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Chapters 1-5, The Resurrection
"A SUMMIT OBSERVED" by John Wilksin
From The Resurrection
Review provided by KW
John Wilkins, a layman observing the Resurrection Summit, was born in
Cheltenham, England. He obtained his B. A. degree in Classics and Theology
from Cambridge University in 1961. He has been editor of the international
Catholic weekly, The Tablet of London, since 1982. Wilkins has edited the
book Understanding Veritatis Splendor (London: SPCK, 1994).
The Resurrection Summit was held at St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie
(Yonkers, NY) during April 7 through 10, 1996.
Wilkins describes the Resurrection Summit, which was co-chaired by Father
Gerald O'Collins, Sj, of the Gregorian University in Rome and Stephen Davis
of Claremont McKenna College, as more than a retort to the reductionist
conclusions of the Jesus Seminar. The motivation was the conviction that
the full impact of the resurrection had not been realized in Christian life
According to Wilkins, it was The Jewish Professor Alan Segal of Barnard
College, New York, who pointed out to us that the Jesus Seminar had
succeeded in coming up with a non-Jewish Jesus, a cynic philosopher who
would have been at home in the market-place of ancient Athens. Whereas
other biblical scholars are now agreed that Jesus can only be understood
against the Jewish background from which he came and within which he
ministered. Professor Segal response was, "the Jesus Seminar had confused
the man with the audiences to which he was preached."
Wilkins also attributes to Segal the identification of the real scandal of
the resurrection. Segal argues that the claim of Jesus' resurrection would
not necessarily have brought about a rift between Jews and Christians. The
Biblical account shows that Enoch and Elijah had both been caught up into
heaven because they were too holy for death to overcome them. The Christian
claim that this man who had been executed as a criminal was God, and that
his suffering and death told us something new about God was the real
Perhaps Segal, like most Jews, had difficulty accepting that, as one
notable theologian states,"God revealed Godself in Jesus Christ," and that
His death was consistent with His birth, lowly and incompatible with the
heavenly splendorHe is immersed in throughout the Old Testament. Yet for
Christians His shameful death is salvific as Paul writes, "If in union with
Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his
resurrection. We must realize that our former selves have been crucified
with him to destroy this sinful body and to free us from the slavery of
sin." Romans 6.5-6 NJB
That scandalous criminal-like death is substitutionary for all who put
their faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Additionally, Segal's 'scandalous' rhetoric brings to mind the account
where the chief priests and Pharisees request for and station the guards at
the tomb in Matthew 27.62-66 and particularly Matthew 28.11-15 where the
chief priest and the soldiers collaborate a story about the resurrection
occurrence. The New Jerusalem Bible in verses 63-64 states that the chief
priests and Pharisees approaching Pilate for the guards states, "We recall
that this imposter said, while he was still alive, "After three days I shall
rise again." Therefore give the order to have the sepulcher kept secure
until the third day, for fear his disciples come and steal him away and tell
the people, "He has risen from the dead." This last piece of fraud would be
worse than what went before." Matthew 28 verse 12 states, "These (chief
priests) held a meeting with the elders after some discussion, handed a
considerable sum of money to the soldiers with these instructions, 'This is
what you must say, "His disciples came during the night and stole him away
while we were asleep. Verse 15 continues this scene stating, "The soldiers
took the money and carried out the instructions, and to this day that is the
story among the Jews."
The scandal, to coin a phrase, it seems was an intricate deceptive maneuver
on the part of the chief priests, the Pharisees, the elders, and the
soldiers to place a cloud of doubt over the whole resurrection event. The
chief priests and Pharisees used terms that were designed to cast
uncertainty, imposter, fraud, and stole him away. Matthew states that,
".and to this day that is the story among the Jews." The whole plot was
"scandalous" and well orchestrate and adopted among the Jews. Precisely the
people who should buy such a contrived story because, "He came unto his own,
and his own would not receive him."
Kenneth Woodward, religion editor of Newsweek, who wrote in that week's
issue that 'after 150 years of scholarly search, there are signs that the
quest for the "historical" Jesus has reached a dead end'.truth is not always
historical, and what seems warranted by historical evidence, does not always
turn out to be true.' What Woodward seems to be saying is that the element
of faith quite often is the vehicle through which the historically
questionable is grasped.
John Wilkins' final quote is an appropriate end to the overview, "Here,
then, is yet another book on the resurrection. But the story is ever new.
We shall never get to the end of telling it."
"THE STATE OF THE QUESTIONS
BY GERALD O' COLLINS ,SJ"
From The Resurrection
Review provided by MWB
Participants in the Resurrection Summit- Easter 1996, New York
Notes on the author: Gerald G. O'Collins : Born in Melbourne Victoria, obtained undergraduate degree from University of Melbourne in 1957 and Ph.D. from Cambridge University in 1968. Presently is teaching theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
The article The Resurrection: The State of the Questions discusses the question: What is worth asking, knowing and believing about the Resurrection of Jesus? The essay is a reflection on certain present concerns about the resurrection story of Jesus Christ and proposes some type of agenda for the future.
O' Collins first asks what do the authors of the NT and subsequent Christians mean by their claim that God raised Jesus from the dead or that Jesus rose from the dead? There are two mainline responses, which are first, after the crucifixion, and burial through a special divine action, Jesus was personally delivered from the state of death. With his body transformed and taken up into a glorified existence, he initiated the end of all things for all human beings. Secondly, the post resurrection appearances (with the mission, which they entail, and the new life of the Holy Spirit) show how Jesus resurrection was not just primarily for him but for us. These mainline versions of the resurrection have been disputed both explicitly and implicitly, both in part and in whole.
