A Why Did the First Witnesses Conclude That God Had Raised Jesus from the Dead

Had they simply wanted to affirm his vindication or the vindication of his message,179 they could have done so in other ways. Here, as in chapter 15, we need to take note of the options open to them.

(1) Translation or rapture. The most prominent examples in this category were Enoch (Gen. 5.24) and Elijah (2 Kgs. 2.11-12). They had been translated or raptured to heaven and remained there with the possibility of returning to earth. As already noted, there was considerable speculation current at the time of Jesus

177. 'We may reckon that the appearances of Jesus were talked about immediately after they happened' (Ludemann, Resurrection 38, his emphasis).

179. So particularly Marxsen, Resurrection (see below, §18.5d).

regarding their current and future roles — Enoch as the 'scribe of righteousness'180 and Elijah's return.181 Josephus also reports speculation regarding Moses, whether he had died or been 'translated' (metastenai) by God to himself (Ant. 3.96-97), or had gone back to the deity (pros to theion anachöresai) (4.326). And within a few decades of Jesus' death we find Ezra and Baruch both being spoken of as 'taken up' to live in heaven, 'until the times are ended' (4 Ezra 14.9), 'preserved until the end of times' (2 Bar. 13.3).182

A crucial difference, of course, is that translation excluded death: neither Enoch nor Elijah had died, and the speculation regarding Moses, Ezra, and Baruch saw translation as an alternative to death.183 But the death of Jesus is central to the Jesus tradition. So a parallel here would not have been obvious; translation in that form was not so much of an option. I only pause to observe that it has been suggested as an option in the case of Mark's account of the empty tomb (lacking any account of a resurrection appearance)184 and was subsequently drawn on (in effect) by the docetic claim that Christ had not in fact been crucified.185

(2) Vindication/exaltation. A much more likely category is that of the vindication or exaltation of a dead man.186 We have already referred to the hope entertained by and for the righteous man, as classically expressed in Wis. 3.1-9 and 5.1-5 (§17.6a): he will be seen as numbered among the sons of God (5.5). Similarly the manlike figure of Daniel 7 represented the hopes of 'the saints' for (final) vindication before the throne of Yahweh. In 2 Macc. 15.13-14 Jeremiah appears to Judas Maccabeus in 'a trustworthy dream' as a figure of heavenly majesty. In T. Job 40.3 Job sees his dead children 'crowned with the splendour of the heavenly one'.188 In T. Abr. 11, Adam (Recension A) or Abel (Recension B) is seen as sitting in final judgment. Jesus evidently reckoned that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not (no longer?) dead but 'living' (Mark 12.2627 pars.).

182. 4Ezra 6.26; 14.9, 50; ^ Bar. 13.3; 43.2; 46.7; 48.30; 76.2; see Stone, Fourth Ezra

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