Sunday, November 11, 2007

N.T. Wright on the resurrection of Jesus...

"Grasping the nettle -- proposing, as a historical statement, that the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth was empty because his body had been transformed into a new mode of physicality -- will of course evoke howls of protest from those for whom the closed world of Enlightenment theory renders any such thing impossible from the start. But... The lines of historical enquiry point relentlessly inward to the first day of the week after Jesus' crucifixion. Once you allow that something remarkable happened to his body that morning, all the other data fall into place with astonishing ease. Once you insist that nothing so outlandish happened, you are driven to ever more complex and fantastic hypotheses to explain the data...

Of course, the historian... cannot compel anyone to assent to anything. The historian can take the argument as far as I have taken it, leaving it clear what the options are: either solve the historical puzzle by agreeing that Jesus' body was transformed into a new sort of life, or leave it in essence unsolved by coming up with flights of fancy, which themselves create far more problems.

But at this point the theologian or philosopher... must step in and ask: do we in fact have good grounds for ruling the straightforward solution out of court a priori? The answer to that will depend, of course, on your worldview: on what you believe about God, the world, yourself, and a host of other things. The question is, whether you are prepared to allow that certain worldviews, including the many skeptical ones that render resurrection out of the question, could and perhaps should be challenged, or whether they are set in stone forever."

(from The Meaning Of Jesus: Two Visions)

3 comments:

Roy said...

Without context I'm finding this hard to understand Wright's point.

Am I reading correctly that he really believes that the only two options to answer the "historical puzzle" are either Jesus rose from the dead or the scandal is simply unsolvable?

"Once you allow that something remarkable happened to his body that morning, all the other data fall into place with astonishing ease."

And by "data" here I assume he means what Bible writers wrote rather than what historians didn't have to say about a resurrected man, tombs cracking open and the dead coming back to life? If simply suspending doubt is the key then what separates this story from any other story, myth or fable?

"Once you insist that nothing so outlandish happened, you are driven to ever more complex and fantastic hypotheses to explain the data..."

Seriously?

What am I missing?

Geoff said...

Yeah, I suppose you do need more context... but for that I suggest reading Wright's book "The Resurrection and the Son of God." Or, if you don't want to read a 700+ page book, you could borrow my copy of "Two Visions of Jesus"...

Roy said...

CLIFF NOTES! I NEED CLIFF NOTES!