An interesting article, Russell Kirk: Conservative, Convert, Catholic, appears in The Catholic World Report. Kirk, a convert to Catholicism, like another prominent Catholic political conservative, William F. Buckley, was fascinated with the shroud and thought that it might be real.
The teachings of Jesus, Kirk thought, had always been well beyond anything the pagans had imagined, but the resurrection of the body proved his divinity and, therefore, sanctified and blessed all of his teachings. In the early 1960s, Kirk grew intensely interested in the Shroud of Turin, which he saw as a key to perhaps understanding resurrection and the transference of energies.
Kirk is shown here (left) with William F. Buckley (right).
Russell Kirk clearly understood that Jesus “transcended matter”, as he says, in his resurrection. Why did he say this and not “broke the bounds of death”? It can be traced to his previous studies, before his conversion to Catholicism.
But, what did matter mean to Jesus? Did he break the bounds of death or did he transcend matter? This is a question that requires lengthy discussion and will be dealt with later in a paper.
For the time being, it must be pointed out that the Hindu belief in reincarnation makes taking any material goods for an after-life redundant and it would also be pointless because the dead bodies are cremated. There were other ancient peoples who believed in an after-life and took not only some precious material goods but also slaves and young girls with them, these being buried alive.
The concept of resurrection, as primitive Christians interpreted it, based as it was on Jewish belief, was essentially different and the birth of the Jesus movement was a resurrection movement, not an empty tomb movement. The NT leaves no doubt about this.
In today’s sceptical world not many theologians believe in literal resurrection and the “Jesus family tomb” story was specifically produced to deny the event. How much of it is true?
explains the beginning and how the Knights Templar and the Turin Shroud come into the picture – with illustrations.
gives a detailed account about the topic from the academic point of view.
Is that the end of the story? No, it isn’t. There is more to come and hopefully Part IV will be written shortly.
The concept of resurrection and after-life in Jewish thought I believe owes a great deal to two main external influences. Following Cyrus’ release of the Jews from their Babylonian Captivity, those who had taken foreign wives were excluded from returning to Jerusalem, many of them settling in Egypt, the Arabian peninsula and elsewhere. In 324 BC Alexander founded the city of Alexandria, and following his death his successors there became the Ptolemaic dynasty. Ptolemy II was persuaded to establish the Great Library, and it accumulated a vast wealth of learning from the many travelers passing through it. Alexandria became a centre of both Greek and Jewish culture, for example the Septuagint being written there. But it was essentially a cosmopolitan city, and the ideas from many cultures were melded there.
The two main influences I believe that contributed to the development of the concept of resurrection and an after-life were 1) the Jewish exposure to Egyptian burial practices with its belief in an after-life; 2) their exposure to Platonic philosophy, with its concept of an eternal soul, its theory of ideals, and the concept of the One. The hierarchy in Jerusalem, the priestly caste with its temple cult, who later became the Sadducees, rejected this notion, but it took root among the Pharisaic movement, which also happens to owe something to Persia, particularly Zoroastrianism, dualistic notions of good and evil.
In the Gospel of John, we read that Jesus asserted that Abraham saw His day and was glad, and he quotes David’s psalm “The Lord said to my lord ‘Sit at my right hand … “. It is very clear that Jesus embraced this idea of an after-life, and seems to make the claim that the concept was always present in Hebraic thought.
The most avid of the early churches missionaries seem to have been the Hellenists, who with their Greek culture, were able to embrace this fundamental Christian belief, so that together with the ideas of brotherly love and high moral standards, it became the principal stamp of Christianity.
Long before Cyrius, Isaiah prophesied;
“Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead” (Isaiah 26:19).
“He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death” (Isaiah 53:9) …..followed by….. “He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand” (Isaiah 53:10).
How can He prolong His days after He was already in the grave?
Was Isaiah influenced by the ancient egyptians when he said the other messianic prophesies?
Concerning Isaiah 26:19. This part of Isaiah is indeed written by the prophet that exegetes call “First Isaiah”, either Isaiah himself or his contemporary followers about 740-700 BCE.
The USCCB version includes the following note concerning this verse:
“[26:19] This verse refers not to resurrection of the dead, but to the restoration of the people; cf. Ez 37. The population of Judah was radically reduced by the slaughter and deportations that the historical disasters of the late eighth and seventh centuries B.C. brought upon the country. In this context, a major concern for the future was for an increase in the population, a rebirth of the nation’s life.”
The verse needs to be read within the context of those preceding it v.v 1-18.
Nevertheless, regardless of prophecies relating to resurrection and the after-life, and we might include Isaiah’s enigmatic prophecies of the suffering servant (e.g. ‘my servant shall prosper … ) which have similar messianic themes, they could only take root among the people where there was the fertile soil to do so. They could only be understood where there was a capability of understanding. Any development of resurrection theology occurred late in Jewish thought, and it was not universally accepted among them. It was certainly not the view of the hierarchy isolated from such influences in Jerusalem, notwithstanding the proclamations of any prophets. The evangelists, particularly John, have Jesus pointing out that this message could still be inferred even from the ancient scriptures.