John Hicks guides one to the appropriate questions of discovering what the disciples experienced lead to what they believed.
There is also revisionist accounts of the resurrection language that claims that Jesus rose only "in the minds and hearts" or "lives or dreams" of his believers. One such belief is stated by Sally McFague who believes the resurrection is a way of speaking about the awareness that the presence of God in Jesus is a permanent presence in our midst. Three words emerge that are central to this discussion: awareness, presence, and empowerment. The meaning of the resurrection is a way to talk about God's creation and the continuing empowerment by God. For McFague, the resurrection is a way to talk about how the disciples could know and imitate Jesus. O' Collins states in response to McFague's view of the resurrection that there are two points to be raised: 1. The New Testament used a variety of idioms to refer to what happened (kerygmatic and confessional etc). 2. The freedom that McFague uses in discussing the resurrection is not about the actual event but about the origins of Christianity. One of the better known revisionists is Willi Marxsen who explains the resurrection as meaning not that Jesus himself continues in a new transformed existence but that the cause of Jesus continues.
The next area of discussion for O'Collins is the post- appearance stories. The question proposed is to what extent were the witnesses' powers of perception changed. Where do we put the emphasis of the object that the disciples saw, on the RISEN body of Christ or on the risen BODY of Christ? The former emphasizes the element of transformation while the other emphasis is on the material. O'Collins argues that the episodes of the appearance stories were episodes of revelation that called the recipients to faith and is a distinctive experience. It is what calls the disciples to their non-transferable mission for Christ. He wants to further discuss this point because there is a generalizing habit inculcated by the scientific world-view which takes offense at any assertions of ‘special' or once for all experiences. In John Hicks, The Metaphor of God, he tries to minimize the uniqueness of the Easter event and tries to draw parallels to near death experiences by other individuals. According to O'Collins these events can not be compared.
The discovery of the empty tomb constituted the second major sign pointing to Jesus' resurrection from the dead. O'Collins points towards two challenges surrounding the empty tomb. First, those writers have encouraged the impression that the historicity of the empty tomb enjoys scant credibility in the academic community. ( Perrin & Kant) Scholars have concluded that the empty tomb tradition is an interpretation of the event and critical exegetes conclude that the stories about the tomb are legendary elaborations of the message of the resurrection. O'Collins listed over 30 scholars who maintain a historical nucleus in the empty tomb tradition or at least do not argue that it was a legend created by Mark or by pre –Marcean tradition. O' Collins sees this debate as an ongoing habit of some male writers of minimizing the woman's testimony. There has also been a similar dismissal of women's testimony from John Dominic Crossan, who eliminates the empty tomb tradition by putting down as a Marcan invention the prior story of Jesus' burial at the hands of Joseph of Arimathea. This turns the empty tomb's reliability on the prior story of Joseph of Armathea instead of the women. Yarbro Collins has set aside the historicity of the empty tomb by making parallels in stories about various ancient individuals who have been translated into immortal state. According to O'Collins there are several problems with her hypothesis. First, most of the figures she offers concern people unlike Jesus. Secondly, she calls for historicity imagination. O'Collins gives five responses to Yarbro Collins' hypothesis, 1. In the name of our historical imagination, is it possible that a 1st century Christian, steeped in Jewish scriptures would have consciously drawn on Graeco- Roman mythological scheme? The author of Mark illustrates the Jesus in the context of Jewish salvation. 2. Yarbro Collins properly recognizes (but does not convincingly respond) to the fact that it is hard to find Graeco- Roman literature in Mark. 3. How can one make Mark a fictional narrative when it gives a basic factual account of the Christian central proclamation of believing? 4. Most scholars would agree that Mark was not terribly creative. The author of Mark shaped and adapted already existing material. 5. Standard commentators on Mark agree that the author of Mark drew on some previous units of tradition when composing Mark. 6. Yarbo Collins does not recognize the way in which Paul and Linda Badham had already argued that Mark invented the whole of 16:1-8. Therefore, O'Collins finds the challenges to the empty tomb historicity as less than convincing.
O‘Collins continues to clarify the historical grounds for Easter faith. The Jesus Seminar has revived the thesis that Paul and the Gospel writers developed the view of Jesus as a cult figure analogous to other in the Hellenistic mystery religion as a dying rising god. O'Collins demolishes their claims in Jesus is Risen. There is also now a thesis that draws from the data of the Dead Sea Scrolls, recent archaeological discoveries that insist on Jesus and first century Christians to be interpreted in the context of Jewish life instead of Hellenistic. There is also historical debate concerning the source of Q. The source of Q does not contain anything about the resurrection stories. The deletion of the resurrection story from the Q source has made some scholars suggest that the resurrection did not matter to the community behind Q. However, scholars such as Raymond Brown and John Meier warn against this thought process because how could one have total faith on Q when it has only been known from contemporary reconstructions. Lastly, O'Collins refers to Sarah Coakley who calls Easter a paschal mystery. Richard Swinburne has suggested that the resurrection could be called a miracle. As far as O'Collins knows there has not been any research in this area. This leads him to his questions of agenda for the future discussion of the resurrection.
