Thursday, January 29, 2009

Will the Dead Be Raised Nude?

As some of you may know, one of my talks at this weekend's biblical conference on St. Paul was entitled: "St. Paul and the Resurrection of the Body." 
In it I spent a great deal of time focusing on the Jewish tradition which identified the resurrected body with the "garments of glory" that Adam and Eve had lost in the fall but would be restored to the righteous in in the messianic age (e.g., 1 Enoch 62). In it, I explored this Jewish background as illuminating for Paul's words:
Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2 Corinthians 5:2-4)
I ended the talk with a joke about hoping to see everyone there in the Resurrection "fully clothed," not knowing that I would stumble across this Rabbinic text just two days later:
Queen Cleopatra asked Rabbi Meier: "I know that the dead will revive, for it is written, 'And they shall blossom forth out of the city like the grass of the earth' (Psalm 72:16). But when they rise, shall they arise nude or in their garments?' --He replied, 'You may deduce by an a fortiori argument [the answer] from a wheat grain: if a grain of wheat, which is buried naked, sprouts forth in many robes, how much more so the righteous, who are buried in their rainment?" (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 90b)
Someone may want to call Michelangelo and Mel Gibson and let them both know! (This makes me feel a little better about the ending of the film the Passion of the Christ, with which I always rather uncomfortable. I realize now it was just my Jewish sensibilities.)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Jesus and the God of Israel

I may be a bit behind on this one, but for those of you who don't know already, Richard Bauckham's newest book, Jesus and the God of Israel (Eerdmans, 2008) is available for purchase. I just received my copy today from Amazon (unlike Chris Tilling, I don't have multiple publishers sending me free books on a regular basis! :)
Anyway, it looks like it will be excellent.  Even if you don't agree with all of Bauckham's conclusions (I for one do not), he is in my opinion one of the most creative, brilliant, and thought-provoking New Testament scholars writing today. The discussion that has been provoked by his work, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, is proof enough for this. And to boot he's prolific-- for the voracious reader, he keeps 'em coming!  (So for those of you still waiting for N. T. Wright's sure-to-be-thought-provoking big book on Paul [volume 4 in the series], perhaps this will keep you satisfied in the meantime, unless the Parousia comes first.)
Here are some of the chapter titles:
1. God Crucified
(Containing the entirety of Bauckham's earlier book by this same title, which provoked a great deal of discussion in its own right about the earliest Christology being the highest and articulating what Bauckham calls "christological monotheism" and a "Christology of divine identity.")
2. Biblical Theology and the Problems of Monotheism.
3. The 'Most High' God and the Nature of Early Jewish Monotheism
4. The Worship of Jesus in Early Christianity.
5. The Throne of God and the Worship of Jesus.
6. Paul's Christology of Divine Identity
7. The Divinity of Jesus in the Letter the Hebrews.
8. God's Self-Identification with the Godforsaken in the Gospel of Mark

Two caveats/disappointments on my part. 
First, this is not the 'big Christology book' that Bauckham had promised readers way back when God Crucified came out. He's still working on that one, with the provisional title: "Jesus and the Identity of God: Early Jewish Monotheism and New Testament Christology." So don't buy this one expecting to get the final story; it is instead a collection of essays that are fairly independent of one another.
Second, readers will search in vain for a chapter on Jesus' own view (or lack thereof) of his 'divine identity'. The book is all about early Christian Christology, not the Christology of Jesus himself, which is a bit misleading in a book entitled Jesus and the God of Israel. But perhaps that book has yet to be written.

Otherwise, happy reading.