Hi Dave, I do believe God communicated with the Gentiles (e.g ancient Egyptians, Persians..etc) in some manner. I’ve always found fascinating that Ankh (the letter for eternal life in the Egyptian hieroglyphs) AKA “the key of life” was in the shape of a cross. However I think that message was intended to the Gentiles and not to God’s chosen people (Why would God use pagan religion to communicate a message to His people when He can speak to His people directly through the prophets). I find no evidence for any “fertile soil” in their hearts since they completely missed the point when the “suffering servant” actually came. The soil of their (and our) hearts are only properly prepared by the Holy Spirit. Jesus had to go through the prophesies to explain what they actually meant.
“How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself (Jesus on the road to Emmaus Luke 24:25-27)
The USCCB version includes the following note concerning this verse: [26:19] This verse refers not to resurrection of the dead, but to the restoration of the people”
Most of the commentaries point to the resurrection too (or a foretelling of the resurrection);
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges commentary
“The answer to these utterances of disappointed hopes is the promise of the Resurrection.”
“The deliverance of the people of God, from a state of the lowest depression, is explained by images taken from the resurrection of the dead.”
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
“Consider Christ as the Speaker addressing his church. His resurrection from the dead was an earnest of all the deliverance foretold.”
I realize some commentaries indicate the Civil liberation of the nation of Israel, but isn’t that a foretelling of the resurrection too, Even the Exodus points to the resurrection, even though it was the physical liberation of the nation of Israel from Egypt (viewed as a symbol of bondage and sin).
These views are actually old stories. Anyone is free to believe them, but then they shouldn’t say they are Christian. Unless they subscribe to the Unitarian version.
That is absolute nonsense. We cannot presume by what means God chose to reveal the truth to man in the course of ages. Such beliefs and practices that were observed as I’ve mentioned above created the fertile soil by which Christ’s truth became accepted and was able to bear fruit. It has nothing to do with Unitarianism. Take a grip!
Absolute nonsense is to write what was written in the comment of 4.41 PM, in which it was also stated that “Jesus embraced this idea of an after-life” and then deny the track to where we are being led. What can be inferred from this? That Jesus learnt about the after-life here on earth, he learnt theology here.
Now since the topic is Jesus’ Resurrection what will the above mean? Why would someone who came to learn theology here on earth have been resurrected by God? The NT tells us that there were some good men around who also desired the kingdom of God, who obviously must have been interested in theology, in what Isaiah wrote. Were they also resurrected like Jesus?
The previous posts from the above commenter have included:
a) a defence of the “Jesus family tomb”
b) a defence of Bart Ehrman
c) a comment saying the Resurrection of Jesus, that he was raised bodily, is difficult to accept
Why should I read “It has nothing to do with Unitarianism. Take a grip!”? Such beliefs are not those held by the Catholic, Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox Churches. If someone still claims to be Christian after professing them, he has only one option: the Unitarian Church.
Reference was made to Joseph A. Fitzmyer, SJ and John P. Meier (9.12 PM) because they are top heavweights, they just happen to be Catholics, there are good Protestant scholars around too. Msgr. Meier got his two papal gold medals when studying at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, Father Fitzmyer obtained his gold medal from the British Academy, around the time he taught Biblical Studies at Oxford University.
Both of them believe in what they write, they don’t write one thing and believe in something else.
They say mass every day.
Louis.. Have you seen William Lane Craig’s response to Bart Ehrman?
Good morning, Mike. Salaam waleh kum. No, I haven’t but will do so shortly. Thanks.
By the way, have you seen this?:
I am sure it will interest you. All the views at that end are controversial, but we must know how people think.
Hi Louis, Alikum Salam, funny you mentioned that. A month ago I gave a presentation to our youth on the “Kingdom of God”. I think the view of Christian Zionism is annihilated by Jesus’ own words to Pilate;
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36)
It’s turmulous times in the Middle East, whats happening in Gaza is constantly instigated by Hamas, unfortunately the victims are the civilians in Both Israel and Gaza. Also the blatant extermination of the Christians of Iraq and Syria, (even though it doesn’t get similar media attention) is even worse.
Mike, the quote has also something to do with the Resurrection.
The situation in Iraq is not surprising, at least to me. It was foreseen years ago by the Iraqi Catholic (Chaldean) Patriarch Raphael Bidawid.
Today’s news has Habbib al Sadr, ambassador to the Vatican, saying something about the situation:
Further to the above, the need arises to quote Joseph A. Fitzmyer,SJ, who needs no introduction:
“… the early kerygma did not content itself to affirm merely that Jesus was alive or that he was a living influence in the lives of his followers. It included an admission that Jesus had been ‘raised’ to a state of glory in the presence of the Father, and that would have had to mean ‘raised bodily.'”
It is clear that there was no room for collective hallucination or some sort of psychic event.
