The Tradition within the Traditions a The Diversity of the Traditions

Can we penetrate through these various traditions to their origin? In comparison with the Synoptic tradition of Jesus' mission. the prospects are not bright.141 There are too many idiosyncratic and puzzling curious features about the data.142

(1) So many of the appearances have only single attestation: to Cleopas and his unidentified companion. to the to James. and to 'all the apostles' — four of the twelve appearances listed above. In addition. the appearance to Peter is referred to twice. but as a bare mention each time. unless we include John 21.15-19.

(2) Where there is some overlap it is almost tangential — particularly in the case of the appearances to Mary /women at/near the tomb. and the appearance to the eleven in Galilee. The only substantively overlapping traditions are the varied accounts of appearances to the rest of the twelve in Jerusalem. There a core is evident. more substantial as a core. indeed. than any other shared Synop-tic/Johannine pericope.

(3) On the other hand. it is precisely the appearances to the eleven which pose the question 'Where?' most sharply — Jerusalem or Galilee? Some divergence in location is to be expected in the diversity of performance. But overall

139. See. e.g.. M. E. Thrall. 2 Corinthians (ICC; Edinburgh: Clark. 1994. 2000) 1.31620 (bibliography in n. 878).

141. 'It is quite remarkable that an almost hour-by-hour remembrance prevailed for the death and burial of Jesus but an almost total discrepancy prevailed for what was. I would presume. even more important. namely. the extraordinary return of Jesus from beyond the grave . . .' (Crossan. Historical Jesus 395).

142. As noted above (chapter 4 n. 23). Reimarus's treatment still constitutes the classic enumeration of the contradictions within the resurrection narratives; for a summary see Wedderburn. Beyond Resurrection 24-25.

the diversity is beyond anything we have so far encountered — except in the two accounts of Judas's death (Matt. 27.3-10/Acts 1.16-19), where the lack of agreement signals, if anything, the relative lack of importance of the tradition for the early Christian In contrast, I started by noting that the several ac counts of the appearance to Paul, which all occur in the same writing (Acts), provide a good example of what has proved to be the typical traditioning process for the Jesus tradition (§8.4a). But they strictly speaking are not part of the Jesus tradition. Whereas the appearances to the twelve/eleven are the conclusion to the Jesus tradition according to the unanimous voice of the canonical Gospels. Should we then conclude that they too were unimportant for the early communities of Jesus' disciples?!

(4) Equally baffling is the tension between appearances on earth and appearances from heaven. How could the appearance to Paul have proved so acceptable to the Jerusalem leadership if what was clearly perceived as an appearance from heaven was exceptional? Or does the ambiguity of the Matt. 28.16-20 indicate some confused perception on the point?143 And we do not know what 'category' other appearances (to the 500-plus, to 'all the apostles') fell into. Is there room, therefore, for an argument such as that of Peter Carnley, that all the early appearances were actually 'from heaven'?144

There is no question, then, as to the diversity of the traditions at this point. The more important question, however, is whether the differences are out of character with a traditioning process which took for granted variability among performances. Which raises the further question whether the obvious conclusion that the traditions in their present forms are unharmonizable has paid sufficient attention to the character of the tradition and of the traditioning b. A Core Tradition?

In point of fact, however, a number of common elements are readily discernible in the appearance traditions which span a considerable portion of their diversity.

144. Carnley, Structure 'the entire thrust of the evidence is towards the view that whatever was "seen" appeared "from heaven"' (242-43).

145. When Evans observes that 'It is hardly the same Lord who speaks. In Matthew it is evidently a Matthean Lord who speaks, in Luke a Lukan Lord and in John a Johannine Lord' {Resurrection 67), is he doing more than simply observing the characteristic features of performative variation?

146. It is equally unsatisfactory for Craig simply to argue that 'the controlling presence of living eyewitnesses would retard significant accrual of legend' (Assessing 387). What is required, and what I try to provide, is a cogent account of the traditioning process itself.

(1) A key element is that they 'saw'Jesus: Mary saw Jesus (John 20.14); he appeared (dphthe) to Peter (Luke 24.34/1 Cor. 15.5) and the others listed in 1 Cor. 5.5-8;147 Cleopas recognized Jesus at the last (Luke 24.31); Jesus showed his wounds (Luke 24.40/John 20.20); they tell Thomas, 'We have seen the Lord' (John 20.25), and Thomas believes because he saw (20.29); the eleven see Jesus in Galilee (Matt. 28.17) and he shows himself to them (John 21.1); Paul 'saw' Jesus on the road to Damascus.148 This 'seeing' was evidently regarded as of first importance, as both Luke (Acts 1.22) and Paul (1 Cor. 9.1) attest. No one could be recognized as an 'apostle' who had not seen the Lord.

