On the basis of this saying, the Church Fathers developed their keno- sis christology. It says: God did not just stand by and watch human misery. He does not sit motionlessly enthroned over a world full of horror. The churches in East and West have again set out together to bear witness to their common heritage from the first millennium, which, although divided, they have both kept through the second millennium, into the third millennium in a fast-changing world that is bleeding from many wounds and plagued by many needs and conflicts.
For they are convinced: There is no salvation in anyone else but Jesus Christ Acts 4. He is the way, the truth and the life Jn He is that in our time too.
To show this for our time and for the new problems of our time was the purpose of Jesus the Christ. V Jesus the Christ could not and did not want to draw up a new christology. Its subject is the living Christ, effectively present today. So we can speak with the same confidence, to use the biblical word the same parrhesia, that drove the Church Fathers to set out the truth of Jesus Christ with the thought-tools of their own time.
We stand on their shoulders, but cannot just rest on them. We have to do something similar to what they did with courage and confidence. Modern historical thought, as expressed in historical-critical methods, demands a deeper-reaching reflection. At first sight it casts doubt on all cer- tainties. Troeltsch put it, it makes everything wobble.
But as soon as we look deep into the nature of history, we come up against the fundamental error of historicism. It can be shown that human history does not happen out of blind necessity or pure chance. It arises from human freedom and the his- torical choices made by human beings. Thus human freedom contains a spark of the absolute in the original meaning of the word, that is to say, released from historical conditions. So history is not just the world of the relative. Human freedom brings the absolute into history.
Every free act is an anticipation of an absolute meaning of history. Trying to find such a meaning in history without the idea of God and his justice is futile M. So we can also describe this structure of anticipation as a structure of hope. At the end of the s and the beginning of the s these tendencies re-erupted into view.
So it was necessary to develop christology both in connection and in debate with the modern emancipatory understanding of freedom. That is freedom from sin, from the law and from death as well as freedom that becomes active in love Gal. It does not just hark back to the Christian roots of our freedom history. It holds fast to that freedom and prevents it from damaging itself. The Christian understanding of freedom has a healing and wholesome effect on a one-sided, ultimately self-destructive understanding of freedom as emancipation alone.
VI Over the past 30 years, new problems have arisen, which Jesus the Christ can- not yet expressly tackle. The fall of the Berlin wall meant the end of the cold-war world divided in two. In the now globalized single world, which in a certain sense has become one big village, the various cultures and religions have out- wardly moved closer together. Today Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are no longer far-away religions.
Their followers live among us. Often we live peace- fully together. But, of course, conflicts also arise from time to time. The new outward closeness of religions leads not only to mutual enrich- ment but also very often to tensions and even to the danger of clashes S. Frightened by this danger, many confuse the necessary toler- ance and respect for the conviction of others with the giving up of their own convictions. Often one who keeps and speaks up for his own convictions is portrayed as intolerant and fundamentalist. Then tolerance becomes its oppos- ite.
It becomes discriminatory and repressive. We arrive at a dictatorship of relativism. When this happens, the opportunity offered by the new situation and at the same time the only possible alternative to a culture clash, namely dialogue between cultures and religions, is squandered in advance: for dia- logue presupposes partners who each keep their own identity. Postmodernist philosophers engage with the new pluralistic situation and its problems. Basically it is a make- shift search term. We could also speak of self-reflexive late modern.
For in postmodernism individual tendencies, which are characteristic of the modern, come fully to the fore. There are only truths in the plural. To propose a truth with universal validity is regarded as the expression of a totalitarian and ultimately fascistic position. The postmodern mentality has also entered theology in many areas. Pluralistic theories of religions have been developed, according to which there is a multi- plicity of revelations or epiphanies of the divine, which in principle are of equal value.
Thus what is often described as the absolutist claim of Christianity is excluded in advance. According to these theories, Christianity is one religion among others and Jesus Christ is no longer the single unique mediator between God and humans 1 Tim. Clearly, such religiously pluralistic christologies set an axe to the root of the tree of Christianity and cast doubt upon its most central and fundamental beliefs: for confession of the one unique God is fundamental to both the Old and New Testaments Deut.
