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Source: (consider it) Thread: Christianity without Jesus' physical resurrection? why or why not?
Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
http://reflectious.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/1-ascension-dali.jpg

The only problem I have with that are the hands; it looks as if Jesus is sliding up parallel bars, in much the same way as a small child is said to have asked of this sculpture (real title: Youth Advances)
quote:
where is the bicycle?


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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
http://reflectious.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/1-ascension-dali.jpg

The only problem I have with that are the hands; it looks as if Jesus is sliding up parallel bars, in much the same way as a small child is said to have asked of this sculpture (real title: Youth Advances)
quote:
where is the bicycle?

Yes, the hands are odd; I'm sure there is a meaning to it, as Dali probably composed it very carefully. Some people object to the female figure, presumably Mary, as it is Dali's wife. I like the cosmic feel to it, as if earth and heaven are telescoped into one.

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quetzalcoatl
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Here is John Donne, in fine form, on the ascension:

Nor doth he by ascending show alone,
But first He, and He first enters the way.
O strong Ram, which hast batter’d heaven for me!
Mild lamb, which with Thy Blood hast mark’d the path!
Bright Torch, which shinest, that I the way may see!
O, with Thy own Blood quench Thy own just wrath;
And if Thy Holy Spirit my Muse did raise,
Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.

(La Coruna).

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I can't talk to you today; I talked to two people yesterday.

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Eutychus
From the edge
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Yes, the hands are odd; I'm sure there is a meaning to it, as Dali probably composed it very carefully. Some people object to the female figure, presumably Mary, as it is Dali's wife. I like the cosmic feel to it, as if earth and heaven are telescoped into one.

It also reminds me of when Neo's body is carried away by the machines in The Matrix Revolutions. Or should that be the other way around?

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
I was just looking at some of the fabulous paintings of the ascension, of which there are many famous ones, but here is the Dali one, which I like, but probably, some people really don't.

http://reflectious.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/1-ascension-dali.jpg

I love the dirty feet and the birth/death symbolism of the fertilised egg/sunflower.

Personally I don't mind whether Jesus was raised bodily or not. I hold on to the promise of eternal life, but how that occurs I will leave up to God.

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Garden. Room. Walk

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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By the burst thingies around the hands, I suspect it's meant to represent creative power.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Ad Orientem
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# 17574

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That Christ literally ascended makes any symbolism attached to it all the more real. As I said, symbolism means nought otherwise.
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hatless

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I think the biblical stories support varied takes on the resurrection.

1. There's no description of the resurrection. That is, no account of something happening at the tomb. People visit the tomb and find signs that it has happened already. Instead of descriptions of the resurrection we have descriptions of resurrection appearances.

2. There are some difficulties in building a clear account. Matthew and Mark have the disciples being told to go to Galilee to meet the risen Jesus. Luke has everything happen in Jerusalem, and the disciples seem to stay there until the little ascension that ends the gospel. John has appearances in Jerusalem, but in chapter 21, we find some of the disciples have returned to fishing as if there had been no resurrection.

3. The risen Jesus is weird, and people's reactions to him are weird. He is hard to recognise, he arrives in a room and disappears, and in John 21 no one dares ask him who he is because they all know it is the Lord. But at other times the stories seem tailored to assert his solid physicality. It suggests that the resurrection is something not easily expressed.

4. Several of the longest accounts talk about a change in the disciples. The Emmaus Road story centres on a re-birth of faith in the hearts of the two disciples who are turned from grieving people walking away to excited believers rushing back to Jerusalem. The resurrection happens to them. You could say the same about Peter and the beloved disciple running to the tomb, doubt giving way at different moments to faith for both of them. And Mary Magdalene in the garden, too, and Peter leaping into the water and hearing the three-fold commission.

I've never felt that trying to hold a belief about what actually, physically happened 2000 years ago was worth the effort for me (and it would be an effort, and for me a belief that takes an effort is terribly insecure as well as intellectually dishonest). But a belief that these stories might help me and others today to move from death to life, that's definitely worth having. That, when I remember it, when I feel it, enables me to live so much better.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
I think the biblical stories support varied takes on the resurrection.

