Shalom

Resurrection is an idea that didn’t occur to the Jews until just before 1CE; a clear Hellenization. In the popular view of resurrection, it was a way of showing vindication by God for the suffering of His people. This is perfectly parallel to other earlier ideas of vindication held in Judaism; which by the way, all involve vengeful violence. In all instances, vindication is a response of God’s people in the face of their suffering and God’s complete lack of intervention.

When we come to the Jewish Jesus, the Christ, the expected emancipating warrior prophet, what do we do when he is summarily beaten, stripped, and hung on a cross with his first and only encounter with the forces he was to liberate God’s people from?

Well, if you’re Mark, you may well venerate his life in the same way Dennis McDonald suggests other historically significant contemporaries were; tell Jesus’ story in the fit and literary form of great Greek works such as the Odyssey. If you’re unlike Mark, you vindicate Jesus in expected ways given his completely unexpected and particular demise; you resurrect the man. And fitting the Jewish function of vindication, you put the entire meaning of Christ into his resurrection because your vindication from the shittieness of your life of woes is directly tied to the fact of whether or not God’s eventually going to ever do a damned thing for you at all too.

Both vindication and resurrection are at the bottom of it all, admissions by religious folks that God doesn’t deliver. They stand to say that the world is violent and you are its only cure. If not, the gospels would look a lot more like Mark. That is, that Christ needs no theology of vindication, just an ear to hear Jesus talk about theosis, our resolution to the need of vindicating systems, inclusive of resurrection, through the complete participation in goodness and the complete rejection of all ideas of violence.

To use the resurrection as vindication of the death of Christ is to admit that evil won because God actually did nothing at all. To say the resurrection is the rejection of violence is uninteresting; that’s not much different than the Phoenix; it’s an endless cycle of defeat and death. But to say life is found after we’ve done away with violence is significant. It is a roadmap to the Kingdom.

I couldn’t personally care less about arguments for resurrection, be it “the fact of” or “the types of” or the literalness or centrality in the Christian tradition. Jesus, it seems to me, needs no vindication and therefore needed no resurrection the Jews had in mind in 1 CE, which was much different than what the Christian has in mind today. I do however care very much about the ways in which we will engage the world and view it once we’ve finally gotten rid of this list vestige of violence known as resurrection where in its place is simply the presence of shalom that we must constantly breathe life into.

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