Info

resurrection appearances.

(3) Resurrection. I have already indicated the character of resurrection hope in the Judaism of Jesus' day.193 Also that the predominant expression of that hope was in terms of the general or final resurrection, prior to the final judgment. That might seem to rule out the category as relevant to understanding what had happened to Jesus.194 In contrast, however, it seems to have been just this category, with its 'final' connotations, which provided the earliest articulation of resurrection faith.195 Consider the following indications.

189. Acts 5.30-31; Phil. 2.8-9; in John's Gospel the 'lifting up' seems to be a single upward sweep through cross to heaven, as it were (John 12.32, 34); in Hebrews Jesus' death as (high) priest symbolizes him taking the blood of sacrifice (his own blood) into the heavenly sanctuary.

190. See, e.g., John 20.17-18; Acts 2.29-33; Rom. 10.9 (the resurrection made Jesus 'Lord'); 1 Cor. 15.20-28 (allusion to Ps, 110.1 [1 Cor. 15.25] set in the context of teaching on the resurrection); Heb. 13.20; 1 Pet. 3.21-22.

191. R. Pesch, 'Zur Entstehung des Glaubens an die Auferstehung Jesu. Ein neuer Versuch' (1983), in Hoffmann, ed., Überlieferung 228-55 (here 243-44).

192. Pesch ('Entstehung' 247-50) is able to point only to the visions of Stephen (Acts 7.55-56) and of John the seer (Rev. 1.13-16; 14.14), neither of which is usually reckoned a 'resurrection appearance', and the Gos. Heb. 7 account of the appearance to James, cited above (n. 171).

194. As Wedderburn observes, the idea of an individual resurrection did not emerge so much from the disparate texts, which only with hindsight were seen so to speak, as from what was believed to have happened to Jesus (Beyond Resurrection 41). Müller reckons that 2 Maccabees 7 looked for an immediate resurrection (Entstehung 30-35; rightly questioned by Wedderburn 41-42), but then argues that this would not have provided a way of conceptualizing their visionary experiences for the first disciples; the decisive 'impulse' must have owed more to Jesus' own preaching of God's kingly rule (24-35) and personal expectation (Luke 12.49-50; 13.31-32; Mark 14.25) (36-46), which pointed to eschatological resurrection (55-60, 67-71).

'That the completely alien reality experienced in these appearances could be understood as an encounter with one who had been raised from the dead can only be explained from

(i) One of the early confessional formulae which Paul echoes is Rom. 1.34: the gospel (not just Paul's gospel) concerns God's Son, 'who . . . was appointed Son of God in power ... as from the resurrection of the dead'. The last phrase is striking. We would have expected 'the resurrection from the dead' (anastasis ek nekron).19 6 Instead we have 'the resurrection of the dead' (anastasis nekron), the phrase used when it is the final resurrection which is in view.197 The point is confirmed by the fact that elsewhere Paul is recalled as treating the Christian claims for Jesus' resurrection as a test case for the Pharisaic belief in the (final) resurrection.198 The point is that Paul and those who articulated and used the formula regarded the resurrection of Jesus as of a piece with the final

(ii) Paul also uses the imagery of 'firstfruits (aparche)' to describe the significance of Christ's resurrection (1 Cor. 15.20, 23). The imagery is of resurrection as a harvest of the dead; Paul returns to the agricultural metaphor in 15.3738, 42-44 — resurrection as the emergence to new (different) life of the seed which has 'died' in the ground (15.36). But the aparche is actually part of the harvest itself, the first sheaf of corn to be reaped and set aside to be offered up to God. There is no time-gap between the first sheaf and the rest of the harvest; the aparche is the beginning of the whole harvest.200 Such a metaphor could have been coined only if Jesus' resurrection had been regarded as the beginning of the final resurrection. In which case, it is equally unlikely that the metaphor was coined by Paul himself or coined some twenty years after the event. Its origin must surely go back to the earliest days, and it can have been coined only by those who did indeed regard Jesus' resurrection as the beginning of the (general) resurrection of (all) humankind (1 Cor.

(iii) This line of thought probably illumines the otherwise completely puzzling report in Matt. 27.52-53 that Jesus' resurrection coincided with the resurrection of many of the saints (buried outside Jerusalem). To be more precise: the earthquake at the time of Jesus' death opened the tombs of the dead, many were the presupposition of a particular form of the apocalyptic expectation of the resurrection of the dead'; 'Only as the beginning of the end . . . could Jesus' resurrection be understood as the confirmation of his pre-Easter claim to authority' (Pannenberg, Jesus 93, 106). Cf. Crossan and Reed, Excavating Jesus 258-62.

197. Matt. 22.31; 1 Cor. 15.12-13, 42; Heb. 6.2. On Heb. 11.35 see above, chapter 17

198. Acts 23.6; 24.21. Similarly Acts 17.31; was part of the disbelief in 17.32 occasioned by the suggestion that the resurrection preparatory to judgment (17.31) had already happened?

199. See, e.g., Allison, End of the Ages 67-68; Dunn, Romans 15-16.

200. Further detail in my Romans 473-74, raised. and after Jesus' resurrection 'they came out from the tombs. went into the holy city and appeared to many'.201 The legend appears to be very old and whatever is to be made of it. it probably reflects the same very early perception of Jesus' resurrection as the start of the final resurrection.202

So our question returns with added force: why was the first articulation of post-Easter faith in just these terms — 'resurrection'. the beginning of the resurrection of the dead? But the question itself still needs further clarification.

Study Aid

Study Aid

This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To Getting A Scholarship And Financial Support For Your Studies.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment