Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A note on the resurrection

On the very last day of the month of September 2008, Doug Chaplin set the tone for one topic of the month of October with a post on Resurrection from an interview with Rowan Williams.

Since then,

  • John L Drury has posted twice on the subject - N.T.Wright's chapter 4 of Surprised by Hope and then on the political ramifications hoping that
    we may rediscovery the classical theological sense of the term "economy" as God's household, which is revealed by the resurrection to be run according to the logic of generosity, not scarcity.
  • Kevin Edgecomb posted on the Theology of the Oral Torah and gave us such clarifications as:
    • living like animals leads also to death like animalsno resurrection, no eternal life
    • No anomalies will persist past the resurrection, the last judgment, and the world to come… and
    • In the end we all die, and who knows how long the interval until the resurrection.
  • April Deconick wrote of the early Christians and what she calls their polytheism:
    that Jesus was God's great angel who came to earth as a human being and was exalted to the angelic status of the NAME angel at his resurrection.
  • James McGrath, fresh from the publication of his new book, reminds us of Borg's Naive vs Conscious literalism as if we must ignore the known results of modern science.
  • The dutifully naive senior Ker commented on McGrath's thesis. And if his word was insufficient,
  • A Gothic theologian challenged JMcG to an exegetical duel - but it seems the purpose of his book is more about the public abuse of historical criticism.
  • I think our Hallow'een Gothic theologian is more on track of bodily resurrection than a post by Rachel Barenblat, the incomparably named Velveteen Rabbi, a real person, who put Islam and Judaism contra the dualist Christians with her discourse on soul and spirit in the Qur'an -
    Both the Qur'an and the Hebrew Scriptures presume the ultimate resurrection of the body, which means they don't subscribe to the same kind of dualism (body vs. spirit/soul) and concomitant privileging of the "spiritual" which characterizes Greek and Christian thought.
What can we do with all this unrealized eschatology, conflicting theses, and misread passages? Can it be that there is something in resurrection other than imagination, speculation, and voluntary gullibility, not to mention an inadequate anthropology? If there were, how could we tell?

We can read the words of Scripture and try to make intellectual sense of the collage of witnesses as if they were using words in a puzzle and we are meant to sort them out and deliver an answer on our final exam. But surely this is not an appropriate method of understanding. (ed. remember that bit in Deuteronomy: We will do them, then we will understand.) The collage is not the target but the witness that there is a target. The collage is full of the same humanity as our bloggy world. That's why there's a canon. Enough! says the Lord.

And the two testaments witness to the same target. That's where we need to aim our arrows - however much or little we read. Then when the arrows glance off the target and return to us with fearsome speed and accuracy, slaying us and then making us alive again, we will see that though we missed the mark, we have engaged with the possible impossible and the engagement has changed us - even betrothed us. Perhaps that will give us new words so that we too can witness to this named unnameable reality.

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