I AM THAT I AM

Yea, I am. Still. As always. Ever, again...
It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' So, here I am, again, to teach you - using the current means of communications, naturally.
The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. Now I speak them to you on My Blog -- why not? It is the Spirit who gives life, whatever its ways and means...
Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the portal of salvation. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, they will be saved, and will log in and out and find satisfaction.
They who believe in Me, believe not in Me but in YHWH who is Me. And they who read Me read YHWH's Word: I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness - and if anyone reads My words and does not believe, I do not judge them - the Word that I have written will judge them in the last day.
So, EPHPHATHA!
Quod scientia Dei obtineri nequeat quaerendo,
 sed illi inveniet qui quaerunt...

Yeshua's Resurrection

Jesus' Resurrection

by William Lane Craig



In writing to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul declared that without Jesus’ resurrection their faith is worthless. The resurrection of Christ is central to Christianity and it is thus often attacked by skeptics and others antagonistic to the faith. After an appraisal of recent scholarship on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Dr. Craig contends that the resurrection appearances, the empty tomb, and the origin of the Christian faith all point unavoidably to one conclusion: Jesus’ resurrection is a historical reality.
Source: "Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Truth 1 (1985): 89-95.
"Man," writes Loren Eisley, "is the Cosmic Orphan." He is the only creature in the universe who asks, Why? Other animals have instincts to guide them, but man has learned to ask questions. "Who am I?" he asks. "Why am I here? Where am I going?"
Ever since the Enlightenment, when modern man threw off the shackles of religion, he has tried to answer these questions without reference to God. But the answers that came back were not exhilarating, but dark and terrible. "You are an accidental by-product of nature, the result of matter plus time plus chance. There is no reason for your existence. All you face is death. Your life is but a spark in the infinite darkness, a spark that appears, flickers, and dies forever."
Modern man thought that in divesting himself of God, he had freed himself from all that stifled and repressed him. Instead, he discovered that in killing God, he had also killed himself.
Against this background of the modern predicament, the traditional Christian hope of the resurrection takes on an even greater brightness and significance. It tells man that he is no orphan after all, but the personal image of the Creator God of the universe; nor is his life doomed in death, for through the eschatological resurrection he may live in the presence of God forever.
This is a wonderful hope. But, of course, hope that is not founded in fact is not hope, but mere illusion. Why should the Christian hope of eschatological resurrection appear to modern man as anything more than mere wishful thinking? The answer lies in the Christian conviction that a man has been proleptically raised by God from the dead as the forerunner and exemplar of our own eschatological resurrection. That man was Jesus of Nazareth, and his historical resurrection from the dead constitutes the factual foundation upon which the Christian hope is based.
Of course, during the last century liberal theology had no use for the historical resurrection of Jesus. Since liberal theologians retained the presupposition against the possibility of miracles which they had inherited from the Deists, a historical resurrection was a priori simply out of the question for them. The mythological explanation of D. F. Strauss enabled them to explain the resurrection accounts of the New Testament as legendary fictions. The belief in the historical resurrection was a hangover from antiquity which it was high time for modern man to be rid of. Thus, in liberal theology's greatest study of the historicity of the resurrection, Kirsopp Lake's The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (1907), Lake carefully plots the legendary development of the resurrection narratives from the root historical event of the women's visit to the wrong tomb. He concludes that it is not the end anyway: what is vital for Christian theology is the belief in the immortality of the soul, the belief that our departed friends and relatives are still alive and that in time we shall be re-united with them. Thus, the NT has been replaced by the Phaedo.

Jesus’ resurrection – The doctrine should be understood as an historical event
Liberal theology could not survive World War I, but its demise brought no renewed interest in the historicity of Jesus' resurrection, for the two schools that succeeded it were united in their devaluation of the historical with regard to Jesus. Thus, dialectical theology, propounded by Karl Barth, championed the doctrine of the resurrection, but would have nothing to do with the resurrection as an event of history. In his commentary on the book of Romans (1919), the early Barth declared, "The resurrection touches history as a tangent touches a circle-that is, without really touching it." Existential theology, exemplified by Rudolf Bultmann, was even more antithetical to the historicity of Jesus' resurrection. Though Bultmann acknowledged that the earliest disciples believed in the literal resurrection of Jesus and that Paul in I Corinthians 15 even attempts to prove the resurrection, he nevertheless pronounces such a procedure as "fatal." It reduces Christ's resurrection to a nature miracle akin to the resurrection of a corpse. And modern man cannot be reasonably asked to believe in nature miracles before becoming a Christian. Therefore, the miraculous elements of the gospel must be demythologized to reveal the true Christian message: the call to authentic existence in the face of death, symbolized by the cross. The resurrection is merely a symbolic re-statement of the message of the cross and essentially adds nothing to it. To appeal to the resurrection as historical evidence, as did Paul, is doubly wrong-headed, for it is of the very nature of existential faith that it is a leap without evidence. Thus, to argue historically for the resurrection is contrary to faith. Clearly then, the antipathy of liberal theology to the historicity of Jesus' resurrection remained unrelieved by either dialectical or existential theology.
But a remarkable change has come about during the second half of the 20th century. The first glimmerings of change began to appear in 1953. In that year Ernst Käsemann, a pupil of Bultmann, argued at a Colloquy at the University of Marburg that Bultmann's historical skepticism toward Jesus was unwarranted and counterproductive and suggested re-opening the question of where the historical about Jesus was to be found. A new quest of the historical Jesus had begun. Three years later in 1956 the Marburg theologian Hans Grass subjected the resurrection itself to historical inquiry and concluded that the resurrection appearances cannot be dismissed as mere subjective visions on the part of the disciples, but were objective visionary events.
Meanwhile the church historian Hans Freiherr von Campenhausen in an equally epochal essay defended the historical credibility of Jesus' empty tomb. During the ensuing years a stream of works on the historicity of Jesus' resurrection flowed forth from German, French and English presses. By 1968 the old skepticism was a spent force and began dramatically to recede. So complete has been the turn-about during the second half of this century concerning the resurrection of Jesus that it is no exaggeration to speak of a reversal of scholarship on this issue, such that those who deny the historicity of Jesus' resurrection now seem to be the ones on the defensive. Perhaps one of the most significant theological developments in this connection is the theological system of Wolfhart Pannenberg, who bases his entire Christology on the historical evidence for Jesus' ministry and especially the resurrection. This is a development undreamed of in German theology prior to 1950. Equally startling is the declaration of one of the world's leading Jewish theologians Pinchas Lapid, that he is convinced on the basis of the evidence that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. Lapide twits New Testament critics like Bultmann and Marxsen for their unjustified skepticism and concludes that he believes on the basis of the evidence that the God of Israel raised Jesus from the dead.
What are the facts that underlie this remarkable reversal of opinion concerning the credibility of the New Testament accounts of Jesus' resurrection? It seems to me that they can be conveniently grouped under three heads: the resurrection appearances, the empty tomb, and the origin of the Christian faith. Let's look briefly at each.

