Thursday, March 30, 2006 

"You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk"

I just became a member of Biblical Archaeology Society and one of the perks is that you, as a member, get access to their back issues of not just Biblical Archaeology Review, but Bible Review as well. And so I was looking at some back issues and found this very informative article. For those of you who have always been perplexed by this strange Israelite prohibition the article is here. Oh, and be sure to look at the interesting images too.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 

John P. Meier on "Q"

Several posts ago I blogged about my frustration with those scholars who forget that Q is a hypothetical document, and how this thinking leads them to extrapolate various theories about a particular Q theology, different redactional layers of Q, a Q community, and so forth. These scholars would do well to take to heart the wise words of the great Catholic scholar, John P. Meier:

"I cannot help thinking that biblical scholarship would be greatly advanced if every morning all exegetes would repeat as a mantra: 'Q is a hypothetical document whose exact extension, wording, originating community, strata, and stages of redaction cannot be known.' This daily devotion might save us flights of fancy that are destined, in my view, to end in skepticism." A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Vol 2, p. 178.


iGod Again

I decided to give iGod another try. This is what transpired:

Me: Shalom!

God:Does SHALOM mean Hello or Goodbye?

Me: You mean you don't know?

God:I know that I do not know.

Me: Technically, it means "peace."

God:Oh I get it.

Me: Alright. So, there's something I've always wanted to know. What is the correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton?

God:OK. Whoa. What is it? There might be more than one correct answer.

Me: Really? Does this mean the divine name could have had various vowel pointings?

God:For real. Indeed this mean the divine name could have had various vowel pointings does.

Me: One more question for you. Ben Meyers claims that Bultmann is greater than NT Wright. What do you think?

God:One what? And greater than NT Wright is Ben Meyers claims that Bultmann. I think a lot of things.

Me: If you had to choose, which would you rather read, Wright's "Jesus and the Victory of God" or Bultmann's "The Mythology of Jesus"?

God:Perhaps next time I will try it.

It looks as if I tripped up iGod a bit. Since technically, the original Hebrew had no vowel pointings.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 

A Reprobate?

Via Chris Tilling and Steven Harris I was inspired to give the iGod thing a try. My transcript of the proceedings is as follows:

Me: Shalom!
God: (nothing)

It seems as if the Most High is reluctant to speak with me. This must further mean that I am not one of the elect but a reprobate, hated by God before the foundations of the earth, a vessel prepared beforehand for destruction. So it seems, in line with what Steven Harris was told, God is indeed a five-pointer. It's either that or God doesn't know Hebrew.

Sunday, March 26, 2006 

The Parting of Ways

Besides resurrection, historical Jesus, christological, and Pauline studies the other chief passion of mine is engaging in the vexing problem of the Jewish-Christian relationship. Among the questions this issue raises are: Why did Christianity, which started as a marginal Jewish sect, eventually part company with Judaism? Was it primarily over developing Christological issues, or over the movement predominately becoming Gentile, or something(s) else? What are the theological implications for seeing Christianity and Judaism as two seperate religions? Furthermore, what would these implications entail for how, from a Christian perspective, we are to view the Jewish movement and its people today?

I have just finished a book that deals with some of these questions entitled Jews and Christians: The Parting of the Ways, A.D. 70 to 135. It is edited by the great Durham New Testament scholar James D. G. Dunn and includes papers from the Second Durham-Tubingen Research Symposium on Earliest Christianity and Judaism (1989). Contributors include many notables such as Martin Hengel, Graham N. Stanton, Peter Stuhlmacher, James Dunn, and others.

The book was somewhat bittersweet. I initially approached this book hoping for an indepth look at some of the questions I have just previously raised. But the book functions more as introductory material than anything else. Even more disappointing was that half of the papers seemed not to have any bearing on the discussion, or at least exhibited only a minor connection to the larger dimension of the Jewish-Christian relationship. This unfortunately resulted in the proposal of many controverted hypotheses. Also, surprisingly, there were only passing references to the "Two Powers Heresy" which has been documented thoroughly by others such as Alan F. Segal. And even though James Dunn is one of my favorite scholars, his essay was far from the best.