He proposes future discussions that touch on the historical, theoretical, practical and the liturgical matters of the resurrection. Biblical and historical accounts of the resurrection are still far from covering all the subjects. Two important clarifications have been made, one, the Jewish language in the first century and the apocalyptic imagery of eschatological ascents to the heavenly world established important notions that were current at the time of the resurrection. There has also been studies done by Caroline Bynum's on the Western understanding of the Resurrection. According to O'Collins, this needs to be continued.
The second area of future discussions lies on the theoretical level. There has not been any specific or appropriate treatment of Christ's resurrection as an act of God. There has been little or nothing suggested at how the divine agency worked. The next two areas that O' Collins is interested in is the salvific aim of God's special acts and using the language of knowing and experiencing, brought about by the revelatory dimension of the divine acts- in particular the resurrection of Christ. After developing these three points, we will have a fuller understanding of the resurrection. This brings us to the question of the nature of the risen body and the link between Christ's earthly body and glorified body. According to Caroline Walker, Christians maintain that the resurrection will preserve for all eternity their gender, personal experience, and other personal characteristics. What then does this say of the theories that break the link between the pre-Easter and the post-Easter? What are the views of those who revive the Gnostic-style talk. To what extent can modern science illuminate the nature of future risen bodiliness and a transfigured world to come? O'Collins continues to pursue endless questions that center on the heart of the resurrection. There are further links that need to be discussed to Christ's resurrection and the Trinity. Lastly, the silence on the question of the mystery of love that is involved in the resurrection makes him wonder if further writing is needed in these areas.
Practical questions for future discussion still remain. Sobrino and Moltman have lead a whole new realm of understanding of the resurrection that is centered on the concept of the whole history of human suffering and humanity longing for justice. A liberation theology has developed as well as a practical approach to the Easter event presented as ideas of the divine promise that arouses human hope. Furthermore, practical agendas connected with the resurrection must feature the development of ethical systems based on Christ's resurrection. Lastly, the spiritual and liturgical understanding of the resurrection have not been explored.
O'Collins concludes by stating that there are further questions to explore about the resurrection but there are two things that are clear, first that the belief in the resurrection has carried the Church for nearly twenty centuries. Secondly, if Christians as a whole ever stop believing in and living from, his resurrection, that will be when the church stops being the Church of Jesus Christ.
O' Collins gives a very compelling argument for the need for a better understanding of the historicity questions surrounding the resurrection. He presents all sides of thought on the question by invoking different authors viewpoint into the discussion and their findings on the subject. However, the question still remains what did the New Testament Christians primarily mean by their claim that Jesus rose from the dead? It seems after looking and pursuing different arguments on the subject we can only speculate on this answer since we ourselves were not there or part of the first century Christian community.
Interesting questions that linger after reading O'Collins article. First, I am interested in knowing more about the disclaimer of the women not being valid witnesses to the resurrection. I think O'Collins gave a very good defense to the mainline understanding of the women at the empty tomb. I am also fascinated about the concept of " revelation" that may or may not have taken place when the disciples saw Jesus after the resurrection. I think also a further discussion of the "hope" that the resurrection gives to humanity is a theological question that relates to the congregation and may need to further pursued.
Peter Carnley's Response to Gerald O'Collins
From The Resurrection
Comments provided by JL
In "The Resurrection: The State of the Questions" Gerald O'Collins covers
a number of questions and viewpoints, but he seems to have a running argument
with John Hick's viewpoint as articulated in The Metaphor of God Incarnate.
In the response portion of this article, Peter Carnley takes the role of
"devil's advocate" as he calls it, in defense of Hick's premise. I will
attempt to present both O'Collins view of Hick and Carnley's defense of the
position. I have not read Hick to allow his arguments to stand on their own,
this discussion is from O'Collins and Carnley's perspectives, not mine.
As a point of interest, Peter Carnley is Australian, born in New South
Wales and has been the Anglican Archbishop of Perth and the Metropolitan of
the Province of Western Australia (which I would take to be the equivalent of
a Roman Catholic Cardinal) since 1981. He has also written on the
resurrection: The Structure of Resurrection Belief (1987), a work which is
also cited in this discussion.
O'Collins first reference to Hick's work The Metaphor of God Incarnate
comes on page six, where he begins by saying that in this work, Hick moves
from the appropriate question: why the first disciples believed in Christ
risen from the dead to what O'Collins believes is a dubious equation. That
is equating their "experience" with the "original resurrection event" itself.
Hicks identifies 1. the experiences that caused them to know and believe
something new after Jesus crucifixion (= why they believed) with 2. what they
claimed had happened to Jesus himself in the "original resurrection event" (=
what they believed). O'Collins states that this is not original with Hick
Others have also used this argument in the literature, i.e. Seeburg.
O'Collins calls this a revisionist account, which has Hick claiming that
Jesus' resurrection amounts to a claim that Jesus rose only in the minds and
hearts or "lives and dreams" of his followers.
In another argument with Hick's proposals in The Metaphor of God
Incarnate, O'Collins says that Hick "tames the specialness" of the Easter
appearances by generalizing them. Hick speaks of the experiences of Peter,
Mary Magdalene and Paul as "walking versions of near-death experiences"
involving bright light, and a shining figure often identified as Jesus. Also
there is a phenomenon called "bereavement sequences" in which widows or
widowers of the recently deceased feel them invisibly present with them
offering comfort to guide or challenge the living. O'Collins says that Hick
in his attempt to generalize, disregards the special and particular nature of
the Easter event by placing the appearances to the disciples in categories
that can be "scientifically studied."
