The Weekly Roundup – 2.8.19

“The assertion by the opposing narrative that Elijah’s wife was a prostitute and later, that Elijah ate her son, does seem a little over the top and may indicate that the opposing narrative itself was propaganda and was responding to an even earlier narrative. But that is a mirror-reading of a mirror-reading, and it’s difficult to say with any certainty.” – @MiraScriptura

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Gerd Luedemann: Matthew’s Easter Theology

Gerd Luedemann, The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology (Fortpress Press, 1994), 135.

[There] is no really no longer an appearance tradition in [Matthew 28:18-20], although with his meagre ‘when they saw him’, Matthew is indicating that he wants to relate an Easter story. Rather, what we find here is Easter theology, which forces any vision that happened at the time to the side, or replaces it with words. In this way the scene remains open to the present. So what we have here is almost no longer an appearance but an enthronement of Jesus as Lord of heaven and earth, which here, as often, is directly connected with the resurrection, indeed is even identified with it. (Perhaps here it would be better to term the event an appearance of the enthroned Christ.) So the theme of authority as such does not serve to distinguish the Risen Christ from the earthly Jesus but virtually combines the two. The new element is the universal extension of the authority of the risen and the earthly Christ over heaven and earth. So the special feature is not just the combination of appearance and mission, but that of exaltation and mission to the Gentiles.

Gerd Luedemann: Elias Bickermann’s Thesis

Gerd Luedemann, The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology (Fortpress Press, 1994), 120-121.

It seems to me that the thesis of Elias Bickermann must be discussed once again. He referred to the numerous stories from Christian legends of the saints and Hellenism (including the story of Aristeas related above), in which the empty tomb proved the rapture of the person concerned. ‘By contrast the resurrection is never indicated nor proved by the disappearance of the body but exclusively by the appearance of the person who has come to life again’ (277). However, this sharp distinction may not help much for the above narrative from Herodotus, in which Aristeas appears and the tomb is empty. Moreover, according to early Christians, rapture or exaltation and resurrection are closely connected or even identical (cf. Phil. 2.6-11), as Bickermann also stresses. For example, he writes: ‘Luke 1.33; Acts 5.31; John 3.10; 12.32, 34 … also occasionally use the word “exaltation” instead of “resurrection” unconcernedly. For the one unconditionally presupposes the other according to their faith’ (281). Bickermann again sees correctly that the first christophanies refer ‘to the belief of the first disciples in the immediate exaltation’ (282). In the same passage he identifies this with a rapture. However, there is a lack of clarity here, since raptures really presuppose not-dying, whereas Jesus was exalted as the one who was crucified and dead. It was as such a figure that he appeared to Cephas (from heaven).

Gerd Luedemann: Jesus’ Appearance Before the “More than 500”

Gerd Luedemann, The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994), 107.

Conclusion: The appearance before the ‘more than 500’ [1 Corinthians 15:6] as a historical phenomenon can plausibly be represented as mass ectasy which took place in the early period of the community. Given the nature of mass psychology, the stimulus towards it may have been provided by one or more individuals. Again that fits well with what has been worked out so far, namely that at least a first appearance took place to Peter (and the Twelve). Here we may pursue this notion just a little further: Peter saw the crucified Jesus alive (as did the Twelve). They also spoke of it, for example, at the next great festival (after the Passover at which Jesus died) in Jerusalem, the Jewish Feast of Weeks (=Pentecost), on which many festival pilgrims met. (Indeed it was such a festival which first made possible the appearance to a large number of people.) This preaching and the recollections of Jesus which were generally present formally led to a religious intoxication and an enthusiasm which was experienced at the presence of Jesus, indeed as the presence of the Risen Christ as Peter had seen him.

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Gerd Luedemann: Peter in “Psychoanalytical Terms”

From Gerd Luedemann, The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, Press, 1994), 99-100.

To further an understanding of Peter’s “mourning” and “vision”, reference should be made in this connection to investigations at Harvard into cases of mourning and the painful loss associated with them. The researcher followed forty-three widows and nineteen widowers through the process of mourning and interviewed them at intervals of three weeks, eight weeks and thirteen months after the death of the partner. The aim of the work was to investigate what made it possible to work through mourning. Among other things three factors were mentioned which prevented mourning: 1. a sudden death; 2. an ambivalent attitude to the dead person associated with guilt feelings; and 3. a dependent relationship.

Applying this finding to the situation of Peter and the disciples, we should note that all three factors which make mourning difficult apply to them: 1. the crucifixion of Jesus happened unexpectedly and suddenly; 2. the relationship of the disciples to Jesus was marked by ambivalence and guilt feelings: Judas betrayed Jesus and then committed suicide; Peter denied Jesus and wept bitterly; 3. a dependent relationship of the disciples on Jesus can be seen in the fact that most had left their work and homes to be with him. The dependence was perhaps further intensified by the fact that the followers of Jesus represented a small religious group which had detached itself from its original social structures and thus had formally parted company with the outside world. Jesus was one and all to them. (Granted, these are conjectures, but they may have a historical foundation.)

Conclusion: the mourning hindered by the three factors mentioned was enormously helped in the case of Peter by a vision, indeed concentrated in a moment of epiphany. The mourning first led to a deeper understanding of Jesus, and this in turn helped towards a new understanding of the situation of mourning. Recollections of who Jesus was led to the recognition of who Jesus is. Seeing Jesus here included a whole chain of (potential!) theological conclusions.