Oneness is a basic category of both Old and New Testaments that is fundamental to the unity and peace of one single humanity. If the idea of one single truth is given up, then ultimately the dialogue between cultures becomes meaningless. Only when all keep hold of the idea of a single truth, does speaking freely without force, and a peaceful dialogue about the truth become possible. Only then can the idea of the equal worth of all human beings and of universal human rights be maintained as the basis of a tolerant, respectful and peaceful coexistence.
- Paper - The Resurrection | Urantia Book | Urantia Foundation;
- Resurrection and Reincarnation.
- The Resurrection of Jesus Christ Metaphysically Interpreted?
- Resurrection and Reincarnation.
So, contrary to what many people think, monotheism rightly understood and rightly lived, does not stand for force, but makes it possible to speak of a single human family, in which conflicts should be conducted without force in the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect. It urges all reality towards its eschatological goal, the per- fect freedom of the children of God Rom. In the fullness of time comes the incarnation of Jesus, his public ministry, his death and resurrection in the Holy Spirit. After the ascension and Pentecost, it becomes the task of the Spirit to keep the person and once-and-for-all saving work of Jesus Christ present and alive, to explain him and spread him universally.
Spirit-christology is very important for inter-religious dialogue. The Church is confident that, in a way known only to God, the Spirit of Jesus Christ is actively present outside the visible boundaries of the Church. For Christianity respects and treasures everything good, true and noble in other religions. Spirit-christology can also help with ecumenical dialogue.
- The Christ Myth - Wikipedia;
- How To Write A Book: 3 Steps To A Perfect Outline For Your Book Even If You Have No Idea Where And How To Start!
- Jesus’ Resurrection and Christian Origins;
- The Dome?
- The Ultimate, Illustrated Beats Chronology?
It can help to bring about a solution to ancient controversial questions, such as the question of the epiclesis, that is, the invocation and calling down of the Holy Spirit in the Eucharist and the other sacraments. It can break open a one-sidedly Christomonic, and hence one-sidedly hierarchically structured ecclesiology, and create room for the multiplicity and freedom of charismata spiritual gifts in the Church and for the charismatic dimension of the Church in general.
According to a well known saying of J. Only all can be everything and the unity of all a single whole. For a long while the doctrine of the Trinity was a Cinderella subject in Catholic theology. Schleiermacher relegated it to the end of his dogmatics. However, over the last two decades, not least through the influence of the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, it has been increasingly recognized as the overarching perspective35 of theology.
Rather it should be seen as unity in multiplicity and multiplicity in unity. The Christian understanding of unity does not require a levelling down, neither does it trivialize existing differences. It means recognition of the other in his or her otherness. Christology takes up this viewpoint. According to the teaching of the fourth ecumenical Council of Chalcedon , in a unique way, Jesus Christ realizes unity in permanent difference. He is one person in two natures, without confusion and without separation Dignitatis Humanae It has far-reaching anthropological, social-political and also ecclesiological signifi- cance.
It opens up a universal horizon of understanding and being. It is the foundation of a world view and world order that is neither monistic nor totali- tarian. Rather, it makes room for a legitimate autonomy of the human and cul- tural sphere Gaudium et Spes 36; 41; 56; It is also fundamental to the understanding of the Church as a communion, which contains unity and multiplicity in charismata as well as unity and multi- plicity in local churches.
The ecumenical significance of this viewpoint cannot be overstressed. The goal of ecumenical efforts is therefore not takeover or absorption or fusion. It is communion-unity, which includes the recognition of the permanent otherness of the other. True love unites but it does not take over the other. Rather, it frees each to be truly him or herself and leads to the deepest fulfilment. And with it he reveals that love is the ultimate basis and meaning of being. In him the mystery of God and also of humanity and the world becomes clear Gaudium et Spes 10; The truth which Jesus Christ himself is Jn It is an invitation from Jesus Christ to think more deeply about the relationship between truth, freedom and love that is funda- mental to our being human and being Christian.
I hope that this new edition of Jesus the Christ will be a help towards that. Sincere thanks are due to the editor and publisher for having risked a new edition and taken such good care with it. Guardini, Der Herr. The Lord. Reissued edition. In the German-speaking world the works of Catholic scholarship predominantly discussed were: H. Schillebeeckx, Jesus. Die Geschichte von einem Lebenden [Jesus. Also ibid.