Near-death experiences happen to people who have had their hearts stop
and then have been resuscitated - this was not the case with Peter, Mary M.
or Paul is O'Collins position. Nor does "near-death" experience explain how
Jesus appeared to the eleven or to the 500. Near-death experiences are
individual experiences, not group experiences. However, O'Collins says that
the "bereavement sequences" are more plausible.
O'Collins believes that Hick ignores two massive issues regarding Jesus
and the disciples grieving process: first, pre-Easter Jesus made
extraordinary claims of personal authority, putting his authority on par with
God's, and second, in spite of those claims he died a shameful death by
crucifixion. O'Collins says these two things separate Jesus' death from what
could be considered "natural" death, and changes the grieving process. "Hick
wants to blunt the specialness of the first disciples' Easter experiences by
subsuming them under general 'laws' about near-death experiences and
bereavement sequences." O'Collins says that other writers have also done the
same thing: attributing Paul's Damascus road encounter to an epileptic
seizure for instance. He says that Walker Percy saw all this argumentation
as a "generalizing habit encouraged by the scientific world-view".
O'Collins says that just as the resurrection itself was strikingly unique, so
are the post-resurrection appearances - and that they cannot be explained in
the light of frequently repeated (and scientifically studied) experiences.
In a section on Easter Faith (page 18), O'Collins refers to Peter
Carnley's work, The Structure of Resurrection Belief, and says that Carnley
has the "present experience of God's Spirit overshadowing the "importance of
the initial apostolic encounters with the risen Christ himself". O'Collins
sees Carnley as taking Easter revelation and faith and confining them to "the
experience of Christ's spirit."
Then in the section on Theoretical Questions, O'Collins begins by saying
that "on a theoretical level we continue to lack any specific and appropriate
treatment of Christ's resurrection as an (or the) special act of God." In
this section on theoretical questions, which are numbered with small Roman
numerals, iv. takes up the argument with Hick once again. He puts Hick into
the "revisionist" category and notes that these versions of resurrection
bring 1.a rejection of Christ's divine identity, 2. the 'economic' mission of
the personal Holy Spirit and 3. the belief in a tripersonal God, and we are
left only with a modalism that "can hardly be distinguished from
'Unitarianism'". O'Collins sees Hick as tampering with Trinitarian faith and
quotes Hick from The Metaphor of God Incarnate: "God is humanly known - as
creator, as transformer, and as inner spirit [all in lower case]. We do not
need to reify these ways as three distinct persons".
Carnley begins his response to O'Collins by saying that he is going to
play the role of "devil's advocate" with regard to John Hick's proposals.
Hick avoids treating the Easter visions as encounters with a transcendent /
mysterious raised Christ - he explains these visions as psychogenic
projections, which allows them to be brought within a range of historical
occurrences. This allows Hick to make these resurrection appearances
"understandable" and "manageable" by accommodating them to contemporary
scientific thought processes.
Hick contends that the Easter event is seen as something which happened
within the "self-contained experience of the disciples" - but that nothing
subsequent to his death is understood to have happened to Jesus. Carnley
says that Hick is not proposing anything new here. A "subjective vision
hypothesis" was proposed by David Frederich Strauss in 1835 (long before
Freud and modern scientific psychology) which reduced the Easter event to "a
set of purely psychological experiences" by the disciples.
Hick suggests that the experiences may be compared to the experiences of
people who, near death, report "seeing" into another world- which features a
heavenly light and a figure approaching who many identify as "Jesus".
O'Collins had objected to this because he noted that those who saw the light,
or the figure of Jesus - Peter, Mary M. or Paul were not near death. Carnley
says that is not what Hick is saying - Hick is using that as a comparison for
the type of vision that the disciples had - the bright light and the heavenly
Moreover, there are other biblical accounts of visions of this sort,
certainly Paul's Damascus road experience, which Luke calls a vision
(optasia). Paul had a second vision of Jesus in the Jerusalem Temple
following the conversion experience (Acts 22:17-18) which is called a
"trance". Other examples may include Stephen, who was at the point of death
following the stoning (Acts 7:55) and even the author of Revelation (1:10)
notes that he was "in the spirit" when the prophecy was revealed to him.
In II Cor. 12, Paul notes that many have "visions and revelations of the
Lord" - "a glimpse of the raised and heavenly Christ in the ambiance of the
glory of God does not seem to be presented as something radically unlike what
is reported by those who have been near death".
Hick also asked if all the Easter visions and appearances of Jesus may be
thought of in this way. Carnley says that New Testament scholars have
attempted to find a way to distinguish between visions / revelations which
are faith 'originating' or life re-directing, like Paul's on the Damascus
road, and those experiences which are faith 'confirming'. For Paul, his
experience is of seeing Jesus as the raised, glorified heavenly Christ - from
heaven - and the experience of the 'light' is key. And Carnley believes this
is the way that Hick wants to talk about the Easter experience of the
disciples - this is how those experiences are analogous to "near-death"
Hick second proposal: compare the post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus
to the phenomenon of psychologically induced 'seeings' of deceased loved
ones, which was Strauss' way of talking about the "subjective vision
hypothesis" 150 years ago. This phenomenon is well-attested in the
literature of bereavement. This is not a trance or an altered mental state
at all. Usually the bereaved is just going about daily business when these
'seeings' or feelings of presence occur. Carnley asks, as Hicks does, isn't
it possible that after the trauma of Calvary the disciples could have had
this type of experience?
