Preface; Introduction and Report Chapter 2: "The Need for Further Work on the Resurrection of Jesus"
Review provided by CB
The main aim of this book is to investigate the historical truth - honestly and regardless
of other factors.
The author found it strange that exegetes had so little historical concern for the central
Christian datum of the resurrection of Jesus and at the same time were engaged in a
theological exposition of the New Testament which claimed to be scientific. He attempts
a clear and understandable introduction to this topic and the problem it poses.
The Need for Further Work on the Resurrection of Jesus
There are several reasons to examine the history of the resurrection.
v Without historical review the theology of the New Testament is groundless
v The historical data of the resurrection was significant for the origin and development
of the Christian religion.
v In light of the present significance of the resurrection to the church and theology as
the church derives its right to exist from the authority given by Jesus Christ.
v The resurrection also gives hope to mourners in the message of resurrection given by
There are many arguments against historical examination. The following list the pro's
For Historical work:
Against Historical work:
1. No eye-witness accounts of the
resurrection of Jesus
1. Paul's own witness and account as
well as legitimate questions regarding
the manner of the resurrection as long as
Christian theology makes a claim to be
2. The resurrection traditions cannot be
disentangled, and the historical sources
2. To say that what really happened at
Easter is inexplicable seems formally to
turn into an indispensable requisite for
the doing of theology.
3. The resurrection of Jesus is a miracle
that completely evades our grasp- what
can historical works achieve here?
3. A reconstruction of the manner of the
'resurrection' of Jesus or an explanation
of how the resurrection of Jesus came to
be asserted are unavoidable for an
understanding of how the resurrection
was proclaimed at the time and how this
proclamation can be continued or
4. It is said to be impossible to talk
meaningfully about the resurrection of
Jesus outside the experience of faith and
4. Theological science has the task of
ascertaining and interpreting Christian
testimonies of faith from history and
today, defining their status and content
both categorically and conceptually.
5. Event and interpretation are always
interlocked, so that it is impossible to
have access to the event of the
resurrection without the interpretation.
Therefore the resurrection text resist
historical investigation., e.g. the Emmaus
story (Luke 24: 13-35).
5. The interlocking of events applies to
all text with the historian deals, and thus
is in no way a peculiarity of religious or
The investigation that follows looks in purely historical and empirical ways at the
historical context of the testimonies to the resurrection. The aim of this book as who is to
present a hypothesis on the 'resurrection' of Jesus which causes the least offence and
solves the most difficulties.
Chapter 3 - survey of the early Christian sources for the resurrection of Jesus Christ
Chapter 4 - investigates all the relevant texts about the resurrection in three stages
(redaction, tradition, and historical content).
Chapter 5 - depict the history and nature of the earliest Christian belief in the
Chapter 6 - follows the question of the relationship of the earliest Christian resurrection
faith to us, i.e. whether in view of the evidence found we can call ourselves Christians.
Report Chapter 2: "The Need for Further Work on the Resurrection of Jesus"and Chapter 3: "The Resurrection Texts in Early Christianity - Survey and Classification
Review provided by KW
Gerd Luedemann engages Hans Grass' understanding of the need of more work
on the Resurrection of Jesus on the basis of historicity.
".Above all because this event has come to us in the form of
historicizing reports, and therefore the reliability and credibility of this
side of the act of revelation which is turned towards history must be
".A second reason for renewed concern with the resurrection of Jesus is
that historically it was of decisive significance for the origin and
development of the Christian religion." It is stated that, "The Gospels
have always been read as words of the risen Christ," which is partially
correct in my opinion.
".renewed work on the resurrection of Jesus is necessary in view of its
present significance in church and theology."
Luedemann cites the prevalent arguments against undertaking a historical work
of the resurrection suggested by Grass and begins to discuss them in some
1. We have no eye-witness account of the resurrection of Jesus.
2. the resurrection traditions cannot be disentangled, and the historical
sources are inadequate.
3. The resurrection of Jesus is a miracle which completely evades HISTORICAL
4. It is said to be impossible to talk meaningfully about the resurrection
of Jesus outside the experience of faith and testimony, 'even if Jesus'
personal, bodily resurrection precedes any experience of faith and any
testimony to it in logical and ontological priority'.
5. Event and interpretation are always interlocked, so that it is impossible
to have access to the event of the resurrection without the interpretation.
Therefore many resurrection texts resist historical investigation, e.g. the
Emmaus story (Luke 24.13-35).
According to Luedemann, true historical research cannot accept curtailments,
unless arguments are adduced for them from historical theory. He also
believes that there is a widespread attitude which gives the impression that
theology knows better than a historical discipline which is allegedly not
self-critical. This relegates history to being an auxiliary science, the
arguments which are taken over where they fit the theological position. The
instance of the problematic attempt essentially to ground faith and theology
in a gap in historical knowledge.
A Compelling Argument
Luedemann presents Maurice Goguel's argument that "if it could have been
proven that the body of Jesus remained in the tomb, the religious
consequences of belief in the resurrection at that time would probably not
have been destroyed and Christianity would not have been finished off."
Luedemann argues that even if the body of Jesus had been found rotting in the
tomb, faith would have found a way out (Jubilees 23.31). However, even if
it could be proven that on the morning of the third day the tomb was found
empty, that would compel no one to accept the First Century Christian
interpretation that Jesus had risen. This could mean, perhaps that the
women could have gone to the wrong tomb, or that Joseph of Arimathea could
have moved the body previously.
Chapter 3: The Resurrection Text in Early Christianity
Luedemann describes the statements about the resurrection to be divided into
six groups which occur:
I. as participial phrase, 'God who has raised Jesus from the dead; the
earliest example appearing in 1 Thessalonians 1.10; others are 2 Corinthians
4.14; Galatians 1.1; Romans 4.24b;
II. as catechechtal statements about the resurrection of Jesus and his
appearance to XY, which are already being developed into sequences; these
can be divided into:
a) statements about the resurrection of Jesus 1 Thessalonians 4.14; 1
Corinthians 15.3-4; romans 4.25 and Romans 14.9
b) statements about his appearance: 1 Corinthians.5-8; Luke 24.34;
c) The extended appearance stories: Matthew 28.9-10; Matthew 28.16-20 and
Luedemann incorporates C. H. Dodd's five elements to Dodd's appearance
a. Exposition: the followers of Christ are robbed of their Lord;
b. Appearance of the Lord
c. Greeting in Matthew 28.9 and John 20.19;
d. Recognition in Matthew 28.9,17 and John 20.20;
e. Commission in Matthew 28.10,19 and John 20.21f.
d) The stories about the tomb: Mark 16.1-8 proclamation of the resurrection
e) The resurrection stories dated back into the life of Jesus: Mark 6.45-52
and Matthew 14.28-31; Mark 9.2-8 and Luke 5.1-11 and Matthew 16.17-19.
f) Various others: The Gospel of the Hebrews and the Gospel of Peter.
Luedemann contrives a Christophany formula that states Cephas handed down to
Paul (by his own confession already tradition, 1 Corinthians 15.1f) before
he came to Europe. This tradition goes back even before the time of the
composition of 1 Thessalonians. Luedemann notes that in 1 Thessalonians,
both a pre-Pauline participial phrase (1 Thessalonians 1.10 = group I) and a
resurrection formula (1 Thessalonians 4.14 = group I) are used. So we may
formulate as a working hypothesis that the conclusion was drawn from the
appearance to Cephas (= group I) that god has raised Jesus from the dead (=
1. Does the absence of eye-witnesses to Jesus' resurrection impede or even
nullify the research for plausibility historically?
2. How does Paul's account of the resurrection appearances of Jesus in 1
Corinthians 15.1-11 validate or invalidate the Gospel accounts?
3. What is the vehicle that can be used to discover whether the historical
Jesus is the Risen Christ in Luedemann's historical approach?
4. When Luedemann speaks of the 'manner' of the resurrected body, what
exactly is he referring to?
Report on I Corinthians 15:1-11, pp. 33-70
Review provided by DS
Luedemann here discusses the first eleven verses in various ways. He begins with a redactional analysis. The position of 1 Cor. 15 at the end of the letter can be explained on traditio-historical grounds: the instruction about the end-time always comes at the end (p. 33). In these first verses, Paul takes up the confession of faith he previously communicated: he spoke of the death and resurrection and Christ’s appearance to Cephas and the Twelve (verses 3b-5).
Luedemann states the purpose behind the first eleven verses. First, he believes this provided a ‘historical’ guarantee of Jesus’ resurrection. Secondly, Paul was concerned about the tradition he had already given the Corinthians and wanted to continue the tradition up to him.