This book draws upon earlier publications by J. Versuch zu einer spirituellen Christologie Einsiedeln Bornkamm, J. Jeremias, H. Hengel among others. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Document of Vatican II, Gnilka, Jesus von Nazareth. Botschaft und Geschichte [Jesus of Nazareth. Message and History] Freiburg im Breisgau ; R. Gestalt und Geheimnis [Jesus. Character and Mystery] Paderborn ; F.
Hahn, Theologie des Neuen Testaments. Berger, Jesus Munich ; U. The meaning of the Son of Man title also needs revision. Anfragen an E. Buber, Sch. Ben-Chorin, D. Flusser, J. Neussner, W Ehrlich et al.
- Die Problematik des geistigen Eigentumsrechts in China: Vom Reich der Mitte zum Reich der Fälscher? (German Edition).
- Scripture and observances.
- Don’t Smash Jack!;
- Jésus résurrection astrale.
- Holy Roller!
Fitzmeyer, C. Martini, F. Thoma, N. Lohfink, E. Zenger, W. Gross et al. I have been very involved with Judaism over the past few years. Most of my contributions are still unpublished. Gnilka, Bibel und Koran. Was sie Verbindet, was sie Trennt [Bible and Koran. The question was dealt with in detail by G. Augustin, Gott eint — trennt Christus? Some critical examinations that take the matter further are among others : P. Wilckens op. I am very concerned to insist that in Jesus the Christ the opposite is stated. What I have written there about the empty tomb as a sign of the bodily reality of the resurrection has obviously been overlooked by this critic.
Drey and J. Mit ihm und in ihm. For the current understanding of patristic christology I have learnt much from H. This viewpoint was later developed above all by Th. It was then taken up by his students and carried even further cf. Konturen einer Theologishcen Hermeneutik Freiburg Schwan, A.
Khoutry, K. Lehmann Freiburg im Breisgau Wege der Einheit — Der Gott Jesu Christi, —; radically developed by G.
Heeding Bible Prophecy: New Life
Greshake, Die Dreieine Gott. Declaration of Religious Freedom. Das Absolute in der Geschichte, ; M. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. Ratzinger St Ottilien — Denzinger and A. ET English translation. HTG Handbuch theologischer Grundbegriffe, ed. Fries Munich, ff. Rahner 2nd rev. MS Mysterium Salutis. Grundriss heilsgeschichtlicher Dogmatik, eds. Feiner and M. Neuner and H. Rahner and K. Weger 8th edition, Regensburg, Klauser Stuttgart, ff. Galling 3rd rev. SM Sacramentum Mundi. Rahner et al. Freiburg-im-Breisgau, —8. London, — Kittel, continued by G.
Friedrich Stuttgart, ff. W Works. I revised it thoroughly on each occasion, so that in each instance the new hardly resembled the old version. In its present published form, too, it is intended primarily as a stimulus to further thought on the sub- ject. Jesus Christ is one of those figures with whom you are never finished once you have begun to explore his personality. I only agreed to publication after a long delay and on the insistence of many friends and students.
After the numberless, to some degree turbulent, theo- logical disputes and dissensions of the last ten years there is an unmistakable interest in a treatment of central theological topics which examines the state of discussion critically yet offers at the same time a responsible account of scholarship. I have written this book for all those who read and study theology as well as for clergy and laity in the service of the Church. But I also intend it for the very many Christians for whom participation in theological debate is now part of their faith.
I hope too that this book will help the increasingly large number of people outside the churches who are interested in Jesus Christ and all that concerns him. Their theology focussed on a study of the origins of Christianity in Jesus Christ. In contradistinction, however, to many contemporary works on Jesus, they had no doubt that that origin, which is still normative for us, was accessible only through biblical and ecclesiastical tradition.
They knew that we could dispense with that tradition only at the cost of a severe impov- erishment of our resources. They differed from the neoscholastic theology of their time in their parallel conviction that tradition had to be handed on as something living; that is, in conjunction and confrontation with the comments and questions of a particular time. That idea of a contemporary transmission of an inheritance from the past and of a responsible commentary on tradition can also act as a support and an encouragement to us in the present transitional state of Christianity.