When O'Collins claims that Hick generalizes the unique experience of
Easter by bringing into the range of fairly common experiences among
bereaved people, he wants to maintain the particularity and uniqueness of
Jesus death and resurrection. Carnley says that an a priori claim of the
uniqueness of Jesus' death based on Jesus' statements of his authority and
the humiliation of the cross, which would make his death different and his
disciples perception different is something that must be proved. Carnley
argues that the intensity of the devotion felt by the disciples and the
intensity of the feelings invoked by the trauma of seeing Jesus die on the
cross could, in fact, make them more psychologically attuned to the type of
appearances noted as "bereavement sequences".
Carnley goes on to say that an a priori commitment to Jesus' uniqueness
cannot be used to head off the arguments of historians today to compare the
visions experienced by the disciples with contemporary reports of
"psychologically induced visions" of the departed by the bereaved. What kind
of evidence would we need to disprove this argument? What would be the
criteria for distinguishing the apostles' visions from those of other
bereaved people? Where O'Collins argues against Hick for denying the
uniqueness of the resurrection appearances, Carnley says that we need to
establish that uniqueness, not accept it a priori.
Carnley notes that Hick calls his discussion of these psychogenic
phenomenon a suggestion as to a possible way of looking at the resurrection
appearance. Carnley says, why not then take a look at the strongest case,
that of Gourd Luedemann (which we will be doing soon), in which Luedemann
says there are psychogenic explanations for the visions: the operation of
guilt in the mind of Paul, the persecutor and of remorse in Peter, the
Carnley says that if one is relying on the evidence of the appearances to
provide the historic ground of faith, then in historical terms, where is the
evidence that rules out the possibility of psychologically induced vision?
He says that even James D.G. Dunn, a conservative New Testament scholar,
acknowledges that the "subjective vision hypothesis" could be one explanation
of the Easter appearances.
If we allow the New Testament evidence of visions, which seem to be
subjective and psychologically conditioned: Stephen , Paul, the writer of
Revelation, what is the criteria to distinguish them from other encounters on
which faith is based? Carnley says we cannot dismiss Luedemann (or Hick)
lightly or ignore what they are proposing.
Even in discussions of the "empty tomb" as opposed to "appearances" there
is ambiguity in the historical evidence. The "subjective vision theory" has
been around since 1835 and is not likely to go away anytime soon, given the
state of modern psychological quests. Carnley asks pointedly: What difference
would it actually make to faith if it were to be the case that the Easter
visions had a psychological cause? We do not have the evidence to rule them
If the purposive nature of psychic function is to explain a vision as
the product of the subconscious, that does not mean that it is not real, or
it does not serve a purpose. The experience of a vision remains as an actual
experience, not a flight of imagination. Why could not a "subjective vision"
still point to the heavenly existence of the raised Christ?
Carnley notes that the "subjective vision theory" would not inhibit a
faith already established, but is it enough to ground faith? He is
responding to O'Collins comments on his own views. "I do not wish to confine
the Easter experience to an experience of the raised Christ as Spirit...the
appearance reports are too securely rooted in the tradition to sidestep them
in the first coming to faith". However, the appearance tradition does not
stand alone - the earliest New Testament writings, those of Paul, celebrate
the continuing presence of the raised Christ as Spirit. Carnley believes
that "we urgently need an epistemology to explain how it is possible to
identify and know the Spirit - as the living Spirit of Jesus, the crucified
“Resurrection and the New Jerusalem”
From The Resurrection
Review provided by NL
Janet Martin Soskice is one of these scholars. She was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. She earned her Bachelor s degree at Cornell University in 1973 and Ph.D from Oxford University in 1982. Currently she is a University lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Jesus College. Her publications include (with K. W. M. Fulford and G. R. Gillet) Medicine and Moral Reasoning (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1985). Metaphor And Religious Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985). She is also the editor of After Eve (London: Marshall Pickering, 1990).
2. Soskice in chapter 3, Resurrection and the New Jerusalem, explains Paul s idea of resurrection, through the image of the body as a temple. By body , she does not mean only our individual bodies but also collectively together as one body in Christ. Historically she traces the temple tradition. She suggests the temple as an image of the resurrection of the resurrected Christ and connects it with Jesus temple destruction saying. Matt. 26: 60-1; John 2:19-22, where Jesus speaks of the sanctuary as his body ,which when destroyed, he will raise up in 3 days.
Paul in Cor. 3: 10-23, talks about the foundation that is Christ. In v. 16, he says that do you not know that you are God s temple and that God s spirit dwells in you?
1. Christ is the foundation.
2. Paul is the architect and builder,
3. All Christians are also builders,
4. They are at the same time, the building,
5. This building is God s temple( naos- sanctuary),
6. This temple is the place of God s dwelling,
7. Therefore each Christian is a living stone which goes to make up the sanctuary/temple
8. Each living stone is distinct but comprising together the great building whose foundation is Christ
9. Christ s risen body, the new temple is the new Jerusalem built of living stones. Each of the faithful goes to make up that glorious building and in turn is the temple of the Holy Spirit(45).
In the second half, Soskice describes how the empty tomb has come to be almost the sum total of belief in the resurrection(48). Etiolated orthodoxy of the resurrection:
Jesus was raised(empty tomb tradition) and that we too shall be raised. Thereby immortality is guaranteed and personal identity is ensured. But this belief falls short of resurrection faith.
