Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hedging About the Resurrection

from a review of Geza Vermes, The Resurrection:

Thus, the perceived fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection came as a huge surprise to his disciples and became, indeed, a transforming event in which his previously cowardly followers became bold and eloquent witnesses. Professor Vermes dissects the reports of Jesus’ resurrection, noting the wide variation in the different accounts with respect to the time and place of appearances and the identity of the visionaries. He also assesses the various explanations that have been offered to account for the apparent miracle—that is, that Jesus’ body was removed by third parties or by the disciples themselves, that Jesus survived the crucifixion, and so forth—and dismisses all of them as lacking substantive support. What remains is an event, however interpreted, that had a powerful effect on the disciples and led to the formation of an enduring religion.

Kent comments:

Notice how the reviewer hedges here.  The wordings “the perceived fact” - “apparent miracle” - “an event, however interpreted” are carefully crafted.  It’s all very polite, guarded, and dodging.

Of course, anyone with mind engaged still wonders, “Was the perception accurate?  Was the apparent actual?  Which interpretation is correct?”  If it is accurate to dismiss all those “various explanations” then what is the correct explanation?

People have been hedging about the resurrection since it happened.  That is perfectly understandable.  Because once the fact of the resurrection of Jesus is admitted, everything changes.  Those changes are very important things that make many people, shall we say, uncomfortable.  Christianity would not be just one religion among many.  Those who discount Christianity would be – dare we say it? – wrong.

Hedging or discomfort – which will it be?  Perhaps learning to be comfortable with the truth would be a better approach.

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