But enough with the criticisms. For all of its slight disappointments, the book was overall informative and there were enough well-written essays to make it worth the read. One of these was Philip Alexander's which dealt with the "Parting of the Ways" from the perspective of Rabbinic Judaism. His first paragraph is particularly note worthy because of its cautionary tone:

"'When did Christianity and Judaism part company and go their seperate ways?' is one of those deceptively simple questions which should be approached with great care. Though formulated in historical terms it cannot easily be answered within a narrow historicist framework. It raises profound contemporary theological issues and, if not handed sensitively, can quickly become entangled in apologetics and confessionalism."

In his essay Alexander proposes that the parting of ways officially happens when Rabbinism asserts itself as the triumphant form of orthodox Judaism. Alexander's hypothesis is that before the second century there were still many "Judaisms" trying to win the hearts of the Jewish people. Jewish-Christianity was one of these. However, Rabbinism became victorious and one of its chief characteristics was to ostracize heretical movements. This meant the rejection of Jewish-Christianity as a viable movement within Judaism. Moreover, the fact that the Jewish movement was becoming increasingly more Gentile was enough to cement the "parting."

Another essay I found illuminating was Martin Hengel's concerning the Septuagint as a collection of writings claimed by early Christians. This essay deals principally with the discussion between Justin Martyr and the Jew Trypho. In this dialogue we see the Christian Justiin arguing for the supremacy of the Septuagint (especially in the case of Isaiah 7:14) based on the legend of the seventy (two?) translators known from The Letter of Aristeas and other sources (Philo, Josephus, etc). Though this might seem a trifling matter, the dominant acceptance of the Septuagint writings over and against that of the Hebrew translations was pivotal in the ultimate "parting of the ways" between Jews and Christians.

Though I was initially disappointed, all in all the book is informative and functions as a good prolegomena for questions concerning Jewish-Christian relations. Thus I would recommend to any of you interested in these issues to add this one to your library.

Friday, March 24, 2006 

Quote for the Day

"If the tomb were not empty and Christ not risen from the dead, then Christian believing has nothing to offer. The Christian gospel stands or falls with the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Here is a warning so-called radicals in the church need to heed. Preaching that lacks the dimension of the resurrection has no power to change lives, either now or in the future. It is no longer Christian preaching. It is not just radicals, however, who need to hear this word of warning. There are also so-called Bible-believing Christians who may assent with their minds to the truth of resurrection, but for whom the resurrection of Christ is not at the heart of their preaching and believing. If the content of their worship and of their preaching be examined, the truth may well be that their Easter faith is limited to Easter Day. To all intents and purposes they celebrate a crucified Saviour but not a risen Lord. Of course, preaching the resurrection without the cross leads to false triumphalism, but preaching the cross without the resurrection leads nowhere: it is a 'dead' end."

Paul Beasley-Murray, The Message of the Resurrection p. 130.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 

The Task of Reinterpretation

Throughout time there have always been so-called millenarian movements. Though we should be careful not to indulge in the formulation of broad sweeping generalizations, millenarian movements across the world and across time do tend to exhibit similar characteristics. Some of these include the expectation of an imminent end, a great reversal (the humble will be exalted, the exalted will be humbled,etc), the ultimate vanquishing of evil, great suffering preceding the end, and the vindication and salvation of an elect group.

Of course this is an obviously crude generalization and each movement tends to contain its own idiosyncracies. Nevertheless, the characteristics listed above are a good general index of what constitutes a millenarian movement. Furthermore, what is striking is that these are characteristics that are not geographically isolated to one section of the globe, but are manifested worldwide. It would seem that millenarianism is hardwired into human nature. However, upon further reflection this is not as phenomenal as first thought since when you strip these movements of their various particularities what you find is the simple human hope for vindication, for justice, for the righting of wrongs. This is, so to speak, the kerygma of millenarian belief.