1. There's no description of the resurrection. That is, no account of something happening at the tomb. People visit the tomb and find signs that it has happened already. Instead of descriptions of the resurrection we have descriptions of resurrection appearances.

This actually, I think, lends credence to the accounts. Nobody was there when IT happened. Somebody could have made something up. If the whole thing was made up, it seems very likely they would have made that up too. But they didn't; they skip over this vital event and give us the before and after -- the things that people actually saw. Almost as if what got written down were the reports of witnesses to the events. Hmm.

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Anglican_Brat
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I believe that the Resurrection stories are stories written to convey and respond to the Kerygma, the proclamation that Jesus is risen. So, I'm not concerned much about the historical accuracy of the accounts. Whether Mary Magdalene really saw Jesus in the Garden in John's Gospel or whether or not Mary Magdalene is written as the ideal disciple who encounters the risen Christ in the garden of our lives, I don't see a problem with either interpretation.

I learned to view the Scriptures as primarily theology, rather than history.

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Eutychus
From the edge
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Ah, hatless, I was wondering when you'd turn up [Smile]

quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
John has appearances in Jerusalem, but in chapter 21, we find some of the disciples have returned to fishing as if there had been no resurrection.

I think "as if there had been no resurrection" is unnecessarily speculative. They don't suddenly exclaim "he is risen" in chapter 21. I think there's plenty of room for them to have met the risen Christ but not quite made sense of it all yet. Peter's return to fishing is often portrayed as him slinking back to his pre-Jesus life, but our bible study group recently decided it's not really that different from popping down to the shops.
quote:
The resurrection happens to them. You could say the same about Peter and the beloved disciple running to the tomb, doubt giving way at different moments to faith for both of them.

"The resurrection happens to them" has a certain ring to it, but it doesn't make sense of what is related, which is that the resurrection happens to Jesus!

The others realised the truth of the resurrection, perhaps, but in very different ways. The disciples at the tomb drew conclusions from its emptiness; the disciples on the road to Emmaus (belatedly) recognise Jesus.

I agree with you about the weirdness of Jesus' resurrection body (see my comments above) and the diversity of the narratives, but I tend to see them as pointing towards a fact we can't properly apprehend - the reality of the tangible resurrection of Christ - rather than an indication that it didn't happen.

My main reasons for this are firstly, the emphasis on the embodiedness of faith in Scripture, whether in this life or the life to come, secondly that's the way Paul seems to understand it, even if he never specifically mentions an empty tomb.

I should also add (as I did on a previous thread) that I'm not seeking to make a shibboleth out of this and am happy to go with "have you met the risen Christ?" for all intents and purposes of fellowship.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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quetzalcoatl
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Some post-modernists have made the interesting point that we don't need to use the dichotomy of truth or fiction; and that the resurrection is a theological narrative, not a historical one. And a lot of historians seem to agree, in the sense that they see the resurrection as neither true nor false.

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Eutychus
From the edge
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But as far as I can see, a premise of the Gospel narrative is that the resurrection actually is materially true. The narrative only makes sense if it interacts with material reality. Which is why we are to be the most pitied among all men if the resurrection is not true. Or so it seems to me.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
But as far as I can see, a premise of the Gospel narrative is that the resurrection actually is materially true. The narrative only makes sense if it interacts with material reality. Which is why we are to be the most pitied among all men if the resurrection is not true. Or so it seems to me.

Another interesting question that gets raised is whether, 2000 years ago, people had the same distinction between factuality and narrative that we do, and I don't know the answer to that. 'Material truth' - again, I don't know if this is anachronistic.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Another interesting question that gets raised is whether, 2000 years ago, people had the same distinction between factuality and narrative that we do, and I don't know the answer to that. 'Material truth' - again, I don't know if this is anachronistic.

