At the end of Mark, Jesus promises that he’ll be with his disciplines “always, to the end of the age.” What age? What is “always”? What is “being with” someone? This week, we discussed the miracle of the Resurrection, and whether it’s important that it be a miracle at all.
Some brief notes:
- The story of Jesus’s resurrection is mostly recounted in terms of hearsay, and he appears to women first. We discuss how the placement of guards at the tomb is really to ensure that no one was secretly going in and moving his body to make it look like he came back to life.
- There are so many Marys!
- the mother of Jesus
- Mary Magdalene (often erroneously conflated with the prostitute)
- Mary of Bethany (as in, Mary and Martha Mary, sister of Lazarus)
- the mother of John and Mark
- the mother of James and Joseph
- Death is both this dirty, gruesome thing and this thing that requires a lot of cleansing and purity, re. washing of bodies, clean linen, white robes, etc. The rituals surrounding death tend to arrange themselves as cleanliness rituals, which makes sense from a public health perspective but also reflects this deep desire, we think, to frame death as something pure and therefore unthreatening.
- Compare, for instance, the speech of the Green Lady in the recent film version of Gawain and the Green Knight, in which she talks about green as the colour of spring and new life, as well as of fungus and decay…
- What is the moment of death? In Jesus’s case, the moment is marked by the tearing of the curtain at the Temple, but is death ever truly death? (One of Christianity’s big questions.) For instance, Phanuel points out that when a tree “dies,” it actually lives on in the ecosystem it creates for microorganisms and other forest creatures and plants.
- Why is Jesus dead for three days? Judaism didn’t consider the person dead until 3 days had passed. Azazel mentions that “at the end of the day, a stark version of death [in early Christianity] wins out over gnosticism and a more spiritual approach.”
- Gabriel talks about how death is obfuscated and hidden away in modern life.
- Jesus is not just unafraid to touch the sick and leprous and dead bodies, he’s not afraid to be one. (!)
- Why doesn’t Mary Magdalene recognise Jesus? We scratch our heads at this one.
- Irony: Thomas is “doubting,” and requires all this physical proof of Jesus’s identity, but the Gospel of Thomas is super gnostic and abstract and spiritual…
- The Resurrection is a good strengthener for both Judaism and Christianity because it forces believers to really take sides. (?)
We ended the discussion by talking a bit about the application of evolutionary theory and natural selection to the growth and “success” of religions. Darwin’s crisis of faith, his relationship with God, his loss of his daughter Annie… and also “fundamentalist Christianity” as a term coined and used by outsiders. Fundamentalists don’t believe they are “fundamentalist,” they believe they have an amazing relationship with Jesus Christ and want others to benefit from one as well.
Finally, the story of Jesus is only partly captured in the Gospels overall. They are just books! (re. end of John, aka Fourth Gospel…)
Death can be dirty, death can be clean… Jesus’s death was both.
Gems from the Chat
Jesus setting up jokes 1600 years in advance. Well played
Image: “The Passion,” courtesy of Pixabay.