But there is one other common characteristic that is worth discussing. What happens when the 'end' does not come as expected? Amazingly, for most of these movements when the end does not come as expected or predicted they continue on. Why? The answer is that they engage in the task of reinterpretation. You see hope is a rather hard thing to extinguish. And if it's not eliminated completely it will break through failure. They will convince themselves that they could not have initially been in total error. Somewhere along the way they must have just misinterpreted a detail, perhaps a minor one or maybe even a major one. Then they will reinterpret and adjust their praxis accordingly.

History readily illustrates plenty of examples of this 'task of reinterpretation.' Three examples, going chronologically backwards, should suffice. First is the well known Millerite movement. This was begun by a man named William Miller who managed to gather a following due to his precise calucations concerning the imminent return of Christ. Through use of a literalist reading of the Genesis narrative, the Book of Daniel, the Book of Revelation, and James Ussher's chronology Miller calculated the Parousia to occur in the year of 1844, sometime around October. Needless to say 1844 rolled around but Jesus did not. But instead of the movement subsequently dying out, the followers reinterpretated, with some redoing Miller's calculations to arrive at other dates while others affirmed that Jesus did return but in a spiritual manner. There were many other reinterpretations which led to the birth of several denominations that exist today such as the Seventh Day Adventists and the Jehovah Witnesses (though I might fall short of calling this a genuine Christian movement, thus 'denomination' might be a category mistake).

Our second example comes from the Middle Ages and centers ar0und the Jewish figure of Sabbatai Zevi. He was a Jewish mystic who proclaimed himself the long awaited Messiah of the Jews, and so predicted the soon end of the age. Sabbatai through various means gained a substantial following, even among many notable Rabbis. The end of course did not come and Sabbatai apostasized to Islam, claiming that God had commanded him to do so. But this did not deal a death blow to Zevi's followers. Instead, they reinterpreted their prophecies and then accepted Zevi's apostasy as part of God's plan. After his death, they proclaimed that he would one day return. Strikingly, a group of his followers known as the Donmehs exists to this very day.

The third example is similar to the previous one since it too began as a Messianic movement. But it soon ceased to be a Jewish sect, gained a momentous Gentile following and became what we know as Christianity. That the primitive believers were millenaristic (or apocalyptic) is usually not disputed. Many, scholars, however, have attempted to show that even if his own followers expected an immiment end this was not originally part of Jesus' teaching. Rather, passages such as Mark 13 are redactional creations by those early believers who were convinced that the end was nigh. For myself I follow Dale C. Allison and others that apocalypticism was a major aspect of Jesus' teaching. Regardless, my point does not depend on the founder of the movement holding these views. What is not in doubt is that our earliest records indicate a fervent belief in the early communities that Jesus was about to return and usher in the end.

But the delay of the Parousia caused considerable problems for the early believers. Indeed, by the time the synoptics were taking written form the church was beginning to interpret Jesus' death and resurrection as "inaugurated eschatology" (see Allison's End of the Ages Has Come). By the time we get to the end of the first century any of thought of apocalypticism or future eschatology is significantly downplayed in the Gospel of John. Though John still sees salvation as something future, the stress is on the presentness of salvation and individual eschatology.

As we get into the second century some of the church fathers begin shifting the Parousia from being imminent to being sudden (see 1 Clement 23:5) as well as, following John, stressing individual eschatology, thus ultimately relativising expectation of the end. However, there were some who continued to expect an imminent end. The early church historian Eusebius informs us of an amusing tale concerning the early church bishop Hippolytus. This bishop wrote a commentary on the Book of Daniel in order to stymy a recent wave of fervent eschatological hope aroused by a man in his parish. This charismatic figure convinced many people to follow him out into the wilderness to wait on the Parousia. Eventually, Hippolytus had to order a resuce operation to save these people, thus prompting him to write this commentary to prevent this kind of thing from every occuring again.

