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DeWitz

Dead Man Walking?

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As Christians approach Holy Week and Easter (April 13-20, 2014) I'm interested in hearing various opinions about the resurrection of Jesus (as reported in Matthew, Luke and John; alluded to in Mark). I post this for mostly selfish and academic reasons: My professional position requires a semi-literate and sincere reflection and address on the subject come Easter Sunday. Although folks will respond as they will, I am most interested in simple opinions as to the veracity of the traditional resurrection story.

My own opinion, coming from a faith stance that vacillates between heartfelt belief and radical, almost breathtaking, despair and doubt, is that indeed a super- or supra-natural occurrence took place in the borrowed tomb outside the walls of Jerusalem. Perhaps, in an anthropomorphic way, God needed to intervene in human history in this incredible fashion for Christian faith to be preserved and promulgated.

What say you?

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Posted (edited)

None of those who allegedly were the companions of Jesus, recognised the person/figure who claimed to be the resurrected Christ. They acknowledged that person only after they were prompted to do so by someone he had convinced by word that he was risen. However, someone who had never met this Jesus apparently recognised his glorified form.

This is not to argue against your belief, but to provide one of the opinions you requested be demonstrated.

Edited by Leonardo
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Posted (edited)

None of those who allegedly were the companions of Jesus, recognised the person/figure who claimed to be the resurrected Christ. They acknowledged that person only after they were prompted to do so by someone he had convinced by word that he was risen. However, someone who had never met this Jesus apparently recognised his glorified form.

This is not to argue against your belief, but to provide one of the opinions you requested be demonstrated.

I take this as adding validity to the account. The Gospels don't gloss over the bumbling of and at times, even the stupidity of the Apostles. When something is purely invented, especially in ancient literature, the general idea was to show a thing in the best light possible. If this were a mere fabrication why not proclaim that they saw him and wholeheartedly believed? If the goal, as a fabrication or a fiction was to dupe or deceive others into following them expressing doubts wouldn't be the best way to get started; add to that having WOMEN being the first witnesses to the empty tomb. Due to the status of women at the time as little more than second class citizens, this wouldn't have helped their case much either. Why would they use women of all people? If it was a fiction or a fabrication the first ones to see the empty tomb should have been men, or even better, Roman soldiers or something along those lines. I don't see these things as the best way to start a myth; especially in a Greco-Roman and Hellenistic culture that portrayed their own gods in such a glorious and bombastic manner. Having Him first appear to women would have discredited the myth right out of the gates for most people.

The way I see it is that if I had been there, I would have reacted as Thomas did. If someone told me that a man was raised from the dead I would have thought they had gone mad. Such skepticism on the part of the Apostles as depicted in the Gospels to me is evidence of its plausibility. They didn't just accept that He had risen from the dead. They demanded proof. They didn't believe it; they thought the women had been deceived. The Gospels depict a very rational and human reaction to the supposed resurrection event. It is how most of us would have responded. They believed as you or I would; that a man simply could not be raised from the dead or come back to life.

And by the accounts we have, post resurrection He was simply different. He passed through walls and doors. It only stands to reason that His physical appearance was also somehow changed. But the Gospels are very clear in mentioning that He ate food, almost as if to emphasize the fact that He was not a ghost or some sort of spirit being as the Gnostics and Manicheists would later tout.

Finally, they do believe. Thomas exclaims "my Lord and my God" and those men would later go from cowards hiding in the shadows to boldly proclaiming the resurrection event; even unto their own deaths; which again, for me is credence to the event itself.

Edited by Marcus Aurelius
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If you want Godhood for your man you have to do virgin birth and resurrection. In Greek mythology both men and women were resurrected from the dead to become Gods and Greek women were second class in Greek societies, so why did they use women. I think it is because everybody has a mother and they hold a lot of power over their children even in societies where women have little status. Achilles was resurrected by his mother. It is like the virgin birth, it is a way to make a man divine.

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Posted (edited)

If I died and came back from the dead, my wife or close friends who had seen me die, and gone to my funeral wouldn't believe it was me. They would think it was someone else. But a person who knew me casually by sight, who didn't know I had died despite hearing that I might have, and saw me, would recognise me as if nothing had happened.

