It was with a wry smile that I read the post of my good friend Ben Myers on Believing in the resurrection. There Ben essentially takes Wright's side on the matter. The exchange is shrouded in irony since Myers is defending Wright and I'm disagreeing with Wright - a rather odd turn of events for those who know us. Many thoughts come to mind (like et tu Benjamin?). I'm rather reluctant to disagree with Ben on anything, he's smarter than me and he's a very amiable chap too (like Iago from Othello "I'd rather die than speak ill of Michael Cassio!"). All the same, I will venture to disagree with my learned coffee drinking friend.
"But the crucial question is whether any particular theological interpretation of resurrection belongs to the heart of the gospel. And it seems to me that the New Testament itself resists such a view. In fact, the New Testament witnesses don’t offer any precise theological interpretation of the resurrection. None of the Gospels tries to describe or explain the event of resurrection at all—rather, the resurrection is precisely the mystery at the centre of the story of Jesus."
I would suggest that resurrection, conceived of as bodily resurrection, is itself the interpretation of the statement "God raised Jesus". Revelation and Interpretation are merged together from the beginning. The NT authors (principally Paul and the Evangelists) were not concerned simply with the Das ("that") of the resurrection, but were compelled to elucidate to some degree the Was ("what") and the Wie ("how") in some circumstances. The NT authors bracket out certain hermeneutical reflections on the resurrection including its denial (1 Corinthians 15), gnostics and docetic interpretations (John 21; Luke 24), and over-realized accounts (2 Tim 2.18). Moreover, the language of resurrection (anastasis, egeiro, etc.) did not include blank terms awaiting to be filled with meaning, but these words already carried theological baggage when they were imported into Christian proclamation. Any discourse about resurrection brought with it a series of eschatological expectations about creation, God, Israel and the eschaton. Regardless of how Christians redefined resurrection in reference to Jesus, they did not completely leave the theological baggage at the door of the empty tomb.
When Paul was faced with the question, "Well what kind of body?" Indeed, discontinuities and metaphors abound. Paul is trying to draw a picture of postmortem human existence that is simultaneously somatic, pneumatic and psychematic - not an easy task. The problem of the language is not due to the hermeneutical indeterminancy of what resurrection meant (it operates in relation to some kind of physicality) but is due to the other-worldly and apocalyptic nature of the subject. It is analagous to trying to explain the concept of electricity to a people who have only known stone-age like conditions.
Resurrection may well be eschatological and mysterious, but that does not make it a vacuum waiting to be filled with anything meeting the tastes of the post-enlightenment stomach. Here Ben would acknowledge that some interpretations of "Jesus is risen" are better than others. I would also acknowlege that salvation is not contingent upon our ability to conceptualize the confession "Christ is risen" any more than justification is contingent upon being able to theorize the mechanics of imputed righteousness. Nevertheless, the NT gives us conceptual boundaries and guidelines in which to operate in. I think that one of those boundaries is the physicality of resurrection, particularly when it was defined against competing understandings of resurrection - a process which has already begun in the NT but continued in the second century. Thus the NT documents have already started to privilege a certain band of interpretation and hem out others - so I am willing to admit that there can be a diversity of hermeneutical approaches to the resurrection within the orbit of certain boundaries (see Murray J. Harris' book on the resurrection as an example of one who pushes the boundaries in some way). But I do not think that Marc Borg or Dom Crossan's interpretation of the resurrection is in the zone so to speak.
I now hand over to Ben for the final word!
Perhaps Christopher Petersen has something to say on the topic too?