"He is alive"

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One of my favorite movies of all time, and one of the best political thrillers ever made, is Z, directed by Costra-Gavras. The movie was nominated for the best picture Oscar for 1969, and won the Academy Award for best foreign language film.

The movie provides a fictionalized account of events in Greece after a peace activist was murdered in the early 1960s. The letter "Z" became a catchword in the film among those who wanted to continue his work after he died. It meant "He is alive".

When his followers expressed this sentiment, they clearly did not mean that he was literally still alive. They meant instead that they honored what he sought to accomplish, and that his spirit carried on in the work of those who came after him.

Perhaps this is similar to what the followers of a certain Jewish mystic 2000 years ago were also saying after he was killed for what he stood for.


7 comments:

PrickliestPear said...

I think that's a legitimate way of interpreting the resurrection today, but I think the early church took it a bit more literally than that.

Paul's claim to be an apostle was predicated on his encounter with, in his understanding, the risen Christ. I don't know if he would have been accepted by the original apostles (to the extent that he was) if they didn't see things in a similar way.

CT said...

I'm reading one of Mystical's recommended books - "Robin Meyers, Saving Jesus From the Church" and it's no holds barred. Meyer's theory on resurrection accounts is simply that they are claims for authority as the early church fathers jostled for position. Mark as the earliest gospel had no such account but debate raged over teaching and authority between Peter, Paul, Jews & Gentiles. This lead to the 'development' of resurrection stories as anyone involved in a resurrection story had automatic authority.

'Fortunately' Peter & Paul had specific resurrection stories to back their claims as authoritative church leaders.

The more I read Meyer the more I like it. And his core message from my view ? Forget the theology, the resurrection, the rituals, afterlife and everything else we debate about and simply live as Christ proposed. Love your neighbour , forgive others, avoid materialism, be honest and live with integrity.

PrickliestPear said...

CT,

There is no question that resurrection stories (along with other gospel traditions) contain elements that were used -- and were likely created -- to support one authority or another.

Having said that, I don't think they can be explained as mere ecclesiastical apologetics, in that I don't think the idea of the resurrection was dreamed up just for that purpose.

Belief in the resurrection likely preceded it's use for apologetic purposes. I have no doubt that Paul, for example, sincerely believed that he had encountered the risen Christ, whatever that might have meant to him.

Mystical Seeker said...

I would distinguish on the one hand between a visionary or mystical experience of what one believes to be the risen Christ, and on the other hand a tale of a resuscitated Jesus walking around and showing his crucifixion scars to people. It is one thing to believe that Jesus was taken into God's presence after he died (and to have a vision that you interpret to be a reflection of this belief), and another to say that he came out of the tomb and ate fish with the disciples.

I know that people sometimes say, when a loved one dies, that the deceased person's presence can be felt or that they are still with us or whatever. But that is a far cry from a physical resurrection.

PrickliestPear said...

I think the story about Jesus showing his wounds to Thomas, which was probably created as an apologetic against docetism, is quite comical.

It asserts, in a rather graphic way, that there is a very strong continuity between the condition of the body at the time of death and the condition of the resurrected body. The body is alive, but the wounds remain. I wonder what that would mean for people who are, say, decapitated.

Mystical Seeker said...

Not to mention the general decay that our bodies undergo when we age. Speaking as one whose body has gone awry with various chronic conditions as I've gotten older, the last thing in the world I would want would be to be stuck with such a body for the rest of eternity.

PrickliestPear said...

Not to mention the general decay that our bodies undergo when we age.

True. Not to mention, also, the fact that our bodies decompose, and the matter of which our bodies are presently composed has probably been a part of several other people.

And the fact that the total number of people who have ever lived is upwards of 100 billion, according to some estimates. I don't think we as a species can afford a general resurrection of the dead.