Thursday, 17 April 2014

Further Debating Points

This refers to the previous entry and is a continuation of the points I make. Here I don't include what others have said, but they are accessible. Remember that these comments are typed at considerable speed and without looking things up.

There are no restrictions on the number of hallucinations, but I would agree in so far as the weight of the matter has to be on the literature – the setting of appearances is ritualised and theologised – and that the context is an expectant, last days excitement. We are told that the disciples kept well away from the death scene (ran away?) but however much there is negativity there it changes any possibility that Jesus was preparing ground for another (as much as he identified with Israel’s King) that now it can only, surely, be Jesus who is ready to return, and with the Pauline notion of a ‘spiritual body’ (we might say a square circle, like this is a nonsense, but he clearly retains the bodily aspect in his visitation reported). Ancient peoples will have had far more realist interpretation of dreams than ourselves, but even today we have a significant proportion of people who see, in bereavement, their loved one, or in religious ecstasy, the religious figure making most sense to them (the Virgin Mary being the most popular in Christian circles). It could well be that the visitation experience is Paul and a few others, but it became written as a roll-call of legitimate leadership for authority in the faith, just as it headed up the centrality ritual of the agape meal and eucharist. What matters is how the oral tales become written and what they are saying back into to those early communities.


That’s a significant event and interpretation, so please understand that my response is not to take anything away from your connections made. If I saw a vertical double rainbow it would be near the horizon (may also be reflected in water) where it tangents vertically, and there is always an inner and outer rainbow. A rainbow, of course, is not ‘there’ but is your own eyes seeing sun behind reflecting and refracting in raindrops ahead. No one ever sees the same rainbow. The ancient Noah story doesn’t get it that no one ever sees ‘a rainbow’.

However, I would not get the link between – certainly – the redistribution of atoms and molecules after the rotting and burning of death and what has to be at the core of resurrection, and that is the continuation of the self-consciousness of the individual. When it says the bodies rise again it means the people who were in them, and that their lives are transformed but nevertheless continuous. The Jesus who is said to have risen (though this ‘body’ visited hell first! In the alter tomb story) is said to be making decisions and directions to others in terms of his appearances and disappearances. He is supposed to be that person. Well, there may be a momentary hangover in quantum terms of consciousness, but most of us think that existence depends on the brain working and a destroyed brain is a destroyed person – witness the effect of dementia on reducing a person and being a thousand deaths of the one who once was effective as a person. So whilst we go back to dust I really rather doubt that our redistribution of matter and energy results in retained consciousness. But you never know. Consciousness is still quite mysterious, especially awareness of your own consciousness. But dementia suggests that consciousness and self-understanding is a slippery matter. My view then is that once Jesus died his brain was irrecoverable within seconds – as are all – and the Romans left him to be eaten by scavengers and dumped the body in the common lime pit grave. The rest was mythological interpretation and writing. But then many have spiritual experiences, as you report W.

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