Resurrection: Myth or Reality? by John Shelby Spong

By John Shelby Spong

Using techniques from the Hebrew interpretive culture to parent the particular occasions surrounging Jesus' demise, Bishop Spong questions the hitorical validity of literal narrative involved the Ressurection. He asserts that the resurrection tale was once born in an event that opened the disciples' eyes to the truth of God and the that means of Jesus of Nazareth. Spong strains the Christian origins of anti-Semitism to the Church's fabrication of the final word Jewish scapegoat, Judas Iscariot. He affirms the inclusiveness of the Christian message and emphasizes the need of mutual integrity and recognize between Christians and Jews.

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Pesiqta is a whole sermon or an exhortation written midrashically to capture themes of the past to enable them to be perceived as operative in the present. The sermons of Peter and Paul in the Book of Acts, as well as the long speech of Stephen, are examples in the New Testament of Pesiqta. Midrash is the Jewish way of saying that everything to be venerated in the present must somehow be connected with a sacred moment in the past. It is the ability to rework an ancient theme in a new context. It is the affirmation of a timeless truth found in the faith journey of a people so that this truth can be experienced afresh in every generation.

Many people still seem to live as if there are no other choices. In today's world evangelical and fundamentalist elements of the Christian church, Catholic and Protestant, cling to the fading possibility of a literal truth being present in the details of their faith story. Sometimes they cling with the intensity of fanaticism while the unbelieving world of postmodern men and women dismisses most of the content of organized religion as sheer nonsense. The liberal religious establishment, having seen the turf it tried to defend shrink to nonexistence, is barely audible when it seeks to speak about the reality of God or the power of Christ.

Finally, my special thanks go to the members of our family: to our daughters and sons, Ellen Spong and Gus Epps, Katharine Spong and Jack Catlett, Jaquelin Spong and Todd Hylton, Brian Barney and Rachel Barney; to our grandchildren Shelby Catlett, Jay Catlett, and John Lanier Hylton; to the menagerie of granddogs Flosshilde, Repo, Headstrong Samson, and Axel Rodriguez Beasley; and to our grandcats Nina, Annie, and Big Boy, who invigorate the lives of each of us. I have been sustained by this wonderful family during the ups and downs of my life with a particular kind of gentle strength.

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