Soskice refers to Tipler's book, The Physics of Immortality. Tipler envisions an eschatological computing capacity in which all previously living beings will be simulated to live in never ending subjective time. He calls this Point Omega (46) Resurrection for Tipler is the result of a future evolutionary event in which life understood as information processing takes hold of its own destiny and creates a supra- physical environment for its existence just prior to the moment when physical world self-destructs(47).
So for Tipler Jesus resurrection appearance is explained as a simulated person appearing and disappearing in different parts of the universe. He sees no redemptive power in Jesus' resurrection that has any impact on the rest of us. Jesus is then is the first individual to attain the information continuity to which all individuals may aspire. For Tipler , remake of resurrection can offer the same consolation in facing death that religion did. Soskice wrestles with this etiolated orthodoxy of which Tipler may approve but she does not.(Tipler says that now science can offer precisely the consolation in facing death that religion once offered).
Soskice does point out that there is nothing wrong with the hope of heaven, which is essence of Christian faith , but hope for new creation and the coming of the kingdom on earth is just as important. It is this present dimension of the risen life of Christ in his followers, where he may be met now. This means that resurrection belief is not only about something that happened just then but what it means now and what we do now(55). This means concern for justice in the world.: This means what Matt.25:45, says:
Then he will answer them Truely I tell you just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me .
Soskice asks an important question, Is belief in a miraculous empty tomb, even conjoined with the belief that we too will rise, worth being martyred for ? Is the hope that there is life after death, however important and moving, the hope that causes a group of Galilean peasants, persons with no worldly security, to drop everything and follow Jesus? Is this the faith in the resurrection that causes his followers, last seen cowering in an upper room, to risk death and suffer death to preach ...? (48). It does one make one wonder what was it that made the disciples to drop every thing and follow Jesus when he asked them. Did they understand anything as to why they were even following? Do we understand now? Why do we follow?
Soskice forcefully implies, the modern Christian reader of the Bible is blind to the profoundly social and ethical aspect of Paul's resurrection faith (57). Is it possible that Paul s eschatological hope and his resurrection faith may be some what at a different stage than maybe the earlier followers of the empty tomb?
This article is helpful to our seminar, as Soskice using the history of tradition, goes back to the Hebrew Bible and traces the past tradition use of temple symbolism. One is able to see how the temple remains a sign of God presence with Israel-a dwelling place of the living God. David brings the Ark in the city of Jerusalem. In 2 Chr. 3:1, the site of Solomon s Temple (Jerusalem/mount Zion) is identified with Place of Abraham s near-sacrifice of Isaac, A place of supreme sacrifice.
In the New Testament imagery, the new Temple is Jesus himself and his people. Jesus would act as the replacement of the temple(53). Soskice traces the future temple imagery in the Book of Revelation. Here the New Jerusalem contains no temples, since the Lord Almighty and the Lamb themselves were the temple (Rev. 21:22).i.e. God's kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven.
“Resurrection as Glory: Divine Presence and Christian Origins”
From The Resurrection
Review provided by BLA and DDH
Author: Carey C. Newman in The Resurrection: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Resurrection of Jesus. Editors: Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, Gerald O’Collins. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Prior to the Resurrection Summit meeting in Dunwoodie on April 7-10, 1996, a symposium of scholars from a variety of disciplines was formed to dialogue on the resurrection. Each of these scholars, including Carey Newman, provided one to two preliminary drafts of their papers to the symposium. These drafts were circulated and comments returned to the author prior to the Summit meeting. These articles were later published in the book The Resurrection. The author of this article, Carey C. Newman received his education at University of South Florida (1980) and Baylor University (1989). He is currently living in Louisville, Kentucky where he teaches New Testament studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (xx).
II. Subject Matter:
The author’s intention is to “investigate the narrative, historical, and theological logic standing behind the New Testament’s identification of Jesus as ‘glory’ (vii). Newman puts forth a twofold thesis: 1) “…the resurrection of Jesus …was interpreted as his investiture with, and inauguration of eschatological divine presence-that is, the Glory of Yahweh” (87). 2) “the identification of the resurrected Jesus as the Glory of Yahweh carried profound sociological implications-the creation and maintenance of new community” (87).
Newman’s essay is divided into five major divisions. In the first section, Newman defines ‘Glory’ as “the visible , movable divine presence” (62). By looking at the use of the phrase ‘Glory of Yahweh’ in the Hebrew Bible, Newman determines that the ‘Glory of Yahweh’ as a sign of God’s presence could sanction sacred mediators such as Moses (Ex. 24), indicate unmitigated blessing of Yahweh on the kings of Israel (Ps. 8, 24, 19, 29, and 104) and when absent, manifest Yahweh’s judgement (Jer. 2, 2 Sam. 4, Hos. 9).
