Friday 18 November 2005

Edward Schillebeeckx: the resurrection reality

“The resurrection in its eschatological ‘eventuality’ is after all nowhere recounted in the New Testament; nor of course could it be, because it no longer forms part of our mundane, human history; it is, qua reality, meta-empirical and meta-historical: ‘eschatological.’”

—Edward Schillebeeckx, Jesus: An Experiment in Christology (London: Collins, 1979), pp. 380-81.


Fred said...

This comment presumes that mundane reality lacks the eschatological dimension. It seems to me that the purpose of the Gospels is twofold: to testify to the original historical witness of the disciples -and- to take into account the continuing experience of the ressurection amid mundane reality.


Ben Myers said...

I think I would largely agree with you, Fred. Schillebeeckx's use of the word "mundane" here makes me uneasy too. But in spite of this, and in spite of the larger problems with Schillebeeckx's interpretation of the resurrection, I would agree with him that the resurrection is historiographically inaccessible, since it is an eschatological event.

Fred said...

Many things are historically inaccessible: for example, the levitation of St. Christina the Astonishing; likewise, whether Galileo muttered, "and yet it moves."

If the ressurection is eschatological, what of the incarnation or even the preaching of Jesus? St. Paul claims that in baptism, we die and are raised with Christ, so the baptisms of individuals are eschatological also. Thus, the life of Christ is historically inacessible, as is the life of the Christian people.

Commenting on Matthew 25, my pastor observed that the judgement is now. If history excludes eschatology, not much would seem to be left for history.

Ben Myers said...

Good point, Fred. I'd broadly agree with you that history does not exclude eschatology, but I must admit I'm uncomfortable with any reduction of the resurrection to the same level as baptism or the life of Jesus. It seems to me that the resurrection is not just one eschatological event alongside others, but it's the eschatological event, i.e., the event that brings history to its goal and climax (here of course I'm especially indebted to Pannenberg). The mystery of Christ's resurrection is that the "end" of all history has arrived beforehand in the resurrection of just one particular man! Still, if this event is really the end of history, then (it seems to me) it's necessarily an event that lies beyond the grasp of historical investigation.

So although I agree with you that the resurrection is historical (i.e. it takes place in human history), I don't think it's accessible to historiography (i.e. historical research could never identify this event as "resurrection", in the same way that historical research could never identify any event as "the end of the world").

What do you think?

Fred said...

Ben, I would also resist reducing the incarnation to the death or ressurection of Jesus. The Word became flesh and dwells among us; Christ did not deem equality with God something to be grasped; etc. This kenosis of Christ begins with the annunciation and culminates in his death and ressurection, which is certainly the high point.

I suppose it's an emphasis that I picked up from Hans Urs von Balthasar, Luigi Giussani, etc.

Ben Myers said...

I think I'd broadly agree with you on this point, Fred (and from a Protestant perspective, T. F. Torrance also emphasises this), although I would probably still try to place the main accent on the resurrection. I'm inclined to agree with Pannenberg that the resurrection is the decisive event which effects the rest of Jesus' life "retroactively", so that Jesus was the incarnate Word and the Son of God precisely because he was raised from the dead. This isn't meant to undermine the incarnation, but it's an attempt to start with the eschatological significance of the resurrection, and to work "backwards" from there.

Fred said...

Thanks for clarifying, Ben. It makes more sense to me that Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death because he is the living covenant between God and man, not because of one moment no matter how exalted. The emphasis should be on the totality and the person of Christ.

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