There is no lack of detailed investigations and encyclopaedic summaries. All this would have proved impossible without effective and selfless support from my colleagues. In exceptional cases the translator and author have made their own version of the original text. Wherever possible and appropriate, reference is made to the standard English translations of German and other foreign language texts. The translator wishes to thank the fol- lowing for their help in producing the English version: Rev. Quinn, W. The question of the Church, its nature, its unity and its structures, and the problem of the relation of the Church to present-day society, have been at the forefront of interest.
Ecumenical theology, the theology of the world, political theology, and theologies of secularization, of development, of revolu- tion, and of liberation have dominated the discussion. The associated problems however are by no means resolved. And they clearly cannot be resolved on the level of ecclesiology. With its programme of aggiornamento the Church runs the risk of sur- rendering its unambiguousness for the sake of openness. Yet whenever it tries to speak straightforwardly and clearly it risks losing sight of men and their actual problems.
If the Church worries about identity, it risks a loss of relevance; if on the other hand it struggles for relevance, it may forfeit its identity. Moltmann has described this identity-involvement dilemma most effectively. The basis and meaning of the Church is not an idea, a principle, or a programme. It is not comprized in so many dogmas and moral injunctions. It does not amount to specific church or social structures. All these things are right and proper in their setting.
But the basis and meaning of the Church is a person. And not a vague person, but one with a specific name: Jesus Christ. The many churches and communities and groups within the Church, however much they differ among themselves, agree on one thing: their claim to represent the person, word and work of Jesus Christ. Even if their results are controversial, they have one starting-point and one centre. The churches can solve the problems that beset them only from that centrepoint, and only by reference to it.
The question is: Who is Jesus Christ? Who is Jesus Christ for us today? Jesus Christ is not an ordinary Christian name and surname, like John Smith, for instance, but an acknowledgement and a confession that Jesus is the Christ. Therefore belief in Jesus Christ is provocatively exact and individual on the one hand, and uniquely universal on the other.
A profession of faith in Jesus Christ establishes the exactness, uniqueness and distinctness of all that Christ is about and at the same time its universal openness and global relevance. The unresolved questions of ecclesiology can be answered only within a renewed Christology, and only a renewed Christology can enable the Church to regain its universality and catholicity in the original sense of the word , without denying the foolishness of the cross and surrendering the unique provocation of Christianity. The split between faith and life in the contemporary Church has an extensive background in cultural and social history, examined above all by Hegel in his early writings.
For Hegel, the dichotomy between faith and life is only a form of the alienation characteristic of the whole modern era. External reality was increasingly demythologized and desacralized. Religion however withdrew more and more into the individual; it became a characterless, empty longing for the infinite.
The outer world turns neutral and banal; the inner world of the individual becomes hollow and empty. A meaningless nothingness arises from both aspects. As Jean Paul, Jacobi, Novalis, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel and German Romanticism as a whole suggested, as Nietzsche relentlessly asserted, and as Heidegger has summarily confirmed, the road travelled by the modern spirit leads to nihilism. It is here that Christology wins a relevance beyond the narrower theologi- cal context. The doctrine of the Incarnation has to do with the reconciliation of God and the world. Since the oneness of God and man, as it occurred in Jesus Christ, cancels neither the distinction between them nor the autonomy of man, but realizes that oneness and that distinction, reconciliation occurs in Jesus as liberation, and liberation as reconciliation — at one and the same time.
Here God is not, as modern atheistic humanism asserts, a restriction but the condition and basis of human freedom. Christology can approach and tackle the legitimate concern of the modern era and resolve its problem. That, to be sure, is possible only on the basis of a decision: the basic decision between belief and unbelief. Liberating reconciliation, as it occurs in and through Jesus Christ, is primarily a divine gift and only secondarily a human task. The decisive option is the sword or faith Albert Camus , promise or achievement.
Christianity sees the indicative of a granted liberation and reconciliation as giving rise to the imperative of henceforth devoting oneself wholly to liberation and reconciliation in the world. But the real choice before us can be escaped only at the cost of the Christian identity. And there is no involvement, no rel- evance, without identity. Christology, in which identity and relevance, existence and meaning, are revealed in a unique and complete manner, is the task of theology today.
