Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! April 16, 2017

Look closely at the icon…

HT Bob Cargill on Facebook.

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  • John MacDonald

    Easter?

    My mind’s a fog. Isn’t Easter the “holy-day” celebrating Jesus flying across the sky in his sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer to rescue Caesar Augustus from the clutches of the Evil clan leader Patrick and Patrick’s legions of mischievous leprechauns?

    All these “magic tales” end up sounding the same to my “secular ear,” so you’re a better man or woman than me if you can keep all these superstitions straight in your head.

    Happy Easter! lol

  • Brandon Roberts

    cute and happy easter

  • Gary

    Oh oh! This could mean the person in the icon is a closet Gnostic, rejecting the OT, and having “secret” knowledge of the future celebration of Easter.
    Lev 11:6 “And the hare, because she cheweth the cud but parteth not the hoof, she is unclean unto you…” thou shall not shadowbox them.

  • John MacDonald

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the resurrection appearances referred to in the pre-Pauline Corinthian creed, and how they might be thought of in the context of Dr. Dennis R MacDonald’s mimesis work on the New Testament. Perhaps the resurrection appearance claims were Noble Lies (a la Plato, Euripides, etc.) meant to lend divine clout to (and help the disciples carry on) Jesus’ message of love of God, neighbor, and enemy after Jesus died (a cause the disciples may have been willing to die for)?

    In “Mythologizing Jesus (2015, pg. 3),” Dr. Dennis MacDonald writes

    “The importance of the Homeric epics in antiquity is undisputed. A contemporary of Mark and Luke praised them as follows: ‘From the earliest age, children beginning their studies are nursed on Homer’s teaching. One might say that while we were still in swathing bands we sucked from his epics as from fresh milk. He assists the beginner and later the adult in his prime. In no stage of life, from boyhood to old age, do we ever cease to drink from him (Ps.~Heraclitus, Homeric Questions 1.5-6, cited in MacDonald, Mythologizing Jesus, pg. 3).’ ”

    Since the Gospel writers and Paul wrote in Greek, one would assume they would be they would be familiar with this. Continuing on, Dr Dennis R MacDonald argues:

    Greek education largely involved imitation of the epics, what Greeks called mimesis; Romans called it imitatio. Homeric influence thus appears in many genres of ancient composition: poetry, of course, but also histories, biographies and novels. One must not confuse such imitations with plagiarism, willful misrepresentation, or pitiful gullibility. Rather, by evoking literary antecedents, authors sought to impress the reader with the superiority of the imitation in literary style, philosophical insights, or ethical values. Literary mimesis often promoted a sophisticated rivalry between the esteemed models and their innovating successors (MacDonald, Mythologizing Jesus, pg. 3).

    Maybe, in the resurrection appearance claims present in the pre-Pauline Corinthian Creed, the first Christians were inventing these appearance accounts to present Jesus as greater than the Roman emperors. In this regard, Justin Martyr writes:

    “What about your dead emperors, whom you always esteem as being rescued from death and set forth someone who swears to have seen the cremated Caesar [Augustus] ascending from the pyre into the sky?” (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 21.3).”

    It seems impossible to pull back the veil in front of the pre-Pauline Corinthian Creed to discover whether the resurrection appearance claims therein were Lies, Legendary Accumulation (although they may be too early to be Legendary), Hallucinations, or whether the apostles actually did encounter the risen Jesus?

    • John MacDonald

      And there may be reason to suppose the early Christians were directly concerned with establishing that Jesus was greater than Caesar. The syncretic flavor of Mark is at once evident from his reproduction of a piece of Augustan imperial propaganda and his setting it beside a tailored scripture quote. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God” closely matches the formula found on a monument erected by the Provincial Assembly in Asia Minor (1st century BCE): “Whereas… Providence… has… brought our life to the peak of perfection in giving us Augustus Caesar… who, being sent to us and to our descendants as a savior…, and whereas… the birthday of the god has been for the whole world the beginning of the gospel (euaggelion) concerning him, let all reckon a new era beginning from the date of his birth.” Mark 12:17 also seems to establish that only trivial things are to be rendered unto Caesar, whereas the true esteem is to be given to God.

      And we know the Jews of that time engaged in mimesis, just as the Greeks and Romans did, such as the material Matthew invented to portray Jesus as the new and greater Moses.

      • John MacDonald

        One last thought on the possible portrayal of Jesus as greater than the Caesar’s:

        Craig Koester’s Revelation commentary says:

        “The section climaxes by noting that [Jesus] holds seven stars in his right hand (Rev 1:16). This cosmic imagery conveys sovereignty. An analogy appears on a coin from Domitian’s reign that depicts the emperor’s deceased son as young Jupiter, sitting on the globe in a posture of world dominion. The coin’s inscription calls him “divine Caesar, son of the emperor Domitian,” and the imagery shows him extending his hands to seven stars in a display of divinity and power. John has already identified Jesus as the ruler of kings on earth (1:5), and the imagery of the seven stars fits the book’s larger context, which contrasts the reign of Christ with that of imperial Rome. (p. 253).”

        Brandon D. Smith comments on Koester’s Revelation commentary here that:

        Koester is referring to the coin in the image used in Rome around AD 88-96 during the reign of the brutal Caesar Domitian. Koester’s insights here give us an interesting look at the background of John’s writing during hostile Roman persecution. It also helps us think about the later date of Revelation’s writing (the end of the first century) versus a potential earlier dating (some say it might’ve been written closer to AD 65). This is enough to chew on a little bit.
        But it offers us more than that. This information helps shed light on the theology of Revelation.

        First, it shows us that much of Revelation’s imagery (beasts, numbers, etc.) are direct shots at the Roman empire. Many believe (and I could be convinced) that Revelation is written during intense Roman persecution and this letter was first written to encourage the Church during that time. However, as a non-preterist, I believe portions of the letter are speaking of future events—i,e., Jesus hasn’t come back yet; the New Jerusalem isn’t here yet; etc. In any event, this note might help us better understand the anti-imperial leanings of John.

        Second, it shows us how high John’s Christology was. He’s not merely putting Jesus on par with some exalted or glorified person. Rather, he’s portraying Jesus as divine—specifically pitting Jesus’s true divine sovereignty against the supposed divine sovereignty of the Roman emperorship. Roman caesars liked to pretend to be gods, but John is reminding them and us that there’s only one true God. Jupiter is seated on the world with stars hovering around him? Ha—Jesus created the world and clutches the stars in his hand.

        As I argue in my thesis, John explicitly and purposely ties Jesus into the divine identity of YHWH, and this little note only adds to the case.

        Perhaps Jesus as surpassing Caesar is more pervasive in the NT than originally thought.