I think that we need to be careful here to distinguish between our criteria of factuality that we use in daily life, and the criteria of factuality that 'we' believe operate when we are doing Enlightenment metaphysics. A lot of postmodernist philosophy gets going by criticising Enlightenment-style metaphysics. But if the aspects of the Enlightenment-style metaphysics that it criticises are absent from the criteria we use in daily life, then the postmodern approach isn't necessarily as revolutionary as it seems.

For example, the correspondence theory of truth, being an Enlightenment-style theory has some ideal of exact one-to-one correspondence between propositions and facts. So that it requires both facts and propositions to be genuine entities of a type such that there could be a one to one correspondence between them. Wittgenstein's Tractatus is the logical working out of that requirement. But if you abandon that one-to-one requirement, along with the specification of facts and propositions in such a way, that doesn't mean you then reject the idea that truth involves some correspondence between sentences and the world.

I think it highly likely that people in the classical world could tell the difference between: this is what happened, we don't know exactly what happened but this is a best guess, and this is something the storyteller just made up. Greek historians put speechs in the mouths of people all the time, in I think lieu of the modern biographer speculating on motives and personality. But that didn't stop Thucydides calling Herodotus Father of Lies. Thucydides at least felt that sometimes Herodotus' narratives departed too much from factuality, and it sounds as if he expected other people to understand what he meant.
Work has been done on early Christians' attitude to the Gospels and stories of Jesus; the conclusion is that they thought eyewitness testimony had a special status.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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hatless

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
I think the biblical stories support varied takes on the resurrection.

1. There's no description of the resurrection. That is, no account of something happening at the tomb. People visit the tomb and find signs that it has happened already. Instead of descriptions of the resurrection we have descriptions of resurrection appearances.

This actually, I think, lends credence to the accounts. Nobody was there when IT happened. Somebody could have made something up. If the whole thing was made up, it seems very likely they would have made that up too. But they didn't; they skip over this vital event and give us the before and after -- the things that people actually saw. Almost as if what got written down were the reports of witnesses to the events. Hmm.
Yes, I agree that it doesn't look as if someone made up the resurrection. They would have been able to do a far better, tighter, more coherent job, and would have managed not to leave so many loose ends and questions.

But 'witnesses to the events'? The central event, the resurrection, is unwitnessed. We have stories and fragments that are all over the place. They testify to something, but it doesn't look to me like anything at all simple or clear.

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My crazy theology in novel form

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Eutychus
From the edge
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Quetzalcoatl: As I've said upthread, I think in 1 Corinthians 15 a clear distinction can be drawn between the bits of Paul's worldview that were contemporaneous on the one hand and on the other, the essence of his argument about why the resurrection, and the fact that it involves a body of some sort, is important.

Would it help understanding if I took the time (no guarantee as to when!) to detail my view on this chapter?

It also seems to me that Paul would not have got into the trouble he did with the Sadducees unless he had a similar concept of materiality to us, and a belief in a material resurrection.

[ 31. May 2014, 08:10: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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hatless

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Ah, hatless, I was wondering when you'd turn up [Smile]

Thank you! I do, though, have the sense of turning up like a visitor from the past, a dinosaur or someone everyone assumed was dead. There is such earnestness on board these days, such a desire to be good and right.
quote:


quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
John has appearances in Jerusalem, but in chapter 21, we find some of the disciples have returned to fishing as if there had been no resurrection.

I think "as if there had been no resurrection" is unnecessarily speculative. They don't suddenly exclaim "he is risen" in chapter 21. I think there's plenty of room for them to have met the risen Christ but not quite made sense of it all yet. Peter's return to fishing is often portrayed as him slinking back to his pre-Jesus life, but our bible study group recently decided it's not really that different from popping down to the shops.

It's interesting, though. In chapter 21 Peter presumably believes in the resurrection as a fact, as something that has happened to Jesus, but he seems not to have grasped the import of it, or not to have been grasped by it. I think it neatly demonstrates that believing Jesus has risen means nothing without a corresponding something happening inside the believer.
quote:

quote:
The resurrection happens to them. You could say the same about Peter and the beloved disciple running to the tomb, doubt giving way at different moments to faith for both of them.