The point is that the church, faced with the problem of the delay of the Parousia, found itself constantly engaging in reintepretation.

Before we condemn these movements for their reinterpretations and sometimes, inventions, we must remember that this is something we all do. Such is the stubborness of hope. It refues to give in so easily and will fight to hang on as long as possible. Is this foolishness, to allow hope to convince us that we were not completely wrong? Perhaps. The Greeks would have thought so. Though many have heard of Pandora's Box most do no know what it contained. It contained many of the world's most destructive forces such as crime, plagues, poverty, etc. However, the last force in the box was 'hope.' Why? Because hope can be a deceiver. It builds expectation and when that expectation is not forthcoming, great devesation is caused. Hope can make fools out of us all by causing us to hold on to things when we no longer should.

However, humanity needs hope. Because the anithesis of hope is despair. And despair can be far more crippling in the long run than failed hope. Despair is to reach the very pit of Sheol where you can no longer experience God's presence. Despair destroys both body and soul. Despair is death. We need hope because it can bring life! Indeed, my, i.e. the believer's faith is built on this potential deceiver. "Do not grieve as one who does not have hope," so says Paul (1 Thess. 4:13). So hope may be foolishness, but so is the cross, nay, so is the resurrection.

Thursday, March 16, 2006 

Toughest Book Ever Read

The other day Chris Tilling posted an interesting blog which posed a question for his readers as to what was the most boring theological books that they had ever read. So I thought I would pose a similar question. What's the toughest biblical studies, theological, or philosophical book that you guys have either read completely or at least tried to read?

Concerning myself, it is without a doubt Alfred North Whitehead's Process and Reality. I made the mistake of doing a philosophy paper on Whitehead's process philosophy and Cobb's process theology some years ago. So naturally I had to try and wade through Whitehead's so called magnum opus. To begin with, one of the chief problems with that book is its rough textual history. Apparently, according to the blurb on the back of the book, the "original edition was riddled with typographical errors, missing phrases, incorrect references, and hundreds of discrepancies between the English and American was often said that we had a better text of Plato's Republic than Whitehead's Process and Reality." Though a corrected edition was undertaken by two of his students, there are obvious lingering effects related to the probelms with that original edition

The second problem with this book is that though Whitehead was attempting to formulate a systematic philosophy of the world, he does so rather unsystematically. This is due in part to the book mostly being a publishing of his Gifford lectures. But it appears that Whitehead didn't undertake to set out these lectures in a coherent pattern thus, even in Whitehead's own words (p xi), causing many of the sections to simply be "unintelligible." Furthermore, this created many inconsistencies and ambiguities in the book. On top of this Whitehead tended to create his own words for his philosophical system such as 'prehension.'

Even many of Whitehead's students had trouble comprehending the book. One of these was Donald W. Sherburne who published a severely edited form (with diagrams!) of Process and Reality so as to lay out systematically what Whitehead was trying to get at. Needless to say, I used this version against Whitehead's own many times. Here is just a small sample from the unedited edition of Whitehead's book:

"If we prefer the phraseology, we can say that God and the actual world jointly constitute the character of the creativity for the initial phase of the novel concrescence. The subject, thus constituted, is the autonomous master of its own concrescence into subject-superject." (p 245)

Suffice it to say, that was an interesting paper I did. My professor didn't even understand it (often writing in the margins simply 'what?') and when I look back at that paper I'm not even sure that I understand it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 

Speculative Interpretations

It is amazing to me how some scholars tend to forget that the Q source is still a hypothetical document. Now I for one do see substantial evidence for their being other written sources of the Jesus tradition other than our synoptics. I can even hold that if these exist they may well chronologically precede Mark. Yet, it is one thing to base one's scholarly research soley on such a hypothetical document. Since what ends up occuring is the inevitability of reaching very speculative and suspect conclusions.

