Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Jewish Scholar Pinchas Lapide accepts the Resurrection

A redated post.

Can one accept the Resurrection of Christ without accepting the Lordship of Christ? Apparently this is the position of Jewish scholar Pinchas Lapide.

This is sort of a companion post to the Heather from Glendale post, where someone far less sophisticated accepts, or appears to accept the resurrection of Christ while declining to be a Christian.

41 comments:

Blue Devil Knight said...

That is pretty cool, actually. I wonder if any Muslim scholars would go with him on that. The Koran is clear that Jesus was a great teacher (perhaps a prophet), but why not brought back from the dead (though not as God, because for them that is polytheism and violates the 10 Comm).

Victor Reppert said...

The reason Muslims would have trouble with the resurrection is that it presupposes a crucifixion. Allah would not permit such a thing to happen to one of his true prophets, so the crucifixion has to be a crucifiction. But if you could get past that hurdle, there would be no reason to suppose they couldn't accept a resurrection as well. The Qu'ran affirms the Virgin Birth.

Steven said...

"so the crucifixion has to be a crucifiction"

nailed it

J said...

Assuming JC was a genuine supernatural Being, why does He allow the crucifixion to occur? He's either a wizard into drama (ie He could supposedly perform miracles; therefore, He would be able to miraculously escape the romans and jews--in fact, would already know the result, so he knows the entire story before it goes down), OR He's merely mortal--(though probably opposed to the judaic dogma; a political rebel, rabblerouser--as the roman historians (Tacitus, et al) suggested)

Steven said...

Is that, like, a serious question, J?

J said...

Sort of the Law of the Excluded Middle as applied to JC's supposed supernatural-ness, Steven--I'll leave the inference as an exercise.

(And por favor don't assume those who disagree with your usual Dawkinsesque reductionism are therefore supporters of the Sunday school biz)

Jason Pratt said...

I started to write some comments, but then I decided I hadn't written an article for the Christian Cadre journal for a while. So...

A Jewish Savior only for Gentiles, not for Jews, walks out of a tomb...

Jason Pratt said...

J,

I'm not sure what your argument is supposed to be; but the issue has never been that Jesus could and would have otherwise avoided the crucifixion if only he had had the power to do so. (i.e., your argument is more like a false dichotomy, as presented.) The tradition being taught and handed down in the NT texts (minimally speaking) is that Jesus voluntarily suffered the crucifixion and did in fact know it was going to happen (or at least was planning for it to happen) beforehand.

Whether Jesus had supernatural power or not is thus irrelevant, if that tradition is historically accurate. (And even if that tradition is not historically accurate. {wry g})


If what you were trying to say is that we ought to be focusing on why Jesus voluntarily died on a cross, rather than setting up the false dichotomy of your example (i.e. if you were presenting that as a satire of incompetent apologetics from one side or another), then I have no disagreement. {s!}

JRP

J said...

At the very least you admit JC knows what's in store in advance (since when? his birth??forever?--and He does predict the betrayals, etc.) and could have avoided it, even to the point of some miraculous, Superman-like act.

Yet at the same time, crucifixion was the usual sentence for rebels, outlaws, bandits (ie Spartacus). Looks a bit ...human, all too human--

and to play skeptic for a few nano-seconds, Romans kept detailed records of court cases--as did...the jews of the time (hellenized jews, really). Pilate appears, as does Caiaphas. Why no mention of the case of JC?? And doesn't really appear in roman annals, at least until what 100-125 AD, only as footnote (ie Tacitus says something like, what about these "christer rebels," suggesting they were considered a sect of jews, and sort of approving their execution...thumbs down! ) .

You've probably heard of all that before, and I'm fairly sure the man aka JC existed, but ....the miracles ascribed to him are another matter

Anonymous said...

"Can one accept the Resurrection of Christ without accepting the Lordship of Christ?"

Why not? It's a hard question to answer. Do you think we're rationally required to say that the probability of (x is resurrected --> x is Lord) is high? What's the reason? I honestly cannot think of one. I don't believe there's ever been a resurrection, but if I was convinced that I witnessed one, I don't then see any obvious reason to say that the resurrected subject is divine. I might think there was divine intervention, I might think that we know much less about biology than we thought we did, but saying that this subject resurrected itself because it is (kind of sort of) indentical to God is not high on the list. If you think we're not rationally required to do that, where's the oddity?

Anonymous said...

Using his super powers in that way would not negate the fact that he was betrayed, but it would prevent the salvation sacrifice.

Interesting question as to how JC would have been limited by age. What do the theologicans say?

GNZ

Blue Devil Knight said...

