Bible Alive Jesus Christ 003: "The Starting Point for Christology"


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We explore the facts which are “rock bottom” which lead us beyond history into Christology proper, since they raise the meaning and significance of the “Jesus event”: 1) Jesus’ death on the cross and 2) the Easter kerygma. Learn about the origins of the Four Gospels. See the extra-biblical documents that record the execution of Jesus. Learn the pre-Pauline formula of 1 Corinthians 15:3b-5 and its ramifications. Read the “empty-tomb” narratives and discover their meaning.

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Bible Alive Jesus Christ 003: "The Starting Point for Christology"

  1. 1. Bible Alive: Jesus Christ Class Three: The Starting Point for Christology
  2. 2. The following presentation would be impossible without these resources
  3. 3. And most of all… By Father Roch A. Kereszty o. cist. Thank you Father Roch!
  4. 4. Setting the Tone • 1 Cor 2:9-10a But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,quot; God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
  5. 5. Setting the Tone • 1 Jn 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
  6. 6. Setting the Tone • God is an utter Nothingness, Beyond the touch of Time and Place: The more thou graspest after Him, The more he fleeth thy embrace. —Angelus Selesius
  7. 7. Let us Pray Good Father By your Word Jesus Give us in the Spirit ears that hear and hearts that wonder in humble awe Shatter the idol of our intellects And grant us eyes of faith That we, as true mystics, might in your Love Be Love as being Sons and Daughters For your Glory. Amen.
  8. 8. Summarizing Last Class • We learned that this theology of Christ is not merely an intellectual construct but demands the gift of faith. • We defined Christology and saw its importance; we saw the difference between ascending and descending Christologies. • We critiqued each quest for Jesus.
  9. 9. Summarizing Last Class • We were reminded that extremes are bad. • The Bible is all true, but with some facts. • The nature of the New Testament Documents is more than “just the facts,” but contain faith interpretations and testimonies. • We learned that, conforming to the reality of the Incarnation, there are historical uncertainties. • We learned about the Three Stages of Development of the Gospels and the crucial distinctions between each stage. • We learned from the earliest Traditions in the writings of Paul which antedate Paul’s compositions. • We learned that it would be unreasonable to systematically doubt a priori all Gospel stories and Jesus Sayings as inauthentic.
  10. 10. Various Criteria • 1. Criterion of Double Dissimilarity • E.g., Temptation Narratives • 2. Criterion of Embarrassment • E.g., Jn 1:46 (Galilean origin);the “failure” of Jesus; cowardly followers; and the Parousia ignorance (Mk 13:32; Mt 24:36). • 3. Criterion of the Personal Style of Jesus • E.g., “Abba” and “Amen, amen, I say to you…” • 4. Criterion of Multiple Attestation • E.g., The Institution of the Eucharist (1 Cor 11:23- 26—Lk 22:17-20, Mk 14:22-25—Mt 26:26-29, and John interprets the Eucharist in chapters 6 and 15) • 5. Criterion of necessary explanation
  11. 11. “Rock Bottom” facts • What two facts are the “rock bottom” foundation for a theological history of Jesus? • Answer from Kereszty: 1) Jesus’ death on the cross and 2) the Easter Kerygma of the disciples These are the rock-bottom foundation for any theological history of Jesus. These two facts mark the beginning of the life of the Church. This two-fold starting point is historical. These facts also lead beyond history into Christology proper, since it raises the meaning and significance of the ‘Jesus event.’
  12. 12. What if no resurrection faith? • Could some kind of “Jesus Religion” have begun without “Easter Faith”? • Answer from Kereszty: Perhaps. • Maybe some kind of organized movement could have been begun by the disciples, perhaps a ‘Jesus Movement’ similar to the one begun by the disciples of John the Baptist after their master had been killed. • It is feasible to assume that perhaps this movement could have even developed into a religion based on the teaching of Jesus similar to original Buddhism.
  13. 13. How Great would have been this possible ‘Movement?’ • Could this have developed into what Christianity has become? • Answer from Kereszty: It is extremely difficult to conceive that without belief in Jesus’ resurrection they would have been able to establish a rapidly expanding worldwide community whose center was not a doctrine, but the person of the crucified and risen Jesus, who was believed to live AND act in that community. • Kereszty claims that in fact there has never been a Christian community without faith in the resurrection. • Even accepting the ‘Q’ document as being real, you cannot deduce from its existence that the Christian community that produced it held no belief in the resurrection, due to its use of “exaltation language” (sayings about the exaltation of the Son of Man) which, at least for Paul in Philippians is complementary rather than opposed to “resurrection language.”