Jesus’ resurrection – The resurrection appearances
First, the resurrection appearances. Undoubtedly the major impetus for the reassessment of the appearance tradition was the demonstration by Joachim Jeremias that in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-5 Paul is quoting an old Christian formula which he received and in turn passed on to his converts According to Galatians 1:18 Paul was in Jerusalem three years after his conversion on a fact-finding mission, during which he conferred with Peter and James over a two week period, and he probably received the formula at this time, if not before. Since Paul was converted in AD 33, this means that the list of witnesses goes back to within the first five years after Jesus' death. Thus, it is idle to dismiss these appearances as legendary. We can try to explain them away as hallucinations if we wish, but we cannot deny they occurred. Paul's information makes it certain that on separate occasions various individuals and groups saw Jesus alive from the dead. According to Norman Perrin, the late NT critic of the University of Chicago: "The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based." This conclusion is virtually indisputable.
At the same time that biblical scholarship has come to a new appreciation of the historical credibility of Paul's information, however, it must be admitted that skepticism concerning the appearance traditions in the gospels persists. This lingering skepticism seems to me to be entirely unjustified. It is based on a presuppositional antipathy toward the physicalism of the gospel appearance stories. But the traditions underlying those appearance stories may well be as reliable as Paul's. For in order for these stories to be in the main legendary, a very considerable length of time must be available for the evolution and development of the traditions until the historical elements have been supplanted by unhistorical. This factor is typically neglected in New Testament scholarship, as A. N. Sherwin-White points out in Roman Law and Roman Society tn the New Testament. Professor Sherwin-White is not a theologian; he is an eminent historian of Roman and Greek times, roughly contemporaneous with the NT. According to Professor Sherwin-White, the sources for Roman history are usually biased and removed at least one or two generations or even centuries from the events they record. Yet, he says, historians reconstruct with confidence what really happened. He chastises NT critics for not realizing what invaluable sources they have in the gospels. The writings of Herodotus furnish a test case for the rate of legendary accumulation, and the tests show that even two generations is too short a time span to allow legendary tendencies to wipe out the hard core of historical facts. When Professor Sherwin-White turns to the gospels, he states for these to be legends, the rate of legendary accumulation would have to be 'unbelievable'; more generations are needed. All NT scholars agree that the gospels were written down and circulated within the first generation, during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses. Indeed, a significant new movement of biblical scholarship argues persuasively that some of the gospels were written by the AD 50's. This places them as early as Paul's letter to the Corinthians and, given their equal reliance upon prior tradition, they ought therefore to be accorded the same weight of historical credibility accorded Paul. It is instructive to note in this connection that no apocryphal gospel appeared during the first century. These did not arise until after the generation of eyewitnesses had died off. These are better candidates for the office of 'legendary fiction' than the canonical gospels. There simply was insufficient time for significant accrual of legend by the time of the gospels' composition. Thus, I find current criticism's skepticism with regard to the appearance traditions in the gospels to be unwarranted. The new appreciation of the historical value of Paul's information needs to be accompanied by a reassessment of the gospel traditions as well.