J: Jesus went willingly. I thought that was sort of the point.

J said...

Well, it's a bit weird to say JC has superman-like powers, but refuses to manifest Himself in some massive, miraculous vision (say in front of the Roman senate...). Instead it's a sort of a backwater execution, and the Res. is witnessed by only a few.

Which is to say, read correctly the crucifixion seems to be more support for skeptics (ie denying JC's supposed miraculous powers, if not his...existence itself), than for the believers...as Hume himself suggested.

But that's a bit reductionist.

A-men brutthrr.

Jason Pratt said...

J,

So, if all of us (including the atheistic commenter on this thread) keep saying that, whether or not Jesus had 'supernatural powers', the uniformly presented story is that he intended to be crucified, then that doesn't make any difference? He either had supernatural powers or he wouldn't have been crucified, period?

Wow. Your logic, and your command of the data, is so... simple. And yet, simple.

(I honestly wondered if you were trying to make some other point, in a roundabout and kind of insulting way. I guess not, though.)


Meanwhile, even a atheistic naturalist shouldn't have a problem with the notion that Jesus might have been planning to die by execution. It's no more of a conceptual problem than a Jesus of supernatural power (or even divine identity) planning to die by execution. It doesn't even need special prophetic powers (like... um... Superman's... (????) whom you seem to have mixed up with The Greatest American Hero). It just needs some thoughtful planning, persistence and luck. (I mean thoughtful planning, persistence and luck to get it done the way one wants when one wants it. Getting stoned for being a blasphemer just any old time, wouldn't have required much thoughtful planning or luck in 1st century Palestine. {wry g})

The notion of God Most High dying at all (on a cross or otherwise) might be considered a legitimate conceptual problem. Anyone or anything less than an immortally self-existent god?--not a conceptual problem at all, if that was what he or she intended to do. That anyone (from God Most High on down, but especially God or a god) would willingly submit themselves to that, could be considered a conceptual problem though. Much moreso if it was done for the sake of saving even the worst sinners.

(It wasn't exactly common to find even lesser gods willingly dying for the sake of their allies, in 1st century Mediterranean religion. That the God Most High would do so for the sake of His own enemies?! Radically unique as a composite theological angle.)

Anyway, we're kind of getting off the point of Victor's post: the oddity of an Orthodox Jewish non-Christian scholar being willing (as I put it in my commentary) to swallow the textual gnat of Jesus' bodily resurrection while straining out the textual camel of Jesus' relevance to Jews as Jews--material which is far more mundane (arguably speaking anyway) than a supernatural miracle of God.

The question of how much of a 'Lord' Christ is supposed to be, is practically beside the point, when we're talking about a theory of a Jewish rabbi being preached by his Jewish followers as the savior only of Gentiles. Minimize the lordship as much as one wants, but how can it make any sense (especially from within Judaism) to say that such a person should not be accepted as a leader by Jews as well as by Gentiles??

JRP

J said...

Wow.

You failed to understand the point, Jason, so resort to the usual fundie insults and ad homs.

Data? You mean the religious text itself, or the history? The text in dispute is not really data. It's relevant--even a type of wisdom, if you will--but hardly data, anymore than say, Tacitus or Aristotle's texts are data (less really insofar that it gives accounts of supposed miraculous events).

So just in terms of... induction it's hardly necessary proof (and possibility of inconsistent testimony, etc).

It's really not worth arguing, but my point was that JC either did or did not have supernatural powers. In the unlikely event that He did, then he's just sort of playing along. Why the passion and drama for a supernatural Being, who doesn't really die? Sort of like feeling sorry for Superman. He could at any time, fly off Neo-like. He could turn into a rainbow, or clouds of butterflies, or heal thousands, instead of just a few.

Which is to say, if you grant supernatural miracles, anything goes; really, it could be argued that G*d's stinginess in regards to miracles either shows His amoral or sinister nature (or rather....absence). Why a Resurrection or virgin birth, and not a cure for leprosy or the plague--or, now, cancer, STDs, etc.? Or stopping the nazis or stalinists. Obvious, but sort of an issue.

The jewish scholar's arguments don't really change that, though I will grant (for sake of the BS session) that the message of the NT was for gentiles, and jews, and everyone, supposedly.

Mark said...

So, if all of us (including the atheistic commenter on this thread) keep saying that, whether or not Jesus had 'supernatural powers', the uniformly presented story is that he intended to be crucified, then that doesn't make any difference? He either had supernatural powers or he wouldn't have been crucified, period?