Thinking about Christology discloses the help which is needed at the moment and which theologians who are certainly not the whole Church can give mod- ern society and the Church in their search for an identity. He spoke of the self-transcendence of all formulas. They must constantly be rethought, not because they are false, but because they are true.
They remain alive insofar as they are elucidated. Significant new interpretations of the dogma of Chalcedon were offered by to name only leading writers Rahner himself, Bernhard Welte, F. Malmberg and Edward Schillebeeckx. The ques- tion, therefore, was how a unique man could also be God and consequently lay a claim to universal, absolute and henceforth insurpassable significance. That can be demonstrated in various ways. There are at present three major Christological approaches.
The oldest but constantly recurrent approach sees belief in Christ in a cosmological perspective. This view was already present in the Logos- Christology of the second-century apologists. They found logoi spermatikoi, fragments of the one Logos, at work everywhere in the world. Nature and history manifested particles of the one Logos who appeared in his fulness in Jesus Christ. Of course Teilhard does not start from a static but from an evolutionary world-view, and tries to show how cosmo- genesis and anthropogenesis find fulfilment in Christogenesis.
In that view Jesus Christ would be evolution fully self- realized. A second approach is not cosmological but anthropological. It tries to con- front the challenge of modern atheistic humanism: namely, that God must be dead if man is to be truly free. The appropriate Christological viewpoint is that man is the being who is open for and to reality as a whole. He is an impover- ished reference to a mystery of fulness. From this starting-point Karl Rahner10 principally sees the Incarnation of God as the unique and highest instance of the essential completion of human reality.
For him Christology is the absolute expression of anthropology, the study of man. Rahner maintains the once-for- all nature and underivability of the Christ-event. Other commentators, how- ever, take this anthropological interpretation to the point of an anthropological reductionism.
Then Jesus Christ becomes a mere cypher and just a model for an authentic human existence F. Buri, S. Ogden, D. The question of the meaning and salvation of man then becomes the question of the meaning and salvation of history as a whole. The result is Christology in the perspective of universal history. This approach has been taken up principally by Pannenberg He interprets Jesus Christ as the predetermined end of history.
Moltmann has adopted the notion but with a new emphasis — that of justice. In this case, Christology is discussed within the framework of theodicy. This his- torical approach, which I shall shortly examine in greater detail, is able to cite the scriptural stress on salvation history, and that tradition in theology which strongly emphasizes its importance. But it can and must also connect with the Hegelian philosophy of history.
Consequently it has to confront the historical ideology of Marxism. Hans Urs von Balthasar has been prominent in pointing out the immanent danger of all these approaches. Fuchs, G. Bornkamm, H.
Black Eyed Children
Conzelmann, J. Robinson, and so on ushered in the post-Bultmannian era. Geiselmann, A. Mussner, J. Blank, R. Pesch, H. It recognized that a renewed Christology does not consist solely in the interpretation and re-interpretation of traditional kerygmatic or dogmatic for- mulas of belief. That would be no more than scholasticism in the bad sense. The language of the confession and profession of faith is, like all human dis- course, meaningful language and not ideology only so long as it conceives reality in its words and proves itself against reality.
The Christological for- mulas of belief intend nothing other than the expression of the being and significance of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Their practical criterion is to be found in Jesus. If Christological profession had no connexion with the historical Jesus, then belief in Christ would be no more than ideology: a general world-view without any historical basis. Metz took the rejection of a purely argumentative Christology to the point of a projected narrative theology and Christology.
It also ends in a hermeneutics strongly influenced by a fashionable neo-Marxism. Belief in the risen and exalted Christ is allowed at best the function of confirming the existence of the historical Jesus. A flat-footed theology can justify neither the uniqueness nor the universality of Christian faith. Both the invocation of this Jesus of Nazareth and the affirmation of his universal and ultimate signifi- cance must in the end appear arbitrary in the perspective of a theology of that kind.
In this view Jesus is reduced ultimately to a universally exchangeable symbol and model of certain ideas, or a certain form of practice, which itself can claim only a relative significance. Nolte has expressed those conclusions most emphatically. Geiselmann has already tried to reestablish Christology along those, lines in his book Jesus the Christ. Today, though on other prem- isses, W. Pannenberg, J. Moltmann, and E.
