It does feel very good to now be this side of that Church fathers exam.
We looked at Christology from above and Christology from below today and it has helped me to understand some of my own church experiences of recent years. Christology from below looks to the historical Jesus. It looks to scripture and behind scripture to context. Christology from above starts with dogma and faith and then to scripture to support the dogma. These are very different approaches and both seem to have their merits. I would have been far more comfortable with Christology from below before my study of the church fathers but I found my experiences dwelling on their thinking to be so spiritually satisfying, that I find I can now be more attentive to dogma and doctrine than I might have been a few years ago.
Tom Wright's Christology from below seems rather daring at times and I can see why opinion is split over his methods in evangelical circles but his 'The Resurrection of the Son of God' is interesting and he has this way of communicating which is fresh and yet erudite at the same time.
I love the way that he explains the resurrection and why we should believe that it has a legitimacy in terms of a historicity. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 fails to mention the empty tomb. He has two reasons for this perhaps. Primarily there was no need to mention it, it would be like mentioning that it was your feet that you walked on as you walked to the shops, the feet we take for granted and they do not need stating. Similarly, the empty tomb did not need mentioning because with a resurrection, the assumption would have been made by 1st century Jews that this meant a tomb was empty. The first century Jews did not conceive of the idea of resurrection without it being a full bodily resurrection. They did not separate the body and the soul as we are prone to do in our culture. There was no separation - only a complete person dead and then a complete person resurrected.
The other reason why Paul failed to mention the empty tomb was because the first witnesses were women and he didn't fail to mention them because he was necessarily a product of his patriarchal culture, although he must have been to an extent but because his audience were conditioned by a patriarchal culture. The witness of a woman would not have been believed and it took two women to bring a charge against a man and the testimonies of women did not stand up in the courts of the day and so Paul knew that it would not help to deliver the message of the resurrection convincingly if he talked about these first witnesses being women.
That the resurrection actually happened is made even more convincing for us considering that the gospel accounts are about women witnesses, for surely if something like this was going to be made up, the last thing that would have been included in any retelling would be the stories of women, considering this culture's belief in the validity of women's testimonies.
So just some thoughts there on the resurrection. I have been trying to explain my belief in Christ's resurrection over at Pluralist blog but I feel I am failing in my apologetics to convince him. At the end of the day there is of course no concrete historical or scientific evidence that the bodily resurrection happened. There were certainly witnesses still alive when Paul penned his letters and Jesus appeared to more than 500 people but faith is what makes the resurrection real, I believe it happened, I can not recreate the events in a test tube. The thing is people are quite prepared to have faith in other things - the big-bang theory etc but can't prove this scientifically either. I will never be able to talk someone into believing in the resurrection because it would seem that there is much more to it than that. Talking and understanding is one thing but knowing and believing is perhaps another.
My 6 year old seemed to get 'mission' tonight - she said 'I see, so you know about Jesus and God and then you pass it on and on and on and on...'She is having some very deep thoughts and is interested particularly at the moment in the story of Mary and Martha and Jesus' cross. It was with a bit of horror tonight as we looked together at her Children's Bible that she realised that it was in the plan of God the father that Jesus should die. Grasping that Jesus is also God helped to some extent. It's a bit awkward when as you talk things through with your children, you also become conscious of the possible heresies you are falling into expressing as you grapple with words for how best to explain it all to them.