The author states that the tradition communicated to the Corinthians extended to the Twelve (v. 5) because (a) Another sentence construction begins after ‘then to the Twelve.’ (b) As the words ‘most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep’ (v. 6) does not appear to belong to the tradition handed on at the first visit. It would seem probable that Paul is giving his own account and was revealing something not already known.
Why the question of appearance to Cephas first and then James? Luedemann believes the clause in v. 5 (‘he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve’) is an independent piece of tradition. James also appears to have been granted a special position in the circle of apostles. A summary analysis of the tradition follows (p. 37):
a. 1 Cor. 15:3b: a formula about the death of Christ ‘for our sins’ with a general reference to the scriptures;
b. 1 Cor 15:4a: a reference to the burial of Jesus;
c. 1 Cor 15:4b: a statement about the resurrection on the third day with reference to the scriptures.
d. Four individual statements about witnesses:
1. 1 Cor 15:5: he appeared to Cephas, then/and to the Twelve.
2. 1 Cor 15:6a: he appeared to more than 500 brethren at one time.
3. 1 Cor 15:7: he appeared to James, then/and to all the apostles.
4. 1 Cor 15:8-10: he appeared to Paul
Luedemann believes the formation of the appearance tradition mentioned in Chapter 15 falls into the time frame of 30-33 CE, because the appearance to Paul is the last of the appearances and cannot be dated after 33 CE.
Jesus’ death as the consequence of crucifixion is indisputable. Luedemann believes the burial of Jesus is reported in early Christian writings in two ways: (a) Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus (Mark 15:42-47) (b) Jews buried Jesus (John 19:31-37). He believes that we cannot discover any more historical information about the nature of the burial other than what is taken from Mark. Luedemann considers in all probability that the tradition of a burial of Jesus occurs in two different narratives: (a) Joseph asks Pilate for the corpse and buries Jesus (b) Jews ask Pilate for the corpse and bury Jesus. He believes that tradition (b) is earlier because (a) above is probably a Christian interpretation (p. 44).
How was Jesus of Nazareth really buried? Luedemann addresses this question in a historical analysis. Roman legal practice normally provided for someone who died on the cross to rot there or to be consumed by vultures, jackals or other animals - as a warning to the living (p. 44). Jesus, however, appears to be an exception based on the traditions which relate to him. His body was taken down from the cross (1 Cor. 15:4). Did the Jews take Jesus from the cross because a crucified person might not hang on the cross overnight (Deut. 21:23), and because it was about to be a festival? Luedemann also discusses the burial location of Jesus, which is not known. Evidently not even the earliest Christian community knew where Jesus was buried (p. 45).
Luedemann writes of the empty tomb tradition of Paul, or lack thereof. In 1 Cor. 15, the empty tomb is not mentioned; therefore, some have concluded that Paul did not know about this tradition. Paul did not draw the conclusion that the empty tomb tradition and the bodily resurrection were somehow connected.
The author then relates, in sequence, through the passage in the letters of Paul in which the apostle speaks about the ‘Damascus event’ and their interconnectedness.
1 Corinthians 9:1 Paul says that he has seen Jesus. Here, Paul is expressing the subjective aspect of the event.
Galatians 1:15 God revealed his Son in/to him. Paul appears to be referring to a particular event.
‘The fact that Paul refers so emphatically to the revelation of the Son of God that has been given him in the face of opponents who are playing off the Jerusalem apostles against him shows that precisely this was the decisive criterion’ - Paul Hoffmann.
Luedemann believes that 1 Corinthians could have been written prior to Galatians disputing what other scholars have stated.
Philippians 3:8 Paul returns to the Damascus event and speaks of the knowledge of Christ which has led him to see his life as a loss.
II Corinthians 4:6 Luedemann believes this passage may refer to the Damascus event. If the passage refers to Paul’s conversion, it would make it probable that Paul saw Christ in the form of light, and this would fit his remarks about the heavenly man in 1 Cor. 15:49.
Luedemann mentions that Paul saw Jesus in his glory. The whole event had an element of light and happened like other stories in the NT (Rev. 1:10). He also mentions the fact that the persons mentioned in 1 Cor. 15 also saw the risen Jesus in this manner.
The author then writes about different hypotheses regarding Paul’s conversion. He critiques those who believe the appearance occurred only on purely psychological terms. Luedemann believes it is unimportant whether or not the early Christians derivation of the ‘Easter events’ occurred within the soul. He also believes that an objective vision hypothesis must be rejected. This hypothesis stands in the sphere of ‘supernaturalism’ and should be rejected. A more historical, critical approach is needed.
Luedemann then compares the accounts of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9, 22, and 26. Acts 9 is written in the third person singular. Acts 22 and 26 are written in the first person singular. Several elements in these three pericopes parallel one another and have redactional elements. After removal of the redaction, the following elements of tradition can be extracted (p. 64):
1. Saul, the persecutor of Christians, is near Damascus;
2. A heavenly light shines out and Saul falls down;
3. His companions, who have heard the voice speaking to Saul, take him to Damascus.
The author concludes that the Damascus event was a vision the kind, which seemed to take place in the Old Testament. He believes that Luke repeats the story three times in Acts and has moved away from historical truth by interpreting the calling as a conversion.
Luedemann’s writing on 1 Corinthians 15 provided a deeper understanding in several ways. It was useful to understand how burials were conducted in Roman legal practice. Additionally, the writing regarding Paul’s ‘Damascus event’ was insightful as the redaction clarified previous perceptions of this event. It was also constructive to understand what traditions Paul understood prior to his writing.
Report on I Corinthians 15:1-11, pp. 33-70
Additional/Supplemental information provided by DAC
Luedemann analyzes I Corinthians 15 from a traditional, historical, and a redactional view, and he does it very systematically. In this section, he is analyzing the kergyma tradition of I Cor. 15: 3-8: (a) Christ died for our sins; (b) Jesus was buried; (c) on the third day he rose from the dead (resurrection); and (d) he appeared to Cephas and to the twelve, more than 500 at once, to James and all the apostles, and finally to Paul. A conclusion he makes early on (p 38) is that: the formation of the appearance traditions mentioned in 1 Cor 15.3-8 falls into the time between 30 and 33 CE, because the appearance to Paul is the last of the appearances and cannot be dated after 33 CE. This is based on the assumption that all elements in the tradition are likely to be dated to the two years following the crucifixion of Christ.
Death: Luedemann concludes, in one sentence, that this fact is indisputable.
Burial: Luedemann then explores the burial of Christ, by looking at Mark 15:42-47 (and parallels in Matthew and Luke), and John 19:31-37. He devotes quite a bit of attention to the character of Joseph of Arimathea and the tradition and redaction in all these readings. The historical portion of this discussion in centered on the question: how was Jesus really buried? His conclusion is that nobody knows. He maintains that even the earliest community did not know, because it can be supposed that has it been known, the early Christians would have flocked around it and traditions about it would have been preserved. (45) Luedemann goes through some analysis of whether or not Paul is familiar with the "empty tomb" tradition, but no conclusion is drawn. (46)
Resurrection (on the 3rd day): Because of some confusion on the 3rd day, Luedemann concludes that the origin of the third day cannot be founded on a historical basis, but only in scribal reflection (47.) He bases this on Hosea 6.2 which is (translated from the LXX) "will make us whole after two days, on the third day we will rise and live before him." Taking this as an eschatological statement, the resurrection of Jesus on the third day would have been understood, then, to fulfill an Old Testament prophecy.
Appearance: The balance of this section (p 47-70) concerns the appearance stories, in particular the appearance to Paul and his reference to it in the different accounts (1 Cor 9.1; Gal 1.15f; Phil 3.8; 11 Cor 4.6). Whereas 1 Cor 9 and Gal 1 referred to "seeing" Jesus (the Greek grammar playing a large part in Luedemann's discourse, Phil 3.8 is mostly the knowledge of Christ he receives from the Damascus event and after. II Cor 4.6 mentions the light that shines out of the darkness, and could be a direct reflection of the Damascus event.
Luedemann then goes into an excursus on a survey of the "vision" hypothesis in the 19th century. He tells of the conflicting views between different scholars of the objective vs subjective vision hypotheses as they inform us of Paul's conversion. He, however, prefers to delve into the analysis of Paul's conversion by comparing the three accounts of it in Acts (9, 22 and 26).