(2) Somewhat paradoxically, an almost equally attested motif is failure to recognize Jesus. This failure is signalled in several of the most elaborate accounts of appearances: to Mary (John 20.14-15), to Cleopas (Luke 24.16), and to the seven on the lake (John It is matched by the note of doubt and disbelief: notably in the appearances to the eleven in Jerusalem (Luke 24.41), to Thomas (John 20.24-29), and to the eleven in Galilee (Matt. 28.17). Whereas the failure to recognize is remedied within the account and the doubt of Thomas is carefully met, Matthew makes no attempt to indicate that the doubt of the eleven in Galilee was removed.149

(3) Another common motif is that of commission: the women (Mary) are to tell the brothers (Matt. 28.10/John 20.17), Peter is to feed the sheep (John 21.1519), the commission to tell is implicit in Cleopas' haste to. return to Jerusalem when it was already evening (Luke the eleven are explicitly commissioned both in Jerusalem and in Galilee (Matt. 28.19-20), and the appearance to 'all the apostles' prior to the appearance to Paul was presumably what made them apostles (1 Cor. 15.7).151 As with the 'seeing', this element was evidently crucial if one who 'saw the Lord' was to be recognized as an apostle.

(4) Less common, but a motif in several accounts is an appearance in the

147. It is important to observe, as Carnley reminds us {Structure 139-43), that the documentation in 1 Cor. 15.5-7 is presented as evidence.

149. Cf. Jeremias: 'The characteristic feature of the earliest stratum of tradition is that it still preserves a recollection of the overpowering, puzzling and mysterious nature of the events . . . the same mysterious chiaroscuro . . .' (Proclamation 303).

151. The seeing alone did not constitute apostleship, as the implied distinction between the appearances to the and to 'all the apostles' indicates; even so, the former are cited as witnesses, most of whom were still alive (1 Cor. 15.6) and so (it is also implied) available to be consulted as witnesses.

152. Acts 1.22; 1 Cor. 9.1-2; 15.8-11. This is the strength of U. Wilckens's categorisation of these clauses as 'legitimation formulae' ('Tradition-History' 59-60; Resurrection

114), even if he overdoes the point ('Tradition-History' 66). See further my Jesus and the Spirit 110-14, 128-32; Perkins, Resurrection 195-214.

context of or involving a meal in in John in the longer Markan ending (Mark 16.14). and in Ignatius. Smyrn. 3.3.

(5) Not least of relevance is the tradition that Jesus first appeared 'on the first day of the week' (Sunday) following his crucifixion and burial. explicit or implicit in the first five of the appearances listed in §18.3. Here we should add that 'on the first day of the week' was clearly part of the core tradition of the discovery that the tomb was empty (§18.2). Furthermore it clearly accords with the 'third day' tradition which was already firmly attached to the confessional formula received by Paul after his conversion: 'that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures' (1 Cor. 15.4). Nor should we forget the striking but often neglected fact that from as early as we can trace. Sunday had become a day of special significance for Christians. 'the Lord's day'. precisely because it was the day on which they celebrated the resurrection of the Lord.

The emergence of this tradition could be explained as one of the fruits of the search for proof from prophecy.157 or even from the memory something Jesus had said. The only problem in the first case is that the one plausible Scripture candidate is Hos. but no NT writer ever cites it as such a proof — a re markable fact. given the extensive use of Scripture consistently evident in NT treatment of Jesus' death and resurrection. And in the second. the earliest

154. Crossan adds in the earlier feeding miracles (Mark 6 and John 6). suggesting that bread and fish Eucharists and their institutionalization stories went back before anyone ever thought of writing a biographical narrative of Jesus and hence of having to decide what happened "before" and what "after" his death' (Historical Jesus 399). In contrast. Roloff observes a tension between the meal traditions and the thrust of the resurrection kerygma (Kerygma 263).

156. Rev. 1.10; Did. 14.1; Ignatius, Magn. 9.1; Gos. Pet. 9.35; 12.50. For full discussion see W. Rordorf. Sunday: The History of the Day ofRest and Worship in the Earliest Centuries of the Christian Church (London: SCM. 1968).