The idea that Jesus would've purposefully foregone his supernatural powers in order to die ignominiously is strange, yes. Of course, Christians have always explained this oddity in terms of blood sacrifice and vicarious atonement for sin, but those things don't make a great deal of sense to those outside the faith, either.

J said...

He either had supernatural powers or he wouldn't have been crucified, period?

Well, no. Had he supernatural powers, He would have evaded the authorities, and done more good, furthered His Message, took on roman/jewish corruption, settled down with some hot temple gal out in the egyptian desert, raised family, worked towards Beulahland....but given an account w/o supernatural powers, he's a..perp more or less. The Roman cops thought Christ was a rabblerouser and so arrest him, and he can't do anything about it, even if a wise man, or innocent. So like good man done wrong by the State. Johnny Cash, like man.

I jest, but again... a backwater crucifixion looks Menschliches, Allzumenschliches (human, all too human), regardless of the few other minor miraculous events (including the book of the "raving maniac"--Jefferson's words-- the Book of Revelations).

Jeremy said...

I think you're confusing "what I would do if I was him" with "what he would do if he could have." Supernatural powers would not obligate anyone to act a certain way. I would also point out that dieing seems to have "furthered his cause" just fine.

Headshaker said...

... furthered His Message ...

Jesus' message was the redemption of mankind. So not dying wouldn't have have fulfilled that desire.

Why must it [ Jesus' death] be so? Quite simply: because of the weightiness of sin. The messiah cannot free his people from the effects of sin without dealing with sin itself. That would be no freedom. He cannot properly redeem them without removing the cause of their enslavement. That would be no redemption. He cannot reconcile them to the holy God without making them holy. That would be no reconciliation. Unless the wrath of God is turned aside, they cannot stand exalted. That would be no exaltation. Unless they are justified, they cannot hope to be glorified. That would be no glorification. - http://tinyurl.com/yducs3c

J said...

Supernatural powers would not obligate anyone to act a certain way.

No? So, the believer insists JC (and G*d) could stop a Justinian plague (which killed....millions), for instance, but doesn't, instead just manifests Himself in a vision to a few, or performs a few minor miracles. Doesn't a great Doctor, finding some injured person on the road have some obligation to help? Per the Hippocrates oath he would. Yet you say Christ (or G*d) has no such obligation.

According to the miraculous reading, Christ supposedly could have cured leprosy, or stopped horrible battles (pre-antibiotics and anaesthetics) but didn't--instead changing water into vino. Doesn't that make Him (and the supernatural assumptions) seem all the more implausible?? Better that he's mortal, instead of a....demon.

Shackleman said...

J,

In this broken world, death, be it from plagues or old age, famine or earthquakes, just or unjust, without God, is _eternal_ annihilation. You can't even say "death of a soul" for "souls" is a meaningless word without God. Death-by-plagues would be nothing more than the termination of function of meat machines. Same as any other way of dying.

So why single out plagues as the subject of your ire toward God?

But, if we *are* more than mere meat machines, if we *do* have _eternal_ souls, and if there *is* a Christ, then what happens to your ire? Does "death" not lose its sting? Would God still fail "J's ultimate morality test"? Are you certain "morality" exists without God? From the perspective of time's eternity, without God, is a life cut short at 20 years of age really any meaningfully different than one that lives to 70? What's 50 years difference when, without God, one is annihilated *forever* onward post-mortem?

Eternal annihilation. vs. Eternal salvation.

If there is a God, as traditionally defined, then there *must* also be a Christ.

Mark said...

But, if we *are* more than mere meat machines, if we *do* have _eternal_ souls, and if there *is* a Christ, then what happens to your ire? Does "death" not lose its sting?

Not if "death" means "eternal torment" for most people, no. I think giving people an extra 20 years of time in which to review their options and thereby possibly escape damnation would be a pretty cool thing for Jesus to have done!

J said...

But, if we *are* more than mere meat machines, if we *do* have _eternal_ souls, and if there *is* a Christ, then what happens to your ire?

So, the existence of an immaterial soul depends on whether the Resurrection is literally true, or not? Odd--even if some bizarre Res. event occurred, that doesn't necessarily prove a monotheistic G*d exists.

No ire--more like evidentialism. First, the accounts of the Res. can be questioned, as can all supposed miracles. You might detest Hume (as do most believers) but his points on miracles--ie. the uniformity of experience, not to say possible mistakes/lies regarding testimony-- are not easily overcome.

The Founding Fathers of the USA did not believe the biblical miracles, or inerrancy--they placed a higher value on Reason than on faith or dogma. A rational Being would probably value good acts/virtue/ intelligence than mere obedience to dogma, wouldn't He?