There is some difference between the views of Father Fitzmyer and Monsignor J. P. Meier, both heavyweights in biblical studies.
While the former believes that Jesus of Nazareth became Christ after the Resurrection, the latter has written that the disciples were conscious that Jesus was Lord before the event.
The best way to understand resurrection is to actually experiencing it. Jesus understands it very well.
in a sense everybody will have a resurrection when we die, we just leave our bodies behind and we will leave our bodies behind with no regret. If you research NDE this is a common theme.
What happens to those who leave their bodies here with regret?
of the hundreds of accounts I have read no one has ever regretted leaving there bodies behind
What about the pharaohs?
my post concerns people who report on their NDEs
OK, that’s understood. The only problem is that nothing exactly is proved, the scientists are still in the process of looking for hard evidence.
we haven’t what matter is made of
“The previous posts from the above commenter have included:
a) a defence of the “Jesus family tomb”
b) a defence of Bart Ehrman
c) a comment saying the Resurrection of Jesus, that he was raised bodily, is difficult to accept
Why should I read “It has nothing to do with Unitarianism. Take a grip!”? Such beliefs are not those held by the Catholic, Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox Churches. If someone still claims to be Christian after professing them, he has only one option: the Unitarian Church.”
a) ‘Jesus family tomb’ = Talpiot: It had been frequently argued that the names on the ossuaries were all very common in 1st century Palestine. There had been no consideration of the likelihood of the combination of names. My analysis, together with that of others, had shown that the probability of that combination would be very rare, There may have been other families with an identical set of names, but they would be very few indeed. I have never asserted that the Jesus ossuary contained the bones of Jesus, had made the point that its only known contents was a small carpal bone and a cloth remnant, and had clearly rejected author Jacobovici’s outlandish claims and his interpretation of the discovery, which was badly managed from the outset.
b) ‘Bart Ehrman’: Ehrman is a noted New Testament scholar, which cannot be denied. He is a former Evangelical, and like many such scholars brought up in the Evangelical religion rejected it and became an agnostic. Notwithstanding, he has written an excellent text “Did Jesus exist?” affirming the historicity of Jesus from several perspectives. My defence was of the work, not of the man.
c) ‘Resurrection of Jesus’: I cannot recall a time when I have ever have rejected belief in the Resurrection of Jesus. It is a phenomenon unknown to us, and overcoming the difficulty in accepting this belief is part of the challenge for every thinking Christian.
I am not aware that items (a) and (b) form any part of the doctrinal basis of any orthodoxy. But there are those with ill will who may interpret it as such!
Initially there was some defence of the “Jesus family tomb”, however for some reason or the other the views changed. I don’t see the need to read Bart Ehrman to confirm the existence of Jesus. Thinking Christians will find more than one difficulty in the NT, not only when it comes to the Resurrection. Perhaps if they think deep enough these doubts will be dispelled, otherwise they may cease to be Christians and become thinking agnostics.
There are people who sit over the fence:
and that is because for many thinking Christians conflicting information is received all the time. They are receptive, like to digest before swallowing. It is like being a computer with the sound forge anti-virus.
But the time for decision always comes, sometimes it requires a leap of faith, sometimes not.
Jesus demanded absolute faith.
Pope Benedict demanded both reason and faith!
Well, that is correct. Benedict is a theologian, he took the lead from his predecessor who was also a philosopher and issued the encyclical “Fides et Ratio”, “Faith and Reason”, a wonderful document. Of course, Benedict also places immense importance on reason.
But what happens when it comes to Jesus demanding absolute faith, even when it seems to be irrational? There are examples in the Gospel.
Aquinas had a similar problem. You aspire to be more Catholic than the Pope or a venerated Doctor of the Church?? Such fanatacism is likely responsible for much of the world’s problems today!
Please show me where is the fanaticism. I am waiting.
I have just provided extensive comment on the Jewish practice of secondary burial in ossuaries, their development of resurrection belief, and the question of whether the two are related or not, based on a paper submitted for Master’s Thesis: “The Relationship between Ossuary Burial and the Belief in Resurrection during the Late Second Temple Period Judaism”, by Dina Teitelbaum:
My comments at posting ‘Paul Maier at Veritas Forum: The Real Jesus’, where the question of ossuaries was also being discussed.
The above material is stale news.
I did not imagine for a moment that Louis would find anything of value in Teitelbaum’s paper. He has made it plain that he believes he knows everything there is to know about the topic already, and anything I might have to say on the topic would be irrelevant and of little value. I found the paper informative, and in light of earlier discussions it was evident that others would also find it enlightening.
I disapprove of the tactic to hit below the belly with cynical comments when there is no ammunition. It has not hurt me in the least and the reason is the following:
The paper is dated 1997, the author is not a heavyweight and there have been dozens of better papers and books by renowned scholars after her paper was published. I therefore stand by what I commented.
Remember guys, love is the heart of Christian faith
Chill out and accept the differences of opinion
Thomas, have you read the above exchanges? Who has to chill out?
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