Jesus’ resurrection – The empty tomb
Second, the empty tomb. Once regarded as an offense to modern intelligence and an embarrassment to Christian theology, the empty tomb of Jesus has come to assume its place among the generally accepted facts concerning the historical Jesus and supports Jesus' resurrection. Allow me to review briefly some of the evidence undergirding this connection.
(1) The historical reliability of the burial story supports the empty tomb. If the burial account is accurate, then the site of Jesus' grave was known to Jew and Christian alike. In that case, it is a very short inference to historicity of the empty tomb. For if Jesus had not risen and the burial site were known:
(a) the disciples could never have believed Jesus' resurrection. For a first century Jew the idea that a man might be raised from the dead while his body remained in the tomb was simply a contradiction in terms. In the words of E. E. Ellis, "It is very unlikely that the earliest Palestinian Christians could conceive of any distinction between resurrection and physical, 'grave emptying' resurrection. To them an anastasis without an empty grave would have been about as meaningful as a square circle."
(b) Even if the disciples had believed in Jesus' resurrection, it is doubtful they would have generated any following. So long as the body was interred in the tomb, a Christian movement founded on belief in the resurrection of the dead man would have been an impossible folly.
(c) The Jewish authorities would have exposed the whole affair. The quickest and surest answer to the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus would have been simply to point to his grave on the hillside.
For these three reasons, the accuracy of the burial story supports the historicity of the empty tomb. Unfortunately for those who wish to deny the empty tomb, however, the burial story is one of the most historically certain traditions we have concerning Jesus. Several factors undergird this judgment. To mention only a few.
(i) The burial is mentioned in the third line of the old Christian formula quoted by Paul in 1 Cor. 15.4.
(ii) It is part of the ancient pre-Markan passion story which Mark used as a source for his gospel.
(iii) The story itself lacks any traces of legendary development.
(iv) The story comports with archeological evidence concerning the types and location of tombs extant in Jesus' day.
(v) No other competing burial traditions exist.
For these and other reasons, most scholars are united in the judgment that the burial story is fundamentally historical. But if that is the case, then, as I have explained, the inference that the tomb was found empty is not very far at hand.
(2) Paul's testimony supports the fact of the empty tomb. Here two aspects of Paul's evidence may be mentioned.
(a) In the formula cited by Paul the expression "he was raised" following the phrase "he was buried" implies the empty tomb. A first century Jew could not think otherwise. As E. L. Bode observes, the notion of the occurrence of a spiritual resurrection while the body remained in the tomb is a peculiarity of modern theology. For the Jews it was the remains of the man in the tomb which were raised; hence, they carefully preserved the bones of the dead in ossuaries until the eschatological resurrection. There can be no doubt that both Paul and the early Christian formula he cites pre-suppose the existence of the empty tomb.
(b) The phrase "on the third day" probably points to the discovery of the empty tomb. Very briefly summarized, the point is that since no one actually witnessed the resurrection of Jesus, how did Christians come to date it "on the third day?" The most probable answer is that they did so because this was the day of the discovery of the empty tomb by Jesus' women followers. Hence, the resurrection itself came to be dated on that day. Thus, in the old Christian formula quoted by Paul we have extremely early evidence for the existence of Jesus' empty tomb.
(3) The empty tomb story is part of the pre-Markan passion story and is therefore very old. The empty tomb story was probably the end of Mark's passion source. As Mark is the earliest of our gospels, this source is therefore itself quite old. In fact the commentator R. Pesch contends that it is an incredibly early source. He produces two lines of evidence for this conclusion:
(a) Paul's account of the Last Supper in 1 Cor. 11:23-5 presupposes the Markan account. Since Paul's own traditions are themselves very old, the Markan source must be yet older.
(b) The pre-Markan passion story never refers to the high priest by name. It is as when I say "The President is hosting a dinner at the White House" and everyone knows whom I am speaking of because it is the man currently in office. Similarly the pre-Markan passion story refers to the "high priest" as if he were still in power. Since Caiaphas held office from AD 18-37, this means at the latest the pre-Markan source must come from within seven years after Jesus' death. This source thus goes back to within the first few years of the Jerusalem fellowship and is therefore an ancient and reliable source of historical information.
(4) The story is simple and lacks legendary development. The empty tomb story is uncolored by the theological and apologetical motifs that would be characteristic of a later legendary account. Perhaps the most forceful way to appreciate this point is to compare it with the accounts of the empty tomb found in apocryphal gospels of the second century. For example, in the gospel of Peter a voice rings out from heaven during the night, the stone rolls back of itself from the door of the tomb, and two men descend from Heaven and enter the tomb. Then three men are seen coming out of the tomb, the two supporting the third. The heads of the two men stretch up to the clouds, but the head of the third man overpasses the clouds. Then a cross comes out of the tomb, and a voice asks, "Hast thou preached to them that sleep?" And the cross answers, "Yea". In the Ascension of Isaiah, Jesus comes out of the tomb sitting on the shoulders of the angels Michael and Gabriel. These are how real legends look: unlike the gospel accounts, they are colored by theological motifs.
(5) The tomb was probably discovered empty by women. To understand this point one has to recall two facts about the role of women in Jewish society.
(a) Woman occupied a low rung on the Jewish social ladder. This is evident in such rabbinic expressions as "Sooner let the words of the law be burnt than delivered to women" and "Happy is he whose children are male, but woe to him whose children are female."
(b) The testimony of women was regarded as so worthless that they were not even permitted to serve as legal witnesses in a court of law. In light of these facts, how remarkable must it seem that it is women who are the discoverers of Jesus' empty tomb. Any later legend would certainly have made the male disciples to discover the empty tomb. The fact that women, whose testimony was worthless, rather than men, are the chief witnesses to the empty tomb is most plausibly accounted for by the fact that, like it or not, they were the discoverers of the empty tomb and the gospels accurately record this.
(6) The earliest Jewish polemic presupposes the empty tomb. In Matthew 28, we find the Christian attempt to refute the earliest Jewish polemic against the resurrection. That polemic asserted that the disciples stole away the body. The Christians responded to this by reciting the story of the guard at the tomb, and the polemic in turn charged that the guard fell asleep. Now the noteworthy feature of this whole dispute is not the historicity of the guards but rather the presupposition of both parties that the body was missing. The earliest Jewish response to the proclamation of the resurrection was an attempt to explain away the empty tomb. Thus, the evidence of the adversaries of the disciples provides evidence in support of the empty tomb.
One could go on, but perhaps enough has been said to indicate why the judgment of scholarship has reversed itself on the historicity of the empty tomb. According to Jakob Kremer, "By far most exegetes hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements concerning the empty tomb" and he furnishes a list, to which his own name may be added, of twenty-eight prominent scholars in support. I can think of at least sixteen more names that he failed to mention. Thus, it is today widely recognized that the empty tomb of Jesus is a simple historical fact. As D. H. van Daalen has pointed out, "It is extremely difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds; those who deny it do so on the basis of theological or philosophical assumptions." But assumptions may simply have to be changed in light of historical facts.