Though the FF's did allow you a right to attend yr fave Easter service, and see the Messiah emerge from dry ice, and some angels on...guy wires.

Shackleman said...

Mark, I think that's a fair concern. But only if there is a God in the first place. If there isn't then the _only_ option is Eternal Annihilation.

So, we'll add your fair concern to the list of options:

a) Eternal Annihilation vs. b) Eternal Salvation, vs. c) Eternal Torment.

So, now you can go and meditate on the options and I would encourage you to expand your studies of theology to include Universalism, and others such as Luther's doctrine of Grace among others.

Shackleman said...

J,

I'd encourage you to reread my post as you've missed the point of it.

J said...

No, you missed the point.

First, the text itself is not proof. IT's rather ancient is it not? Even the accounts in the NT are not all consistent.

Those who claim the Res. event literally occurred are making a historical claim (however odd)--so what evidence do you offer? It was witnessed by only a few--less than 30 or so. Then the Res. story was passed down, developed over the ages--any mistakes/exaggerations were passed down as well.

An old-fashioned metaphorical account of the Res. works just as well. Happy Vernal Equinox, S-man (the ancient calendars sort of off).

Shackleman said...

J,

My post was in direct response to only one of your posts. Your post from March 09, 2010 4:54 AM, was an attempt at showing how God acts in a morally negligent way, and you used plagues as an evidential example of that premise. The point you're making is obvious and clear and I didn't miss it. That is, deathly plagues prove that God is either not omnibenevolent or not omnipotent, and by implication therefore he must not exist at all.

My post was in direct response to this, and not your other points.

The points *you* missed were firstly, if you're going to charge God with being amoral or immoral, then you must first show that "morality" exists separate from God, and that *you* can possibly be in the correct position of being able to act as The moral judge. And second, your argument loses all force if it is true that souls are eternal and therefore "death" isn't permanent (which changes the moral weight that you're arbitrarily applying to "death").

Mark however makes a fair point that if souls are eternal, and God eternal torments them, then God can be charged with being immoral, but only if he can first show that God eternally torments souls, *and* that morality exists apart from God, *and* that eternal torment is in violation of Morality (cap "M" intended), *and* that Mark can properly sit in moral judgement of God.

Blaise Pascal said...

The laws of nature are Gods creation. No one can change the laws of nature, other than God. If Jesus did supernatural things then must have had divine authority.

Mark said...

Mark however makes a fair point that if souls are eternal, and God eternal torments them, then God can be charged with being immoral, but only if he can first show that God eternally torments souls, *and* that morality exists apart from God, *and* that eternal torment is in violation of Morality (cap "M" intended), *and* that Mark can properly sit in moral judgement of God.

Actually, I didn't say anything about morality (not that your points here would be on-target even if I had).

Shackleman said...

Mark,

So this from you: "Not if "death" means "eternal torment" for most people, no. I think giving people an extra 20 years of time in which to review their options and thereby possibly escape damnation would be a pretty cool thing for Jesus to have done!"

...wasn't a charge against God's morality?

Bummer, I guess I gave you too much credit.

J said...

Your post from March 09, 2010 4:54 AM, was an attempt at showing how God acts in a morally negligent way, and you used plagues as an evidential example of that premise.

Well, that's hypothetical--some people seeing plagues (ie over centuries) would infer a just, omni-whatever Being doesn't exist. The boring old POE, in this case evidentiary sort.

The other point was the point on scripture, the supposed inerrancy, evidentialism, Hume, etc. Believers may rant and rave, but you simply cannot use the Bible as irrefutable evidence of miracles. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams agreed to that point.

But there's one other point, related to the POE (which I may not have fleshed out very well)--a God who can intervene,create miracles, heal lepers, but DOESN'T would be synonymous with evil, it would seem, just as a doctor who does not uphold the Hippocrates oath is. So, in effect supposed miracles don't really help the believer's case. Ergo, a monotheistic G*d does not exist, or if HE does, he cannot perform miracles. See James Keller on this point.

J said...

The points *you* missed were firstly, if you're going to charge God with being amoral or immoral, then you must first show that "morality" exists separate from God, and that *you* can possibly be in the correct position of being able to act as The moral judge.

Well, one could phrase it that way, but the believers are making the existence claim--i.e. a Just King exists. So they have the burden of proof.

And we don't have to use "morality" or even Evil. Say "unmerited suffering." Millions of people dying from spanish influenza--isn't that unmerited suffering? Some may not be great humans, but in effect, if some King-God existed who intentionally inflicted this punishment, we would call him a tyrant or evil demon: it would be evil to inflict unmerited suffering on a vast scale (ie, over centuries, killing millions--plagues, flu, quakes, cholera etc). Instead of agreeing to worship a demon, we say he doesn't exist.

