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Thursday, May 23, 2013

The resurrection of Jesus as both a transcendent and a historical event.

Jesus's resurrection three days after his crucifixion seems to be a sticking point for many Christians and non-Christians alike. Many believe that the story of His return might be fabrication made only to fulfill the
prophesies of the Old Testament and placate the wounded spirit of the grieving apostles. With the resurrection itself in question, the transcendental nature of the event would be beyond disbelief as well. The Church however has answers to the questions that arise from these concerns.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church “The mystery of Christ's resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness (Catechism of the Catholic Church 639).”  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all agree that the first people to witness indications that Christ had risen were Jesus's female followers; one of whom was Mary Magdalene. The gospels also agree that Jesus appeared to His followers and made Himself known as the Resurrected Christ. The Bible even states that not all of the apostles were convinced of Jesus's authenticity. Some believed that they were seeing a ghost. The often sited tale of St. Thomas goes on to tell of how Jesus allowed Thomas to probe His wounds to verify the legitimacy of the His claims. Paul's letter to the Corinthians claims that Christ appeared to more than 500 people. Another claim to legitimacy is the fervor with which the Apostles spread the good news of Jesus's return. Many of these people were martyred proclaiming his resurrection. Paul had been a Pharisee who had actively persecuted Christians and held the garments of those who wished to stone St. Stephen to death. It was only Jesus's appearance to him on the road to Damascus that converted him.

The transcendent nature of Christ's resurrection is of equal importance as it's historic validity. “Although the Resurrection was an historical event that could be verified by the sign of the empty tomb and by the reality of the apostles' encounters with the risen Christ, still it remains at the very heart of the mystery of faith as something that transcends and surpasses history (Catechism Catholic Church 647).” This transcendence is at the heart of the apostle's faith. It was not as if Jesus had simply been resurrected into the same flesh He had inhabited prior to the Crucifixion. He was more. He was, and is, divine. The gospels tell us that He had the ability to enter a room through closed doors. He had the ability to appear to whomever he wanted however he wanted. The resurrection was not a continuance of a previous life, but the assumption of a new everlasting life. This is what He promised, and this is the basis of our faith in life after death. Jesus's new life is a culmination and unity of the Holy Trinity. God, through the Holy Spirit, raised and elevated Jesus to Lordship. All of these happenings lead to his Ascension to the right hand of the Father where he will return to judge the living and the dead.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How historical-critical method of interpretation of the New Testament can enrich our understanding of the Apostle's Creed.

For many the new testament telling of the story of Jesus is joyfully accepted as it is written. It is enriched by the inclusion of allegorical embellishments, spiritual warfare, and divine intervention. There is, however, a
school of thought that touts an analytical approach to the gospels. This technique is called the “historical-critical-method.”

The use of historical criticism in conjunction with the Creed serves to illuminate and give it a depth that it might not have otherwise. “Historical Jesus,” while simplified compared to the gospels as a whole, is considerably more detailed than the accounts of Jesus in the Creed. While the Creed goes to great lengths to espouse the divinity and spirituality of Christ, it does not however, say much about the actuality of Christ’s physical being on Earth (as it is accepted by Historians). The very title of “Apostle's Creed” is given credence by this method due to the historical plausibility of the disciples (apostles) He gathered around him through his teaching. Another positive aspect of the historical-critical method is that it stands to illuminate the world in which the bible took place. Contextually, we serve to learn much about the living world that Jesus and his disciples were a part of; politically, economically, and socially. Without the context that this method provides it would be difficult to ascertain the realism that is present in the gospels. For those on the outside looking in, it takes themes from the Bible from the realm of story telling to that of historical fact.