Jesus’ resurrection – The best explanation for the Christian faith
Finally, we may turn to that third body of evidence supporting Jesus' resurrection: the very origin of the Christian Way. Even the most skeptical scholars admit that the earliest disciples at least believed that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Indeed, they pinned nearly everything on it. Without belief in Jesus' resurrection, Christianity could never have come into being. The crucifixion would have remained the final tragedy in the hapless life of Jesus. The origin of Christianity hinges on the belief of these earliest disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead. The question now inevitably arises: how does one explain the origin of that belief? As R. H. Fuller urges, even the most skeptical critic must posit some mysterious X to get the movement going. But the question is, what was that X?
If one denies that Jesus really did rise from the dead, then he must explain the disciples' belief that he did rise either in terms of Jewish influences or in terms of Christian influences. Now clearly, it can't be the result of Christian influences, for at that time there wasn't any Christianity yet! Since belief in Jesus' resurrection was the foundation for the origin of the Christian faith, it can't be a belief formed as a result of that faith.
But neither can the belief in the resurrection be explained as a result of Jewish influences. To see this we need to back up a moment. In the Old Testament, the Jewish belief in the resurrection of the dead on the day of judgment is mentioned in three places (Ezekiel 37Isaiah 26, 19Daniel 12.2). During the time between the Old Testament and the New Testament, the belief in resurrection flowered and is often mentioned in the Jewish literature of that period. In Jesus' day the Jewish party of the Pharisees held to belief in resurrection, and Jesus sided with them on this score in opposition to the party of the Sadducees. So the idea of resurrection was itself nothing new.
But the Jewish conception of resurrection differed in two important, fundamental respects from Jesus' resurrection. In Jewish thought the resurrection always (1) occurred after the end of the world, not within history, and (2) concerned all the people, not just an isolated individual. In contradistinction to this, Jesus' resurrection was both within history and of one individual person.
With regard to the first point, the Jewish belief was always that at the end of history, God would raise the righteous dead and receive them into His Kingdom. There are, to be sure, examples in the Old Testament of resuscitations of the dead; but these persons would die again. The resurrection to eternal life and glory occurred after the end of the world. We find this Jewish outlook in the gospels themselves. Thus, when Jesus assures Martha that her brother Lazarus will rise again, she responds, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day" (John 11.24). She has no idea that Jesus is about to bring him back to life. Similarly, when Jesus tells his disciples he will rise from the dead, they think he means at the end of the world(Mark 9.9-13). The idea that a true resurrection could occur prior to God's bringing the Kingdom of Heaven at the end of the world was utterly foreign to them. The greatly renowned German New Testament scholar Joachim Jeremias writes,
Ancient Judaism did not know of an anticipated resurrection as an event of history. Nowhere does one find in the literature anything comparable to the resurrection of Jesus. Certainly resurrections of the dead were known, but these always concerned resuscitations, the return to the earthly life. In no place in the late Judaic literature does it concern a resurrection todoxa (glory) as an event of history.
The disciples, therefore, confronted with Jesus' crucifixion and death, would only have looked forward to the resurrection at the final day and would probably have carefully kept their master's tomb as a shrine, where his bones could reside until the resurrection. They would not have come up with the idea that he was already raised.
As for the second point, the Jewish idea of resurrection was always of a general resurrection of the dead, not an isolated individual. It was the people, or mankind as a whole, that God raised up in the resurrection. But in Jesus' resurrection, God raised just a single man. Moreover, there was no concept of the people's resurrection in some way hinging on the Messiah's resurrection. That was just totally unknown. Yet that is precisely what is said to have occurred in Jesus' case. Ulrich Wilckens, another prominent German New Testament critic, explains:
For nowhere do the Jewish texts speak of the resurrection of an individual which already occurs before the resurrection of the righteous in the end time and is differentiated and separate from it; nowhere does the participation of the righteous in the salvation at the end time depend on their belonging to the Messiah, who was raised in advance as the 'First of those raised by God.' (1 Corinthians 15:20)
It is therefore evident that the disciples would not as a result of Jewish influences or background have come up with the idea that Jesus alone had been raised from the dead. They would wait with longing for that day when He and all the righteous of Israel would be raised by God to glory.
The disciples' belief in Jesus' resurrection, therefore, cannot be explained as the result of either Christian or Jewish influences. Left to themselves, the disciples would never have come up with such an idea as Jesus' resurrection. And remember: they were fishermen and tax collectors, not theologians. The mysterious X is still missing. According to C. F. D. Moule of Cambridge University, here is a belief nothing in terms of previous historical influences can account for. He points out that we have a situation in which a large number of people held firmly to this belief, which cannot be explained in terms of the Old Testament or the Pharisees, and these people held onto this belief until the Jews finally threw them out of the synagogue. According to Professor Moule, the origin of this belief must have been the fact that Jesus really did rise from the dead:
If the coming into existence of the Nazarenes, a phenomenon undeniably attested by the New Testament, rips a great hole in history, a hole of the size and shape of the Resurrection, what does the secular historian propose to stop it up with?. . . the birth and rapid rise of the Christian Church. . . remain an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the only explanation offered by the church itself.
The resurrection of Jesus is therefore the best explanation for the origin of the Christian faith. Taken together, these three great historical facts--the resurrection appearances, the empty tomb, the origin of the Christian faith--seem to point to the resurrection of Jesus as the most plausible explanation.