In part two, Newman investigates the idea of Glory as an eschatological sign of divine presence through the writings of the prophets. He writes, “That the prophets adopted the theophanic tradition as a strategic subgenre insured that Glory was destined to become a sign of eschatological divine presence” (65). The prophets develop a multiplicity of images in which Glory signifies hope. Hope comes to mean the “eschatological restoration” of all creation and the return of the remnant to Zion. This future hope includes the transformation of Jerusalem into the dwelling place of Yahweh and Yahweh’s rule of all of the world which will include the conversion of all nations. In addition, the prophets (especially Ezek.1 and Dan. 7) use Glory as a sign of an anthropomorphic depiction of Yahweh enthroned in an apocalyptic vision. In these visions, the Son of Man is invested in Glory becoming God’s special agent. Following the Son of Man image into the New Testament, Newman traces this title to Jesus. Identifying the ‘Coming in/with glory’ statements, he determines that Jesus identifies himself as the Son of Man and that these statements link the Son of Man so closely with the Glory of Yahweh that the two can not be separated (73). Newman goes on to provide evidence that Glory as an eschatological sign of hope was continued by the early Christians. Using the texts of Romans 5, 8, and 1 Pet. 5, the author demonstrates that the early Christians continued to hope for an eschatological age when Christians would be “transformed into Glory… and participate in the divine presence” (74). In the parousia, seen as a theophany of glory, Jesus will bear the Glory thus, the divine presence is shifted from Yahweh to Jesus (2 Thess. 1:5-10).
Looking at the resurrection, part three of the essay defines a shift that replaces the expected revelation of Yahweh’s Glory with Jesus as the Glory of Yahweh in the parousia. Interpreting several New Testament passages, .(Heb. 2:9, Phil. 3:21, 1 Pet. 1:21, Rom. 6:4, and 1 Tim. 3:16), Newman describes “the resurrection of Jesus [as] the in-breaking of eschatological Glory-a prolepsis of the final apocalypse of Glory which will transform all those who share in Christ and finish the process of cosmic subjection” (79). The resurrection initiates eschatological Glory.
In part four, Newman explores the sociological implications of the use of Glory language. He shows how “the identification of Jesus with the Glory of Yahweh” forms both boundaries that define the Christian community and a chasm which separates them from the Jewish community (82). With these boundaries defined, converts now began the process of transformation. This required both re-socialization and re-formation. By relating their stories and the story of Jesus they defined their relationships and themselves as a social group, distinguishing them from both Jews and pagans. In anticipating their “destiny as sharing in the eschatological divine presence of Jesus” and realizing that this transformation has already begun through their suffering, the process of re-formation is underway (86). This metamorphosis creates unity within the community where “everyone can and must be changed” (87).
In the final section, Newman discusses the implications of his research. He describes them as threefold: 1) “resurrection as the inauguration of the future becomes the best way to understand Glory” (88), 2) the resurrection was the definitive component for Christian belief that Jesus was the Glory of Yahweh, and 3) the resurrection spawned a christology which compromised Jewish monotheism, consequently, causing an early split between the Jews and Christian thus leading to the formation of a Christian community.
This article makes a contribution to the work of our seminar for two main reasons. First, using the history of tradition, we are provided with a historical path that leads from the Hebrew bible tradition, where the ‘Glory of Yahweh’ is a phrase indicating the presence of God; through the Prophetic tradition, where we begins to see ‘Glory’ being invested in the ‘Son of Man’ as God’s chief agent and signal of the eschatological hope for the future presence of God; to the final destination, where the Glory of Yahweh is transferred to the post-resurrection Jesus and seen as “the inauguration of eschatological Glory. The terminal point of this path in the New Testament is concerned with the kerygma tradition, however, this path helps the seminar come to an understanding of how the theophanic genre, as it pertains to ‘Glory’, could have been understood and appropriated by the New Testament writers. Second, it differentiates the kerygma tradition from the post-resurrection appearance tradition. The fact that ‘Glory’ is only found in one of the post-resurrection appearance stories (Luke 24:26), further justifies that these traditions developed independently. In addition, the kerygma tradition seems to draw from a different set of Old Testament theophanies then the Gospel appearance tradition.
Some questions for further study would include a closer look at the ‘Son of Man’ tradition which is the author’s link with the Gospels as well as further study of Psalm 8. Critical to this study, is the linking of Jesus with the Son of Man. We would like to see a more in depth study of this connection. Another question that comes to mind has to do which tradition, kerygma or gospel, developed first. Knowing that all of the New Testament is written post-resurrection and that the resurrection was the pivotal event of these writings, we question whether it is possible that an oral tradition describing the post-resurrection appearances existed as the Christian community formed and developed. Perhaps, from this oral story narrative the kerygma developed independently in an effort to further develop a christology.
Our greatest concern in this study is that of Nestorianism. The divinity and humanity of Jesus seems to be split at the point of the resurrection. The author fails to consider the use of ‘Glory’ in the text that deal with Jesus prior to the resurrection and by not looking at the post-resurrection appearances, fails to consider Jesus’ humanity after the resurrection.
“Chapter 5 Life After Death: The Social Sources”
From The Resurrection
Review provided by DS
Alan F. Segal Born in Worcester, MA, he earned his Bachelor’s degree at Amherst College in 1967 and his Ph.D. at Yale University in 1975. Currently he is Professor of Religion at Barnard College, Columbia University. Publications by him include The Messiah: Development in Earliest Judaism and Christianity (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), Paul the Convert: The Apostleship and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), and Rebecca’s Children (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988).
In this chapter, Segal sketches the history of expression of resurrection in biblical thought. As opposed to the young men in Jewish millenarian movements who lose their lives as martyrs in the expectation of bodily restoration at the end of time, Hellenized Jewish intellectuals embraced the Platonic notion of the immortality of the soul, in order to express continuity of consciousness after death. Although both Rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity affirm resurrection strongly, they eventually subsume concepts of immortality of the soul, each in its own way and in stark contradiction to each other (preface, p. vii, Resurrection Summit).