Case in point is a book that I'm currently reading by Byron R. McCane titled Roll Back the Stone: Death and Burial in the World of Jesus. This book, as the title indicates, is a look into the various death and burial customs associated with Second Temple Judaism and the wider Greco-Roman world. Though much of the book is informative there is one chapter that is, in my opinion, quite incredulous. He dedicates this entire chapter to exploring how the so-called Q community viewed death and how it varied with the other customs around them. From the logions on death and burial found in the "Q" tradition, McCane postulates that this community had its own distinctive customs. Now, granted, McCane is certainly not alone in his conclusion that there is a special Q community distinct from later Christian communities. There are many scholars who believe this as well. Fine.

What bothers me is that this book is intended for lay readers. That being said, McCane has a responsability to let his readers know that his so-called Q document is still hypothetical. But he doesn't do this. Like so many scholars today, he simply assumes its concrete existence and then proceeds from these isolated sayings to extrapolate a distincive theology of this community. I would have been much satisfied with at least a minute discussion of the matter. We should expect better than this from the scholars we read. Here is the first sentence from that chapter:

"For some time now New Testament scholars have been captivated by the Q people-those primitive Christians who first recorded and preserved the earliest traditions of Jesus' sayings." (p 61)

There follows no argument for this just simply an assumption that the scholarly community has accepted the existence of not just a Q document, but a Q gospel, and a Q community. Until (or if) we find a copy of Q it should remain a hypothetical source. Thus we should refrain from undue speculations that only have a basis in something hypothetical.

I think it's time that I read Mark Goodacre's The Case Against Q.

Sunday, March 12, 2006 

Meyers Quotation

I was reading through some past blogs of Ben Meyers (Faith and Theology) and came across this interesting quotation about resurrection:

"Death is finality. It is the end of our existence, and it as an end after which there can be no new beginning. Death is the end of all life—so that it is meaningless to speak of an “afterlife,” or of any kind of continuing existence beyond the grave. Even if it were still possible to think of an immaterial “soul” in distinction from the physical “body,” we would have to say that this soul is utterly extinguished by death.Christian faith affirms all this; but it also says that something unthinkably strange happens: God raises the dead. God does what is intrinsically impossible: he brings new life from death. This is a sheer miracle. It is, in the strictest sense of the term, an impossibility. It is pure contradiction—for to raise the dead means to contradict death itself, to negate death and turn its whole reality upside down. Death is, by definition, the end. But by the act of God death becomes a new beginning. In other words, the resurrection of the dead is the death of death.As long as our thinking contains even a trace of the notion of “immortality,” we will understand neither the reality of death nor the miracle of resurrection. For to speak of “immortality” is to speak of a possibility latent within the human soul. But to speak of “resurrection” is to speak of the act of God. Or, more precisely: to say “resurrection” is to say “God.”
posted by Ben Myers at 7:24 AM

Ben is absolutely correct.

Friday, March 10, 2006 

Resurrection & Marriage: Part 2

The second point that I wish to make is that when we ask these kinds of questions (What of babies who have died or those who were eunuchs from their mother's womb (19:12), or those who're too hideously disfigured?) we may be participating in a similar error of that of the Sadducees. Jesus pointed out that their mistake was in positing the future age as being fully similar to the present age. Though there is to be some continuity, there is going to be significant discointinuity between the ages as well. One of these, as we have seen, being the nullification of marriage.

We are also, perhaps, making the other mistake of the Sadducees in that we are at fault for not knowing "neither the power of God nor the scriptures." If we are to believe that God is a just god and that his power is far beyond anything we could imagine, then we must believe that those who were not able to marry in this life, or babies who have died, or eunuchs, or those hideously disfigured will have a rich inheiritance at the consummation of the kingdom of God.

