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5/25/2017 10:04 pm  #1


Okay, the resurrection is probably historical...

After reading through NT Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God, William Lane Craig's writings on the resurrection, and Michael Licona's The Resurrection: A New Historiographical Approach, I think Jesus' resurrection is probably historical. Here's my issue: this still doesn't get me to Christianity, let alone Catholicism. How can one get to the belief that Jesus is God, that he established and gave authority to a Church, that this Church has endured to today?

 

Last edited by RomanJoe (5/25/2017 10:08 pm)

 

5/26/2017 8:35 am  #2


Re: Okay, the resurrection is probably historical...

I think it matters that Jesus predicted the resurrection beforehand, it was prophesied beforehand, and his followers at the time universally saw the event as a vindication by the Father of Jesus's claims, including the claims that (i) Jesus is the messiah, (ii) Jesus is Lord and Judge of all, and (iii) Jesus is God.  (Of course the last took some time to work out the metaphysical details, but the claim is clearly throughout the NT.)

It may not be readily apparent why the rest of Christianity is logically necessitated by the truth of the resurrection (it isn't as simple as modus ponens, after all), but since all the bits and bobs of Christianity are a deeply interconnected web of thought, it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain intellectually a simultaneous affirmation of the resurrection and rejection of the rest.

 

5/26/2017 8:40 pm  #3


Re: Okay, the resurrection is probably historical...

Proclus wrote:

I think it matters that Jesus predicted the resurrection beforehand, it was prophesied beforehand, and his followers at the time universally saw the event as a vindication by the Father of Jesus's claims, including the claims that (i) Jesus is the messiah, (ii) Jesus is Lord and Judge of all, and (iii) Jesus is God.  (Of course the last took some time to work out the metaphysical details, but the claim is clearly throughout the NT.)

It may not be readily apparent why the rest of Christianity is logically necessitated by the truth of the resurrection (it isn't as simple as modus ponens, after all), but since all the bits and bobs of Christianity are a deeply interconnected web of thought, it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain intellectually a simultaneous affirmation of the resurrection and rejection of the rest.

I do think that there was immediately a high christology after the resurrection. Both Paul and the gospels are a testament to the early Church's belief in Christ as divine. I would like to see if those passages where Jesus foresees his own death and resurrection were historical or if they were the result of the gospel writers writing a high christology into the narrative.

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5/27/2017 2:08 pm  #4


Re: Okay, the resurrection is probably historical...

It seems like over and over again in the gospels the writers call attention to the shortsightedness of the disciples at the time that Jesus foretells his death and resurrection.  This makes them look foolish, which would make it somewhat harder to believe that they merely invented these episodes ex post facto.

I was also chewing on this thread and some of your other threads earlier today.  One of the elements that you seem to be working on quite a bit is the personhood of God (analogically predicated, of course).  It may be that this attribute cannot be gotten from many of the classical arguments for the existence of God.  Many versions of the cosmological argument in particular only go so far.  I am sympathetic to an argument from the theologian Dennis Kinlaw in his book Let's Start with Jesus, that we would not know that God is personal apart from revelation, ultimately culminating in the revelation of who God is in the person of Jesus Christ.  It may be possible to establish his personhood in theory, but historically, our conviction that "he is a who" rather than merely "it is a what" comes from the various theophanies (e.g. to Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and ultimately in Jesus).  Kinlaw argues systematic theology is often conducted backwards, beginning with the classical arguments from natural theology, eventually establishing the possibility of revelation, and finally proceeding to a discussion of Jesus.  Instead, he claims, we should begin with the historical facticity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and work our way outward from this central event thinking through the implications that this event holds for everything else.  You may find this book and this approach in general helpful.  (Or you may not; one never knows.)

 

5/27/2017 3:15 pm  #5


Re: Okay, the resurrection is probably historical...

I just so happened to be reading Joseph Ratzinger's important essay "Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology," today and thought this point would reinforce the idea from Kinlaw: 

"...the Christological concept of person is an indication for theology of how person is to be understood as such" (p. 450).  In other words, if you want to understand personhood, you need to start with Christology, rather than the reverse procedure of starting with a philosophy of personhood in order to understand Christology.

 

5/27/2017 6:18 pm  #6


Re: Okay, the resurrection is probably historical...

For the crucial question of "Who is Jesus?":
It's definitely worth going through the way in which thinkers in the Church historically came to affirm increasingly strong and clear statements of Christology. Thomas Weinandy's book "Jesus the Christ" gives a decent summary, and Stephen Bullivant's "How Not to be a Heretic" does something similar with the doctrine of the Trinity (obviously there is a lot of overlap between the two ideas). When you see something of the process by which doctrine developed into what we have today, many apparently obscure and unjustified points tend to snap into place. I've just bought J.N.D. Kelly's famous book on Early Christian Doctrines which looks useful for similar reasons, though I can't yet comment properly on it.

