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What Is Resurrection?

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To all,


Thanks for this forum. I have been searching for Christian websites that are dedicated to seeking to redefine Christianity in terms of critical biblical scholarship, open-mindedness, and the emerging "post-modern" culture. I have found this site quite helpful.


My question is this (thanks, pacigoth13): What are your thoughts concerning the resurrection? This question could venture down many different avenues. Consider some of these subquestions:


How did 1st century Jews view resurrection?


Was Jesus' resurrection physical or spiritual? Literal or metaphorical? Real or fabricated?


What were the early Christian beliefs concerning Jesus' resurrection?


What were the early Christian beliefs concerning a future resurrection of their own?


Does the future resurrection of believers result in a life here on earth or a life in an other-worldly place called heaven?


I can't wait to here your views.



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1) What are your thoughts concerning the resurrection?


Personally, I believe that belief in the resurrection cannot be dependent on the disprovable. Asking, "what happened to Jesus' body?" is the wrong question to ask. The real question is this: "what did the early Christians experience?"


I believe in resurrection, but not in recuscitation. I do not know what happened to Jesus' body, the empty tomb is irrelevant. I do not know if the body was buried, stolen, transformed or eaten by wild dogs for that matter.


But I do believe the disciples (and later on Paul) experienced the risen Jesus. And I believe that they experienced Jesus' resurrected body, a new body, in physical form. The resurrected Jesus ate fish, was touched, etc. The resurrection is real: it happened. This alone explains the rapid rise of Christianity, why people still followed Jesus after his death and why people would die for the Lord "whom God raised from the dead".


2) How did 1st century Jews view resurrection?


For Jews living in the 2nd temple era, resurrection meant re-embodiment. Resurrection was life after death, it was "life after life after death". The physical body would die, be buried and corrupt. In fact, it become no more. Resurrection was still possible, it meant re-embodiment. The essence of who the person was would take on a glorified, resurrected body. Furthermore, they also believed that the "last days" would come about by resurrection. Even though the early church invented the "second coming" it is reasonable to see why they did so: it made sense, if they really believed that Jesus had been resurrected (not recuscitated) then they would translate that event to mean that the "end" was coming and that the general resurrection would follow. But Jesus had left them. So, the "second coming" was invented to explain how Jesus would be present as King after the general resurrection. Then that generation cherished their mythological import so much that they projected it back onto Jesus himself. Then it didn't happen like they expected so they abandoned it.


3)Was Jesus' resurrection physical or spiritual?


Properly understood, both/and.


4)Literal or metaphorical?


Again, both.


5)Real or fabricated?


Real. Regardless of how one understands resurrection, it is the only reason why Jesus' teachings meant anything to people two weeks, let alone two millennia after his death (NT Wright, Resurrection of the Son of God). Christianity would not have lasted had it been fabricated.


6)What were the early Christian beliefs concerning Jesus' resurrection?


That God raised him from the dead, death had been conquered, the "end" was at hand, and all the righteous would be raised from the dead at the Lord's return. See 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4.16-18 (the verses of which have nothing to do with the rapture, and of which the 'second coming' is not the main point).


7)What were the early Christian beliefs concerning a future resurrection of their own?


Initially, that it would happen in their own lifetime. At first, Paul seems to think he will be alive and will be "transformed" into his resurrected form in his life time--towards the end of his life he realises that that is not the way it will happen. By Revelation, the belief in resurrection has been expanded. There will be two resurrections, of the godly and of the ungodly. Also, dying and rising were used metaphorically to refer to their daily lives. Paul spoke of "dying and rising with Christ". Resurrection came to take on metaphorical, symbolic and mythological meanings early on.


8) Does the resurrection of believers result in a life here on earth or a life in an other-wordly place called heaven?


Yes and yes and no.