After comparing the three, he concludes that since chapters 22 and 26 do not add any additional traditional elements, he will look at Acts 9 redactionally. The main point here is that the "vision" as a communication of divine decisions is an important literary device for Luke.
The "Damascus event" tradition boils down to:
Saul, the persecutor of Christians, is near Damascus
A heavenly lights shines out and Sauls falls down
His companions, who have heard the voice speaking to Saul, take the blinded Saul to Damascus.
The point of contention in his comments that follow this outline, are whether this is so much of a christophany as it is a story of conversion or call.
From a historical prospective, according to Luedemann, there was a particular event that changed an enemy of Christian into a disciple of Christ, and that it did take place in or near Damascus. Here Luedemann believes that the historical criticism supports the vision as a christophany (as an answer to the tension in the tradition above.)
Then Luedemann goes back to analyze the tradition in light of the historical reconstruction and concludes that the element of a call cannot be determined to be a part of the vision -- that the call was an interpretation after the vision. Luedemann, correctly in my thoughts, kind of admonishes modern Protestant theology and the historical-critical exegesis community when he accuses them (whoever they are!) of having an "anti-visionary complex."
He looks to II Cor 12: 1-10 to enlighten us as to the significance of visions in Paul's time.
Chapter 44,Pages 70-90
Review provided by NL
2 Cor. 12:1-10
(a). Were visions significant for Paul? What is the relationship of this
passage to the Damascus vision?
(b). What is the relationship between call vision and the vision in 2 Cor.
2 Cor. 12: 2-9 stands in the context of an argument that Paul too can boast
of vision and revelations of the Lord which were denied to him in Corinth (2
Cor.10: 10). Visions and revelations are almost synonymous. Vision can be
understood as seeing and revelation as hearing, but revelation does not
happen only through words. There seems to be an inner
illumination(1Cor.14:6-26). In this passage Paul is relating to the
revelation 14 years ago. In v.2-4 Paul speaks as the third person. Visions
and revelations of the Lord seem to be objective genitive. Statements have
an objective character and fits in with the rapture language of v.2. It also
maintains a modesty of style.
Verses 2 and 3 have a parallel structure. The repetition of narrative
stresses, the extraordinariness of the event. In v.2-4 Paul describes the
"heavenly journey" which has parallel to the ways of early Christianity. The
event could be termed as rapture associated with ecstasy, although it is
difficult to distinguish between ascension and rapture.
In Jewish and Greek accounts of ascensions, there is details given but Paul
gives no explicit details of seeing anything (it probably is to be
Becker in his criticism states, "so the lack of results from Paul's journey
to heaven is ...for Paul precisely the result, the reason why he now speaks
of it. It is good enough to show that there is no revelation with a content
of its own beside the gospel".
In v.5-6 we see that as far as vision given by God is concerned, Paul wants
to boast of "this man" who can keep up with "arch-apostles". But as far as
it concerns himself, he will boast of his own weakness. "Paradoxically the
grace of God is visible on this earth only in weakness"(75).
In v.6-7 we have a description of illness of Paul. "Thus in Paul vision and
illness belong closely together"(76).
V.8 expresses the urgency of prayer (Matt.7:7) and v.9 contains the answer to
Paul's prayer. In form critical terms it can be described as a healing
oracle (Hans Dieter Betz). "My grace is sufficient for you..."(v.8). These
words of the Lord can be assumed as to be received through revelation.
Bultmann disagrees; he believes that for want of visual element, the word of
the Lord does not belong among the visions and revelations.
What is the relationship between call vision and the vision in 2 Cor. 1?
Wilhelm Michaelis says that Damascus experience does not fall into the
category of the experience of 2 Cor. 12, because for Paul the Damascus event
does not have the same ecstatic transportation.
Friedrich Lang and Paul Althaus both distinguish between his call at
Damascus and the later ecstatic experience.
Emanuel Hirsch on the other hand says that the "Damascus vision" and the
"heavenly journey" narrated in 2 Cor. 12 belong to the same form of
experience, although not identical.
In the psychology of religion they are two different events. In the first
instance Christ descended and in the second Paul ascended. Both experiences
consist of a vision. In both cases illness is part of the event. Ulrich
Heckel identified the illness behind 2 Cor. 12 as severe headaches
(trigeminal neuralgia) and connected it with Gal.4: 13 (physical infirmity).
Luedemann comes to the conclusion that by comparing 2 Cor. 12:7 and Act.9:8,
the illness of Paul is likely to be Hysterical blindness.
Explanation in terms of depth psychology
Psych-dynamic approach understands religion as a grappling with the
unconscious; i.e. analytic psychology of Jung and psychoanalysis of Freud.
At the center of the doctrine of archetypes of Jung, stands the archetype of
the self, which grounds the striving for wholeness and self-realization (81).
Christ is a symbol of the self.
In Freud's psychoanalysis Christ symbolism is of early childhood conflicts
(pre-oedipal and oedipal).
If one presupposes that Christians and their preaching unconsciously
attracted Paul, then the fear of his unconscious striving were projected on
to the Christians. He attacked and persecuted them. Paul's religious zeal
was a measure of his inner build-up, which was released in the vision of
Christ. Speaking in Jung's language Saul was unconsciously a Christian even
before his conversion. "The unconscious Christ complex".
When Paul approached Damascus, there was a breakthrough of the long
suppressed longing...Paul fled from the painful situation into the other
world of hallucination (Oskar Pfister, 279). What Paul desired
unconsciously, became reality in a person. Because Paul did not want to see
himself as a Christian, as a result of resistance to this, for a while he
became blind (ibid).
The first appearance of Peter and the appearance of the Twelve. 1 Cor. 15
The assumption that appearance to Peter was an individual appearance, without
the Twelve is supported by 1 Cor. 15:5. There is no other clear testimony in
the New Testament. Adolf von Harnack describes the following stages:
1. Suppression of Peter as the first witness to resurrection had already
begun in Luke 24:34, "he appeared to Simon" is inserted as an appendix to the
Emmaus story. In Acts Peter appears with John as his companion.
2. In John Peter is described as the third (John 21:14) and not as the first.
3. The First Gospel deleted the visions of both Peter and James and inserted
a vision of women (Matt. 18:16-20).
4. According to John 20:11, and the secondary conclusion to the Gospel of
Mark (16:9), Mary Magdalene was the first witness of the resurrection.
Luke 5:1-11/John 21
The following motifs correspond:
1. Unsuccessful fishing trip
2. Allusion to Peter's denial
3. The abundant catch (John 26:6; Luke 5:6)
4. Motif of catching is associated with Peter-John 21:11 is parallel to Luke
5. The call to discipleship (John 21:17; Luke 5: 10).
6. The assessment of Peter is given by a saying of the Lord (John 21:17;
Luke 5: 10).
7. After Jesus Peter is the main person in the narrative.
Through John 21, the pericope Luke 5:1-11 can be defined as a former Easter
story. They genetically belong together.
Matthew 16: 17-19
Bultmann believes that the tradition of Matt. 16-19 originally followed on
Mark 8:17-30 but was broken off by Mark. This theory goes well with
Harnack's theory that significance of Peter was suppressed in earliest
Christianity. Ludermann goes on to say, "narratives about Peter's Easter
experience were circulating in the communities. In contrast to Paul's case,
they claimed to be accounts of a first appearance and evidently above all for
this reason were "chopped up" because of changing situations and the rivalry
in the earliest Jerusalem community, and put in other narrative context.
Never the less, the historical verdict may be expressed that Peter (like Paul
later) heard and saw Jesus alive after his death. With this vision was
connected the task of mission and the leadership of the church and granting
of authority to forgive sins (89).
Luedemann takes into account historical questions and historicity of various
statements and examines them through different voices. He also looks at the
relationship between the proclamation of the first witness. This search for
historical truth, is part of my struggle too. I can live with this struggle,
even if I may not find answers but what bothers me is that in quest for
answers we may have over extended analytical psychology here. E.g. Paul's
illness as headaches, or Paul's unconscious Christ complex.
“Analysis of the Easter stories in Matthew”
Review provided by JL
4.3 Introduction: Matthew’s Easter accounts based on Mark with two supplemental
appearances by Jesus (28:9f, to the women; 28:16-20 to the eleven in Galilee). Matthew also
added a story of guards at the tomb which provides a framework for the women’s journey to the
tomb; this story has two halves: 27:62-66 and 28:11-15 which fit together like “two halves of a
188.8.131.52 Redaction (grave guard story)
27:62 - Pharisees appear only here and reflect the real opposition in the time in which
Matthew was written, which is harsher than before the Jewish war (68-70CE).
