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The Resurrection as a Key to Early Understandings of Jesus

A key part of my book on “How Jesus Became God” will involve a discussion of Jesus’ resurrection. One can make the case, rather easily, that apart from the Christian belief that God raised Jesus from the dead not only would no one ever have thought of him as God (since, as I will be arguing, no one thought of him as God while he was living – he himself almost certainly did not!) but that Christianity itself would not exist apart from the belief in the resurrection.

One can’t argue that Christianity started with the life and teachings of Jesus, per se, since what he taught (I’m speaking about the historical man Jesus, not the Jesus who is portrayed in the Gospels – especially the Gospel of John) is not what Christians teach. That sounds weird, but it’s true.

In a nut shell, Jesus taught that the end of the age was imminent, that God was soon to send from heaven the son of man in judgment to destroy the forces of evil and all who sided with them, but to save those who were obedient to God and who did his will; these would be given the kingdom of God, a utopian place where there would be no more sin, pain, misery, or suffering. The way to enter that kingdom was to keep the Torah of God as interpreted by Jesus, and as summed up in the Torah’s two greatest laws: love God with all your being (Deuteronomy 6:4-6) and love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). Those who did so (better than the scribes and Pharisees) would enter into the kingdom. And who would these be? The outcasts and sinners rejected by the religious leadership (not the religious people).

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Gerd Lüdemann on the Resurrection of Jesus
The Next Project: How Jesus Became God

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  1. Avatar
    Steefen  September 18, 2013

    In Judaism, there is the notion of the golem. If inanimate matter can be enlivened into a golem, then a corpse can be enlivened into living being again. The mystic who creates a golem is not God and the golem is not God.

    Traditional Christianity certainly includes the teaching of Jesus. The Our Father prayer is pre-crucifixion–pre-resurrection.

    “So Christianity starts as soon as people – Jesus’ followers – came to believe that he was raised from the dead.”

    Apparently Christianity starts on the 2nd or 3rd day after his crucifixion. As your predecessor, Thomas Paine, author of The Age of Reason, states, Julius Caesar was seen after his death, so it is not stretch of belief or imagination to think the great Jesus was seen after his death. Even today, people see or feel their loved ones after that person’s death. The paranormal is quite documented, with pictures, even.

    People thought dead being buried alive is quite documented.

    Josephus says a person was revived after being taken down from a crucifixion.

    Even given a choice between what Paul said and what Jesus said in the Beatitudes about who
    – gets to own a piece of the kingdom of heaven
    – shall see God
    – shall be children of God
    – gets a great reward in Heaven

    Paul and lip-service to Paul is easily forgotten. Paul wasn’t even made the first pope. Paul is not the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God. Paul is not one of the 12. What one says and what really holds weight is important.

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