  14. 14. Anchored in History • The two-fold starting point (Jesus’ Death & Easter Kerygma by the disciples) is SOLIDLY anchored in history. • Think about it. What is more certain about Jesus than that 1) he was crucified and that 2) his disciples believed and proclaimed him risen? • As we discuss these two facts we are LED BEYOND the limits of historical science into THEOLOGY—into CHRISTOLOGY PROPER—since the two facts of our discussion raises the question of the meaning of the Jesus event.
  15. 15. What Almost All Accept • What is the most widely accepted fact about Jesus? • Answer: The crucifixion of Jesus is the most widely accepted fact about him. • Jesus’ execution is attested to in extra-biblical sources that contain information independent of the New Testament documents. • These include citations from Josephus, Lucian of Samasota, Tacitus, and the Babylonian Talmud. Let’s briefly examine each:
  16. 16. Babylonian Talmud: • In its treatise on the Sanhedrin it speaks about Yeshu, who practiced magic and led Israel into apostasy, and had disciples, and: ‘On the Eve of the Passover, Yeshu was hanged.” • The Babylonian Talmud was written centuries after Jesus was crucified (3rd century at the earliest), yet scholars accept that it includes early oral traditions dating from the time before the Second Temple was destroyed in AD 70.
  17. 17. Lucian of Samosata • Lucian of Samosata (AD 120-180?) was a travelling lecturer and Sophist rhetorician. • He writes about the death of cynic and one- time Christian Peregrinus and says of Christians that they are “worshipping that crucified Sophist himself and living under his laws.”
  18. 18. Tacitus • Tacitus (AD 58-117) was a Roman senator and historian. • He wrote around 116 of the sect of the “Chrestus” and their beginnings of a certain “Chrestus” who “suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius (who reigned between AD 14-37) at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus…”
  19. 19. Josephus Flavius • Josephus Flavius (AD 38-100?) records Jesus’ crucifixion.
  20. 20. Pretty Rock Solid • All the Gospels and Pauline letters report the crucifixion of Jesus. Even the most skeptical critic accepts their testimony. • For the Early church, the execution of Jesus as a common criminal was the greatest scandal she had to face. There never has been a greater scandal, a greater embarrassment for the Church to overcome, than the crucifixion of Jesus. She had to accept that Jesus was the Messiah in spite of his complete failure. • UNDERSTAND—There was NOTHING in Jewish Messianic expectation that would have made the death of the Messiah plausible in the divine plan. The Suffering Servant passages in Deutero-Isaiah (see Is 42:1-7; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12) had NOT YET been applied to the Messiah.
  21. 21. Church Invention?? • Jesus’ condemnation by the Sanhedrin and the Roman governor did not put the Church in a favorable light among Jews or Gentiles. • It is HIGHLY IMPLAUSABLE that the Church would have invented something that would so hinder them in their missionary efforts (criterion of embarrassment). • As far as the involvement of Roman and Jewish government getting involved, even if we can debate to what degree how much either side contributed, most historians agree that both sides were involved. This did not put the Church in a favorable light to anyone on earth. • Yet the NT Traditions preserved this fact DESPITE her embarrassment, because it was TRUE.
  22. 22. The Resurrection PREACHED • What are the sources of the Kerygma of the Resurrection? • Answer from Kereszty: The earliest formulations are found in Paul’s Letters. This is commonly accepted. Thus it is Paul’s theological interpretation of this kerygma which is our focus.
  23. 23. Early Kerygma in Paul • What in Paul is found the most complete kerygma of the Resurrection? • Answer from Kereszty: It is found in 1 Cor 15:3-8. • It is commonly thought that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians some 25 to 30 years AFTER the death of Jesus. • However, he COULD NOT HAVE written 1 Cor 15:3b-5.