Jesus’ resurrection – Answering alternate explanations
But of course there have been other explanations proffered to account for the resurrection
appearances, the empty tomb, and the origin of the Christian faith. In the judgment of modern scholarship, however, these have failed to provide a plausible account of the facts of Jesus' resurrection. This can be seen by a rapid review of the principal explanations that have been offered.
A. The disciples stole Jesus' corpse and lied about the resurrection appearances. This explanation characterized the earliest Jewish anti-Christian polemic and was revived in the form of the conspiracy theory of eighteenth century Deism. The theory has been universally rejected by critical scholars and survives only in the popular press. To name only two considerations decisive against it: (i) it is morally impossible to indict the disciples of Jesus with such a crime. Whatever their imperfections, they were certainly good, earnest men and women, not impostors. No one who reads the New Testament unprejudicially can doubt the evident sincerity of these early believers. (ii) It is psychologically impossible to attribute to the disciples the cunning and dering- do requisite for such a ruse. At the time of the crucifixion, the disciples were confused, disorganized, fearful, doubting, and burdened with mourning-not mentally motivated or equipped to engineer such a wild hoax. Hence, to explain the empty tomb and resurrection appearances by a conspiracy theory seems out of the question.
B. Jesus did not die on the cross, but was taken down and placed alive in the tomb, where he revived and escaped to convince the disciples he had risen from the dead. This apparent death theory was championed by the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century German rationalists, and was even embraced by the father of modern theology, F. D. E. Schleiermacher. Today, however, the theory has been entirely given up: (i) it would be virtually impossible medically for Jesus to have survived the rigors of his torture and crucifixion, much less not to have died of exposure in the tomb. (ii) The theory is religiously inadequate, since a half-dead Jesus desperately in need of medical attention would not have elicited in the disciples worship of him as the exalted Risen Lord and Conqueror of Death. Moreover, since Jesus on this hypothesis knew he had not actually triumphed over death, the theory reduces him to the life of a charlatan who tricked the disciples into believing he had risen, which is absurd. These reasons alone make the apparent death theory untenable.
C. The disciples projected hallucinations of Jesus after his death, from which they mistakenly inferred his resurrection. The hallucination theory became popular during the nineteenth century and carried over into the first half of the twentieth century as well. Again, however, there are good grounds for rejecting this hypothesis: (i) it is psychologically implausible to posit such a chain of hallucinations. Hallucinations are usually associated with mental illness or drugs; but in the disciples' case the prior psycho-biological preparation appears to be wanting. The disciples had no anticipation of seeing Jesus alive again; all they could do was wait to be reunited with him in the Kingdom of God. There were no grounds leading them to hallucinate him alive from the dead. Moreover, the frequency and variety of circumstances belie the hallucination theory: Jesus was seen not once, but many times; not by one person, but by several; not only by individuals, but also by groups; not at one locale and circumstance but at many; not by believers only, but by skeptics and unbelievers as well. The hallucination theory cannot be plausibly stretched to accommodate such diversity. (ii) Hallucinations would not in any case have led to belief in Jesus' resurrection. As projections of one's own mind, hallucinations cannot contain anything not already in the mind. But we have seen that Jesus' resurrection differed from the Jewish conception in two fundamental ways. Given their Jewish frame of thought, the disciples, were they to hallucinate, would have projected visions of Jesus glorified in Abraham's bosom, where Israel's righteous dead abode until the eschatological resurrection. Thus, hallucinations would not have elicited belief in Jesus' resurrection, an idea that ran solidly against the Jewish mode of thought. (iii) Nor can hallucinations account for the full scope of the evidence. They are offered as an explanation of the resurrection appearances, but leave the empty tomb unexplained, and therefore fail as a complete and satisfying answer. Hence, it seems that the hallucination hypothesis is not more successful than its defunct forebears in providing a plausible counter-explanation of the data surrounding Christ's resurrection.
Thus, none of the previous counter-explanations can account for the evidence as plausibly as the resurrection itself. One might ask, "Well, then, how do skeptical scholars explain the facts of the resurrection appearances, the empty tomb, and the origin of the Christian faith?" The fact of the matter is, they don't. Modern scholarship recognizes no plausible explanatory alternative to the resurrection of Jesus. Those who refuse to accept the resurrection as a fact of history are simply self-confessedly left without an explanation.
These three great facts--the resurrection appearances, the empty tomb, and the origin of the Christian faith--all point unavoidably to one conclusion: The resurrection of Jesus. Today the rational man can hardly be blamed if he believes that on that first Easter morning a divine miracle occurred.


ὁ Λόγος

The Word. Hmm, yea.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not...
Well, here it is in the original Greek:
  Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος. Οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν Θεόν.  πάντα δι' αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν ὃ γέγονεν.  ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων.  καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.
Like it?
Yet I spoke Aramaic, and Hebrew - so why the Greek?
I tell you why...
The very same reason I'm writing here in English.

Past Gospel writers had to adapt to their own social context. Still, I wouldn't say that John's gospel is false, yet it has much exaggeration and philosophical expectations. And I would offer less for Mark (too simplistic), and for Matthew and Luke (too biased and exceedingly anti-semitic - don't forget I am Jewish, in my earthly guise), who gave me words I never uttered and described me as gentle when I was pale with rage. Their words were written many years after I was gone and only repeat what old men told them. Very old men...

So, here I am again. Now. Yea, as promised. For those who would ask how my words have come to this blog, I would tell them to look upon it as a small miracle: I've done so many, one more one less...

יְהֹוָה - אֲדֹנָי

So many names, so little understanding!