An historically determined Christology. It is derivable neither from human nor social needs; neither anthropologically nor sociologically. Instead it has to preserve a real and actual unique memory, and to represent it here and now. It has to narrate a real and actual story — history — and to bear testimony to it.
It has to ask, in other words: Who was this Jesus of Nazareth? What did he want? What was his mission and message, his behaviour, his destiny? How did this Jesus, who proclaimed not himself but the imminent Rule of God, become the proclaimed and believed-in Christ? This kind of historically-orientated Christology has a respectable tradition behind it. They are the problems of modern historical research: the quest for the historical Jesus, the quest for the origins of the Easter faith, and the quest for the earliest Christological formulation of belief.
These ques- tions raised by H. Reimarus, D. Strauss, W. Wrede, A. Schweitzer, and R. Bultmann are neither mere sophistries of unbelief, nor wholly external and irrelevant to belief in Jesus Christ and systematic Christology. The histori- cal questions have to be answered if the scandalous reality of faith in Christ is to be taken seriously.
It is not enough to examine these questions purely from an historical angle. We have to inquire into the theological relevance of the historical aspect. A universally responsible Christology. Even though Christology cannot be derived from human or social needs, its universal claim demands that it is considered and represented in the light of human questions and needs, and in accordance analogy with the problems of the age.
Remembrance of Jesus and the Christological tradition must be understood as a living tradition, and must be preserved in creative loyalty. That is the only way in which a living faith can arise. The Christian should be able to give account of his hope cf 1 Pet 3. For that reason we cannot pit a narrative Christology against an argumentative Christology, even though Metz has recently tried to do just that. The universal claim of Christological belief can be represented appro- priately only against the most extensive horizon conceivable.
Christology inquires not just into this or that existent, but into existence in general. A Christian is so to speak com- pelled to become a metaphysician on account of his faith. He cannot escape that compulsion by recourse to the social sciences, sociology itself for instance, even though the importance of such assistance is not to be underestimated.
That does not mean that he must follow some particular version of metaphysics, for instance the Aristotelian-Thomistic variety. A pluralistic approach to philosophies and theologies is not only legitimate but necessary. But, fundamentally, Christology cannot be inserted into any predetermined philosophical system. And there is no question of applying predetermined philosophical categories within Christology. On the con- trary, faith in Jesus Christ is a radical questioning of all closed systems of thought. It is specifically ideology-critical. The Jews fled to their homes, afterward going back to report these doings to their captain at the temple.
The Romans fled to the fortress of Antonia and reported what they had seen to the centurion as soon as he arrived on duty. The tomb was truly empty when the first believers arrived, and this fact, associated with that of the undoubted resurrection of the Master, led to the formulation of a belief which was not true: the teaching that the material and mortal body of Jesus was raised from the grave.
Truth having to do with spiritual realities and eternal values cannot always be built up by a combination of apparent facts. Although individual facts may be materially true, it does not follow that the association of a group of facts must necessarily lead to truthful spiritual conclusions. He became a part of the personal experience of almost one thousand human beings before he finally took leave of Urantia.
Although I have not yet fully resumed the exercise of universe jurisdiction, this self-imposed limitation does not in any manner restrict the bestowal of life upon my sleeping sons; let the roll call of the planetary resurrection begin. And in an instant of time the seraphim and their associates made ready to depart for the mansion worlds. The first occurred at the time of the arrival of the Planetary Prince, the second during the time of Adam, and this, the third, signalized the morontia resurrection, the mortal transit, of Jesus of Nazareth.
And when he had done this, he departed for Salvington to register with Immanuel the completion of the mortal transit of Michael. And he was immediately followed by all the celestial host not required for duty on Urantia. But Gabriel remained on Urantia with the morontia Jesus. This Sunday morning they were all there assembled except Thomas. Thomas was with them for a few minutes late Saturday night when they first got together, but the sight of the apostles, coupled with the thought of what had happened to Jesus, was too much for him.
He looked his associates over and immediately left the room, going to the home of Simon in Bethpage, where he thought to grieve over his troubles in solitude. The apostles all suffered, not so much from doubt and despair as from fear, grief, and shame. At the home of Joseph of Arimathea there were some fifteen or twenty of the leading women believers. They had prepared an abundance of special embalming lotions, and they carried many linen bandages with them. It was their purpose more thoroughly to give the body of Jesus its death anointing and more carefully to wrap it up with the new bandages.
