ExoTheology & Space-Age Interpretations of the Bible

(religious implications of an inhabited universe)

God versus death

I started out googling for an article I’d seen a few days ago on the Dead Sea Scroll stone (“Gabriel’s Vision” as it’s being called), but I ended up finding some good stuff on resurrection. This is from Walter Brueggemann’s review of The Resurrection: The Power of God for Christians and Jews by Kevin J. Madigan and Jon D. Levenson (Yale UP, 2008). I have never read anything by Brueggemann that I didn’t agree with and also love, and this is no exception. I agree completely.

This is an important, even urgent book that comes with vigor and passion. It clearly recognizes that Jews and Christians share a legacy and a conviction that sets them apart from the secular, rational alternative, whereby many seek faith as an ethical mandate while failing to recognize the basis of moral passion for a restored human community (and restored Israel as a subset of that restoration). The book is a challenge to the “cultured despisers of religion” whom Schleiermacher sought to accommodate, and an invitation to Jewish and Christian interpreters to recover nerve and passion for the scandal of newness that comes only from God.

I do not know how it is in rational Judaism, but in rational Christianity there is much embarrassment about the resurrection as a defining claim of faith, especially among those who have been wounded by the authoritarianism of the church. Among liberal Christians there are endless attempts to explain it away, and among conservative Christians there are endless reductionisms in rationalistic form. Madigan and Levenson urge otherwise. The truth to which they attest is the victory of God over the powers of death. Since they are Harvard-informed scholars, it is not surprising that the divine Warrior makes an appearance in their narrative; this mode of God’s self-presentation is as old as Israel’s memory.

In contemporary culture, which in fear, anxiety and brutality keeps ceding its existence to the powers of death, this book is an authorization for both countertestimony and counteraction. When such countermoves are made, they are congruent with the deepest conviction in the tradition shared by Jews and Christians, a shared conviction so deep as to identify who we are as Jews and Christians—in the world, apart from the world and for the world.

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