1. Resurrection: coming from the Father
The first confessions of faith in Jesus’ resurrection come to us directly from the liturgy of the first Christians. They attest to joy at the surprising event of Easter and its world-changing character: that very Jesus of Nazareth who preached in Galilee and was crucified under Pontius Pilate has now been raised by the Father to his right hand.4
In order to interpret this unique event, the Church had an essential conceptual background at her disposal: the Old Testament scriptures. According to Jewish expectations, the resurrection was not a return to normal life, but the inauguration of the definitive stage of time, of its eschatological fulfillment, which entailed God’s final transformation of the world. Should we deduce from this vision that the resurrection entailed a reviling of history, a sort of spiritual flight into the beyond? To the contrary, this fulfillment was described in continuity with the history of Israel. The God who had made a covenant with his People and had come down to live with them in the Holy Temple, promised to rebuild this Temple with his own hands, bestowing new life on his children in order to make a permanent dwelling with them. Thus, resurrection meant the assumption of this concrete world and history into its fulfilled destiny. Ezekiel’s parable of the dry bones that come back to life (Ez 37:1–14) could be without contradiction an image both of the People that returns to Jerusalem after the exile, and of the final resurrection of the dead.5
Aided by this Jewish backdrop, the disciples formulated how the Easter event was in continuity with the history of the earthly Christ, while also bringing a radical transformation. The image of the body of Christ as the new Temple, destroyed and rebuilt, is important in this regard. The sentence “one and the same,” which was to be applied later by the Church Fathers to express the unity of man and God in Christ, finds its roots in the unity between the risen Lord and the crucified Christ. “It is I myself” (Lk 24:39), says Jesus when he appears to his disciples; and he shows them his wounds in his hands and side (cf. Jn 20:20).
. . . . . . . . . .
To read this article in its entirety, please download the free PDF, buy this issue, or become a Communio subscriber!
4Cf. Heinrich Schlier, On the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rome: 30 Giorni, 2008).
5For an interpretation of the text in the context of Old Testament belief in the resurrection, cf. N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, Christian origins and the question of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), 119–28.
Page 2 of 2 pages