On a personal note, Eric, this is why belief in a future resurrection of the dead is so appealing to me (and why it was appealing to those who first formulated it). It affirms that God really still cares about his creation, about our bodies, such that he will redeem and transform those bodies. Yes, if we truly believe in the power of God, then he can take those babies that died prematurely in this life and transform their dead bodies into ones that will never taste death. He can take those who were hideously disfigured in this life and transform them into something glorious and he can transform those bodies that could not walk in this age into ones that will be able to run by leaps and bounds. God cares about your body and wants to redeem it. This is what is so important in the belief in a future resurrection of the dead. Eternity that is lived out in an embodied existence is much more appealing than one lived out with some kind of disembodied soul. The latter notion would seem to imply that God doesn't really care for his creation (cf Rom 8:8ff).

And as for those who do not get to experience the intimacy that only married people can share in this life, we can only hope that in the resurrection, when we finally see God in his fullness in Jesus Christ it will be something that not even marriage can compare to. And if this is indeed the case, that we will experience an intimacy with God far surpassing anything marriage could ever provide us here in this age, then marriage at the resurrection would simply be superfulous.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006 

Resurrection & Marriage: Part 1

"Welcome to the blogosphere! Considering the main topic of your blog, I would be interested in a post about the meaning and implications for modern (and all, really) Christians of Matthew 22:23-33, specifically verse 30.

You said that theologians sometimes treat the resurrection almost exclusively as a means to an end (Jesus is divine, the Christian faith is based on an historic truth claim). I agree. Also, I think that theologians mostly talk about the above passage in the same manner. They use it to simply show that the institution of marriage ends and then (quickly) move on to other things.

But what are the ramifications of this passage? I imagine that, since marriage is the divinely established outlet for sexual intimacy (and the deep emotional intimacy this creates) and the building of the family, many people have been discouraged or angered by this passage. What of babies who have died or those who were eunuchs from their mother's womb (19:12), or those who're too hideously disfigured? Also, What of a millenial view of Isaiah 65:23? Yet, this passage usually receives nothing more than a parenthetical mention in articles and discussions." Anonymous

Anonymous is referring in this quotation to the famous passage about some Sadducees, who not believing in a future resurrection of the dead, approach Jesus in the hopes of making a fool out of him by posing what in their minds is an absurd consequence of belief in resurrection from the dead. But Jesus sees through their intentions and deflects their argument by first making a comparison between resurrection life and angelic existence and then by appealing to the Torah, thus refuting their arguments from the only source they considered authoritative. (They accepted only the first five books of Moses and rejected all other writings and oral traditions.)

What disturbs some people, including Anonymous, is that this pericope seems to be affirming that marriage, at the resurrection, will end. And so Anonymous rightly asks what would be some of the ramifications of this? However, before attempting to answer the questions posed by Anonymous, let's first, rather hastily, deal with some preliminary historical-critical inquiries. This passage in Matthew is found also in the parallel pericopes in Mk. 12:18-27 and Lk. 20:27-40. There are few significant differences between the passages. Luke is the more embelished form of the three and, surprsingly, Matthew narrates the more compressed form of the passages. However, though Matthew preserves the shortest version, Markan priority still dominates the judgment of most scholars.

And of course some, Bultmann for example, have in the past claimed that this debate with the Sadducees did not orginate with the historical Jesus, but rather with the early church, being necessitated by some sort of Sitz em Leben. The main contention being that since it doesn't exist in the hypothetical (yes, hypothetical) Q community, this debate must be a purely Markan creation subsequently copied by both Matthew and Luke. However, I find the arguments of Davies and Allison more convincing in their support of the historicity of this encounter (see their ICC Commentary on Matthew Vol.3 p. 223). Thus I will proceed from the assumption that this is a situation that at least in some form goes back to the original Jesus and that Mark preserves the earliest memory of this. Since then Mark is most likely the orginal form of this passage I will deal with this form of the tradition, rather than Matthew's.