Adonai-Jeovah -- The Lord your Sovereign
El-Elyon -- The Lord Most High
El-Olam -- The Everlasting God
El-Shaddai -- The God Who is Sufficient for the Needs of His People
Jehovah-Elohim -- The Eternal Creator
Jehovah-Jireh -- The Lord your Provider
Jehovah-Nissi -- The Lord your Banner
Jehovah-Ropheka -- The Lord your Healer
Jehovah-Shalom -- The Lord your Peace
Jehovah-Tsidkenu -- The Lord your Righteousness
Jehovah-Mekaddishkem -- The Lord your Sanctifier
Jehovah-Sabaoth -- The Lord of Hosts
Jehovah-Shammah -- The Lord is Present
Jehovah-Rohi -- The Lord your Shepherd
Jehovah-Hoseenu -- The Lord your Maker
Jehovah-Eloheynu -- The Lord your God

J Tikkan even made a nice table in Hebrew for my 72 names


In fact,  I AM...

I AM
I AM THAT I AM
I am a father to Israel
I am a great King
I am alive for evermore
I am Alpha and Omega
I am for you
I am from above
I am God
I am God Almighty
I am gracious
I am he
I am he that comforteth you
I am he that doth speak
I am he that liveth, and was dead
I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts
I am holy
I am in the midst of Israel
I am married unto you
I am meek and lowly in heart
I am merciful
I am the Almighty God
I am the bread of life
I am the door
I am the door of the sheep
I am the first and the last
I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob
I am the God of thy fathers
I am the good shepherd
I am the light of the world
I am the living bread
I am the LORD
I am the LORD, and there is none else
I am the Lord GOD
I am the LORD in the midst of the earth
I am the LORD that doth sanctify you
I am the LORD that healeth thee
I am the LORD that maketh all things
I am the LORD that smiteth
I am the LORD, the God of all flesh
I am the LORD thy God
I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt
I am the LORD thy God that divideth the sea
I am the LORD thy God which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go
I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit
I am the LORD which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness
I am the LORD which hallow you
I am the LORD, your Holy One
I am the resurrection, and the life
I am the root and offspring of David
I am the Son of God
I am the vine
I am the way, the truth, and the life
I am their inheritance (when I speak of the priests)
I am thy exceeding great reward
I am thy part and thine inheritance (as I said to the Levites)
I am thy salvation
I am thy Savior
I am thy shield
I am with thee
I am with thee to deliver thee
I am with thee to save thee
I am with you always
...as I Am That I Am

Always

Blaise Pascal & Me Myself and I


Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m'effraie...

Il silenzio eterno degli spazi infiniti mi sgomenta...

The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me...

When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, the little space which I fill, and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I am ignorant, and which know me not, I am frightened, and am astonished at being here rather than there; for there is no reason why here rather than there, why now rather than then. Who has put me here? By whose order and direction have this place and time been allotted to me?

Quando considero la breve durata della mia vita, assorbita nell'eternità che precede e che segue il piccolo spazio che occupo e che vedo inabissato nell'infinita immensità degli spazi che ignoro e che m'ignorano, mi spavento, e mi stupisco di vedermi qui piuttosto che là, perché non c'è ragione che sia qui piuttosto che là, adesso piuttosto che allora.


Jesus the Jew according to Vermes

The Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, notwithstanding all their subsequent theological coloring, still allow a genuine glimpse of a first century C.E. Jewish holy man, preacher, healer, exorcist, delivering ad hoc moral exhortations of the impending arrival of the "kingdom of God." By contrast the letters of Paul and the Fourth Gospel sketch an increasingly other-worldly, superterrestrial redeemer figure, the paramount center of all the religious preoccupations of the primitive Church. When one sketch is superimposed on the other, it becomes clear that they have hardly anything in common. The early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles reveal, however, the initial stages of the metamorphosis.

The figure of the historical Jesus is preserved in the Synoptic Gospels, against the backcloth of the political and social history of inter-testamental Galilee, and especially against first-century charismatic Judaism of prophetic derivation which left a lasting mark on the religion of the northern provincials. Men of God, believed to be capable of working miracles and mastering the forces of darkness, were heroes of this popular Judaism, in Galilee and elsewhere. Honi, the first century B.C.E. rainmaker, was one of them and so was also Hanina ben Dosa, who in the first century C.E. cured the sick and helped the needy, and earned the reputation of being a benefactor of humankind. The Jesus of the first three Gospels is perfectly at home in their company, and, in turn, they provide his picture with genuine credibility. What is more, when several of the titles given to Jesus in the Gospels, such as Prophet, Lord and even Son of God, are examined historically, they are all applicable to a holy man of this type. Hence, it would seem, Jesus can best be defined as an outstanding Galilean charismatic hasid, the Hebrew word for "devout."

Does it mean that Jesus was just one of the Hasidim and nothing more?

Nothing more? Isn’t that enough?

No reductionism here. The incomparable superiority of Jesus is demonstarted when his teaching is taken into account. The reconstruction of the genuine preaching of Jesus constitutes a grave challenge to historians because of the nature of the extant sources, the Synoptic Gospels. They incorporate many successive layers of tradition, and contemporary New Testament specialists often shy away from what they see as a frightening conundrum. Yet if a comprehensive recreation of the message is beyond our means, it is not unreasonable to expect that by approaching it dynamically and critically within the evolution of the religious thinking of Judaism from the Hebrew Bible, through the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, Josephus, rabbinic literature, synagogal liturgy and early Jewish mysticism, and focusing also on internal consistency, something reliable and significant can be determined as far as the main lines of Jesus' teaching were concerned.