157. Grass. Ostergeschehen 127-38; Evans. Resurrection 47-50. 75-76: 'not intended as a chronological but as a theological statement' (48); Fuller. Formation 23-27; Ludemann. Resurrection 47.

158. Hos. 'Come. let us return to the Lord; for he has torn. that he may heal us; he has stricken. and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up. that we may live before him.' So most recently Evans. 'Did Jesus Predict?' 94-96. The earlier attempts by Lehmann. Auferweckt 262-90. and H. K. McArthur. 'On the Third Day'. NTS 18 (1971-72) 81-86. to explain the reference from rabbinic interpretation of this (and other) 'third day' passages do not carry much weight for such an early Christian credal formula; but cf. Schrage, 1 Korinther 4.39-43.

159. Jeremias observes that Tertullian. Adv. Judaeos 13. is the first to cite Hos. 6.2 in connection with the resurrection {Proclamation 304). It could be. of course. that the 'in accor memories of what Jesus may have said160 are not so precise as 'on the third day' ('after three days') and in the Passion predictions were amended to 'on the third day' — presumably because what was remembered as having happened was remembered as happening 'on the third day'.161

If we are looking for 'core' elements in the traditions, then the first, third, and fifth of those just listed could be fairly regarded as such. And as with the core elements of the Jesus tradition proper we can be confident that these were part of the tradition from the first, indeed, that the tradition first as expression of the impact made by the experiences enshrined in the core.162 No one who has studied the data can doubt that the Christian witness on this theme began from a number of experiences understood as seeings of Jesus alive after he had been dead.163 It was not that some conviction regarding Jesus was subsequently cast in the form of a resurrection experience story. The stories were remembered as visual or visionary experiences, because that is how they were experienced; that was the impact crystallized in the core tradition. They not only believed they had seen the Lord, they had experienced a seeing of the Lord alive from the dead.

Moreover, the formative experiences were evidently also experiences of personal encounter and communication. It came to them as a personal commissioning. That was evidently how Paul experienced the appearance to him.164 And presumably it was the degree of conformity between his related experience and the earlier appearance-experiences which persuaded the first disciples that their former enemy had indeed been converted, and not only so, but commissioned to join their ranks as a proclaimer of the resurrection. How we interpret these experiences may be another question. What we should recognize as beyond reasonable doubt is that the first believers experienced 'resurrection appearances 'and that those expe dance with the Scriptures' refers to the 'he was raised . . .', rather than specifically to 'on the third day'. See further Wedderburn, Beyond Resurrection 48-53.

162. Cf. Alsup's analysis in Post-Resurrection Appearance Stories 3, which he summarizes thus: 'although the appearance stories of the gospel tradition show an almost unprecedented fluidity and proclivity to redactional freedom and variation a form with constants of motif and theme is discernible behind that fluidity, a form fixed enough ... [to be called] a NT 'It would seem that the farthest point in the origins of the tradition to which we may reach back is to the Gattung itself which declared that the risen Lord encountered and re-established fellowship with his own and sent them out in his service' (213, 274).

163. E.g., Pannenberg cites J. Leipoldt: 'One cannot doubt that the disciples were convinced that they had seen the resurrected Lord. Otherwise the origin of the community in Jerusalem and with it of the church becomes an enigma' (Jesus 91).

164. It is for this reason that Paul's conversion may equally be described as a commissioning; see again my Theology ofPaul 177-79.

165. See further below, riences are enshrined, as with the earlier impact made by Jesus' teaching and actions, in the traditions which have come down to us.

The 'third day' tradition is more problematic. For if it was initially formulated in relation to the resurrection appearances,166 that runs quite counter to the strong tradition of resurrection appearances first in Galilee (Mark), or first at least to the male disciples (Matthew). To reach Galilee from Jerusalem took far longer than three days. Perhaps, then, it emerged from the memory of appearances in and around Jerusalem on the evening of the first Sunday (Luke, John). Or should we give more weight to the fact that it is the empty tomb tradition which consistently includes in its core the time note, the first day of the whereas the Jerusalem appearance traditions simply take up from the stories of the empty tomb, or speak of evening of) the same The empty tomb traditions also include proclamation of Jesus' resurrection, so the conclusion, on the third could have been early drawn and become part of the first confessional affirmation from the first.

