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"XXII. The Resurrection"


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1. Radical reinterpetation: The disciples became convinced of the value of the message and example of Jesus. Then the miracle of belief happened, and when they spoke of His resurrection they meant just the rise of their own faith. Cf. Jurgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope NY 1967, p. 190: "The event of the raising of Christ from the dead is an event which is understood only in the modus of promise. It has its time still ahead of it, is grasped as an 'historical phenomenon' only in its relation to its future and mediates to those who know it a future toward which they have to move in history." COMMENT: This is purely arbitrary, without any basis. The disciples had words to say this if they meant it that way. Paul in 1 Cor 15 insists on the reality of His resurrection against Corinthians who, in a Platonic notion, did not like the physical resurrection. Paul says if He did not really rise, their faith is vain.

2. Less Radical Reinterpretation: For example, Gerald O'Collins, What Are They Saying about the Resurrection? (Paulist 1978, pp. 46-55) refuses to accept details: p. 46: "Such overbelief also entails holding that he quite literally took and ate a piece of broiled fish (Lk 24. 42f) and that more of less gaping holes remained in the hands and side of his risen body... ." He adds that such a view is weak and almost comic. He asks if a risen man took something to eat, what kind of digestive system did his body have. And what kind of risen body was it if it still had a gaping hole in its side. So instead he wants to say that the resurrection took Jesus into a new, final, glorious state of existence in which His body is spiritual and not physical. For St. Paul says in 1 Cor 15. 44 & 50 that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven. The details are only to stress a continuity between the earthly and the risen Jesus. O'Collins also says that the decisions to undertake a universal mission are told in a way that shows no knowledge of the command to teach all nations. R. Brown, (Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, Paulist, 1973, p. 108) says many now doubt if Jesus spoke words after Easter. He thinks instead Jesus used interior locutions. Thus Brown thinks he can account for the fact that at first the Apostles seemed not to understand the command to teach all nations.

COMMENTS: 1. Brown does not understand interior locutions. St. Teresa of Avila, who had many of them, tells us (Life 25) that when God speaks in this way, "the soul has no remedy, even though it displeases me, I have to listen, and to pay such full attention to understand that which God wishes to understand." In her Interior Castle 6. 3. she adds: "When time has passed since heard, and the workings and the certainty it had that it was God has passed, doubt can come." Therefore: The Apostles would have had to understand at once if Jesus had used interior locution, it would be later when unclarity or doubt could come. But the real explanation why the Apostles acted the way they did is evident: The Apostles were so slow to understand, as the Gospels show many times. They were hindered by fixed ideas that He was going to restore power to Israel. Even just before the ascension they asked (Acts 1. 6) whether He was going to restore rule to Israel then.

2. Behind these radical views seems to be some reluctance to accept anything supernatural. The Rationalists had that attitude clearly. Others seems to have some of it.

There is also a tendency to suppose Scripture is full of errors. The NJBC on p. 1169 insists there are even religious errors in Scripture. Thomas Hoffmann, S. J. in an article in CBQ, July 1982 says Scripture is so full of errors that to try to answer all charges would be like putting patches on a sinking ship.

3. Sequence of Events after Resurrection: We need to recall what all admit that the Gospels do not always follow chronological order. However, there is more than one way to arrange the events in a satisfactory manner:

a) Magdalene and other women come to the tomb about dawn, and see it empty.

b) In their excitement, she or they run to the Apostles (Mt here, between 20. 8 & 9 omits the visit of Peter and John, our next item, §c).

c) Peter and John refuse to believe, but do run to the tomb, and find it empty. They are amazed, but do not see Jesus.

d) Peter and John leave, Magdalen at first takes Him for the gardener. He soon makes self known. Magdalen and others make a second visit to the Apostles to say they have seen Him.

e) Jesus appears to Peter.

f) Jesus appears to two men on road to Emmaus.

g) They go back to the Apostles and hear Peter had already seen Jesus.

h) Jesus appears to the Eleven.

i) Thomas was absent before, so Jesus comes again when Thomas is there.

j) Further appearances at Lake of Galilee.

NOTES: 1. As often, the Gospels do not keep chronological order, and there is even telescoping by Luke-we compare his account of the return to Nazareth after the presentation. Now Luke tells that Jesus said stay until the Holy Spirit comes. Then he tells of the Ascension, with no mention of an interval.

2. M. De Tuya, O. P. in Biblia Comentada Va, p. 468 notes that Matthew can use the "plural of category' i.e., speaking of a group when it was really an individual. E. g. , 28. 1-10 compared to John 20. 11-18 (Only Magdalen in Jn).

3. Matthew and Mark, for their own scope, preferred to stress the Galilean appearances - more frequent, and they completed the instruction of the Apostles. But both do add some in Jerusalem: Mt 28. 9-10 has appearances to the women; Mk 16. 9-11 has an appearance to Mary Magdalen.

4. The Assumption: Pius XII, in The Constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, defining the Assumption, brings out the parallel of His and her glorification: "We must remember especially that, since the second century, the Virgin Mary has been presented by the Holy Fathers as the New Eve, who, although subject to the New Adam, was most closely associated with Him in that struggle against the infernal enemy which, as foretold in the protoevangelium, was to result in that most complete victory over sin and death, which are always mentioned together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles. Wherefore, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part and final sign of this victory, so also that struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her Son had to be closed by the 'glorification' of her virginal body... ."

COMMENTS: 1) The Pope focuses on the New Eve theme of the Fathers, which began with St. Justin Martyr, was taken up by most of the great Fathers.

2) He speaks very strongly of her cooperation in the redemption, calling it, with subordination of course, a work in "common". So we see that he takes her cooperation not in some loose way, but very strictly, strongly enough to form the chief support of a solemn definition.

3) In the same document (AAS 42. 768 s "always sharing His lot". The Assumption is part of this sharing. Vatican II, in Chapter 8 of LG went through every phase of the mysteries of His life and death and showed her sharing at all points, and also says she was eternally joined with Him in the decree for the Incarnation, and will ever be joined in eternity after the end of time. For a fill-in on that passage cf. Wm. Most, Our Father's Plan, pp. 221 - 24.