Monday, 12 April 2010

Punishment, Deviance, Hallucinations and Jesus' resurrection

BRIEF COMMENTS ABOUT SOME INTERESTING PAPERS (7-9 April, Louvain-le-Neuve -other discussions to follow next time). Please do not use my comments to come to premature conclusions. If you want more info, please let me know. A further note: I believe with my whole heart that Jesus rose bodily from the dead. As a Christian enrolled for a PhD, it is important for me to be exposed to different views on and academic level.

Resurrection for Punishment? - The Fate of the Unrighteous in Early Christianity and in  "New Testament Theology" - Heikki Raisanen - Helsinki 
Raisanen argued that according to many early Jewish and Christian texts, the awaited resurrection of the dead is not just a happy event. There will also be resurrection unto judgement and punishment.
Raisanen argued further that many modern "New Testament Theologies" avoid these Jewish and Christian texts, and proposed that a "history-of-religions'" synthesis might restore the balance.
Raisanen also suggested that the connection between resurrection and judgement is absent in Paul.
In Q & A afterwards, the latter was disputed by Gerd Luedemann who argued that 1 Thess. 1:10 & 4:13 might indicate some connection in Paul. Check out for Raisanen's new book: The Rise of Christian Beliefs. The Thought-World of the Early Christians, Fortress Press, 2009.

Resurrection, Deviance and the Use of Authoritative Writings in Early Christianity - Outi Lehtipuu - Helsinki
Lehtipuu argued that in Early Christianity, resurrection beliefs served as an important identity marker and tool for group demarcation among different Christian groups. Maintaining boundaries was crucial for the small and marginal Christian groups to secure their identity. Deviation in belief and practice threatened their integrity. Key texts considered in her paper included works by Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Nag Hammadi texts like the Treatise on the Resurrection, the Gospel of Philip, the Testimony of Truth, and New Testament Apocrypha like the Acts of Paul and Thecla, 3 Corinthians, and Didascalia apostolorum.

The Resurrection of Jesus: Fifteen Years Later - Gerd Luedemann - Gottingen
In the first part, Luedemann discussed insights of his 1994 book The Resurrection of Jesus. History, Experience, Theology. In it he argued that Peter and Paul had hallucinations of the risen Jesus, and that all the empty tomb stories were unhistorical. He also argued that the more than 500 brothers to whom Jesus appeared to in 1 Cor. 15:6, was in actual fact an interpolation from Pentecost (Acts 2). Significantly, he renounced the latter during his lecture saying: "Presently at least, I must confess my ignorance of this report."
Luedemann went on to say that his 1994 book argued that one can remain a Christian, even though to his mind, Jesus never really rose from the dead. One's Christian faith should be based entirely on the historical Jesus.
In the second part of his lecture, Luedemann conceded that since his books publication, many found the analysis of the story of the empty tomb in his book questionable and postulated that women had indeed found the tomb empty on the third day. He went even so far as to suggest that in academic circles, the resurrection stories have gained more credence and, in particular, the story of the empty tomb has received a historical boost.
In the last part, Luedemann said that he continues to be in full agreement with his individual exegetical results. He concluded that he is convinced that disproving the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus ultimately annuls the Christian heritage as error. Consequently, he rejected his 1994 attempt to base Christianity on the historical Jesus.


Steve said...

Sorry, Ferdie, so what does Ludemann believe today? Jesus wasn't resurrected and Christianity is delusion, and he's given up trying to hinge his faith on a preacher who died like every other man (historical Jesus)? Or what?

Frederik Mulder said...

I had a fascinating talk with Luedeman after his paper. He says that he still "prays" but he is not a Christian any more. He won't talk of God, but of "something". His wife though, believes Jesus rose from the dead. She and some of their children are Christians...