“Strikingly, this session with Pilate takes place on the sabbath...in order for the narrative
to work”. Matthew, following Mark, needs to get the women to the tomb by the morning of the
day after the end of the sabbath.
27:63 - High priests and Pharisees remember Jesus saying “after three days I will rise
again” - this is not in context of passion prediction but related to the “sign of Jonah (Matt
27:64 - Seems to refer back to Matthew 12:45f. So if the disciples are left with their
preaching of the resurrection, things will be worse then they were with Jesus himself. (123).
27:65 - Pilate yields to the request of the Jewish leaders.
Matthew 28:1-10 is empty tomb and appearance of Jesus to the women - 28:11 picks up again the
story of the bribing of the guards.
28:11 - “while they were going” a redactional seam to connect to verse 10 and suggest
that 9f and 11-15 take place at the same time. In this account the watchers (guards) themselves
report to the Jewish leaders what has happened (resurrection of Jesus) so they are made aware of
28:12 - bribery of guards recalls bribery of Judas (26:15).
28:13 - refers to the “fraud” mentioned in 27:64 but now the ones committing the fraud
are the religious leaders and the soldiers who are spreading the rumor that the disciples stole
Jesus’ body. (The intense anti-Jewish criticism of chapter 23 which is a polemic against the scribes
and Pharisees reappears here.)
28:14 - How could this theft have happened? The guards were asleep, but the Jewish
officials would cover for them if the governor should find out.
28:15 - Conclusion of the story: Guards took the money and did as they were told - “And
this story is still told among the Jews to this day” projects the story into the time of Matthew’s
28:15b indicates the story of theft of Jesus’ body by the disciples was widespread among
the Jews of Matthew’s time and before. In the middle of the 2nd century, Justin in writing
Dialogue with the Jew Trypho knows of this claim (the theft of the body, not the implication of
Hence it is possible that the Jews claimed Jesus’ body was stolen by the disciples, and the
Christians responded to this with the bribery story - “Unless Matthew made the whole thing
Luedemann’s theory: Jewish rumor would have presupposed a recognition of the empty
tomb (Craig, Evidence. footnote 497). However, the Gospel of Matthew is both temporally and
spatially removed from the historical situation. (According to Raymond Brown, Introduction to
the New Testament, gospel written between 80-90 CE from Antioch, writer was a Greek-speaker
with knowledge of both Aramaic and Hebrew, draws on Mark, Q and other sources.) How /
why would the Jews think that the tomb was empty, except from the Christian tradition?
Luedemann makes two historical judgments:
a. Information about the theft of Jesus’ body is historical, but not the theft itself. H.S.
Reimareus - the disciples did not know where Jesus’ body was buried and in their “utter
disapointment, they were not in a position to perpetrate a fraud.”
b. The tradition of bribing the guards is not to be taken seriously - because of the partisan
features of Matthew with regard to the scribes and Pharisees.
4.3.3 Matthew 29:1-10 - Empty Tomb and appearance of Jesus to the two women
184.108.40.206 Redaction and Tradition
28:1 - based completely on Mark, except two women and not three at tomb, smoothing
out the tension in Mark 15:47 and 16:1. Also, Matthew leaves out the intention of the women to
anoint the body; they come only to “see the sepulcher”, which is redundant since they had already
seen the tomb in 27:61.
28:2-4 Luedemann notes here a tension between verses 2-4 and 5-8, saying that there is
“no connection” between the events of 2-4 (earthquake, angel rolling stone away, and guards
being overcome by angel’s appearance) and the message of the resurrection to the women by the
angel in v5-8.
v 2-4 makes the women witnesses to the very event of the resurrection - it happens before
their eyes; but Jesus does not seem to emerge from the tomb (perhaps the dazzling splendor of the
angel covers the divine event).
Tradition behind 28:2-4: there are parallels in the Gospel of Peter. In GP 9:35-11:44 -
the guards saw the heavens open and two men descend in great brightness; the stone rolls away of
its own accord, the two men enter the tomb and then three figures emerge - the two holding up
the third and a cross following them. Grass asks about the Matthew account - were such
powerful arrangements (earthquake, angel rolling stone away) needed to get rid of the guards so
that the women could see the empty tomb? Did Matthew think that the tomb was empty before
the angel/earthquake opened it?
There is a similar tradition in the Ascension of Isaiah (footnote 509). This was a Christian
writing from the second half of the 2nd century; it takes up tradition already in place for purposes
of combating contemporary evils, lack of discipline and divisions in the Church of its time.
“He was crucified with criminals, buried in a sepulcher, the 12 who were with him would be offended
(scandalized?)because of him and there would be a watch of guards over his grave, the angel of the Church (Holy
Spirit) and Michael (chief arch-angel) would open the grave on the third day and the Beloved (Son, Jesus) will
come out of the tomb and send forth the twelve to teach all nations and tongues the resurrection of the Beloved and
those who believe on his cross will be saved and he will ascend to the seventh heaven, from whence he came (128).
In the tradition of the angels opening the tomb and Jesus ascending into heaven, the
Ascension of Isaiah is probably the “purest form” of the tradition, but this tradition is from a time
later than the “empty-tomb” of Mark according to Luedemann.
Two conjectures behind Matthew 28:2-4.
1. Bartsch - reconstructs a christophany as the preliminary stage i.e.. it is Jesus himself
who descends from heaven to open the grave. Luedemann finds it difficult to believe that an
“angelophany” would have developed from a “christophany”.
2. Nikolaus Walter - believes that a remnant of an Easter narrative is preserved in
Matthew 27:62-66 and 28:2-4; 11-15 of a third type - a narrative of the resurrection event itself
(others are “empty tomb” and “appearance”) . Besides the Gospel of Peter, in the Codex
Bobiensis (old Latin NT from 4 / 5th century) there is an insertion in Mark between 16:3 -4 of the
event of the resurrection.(129).
Criticism: Matthew 27:62-66 and 28:11-5 clearly aimed at refuting the Jewish charges of
the disciples’ stealing Jesus’ body, but it is hare to combine this story with the events of Matthew
28:2-4. At the level of tradition Matthew 2-5 has nothing to do with the guards who are
completely the contribution of Matthew. Codex Bobiensis is secondary source - an attempt to
improve the text of Mark.
Returning to discuss the Tradition and Redaction behind Matthew 28: 5-8
Most of this section (28:5-8) is a direct borrowing from Mark, with the exception of verse 8,
where Matthew has the women both fearful and joyful and ready to communicate what they have
seen. Where the women were indirect witnesses to the resurrection in verses 2-4, Matthew makes
them direct witnesses in their encounter with Jesus in verses 9-10. There is no parallel to this in
Luedemann says that it doesn’t appear that these verses have a pre-matthean tradition -
apart for the word “greetings” (cairete) and a reference to the brothers vs the disciples, the
message is identical to that of the angel in verses 7-8. GL seems to think that the idea behind the
change from “disciples” to brothers” was to emphasize the universal mission, and to put aside any
hierarchical ideas that may have been emerging at the time of the writing (i.e.. the primacy of
Peter and the church in Rome).
“This appearance of the risen Christ connects the empty tomb, not just to angels, but to
the Risen One himself.”(131). It is also a transition between the empty tomb and the concluding
christophany (in Galilee). However, Luedemann concludes that no historicity can be attached to
this appearance to the women.
4.3.4 Matthew 28:16-20 - Appearance of Jesus and the mission command
The appearance of Jesus to the eleven has the same structure as the appearance to the
women: “they saw him.....they worshipped him”. The emphasis does not appear to GL to be the
appearance itself but to the words of commission that Jesus spoke to the group.
28:16 - this is a carrying out of Jesus’ command from 28:10. The mountain is also the
place of epiphany (5:1; 15:29, 17:1)
28:17 - the verb “worshipped” is the same as that used in 28:9. Ludemann goes into a
lengthy discussion of “doubted”which I will not cover here - he concludes that “doubt” was an
issue for Christians of the second and third generation who had no direct access to the Easter
experience (which can also be our issue).