The salient points are as follows:

  • Jesus did not reject Jewish law. He sometimes disagreed with its interpretation or application by some of his contemporaries, but they also disagreed among themselves. As an heir of the prophetic tradition, he concerned himself above all with the Torah, inasmuch as it revealed a divinely ordained behavior towards human beings and towards God. He did not break the Sabbath or oppose the food laws as such. He clashed with others in cases of conflicting religious duties: they opted for one alternative and he for the other. But surely no Gentile Christian would ever have made Jesus proclaim that "It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one title of the law to drop"! Yet it is in Luke (16:17) that this saying is found. Where Jesus truly excelled was in his emphasis on the inner moral and religious significance of the Mosaic commandments, thus disclosing their ultimate purpose, an uninterrupted life of holiness before the Face.
  • The symbolical framework of Jesus' message was the kingdom of God, a mysterious reality which he never bothered to define. Neither did he assert, or even suggest, when his kingdom would materialize. For him, the only task of real significance was what he and his companions were to do in the present, convinced as he was that it was already part of the eschatological age. How figurative this "kingdom" imagery is may be seen from Jesus' lack of interest in a "royal" God, or a heavenly war lord. His God, the one depicted in many parables, is a forgiving and caring Father. For Jesus, "the eternal, distant, dominating and tremendous Creator is also and primarily a near and approachable God".
     
  • For Christianity, as creeds, dogma and councils show, Jesus is the object of religion, but in the earliest Gospel account he is first and foremost a religious man. The dominating feature of his religion was an undiluted eschatological enthusiasm in which future had no place, and everything had to be centered on the lived moment. His religion begins with teshuvah, or turning (repentance), feeds on emunah, or faith-trust, and expresses itself in the imitation of God: "Be merciful as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36). This is an individualistic religion in which the penitent outcasts, the publicans and prostitutes, gain precedence over those professing bourgeois respectability.
  • In the judgment of an uncommitted historian oceans seem to separate the God-centered (theocentric) and existential religion, preached and practiced by Jesus, from christocentric Christianity. The death of Jesus on the cross demanded an increasing exaltation of a Galilean holy man. The itinerant preacher, this familiar figure in Capernaum, Chorazin and the lakeside, would have been mystified by the Church's creeds. He would have been equally nonplussed if told that he was the founder of Christianity, for "If he meant and believed what he preached... namely that the eternal Kingdom of God was truly at hand, he simply would not have entertained the idea ... setting in motion an organized society intended to endure for ages to come".
The greatest challenge which informed and thinking Christians have to confront does not come from materialism, agnosticism or atheism, but from within: from Mark, Matthew and Luke through whom speaks the chief challenger, Jesus the Jew. Whether this challenge will be accepted, only time will tell. But meanwhile…

The magnetic appeal of the teaching and example of Jesus holds out hope and guidance to those outside the fold of organized religion, the stray sheep of mankind, who yearn for a world of mercy, justice and peace lived in as Children of God.



So now, tell me: Who Am I?


Who speaks through Me?


Who IS in Me?

My Pet Name

Of all the idiocies...!

Or just for fun: have a joke.

There is no novelty to me in the reflection that, from my earliest years, I have accepted many false opinions as true, and that what I have concluded from such badly assured premises could not but be highly doubtful and uncertain. From the time that I first recognized this fact, I have realized that if I wished to have any firm and constant knowledge in the sciences, I would have to undertake, once and for all, to set aside all the opinions which I had previously accepted among my beliefs and start again from the very beginning.

But let's think about the power of Creation, even from My side... God's side...
בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ...

In the beginning, GOD created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness lay upon the faces of the deep, and the Spirit of GOD hovered over the waters and GOD said “Let there be light,” and there was light.

I AM THE LIGHT!

I AM THE NAME

            ...and what's my Name?


The Significance of Names

In Jewish thought, a name is not merely an arbitrary designation, a random combination of sounds. The name conveys the nature and essence of the thing named. It represents the history and reputation of the being named.
This is not as strange or unfamiliar a concept as it may seem at first glance. In English, we often refer to a person's reputation as his "good name." When a company is sold, one thing that may be sold is the company's "good will," that is, the right to use the company's name. The Hebrew concept of a name is very similar to these ideas.
An example of this usage occurs in Ex. 3:13-22: Moses asks God what His "name" is. Moses is not asking "what should I call you;" rather, he is asking "who are you; what are you like; what have you done." That is clear from God's response. God replies that He is eternal, that He is the God of our ancestors, that He has seen our affliction and will redeem us from bondage.
Another example of this usage is the concepts of chillul Ha-Shem and kiddush Ha-Shem. An act that causes God or Judaism to come into disrespect or a commandment to be disobeyed is often referred to as "chillul Ha-Shem," profanation of The Name. Clearly, we are not talking about a harm done to a word; we are talking about harm to a reputation. Likewise, any deed that increases the respect accorded to God or Judaism is referred to as "kiddush Ha-Shem," sanctification of The Name.
Because a name represents the reputation of the thing named, a name should be treated with the same respect as the thing's reputation. For this reason, God's Names, in all of their forms, are treated with enormous respect and reverence in Judaism.

