In partial agreement with Ernst Kaesemann’s view that “apocalyptic was the mother of all Christian theology,” Sloyan states that “the Jesus movement was quite simply eschatological, meaning committed to the two-eon thought of Judaism [the present debased age and the wholly other age to come] in general, and apocalyptic in character” (107). Further, “the post resurrection communities adopted apocalyptic modes of expression to convey their religious certitudes… The gospels survey history as from a perspective in the past characteristic of the apocalyptic genre in the sense that a message for their time is couched in the story of Jesus’ lifetime” (108).
The eschatology of the post resurrection Jews and Christians does not anticipate a “dooms day, end of the world” view but rather expects a completely new order, unknowable yet certain that is conveyed through pictorial language and patterns of images that expressed this expectation.
Eschatology was used to “cope with crisis” and “it does not have a timetable on the end of the crisis” (111). Through it all, “God is in control of history which is moving toward [God’s] intended goal” (108). Hence, the apocalyptic genre is correctly understood as a symbolic expression of God’s design to bring about a new creation in history. Sloyan provides that “taken seriously, as the poetic imagery it is meant to be, it is a vehicle of faith” (115).
As we investigate the post-resurrection appearance stories through the work of Alsup and others, it may be insightful to consider Sloyan’s perspective on Alsup’s work. Sloyan finds Alsup’s work to be “the only one of its kind, an exhaustive attempt to separate tradition for redaction in all the gospel appearance stories” (104). He affirms and uses Alsup’s investigation as he has determined that it does not “yield an anti-historical bias” (104). As his own study proposes that the historical and eschatological are not mutually exclusive, his interest in Alsup’s work is evident. Sloyan investigates three suppositions: 1) that there is a univocal Jewish view of the risen life 2) the possibility of recovering a single, linear history of tradition, and 3) composition criticism is “potentially more fruitful task than the widely attempted one of a “history of the tradition” (cf Alsup).
As for the first two assumptions (using Alsup), Sloyan determines that there is not a univocal Jewish view of the risen life and that there is not a single, linear history of tradition. As for the use of composition criticism, his hope is to reach behind the Gattung and discover the experience of the witness. Instead of moving the discussion forward, Sloyan readdresses the redactional investigation. Contrary to Alsup, Sloyan believes that the emphasis of Alsup’s Gattung as theological statements prevents us from knowing “whether the recollection of persons allegedly involved are at work here” (n. 46 p.102).
III. Evaluation Sloyan’s article is helpful in our discussion of the form-critical method and the pre-redactional genre of the appearance story texts. As our conversation moves into the subject of historicity, he provides a helpful framework in which we can place the post resurrection appearance stories. Understanding the literary experience of the post resurrection community within the structure of apocalyptic myth helps to counter the idea that these stories are no more than folk tales or legends.
Finding that other “accepted” historical events such as the passion stories were written in the same genre, dispels the idea that myth is non-historical. Sloyan helpfully brings together a useful definition of myth, the eschatological genre, history, and the appearance stories. He provides a convincing argument that the eschatological and historical are not mutually exclusive but that the former is a vehicle for reporting the later. However, I sought more clarity about the premise that the NT in its entirety belongs to the realm of eschatology and that composition criticism and its conclusions provide a more fruitful line of questioning. Sloyan specifies the composition critical method as one that describes the effect of the event on the witnesses of the appearances. Yet, from his brief summary of this redactional method, all we are able to gather is that some verses in Matthew and Luke “resemble”, “correspond” and “may intend” some similarities with OT motifs. Perhaps, a more detailed and exhaustive use of this method would provide more substantial results. In any case Sloyan fails to move the discussion forward. Perhaps, asking the question, “Why use the OT theophanies to inform the gospel appearance stories?” would provide a forward moving line of questioning.