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8/09/2018 7:06 pm  #41


Re: The motive for Christianity

Dave wrote:

ficino wrote:

Dave wrote:

And, as amply demonstrated in N. T. Wright's weighty tome, The Resurrection of the Son of God, such an interpretation ignores the Jewish and Hellenic dialectic that formed the context of any discussion of a resurrection. The notion we find in Paul is the same as that found in the rest of Judaism - that of a bodily resurrection.

The place to start in an attempt to interpret a writer is what the writer himself/herself says. For a more cautious approach to the problem of teasing out whether Paul's "spiritual body" in resurrection bespeaks a two-body conception--unlike the later gospel stories--or a one-body conception--like those stories (esp. John)-- see the work of the late Alan F. Segal. Segal inclines to think Paul's view is that the body of flesh is changed into a spirit body in the resurrection. Using the phrase "two-body" doesn't imply, though, two at once; Segal doesn't talk about fleshy bodies still in their graves while spirit bodies are resurrected. But he talks about the spirit body as not being a body of flesh anymore. cf. his Life After Death, e.g. 430 ff.

And what's Segal's basis for that interpretation? Does it have any precedent in pre-Christian Judaism? Does it serve as an explanation of post-Pauline theology?

As far as I can tell, most of the justification for this hypothesis comes from the obscurity of the terminology used by Paul and his Pharasaic predecessors. But sorting through all that muddle, we find clear affirmations of resurrection of the body, and no clear affirmations of any "spiritual resurrection" of the sort that would allow us to drive a wedge between Paul and the Gospel narratives. There's no reason to think that any second temple era Jew ever contemplated a "resurrection" that left the body in the grave. That's just not what the concept was about.

As I wrote in the section you quoted, Segal does not maintain that in Paul's view, a corpse mouldered in the grave at the same time that the risen Jesus made appearances. By "two-body" Segal means, as I understand him, new body after old body, not new body with corpse mouldering.

Segal makes many connections between apocalyptic Jewish texts and Paul's writings. Segal and Wright both contributed to the volume, The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright in Dialogue (2006). Segal taught at Union Th. Sem. He was a major Jewish scholar of ancient religion. As Wright's weighty tome is too long for you to have summarized very much of it, Segal has written too much for me to summarize even what I have read. Portions of his Life After Death are on Google Books. Esp. pertinent is from p. 430.

https://books.google.com/books?id=owd9zig7i1oC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false 


 

 

8/10/2018 1:07 am  #42


Re: The motive for Christianity

RomanJoe wrote:

Callum wrote:

RomanJoe wrote:


I'm becoming cautious of reading books that investigate the history of early Christianity and its origin. It seems like an area that is just rife with unconscious bias, everyone having a theological axe to grind. I'm looking to get back into reading more but I'm afraid I'm becoming too skeptical of the research itself because, unfortunately, it is conducted by fallible human beings.

You should be clear on what the issue(s) could be. Methodological? Historical evidence and miracles? The background presuppositions each person brings to the investigation? These all would be grouped away from a more historic investigation that deals with the data.

It's the background presuppositions.

These are (almost) entirely philosophical. The resurrection of Jesus will rest on some plausibility for the existence of God, that miracles are possible (or Have happened) and that Jesus specifically would plausibly be chosen to be resurrected. These seem to me to be the main issues (with each being multifaceted).

Outside of that your comments seem to raise the question of whether historical evidence, in principle, could support a miracle. From my perspective, I think the answer is decisively yes.

 

8/10/2018 2:12 am  #43


Re: The motive for Christianity

Callum, in the case of Jesus, his death, and the early testimony of his resurrection, why do you think it's more plausible that a miracle took place than any alternative explanation? How can one assess the plausibility of a miracle even if one grants that they are possible?

     Thread Starter
 

8/10/2018 3:41 am  #44


Re: The motive for Christianity

RomanJoe wrote:

Callum, in the case of Jesus, his death, and the early testimony of his resurrection, why do you think it's more plausible that a miracle took place than any alternative explanation? How can one assess the plausibility of a miracle even if one grants that they are possible?