  24. 24. Let’s examine 3b-5 • “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised up on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Kephas, then to the twelve.” • Analysis & Explanation
  25. 25. Explanation • IN CONTEXT: Paul refers to these verses he had himself received and had handed on to the Corinthians as the CORE of the kerygma, while he was with them in AD 50/51. • Upon CLOSE EXAMINATION of verse 3b, 4, and 5 one sees a CONCISE CHARACTER and RYTHMIC PATTERN. This suggests that this passage was a STEREOTYPED formula the Church had already created and used BEFORE Paul adopted it as the condensation of his own preaching. • Therefore the formula HAD TO EXIST BEFORE AD 50, the time Paul visited Corinth and preached it there
  26. 26. What Does this Tell Us? • With this we can know that—far from being a secondary development in the Church—belief in the saving efficacy of the death of Christ, his Resurrection, and the tradition of his post- Resurrection appearances go back the very beginnings of the existence of the Church.
  27. 27. What about the CONTENT? • The Content of 1 Cor 15:3b-5: the death of Jesus is more than a mere fact. It is part of God’s plan endowed with soteriological significance. • Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. • Another words, the death of Jesus (now theologically interpreted as “Christ”) fulfilled God’s Plan as recorded in the Scriptures. • This means that his death was neither accidental or the condition for being raised to a new life. It is a saving death. It is a death that saved us.
  28. 28. Look at verse 4 carefully. • …that he was buried; that he was raised up on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” • What is being conveyed in its sharp contrast with verse 3b? • “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…” • The contrasting sequence signifies total reversal: what happens in verse 4 totally reverses what happens in verse 3.
  29. 29. Reversal • So death and burial are reversed in verse 4. • For Paul and contemporary MAINSTREAM Jewish thought, the body is the concrete tangible form of a person, RATHER than a disposable exterior, inferior element to be cast off like clothing so that the soul might be liberated to reach a state of bliss. • In other words, to Paul, you did not have a body, rather you ARE a body. • This holistic anthropology brings to the New Testament a very un-Greek, very earthy, Jewish HORROR of death. • Therefore an EMPTY TOMB must be presupposed by the ancient pre-Pauline formula of faith we find in verse 4.
  30. 30. Ancient Jewish Eschatology • A part of Judaism in Jesus’ time expected a bodily Resurrection of the Dead, to take place specifically at “the Last Day,” that is, at the dawn of a new age. • The Pre-Pauline Kerygma of 3b-5 applies this well-known promise of the general eschatological resurrection to Jesus: the New Age has dawned on us because of this one individual, Jesus of Nazareth, who rose from the dead, even though the course of world history seems to go on undisturbed.
  31. 31. Focusing on the Body • Let’s focus on the bodily aspects of the Resurrection. • As far as the pre-Pauline Kerygma, so also for Paul, the resurrection includes his transformed, glorified body.
  32. 32. Phil 3:20-21 • But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. • Notice, this CANNOT be just a resuscitation that Paul has in mind, as in the case of the accounts of raising Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter.
  33. 33. 1 Cor 15:35-54 • But some one will ask, quot;How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?quot; You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body…
  34. 34. 1 Cor 15:35-54 cont. • ... For not all flesh is alike, but there is one kind for men, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.
  35. 35. 1 Cor 15:35-54 cont. • …It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
  36. 36. 1 Cor 15:35-54 cont. • … As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
  37. 37. 1 Cor 15:35-54 cont. • …Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.”
  38. 38. Explanation • For what Paul says of the body of Christians we can infer how he views Christ’s risen body, to which ours will be conformed to at the end of time. See Phil 3:21 … our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.
  39. 39. Risen Body is Spirit • The risen body is spiritual (soma pneumatikon), filled with glory and the power of God. Isn’t that what Paul just said? • What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. • It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised soma pneumatikon… • This cannot mean a mere resuscitation or reanimation to regular worldly life. This is an altogether new, eschatological existence.
  40. 40. Wait a minute! • Isn’t soma pneumatikon, “body-spirit”, a contradiction in terms? • Answer: Sounds like it is. Why? • Spirit means “no body” or something immaterial. • Body means something of matter. • What is going on here?
  41. 41. No Oxymoron • The truth is that despite the paradoxical language this is not an oxymoron. Like other such paradoxes in found in the Hebrew scriptures, Paul employs a mystical language. • So “body-spirit” is a mystical way of describing the indescribable, a reality that entirely transcends this world. • By speaking of a “spiritual body,” Paul is attempting to describe the Risen Jesus as a reality that entirely transcends our world.
  42. 42. Mystical Paradox Examples • Gen 1:1—“In the beginning created God hashamayim and the earth.” • Hashamayim—the Hebrew word for “The Heavens,” is broken up by a folk etymology into the words esh (fire) and mayim (waters). So the heavens are the paradoxical “fire-waters.” • This is a way of expressing the inexpressible. • Water and fire are chief Scriptural symbols for the Spirit of God.