The Names of God

I have often heard people refer to the Judeo-Christian God as "the nameless God" to contrast our God with the ancient pagan gods. I always found this odd, because Judaism clearly recognizes the existence of a Name for God; in fact, we have many Names for God.
The most important of God's Names is the four-letter Name represented by the Hebrew letters Yod-Hei-Vav-Hei (YHVH). It is often referred to as the Ineffable Name, the Unutterable Name or the Distinctive Name. Linguistically, it is related to the Hebrew root Hei-Yod-Hei (to be), and reflects the fact that God's existence is eternal. In scripture, this Name is used when discussing God's relation with human beings, and when emphasizing his qualities of lovingkindness and mercy. It is frequently shortened to Yah (Yod-Hei), Yahu or Yeho (Yod-Hei-Vav), especially when used in combination with names or phrases, as in Yehoshua (Joshua, meaning "the Lord is my Salvation"), Eliyahu (Elijah, meaning "my God is the Lord"), and Halleluyah ("praise the Lord").
The first Name used for God in scripture is Elohim. In form, the word is a masculine plural of a word that looks feminine in the singular (Eloha). The same word (or, according to Rambam, a homonym of it) is used to refer to princes, judges, other gods, and other powerful beings. This Name is used in scripture when emphasizing God's might, His creative power, and his attributes of justice and rulership. Variations on this name include El, Eloha, Elohai (my God) and Elohaynu (our God).
God is also known as El Shaddai. This Name is usually translated as "God Almighty," however, the derivation of the word "Shaddai" is not known. According to some views, it is derived from the root meaning "to heap benefits." According a Midrash, it means, "The One who said 'dai'" ("dai" meaning enough or sufficient) and comes from the fact that when God created the universe, it expanded until He said "DAI!" (perhaps the first recorded theory of an expanding universe?). The name Shaddai is the one written on the mezuzah scroll. Some note that Shaddai is an acronym of Shomer Daltot Yisrael, Guardian of the Doors of Israel.
Another significant Name of God is YHVH Tzva'ot. This Name is normally translated as "Lord of Hosts." The word "tzva'ot" means "hosts" in the sense of a military grouping or an organized array. The Name refers to God's leadership and sovereignty. Interestingly, this Name is rarely used in scripture. It never appears in the Torah (i.e., the first five books). It appears primarily in the prophetic books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, as well as many times in the Psalms.

Writing the Name of God

Jews do not casually write any Name of God. This practice does not come from the commandment not to take the Lord's Name in vain, as many suppose. In Jewish thought, that commandment refers solely to oath-taking, and is a prohibition against swearing by God's Name falsely or frivolously (the word normally translated as "in vain" literally means "for falsehood").
Judaism does not prohibit writing the Name of God per se; it prohibits only erasing or defacing a Name of God. However, observant Jews avoid writing any Name of God casually because of the risk that the written Name might later be defaced, obliterated or destroyed accidentally or by one who does not know better.
The commandment not to erase or deface the name of God comes from Deut. 12:3. In that passage, the people are commanded that when they take over the promised land, they should destroy all things related to the idolatrous religions of that region, and should utterly destroy the names of the local deities. Immediately afterwards, we are commanded not to do the same to our God. From this, the rabbis inferred that we are commanded not to destroy any holy thing, and not to erase or deface a Name of God.
It is worth noting that this prohibition against erasing or defacing Names of God applies only to Names that are written in some kind of permanent form, and recent rabbinical decisions have held that writing on a computer is not a permanent form, thus it is not a violation to type God's Name into a computer and then backspace over it or cut and paste it, or copy and delete files with God's Name in them. However, once you print the document out, it becomes a permanent form. That is why observant Jews avoid writing a Name of God on web sites like this one or in newsgroup messages: because there is a risk that someone else will print it out and deface it.
Normally, we avoid writing the Name by substituting letters or syllables, for example, writing "G-d" instead of "God." In addition, the number 15, which would ordinarily be written in Hebrew as Yod-Hei (10-5), is normally written as Teit-Vav (9-6), because Yod-Hei is a Name. See Hebrew Alphabet for more information about using letters as numerals.

Pronouncing the Name of God

Nothing in the Torah prohibits a person from pronouncing the Name of God. Indeed, it is evident from scripture that God's Name was pronounced routinely. Many common Hebrew names contain "Yah" or "Yahu," part of God's four-letter Name. The Name was pronounced as part of daily services in the Temple.
The Mishnah confirms that there was no prohibition against pronouncing The Name in ancient times. In fact, the Mishnah recommends using God's Name as a routine greeting to a fellow Jew. Berakhot 9:5. However, by the time of the Talmud, it was the custom to use substitute Names for God. Some rabbisasserted that a person who pronounces YHVH according to its letters (instead of using a substitute) has no place in the World to Come, and should be put to death. Instead of pronouncing the four-letter Name, we usually substitute the Name "Adonai," or simply say "Ha-Shem" (lit. The Name).
Although the prohibition on pronunciation applies only to the four-letter Name, Jews customarily do not pronounce any of God's many Names except inprayer or study. The usual practice is to substitute letters or syllables, so that Adonai becomes Adoshem or Ha-Shem, Elohaynu and Elohim become Elokaynu and Elokim, etc.
With the Temple destroyed and the prohibition on pronouncing The Name outside of the Temple, pronunciation of the Name fell into disuse. Scholars passed down knowledge of the correct pronunciation of YHVH for many generations, but eventually the correct pronunciation was lost, and we no longer know it with any certainty. We do not know what vowels were used, or even whether the Vav in the Name was a vowel or a consonant. SeeHebrew Alphabet for more information about the difficulties in pronouncing Hebrew. Some religious scholars suggest that the Name was pronounced "Yahweh," but others do not find this pronunciation particularly persuasive.
Some people render the four-letter Name as "Jehovah," but this pronunciation is particularly unlikely. The word "Jehovah" comes from the fact that ancient Jewish texts used to put the vowels of the Name "Adonai" (the usual substitute for YHVH) under the consonants of YHVH to remind people not to pronounce YHVH as written. A sixteenth century German Christian scribe, while transliterating the Bible into Latin for the Pope, wrote the Name out as it appeared in his texts, with the consonants of YHVH and the vowels of Adonai, and came up with the word JeHoVaH, and the name stuck.
I say to you, arise!

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