In the specific case if the resurrection I think the historical evidence makes alternative hypothesis very unlikely and strongly confirms the resurrection hypothesis.

But ignore that first paragraph! Because I think your issue is methodological. It could be that in the specific case of the resurrection (Let's say) the historical evidence isn't strong enough. But, ofcourse, it could be that there *could* be evidence for an event with makes it more probable than the alternatives. This is why I think the core of your question is "How can one assess the plausibility of a miracle even if one grants that they are possible?".

I strongly recommend the links I posted in #28.

 

8/10/2018 8:22 pm  #45


Re: The motive for Christianity

In #41 I mentioned Alan F. Segal but couldn't provide material from his writings about the resurrection. Here now are a few things he writes in Life After Death, some pages but not all accessible via Google Books.

Most pertinent to Roman Joe's OP is this from page 447: Segal says it's not likelty that a crucified criminal would be buried. p. 448 But the real scandal is that no one saw Jesus arise. (n. 8, p. 762: "This fact seems to me to pass the criterion of dissimilarity and argue strongly for the historicity of the person Jesus. No one would have made up a story of a savior who was resurrected and then neglected to narrate it. On the other hand, it does nothing for the historicity of the resurrection itself.") "This [i.e. fact that no one saw Jesus arise] is a critical difficulty for the early mission of the church. The empty tomb tradition does face, then finesse the issue that no one saw Jesus rise. That does not firmly argue against its historicity, but it tends to make a historian suspicious. What can be demonstrated historically only is that no one actually saw Jesus' resurrection. Had there been witnesses they would not have been left out. I agree with Ludemann that the original experience of the risen Christ must have been visionary appearances after death and that they must have started, as tradition has it, on the first day after the Sabbath..."
     Segal goes on to argue that Paul has no need to explain lack of witnesses to Jesus' resurrection because he believes that the risen Jesus appeared to *him*. But the tomb story answers needs of missionary hearers and explains why no one actually witnessed the resurrection, and p. 449 it demonstrates that the appearances were not hallucinations.
p. 451 the empty tomb story also combats the belief that Jesus in the appearances was a ghost.

457 the Gospel of Thomas (2nd century but may use earlier material) goes opposite to the doctrine that Jesus rose bodily, and it presents his resurrection as visionary. The story in gJohn aims to counteract such beliefs by having Thomas feel Jesus' side. 468 gThomas "shows definitively that there were early interpreters of resurrection who emphasized the converse of the canonical gospels - namely, that Jesus' resurrection is entirely spiritual..." 

451 the empty tomb story also denies that Jesus was a ghost. 461 then in the Emmaus story, Luke has the character Jesus demonstrate the credibility of the empty tomb story. "This [i.e. bringing in Jesus for support of the empty tomb story] suggests quite strongly that the tradition of the empty tomb was not an effective argument. Nor were the advantages of a story of the empty tomb universally realized by the faithful... Perhaps the implications of the long apologetic tradition of the empty tomb show us more clearly why Paul did not mention it: He did not evidence a physically present Jesus and he did not involve himself in this kind of polemic. In Luke we have the final defense of the 'empty tomb' ..."

 

Last edited by ficino (8/10/2018 8:53 pm)

 

8/16/2018 9:58 pm  #46


Re: The motive for Christianity

ficino wrote:

Most pertinent to Roman Joe's OP is this from page 447: Segal says it's not likelty that a crucified criminal would be buried.

Somebody should have told that to whomever handled the burial of Yehohanan son of Hagakol. 

