A Spirituality blog from our Community

This is a summary, you can read the full discussion here.

In line with our equivalent textual comparison from the Synoptic Gospels, this session focuses on the depictions of Jesus’ return from the grave found in John and Paul. As before we are asking what the author wants to say about the Resurrection and what that might mean to us today. We begin with the appearence of Jesus to his disciples in a house from the Gospel of John.

John 20:19-31

  • It seems likely this is an alternative account of Pentecost, but in Acts 2 Jesus’ Resurrection appearances had already come to an end by this point.
  • As throughout this Gospel, there is an emphasis on public signs. The power of Jesus’ breath and words in giving the Spirit are a sign of his identification with the Logos.
  • While Jesus’ words “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” have sometimes been used to justify a ‘blind faith’ (a certainty lacking any evidence), given the much broader meaning of belief in the Greek text, these words could equally mean the opposite.
  • Fear (perhaps tied to the Jewish Law?) is contrasted here with the peace brought by Jesus/God.
  • It is difficult to read the text literally because if Christ’s resurrection body was a human material one he couldn’t have walked through a locked door.
  • The opening out of Jesus’ wounds to the doubting Thomas symbolises the Eucharist whereby this body is offered as a sacrifice to transform us-thereby being united to the living Body of Christ.
  • This is a fulfilment of the more general opening out of God’s forgiveness through Jesus which is expressed here by the commission of the Apostles to forgive sins. This is the locus classicus for the sacrament of Confession (or Reconciliation) administered by priests in some forms of Christianity.
  • Likewise, this text also justifies the catholic church changing the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday (as Christ appeared to them on Sundays- “the first day of the week”).

Romans 6:3-5 & 9-11

  • This ‘life being made anew’ has happened in (in human history) Jesus, it is happening now (through the Holy Spirit), and it will happen in the future (when we are re-united with our heavenly Father).
  • Like the Fall, the Resurrection is universal– for all people.
  • A cyclic pattern in life: is sin permanently dead, or does it need to die every day? (Cf. 1 Cor 15:31) The Resurrection is symbolic of a return to God after any sinful act.
  • Implies that Christ is just the first- a more general resurrection is coming.

1 Corinthians 15:22

“For since by one man came death, by another has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

  • Here the word ‘as’ is critical. Paul is using analogy, not being literal as St. Augustine thought (because of his flawed understanding of Greek). Consequentially, the word ‘in’ is used figuratively and there is no way of knowing what Paul really meant by it. All we can say for sure is that Paul, like Luke, wants to show how the Resurrection is a logical fulfilment of the Hebrew tradition.
  • Like the Romans passage, this seems to imply that what Jesus gives us is immortality, which humankind had lost with the expulsion from paradise. But as we said in our discussion on that story this plausibly refers to a spiritual death. Worse than biological death, this a death of spiritual communion with the living God- a state known as sin. If this is correct, what the Resurrection means is that through the mediation of Christ, our spiritual life is re-united with that of God. We could call this at-one-ment.


See the Next Part of Bible for Bluffers.


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