  43. 43. Mystical Paradox Examples • Ezek 1:4—“A storm wind came out of the north, a huge fire surrounded by radiance, and at the center of it, in the center of the fire, a gleam as of chashmal” • Chashmal—In Talmudic literature, we see Jewish meditation on the vision of Ezekiel and the word chashmal. It is explained via folk etymology as the combination of two abbreviated words, namely chashah (to be silent) and milah (speech)” (Chagigah 13b). • Chashmal expresses the ineffable reality of God with the paradox ical meaning of “silent speech” • From our perspective, of course, “silent speech” is self- contradictory, but mystically it expresses much, e.g., prayer and the problem of evil.
  44. 44. What soma pneumatikon does • Just as an earthly body manifests the person to the world, so a glorified body (soma pneumatikon) manifests God’s glory and allows us to link him to himself and transform us into himself. • Through this soma pneumatikon of Christ, we are linked to Christ, and transformed into himself in a “more-than- metaphorical” way; in fact, to Paul, we are really the Body of Christ and members from his members and manifest his suffering and his resurrection to the world. • Read 1 Cor 6:15—Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! • In fact, the identity with the risen body of Christ is SO REAL for Paul, that the fornicating Christians “make of the members of Christ a prostitute.”
  45. 45. For Paul “Risen Christ” is Jesus of Nazareth • The Risen Christ for Paul is clearly identical with Jesus of Nazareth. • The resurrection does not change his personal identity. • But through the resurrection Jesus becomes Lord, exalted above all creatures in heaven and on earth and receives the Name Yahweh, so that this man is now worshipped, obeyed, and called upon in prayer, as Yahweh ALONE was in the Old Testament.
  46. 46. According to What, Paul? • This took place, according to Paul, and to sources EARLIER than Paul, “according to the Scriptures.” • That is to say that it was foreordained by God and foretold in the Scriptures. • But where in “the Scriptures”? • Look at 1 Cor 15:3b-5. Are there any specific texts mentioned where this was foretold? • No.
  47. 47. What does this mean? • To Paul and the earlier kerygma, “the Scriptures” were not specific proof texts but were understood as ALL the Scriptures, in general. This list of written works was undefined. • So verse 4b gives only general indication that “the Scriptures” do speak of the resurrection of Christ. • Look at this carefully: this is the FIRST FORMULATION that we have of what we will see in the later texts of the New Testament: ALL of the Old Testament Scriptures speak about the mystery of Christ, not only certain specific verses.
  48. 48. Concluding Jesus’ Resurrection? • How could Paul and his audience come to the conclusion that Jesus was raised from the dead? Does anyone in the NT claim to have witnessed the resurrection? • Paul’s Vision: Paul and the Christians know that Jesus was raised because the Risen Christ appeared to a group of people who serve as witnesses to his glorified and risen existence. • Look at 1 Cor 15:5-8—From this list (or possibly this combination of two lists) we can infer something about what Paul thought about the nature of these appearances.
  49. 49. 1 Cor 15:5-8 …and that he appeared to Kephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
  50. 50. What is Paul Describing? • Why can’t Paul be describing some kind of religious vision or mystical experience? • 1 Cor 15:8—Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. • Answer: Note that Paul links himself with a list of others who had this experience. • Paul’s experience IS that of Peter, the Twelve, James, and all the apostles.
  51. 51. Not Something Private • This clearly distinguishes this experience from private mystical vision and revelations. • This is a one-time event that happens to Paul, happens at a SPECIFIC point in a sequence: that being after the death of Jesus, and following the other post-resurrection appearances. • This means that Paul believes the resurrection to be historical to the extent that it affected people in history—it has an objective character.
  52. 52. Resurrection Appearances ‘Mere Facts’ Then? • So that means that to Paul the resurrection appearances were like any other event in human history? • Nope. • Although he specifies his encounter with the Risen Christ inside an historical sequence, to Paul this event was NOT ordinary, not comparable to an everyday human encounter. • Think about it. In ordinary, everyday human encounters, once a person is within seeing distance, we CANNOT avoid seeing her. She is exposed to our sight whether or not she wants to be. • It’s VERY different in the case of the Risen Christ appearing to Paul and the others, for the initiative for showing himself comes from Christ himself. Christ chose to reveal himself to Paul when he least expected it. • See Gal 1:12-17
  53. 53. See Gal 1:12-17 • For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus.