To be less flippant, "not normal" doesn't mean "unlikely." 

p. 448 But the real scandal is that no one saw Jesus arise. (n. 8, p. 762: "This fact seems to me to pass the criterion of dissimilarity and argue strongly for the historicity of the person Jesus. No one would have made up a story of a savior who was resurrected and then neglected to narrate it. On the other hand, it does nothing for the historicity of the resurrection itself.") "This [i.e. fact that no one saw Jesus arise] is a critical difficulty for the early mission of the church. The empty tomb tradition does face, then finesse the issue that no one saw Jesus rise.That does not firmly argue against its historicity, but it tends to make a historian suspicious. What can be demonstrated historically only is that no one actually saw Jesus' resurrection. Had there been witnesses they would not have been left out. 

Lolwat?

One does not spend time in an enclosed space with a dead body in a Mediterranean climate. Just... no.

I agree with Ludemann that the original experience of the risen Christ must have been visionary appearances after death and that they must have started, as tradition has it, on the first day after the Sabbath..."

Segal goes on to argue that Paul has no need to explain lack of witnesses to Jesus' resurrection because he believes that the risen Jesus appeared to *him*. But the tomb story answers needs of missionary hearers and explains why no one actually witnessed the resurrection,

Since when was Paul not a missionary?

Since when does inventing an idea that goes against every instinct of even moderately sophisticated people in your audience "answer needs of missionary hearers"?

Since when does one have to specify the emptiness of a grave once one has already specified that a person was buried then raised?

and p. 449 it demonstrates that the appearances were not hallucinations. p. 451 the empty tomb story also combats the belief that Jesus in the appearances was a ghost.

Would Paul have characterized his experience with the Risen Lord as being merely hallucinatory? Would he have allowed for even a second that it was a mere ghost that he had seen?

457 the Gospel of Thomas (2nd century but may use earlier material) goes opposite to the doctrine that Jesus rose bodily, and it presents his resurrection as visionary. The story in gJohn aims to counteract such beliefs by having Thomas feel Jesus' side. 468 gThomas "shows definitively that there were early interpreters of resurrection who emphasized the converse of the canonical gospels - namely, that Jesus' resurrection is entirely spiritual..." 

It's one thing to accuse the proto-Orthodox of spending their time finessing old stories and making up new ones for apologetic reasons. There isn't a shred of evidence to back up the accusation, but since it's part of the atmosphere of "higher criticism" in academia, it's excusable.

To then turn around and try to pass off gThomas as even vaguely representative of early Christianity borders on farcical. The consensus date on gJohn is 90-110, and the rest of the Gospels were written well before that time. gThomas is from, what, 160? 170? 180, if we admit that it depends on the Diatesseron? If we justify this by saying that gThomas' traditions "may use older material," shouldn't we be honest and admit that the same is true of the canonical gospels - and that that "older material" in this latter case is far more likely to include actual historical events than anything we find in the second-rate gnostic fanfiction?

If we want to understand what "early interpreters of the resurrection" thought, might it not be a good idea to look at what was written by first century Christians?

461 then in the Emmaus story, Luke has the character Jesus demonstrate the credibility of the empty tomb story. "This [i.e. bringing in Jesus for support of the empty tomb story] suggests quite strongly that the tradition of the empty tomb was not an effective argument. Nor were the advantages of a story of the empty tomb universally realized by the faithful... Perhaps the implications of the long apologetic tradition of the empty tomb show us more clearly why Paul did not mention it: He did not evidence a physically present Jesus and he did not involve himself in this kind of polemic. In Luke we have the final defense of the 'empty tomb' ..."

Where is he getting this?

I'm serious. He seems to have reconstructed this "history of apologetics and missionary work" in which the canonical gospels were... tests, or experiments. You're making it sound like he views the gospels as successive attempts at convincing an audience; providing a record of how the church was trying to peddle its wares at different times. Does he offer any arguments for this way of conceptualizing the history of these documents? Or is this just assumed or asserted?

I've already presented my reasons for viewing the church as a very different place. I may be an amateur, but at least I have reasons for thinking the way I do about the early Christian community. Can the scholars on the skeptical end of the spectrum say the same thing?

 

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