Now concerning what might be the possible ramifications of the passage for Modern Christians. First let me proivde the exegetical and cultural reply. I know that I am belaboring a point that has been made many times over, but we must keep in mind that the principal understanding of the purpose of marriage in Jewish thinking was that of propagation or procreation. The modern notions of romantic love and such was foreign to most Jews. And even though there were exceptions (such as the Song of Songs or the love story of Joseph and Aeseneth) among some Jews, this passage, at least, presupposes not the exception but rather the norm, i.e. that marriage is intended to ensure familial continuation and propagation.

This assumption is readily inferred from Jesus' reply that "For when they rise from the dead, they (men) neither marry, nor (women) are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven," (Mk 12:25). In this verse, Jesus draws a similarity between the resurrection state and angelic existence. Angels were commonly thought to be immortal, and thus would have had no need to propagate their own kind. Likewise then, if in the resurrection state we become immortal like the angels in heaven, we will also have no further need for propagation. Consequently, marriage would cease, since it would no longer have a purpose. Unfortunately, the concern of anonymous about the deep intimacy (emotionally and sexually) characterized by marriage is not addressed, nor does it appear to even be implied. The question of the Sadducees and the reply of Jesus presupposes only this common understanding of marriage.

Now interestingly, it doesn't follow necessarily that Jesus himself held only to this common view of marriage in Second Temple Judaism. It is at least conceivable that Jesus could have valued the kind of intimacy that only marriage can foster between two people. Nevertheless, Jesus only debates with the Sadducees in the context of the normal understanding of marriage. And so we have no real way of knowing precisely what Jesus' thoughts were concerning marriage. But the danger works both ways since it is foolhardy to take one small pericope placed in the context of a debate and then to extract systematically a full understanding of Jesus' own views on marriage such that you come away with a Jesus having nothing but a negative view of marriage. The reality is we just do not know.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006 


Since this is my first blog I should explain why I chose to name my site "Resurrection Dogmatics." The simple reason is that all things "resurrection" is one of my chief interests and passions, both Jesus' own resurrection and that of believers at the eschaton. But there is a more complex reason. In my observations modern Christianity has tended to remove the resurrection of Jesus from its rightful center in the Christian kerygma to its peripheral. The death, more specifically the cross has replaced the resurrection as the principal theological fulcrum of Christian dogmatics.

This is exhibited in evangelical preaching. Unbelievers are told that the way to become a part of the believing community is to accept Jesus as their personal savior and to believe he died for their sins. Rarely today is the resurrection mentioned in connection with the salvation message. This is in striking contrast to the way the kerygma was proclaimed in early Christianity. The Resurrection was central and foundational to the message proclaimed by the Apostles and primitive believers. Indeed one cannot traverse through the book of Acts (the narration of the early church's beginnings) without observing that for every message preached the resurrection is almost always mentioned in connection with that message, even to the extent that in Acts 17:v18ff, Paul's emphasis on Jesus and the Resurrection causes some of the Athenians to understand this message as concerning two deities, Jesus and his female counterpart ( the word for Resurrection being feminine in Greek; Iesous kai Anastasis)!

Not only has the resurrection been deemphasized but its significance and theological implications have often been misunderstood or not treated accordingly. For instance, when theologians treat the topic of the resurrection of Jesus it's often with the sole purpose to demonstrate that Jesus' being raised from the dead signifies his divinity. Furthermore, when not being used as a divinity proof, the resurrection is utilized (primarily by Christian philosophers) as a valuable apologetic tool in which to validate Christain truth claims. Now, I am not suggesting that there is not a need to ground the historicity of Jesus' resurrection. I for one feel that there is. My problem is rather that when this has been done, rarely do these people take the step forward to understand and explicate the signficance (not just its apologetic significance) and implications of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. It is not enough to say that it happened and then not ask: ok, what does this mean?

Thus part of the task of this blog site will be to, over the course of time, explore, among otheer things: 1) the significance of resurrection for the primitive believers, 2) the resurrection as a proper theological and soteriological concept, 3) resurrection in connection with eschatology, and 4) the implications of the resurrection for modern Christians. Hopefully, this will foster productive discussion in the hopes of aiding me in my future reasearch and studies.

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