D Again Why Resurrection

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So. once again. why 'resurrection' ? It remains a question which we cannot answer with great confidence. But presumably there was something in what the first witnesses saw which they could bring to expression only with this term 'resurrection' . There seems to have been something about these Easter experiences which impacted in a determinative and decisive way in the affirmation. 'God has raised Jesus from the dead!'

(1) The most obvious alternative is in terms of hallucination. the projection of wishful thinking. the reaction of disappointed hope.217 But does that provide a satisfactory answer to the question Why 'resurrection'?218 There were precedents for visions of a dead hero. now seen as exalted to heaven. A vision which was the product of current ideas regarding exalted martyrs would more likely have seen Jesus clothed in heavenly majesty. We have such a vision in Rev. E12-16. But in all (most of) the early resurrection appearances Jesus seems to be still very earthbound. A self-projected vision would presumably be clothed in the imagery most closely to hand. That would include preeminently the imagery of Dan. 7.13-14. especially if it had been evoked by Jesus himself.219 We would then anticipate visions of Jesus in apocalyptic garb. clothed in dazzling white. and/or riding on the clouds of heaven.220

But that is not what we find. On the contrary. it is the unexpectedness of the

Arguments based on the fear and despair of the disciples following Jesus' crucifixion. as portrayed in the Gospels. can be used in support of diverse and divergent psychological theories. On psychological explanations for Peter's seeing and reconstructions of Paul's mental state prior to his Damascus road vision (including Ludemann. Resurrection 82-84. 97-100; Goulder. 'Did Jesus of Nazareth Rise from the Dead?' 58-63) see Wedderburn. Beyond Resurrection 75-77. 269 n. 205. and below. vol. 2. Contrast Pannenberg: 'The Easter appearances are not to be explained from the Easter faith of the disciples; rather. conversely. the Easter faith of the disciples is to be explained from the appearances' {Jesus 96).

217. See above. n. 213. J. J. Pilch. 'Appearances of the Risen Jesus in Cultural Context: Experiences of Alternate Reality'. BTB 28 (1998) 52-60. suggests a further case of altered states of consciousness or experiences of alternate reality as an appropriate means of interpreting the biblical accounts (see also above. chapter 11 n. 171 and chapter 15 nil, 243. 338).

218. Catchpole. Resurrection People 208-10.

220. P. Hoffmann, 'Auferstehung Jesu Christi', TRE 4.478-513 (here 496-97).

interpretation put upon the resurrection appearances which is so striking, compared with what was currently being envisaged in regard to exalted saints and martyred heroes of the past. Appearances of Jesus which impacted on the witnesses as resurrection appearances did not conform to any known or current par-adigm.221 Instead, they created their own.

(2) It also should be observed that 'resurrection' is indeed core belief from the beginning. The 'resurrection of Jesus' is itself the beginning of belief in Jesus as exalted, and not simply an elaboration of some other affirmation or prior belief. My own focus remains, as throughout, on the impact on the disciples and eschews any attempt to get behind that belief to some objectively conceived event. But it remains the case that 'the resurrection of Jesus', the articulation in a formulation in these terms, is the impact. It was by means of this language that they 'grasped' what had happened to Jesus, not just conceptualized their experience at some remove; rather we would better say that this was how they conceptually experienced what they experienced.222

This has to be said in face of the temptation to treat 'the resurrection of Jesus' as a secondary expression of some other impact, that is, as the way of giving eschatological significance to what actually made the difference to the first Christians. In recent decades the clearest exposition along these lines has been by Willi Marxsen. He argues that 'the resurrection of Jesus' was simply a way of saying that the significance of Jesus' teaching or mission could never die: 'the purpose of Jesus is continued . . . Jesus' kerygma continues to be preached';223 'the cause of Jesus lives on beyond Good Friday'.224 The basic problem here is

221. Cf. my Jesus and the Spirit 132; Craig, Assessing 410-18; Barclay, 'Resurrection'

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