28:18b -the enthronement of the Son of Man (Dan 7:14) has been transferred to Jesus
28:19 - the “ethne”, nations refers specifically to the gentiles
28:20 - GL sees specific matthean vocabulary here. GL says that Matthew is addressing
the authority of the sayings of Jesus for the present time. Preaching is the proclamation of the
Torah, rightly understood. He says that the Easter visions have been replaced by the Word of the
exalted Christ. He cites Hans Dieter Betz, who notes that the end of the Gospel of Matthew is
implicitly “anti-magical”. “For Matthew, the one who appears is not a human being returned, but
the Risen Lord, who reveals himself in his statement, ‘all authority in heaven and on earth has
been given to me’.....The one who speaks thus is not a ghost, but a cosmocrator.” (Couldn’t find
“cosmocrator in the dictionary of theological terms, but my guess is that it refers to One who was and is and will be
220.127.116.11. Tradition - looking at the tradition behind 28:18-20
Luedemann believes three elements in these verses:
1. 18b the exaltation of Jesus (Matt 11:27, John 3:35, Phil 2:9-11)
2. 19-20 mission charge - changes a command from the secondary ending of Mark “preach
the gospel” to an invitation, “make disciples”. Baptism in the triadic formulation is striking, since
baptism at this time was solely in Christ.
3. 20b Jesus promise to the disciples to be with them always, to the end of the age.
Luedemann says it is impossible to tell if these three images were originally three
independent traditions brought together in Matthew, or if they had already been linked and he
used them as they were discovered by him.(135).
Luedemann also believes that the ending of Matthew’s gospel is not an Easter story, but an Easter
theology, which keeps the scene open to the present age. It is not Jesus’ appearance, but his
enthronement and authority which is emphasized. Also, Matthew does not seem to distinguish the
Risen Christ from the earthly Jesus (in bodily appearance, physical transformation) but wants to
combine the two as one. The new element in Matthew is the universal extension of the authority
of Christ over all heaven and earth, not just Israel.
Luedemann sees little “historical yield” in these verses, but he concludes that there is an historical
nucleus which he states: “It is true that Jesus appeared to Peter and the Twelve, in other words
they saw him (1 Cor 15:5), and then formed a community which proclaimed among its Jewish
contemporaries the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus as the Messiah (?) and / or Son of Man
(?)”. In the closing scene Luedemann believes Matthew has concentrated later theological conclusions
(i.e.. mission to the Gentiles), which came from Paul and the Jewish-Hellenistic Christians and not
the original Twelve themselves, but that these conclusions were not incorrect since they were
already latent in the resurrection experience.
My questions / issues:
I keep going back to the “grave guard” story, because I had never heard it from the pulpit,
and in reading it would have probably glossed over it until now.
My curiosity lead me to look at the Revised Common Lectionary, to see when these
passages are used in worship. Matthew 27:57-66 is a reading for Holy Saturday (day between
Good Friday and Easter Sunday). It is the account of Jesus’ burial and the Pharisees asking Pilate
for a guard. How often do you hear a “Holy Saturday” text?
Matthew 28:1-10 is the Easter gospel reading in year A, along with John 20:1-18.
Matthew 28:16-20 the “great commission” is the reading for Trinity Sunday, year A.
Matthew 28: 11-16 is never read in worship, at least not if using the lectionary.
But how important is this to our understanding of the Easter tradition? It is an
explanation as to why not all the Jews in Jerusalem converted at time of the resurrection. (If
Jesus had appeared on the Temple pinnacle, would all have believed?)
Luedemann seems to question the historicity of the women as witnesses at any level. But the
women are deeply embedded in the tradition (as all four gospels attest), there must be a kernal of
I tend to agree with Luedemann’s conclusion that the “Great Commission” verses are from a later
tradition - expecially with the trinitarian reference in baptism, and that this is theology, not
narrative in its form.
“The Easter Stories In Luke”
Review provided by DDH
I. Publication: Author: Gerd Luedemann The Resurrection of Jesus: history, experience, theology. Translator John Bowden. London: SCM, 1994. The author wrote this book out of a concern “to investigate the historical truth—honestly and regardless of other factors” (preface) with regard to the resurrection of Jesus. He states that that he wishes to “stimulate and to offer a reasonable human approach to ‘resurrection’” (preface). He proposes that his work is based on the historical-critical method and psychoanalytical theories and should be approached with an open mind that strives to eliminate presuppositions about the historicity of the resurrection. Accordingly, it is necessary that this scientific theology be based on historical truth in order to provide a sound basis for Christian belief.
Gerd Luedemann is Professor of New Testament and Director of the Institute of Early Christians Studies at the University of Gottingen.
II. Subject Matter: In section 4.4, Luedemann discusses “The Easter Stories in Luke.” The following summary covers sections 4.4.1 through 18.104.22.168.
In section 4.4.1 Luedemann discusses the historical and thematic circumstances of Luke’s Gospel. According to Luedemann’s interpretation of Luke’s introduction, Luke is compiling his sources from an existing narrative and eye witnesses. Theophilus and others are his audience. His purpose is to “confirm the reliability of the teaching” (136). Luedemann, Sites The Gospel of Mark and “Q” as source documents, and describes the theme as “fulfillment” and “proof from prophecy” (136). This being the case, Luedemann claims that Luke reorganizes Mark and weaves together several Easter stories to reinforce the idea of fulfillment of prophecy.
4.4.2 Luke 24.1-12: The empty tomb and the proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection. Luedemann begins his investigation of the pericope by comparing Luke to Mark. He notes the following differences: 1) the sequence of events from the preparation of the burial spices to the arrival of the women at the tomb 2) the names of the women 3) the women worry about the stone (Mark) 4) Luke explicitly mentions the body is missing 5) Luke has 2 men meet the women, only one in Mark 6) the message from the man/men is different 7) Mark charges the women to tell Peter and the disciples to go to Galilee, Luke refers to a saying said in Galilee 8) the women are silent in Mark and in Luke they believe, share the message, and the disciples doubt.
After examining the text-critical problem of Luke 24.12, 3a, and 6a, Luedemann concludes that verse 24.12, 6a and “the Lord Jesus” in 3a are original in Luke. Further, he believes that the Lukan tradition got the story of Peter’s visit to the tomb from another tradition and combined it with the visit of the women to the tomb. In addition, he formulates that the tradition behind Luke 24.12 is “a secondary formation and therefore without historical value for the question of the ‘resurrection events’” (139).
4.4.3 Luke 24.13-35: Jesus meets the two disciples on the Emmaus road
22.214.171.124 Structure (140)
vs. 13-16 Exposition: Two disciples meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus
vs. 17-27 Conversation on the way
vs. 28-31 Meal scene
vs. 32-35 Return from Emmaus to Jerusalem
Luedemann considers verses 13 through 35 to be redaction. In verse 13, he claims that ‘And behold’ to be a “Lukan introduction” (140). However, this same phrase appears 28 times in Matthew and 12 times in Revelation. It does appear 36 times in Luke/Acts but considering the other occurrences, it seems unlikely that this is a strictly Lukan phrase.
In verse 15b, we are referred to Lk 22.23 and Acts 6.9, neither of which use the same verb/pronoun combination to indicated “talking among themselves.” They are similar in context only.
The conversation in verses 17-19 (cf. Acts 8.30 and 9.4, 10, etc.), Luedemann considers “in real Lukan Fashion” since it opens with a question (140). The Greek form of the word enantion occurs only in Luke/Acts (although other forms occur in 2 Cor, Gal, and 1Pet). Verse 20 “describes the death of Jesus in a Lukan way” (141). Verse 21 points to the “disappointed hope…that Jesus would redeem Israel” (141). Verses 22-24 are a summary of what has happened thus far. Verse 25 “introduces the development of the previous faith of the disciples” (142). Verse 26 reflects “Luke’s notion of salvation history” (142). Luedemann conjectures that verse 27 that Luke is expressing that Christ is mentioned in the Pentateuch and Prophets.
Verses 28-31 the two disciples ask Jesus to stay and he is revealed to them in the breaking of bread. Jesus then disappears. Luedemann believes these verses to be Luke’s because they are thematic of Luke’s eucharistic theology.
Verses 32-35 returns the two disciples to Jerusalem where they proclaim that they have seen the risen Lord. Verse 34 is from the Kerygma tradition. Luedemann proclaims that this verse is Luke’s attempt to explain that Jesus is present in the community through the Eucharist. This verse, he claims is from the earliest tradition that depicts Peter as the leader of the earliest church, the one in Jerusalem and that the Lukan community descends from this church. He then states Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza’s perspective on verse 34 and then refutes it. Verse 35 is another summary statement.
The Emmaus Story is a Lukan redaction “shaped by Luke’s theological profile” and Luke “worked with material which already existed” (145). The original tradition discovered by removing “all the references to the context” is a legend that fits into the type found in Gen 18:1-15, Tobit 5, and Judg. 6, Phaedrus, Demeter from Homeric Hymns, et. al. where deities appear to mortals according to Luedemann’s use of Hermann Gunkel. This separation distinguishes verses 28-31 which Luedemann believes to be a later and secondary development however, it could have been “associated with the earliest tradition” (145).