We have a glimpse of resurrection when we partake of Jesus and salvation. In a metaphorical sense, we are "resurrected" from the old into the new. Also, we find glimpses of resurrection throughout life. Every Easter is a time to let the truth of the gospel rise again in our hearts. We experience the 'dying and rising' Paul talked about. There is no place called 'heaven'. The word heaven, means sky, ouranos, and was used metaphorically to denote exaltation. The promise of Jesus and resurrection is that Daniel's vision in 7.13 comes to pass. It us who come to Jesus, not the other way around. The earth comes to God and is renewed, God does not come to earth to destroy it. The followers of Jesus, Israel, we have been persecuted by the domination systems of this world, like Jesus was in his day. Ultimately, the wages of sin are death. But we are presented to the Ancient of Days, to God; and like Christ, we are vindicated. "Coming on the clouds of heaven" denotes exaltation, not return. In so much as we share in the enthronement of Jesus as King, we share in the kingdom of God. The promise is that one day, God's kingdom comes true, that Jesus really becomes 'Lord of all' and God becomes 'all in all'. Then it really will be true that it is 'on earth as it is in heaven' to speak metaphorically, of course. The result of this is that THIS earth is renewed, creation is recreated in process to be that which it was always meant to be, existential estrangement is no more, and we live with Jesus as resurrected people of God. Resurrection is hope. This is why John had Jesus say "I am the resurrection and the life". This is the life more abundant.

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May I suggest a short cut to the answer of your many questions about the resurrected Jesus. I am currently taking a course in which all these surmises are authoritatively answered by the resurrected Jesus himself.


Please turn to the Book Discussion Board elsewhere and lock on to The Course In Miracles topic. I have been working with the Course for several years now and I am impressed with it enough to believe it is a document of the stature of The Bible, which initiated the First Axial Age, a resource appropriate to introduce a Second Axial Age of religious development. From storytelling to recorded script which made possible the axis which brought us into this present Age, we are seeing a movement from print to cyberspace of similar proportions, which will be the axis of a second Axial Age just beginning.


Join us...



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Great response pacigoth!


N.T. Wright's Resurrection of the Son of God is an amazing book. It has helped me know what to do with the resurrection. I think that I agree with you on just about every point. I'm interested to see if there are any other views on this topic.


It is my opinion that questions 7 & 8 (as you have them) are the ones that most Christians today are misguided by today's evangelical base. In general, Christians seem to have the Platonic view of the afterlife. An even higher % believe in an other-worldly place of bliss called heaven. It is sad that this gnostic view is the common view in the Church.


Jeep, I'm not sure what you are talking about in regard to the topic at hand. What is this "short-cut to the answer of [the] many questions about the resurrected Jesus?" What surmises are you talking about?



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Hi, Resurrection-believer, I can give ony my personal views as I know very little about the history of Christianity.


At my present stage I would go so far as to say that I think it may be a mistake even to spend time and effort debating whether or not the Resurrection of Jesus was a real, bodily event whcih too place on one specific day in History. This is because such a discussion throws emphasis on the supposed importance of the historical Jesus, and prevents or discourages people from gaining a wider, liberating view of the meaning of Life and Death by understanding that all the stories we have, whether the Bible, the Epic of Gilgamwesh, the Iliad, Beowulf, The Brothers Karamazov, or even maybe the Lord of the Rings (I haven't read it) are myths to give expression to the inexpressible within the human psyche.


So as you can guess I'm not a great fan of literal 'biopics' of Jesus! For me Jesus is not a person who lived 2,000 years ago but a very relevant concept for today.


Whether or not it happened (and it may have done) is not the important thing. For me resurrection means the new life you can live by resolving your divided nature. Whether you do this by being a traditional Christian, by attending a performance of 'The Midsummer Marriage' , by being a Druid, or by psychoanalysis, matters not. It's the end result that matters. I have great espect for the traditions of Christianity in teaching a good way of life for humanity, but I have nothing but contempt for the 'exclusive school' who say 'believe our version or go to hell'.!

Edited by Ford Madox Brown
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You make good points. I agree with you that to look at something historically is a difficult matter and that to put all of the emphasis on a "these are the events as they occured" approach can result in closemindedness and exclusivism. This type of biblical literalism has done much damage for the cause of Christianity.


As far as the ancient stories/myths that you listed are concerned, I have a strong interest in attempting to understand the mindset of ancient "myth-believers." One thing seems certain: Those who originally read and told these stories believed them to be true. Western scientific thought doesn't approach things the same way. It requires proof before belief. The ancients seemed to put as much trust in stories as we do in facts. Very interesting.


Though I'm not quite as open-ended about the subject as you are, I appreciate your input.



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You ask about the assumptions behind my view of the resurrection.They are two.


Nothing real can be threatened,

Nothing unreal exists.


Herein lies the peace of God.


In God I Trust



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