As they passed out of the Damascus gate, they encountered a number of soldiers fleeing into the city more or less panic-stricken, and this caused them to pause for a few minutes; but when nothing more developed, they resumed their journey. While they stood there, atremble with fear, Mary Magdalene ventured around the smaller stone and dared to enter the open sepulchre. This tomb of Joseph was in his garden on the hillside on the eastern side of the road, and it also faced toward the east. In the recess of stone where they had laid Jesus, Mary saw only the folded napkin where his head had rested and the bandages wherewith he had been wrapped lying intact and as they had rested on the stone before the celestial hosts removed the body.
The covering sheet lay at the foot of the burial niche. All the women were exceedingly nervous; they had been on edge ever since meeting the panicky soldiers at the city gate, and when Mary uttered this scream of anguish, they were terror-stricken and fled in great haste. And they did not stop until they had run all the way to the Damascus gate. By this time Joanna was conscience-stricken that they had deserted Mary; she rallied her companions, and they started back for the tomb. It had not yet occurred to them that Jesus had been resurrected.
They had been by themselves over the Sabbath, and they conjectured that the body had been moved to another resting place. But when they pondered such a solution of their dilemma, they were at a loss to account for the orderly arrangement of the grave cloths; how could the body have been removed since the very bandages in which it was wrapped were left in position and apparently intact on the burial shelf?
Where have they laid him? I shall not debate in detail with them here; there are other places for that. The question divides into four. First, what did people in the first century, both pagans and Jews, hope for? What did they believe about life after death, and particularly about resurrection? Second, what did the early Christians believe on the same subjects?
What did they hope for? Finally, what can the historian say by way of comment on this early Christian claim? Homer was hugely important in the world of late antiquity; and in Homer life after death is pretty bleak. Hades, the abode of the dead, is a place of shadows and wraiths, who can just about remember what life was like but not much more. Plato held out a different possibility, the chance of a blissful after-life at least for some.
He even speculated about reincarnation, though this is not central to his thought, nor is it stressed in later Platonism. His ideas come through into popular first-century culture not least in the mystery religions. Once philosophical speculation began devising alternatives to the Homeric viewpoint, other positions emerged; for instance, that of Stoicism, that the entire world would be destroyed by fire and be reborn, phoenix-like, only for everything to happen again in exactly the same way as before.
There are numerous sub-topics within ancient pagan views of life after death. The representation of the scene in ancient art may have influenced the Christian iconography in which Jesus leads Adam and Eve out of Hades. But the flagrantly mythological character of the whole drama does not encourage us to think that either philosophers or ordinary folk really believed that Hercules or anyone else could or would rescue people from actual death.
Indeed, whenever the question of bodily resurrection is raised in the ancient world the answer is negative. Homer does not imagine that there is a way back; Plato does not suppose anyone in their right mind would want one. The language of resurrection, or something like it, was used in Egypt in connection with the very full and developed view of the world beyond death.
A Study of the Origins and Features of Easter
But this new life was something that had, it was believed, already begun, and it did not involve actual bodily return to the present world. Nor was everybody fooled by the idea that the dead were already enjoying a full life beyond the grave. When the eager Egyptians tried to show their new ruler Augustus their hoard of wonderful mummies, he replied that he wanted to see kings, not corpses. Very much this-worldly futures: peace and security, social stability, crops and harvests, large families and good fortune.
The best future, indeed for some the only future, was a lasting name and reputation. Some within the ancient pagan world believed in the apotheosis of heroes and kings. The mythological Hercules began as a mortal and was exalted to quasi-divinity. Ordinary mortals did not expect this treatment, of course. When we turn to ancient Judaism the picture is both very similar and very different.
People are asleep there; they can sometimes be woken up, as with Saul and Samuel, but to do so is dangerous, and forbidden. It is notoriously difficult to date these passages, and they remain controversial. Psalm 73 is perhaps the clearest statement of a post-mortem hope. Unlike Plato, the biblical mentions of a hope beyond the grave are not predicated on the existence of an immortal soul which will automatically have a future life, but on the love and faithfulness of YHWH in the present, which must, the poets suppose, continue into the future.