Luedemann continues to hold to the proposition that the Kerygma/Peterine tradition represented by verse 34 is “the earliest element of the present pericope” (145). Another early element is the mention of Cleopas in verse 18. Here, Luedemann believes that it is possible that this refers to Jesus’ cousin Clopas whose wife Mary is named in John 19.25. The author finds the location of the town Emmaus problematic. He concludes that historical proof does not exist that would prove the location of Emmaus. He concludes that in his final assessment that the Emmaus pericope “produces only meagre results and that the value of the narrative lies elsewhere than in history” (146). Assigning the passage to the realm of poetry, he contends that it is “the kind of thing that might happen” and “we can learn virtually nothing which is specifically historical the Emmaus story proper, but a good deal about the general character of Christian faith” (146).
III. Evaluation: Luedemann’s historical critical investigation lacks the depth and attention to detail that is necessary to develop the conclusions that he reports. A thorough investigation using this method would include: history of religion, form criticism, tradition criticism, a concern with the move from oral to written forms, and an investigation of Sitz im Leben. His reliance on thematic continuity as his main determining factor for attributing verses to Luke’s hand, does not look into the details of terminology, genre, and grammar that might raise questions to the source of the various verses. While investigating Luke’s theological thread is helpful, applying redaction criticism techniques to his historical critical findings would add considerably to his investigative depth. What are the “traditions” that he frequently refers to? In addition, Luedemann projects current theological view back onto Luke’s writing, especially as it pertains to the Eucharist (142-143). While he formulates the possibility of a pre-Lukan tradition, he moves to quickly to the possibility that this tradition is a cultic legend. Did he consider other possibilities? In his introduction, Luedemann suggest that we be aware of our own biases and presuppositions as we seek historical truth. This is good advice that perhaps the author should take. Luedemann continually ignores the possibility that what is behind the appearance story is an event that occurred in history and that although their were no eye witnesses to the event itself, there is circumstantial evidence that gives rise to the possibility of the event. Looking only at the questions of “Did it happen? How?” does not take the discussion far enough.
As we investigate the question of historicity with regard to discovering what rests behind the “appearance story tradition,” Luedemann’s investigation begs that we continue to dig deeper and look more closely at the basic tradition presented in the Emmaus story, the genre, and the theological themes of the gospel writers wove into the story. Like criminal investigators, we must look at every detail and possibility that the evidence raises leaving ourselves open to the possibility that our findings may not be at all what we expect.
“The Easter Stories In Luke”
Review provided by SS
The Easter Stories in Luke
The Easter Stories in Luke
I. Luke 24:36-53: Jesus' appearance to the (eleven) disciples
· 3 parts to this section:
1. vv. 36-43 recognition scene (=narrative)
2. vv. 44-49 instruction to the disciples (=discourse of Jesus)
3. vv. 50-53 farewell (narrative)
II. Section 1: Luke 24:36-45: Recognition scene
1. vv. 36 - 38: "as they were saying this", "he stood among them", "but they
were startled and frightened", "see", "Spirit", "in your hearts" derive from
Luke, Lukan in nature
2. vv. 39 - 41: 3 demonstrations of the resurrection:
a. Jesus' invitation to the disciples to see his hands and his feet in order
to recognize his identity. (v 39)
b. Invitation to touch him and see him…the risen Jesus is no spirit, but
consists of flesh and blood. (v 39)
c. Jesus asks whether the disciples have anything to eat. (v 41)
3. v 43
a. Jesus eats before their eyes and thus proves that he is neither a spirit
nor an angel because they don't eat, but humans do. Acts 1:4, 10:41
say that the risen Jesus later ate with his disciples. Luke stresses
physical reality of the risen Jesus, evidently wanting to strengthen
certainty of his readers (Luke 1:3-4)
b. Luke "inserted this very vivid narrative here in order to avoid the
magical-demonic conclusion that he feared. For him the expedient is
that the person who appears there is the risen Jesus with his body of
flesh and blood. The crude materialism which people have constantly
noted in the narrative thus in no way simply arose from naïve popular
belief, but theologically, with the deliberate intention of repressing the
rival magical and demonological interpretations." (Betz)
1. Underlying tradition shown by
a. the tensions with the preceding Emmaus story (despite previous
encounter of Jesus with Emmaus disciples and with Jesus, the
disciples are afraid)
b. parallel traditions in John 20:19-23 and Ignatius, To the Smyrnaeans
1. Tradition underlying Luke 24:36-43 is the story of appearance in which
the risen Jesus appears to his anxious disciples in bodily form. The focus
is the fleshly, physical form of Jesus after the resurrection. This is
secondary formation---probably of the second generation, which no
longer had any connection with the key witnesses to the "resurrection of
Jesus". It is a well thought out composition which in 3 steps documents
for the disciples the fleshly nature of the risen Christ.
C. Historical: Very little info because there is no genetic relationship to the
primary witnesses of the "resurrection" of Jesus. Applies to whole section (vv 36-53) as vv. 44-53 are shaped by outline of Luke's work and theology.
III. Section 2: Luke 24:44-49: Instruction to disciples
A. V 44 - 45: Jesus refers in retrospect to what he has said to the
disciples…just as Jesus already gave proofs from scripture during his
lifetime, now he also does so after his resurrection.
B. V 46: corresponds to Luke 9:22, Jesus' prophecy that he would suffer and
rise again on the third day.
C. V 47: Directs attention toward future and task of the disciples. (cf. Acts 2:32f,
38; 3:15f, 19; 5:28-32; 10:39,43)
D. V 48: corresponds to Acts 1:4. Prophecies about receiving the Spirit fulfillled
in Acts 2.
IV. Section 3: Luke 24:50-53: Farewell: wholly the work of Luke
A. V 50: parallel in Acts 1:9-11 where ascension takes place from Mount of
Olives; here it is from Bethany…not contradictions--Luke knows from Mark
11:1 that "Mount of Olives" and "Bethany" are geographically close together
or are identical as place names. For the blessing, see Leviticus 9:22 (Aaron
lifted hands toward the people and blessed them)
B. V 51: disappearance of Jesus: Lukan style that the one who appears
vanishes (Luke 1:38, 2:15, 9:33; Acts 10:7, 12:10) From v 31: for
Luke--communion with Jesus experienced in the eucharist. Once that is
clear, all has been said: Jesus can vanish.
C. V 52: "return" is Lukan in language, "great joy" takes up motif from v. 41
D. V 53: presence of community in the temple is in accord with Lukan theology:
the 12 year old Jesus remains in the temple (Luke2:46), as does the early
community (Acts 2:46; 3:1,4,52) In form-critical terms, v. 53 is a brief
summary, with parallels in Luke-Acts (Luke 1:65f., 80; 2:20, 40, 51f.; Acts
Chapters Five and Six: "The History and Nature of the Earliest Christian Belief in the Resurrection" and "The Resurrection Faith of the Earliest Community and Ourselves - or: Can We Still be Christians?"
Review provided by BLA
1. Stated goal from introduction: "the relationship between the proclamation of the historical Jesus and the faith of the first disciples,"
2. Chapter begins with personal analysis of the gospel passages regarding the final days of Jesus, including the motive for his arrest, the timing of both the execution and the reported post-death encounters with Jesus. Noting the reappearance of Jesus to Cephas and the resultant excitement this caused in the movement, Luedemann noted: "Perhaps the present was understood as the very last reprieve that God had given." (174) The final point is given amplification in the work of Martin Hengel on Psalm 110. (Note #673)
3. Outline of the historical developments in the story:
a) Breaking of the bread in the community as a reliving and endorsement of the fellowship they had with Jesus
b) Recollecting Jesus' activities and the reality of his word coming alive
c) Relying on psalms, particularly those of an "eschatological-messianic" tone, to now reflect the fulfillment of God's coming age, glorified in Jesus. (175)
4. At this point the efforts of Paul are included, including not only his initial suppression efforts of the early Christians, but also his reversal and entry into the missionary field on behalf of the ministry of Jesus.
Luedemann points out the difficulties in separating the various strands of the first exciting months in the lives of those people who will eventually be known as Christians. Acknowledging the excitement present in the earth disciples that is dimmed over time for us by the lack of temporal coherence in the stories related, he prefers to stick to the task at hand of putting what information we have into "historical sequence."
