Saturday 4 November 2006

Hans Frei and the necessity of Jesus' resurrection

I’ve mentioned that Paul DeHart’s new book is an excellent and important work. As an example of the book’s acute insight, here’s an excerpt from one of the footnotes about Hans Frei:

“[Frei’s] claim, formally reminiscent of the ontological argument for God’s existence, [is] that the Jesus whose identity is properly recognized from the gospel portraits can only be conceived of as alive and present, that is as resurrected. This may strike some readers as bizarre and extravagant, but it need not be so perplexing. Frei is simply asserting that the resurrection accounts are integral to the stories which render Jesus Christ’s identity for the reader. In these stories the return from death in an exalted state due to the action of God is a necessary structural element in his total portrayal, making this ‘character’ the person he is throughout the entire narrative. Just as one does not and cannot know Alice as anyone other than the one who passed through the looking-glass, so one does not and cannot know Jesus Christ as anyone other than the one who suffered crucifixion but was raised again. One is not thereby ‘compelled’ to believe that the resurrection actually occurred. But the proper way to deny the resurrection is not to say that Jesus Christ was not raised (since the story of his raising is part of how we know who ‘Jesus Christ’ is), but rather to say that the raised Jesus Christ is a fictional person, as opposed to a reconstructed ‘historical’ Jesus of Nazareth.”

—Paul J. DeHart, The Trial of the Witnesses: The Rise and Decline of Postliberal Theology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), p. 116 n. 15.


Michael F. Bird said...

There is an article in EQ about Frei as an "unlikely" advocate of the resurrection, or words to that effect.

Ben Myers said...

Yes, I remember reading that -- I think it was quite a good article.

PresterJosh said...

Quite an excellent quote.

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