The Jewish hope burst the bounds of ancient paganism altogether by speaking of resurrection. Despite what is often supposed, this belief, when it arises, is in paradoxical continuity with the ancient Hebrew belief in Sheol. Unlike Platonists, who preferred a disembodied immortality, those who believed in resurrection agreed with the ancient Israelites that real life meant embodied life. The difference is that in the earlier view those in Sheol cannot have it again as in the book of Job, apart from the controversial passage in chapter 19 , whereas in the resurrection passages they can and will.
The first and the third stages have more in common with each other — a strong belief in the goodness of the present created order and of human life within it— than either has with the second. Post-biblical Judaism offers a range of beliefs about life after death. Resurrection is by no means the only option; and, when it is specified, it is not a general word for life after death, but a term for one particular belief.
People do not pass directly from death to resurrection, but go through an interim period, after which the death of the body will be reversed in resurrection. In both paganism and Judaism it refers to the reversal, the undoing, the conquest of death and its effects.
That is its whole point. That is what Homer, Plato, Aeschylus and the others denied; and it is what some Jews, and all early Christians, affirmed. Various ways of describing this were developed: the souls of the righteous, said Wisdom 3. Others spoke of a quasi-angelic intermediate existence, or of spirits that lived on prior to the resurrection. There is no space here to itemize individual sources, themselves often matters of dispute. I merely sketch the overall shape of Jewish belief. The spectrum runs from those who deny the resurrection to those who insist upon it.
The Sadducees deny the world to come altogether, reminding us that resurrection was and remained an explicitly political doctrine, about God turning the present world and its power structures upside down. I am not convinced that the Essenes believed in resurrection; but I do hold that Wisdom of Solomon 3. Finally, a much more Platonic picture is held by Philo of Alexandria, who believed in disembodied bliss for the immortal soul.
This belief is shared by Jubilees. Resurrection is thus one point on the spectrum of Jewish beliefs about life after death. If Christianity had been simply a sect of miscellaneous Jews who had followed Jesus or approved his teaching, we might have expected a similar spread of views, and the fact that we do not is a major part of our question about Christian origins; but that is to run ahead of my story.
The second point to note about Jewish belief in resurrection is that, where it did occur, it was never a detached belief. It was always part of a larger picture of what God was going to do for the nation and indeed the world. This is where Isaiah 26 and Ezekiel 37 come into their own. Though already by the first century, perhaps already in Daniel, some were reading them as prophecies of a literal resurrection, their context insists that God intends to restore Israel as a reaction is not an isolated hope for the individual, as so often in the modern west.
It is part of the hope for the nation. And, as often as not, it is part of the hope that God will put the whole world to rights, bringing judgment upon the powerful and arrogant, and mercy to the poor and downtrodden. The rabbis debate whether God will start with the soul and gradually build up to the solid body, or whether, as in Ezekiel, God will begin with the bones and add flesh and sinews, finally adding breath as in Genesis 2.
In each case, of course, what you end up with is what we would call a physical body; but there was no agreement as to whether this body would be exactly like the one you had before, or significantly different in some way. The Maccabean martyrs taunt their torturers with the promise that God will give them back their hands, tongues and so forth, which are presently being mutilated. This is consistent with, and probably indicates, a belief that resurrection means a return to a form of life very similar to the present one.
But there is no unanimity on this; other texts, such as Daniel 12, can be interpreted in terms of an astral resurrection, shining like stars. Finally, some at least of those who believed in the resurrection also believed in the coming of the Messiah, though the relation between Messiah and resurrection is not usually clear. Belief in the coming of a Messiah was obviously political as well as theological, as the messianic movements in the period bear witness.
Resurrection and Messiah together speak of the time when God will be king and the present rulers Caesar, Herod, the Sadducees will be deposed. Together they speak of the coming Reign of God. It was from within one such prophetic and messianic renewal movement that the early Christians emerged, saying two things in particular: Jesus was and is the Messiah, and this is proved because he has been raised from the dead.
But before we can look at these claims we must set the early Christian views about future hope, including life after death, resurrection, and some wider issues like Messiahship, in parallel with Judaism and paganism.