5. The question of the nature of early Christian belief is now addressed by noting the "central point" that "God had put himself at the side of Jesus," and that "God speaks to human beings through the crucified Christ." (176) A three-point analysis of our early Christian beliefs regarding the resurrection reveals that:
1) Through the crucifixion of Jesus they experience of the forgiveness of sins.
2) In living a faith that views the resurrection of Jesus as "overcoming death," "real eternal life was experienced here and now, the future is present."
3) Easter faith is now an eternity faith that looks forward while living in the present. (177)
While pointing out these three core points were wrapped in different theological systems, he points out that an analysis of them is not to the point of this current discussion regarding historicity of the event.
4. The author takes the encounters with the Risen Christ separately from the "original Easter experience" and notes that the appearance stories are "removed from the real (emphasis mine) Easter situation and historically speaking no longer contain primary reports. But some express in narrative form the content of the original Easter experience. (177)
5. The "content of the original Easter experience" in three readings:
· The forgiveness of sins (John 20: 19 – 23, Luke 5/John 21)
· The experience of life (John 20: 11 - 18)
· The experience of eternity (Luke 24: 13 – 31)
4. Luedemann removes the appearances of Jesus in bodily form as "even more remote from the Easter situation," and discusses the experiences of Paul as paradigmatic of the beliefs in the culture of the time, primarily that of "the heavenly body of Jesus (and of Christians) is a body which is pneumatic and imagined in material form, even if it has been changed." (177) This paragraph has, I believe, implications for our study of the appearance stories in the gospels as a gattung, or genre that reveals certain features behind the redactional wall presented by each gospel editor.
A comparison of a conservative hermeneutic based on "testimony of divine revelation" and a reductionist hermeneutic leads Luedemann to first discuss symbols and their role in the Christian faith. This leads him to the "heart of the matter" found in the final chapter.
Chapter six: The Resurrection Faith of the Earliest Community and Ourselves - or: Can We Still be Christians?
Opening questions of interest that Luedemann poses:
· How literally are we to understand the resurrection?
· How does our understanding of the literalness of the resurrection impact our understanding of the empty tomb?
· Is the "fate of Jesus' corpse" an essential piece of information for this study?
· Exactly how are we to understand the statement of faith we make in the Apostles' Creed: "I believe in the resurrection of the body?"
1. To him the questions posed around the historicity of the resurrection are critical for this point in human history lived in the midst of scientific knowledge that abounds with what the heavens really look like. After all, we need only peer into a telescope or watch TV pictures broadcast back to earth from a space vehicle to see that God's throne is not readily apparent!
2. Noting, "Easter resulted in a continuation of Jesus' practice of sharing meals," Luedemann then reviewed the insights gained from the historical reconstruction of the words of Jesus that tell of the "Easter experience." (181) As noted previously, these are the forgiveness of sins, the experience of life and the experience of eternity.
3. To Luedemann Jesus "showed himself alive to the disciples" through the cross and this restatement of the actual history of Jesus through the early resurrection faith corroborates a faith we already have in the "objective power" of him. (182)
He states that Jesus is the "ground of faith." (182) That statement is entirely within my belief system. But when he says that an historical Jesus provides him all he needs on which to base his faith and that the reality of Jesus is hidden from us by God, I feel bereft of a firm position for my faith. What happens to the statements and stories I have heard from childhood? Granted, many of those beliefs, myths, stories have been changed, modified and some even removed as my religious base of knowledge has been expanded over the years, including time spent at seminary. However, without a belief in resurrection I think our study loses ground as we work to separate historical fact from the redactional emphases, and our faith loses a distinctive, though admittedly difficult concept with which to grapple and yes, in which to believe.
To Luedemann the answer to the chapter-heading question, "can we still be Christians" is a resounding "yes." He states, "The man Jesus is the objective power which is the enduring basis of the experience of a Christian." To him it is no "harm that from now on...Christians should live by the little that they really believe, not by the much that they take pains to believe." (182)
“The Easter Stories In John”
Review provided by MB
The Doubting Thomas story is unique among the Easter stories. Thomas is not an Easter witness in any other gospel and is unique in his stubbornness. Apart from the listing of the twelve disciples in Mark, Luke, Matthew and Acts, Thomas only appears in the Gospel of John 11:16; 14:5; 20:24; 21:2 and in the present pericope. In this particular story Thomas appears to represent doubt. This story in John 20:24-29 is in tension with the previous story where all the disciples except Judas received the Holy Spirit and forgiveness.
- Verse 24 explains that he was not with the other disciples when Jesus sends the Holy Spirit.
- Verse 25- has a change in from the use of "We have see" to "They saw" and "I saw". The second part of the verse describes "unless I see in his hands the print of the nails." depicts a materialism as the condition of Thomas' faith. The demand to put a hand on Jesus' hand and nail refers back to John 19:34. The use of the nails only appears in the Gospel of Peter 6:21. It may refer back to Ps. 21:17-" They pierced my hands and feet".
- Verse 26- The note of time 'after eight days' puts further meeting of the disciples on Sunday. Verse 26 repeats verse 19 exactly.
- Verse 27- takes up verse 20 where Thomas requests to touch Jesus' side to be convinced of his identity. This is further seen in Epistula Apostolorum. The invitation to not be faithless seems to indicate what is important.
- Verse 28- Thomas does not accept Jesus invitation. Thomas exclaims ' My Lord and My God' (John 10: 30) and Thomas believes. According to Luedemann, at this same point, the reader sees a model of their own belief as in Martha (John 11:27) and Simon Peter. There is no need according to Luedemann for touching because the word of Jesus creates faith.
- 29- This verse according to Luedemann speaks in a reproachful tone of Thomas' seeing and not touching and seems to indicate that it is not seeing that is important but faith. This is not far from Matt 28:16-20 where the message of the Risen One and obedience to this word is the way to the overcoming of doubt.
- Thomas affects all the other disciples. The doubt of Thomas represents the common attitude of men who do not believe without seeing miracles. According to Luedemann, it is not the sight of the Risen Lord that first moves the disciples to believe but the word that Jesus spoke.
The pericope about Thomas represents in history a late stage of early Christian Easter Stories. It has no genetic relationship to the earliest Easter events. Secondary references to John 20:19-22. It is easy to regard it as a secondary construction of the author. It gave an independent expression to the motif of doubt in a special story. The Thomas pericope is similar to the structure of other stories in John where individuals play a special role. Thus, Luedemann says that Anton Dauer draws the conclusion that the evangelist has attached to the figure Thomas a theme of unbelief that is overcome by an encounter with Christ. The evangelist also uses the figure of Thomas to address the problematical question of the value of such faith.
My conclusion in reading of the pericope surrounding Thomas is very similar to Luedemann's understanding. However, the question remains that the theme of belief and faith are instrumental to the Gospel of John. The Thomas story continues this or does it? Does the Risen Lord and the Holy Spirit have different affects on some of us? It seems that the Evangelist was attempting to relate some of these issues that were facing other Christians since the Resurrection such as unbelief and guilt or denial. Is it necessary to have a personal encounter with Christ to have faith?
The Risen Christ by the Sea of Tiberias- (chapter 21)
According to Luedemann, chapter 21 was attached to chapter 20 at a subsequent stage for the following reasons:
1. Chapter 20 is the conclusion to a book
2. Chapter 21 introduces the Beloved Disciple as the author of the whole Gospel while there is no reference to this author in Chapters 1-20.
3. John 21 sometimes has different language from John 20 especially paidia (v5) as an address to the disciples and adelphoi (v23) as a designation of the Christians. However, this finding is not a preliminary decision about the age of the traditions contained in John. Still Luedemann considers the author of chapter 20 as the one who composed 21. The author of chapter 20 and 21 are not necessarily identical even though this can not be excluded.
Verse1- It corresponds to v 14 and comes from the author. The phrase ' was revealed' is mentioned three previous times. The appearance of Mary Magdalene is not counted, an appearance story because the disciples were not involved in the appearance.
-2- This verse begins the list of the people involved during the story of the Appearance of Jesus by the Sea of Tiberas. There are seven in all. The sons of Zebedee may go back to tradition, as they are not mentioned elsewhere in the Gospel of John. The other two disciples who are not described and are referred to in v 1 are redactional. Luedemann compares the seven disciples listed to the seven churches in Revelation.
-3- This is the concentrated narrative of an unsuccessful fishing trip. It has a close parallel in Luke 5:5.
-4- The time is noted 'as day is breaking' follows from the previous night. The story of a failed fishing trip becomes an appearance of Jesus much like Mary Magdalene. The disciples do not recognize Jesus. According to Luedemann, at this point there is no difference between Peter and the disciples.
