The Resurrection in Christian and Jewish tradition

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Fraggle Rocker, Mar 22, 2008.

  1. Fraggle Rocker

    Fraggle Rocker Moderator

    It's the day before Easter and the Washington Post always runs the "Religion" page on Saturday. Today they discussed a book, Resurrection: The Power of God for Christians and Jews, in which authors Kevin Madigan and Jon Levenson say that many modern Christians and Jews misunderstand the Resurrection of Jesus as it bears upon their faith.

    They trace the Jewish roots of the Christian belief in resurrection (with a small R) and say that history challenges the contemporary idea that resurrection simply means life after death. They say that being raised up has a physical element, not just a spiritual one.

    Greek philosophy considered resurrection of Jews and Christians as simply the survival of an individual's soul in the hereafter, and this idea is popular now. But for early Christians and many Jews, resurrection meant being given back one's body, or perhaps being given a similar body newly created by God.

    The authors and other scholars emphasize that Christians and Jews share the belief in resurrection for humankind. Christians tend to focus on the Resurrection with a capital R and don't understand how people who don't believe in the Resurrection of Jesus can believe in resurrection of any kind. Many Jews also assume that resurrection is a uniquely Christian hope.

    Jews during the time of Jesus's alleged life believed that resurrection was bodily and communal, bringing justice to the oppressed and renewing creation. That belief was absorbed by the first Christians and formed part of their religion.

    In the 19th century, as the rationalist thought of the Enlightenment finally began making its way into Judaism, belief in resurrection was deleted from Jewish prayer books. Only the Orthodox retained it. Today, Orthodox Jews still reject autopsies, cremation, embalming and organ donation, because they believe they will need those bodies intact when the resurrection comes. (Since they also believe that resurrection will occur for everybody at the same moment and may be thousands, millions or billions of years in the future after those bodies have decayed, fossilized or turned to dust, there is a bit of cognitive dissonance at work here.)

    The concept of resurrection among Christians has also been influenced by the modern rejection of miracles and by popular culture. One scholar noted that most Americans expect the afterlife to be a continuation of life on earth, "like a really good assisted-living facility."

    Belief in afterlife persists in America no matter how little they observe their religion. In one survey, 82% of respondents said they "absolutely" or "probably" believe in heaven, and 71% said the same about hell. (I've seen lower figures--something like 25% for hell--but they didn't include the weasel word "probably." What the heck does a person mean when he says he "probably" believes in something, anyway? :))

    The article didn't offer any statistics on the prevalence of belief in heaven and hell among American Jews. I don't think I know a single Conservative or Orthodox Jew, only Reform or completely secular, so I don't have a representative sample to survey.

    One scholar noted that as Americans perceive the world as growing more chaotic, they are looking for divine responses to evil. Interest in resurrection is growing, along with ghosts, reincarnation, past-life regression, and contact with the dead.
  2. Captain Kremmen

    Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties!

    Currently the evangelical Christian belief system seems to be
    "Believe in Jesus and go to heaven"
    Don't believe in Jesus and go to hell"
    Given that it's Belief that gets you to Heaven,
    why not believe in Jesus and do what the hell you like?
  3. (Q)

    (Q) Encephaloid Martini

    On December 22, the sun "dies" after moving south and reaching the lowest point in the sky, perceivably stopping movement for 3 days while residing in the vicinity of the Southern Cross constellation and on December 25 moves one degree north, thus being "resurrected."
  4. Captain Kremmen

    Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties!

    What are you saying?
    Christmas is Easter?
  5. (Q)

    (Q) Encephaloid Martini

    I am saying that the 'resurrection' is a throwback to early sun worshiper myths.
  6. Avatar

    Avatar smoking revolver

    Primary resurrection is connected with agricultural societies, not nomadic Sun worship. Most are in connection with plant life and most early/primitive resurrection myths feature a godlike man or woman that is slain, sacrificed or otherwise killed and from that man grows a food plant that feeds those who killed it.

    By the way, Christianity too is an offspring from an agricultural plant religion.
    There are/were two primary mythologies - hunter/gatherer society mythologies and agricultural society mythologies.
  7. (Q)

    (Q) Encephaloid Martini

  8. (Q)

    (Q) Encephaloid Martini

  9. Avatar

    Avatar smoking revolver

  10. John99

    John99 Banned

    That is a stretch. I always maintained that 'sun worship' of the past supposedly creating the Sun into a God is merely modern fallacy and misunderstanding.

    Look at it this way, it is the equivalent of someone coming across this web site thousands of years from now and claiming that Q kept his brain in a jar and they base this off his avatar or that Avatar was a frog. It is really wishful thinking but not based in reality.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2008
  11. Avatar

    Avatar smoking revolver

    I've witnessed many American atheists on the internet to have an obsession in trying to prove that Christianity is a Sun cult as if that would somehow make it less of a religion. As John said, it's wishful thinking.

    p.s. This is from a tombstone in a graveyard near my friend's house. Imagine the many interpretations future archaeologists would come up finding this one.

  12. Avatar

    Avatar smoking revolver

    Any way, resurrection is more than the Sun. The Sun returns for longer periods of time and, when it comes, it gives energy, but it never really dies.

    It is not the Sun that dies, but the nature world.
    What dies is the crop, the flowers, the plant life. And it is the plant life that gets resurrected from death, from below the ground, from seeds in the spring using the divine energy given by the timeless Sun.

    Resurrection is an agricultural and plant life motif. The Sun plays its part in it, but so it does in everything, from providing light during the day to powering Solar batteries and telling you which way is South at 12pm.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2008
  13. John99

    John99 Banned

    Thats right. Can you imagine the assumptions being made from that? People would analyze it to death and books would be written....

    I also believe that people may even look at ancient drawings possibly intended for children and create entire ancient belief systems around them.

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