Friday, June 29, 2007


What is this thing(y) called resurrection? Doug at Metacatholic suggests a change from a 'Pauline view' to a 'view involving eternity': "Resurrection seems to have a lot more to do with eternity, and with God beyond the world, than it did for Paul, and a simple restatement of Pauline theology may not be the right way to go."

I am curious to discover if some form of presentation of the resurrection can be made in this culture of Science. Wright's article has some good lines: "science in the strict sense can never be enough." And something happened to the disciples that left them with "a transformed worldview which is only explicable on the assumption that something really did happen."

The footprints in the sand at the Johannine fish breakfast is a bit much for an image of "something really did happen" but likewise, if nothing has happened to me, why would I bother with your or anyone else's set of "beliefs"?

Another good line from Wright: "and there are those, of course, who by redefining the resurrection to make it simply a spiritual experience in the inner hearts and minds of the disciples." He is critical of this position I am glad to see. This is moving - easily - towards the 'beyond the world'. But so what?

Wrights approach to 'mutations' of Jewish hope is a more promising move. Mutation in what might be thought immutable is not a game of meme survival to use a Dawkins' term. It is much more a game of hide and seek or a reframing of a known hope into a known reality. I am reminded of course of the sequence with Martha at the resurrection of Lazarus. Martha has to reframe her literal beliefs about the last day.

(I promised some time ago to identify with women in the Gospels. The unnamed one who washes Jesus feet with her tears and dries them with her hair would be tough for me now since I am no longer the hippy I was in my youth - but I would understand that story without the Monkish disdain evident in this portrait by Bouts the Elder.)

Wright lists 7 mutations. It is not their content particularly that impresses me, but the concept of reframing that is important. 'Collaborative eschatology' (mutation 5) is arguably the worst set of syllables one would want to attach to such a concept. Leave it to the theologians to dream up these words! The reframing comes most pointedly in Romans chapter 10 citing Deuteronomy 30 - the word is not far from you - you don't have to ascend to theological heaven to get it. Just confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead and you will be saved. The reframing cannot take place until after the piercing impact of confession and faith. It may well be collaborative eschatology but those words make me feel like a round man with all God's arrows glancing off target in tangential arcs instead of like the poor St Sebastian (Lorenzo Costa) who is struck through the heart.

Wright strikes home again with the note on Thomas who: "transcends the type of knowing he had intended to use, and passes into a higher and richer one." Yes - but one will ask of course, is it only his 'imagination'? Wright raises this question and answers it perhaps as well as I can imagine. The answer is still not 'enough' - the satisfaction that needs no modifier is in the tasting. Another great quote from this article: "the room has been disturbed, that it doesn’t look like it did last night, and that would-be ‘normal’ explanations for this won’t do."

To say one knows what may be in the world to come is speculation. But I do know that the room has been disturbed and for the better. Such disturbance I understand as being like the earnest of an inheritance both acceptable and greatly to be desired. The disturbance is like the resurrection of Lazarus, temporal, real, and a foretaste of what is to be. I trust I am learning to live with the furniture rearrangement of the new dispensation.

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