When it comes to Catholicism specifically, this question was asked quite recently - the suggestions I gave there apply equally here. Personally all sorts of reasons keep me Catholic - I don't see Protestant churches as live options by this point, though the Orthodox churches are of course something else altogether. I could never give up Mary, the sacraments, apostolic succession, and the religious orders, and I can't see the Anglican "middle way" as anything other than practical Protestantism mixed up in some Catholic vocabulary and aesthetics.

 

5/28/2017 1:26 am  #7


Re: Okay, the resurrection is probably historical...

Proclus wrote:

It seems like over and over again in the gospels the writers call attention to the shortsightedness of the disciples at the time that Jesus foretells his death and resurrection.  This makes them look foolish, which would make it somewhat harder to believe that they merely invented these episodes ex post facto.

I was also chewing on this thread and some of your other threads earlier today.  One of the elements that you seem to be working on quite a bit is the personhood of God (analogically predicated, of course).  It may be that this attribute cannot be gotten from many of the classical arguments for the existence of God.  Many versions of the cosmological argument in particular only go so far.  I am sympathetic to an argument from the theologian Dennis Kinlaw in his book Let's Start with Jesus, that we would not know that God is personal apart from revelation, ultimately culminating in the revelation of who God is in the person of Jesus Christ.  It may be possible to establish his personhood in theory, but historically, our conviction that "he is a who" rather than merely "it is a what" comes from the various theophanies (e.g. to Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and ultimately in Jesus).  Kinlaw argues systematic theology is often conducted backwards, beginning with the classical arguments from natural theology, eventually establishing the possibility of revelation, and finally proceeding to a discussion of Jesus.  Instead, he claims, we should begin with the historical facticity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and work our way outward from this central event thinking through the implications that this event holds for everything else.  You may find this book and this approach in general helpful.  (Or you may not; one never knows.)

Great! I'm bookmarking that link--the book looks promising. Yes, you're correct, one of my issues with many of the arguments for God's existence is that they can only prove so much. Many object that the cosmological arguments can only get us to, at best, a sort of transcendent force--but not something that is personal. I think proportional causality, coupled with my current belief that the human mind is immaterial, is perhaps a good starting point for viewing the first cause as something which, in some sense, has an immaterial mind. I haven't read a good treatment of Aquinas' work on the Divine Attributes. Feser does a good and pithy job of covering them in TLS and Aquinas. I just got Garrigou-Lagrange's Reality in the mail and am hoping he addresses them. 
 

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5/28/2017 12:17 pm  #8


Re: Okay, the resurrection is probably historical...

Alexander wrote:

For the crucial question of "Who is Jesus?":
It's definitely worth going through the way in which thinkers in the Church historically came to affirm increasingly strong and clear statements of Christology....When you see something of the process by which doctrine developed into what we have today, many apparently obscure and unjustified points tend to snap into place.

This.  I agree 100%

 

5/29/2017 9:39 am  #9


Re: Okay, the resurrection is probably historical...

Alexander wrote:

For the crucial question of "Who is Jesus?":
It's definitely worth going through the way in which thinkers in the Church historically came to affirm increasingly strong and clear statements of Christology.

Can you elaborate on this a bit more? How does later doctrinal development show that Jesus actually claimed to be divine?

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5/29/2017 4:32 pm  #10


Re: Okay, the resurrection is probably historical...

RomanJoe wrote:

Can you elaborate on this a bit more? How does later doctrinal development show that Jesus actually claimed to be divine?

Of course it doesn't prove anything about what Jesus himself claimed (though if a belief is pretty much universal among Christians from the very earliest Christians onward, it's at least a good indicator that the reason for this belief lies at the origin of Christianity). You would want to look directly at the Gospel witness for that - which, for example, Weinandy does in an opening chapter of his book, and others (e.g. Craig) do in way more detail elsewhere.

But the question of biblical studies isn't the only relevant one. Looking at the development of doctrine is necessary for seeing how the Church came to see every competing understanding of Jesus' status to be unacceptable, and this can be personally useful because we are rarely all that original - pretty much every doubt you could have about the Incarnation has been raised already in the Church's history. You could say that doubt is how we get doctrines in the first place.

In the case of Jesus' divinity, researching the early Church will also show you just how early this conviction is: Jesus' divinity is one of the most obvious of early Christian beliefs, and unlike some other doctrines the only real development lay in how it should be understood. If you want to say that the teachings recorded in the sacred texts of a religion, and the beliefs of the earliest adherents of that religion, really tell us nothing about the teachings of the founder of that religion... well, it's hard to see what you could count as evidence for what that founder taught. So perhaps we should be more skeptical, given the witness of the Gospels and early Church, of the claim that Jesus didn't make some claim to divinity.

Last edited by Alexander (5/29/2017 4:32 pm)

 

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