  54. 54. Compare with 1 Cor 9:1 • Gal 1:16—…was pleased to reveal his Son to me… • 1 Cor 9:1—Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord?
  55. 55. Seeing & Being Revealed • Seeing means that Paul recognizes that the Risen Christ appeared to him IN THE WORLD; he could SEE him. The Risen Jesus was EXPERIENCABLE through the order of sense experience. To this extent, it was like any ordinary experience. • Revealing means that this encounter with the Risen Christ was NOT an ordinary occurrence. Why could Paul “see” the Risen Christ? Because God chose to REVEAL him to Paul, that is, because God MANIFESTED Christ to Paul. The Greek used to capture this reality of “seeing” and experiencing “revelation” is also employed in the Old Testament to convey Hebrew terms in Gen 18:1, 26:2, 24; Ex 3:2
  56. 56. Old Testament REVEALING • Gen 18:1—And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. • Gen 26:2—And the LORD appeared to him, and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you” • Gen 26:24—And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father; fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your descendants for my servant Abraham’s sake.” • Ex 3:2—And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.
  57. 57. Theophanies • In other words, the Resurrection Appearances were theophanies, wherein the Divine Reality, itself Invisible, becomes perceptible for a short time to some people by God’s gracious initiative. • To Paul and the Kerygma before him, the ultimate theophany is the Crucified who is Risen. • The Divine Reality has become perceptible to sense experience by God’s gracious initiative in the crucified Jesus of Nazareth in his new risen state.
  58. 58. Objective or Subjective? • So are the appearances objective or subjective? • Kereszty answers: The resurrection appearances we have recorded in the New Testament transcend the usual categories of subjective and objective. • On the one hand, Paul is CONVINCED he did not CAUSE the experience himself. • It was not illusion. It was not hallucination. • Therefore we may call it OBJECTIVE, because it was caused by a reality other than the subject. We could even go so far as to say, in some sense of the word, that the event was historical. For certain parallel events happened also that could be confirmed by the converging testimony of many eyewitnesses. 1 Cor 15:6 is probably Paul’s addition. There he implicitly invites any doubters to check what he is saying with plus 500 eyewitnesses.
  59. 59. Phil 3:7-14 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
  60. 60. Again, Gal 1:13-17 • For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus.
  61. 61. Gal 2:15-21 • We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we ourselves were found to be sinners, is Christ then an agent of sin? Certainly not! • But if I build up again those things which I tore down, then I prove myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives IN me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live BY FAITH IN the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose.
  62. 62. Not JUST an Object! • On the other hand, the risen Christ is NOT just some OBJECT facing Paul. • He was both ABOVE and WITHIN the subject, transforming the subject. • Ordinary human beings could exist alongside Paul, but not ACTUALLY INSIDE him; but Christ was both INSIDE and ABOVE Paul. He penetrated his inmost being, shattered his resistance, caused him a true metanoia, and Paul joined the Church and was baptized. • Paul had died to his previous self. He died to the zealous Pharisee who had placed all his trust in ritual observance to the Torah; Now that was all “rubbish,” loss and not gain.
  63. 63. Not Coercion, Though • Yet Christ does not FORCE himself on Paul, despite the power of the encounter. Read Acts 9:1-9 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
  64. 64. What Does this Mean? • This is interpreted correctly as a revelation. • Paul is thrown to the ground by blinding light, but Paul does not immediately recognize who it is. • Paul must believe the speaking voice from heaven, he must trust that in the One who reveals, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.”
  65. 65. Let’s summarize:  Belief in the resurrection derives from the beginning of the Church itself, not as the product of later “Christian consciousness.” There is no Christianity without the proclamation of the resurrection.  Belief in Christ’s saving value of death and resurrection also appears at the beginning of the Church, as does the understanding that it fulfills the plan of God as laid out in the Sacred Scriptures of the Jews.
  66. 66. Let’s summarize:  The Church bases her faith in the resurrection of Christ in the testimony of witnesses. She keeps the lists of these witnesses as part of her kerygma.  The Resurrection means an exaltation of the state of the LORD. It is not a return to ordinary, historical human life. Jesus risen means he shares all the prerogatives of Yahweh.
  67. 67. Let’s summarize:  The Risen Lord and Jesus of Nazareth are the same person. Jesus rises through a soma pneumatikon, a spiritualized body, through which he reveals his glory, communicates with us, and joins us to himself.  In Paul’s mind, the encounter with the Risen Christ, which Acts locates geographically on the road to Damascus, was both 1) an historical event and 2) personal revelation that changed his WHOLE life and constituted himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.
