Monday, April 13, 2009

The meaning of Easter: "It's the Resurrection, stupid!"

This from an op-ed in the Times of London, not a Christian-friendly paper in the least:
This [Resurrection's] true meaning has remained hidden because the Church has trivialized it and the world has rubbished it – reactions which feed off one another. The Church has turned Jesus’ Resurrection into a "happy ending" after the dark and messy story of Good Friday, often scaling it down so that "Resurrection" becomes a fancy way of saying "he went to Heaven". Easter then means "there really is life after death". The world shrugs its shoulders. ...

But "Resurrection", to first-century Jews and pagans alike, wasn’t about "going to heaven". That’s a different matter. The word "Resurrection" always referred to people who were physically dead being physically alive again. Some Jews (not all) believed that God would do this for all people in the end. No pagans we know of believed this. ... Nobody, including Jesus’ followers, was expecting one person to be bodily raised from the dead in the middle of history. ... First century Jews who followed would-be prophets and Messiahs knew perfectly well that if your leader got killed by the authorities it meant you’d backed the wrong man. You then had a choice: either give up the revolution, or get yourself a new leader. Going around saying he’d been raised from the dead wasn’t an option.

Unless he really had been.
Good stuff. Read the whole thing. It's excellent.

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