One might say well "unmerited suffering doesn't bother me, and doesn't seem evil", but I'll accept a sort of ordinary, legal usage of evil (w/o theological implications). Not only jews and christians uphold the law.

And second, your argument loses all force if it is true that souls are eternal and therefore "death" isn't permanent (which changes the moral weight that you're arbitrarily applying to "death").

That is mostly absurdity--G*d then just punishes people for kicks, when he could have done otherwise, and then redeems them in the hereafter? We can't prove immaterial souls exist, but even then we have no clues as to how divine rewards or punishments would work.

The closest to theology youll get from me is something like a modified Pascal's Wager: we can't prove G*d (or souls or afterlife, or Justice) exists, but we might agree that a Just Being would prefer, and reward virtuous behavior instead of crime, tyranny, or exploitation. So one tries to uphold and further the Good, as far as that is knowable (possibly guided by religious traditions, not limited to strictly judeo-christian).

Mark said...

It was a remark on what it would've made more sense for Jesus to do had he really possessed supernatural powers.

Shackleman said...

The other point was the point on scripture, the supposed inerrancy, evidentialism, Hume, etc. Believers may rant and rave, but you simply cannot use the Bible as irrefutable evidence of miracles. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams agreed to that point.

I agree with this.

But there's one other point, related to the POE (which I may not have fleshed out very well)--a God who can intervene,create miracles, heal lepers, but DOESN'T would be synonymous with evil, it would seem, just as a doctor who does not uphold the Hippocrates oath is.

I think this is where you get yourself into trouble. You're basically charging God with being a moral monster due to negligence. And, my point shows that a), he's not negligent if souls are eternal and he acts against those souls once the body dies, and b), you must show that "morality" exists without God, and that c), you have perfect knowledge of morality (lest you not be in a position to judge).

Shackleman said...

Mark,

It's humorous to me that you fail to see the moral implications of your own sarcastic response to me at March 09, 2010 9:08 AM. Implications which would ultimately bolster your skepticism. I even did the heavy lifting for you and fleshed it out some *to the benefit of your skepticism*, and yet you mock me. Hilarious.

/facepalm

Mark said...

???

J said...

You're basically charging God with being a moral monster due to negligence.

No, it's a conditional.

Something like, IF a monotheistic G*d as traditionally defined (omnipotent and omniscient) exists, THEN He would be a moral monster (or amoral monster, rather).

Since that seems highly unlikely--OR, shall we say, many humans would not care to worship a PolPot on high (pol pot, to the n-th degree), they assume He doesn't exist, or assume the traditional definitions are wrong.

Steven Carr said...

We have to factor in Paul's comment here.

1 Corinthians 1
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Preach to Jews about resurrections,and they will change the subject and ask for miraculous signs.

Resurrections are one thing, but those people wanted miraculous signs.

Anonymous said...

This fellow's name does appear once in a while, but I think his book is much more nuanced than it may appear at first.

While he insists that the earliest belief in a resurrection of Jesus was based on "a concrete historical event," namely, a bodily resurrection, he just as frequently suggests the opposite, that it involved a subjective "faith experience" or "things which cannot be proved" (p. 31). He waffles between understanding the earliest belief in a resurrection of Jesus as an emotional need, a desperate desire on the one hand, and as a real event on the other hand.

Lapide also admits, in his fourth chapter, titled "The MUST of the Resurrection," that psychological denial played a role in the followers' resurrection belief. They simply could not accept the cruel death of their leader. "That dare not happen!." He says that "... the resurrection of Jesus became for his disciples on that day of ruin a theological imperative...."

Just a brief caution about his book.

Proudscalawag said...

I think it IS possible--because, in some degree it's as if Jesus has 'introduced' me to the Father and facilitated the ongoing conversation between the Father and myself. If Lapide had that while he was with us, he might have regarded Jesus as a brother rather than as Lord. And I'm not sure there's anything wrong with that.

Hob Snarley said...

Think back to Genesis when God made Adam and Eve 'coverings' of skin; Gen 3 : 21. And Abraham and his only son Isaac who, as another archetype of Christ, was as good as dead, but yet he lived. Christ affirmed the reading of the OT in this way when he referenced 'the sign of Jonah' The death and resurrection is a theme that is interwoven in the scriptures. After all, why serve a God that can not say they have had the full human experience, as Jesus did. Suffice it to say, no one can say to God, 'You don't know what it's like to suffer." It is justice personified. One could not conceive of a more profound alternative for the revelation of God. Imo