In short, although the enduring forms of the resurrection appearance traditions give minimal evidence of a core spine elaborated in the subsequent performances still available to us, we can nevertheless speak of a core tradition evident within and through the diversity of these traditions.

c. The Silences of the Tradition

But we have still to take account of what in many ways is the most striking and astonishing feature of all — that is, the absence of accounts of appearances to Peter and to James (brother of Jesus). On almost any reckoning, these must have been regarded as the most significant of the appearances for the initial band of disciples. Peter evidently soon began to function as the initial leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts 3-5), to be succeeded by James (brother o^tas)168 when Peter probably began to embark on a wider The appearance to Peter

166. Hahn, Hoheitstitel 205-206 (Titles 180). But this common deduction is usually predicated on the prior assumption that it was the appearances alone which gave rise to the conviction that Jesus had been raised from the dead (e.g., Bultmann, Theology 1.45; Grass, Ostergeschehen 184).

167. Bode deduces from the absence of a more explicit 'third day' motif in the empty tomb traditions that they were formulated early, before the motif became influential (First Easter Morning 124-26, 161-62); similarly Wilckens, Resurrection 10-11; Hengel, 'Begräbnis' 132-33 n. 51.

168.No one doubts that the James of 1 Cor. 15.7 is the James of Gal. 1.19and2.9, 12.

169. See particularly Gal. 2.7-9. Acts 12.1-17 suggests that Peter also had to leave Jerusalem for his own safety. The subject is another to which we shall have to return in vol. 2.

is given pride of place in the tradition received by Paul (1 Cor. 15.5), and its priority is echoed in Luke 24.34. If there was any appearance for which an account might have been expected, it is this one. And yet, such an account is completely lacking (apart from/prior to John 21.15-23).170 Why? The same question can be asked regarding the appearance to James.171

The deduction cannot surely be that such stories would have been unimportant for the first believers. The confession of 1 Cor. 15.5 gives almost as much prominence to the appearance to the twelve as to the appearance to Peter, and we have seen that stories of the appearance to the twelve abound. So why not stories which spell out in narrative form the claim that the first appearance was to Peter — and that it was an appearance which (presumably) brought James into the movement?172

The hypothesis developed in this volume points to a different answer. According to the hypothesis, the Jesus tradition has taken the shape still evident in the Synoptic Gospels by virtue of being community tradition, tradition told and retold again and again and again in the first and spreading communities of believers in Jesus. The more likely conclusion to draw from the character of the appearance traditions, therefore, is that the appearance traditions did not function in that way in the early churches. They were not church tradition. Rather, they were regarded more as personal testimony, and they functioned in that way. The appearances could be confessed by the churches and their teachers. But they were not (could not be) elaborated as stories by elders and teachers, because as stories they belonged first and foremost to the one(s) who witnessed the appearance.

This suggestion seems to be borne out by the very personal character of so many of the appearance stories: to Mary, to Cleopas, to Thomas, to Peter (John 21), to Paul. Paul seems to imply as much when he notes that most of the 500-plus were still alive (1 Cor. 15.6), with the implied invitation that his auditors

170. Of all the Gospels, the absence of such an appearance to Peter story is most surprising in Matthew, given Matthew's distinctive interest in Peter (especially Matt. 14.28-32; 16.1619).

171. Gospel of the Hebrews 7 contains an account of the appearance to James (which may well be based on 1 Cor. 15.7). The account adds: 'He took bread and blessed and broke it and gave to James the Just and said to him, "My brother, eat your bread, for the Son of Man is risen from those who sleep"' (Elliott, Apocryphal New Testament 9-10, who numbers the fragment as 4).

172. Jeremias suggests that 'the radical groups in Palestinian Jewish Christianity . . . took offence at the universalism of Peter (Gal. 2.12b; Acts 11.2) and therefore displaced him from the role of having been first to experience an appearance of the Risen Lord' (Proclamation 307); but even so, that would still leave unexplained the silence of the tradition which has come down to us. Equally implausible is the older view of Harnack, that the appearance to Peter was suppressed (outlined and approved by Ludemann, Resurrection 85); Marxsen is more plausible at this point (see n. 77 above).

could ask them for themselves. Their story could be told only by the witnesses themselves. In contrast, the stories of the appearances to the women and to the eleven in Galilee (Matthew) are vague and lacking in personal character.173 Only as such, lacking the force of personal testimony, could they be told as tradition. And is this the reason that the stories of the appearances to Peter and James are not told in the earliest accounts? Because Peter and James did not tell them: they were too private and personal? The possibilities are intriguing, but at this stage remain no more than that.

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