  68. 68. The Resurrection Narrative in the Gospels and Acts • It is not believed that the appearance narratives are theological constructs (theologoumena). The appearance narratives preserve some original data of the earliest traditions. • The appearance narratives cannot be harmonized in regard to chronology and geography. • This shows that the writers did NOT intend to give a sequentially ordered history of appearances. • Each condensed or amplified the traditions available according to his own person and the needs of the audience.
  69. 69. Needs of Particular Communities • “Matthew” says that one appearance of Jesus took place to some women in Jerusalem and one “official” appearance took place in Galilee. • The term “Official” is used in the sense that only men were qualified to be public witnesses of the resurrection as women’s testimony was invalid in Jewish courts of the time.
  70. 70. Needs of Particular Communities • “Luke” locates ALL the appearences in Jerusalem or in Emmaus, very close by. • “John” also records all the appearances taking place in Jerusalem, but an added appendix (chapter 21) records another appearance in Galilee. • WARNING: Please, don’t try and chronologically or geographically harmonize these events. Let us rather see how these accounts confirm, complement, or differ from the resurrection kerygma and Paul’s Damascus experience.
  71. 71. Sensed Appearances  The Gospel accounts are composed by human authors and communities convinced that the encounters with the Risen Christ took place in the physical order of reality.  The Risen Lord can be physically seen, heard and touched.  Though somewhat addressed in Matthew, this is REALLY illustrated in Luke and John, probably to emphasize the REAL though spiritual body of Christ AGAINST a Docetic tendency in the Church.
  72. 72. Present yet Transcendant  These texts stress that while Jesus is present in this world, he is no longer a part of this world.  Consequently, sense experience alone is not enough to recognize him.  Appearances are both internal and external.  The Emmaus episode, the Beloved Disciple, and the other disciples can still doubt.  Disciples need BOTH senses and incipient faith to “see” the Risen Christ.
  73. 73. More than Reanimation  The Gospel Traditions are clear: Jesus is not a re- animated body returning to our world like Lazarus or Jairus’ daughter.  Jesus is no longer subject to the limitations of space and time, matter and energy.  He penetrates walls and locked doors, can appear and vanish at will.  This encounter is also unpredictable and does not depend on the desire of the disciples.
  74. 74. One and the Same  Yet the accounts MAKE CLEAR that the Risen Christ, in spite of his Transcendent status, is the same person as the crucified Jesus of Nazareth.  Luke and John especially depict him as the same, his body bears the marks of the nails and the lance.  They recognize the Stranger as soon as he gestures in a manner like Jesus from before the death, he calls Mary Magdala by name, breaks bread with his disciples, sends them out for a catch of fish.
  75. 75. Unpredictable  The appearances are UNPREDICTABLE.  Jesus appears at will, independent of the desires the disciples have.  They can hardly be convinced when he appears among them.  His appearance depends solely on his initiative. His perceptible presence NEVER lasts long: only a few words and gestures, and he vanishes.
  76. 76. What is the Purpose? • The purpose of the appearances are two-fold: – To convince the disciples of both the reality of the resurrection and Christ’s new personal presence in and among them. New intimacy, without spacetime limitations. – To send the disciples on a mission. The appearances are seen as part of the divine act that establishes the Church.
  77. 77. Gospels More BODILY in Emphasis than Paul • The Gospels emphasize more than Paul the bodily character of the Risen Christ: – Acts 9:1-9: Interprets Paul’s encounter by Apocalyptic Imagery. – Matthew takes the middle road between eschatological splendor and the familiar human figure of the risen Christ in Luke and John. – The apocalyptic literary device and the presentation of the Risen Christ as friend show both poles of the mystery. The new eschatological world has dawned on mankind in the familiar person of the crucified Jesus of Nazareth.
  78. 78. Empty Tomb Narratives • The empty tomb is not explicitly included in the kerygma, but implied. They derive from a different milieu and constitute an independent tradition. – All four accounts agree that certain women in the entourage of Jesus found the tomb empty on the third day after the crucifixion, which was the first day of the Jewish week. – The discovery of the tomb does not lead to faith by itself, except in the Beloved disciple, whose deep love for Jesus made him perceptive (Jn 20:8, cf. 21:4-7).