"The resurrection happens to them" has a certain ring to it, but it doesn't make sense of what is related, which is that the resurrection happens to Jesus!

The others realised the truth of the resurrection, perhaps, but in very different ways. The disciples at the tomb drew conclusions from its emptiness; the disciples on the road to Emmaus (belatedly) recognise Jesus.

I agree with you about the weirdness of Jesus' resurrection body (see my comments above) and the diversity of the narratives, but I tend to see them as pointing towards a fact we can't properly apprehend - the reality of the tangible resurrection of Christ - rather than an indication that it didn't happen.

My main reasons for this are firstly, the emphasis on the embodiedness of faith in Scripture, whether in this life or the life to come, secondly that's the way Paul seems to understand it, even if he never specifically mentions an empty tomb.

I should also add (as I did on a previous thread) that I'm not seeking to make a shibboleth out of this and am happy to go with "have you met the risen Christ?" for all intents and purposes of fellowship.

And that closing thought is most welcome and very important. And a consequence of the resurrection.

I don't think that Christianity having the theme of Incarnation at its heart has to mean that every spooky event or vision within it must have literally happened. Indeed, if the resurrection primarily happens in the lives of the disciples (which is what I think the weight of the narratives tells us) then that is properly and sufficiently incarnational for me.

[ 31. May 2014, 08:29: Message edited by: hatless ]

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My crazy theology in novel form

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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
There is such earnestness on board these days, such a desire to be good and right.

There is? I must have missed it... [Confused]

quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
In chapter 21 Peter presumably believes in the resurrection as a fact, as something that has happened to Jesus, but he seems not to have grasped the import of it, or not to have been grasped by it. I think it neatly demonstrates that believing Jesus has risen means nothing without a corresponding something happening inside the believer.

Yes; my point is that Peter going fishing doesn't mean he didn't already believe in the fact of the resurrection. And I agree that something had to happen to him before it made a real difference - in this case, probably in that exchange with Jesus at the end.

quote:
that closing thought is most welcome and very important. And a consequence of the resurrection.
Thank you. Like I said earlier, I've really struggled with this, largely as a result of a previous Ship discussion on the subject which I have saved somewhere (it must be a couple of years now at least). I stumbled into the discussion without realising how some people use the resurrection in a pharisaical way. But after all the struggle, you can see where I currently stand.
quote:
I don't think that Christianity having the theme of Incarnation at its heart has to mean that every spooky event or vision within it must have literally happened.
I agree with you up to there, but I think there's more to it than what you go on to say (even if I can see what you're saying):
quote:
if the resurrection primarily happens in the lives of the disciples (which is what I think the weight of the narratives tells us) then that is properly and sufficiently incarnational for me.
I think the resurrection is in a class of its own because it is used to form the basis of so much more in the Acts and the epistles that the other "spooky events or visions".

[ 31. May 2014, 08:49: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
But as far as I can see, a premise of the Gospel narrative is that the resurrection actually is materially true. The narrative only makes sense if it interacts with material reality. Which is why we are to be the most pitied among all men if the resurrection is not true. Or so it seems to me.

Another interesting question that gets raised is whether, 2000 years ago, people had the same distinction between factuality and narrative that we do, and I don't know the answer to that. 'Material truth' - again, I don't know if this is anachronistic.
Dafyd had a great answer. I'm going to throw in my two cents too.
[Biased]

First of all, evidence from the middle ages suggests that if anything, they erred on the opposite side. Fiction was not only recognized but perceived to be "lies" by much of the population*--getting fiction writers in trouble sometimes. In other words, they expected nonfiction to be true, and they expected what we now call fiction to be true also--and when they saw liberties being taken with the historical facts, they got outraged in a way that would never occur to us.

Now the medieval European attitude is no guarantee that first century Mediterranean-ers felt the same way, but I think it a bit more likely than that they had the very sophisticated distinctions between fact, truth, factually wrong but spiritually true, and so forth that a lot of people use today.

* note weasel words--I'm not so stupid as to think everyone was like this.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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