Edited by Mr Walker
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The re animation of a dead body to prove that the thing humans fear most can be actually be conquered is the ultimate test of a Creator in man's eyes. This is why the entire "gospel" hinges and hang on this event. The gospel is a simple yet profoundly powerful message: Jesus physically died as a sacrifice for the sin of mankind. He was buried in a grave and on the third day he came back to life. If a person accepts those statements as fact and does so publicly then they are promised to be resurrected when they die OR to be transformed into eternal bodies upon the return of the Christ to reign here on earth. But for those who do not believe, talk of this is foolishness. The irony I find in this view is that the same people who adamantly reject the concept of God will argue endlessly for others to accept scientific explanations for the mysteries of our universe - not just the observable, quantifiable aspects, but a type of faith that even those things not proven YET by science, WILL be proven in time. They are simply rejecting one faith for another in this case and they cannot admit it even to themselves.

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Posted (edited)

I take this as adding validity to the account.

In what way?

That the person who died actually returned?

The person who appeared to those who knew Jesus, did not seem to be the same person - but was of the same character. Why, then, interpret the resurrection as being literal, rather than metaphorical?

It is quite common for us to refer to someone who reminds us of a previous personage as the "reincarnation" of that previous person. Why not reflect that the author might have meant the same in the original story of Jesus' 'resurrection'? That it was a different person with the same 'heart'?

For many people, this metaphorical resurrection may be a lot easier to swallow than the literal interpretation most of the Chrstian authorities attempt to impress upon them.

Edited by Leonardo

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Posted (edited)

In what way?

That the person who died actually returned?

The person who appeared to those who knew Jesus, did not seem to be the same person - but was of the same character. Why, then, interpret the resurrection as being literal, rather than metaphorical?

It is quite common for us to refer to someone who reminds us of a previous personage as the "reincarnation" of that previous person. Why not reflect that the author might have meant the same in the original story of Jesus' 'resurrection'? That it was a different person with the same 'heart'?

For many people, this metaphorical resurrection may be a lot easier to swallow than the literal interpretation most of the Chrstian authorities attempt to impress upon them.

Hi Leonardo, I hope all is well with you.

I must admit I was rather surprised to read your response here. Are you of all people suggesting that Jesus somehow might have been reincarnated? Why substitute one supernatural explanation with another one?

I would also argue that a metaphorical resurrection wouldn't be easier to swallow; especially for the early Christians. Let me put it to you this way: if I was alive in that time period and had been a follower of Jesus; after the Crucifixion I would have been pretty freaked out. The very teacher that I had been following who had claimed to have power over life and death; who had evidently raised others from the dead...was now dead Himself. But then Peter and/or Paul comes along and tells me "don't worry, Jesus died, but He is alive and resurrected in our hearts" I would have, simply put, thought they were idiots clinging to a blind hope. But then it gets worse. Then they tell me to go out and boldly proclaim this resurrection of the heart under the threat of my own death. Do you not see how crazy this sounds? I don't know about you, but I'd be running for the hills. Just because these people lived in the first century doesn't mean they were brain dead or that they somehow didn't possess sound logical faculties. I don't think Christianity would have even survived if this were the case; people died for the faith because they sincerely believed it to be true. Their witnessing in and belief of the resurrection event gave them the courage to stand firm in the face of death because they knew that they too would be resurrected. The resurrection event made the early Christians believe in a literal, not symbolic life after death. It became a living reality to them; not a symbol and not a purely eschatological hope.

Luke 24:36-53: While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled."Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And (behold) I am sending the promise of my Father 12 upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." Then he led them (out) as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.

I cite these verses at length because they do a good job of explaining what was going on; although we can find variations of this same account in all 4 Gospels and in the first chapter of Acts. They didn't recognize Him not because He was "someone else" but because they didn't understand what was going on or how He could be alive and in their midst. As I noted in the previous post, they thought He was a ghost. This clearly suggests they recognized him as Jesus of Nazareth....but they simply didn't think it was possible; just as you or I wouldn't think it's possible. I've never seen a ghost even though I've been a paranormal investigator for over a decade; but if I did I wouldn't believe it. My first reaction would be to doubt what I saw, to think I was seeing things or that I'd simply imagined it. In all 4 gospels this is precisely what happened with the Apostles; which is again why I feel it lends credibility to the truth of the event itself. These first century Jews reacted exactly as I would have.

Later on, there were a lot of doubters at the Church of Corinth. They were doubting both the resurrection of the dead and evidently even the resurrection of Jesus Himself, to which Paul replied: 1 Corinthians 15:6 "After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep." This is like a challenge; it's as if he is saying if you don't believe ME, then go and ask THEM. Then he goes on to say: "And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:14).

That one sentence sums up the entire New Testament and this is why the metaphoric explanation just doesn't work. The whole faith stands or falls on the literal truth of the resurrection event.

Edited by Marcus Aurelius
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