Segal begins the chapter by explaining a Gallup poll indicating that the number of Americans believing in life after death is high: seven out of ten believe in life after death, practically identical with the figures of half a century ago. The figure seems to dispute the notion that Americans are losing their faith. It is not clear, however, what Americans believe about the resurrection. Detailed questions concerning the belief in life after death were not addressed.
The earliest parts of the Bible do not reveal much about life after death. Resurrection is totally unknown in the Bible until much later (p. 91). The psalms seem to counsel the Israelites to treat this life seriously, for death is certain (Ps. 90:10-12). Segal believes the lack of a discussion of the notion of life after death occurs because it possibly opens the door to idolatry or the Canaanite veneration of spirits or ghosts (p. 92). This notion can be seen in the narrative of 1 Sam. 28 where Samuel engages a medium. Literary or historical, for Saul to call upon the witch of Endor is the last, most sinful act of a desperate man. As in other cultures, there was in Israel a place of the dead, usually called Sheol. It was not a place of reward or punishment and the Greek Hades is mentioned in this manner. Most of the psalms use Sheol as a way to convince God not to kill the psalmist in his distress (p. 94). The basic notion of Sheol, influenced by Stoic thought, in place of life after death is part of Hebrew thought. In the later apocryphal book of Sirach, life after death is ignored. The only way a person outlasts death is through children (30:4-5) and by means of a lasting good reputation (41:11-13).
The idea of life after death is introduced in the later prophets and psalms. Ezekiel 37:1-14, Isaiah 26:17-19, and Daniel 12:1-3 address the issue. The first explicit reference to resurrection in the Hebrew Bible occurs in the Daniel passage. It is here that the reference to resurrection suggests that both the righteous and the very evil need to be resurrected for the purpose of giving them their well deserved rewards (p. 97). The vision in Daniel serves as the basis for the doctrine of resurrection in Rabbinic Judaism.
Segal addresses how the concept of creation ex nihilo correlates to resurrection. Genesis and Isaiah address some of the aspects of creation. 2 Macc. 7 addresses the fact that God created the heaven and earth out of things that did not exist. This passage shows that the motivation for stressing creation from nothing is actually the growing notion of bodily resurrection (p. 101). It has been disputed that everyone universally accepted this idea. The Sadducees and Pharisee differed on the issue.
The idea of immortality of the soul into the Jewish life emanated from Greek philosophical ideas. The Wisdom of Solomon uses Greek notions of immortality (3:1-4). There appears to be a relationship between immortality and martyrdom.
Another component of immortality is that of the immortal soul. The idea of an immortal soul is a product of intellectual development influenced by Greek culture (p. 105). Writers who address this issue include Philo, Josephus, and the writers of 4 Maccabees.
Jesus’ understanding of resurrection apparently came from two scriptures. The Lord is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and is also called ‘the living God’ indicated, for many patriarchs, that God was still alive. It was an effective argument.
The Gospels come out in favor of a more traditional notion of the resurrection of the body. In Luke, Jesus’ resurrection is separated from his ascension. In John, the understanding of the bodily resurrection is more clearly outlined.
In the Mishnah, it is evident that the rabbis form an assumption that all Israelites receive a share in the world to come. They interpreted Isaiah 60 as an indication that not only land will be inherited forever. In their estimation, if someone doesn’t believe in the resurrection, they won’t receive one.
The Mishnah then embarks on a journey to find out who would be entitled life after death. It is clear that some sinners would be denied a place in the world to come. Repentance does help, however. The rabbis seem to disagree on issues such as the sin of Sodom. Some argued that the generation of Sodom would be resurrected for judgment but not for the world to come while others disagreed (p. 118).
Segal provided several insights into the concept of life after death and a depth to the biblical accounts. It was helpful to read a number of biblical accounts regarding life after death, including those in the apocrypha. I was surprised to learn how much later the mention of the concept of life after death was introduced in the biblical writings. Segal provided a clearer understanding of how life after death evolved into a more complete doctrine of resurrection. He also provided detail into the discussion of how certain groups (Pharisees, Sadducees) interpreted the resurrection. The general writings regarding the immortality of the soul also proved helpful. Is it our soul that is resurrected or is our body? It is a question, which still complicates our understanding today. Segal provides an adequate sketch of his understanding of life after death and allows readers to explore new ways of understanding how the doctrine of resurrection originated.
QUESTIONS FROM OTHERS:
Questions about article presentation:
John Hicks, et. al., try to claim that the appearance stories may have been recalling near-death expereinces, so are they saying that all of those people (Mary, Peter, Paul, the 500) nearly died? Is that possible?
John Hick also claims that the appearances may have been bereavement sequences like those of others who have recently lost a loved one. Who says that those bereavement sequences were psychogenic and not supernatural? Do we have to reject the entire spirit world so often described in the New Testament to be rational, thinking, modern people?
NL asks, in reference to Soskice article, if it is possible that Paul's eschatological hope and faith may be at a different stage than the "earlier" followers of the empty tomb. We know that Paul's writings were done before the gospel appearance stories were written. Do these empty tomb stories reflect what really happened directly after Jesus died and was raised, or do they reflect the tradition that has been passed down to a later community of faith, which would put them after Paul's writings?
DHH recalls Newman's development of the glory of Yahweh theophany from OT to Kerygma. He claims that the Kerygma echatalogical Son of Man grew out of the gospel writings of the SOn of Man associated with the glory of Yahweh. But much of the Kerygma was written before the gospels were written. How does this work out?