-5 The familiar address children (paidia) appears in John. The Greek word for food (prosphagion) is often synonymous with fish. The use of the word fish by the author may suggest that the author was thinking of the meal described later.
-6- This contains Jesus' command to the disciples to cast the net on the right side. This is a reverse of the failure stated earlier.
-7- Redactionally, this is an interlude involving the Beloved Disciple and Peter that has been inserted. As in John 20:8, the Beloved recognizes before Peter.
Verses 8-10- This concludes the fishing story and in this way the traditions of the catch and the appearance are closely woven.
-11- Peter again takes the central role. The detail of the story leads to the miraculous character of the event. According to Luedemann, for the redactor the net is a symbol of the church and large number of fish expresses its universality.
-12 - The first part of the verse is in tension with the second part of the verse. Jesus gives and invitation to have a meal. Yet, there is tension between the disciples wanting to ask and their knowledge. The Redactor in verse 7 has already identified Jesus but only Peter had heard it.
-13- The introduction of the sentence with 'Jesus came' corresponds to the beginning of 20:18(Mary Magdalene came) and the gesture of the dividing the fish recalls John 6:11. The gesture itself explains that the Risen Lord is present.
Traditions: Verse 2-4a belong to the tradition of a catch of a fish which is like Luke 5 that was connected with an Easter narrative of a call of Peter. In John 21, also includes a fishing trip, but it was unsuccessful.
a. There is a historical connection between the fishing story in both Luke 5 and John 21. According to Willhelm Knevels, " In no way is the empty tomb a proof for the resurrection of Jesus" This indicates that chapter 20 and 21 are necessary for proof of the resurrection
b. It is in the late tradition (it should be reviewed with the Emmaus story. The eucharist is understood as a symbol of encounter with the Risen Lord.
c. According to Pesch, the relationship between Luke 5 and John 21 is a fishing story and not an Easter story. Luedemann disagrees because he considers John 21 redactional. It is to be challenged since the narrative is a priori focused on the post- Easter mission. Thus is a primarily a call and only secondarily a miracle story for which Pesch can not find a parallel in religious history.
The Risen Christ and Simon Peter:
In verses 15-17, there is a conversation between Jesus and Peter that has an integrated structure. Jesus asks Peter questions and he answers. Peter's answers are followed by commands by Jesus. The verbs in 1st and 3rd commands are identical "feed" and the object of the reference is sheep. The second and third questions are generally referring to Peter's position in the church.
Verse 18-19- The verses shape a third dialogue by Jesus prophesying the death of Peter on the cross. Then in conclusion follows an invitation " Follow me". The third command "Feed my sheep" is supplemented by a call to discipleship leading to martyrdom. It is now possible for Peter to become a disciple of Jesus since despite his denial he has been forgiven.
Tradition: Luedemann's last observation is that the redaction showed the meaning of the pericope to be that the denial of Jesus by Peter has been overcome by the repeated commissioning of Peter. The threefold structure of the dialogue is perhaps an imitation of the denials Peter also narrated in the Gospel of John. According to Lyder Brun, John 21 cannot be regarded as original tradition. Bultmann takes the opposite view. He does not believe that 18-19 has no relation to the account of the denial. Bultmann regards the tradition in v15-17 as a variant in the commissioning as it appears in Matt 16: 17-19. And Luke 22:32. It is probable to make a connection between the denial of Peter and the experience of grace. This may be probable on the basis common to Luke 5 and John 21:1-13.
Historical: All the events and tradition of John 21:15-17 drives from the recollection of a protophany of Jesus to Peter from the earliest post Easter period. The vision of Peter and commission corresponds historically. (Matt. 16). The section on Peter and the Beloved disciple illuminates the relationship between Peter and the Beloved Disciple.
Since the Beloved disciple is already following Jesus and Peter waits for an invitation, it makes the Beloved disciple spiritually superior and refers back to the last supper in John 18. The conversation between Peter and Jesus is used to clear two points: The authority promised to Peter has gone to the Beloved disciple and Despite his death the Beloved Disciple remains the guarantor of the Johannine community since he is regarded as the author of the Gospel.
Result: The traditions of the appearance and the tomb originally did not have anything in common. The earliest appearances did not take place at the tomb and the tomb tradition is already a response to Jewish questions about the disappearance of the body. The two stories came together so they unrecognizable.
Questions still remain: Where did the original appearance take place? There are arguments for Galilee and Jerusalem.
The questions for me is that even if the tomb and appearance stories are not connected, they are connected today, so what are we to do? Did the author have another purpose by using the belief story and the appearance stories with Peter and the Beloved disciple. Somehow these ideas are connected or are they?
“The Easter Stories In John”
Review provided by SC
introduces the appearance stories in John by discussing briefly the origins of
this gospel.He claims that the debate
about John being a later composition than the synoptic gospels is hard to
uphold because “numerous traditions were circulating which have been collected
together in the gospel of John, whereas the synoptic gospels did not preserve
these and represented a later stage”.Some of John may be later, but some may be earlier seems to be his point
then turns to a discussion of John 20:1-8, which is the story of the two
disciples visiting the tomb and Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene.Luedemann takes a fairly expository approach
and he divides his discussion into redaction, traditions, and historical
subsections.He claims that this
passage corresponds to Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, and Matthew 28:1.He is sure to emphasize the apparent rivalry
between the Johannine community and the mainstream church community aligned
with Peter.This is seen in the race to
the tomb between the Beloved disciple, who is said to have been the main source
for the gospel of John, and Peter.The
Beloved disciple wins, supposedly because of his greater love for Jesus,
according to Luedemann.The author had
also left the beloved disciple lingering at the cross longer (John 19:26).In the discussion about the story about Mary
Magdalene, Luedemann gives a few reasons why Jesus told her not to touch
him.Contact may prevent Jesus from
ascending to the Father, since he has not yet done that.Perhaps Jesus has not yet attained a real
heavenly body.There is a question
whether the Risen Lord can be touched at all.
on to the traditions section, Luedemann suggests that the author has linked
this appearance story with the story of the tomb in Mark, claiming that the
author inserted verses 3-10.He also
claims that the form of the recognition narrative suggests that it is late in
the historical section, Luedmann claims that the tradition of the appearance to
Mary Magdalene is relatively late.He
then discusses the possibility that Paul may have not included Mary Magdalene
in his list of witnesses (1 Cor. 15:2-8).After specifying the difference in forms of these passages (narrative
for John and list of witnesses for Paul), he claims that Paul may have deleted
Mary’s name, which opens the possibility that Mary Magdalene or one of the
other women was the first to witness the Resurrection, but does not imply it to
be the case.Luedemann discusses the
Gnostic texts that are related and concludes at the end of this section that he
agrees with Susanne Heine in that there was a conflict between the main church
and Gnosticism and that Mary Magdalene represents part of that battle.She is not a symbol of emancipation but just
an example of the inclusion of women to the church.
next text was John 20:19-23.Luedemann
has a much shorter discussion here and he lumps redaction and tradition
together.He claims that in verse 20,
the demonstration of the hands and side of Jesus was done to show that the
“Risen Lord and the Crucified are one.”Luedemann claims later that the emphasis on mission in verse 21 was not
just a creation of the author because of earlier texts with similar themes in
the appearance stories (1 Cor. 9:1, Gal. 1:15f.).Luedemann ends this section by claiming that the passage goes
back to Luke 24:36-49.
the historical section, Luedemann claims that because of the dependence on
Luke, we must rule out an eyewitness from the source of the appearance stories
in John.The tradition does seem old
and in parts “authentic”.Luedemann
concludes this part by stating that the original seeing of the Easter witnesses
was a seeing in the spirit and not the seeing of a revived corpse.
Questions and Interaction:
interactions with this snipit of Gerd Luedemann’s book did revive some of my
old questions.New questions were
raised, as well.
discussion of the rivalry between the main church and the Johannine community
made me want to ask if other rivalries existed and were they reflected in other
gospels?Why did Peter’s faction end up
winning, as reflected in the tradition of the Catholic church holding Peter as
the first “pope”?
also wonder, if Paul may have left our Mary Magdalene in his list of witnesses
to the Resurrected Jesus, who else did he leave out?Were the women really the first to see the Risen Lord?
idea of Jesus telling people not to touch him because he had not yet ascended
to the Father intrigues me still.I
liked to read Luedemann’s suggestions.Whose description of the resurrection body should we believe” Paul’s,
which was recorded earlier, or the implied untouchable one in John?